November 27, 1945

SC

Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. LOW:

I have just about a minute left, sir.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

All right.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Has the hon. member the unanimous consent of the house?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

For one minute, yes.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member may have two minutes.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
SC

Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. LOW:

Very good, sir. I would suggest, sir, that since hon. gentlemen of the other place have indicated some new-found energies and have advocated complete revision of the taxation structure, we should give them that responsibility and help them out by all that we can do.

The Budget-Mr. Lapalme

I have just one other thing to say in conclusion. We have heard it said that the condition of things in which men have been in the habit of living is a necessary condition of things. I suggest that there are better ways of doing things than we have been used to doing them in the past. I suggest that it is possible for us to find- those better ways if we keep our minds alert and if we are amenable to progressive suggestions. I offer these suggestions to the government, feeling my responsibility in making them, and knowing full well that if they are followed they can put Canada into a much better position.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
LIB

Georges-Émile Lapalme

Liberal

Mr. G. E. LAPALME (JoIiette-L'Assomp-tion-Montcalm):

Mr. Speaker, in speaking on the budget debate I cannot ignore a warning recently given by an hon. member to another hon. member who, like me, was a newcomer in this chamber. Apparently one should not be obliged to wonder later on, "Was I really like that in my first session?" So, upon entering this debate in order to express a few opinions, I am filled with certain apprehensions.

I am not an expert in financial matters, and I am not one of those who consider the budget as a most fascinating adventure. The budget of a nation is filled with so many facts that in order to discuss it in all fairness, one should know all the mysteries of national and even international finance. One should also be aware of all the needs unknown to the population at large, but known by those who are in constant touch with the -pulse of the nation. I believe this is the right attitude to take in order to grasp the human element of a budget. Let us not forget that a budget is applied to- human beings and not to robots. In so far as I am concerned, this is the angle in which I am interested.

If the statement handed down by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) gives us a general picture, often without details as to the origin of particular needs of various parts of the country, it dbes not mean that in order to obtain a final result local questions had to be ignored, and that the country had to be considered as an indivisible entity. I would believe rather that particular attention was paid to the various needs created by the geographical position, local production and particularly the human condition, of the many classes which constitute the Canadian nation,

Representing one of these districts that has special needs which are sometimes common to the whole country, I believe it is my duty to speak in the name of the county where was bom and where studied Sir Whlfrid Laurier. During the war an attempt was made to give mankind a superhuman stature;

from the physical point of view the maximum had to be exceeded, and morally our minds had to be directed exclusively toward one goal. It was most extraordinary that we succeeded and that- this success has lasted for six years. The torch race was kept, up at the same speed unceasingly without the runner ever falling. Now the race is over, but how is the runner?

In order to form a true picture there is nothing like looking around. Near the town of Joliette in my riding the largest war factory in Canada, and even, as I am told, in the empire, was established. Where wealthy farmers lived thirteen- thousand people came and through their work supported the armies of the united nations. From the St. Lawrence in the south to the Laurential forests in the north; that is, from the factories to the lumber camps, everything was directed toward the war effort.

Grappling with a thousand problems, agriculture was endeavouring to obtain manpower from the factories. Organized labour, constantly growing stronger in centres like Joliette close to Montreal, threatened to spread even to the smallest districts. And now? War factories are slowing down their production and forcing workers back to their original homes. Our veterans are coming back from overseas. Lumber camps are asking for workers whom sometimes they cannot find. Agriculture, with a greatly increased production, is also suffering from a lack of manpower. In the industrial field the smaller industries view with anxiety the excessive expansion of large manufacturing industries.

The enthusiasm shown, during the last war loan reveals nevertheless that the Canadian people are confident in their lucky star and are ready to face the problems of the future. By no means are. they exhausted by the hardships of war. Now all this must be directed toward a peace effort as sustained as was our war effort. It is in these circumstances that the population of my county were expecting the budget speech, and I believe the5r repeat the words which the financial critic of the opposition said in the house immediately after the budget. He said, "The minister has removed from the minds of the people of Canada a fear which many of them had." It is true the same critic said shortly afterwards, "Has the government really developed a peace-time mentality in the question of public finance?" This worry was rather peculiar since the hon. member seemed to ignore the significant words of the Minister of Finance.

The minister stated that war expenditures never decrease as quickly as war undertakings. That is true. When shells cease being fired on

The Budget-Mr. Lapalme

the battlefield the home front does not collapse suddenly. The nation's economy cannot revert overnight to its pre-war position. Therefore .the budget speech, in the words of the opposition, has removed a fear which many people had.

I wrould not be truly representing a county which is the centre of tobacco growing in the province of Quebec if I did not direct attention to the following statement made by the Minister of Finance:

We foresee an increase in the revenue from excise taxes and duties on tobacco.

As far as I can remember, Joliette in the province of Quebec has always b,een the-most important market for raw leaf tobacco for pipe use. Furthermore, in the last few years Joliette has become the only place in Quebec where Quebec cigarette tobacco is both produced and graded. It is quite normal, as was stated in the budget speech, to expect increased revenues from this source. However, I should like to make a few comments which may not be a warning but which will recall certain facts that are capable of leading to serious thinking.

An increase in production and sales of cigarettes and raw leaf tobacco in Ontario and Quebec will certainly bring about an increase in excise revenue. The Ontario marketing board in setting a price of 331 cents a pound for cigarette tobacco has had an effect upon the 4,500,000 pounds produced in the Joliette district. This increases prices to a higher level than during previous years. This is of interest, not only to the growers but to the department of revenue. As far as cigarette tobacco is concerned, if I had a cause to defend I would defend that of the growers because this trade is exclusively in the hands of the larger industries which are not to be pitied.

But the same situation does not exist with raw leaf tobacco for pipe use or even for cigars. In this field, both the farmer and the trading manufacturer, if not the cooperative as well, have a worthy cause. Formerly-and here I am recalling personal recollections, because for family and local reasons I have spent all my life among tobacco even though I am a lawyer actually-the trade in raw leaf tobacco in the Joliette district was divided among many trading manufacturers of various importance who each hired a certain number of workers who earned an honourable living out of this business. This was a small industry, humble but alive. Purchasing and selling were a very simple matter. I remember as distinctly as if it were yesterday seeing transactions between grower and dealer performed without any written document on the running board of a car or in a buggy.

,Everyone knows what changes were brought about by the war of 191448. Taxation, like other things, became of full age. The raw leaf tobacco grown in Canada was affected, but only for a short time. Conditions became normal but afterward deteriorated in a sensational manner. At the present time the tax is twenty-eight cents a pound. I cannot tell if contraband is at the same rate as this tax, because here as elsewhere we have "free traders."

A certain difference in price has always existed between Quebec and Ontario tobaccos; prices for Quebec tobaccos have always been higher because of the varieties that are grown. What was bound to happen has happened. As far back as 1918-19 dealers in Kent and Essex counties began to build up an export business from Ontario to Quebec, which business persisted until it was stopped a few days ago by a federal order. Therefore in our district we are acquainted with the Ontario tobacco market, especially since we now grow cigarette tobacco on a large scale.

As was often asked, was the infiltration in retail trade of Ontario tobacco branded with a Quebec label a factor in creating the truly rotten situation which exists at present? I leave the answer to specialists. Nevertheless, in this matter, nothing can be compared with the tax which, according to fluctuations in prices, always amounts in normal times to at least twice the purchasing price; occasionally it is even four times this price.

Furthermore, the prices and trade board, for many months if not years during this war, set the sales price of dealers at a lower level than the price paid growers. While I was preparing these notes, dealers learned that a new order was upsetting the market for small tobaccos. I believe that it could have been possible to do justice to all without running the risk of ruining those who, after all, maintained this business during many years. When the last order setting prices of the present crop was passed, the dealers had bought all the small tobaccos at a higher price than that which they should have paid in order to sell this tobacco -in accordance with the rates established in this order, which by that very fact had a retroactive effect.

Here we have an industry which formerly was prosperous, which supplied work in many small centres throughout the province and, all things, considered, even handled a large volume of business. To-day, it is no more what it used to be. To-morrow, will it have completely vanished? It is said that trusts are threatening it; would this be true? Will cooperatives be successful in saving it? I hope so; nevertheless I ask the government

The Budget-Mr. Lapalme

to think the matter over twice before they allow this industry to die. It is worth the trouble of lightening the leaden cloak which is smothering it, and which is called taxation.

I know very well that first of all we must reduce taxes on the necessities of life, and that tobacco cannot be placed in that category. But what permits us to obtain these necessities? At any rate, as soon as circumstances permit, it is to be hoped that government officials will review this situation, and by doing so they would only be doing justice to this cause. I have just used a great word- "justice". Indeed it recalls the claims of all nations, and especially, with an ever more disquieting acuteness, the claims of labour. Moreover, all social classes are demanding it.

At this moment, I am reminded that, in the economic history of our times, if labour, and especially organized labour, were often ostracized by employers, it would be dangerous for the opposite reaction to occur nowadays. Revolutions always were reactions of this kind. Two factors, usually determine the swing of the pendulum: the human factor and the economic factor; we are dealing with men, and men are prompted by needs.

These thoughts are going through my mind because I am aware that the budget shows the ever-increasing importance which the Department of Labour assumes in public expenditures. Labour is part of the social problem. I said, "part" of the social problem. It does not by itself constitute the whole social problem, though it takes much space in the picture we have of the world. The social problem affects everyone; labour is one of its most important elements. It is worthy of all our attention.

In a discussion of the budget, it is very difficult to restrict to figures this complex question. It is quite true that one can always mention with satisfaction the lowering of income tax with respect to the working classes, together with a thought for agriculture when one considers the tax exemption on machinery used for producing food.

But the labour problem takes on an altogether different meaning when it is connected to man himself man who is made [DOT] of intelligence and flesh. It is the family question, the dwelling conditions, the conditions of his labour, his security, his health, his immediate and remote future.

Family allowances have become part of his social life. Why not his house; why not tomorrow the family salary? Talking of his house, undoubtedly one thinks of the labourer living in a large city. I am thinking especially of small towns like mine. The town of Joliette has a population of approximately 15,000

people. The surrounding population raises this figure to 18,000. What does the National Housing Act do for them? Nothing; we are ignored. It is all the more impossible to obtain help in a small village. Joliette had her glorious dead on the battlefront; a few hundred veterans of the three armed services are coming back. Will they be able to rely on Wartime Housing? I hope so, but I am doubtful. In the meantime, those who intend to build must rely on their own means only.

It has been said of the labourer: "Give him a fair salary and everything will be all right." A fair and reasonable salary is necessary, but the increase in salaries will reach its ceiling some day, and one cannot expect an indefinite progression toward astronomical figures. This state of uncertainty must cease.

What then, is more stable than a home and a house? In a travesty of what I was saying a while ago respecting salaries, one could say: "Give the labourer his own house, and everything will be quiet and stable." If I speak in this manner, it is because I consider the labourer as a man, and too many laws have disregarded man. Instinctively and out of necessity, is it not true that man will look for a shelter before he will even look for a living? Social peace will find therein one of its' main props, because this problem, as a member stated in the house, is truly a social as well as an economic problem. As long as we are at the mercy of financial organizations in connection with cheap dwellings in smaller centres, I am sure of this: In their eyes, we will remain of no importance. Until to-day, they have done nothing for us.

During the last six years, the country has lent billions to the government ; now in return, could the government not lend1 directly to the people? Is this impossible? Farm loans were carried into effect; direct loans for the .purpose of erecting houses to be occupied by their owners could also be carried out. This is not in contradiction of my request for lowering taxes on tobacco-because I am advocating a loan, not a gift. A special organization could thus work toward improving the social standard, as directly and as effectively as family allowances.

I wish to request for the benefit of labour the help of the financial organization called the industrial development bank, and I make this request seriously. If this bank cannot be of any benefit to smaller industries in all our provinces, then local labour will be the loser. Until now, this bank has not yet revealed1 its existence in my county, which is one of the most thickly populated rural constituencies in the country.

The Budget

Mr. Lapalme

It is quite true that all these social problems may assume more importance in the succeeding budgets after an agreement has been reached over federal-provincial matters, and we may entertain the hope of a complete agreement. I am quite in favour of provincial autonomy, but I am more strongly in favour of the welfare of the total Canadian population. To help labour, give it homes; grant it monthly allowances. Among other things, these are means which are capable of giving to the nation a robust health and a stable economy. As it was written recently: "Economy, instead of serving the golden gods, will serve mankind."

(Translation): Mr. Speaker, pre-war budgets can no longer be expected. We can no longer ignore the social needs which war has so bluntly revealed. We shall soon be confronted with the problem of finding employment for all. And then, going outside our own boundaries, we shall participate in the reorganization of a world with which we are bound up.

At the very moment when the, nation's demands on the government are heaviest, the Minister of Finance will be asked to reduce the taxes. A heavy task is thus devolved upon this generation, and especially upon those who have to manage the national economy.

My preceding remarks were intended to be helpful and constructive. This budget comes during the transition period and it already gives us a welcome reminder of the restoration of peace. Let us hope that the next one will take us outside the realm of war so that we- may attend still more earnestly to the solution of our social problems..

In concluding, I wish to bring to.'the attention of the government a matter which is of special concern to my -constituency.

The plant at St. Paul 1'Ermite to which I referred at the beginning of my remarks has cost about twenty million dollars, I believe. A short time before the- end of the war, we were promised that it would be kept in operation even after the cessation of hostilities. Nevertheless, it is no longer ini operation. Am I going too far in recalling those former promises?

(Text): Mr. Speaker, at this moment when ' victory is still in our memories-and may we never forget it!-when the country has just shown in a resounding way its faith in peace to the same extent that it has done in war, I believe that social questions have become the most important issues of the moment. Canada has already begun to lead the way in this field; in thus continuing, it may probably find what it needs above all-national unity.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
LPP

Fred Rose

Labour Progressive

Mr. FRED ROSE (Cartier):

Mr. Speaker, there is only one way in which we can judge the present budget: Do its proposals give the assurance that the government is taking its full employment policies seriously? Thjs is the first peace-time budget since 1939 and was brought down at a time when the country is faced with the problems of reconversion from war to peace, lay-offs and the need to maintain consumer purchasing power. The people are looking to the budget for an indication of the plans of the government to maintain employment, to provide jobs for the workers and for the men and women who are returning from overseas. People want to see whether this budget provides for the social security measures that are necessary, and for large scale housing and for other measures that will make it possible to avoid an early post-war depression. It is against the background of this urgency that we should examine the budget before the house.

It is most appropriate to remind the house of some of the government's -own statements of policy and of what it thinks is the actual job of a budget. In its white paper, "Employment and Income," issued last April, the government stated:

Fiscal policy during_ the war has necessarily been based on economic as much as purely financial considerations. It is proposed to extend that practice into the post-war years and apply war experience to the problems of peace.

In the same white paper we further read:

The government will be prepared in periods when unemployment threatens to incur -the deficits and increases in the national debt resulting from its employment and income policy.

In the proposals of the federal government to the dominion-provincial conference on reconstruction we find this statement:

It is the responsibility of the government to pursue policies that create conditions in which the initiative, energy and resourcefulness of individual citizens can .achieve rising standards of life. The modern governmental budget must he the balance wheel of the economy.

With this, Mr. Speaker, I fully agree. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) elaborated on this subject in introducing his budget to the house, when, he said:

The government has adopted as a major aim of government policy the maintenance of a high and stable level of income and employment. Accordingly it has become a major consideration in budget policy.

But when we look at the budget and its application we find none of the promises of the white paper fulfilled and none of the things contained in the proposals of the dominion government to the dominion-provincial conference on reconstruction, nor do we find any substantiation of the statement made by

The Budget-Mr. Rose

the Minister of Finance to the house. This budget does not help to maintain full employment; it does not provide for it, and therefore we find that government practice is quite out of line with government theory.

How are those job to be provided? On the basis of this budget the jobs are to be provided by holding out to big business so-called incentives. If incentives are necessary, it is the Canadian people who need them because 'big business which talks so much of the need for incentives in order to give more employment has already had enough incentives given it to provide full employment for the people of Canada. For instance, the Bank of Canada statistical summary, analysing the account of 700 Canadian companies, points out that after taxes and depreciation the net income to the stockholders increased from $242 million in 1938 to $292 million in 1943. The increase in profits before taxes was of course much greater. Profits increased from $410 million in 1938 to $799 million in 1943. But there is much more to the picture than that. Accumulated surpluses and surplus reserves increased from $800 million in 1938 to $1,188 million in 1943; and at the same time these companies were able to reduce their funded debt from $1,015 million to $892 million.

Individuals as well as corporations have not done badly for themselves during the war years. In 1937-38, according to figures given by the Minister of Finance to the house on March 24, 1939, as reported in Hansard, there were 382 Canadians at that time receiving incomes of more than $50,000 a year. In 1944, according to the dominion bureau of statistics, there were 650 persons in the same income bracket, receiving a total income of $68 million, or better than $100,000 apiece. After taxes, they still had a trifle of $25 million left. That is not too bad for only 650 people. The minister in his budget now proposes to give these people $95 million more through the proposed reduction in the excess profits tax. My party, the Labour Progressive party, has stated in its programme that the excess profits tax after the war should continue as in war time and should be used for the community as a whole; that is, for a redistribution of income. The present budget does not provide for a redistribution of income, because if it gives anything it gives it to the rich. It makes some concessions to smaller business, and with this I fully agree. That is, small business with profits of less than $25,000 gets some concessions. That is good. But as regards the vast majority of Canadians the budget proposals do not assist in building up their purchasing power. There

was quite a bit of pressure from big business for concessions, and concessions were granted. But the people of Canada-and I am thinking especially or organized labour-have been making certain demands. Through their trades unions the labour movement called for tax exemptions to be raised to $2,400 for married persons and $1,000 for single persons. Their voice was not heeded. Instead, the budget provides for a straight sixteen per cent reduction in personal income tax. This gives very little additional money to the majority of the people but provides a substantial roll to the higher income groups.

The figures I am about to cite are revealing in this respect. They were worked out on the basis of information from the dominion bureau of statistics. They show the following: a group with an income of over $25,000, and numbering about 2,900, will benefit by $15 million. That is, 2,900 people who have each ah income of more than $25,000 will get, as a result of this sixteen per cent reduction, an aggregate of $15 million, or $5,000 apiece. Not bad. But what happens to the mass of taxpayers, those-and there are 1,675,000 of them -whose incomes are less than $2,000 each? The total tax reduction will give them $26,600,000, or $15.90 apiece. There is quite a difference there.

Here are a few more figures in this connection. Those with incomes under $1,000 number sixteen percent of the taxpayers, but they get less than three per cent of the, total tax reduction. Those, however, with incomes of over $25,000, number only one-tenth of one per cent of the taxpayers; yet they get 13Jj per cent of the total tax reduction. These figures reveal quite a contrast between the government's treatment of the wealthy taxpayer and of the man' in the street. There are many more concessions in the budget to men of means. There is the repeal of the ten per cent war exchange tax on goods imported from outside the British empire. The eight per cent tax on machinery is repealed. But will .these concessions be passed on to the consumer? No, they will not. This will only mean more profits and more accumulations for those who already have plenty.

I oppose the reduction in the excess profits tax, as well as the minister's proposals for the sixteen per cent reduction; that is, the straight sixteen per cent reduction in personal income tax. Because the budget fails to put money into the pockets of the people who need it, I cannot support this budget.

Further, the budget does not provide for the health and well-being of the Canadian people. While on that topic I wish to mention a manifesto which, no doubt in common with

The Budget-Mr. Rose

many other hon. members, I received the other day from the Canadian Legion. This document points out that Canada has still to achieve the ideals of peace, and one of those ideals, according to the legion manifesto, is decent homes for Canadians. I quote the following passage: . '

Hundreds of thousands of houses will need to be built. Yet homes are more than houses, and Canadians have the challenging task of creating the kind of homes and family life that will make this nation strong, clean, united.

The budget before the house has not been worked out in that spirit. It provides neither for houses nor for the families who would live in those houses. Service men and service women are returning home only to find that there are no homes for them. They saved Canada, they helped to save the world, but they are unable to find decent homes in which to start life anew with their wives and children. It is estimated that 43 per cent of the returned men have no proper housing.

But the plight of returned men only reflects the plight of many other Canadians regarding houses, a situation which was aggravated by the war. In 1946 Canada will be short of 500,000 houses, excluding rural needs. The houses of 350,000 Canadians are sub-standard. Of a total of 2,635,753 houses in Canada, approximately 600,000 are obsolete. One-third of all Canadians live in bad and overcrowded houses because they cannot afford good hous-. ing; they can afford to pay only between $10 and $20 a month in rent, and even with the aid of family allowances they can pay no more without injuring the health of their families by cutting down on food. Lack of housing and bad housing take a terrific toll of the people.

Sociologists who have made a study of the effects of present conditions on the people have the following to say with respect to United States citizens:

Of the slums and blighted districts comprising about 20 per cent of the metropolitan residential areas they account for 33 per cent of the population, 45 per cent of the major crimes, 55 per cent of child delinquency, 60 per cent of tuberculosis victims, and 45 per cent of city city service costs.

On a number of occasions I have mentioned in this house similar effects on the people in our own country and have pointed to conditions in Montreal. In 1941 it was estimated that the city of Montreal needed 50,000 dwellings. How many were built? In 1944 there were 2,618 units, and in 1945 there were 2,241 units. At this rate it will take twenty years to make up the backlog without allowing for increasing requirements in the years ahead. By the end of this year 5,000 homes will be

fMr. Rose.]

needed by returning men. To add to the seriousness of the situation in Montreal, of the homes put up in 1944 and 1945, 90 per cent are rented at over $40 a month. This lets out 76 per cent of the population whose income does not permit them to rent houses at' such high figures.

The other day the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Mackenzie) said, in regard to housing, t-hat every member-not just one but everyone of us-knows that the housing situation to-day is one of the most serious conditions in Canada. That is true and we all agree with that statement. But iwhat are we going to do about this situation? It is not enough to agree that it is bad. We have legislation and present legislation has not provided houses. Nine out of every ten houses built at the present time are being built outside this legislation, and even those built under this legislation are not within the reach of the worker or of the veteran who is not sure about the future. It should be established once and for all that it is not profitable for the private builder to construct low-rental houses, and he definitely will mot do it for love. This has been the experience in every country and also in Canada. In war time, when we needed tanks, guns, aeroplanes, munitions, the government cut the red tape and saw to it that these materials were produced. Huge munitions plants were built in a few months. There was a feeling of urgency. Well, there is similar urgency at the present time in the matter of housing, and the government must act in a manner different from that which has characterized it up to the present moment. The building of houses will also provide jobs.

How is the government going to deal with this housing problem? The Labour Progressive party proposes that $1 billion, raised through a loan, be used by the government to build 250,000 housing units in the period of five years. I would say that such a slogan as "Buy a bond to build a home for a Canadian" would receive the necessary response from all Canadians, and such bouses should be assigned to the communities that need them and to the people requiring houses, on a basis of priority: No. 1, veterans; No. 2, slum dwellers; No. 3, people who require extra living space.

That is the way in which this will have to be done. I know there are constitutional problems, but the government must find ways and means of building these homes, constitutional problems notwithstanding. Britain has built 1,250,000 low-rent houses-how? The government lends construction capital to the municipal housing board and pays a rent subsidy. Private contractors build the houses-

The Budget-Mr. Irvine

That is the answer for Canada. That is also the answer to the problem of jobs. The construction industry estimates that $500 million a year on construction would provide 479,000 men with jobs. That is the answer.

There can be no piecemeal measures about this, because such measures will not solve the problem. The government must change its attitude toward the problem. I understand that to-day the British government has announced a housing programme which is altogether different from anything that has gone before. They realize that .there is an emergency and are acting accordingly. We in Canada must act from a similar spirit. It is true that our houses were not bombed, but we harm plenty of slums and we need houses. We raised $18 billions for war. Surely we can raise SI billion for homes.

A few weeks ago we concluded the ninth victory loan. The slogan was "Sign your name to victory". I would say that the government will not be signing its name to victory unless it provides for homes and for the welfare of the Canadian people.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
CCF

William Irvine

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WILLIAM IRVINE (Cariboo):

Mr. Speaker. I can understand1 that the house will feel impatient, but I do not suppose anyone is very, anxious for a vote to-night.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Yes.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
CCF

William Irvine

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. IRVINE:

I do not think my hon. friends to my right are very anxious to get on with the business; at least they did not display any anxiety a short time ago. I hope that the house will bear with me. I have not taken up very much of its time this session, but there are a few things I would like to say; and as an hon. gentleman to my left has suggested, it might be well if we had a little better order and a little more free speech in the House of Commons.

If I were to criticize the present budget I should say-if I were a private enterpriser- that it was a very fine budget indeed. I regard it as a private enterprising budget and it was the government's duty to bring in such a. budget. The government has a mandate from the Canadian people to implement a policy of private enterprise, 4nd the opposition is always very ready to assist the government in carrying out private enterprise. That is the business of those who believe in private enterprise. I do not believe in what is called private enterprise to-day. I should say that what we understand to be private enterprise is monopoly capital enterprise, and that the very best type of private enterprise is completely surpassed by the present system of monopoly capital enterprise.

I have never regarded a budget-that is to say, a budget which is like ours, which is merely a provision for the expenditures of the government, and in which the only alteration from year to year is a variation in the incidence of taxation, a little more here or a little more there-as being a solution of the economic problems that confront Canada to-day. I want to indicate, even in the few moments at my disposal, what I regard as the sort of budget that we should have had in this country at this time.

Let me remind the house of something which I do not suppose any hon. members will forget, namely, that we have,just come through a great war and won what we call a military victory for democracy. I wish to emphasize that if we are to continue that democratic victory into the field1 of economics and into the field of our social life, then there must be something done differently from anything that has ever been done in this parliament or in this nation. I ask the government, and I ask anyone else who believes in so-called private enterprise, what has private enterprise to-day that it did not have in 1932? If it has not something different, then who expects any different results from those which' we had during the ten years w'hich preceded the war just concluded? Therefore,

I say that the very first principle, of a budget should be, as far as I am concerned, to demand and provide for the unconditional surrender of monopoly capital.

I do not believe that it is possible for any government adhering to free private enterprise to have full production and reasonably equitable distribution, nor do I believe that such a government is capable of meeting the essential needs of the Canadian people. I do not believe that under that system any government can provide what has been commonly called social security. Now, with the view of really making a change in our economic system so as to see to it that we. win democracy in the field of industry and commerce, and economics generally which our men assisted in winning on the field of battle, we must have a budget that would first of all make an estimate of the nation's need of goods, and our capacity to produce, and not only to estimate our capacity to tax what has been produced, not merely a method of extracting a portion of the income from individuals or corporations, but a budget which would envisage the whole national income, which would estimate the actual needs of the Canadian people and would take such steps as would make provision for the production

The Budget-Mr. Irvine

of those things necessary for the meeting of the needs of the Canadian people. That is what I would call a national budget.

There are certain features of such a budget on which I wish to lay some emphasis. The first of those would be that this government and this parliament should give the lead to the Canadian people in what I call a collective purpose; that this nation in the years of peace which are before us should be held as firmly and as enthusiastically to a definite economic and social purpose for the people of Canada as we were held to a purpose of war during the six years of .blood, sweat and tears.

Every one of us recognizes that this government held' the Canadian people pretty well united to a common purpose of defending this nation; and it made a pretty good job of it in spite of all the criticism which has been and may still be levelled at it. They managed the direction of affairs in such a way that this nation stood with a common purpose. That purpose .was to raise an army and to produce the necessary sinews of war. That purpose took .the place of every other .purpose; it filtered into every home, into every industry and into every business. It .was that which held the people of Canada together in the greatest conflict of its history. If .that purpose was necessary in war, and if it was beneficial in leading to great achievements on the part of the nation, then a purpose of peace must be just as necessary. But when we abandon, as it seems to be the purpose of the government to abandon, the economic conditions of this nation to the caprice of free private enterprise, then we have no collective purpose.

The collective purpose, which I suggest in passing, is one which will recognize that there is no need for any want in the Dominion of Canada; that not only is this a country of abundance, bul^ this is an age of 'abundance; that we can produce. The war has shown that we can produce sufficient to meet all . the needs of the Canadian people. I believe it is right to say that during the war years our maximum production approximated some $10 billion of national income. We expended from fifty to sixty per cent of that on war. We lived on from forty to fifty per cent of the remainder, and I imagine that the people of Canada never lived1 very much better than they did during the war period. If, then, we can maintain full production in Canada; if we can produce as great a volume of goods during peace as we did in war, then obviously there should be no hungry .people in this country. There should .be no people forced into idleness without income. I think that would be agreed to by everybody; but just to

remove restrictions, and as the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell) said the other day, that the restrictions were to go down the drain

that is fine; I want to see restrictions go down the drain, but I want to see intelligent leadership go on to prosperity. Just to remove certain restrictions does not by any means give us any assurance that Canada will be a country of abundance and its people enjoying the full fruits which our nation and our people combined! are capable of producing.

Therefore, in addition to the collective purpose, and in addition to the statement of what that purpose is or should be, I suggest next that this budget should have been a careful outlining of a planned economic endeavour on the part of the Canadian people, having regard to the collective purpose, such as I have suggested. I know there are people who do mot believe that democracy can plan. There are some people who are more happy when they know they are going nowhere than they would be if they had an idea that they were going somewhere. Some hon. members even would rather aim at nothing and hit it than, aim at the bull's-eye and probably make an outer or come near to hitting it. It is not different with a nation. I think a nation that has no purpose and aims at nothing, will hit it. We are doing that now. We have no distinctive collective purpose that will hold the endeavours of the Canadian people to the achievement of that purpose in time of peace.

But if the government will give that lead; if the government will pry itself loose from the old traditions of private enterprise and undertake to meet the economic needs of the Canadian people in keeping with the capacities to produce which modern technology makes possible, then there would be great possibilities for the future in the Dominion of Canada. But that would imply some planning, and if a democracy cannot plan, then that democracy is destined to inevitable failure. In an age such as the one in which we live, an age of science, to say that in all our economic life we have to entrust ourselves to the caprice of those who seek private objectives which in no circumstances necessarily have anything to do with the requirements of the general public would seem to be economic insanity.

I know the arguments of those who oppose planning our national economy. A great deal of drivel has been uttered about so-called bureaucracy. One would think, to hear some hon. members talking about bureaucracy, it was something that could exist only in government organizations, but I suggest that the worst type of bureaucracy that Canada knows to-day, or ever will know, is the type of

The Budget-Mr. Irvine

bureaucracy that is built up under free private enterprise where those who control the economic destinies of this nation have no responsibility to anyone but their own balance sheet.

I am opposed to bureaucracy as such; I am opposed to regimentation as such. These are not necessarily implied in planning, but they are inevitable if you do not plan. As to the regimentation under the present system, I am sure I do not need to elaborate on that. However, for the sake of clarity in the viewpoint which I am trying to express, let me ask hon. members if they have never seen evidence of regimentation in our present system of economy. I venture to say that there is a great deal of it.

For example, have any hon. members ever seen an employer of labour advertise for twenty men and five hundred men turn up. Twenty men go to the wicket and get jobs, while 480 are sent away. Who did the regimenting there? Who said that twenty men should get jobs and that 480 men should hunt somewhere else? That was the regimentation of private enterprise. Have any of you ever looked into the eye of a soup-kitchen; if' you have not, you are lucky. If you have, then you know that you did not go there because you liked the soup better than any other soup. You were there because you needed some kind of soup and it was the only kind you could get. That is the worst kind, the most inhuman kind, the most unintelligent kind of regimentation. That is the regimentation of empty stomachs and bare backs. That is pure regimentation exercised by free private enterprise.

Democratic planning would not involve either bureaucracy or this sort of regimentation. I say again, with emphasis, that unless this thing we call democracy can plan and can remove the evil features of present-day bureaucracy, unless it can escape from that type of regimentation which is inevitable under the present system; unless it can meet these problems, it cannot possibly continue to exist.

If democracy is to plan, then not only should the budget have made provision for the plans, it should have assured us that the plans were practicable and could be carried out. Any government that undertakes to carry out a budget of national production and distribution in the interests of the common people must of necessity have control erf the means by which that budget is to be fulfilled. That leads me to an observation on public enterprise.

There are certain things in this country that- should be privately owned and there are certain things which just as surely should be publicly owned. I suggest for the consideration of my hon. friends that everything in this nation which is essential to the life of all the people but which cannot be owned individually by all the people, must be owned by all the people together. No individual or corporation should be permitted to have a monopoly control of an agency of wealth production upon which the entire nation must depend for its life. That is not democracy. That is the very antithesis of democracy. We cannot get away by saying that we are a democracy merely because we have the right sometimes to mark a ballot. At times everything is done to see that we do not mark that ballot. But that is a- small part, although, I admit, an important part, of democracy.

We should privately own that which each of us may own and use without depriving other people of the ownership and use of the same sort of things. The principle and philosophy of the movement -which I represent stands for that kind of ownership. Public ownership in Canada of those essential things which lead' to the supplying of the needs of life for the Canadian people would mean that those Canadian people as a whole would own more privately than they ever did in all their lives before. I want to make that distinction between so-called private ownership and public ownership,

The next point I wish to make clear is that provision should be made in our budget and in our planning for full production. The way to do that is to meet the needs of the people. If we can produce more than the people can consume, so much the better; because in that event we can reduce the hours of labour and extend a greater proportion of leisure to the common people. If, on the other hand, we have produced to the utmost extent and we still cannot prodiice all that we can consume, then, of course, the question is to produce to the utmost extent and raise our standard of living to the highest possible notch, comparable with our capacity to produce.

In order to carry out such a programme something must be done about distribution. The hon. member who spoke as leader of the Social Credit party said something about this question, and indicated that some people appear to think that under the present system we have poor people because we have rich people; and he suggested that some taxing of the rich would not solve the problem. I agree with him in that. I think everyone must agree with him on the same point. But

The Budget-Mr. Irvine

the point which he did not make, and which he might very well have made, had he gone on along that line a little farther, was that it is not merely the profits which those who control industry make that bring the greatest disaster to human society. It is that they control, for private ends, means by which alone all the people can live; and thereby they have the right-and they exercise it, too -to curtail production whenever they want to, so as to maintain the rate of their own profits. That is the thing we have to guard against in our distribution.

We must devise a system of equitable distribution which will involve a system of higher wages paid to all the workers; which will involve higher pensions being paid to all pensionable people and all returning men, all old aged people, family allowances, widows' pensions, pensions to the blind, the maintenance of wage scales of those who are laid aside for some time through sickness and are unable to earn their wages, and a pension for those whom we might call the casualties of industry. In. all these ways we should distribute each year in the form of income for all our people sufficient to buy all we produce beyond that which is necessary to turn back for the maintenance of efficiency in industry, and the extension of new capital equipment.

The democratic victory which we won on the battlefields is only the first Step toward the fuller democracy we hope to achieve. I am making a plea to-night for a democratic victory over the greatest enemies of mankind at home. The greatest enemies of mankind in this nation and in other nations are poverty, disease, ignorance and war.

I do not see, anything in this budget which seriously touches any of these major issues. There is no suggestion in it that any steps will be taken to abolish poverty in Canada. There is nothing in it to indicate that a determined effort will be made by this nation to overcome unnecessary disease. Neither is there any provision for equality in education. These -are essential social equalities without which there cannot be a true democracy.

I think most hon. members will agree, as I have already hinted, that democracy means more, a great deal more, than voting on election day. I think most members can quote the definition of "democracy" which the great President Lincoln gave at Gettysburg. But I suggest to the house that when he gave that definition of "democracy" there was not a single monopoly within the boundaries of the entire United States of America. I imagine that if he were speaking again on democracy to-day-perhaps to this parliament-he might very probably say that democracy is not only

f.Mr. Irvine.]

government of the people, by the people and for the people, but that it is industry of the people, by the people and for the people; not industry for Shipshaw; not industry for International Nickel; not industry for the C.P.R. and the banks, but industry of the people, by the people and for the people.

That is democracy. My greatest criticism of the budget is that it does not even make a gesture toward that end. And further let me say that we are probably in very great danger of frittering away the greatest emotion that this nation has ever generated for democracy. Through six years of blood, sweat and tears, the objective of this people has been fixed upon democracy. Now we are looking for memorials. I have said something on this question before. I have no objection, no more than anyone else would have, to people who wish to have symbols. Symbols are always necessary when one has not the reality. If we have not the realities, and the people would rather have symbols than nothing, then by all means let them have the symbols.

But those of us who lost our sons in this war do not need to be reminded that we lost them. What we do need to be reminded of is that they died for something that was worth while. I have no objection to the beautification of Ottawa. I think we should beautify every city, as well as Ottawa. But I am suggesting to the Minister of Finance and the government that the people of Canada will be disappointed and in years to come those who have returned with their lives will be greatly disappointed unless we can make a memorial, through legislation in this house-a bill of rights as a memorial to democracy which will meet the democratic requirements of a democratic country. That will abolish-

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I must remind the hon. member that it is eleven o'clock.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

Move the adjournment of the debate.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
CCF

William Irvine

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. IRVINE:

I move the adjournment of the debate.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Finish; go ahead.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

If the hon. member has the unanimous consent of the house he may continue for a few minutes.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
CCF

William Irvine

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. IRVINE:

No. Mr. Speaker; I would much rather move the adjournment of the debate.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink
PC

James Arthur Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (Souris):

Good old time waster.

On motion of Mr. Irvine the debate was adjourned.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink

At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Privilege-Mr. Mackenzie King Wednesday, November 28, 1945.


November 27, 1945