I do not think the date is material but I am sure the Minister of Finance will find that the page number is correct. The then leader of the opposition said:
The subject now before us is whether we really believe in the federal system sufficiently to do our utmost at this time to find real agreement with the provincial governments and with the municipalities which are very real entities indeed as to the allocation of taxes which will make it possible for them to carry out the heavy responsibilities which they cannot ignore and cannot shirk.
In other words, Mr. Chairman, this was the lead for the other members of the party to insist upon a re-allocation of the powers of taxation. The present Minister of National Revenue followed the same line of argument
and I should like to quote three phrases from his remarks, the first as recorded at page 6015 of Hansard:
We in this party believe and have said time and again that there should be a re-allocation of responsibilities, that there should be a re-allocation of taxation powers-
That is only part of the phrase but what I have omitted does not change its sense. On the following page of Hansard, page 6016, he is reported as saying:
There certainly is something wrong with the principle suggested by the government in this resolution.
This is the very principle which the Minister of National Revenue is supporting today in the resolution which is now before the committee because if he did not support the resolution which we are now considering it would not be before the committee. On page 6017 he is reported as having said:
But a formula should be worked out that would recognize the capacity to pay of the individual as well as the number of heads in a province.
At least so far as that part of his remarks is concerned it seems now to be translated into something more than mere words which I am afraid is the assessment that one should place upon his other remarks.
The present Solicitor General also took part in the discussion and I am quoting from the translation of his remarks to be found at page 6031 of Hansard:
What is in fact required is a federal-provincial conference in which the federal government and the provinces will consider the steps to be taken for a fair distribution of taxation fields, so that the provinces may play their part in their own sphere.
The present Minister of Trade and Commerce also entered the debate and as recorded at page 6064 said:
But the rest of the matter has not been attacked, and that is the division of responsibility between the dominion government and the provincial jurisdictions.
Apparently he felt it was not enough to say it once for he said it again as recorded at page 6065:
-surely the present approach should be toward an investigation of the division of responsibility as between the dominion and provincial authorities.
Twice was not enough; we had it a third time as recorded at page 6066 when he said:
I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that a dominion-provincial conference be called devoted to the task of solving the division of responsibilities as between the dominion and provincial governments.
The present Minister of Justice entered the debate, too, and as recorded at page 6335 said:
I am putting this forward as a serious proposal, that what is needed, rather than trying to force our relationships into this pre-tailored fiscal garment, is a meeting of all the governments with a view to assessing their needs and what if any
exchange of constitutional responsibilities can be arranged by mutual consent. Then having reached agreement on this point, arrange a federal-provincial fiscal program which will enable the various governments to discharge their agreed responsibilities.
The interesting fact is that so many members of the present cabinet were strong advocates of this idea of a re-allocation of taxation powers between the dominion government and the provincial governments and yet at the very first opportunity they had of following up these ideas which they had preached so assiduously in the past when they were sitting in the opposition benches they backed away from the step entirely. I think it has been the general experience of people who have been interested in this field of dominion-provincial relations in the matter of taxes that there has been a large body of criticism emanating from members of the Conservative party both provincial and federal advocating not an extension of the present scheme of tax sharing but a formal redistribution of taxation powers. However, their arguments are of the hit and run type. They enunciate the principle and then back away from spelling out how they would propose to carry it out.
I notice that in the present instance the government convened a conference with the provinces in November and yet nowhere on the record of the public deliberations does one find anything which suggests that this proposal was put forward by the present government as a matter for discussion with the provinces. Surely no one would suggest that there was anything to prevent the government from carrying out the idea which it advocated so extensively in the past.
I would now like to quote some comments made by the Solicitor General as recently as the present session. They are indeed interesting when one realizes what the Minister of Finance is now asking this committee to do, to extend further the principle of the present tax-sharing agreements. Note the words of the Solicitor General in answer to a question put to him as found on page 129 of Hansard of October 18, 1957:
Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell my honourable friend that I am still opposed to subsidies such as were proposed by the former government. As to his question, it seems to be a hypothetical one, but I am ...
At this point there was an interruption; then he went on:
. .. and a political one, yes. I want to tell him that the proposals of the federal government are not yet known, but I am convinced that they will be made on a very different basis than those of the former government.
I cannot resist the temptation to translate this for the benefit of members sitting on the government benches. The Solicitor General said in effect, "I want to tell you that the proposals of the federal government are not yet known. I am convinced they were made on a very different basis from those of the former government." Therefore, we see that although the very proposals which are being implemented in this resolution are very different in the mind of the Solicitor General from those which served as a basis of the present fiscal agreements, here we find the Solicitor General, as a member of the government, supporting the very proposals which he criticized in no uncertain terms on the day that I referred to a moment ago.
Then, Mr. Chairman, I should like to say a word about the conference which was held in November. I could not help feeling some amusement when I read the words of the present Prime Minister as reported at page 6369 of Hansard for 1956, and I do not doubt but hon. gentlemen opposite will take certain amusement also from hearing them. He said:
I wonder often why this government has not taken the provinces into its confidence.
Is that not a strange statement when we consider the action taken by the Prime Minister himself last Friday night in acquainting the provinces for the first time of a purely unilateral decision of this government as to what it was going to do as to the payments of 1958-59? The Prime Minister went on:
Why these short-term meetings: why these
gatherings of a day or two?
Topic: DOMINION-PROVINCIAL RELATIONS MEASURE TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO ATLANTIC PROVINCES, ETC.