Mr. LACOMBE (Translation):
On the 15th of April last the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie), in the first of a series of speeches in criticism of the budget, attributed the ever-increasing prosperity of Canada to the magnificent effort of her people and to the liberality of Providence. With all due deference to the hon. member, I beg to state that under the administration of the right hon. leader of the opposition, and of his predecessor, we have been time and again blessed with the gifts of a bountiful Providence and with abundant crops, but the governments then in power did not know how to make the best, in the interest of the Canadian people, of the great opportunities offered by an incomparable nature and the liberality of a generous Providence. Throughout the country, in our immense western
plains as in our rich and fertile eastern regions, when the products of the soil were reaching a promising maturity, when the first and best interests of Canada and her fondest hopes commanded our leaders to act with extreme prudence and to the best advantage of our country, yet too young to be sacrificed on the altar of an exaggerated and blind loyalty, by striking agriculture at its very heart they wrenched from the Canadian farmer his vitality, his strength and the vigorous arms necessary to gather the crop. What has been the result of that guilty enthusiasm? An overwhelming debt, taxation, the instigation of strikes and often misery and agony. So, on December 6, 1921, from one end of the country to the other, there was but one voice to condemn the costly policies of our predecessors. Then the Liberal government entered upon its work of economic restoration, of readjustment of our finances with the generous and sane support of the mandatories of the people. This is why, in a magnificent effort of energy and loyalty our leaders go on legislating for the common weal, with a sentiment of doing their duty and of acting in the public interest.
Allow me, now, Mr. Speaker, to express my views in regard to our tariff policy. I see that the government has cut down the duty on automobiles entering the country, leaving however to our national industry a protection of 20 to 27J per cent. Especially in the course of the last decade the automobile industry has given our 'commerce a tremendous impetus and it is to be counted among the great factors of progress. Even agriculture finds it most advantageous. A touring car had been considered for a long time as a luxury reserved exclusively to people of means. With a true humanitarian outlook our leaders realized that those who toil, work and suffer during long hours of a protracted labour have a right to a share of the rest, of the well-earned relaxation, and of the happiness enjoyed by the rich and the powerful. I believe that will, more than anything p'se be to their credit.
In a. country like ours, with sudh diversified interests, with aspirations often incompatible, the tariff must not sacrifice the interests of one class towards benefiting another, nor injure the rights of anyone. That is why the Liberal government is an enemy to all monopolies and condemns those who impose upon the people. Besides, what did we see under the system of high protection favoured by our predecessors? Our imports were very much in excess of our exports and the balance of trade was turning more and more against us from day to day. My hon. friend the
The Budget-Mr. Lacombe
former minister of Finance (Sir Henry Drayton), who is now laughing, is well aware of the fact. Speaking on behalf of the government the minister of Finance recently announced to the delight of all the Canadian people that our domestic and foreign trade was making Considerable strides, giving Canada a favourable balance of trade of over four hundred million dollars. Are. we not entitled to take some pride in our country when it so readily comes out victorious of the nearly insurmountable difficulties which beset it through the inefficiency of a prodigal and incompetent administration? That is why, Mr. Speaker, I am 'loath to accept the views of certain large interests and contributors to the electoral funds of hon. gentlemen opposite, who apparently are very much put out by the cutting down of the tariff duties on automobiles. On the contrary, the price of the cars being much lower and within the reach of 'almost everybody, there will be, as a consequence, an increased demand. Therefore, instead of hampering that industry the government are expanding lit and giving it a new impulse. I shall go further and, according to the principle that I laid down a moment ago, that the automobile had become a prime necessity, I do not hesitate to say that it would be unfair, in order to give one industry an exaggerated protection, to deprive the farming and other Canadian industries of the valuable opportunity to progress and to reach their goal But should the buying of a car affect the welfare of the poorer class by making them the victim of an exaggerated luxury, I should at once disapprove of the expenditure that the fondness for the automobile involves.
Did hon. members opposite, absorbed as they are in the earnestness of their policy of protection, ever think for one moment of the interests and the unquestionable rights of 'he consumer? Do they forget that an increase of the tariff means more taxation for the people? Do they forget that the Canadian producer is continually requesting the government to find new markets for his products and that the one truly national tariff policy is that which is beneficial to all and hurts nobody. That is what this government had in mind when it established new business connections with European countries. After all, is it not the way of founding the public administration on the principles of sound political economy? Therefore I am glad to pay this compliment to the present members of our government that owing to their sane and enlightened administration Canada is recovering from the crisis that followed the war better than any other country in the world.
The present, budget evidences a state of welfare akin to prosperity and none are more jealous of it than our opponents. Let me tell them very sincerely that pertinacity, economy,
wisdom and efficiency, in conjunction with the so valuable and so varied natural resources of this country, can solve all difficulties, even to paying off the enormous indebtedness that, they forced upon us.
I also notice with pleasure quite a substantial reduction in the postal rates. That re duction relieves all classes of the community: manufacturers, business men, farmers, professional and labour men and will give a new impulse to every line of commercial activity.
The repeal of the receipt tax will be received by the people with a good deal of satisfaction, for apart from the inconvenience inseparable from all taxation, that was the cause of numerous misunderstandings and much trouble.
Realizing that the small wage earners and those who have not the advantage of being wealthy are entitled to as much aid and fair play as possible, this government thought, proper to make some alterations in the income tax act. It is a striking contrast as between the present administration who are not sparing of care for-those who need it the most, and the former Tory government whose protection seemed to be applied only to people favored with a fat purse. In support of this statement I need but point out the income tax exemptions granted by the conservative government to Victory bond subscribers.
Mr. Speaker, before concluding these few remarks, let me take up in this House a statement made recently by the hon. member for South Winnipeg (Mr. Rogers) at Montreal, being the repetition of the ever recurring wail of an opposition (hankering for power. " Where is the government," said he-before the so-called Liberal-Conservative association of that city. I do not know, Mr. Speaker, that the government is anywhere but in the majority of the representatives of the people and only partisans lured by the desire of power can deny it. Does the hon. member forget, that the people of this country have eloquently ratified the decision taken by our leaders to summon parliament and to rule with the majority of its members? Does he forget that the government have won victory after victory in all the by-elections since held and have splendidly increased the majorities received by their supporters in the general election of October 29 last? When hon. members wrongly assert that there is no legislation before the House, I wonder whether they are
The Budget-Mr. Morand
not suffering from the same delusion that blinded them at the opening of the session. But in spite of the erroneous statements spread about by their opponents, the Liberal administration are pursuing their work of economic reconstruction, always progressing in the path of prosperity and carrying out very well the task with which they were entrusted by the people of this country.