Our July issue gave a graphic picture of the menace of debt-finance and increasing taxation, which C. H. Douglas referred to as "legalized robbery". The fantastic increase in the tax burden in Ville Jacques-Cartier, near Montreal, was cited as a typical example,
The following notes, based upon an article appearing in the July 15th issue of "Vers Demain", give some idea of the tactics being used by Social Crediters in Quebec Province to combat the evils of the present financial policy, and to turn the people towards Social Credit.
Six thousand circulars, distributed by the Social Credit organization of Ville Jacques-Cartier on the 19th of June, invited the population to attend in great strength the meeting of the Municipal Council which was to take place on the following Tuesday, June 21st. It was a question of obtaining from the Council a promise to renounce the new assessment roll which would, if not renounced, mean the robbing of property owners (see our July issue). The people of Jacques-Cartier built their houses for their families, not for the financiers.
The population responded. On the evening of June 21st the hall was crowded, and hundreds of people had to remain outside. But a loudspeaker had been installed, to allow everyone to hear what was going on.
This meeting, writes L. Roger Valade in Le Courrier du Sud, will remain memorable in the minds of the citizens. And this is how the journalist continues his story:
"In the crowd could be seen many representatives of the Council of the League of Property. Owners, and several members of Social Credit wearing their white berets.
"Everything was quiet while the Secretary of the Municipality carried out his monotonous task of reading the minutes of the last meeting. The atmosphere, however, seemed strained, and one had the feeling that something was about to happen. The many constables on duty seemed nervous. At the slightest unaccustomed noise, they strained their ears. It was as if their nervous systems had been sensitized by instructions to the effect that at the slightest alarm they were to act quickly and severely. But everything was calm.
"The minutes of the last meeting were duly adopted as read.
"Then Councillor Bouffard stood up to speak to the Council. He was greeted by a thunderous applause from the crowd. The mayor, Julien Lord, asked the meeting to kindly abstain from such demonstrations. But nothing happened, and the crowd continued to show their approval of Mr. Bouffard, just as if they had known, even before he spoke, of the important declarations he was going to make.
"He began by reading the text of a request, signed by hundreds and hundreds of citizens, asking for the annulment of the new assessment roll of Jacques-Cartier..."
"As he read, one could see that he was stirred by emotion. He was speaking as the voice of thousands of small owners who had despised, as long as it existed, this inconsistent and aleatory roll, but who had not had the opportunity to express their feelings in an official way.: "On every hand people had complained of the injustice of the new assessment. They had talked bitterly in their homes, in public places, in the newspapers. The civic bodies, such as the League of Property Owners, had repeatedly put on their agenda this question of the unpopularity of the new assessment. But this was the first time that this flood of protests seemed to take on a concrete form, and the crowd was stirring with expectation.
"But the unexpected event was not long in coming. When he had finished reading this request from the tax-payers, the Councillor, Fernand Bouffard, stopped a moment, then added: 'Your Honour, and Councillors, you have just heard a cry from the people, which is alarming, for they cannot pay these high taxes that are demanded of them. We, the Council, ought to be with the tax-payers, and not against them."
"There was a long pause. The crowd hung on his words. Then he continued::
"I move, then, that the new assessment roll be cancelled; that the municipality go back to the former assessment roll, until a more equitable system of taxation is found. If, for the time being, the expenses exceed the revenues, let the province do its part in helping us."
"This speech of Concillor Bouffard raised anew the enthusiasm of the crowd, and there was another thunderous applause.
"In spite of the protests of the mayor against this demonstration of the people, Councillor Lorenzo Defoy also received a great ovation when he rose to second the motion of Mr. Bouffard.
"There being no opposition, this motion was automatically adopted by the Municipal Council, the same Council that had adopted the roll a few weeks before.".
Roger VALADE, in "Le Courrier du Sud", June 30.
We reproduce below, Mr. Bouffard's remarks to the Council.
The population of Jacques-Cartier has enriched the province by a city of 35,000 people, Let the province give us financial credit, and we shall give it in return a well conducted city which is real wealth.
The taxpayers of Jacques-Cartier are not crying out against us, the Council. They are crying out against the taxes, against the finan cial system which imposes them. We ought to admire their fight, instead of trying to find fault with them.
The councillors and the mayor ought to be on the side of the taxpayers, and not on the side of the financial system, and not on the side of the government when the latter transmits the orders of the financiers.
There are some who wonder if the government is capable of arranging that. That is not our problem. Let us permit the government to handle its problems. It has powers that we have not. We have enough to do to handle our own problems. Let us be with our owners; let us be with our taxpayers.
The battle that the taxpayers of Jacques Cartier are waging is just beginning. I know it will go on and on. And it is good that it will.
Some wonder what the Social Crediters ar doing in this. The 'Crediters' have alway fought for property and against taxes. It is no surprising, then, if the taxpayers have their co-operation. The Crediters have a paper with a circulation of 110,000. They have a strong organization, always growing, throughout the whole province. They expect to obtain this year the co-operation of the provincial government. And they are certainly going to get it because the government is going to be oblige to look for a new method of finance.
The municipalities can no longer run themselves under the system. We must help to lead the government to find money elsewhere than in our pockets. We produce goods, but we do not make money. Let the government pass legislation to make financially possible all that is physically possible. The financial problem, then, will disappear, as the problem of production has disappeared.
The population of Jacques-Cartier is overtaxed. It expresses more and more strongly its determination to resist all further increases in taxation. It maintains that it is already taxed to the limit. To inflict more on them would be to dispossess the owners of the houses that they built to lodge their families, and not to increase the incomes of the financiers.
The citizens of Ville Jacques-Cartier ask unanimously for the rejection of the new assessment roll and for a return to the former roll.
As councillors, we are the representatives of this population and we ought to be its faithful spokesmen.
As for me, I have decided to stand with the people. We ought all to do that. Otherwise, we would be going against the will of the people who elected us, against the taxpayers. That would be to do battle with the financiers against the people.
If we act against the desire expressed by the majority of the people, we shall be acting as dictators. Now, we are not dictators, but democratic representatives. I have decided to fight resolutely against taxes, and I ask for the co-operation of my colleagues in the Council.
We, at the City Hall, ought to help the people to express their will, and not try to stifle their voices. I am convinced that the stronger the voice of the people is, the more our own demands as administrators of the town will be listened to in Quebec.
We, at the City Hall, shall be able to say to Quebec: "It is no use to raise the assessment roll. There is a general outcry against taxes. The Government would do better to help us, instead of resisting a whole population which expresses clearly what it wants. This would be more in line with democracy."
When Mr. Camillien Houde said at Quebec: "It is of no use to wish to increase taxes; there is a general outcry in Montreal against the new assessment" – he obtained from Quebec the freezing of the roll..
I move, then, that the new roll be annulled at Ville Jacques-Cartier, and that the old one be restored.
At this time, Councillor Lorenzo Defoy stood up to second the motion which Councillor Bouffard had just made. Mr. Defoy said, in brief: "The people showed confidence in electing me. We are going to work hand-inhand. I am a dairyman: I have customers who can certainly not pay the taxes that have been levied on them. It is time to act. This evening we are cornered by the facts. We can no longer accept the increase in taxes."
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Councillor Bouffard then rose and told of the shameful political persecution inflicted upon him. He revealed the fact that he had been threatened by a party in high office to keep silent, and was dismissed from his position as an employee of the Provincial Government for whom he was working on construction at Pont de Chambly. But he refused to be coerced and brow-beaten by politicians at the price of earning his living.
The Mayor: Mr. Bouffard, you are going too far in attacking the provincial authorities.
Councillor Bouffard: After what has happened, your honour, I think I have the right to be justly angry.
Since no Councillor had opposed the Bouffard resolution, it was automatically passed.
At the Ville Jacques-Cartier municipal session on the 5th of July, Councillor Bouffard moved that the Mayor, Mr. Julien Lord, be a delegate at the Social Credit Congress to represent his city there at the session devoted to the Municipal question on Saturday afternoon, September 4th. The motion was seconded by Councillor Oliva Bédard, and supported by all the councillors. The Mayor consented, and will be present at the Social Credit Congress in Quebec City in September.
The councillors and mayor are to be commended for their decision to accede to the expressed and reasonable will of the people, to come to grips with the present system of oppressive and confiscatory taxation.
May this example be followed by more and more municipal councils — since they all are faced with the same financial problem.