MATTHEWS, James Ewen

Personal Data

Brandon (Manitoba)
Birth Date
August 17, 1869
Deceased Date
November 24, 1950
insurance agent, journalist, teacher

Parliamentary Career

November 14, 1938 - January 25, 1940
  Brandon (Manitoba)
March 26, 1940 - April 16, 1945
  Brandon (Manitoba)
June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
  Brandon (Manitoba)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
  Brandon (Manitoba)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 6 of 17)

July 8, 1947

Mr. J. E. MATTHEWS (Brandon):

Mr. Speaker, I want to express my appreciation of the remarks of the hon. member for Dauphin (Mr. Zaplitny). He has explained what is really a serious situation. I have been in touch with it to a greater or lesser degree for the last two weeks and have had representations from various municipalities,

Price of Used Cars

boards of trade and other civic bodies. Manitoba is being blessed with a banner crop practically all over the province, but that does not assist very much the unfortunate farmer or market gardener whose crops are completely destroyed by this flood.

The Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) is ini the west, I understand, and I have no doubt that before his return he will have acquired first-hand knowledge of the losses which have been sustained. I believe I speak for practically every hon. member of this house when I say that I hope something may be done to alleviate the losses which these men have met after the hard work of putting in their crop. I am sure we are all one in hoping that they may be amply recompensed.

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July 4, 1947

Mr. J. E. MATTHEWS (Brandon):

Mr. Speaker, in view of a recent press announcement in reference to the dedicating of a cemetery on the outskirts of Hong Kong, 33166-324

where the remains of some three hundred Canadian victims of the Hong Kong tragedy are said to be buried, may I ask the Minister of National Defence whether the names of thos'e soldiers are to be published, or are all available particulars to be forwarded to the next of kin?

Topic:   HONG KONG
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May 28, 1947

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May 15, 1947

Mr. J. E. MATTHEWS (Brandon):

Mr. Speaker. I have always admired the quality of the budget speeches and the tone of the budget debates in this house. I want to congratulate the hon. member who has just sat down (Mr. Lockhart) on the forcefulness of his speech. I have on several occasions had the pleasure of tendering my congratulations to that prince of finance ministers, the present Minister of Justice (Mr. Ilsley). I say without hesitation that our people are coming to realize more clearly every year our debt to the former finance minister for his able administration during the war years.

If we keep in mind that Canada's first parliament lasted only forty-three days and that the first budget speech in April, 1868, forecast an expenditure of $14 million, it is interesting to recall budget estimates for some later years. For instance, for the year ended March 31, 1915, Hon. Thomas White

The Budget-Mr. J. E. Matthews

budgeted for an expenditure of $190 million; in 1920 the same finance minister, then Sir Thomas White, budgeted for an expenditure *of $620 million; 1925, Mr. Robb, $342 million; 1930, Mr. Dunning, $360 million; 1935, Mr. Rhodes, $351 million; 1940, Mr. Dunning, $550 million; 1945, Hon. J. L. Ilsley, $5,152 million, or just ten times as much as the 1940 budget; 1946, Mr. Ilsley, $4,650 million, and in 1947, $2,750 million; and for the financial year ending March 31, 1948, our present Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) budgets for an expenditure of $2,450 million.

These figures give us some idea of the development of Canadian governmental finance since that first budget of $14 million. They also serve to make more clear the Right Hon. Mr. Ilsley's colossal task and his tremendous achievements. But time keeps rolling on, and the Ilsley mantle, so creditably worn by him, has now fallen unspotted and secure upon the capable shoulders of another man. I have seldom been as proud of any budget speech I have heard as that delivered by the present Minister of Finance in this parliament on the evening of April 29. At the very outset he struck a note of triumph, a note of confidence, a note of achievement, .yes, a note of mastery, if you will, and that mote he held right through to the finish. As ?I listened to his words of conviction and his ^acceptance of the challenge of the future; as 'I gleaned something of the growth and [DOT] expansion of this country's business as indi-[DOT]seatsed in the budget figures just quoted. I -realized1 once again how proud I ought to be, and how proud I am. of the privilege of calling myself a Canadian.

Major H. G. L. Strange, a widely known resident of western Canada, prominent in the grain trade and in research, recently returned from seven weeks spent in Great Britain, France, Belgium, Holland and Denmark. He has this to say:

The overwhelming impression comes over me that each one of us should utter a daily prayer of thankfulness that we are citizens of Canada with all that this great country has to offer to adults and to the future of our rising generation.

And then Major Strange, rightly or wrongly, goes on to say that hope for the future is almost disappearing in Britain and in the whole of Europe and is being replaced by a feeling of sadness and resignation. These are serious words made by a capable observer, a responsible man, and we may well pause to wonder as to the future.

We all realize that the years as they roll around bring some new experience; there is no doubt about that. During the course of my young life, I have listened to many budfMr. J. E. Matthews.!

gets, some federal, some provincial, some municipal. I have heard finance ministers roundly criticized for having ended the fiscal year with a deficit. But it is a new experience to me to hear a minister criticized for having closed the year with a substantial surplus.

I have heard shafts of ridicule showered upon a minister when he announced higher taxes, but again it is a new experience to hear him condemned when he announces lower taxes.

We all know that many a finance minister has had to run the gauntlet of opposition sniping, when he announced an increase in national or provincial debt, but again it is a novel experience to hear a minister roundly denounced when he has made a big reduction in the national debt.

I pause to ask, as I may well do, what is the score anyway? What is back of all this? What is in the minds of those who thus criticize the budget? Are we to assume, as we are compelled to do, that some opposition speakers are in reality saying to the finance minister: You should not have a surplus when we were all primed for you to announce a deficit? Are they saying to the finance minister: You have no right to lower the taxes in this country because we were confident you would have to increase them? And again, is their attitude not equivalent to saying to the finance minister: Why did you reduce the national debt? Why did you not increase the debt, thereby increasing our interest charges and thus compelling us to pay still higher taxes? Surely, Mr. Speaker, some of our opposition friends are beginning to realize the astounding absurdity of their criticisms, because the tone and calibre of many of their speeches do not lend themselves to any other interpretation than that I have just mentioned.

No one resents more than I do the fact that Hitler has compelled me to pay higher taxes. But I am thankful today to be living in a country and among people where we enjoy something-and greatest of all, our freedom- for the taxes we have to pay. It could have been different, for let us not forget that we are paying taxes to ourselves as Canadians and not to any foreign foe. It could have been different, yes, and it very nearly was different. Someone has well remarked how great civilizations of the past, such as Babylon, Crete, Egypt, Greece and Rome "went over the cliff." It is only as we get farther away from the suspense of the war days, only as more war secrets are being revealed, that we begin to realize how narrowly our own nation was saved from going over the cliff.

No, I do not like paying taxes; but when I realize that a large part of the taxes I paid last year was applied to reducing my indebtedness it takes away the sting. The Minister of

The Budget-Mr. J. E. Matthews

Finance (Mr. Abbott) collected-and this is some of the criticism-mostly from Canadian taxpayers, $352 million that he did not use. The question is, what did he do with it? Well, he did not start stepping out. He did not act the part of Canada's prodigal son and encourage this nation to spend that surplus in riotous living. No; he did with that surplus just what he should have done; he did with it what any man with ordinary horse sense should have done. He applied that surplus of $352 million to the reduction of our national debt. What does that reduction mean to the citizens of Canada? Assuming interest paid at three per cent-the government is paying that and more on an average on its victory bonds-they have in that one retirement saved the people of this country interest payments of $10,500,000 annually all down the coming years. I leave it to the Canadian people and I leave it to the good sense of my hon. friends across the way to say whether or not that was good business. Further, Canada's net indebtedness remains at $13,069 million, figures almost beyond our comprehension. Suppose we were to continue retiring the debt at the rate of $352 million a year; any school boy could tell you in thirty seconds that it would take just thirty^seven years to retire the national debt, not including interest.

Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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May 15, 1947

Mr. MATTHEWS (Brandon):

Do hon.

members not think it is about time we got started? The war left us with a legacy of freedom, but it also left us with a legacy of debt. Canadians, old and young, rich and poor, may just as well face the facts. Some scoffing references were made to the Minister of Finance having received in the last fiscal year $372 million from the sale of war material by War Assets Corporation. These sales, our critics point out, cannot be repeated in any future year, and that only resulting from such sales was a surplus on this year's business possible. I suggest that that implication is unfair because, on the other side of the ledger, there are special war expenditures which will not have to be repeated another year. The Minister of Finance was frank enough to state both sides when delivering the budget, and I suggest that his critics should be equally frank. He pointed out that $320 million were paid out in war service gratuities. He pointed out that $70 million were spent in liquidation and termination of war contracts that had to be halted when peace was declared. That amount, too, was spent. These two items alone more than offset the $372 million

received from war assets. In addition to these, there were many other large items of expenditure that will not apply in future years. Therefore I say that the argument, when analysed, is completely and overwhelmingly in favour of the minister's position.

May I remark right here that I regard it as a most creditable performance on the part of War Assets Corporation, to have turned back to the government in one year the sum of $372 million, with a lot more still to come. I confess to having been among those who at one time felt that War Assets Corporation was desperately slow in getting the wheels of distribution started. But the completion of their organization was doubtless a much bigger undertaking than most of us realized. I now want to congratulate War Assets Corporation on doing what I regard as a very fine piece of work, and I believe it is everywhere conceded that they are doing that work in the disposal of war material not only efficiently but above board.

May I digress to say that, in my experience, deputy ministers of various departments, secretaries, senior officials and all officials with very few exceptions did everything that was humanly possible in cooperating to solve the perplexing problems that were constantly arising following the period of the war. I want to extend to them, one and all, my deep appre-preeiation and sincere gratitude.

Reverting to the budget, I accord the Minister of Finance every credit for collecting our taxes and reducing our debt when times are good. The great bulk of our citizens have more money than they ever had. It is true that the cost of living has risen; nevertheless over a million persons bought Canada savings bonds last fall at a coupon interest of 2| per cent. There is also this significant fact that interest bearing deposits in the chartered banks last year amounted to $3,476 million, an increase of S600 million over the previous year. The number of accounts represented was 6,063,000. This does not include the deposits in the provincial chartered banks or in the post office savings department. If we make due allowance for several accounts carried under one name such as trust accounts, it is still safe to say that over five million of our population have savings bank deposits to their credit.

May I here refer to the amendment moved by the hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario (Mr. Macdonnell), in which he deplores the fact that we have indirect and hidden taxes. I am not sure that that comes with very good

The Budget-Mr. J. E. Matthews

grace from some of those on the other side of the house. Part of the amendment reads as follows:

This house regrets that the proposals of the Minister of Finance

(a) offer no relief from the oppressive burden of indirect and hidden taxes on staple necessities that compose the family budget, all of which taxes directly increase the cost of living;

(b) offer no encouragement to those engaged in the development of our natural resources, especially mining and agriculture.

In that regard the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) made this pointed observation a few days ago. Many hon. members heard him. He said:

In my reading of the history of Canada, particularly its political history, I have always been under the impression that the members of the Conservative party were strong advocates of the indirect system of taxation and that the Liberal party over a long period of years had been a strong advocate of the direct system of taxation.

A big principle is introduced in the amendment, but let us see how it works out in practice. Much of the record, almost the whole record, of the Conservative party is manifest in their consistent raising of indirect or hidden taxes. We all know that. During the last Conservative regime, tariffs were raised to a startling degree. Sales taxes were raised. An excise tax of three per cent was placed on all imported goods. Taxes on lower incomes were raised; postage was raised; taxes on cheques were raised; nuisance taxes were levied and taxes on sugar were inaugurated.

Let us compare, say the fiscal year ended March 31, 1941, with that ended March 31, 1945. So far as the three chief hidden taxes are concerned, in 1941 customs duties made up 16-8 per cent of the national revenue; in 1945, only 5-37 per cent. Another hidden tax, the excise tax, represented 11-3 per cent of the national revenue in 1941. That was down to 7 per cent in 1945. Sales taxes represented twenty-three per cent in 1941 and were reduced to 9-7 per cent in 1945. The total of 51 per cent in 1941 was reduced to 22 per cent in 1945. That is the answer so far as hidden or indirect taxes are concerned. With regard to direct taxation

and I mean taxes that were not hidden-the present government came right out into the open. Income taxes and excess profit taxes, which five or six years ago formed only 28 per cent of our national revenue, now form about 60 per cent of it. There is nothing very much hidden about that; it is not nearly so hidden as is the implication in the amendment to which I have referred.

Paragraph (b) of that amendment expresses the criticism that the proposals of the budget: offer no encouragement to those engaged in the development of our natural resources, especially mining and agriculture.

This is another complaint which I am going to diagnose for a few moments. I do not pretend to know anything about mining conditions. Those were well discussed a few evenings ago by the hon. member for Cochrane (Mr. Bradette). But representing, as I do, Just about the best agricultural constituency in Canada-and I have seen most of them-I propose to make a few remarks along agricultural lines, keeping in mind the purport of paragraph (b) of the amendment, particularly as it applies to western Canada. I do this because I think we are all agreed that there is no more accurate measure of our financial progress than is afforded in the realm of agriculture. In the maritimes, reports from Nova Scotia indicate that the farmers of that province netted $5,000,000 more in the year ended November 30, 1946, than in the previous twelve months. The Dominion Mortgage Investment Association reports that farm mortgage debts in the three prairie provinces are now less than one-third of what they were at the end of 1937. The research department of the United Farmers of Canada, referring to Saskatchewan, announces that during the years of crop failure and low prices there was a farm debt increase in that province from an estimated $200 million in 1930 to over $600 million in 1939, despite debt, cancellations and adjustments. The research department now estimates that over two-thirds of that 1939 debt or, in other words, $400 million, was liquidated during the years 1942 to 1946. While the average debt per farm in Saskatchewan in 1939 was estimated at $4,398, the debt in 1946 was estimated at only $1,466, or less than one-third. That is certainly some accomplishment in seven years.

A statement appearing in the press a few days ago indicated that in 1946 alone Manitoba farm mortgage and agreements of sale debt was reduced by 23 per cent, and that since the end of 1937 this reduction amounts to no less than 76 per cent; certainly another great accomplishment. I am almost tempted, to remark that this accomplishment was achieved under the beneficent reign of a Liberal government. The farmers of Manitoba no longer depend entirely on the wheat crop. They are following diversified farming, largely and successfully.

I wonder if it was possibly the Ontario farmers whom the hon. member for Muskoka, Ontario had in mind when he suggested in his

The Budget-Mr. J. E. Matthews

amendment that they need encouragement. If that were his thought, then he may be right.

For instance, some Manitoba farmers came with live stock exhibits to the Toronto Royal a few months ago. The Toronto Royal is a wonderful institution and does credit in a large way to the people of Ontario. The Toronto Royal attracts to its show rings every year the cream of Canada's production from coast to coast. Notwithstanding the excellence of those dominion-wide exhibits, including, of course, many from Ontario farms, our friends from Manitoba carried off nineteen first prizes, sixteen second prizes, sixteen third prizes, fourteen fourth prizes and thirty-three others, or a total of ninety-eight prizes for live stock alone. But that is not all. Manitoba farmers at the Toronto Royal carried off also two grand championships, one reserve grand championship, one senior championship, two reserve senior championships, two junior championships, one reserve junior championship, one championship and one reserve championship. This means a total of eleven awards and ninety-eight prizes won by Manitoba exhibitors.

Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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