Mr. SMITH (York North):
Not only must we guard against the influx of communists to this country, but I hope that those communists who have been convicted of treason against Canada will, at the expiry of their prison terms, have their Canadian citizenship revoked. They should be deported to those countries which claim their higher loyalty.
We have had a long discussion in the house regarding controls, and I think the people of Canada have reason to be thankful to the government for its control policies. Controls have served Canada well, and I think in the matter of decontrol we have been proceeding quickly enough. But there is one feature of housing control which I should like to mention, one feature which I consider has lingered long enough on the stage of our national planning. I think the time has come when that regulation in connection with housing, which prohibits people who own their own homes from moving into them, should be dispensed with. It may be said that this will cause evictions; but I submit that the hardship and suffering of evictions are no less heartrending than the sufferings occasioned in those cases where people, many of them elderly and who, by virtue of lives of thrift and industry, own their own homes, are now unable to move into them because of these regulations. I should hope that the regulations might be altered in the not distant future.
Income tax reductions announced in the budget will afford a welcome measure of relief.
I think the minister was right in his statement that there had grown up in Canada an acute tax consciousness. Had this been allowed to fMr. J. E. Smith.]
continue without any reduction in taxation at this time, I agree with the minister that it would have worked against the best interests of Canada and been a hindrance in our reconversion programme.
Like many others, I would have been happy if the tax reductions had continued further, and particularly into that field of so-called nuisance taxes. I am going to mention only one tonight, and to say that I agree most heartily with those hon. members who have advocated the removal of the tax on radio receiving sets. I submit that this tax should be abolished, and for three reasons. First, apparently so far there has not been devised an efficient and economical manner of collection and enforcement; second, it should be abolished because it is unpopular, for the simple reason that so many people know that so many other people do not pay it; and. third, and most important of all, it should be abolished because the ownership of radio receiving sets is now so general in Canada that there is no need for a special tax as a special privilege. If money is needed for the upkeep or maintenance of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, it might just as well be taken from the general .revenue, thus saving the people of Canada the nuisance and expense of this special levy.
As I said at the outset, our future in Canada depends in large measure upon two factors, namely how we are able to get along together here in Canada, and how we are able to get along with the rest of the world. We look out upon a troubled world and read anxiously and hopefully as conferences are held from time to time throughout the world seeking to establish peace and order throughout the world, and sometimes we are restless and impatient at the bickerings and disagreements between nations. But should we in Canada be too critical of the nations of the world in their disagreement if we honestly look at ourselves and examine the present position of dominion-provincial relations in this country?
I am sure that it was a matter of great regret to all Canadians, irrespective of their political affiliations, that better results did not come from the recent dominion-provincial conferences. Today, looking to the future of Canada and looking to the problems which we face, both nationally and internationally, I agree with those who say that this matter of dominion-provincial relations is one of our most important internal problems. Turning back the pages of history to the stirring days preceding confederation, we
The Budget-Mr. J. E. Smith
find that in those days there was strong support for a legislative union with a system of government providing a single parliament for the whole country. However, the fathers of confederation, in their good judgment and in the light of the then existing conditions, could not be expected to foresee the future of almost a century and they decided upon a federation which provided for provincial governments as well as a central and national government.
There were difficult problems to settle in bringing about confederation, difficulty as to division of power between the national and the provincial governments. Many of those difficulties are with us today. They are so great and so important that it is becoming abundantly clear that, until we settle them, our progress as a nation will be hampered and our plans for the good and welfare of our people will fall short of what we would have them be.
In the confederation debates in Upper Canada in 1865 a supporter of confederation said:
I am satisfied that one of the great advantages of this union will be found in this, that we will be raised above our sectionalism and come to feel and act as the citizens of a great country.
Canadians everywhere tonight reecho that wish. If we are to achieve the greatness which we deserve; if we are to attain to our rightful destiny we must face up to our problems, not as Ontario Canadians, not as maritime Canadians, not as Quebec Canadians or not as western Canadians; we must face up to them as Canadians. The problems which we face are of such magnitude as to test our best Canadianism.
I said that there was general disappointment of the failure of the dominion-provincial conferences and there has been some discussion in an attempt to assess the blame for those failures. However, I think the people of Canada are not merely so concerned as to who was responsible for the failure of those conferences as they are concerned with the fact that the failure of the dominion and the provinces to come to an agreement is holding up many measures of vital concern to the future of the Canadian people. This government's social security programme cannot be fully effective until some agreement is reached between this government and all the provinces. The issues at stake are so great and so far-reaching that, even in the face of what might seem to be impossible and
insurmountable barriers, I should like to see this government take the lead in making another attempt to settle this question. I think the only way to settle these problems satisfactorily is to call a dominion-provincial conference, and I submit that this government would be rendering a great national service by reconvening the conference at as early a day as possible.
When such a conference is held-and I hope it will be-I suggest that those who sit around the conference table representing the provinces and the dominion should discuss something more than who is to tax whom, and how much. I am sure the people of Canada would like to see the representatives of the provinces and of this national government discuss seriously, honestly and free from provincial or political bias, the problem of overgovernment in Canada. We should like to see them discussing in a businesslike manner the ways and means of eliminating duplication of services rendered by the national and other branches of administration. Overgovernment is a burden on the taxpayers of Canada; it continues to grow and it is a burden about which we do very little.
I am sure the people of Canada would like to hear representatives at a dominion-provincial conference discuss a national health policy which would ensure our people against the economic disaster which is visited upon so many through sickness and disease. We should like to see the representatives of the provinces and the dominion agree on a policy of cooperation in the establishment of a hospital building programme which would provide adequate and modern hospital facilities, not only in the great centres of population but in the small communities all across Canada. We should like to see the dominion and provincial leaders discuss ways and means whereby our aged citizens would be better cared for.
The people of Canada would like to hear a discussion at this conference of the matter of jurisdiction and responsibility, so that cooperation would be possible in a great national plan of reforestation whereby the rich resources of our land could be perpetuated for coming generations and our waste spaces made fruitful and productive. These and many other great national problems might well be the topic of discussion at a reconvened dominion-provincial conference, with the possibility of great good to all the people of Canada.
Understanding within our borders is one of our primary needs today, and I repeat that this makes the matter of dominion-provincial relations one of our leading internal problems. To meet the challenges which we face, to meet the problems which confront us, we must have a
The Budget.-Mr. J. E. Smith
spirit of understanding and cooperation between all the people of Canada; we must have a spirit of understanding and cooperation between all branches of government in Canada. To that end I am suggesting that we should call as quickly as possible a dominion-provincial conference. If this national government does its part with this conference and the failure and disappointments of the past are forgotten I am satisfied that the people of Canada will be quick to judge if there are still around at conference tables those who are more interested in playing politics than in playing ball with the rest of Canada.
Coming as I do from Ontario, one of the richest provinces of this country, I want it to be known unmistakably that, no matter how we may have been misunderstood, no matter how wre may have been misrepresented, we in Ontario are ready and anxious to throw in our lot as Canadians with our fellow Canadians from coast to coast in a united effort to build a better Canada.
On motion of Mr. MacNicol the debate was adjourned.
It being three minutes after eleven o'clock, the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order.
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: DEBATE ON ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE