Mr. L. D. Creslohl (Cartier):
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure * and it is also for me an honour to say my first few words in this house in the language spoken by the majority of the people of my province. I do so out of respect for my fellow citizens of the province of Quebec, particularly for those who have elected me as their representative in the parliament of Canada, an honour which I greatly appreciate. I wish to assure them, and the hon. members that I will apply all my energy and such talents as I may possess to the task of serving their best interests.
The Budget-Mr. Crestohl
And now, Mr. Speaker, it is not wtihout some trepidation that I rise to speak in this house for the first time. This pulsation flows from my profound awareness of the great responsibility which rests upon every member of this house when he speaks. Such consciousness no doubt alerts every speaker to the exercise of caution, restraint and oftentimes courage, and I am certain that every hon, member of this house has at one time or another-like I am at this moment-been overawed by this great obligation, to the discharge of which we are all dedicated by a fervent desire to apply ourselves to the best of our ability.
May I first of all say to the voters of my constituency that I, Mr. Speaker, am deeply grateful to them for having given me their confidence to represent them in this house, and to speak for them whenever occasion makes it necessary.
Cartier, as hon. members know, is perhaps the most cosmopolitan riding in the country. It could be virtually called "Canada in miniature", as there is no other section in Canada in which there are more languages spoken. Concentrated in this small area, there are ethnic groups from almost every central European country. Many of these include people who are comparatively recent immigrants.
I meet these people often. I speak to them frequently; and it is heartwarming to sense the anxiety they have to integrate themselves completely into the life of our country. The present generation of course still retain some of their native customs and speak their native tongues. But the children, the coming generations, will, as time has already proven to us, live the Canadian way of life in every respect. I bespeak for them the patience and tolerance of their good Canadian neighbours to facilitate for them the necessary fusion which will eliminate obstacles and enable them to become totally adapted as Canadians.
This desire and anxiety was abundantly manifested at a touching ceremony less than one year ago which took place at the Baron Byng high school in my constituency, when some 750 of these new Canadians were admitted to the first steps of Canadian citizenship. Never before in the history of Canada has such a ceremony taken place. The entire assembly was electrified by the deep and respectful solemnity, as the associate chief justice of the province of Quebec himself administered the oath of allegiance. Hundreds were moved to tears with the realization that our country has accepted them and makes of them free men and women. It was indeed a
The Budget-Mr. Crestohl most stirring event and well accredits the government's vision and foresight to stimulate an expanded immigration program.
The United States today is reaping the benefits from its wise immigration policy during the fifty years preceding 1925. In this period it secured an influx of some 30 million people, enabling it to become the most powerful democracy in the world. And today it is even a bulwark for the defence of our own country. We in Canada should profit by that experience. We have the space; we have the natural resources and we have the absorptive capacity. Of all that there is no doubt. But we lack the population to be able fully to expand our wide-open spaces and our limitless natural resources. This view has been most forcefully expressed in the March 9 issue of the United States News and World Report. I quote a digest of this report which appears at page 20, as follows:
"Canada, booming with the United States, is to grow rapidly into the industrial giant of the north.
Oil is a great new industry in Alberta. Canada's aluminum industry already rivals that of the United States. Great hydroelectric projects are planned and industry springs up near cheap power. Iron-ore mining is making great expansion, notably in Labrador. A big future is seen for titanium, a metal lighter than steel, stronger than aluminum, and Canada has the largest known deposits. Production in nickel and cobalt is being stepped up sharply as is lead, zinc, copper, magnesium, gold, silver and asbestos.
Uranium mines of Canada are becoming one major source cf materials for atomic weapons.
Canada's newsprint output is the world's largest. Its lumber of many types for varied uses is moving to all parts of the world.
Factories in Canada are expanding their output and now manufacture automobiles, diesel engines, textiles, electrical equipment and chemicals. New capital is finding its way to Canada. At least one billion dollars of U.S. capital went into Canada.
As Canada becomes a giant in the industrial world, it needs people as well as money.
In 30 years, Canada's population has grown from 8-8 million to 14 million. Immigration, tightly controlled, is being geared to entry of 150.000 European workers, mostly skilled. The shortage is in people."
The government's decision, therefore, to stimulate immigration is a step in the right direction with an eye to Canada's future. I am hopeful that the new program will be effectively implemented. There are some minor bottlenecks which tend to slow the process, but I know that the departmental officials are wrestling with these problems, and I have every confidence that existing obstacles will be speedily eliminated.
An active immigration policy has been urged by all the distinguished members in this house who came from the constituency of Cartier. The late Mr. S. W. Jacobs, who was the first representative of my faith to sit in this parliament, the late Mr. Peter Bercovitch who succeeded him, and the late Mr. Maurice
Hartt who followed, all pressed for increased immigration. They saw how the great flow of immigrants to the United States was making of that country an influential power. They knew that Canada, too, can grow rapidly if we had more people. They made eloquent pleas year after year, and today the intensified development of our natural resources and the present government immigration policy confirm the views which they expressed.
For their foresight and for their courage I pay them my respects and my tribute, and I deem it a privilege now to follow in their footsteps.
One can readily appreciate the reasons for immigrants wishing to settle in Canada. The reputation of our country abroad has been so enhanced that it is almost universally accepted as being the country of the future. Our diplomats have placed Canada on a pedestal in the consideration of those who seek a democratic way of life. Our representatives in the councils of the nations enjoy not only the reputation of being able men but, what is much more important, the reputation of being honest and sincere men.
Never in the history of international affairs have men enjoyed a greater reputation for integrity, sincerity and honesty of purpose than our diplomats enjoy today. On this point I am moved to quote our Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton) who, in one phrase on the floor of the house, gave a description of our Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) which more completely than anything else we have ever heard describes his stature.
The minister, during the emergency session last September, referred to the Prime Minister in the most simple language as a man of transparent honesty. How complete and how appropriate a description-"transparent honesty". It is precisely that; and it is this theme of transparent honesty which guides every one of this country's actions, both on the national and on the international scene. The people of this country have sensed- this basic characteristic of our leader. In fact the entire democratic world has sensed it and therefore many [DOT] of the vexing international problems seek solution at the hands of our Prime Minister and his equally conscientious representatives at the United Nations. It is my personal thought, or perhaps it is shared by others, who like myself, have a profound belief in divine guidance, that it was providential circumstances which placed on the shoulders of these men of transparent honesty-of-purpose the mission of successfully solving a two thousand year old historic problem by returning the Jewish people to their biblical country of origin.
I do not want to sound mystical, nor is it within my competence to adequately emulate the hon. member who quite recently referred to himself as being somewhat evangelical, but I do believe that only a country with a leader and: a government, whose sincerity and honesty of purpose transcend all other considerations, merits the distinction of being recorded in history for the achievement which I have just mentioned, which in human grandeur and historic importance can be likened to that of Cyrus, King of Persia, and Sir Arthur James Balfour of Great Britain, who in ancient days and modern times proclaimed the return of the people of Israel to their promised land.
I believe too that it is more than coincidental that this historic act should be the first major achievement-of-conciliation which has acclaimed our Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) as an effective and impartial mediator whose talents for peacemaking are being sought constantly by the nations of the world. Perhaps international diplomacy has outgrown the age of Machiavelli and is reaching a new level of approach in which cunningness and intrigue will be replaced by a transparent honesty in our quest for a permanent peace, and in which our Prime Minister and our country will be showing the way.
The same lofty reputation is enjoyed by our diplomatic representatives and civil servants. In conversation with many of the harassed people of central Europe that I met on the continent last year, two years ago and three years ago, it was a source of great pride to hear their praise of Canada and the Canadian personnel with whom they had occasion to deal. The humane conduct of our immigration officials and other civil servants in European countries reflects truly the high sense of tolerance, justice and fairness of the country which they represent.
It is therefore my solemn conviction, that because we are now at a peak in our reputation as being a desirable country to which to migrate, and because some immigrants are still available, we should act with the utmost diligence to help populate our country. Hundreds of thousands of excellent immigrants have been anxious to come to Canada since 1933. Many of them made their way to the United States, Australia, South America, South Africa and recently to Israel. A goodly portion came to Canada, thanks to the humane consideration of our government and its immigration officials who dealt most sympathetically with the various representations made by the international refugee organization.
The Budget-Mr. Crestohl
Unfortunately millions were cruelly and wantonly destroyed. Many thousands still want to come to Canada and we should facilitate their arrival. The pool from which to draw immigrants is rapidly running out. We may have already missed our opportunity. That would be sad. Let me quote to you what our Minister of Labour (Mr. Gregg) said on this question when he appeared before the standing committee on immigration and labour on March 8. Speaking about the availability of displaced persons for domestic service, the minister had this to say, as reported on page 22:
"The number of people available for this employment from among the D.P.'s is practically exhausted and we are searching for other sources of supply.
On page 23 he said:
A few minutes ago, I pointed out that the supply of D.P.'s suitable for employment as domestic workers was about exhausted. This is also true in a general way of D.P.'s for other occupations.
He stated further:
With regard to the outlook for 1951, we expect that we will be faced with labour shortages of greater proportion than we have had to deal with during the past few years.
Under the group movement plan, we have placed orders for 16,000 D.P.'s to help meet anticipated labour shortages. The indications at the moment are that we may not be able to get the required number from among the D.P.'s and if this proves to be the case, we will have to look for sources of supply elsewhere.
The leaders of our commercial and industrial futures are deeply concerned about this problem. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce only last week urged the government to adopt an active immigration program. Speaking at a citizens forum in Toronto on March 28, 1951, Mr. W. F. Holding, president of the Canadian Manufacturers Association, did likewise. Both these views were most effectively summarized in an editorial in the Ottawa Citizen of April 10, 1951, as follows:
The Goal of a Doubled Population
"A goal of 30,000,000 Canadians within the next 25 years does not seem so far out of reach today as might have been the case during the depressed 1930's. In urging this target upon the government, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce expresses a realistic faith in Canada's future. It cites the present needs of agriculture and industry for more workers, and the need of greater manpower to defend a vast territory. These needs are likely to increase, for Canada's natural wealth is still largely unused. Even before the rearmament prograrr caused shortages in many labour categories, a high level of employment in the post-war years had confounded pessimists. It is reasonable to assume for the future that Canadians will never again tolerate the kind of laissez-faire slump from which they suffered through a painful decade.
But at the rate of 150,000 immigrants a year, as set by the federal government for 1951, Canada will be a very long time in doubling its population. Present circumstances seem to have outdated this target, and the pace of departmental activity as
The Budget-Mr. Crestohl well. Many potential Canadian citizens are eager to come here. Greater efforts should therefore be made to obtain the co-operation of other governments and to arrange transportation. At this end, reception facilities should be still further improved, and in this connection the individual citizen has a responsibility to help make the newcomers welcome. Though the government has taken steps to speed the inflow of immigrants, its policy is not yet sufficiently ambitious and energetic to satisfy the widespread demand for action."
It is evident that we are rapidly coming to the realization that an effective immigration policy is a sine qua non for the industrial, commercial and defensive future of our country. Implementing it satisfactorily will make of Canada that great democracy that it is destined to be in the future.
It perhaps follows that in looking ahead to a greater Canada, we should examine briefly the human rights enjoyed by the people of this country. The hon. gentlemen of the "other place" performed an act of public service when they created a committee to hear submissions from public and private bodies on the question of human rights and fundamental freedoms. They prepared a report and submitted it on June 21, 1950. In my humble opinion this is an important document which I recommend to the careful attention of every hon, member of this house. Briefly the report declares that the Canadian parliament could adopt the covenant on human rights without invading the provincial legislative authority. The report further briefly states:
A Canadian declaration of human rights could follow in its general lines the preamble of certain of the articles of the United Nations declaration of human rights, subject to the reservations expressed by the Canadian delegation at the United Nations. It would declare the right of everyone in Canada to life, liberty and personal security; the right to equal treatment before the law, to fair trial, to freedom from arbitrary interference with one's privacy, family, home and correspondence; to freedom of movement, to a nationality, to obtain asylum from persecution, to found a family, to own and enjoy property, and to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
I am therefore of the opinion, Mr. Speaker, that, in view of the rapid growth of our country, now may be the appropriate time to deal with this matter. It well behooves a country such as ours to show the way and take leadership in a matter of such lofty moral and humane importance by adopting such a bill at the earliest opportunity.
I should like, Mr. Speaker, at the same time and on the same level to deal with another phase of human relations. I refer to the genocide treaty. Genocide has been described as an old crime with a new name. It is the old crime of Attila and his Huns. It is the crime of Genghis Khan and his Tartars. It is the crime of Hitler and his
nazis. In a word, it is the unspeakable crime of the massacre of a people.
In our own time and within our own memory we have heard of the Ottoman massacres of Armenians, of the massacre of Christian Assyrians in Iraq, of the Ethiopian massacres by Mussolini, of the Chinese massacres by Japan; of the Jewish massacres by the nazis, and only recently of the massacre of 120,000 Chinese by the communists. These mass murders must be outlawed by international agreement. A genocide pact may be the answer. Such a treaty has been approved within the framework of the United Nations. I do not know whether there has been presented to parliament a resolution calling upon Canada to sign the genocide treaty. I do know, however, that we have not yet signed this treaty.
There is no constitutional issue involved, nor is there a political aspect involved. It has international sanction, and unless there is some special reason for not having done so, I would urge that it suits the stature of our country as a humanitarian nation to associate ourselves with all those others who have already signed the genocide pact, and thus take another step forward in our civilization.
I am impelled, Mr. Speaker, at this point to draw to the attention of the house that a crime against humanity is being committed by a member of the United Nations at this very time and for several weeks past. The savage treatment by the Iraqi government of some 80,000 of its population merits the deep concern of all mankind.
I do not want to describe the heartbreaking details. Suffice it to say that the Baghdad government has recently adopted legislation not unlike some of the Hitler Nuremberg laws. When in 1933 and the years that followed German inhuman legislation and behaviour was drawn to the attention of the democratic nations, interference was withheld on the argument that it was a matter of internal administration. There was no United Nations organization at that time, and there was no jurisprudence by international tribunals on crimes against humanity. Nor was there a genocide treaty at that time. The situation, however, is different today. The Iraqi crimes against humanity, not unlike the German attempt to replace the law of civilization by the law of the jungle, must be stopped. Our country should concern itself not only with this but with every violent breach of human decency.
I am therefore hopeful that our Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) will reach the appropriate authorities for a
report on the situation and make our country's views known and publicized before it is too late.
I have already, Mr. Speaker, by placing two questions on the order paper, shown deep concern about the release of nazi criminals by the United States authorities. The answers indicate that our government was not consulted since the released prisoners were convicted by American tribunals over which they alone had jurisdiction. That makes the situation no less distressing, and wholly apart from the fact that this action violates the sensibilities and feelings of our great ally, the republic of France, and millions of people throughout the world, I am concerned with this matter and disturbed by it for an additional reason.
These criminals were condemned for war crimes. Their specious defence that they did nothing more than obey orders of superior officers was rejected by the courts. The courts ruled that what they did was a heinous crime, and will be stamped as such for all time, for which they must be punished. The decision to release them tends in my opinion to nullify the great principles enunciated in the judgments, and vitiates important jurisprudence created at such great sacrifice. The distinguished American general in his process of wooing doubtful German support makes an over-generous gesture in returning to the nazis their lives, their freedom and their fortunes, which he might do, but only if the nazis could in turn give back the freedom, the fortunes and the lives of the millions of innocent men, women and children whom they murdered. That and that alone would be a fair quid pro quo under these circumstances.
The man who prosecuted the criminals at Nuremberg makes a very cryptic yet forthright statement on this question, and I quote a report in the Montreal Daily Star of March 29, 1951. The headline is, "Shawcross
Opposed to 'Whitewashing' Nazis." The article reads:
"Sir Hartley Shawcross, attorney general and chief British prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crime trials, said yesterday it would be a mistake to 'whitewash' nazi war criminals because they were opposed to communism."
Under the same heading, Mr. Speaker, falls the problem of rearming Germany. Some of the dangers have already been very poignantly emphasized in this house. I should like to underscore just one feature. History is replete with Teutonic martial activities. In our own lifetime we have seen what Teutons will do with arms. We remember 1870, 1914 and 1939. They had arms but they abused them, to the great sorrow of millions of families throughout the world
The Budget-Mr. Crestohl
And we are now considering placing weapons in their hands once more! What can we expect in 1952, 1953, 1954 and the years that will follow? Already Mr. Krupp is boastfully striding through Germany announcing from the housetops that the Krupp military empire is going back into operation. What an alliance for the democracies to contemplate! To me it is a sad and unholy alliance, fraught with the greatest dangers.
There is no love in German hearts for France, England or America. It is puerile for us to think that the illustrious general can entice or create that love by wooing Germany through offering to strengthen her military and industrial might. I am not unmindful of existing dangers and the need to stop Russia; but is the danger not greater that, at a moment's notice, the Germans, with the utmost glee, will turn our weapons against us? This they would do for one of two reasons. The first would be out of a desire to save their own necks. If they should get the notion that the Russian march through Germany could not be halted they would promptly join the Russian forces and continue the march with them westward against us. The second reason is their insatiable and grim desire for revenge. Revenge against France, revenge against England, and revenge against the United States. Can we risk arming Germany under these circumstances?
There is an even greater danger now that consideration is being given not only to rearming Germany but also to giving her political and industrial freedom. This danger was strongly emphasized in an editorial in the Montreal Gazette as recently as April 5, 1951. For want of time I quote only extracts from that editorial, but I urge that it be read in full by all hon. members. The headline is "Where will Germany sell?", and the editorial goes on:
"The announcement has been made at Bonn that the production of West German industry is to be greatly broadened . . .
All this would seem a natural and desirable development, were it not for the disturbing question: Where is West Germany to sell its industrial
products? The fact is that a very considerable proportion of West German production has been passing eastward into the communist realm. It is estimated that the value of these exports eastward now amounts to $230 million a year. And since the lifting of the Berlin blockade, at least 150,000 tons of steel have gone to East Germany from the Ruhr valley.
. . . The "known" or legal trade is only a small proportion of the total trade . . .
It is said that some of the German industries think that doing business with the Communists is a form of "insurance." If the Communists were ever to seize West Germany, these friendly relations in trade might be accounted to them as a form of economic righteousness. This mentality, strange as
The Budget-Mr. Crestohl it may seem in North America, is perhaps more easily understood among those who feel they are living on the rim of the abyss.
. . . But if a West German republic becomes master of its own affairs, it may see fit to make an economic treaty with Russia or any of her satellites.
. . . And if West Germany should have political freedom to make such a deal, and should have the expanded industrial capacity to fulfil it, the other nations of the Atlantic union might find that a large segment of their economic ramparts against communism had crumbled.
The trade now taking place between West Germany and Communism (even with West Germany's present industrial and political limitations) is sufficiently disturbing to point a warning for the future.
Building West Germany into the Atlantic world is going to be difficult. But allowing West Germany to build an economic pipe line to the east is much too easy a solution. It is solving our own problem by also solving that of the Russians."
These manoeuvres, to liberate the prisoners and to arm Germany, seem prompted by nothing more than military exigencies, the real value of which is still in grave doubt. And for these doubtful and uncertain advantages the United States military authorities appear to overlook important legal principles and considerations of great moral value.
Daniel O'Connell, the illustrious Irish parliamentarian, many years ago appropriately epigrammed this type of action when he declared, and I repeat with all the emphasis at my command:
"Nothing is politically or diplomatically right if it is morally wrong."
-and Mr. Speaker, in my humble opinion these moves are morally wrong! And the voice of this parliament should be raised in protest against anything that is so morally wrong.
Since a permanent peace is our objective, let us bear well in mind the words of the eminent philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who declared:
"Nothing can bring peace more quickly than the triumph of principles."
The corollary of that is that peace will .tever endure if won through the sacrifice of principles. This view was very clearly stated by Senator William Fulbright in an address to the United States Senate on April 9, 1951, which is reported at page 42 of Life magazine, which I quote in part. He said:
"The vast majority of great civilizations have been destroyed, not as a result of external aggressions, but as a consequence of domestic corruption. I wonder whether in recent years we have unwittingly come to accept the totalitarian concept, that the end justifies the means, a concept which is fundamentally and completely antagonistic to a true democratic society. Democracy is, I believe, more likely to be destroyed by the perversion of, or abandonment of, its true moral principles than by armed attack from Russia."
It is therefore my prayerful submission, Mr. Speaker, that this house should urge our
military experts not to sacrifice great moral values for doubtful and dangerous military exigencies.
Now, Mr. Speaker, by your indulgence and with your very kind consent, permit me as an eyewitness to inform this house of the great honour which you have yourself, sir, conferred upon our country at the ceremonies during the dedication of the new British House of Commons in London. You will recall, sir, that through fortunate circumstances it was my privilege to be present and witness the various functions at which you were called upon to represent Canada. Hon. members, your hearts would have glowed with the greatest pride to have seen our Mr. Speaker, who from the very first procession to the final function, not only by his natural height and the tricornered hat, but by his dignified bearing, his judicious statements and the courtly manner in which he and his charming wife carried themselves, he captivated the admiration and respect of the entire royal and distinguished assemblies.
The final function was a farewell dinner tendered to the commonwealth speakers. The Hon. Senator Roebuck, as chairman of -the executive committee of the commonwealth parliamentary association, presided with great distinction. It was a glorious evening for Canada, as both our Mr. Speaker and the hon. senator shed great lustre on the country which they represented.
As a matter of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker, permit me at this point to express my gratitude to the genial clerk of this house, and to Sir Howard d'Egville, the director of the commonwealth parliamentary association, and his efficient assistants Mr. Spencer-Hess and Major Lockhart as well as to their staffs, both here and in- London, for their gracious attention in making my participation possible at some of these functions in London.
May I also, Mr. Speaker, just say a word about the great emotion which stirred me as I witnessed the opening of the British parliament by His Majesty the King. It was an experience beyond description, and one which I would recommend every member of this house to witness at some time if at all possible.
One saw the great institution of democracy in all its glory, with the dignity and respect for those things in life which we hold sacred.
Having thus been stirred by witnessing the opening of the mother of parliaments, permit me, Mr. Speaker, to tell this house of my unique experience within eight days of also witnessing the opening of the baby of parliaments in the sacred city of Jerusalem. It was my privilege to have been invited by the
speaker of the Israeli Knesset to be present at the opening ceremonies.
This enabled me to reflect upon eight hundred years of parliamentary government, from the oldest parliament in the world in London, the capital of our commonwealth, to the youngest parliament in the world in Jerusalem, the first capital of civilization, which gave the world its greatest precepts for human relations, and its greatest moral teachers, philosophers and prophets of peace; and from whence came forth the prophetic plea of Isaiah, which holds so true even today.
". . . to beat our swords into ploughshares and our knives into pruning forks.
And that nation shall not lift up sword against nation.
Neither shall they learn war any more."
I trust, Mr. Speaker, that hon. members will understand the spirit which moves me to make this reference, and that they will graciously attribute it to the fervour which radiates to anyone who comes in such close proximity to the sacred places and to the very cradle of civilization. Add to this the deep-rooted affection of the people of Israel for anything Canadian, and you will more readily understand the personal gratification I experienced, and the affectionate expressions which greeted me whenever and wherever I was introduced as a Canadian. The gratitude of the people of Israel for our country is a matter of permanent historic record. Their anxiety for every association with Canada and things Canadian is unbounded. It is therefore not surprising to find that Israel's trade with Canada increases daily. In the first ten months of 1950 we exported to that little country Canadian products to the extent of about $12 million. I am sure this trade will continue to grow, as will no doubt also our commercial and diplomatic relations to the mutual advantage of both countries.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, permit me to refer to the well-known academic dispute between philosophers and historians who differ as to whether it is the leader that produces the times or whether the times produce the leader. Personally I share the latter view. The times always produce the leaders necessary to cope with the existing problems.
It has also been said that a country has the leaders it deserves. Ours is a great country with a great destiny, dealing with great problems. This calls for a great leader; the times and kind Providence have produced him. Canada deserves him. We are therefore fortunate indeed that the welfare of our country is now in the hands of the present Prime Minister. Therefore, not only we in Canada, but every freedom-loving person in every part of the world should pray constantly for his good health, so that he may
The Budget-Mr. Knowles continue to be endowed with divine guidance in leading the free people of the world in their successful quest for a permanent peace and a democratic way of life, to the great glory of God and all mankind.
Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North
Centre): Mr. Speaker, in rising to take part in this budget debate, I shall discuss in the main one aspect of our income tax legislation which, so far as I am aware, has not yet been touched upon since this debate started. I refer to. the question of the amount that taxpayers are allowed to deduct because of medical expenses, and in particular to the fact that there is a floor under that amount of 4 per cent of one's net income.
Having indicated that that is the main subject with which I shall deal, I should like to take just a minute or two before I return to it to make one or two general comments on the budget. The reason I am satisfied to limit myself to a moment or two is due to the fact my views have already been expressed by others who have taken part in this debate. I regret that the incidence of taxation imposed by the changes announced by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) bears most heavily on those least able to bear it. It has already been pointed out that when one looks at the rates of increase in taxation, the greatest increases have taken place in the field of the various commodity taxes rather, for example, than in the field of corporation taxes.
With regard to corporation income taxes, there is no increase for corporations whose net earnings do not exceed $10,000 per year. For those above that figure, the increase is at the rate of 20 per cent. Similarly, the rate of increase in the personal income tax is 20 per cent across the board. But when it comes to the sales tax, that tax which bears most heavily on those least able to bear it, the increase in the rate, so far as the general sales tax is concerned, is 25 per cent. When one looks at the excise tax, he finds that in some cases there is an increase of 66 2/3 per cent. I am referring to those cases where the rate of 15 per cent is raised by 66 2/3 per cent of that amount to the figure of 25 per cent. Then there is the case of washing machines, mechanical refrigerators and electric stoves, where the increase in the rate is such that it cannot be calculated in percentage terms. It goes up from zero all the way to 15 per cent.
I would point out also, Mr. Speaker, that there is in these proposals a form of double taxation against those who are least able to bear it; for the income tax and these various commodity taxes hit the same people.
The Budget-Mr. Knowles No one denies the need, under present conditions, of increasing the revenues of the country, but it does seem to me that the Minister of Finance might have found a fairer way to impose increased taxes than is the case with the budget that has been presented to us.
I want to say that I support wholeheartedly the protest against the sales tax increase that is involved in the amendment moved by the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Macdonnell), and I am also supporting wholeheartedly the amendment moved by my leader, which regrets that the 20 per cent surtax on individuals has been made to apply as low as it has. In our view that tax should not be applied until $1,500 in the case of single persons and $3,000 in the case of married persons.
I indicated, Mr. Speaker, that most of what I have just been saying has been mentioned previously in the course of this debate, so that I do not need to expand on it. I am sure that my own position with respect to these matters is quite clear. Rather, when one comes into a debate after it has been going this long he feels an obligation to deal with some matter that has not previously been dealt with. Therefore I raise the matter I referred to at the outset of my remarks, in the hope that something might yet be done about it this year, or if not this year, another year, namely the limited way in which deductions for medical expenses are allowed.
We all support the idea that there should be some consideration in the income tax to those persons who are hit by heavy medical expenses. There is a notion abroad', however, that the provision in that respect is much more generous than it actually is. The lack of generosity which I allege arises from the fact that the taxpayer is not permitted to take from his net income the total amount of his medical expenses, but rather only that portion of his medical expenses which is in excess of four per cent of his net income.
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE