I know my hon. friend can poke that sort of question at me if he wishes. I am not saying that if you get into the $5 million class, there should not be some sort of graduated tax. I am not saying anything about that. But there are very few in the $5 million class.
I will give an example of what I mean. There is a widow in my constituency whose husband was ill for years. What did the wife do? She cared for her husband over those years and she managed the farm by employing a hired man. The husband and wife had a joint bank account. When the husband eventually died the joint account was frozen. That is reasonable for certain legal purposes, but then there was the further event that even though the wife thought she had a right to claim half of that joint account she was not allowed to do so when the estate was calculated. She could not claim a nickel of it except as it was calculated for inclusion in the estate. The result was that they might just as well not have had a joint account.
We find that particularly so with farm women. For the most part farm women work hard all their lives. They are one with the husband in the estate and therefore they should be half owners of the estate. I think we should acknowledge equality in the marriage partnership and recognize that work within the home and for the family is just as necessary and important as the husband's work is outside the family. The government has recognized that to some extent in other legislation.
The government of Canada has, I might say, increasingly imposed upon married women the burden of partnership with their husbands because the wife is required to pledge her credit when the husband desires to get a loan from the bank. In so far as the Veterans Land Act is concerned, the wife of a man who applies for a loan has to sign the documents and is jointly responsible. The same situation applies to the National Housing Act. The husband and wife are considered partners for the purpose of protecting these loans.
However, when it comes to considering what the husband leaves the wife, then evidently the government does not consider the wife as a partner. I suggest that this bill falls far short of what the women of this country expect. I think it is reasonable that
they should expect half of the estate up to a reasonable amount. I am not going to hold up the committee, but the minister has said that when the resolution is adopted the bill will be given first reading but will not be proceeded with beyond that stage. The minister said we would be given time to analyse it and come forth with suggestions.
I want to ask him if he is really sincere in asking the members of this house to come forth with their suggestions. If he is, then he is going to get some. If he is sincere in requesting that we come forward with our suggestions he should indicate his sincerity by saying that he will listen to them; that he will accept those suggestions and if they are reasonable, when the bill is presented at the next session of parliament, if he has anything to do with it, those suggestions will be incorporated in the bill. If he is sincere, that is exactly what he will do. If this bill is introduced and we can see it and analyse it, the women's organizations of this country can also see it, then I am quite certain that the minister will be flooded with suggestions as to how the women of this country who are left widows, perhaps without earning power, feel they should be regarded in so far as their husbands' estates are concerned.
I will not say any more than that. I want the minister to be sincere in this matter. I think he is sincere. I think he wants to do a good job for Canada. I have no doubt about that. He is a very fine gentleman. I am going to say this, however, that we in this corner of the house have, for many years, recognized that he is restricted in what he would like to do. He is restricted by reason of the fact he is a victim of the financial policies that have been embodied over the years in the legislation of this country. His hands are tied. If he is sincere about this matter and wants to do a real job for this country and particularly the unfortunate widows, he will look into all these matters, including the financial policy which is tying his hands, and he will tear himself loose from that type of policy. This will enable him to do all the things that he believes the people of this country desire he should do. Some of us expect to be back for the next parliament. I do not know whether or not the minister will be, but I suppose he expects to be. If we are all back here, we are going to remind him of what he said this afternoon. We are going to ask that suitable amendments be made to the bill.
Topic: REVISION, CONSOLIDATION, ETC.