March 22, 1932

LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

The majority might decide to abolish parliament. Would the Minister of Railways say that that was right?

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

George Gordon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

The minority does not rule.

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

William Daum Euler

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Gordon) has just raised a point upon which I was going to comment. The Prime Minister this afternoon, perhaps in an aside, intimated that a minority never rules. If my hon. friend wants to carry that to its logical conclusion he might just as well say to us on this side of the house that we might as well stay at home. But my conception, Mr. Speaker, although I am in the minority, although I am not a supporter of the government, is that I am sent here, as is every other member of this house whether on the government side or

Unemployment Continuance Act

on this, to represent his constituents, and he may hope, although perhaps unreasonably so, that occasionally some suggestions of his may influence those who sit in the seats of the mighty on the other side.

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:

But the minority should determine what should be done; that is your position.

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

William Daum Euler

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

Not at all, but I would remind my hon. friend of an old saying, that minorities are usually right, and I would commend that to his consideration. That is all I have to say, Mr. Speaker, with regard to what is sometimes called the constitutional aspect of this question. I am not an authority on constitutional government, but it does seem to me eminently reasonable that this parliament ought to keep its power within itself, especially at a time when it is in. session. I could make some excuse for the government if they said that during the recess an emergency might arise in which they Should have extraordinary powers. That is debatable, and the government might make out a good case, but for the life of me I cannot see tvhy they should ask for this authority when parliament is here assembled ready to act at any time.

I will say this further. This discussion has been carried on at great length. I think sometimes the time of parliament is wasted, and we on this side are as much to blame as those on the other side, sometimes perhaps more. But I do not believe that .this discussion has been a waste of time. I believe that the people of Canada, when they are thoroughly seized of the importance of this particular resolution and of the bill to be founded upon it, will justify us in what we are doing. I would say this further, and I am speaking for myself alone: I would invite the government," if it feels that we are blocking legislation deliberately and not with the interests of the country at heart, to apply the closure, and we are quite willing to abide by the decision with regard to 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:

Is that all you want? That is what the opposition is for.

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

William Daum Euler

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

I am speaking for myself alone.

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:

That let the cat out of the bag all right. All you want is closure.

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

William Daum Euler

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

If my hon. friend will allow me to proceed, I should like to say a few words with regard to unemployment itself.

A good deal has been said with regard to the promises made by the Prime Minister. I am not going to refer to them. They have

not been kept. It was not possible to keep them, and the only comment I would make with regard to them is that intelligent and capable a man as the Prime Minister is, I can hardly conceive that he himself did not know when he made the promises that it was not possible to keep them. But what is more important is that a remedy should, if possible, be found for the condition in which this country finds itself. I am frank to say that I do not know what the remedy is. I have heard a good many suggestions made. Some think that our currency is at fault. Some think that the restoration of the balance of trade is a tremendous accomplishment and must result in great good. Others say that the war debts must be wiped out. Others think that we should have shorter hours of labour. Some even believe that we should introduce the era of socialism. But the only definite remedy which the government has advanced and applied has been an increase in the tariff to unheard-of heights. I think it is fairly well known that I am more or less a believer in reasonable tariffs, although I have never been what my hon. friends might call a high protectionist. I have never believed and do not believe now that a country can live to itself alone.

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

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

A tariff of 42 per cent on furniture was pretty good.

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

William Daum Euler

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

My hon. friend speaks of furniture. I am not personally interested in it, but the people of my city are very much interested in that industry. I would point out that despite the fact that the government have put the tariff on furniture up to 40 or even 45 per cent, together with the increased valuation which the Minister of National Revenue is empowered to fix, there are to-day more furniture mechanics walking the streets of Kitchener than eveT before. In fact, some of the factories are closed down entirely.

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

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

My hon. friend put a 42 per cent tariff on furniture himself.

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

William Daum Euler

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

Yes. I was proceeding to say, Mr. Speaker, that I do not believe in that kind of a tariff which absolutely excludes the importation of goods from other countries. I could read, if I cared to, from a speech made not long ago by one of the greatest industrialists in Canada, but I have not the time. He condemns extremely high tariffs because he says they must necessarily lead to reprisals, and that has already taken place. Take my own city of Kitchener. I did not intend to refer to this, but my hon. friend has mentioned it. The market in New Zealand for rubber products has been entirely destroyed because

Unemployment Continuance Act

of the action of this government in imposing a iprohibitive duty against New Zealand butter. I have been hoping day after day that my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce wouild come along with his treaty, which perhaps would give some encouragement to the people of my town in particular, that they might have their trade with New Zealand restored. That is not an isolated case, but I have not time to go into the matter further at this time.

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:

It was the government of which my hon. friend was a minister that abrogated the New Zealand treaty.

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

William Daum Euler

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

The government of which I

was a minister did not put a tariff of eight cents a pound on butter. I am not going to deal any further with the tariff because a discussion of that would perhaps be more fitting when the budget is brought down.

If I were to give one cause for the depression which now exists, and I recognize as factors in the situation the causes which I have already recited, I would say that perhaps the system under which we are working-cal it the capitalistic system if you will-our economic system has been outgrown by the necessities of the case. We have developed and grown industrially in such a way that the system under which we are now working needs either to be scrapped or very substantially modified.

I presume that some of my friends will say that I am practically talking socialism. I am not, but I do believe this, and perhaps this is a pretty drastic statement, that either capitalism as we have it to-day will break down altogether or we must modify it in such a way that it will meet the needs of existing conditions. There is a lack of confidence m the country. In years gone by, during previous elections, we used to hear what we called blue ruin talk. It destroyed confidence. We have plenty of blue ruin talk just now, and perhaps there is plenty of justification for it. It is true that there is a lack of confidence.

If I may, Mr. Speaker, I should like to mention one matter which I think is regrettable. Perhaps the circumstances to which I am about to refer were unavoidable, but they have led to a loss of confidence in Canadian public men and public institutions. I refer to scandals like the Beauharnois, and some others I might mention. I am not going into the Beauharnois transaction in detail. For my purpose it is sufficient to say that the Beauharnois matters are most regrettable. I am making no excuse for anybody or for any practices which may have developed, but state merely it does not look to me fitting that, in street parlance, the (Mr. Euler.]

pot should be calling the kettle black. I am afraid the people of this country have come to the conclusion, unjustly, that all political parties-I am saying all political parties- are corrupt, through and through. The people have lost confidence in them. I say that loss of confidence is unjust because I believe the proportion of honesty and sense of duty is just as great among members of parliament as among any other classes. I suggest that when history is written the greatest crime of all recorded in connection with Beauharnois and some other enterprises will be the fact that these great natural resources which ought to have been preserved for the welfare of the people of Canada have passed over to private interests.

A minute ago I mentioned socialism. Remaining an individualist I am not particularly afraid of the word "socialism." For a good many years Canadians have in many ways been socialists, and perhaps to some extent communists. W e live in communities; we have community schools; we have community enterprises of various kinds In some of our towns and cities, and especially throughout the province of Ontario, we find all our public utilities under public ownership. As I have said, however, I am still an individualist, but go so far as to say I believe the great public services of the country, upon which the prosperity, convenience and happiness of nearly all the people depend, should be under the control of the public.

As I said a moment ago, we must make changes, adaptations, qualifications or modifications in our present system. I was pleased to note that the resolution offered some time ago by the hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Speakman) was accepted, and that arising therefrom we may expect an intelligent study of a tremendous world problem so that proper action may be the result. Such a study cannot be earned out in a day. As a matter of fact I am not convinced as to just what should be done. I do believe, however, that unless we modify our system and gradually bring about some changes, we stand in danger of changes coming through violent means and in ways we would not desire. I would say that in a land of plenty such as Canada there should be no want and no distress. If it be true-and no doubt it is-that there is plenty for everyone, yet some are suffering want and privation, it must follow that some people have more than they ought to have, while others have less than they need. I am led to repeat what my hon. friends in the corner of the house have said, and with which I absolutely agree, that there is not a proper dis-

Unemployment Continuance Act

tribution of wealth, and that workmen are not getting the full share to which as a result of their labours they are entitled.

From time to time we have heard that machinery has been the cause of unemployment. Some people have suggested that at least to some extent we should do away with the operation of machinery. I do not believe in that policy; on the contrary I believe in the full development of machinery so that it may be a real labour saving factor. Let labour receive fair advantage from the inventions of labour saving machinery. There are people who believe that men should work for the sake of working, because Satan finds mischief for idle hands to do. I do not believe that. If machinery can produce cheaply and plentifully it might very well be used to the advantage of labour, so that men would not have to work from early morning until late at night and would be afforded an opportunity to enjoy the pleasures and blessings of life.

There has been no basic remedy for conditions as we see them to-day. The only one which has been tested, and announced as a remedy, is the increase of tariffs. If we cannot find an immediate and complete remedy -and I know we cannot-then we must take steps to relieve those who are in want. Hon. members on the government side have lodged the criticism that we have made no practical suggestions. I am loath to make suggestions, and yet I would agree with those who have recommended some form of unemployment insurance. Just what the form should be I am not prepared to say. I advance the more or less practical suggestion, for the consideration of the government, that labour is entitled to just as much consideration as is capital. In the conduct of a well organized business, whether it be a bank or an industrial concern, a reserve fund out of profits is laid by against a time when business may not be so profitable. Hon. members will find that such concerns usually maintain the same rate of dividend in years m?t so prosperous as in years when business is good. In that way capital gets its return every year out of profits. If that is true why should not the same action be taken so far as labour is concerned ?

A few days ago my attention was directed to an illustration which at this time I might very well describe. Let us suppose a machine cost $1,000. From year to year that machine is wearing out and we may suppose that its life would be only ten years. A prudent business man will set aside a reserve of ten per cent per year against the depreciation of that machine. At the end of ten years it

would be paid for. Then, let us imagine that that machine is a black slave. From year to year the energies of that slave would deteriorate, and after a period of ten years he might not be able to labour for his master. If the master is wise he will set aside an amount for depreciation so that at the end of a ten year period the slave is paid for. Then the rather striking interrogation presents itself: If that can be done for a black slave, why should it not be done for a white working man? Is that not a fair question? I advance the suggestion that from the profits of industry made during prosperous years there should be set aside a reserve from surplus gains against a time when there may be unemployment. Such a fund might well be used for the relief of the unemployed. I fully expect the criticism that business cannot stand an extra charge when it is in competition with other countries. As a partial answer I submit that it would be no harder for business concerns to lay aside a certain amount in prosperous years than to contribute heavy taxes for the relief of unemployed.

I have spoken longer than I had intended, and it may be that I have not made any constructive suggestions. I rose with the intention of registering my protest against the provisions contained in the resolution before us. I realize that the questions the government has to solve are very difficult. Quite sincerely I want to assure them that so far as I am concerned-and I think I speak for all hon. members on this side of the house-I am perfectly willing to cooperate, where cooperation is possible. Though things are difficult it seems to me it is only a challenge to intelligent men to go forward. The race has progressed and surmounted difficulties in the past that seemed insurmountable, and it will continue to do so. So it seems to me that it should be possible, with men of intelligence and good will, gradually to develop our institutions so that in this land of plenty every man may be rid of this fear of the future, which is with all of us, and be assured that if he is willing to work, provision will be made for himself and his family.

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

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. WILLIAM DUFF (Antigonish-Guys-borough):

Mr. Speaker, I have remained

quietly in my seat for the last fourteen days and listened to the hon. members of this house, on all sides, debate the resolution now before us. Unlike some of the hon. gentlemen who preceded me, I felt it was not my place to criticize any of the remarks which hon. gentlemen have made. We are here, sir, representing people in all parts of Canada;

Unemployment Continuance Act

we are sent here by our constituents to voice their opinions, and consequently as I sat in my place and listened to the various speeches, I felt that hon. members were presenting the views of their constituents and had a perfect right to do so without criticism from me. However, after the hon. member for Melfort, the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir) spoke this afternoon, I thought perhaps it might be well if I said something with regard to this resolution.

I have had the honour, sir, of sitting in this house for some seventeen sessions. I came here in the session of 1918, but even when I was a back bencher and a green youngster from the county of Lunenburg I never had the gall to get up in my place in parliament and refer to other members of this house as back benchers.

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

Walter Davy Cowan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COWAN (Long Lake):

Too bad.

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

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

Yes, it is too bad that, after

this government has done honour to the hon. member for Melfort by making him a cabinet minister and a privy councillor, he should come to parliament and insult members on both sides of the house who do not happen to sit in the seats of the mighty as members of the cabinet.

We have been here discussing this resolution for fourteen days, Mr. Speaker, and what is it we are discussing? The resolution suggests 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. This resolution appeared on the order paper, if I remember correctly, about February 25, four or five days before the act expired. In this parliament during the session of 1931, we passed an act which is known as chapter 58 of the statutes of 1931. That act was brought in during the dying days of the session, and was assented to on August 3, giving certain powers to the government of this country in the interests of the people of Canada who were unemployed and the farmers who needed relief. When the act was introduced in parliament, on both sides of the house it was thought necessary to give the government certain extraordinary powers, and we of the opposition were very glad indeed to join with the government in passing that act.

We have been told by the Minister of Agriculture,-this back bench minister,-and we have been told by other speakers on the other side of the house that we are obstructing this legislation. It is amusing to me, sir. as a fairly old member of this parliament, to

hear hon. members who have not been here so long as I have, hurl across the floor of this house the charge that we are obstructing this bill and obstructing the legislation of the government. I have not quite as short a memory as other people have. I sat on the government side of the house for nine years, from 1922 to 1930, and I never objected if during that period my hon. friends the Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie), the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens), the Minister of Railways (Mr. Manion), or the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Stewart), thought it was their duty to get up and not obstruct but discuss the legislation before the house so far as they felt it should be discussed. Then why, sir, should we independent members of this parliament, who have been sent here by our constituents, have the accusation hurled across at us that we are obstructing this particular legislation? I say, sir, it is an insult to all the hon. members who are sent here by their constituents and told to go into all the phases of legislation and do their duty as they see it. I say it is an insult to the members on this side of the house and, as well, to any member who felt it necessary to get up and express his views on the floor of this free and independent parliament.

Now, what about this legislation? We passed this act in 1931 for a special purpose, and section 8 of the act stated that it was to expire on March 1, 1932. I think the opposition were very generous to the government in the first days of this session, Mr. Speaker. We met here on the fourth day of February, and certainly then the government knew it would be necessary to introduce some legislation with regard to the unemployment and farm relief problem. In order to show our good will towards the government, inside of a week we passed the speech from the throne, and left the door wide open for the government to introduce any legislation it saw fit. If the government had been seized of its duty to the people of this country who were told during the election of 1930 that this government would end unemployment, the first legislation they would have introduced, immediately the speech from the throne was passed, would have been a bill with regard to unemployment and farm relief. My hon. friend the Minister of Justice is a good speaker; during the campaign of 1930 he told the people of this country that if they would turn out the Grit government and put in the Tory government, the Tories would end unemployment in three days.

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

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

That is not right.

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

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

Does my hon. friend deny

that?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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March 22, 1932