February 25, 1916 (12th Parliament, 6th Session)

CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

Don't pile it on too thick.
M|r. TURRIFF: I am not piling it on at all. 'The Minister of Trade and Commerce is a credit to the people of Canada. He is the strongest man in the Government at the present time, but, unfortunately for Canada, bad influences are also very strong with the Government. For all that, I have
confidence in the ability and integrity of the Minister of Trade and Commerce, and I am sure that if he set himself to this task he could accomplish it. He would have public opinion behind him, and that helps a great deal. I venture to say that any man in Canada who lives up to the ideals propounded by the Minister of Trade and Commerce the other evening will have the people of Canada, Liberals and Conservatives alike, behind him.
Ever since this session started, and in debates in previous sessions, hon. gentle-^men opposite have been giving sly digs at gentlemen on this side of the House in connection with the naval policy. My hon. friend from Annapolis (Mr. Davidson) had a great deal to say about that the other evening. If hon. gentlemen opposite want to discuss the naval question, and the attitude taken in regard to it by hon. gentlemen on this side of the House, as contrasted with the position taken by hon. gentlemen opposite, let them bring the subject up in this House whenever they like. We are ready to debate that question at any time, but this habit of giving sly digs is unfair and unmanly. If gentlemen opposite want to discuss this question let them discuss it in an open way. We have nothing to fear. Fronj the day the Minister of Trade and Commerce introduced his resolution iij 1909 up to this moment, the right hon. leader of the Opposition and hon. gentlemen sitting behind him have not changed their policy with regard to the navy one iota, not to the extent of dotting an " i " or crossing a " t." We stand to-day exactly where we stood in 1909, and in 1910, and in 1911; that is, for a Canadian navy, built by Canada, manned by Canadians, at the call of the British Empire whenever she is at war. Had our policy been carried out-and hon. gentlemen opposite had it in their power to carry it out-we should not be in the position we are in to-day, without a ship on the sea, and having to depend upon Japan and Australia for the protection of our western coast; we should not have had to buy two obsolete submarines, at double the proper price, to protect Victoria and Vancouver-^submarines without a torpedo in them. A great protection they
would be to anything or anybody! Had the hon. gentlemen on the treasury benches carried out the policy for which they voted in 1909, we would have had torpedo boats of our own on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and cruisers to protect our trade and our transports as our soldiers

crossed the Atlantic in order to take part in the war of the Empire.
Just here let me say that we on this side of the House stand exactly where we stood on the 18th day of August, 1914, when the House was summoned in order to vote the first war credit. We are behind the Government absolutely in carrying on this war; we are prepared to support them in everything; but we want a fair and reasonable accounting of the expenditure of all moneys voted for war purposes. A year ago the Government asked for $100,000,000 and we voted it without question. My hon. friend the Minister of Finance this year says, " We want $250,000,000," and we will vote that. We are not one whit behind in the field or in the trenches or in the Parliament of Canada in anything connected with carrying on this war and bringing it to a successful issue; and, to-day, when the fiercest battle of the waT is raging, I think every one in "this country can say that Canada is doing her duty fairly well, and will continue to do her duty to the end. If more money than the $250,000,000 is necessary, no complaint will come from this side of the House as long as that money is expended in carrying on the war; but we do not want tens of millions of dollars to be turned over to private raiders of the treasury, as has been done in the past year in connection with the manufacture of shells. We want to see an end put to that, and those men who got illegitimate gains punished by at least half of those gains being taken away to help in the carrying on of this war.
One of the main objections, Sir, to the industrial tax is that it is so absolutely unfair, because it taxes one man heavily and lets two or three others escape. When the Minister of Finance proposed to tax all corporations on the same basis by taking their capital stock as paid-up stock without going behind it to see what was the true capital, I am sure that a gentleman with the business experience of my hon. friend must have seen that such a proceeding is eminently unfair, because he is as well posted a man oh affairs of this kind as any man in Canada. Let me illustrate this point: One man put $100,000 into a business, and, as he is an honest, decent man, going about his business in a conservative way, he issues $100,000 of paid-up stock. His neighbour going into the same business also organizes a company, but he makes his capital $1,000,000, and he takes his $100,000 and buys certain property that the new company will need,
and he sells that new property to the new company for $1,000,000; that is, he gets $1,000,000 of paid-up capital. Both companies start business. Suppose the first man, who has $100,000 of capital stock, makes $15,000. $7,000 of that is exempt
and he has to pay 25 per cent on the balance. The second man, however-, who is a kite-flier, who goes in for speculating in watered stock, who has the get-rich-quick idea, has $1,000,000 of capital, and he can put $70,000 per annum in profits into his own pocket before he is called upon to pay one cent under the legislation proposed by the Minister of Finance. From what my hon. friend said last night, he has some intention of making a change in that regard, and I am quite satisfied that he will make a change. Why? Because there has been a general protest in all parts of the country from the Atlantic to the Pacific against the absolute unfairness of such a proposition. One of the strongest protests I have seen has come from Sir E. B. Osier, a member of this House, and a wealthy man, who has pointed out that the proposed taxation is eminently unfair. So faT as I know, no one in this country objects to paying a fair tax for the carrying on 'of this war, a<nd I do not suppose any one would object to paying 25 per cent of the profits over 7 per cent if the same tax applied to every one; but that is where the shoe pinches. The tax does not apply to every one; for one man who pays, one or two will escape, and the men who escape are the very ones who should not be allowed to escape.
Another point is that if every one had to pay, the Minister of Finance would not have to call for 25 per cent of the profits over 7 per cent, because in that case 10 per cent of the surplus profits over 7 per cent would give him all the money he requires. Why should one man pay 25 per cent of his surplus profits over 7 per cent and another man not pay anything at all? Would it not be much better to work out the tax so that every one would pay practically the same percentage? No one expects that under a proposition of this kind every one will be treated exactly alike, but it is a gross injustice to let one man escape and another man pay two or three times over. I am sure that if the minister, when he brings this Bill before the committee, will make a change that will spread the tax equally over the community, he will be doing something in the interest of the people of Canada as a whole, and will give general satisfac-

tion and not leave the heart burnings and the bitterness that the carrying out of the present proposition will do. Just think of the injustice of two companies earning the same profits and one company not paying a single dollar and the other company having to pay $100,000. Do you imagine, Sir, that the shareholders of the company that have to pay that $100,000 will sit quiet when they see the shareholders of the other company, who inflated their stock with water, .set off without paying one cent? Do you not think there will be dissatisfaction and some very hard things said about this Government if it should put such a proposition in force?
At six o'clock the House took recess.
The House resumed at eight o'clock.

Topic:   THE BUDGET.
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