William Alexander FRASER

FRASER, The Hon. William Alexander

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Northumberland (Ontario)
Birth Date
April 24, 1886
Deceased Date
October 26, 1962
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Alexander_Fraser
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=99caecb0-0fa5-43c6-9308-14dbbabe42c0&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
farmer, fruit grower, industrialist, manufacturer

Parliamentary Career

July 28, 1930 - August 14, 1935
LIB
  Northumberland (Ontario)
October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
LIB
  Northumberland (Ontario)
March 26, 1940 - April 16, 1945
LIB
  Northumberland (Ontario)
June 25, 1949 - April 16, 1945
LIB
  Northumberland (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 87)


August 12, 1944

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

You are just sore, that is all.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   THE WAR
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August 12, 1944

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

That is what I thought. As has been stated, these reserves are to protect the banks against losses on loans and declining prices and are submitted to the careful scrutiny of the three gentlemen I have mentioned. On that point, Mr. Chairman, have we in this country

reached the stage where the people of Canada cannot trust the Minister of Finance, the Minister of National Revenue, a deputy minister, and probably the governor of the Bank of Canada, no matter what government happens to be in power? If we have,

certainly there must be a weakness in our democratic system somewhere. So far as I am concerned, as a customer of the banks I am perfectly happy to have the reserves of the banks scrutinized in that way.

Reference has been made to the cash reserves of the banks and it has been proposed that 100 per cent cash reserves be held by the banks. I do not think the hon. member for Parry Sound is really serious in what he suggested because he knows perfectly well, for it has been repeatedly stated, what an impossible situation it would toe if the banks had to carry 100 per cent Bank of Canada cash against their deposits. Let us analyse for a few moments what the banks really are.

To me and, I believe, to most hon. members there is nothing funny about this banking business. The banks are simply the bookkeepers of the nation. They are the retailers of credit. There is nothing funny about money. I can take this blank cheque that I have on my desk, fill it out for five or ten dollars, write my signature and hand it to the Postmaster General and he will give me a ten dollar Bank of Canada bill for it. Why? Because he is satisfied that behind that cheque I have in the bank of Montreal a credit, created through selling lumber, apples or something else and depositing the proceeds in the bank. The banks are a repository of the stored-up energy and production of the people of Canada. That is another reason why confidence in our banks should not be jeopardized by anything that is said here by any hon. member. Previous speakers, notably the Minister of Finance, have pointed out all the ramifications that would be involved in insisting upon the banks carrying 100 per cent cash reserves. As the minister said, it would be an impossible situation.

The hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard stated that the government of Canada had no control over the chartered banks. I remember well the submissions that were made to the banking and commerce committee in 1934; I am quite willing to give credit to the hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard who, along with many others of us at that time, advocated the establishment of a national bank, and in consequence the Bank of Canada was set up. The banking system in no other country in the world has made as much progress, so far as government control is concerned, as has the Canadian banking system

Bank Act Amendment

since 1934 and on through the years to 1937, when we took over the whole stock of the Bank of Canada. I submit that under the set-up of the Bank of Canada the government of Canada has ample control, practically total control, over the flow of money and credit in the Dominion of Canada, Anyone who has studied the financial system knows perfectly well that the Bank of Canada controls the flow of money and credit throughout this dominion.

I listened attentively to the statements made by the hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard and the hon. member for Parry Sound. But it is a bad thing to put people to doing things to which they are not accustomed. With all due respect to my hon. friends, I must say that they are first-class lawyers who can argue on either side of a case with equal dexterity and facility. There is no question in my mind as to that. I prefer to take the opinion of gentlemen who have spent their lives in the banking business of this country- managers of banks, the Minister of Finance, the governor of the Bank of Canada, the deputy minister of finance, the gentlemen who make it their lifelong business to handle the banking requirements of the people, who understand not only those requirements as respects our banking system but also the ramifications of the foreign connections of the ' banking of the dominion. It is a bad thing at this time to create any suspicion in the minds of the people of our banking system. It is also unjustifiable. We have the most flexible banking system in the world, one which stood up during the years of depression; a system which, unlike the banks of the United States, did not go by the wayside. Our banking system is flexible in the set-up of its branches across the country. The branch banks not only serve the people in the communities in which they are established, but are repositories of the savings of the people of those communities, and can transfer credits to different parts of Canada where those credits are required. Our banking system provides the flexibility required by a country such as ours. It can serve the fisherman on the east coast, the grain grower of the prairie provinces, the lumberman of British Columbia, because the collection and flow of funds are made possible through the branch bank set-up. I repeat that it is a bad thing to try to shake confidence in this system, because I do not believe any of the allied nations possess banking systems which have been as successful as our own in handling the demands of the present war.

At this time I wish not only to make reference to the splendid way in which the chartered banks are handling the demands

of industry, agriculture and the services of the dominion, but to pay tribute to the foresight, the tenacity, the judgment, and the never-ceasing application of thought and untiring effort which the present Minister of Finance has given, not only to the banking system through the Bank of Canada, but to the whole financial set-up of this country in the prosecution of the war. As somebody said the other day, and as is acknowledged beyond the dominion, the pattern of finance, the success in controlling inflation, the application of our price ceiling, the application of wage and salary controls, have not only been a matter of pride in Canada but recognized in the United States and Great Britain as models of efficiency. I do not believe any other banking system in the world has served, under the direction of the officials I have mentioned, the purposes of the prosecution of this war as effectively as that of the Canadian banks.

After all that has been said in connection with this bill, not only in this chamber this afternoon and evening, but in the long sessions of the banking committee, I do not think it is necessary for me to go into further details in connection with our banking system, except to say that unless somebody can submit evidence such as, I claim, has not so far been presented, there is no reason why these bank charters should not be renewed for the next ten years. Personally, as a member of this house, I would consider it extremely disastrous should anything occur to hold up the renewal of the charters of these banks for any less period than the banks have been granted in the past. Do not forget that we shall be shortly entering the great post-war period. ' The last thing we want is any uncertainty in connection with our financial set-up. The last thing we want to do is to inject into the management of our financial system anything except experience and capable management, under the assurance that there will be no interruption with the operations of the banks for the next ten years.

As I said a minute ago, there are ample safeguards. There is no question of the scrutiny of the banks, no question of their solidity, no question as to their ability, in all of the ramifications of the country's business, to handle it efficiently. I submit that neither in this committee nor in the banking and commerce committee has any reason been advanced why these charters should not be renewed. All along the greatest emphasis and stress have been applied to the matter of these hidden reserves. Some of my hon. friends have dW'elt on these things. The Min-

Bank Act Amendment

ister of Finance this afternoon refuted the suggestion made by the hon. member for Vanco'uver-Burrard in the banking and commerce committee. The hon. member for Parry Sound followed with this hidden reserve stuff. I say not only to you, Mr. Chairman, but to the hon. member himself, let us get away from this talk of hidden reserves. Let us acknowledge what it is. Let us accept the statements we have received andi admit that there is nothing sinister about the thing.

Mr. SLA'GHT: Two of the banks were caught a few weeks ago by the minister and are refunding amounts which they had taken excessively under the hidden reserve scheme.

Topic:   BANK ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   CONDITIONS GOVERNING TEN-YEAR EXTENSION OF BANK CHARTERS
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August 12, 1944

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

I will tell you what took place. I submit to the hon. member for Parry Sound that the minister explained that through the stress and burden of victory loans in connection with war finance and the handling of the domestic business of Canada he was two or three months behind in seizing an opportunity to

Bank Act Amendment

scrutinize these statements. Naturally, with the stress of work and lack of time, he was three months, or two months, or whatever it was, behind. It was not because of anything that was said in the banking and commerce committee, because the statements would have been checked, as there is an obligation under the act to check them every year. It was because of overwork on the part of the Minister of Finance. I say to my hon. friends in this house: Why try to permeate and saturate this whole question and to cover it with suspicion. This is not a matter of porchclimbing; it is a matter of discussing an important function, obligation and responsibility of certain institutions, and it is the duty of the intelligent representatives of the people of Canada to come to a judgment in this matter.

There were over forty sittings of the banking and commerce committee where the whole question was considered, and I suggest that we should decide now whether the charters should be renewed or not. If we have not discussed the matter sufficiently to be in a position to reach a conclusion, it is for one of two reasons; either lack of mentality to absorb on the part of certain hon. gentlemen, or straight obstruction on the part of some other hon. gentlemen. It can be for only one of those two reasons, because you cannot carry this thing on forever. Every question has been asked that could be asked; every witness has been called who was requested; the zenith of courtesy has -been extended to members of the committee; there has not been a general manager of one bank who objected to any question; there has not been a question directed at the deputy minister or the minister himself to which they have refused to reply. They were as open-minded as they could be, and I suggest that no effort should be made to tar this queston, to tar the whole subject with suspicion and to try to spread suspicion across the dominion. We as businessmen and as members of parliament can unquestionably make our decision., and I for one have come to my decision, namely, to vote for the renewal of these bank charters for another ten years. In .my opinion that is what should1 be done in the interests of the banking institutions, in the interest of the depositors and in the interests of the borrowers and of the people of Canada who are receiving from the chartered banks the best banking service given to any population in any country in the world.

Let me say in that connection that, notwithstanding what has been, said in this committee and in the banking and commerce

committee, the dominion to-day is paying only a service charge on over one billion dollars which it is receiving through the Bank of Canada and1 the Canadian chartered banks. I have not tried to remember the exact figure, but the service charge is 1-2 or 1-3 per cent. Surely the labourer is worthy of his hire. The banks are retailers of credit. They have a function to perform; they have thousands of employees across the dominion, and the government as borrower has to pay a service charge for the service it receives. There is no mystery about that. You cannot do funny tricks with money. You cannot make money out of paper unless you have something behind the paper. No one has ever done that successfully and no one ever will.

I repeat, in conclusion, that there is every reason why hon. members should renew these charters. Let us get away from the uncertain position in. which the banks have found themselves for the last three or four months. Let us renew these charters so that the banks can get on with their business and so that the people of Canada may enjoy full confidence in them, in a banking system which has rendered excellent service and over which there is, in my opinion, ample control through the Bank of Canada.

Topic:   BANK ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   CONDITIONS GOVERNING TEN-YEAR EXTENSION OF BANK CHARTERS
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August 12, 1944

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

I agree

with that.

Topic:   BANK ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   CONDITIONS GOVERNING TEN-YEAR EXTENSION OF BANK CHARTERS
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August 12, 1944

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

I should like to tell my hon. friend that my only purpose in bringing it up was because it was an incorporation, the child of a government, and that in its incorporation it received certain concessions from the government. No reflection was intended upon either the mining industry or Lake Shore mine. I simply wanted to show that it was established under a charter granted by a federal or provincial government, just as the banks are. I quite appreciate everything my hon. friend is saying.

Topic:   BANK ACT AMENDMENT
Subtopic:   CONDITIONS GOVERNING TEN-YEAR EXTENSION OF BANK CHARTERS
Full View Permalink