April 29, 1938 (18th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Ralph Melville Warren



I listened to the hon. member when he was referring to the west. He spoke of farmers who once were able to write cheques for three thousand, five thousand or ten thousand dollars but who could not borrow any money at all now; and he was suggesting that the farmers of the west were suffering from lack of credit. I say that what the farmers of the west suffered from most was too much credit, and I think if the hon. member wanted to be honest he would agree that it was too much credit that ruined the farmers of western Canada. I remember that in his speech he mentioned some farmer who had five thousand lambs on which he was going to lose money. If the farmer raised those five thousand lambs how could he have a loss on them? On the other hand if that farmer bought the five thousand lambs he was a speculator; if the price went down and he lost money he was a gambler, and he was taking his chance. So I do not see any point in that argument.
There is one angle of this question that I do not think has been touched upon at all. What about the taxpayer? We have spoken of almost everything else. Nearly every speaker advocates the expenditure of money, but I want to put in a word for the taxpayer. We have to give that man consideration. If you can reduce his taxes by even a small amount you will be doing something real for him. One of the greatest burdens on this country to-day is the burden of taxation. When you talk about loading this burden of relief on the federal government you are simply suggesting that the municipalities that kept off relief should turn in now and pay the bills of the municipalities that got themselves in a mess with relief. Personally I am inclined to think that the people who were foolish enough to land themselves in a mess of that nature should themselves find a way

Relief and Agricultural Distress
of getting out from under. The farmers have to pay their share of this eight per cent sales tax and most other federal taxes; that is where the money comes from. That federal tax hits everybody, the hired man, the hired girl and everybody else. No one escapes it. Some of us may escape a provincial or municipal tax, but we cannot escape the federal tax. We ought to keep in mind when we advocate the expenditure of money that we are hitting the pocket of every wage-earner and taxpayer in this dominion. I am in favour of the minister continuing with the program started last year. Naturally it is an experiment, but to my way of thinking it has proven successful. I believe that these plans, carried on in conjunction with the provinces or by the dominion government alone, have proven successful.
Perhaps I may be accused of hitting the taxpayer myself when I ask the minister to consider the improvement of the trans-Canada highway between North Bay and Pembroke. This section of the trans-Canada highway is as important as any other in Canada. It leads to the home of the famous quintuplets and it makes possible a saving of five hundred miles to people travelling from the eastern to the western states, or vice versa. This section is now a gravel road, but it should have a surface of some kind. I am not prepared to suggest that it should be made a cement highway, but something should be done to provide a more suitable surface. Perhaps a tar penetration surface could be put on which would be serviceable for five, ten or fifteen years. We would thus get away from the present high maintenance costs and the dust which is so troublesome. I believe this work would be in the interests of the dominion, particularly as a great portion of our tourist traffic passes over this route.

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