May 22, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)

LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

Taxes are usually unwelcome, and we are all more or less willing that our neighbour shall pay his full proportion. I have not yet found a man who is unwilling to pay his full share, but I wish to bring to the attention of the minister some of the conditions connected with this proposed extra imposition. Not a few industries engaged in the manufacture of munitions and other commodities influenced by the war assert that after the war there will be a very critical period of readjustment. Some of them fear that during that period of readjustment they will be able to do nothing more than pay running expenses. The most conservative of these have been preparing for that period by placing to one side each year a reasonable reserve, feeling that when their present large business ceases-as we hope it will very shortly-they. will find themselves, under the new system of taxation, in a serious financial plight. They tell me that during the two or three years succeeding the war these reserves will be used up in their effort to readjust themselves to new conditions and to prepare for a staple business in the future. Some of them, I understand, think that the action of the Government in taking such a large proportion of the amount they now have on hand will cause them to come to a condition of practical bankruptcy during the period of readjustment. I feel confident that the minister, far from having that in mind, would like to protect our industries against this result. To my mind this is the most serious aspect of the matter; the figures that have been presented to me by some concerns lead me to believe that there is a good deal in the contention.
I was struck very forcibly the other night by the remarks of the hon. member for Dauphin. I agree that in order to produce
a revenue in the years to coune, a good many of our former theories will have to go by the board. Methods recognized as proper for the raising of revenue in years gone by will still be used1, but they will have to be supplemented by others. What shall these others be? I think it is the consensus of opinion throughout Canada that these taxes should not be imposed on the producers of agricultural products. In fact, I am strongly of the opinion that we shall have to deal with the tariff from a different angle. The farmer must .be enabled to produce as cheaply and in as large quantities as possible. If his output be restricted, none of the rest of us need look for any great prosperity, because, while industrial development is desirable, it will for a great many years be true of Canada that the basis of our prosperity .must be found in the farms. We shall have to go a long way towards reducing the cost of production and giving the farmer the freest opportunity to sell where he can get the best market and to buy as cheaply as possible all the implements that he uses in production. In a recent trip that I had West, this view was impressed upon me more strongly than ever. Striking instances came to my attention of real hardship to the men who were trying to produce. In the future we shall have to do two things: first, assist the man on the farm so that he can compete with all others the world over who are engaged in the same business; and, second, readjust our tariff with a view to raising as large an amount of money as possible. That, rather than protection, should be the chief object in view. We shall have to go a long way in the scientific arrangement of our tariff in ordbr to raise the greatest amount of money without restricting the ability of the man on the farm to produce. I know the minister will say that it is easy to talk in generalities, but the more we look into the financial situation, the more we are inclined to view it from a different standpoint. The time has arrived when the greatest good to the greatest number .should be the object of the framing of tariffs, and the greatest good will come to the .greatest number only when we enable those engaged in our basic industry, so far as it is possible to do so, unrestrictedly to produce and to sell.
Another remark in that speech which struck me forcibly was in reference to unoccupied lands in the West. I think we are under a kind of delusion as to the amount of good land available for homestead in the West.

1 hear men speaking of the millions and millions of acres of good land remaining available for homesteading, but I believe that the estimate of many men will have to be revised as to the quantity of land still unoccupied. A large quantity of land may yet remain open for homesteading, but there is not so much as people imagine. In the years to come, under new conditions and under new methods, a great deal of this land may be brought under cultivation, but to my mind we have not available for homesteading at the present time such a large quantity of land as some of us think. If it be true, as the hon. member for Dauphin (Mr. Cruise) said the other night, that there are held in the West' many million acres of land from which no revenue is derived, but the value of which is increasing rapidly on account of the improvement of other lands in the West, then under the new conditions we shall have to devise some scheme of dealing with these lands from a revenue point of view and from the point of view of general development. A large quantity of these lands is exempt from provincial taxation; and if normal conditions existed, I would feel it would perhaps be a dangerous thing to suggest that such lands ought to be taxed, when by agreement they are exempt from taxation; but we are at the present moment in a situation in which every man, woman and child in Canada has to submit to taxation to which neither he nor she ever before expected to have to submit, and we shall all willingly and even gladly offer to pay our share in order that there may be no difficulty from a financial point of view as to Canada being able to do her part in bringing the war to a final and conclusive victory. Those who hold these lands ought to bear their share of the burden, and I believe, whichever party may be in power, it is their duty to ascertain without delay some means whereby this land, which is now very valuable, may contribute its share of taxation for the carrying on of this great struggle in which we are engaged. No hardship will be suffered by anybody if we take part of the profits, or what we call the unearned increment.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS.
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