May 21, 1923

PRO
CON

David Spence

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPENCE:

We have been doing everything for you. I know conditions in the West just as well as my hon. friends do, for I have covered the prairie provinces. I have travelled all over this country from Halifax to Vancouver and Victoria, and I can say that the conditions in the country from which my hon. friends come were no worse in those days than were the conditions in our part of the country, nor indeed, were they half as bad. I remember that at the same time bread sold at 4 to 5 cents a large loaf retail; I sold tons pf it myself.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (York):

A loaf of bread and quart of whiskey would be a cheap meal.

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CON
PRO
CON

David Spence

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPENCE:

Then why do you forget those bad times so soon? The life of the farmer, I think, has improved a lot since those days with a few exceptions, and this is due to the activities of the Department of Agriculture under different governments, that department having improved dairying and farming generally. The Agricultural department under every government has done a great deal for hon. gentlemen. It has established cold storages, while private interests have also built similar institutions, enabling the speculator to pay these gentlemen and

those whom they represent a reasonable price for their butter, their eggs, their poultry and hogs during the summer season, when the amount of these products coming in could not possibly be consumed. And yet hon. gentlemen growl about not having accommodation, and so forth.

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PRO
CON

David Spence

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPENCE:

Pardon me; I am talking now. When I get through with this sentence you may interrupt me.

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PRO
CON

David Spence

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPENCE:

Butter especially has been improved to the greatest extent. I remember well having seen dozens upon dozens, nay, hundreds of barrels, come into our market, some of which was absolutely unfit for food; and when we segregated the good from the bad and got all we could for the best, we had to sell the rest at from 4 to 5 cents i pound. To-day, through the good offices of the departments of agriculture of the provinces there is no excuse for there being any bad butter in the country, and the lady who cannot make good butter nowadays can sell her milk to the creamery or take it to the cheese factory. What else do hon. gentlemen want to have done for them? To-day, I am glad to say, there is a big 12 m. demand for the woman who can make her own butter. In the fall of the year when the farmers decide to get lid of their stock before the winter season sets in, for one reason or another, generally to obviate feeding during the winter, veiy heavy shipments come in and the cold storage is again brought into use to save the situation. These gentlemen bitterly complain because they cannot get the prices they want for their stock. But how would it be possible to consume trainloads of half-fed cattle, the scrubs that come into the cities and large centres? How would it be possible at all to make any use of them without cold storages? Again, my good friends are protected by the provision that has been made for them in the different provinces.

There are too many people to-day who know everybody else's business but their own. Before entering public life men should have a broad knowledge of their country's needs as a whole and not think their own little part of the country alone needs attention. Thank goodness I have never been that way. All my life I have tried to give the other fellow the best of the deal. When in 1909 I first offered myself as a candidate for the city council of Toronto my wide experience on the water-

The Budget-Mr. Spence

front made me realize the necessity and importance of water-borne transportation, and I advocated then, as I do now, the deepening of the waterway between Montreal and Toronto and also the deepening of the Wel-lan canal. I pictured ocean boats leaving Toronto loaded with apples and other merchandise for the Liverpool and Glasgow markets and bringing back return cargoes for delivery clear to the head of the lakes. Can any hon. gentleman tell me that such a waterborne traffic would not build up the central and western provinces? And yet I have heard some hon. members from the West ridiculing the idea of a deep waterway to Montreal. The day is not far distant I think when we shall see the realization of this idea which will mean so much to Canada and the Empire.

The Ontario cabinet has been accused of irresponsible government-government by

commission. As I see this administration it is a case of government by committee. The government has refused to accept responsibility for any important legislation introduced this session. The government is run like a six-ring circus-committees sitting in every quarter at a cost to the country in the neighborhood of $500,000, with little prospect of any return commensurate with this outlay. We have been told by the Prime Minister that we are to have a fair and equitable redistribution. Well, on the committee to which the redistribution bill has been assigned we have ten members of the Liberal party, five of the Progressive party and four of the Conservative party. Do you expect to get a fair and equitable redistribution from such a committee? I say. no.

I am not going to criticize the budget too severely. I am glad to see that the tax has been changed on soft drinks and that the cigarette duty has been reduced to its old figure. I wrote a letter last year to the Minister of Finance pointing out just what would happen in respect to the increased duties he then placed on these two articles. I received a very nice answer from him in which he said he would take my suggestions into his very serious consideration-that is what Sir Oliver Mowat used to say-but I do not think he did. However, he has taken my advice at last. Speaking of the income tax, I think the penalties are entirely too high. A friend of mine who was executor of a small Toronto estate forgot to make his return within the specified time, but he did so three days later and paid the tax. In the meantime the income tax department saw fit to fine him $50. Now, could he take that out of the widow's mite? No, he had to take it out of his own

pocket. That is penalizing a good, respectable citizen and I say the law should be changed to prevent the repetition of such an injustice.

We should know to-day whether the Post Office Department is being run at a profit or a loss. The sale of postage stamps to-day is enormous. Many of these stamps are placed on cheques and receipts and go to the credit of the Post Office Department. Altogether it is a very badly managed affair. Then the reduction of the maximum stamp on cheques is no help to the ordinary man of business. A wholesale man like myself has occasion to draw many cheques from $100 up to $2,000 or $3,000, and consequently the reduction only benefits bankers, brokers and millionaires. The rate of duty on cheques is extremely high and eats up our profits. There is not a dollar you make that somebody is not trying to get it.

If the hon. Minister of Finance were in his seat I would ask him why was the sales tax taken off newsprint. To my mind it was not taken off in the interests of the Progressive party or of the consuming public; it was bribery pure and simple to get the support of the newspapers of the country. Furthermore, there is no class of business to-day that can afford to pay a 6 per cent sales tax. To my mind some commodities to-day that are free from duty could well afford to stand a tax, and it would be a good way of getting revenue. Take bananas alone, for some reason or other the banana trust, composed of the foreign element of this country and the United States, control our politicians and consequently not a cent of duty has ever been placed on bananas. Bananas to the value of $5,210,000 were imported last year. There is absolutely no reason in the world why a moderate duty should not be imposed on bananas, especially as there is nothing so detrimental to our fruit growers as the importation and sale of bananas in the months of June, July, August and September when our own strawberries, plums, peaches and other fruits come on the market. Oranges and pineapples are free of duty. I am not advocating that they should be made dutiable, I merely mention that they enter free. Grape fruit for some reason or other is taxed too high, one cent a pound being equivalent to seventy or eighty cents a box. Ten times the amount of money would come into the Treasury if grape fruit, oranges, lemons, and pineapples were taxed 25 cents a box, and this tax would never be noticed in the resale price.

If there is any commission in this world that should be appointed-I do not advocate

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The Budget-Mr. Hopkins

commissions because I believe the men who are elected to this House should bear the responsibility of legislating for this country- but if there is any commission that should be appointed it is a tariff commission, composed of men who know something about trade conditions in this country, instead of this parliament tampering with the tariff from time to time. The day after the Minister of Finance delievered his budget I read in a Toronto morning paper-I was not able to be here on that day-that the tariff on potatoes had been increased from twenty cents to thirty-five cents per hundred. The public thought that was an awful increase. I do not think it meant from twenty to thirty-five cents a hundred, because the duty was 20 cents per bushel. It was only increasing the duty one and two-thirds cents per hundred pounds, and I do not think the tariff should be interfered with to make a little change like that. Again, we have established the principle of a certain sized barrel, two and a half bushels, or two and three-quarters, or three bushels. To-day we are fighting with the customs officials all the time over the weight of the barrel, and I say it is not worth disturbing trade for such a small amount. I think it is easier collecting duty than anything else, and that would be my system of raising money and having less taxation, but I would recommend strongly to any government that is in power in this country not to make these small changes in the tariff, but appoint a tariff commission composed of men who know the business needs of the country.

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PRO

Edward Nicholas Hopkins

Progressive

Mr. E. N. HOPKINS (Moose Jaw):

Mr. Speaker, I feel that I have the sympathy of every hon. gentleman in this House because on some occasion, whether it was last year, five years, ten years ago, thirty or even forty years ago every hon. gentleman has been in the position in which I find myself at this moment. It is a wonderful thing for a man to have the record of forty years in the House of Commons which I believe two hon. members of this House enjoy, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) and the Minister or Railways (Mr. Graham). But it is a more wonderful thing to be forty years in the Canadian House of Commons and have the respect and love of the entire House.

Mr. Speaker, when a member comes to the House of Commons for the first time, he comes here as you know with just the vision of his own little constituency. He does not just at first get the vision of the Dominion of Canada, or, as I suppose he will later on, the

vision of Canada as a nation, the world's vision, for we all believe that Canada is a nation in the building. We believe the day will come when we shall have countless thousands of people in this country to develop the resources that have been bestowed upon us with such a bounteous hand, but just at first all we can do in our maiden effort is to talk about the things back home. All governments say, if they are asked to do anything out of the ordinary: We must first feel the pulse of the people, so I would like for a few minutes to present the pulse of my constituency.

I represent a constituency in the centre of Saskatchewan, in that great granary that is called the bread basket of the Empire. Every year the milling companies of the West just after threshing time send out and get samples of all grains in the different parts of the West and submit it to the baking and milling tests, and when they find the grain that is best adapted for milling they send to that particular district and get that wheat for their mills. The wheat in the northern part of my constituency-it is an old settled district for forty years-has been selected as the wheat the millers want to grind in their own mill. Now we do not get any premium on that.

I say it is an old-settled district, and one of the best. The southern part of the riding is a newer district where some of my people are forty miles from a railroad, but it is a good district, and I was glad to note from the remarks of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell) the other day that we are going to have a railroad there. Half of my constituents are rural and half of them are urban, and I make no apologies to my urban constituents for discussing the problems of the rural people, for in the West, in the farming district on the prairie, the interest of the city is so connected with that of the farmer that they cannot be divided. We have only two classes of people in that country, the people who can make a living on the farm and make a fair living, and the people who are enabled to live in the city because the farmer makes a fair living. In the early days the farmers were fairly successful before the war and we got a city, but now that the farmers are not doing well their condition is reflected in the city, and I want to say to you that these are strenuous days in western Canada, and I fancy there are going to be strenuous days all over Canada because when the buying power of the farmer is diminished it is reflected in the business of the whole country. Canada was started by a little colony of farmers, and though our commerce has ex-

The Budget-Mr. McKUlop

paneled it still remains true that the great industry of this country is agriculture. We in the West have always believed that a high tariff bore unduly heavily on the West.

Let me put it in another way. We will suppose, if you can imagine it, that in place of having the great Dominion of Canada we had an eastern Canada and a western Canada, that these were both British possessions but divided into two separate provinces, and that the people of eastern Canada came to the people of western Canada and said: Let us form a great confederation and have one great Canada. If you will form that confederation we will make this proposition to you. Remember that we have the great bulk of the population east of the great lakes, and consequently we will have the voting power and will make the laws. But we will make this proposition to you: If you will join us in the East we will put a high tariff on all the things you consume. You will be allowed to take all your products of the farm and sell them in the markets of the world in competition with the whole world, but we will put a heavy duty on everything you buy, on your implements, on your clothing, on your boots and shoes. Yes, we will do more than that. We will take your lands, your mines, and administer them for you.

Do you think that would have a tendenev to make the West join with the East? I do not think it would. A good many gentleman here seem to think that we are on the up grade, that we have crossed the Rubicon and are going to climb up. I hope that is the case but I do not think so. Some of the brightest minds in the world to-day belie''e that the best way to have a reconstruction would be for the different nations to cancel their debts and commence again. The wav has been over for a good many years and in my opinion we have not started re-construction yet. Re-construction means to commence at the bottom and build up from the foundation. The only way you will build a permanent structure in Canada is to take a recapitalization of your debts and then adjust those debts. There are thousands of people in western Canada to-day who are adjusting their debts-the debtor and the creditor-and starting anew. We will never accomplish what wc want in this country, in my humble opinion, until we adjust our debts as between the debtor and the creditor. This Canada of ours has lost millions of money during the war, and the trouble is that to-day some people want to make others bear more than their share of that- loss. When our people bear their proportionate share of the burden then

we will be able to build afresh; and it is a duty of parliament, I think, to do for the people what they are unable to do for themselves. That is to make every Canadian, as far as is possible, bear his share of the burden. When every Canadian realizes his responsibility and is willing to do his part then we shall really commence to build up the country.

Mr. HUGH C. McKILLOP (West Elgin):

I am sure the Finance Minister (Mr. Fielding) must be tired of the congratulations which have been showered upon him from every comer of the chamber and therefore I will content myself with wishing him for the future many years of good health and happiness and freedom from parliamentary duties.

The budget as brought down this year does not display very many changes as compared with the previous budget. True there are a number of small changes. For example, the tariff is reduced on sugar but at the same time it is increased on clothing, so that in the end it works out very much the same. It is just about the same old tariff. Some items are higher, some are lower, but on the whole it is just about the same. This is the second budget that has been brought down by the present government, and it makes one wonder whether they have forgotten altogether the platform they adopted in 1919, which was broadcasted in blazing colours all over this country. Take even their more recent pre-election promises which they made throughout this country in 1921. So far there have not been such changes in the tariff as to give very much encouragement to those who supported them in the last election. It is no wonder, therefore, that the present government have not achieved greater success in the by-elections that have taken place since they came into power. Mr. Speaker, the handwriting is on the wall, warning the present government that unless they change their ways and endeavour to carry out some of their promises their time in office is going to be very short.

Now, I want to direct attention for a few moments to a matter that concerns the bean producers of this country, and in dealing with this subject I will present the facts as briefly as possible. For a number of years past the duty on beans imported into Canada has been 25 cents a bushel while beans entering the United States from Canada have to meet a duty of $1.20 a bushel. I claim that this is not right, and that it constitutes a hardship on the farmers of Canada who have been engaged in the production of beans. Since this condition has prevailed many farmers have been driven out of the industry, while others have so curtailed their production that not over

The Budget-Mr. McKillop

40 per cent of the quantity of beans that used to be grown in Canada is now produced in this country. Take in the period from 1892 to 1901 the production of beans in Canada amounted to 875,597 bushels. In the latter year the import of beans amounted to 11,003 bushels. Since that time imports of beans have grown by leaps and bounds and at the same time the home production has steadily declined. To such an extent has that been the case that in the year 1920-the last period for which I have figures-the Canadian bean production reached a total of only 388,499 bushels, whereas in the same time the imports had grown to the extent of 444,698 bushels. In 1920 we find the production of beans in Canada was only a little over one-third as much as it was during the ten years that I have mentioned. What is the cause of this? Simply that owing to the low tariff maintained by Canada this country has been made a dumping ground by the nation to the south of us. This is not as it should be, and no self-respecting government should allow such a condition to continue any longer. Then there are other countries. For instance, Austria and Japan send a lot of beans into this country. I do not think it is fair, equitable or just that the farmers of Canada should be called upon to compete with countries where the standard of living is so much lower and where labour is so muoh cheaper. I have it on good authority that a labourer in Japan does not receive as muoh in the fields for two weeks' work as the labourer does in this country for one day's work. Now, Mr. Speaker, I claim that if this duty on beans coming into this country were put where it should be, and the bean producers given to understand that the home market was available to them, it would only be a matter of a short time when the production of beans in Canada would far exceed any production of the past. It is suggested that the reason the tariff is kept down is to favour the consumer. As to that I will only say that, with all the importations of beans in the past, the consumer is not buying the bean a particle cheaper than he did two years ago, as it is a well known fact that for years the price of beans in small quantities has been ten cents per pound. I am convinced that if the tariff on this commodity is raised the consumer will not have to pay any more than at present, as the production of beans would so increase as to keep the price to the consumer where it is at present or even lower. I hope the government will give this matter their earnest

attention and see that the farmers and bean producers have a fair show.

I should like to draw the attention of the House for a few moments to the conditions of the workingmen in this country. We have at present on our statutes, under the Department of Labour, what is known as fair wage officers, and I understand that one of these officers is stationed in Montreal, another in Ottawa, another in Toronto, another in Winnipeg and another in Vancouver. I would have these officers inquire in their respective districts as to the condition under which the workingman is labouring, first as to wages, and secondly, as to the cost of living in his community. It is a well-known fact you may have a labouring man in one place who is doing a certain kind of work and receiving what is termed a living wage, and at the same time you may have, a thousand miles from him, a man engaged in similar work, receiving the same wage, and yet, on account of the high cost of living, hardly able to make ends meet. I claim it should be the duty of the fair wage officer to inquire into the workingman's conditions and to see that he is satisfied and contented, for after all, a satisfied and contented workingman is one of Canada's greatest assets.

Further, Mr. Speaker, I claim that if the workingmen are contented, a great obstacle is placed in the way of the entrance into Canada of Bolshevism. For my part, I have no use for Bolshevists, or Bolshevism, or of any other kind of "ism" except good, sound, strong, loyal Canadianism. I am satisfied that 90 per cent of our working men belong to that class. I do not wish to be misunderstood in this matter. I do not hold any brief for any radical element. The class I am speaking for is the honest, sincere and loyal workingman, the man who wants to give an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. I want to be placed on record as being ready, at any time while a member of this House, to suport any sane legislation that has for its object the bettering of the workingman's conditions.

In conclusion, I may say that since coming to this House I have heard a good deal of talk about low tariff, and a great deal of talk about free trade, but I am convinced that neither one of these will ever cure the ills Canada is suffering from. On the other hand, I am just as strongly convinced that what this country needs is a strong national policy, if she is ever going to take the place that she originally intended to take, as one of the leading nations of the world.

Pension Act

On motion of Mr. Stewart (Leeds) the debate was adjourned.

On motion of Mr. Graham the House adjourned at 12.40 a.m. (Tuesday).

Tuesday, May 22, 1923

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May 21, 1923