Mr. T. B. Barrett (Norfolk):
Mr. Speaker, in rising to take part in this debate I should like, first of all, to conform to the usual practice of this house by paying a tribute to my friend the member for Essex West (Mr. Brown) and to our new confrere the member for Laval-Two Mountains (Mr. Demers), the mover and seconder of the address. I should like also to extend my good wishes to the new members who are sitting with us for the first time this session, three of whom have brought a great deal of pleasure and gratification to the members of my own party. Finally, I should like to congratulate the Prime Minister, my own leader-who without doubt will be our next Prime Minister-and the new members of the cabinet.
From my observation there is another feature of this debate which seems to be traditional and that is for each member to refer to his own constituency as being more favored than any other place on earth. To a man taking an objective view of this thing, for instance one of the friends of the Minister of Justice from Tasmania, these contradictory claims would appear to be ridiculous. Looking at it another way, however, it might be due to the fact that:
Such is the patriot's boast where'er we roam,
His first, best country, ever is at home.
If, therefore, in the course of my remarks, I seem to imply that my constituency of Norfolk is particularly blessed and the most pleasant place in which to dwell, it can be taken to mean-it is just that for those of us who live there. If it were otherwise, we would no doubt move elsewhere.
Norfolk is not like that country, described in holy writ, whose rocks are iron and out of whose hills you could dig brass, although in the early days, I believe there was an iron mine there which provided iron for the first foundry in Upper Canada. Ours is not a rocky land. Our hills are wooded and the slopes are gentle, making for easy cultivation. In other words, it is mainly a county of diversified
agriculture. It is the heart of the great flue-cured tobacco-growing area where the bright-leafed Virginia tobacco is grown. We also have a great deal of the area devoted to fruit growing. Apples, peaches and many other types of fruit can be grown, and all of a quality unexcelled. Other areas are devoted to dairying and general farming.
In addition to this, there are many spots which are attractive to tourists, especially along the lake shore. Many years ago a forestry station was established in that part of the country by the Ontario government. It is a place of great beauty and interest to visitors as well as being an institution of great value. A great deal of marginal land has been reforested, not only by individuals but by municipal bodies as well, through the influence of this station. It is a great mecca for tourists from far and wide. Only this year two very enterprising men from Delhi established a restricted area for a game preserve on a tract of land which, until a few years ago, was wasted by erosion. They reforested that spot, dammed the stream, and stocked the forest with game and the stream with fish. Now that area is an attractive spot for tourists.
Bounded as the constituency is on the south by lake Erie and Long Point bay, we have an important fishing industry. In fact, Port Dover is the home port of the largest and best equipped fresh water fishing fleet in the world. Fishing and farming have many problems in common. Both are subject to uncontrollable and natural hazards in the way of weather and uncertainty of markets. Fishermen also have another problem and that is the uncertainty of the incidence of desirable species of fish from year to year.
The Ontario government, with the co-operation of the Ontario federation of commercial fishermen, is making an extensive study of this matter and is carrying on experiments. It is hoped that, with greater knowledge, many of these difficulties will be overcome. This, of course, is not the concern of this government. But I would point out that an extremely severe blow was dealt to the fishermen when the Canadian dollar was raised to parity with the United States dollar. Most of the catch is sold in United States markets, and the premium which the fishermen received on United States funds often meant the difference between a profit and a loss on the year's operations.
Another thing which is the concern of this government is the upkeep of the harbours
and wharves along the lake. I have taken this matter up before in the house and I am happy to say that last year considerable work was done in the matter of dredging and repairs at Port Rowan harbour and Nanticoke harbour which lies east of my constituency. A couple of years ago in Port Dover harbour, some dredging was done which provided much-needed anchorage; but the wharf at Port Dover is in a deplorable and dangerous condition. I have mentioned this matter before. I do not intend to pursue the subject now, because I have had assurance from the minister that it will be looked after this year, and I am confident that it will be.
While I am on this subject, though, I should again like to bring to the attention of the government the matter of a ferry service between Port Dover and Erie, Pennsylvania. This is a matter of concern not only to my own constituents but to the cities and towns to the north of us in the Grand river valley, which are greatly interested. It would be a great boon to the tourist trade. It would provide a short route across the lake for the people in the thickly populated areas of western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. It would also provide a short route from Port Dover to a great many points in our own north country which holds such great attractions for the United States tourists.
In the opinion of the government there seems to be some physical handicap which makes prohibitive the cost of dredging for this purpose. I do not altogether subscribe to this view, but it is a debatable matter. I am inclined to think that the benefit which would accrue from this service would more than offset the cost. I understand, however, that the boards of trade of the cities and towns north of us, together with the Norfolk chamber of commerce, at the present time are looking into the possibility of overcoming this difficulty and of providing a harbour where such expensive dredging will not be necessary. I would at this time bespeak a sympathetic hearing for them when their survey is completed and they present their plans to the government.
I shall now turn to the agricultural side of the picture. I know that it is the opinion of a great many people in the country-and maybe even of some hon. members in this house-that the farmer is a chronic kicker, that he would not be satisfied even with the Garden of Eden, even if he did not have to pay any taxes. I myself do not subscribe to that view. From my observation, I do not think the farmer in this respect is any different from anybody else; and often his kicks may be far more warranted than those of others.
The Address-Mr. Barrett
In the first place, the average farmer is not in the business for the purpose of making a great deal of money in a hurry. I am not arguing that some of them do not make money. At the present time, I think most of them are getting by fairly nicely. But they are farming because they like the kind of life farming provides. They like the independence and freedom of it. They do not want to be bossed around by somebody else. They want to run their own little show in their own way. They know that they must pay for this independence. They realize that they must derive their income from the sale of their goods in an open market. They realize that if they are efficient and industrious their return will be greater and that, if they are not, it will be less. They cannot go on strike and demand wages which will give them a standard of living to which they think they are entitled. They realize that this is part of the price they must pay for their independence, and I do not think they complain too much about it. What they complain of is the modern tendency to control and regulate them, to hold down the prices of their goods in order to provide cheap food for those people whose wages they are obliged to help to pay.
They know that the average farmer could probably take the money he could realize from the sale of his farm, equipment and stock, put it into some good security, go out and work for ordinary wages and make far more money, with far less work, than he can make by running his farm. I am not speaking of the specialized farmer, but rather of the average small farmer. Because he loves this independent life, he does not do that. Therefore anything that interferes with his independence is most annoying to him.
Another thing that is worrying him at the present time is the fact that he sees his markets slipping away; and he is extremely fearful that the prices for his products will drop at a much faster rate than will the prices of the things he must buy. He blames this government-and I think rightly so-for bringing this condition about.
There is another matter which makes the farmer see red, namely, the methods of the income tax department in collecting this tax. The average farmer does not object to paying his fair share of taxes; but when he receives a threatening letter, often followed up by an inspector who comes around and threatens him with heavy penalties for not filling in his income tax form for several years, he is not only worried but mad.
I was talking with one of those men only
last fall. I shall not quote him verbatim_I
wish I could. However, his language was most picturesque and lurid when he was
1132 HOUSE OF
The Address-Mr. Barrett referring to some of these men clothed with a little brief authority who had come pestering him to fill out these forms. As my colleague from London (Mr. Manross) pointed out this afternoon, the average farmer cannot begin to answer the hundred and one questions asked on these income tax forms. He may have a general idea as to whether he broke even in a certain year; but when he has to tell how many hens' necks he wrung, or how many shingles blew off his barn, or how many apples the old sow ate, he just throws up his hands in disgust. Then when he receives these threatening letters for not having filed his income tax, when he knows very well he was not taxable-and I know the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) will bear me out in this, because he has said that not one in a dozen of them is taxable- he can see no reason why he should be troubled in this way.
The man with whom I was speaking last fall told me he had received one of these letters. Speaking with me, he said, "I cannot answer those questions, and I am not going to try". I said, "Well, you should file a return; that is the law, and there are severe penalties for not complying with regulations". He said, "Well, they cannot fine me $25 a day, because I have not got $25. If they want to put me in jail all winter, and feed me, it is all right with me". But the majority of them do not take such a philosophical view of it.
There is another feature of the income tax regulations which has proved irksome, particularly to the European-born farmers in my constituency, of whom there are a great many. These are thrifty, industrious people, and very desirable citizens. It is due largely to their industry that the tobacco-growing business has become such a success in that area. They have transformed land which only a few years ago was practically worthless into what is now the most valuable land in the county, or probably in the province.
Their farming methods, however, are slightly different from those of the average Canadian farmer, because they operate in family groups. They draw up agreements among themselves, and while these are informal they are nevertheless binding. The agreements state that the sons, when they become old enough to work, will work with the fathers on the farms until they reach the age [DOT]when they wish to get married or start working on farms of their own. The fathers will set them up with sufficient capital to start out on their own responsibility. The trouble they now have is that the income tax regulations provide for taxation not only of the farmer in respect of the income derived from his own labour, but also on that derived from the labour of the whole family. He feels
that an allowance should be made by way of a deductible expense in respect of the wages they would have had to pay out if they had engaged outside help. Or, failing that, they should be allowed to file their returns on a partnership basis.
I understand that last year regulations were made providing that the only way they could take advantage of this partnership basis scheme was to have a written agreement, and to have it registered. The regulation was made only last year; but these inspectors and income tax authorities are trying to make it apply as far back as 1941. These are honest people; but they are not familiar with our ways; indeed, we do not understand these things ourselves. They are worried and upset, and they are disgruntled over the whole thing.
Another matter was brought to my attention recently. I refer to the procedure of bringing curers up from the southern states. The curing of tobacco is a technical operation and requires the services of men with great skill, if it is to be done properly. For many years it has been the practice of these growers to engage the same curers, year after year. Prior to the war, all a man did was to write or wire to his curer and give him the approximate date upon which their leaf would be ready to be brought into the kiln, at which time the curer would come and go through the ordinary regulations at the border, following which he would go to work.
During the war it was necessary of course to tighten up on the immigration regulations. As I understand it, the farmers here in Canada had to apply to the Department of Labour for permits to get these men. Then the permits had to be sent to the men themselves who, in turn, would have to take them to a county agent, or the equivalent in the southern United States, thus entailing a great deal of delay and red tape. A man often had to lose a day's working time-and their time is valuable-to comply with these regulations.
This procedure is still being carried on, and the growers feel that, now that the war is over, the regulations are not necessary. They are anxious to have them eliminated so that there may be a return to the old simplified system which obtained before the war. This delay often means that the curer either arrives several days before he is needed, and has to be paid these high rates of wages or, having to go through all these regulations, he may arrive a day or two late. This is almost as serious, because when the tobacco is ready to be harvested it has to be done at the right time, and taken to the kiln as soon as possible.
Another matter has been brought to my attention, and seems to be one worthy of con-
sideration by the Postmaster General (Mr. Bertrand). I refer to the bringing up to date of the rural mail delivery service. As we know, this service was inaugurated away back in the horse-and-buggy days, when there were very few good roads. In those days the mail was delivered by horse and cart, the chief idea being to serve the greatest number of farmers by the shortest possible route. At that time the average farmer received his mail only about once a week. Yet the delivery was a great boon. However, we have now advanced a long way since those days. Most of our roads in settled districts today are well surfaced. The mail is delivered by car and the farmers feel that they should have their mail delivered at their door or their gate. It would mean very little more by way of time and mileage to the driver, but would be of great convenience to the box-holder. Often a farmer has to walk a mile to get his mail. While that might be all right so far as exercise is concerned, the ordinary farmer really does not need exercise.
Another matter was dealt with at considerable length by the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Pearkes). I refer to the poultry council. I am particularly interested in the requests made by this council because the chairman lives in my constituency. The council is made up, not only of poultry men but of hatchery men, feed men, processors and dealers. They have come together to try to solve the problems of the poultry industry. They were induced by the government to expand their business during the war and since in order to take care of the overseas contracts which entailed considerable investment, and now they are greatly worried because they see that the overseas markets are likely to be lost. I just want to bring this matter to the attention of the minister, who is conversant with the requests that have been made.
Another matter which my constituents have referred to me was dealt with quite fully by the hon. member for London (Mr. Manross). I refer to the incurables and blind. We all realize that the needy old must be looked after and I think everybody is quite satisfied that an adequate pension should be paid. But after all, old age in itself is not a calamity; it is something that we are all striving te attain to, and in the ordinary course of events we can provide for it. But, when fate strikes in the form of blindness or incapacity brought about by disease or accident, it is a terrifying disaster. If anyone deserves help and comfort and assistance, it is these people.
I have also had representations from the jewelers association in my constituency. I
The Address-Mr. Argue wrote to the minister and received the answer I expected to get, an answer which I realize was the only one he could give, that the matter would be taken into consideration. I should like to add to what has been said already on behalf of these men. The men who came to see me were principally young veterans who are trying to establish themselves in business. They find themselves severely handicapped by what they consider, and I think rightly consider, an unjust and discriminatory tax. They pointed out that other luxuries are not taxed, and also that many of the things in which they deal are not luxuries but must still pay this tax of twenty-five per cent. I recommend to the minister that the tax be abolished.
Finally, there is a group of people for whom we on this side of the house have pleaded on many occasions. I refer to the imperial veterans who are denied war veterans allowances. There are a few in my constituency and there are a small number spread all over Canada. It has always seemed to me to be hard and unreasonable that the department should not grant these men, who are past the age for heavy work-many of them are not able to work at all-and who have spent their most productive years in this country, this war veterans allowance. I know that certain technical excuses are made for not doing it, but I feel that they could be overcome. The amount of money entailed would be small when compared to the millions being spent by the government on other things. For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs puts out a periodical every month. It is a nice paper, but it is mainly to advertise the department. I think it could well be done away with, and the funds required now to publish it could be put to better purpose by providing for these old imperial veterans.
Topic: RECONSTRUCTION AND SUPPLY
Subtopic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE