February 11, 1932

LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I may be, but I

think there are other doctors in the house who will agree with me, and the reading of a thermometer is surely not altogether a monopoly of a doctor.

Topic:   SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RESEARCH
Subtopic:   PROBLEMS OF DISTRIBUTION, PURCHASING POWER, EXCHANGE VALUES ANB UNEMPLOYMENT
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CON

Peter McGibbon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McGIBBON:

Interpreting it is.

Topic:   SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Yes, but 101 degrees in one case may be a good symptom, and in another, a bad symptom. I think I may be permitted to use an illustration from the medical profession without being called to task. What I desire to emphasize is that while the standard of living in Russia may be low, so far as I can ascertain it is on the up-

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Economic Research-Mr. Woodsworth

grade, while, as I see it in Europe and indeed in almost every country I visited and certainly in Canada, instead of our standards of living rising, they are falling. That is the significant point. Although in Russia the standards of living for the moment are lower than ours, I think they are on the up-grade and that is the most challenging thing about the situation.

If I may come to the point that I was about to mention a moment ago when my attention was diverted, this is to me the most interesting thing in contrasting the two economic systems. In this country if we produce too much we get into difficulties, because under our system we are bound to pay dividends on certain stocks which we have or certain investments which we have made.

Topic:   SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RESEARCH
Subtopic:   PROBLEMS OF DISTRIBUTION, PURCHASING POWER, EXCHANGE VALUES ANB UNEMPLOYMENT
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CON

George Douglass Stanley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STANLEY:

And wages.

Topic:   SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RESEARCH
Subtopic:   PROBLEMS OF DISTRIBUTION, PURCHASING POWER, EXCHANGE VALUES ANB UNEMPLOYMENT
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

And we have to

pay wages, of course. We have to pay dividends and if a number of different institutions reach the point, which I think we have reached now, where they cannot at the same time pay dividends and wages, then wages are likely to suffer. Over in Russia it seems to me that under their system it is possible for them to go on steadily with their production and to devote their production to raising the standard of living of their people. The reason they have not raised wages more rapidly-and this may be a criticism-is this, that they have found it was essential for them to complete their productive machine and after that they would have time enough to raise the general standard of living of the people. The living conditions of the people were low; the people had been comparatively content to have them low, and so the plans have been pushed forward. Probably our people would not be as content to live on as low a standard as the Russians have done, but in the meantime this has enabled those people to build up very rapidly a productive machine. It took us one hundred years or more to build up our machine. We were told by all the classical economists in the old days that we could not have accomplished what capitalism has without the incentive of private gain; that is, had not the big owners been able to save and to salt down a great deal of what was produced and put this surplus into new enterprises.

Topic:   SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RESEARCH
Subtopic:   PROBLEMS OF DISTRIBUTION, PURCHASING POWER, EXCHANGE VALUES ANB UNEMPLOYMENT
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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member has

been speaking for forty minutes.

Topic:   SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

May I finish this

thought? Russia it seems to me, has shown that that position is untenable. Under the

communist system it has been possible for them to build up their capital equipment at the same time as they were, to a certain extent at least, raising the standard of living of their people. I trust the house and especially the proposer of the motion will pardon me for introducing Russia; for I know the member for Red Deer has no idea of introducing the Russian system into this country. I take this opportunity of interjecting these remarks because Russia is the outstanding example of a nation with a planned economy.

Mr. JEAN-FRANCOI3 POULIOT (Temis-couata): Mr. Speaker, I have been interested

in listening to my hon. friend (Mr. Woodsworth), who, as everybody knows, is a great student of these matters. A few weeks ago I read in L'lllustration the story of a journalist. At a reception in Russia where there were many diplomatists he asked one old gentleman about the Russian five-year plan, and the answer was: yes, the five-year plan is a wonderful success. He went on to another diplomat of equal standing and asked him the same question. The answer was: the five-year plan is a complete failure. So, people's views are divided about the matter, and although my hon. friend is sincere in his opinion, it is doubtful whether this country should follow the example of Russia.

What I do not like in the Russian system is the coercion of labour. A man may have a disposition to do a certain line of work, and you cannot force him to do work for which he has no disposition, especially if he is not paid for doing it. Hon. members will remember reading not long ago in one of our Ottawa newspapers that in Russia butter was selling at $50 a pound and a pair of boots at $100. They have different stores for strangers where one can get luxury articles at a decent price, but there are other stores where the Russian workers can get only the primary necessities of life at high cost, and their life is far from being that of the ordinary working man in Canada. Would the unemployed in this country like to see coerced labour here? The problem is a serious one. For instance, take the case of commercial travellers who have been earning decent salaries for many years, many of whom have been discharged. Could you put those men to work on the trans-Canada highway? That would be pretty hard work for them to do. Everyone should work according to his own disposition and this is one reason why the Russian plan may be criticized. I would not go so far as to say that everything in this country is perfect. The other day I read an

Economic Research-Mr. Pouliot

article from the president of the American Telegraph and Telephone Company, who said that matters in the United States were not so bad now even in regard to unemployment because there was plenty of foodstuffs in the warehouses, and conditions would be much worse if there were nothing in reserve. That statement can be challenged, because the system of distribution at present is wrong, and in that connection something should be done to improve conditions. The same applies to this country.

The trouble is that during the last few years the rich have 'become richer, and no one has heard about the poor man 'becoming richer. There are many reasons for this state of affairs. Let us take for instance the big firm of the T. Eaton Company, Limited. At first they had their own store in Toronto. Now they have large stores in Montreal, Ottawa, Moncton, Winnipeg, and they are concentrating the business in one central firm, the shareholders of which are getting richer and richer at the expense of the country storekeepers. Then also we have the chain stores which are controlled by only a few individuals. They take trade away from a great number of people and a few privileged ones enjoy the benefits that a large number of people had before. This causes a disturbance in the social order. How long this will continue no one knows. This idea of concentrating business in a few hands with great profits to a few is a great mistake and it may cause very serious trouble in this country. Oif course, the big firms can sell more cheaply, but they do not give any credit. A few years ago the country merchants were much more prosperous because they had the local people for their customers. I am sure 'that if the Postmaster General would have an investigation made in his own department to ascertain the amount of money that is sent in money orders to big stores like Eaton's and Simpson's from people in the rural municipalities, the house would be astounded if he would give us the figures. Many of the storekeepers in the rural municipalities have failed because they had to trade with those who were asking them for credit and were sending their money to the big cities to the large firms like Eaton's and Simipson's. This is a matter of the utmost importance, which is worthy of the attention of the house. Last year the Postmaster General was 'asked to impose a heavy tax on the catalogues mailed by these firms. When I brought the matter up, the Postmaster General regarded the suggestion somewhat favourably,

but up to now nothing has 'been done about it. I hope that action in that direction will be taken very shortly in order -to protect the country merchants by decentralizing the trade.

Topic:   SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RESEARCH
Subtopic:   PROBLEMS OF DISTRIBUTION, PURCHASING POWER, EXCHANGE VALUES ANB UNEMPLOYMENT
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UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. ALFRED SPEAKMAN (Red Deer):

In closing the debate upon the resolution which has been presented, may I express, Mr. Speaker, my appreciation of the interest which has been shown in the subject and of the many intelligent suggestions which have been made and the excellent speeches which have been delivered. As I propose to take only a very few minutes I may be pardoned if I make no lengthy reference to many of the speeches. This afternoon we listened to what I consider to be a most interesting and informative address upon Russia. I recognize, as I think the house does, that the problem in Russia and the problem in this country are so very different and so far apart that the same policies could hardly apply in both countries. In Russia there is no unemployment. Why? Because, Mr. Speaker, in that country their problem is still the problem of production, which we have solved. They are attempting to build in five years a productive system which we have been building through generations, and which in the western world generally has been building for a century. Their problem is that of production; ours is that of distribution. They are dealing with a people unaccustomed to democratic methods. We are dealing with a people who have been taught to think and act for themselves. With other bon. members I was much interested in and appreciative of that address.

Coming to the resolution and the remarks that have been made thereon it struck me as I listened to the hon. member for East Algoma (Mr. Nicholson) that with his usual sympathy and intelligent observation he had advanced several fairly strong arguments in favour of the resolution. He pointed out that various plans had been tried in different industries and had failed, and failed, he said, because they were local plans brought forward by individuals or by local or restricted bodies of people. These plans failed, he said, because they did not take into account the plans of other individuals in other communities and of other people engaged in the same business. That, Mr. Speaker, is what we are attempting in some degree to obviate by what I would term a reasonably planned economy.

I am grateful to the various members who have spoken in support of the resolution. I appreciate the very fine addresses that were

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Economic Research-Mr. Speakman

given by the hon. member for Camrose (Mr. Lucas) and the hon. member for Wetaskiwin (Mr. Irvine), addresses full of thought and indicative of the very careful consideration which they had given to the subject. I also appreciate most sincerely the address and support given by the hon. member for Toronto Northwest (Mr. MacNicol). Speaking as he did from the point of view of a practical business man of many years experience and as one who had given a profound and detailed study to the subject in general and to the work done by organizations similar to the one we are now suggesting and to similar work that has already been done in various countries in an experimental way, I believe that his suggestions were of undoubted value.

I come now to the address given by the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens). As always, the minister demonstated the brilliant qualities of his mind. Undoubtedly he is a student and a fair-minded man who gives deep and careful consideration to those problems which fall within his own department and problems which are before the country generally. I appreciate also the decided modification in his attitude since he spoke on this subject twelve months ago. His manner yesterday conveyed some change in the position which he took one year ago. His condemnation was not so sweeping, his opposition by no means so definite and comprehensive as was the case at that time. I thank him for that, and I also accept with some satisfaction the promise of sympathetic consideration given.

It is true, Mr. Speaker, and not unexpected, that his attitude was in the main critical. Generally speaking, his criticism was this, and I shall attempt to be fair: His opinion apparently was that neither in the resolution itself, nor in the arguments with which I attempted to support it, was any practical suggestion to be found. To use his own words, any such resolution as the one under discussion and any such statements as I had made in support of it caused him to become a little restive, because he said he was a little bit tired of the practice of enumerating difficulties and problems and then leaving it at that, simply pointing out the problems which lay ahead and offering no solution for them. I must confess at once, Mr. Speaker, that I have no ready-made plan which I can advance, no short-cut to a successful solution of these problems. Had I advanced such a plan, had I said to this house, I have a plan here which if adopted will solve our problems, then the minister would have been right in his criti-

IMr. Speakman.]

cism. But I have no such short-cut. The methods which he suggested-line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little-are the only methods that I myself believe can be successful, and it is that very method which has been put before the house in this resolution. I am suggesting that we commence that work, that we approach with a view to trying to solve them, the various problems which go to make up this depression, because evidently someone must set about solving them.

The government could do this. I recognize that within the ranks of the government, in the minds of the minister himself and those who are his colleagues, there is an abundance of intelligence and ability. But, Mr. Speaker, may I in all kindness suggest to them that facing as they do the every-day details of administration, working as I know they do- the Prime Minister and every member of the cabinet-for hours day after day, they have neither the time nor the opportunity to devote themselves to the study of such a question as the one I have outlined. This problem would demand all that was best of strength and energy, and would require full time study by any body of men. Obviously the government of the day cannot devote that much time to it. Following the suggestion he himself has made I agree that these matters must be the subjects of study and careful thought, they must be approached in detail, and not at one sweeping stroke. The government should call to its assistance men who are competent and who could devote to their work the time the government cannot spare; I am sure such a body would assist and not hinder in the task. That is the scope of the suggestion.

I noted that the minister and other hon. members took exception to the term, "planned economy." He said that it was a term to be played if not trifled with. I assume he meant that it is a term which many people have been in the habit of playing or, trifling with. After all however what is a system of planned economy? It does not necessarily mean planned economy after the Russian style any more than one plan need be similar to another. Surely however some plan is necessary. Who would think of opening a business without making plans? WTho would commence to construct a house without consulting an architect? Who would commence to build a railroad without first laying down a definite and comprehensive plan embracing every detail of the enterprise? Who would enter into any business without planning carefully and in de-

Unopposed Motions jor Papers

tail? Surely, Mr. Speaker, the business of the nation itself deserves and demands careful and judicious planning just as imperative as any private enterprise. The suggestion is not that wo should establish some super committee which would usurp and override the functions of government and, as suggested by the hon. member for East Algoma, tell the people what they should wear and what they should eat, the hours they should rise and when they should go to bed. Such an observation is beneath the intelligence of the hon. gentleman who made it, and on many an occasion we have had evidence of the hon. member's intelligence. That is not the idea at all. But surely even to those profound persons like himself it would be of inestimable value could they come to some competent body of men who could show them where the greatest opportunities lie, along what lines there may be obvious over-production, and receive from them assistance in planning their own destiny.

I am suggesting that it is still possible for a people without domination, for a people reserving to themselves their freedom of action to come together at least to some degree, in a cooperative spirit and agree upon the best lines along which various enterprises might be promoted. The hon. member for East Algoma stated that civilization as we have it to-day is the result of individual effort without a plan. I believe it is, and that is why I suggest the necessity for a slight change. Would anybody in this country, even the most profound individualist who goes abroad to-day and sees the conditions we have, say that with our individual lack of planning, with individual unregulated enterprise our system had been or is now a tremendous and outstanding success?

I am not going to go into those details or to point out the obvious to every hon. member. Anomalies and contradictions exist in this country; it appears to be impossible to make use of what we have to help those in need. We are confronted with a ridiculous situation wherein we have full granaries and empty stomachs, plenty of clothing and bare backs. I need not go further in that connection. I suggest however to those who recognize that situation

and we must all recognize it-it must be obvious that there should and must be a better way.

The statement has been made that the Russian situation is a challenge to us. I agree; it is a challenge to us. I am not denouncing the Russian system, but if we do

denounce it, if we say it is wrong, it is for us to show in our own way and according to our own belief that we can do something better. The interest taken in the Russian republic by the people of western Canada undoubtedly is due to the fact that we are to-day meeting them in competition. As individuals we find that we are going down under that competition, or may all go down under it. Because of that we say, "Plan must be met with plan." Coercion and discipline, if hon. members wish to put it that way, must be met with cooperative action. To assist in that cooperative action and to bring some order out of the chaos which we find in civilization to-day it seems to me we must establish some body of people who will have the time, if the government has not, and who are competent, to search into the causes of these abnormal conditions and, with the good will which should be manifest throughout the country, attempt at least to provide something better than that which we now have.

As I stated before, I appreciate the modified attitude of the minister; I appreciate his suggestion that, subject to the reservation that the government is not pledged to any immediate action, they are pledged to give careful and sympathetic consideration to this matter. I am content to have the resolution accepted on those terms, to leave it to hon. members and to the intelligence, the good will, integrity and knowledge of the government and to their realization that something must be done. At this point I am content to leave the matter for another year to see what steps may be made.

Topic:   SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RESEARCH
Subtopic:   PROBLEMS OF DISTRIBUTION, PURCHASING POWER, EXCHANGE VALUES ANB UNEMPLOYMENT
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Motion agreed to.


UNOPPOSED MOTIONS FOR PAPERS

FEDERAL LOANS TO PROVINCES

LIB

Cameron Ross McIntosh

Liberal

Mr. McINTOSH:

(a) For a statement detailing the different amounts of money given or loaned by the Dominion government to each of the several provinces during the present fiscal year 1931-32, specifying dates in each case; (b) the specific purpose for which each amount of money so given or loaned was intended; (c) any record or information possessed by the government in regard to the disposition of each of the said sums, explaining in detail the purpose or purposes for which each amount was expended.

Topic:   UNOPPOSED MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   FEDERAL LOANS TO PROVINCES
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ST. RAPHAEL POSTMASTER

LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL (for Mr. Boulanger):

For a copy of all documents in connection with the dismissal of Mr. Adelard Dallaire as postmaster at St. Raphael, county of Belle-ehasse, and the appointment of his successor.

Unopposed Motions for Papers

Topic:   ST. RAPHAEL POSTMASTER
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MR. LOUIS GUAY

LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL (for Mr. Boulanger):

For a copy of all documents in connection with the dismissal of Mr. Louis Guay, as postmaster at Ste. Sabine, county of Bellechasse, and the appointment of his successor.

Topic:   MR. LOUIS GUAY
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MR. J. N. BELANGER

LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL (for Mr. Boulanger):

For a copy of all documents in connection with the dismissal of Mr. J. N. Belanger, as postmaster at St. Damien, county of Belle-ehasse, and the appointment of his successor.

Topic:   MR. J. N. BELANGER
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MR. JOS. LAPRISE

LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL (for Mr. Boulanger):

For a copy of all documents in connection with the dismissal of Mr. Jos. Laprise, postmaster at St. Nerde, county of Bellechasse, and the appointment of his successor.

MR. MAXIME l'aBBE

Topic:   MR. JOS. LAPRISE
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February 11, 1932