May 22, 1901 (9th Parliament, 1st Session)


Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN (Halifax).

I trust that the right hon. gentleman and the government will take into consideration the remarks and suggestions which have been put forward so ably by my hon. friend from Lunenburg (Mr. Kaulbaeh), and take such steps as are necessary to protect the interests of this country, particularly our fishing industry, whose cause Iras been so well advocated by my hon. friend.
I do not rise, however, for the purpose of dealing with the question which has been brought to the attention of the House by my hon. friend from Lunenburg, but for the purpose of moving an amendment to the motion that you, Mr. Speaker, leave the Chair, and in that connection to say a few words with respect to the expenditure of tills country during the current year, and during the fiscal year which will end on the 30th .Tune, 1902.
In the first place, I would like to bring your attention, Sir, to the fact that what was formerly termed ' extravagant expenditure '-when the Liberal party were on this side of the House-has now received an en-entirely different appellation. The use of adjectives has undergone a marked change Mr. KAULBACH.
in the Liberal press, and in the mouths of Liberal speakers during the past five years. The words ' extravagant,' ' excessive,' * scandalous ' and other similar adjectives were freely applied to the expenditure of this country when it was many million dollars below what it is at present. But since these hon. gentlemen have obtained office, they have coined another adjective, and the word which now they commonly use to describe the expenditure of the government-when that expenditure has amounted to nearly $53,000,000 for the past year, and is to be so unusually large for the coming year-the adjective used now to describe that expenditure is the word ' generous.' That is a very remarkable change, and to a man of imagination, such as I know you are, Sir. it calls up very interesting suggestions indeed. What was formerly excessive and extravagant, is now merely generous. The revenues of the country formerly were described as having been wrung from the taxpayers. They were the property of the people of this country, and the people wTere being bled White. But the use of the word ' generous ' indicates a new order of things altogether. The government apparently, having regard to the use of this word, do not consider that they are dealing with the moneys of the country at all, but are simply showing themselves generous in the expenditure of moneys over which they have most absolute control, and to which they alone have undoubted right. It was not always so. In 1894 the hon. the Minister of Marine visited the constituency I have the honour to represent, and there described in glowing terms the hardships Whiich the taxpayers had to endure in having wrung from them so extravagant an amount as was then raised by taxes. That hon. gentleman described the position of the taxpayer in language which, I am sure, must have brought tears to the eyes of many a good Liberal who listened to him.
But during the past few years that taxation has considerably increased, and it may be well that we should bring to the attention of the House and the country the extent to which it has increased. In 1890 the people paid in customs and excise taxes $27,759,285. In 1900 they paid no less than $38,242,222, or an increase of about $10,500,000. According to the statement of the Minister of Finance, in his budget speech this year, we will probably have raised in taxes, including excise and customs, nearly $39,000,000. That gives us some food for reflection. Let us look for a moment at the total consolidated fund receipts since 1896 :
1896 $36,618,590.72
1897 37,829,778.40
1898 40,555,238.03
1899 46,741,249.54
1900 51,029,994.02
So there can be no doubt that the revenues of this country have expanded to an enormous extent during the last four years.

It may be said that this indicates prosperity. That we do not deny. This country has shared in the prosperity that has prevailed throughout the world, and at that We rejoice. But it is well known to every business man, I believe, that a considerable share of the increase in the receipts from customs duties is due not to larger imports, but to increase in the prices of goods. With these enormous revenues, what is the record of hon. gentlemen opposite as to the disposal of the money with which they arc entrusted. We know that in days gone by these hon. gentlemen claimed to be exponents of economy. Their remarks on that subject have been laid before the House over and over again. It is too late in the session for me to weary the House by repeating them. We all know that they said that an expenditure of $38,000,000 was $3,000,000 or .$4,000,000 too much. We all know that my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Hon. Sir Richard Cartwright) denounced the extravagance of the late government in terms of which he only is master. And the right lion leader of the government (lit. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) did the same thing. Nor was tile Minister of Marine and Fisheries (Hon. Sir Louis Davies) behind the other hon. gentlemen in this respect. The present Minister of Justice took up the same line. And the Postmaster General (Hon. Mr. Mulock) was even louder in his denunciation than the others.

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