April 8, 1930

LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG (Weyburn):

He did not say that.

Unemployment-Mr. St. Pere

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CON

Peter McGibbon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McGIBBON:

I wonder if we have

now a third leader in the Liberal party. I was wondering whether the Minister of the Interior or the Prime Minister was speaking for the party, but apparently the hon. member for Weyburn (Mr. Young) has taken that task upon himself. I have referred to the lack of a policy and to the lack of unity in the cabinet; the other night we heard the Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour flatly contradict each other on the matter of unemployment insurance, so I am beginning to wonder if the leadership of the Liberal party is at the head or at the tail, or whether it is back in the constituency of Weyburn. I was also impressed, in reading the paper the other night, with the speech delivered by the hon. member for West Elgin (Mr. Hepburn) in Brampton, in the course of which he had to apolozize for his leader. Was he authorized to tell the people that the Prime Minister had made that statement in a moment of anger? Was he authorized to say that he made it after being provoked by the members on this side of the house, when Hansard will show that there were no interruptions up to that time? The Prime Minister asked this house not to interrupt him, and Hansard of that day will show that there were practically no interruptions up to the time the Prime Minister made what I think was a very deliberate and intended statement, that the unemployed of any province under a Tory administration would not receive five cents from this government. After hearing that statement I wondered whether or not there was any humanity in the heart of a prime minister who would refuse the men, women and children of this country any assistance because for the time 'being they happen to be living under the rule of a Conservative government. I could not help but think of those days in past history when the Christians were slaughtered to make a Roman holiday, and wondered if that state of affairs were to be repeated in Canada under the rule of the right hon. the Prime Minister. Does the Prime Minister intend to prevent the unemployed of this country from offering their prayers to the Divine Being, and to ask them to cast their eyes towards him and towards his government and say: Give us this day our daily bread. Does he want the unemployed of this country to bow down and worship at the altar of Liberalism in order that they may receive some sustenance for their starving wives and children.

Who pays the taxes of this country? The returns for the income and customs taxes, as well as for the Post Office Department, will show that the province of Ontario pays a considerable proportion into the treasury of the hon. Prime Minister. Who authorized him to say to the people of this country in general, and to the people of the province of Ontario in particular that although they have contributed heavily to the treasury of this country this government will not give their unemployed a dollar for bread? If we had not been here in the house and heard that statement, or had not received a confirmation from those who were present, it would be hard to believe that a prime minister could stand in his place in the House of Commons and issue such a message to the people of Canada. However, there is an election appearing on the political horizon, and the people of Canada will remember that when they were hungry they were refused bread, and they will mark their disapproval towards this government in no uncertain way.

Mr. E. C. ST-PERE (Hochelaga) (Translation) : Mr. Speaker, from the very outset of this debate, I have repeatedly heard that unemployment, instead of being, properly speaking, an international problem, is a national one for Canada. I do not deny- and one must yield to evidence-that there exists unemployment in our midst; however, I also believe, and this on very conclusive statistics, that unemployment is to-day an international problem.

When an interesting question crops up in the house, unfailingly the poor worker is dragged into the discussion. The worker, so to speak, is nothing else to-day than a political football which is tossed to and fro by the contending factions for power, in this country.

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IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. BOURASSA (Translation):

Hear, hear.

Mr. ST-PERE (Translation): Perusing the statistics of the world press, I find in the London Daily Herald, the official organ of the English Labour party, that the United States have 6,000,000 unemployed; Germany, 4,500,000; Russia, 2,000,000; Great Britain, 1,500,000; Japan, 800,000; Italy, 500,000; and that about 18,000,000 unemployed are scattered among the nations of the world.

It is, sir, but reasonable to use in a discussion of this kind, some common sense, to step out, so to speak, from the political arena in order to help more efficiently this very worker which we so much desire to protect.

To bring some order to a debate of this kind, since unemployment is regarded as an important question of the hour-it is always a question of the hour since we must love one another-it is well to investigate first what are the causes of unemployment.

The primary cause met with is the system in practice since a number of years of

Unemployment-Mr. St. Pere

"rationalizing" industry. What is this new system which inevitably casts on the street a great number of city workers? It is the merger taking place, to-day, under the wing of large commercial and financial trusts, the merger of badly equipped industries with those posesffling up to date machinery. I represent the largest labour division of the city of Montreal and I know what is happening to those various industries. The economic reorganization of Europe which took place during the after-war period, prevents to-day certain countries manufacturing articles, sold previously in large quantities, from selling their overproduction on those same markets which they controlled in the past. If we examine the primary cause, so to speak, of unemployment in England, what do we find? In Wales especially we find a succession of strikes taking place. We note that it is the lack of coal markets abroad which brought on those numerous strikes and consequently, as a logical sequence, caused the decrease of work in the large English dock-yards. The celebrated economist, Keynes, of England, recently stated that the cause of unemployment in that country, was the result of the English money system reverting to the gold standard. Following the period of inflation the English money market went through a period of depression which, after depriving the small industries of the necessary capital, inevitably led to the unemployment of a large number of people who previously were employed in those small English factories.

What is Canada's position to-day? Canada, owing to the sale on the English market of foreign wheat shipped from the Argentine Republic, France, Transylvania, etc., finds it, at present, impossible to ship abroad the surplus of her crop. What was the result in my own riding of this state of things which, I hope, will only be temporary? Two of the largest wheat elevators in the city of Montreal are in the Hochelaga division. During last summer many labourers found themselves without work owing to the impossibility of selling our wheat abroad. We cannot force Europe, after all, to consume our wheat if she does not. need it. These people found themselves on the street because we could not ship abroad the surplus of our crop. The dockers were obliged to go without work, as well as the employees of our large railway companies. The Angus shops are located in my riding and so are the employees of the various departments of these shops; the employees of the repair shop complain that they work only part of the time because the cars are not in use and need no repairs.

For instance, take the employees of our great railway systems. Let us be honest enough to admit openly the facts: it is well known, to-day, that our large railway companies are endeavouring to improve and centralize more and more their system, to utilize as means of traction the most powerful locomotives which, to-daj', draw as many as eighty to one hundred cars, thus replacing three ordinary locomotives and thereby depriving of work about twelve persons daily, as we must remember that these persons work in two shifts.

This moreover does away with brakesmen, freight train conductors, etc. The enumeration would be endless and I have but forty minutes at my disposal.

Let us now turn to the people who have a trade. I have in my riding large mills known as the Dominion Textile. It has the reputation of paying small wages to its employees, notwithstanding that it enjoys a good protective tariff. A girl weaver who, a few years ago, had charge of five looms, can to-day take charge of about twenty. Thus four persons are dispensed with in each group of workers. One can therefore figure out from a given number of people employed, who previously had work in the weaving department, how many have been dispensed with owing to the improvement on machinery.

Let us now consider construction activities It is well known that in our large cities, with the exception of certain big companies who own up to date equipment, there exist no small carpentry or general construction contractors who own the necessary equipment to undertake during the winter months concrete foundation works, etc. so that at the end ol the autumn, owing to uncontrollable circumstances, there are still a large number of trade workers who are deprived of work. No one is without knowing that.

I could enumerate a number of industries where similar conditions exist. For instance, in the boot and shoe industry, the perfection of machinery with regard to quantity production, eliminates a great number of workers.

There seems, in this house, a preference shown for United States statistics in supporting an argument and laying down a principle in a positive manner. Let me quote from a report of the Bureau of Labour statistics in the United States so as to show in what way modern machinery has increased production. The increases range from 24 per cent in the boot and shoe industry to 178 per cent in aut mobiles and 292 per cent in the manufacture of automobile tires. From 1904 to 1927, the automobile workers have increased

Unemployment-Mr. St. Pere

their output by 600 per cent. Four industries averaged 170 per cent increase from 1899 to 1927. Blast furnace workers contributed 360 per cent; steel mill hands, 230 per cent; petroleum refiners 200 per cent; and the leather tanners 50 per cent. And, what might be of interest to a great number in this House who are interested in the paper industry, is that from 1925 to 1927, the increase in the output of our pulp and paper mills has been 10 per cent.

Secretary Davies of the Labour Department of the United States states that the American industries produce to-day 25 per cent more than two years ago and employ 3,000,000 workers less. Let those who take such an interest in the great labour movement and those who simulate such a deep love for the workman, preaching to him the sermon on the mount, put into practice the good advices that the sermon contains, let them all listen to what the Executive Committee of the American Federation of Labour declared a short time ago; their report states: that in the first half of the year 1929, there were in the United States about 500,000 fewer wage earners engaged in industry than in 1919, and about 1,000,000 less than in 1920.

There is another cause which has greatly contributed to unemployment in this country, and though I may shock many, I shall certainly not let the opportunity slip by of pointing it out, because many of my constituents have been the victims. Unlimited immigration from foreign countries, it matters not whether this immigration comes to us from the British Isles or from elsewhere; I shall even go further, for I maintain that immigration from the British Isles has been the principal cause of unemployment, at least in the province of Quebec. I cannot understand by virtue of what false reasoning resting on a misinterpretation of patriotism, one so often forgets that the first right to work in this country belongs to Canadians. Hardly has the immigrant from the British Isles set foot on the wharves, in Montreal or Quebec, that he is invited to replace in our factories a French, Irish, English or Scotch Canadian, whose ancestors have been living in this country for nearly 200 years. I am glad to note that the Government has taken the necessary steps to put an end to this invasion.

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IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. BOURASSA (Translation):

Hear, hear I

Mr. ST-PERE (Translation): Let us not

circumscribe the cause of unemployment to industries only. There also exists what the Americans have agreed, for some time past, to call technological unemployment. There is in this House quite a number of business men.

In their own offices, these gentlemen always relying on the principles that improvement is the keynote in business, have been quick to note that the addressograph, mimeograph and etc. have contributed largely in dispensing with the service of numerous employees.

After having pointed out a few causes of unemployment, it is well to look for, if not an infallible cure, at least a remedy to be used in decreasing unemployment. I appeal in this matter to the members of this House who are manufacturers. I also take the opportunity of pointing out to the artisans- those who attend our technical institutions, hoping to become foremen of workshops or even great industrial leaders-the views of Senator Couzens of the United States, who, starting from a simple worker's bench, became the partner of Mr. Ford in his immense plant in the United States and to-day looked upon as one of the wealthiest men in the American republic. This is the advice given by Mr. Couzens to solve the unemployment problem:

Senator James Couzens of Michigan, probably one of the richest men in the United States Senate, declared lately in the Survey-Graphic Magazine: "If every industry were to pay its men by the year instead of by the hour or the day, industry would find a way to stabilize its production so that it got its money's worth.

Competent management finds a way to go through periods of depression and it can find a way to help its workers through them."

There are many industries in this country which have stabilized dividends. There are great railroads, great utility companies which send their quarterly dividends to their stockholders whether times are good or bad.

Professor Squires deplores the lack of cooperation among the employees so as to minimize the crisis of unemployment.

Here are two other views which certainly deserve to be noted:

"Business crises and unemployment are as preventable as smallpox" declared Edward A. Filene of Boston, one of the leading merchants of the country. "The old idea that wages come out of profits was all wrong," said Mr. Filene. It's a good business to pay higher wages than you have to.

What pays is to make prices as low and wages as high as possible. The "new capitalism" understands that business can prosper only when employee and the public are prosperous. High wages pay-and they don't come out of profits. "Only 20 per cent," he says, "of American business understand the truth of the 'new capitalism' but the other 80 per cent will be put out of business if they don't learn it."

Mr. Henry S. Dennison, manufacturer, of Farmingham, Massachusetts, states:

The old idea was that you got rich by making others poor. The new idea is that you get rich by making others richer.

Unemployment-Mr. St. Pere

Many other means have been suggested to counteract the crisis of unemployment. The railway employees of the United States are clamouring for the week of five days; the employees of the large steel corporations in the United States are disatisfied with the wages, at present, paid to them, basing their contentions on the services they render to those large corporations. This is what is now happening in the United States in connection with the wages paid to the employees of the United States Steel Corporation:

The United States Steel Corporation made a peace-time record of prosperity in 1919. After paying all operating expenses, paying interest on bonds outstanding and premiums on bonds retired; after allowing for Federal taxes and setting aside more than $63,000,000 for depreciation of plants and depletion of ore reserves, the Steel Trust still had $197,592,000 net profits.

This is a gain of more than $84,000,000 over the net profits of 1928. It is stated to be about $20 per share of common stock outstanding.

But the article adds: steel prosperity is for steel owners only. No workers need apply for an increase of wages.

Big wages are better than big profits in providing employment. High wages help a hundred families where high dividends help one.

My allotted time, sir, is short, I must therefore be brief. What would be the great remedy to guard against unemployment, taking into consideration the quotations I have just given and without returning to the system of private industry which, undoubtedly, would tend much more to put into practice the sermon on the mount? I state, with all the seriousness that a Christian must bring into the discussion of such problems, that it would be necessary to christianize anew industries and trusts; that it would be necessary to inform these great organizations, which have shareholders spread all over North America, that it is their duty, like that of those who in the past were at the head of private industries, to consider their employees not as slaves but as members of the large Christian community. These people should practise what a large manufacturer in the north of France told his employees: "that he worked to earn and earned to give." Far be it from my thoughts to set at variance capital and labour. That would be the last of the doctrines I would advocate in my riding. But for heaven's sake, when orders pour in by the thousands, when these large manufacturers divide among themselves enormous dividends in prosperous times, let them have the foresight to place in their reserves sums that they could later use to relieve their employees in times of crisis.

The great cure, say our Conservative friends, would be a protective tariff which, at present, is supposed to be doing wonders in the United

States, notwithstanding that American statisticians themselves state that 24,000,000 Americans are, at present, suffering hardships, in spite of the high tariff wall the United States surrounds itself against foreign products.

In Germany to-day-it is an understood thing-big companies split large dividends among themselves, but unemployment tends to so greatly increase that the People's Party have lately advised Field Marshal Von Hindenberg, President of the cabinet, to impose what they call a "sacrifice tax," that is to increase by 10 per cent the income tax. With regard to insurance against unemployment, it is suggested to increase the premium by half of one per cent, because the funds are exhausted. In order to guard against all inexpediencies arising from the world-wide business crisis, they are considering taxing tobacco, soft drinks and numerous other articles of first necessity, taxes which will further burden the masses. I do not think it necessary to dwell any further on the subject; however, at the risk of being looked upon as a dictator, let me quote the views of Mussolini: '^Parliaments are not in a position to solve the unemployment problem, but this great question should be referred to a commission of experts, and this has already been done in Italy, under the name of "Corpora-zioni" comprising representatives of all classes of society who are studying this great problem free from all political considerations."

I cannot, Mr. Speaker, support the amendment to the motion to go into committee of ways and means, for the following reasons: first its adoption would mean a vote of nonconfidence in a government which has done a great deal for the labouring classes; secondly, it secures but a small pittance for our unemployed ; lastly it would be but a poor remedy for the present depression which our opponents wish to make use of for political purposes. I am a member of the Committee on Industrial and International Relations of the House. Last year when the question of unemployment cropped up it was decided to suggest to the government that they should come to an understanding with the provinces. Were I asked my views with reference to social insurance, I have no hesitation in saying that a well conceived and wisely applied insurance against unemployment, would be very beneficial to our working classes; but not insurance under the control of a political body, as that created by Lloyd George, in England, when under the stress of an afterwar opportunist movement, he made all the English people participate in the insurance benefits derived from the covenanters. I am

Unemployment-Mr. Lacombe

in favour of an insurance against unemployment in which would participate government, industry owners and workers, as requested by the Trade and Labour Congress and the Catholic Unions, and which would be of a nature to satisfy entirely all our workers besides relieving the unemployment crisis. Even then, I revert to my first statement, and say to the manufacturers: If you wish the workers to contribute to this insurance fund against unemployment, pay them reasonable wages. There lies the solution of the whole problem, sir, and I trust this will take place before long and will help to assure to the working classes of this country a fair share of prosperity and justice to which they are entitled.

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LIB

Liguori Lacombe

Liberal

Mr. LIGUORI LACOMBE (Laval-Two Mountains) (Translation):

Unemployment-Mr. Lncombe

tion for the city workers. Let us further encourage our industries. To the man on the land, let us give the necessary grants to promote agriculture. The present government, in 1929 alone, increased its agriculture subsidies to $118,000,000. It was only just, it was a sound policy. However, all must not hinge on subsidies. Modem methods of farming demand training. Moreover, cooperation is a sure pledge of success. Let us direct our best initiatives towards this end and towards obtaining results from our efforts.

Let me conclude my remarks by stating that personally my entire confidence reposes in this government, which for nearly ten years has never ceased applying itself to improving our finances.

In a speech which was a credit to this parliament and country, the right hon. Prime Minister eloquently depicted the work accomplished in the last decade. The constant reducing of the public debt, the cutting down of taxes, the increase of our production, the progress of trade and industry, all bear witness to the sound administration which presides over our destinies. The stabilization and progress of Canada's finances during the afterwar period, testify to the magnificent effort which Canadians must acknowledge.

I am well aware that the hon. members of the opposition, are endeavouring to close the eyes of the ratepayer to this actual state of prosperity. This of course is a part played by all oppositions. However, when the people will be called upon to choose between the wholesome deeds of one party and the misdeeds of the other; when the Canadian people will be called upon to give their verdict on the present political situation; will it be possible for them to ignore our economic progress and new prerogatives as a nation?

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I ister of National R

Kellner,

McGregor,

Black (Halifax), Hodgins,

Matthews,

Kaiser,

Anderson (Halton), MacNutt,

Stevens,

Manion,

Young (Toronto), Macdougall,

Bell (Hamilton), MacDonald

(Cape Breton), Ladner,

Lennox,

Maloney,

Dickie,

McGibbon,

Macdonald (Kings), Clark,

Ernst,

Bell (St.John),

Irvine,

Gott,

White (Mount Royal), Price,

Cowan,

Short,

Arthurs.

cas paired with the Min-venue (Mr. Euler).

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order. The question is on the main motion.

Main motion agreed to.

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

As regards the declaration of pairs, I pointed out on a former occasion during this session that a list of the pairs is given to the clerk, who registers them. The house does not officially recognize pairs.

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LIB

Francis Wellington Hay

Liberal

Mr. HAY:

I was paired with the hon. member for Toronto East Centre (Mr. Matthews). Had I voted I would have voted against the amendment.

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CON

William Anderson Black

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLACK (Halifax):

I was paired with the Minister of National Health (Mr. King). Had I voted, I would have voted for the amendment.

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UFO

Beniah Bowman

United Farmers of Ontario

Mr. BOWMAN:

I was paired with the hon. member for East Middlesex (Mr. Hodgins). Had I voted, I would have voted against the amendment.

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LIB

George Washington McPhee

Liberal

Mr. McPHEE:

I was paired with the hon. member for Kings (Mr. Macdonald). Had I voted, I would have voted against the amendment.

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LIB

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VALLANCE:

I was paired with the hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard (Mr. Clark). Had I voted, I would have voted against the amendment.

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CON

Martin James Maloney

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MALONEY:

I was paired with the hon. member for St. Ann (Mr. Guerin). Had I voted, I would have voted for the amendment.

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CON

Newton Manley Young

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. YOUNG (Toronto Northeast):

I was paired with the hon. member for Cartier (Mr. Jacobs). Had I voted, I would have voted for the amendment.

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CON

Peter McGibbon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McGIBBON:

I was paired with the hon. member for Saskatoon (Mr. Aoung). Had I voted, I would have voted for the amendment.

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CON

Otto Baird Price

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PRICE:

I was paired with the hon. member for Bellechasse (Mr. Boulanger). Had I voted, I would have voted for the amendment.

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CON

Donald James Cowan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COWAN:

I was paired with the hon. member for North Oxford (Mr. Allan). Had I voted, I would have voted for the amendment.

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CON

Harry Bernard Short

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SHORT:

I was paired with the hon. member for Victoria-Carleton (Mr. Foster). Had I voted, I would have voted for the amendment.

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April 8, 1930