Whereas the question of unemployment in our large cities has become a serious problem; whereas the Government is going to study this question; whereas in Europe this social problem is just as great a menace as here and such being the case Canada is exposed to the risk of receiving more or less undesirable immigrants; therefore be it resolved: That, in the opinion of this House, all immigration should be suspended until a normal condition of affairs is established. 1
(Translation.) First of all, Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the House that I am taking the full and sole responsibility of this motion and it is as such that I intend discussing it.
It is not my intention to argue as to whether Canada is now facing the problem of unemployment, because it is a fact recognized by all including the Government who shall have to appropriate shortly a certain amount of money to that end. What I propose to establish is why the working class, the people who are hungry, are asking that immediate steps shall be taken by the Government who are largely responsible for this serious question of unemployment.
In 1919, the former Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden) went to Europe accompanied by Mr. Draper, secretary of the Trades and Labour Congress with the object-so they claimed at the time-of protecting the interests of Canaditn labour. The Government press highly ptaised our representatives for having supported article 427, paragraph 4 of the Peace Treaty concerning the eight-hour day or the 48 hour week. Since then nothing has been done by the Government. The workers are still being kept for many hours in unsanitary factories at a time when unemployment has reached an acute stage. I repeat that the Government have done nothing while they should have compelled the manufacturers to employ a larger number of men to have the same amount of work done within shorter hours and at the same rate of pay, which would have reduced the number of unemployed and bettered the general condition of the workingmen.
In 1919, a Housing Bill was passed by this Government granting $25,900,000 for the construction of tenements, but they introduced such impossible and impracticable provisions that even their own friends were unable to avail themselves of that legislation.
At that time the object was to aiford to the labourers an opportunity to build houses for themselves and to avoid unemployment. The whole question was well organized camouflage and nothing else.
On the 1st of June, 1920, in this House, I had the privilege of suggesting to the Government several means to avoid unemployment, but they were not considered. I spoke then as follows:
The chief cause of suffering in our cities is imputable solely to the Department of Labour, which refuses to enact the legislation necessary to prevent the present-day disorders through fear of displeasing the high protectionists. X am speaking of enforced idleness.
This unemployment is caused by irregular work, mainly due to lack of organization, to business depression or to seasonal fluctuations. If we had a competent Department of Labour these problems could easily be solved by following the example of other countries. Cotuild we not set up a well organized central labour exchange in our principal cities and enact a law forbidding the employer from hiring workmen at the factory gate and obliging him to apply to the labour exchange? There the worker
would have to give his name and his trade; each one by turn would be supplied with work and the salary paid would be that established by the labour unions. In this way we would get rid of the sight of hundreds and hundreds of workers anxiously waiting every morning at the factory gate for employment which never comes; these poor, men waste weeks and even months in these vain attempts to find work, while their families are suffering the direst poverty.
An equitable distribution of Government contracts during periods of stagnation, would also help to overcome this problem of unemployment. Old people and children under eighteen years of age should have to work only during a limited number of hours. Every year the Budget should contain an appropriation for widows so as to oblige them to bring up theii children properly and relieve them of the necessity of spending long hours in the workshop to earn a pitiful salary. In this way all labour would be absorbed and our economic distress forestalled.
Another method of overcoming this problem of unemployment would b,e insurance such as they have in several cities of Germany where it is coupled with medical attention in return for a reasonable contribution which the employer deducts from the worker's pay envelope. In several countries, especially in Belgium, Norway, Denmark and Holland, the Gand system is followed and seems to give satisfaction; under this system the public authorities on the recommendation of the Department of Labour, vote certain subsidies to the labour unions as a reward for services rendered the State; this ensures comfort for the workers and gives relief to the State by preventing just so much hardship.
Now, Mr. Speaker, none of these suggestions were taken into consideration. Why? Because the Government is not in sympathy with the labourer; they profess a systematic indifference for them. We were first apprised of it in the Speech from the Throne when the suggestion was made of pensions to old age and insurance against unemployment. This Government cannot deny that the present 'social turmoil comes from their war policy and they are altogether wrong when they shift their responsibilities on the municipalities or on the provinces. The labourer who sufferers today of privations knows what the policy of the Government means so far as labour is concerned; experience has taught him what a consideration by this House of the question of insurance against unemployment involves. He anticipates the appointment of a commisssion which will be, like all other empowered to hold meetings, congresses; where so-called labour leaders, intimates of the minister of Labour will be present, where resolutions learned by heart will be delivered and where, as usual, nothing will be done. Meanwhile, the people who have an immediate need of bread are entitled to claim that the conditions be not made more distheartening by dumping on
our country a continuous flow of immigrants. They have a right to protest against the utterances of gentlemen like Lloyd George, Bonar Law and others who, on the floor of the British House of Commons say that, to solve their social problems, there is but one means and it is to send to the Dominions their undesirables.
Mr. Speaker, the labourers who are idle to-day felt very keenly the resolution adopted in March of last year at a banquet held in Montreal by the Manufacturers' Association to subscribe a million and more in order to maintain the present policy of the Government, namely, a policy of high protection in the interest of manufactures, which is the very cause of their sufferings, because since that time our Workers were one after the other deprived of employment and they have the right to know when we shall see the end of this endless million and whether the Government will always be indifferent to their fate and will not change their so-called policy of moderate protection, which is but a policy of high protection, to another one which would promote a fair and just competition.
It is said by many that the unemployed are more numerous in our'towns, but that, in order to solve that problem we have only to say to them: "If you have no work in the cities, there is a shortage of labour in the country, we have thousands of acres of arable land which is not under culture."
Allow me to say that this answer which is meant to solve the serious problem of unemployment, is merely a childish one. I do not hesitate to state in this House the the fact that there is a shortage of labour in the country, for it must be admitted, but this condition exists only during the crop season, that is, during two months or at the most four months, and during the other eight months of the year, the employer, in the country, may dismiss his hired man when he does not require his services any longer. It is quite exceptional to find a farmer who can afford to pay such fair wages as will allow a man to establish a home and provide food for it, during these two months of the year. Besides, if we should wish for proofs of this fact, we must not content ourselves with listening to street rumours, or the sayings of some person or other, but we must consult the official provincial reports. You have but to consult the provincial report for Montreal, and you wil find that the labour exchange has not been successful in placing in the country some of the unemployed, because the wages offered by the farmers
were hardly sufficient for a man to obtain his living.
I say that these wages are not sufficient, during two or four months of the year. Wages that are hardly sufficient for one man would certainly not be enough for him to establish a home and provide for it. Besides, Mr. Speaker, these men who are unemployed to-day have no savings, and they have none for the very reasons which are given by the Labour Gazette, because, during the war, the high cost of living, which was due to the profiteers did not allow them to put anything aside. And this is proven by the fact that the Government has now to appropriate money out of the public funds to support these people who have been reduced to beggary. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that it would be more practical to do away completely with the Public Works Department, in Ottawa, and all its subsidies which amount to over $1,500,00 and to utilize this in helping those who wish to return to the land.
Until now, particularly since the last two or three years, the Public Works Department has done nothing but a well organized camouflage, nothing else. These subsidies which are granted by a useless Department might easily be appropriated towards helping these people, who have no savings whatever and who wish to return to the land, by providing them with agricultural implements, horses and the necessary cattle for farm work, in a word with a sufficient grant to help them until they are able to harvest the fruits of their labour, instead of employing these subsidies in distributing the Labour Gazette which floods the country with useless statistics. Why prove to the people that the salaries are not in keeping with the high cost of living? Would it not be enough to unsettle the minds of the people? This Department, instead of helping the workingman interferes with them considerably. These people who, through force of circumstances, have been left without any economies, have to return to the city, when the crop season is over, and what awaits them there? They see shiploads of immigrants entering our ports, and these immigrants work themselves into our midst and take the place of heads of families at insufficient and sometimes ridiculous salaries, but to the entire satisfaction of the manufacturers. Such salaries would be sufficient for men without homes, who are packed in congested quarters and have no taxes whatever to pay, and often these men are most un-86
desirable, nothing but adventurers or old offenders.
Allow me to read the following in support of my contention:
Recorder Geoffr -.i, a few days ago, sentenced to three months at hard labour, a man named Patrick Read, a South-African soldier, who had been a leader in a recent raid on the Child's restaurant by the so-called unemployed.
It has been discovered that Read is one of a number of immigrants that England sent us a couple of years ago. Upon his arrival in this country, Read decided to settle in the West, and first established himself in Winnipeg. But he was evidently not interested in agriculture. Neither was he very anxious to help in the work of reconstruction which Canada had to face after so many years of war.
Like so many other veterans who are a charge to England, Read thought that, as he had fought in the war, the country should now support him. And the mother country thought fit to get rid of him by sending him to the "colonies".
As soon as he arrived amongst the Western "colonials", Read visited the working classes, and he was one of the leaders when a general strike was attempted at Winnipeg.
Attracted, no doubt, by the announcement that those having no other calling now than being veterans of the Great War were playing an important part in the disorders instigated not by the unemployed, hut on their behalf, Read came to Montreal and launched into the fray with the result which one knows.
Now is the time when those who govern us in Ottawa should remember that Canada is not a colony but a confederation enjoying homo rule, and when the immigrants England send to our shores by ship-loads should he watched more closely. Downing Street has no right to send us Great Britain's undesirables. [DOT]
If we do not want outsiders to come and sow trouble among our peaceful working classes, it is high time that the press of the country should remind the powers that be that there are people who, even if not plague-stricken, are ho less a menace than the oon-tagious or infectious diseases
Upon that score, I concur in the opinion uttered last year by Sir Andrew McPhail before the Canadian Club in Ottawa. This is what he said about those incoming undesirables :
Now I ask you to cast your minds back upon the public undertakings of this country for the last forty years, and you will observe that they were all intended for the benefit of the hypothetical immigrant. If a railway was built, it was intended to open up a country, to develop something, to carry immigrants; but the immigrants have not come. If they come, they come to the wrong place, to the cities.
It is quite true that we are scrutinizing the immigrant. It is also true that the immigrant is beginning to scrutinize us and to ask what we have to offer in opposition to other countries. For many years they have had this passion for what they called freedom. They came to this country expecting to achieve it. They are finding now, to their cost, that this country is perhaps not so free as they expected it would be. The shipload of undesirable im-
migrants which was sent back to Russia is a warning to the world that we do not propose that our civilization shall be overwhelmed as the civilization of Russia has been overwhelmed. We shall not, then, expect to attract people on that ground, because they have destroyed their governments in their own countries and they have there all the 'freedom they could possibly desire.
The workman, who nowadays undergoes hardships, knows by experience that the Government labour policy is a superficial one which consists in resorting to the camouflage year in and year out. The Government said many things as to that but they did nothing at all. They shielded the big interests, the moneyed men, the manufacturers, who are friendly to them. Mr. Speaker, I am amazed when I notice in the newspapers people who advise us to be patriots and who venture to state that Canada to-day is able to provide for herself, that she begets every thing she needs. That I think was the last opinion on that question uttered in Montreal by the hon minister of Finance. Now, let me say that to reprove is not all and that jt is far better to practice what one preaches. It is useless to tell to the people: "You must buy all your goods in Canada if you want the war tax to be taken off." To give some value to such an advice one thing is necessary: that the producers set such a price on their goods as will encourage the consumer and keep him from going and buying out of the country. [DOT]
Allow me to give a few instances in order to prove whether or not those preachers practice what they advocate.
L'lnformation of March 3, 1921, has this to say:
The St. John "Globe" relates the following incident: " The owner of an hotel in this
city wanted to buy an electrical machine for the washing of dishes. A Canadian firm was asking $190 for a machine of the required capacity. Proceeding with his investigations, the hotel-keeper was told that in the United States he could buy a similar machine for $100. Of course, the intending buyer came to the conclusion that the difference would b'e more than sufficient to pay the custom duties, the transportation charges and the exchange rates, and he brought in that machine from the U.S."
Following an exhibition of goods made . in Canada, a manufacturer exclaimed before a group of newspaper men that after such an exhibition it would have been difficult not to buy only goods made in Canada. Among his hearers was a representative of the " Farmer's Sun " who pointed out to the manufacturer that he should himself have been the first to set the good example. The manufacturer having protested, some inquiries were made in order to know how far that newspaper man was right, and this is what that manufacturer was
(Mr. Deslauriers. [
wearing: his hat, his shirt, his collar, his shoes had been made in the United States ; his necktie, in Germany; his suit, in England; his gloves, in France;' his socks and watch in Switzerland ; even the trinkets he had in the pockets of his coat, such as pencils, penknives and1 so forth, had been imparted, not to mention handkerchiefs and underwear which, without a single exception, all bore foreign trade marks.
A few years ago, let us say, at the beginning of the war, a great Canadian paper-maker had sent out many thousand copies of a circular letter in order to remind his customers and the general public how important it was then more than ever to encourage the native industry and to use for all purposes only paper coming from Canadian establishments, from, the fine writing paper, passing through wrapping paper, to the coarse coardboard used in the making of boxes. A reader wanted to make sure whether or not the manufacturer himself was setting the example.
He took the circular, and lifting it to the height of his eyes towards a window, he found that a commercial water-mark in the paper showed that the latter came from an American manufacturer; the envelope similarly tested also showed that it had been made on the other side of the line.
Now, Mr. Speaker, there is a conclusion to be drawn from these quotations. It is that if we wish to do away with Canada's war debt we must do otherwise than is done by these famous preachers of patriotism. Why should not the Government show themselves as practical as they were until last fall, when they so delighted in issuing Orders in Council? What they did in the matter of sugar, they could do again with regard to other staples, and the public would certainly not complain. But they will not. And why? Because they are prevented by their friends. These men, accustomed in war time to reap scandalous profits under cover of patriotism, these patriots who came and declared in an industrial conference that they are not working for prayers and that they are drawing dividends of 175 and 200 per cent; who do not want to abate their greediness and do not want to sacrifice anything for the sake of others; these men long in their hearts to see workmen on their knees soliciting famine wages, and they wish above all to reach and destroy the most legitimate unions.
As the representative of an electoral college of 70,000 souls-which means that I do not represent timber limits and thousands of prairie acres, but individuals, in this House-I do not hesitate to declare that the people have come to this that they will not any longer allow themselves to be fooled by words; they can still be for some time kept in want, even obliged to become
professional beggars.- They can stand even more. At this moment, when these people have but the bare necessaries and are even reduced to mendicancy, every week in the hostelries of our large cities, great Balthasar banquets are organized where gorging is going on under their eyes, at the expense of the Liberal-National-Conservative party. The people look on, notice these; and some day they will enter these festive halls, and toil hardened hands shall write upon their walls the fateful words which you know well-Marie, Thecel, Phares-You have been weighed and found wanting. Then will be the hour of retribution, the hour of justice. No gold, nor silver will then have any effect on the soul, on the mind of these people; judgment shall be at hand and each shall be judged according to his works; the partisans of the Government may well clamour, as was done in 1896, that if the Liberal party should come back to power, it would spell disaster for Canada, ruin for the country; they may well exhaust their stock of mournful rhapsodies over smokeless chimneys, over silent looms, empty workshops, and so forth, these people, whose motto is " I remember," will remember Laurier and his policy; they will put their confidence in the personality of the leader of the Opposition, his colleague of yesterday and the standard-bearer of his policy. All those trickeries will come to naught, and once more, if Providence wills it, Canada shall see days of prosperity and happiness.
Mr. Speaker, we are told in the press, in pamphlets, we are told everywhere, that there is at present but one way of remedying the state of our finances, bringing in immigrants. I for one do not admit without discussion this proposition. There was a time, now gone by, when immigration was a boon to this country. Immigration is a question of business. Love of money, personal interest, hide under the cloak of love of man. I share the idea of Sir Andrew McPhail, that that time has gone by, and if we wish to preserve our institutions, it is time that we should put an end to the propaganda going on in the four corners of the world, emphasizing the liberty which we enjoy and which in reality is no greater than elsewhere. In the name of this liberty are drawn to our shores all immigrants without distinction. Any immigrant wishing to come to us should be made aware of what he must expect here. Beside the matter of mentality, the ques-[DOT]tion of morality, there is one thing which must not be lost sight of. It is that every
immigrant entering the country incurs obligations, is subject to taxation. I could on this subject bring forth the testimony of many eminent men whose authority would be recognized by this House, but I will confine myself to quoting a statistical statement of Sir Andrew McPhail. This'is what he said in 1920 before the Canadian Club of Ottawa:
And next in importance comes the question of the taxes and the obligations which the immigrant must assume; and for this purpose I have taken some pains to draw up a statement of the obligation in which a man immigrating to Ottawa would involve himself. I have drawn it up on the basis of a man, his wife and four children constituting the family. Coming from the Province of Quebec, I do not think that is an excessive estimate; I should say it was a minimum. I have assigned to this immigrant coming with his family to the City of Ottawa an earned salary of $5,000, which is not excessive; and not to- trust to my loose memory, I should like to read to you precisely where such a' man would stand.
You invite to Canada immigrants of the best type-the type, for example, who could earn $5,000-the man with a wife and four children. Here is his budget in respect of capital obligations, of interest payable, and of taxes to meet expenditure. The per capita debt of Canada is $366 ; of Ontario it is $30 ; and of Ottawa it is $167; making a total of $563 per person. Multiplied by 6, that imposes upon your immigrant a capital obligation of $3,378. The annual interest payable on the Canadian debt is $18.25, on Ontario $1,65, on Ottawa, $9.20; making $29.10. His annual interest charge, then, is $1.74. Here is a recapitulation of the obligation which the immigrant who earns five thousand dollars a year is under. The Canada tax is $212.52, for interest and expenses; for Ontario, $45,90; the municipal expenses in Ottawa are $439.95 ; the Canadian income tax is $84; which gives a total of $782.37. If there is any person here present who draws so large a salary as $5,000, and has a family, this is his annual charge.
Mr. Speaker, according to me, those statistical data deserve consideration. In the past, we have witnessed the coming of different kinds of immigrants, but they often came to do some farming for a month and then to enter our cities. It might be said that on an average only five per cent of the incoming and prospective immigrants are desirable individuals because nowadays it must be reckoned that European nations are keeping their best citizens and sending us only those who do not answer their purpose. These are people who do not earn $5,000 a year; therefore, as they are earning less, the country is liable to have to provide for so many more individuals. Those statistical data are certainly quite valuable and worthy of our utmost consideration.
New we might let in undesirables. By noting what is going on in our courts, we
might easily satisfy ourselves that what I am asserting is perfectly true. Taking into account the difference in the rates of exchange between Austria and Canada upon $35 or $40, for instance, one may get $2,000 worth in Austrian securities. These people are coming to this country and in the course of a single night they can reap what would be a small fortune in their own country, and even the expenses of their deportation are settled by Canada. It is most important that such a case should be seriously considered.
Although my resolution seems to bear the stamp of some radicalism, I shall admit that the Government should pay regard to an immigration actually and not in appearance only agricultural. I was reading lately the opinion upon immigration matters of a prominent citizen who manages in a splendid manner the affairs of the Canadian Pacific Railway; I mean Mr. Beatty. Who is Mr. Beatty? He is the president of a great corporation owning a vast railway system, a large fleet of ocean liners and who heads a company of shareholders earning enormous dividends. Therefore I shall grant that, as a business man, the more freight he will be able to get for his company, the larger will be its surplus. His advice is that of an interested person and we, the members of this Parliament, should lay it by and pay regard only to the general welfare of the country.
Now, before concluding my remarks, it is my desire to let the House know that I had no intention of offending any nationality, neither French, English, Austrian, Hebrew, nor others. I oppose with all my might that mode of reasoning according to which, when a cup is full to the brim, the way to prevent its overflowing is to pour more liquid into it; and I would willingly make a reservation in my resolution for those who would be acknowledged highly qualified for farming or industry, chiefly for farming. However, I do not accept the contention of the president of the Canadian Pacific Company, that we need mechanical experts, because we have all we want for the Angus or other shops; but we should let in the following:-foremen and captains of industry, which is quite another thing.
Mr. Speaker, I am confident of having entirely covered the ground of my resolution which states that the Government ought to put a stop to immigration from the standpoint of common sense and in the interest of public order. I am also confident of having shown clearly enough that the policy of the Government as to labour
matters is a downright camouflage; that the Labour Department should vanish out of sight as a department, and if the Government were willing to be frank, if they earnestly wished for the progress of the country, the amounts granted to that department ought to be given to agriculture or industry, chiefly to agriculture, as loans or credits judiciously apportioned.
I think my hon. friend the member for Prescott (Mr. Proulx) for agreeing to second this motion which made such a stir among the public, in the press and elsewhere, to such an extent that I would find every day in my letter box, correspondence about immigration and letters advising me in covert terms to withdraw my motion. If I am in parliament to-day it is a matter of conscience and patriotism which lead me here and not a question of money; and this being so, I sincerely believe that it was my duty to submit this matter to the House in the clearest possible way and with all the vigour I am capable of, in the interests of my constituents.