Mr. J. E. Brown (Brantford):
Mr. Speaker, I have only a few brief remarks to make in this debate. There is no doubt the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) would have made himself very popular if the personal income tax or the corporation tax, or both, had been reduced substantially this year. Naturally,
all of us would welcome any prospect of reduced taxation. But, so far, no one has indicated where appropriations could be cut. For example, I have not heard any suggestion from anyone that we cut our defence expenditures at this time-expenditures that consume over 40 per cent of our tax dollar. Nor do I believe that any responsible critic of the government would dare suggest that we trim down our defence expenditures at this time.
Neither do I hear any serious suggestion of reducing the amount set out in the budget for social services. Liberal administrations over the past twenty years or more have built up a comprehensive plan of social welfare, establishing a basic national minimum of social security across Canada. It is a plan that is admired throughout the world. Surely no one will suggest that this long-range plan be interfered with, or that it be diminished in either scope or extent.
One thing that has impressed me since coming to Ottawa has been the activity of the Department of National Health and Welfare. The immensity of the measures taken by the federal government to provide hospitalization and health facilities across Canada, even in the most remote centres, has been an inspiration to many of us who are now in the house at this session for the first time. The record of the government and, in particular, of the Department of National Health and Welfare, ought to be a source of pride to every Canadian. There is not a home in Canada that has not benefited, and benefited to a large extent, from the huge grants made by the federal treasury for the construction of hospital and health centres across the country.
I would be very much opposed to any attempt to curtail or to restrict in any way these facilities, or any effort to lower our standards. I feel sure, too, that any such move would be opposed by the great majority of members in the House of Commons.
How, then, are we going to cut taxes? Are we going to begin deficit financing? Would anyone suggest that we move away from the method of financing that has been adhered to by this government over many years? I believe the Minister of Finance holds an invincible record of achievement in balancing budgets over many years, and in having been fortunate at the same time in reducing substantially the national debt. Indeed there are many who express the hope that eventually the national debt may be wiped out altogether.
I am convinced that, with the exception of a few grumblers, in their hearts the people of Canada salute the Minister of Finance and
The Budget-Mr. J. E. Brown this government for the brave, efficient and careful manner in which they have tackled and are now tackling the financial problems of this country. When I was back home during the Easter recess I found the people still talking about the Prime Minister's world tour. They have expressed their deep admiration for his having undertaken this extensive trip abroad, spreading, as he did, the spirit of good will that Canadians have towards the divers peoples whom he visited.
The people of Canada are very much interested in the peoples of India, Pakistan, Ceylon and other nations in that part of the world. In considerable measure this is due to the long and close association between ourselves and these various nations of the British commonwealth. I find that there is widespread satisfaction that the Prime Minister visited some of the great countries in Asia, as an expression of the feeling of brotherhood and mutual understanding that exists and has existed over a long period of years between the people of Canada and the peoples of these lands.
Accordingly I desire to express the hope that the government will give the most careful study and consideration to developing and extending our participation in the Colombo and other plans, to assist in every possible way in raising the living standards of the peoples in these countries. It would seem that there is very much that we can do, and I would urge that every means possible be taken to cement our good relations with these nations of the commonwealth, and with other friendly nations of the East.
I understand that last year we contributed $25 million to the Colombo project. I would be in favour of substantially increasing this technical and material aid, after the government has had time to discuss measures in detail with those who are responsible for implementing the plan. I should imagine that a great deal by way of further technical assistance in the fields of agriculture, transportation and public utilities would be very much welcomed in the East at this time.
For example, could we not furnish a goodly supply of agricultural tools, implements and equipment suitable for use in the East, as well as a further supply of trucks, buses and other vehicles of transport? Probably this was one of the many subjects discussed with the leaders in Pakistan and with Mr. Nehru during the Prime Minister's visit.
Of course, any large-scale assistance would mean heavier taxes here in Canada. It simply could not be done without in some measure increasing the tax burden; but I believe the majority of people would favour doing this, taxes or no taxes. I find that the average intelligent working man or
The Budget-Mr. J. E. Brown woman is quite prepared to pay taxes in return for increased security from unemployment. I believe that an intensive program of technical and material aid to commonwealth and other friendly countries in the East might help substantially to ease the unemployment situation that exists in some centres, including my own historic city of Brantford. I am quite certain-indeed I have no doubt-that I could carry my constituency on a program of expanded aid to eastern nations. I have reason to believe that the labouring people of Brantford as a whole would support it, and also the farmers and a substantial proportion of the remainder of the electorate. They would like to see the Prime Minister's good will visit backed up by a long-range program of assistance in developing countries in areas of the world that have been suffering for generations from a depressed standard of living. If we can, let us be of real assistance to our friends in the East. I am sure they need and would welcome our help just now, and it would be a way in which we could demonstrate our feeling of brotherhood toward the inhabitants of the several great nations that have been grouped together for so many years in our commonwealth.
The Christian heritage alone of this land impels us, Mr. Speaker, to set a real example of sharing some of our material prosperity with those less fortunate in this regard, but who probably are every bit as, if not more, sensitive to spiritual values. In other words, I should like to see the Prime Minister's trip followed up at this time by a plan in which the people of Canada as a whole could participate. The expressions of good will that have been advanced by the Prime Minister in Asia represent, I am sure, what is in the hearts and minds of the men and women whom I represent, and I venture to say that the people of Brantford are typical of the people of Canada.
For a long time my constituents have recognized the merits of the government's long-range domestic program, or else I would not have been elected to this house; but I believe they are now prepared to have Canada give a little leadership in a new field of endeavour, a field worthy of the very best that is in us, of developing the peaceful arts in many friendly nations, particularly those with whom we are united in the commonwealth, and of aid that is consistent with what we should like in our hearts to see accomplished in the vast and intensely interesting continent of Asia.
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE