Mr. W. E. ROWE (Dufferin-Simcoe):
Mr. Speaker, I beg the indulgence of this House for a time, I hope not too long to-night, to offer my support to the amendment moved by the hon. member for Fort William (Mr. Manion) to the budget presented by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb). There has been a good deal of discussion in this House over the budget and no doubt a great deal of interest is being taken in it throughout the whole Dominion of Canada. This interest is well justified because it constitutes the business programme of the country for the coming year.
Some have termed it an "election" budget. If it is it may still serve for better government. Others term it a "Saskatchewan" budget, and as hon. members from that province smile almost in jubilation at the most contentious changes it enunciates, one cannot help thinking that the desires long since expressed by the three ministers from Saskatchewan on fiscal matters are being more and more felt by the government. It has also been termed,
I believe, by the hon. member for Fort William as an "American" budget, and I fear
if its principles are put into effect that such a description may be justified. As I listened, however, to the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Forke), independent though lhe professes to foe, enthusiastically defend it in detail, and with apparent satisfaction endorse it in full and laud the government in general, I wondered if it would be fair to term it a "Forke-handled" budget. Whether or not there is in any of these terms a proper description the government alone ' may know, but surely such a budget would have been indescribable to themselves at the time when the Speech from the Throne was brought down in this House, when parliament and the people in general were solemnly promised that no change in the fiscal policy of the country would foe made without a thorough investigation by the tariff commission into the affaire of the industries concerned. Since then the tariff commission, which was appointed in due time, was expected to assume the responsibilities for which it was created, namely, to investigate such industries.
I cannot say whether the automobile industry has been unduly protected or not or whether this is too great a reduction in the tariff or not enough. If this government assume to know, why appoint a tariff board? If they do not know, why speculate so recklessly with a theory that practically threatens the existence of a great and growing industry? It is surely reasonable to assume that an industry involving 180,000,000 of capital investment in this country, employing 20,000 skilled labourers with a payroll of over $30,000,000 annually and supporting 100,000 people who are directly interested, would be worthy of the consideration of this new board if its appointment is in any way going to be justified by this government. The action of the government seems as if it realized the futility of the board to act effectively without any principle by which to function. If that should be the reason for our not having a report from this new tariff eommisison, this reduction in the duty of 15 per cent, or a reduction of 43 per cent of the original protection on automobiles by the government will at least serve as an enlightenment of the principle on which the government desires the new board to function with reference to the boot and shoe industry, the furniture industry, the silk industry and other industrial enterprises that enjoy similar protection.
The hon. member for Brandon has on different occasions explained his unselfishness, stating that sectional desires are far from his mind. As a farmer I might be pardoned if I too give expression to my own unselfishness as to these tariff changes, as I rep-
The Budget-Mr. Rowe
resent the riding of Dufferin-Simcoe which has not a manufacturing plant in any way subsidiary to the manufacture of automobiles, but which is a large rural riding almost solely engaged in agriculture for which its fertile soil is favourably adapted, and therefore which is a riding of purchasers of motor cars and other machinery manufactured outside of the riding. I feel that if I were to admit any selfishness it would certainly not be with any lack of interest in the agriculturists of Canada. When I say "agriculturists" I do not mean only those who are engaged in one phase of that great enterprise, but I am also mindful of those engaged in mixed farming who make up by far the greater majority of the agricultural class in Canada to-day.
The reason, that I am here to-day is because the agriculturists of my riding realize that a national protective policy as enunciated by the leader of the Conservative party is of fundamental importance to their interests. Therefore I wish to make it clear to this House that even though the hon. member for Brandon leads a remnant of what once promised to be an important party in this country and though he has a special circumstantial influence in this parliament which he may never enjoy in the same way again, he in no way represents the farmers in Canada outside of a very few sections when he states that the farmers do not want protection and that a home market is not of fundamental importance to the future success of our business.
I do not want to reflect in any way or. the sincerity of my hon. friends to the left when they say that they are not a class or a sectional representation in this House because I feel that they are sincere in their interest in the whole welfare of our Canadian people. But I regret that such a reference to their sincerity of purpose is in no way a tribute to their judgment of practice in the interest of agriculture because I feel that the interests of industry and agriculture in Canada are so closely identified that any fiscal policy that retards in any way one of these great basic industries, similarly reflects on the other. I realize that at this particular time in our country's history wheatgrowing does not feel the benefit of a protective policy to the same extent that the balance of agricultural production does and while I hope I realize fully the value of wheat production in agriculture, I also realize that no matter how fertile any soil may be, it cannot be used indefinitely for the production of wheat alone, so that Canada is already fast becoming a country of mixed farming.
We saw long ago the effects of lowering the duties to benefit one particular class in this country, and the results invariably were such as were experienced in the lowering of duties on farm implements. This did not benefit the farmers one dollar; in fact, after that reduction by this government they paid more for almost every tool of production which they used on their farms, and other classes suffered and were forced to deplete the home market by going to a foreign market to manufacture the implements there. We have watched our Canadian people leave our country to seek employment since this government came into power. There are 15,000 Canadians engaged in the farm tractor industry in the United States who ought to be working in this country. What we need is a policy that will keep these people employed in Canada, preserve to them a high standard of living, and increase the home market for all our agricultural producers, as well as for our manufacturers and retailers. Such a policy is bound to react favourably upon those who are engaged professionally and upon all other classes of the community.
It is not necessary to put on Hansard facts and figures which probably are already on record. It would seem, however, that the government at any rate has not yet realized the situation in Canada sufficiently to see the error of its ways. We know what the effect of its policy has been on the fertilizer industry as well as on farm implements. The result of their theorizing has been to put out of business a large portion of our fertilizer manufacturing industry. This has depleted the market for farm products in Canada by driving out of the country, to seek employment in the United States and elsewhere, those workmen who were engaged in this industry. And far from the government's efforts resulting in a lowering of the price of fertilizer it has increased it: the American manufacturer is now able to charge higher prices because of less Canadian competition.
Some Canadians may be satisfied to remain just producers of wheat and the recipients of the surplus industrial products of the United States. But is it fair that, because they happen to hold that innocent international view, this country should give to the American, the Australian and the New Zealand agriculturist, as it does to-day, an advantage over the Canadian farmer in eggs, butter, cheese, meats, grains, fruits and in fact every other commodity for which the home market is badly needed? I need not put on Hansard the list of duties, which I
The Budget-Mr. Rowe
fancj' has already been reported, but why should we allow, almost $200,000,000 worth of foreign agricultural products to be sold in Canada under an advantageous tariff? The wheat producer of Canada prays that Europeans may continue to eat white bread in order to take his surplus, and he wants special transportation rates. He is not concerned with the home market. But he seems to forget that after all wheat growing is only one phase of a great enterprise in a district in which, unless all natural precedents fail, there will be a more diversified production before long. If only the Canadian market were protected for the Canadian farmer there are many lines of agriculture which would prove just as profitable as the growing of wheat. Under a proper system of protection, not only would our home market be enlarged, but important phases of agricultural endeavour would be directly stimulated, as for example, the textile industry. Surely this government should have studiously avoided the error committed by its own party under its great chieftain, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who, realizing the disastrous effect upon eighty-eight woollen textile mills after the lowering of the duty in 1897, retrieved his mistake and increased the tariff again from 23J to 30 per cent in 1904. Is it not a strange fact that before 1900 we had more sheep in Canada than we have to-day? In 1921, before the present government speculated in freer trade and lowered the duty on textiles, we had 1,000,000 sheep more than we have now. Our textile industry suffered heavy losses and thousands were put out of employment, being forced to leave their homes. Previous to that time we had 3,600,000 sheep and lambs, as against 2,500,000 to-day. Canada is by climate adapted to the raising of sheep, and with our vast areas we have only 2,500,000 as compared with 25,000,000 in England, with its small territory. And Australia has 80,000,000 head. With the aid of the so-called farmer party this government saw fit to reduce the duty on Australian mutton from three cents to one-half cent, allowing that dominion a special advantage also in woollen products. Since the British preference was lowered we find that almost one-half of the total imports from Great Britain have been textile products, which in 1925 amounted to over $72,000,000. Is this fair to the Canadian textile industry?
In 1923 the present government, through the French treaty, reduced our duty on French textiles to nineteen per cent on some lines, and below 30 per cent on all. Although Great Britain, still believed by some to be a
free trade country, protects its textile manufacturers to the extent of 33 J per cent against competition, the idustry in that country pays less in wages to its factory hands than do the Canadian mills. Since 1923 our imports of woollen and knitted goods from France have increased three-fold, until in 1925 they amounted to over $3,000,000. When we consider that we produce only one-half of the textile requirements of our people and that the farmers produce only one-fifth of the raw wool consumed in Canada, is there any justification whatever for any action that tends to discourage such a great dual enterprise as the woollen industry? As a producer of mutton and wool I claim that with adequate protection for our textile industry, as well as protection against foreign mutton and raw wool, we might increase our sheep industry by one hundred per cent, with considerable advantage to this Dominion. The sheep industry is one that increases the fertility and productive qualities of the soil instead of robbing it of its best elements, as the growing of wheat tends inevitably to do.
When I say, Mr. Speaker, that a sound protective policy is as essential to argicultural development as it is to industry, I think I am only voicing the opinion of our party, as enunciated by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen) in his resolution of a year ago, that we should protect the products of Canadian agriculture against- unfair competition from foreign commodities which enjoy a tariff advantage. This particular phase of a national protective policy is recognized as most essential to the agricultural area of Dufferin-Simcoe which I represent. But realizing that a policy of national protection is bound to reflect its advantages in every locality, I would not consider it fair if I did not advocate, equally in the case of other activities, the same principle of adequate protection. I believe in the principle of protection as applied not only to the enterprises of my own constituency, but to coal and steel in the east, and industrial enterprises, just as I view with sympathy the question of western freight rates. My ideal is a policy that will make for national development throughout the Dominion as a whole.
I want to compliment the Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhbb) on the picture he has painted in his budget of the improved conditions of the country at the present time No doubt he had the advantage of the blesset co-operation of Providence-; nature smiling or. our wheat fields during the past year provided a good background for that picture. I
The Budget-Mr. Fansher
have no doubt the reductions in the income tax and the stamp tax will be welcomed, even if they do seem to be a couple of years late in coming. It would appear that the sales tax, the receipt tax and the tax on cheques, all increased by this government when it came into power, might well have been materially reduced if not abolished. Since the present government took office in 1921 the tax collections have been greater year by year than they were in any year of the former government.
Now, independent of the bright and picturesque appearance of the budget, we find that last year's expenditure was some $22,300,000 over previous years, and our estimates for the coming year promise still greater expenditure. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, while the government seem to have become artists in the painless extraction of taxes from our people, it would be more economically sound if, first, they would show a reduction of expenditure; then the other side of the ledger might be expected to follow favourably, as a natural consequence.
It is indeed gratifying to anyone in public life to note the great respect that the mem-oers of the different parties have in common for the traditions and lives of those two great leaders, the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the late Sir John A Macdonald, but I am sure the country resets that there is no evidence in the present government of a desire to perpetuate the policy of their late great leader, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, whose traditions of stable government have been forgotten, or exchanged for the good-will of the Progressive party in order that the government may continue to enjoy administrative power.
The hon. member for Brandon, (Mr. Forke), who was at one time hailed as a farmer leader, according to a press report, stated in Toronto that he had been termed a Liberal, but that he was not, that he was only a Liberal in action, or an "advanced Liberal". If he is correctly reported, he no doubt was talking true to form by classifying himself as nearly to the Liberal party as words could classify him, and the only, evidence of any greater similarity would be his votes and utterances in parliament. His words, Mr. Speaker, were surely carefully selected, because it seems rather unique that in order apparently to secure the support of himself and his party the government might well be classified as "advanced Liberals," they having never hesitated to break any advanced promises they have made in order to allow the hon. member for Brandon and his friends to be "Liberals in action." For some time I have
been much interested in the hon. leader of the Progressive party. He follows the same vocation as I do, and he was at one time supposed to represent that particular class of our people in parliament. But the large and expansive agricultural area that has constituted his environment no doubt tended to broaden his views. Therefore it is not any wonder to-day that the people of Canada can scarcely perceive whether the one time Farmer party has broadened from its earlier class consciousness and absorbed the Liberal party, or whether the Liberal party has broadened from its identity with great traditions and absorbed the Progressive party, or whether both parties,, as David said of his enemies, "have covered themselves with their own confusion." Perhaps so far as the interests of Canada are concerned that matters not; but one thing they have done-they have covered industry and labour with a confusion of dissatisfaction, uncertainty and lack of confidence that will reflect on many lines of enterprise and possible development in this country.
Is it not time, therefore, that we had some stability in our fiscal policy in the interests of commercial, industrial and agricultural advancement in this favoured land of great resources and possibilities? Is it not also time that we had some stability in government policy to restore confidence in a great and energetic people who await Canadian opportunities for a high standard of living in preference to the hope of employment in a foreign country?
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE