February 11, 1932

PROBLEMS OF DISTRIBUTION, PURCHASING POWER, EXCHANGE VALUES ANB UNEMPLOYMENT


The house resumed from Wednesday, February 10, consideration of the motion of Mr. Speakman: Whereas; the problem of production has been largely solved, assisted greatly by the application of scientific methods and the results of organized technical research; and Whereas; the federal government has contributed to that end by the establishment of the National Council of Scientific Research, and by the financial assistance given to that body; and Whereas; the problem of distribution, with the kindred questions of purchasing power and the exchange values of agricultural and other commodities, together with their relation to the growing problem of unemployment, are still unsolved, and demand immediate attention with systematized investigation and scientific study; and Whereas; this can best be done at the instance of the state and by men of scientific training enabled to devote their entire time and attention to the study of this important subject; Therefore be it resolved; that, in the opinion of this house, the government should give immediate consideration to the establishment and maintenance of some organized body for this purpose, which body might be known as the National Council of Social and Economic Research.


UFA

William Irvine

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. WILLIAM IRVINE (Wetaskiwin):

Mr. Speaker, this resolution was introduced yesterday afternoon by the hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Speakman). I will summarize its subject matter briefly. It calls to our attention the fact that the problem of production has been to a very large extent solved; that scientific research has greatly contributed to that solution, and that the government has recognized the services of science in that respect and has organized and financed a national council of scientific research. Then the resolution goes on to point out that there are still to be solved some very grave economic problems, for which solutions have not yet been found either in Canada or any other country; it suggests that a body should be organized to take up the study of these questions, and that such body should be known

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as a national council of social and economic research.

The hon. member for Red Deer brought this matter before the house last session, and on that occasion the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens) was highly critical of the suggestion. In his speech yesterday the minister was still very critical indeed, as well as somewhat sceptical of the anticipated results of such a proposal, but withal he exhibited a tolerant if not a receptive attitude of mind, so I would congratulate the hon. member for Red Deer on having made at least some progress with respect to an idea.

I think we might say that the 'history of philosophy flows into two main streams of thought. The one is that the individual has absolute freedom, that the human being is free to plan and do as he may will. This idea is epitomized in the words "I am the captain of my soul; I am the master of my fate." That is the one idea. The other is that of historical materialism, as it is sometimes called; the idea of economic determinism. that everything is determined by certain economic conditions. These two ideas run through the history of philosophy. The philosophy of history, which is a very different thing from the history of philosophy, shows that both streams flow together into the great sea of human activity. In other words, the ultimate depends as much upon the reaction of the human mind to the events as it does upon the events themselves. I hold the view that there is possible a wise and prudent action which can be taken to meet any given situation but that action is not likely to be wise or prudent unless there is a thorough knowledge of all the facts embraced in the particular situation. Holding that view with regard to matters of social and economic import to the nation, I hold also the view that some body should be entrusted with the responsibility of pursuing and systematizing the study of national matters, with the common weal as the objective. The governments of all countries, as well as the government of Canada, are endeavouring to function to some extent in that capacity. No doubt each government attempts to plan its work in the best way it can, no doubt each government has in view the common weal but the tremendous task of administrative work and the carrying out of legislative policies, especially in times such as these, entirely absorbs the attention of the statesmen, and we cannot expect them to make a special study of the problems which are to-day so pressing.

We have proposed in previous sessions, as we do now, that the government should take into consideration the creation of a body to be known as the council of social and economic research. This body would devote itself to the study of social and economic problems with the viewpoint of the national well-being. It would give the same attention to these matters which scientists in the past have devoted to the question of production and so forth. We believe that this function should be performed by a body other than an administrative body, insmuch as that body always will have sufficient to do in carrying on the ordinary affairs of state. For upwards of a century and a half scientific research has made great strides in the field of production, its contribution to human progress has 'been amazing and beyond all possible computation. Governments throughout the world have recognized the value of scientific research in matters of industrial pursuit and our own National Council of Scientific and Industrial Research is an example of the foresight displayed by Canadian governments both of to-day and of the past in respect to the value of scientific information in connection with production.

Scientific methods of production however when accompanied iby unsoientifie methods of distribution constitute in a general way the modern problem. I do not hesitate to say that our council of scientific research will do more harm than good if it is not supplemented by social and economic research. Still further to increase production which is to-day so great that we do not know what to do with it, without paying attention to the other half of the problem, that of distribution, will make our problem more acute than ever.

Those of us who believe in the possibility of a planned national economy are sometimes characterized as bolshevists and dangerous characters. I have no objection to being thus characterized. Nevertheless I may say that I advocate the idea embodied in this resolution in the hope that bolshevism may be unnecessary. In my opinion there is no way by which we can prevent the disruption of the world other than by the intelligent planning of the affairs of the peoples and of the countries of the world. If there is no planned defence against chaos, then we will have bolshevism; if we act according to plan, we can avoid such catastrophes.

The hon. member for Camrose (Mr. Lucas) made a telling point in his speech of yesterday. He referred to the great problem which faces Canada to-day in connection with her

Economic Research-Mr. Irvine

railways and lie suggested that if plans had been laid some years ago in connection with the transportation system we would not now be saddled with a problem which is almost too heavy to be borne. I think the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) in the speech he delivered a few days ago made reference to this railway problem. He said something to the effect that it was difficult to explain why there should have been such a rush to build three transcontinental railways to serve less than ten million people. The reason that was done was because no one had any reason for doing anything, they just did it. Our railroad system grew just as Topsy grew, and we are now faced with the difficulty which that kind of policy brings to any people or to any nation. It must be clear that if there had been any planning from a national viewpoint at the commencement of our railroad policy then the government of to-day would not be confronted with the great problem which now confronts them. I question whether many of us are able to appreciate the magnitude of that problem.

That is an example of the lack of planning. Meanwhile we are building up other systems just as thoughtlessly and just as carelessly which in the near future will result in problems for some other government to solve. It must be clear to everyone that any attempt at planning, even though it is not as successful as it might be, even though it bristles with difficulties as the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens) pointed out, will have some effect in easing the problems of future statesmanship. Some hon. members may be impatient because our proposal may appear to be very abstract, far away from the balancing of the budget and the equalization of freight rates, a considerable distance away from revenue and all that sort of thing, but we do not expect that the budget will be balanced this year as a result of the adoption of our proposal of planned economy. While we regard our proposal as being quite practical we know that the results wiil not be apparent at the moment. However, we do argue that its results some day will be very apparent and serviceable to the state. This is the time to begin to plan to prevent the occurrence of some things with which we may have difficulty in our public life years hence.

We appreciate the difficulties which will confront any government which undertakes to establish a body of this kind. I may not appreciate the difficulty to the same extent as does the Minister of Trade and Commerce, some of the difficulties may be never

absolutely overcome but we should not stop trying to do a thing because there are difficulties in the way, those difficulties must be overcome in one way or another. Any one of the difficulties which were mentioned yesterday by the minister might have been just as appropriately brought forward as an objection to the scientific research council which is now functioning. It might have been said at the inception of this council: Where will you

get your men? Will you go to the universities for them or will you find them at the head of great industrial enterprises? Will you put pure theorists or bolshevists in charge? Who will you put into your scientific research council? The same questions can be asked now. But those difficulties are not insurmountable.

There are those to-day who are fearful for the survival of the economic system. I do not know whether it is going to survive or not. I would say that it has no more claim on eternal life than any other economic system, nor has civilization for that matter. Civilizations in the past have come and gone and we do not know but what ours may go too, although I agree with the minister when he said yesterday that in the present system there are many things which are well worthy of being safeguarded. Nevertheless nobody knows whether the present system is going to survive the existing crisis or not. Supposing we just for the moment imagine it does not survive. Then what? Surely if there is the barest possibility of its not surviving, then we ought to be planning what we are to do when it ceases to exist. But take the other alternative. Supposing it does survive; supposing once more we crawl out of this bog of depression and start on our next cycle. In that event this is the moment to begin planning to prevent the next depression, for just as surely as we emerge with the system as it now is, just as certainly will the next depression fall upon us and it will be more depressed than this one. We shall be deeper in the bog, and if we are going to try to avoid that, now is the day and the hour to begin. There is no use in talking now about this depression; we cannot do anything but try to adjust ourselves to it and carry on. We should have been planning against this ten years ago. If we had done so, it could have been avoided. The next depression can be avoided if we begin now to plan against it.

The minister charged yesterday that we had not been very practical in the suggestions and that he had some difficulty in understanding just what we meant by national planning and what function we expected to be per-

Economic Research-Mr. Irvine

formed by such a body as we proposed. I want to touch for a little on the practical side of the question and I do not think I can do better than read a very short selection from a modern school book which I have no doubt the minister has read, because I know he is an omnivorous reader on matters of this sort. Perhaps the house will bear with me while I read this excerpt from this school book which is entitled "What happens when they work without a plan."

Mr. Fox acquires money-one million dollars. But money must not remain idle. Mr. Fox looks through newspapers, he consults friends, he employs agents. From morning till night the agents comb the city, look about, and make inquiries. What is to be done with the money of Mr. Fox? ,

At last a business is found. Hats! That is what one should make. Hats sell; men get rich.

There is nothing to hesitate about. Mr. Fox builds a hat factory. ,

The same idea occurs at the same time to Mr. Box, and Mr. Crox, and Mr. Nox. And they all begin to build hat factories simultaneously.

Within half a year there are several new hat factories in the country. Shops are filled to the ceiling with hat-boxes. Store rooms are bursting with them. Everywhere there are posters, signs, advertisements; hat, hats, hats. A great many more hats are made than are needed-twice as many, three times as many. And the factories continue to work at full speed. .

And here something happens that neither Mr. Fox, nor Mr. Box, nor Mr. Nox, nor Mr. Crox anticipated. The public stops buying hats. Mr. Nox lowers his price twenty cents; Mr. Crox, forty cents; Mr. Fox sells hats at a loss in order to get rid of them. But business grows worse and worse.

In all of the papers advertisements appear:

You may have only one head, but that does not mean at all that you should wear only one hat. Every American should have three hats.

Buy the hats of Mr. Fox!

Mr. Box offers to sell hats on a three-year instalment plan.

Mr. Nox announces a sale:

Only for one day! Take advantage of this opportunity!

But this does not help. Mr. Fox lowers the wages of his workers one dollar a week. Mr. Crox lowers the wages two dollars a week. Again business grows worse and worse.

All at once-stop! Mr. Fox closes his factory. Two thousand workers are discharged and permitted to go wherever they please. The following day the factory of Mr. Nox stops. In a week practically all hat factories are standing idle. Thousands of workers are without work. New machines grow rusty, buildings are sold for wreckage.

A year or two pass. The hats bought from Nox, Fox, Box, and Crox wear out. The public once more begins to buy hats. Hat stores become empty. From the top shelves dusty cartons are taken down. There are not enough hats. Prices on hats go up.

And now, not Mr. Fox, but a certain Mr. Doodle, thinks of a profitable business-the building of a hat factory. The same idea also enters the heads of other wise and businesslike people-Mr. Boodle, Mr. Foodie, and Mr. Noodle. And the old story begins over again.

There is the story of production on the north American continent, and as well of all the countries of the world. There is absolutely no preparation, no planning, with the result that in connection with some commodities we have a tremendous over-production, and in connection with others, we may have too little. For instance, there is nobody in Canada to-day that knows whether there will be enough boots made in this country next year to go on the feet of the Canadian people. Nobody is looking into that matter. We leave that to chance. Nobody knows whether in Canada next year there will be enough wheat to feed the Canadian people. We take a chance on that because we say the farmers are so foolish they will grow wheat for nothing, so that they will continue doing that.

There is absolutely no plan in any country that I know of that takes care of the national economy in such a way that we may feel sure that production will be sufficient; that it will not be wasteful; that it will not be too much. That is a function that I say has not been performed in any country and it is one that must be performed if we are to avoid disaster in the future. I am not saying that this task should be undertaken by the Department of Trade and Commerce; I am not saying that it should be undertaken as a political matter; I am saying that it should be undertaken as a national, scientific scheme with a view to running the affairs of the country on an intelligent basis.

Let me cite a few more practical suggestions. It was suggested that this national planning was only a phrase which we were in danger of using just to sound wise and, well, trifle with. Let us look at a practical suggestion. Take the issuance of currency and credit in Canada for the years 1931 or 1932, or 1933, the years that are coming. Can there be any question more important to the business welfare, the commercial welfare and indeed the very welfare of the people than that? But there is no planning about it. There is no way of controlling the issuance of currency or credit so that it has the proper volume in relation to the business to be done. That is just left, as in the case of the way in which Mr. Cox and Mr. Nox built their hat factories, to competition between two or three

Economic Research-Mr. Irvine

bankers, and that is all the regulation there is. The result is only too apparent.

Take another illustration. Take the investments of insurance funds, an enormous amount of money collected from the people of Canada entrusted to a few private individuals to invest largely for their own gain, because the gains do not return to the policy holders. Think of how some companies invest their money in highly speculative stocks; consider the endangering of these investments. Insurance companies may invest the money they control either inside Canada or outside. Consider the direct effect upon the industrial life of Canada of the investment of such an enormous amount. The effect is tremendous. But there is no national voice which directs how that money shall be invested. It may be invested in mines in Timbuctoo or in soap factories in the Argentine, if they have any there, or in any other industry in any other part of the world. So far as Canada is concerned there is no direction at all. That is a practical proposition for a council such as is suggested in the resolution to deal with.

Then take the question of production itself. No planning is made with regard to quantity of production in Canada or in any other country, so far as I know, except perhaps in Russia. Nor is there any planning with regard to the quality, nor with regard to the variety of production. In this connection I should like to quote a sentence or two from Mr. Stuart Chase, a very orthodox authority whose opinion ought to count for a good deal in an argument on this question. He says:

We drown in a sea of things which we do not use, which we lose, which get out of style, which we give to friends and which they do not need, which disappear somewhere; fountain pens, cigar lighters, cheap rings, razors, endless trinkets, gew-gaws. We destroy mountains of good iron ore and an endless quantity of horsepower in order in a few months to fill rubbish cans with them.

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UFA

Henry Elvins Spencer

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPENCER:

Will the hon. member

say who Mr. Stuart Chase is?

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UFA

William Irvine

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. IRVINE:

I cannot give his pedigree

but he is a member of the labour bureau of the United States and a man of considerable authority on practical economics. He has written works on the tragedy of nations and so forth. He is, of course, an American. I say, Mr. Speaker, that that is the kind of thing we should do some planning about-the quantity and quality and variety of production. About the only product in Canada that we try to look after to-day in regard to quality is the farmers* wheat. We are very particular to grade the farmers' wheat No. 1 or No. 6, but I do not know anyone who is

grading boots or undershirts or anything else we have to buy except the products of the farm. The quality of these different products ought to be guaranteed by the state so that a man would know that when he is buying an article he is getting what he is paying for. That is a matter that should be thoroughly supervised. There should be supervision of production with regard to quantity, quality and variety. There are thousands of things that we do not need at all that are just being made by speculators to make money for themselves by producing some article that tickles the fancy of the public.

How are we going to get a body to consider all these things? I do not believe that it is impossible at all. I will conclude my remarks by saying that we believe that the contribution of science in the field of sociology and political economy can be just as great and just as effective as it has been in the field of production. We feel that the great task of our time is a sociological task; not so much a problem of production, although we do not want to lose sight of that. We believe that unless we can solve the sociological problem as adequately as we have solved the production problem we cannot avoid chaos, and so we urge that the government should give reasonable consideration to our suggestion. We do not expect that to-morrow we shall have a fully fledged scientific bureau at work dealing with these matters, but we hope to create a body of opinion in Canada that will more and more look towards a higher and better knowledge for solutions of the problems of our day, and we trust that steps will be taken very soon to develop such a body charged with such a function. That is our hope in supporting this resolution.

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CON

George Brecken Nicholson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. G. B. NICHOLSON (East Algoma):

I desire to make one or two observations with regard to the resolution, not by way of criticism at all, but in an effort to get some enlightenment. I do not propose to attempt to follow my hon. friend who has just sat down (Mr. Irvine) through the maze of his arguments except to say that I am very much afraid that when he undertakes to mould the Canadian people into a character that would accept the grading of our boots and our hats and our coats and specifying that they must be of a particular type and kind and put on the market at a particular time, he will be faced with very considerable difficulty.

I wish to refer to one paragraph of the resolution itself:

Whereas; the problem of distribution, with the kindred questions of purchasing power and

Economic Research-Mr. Nicholson

the exchange values of agricultural and other commodities, together with their relation to the growing problem of unemployment, are still unsolved, and demand immediate attention with systematized investigation and scientific study;

In that connection I also wish to refer to a phrase that was used by the hon. gentleman who moved the resolution (Mr. Speakman), who referred to the creation of a planned economy that would solve the problems that are dealt with in the paragraph of the resolution which I have just quoted. I take it that what the hon. member has in mind is some plan which will enable us to distribute the products that we create to the satisfaction of the producer on the one hand and of the consumer on the other. If we in this dominion were confined within an airtight compartment independent of all other nations and all other plans, we might reach some measure of success in carrying out the idea which my hon. friend has in mind. I would mention three commodities that we produce in Canada which to-day owing to the industrial conditions are exercising a dire effect on the economic life of our whole country. One of them, the chief, I would say, is the wheat of western Canada. Another is pulp and paper, and the third is lumber. I take the liberty of saying that if these three industries were on a sound and profitable basis our problems in Canada would be very largely solved. But how are we going to work out a plan that will solve the difficulties of these industries? Very few years ago, after an intensive study on the part of those who know, or at least think they understand the question of the production and marketing of wheat, a plan was worked out that seemed at the time to be very satisfactory to that industry. Businessmen all over this country thought the plan was satisfactory, but while that plan was being put into effect somebody else in some other part of the world was working out a different plan. The Argentine, Russia and the wheat-consuming countries in Europe had a different plan entirely from ours, and our plan with regard to wheat went completely to pieces in 1928 and 1929.

The pulp and paper association were working on a plan in connection with their industry, and they had worked out a plan that seemed to be perfect in itself. They could produce and sell because there were consumers to buy, but the market on the North American continent fell from under them, and the result was that their plan went to pieces.

The producers of lumber are in a similar situation. I happen to know something about 41761-8

that myself because for the last year and a half I have been working in association with many others on a plan by which the product which I am engaged in turning out could be put on the British market, but while I was engaged on that plan others were working out an entirely different plan and their plan took that market away from us.

We might trace back through the life of any man who is sitting in this house and see what the plan of that life has been; we might begin by working out a plan such as the hon. member for Red Deer has suggested, stating how much wheat we should produce, how much beef, how much butter, how much lumber, how many pairs of boots, and so on. Following his suggestion, and losing sight altogether of all the other people whose activities we cannot in the least degree control, I wonder what would happen to our plan? As the minister said yesterday, the whole progress of the world has been based on the gradual evolution which men have created by progressing, one step at a time. The position mankind now occupies has not been the result of any definite, fixed plan, and in my judgment to attempt to work out a plan by which we would absolutely control production by saying to this man, "You do this," or "You do that" is not reasonable. The time may come when that may take place, but in my opinion we will not get out of our present difficulties by endeavouring to formulate a plan such as that. On the other hand, we might reach a solution of our troubles, if the problems, now taxing the best brains in the world, were fairly faced by everybody. We will not reach a solution however by any effort to organize a plan which will control what we produce, what we sell, how we produce it and how we sell it.

I should like someone to go to the independent farmers of western Canada and say to one of them, "You must grow wheat," to another, "You must grow barley;" to another, "You must sell this" and to another, "You must sell that"-and at such and such a price. I am very much afraid any organization attempting such a plan would find itself up against very serious difficulties.

I am not going to discuss what is being done in a country about which we hear a great deal. The Russian people and their plan may be all right but, as the minister said yesterday afternoon, to attempt to apply their scheme to an Anglo-Saxon people, to Canadians, would result in nothing but ultimate failure. During the last session and for several previous sessions I listened to speeches

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Economic Research-Mr. Woodsworth

such as those we heard yesterday. I am not in the least critical; any hon. member who listened must have admired the manner in which the hon. member for Red Deer presented his case, but up to this moment these gentlemen who have apparently given so much thought and care to the subject have not placed before the house, so far as I know, one constructive suggestion as to how this plan may be worked out, who will work it out, or how it will operate after it has been prepared.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Winnipeg North Centre):

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Before my hon. friend

proceeds I should like to ask him a question. Does he take into consideration the fact that Russia has repudiated her debt to France?

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I would prefer not to go into the question of repudiation; it is a very complicated matter. I said I hoped we could get through this discussion of economics without bringing in the political affairs of Russia. However, I might just remind the hon. gentleman in passing that when those debts were being contracted the London Times warned British investors against subscribing to the Russian loans, which were being used by the Czar to prevent the establishment of a parliamentary system of government. The French invested in Russian securities notwithstanding warnings of that character. France herself through her inflationist policy, repudiated a great percentage of the debts she owed and there are other countries which will have to repudiate their debts also before many months have passed.

But I want to come back to the Russian economic system. I think no one can read the statistics, or can visit that country, without being tremendously impressed by the economic development that has taken place. I have never seen a country which was experiencing such a boom as is taking place in Russia at the present time. It may be that the boom will not last. I am not a prophet; i am merely stating what is evident to even a tourist. It is a tremendous boom which is in progress at the present time. The soviet authorities have beaten down opposition, as I have said; they have adopted their plan and now they are beginning to get results.

I spent an evening-a very pleasant evening, I may say-with Mr. Yazikoff, who was here some years ago as Russian trade commissioner. A number of members of this house met him at that time. After he had told me a good deal about the progress of Russia in the last six or seven years he turned

to me and said, "I have been telling you about Russia; I wish you would tell me something about the progress of Canada in the last five or six years." That question struck me like a blow between the eyes. The progress of Canada in the last five or six years? I felt like throwing up my hands and saying that in the last few years Canada, instead of progressing, has been going back. I think there is not much doubt about that. It is not a question of this or that party being in power; the fact is that Canada has not been progressing in the last five or six years. So the greater part of Europe is stagnant to-day, but in that great country of soviet Russia, at least for the time being, they have struck upon something that is succeeding.

I talked to a large number of American technicians, who had no interest whatever in communism. In fact they repudiated it; they were there simply as experts to give advice, and I think the opinion of these men could be summed up in the words of one of them who was on the train with me as we came out. He said, "I have been all over this country in the last three or four months making a survey. If things were done as efficiently here as they are in America I could have done my work in as many weeks. No doubt there is a great deal of inefficiency and waste, but these Russians do not often make the same mistake twice. They are learning, and I think they are going to make good. If they do there is going to be a hard time ahead for us in America." He was from the western United States and, after having made a survey, that was his opinion. Whether or not we agree with communism it is absolutely stupid for us to adopt that policy which traditionally belongs to the ostrich, that of burying its head in the sand. We cannot refuse to see what is going on. If for no other reason than to compete with communism I think it would be a good thing if the members of this house, and representatives of western Europe generally, looked well into what is going on.

For my part, I am not one of those who would lightly dismiss communist ideas; certainly the communists have hit upon something that is producing results. I am quite willing to admit that it may be that an autocratic system of this kind is possible only with a people having the Russian temperament. It may be that a democracy would not lend itself to the successful carrying through of a communist program. I would take exception however to what was said here yesterday, that we are a free people and can do as we please. We have very little freedom in this country, and while I do not like the dictator-

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ship they have in Russia, and do not hesitate to say so, neither do I like the dictatorship we have in this country of oure, a financial dictatorship which operates under the guise of a democracy.

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CON

George Hamilton Pettit

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PETTIT:

Would the hon. member care to deal with the remuneration of the workers who are engaged in this five year plan?

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

It is difficult to compare the two as it would involve very extensive computations. I would recommend the hon. gentleman to read a very fine article by Louis Fischer which appeared two or three weeks ago in the New York Nation. This article goes exhaustively into the question of wages. Personally I believe that wages are lower there than in Canada, but it is not the amount of wages paid, it is what goes with the wages. These people are getting many social opportunities which our people do not get. I attended theatres such as we do not have in Canada. I attended operas such as do not exist in Paris, Vienna or Berlin. Those operas were frequented by the ordinary working people who received tickets at the doors of the factories as part of their wages. Under these diverse systems it is extremely difficult to compare the remuneration received by the two sets of workmen.

This is a big field and if I may I will deal only with the economic phase. In visiting Russia the first thing which strikes one is the fact that they have no unemployment. I was in Austria where unemployment is simply desperate. I was in Berlin where unemployment is affecting not only the unskilled workers, not only the skilled tradesmen, but large numbers of business and professional workers. The civic authorities very kindly took me around to some of the unemployment bureaus. At one they had hundreds of applications for relief. These applications had not been received from working men, but they were from school teachers, university professors, artists, musicians and skilled technicians. There were men who had been at the head of large works as supervising engineers; I saw the applications of men who had been drawing salaries of from $10,000 to $20,000 per year as consultants. These men were down and out and were glad to receive relief from the city. Unemployment is something like paralysis which works up. With us it has only reached the ankles and the knees, with them it has gone higher and higher until .it has reached the business and professional classes. There are at least six million unemployed in Germany to-day, involving probably twenty million individuals

or about a third of the entire population. You leave Germany and go into Russia and you cannot find any unemployment. In fact they cannot get people in fast enough to do the work.

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CON

George Hamilton Pettit

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PETTIT:

That is because they are

conscripted.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

No, they are not

conscripted. I will give a little illustration. On the same train with me were three Austrians, one a mechanic who had been unemployed and was going to Russia in the hopes of obtaining a job, the other two were musicians. Within a few days after his arrival the working man had got a steady job, and before we left the two musicians came to our hotel and told us that they had signed a contract for a year with a soviet state theatre. The peasants are being encouraged to come in from the country districts to Moscow and the other large cities, after the harvest. I travelled on one of those trains and I would not like to spend another night under such circumstances. Traffic is fearfully congested: but, there is activity all along the line. A contrast with our railway situation!

In Moscow the housing shortage is very great. Nearly every other house is being rebuilt, or the old house being torn down to be replaced with a new one. I have never seen anything like it in my life. What is true of Moscow and Leningrad is equally true of the other cities right through to eastern Siberia. There is tremendous activity everywhere.

A great deal has been said about conscript labour. There may be some in the northern camps, although opinion is divided on that. The great majority of the people are no more working under conscription than are the workmen in this country where if you do not work you cannot get anything to eat. That is perhaps the only conscription they have there and the same applies here in perhaps a more violent form.

They have a planned economy, they know where they are going. It may be that they may not be able to complete the five-year plan, but what about it? If they do not do it in five years, they may do it in six; if they do not do it in six years, they may do it in seven. The vital thing is that they have a plan ahead of them, they are working towards that plan and they are enthusiastic about it. I do not talk Russian but I was able to obtain considerable information from Canadians and from Englishmen who have been resident in Moscow for some years.

Economic Research-Mr. Woodsworth

I will give a little illustration which I believe I have published somewhere and which I think is very illuminating. We were waiting at a street comer to allow the traffic to pass and a group of high school boys and girls, ranging in age from fourteen to sixteen years, passed, each one with a spade upon his or her shoulder. They were jollying one another and joking as high school youngsters will, and on inquiring where they were going I was told that this was their free day-they have one day free in five, although I believe in the last few months the plan has been altered in some industries where they now put in six days straight-and they were spending their holiday by giving voluntary assistance to some particular state enterprise which was lagging behind its schedule. Mr. Speaker, can you imagine a group of our high school boys and girls putting spades on their shoulders and starting off to tamp ties on the Canadian National railways? They might if we had such a plan. The fact remains that we lack that enthusiasm which seems to be so prevalent in Russia.

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CON

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

What would have hap-pended had they refused to take those spades on their shoulders?

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

They were doing it of their own free will. I suppose the high school boys and girls in our country would not like to carry spades, they are a little too aristocratic for that. My hon. friend across the way is inclined to scoff at the freedom with which they did it.

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CON

Ira Delbert Cotnam

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COTNAM:

The labour unions would not permit it.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

That is quite true. The difference between Canada and Russia is this: here the only possible way in which labour can maintain its position is by adopting the methods more or less in vogue in every organization, that of limiting its numbers and curtailing its output. Lawyers do the same thing, doctors do the same thing, everyone attempts to impose limitations; that is the only way in which they can make their living under a competitive system. In Russia everything is different, the more they produce the greater benefit it is to the public at large. No objection is raised by their unions as it is realized that it is helping along the cause.

In this connection I might mention a visit I paid to one of the gaols. In this country we dare not let the prisoners produce for the public market lest forced labour compete with free labour; in Russia they pay wages to their prisoners and what they produce is sent

into the ordinary commercial channels. Under their system the more that is produced in any one department, the better it is for the community at large. In this country, if we produce too much we get into difficulties. We have more wheat in our western granaries today than we had a year ago; we do not know what to do with it, we cannot market it and yet people who are hungry are unable to eat.

It may be true that Russia is behind in production but it must be remembered that they started at the bottom. They did not have very much to begin with, they did not have a productive machine and so they were short of commodities. But to the extent that they are able to produce, they are distributing commodities to the people. So there do not arise many of the difficulties which we have here such as so-called over-production. Quite naturally some of the members who have not thoroughly studied these things may think they have those difficulties in Russia, but that is not the case.

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CON

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

What are the living conditions of the workers in Russia as compared with those in Canada?

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I wish I could have gone into the economics of things without being diverted to living conditions, but I am quite free to say in my judgment living conditions are lower in Russia than Canada. I do not consider, however, that is of very material significance in discussing this question. Let me put it in this way: 101 degrees of temperature is not in itself a very significant thing. If a patient has had a very high fever, 101 degrees of temperature is a good symptom. If a man has been living normally and has been infected, then a temperature of 101 degrees is a dangerous symptom. It all depends on the direction we are travelling.

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CON

Ira Delbert Cotnam

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COTNAM:

The hon. member is getting out of his depth.

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February 11, 1932