Mr. J. A. BARRETTE (Berthier-Maskin-onge) (Translation):
Mr. Speaker, the courage displayed by the hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes), in bringing down a budget so burdened with taxation, is certainly worthy of praise. 1 especially wish to draw the attention of the house to the well established fact that alone the economic depression of which Canada, as well as the rest of the world, Buffers, has forced the government to resort to such a budget.
All members of this house realize, better than I can express it, the moral courage displayed by a government, when it risks its popularity by increasing the taxes which burden a nation. It is the outward and fearless expression of a government conscious of its duty. It is the accomplishment of this disagreeable duty which all statesmen have to face when the nation's credit, upon which the prosperity of the people depends, demands it.
Above all, the duty of our governments is to safeguard the nation's economic system, so rudely shaken by a world-wide depression and which the hon. member for Winnipeg North 'Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) would completely cast aside because as he states " the present economic system is responsible for the fact that a large number of people are out of work, and that both our natural resources and the social organization in this country serve the interests of a few and not those of the people, as a whole."
These two statements are baseless and the hon. member carefully avoided substantiating them. In what way is our present economic system responsible for the unemployment of so large a number of people? The hon. member does not state. This economic depression is world-wide, as the hon. member pointed out. Almost all countries differ in their economic systems and even Russia's economic regime was powerless against this depression. Ever since the world was created, at various periods, there have been economic crises in all countries and under all economic regimes. All forms of government were tried and none of them were able to stem the rising tide of economic crises.
This economic depression has been attributed to a thousand causes, however, there are plausible reasons to believe that the main cause is the lack of trust among nations as well as among individuals. It belongs to a moral order rather than to a material one. The world's wealth lias remained intact but badly distributed, and a large portion of it has remained unproductive owing to this lack of trust. It is clearly a trial sent by Heaven. The world was likewise upset when the erection of the tower of Babel was undertaken.
The entire population of the world worked on the construction of this tower. It was the golden period of those past ages. All had work and cherished great hopes in the achievement of this gigantic tower which eventually would reach Heaven. Suddenly, God's hand smites the world. The workmen can no more understand one another as God has given them different languages. No more cooperation can exist. All their hopes have vanished. The tower remains unfinished, the people are left without work and they are forced to rest. That was, perhaps, the first world-wide economic depression. It must have been terrible since history has recorded the fact. It was certainly not the economic system of that period which was responsible for that crisis. It was a punishment inflicted upon human pride. Why not attribute the present crisis to the same cause?
Then, why assert that our natural resources and the social organization of the country's production are diverted to benefit a few? It is certainly an unfair statement. The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) is fully aware that, if the working classes have no wrork, it is because those who had wealth have lost it and cannot carry on their industries. It is true that there are a few capitalists left and it is fortunate for us, and our few industries which remain. As long as there is a scarcity of wealthy people, we shall be deprived of industries and our people will be unemployed. Captains of industries are needed so that the people's savings may 'be invested and bear fruit. That is the work of financiers. The profits they make are infinitely small compared to the benefit the nation derives. During the periods of prosperity our working classes earned wages varying between $4 and $10 per day. Do you not think, sir, that our workmen would not gladly seethe fortunes lost by our financiers returned to them, so that they might again receive the wages they once earned and enjoy the prosperous days of the past.
Among all these wealthy men, there were certainly robbers and profiteers, but, even while robbing they contributed to the happiness of the people.
That the state should better control industrial trusts, I agree; but I do think it absurd to suppress them. The economic conquest is carried out just like a war is waged: with soldiers and generals. The soldiers are the workmen and the capitalists are the generals. The worker is therefore interested that his employer should make sufficient profits which will allow him to continue his operations, and, in fact, a good worker, is always glad to see his employer acquire wealth 'because he is
The Budget-Mr. Barrette
bound sooner or later to derive some benefit from it. Self-interest is one of the most potent incentives of life, it compels man to work and leads to achievement. It is the prime mover of human effort; it is the main incentive of production, trade, researches, discoveries, inventions and all human activities. All social organizations must tend to foster private initiative for the greatest welfare of the community and all political reforms tending to curtail the freedom of private individuals are directly opposed to human nature, destined to failure and lead to disorder. Human activities small and great, must be the result of private initiative to be beneficial.
If the lot of our people is to be improved, there is but one thing to do: preach by
example and word the social and religious truths which alone can assure the progress and happiness of humanity. Preachers of religion should avoid persecuting, under the pretence of religion, their fellow-citizens; similarly those who are intent on reforming morals or society should avoid upsetting social institutions under pretence of social welfare and putting everything to the sword and fire. Let us point out to the people not only their rights but also their duties. Let us seek the means of being useful to others while serving our own interests. Let us seek the real aim of life. Let us remember that freedom is indispensable to attain moral progress, which, to be efficacious, must not be interfered with.
Mr. IRV'IXE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I would draw your attention to the fact that there is not a quorum in the house.
The Clerk having counted the members:
Subtopic: THE BUDGET
Sub-subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE