Ways and Means-Interim Supply
This amount of $7,558 million which has not been accounted for represents $2,000 million more than all the deposits in the ten Canadian chartered banks. It is one-fourth the total expenditure of $30,000 million during the war. It is a very serious matter.
I was the only member to complain against the Bank of Canada when it was established. Now the books of the Bank of Canada apparently balance, but there is a secret; there is a mystery behind the doors of the Bank of Canada, and it is impossible to get any information about that. When the banking committee studied the Bank of Canada Act a couple of years ago the attention of hon. members was ably directed elsewhere by a discussion of the supposed hidden reserves of the banks. Much noise was made about it, but no member of parliament took advantage of that unique opportunity to get information about the Bank of Canada itself. I warned some members that a trick was being played; I warned the house and country that it was dangerous to have amounts unaccounted for when we debated the gift made in 1943. But that was a trivial matter; it was a casual matter of no importance!
Now there is an amount of $7,500 million which apparently is unaccounted for. In May I asked for information about the amount of the debt to the end of the fiscal year ended March 31, 1946. The only information I got was to the end of the fiscal year preceding. Every business man has accounts showing the operation of his business each morning when he comes to his office. He finds that information on his desk each day. I wonder if the Minister of Finance is not informed day after day as to the amounts of the debt of Canada. If we are to be the bankers of the world, then business should be done otherwise, because that figure of $7,500 million represents the amounts collected in several of the victory loan campaigns.
I do not cast any doubt upon the honesty and integrity of the Minister of Finance or his parliamentary assistant. I do not cast any aspersions of dishonesty on anyone in the Bank of Canada. But the day of mystery should be ended. The time has come when the House of Commons should scrutinize the business of the Bank of Canada; and the Minister of Finance should be responsible to the people, just as in the days of Fielding, White and Jim Robb.
Parliament is in the impossible position of being unable to get information about the business of the country. Money is spread everywhere, but when we ask for an accounting it is hard to get. Probably it will be made later. I wonder if that is the reason 63260-177J
the budget has been delayed so long. Perhaps it may be made. As this document states:
This excess would be reflected in the books of the government by increases under various accounts classified as active assets (cash, loans, investments, etc.)
When Mr. Dunning was Minister of Finance I asked him for information about the personnel of the Bank of Canada. But his reply was, "No, that is a secret". When Mr. Bennett, upon my advice to one of his secretaries, left for the Antipodes, he took with him a doorman from the Bank of Canada named Brooks. Upon his return I asked the government of that day if Brooks' salary had been paid by Mr. Bennett or by the Bank of Canada while he was travelling with Mr. Bennett. The answers by the Prime Minister and by Mr. Bennett were that I had been very bold in asking such a question, and that no member of parliament should inquire about the Bank of Canada. They said' it was very bad manners to ask if Brooks had been paid by the Bank of Canada or by R. B. Bennett.
We are responsible to the people of Canada for the money that is spent outside and inside the country. We must be in a position to inform our constituents when they ask us for information in these matters. It is our duty; are we neglectful of it?
We live in strange times. On one occasion I complained about a man who, it was supposed, had sold the same coal three times; but no one was scandalized. Everyone considered him smart. These are the signs of the times. We are neglectful; we are careless; we pay no attention to these matters. Then, afterwards, some people will complain about taxation. They are ready to throw away their money outside, anywhere. We help the world, but we cannot look after our own business.
Sir, you will remember how many times I have insisted that the Minister of Finance bring in some reform in the matter of public accounts. The help I got was from two hon. members opposite, the hon. member for Broadview, and the hon. member for Davenport, who is now in his seat. Now when members of parliament complain about high taxation, they will remember that they made no move to reform public accounts. They voted for the loans which we had not the means to make. Having done that, they cannot complain about high taxation; it would seem that they want it. They are responsible before the people of Canada for that high taxation. I wonder if they will not realize the time has come to make a check