Air. THOMAS HAY (Selkirk):
Mr. Speaker, like hon. merbbers who have preceded me, I do not purpose taking up very much of the time of the House tonight. I feel, though, that I should declare myself at this time, and follow the dictates of my conscience, and in so doing take a stand
in the interests of the country as a whole, rather than of one particular section.
I think the Minister of Finance is to be congratulated in having taken' a step in the right direction in his Budget proposals-He has gone a long way, I believe, towards giving us relief, and I feel that we should appreciate what he has proposed to give to the people through a reduction of the customs tariff. The 'Government had no mandate from the people to tinker with the tariff. This, as has been said, is a war year, and I do not think that any one would have been disappointed if the Government had done nothing towards a reduction of the tariff. But some of the western members, including myself, pressed on the Government the necessity for a reduction. The Government have seen fit to give us that reduction, and I feel that they have done all that they could do at the present time and I purpose to give them my very hearty support. I trust that when the revision takes place next year further substantial reductions will be made. I would like to see, as some others have stated, larger reductions on certain lines, particularly on woollen and cotton goods, and on boots and shoes-things of that nature which are indispensable to the working people of this country; and it seems to me that a reduction in that direction would go a long way towards satisfying them.
I have listened with interest to many of the speeches made since this Budget was brought down-. Many of the speakers attempted to deal with the unrest and to tell us what were its causes, but I do not think that any one has really struck the right key. It seems difficult to say what the cause is- We have been keyed up so long under war pressure that a reaction seems to have taken place, and it is manifesting itself in this way. I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that I believe some of the speeches made during the debate are responsible for the present unrest. Some members have been telling of the downtrodden condition of the workingmen and of the pleasures of the rich men, and things of that nature, well calculated to create further unrest. I would point out that the great strikes which are taking place all over the Dominion at the present time are not strikes because living conditions are bad or because food prices are high; they are largely sympathetic strikes. The strikers are not asking for more money or for better conditions. So that I feel in the face of these facts we cannot say that the unrest is
due to the down-trodden condition of the working men. The solution of the whole difficulty, to my mind, Mr. Speaker, lies in production, and I think it is the duty of this Government to encourage production as the only means of allaying the prevailing unrest. We must go back to normal conditions as soon as possible. The high cost of living is wholly due to the war. Previous to the war living conditions were reasonable, wages were fairly good and prices were not high. The customs tariff is not to blame for increasing the cost of living, as I see it.
Now, there is another thing which is due directly, of course, to the war-I refer to the loss of ships and of the cargoes which they were carrying. I would like to quote from an article taken from the Saturday Evening Journal with respect to the amount of shipping lost during the war:
Precise figures on the shipping losses of the Allies and the United States were given out by the Ministry of Shipping some days ago. In gross tons Great Britain's loss was 7,638 000 [DOT] Prance's, 696,000; Italy's, 742,000; Japan's', 120,000; the United States', 341,000.
The great loss of foodstuffs as the result of the sinking of ships was due to the war. So that on the whole it is apparent that the high cost of living is due to the war conditions of the past five years, and I am satisfied that the Government can do very little at the present time to decrease that high cost. It is true that profiteers have made fortunes, but the conditions which existed made it possible. I do not think the Government is to blame for those conditions, because, as we all know, in such times we always find men ready to take advantage of abnormal conditions to enrich themselves.
Now, with respect to the tariff, I feel' as I said before, that it is not the cause of the high cost of living. With regard to a reduction of duties, I want to say that I am not a free trader, Mr. Speaker, I stand for a substantial reduction of the tariff along certain lines, but I do not think that 'Canada can be a free trade country at this time or for many years to come. So long as other countries protect their industries by a tariff and impose customs duties upon foreign goods, it is practically impossible for Canada, or, indeed, for any other country, to become, strictly speaking, a free trade country. In my estimation it is absolutely impracticable to have free trade in Canada until all the other nations of the world agree to have free trade.
The sentiment of many countries at this time is drifting towards protection of their
own industries. I notice that in Britain _ there is a feeling that protection should be afforded to the industries of that country.
A prominent party in the United States are advocating higher protection there, and Australia is moving along the same line. I quote the following article from the Ottawa Journal with regard to Australia's attitude in this .respect;-
W. A. Watt, the acting Prime Minister of Australia, according to an Exchange Telegraph despatch from Melbourne, told the Industries Protection League, Thursday, that the Australian Government intends to introduce a tariff measure to protect industries created during the war at the approaching session of Parliament.
The acting Prime Minister said it was the intention of the Government, if Parliament approves, to pass an effective tariff.
These countries are beginning to realize that they cannot encourage their home industries without affording to those industries a sufficient measure of protection, and I think they are taking a very wise stand.
I do not use this as an argument that we should have higher tariffs or more protection; I simply wish to point out that the trend of the times in the different countries of the world is towards the protection of industries.
I wish to refer to a statement made by the ex-iMinister of Agriculture (Mr. Grerarl with regard to the settlement of soldiers and immigrants upon the land. During the course of his speech, referring to the returned soldier, he said:-
It is useless to put him down on a homestead and say: [Now, here you are. He cannot grow grain nor raise cattle with his hands alone. He requires equipment, agricultural machinery, horses and harness to put on those horses. But when we ask him to do that work, we immediately say to him, on the other hand: You must, however, in the purchase of
the equipment that goes into the production of the stuff you hope to produce from your farm, pay to the State twenty per cent of the value of the equipment you get. What does that mean? If a returned soldier or an immigrant has $2,000 and wishes' to go on to the land to develop it, he first buys his equipment. If he could buy It tax free, so far as customs duties are concerned, he could buy it for $1,600, and he would have $400 as a working capital to start upon, to carry on his operations.
Let us examine this statement for a moment and see whether it is absolutely correct. What equipment would a homesteader or an immigrant, starting out on a farm, require? First of all, he would require a building in which to live and to house his family; I think we could fairly say that this is a part of his equipment. The ex-Minister of Agriculture says that he would have to pay twenty per cent on
his equipment by way of customs duties; let us see if that is the fact. The material which would go into the construction of his house-the rough lumber, the finer grades of lumber, lumber dressed on one side, and shingles, come into this country free of duty. I cannot, therefore, for the life of me see how this part of his equipment is going to cost him an extra twenty per cent. If he had to fence his farm-he would have to if he settled in the portion of Manitoba from which I come-the wire that he would need, and which would comprise a considerable part of his equipment, comes in free of duty. The binder that he would require in order to take in his crops, the mower and the ploughs which would be part of his equipment, are subject to a duty of twelve per cent. I understand that horses and cattle, if brought into this country for use on the farm, come in free of duty. I cannot see, therefore, how the ex-Minister of Agriculture can say that an immigrant or farmer starting out on a farm would be handicapped to the extent of twenty per cent. '
With respect to the returned soldier and his settling upon the land, the assertion of the ex-minister is unreasonable, particularly having regard to the source from which it comes. If the returned soldier settles on the land he does so under better conditions than the ordinary immigrant does. According to a statement made by the Soldiers' Settlement Board, the returned soldier who settles on the land gets the benefit of reductions in the price of lumber, machinery, and other equipment necessary to his starting out; so that such an assertion as the ex-minister has made is very misleading indeed.
I said at the beginning of my remarks that it was not my intention to take up more than a minute or two of the time of the House; I think I have said all that is necessary for me to say. Any further remarks I might make along this line would simply be a re-hash of arguments that have already been advanced. In conclusion, I may say that I intend to give my hearty support to the Budget; I believe that the financial proposals brought down by the Finance Minister are the best that could be expected from the Government at this time.
Mr. H. O. WRIGHT (Battleford) moved the adjournment of the debate.