James Ewen MATTHEWS

MATTHEWS, James Ewen

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Brandon (Manitoba)
Birth Date
August 17, 1869
Deceased Date
November 24, 1950
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Ewen_Matthews
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=1843efa3-f3ae-41d8-a3eb-e1938a2fd457&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
insurance agent, journalist, teacher

Parliamentary Career

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

Most Recent Speeches (Page 7 of 17)


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.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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May 15, 1947

Mr. MATTHEWS (Brandon):

Some of them. To be serious about the matter, there is a reason for these successes; in fact, there are several reasons. First of all, there are climatic conditions, those gifts of an over-ruling Providence. Then there is the thrift, the intelligence, the vision of the farmers, their wives and families in that part of Canada. Another reason is the wisdom and the readiness with which they adapt themselves to the suggestions of the agriculture departments, both federal and provincial, which suggestions are made only after a keener, more comprehensive study of world conditions has been conducted than could possibly be made by the individual farmer. Our dominion Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) is a man wrho, from long and wide experience and from careful observation, desires to adhere strictly to the policy of stability rather than speculation. In that I thoroughly agree with him, because farming has sufficient speculation in it at any time without one asking for more. A third reason is the wise, educational and aggressive leadership given by the Brandon experimental farm, one of the best directed in Canada. A fourth reason is the contribution made and the incentive furnished, down through the years, by the summer and winter fairs held at Brandon under the auspices of the provincial exhibition of Manitoba. These Brandon fairs are among the best, and on a yearly average are probably the best, of any held west of Toronto. As a matter of fact, the name might well be changed from Brandon fair to Western Canada Royal.

So I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that paragraph (b) of the amendment deploring the fact that the budget proposals offer no encouragement to agriculture falls rather flat when reduced to its par value. The farming population of this country will judge a government by performances rather than by promises. They have done so repeatedly in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

I might go on to speak of other records made by Manitoba last year in regard to the production of raw furs, the production of paper, the production of hydro electric power, and receipts from tourist travel. I should like to add that Riding Mountain national park, located just sixty-seven miles north of Brandon, was visited in 1946 by 161,308 people, being second only to Banff and coming very close, in point of visitors, to leading every national park in Canada.

Arising from another observation made by the hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario in

The Budget-Mr. J. E. Matthews

moving his amendment to the budget-and let me remark here that I always greatly enjoy his speeches-I want to point out that seventy-two new industries were established in Manitoba in 1946. This is a credit to the industrial development board of that province, but the regrettable feature is that only comparatively few of these industries were established in rural centres. Manitoba might well follow the example set by Ontario and see to it that her manufacturing establishments are located in many different centres of the province, particularly now with the advent of rural electrification. This is essential if the ultimate blighting consequences of centralization are to be avoided.

I have emphasized the points discussed so far, not because of any local colouring, except by way of illustration, but because of my belief that it would have been inexcusable had the finance minister not seen to it that our national debt -was substantially reduced during the period of abounding prosperity in 1946. I trust that even with the levying of lower taxes there may be another drastic reduction in our debt in 1947. Why? Simply because that very fact will make possible still lower taxes each succeeding year. I am absolutely opposed to excessive taxation in any form, though I was always aware that the obligations of war would remain with us long after hostilities had ceased. I am also aware that taxation can become less only when the expenses of the state are curtailed. In this respect I am glad to note the tendency to reduce along many lines, including the number of so-called experts in some government departments. I am heartily in accord with an editorial which I recently read in a leading magazine, and which concluded as follows:

This is a time for governments to do less and individuals to do more-a time for more production and less regulation-a time for converting not only the sword but the filing cabinet into the plowshare.

Therefore I am sure that to every Canadian the minister's announcement of lower taxes will be welcome. I have no doubt whatever that to have continued the recent high rates of taxation would have meant a serious set-back to this country. There is a distinct limit to the taxation a country can bear without dulling initiative, lessening production, diminishing returns and creating economic chaos. It is a healthy augury when the taxpayers have the courage and intelligence in the matter of taxes to say to any government, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further". A Canadian economist recently expressed the case in these words:

Is it wise to discourage thrift, to put a high premium on spending? Should we rob posterity

to maintain the dance of today? Saving has a social value. The loss to society would be great if saving ceased to be a virtue. We have reached the stage where the emphasis is almost entirely on spending. Will this policy bring real gains? It is very doubtful.

I am not going to discuss controls except briefly, even though they have a direct bearing upon the financial situation of Canada. That controls played a tremendously advantageous part in this country during the war no one will dispute. I hope to see controls steadily discontinued, not all at once but one by one, as speedily as conditions will warrant. This might result in some temporary dislocation of prices, but it would be only temporary, because greater production resulting from the removal of price controls would prove the best remedy for inflated prices. Give us an abundance of commodities and prices will take care of themselves. Most of the control regulations were fair and well advised. In my judgment, a few were, and still are, grotesque in their stupidity, and I shall have something to say about them later on.

In the matter of rent control, I am aware of the ruthlessness with which some property owners would have soaked tenants during and since the war years had there been no controls. I am also aware of the callous treatment accorded by some tenants to owners. I have in mind particularly cases of men and women advanced in years who in the past had demonstrated their faith in Canada by investing their surplus-often a small one, it is true-in residential property. I need not rehearse cases, as I could by the score, of the raw deals handed to elderly people who in some instances were relying upon those rentals for their livelihood. In many cases their hands were tied, and securely tied, against any rent increases. No matter that taxes were raised, that costs of maintenance were raised, costs of labour raised, costs of food and clothing raised, everything else raised; those elderly people were compelled to struggle on as best they could, with no redress. I stand for the right of any owner to have access to his own property. I am glad to see that a start, though not a very great one, has been made in this direction. I want to see regulations adopted under which proved rental injustices on either side may not be permitted longer to exist.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, may I once again tender my sincere congratulations, this time not to the finance minister but to the Canadian people, on having such a strong man guiding our financial destiny. A well known writer has said:

There may be little doubt that we as a people are going through years of decision. Yet there are many signs to give confidence that

The Budget-Mr. Mayhew

after the troubled equilibrium of these later years there is a return to a greater soundness and balance of outlook. There appears to be a deepening recognition of the fact that the government cannot create wealth, but that anything it promises in the form of a gift must be taken away in the form of a tax.

There are signs that people and government alike may be returning to the realization of the fundamental economic truth that whatever regulations may be found desirable in the public interest, the most natural and the most fruitful role of government comes from what it may be able to do to reduce all that restricts and discourages, and to assist all that may release the immeasurable potentialities that lie in free individual effort and responsibility.

With the opinions of that writer, I am in full accord.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   THE BUDGET
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April 25, 1947

Mr. J. E. MATTHEWS (Brandon):

I should like to direct a question to the Minister of National Health and Welfare. In the early days of the war a hospital was erected in Brandon by the Department of National Defence. It was operated for some time and then it was turned over to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Recently that department has transferred it to the Department of National Health and Welfare. Since the situation is urgent I should like to ask the minister what immediate steps are being taken to complete repairs and replace equipment destroyed in a bad outbreak of fire that occurred in the hospital a few weeks ago.

Topic:   HEALTH AND WELFARE
Subtopic:   BRANDON MILITARY HOSPITAL-CARE OF TUBERCULAR INDIANS
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April 2, 1947

1. How many blind pensioners were there on the rolls as of December 31. 1946?

2. What is the total number of blind?

3. Is there compulsory registration of blind persons in Canada?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PENSIONS TO THE BLIND
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April 2, 1947

Mr. J. E. MATTHEWS (Brandon):

On a matter of privilege I wish to point out that neither in the Votes and Proceedings nor in yesterday's Hansard does my name appear as having voted in the vote which was taken yesterday. I was in my place, as I usually am, and I had no hesitation in voting to sustain your ruling, Mr. Speaker.

Topic:   PRIVILEGE
Subtopic:   MR. MATTHEWS-EMERGENCY POWERS BILL- OMISSION OF NAME FROM DIVISION LIST ON APRIL 1
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