March 15, 1932


On the orders of the day:


CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Prime Minister):

Yesterday evening the hon. member for West Edmonton (Mr. Stewart) indicated that he thought my statement as to the common stock held by the North American Life Assurance Company was inaccurate. I find this morning from the Superintendent of Insurance that the actual percentage is 5-63, of which bank stocks, loan companies' stocks, and consumers' gas companies stock amounts to 5-16, and other utility and industrial stocks, i%oo per cent. I fancy it is the latter figure to which the hon. gentleman referred.

Topic:   NORTH AMERICAN LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY
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LIB

Charles A. Stewart

Liberal

Hon. CHARLES STEWART (West Edmonton) :

I do not think I said the statement was inaccurate. I merely pointed out that common stocks were less than one-half of one per cent.

Topic:   NORTH AMERICAN LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

They are 5'63 per cent.

Topic:   NORTH AMERICAN LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY
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UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF

CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION


The house resumed from Friday, March 11, consideration of the motion of the Prime Minister that Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair for the house to resolve itself into committee of the whole on the following proposed resolution: Resolved, that it is expedient to introduce a bill to amend chapter 58 of the statutes of Canada, 1931, striking out the word "March" in section 8, and substituting the word "May" therefor.


CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. H. H. STEVENS (Minister of Trade and Commerce):

Mr. Speaker, for the past

two weeks the house has been listening to a very lengthy debate on this resolution.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Two weeks?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Nearly two weeks. During this time many rather impassioned speeches have been delivered, directed largely to an attack upon the government on constitutional grounds. Perhaps it is advisable, once in a while during the course of a debate of this kind, to bring the attention of the house back to precisely what is proposed in the resolution. Last year an act was passed which was very fully considered by the house. This measure, which was presented in a constitutional manner, asked the house to clothe the government with certain authority and powers. There was very sound reason for the request. This country, in common with other countries throughout the world, was suffering under a very serious economic depression, and there was prevalent throughout the country a considerable degree of unemployment. While the house was in session it became evident to all that a condition was likely to arise in western Canada of the nature of a national calamity. The Prime Minister brought to the attention of the house the conditions due to the crop failure particularly in Saskatchewan and parts of the other provinces. In one large section there had been three successive crop failures, and the Prime Minister described it at the time as a great national calamity. I think the house generally most regretfully concurred in that view and it w'as felt that the situation was so grave that it warranted extreme measures. It was unknown at the time and unknown for some months thereafter just what the extent of the calamity was, and furthermore it was difficult for the government, and certainly most difficult for the house, to judge of what measures might be necessary to deal with the situation. I shall not go into any laboured argument in regard to that point

Unemployment Continuance Act

other than to attempt to focus the attention of the house for a moment upon the extreme difficulties with which the government was confronted.

It is true that at that time an appropriation might have been voted, and it was very largely the burden of the complaint of some hon. members that that was not done, but I invite hon. gentlemen to consider this, that when an appropriation is passed the purpose for which it is to be used must be specified, and the Auditor General and other officers of the crown in scrutinizing expenditures under such an appropriation always keep the government very closely to the purpose specified in such a vote. Now under the conditions obtaining a year ago it was quite impossible to determine what the requirements might be. Some question arose as to the amount, and I recall particularly that the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) and other hon. members opposite intimated that if it was the desire of the government to secure $100,000,000 the house was willing to grant it. At the same time, had it gone forth to the country that $100,000,000 or $150,000,000 had been voted for the purpose of unemployment and farm relief it is easy to visualize the effect which that might have had upon the public. There is always a tendency when it is indicated that there is available a large sum of money to feel that such a sum must be expended. The object which the government had in view was to do justice to the situation and at the same time to keep the expenditure to the lowest possible amount, and the government in its wisdom thought that the proposal which was submitted to the house a year ago was the most wise one to suggest. It is true that there were difficulties and objections, but after all the representatives of the people in parliament assembled passed the bill and clothed the government with those powers. I quite agree that in giving the government, as the house did on that occasion, a blank cheque, as it has been described, it at the same time laid upon the shoulders of the ministry very grave responsibilities in the discharge of their duties under that act.

The government carried on under that act until March 1 last. Now we come before parliament and say this: We carried on under that act until March 1 last, and we lay before parliament the result of our administration of the act. We have certain commitments which have been made under the act; that is, agreements have been entered into with each of the provinces and various works of a different character are being carried on

by the provinces with the aid of the dominion, and we ask for an extension of the act for two months, because the difficulties which then confronted the country have not been surmounted and further relief is required. So we are asking in this resolution for an extension of the powers conferred in that act.

Our hon. friends opposite and those who are critical of this course at the present time attack the government, very largely, if not solely, on the ground of the constitutionality of the government's course. But I draw this in particular to the attention of the house, that no serious challenge has been made of the manner in which the government has discharged its duty in the administration of this act.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

I submit that with confidence, and a perusal of the utterances of even the most bitter critics of the government will not disclose, I repeat, any serious challenge of the manner in which the government has discharged its duty under the act.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

My hon. friend from Shel-burne-Yarmouth (Mr. Ralston) the other day made-shall I say?-a very powerful speech weighted with keen legal argument about the constitutionality of the resolution, and he brought to bear upon the subject all of that ability and keenness of intellect for which he is noted. His speech was somewhat cynical, I will admit, but during the whole course of it he cited only two or three instances such as that in one case a man with a bank account had obtained relief. He cited a few other instances of that kind. Under the conditions that obtain to-day there is no doubt whatever that many individuals, as was stated very clearly the other evening by the hon. member for Melville (Mr. Motherwell) who were not actually in dire need did secure relief under the act, but this government in conjunction with the various provincial governments and municipal authorities has sought, so far as it is humanly possible to do so, to weed out any such individuals, eliminate any unjust claims and overcome any abuses of that character. That there have been such instances is I think beyond question. I myself have heard of just such instances, and have drawn them to the attention of the authorities administering the act, with the result that very definite steps were taken to correct such abuses, but I repeat, my hon. friend from Shelburne-Yarmouth did not during the whole of his speech point to any serious fault on the part of the

Unemployment Continuance Act

government in the administration of this act, other than to make the constitutional argument which he brought forward and which I think has been characterized by hon. gentlemen opposite as a very cherished doctrine of the Liberal party.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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LIB

James Layton Ralston

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

If my hon. friend will

permit me-I am not going over my speech- but I did point out two things which perhaps escaped his attention. One was that only three days' work out of every month had been provided for those whom it was supposed the act was to benefit; and the other was that $146,000,000 had been spent and at the most only $44,000,000 worth of employment provided.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

I did not intend, and I

do not wish to be drawn into an analysis of that part of my hon. friend's speech.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

I will dispose of it, however, in two or three sentences. In the first place, my hon. friend has placed upon Hansard and upon the front pages of the newspapers that there was $146,000,000 spent, in which was included the amount spent by this government and the amounts spent by the provincial and municipal authorities, plus a very large sum of money spent in the normal way by the railways at the instigation of the provinces and the dominion to help the situation. He lumped all of those sums into one composite sum of $143,000,000.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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LIB

James Layton Ralston

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

No, I divided it.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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March 15, 1932