March 9, 1937 (18th Parliament, 2nd Session)


William Allen Walsh

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. A. WALSH (Mount Royal):

Mr. Speaker, before proceeding with my observations on the question under discussion, I should like personally to say that I am very happy to see the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) again in his seat. Much as we dislike and disagree with his policies, we do enjoy his happy presence in our midst. May I congratulate, too, the hon. member who has just taken his seat (Mr. Rickard). Although he confined his remarks to a certain district, yet hon. members must appreciate that the conditions in his own locality are no doubt duplicated in many others throughout the country.
His reference to the budget being adopted by a large majority must, of course, go without dispute. In discussing the amendment before the house, we do not expect to convert even the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) to our way of thinking. On many occasions Canada's financial position has been carefully reviewed. As a country we do not enjoy a unique position in respect of our unfortunate financial circumstances. Other countries are in a similar position and are endeavouring to find a solution of their peculiar financial difficulties. Any effort made even by the present government to find a solution which will point the way to prosperity will, I have no doubt, meet with the support of all parts of the house.
The depression hit Canada with probably more severity than it hit other countries, largely due to the slump in the price of wheat. Wheat trading does materially affect Canada, and the unfortunate position in which we found ourselves, with a large surplus on hand and falling prices, aggravated the condition that was on its way, and made it more severe than it might have been under other circumstances. May I suggest that the slump through which we have just passed is not responsible for all the ills prevailing in Canada. Certain inherent disorders were brought to the surface by the depression. Many of our present troubles were with Us before 1929, and have merely been accentuated by the conditions under which we have been living.
The Minister of Finance gave us a clear picture of the financial position of Canada as such, but he could have given a clearer picture had he gone more carefully into the finances of Canada as a whole, taking into

The Budget-Mr. Walsh
account the municipalities and provinces. For a few moments I should like to discuss the actual financial conditions prevailing in Canada to-day, in order that we may see what our financial condition is, taking into account the position of the provinces, the municipalities and the federal government.
Upon reference to statistics I find that Canada's true debt, including all items, stands at $4,163,000,000. The nine provinces have a total debt of $1,415,000,000. The total debt of the municipalities stands at $1,386,000,000. These are tremendous figures for a young and growing country. In round figures the total is $7,000,000,000. That is the debt of a young country with only 11,000,000 inhabitants; it amounts to $636 per person. I want hon. members and people outside the house to realize the full significance of that statement. I repeat: Every person in Canada to-day is indebted to the extent of $636. That is an unhealthy amount per capita for a young and growing country.
Then, from the latest statistics available it appears that the total revenue of Canada last year amounted to $372,000,000; the total provincial revenue amounted to $161,000,000, and that of the municipalities, $285,000,000, making a grand total, through taxation, of $818,000,000. Of this revenue, the dominion spent 46 per cent to pay interest on debts, tihe provinces paid 37 per cent for the same purpose, and the municipalities paid 24 per cent. Of the $818,000,000 collected in Canada, 38 per cent was earmarked, before received, to pay interest on contracted debt.

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