May 22, 1901

CON
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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

As my hon. friend is quoting me, I may say that it made no difference in the debt statement. It would make a difference in the surplus of the year, but not as affecting the debt statement of the year.

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CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

The hon. gentleman, when 1 was questioning the Minister of Railways about his system of charging, and showing how unjust it was and how it misrepresented the profits and losses of the year said : What difference does it make ?

The hon. gentleman's point was, of course, that it all had to come out of the country. But are not the people entitled to know the truth ? Are we to be be-fooled into the belief that these railways are worked at a profit when they are worked at a loss ? Are we to be asked year after year to vote money for the maintenance of these railways under the belief that they are worked at a profit, when, as a matter of fact, they are worked at an enormous loss ? Why, hon. gentlemen opposite in the general election on every hustings in the country proclaimed the great ability of the Minister of Railways, and declared that he had made profits where others had made nothing but loss, that he had drawn order out of chaos. We want the people to know that he made no profits at all, but that, like others, he had done the work at a loss. I saw in ' Hansard ' that the hon. gentleman had said that hon. members on this side had unduly criticised his estimates. Surely,

what we have heard here justifies criticism. There is not an lion, member on this side, I do not think there is an lion, member in the House who will deny even the last dollar that may reasonably be asked for the maintenance of the Intercolonial Railway. Every dollar that can be fairly asked for will be given, whether the road is worked at a profit or at a loss. But let us know the truth about it. There is another feature showing the lamentable consequences of the hon. minister neglecting his repairs. Last year he had the grandest year in the history of the road. His gross revenue was $4,552.000. He had a great increase of traffic, as had every other road in the country. The railways did not need to seek for traffic-it flowed in upon them. The gross receipts showed an increase of $815,000, as against the previous year-largely passenger traffic. As to that increased passenger traffic, almost the whole of it was clear profit-extra people travelling in the trains. As to the freight, that would simply mean extra cars upon trains. It is not too much to say that it would not cost more than 40 per cent to work it. That is to say, he should have had 00 per cent profit on this $813,ouO increase, or not less than $500,000 cash profit. What a magnificent opportunity for the hon. gentleman to come before the country and claim a surplus. But he had been neglecting his track, he had been neglecting his cars, he had been neglecting his locomotives. And so, though he had $813,000, of which $500,000 ought to have been profit, yet his expenses, owing to his own neglect in previous years went up by $755,000. So, out of the whole $813,000, the hon. gentleman only got a beggarly $58,000. That is the result of the hon. gentleman scamping the repairs in previous years. Reference was' made, I think by the Finance Minister, to the present year as not being so successful as previous years. There is no doubt about that. The hon. gentleman in pursuance of his duty sends out every ten days a comparative statement of the revenues from all sources. We find that up to the 10th of May last year, the hon. gentleman showed a surplus from the, railways of $240,000. But this year at the same date he has a deficit of $497,000. Coming from the Finance Minister, I think we may take it as fairly accurate. So, against a surplus for 1900, we have a deficit for 1901, and the difference between the two years amounts to $737,000. I do not wonder that the hon. gentleman admits that it is not a good year. The hon. Minister of Railways will not be able to explain it away. He has* a great remedy in his capital charges. But I do not think that even that will help him on this occasion.

While I do not intend to go into details about the capital expenditure, I wish once more to repeat what I said at the beginning of my remarks, that during the hon. gentleman's administration, he has charged to capital, including the estimates now before the House, about $13,000,000, adding that amount to the public debt.

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

How does the hon. gentleman (Mr. Barker) make that out ?

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CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

The charges to capital passed, and estimated under the hon. gentleman, are as follows :

1897 $ 145,000

1898 252,000

1899 1,OS1,000

1900 1,796,000

1900- 1 (estimates)

3,505,0001901- 2 (estimates)

4,539,000

Capital charges on the Prince Edward Island Railway-

1898 $ 17,000

1899 53,000

1900- 1 (estimates)

716,0001901- 2 (estimates)

532,000

Total $12,661,000

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

The hon. member did not inform us that he was including the Prince Edward Island Railway, but left the impression that he was speaking of the Intercolonial Railway alone.

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CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

If I left that Impression, I did not wish to do so. I spoke of the hon. gentleman in connection with the government railways

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

The hon. gentleman said nothing about that.

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CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

I said that the hon. gentleman, in the administration of the government railways had -added to the capital account of railways in the four years he has had charge of them, including the estimates, nearly $13,000,000. I have shown that the actual figures were $12,661,000. I do not wish to occupy further time. I have taken pains to go carefully over these figures. I believe I have not overstated one fact ; I am sure I have not misquoted one figure. I leave the House to judge whether the hon. gentleman is entitled to the credit he claimed when he said he had worked these railways for the last twb years at a profit. I have to thank hon. gentlemen on both sides of the House, especially hon. gentlemen opposite. for their courtesy in listening to me so patiently. I am sorry I could not have spoken at less length, but going over the mass of figures that I had to deal with. I found it impossible to occupy less time.

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CON

David Henderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DAVID HENDERSON (Halton).

I shall only occupy the time of the House for

5S71

a very few minutes. I waited, expecting some lion, gentleman on tlie other side would follow the hon. member for Hamilton (Mr. Barker), but none of them seem disposed to do so. We have been charged by the Minister of Finance with taking exception to the very large expenditure that is proposed to be made during the coming year, although we have not challenged any of the individual items as they passed through the Committee of Supply, or on concurrence. I desire to say that I have never understood it to be the practice of an opposition to call for separate votes on different items. It is considered quite sufficient for the opposition of the day to make a fair criticism of those items, and to show wherein they are uncalled for, wherein they are too large. But I say it is not the practice of an opposition, at least it has not been since I have been in this House, to challenge by vote the individual items separately. I am quite sure it was not ihe practice of lion, gentlemen opposite when they were in opposition. I see nothing at all in tlie point attempted to be made by the Minister of Finance when he says that we allowed these items to go through without challenging them. Now, the only matter I desire to refer to is with reference to the surplus. If there is any one thing that is misunderstood in this country it is certainly this bug-a-boo of a surplus. There are many people w'ho actually believe that the government have a large revenue over all their expenditure. An ordinary reader of the speech delivered by the Minister of Finance this afternoon would come to the conclusion flint we had last year a revenue of about eight million dollars over every dollar that we expended. This is owing to the system of book-keeping that is adopted in the Finance Department, a system of charging certain items to capital account and others to revenue account, without making the whole question plain to the ordinary reader. Had the precedent laid down by the former government been continued, and the same class of items charged to capital account as were formerly charged. so that a fair comparison could be made. I would not find so much fault with what is done now. But as has been shown conclusively by the hon. member for Hamilton who has just spoken, in the Railway Department the whole system has been changed, and charges that ,were heretofore made against revenue are now charged up to capital, so that the whole system is misleading to tlie general public. I think the time lias arrived when some new system of bookkeeping ought to be evolved by the Minister of Finance, by which the people could fairly understand the finances of the country. Now, let us take the statement of 1000. In the year ending 30th June. 1000. we had a total expenditure of $52,717,400. made up as follows

Charges on debt $10,873,673

Subsidies to provinces 4,250,608

Sinking fund 2,465,640

Collection of revenue 11,044,526

Other expenditure 14,340,832

On capital account 7,46S,843

Railway subsidies 725,720

Other charges 1,547,624

Grand total-Expenditure. $52,717,466 Total-Consolidated Fund. 51,031.466

Deficit $ 1,686,000

This table shows, as I said, that for tlie year 1900-1901 the expenditure was $52.-717,40(5. Now, if our revenue exceeded that expenditure, we had a surplus ; if our revenue was less than that expenditure then we had a deficit. Therefore, I do not think it is fair to tlie electorate of this country that those who are in charge of tlie Finance Department should tell them that we had a surplus, when tlie revenue was actually a great deal less than the total expenditure. Last year our total revenue was only $51.031,400, showing a deficit of $1,080,000. It is clear when you analyse these figures, that we are running behind, that instead of having this boasted surplus of $8,000,000, which the Minister of Finance flaunts before the electors, the actual facts are, taking his own public accounts, that we spent $1,08(5,000 more than all the revenues combined.

Now, why should we continue this system of telling the people that we have a large surplus ? Is it not misleading ? I think it is. It is a bad system, and ought to be changed. The sooner the Minister of Finance changes his system and gives to the people a fair statement of the actual receipts and expenditures, the better will it be for the country. Not until then will the people get their eyes opened to the actual state of facts, and only then will they take those steps which are necessary to arrest the enormously increased expenditure that is going on year by year. Why. they are now asleep. The electors of the country are perfectly satisfied. They say. We have $8,000,000 of a surplus, what is the use of talking about extravagance ? We actually earned last year $8,000,000 more than we spent. The electorate are satisfied. But if you give them a fair and honest statement of the finances of this country, they will see that instead of a surplus we actually spent $1.(58(5.000 more than all the revenue last year,, and that by so much we have increased the national debt of the country. Then the eyes of the electorate will be opened, and then there will be a demand to arrest this enormously increased expendithre that is going on. Sir, not since the hon. gentlemen came into power have they had a surplus, although each year we are told they had a surplus. In three years out of tlie four for which

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CON

David Henderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HENDERSON.

we have complete statements there has been a large deficit, as is shown by the public accounts. I press again upon the Minister of Finance that the time has arrived that a change should be made in our whole system, and that even If he does make a statement in the public accounts showing a surplus of revenue consolidated fund account, over what he chooses to charge against that, I think at the same time that over and above it all. and more prominently and in larger type, the other figures ought to be given. A full and complete statement of the total expenditure and the total revenue will show that we have a deficit and not a surplus, and then, and only then, will the people of this country grasp the idea that year by year we are going behind instead of going forward.

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CON

Rufus Henry Pope

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RUFUS H. POPE (Compton).

Mr. Speaker, I am astonished at the silence of the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Blair) after the clear and explicit statement by the hon. member for Hamilton (Mr. Barker) in dealing with this question, and after that hon. gentleman produced figures that certainly were astonishing to me and which call for explanation. Surely the hon. minister does not intend to continue to treat this House with the same kind of indifference with which he treated me the other evening. It may be only amusement for the hon. gentleman to spend his time with his back towards me as a single member of this House, but surely, unless he has concluded to abandon his department and to leave the government with which he is associated, he is not going to turn his back upon the whole of Canada and upon parliament and not going to offer any advice or information when the figures say that he is $13,000,000 on the wrong side of the account and when the figures say that if the hon. gentleman's statements are anything at all, they are cooked statements, they are prepared documents for election purposes. Now, Sir, I have some responsibility in this matter, more than I would feel under ordinary circumstances, 'because the hon. gentleman knows that when he asked this House for money to extend the Intercolonial Railway to the city of Montreal, I was one of the few members upon this side of the House who left my party to give that hon. gentleman what I thought a fair opportunity. I said to him then, as I say to him now, that if he did not prove by works his promises in connection with the operation of the Intercolonial Railway, I would be one of the first to call him to account for it. I stand here to-day and say to the hon. gentleman that while he may read with impunity, while he may spend his time as a child, whipped and flogged at school and sometimes snubbed even by his own colleagues, because I understand he is almost forgotten by them, while he may sit there and imagine that this conduct is clever and that it carries

statesmanship with it, I do hold him to account. Behold ! I am glad to see that the hon. minister has at last ceased reading. I have no doubt that he is getting ready to speak and that even he, Sir, will condescend some time during this afternoon, or tomorrow, or some other day to give the information that this House is entitled to receive. Now, Sir, as I was saying, when the hon. gentleman chose to look up, I feel a responsibility in this matter. The hon. gentleman stood up in this House and said : Give me the power to extend that road to Montreal and I will make it a great asset for Canada, I will make it a paying railway, it shall no longer be a deficit maker, it shall no longer be an encumbrance on the lax-payers of this country. Notwithstanding that statement, when the assertion is made iu this House that $13,000,000 of taxation has been imposed upon the people, the hon. gentleman sits in his seat and does not answer, does not even condescend to say to the people of Canada : I will give you a statement. Under these circumstances, I say that we should not go home to-morrow. It is necessary that we should stay here longer, it is necessai'y that this House should not adjourn, it is advisable that we should earn a part of the $500 and stay here a little while longer.

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LIB

William Forsythe McCreary

Liberal

Mr. McCREARY.

I would like to ask the hon. gentleman how many days this session he has been in his seat.

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CON

Rufus Henry Pope

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. POPE.

I wish to say to the hon. gentleman for his own special, private information, that it is none of his business.

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Some hon. MEMBERS

Oh.

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CON

Rufus Henry Pope

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. POPE.

If he had not been a particular friend of mine and a new member of this House I would not have given him that answer, but I feel that it is due to him to say that as he comes from the wild and woolly west where people are liable to stick their noses into other people's business, I will excuse him. I was saying to the hon. minister that we have a perfect right to an explanation and if we have to stay here for several days we are going to get it. I am good and fresh, and as the hon. gentleman from the prairie province seems to be a little tired he may go home and I will stay here and listen to the hon. minister. But, we are going to have some explanation. We are entitled to an explanation upon this subject and we are going to get it. Why, Sir, $13,000,000 ! Can these figures be correct ? Either they are, or they are not. If they are not correct, why does the hon. minister not get up and give us the true position ? What is he afraid of ? Who is he waiting for ? Why is he so timid ? Whom does lie want to speak before he rises ? What is the matter with him ?

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An hon. MEMBER.

He is all right.

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CON

Rufus Henry Pope

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. POPE.

There must be some answer from the hon. gentleman. This hon. gentle-

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

I would like to have the hon. gentleman intimate what he means by that last remark ?

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CON

Rufus Henry Pope

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. POPE.

What I mean is this. 1 mean that a contracting firm is used to figuring up the number of feet of lumber, then the quantity of nails, iron and machinery, connected with the construction of an elevator of that kind, the cost of labour, &c., and then to add a profit of 10 or 15 per cent, and make his tender. That is the honourable way, but he was told he could not get the contract for this work on that basis. He was told he need not think of tendering on that basis, that the way for him to do was to make a cut tender, and then take his chances of settlement with the government by other means later on.

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May 22, 1901