James Robert WILSON

WILSON, The Hon. James Robert, P.C.

Personal Data

Saskatoon (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
September 16, 1866
Deceased Date
April 3, 1941
farmer, merchant, miller

Parliamentary Career

December 17, 1917 - October 4, 1921
  Saskatoon (Saskatchewan)
  • Minister Without Portfolio (September 26, 1921 - December 28, 1921)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 6)

June 2, 1921

Mr. WILSON (Saskatoon) :

I think it is going a little too far to expect the average man to make his own assessment. It is all right to ask him to make a return, because there is no one else who can make it but himself, but I think it is going too far to expect him to make his assessment, when possibly he does not know enough about the taxes and super-taxes and exemptions to make an accurate assessment. We must not forget that the average man with a taxable income is not an expert book-keeper, and it takes almost an expert accountant to make the assessment on his own income, for the first time, at least.

There has been considerable dissatisfaction in my constituency over this system, not so much because people object to pay the tax, but mainly on the part of people who are not liable to the tax. Two of my constituents were brought before the courts in Saskatoon last winter, and were fined $100 for failing to make a return, notwithstanding the fact that they claimed they


did make a return. Apparently there is no regulation in the income tax offices compelling an acknowledgment of returns when sent in. When I learned this fact I adopted the practice, when making my returns, of registering them, so that I might have something to show that I had sent them in. I have a letter written by a gentleman in Saskatoon, named Mr. T. J. Peacock. I desire to read this letter:

As I seem to be one of the parties picked out for the goat on this income tax returns for 1918, I am writing you to see if anything can be done regarding this, and I suppose that it is only fair that you understand the facts of the case. About the 17th or 18th December I was summoned to appear at the Police Court at Saskatoon for neglecting to make return and pay inoome tax for the year 1918. Mr. D. Maclean appeared with me on the 2i7th December before Magistrate Brown and was fined $100 and costs. My sworn evidence showed I was not liable for tax and that there were at least two sets of forms mailed to me, one to my house address, and one to my office. I filled in the latter set, but did not fill in the former ones, as they were both the same, these were personally mailed, that was my defence, which was not contradicted. The argument put up by the prosecution was that they had mailed me a registered notice, asking for return, which I had heard nothing of although I found out later that this had been signed by one of my children when I was away from home, and also that they had called me by telephone at my house which was then rented by another party and no member of my family lived there. The Magistrate claimed the only case he had to go by was a decision handed down by some judge in Ontario who sa-id that the penalty was $100, and he admitted he was not clear about this himself, seeming to think that this amount should be imposed in every case not taking the circumstances into consideration whatever. The department would not swear that notices had not been received; the chief clerk went so far as to state to Mr. Maclean and myself after the case was over, that they had searched the office and were unable to locate them. Since that time I have known of different parties who have registered their returns to the office, and who have been asked to supply another set tvhich when traced through the Post Office to the Tax Office were found to have been delivered. I asked the girl in the office if it was customary to mail receipts after having received the returns, and her answer was No; also told me that because I did not receive a receipt would be no evidence that my returns had not been received at the office, neither would this be evidence that they were not in the office at the present time. I think that this covers the whole oase.

I know of a similar case, in regard to a man named S. Watson, of Saskatoon, and in neither instance was the man liable for income tax, although, of course, that did not excuse them from making out the returns. Both of these men, according to the sworn evidence, declared that they had made out their returns. I have laid the matter before Mr. Breadner, the Com-

missioner of Taxation, asking for a remission of the fine in the cases I have cited. I do not think it is at all fair that this man should have been fined, and I thought I would not let this opportunity pass without laying the matter before the Minister of Finance.

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June 1, 1921

Mr. WILSON (Saskatoon) :

Will the

minister tell me where the roads are located as to which money has been applied for?

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June 1, 1921

Mr. WILSON (Saskatoon):

I would

like to inquire from the minister if application has been made for any of these projects in the Prairie Provinces, particularly Saskatchewan?

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March 30, 1921

Mr. J. R. WILSON (Saskatoon) :

Mr. Speaker, the resolution before the House

is a most important one and if concurred in might give rise to far-reaching and serious results. I believe, Sir, that there is inseparably bound up with this question of immigration the question whether this country is to progress or to stand still. Prior to the war, immigration was, so to speak, the life-blood of Canada, infusing new life and progress into our country.

I agree that it may be well for us to restrict certain classes of immigration; certainly we do not need many more of certain classes of people. What we do require are persons who will settle on our rich agricultural lands, which are awaiting the touch of the hand of man to blossom forth and to produce all that is required for man's sustenance.

We have in the three prairie provinces about 1,100,000 people who are located on the land, holding in the neighbourhood of-

26.000. 000 acres. It is estimated that the arable land in those provinces consists of about

152.000. 000 acres. If this land were settled even to the extent that the occupied parts of the provinces are now settled-which is sparsely-and brought under cultivation, there would be located on the land in these three prairie provinces about 8,000,000 people thus doubling our present population. It seems to me that the only solution of some of the problems which face us is a strong immigration policy to settle these vacant lands which are capable of valuable production.

It also seems to me that, in past years, in our policy of subsidizing railways, we were working at the wrong end. We were subsidizing and assisting railways to pay interest on bonds, which interest the railways were unable to meet owing to their having been built in advance of the settlement of the country. When the railways found that they were unable, through lack of traffic, to earn sufficient to pay their way, in years gone by they approached the Government, and the Government handed out assistance. At that time it was my opinion, if assistance that had been given in order railways had possibly been given in order to encourage agriculture and to induce men to go on the lands of the West, we, perhaps, would not have had the railways coming to the Government with their hands out for assistance to pay interest on bonds.

In this regard I should like to give an illustration of something that happened not so many years ago. In 1914-this is a matter of history-hon. members will remember that we had a very dry season in the West; that many farmers, through failure of

crops, were faced with the problem of securing seed, and they had no money with which to secure it. The Government came to their assistance and furnished seed at an expense of about $10,000,000. What did that return in wealth to this country? At that time I was managing one of the Government elevators and I was in fairly close touch with this proposition, because there passed through my hands about a million and a half bushels of that seed I kept track of the districts into which the seed went. As things turned out, ir 1915, we had, I will admit, an abnormallj heavy crop; but the grain that was furnished by the Government, purchased at a cost of about $10,000,000, returned in wealth to the farmers of Canada, which after all means Canada as a whole, at a very conservative estimate, about $150,000,000. But the return did not stop there. If that grain was transported via our allCanadian route from its point of origin to the Atlantic seaboard, it brought about $35,000,000 to the transportation companies. I give that as an illustration of my statement that I think we have been working at the wrong end with our railways in helping them to meet deficits. The only way in which we can solve the railway problem which is now confronting us is by increasing settlement on our western land, increasing production and thereby increasing traffic and revenue to our railways.

I think everyone admits that agriculture has been in the past, is at present, and will be, for some years to come, the basic industry of Canada. I was a little bit interested and amused to hear the hon. member for Glengarry and Stormont (Mr. Kennedy) blame the fiscal policy of this country for the unemployment which exists at the present time in our cities. This is a condition which prevails throughout the world, as can easily be found by correspondence with foreign countries or conversing with men who have travelled through them. There is not in the world to-day another country in which conditions, generally speaking, are as good as they are in Canada. Many problems confront us; but if we hold to a national spirit of self-reliance and have some confidence in our ability to meet and surmount those obstacles, we will meet and surmount them. I feel certain that this resolution will not be accepted, or taken very seriously, by members of the House, and it would be a calamity if it were.

The hon. member for George Etienne Cartier (Mr. Jacobs) referred to some impediments put in the way of immigrants coming into this country. I have had experience in dealing with some cases, and the regulations seem to me to be a little drastic, to work a hardship, and to be somewhat unfair. Prospective settlers who buy a ticket, possibly en route, who may be laid up for a month or two on account of illness and who then continue their journey, are debarred from entry into Canada owing to the journey not having been a continuous one. Some cases have occurred where part of the family is in Canada. This works a hardship, and it is something that should be taken note of.

As I said some few minutes ago, I did not intend to speak on this question, and I do not wish to take up any more of the time of the House, as time is passing and I know the Minister of Immigration and Colonization (Mr. Calder) wishes to have a little time in which to give us some information and probably an outline of what his policy in the future will be. In con-elusion, I think this $250 qualification for the class of immigrants that we are in need of in this country, is putting a handicap on their coming in, and it should be seriously considered whether we should put any impediment in the way of the entry into Canada of the class which we are most in need of and most desirous of having. We all admit that the great need of this country is more people. People at the present time seem to be inclined to move, and while they have that inclination and we being in need of more people, now is the time for us to bestir ourselves and take advantage of the opportunity of securing as many as possible of the class of immigrants that we desire to have.

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June 28, 1920

Mr. WILSON (Saskatoon):

Not to my knowledge. Now, in Australia the Government Control Board sells wheat at slightly less to the millers than they can get in the export market in order to give the mills a little advantage in being able to mill at home and so have feed at home. It is very important, I think, that as much as possible of the wheat should be milled' in the country, from the point of view not only of employment, but also of feed. You cannot have an abundance of feed if the mills are not running pretty well up to capacity, and it would seem to me that unless there can be some closing up on the ocean rates at present existing between flour and wheat at 25 cents a hundred it will almost put the mills out of business in this country. If such a policy is allowed to be carried out by any shipping company it can easily extinguish an industry in this country so far as exports are concerned, and I *think the Government should use their good offices in bringing to the attention of the shipping companies this unfair discrimination; for after all, there is not much difference in the handling charges between transferring a car of flour and a car of wheat from a car to a vessel. I think, therefore, that there is an unfair discrimination to the injury of the milling business and the country. If we pursue a policy of milling wheat in this country bnly to the extent of our home consumption of flour, our farm lands will be ruined to such an extent that they will be impoverished. The only way in which you can retain the fertility of the land is to return as much as possible back to it of the product which you take from it. You can turn it back in the way of bran and shorts through the medium of feeding stock and obtaining the reeultant fertilizer. I hope that the members of the committee 277

will see the neoessdty of this amendment as introduced by the minister. The mills are not asking for anything unfair. There was a similar regulation in the United States when they had wheat control. The Wheat *Control Board could give 'a preference so long as it did not operate to the detriment of the people. They had power to give a preference to the export of flour.

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