Maclean's Editorials

July 15 1936

Maclean's Editorials

July 15 1936

Maclean's Editorials

Clean Up Politics

A GREAT MANY factors in Quebec politics contributed to the fall of the Taschereau Government, but the sudden resignation of the premier was forced by charges of corruption and misuse of public money brought against appointees of his administration.

Next month, at the polls, the forces of Conservative leader Duplessis, Paul Gouin’s L’Action Libérale Nationale and the remnants of the Taschereau régime reach the climax of battle. Each party is promising that if elected to power it will eliminate graft from public service.

Sceptics always fear that when one group has held the fleshpots of patronage for a generation, any group succeeding it, however sincere in purpose it may be, is going to have a tough time holding its supporters back from the trough. They point to Quebec’s reputation for enduring “perquisites" with equanimity. Whether the sceptics are to be confounded or justified remains to be seen.

A clean-up of politics is long past due. Not only in Quebec, but in other provinces and in the federal field too.

The party system, which in its essentials may be the best yet devised, has grown unsightly warts. It has produced too much of a spoils complex. Then, to operate successfully in any election campaign the party machine requires a lot of money—far too much money. With the result that when either party attains power it must replenish its coffers for the next election fight. Thus there appears the Toll Gate.

Various political leaders have indignantly denied the existence of Toll Gates. Which must set a wry smile upon the face of many a contractor or manufacturer who, exercising his legitimate right to seek to sell supplies to government departments, has been told that he must first see “So-and-so” about certain formalities.

The Toll Gate does exist in a number of capitals. Its billing is done indirectly via “legal fees,” “service fees,” “discounts,” and sundry other disguises for what are straight contributions to party funds.

Then there is the matter of aspirants for party leadership who are financed by a group representing some particular industry. It would seem to be obvious that if such a leader goes into power as head of a government, those who paid the piper are going to call the tune.

None of these things are compatible with good government, with the public interest.

Fortunately there is an increasing number of taxpayers who realize that a clean-up is necessary. Leaders who can translate protest into action are in the making.

Grafters, toll-gate keepers, puppet string-pullers will go just as soon as Public Opinion makes it unhealthy for them to be active. Which, we hope, will be soon.

Home Shortage

MISSING—from Canada, a large residential city of 75,000 homes.

So worded, an announcement of Canada’s lack of adequate dwellings would cause a stir.

Actually, the country is 75,000 houses short of what it ought to have under proper living conditions, according to a survey made by the research department of an advertising agency.

In normal years, for every hundred marriages, twenty-seven new dwellings have been built. During the past four hard-time years, only fourteen homes have arisen for every hundred wedding licenses. And there has been a big increase in the percentage of families living in rooms, small flats, or obsolete houses.

There are many thousands of people compelled to occupy hovels unfit for human habitation.

Making good the deficiencies would require a fouryear building programme double that of normal years.

Each $5,000 home erected means 175 days of work in the building trades alone. Supplies must be manufactured, involving additional labor.

It was with the idea of setting this ball rolling that the Bennett government ticketed $10,000,000 for the stimulation of home-building by way of loans. The King administration has carried the plan forward. Combination of government and loan company money created $50,000,000 available to prospective home owners of limited means.

A lot of that money is still available.

Under the Dominion Housing Act, a man who has $1,000 in cash or in a suitable site can build a $5,000 home. The Government puts up $1,000; a loan or insurance company $3,000. Interest rate on the $4,000 borrowed is five per cent. Principal and interest is paid together at a monthly rate; in this case $-16.15.

Which is less than what rent would be for a similar house.

The plan is advantageous to the prospective home owner and creates no burden for the taxpayer because it is self-supporting, involving the government in no expenditure that is likely to increase taxes. It combines Government credit and private enterprise in a sound manner.

The man who builds does more than provide his family with a better home. He enables others to earn food, clothing and shelter for their families.

Also, any large scale building programme must inevitably improve housing conditions for those whose earnings are too small to enable them to have an equity in a home of their own.

Form Filling

IN TWO months of this year, a large Canadian manufacturing company made forty-eight reports to various government departments.

That is an average of two a day.

The company was not being investigated or anything like that. It was just obeying regulations which affect all business.

The MacLean Publishing Company, for instance, during the past twelve months has had to make seven tyone returns of one kind or another. Forty-one were required by Dominion departments; seventeen by provincial departments; thirteen by municipal departments.

Some of the reports required are necessary. But there is far too much overlapping.

Canadian business is taxed heavily enough without being put to the additional expense of maintaining what, unless bureaucratic tendencies are checked, may develop into an hourly bulletin service to departmental officials.

Already many industries have had to establish special departments, headed by experts, to handle the flood of government questionnaires. Several firms have been compelled to engage full time legal representatives, so complex have taxation problems become.

The extra cost of all this has to be met somehow. In many cases it is added to the selling price of the goods. Hence it comes out of the pockets of the workman, farmer, professional man and housewife.

No person escapes the burden of overgovernment.