The Examiner of Petitions has reported that the petition does not contain matter in breach of the privileges of the House, and it may be read by the Clerk of the House.
The petition was read, as follows:
To the honourable the House of Commons in parliament assembled:
The 18th day of January, A.D. 1926.
The petition of the undersigned blind persons representing themselves and other blind persons in the city of Winnipeg and throughout the province of Manitoba, humbly showeth:
1. That among such blind persons there are a number who are aged and have no means whatever of their own and because of their age and blindness are absolutely incapable of maintaining themselves and their dependents.
2. That there are among such blind persons a considerable number over fifty years of age who have no means of their own and are incapable because of their blindness to maintain themselves and their dependents.
3. That there are in this province a considerable
number of blind persons fifty years of age or under without means who, because of their blindness, are unable to earn sufficient to maintain themselves and their dependents.
4. That there are in this province a considerable
number of blind persons under fifty years of age who are without means of their own and who, by reason of their blindness and other disabilities, are absolutely incapable of earning anything whatever for the support of themselves and their dependents.
5. That such blind persons being without and unable
to earn their own livelihood or support themselves and their dependents are either living in dire poverty orhave been and are dependent upon the charity of
others and as a result such unfortunate persons are finding it exceedingly difficult to live, and the lives of many are being considerably shortened.
6. That different countries have enacted measures involving the expenditure of moneys for the purpose of maintaining the unfortunate, and are providing assistance in the form of old age pensions and mothers* allowances.
7. That the obligation of the state to guarantee to. those of its unfortunate members who have become incapable of maintaining for themselves and their dependents a reasonable standard of living now appears to be generally recognized.
Your petitioners most respectfully therefore prayt That your honourable House will at once enact legislation which will provide for a system of pensiona to such blind persons in the Dominion of Canada who are incapable of maintaining themselves and their dependents, with the end in view of enabling such persons and their dependents to enjoy a reasonable standard of living.
For a copy of all correspondence, letters, telegrams, and other documents passing between the chief electoral officer and any other person or persons relative to the payment of election officials in the constituency of Athabaska.
Subtopic: PAYMENT OF ELECTION OFFICIALS IN ATHABASKA
For a copy of all correspondence, reports and other documents, regarding the retirement of John D. McMinn as collector of Customs and Excise .of the port of Richibuoto, and his subsequent superannuation.
Subtopic: RICHIBUCTO COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS
Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Winnipeg North Centre) moved:
That, in the opinion of this House, the time has come for the establishment of a national system of banking.
He said: Mr. Speaker, last year I introduced a motion of similar purport to this though it was put in rather the negative form:
That, in the opinion of this House, it is not in the interests of the country at large that the privilege of .issuing currency and of controlling financial credit should be granted to private corporations.
In connection with my presentation of the case at that time I discussed at some length the accepted theory of money, and it is not my purpose to go over in any detail the ground covered then. However, since this is more or less a new House, I should like to outline very briefly the position then taken.
We have to-day three principal kinds of money: First, gold money, which is practically not in use in this country; second, money which we call bank note money, and third, cheque money. About ninety-six per cent of the entire business of Canada is carried on by means of the cheque system. The bankers are very hesitant about admitting that cheques constitute real money, for a reason that I shall give in a few minutes, but in classifying cheques as money I have the authority of no less a person than the Right Hon. Reginald McKenna who said:
Let me define the sense in which I shall use the word "money.1' I understand by it all currency in circulation among the public and all bank deposits drawable by cheque.
So that cheque money is just as much money as gold or bank notes. We come to the second point: What determines the value or purchasing power of money in this country, we will say of the individual dollar? I tried to point out last year that the accepted theory of the economists is that the value of money varies inversely to the quantity in circulation. As Professor Taussig in his Principles of Economics puts it:
Double the quantity of money, and, other things being equal, prices will be twice as high as before and the value of money one-half. Halve the quantity of money, and, other things being equal, prices will be one-half of w'hat they were before and the value of money double.
It then becomes obvious that those who control the quantity of money in circulation, whether of gold, bank notes or credit, control the value of all other things since all other things are measured in terms of money. The only way of increasing the quantity of gold is by digging it out of the earth. The quantity of bank notes may be increased by putting the printing presses to work, but either directly or indirectly the government control the quantity of bank note money in circulation. It is, however, an altogether different matter with credit money, which is, according to ,the Right Hon. Reginald McKenna, "bank deposits drawable by cheque." To a very large extent the control of the amount of this class of money that is in circulation is in the hands of the banks, and this without any supervision or regulation whatever by the government. In that sense then, it may be said that we have handed over to private corporations the right to make money or to destroy money. In the old days, what was termed "coining" was regarded as a most serious offence. It is still a serious offence as regards producing gold or subsidiary coins, but to-day we have actually turned over the privilege of the "coining" of the newer kinds of money to private corporations. .
In my presentation of the case last year I ventured to summarize what seemed to me to be the privileges which, under our Bank Act, are granted to private corporations. First of all, to a considerable extent, banks control the savings of the people. This is a most important function. Second, they have the very important franchise of issuing currency, a franchise that incidentally brings considerable profit to themselves. But much more important than either of these is the control of credit which, as I said a few minutes ago, is almost entirely in the hands of the banks and without any regulation by any governmental authority. In the fourth place, private banks to a considerable extent do the financ-
ing for the government itself. This means that we have these private corporations placed in a position where they can practically dictate financial policy for the whole country. Through interlocking directorates, to which reference was made on the floor of this House during the time of the Bank Act revision, banks are able to have a very large control over other corporations, such as insurance companies, trust and loan companies, as well as commercial and industrial organizations. My conclusion of last year, therefore, is this:
My thought is not that we should attempt to break this monopoly that we have to-day, this money monopoly, but rather that in some way the people themselves should assume the direction or control of the monopoly, and use it not in the interests of a few but administer it in the interests of the whole of the people of Canada.
I am very glad to say that although the financial papers ridiculed my motion of last year a very considerable number of people throughout the country have endorsed the ideas which were therein put forth. At a meeting of the Farmers' Union of Canada held at Saskatoon on July 21 and 22, 1925, a long resolution was passed concluding as follows:
Therefore be it resolved that we, the Farmers' Union of Canada, in convention assembled, do hereby endorse the motion aforesaid moved by J. S. Woods-worth in the House of Commons, and call upon every citizen, irrespective of party, and in the general interest and welfare as we do ourselves hereby agree, to vote for only those federal nominees who will pledge themselves to support by voice, work and vote at Ottawa the principles embodied in the Woodsworth motion.
That organization of some 20,000 members has thus definitely placed itself behind the principles embodied in that motion. The organization may possibly not count for very much in certain circles in eastern Canada, but I can assure the House that the influence which it exerts in western Canada is by no means negligible. We have also along somewhat similar lines a resolution passed recently by the United Farmers of Alberta at their convention. It was recommended:
"That suitable steps be taken to establish and put into operation a central bank for Canada, the policy of this bank to be controlled by and in the interests of the people of Canada." The convention also urged upon the Alberta government the desirability of making a thorough investigation into the present system of financing, and if the principle is found feasible, that they "urge the Dominion government to pass legislation to make a change from our present system of financing to that of a treasury bill." The resolution described the present system as "a debt creating and not a debt paying system."-U.F.A., February 15, 1926.
Not only are the farmers' organizations taking action in this direction, 'but the fact is apparent that at least some of our businessmen are not quite so assured as they were two 14011-154
National Banking System
or three years ago that our present Canadian banking system is the last word in financial efficiency. Let me quote a few paragraphs from the Petroleum and Mines Journal published in Vancouver. The following appears in its issue of July, 1925:
Federalizing of industries, state control of commercial institutions, or unique interference with the trade and commercial activities of a civilized people will not be conceded by any true economist.
Evidently this journal is not particularly socialistic in its outlook.
But there are certain institutions which statesmen in their vision do arrogate to the state, the right to monopolize. In Australia, railways, street car systems, telephones, telegraphs and post offices, know no private stockholders. The po3t office is in every country a monopoly of the state. The others are not always so. Of late the Australian federation has partially interfered in the banking system and converted the Post Office Savings Bank into a strong federal bank of issue. Grave suspicions are afloat that it as the thin edge of the wedge to monopolize the whole.
There are many who believe that the banking system of Canada lends no aid to the development of the country's latent resources, that the monopoly of the country's currency by private corporations is beneficial to traders in Belgian francs and Cuban sugar, victory bonds and shares, but of little use to the hardy pioneer of native development-that the system finances speculation but leaves the government to finance getting in the country's harvest. A system which lends itself to developing the native resources of the country-regardless of cost-indifferent to minor risks, uses the credit of the nation as its basis of finance is asked for-a system applied in the art of war but which stupid statesmen seem to think inapplicable to the arts of peace.
The author goes on to answer certain objections which had been raised to the effect that the federalization of the banking system would ruin the country while fraudulent politicians had influence. He says:
Dishonest administration is no answer to sound principles. The whole financial world recently financed on the credit of their respective nations and they are still carrying on business at the old stand. The money borrowed was not for production either. It was for destruction-not only for centuries of savings but of millions of human beings as well. Destruction financing is scientific, but production financing, no! This is the fetish of modern finance. To feed the living is unbusinesslike, but to kill-well! the money is forthcoming.
In this connection I want to give one other quotation from one who is, I think, more or less recognized as having the right to express opinions upon public questions. This statement, which is familiar to most of us, was made at the time of the recent election. I am not particularly concerned with ita political significance but I am interested in the statement itself. Sir Clifford Sifton said:
We are rapidly approaching that condition in which two, or at least three banks will be doing the whole
National Banking System
of the business of the Dominion and you will have the spectacle of about three men sitting on the whole of the funds of the people of Canada, deposited in the banks, and deciding to whom they will loan these funds.
Sir Clifford Sifton does not seem to exercise the reserve which even a soap-box orator must cultivate, for he says:
If anything will justify armed rebellion against the established condition of affairs, I think such a consummation of our banking system is the one thing that would justify it.
I declare the fight in this election is not primarily about the tariff. The issue is monopoly or no monopoly: Monopoly of the money power, monopoly of transportation on laud, monopoly of transportation on sea, control of the government by half a dozen plutocrats in Montreal instead of the people.
Personally I do not care very much whether the plutocrats are located in Montreal or whether this is just a fractional fight between the plutocrats of Toronto and those of Montreal. The fact is that to-day our financing is undoubtedly becoming highly centralized.
Let me now refer to a statement made a few months ago before the Academy of Political Science by Professor W. Z. Ripley of Harvard. Ripley notes especially the divorce of property ownership from direct accountability for its prudent and efficient management and the assumption of irresponsible control by bankers. According to him these tendencies, because they enthrone the bankers, menace alike the welfare of private owners and of the working class, because the possession of uncontrolled power is always certain to entail abuse. I quote his exact words:
The present transformation is merely in respect of the seat of power. All kinds of private businesses are being bought up by banking houses and new corporations are being substituted in order that the purchase price (and more) may be recovered by the sale of shares to the general public. But the significant change is that the new stock that is thus sold is entirely bereft of any voting power, except in the case of bankruptcy.
So great is the opposition that is steadily growing to the banking monopoly that the Financial Post in its issue of January 8 of this year asks rather naively:
Will Canadian banks be forced to take steps to guide opinion?
The Financial Post apparently is oblivious to the fact that it became known to the whole country at the time of the revision of the Bank Act that the Bankers Association spent $100,000 in their effort to "guide opinion" -and they seemed to be able to guide it fairly effectively so far as the majority of the members of the Banking and Commerce committee was concerned.
Subtopic: NATIONAL SYSTEM OF BANKING
The inference to be drawn is that the Bankers Association spent $100,000 in connection with the revision of the Bank Act. I presume most of it was spent in retaining a large number of very highly priced lawyers whom we saw around the committee room throughout the whole time the Bank Act was under discussion.
I submit, Mr. Speaker, that only the federal authorities should be permitted to make or destroy money. Mr. McKenna, whom I have already quoted, said a year or so ago in an address to the Midland Bank shareholders:
I am afraid the ordinary citizen will not like to be told that the banka or the Bank of England can create
or destroy money.
The bankers are not anxious to have the public informed with regard to that matter. It is very true. In this country to a very large extent the private corporations have it in their own hands to make or destroy money.
Subtopic: NATIONAL SYSTEM OF BANKING