March 31, 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):

Mr. Speaker, before the orders of

Imperial Economic Conference

the day are called I wish to direct the attention of the house to a newspaper report which appeared in the Toronto Daily Star of March 29, 1932, under the heading:

Will Bar Free State At Empire Conference If Oath Is Abandoned

Consensus Of Opinion Among Government Officials At Ottawa Signal For Boycott

The article is as follows:

If the De Valera government persists in refusing the oath of allegiance to the King of England, officials of this dominion will refuse to permit the Irish Free State to sit at the council table of empire in Ottawa next July.

This was the informal consensus of opinion among high officials of the Canadian government here to-day. No official statement was issued by the government, but everywhere the De Valera attitude is a subject of discussion.

Canada's refusal to grant the Irish Free State a position at the imperial conference on inter-empire trade would, in effect, be the signal for a boycott of Ireland by all other parties to the conference.

As the Irish Free State's economic existence at present depends almost entirely on its relationship with the units of the empire, the sentiment of officials expressed here to-day is of great importance to the De Valera government.

It is admitted that an oath given without sincerity carries little or no weight, as an earnest of fulfilment, but repudiation of a solemn agreement arouses no enthusiasm in Canada, which could have saved millions within the last six months by repudiating Canadian gold obligations payable in New York.

That purports to have been sent from Ottawa and to indicate the opinion of high officials of the Canadian government. In fairness to the Under Secretary of State for External Affairs, and as a duty to the Dominion of Canada, I can say only this, that the correspondent of the Toronto Daily Star made some inquiries from Doctor Skelton who informed him, definitely and positively, that there was no warrant for any such statement being made. I can do no more than say that the appearance of reports such as the one I have just read emanating from Ottawa in the terms in which the alleged news is stated is calculated to do a very great injury to this country, and to prejudice interimperial relations.

May I say, Mr. Speaker, that the Canadian government fixed July 18 as an appropriate date upon which the Imperial economic conference might open. Communications were received from various dominions of the British Empire, including the United Kingdom, agreeing to that date. It was subsequently learned however that steamship connections were not all that might be desired for the opening on July 18, and accordingly on March 17 cables 41761-98J

were despatched inquiring whether or not July 21 would be a satisfactory date, inquiring as to the numbers comprising the delegations and indicating that Canada would be the host to those members who comprised the delegations. On March 18 Australia replied indicating the date would be entirely satisfactory. On March 23 the United Kingdom, South Africa, and New Zealand replied in the same sense. On March 30 Southern Rhodesia replied in the same sense, their representatives having a special position at the proposed conference. This morning a message was received, dated to-day, from Dublin reading as follows:

No. 3. Reference to your telegram economic conference. Many thanks for your very kind offer of hospitality which we accept with much pleasure. The change of dates suits our convenience. The number of our delegates and staff will be approximately twelve.

Minister for External Affairs,

Irish Free State.

I need hardly remind the house that Mr, De Valera is the Minister for External Affairs of the Irish Free State. That completes the answers from the dominions of the empire including the United Kingdom. From Newfoundland a letter was received.

I make this statement in order to undo as quickly as possible any injury that may be done to the position of this country by reason of the despatch to which I have just referred.

Topic:   IMPERIAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE
Subtopic:   PARTICIPATION OF IRISH FREE STATE-DATE OF OPENING JULY 21
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UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF

CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF BILL


The house resumed from Wednesday, March 30, consideration in committee of Bill No. 24, respecting unemployment and farm relief-The Prime Minister Mr. Hanson (York-Sunbury) in the chair.


LIB

James Layton Ralston

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

Mr. Chairman, last night I mentioned that I had another matter to bring to the attention of the committee. It has to do with work in one particular locality. I may say there are other works which are probably equally important, but I have received special representations with regard to this particular work, and I conveyed them both to my friend the Minister of Labour (Mr. Gordon) and my friend the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Stewart). Those representations had to do with the construction of a breakwater at Lower East Pubnico in Yarmouth county. It is represented that about forty families would be benefited by this work being undertaken. It was also represented that the work was very much needed on behalf of the fishermen. I need hardly remind

Unemployment Continuance Act

the committee that wharves and breakwaters are essential to the carrying on of the fishing industry; they are not only a convenience, they are a necessity from the point of view both of commerce and safety. I would urge my friend the Minister of Labour and my friend the Minister of Public Works once more to look into the matter of the construction of a work at that point, primarily to furnish employment, buit also-and this is very important-to furnish needed facilities for the carrying on of fishing operations.

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

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VALLANCE:

Mr. Chairman, yesterday I directed a question to the Minister of Trade and Commerce, (Mr. Stevens) with respect to the grading of Garnet wheat. I notice he is not in his seat. I should like to direct the attention of the government particularly to this question. To-day is the last day of March, to-morrow will be the first day of April-spring is close at hand. When putting my question yesterday I read part of a letter -one of many I had received-regarding changing some of the grades of wheat. As the government is aware, large numbers of farmers are expecting seed from the Saskatchewan relief commission. I should like to suggest to the Minister of Trade and Commerce and to the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Weir) -because I think he himself made the observation some time before the house met- that it would not ibe advisable this year to change the grades of wheat. For instance, in the answer I got from the Minister of Trade and Commerce he said:

I understand that the committee will be called on Tuesday next, and that Mr. Ramsay, the chairman of the Board of Grain Commissioners, and others who have been making a study will attend before the agricultural committee so that the whole matter may be given careful consideration.

What the minister is talking of there is the possibility of creating a special grade for Garnet wheat. As I pointed out yesterday, many farmers in various parts of the western provinces are growing this wheat, and the creation of a new grade for it would penalize those farmers. Therefore in view of the close proximity of seeding time I would urge upon the government that no steps be taken this year to create a special grade for Garnet wheat, but that the investigation be continued for another year, when the agricultural committee will be in a better position to suggest to the government what should be done in this regard.

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

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Mr. Chairman, may I ask the hon. Minister of Labour, first, what is the number of white collar unemployed in this

country; second, what he intends to do for their relief? He does not answer. Is he asleep? The previous Minister of Labour (Senator Robertson) had powerful brains in a fragile body, but his successor (Mr. Gordon) is his antithesis. On one occasion Paul Bourget received one of his colleagues of the French Academy and put him up for the night. The next morning he knocked at his guest's door at nine o'clock and was answered sharply: "Don't disturb me, I am working." At eleven thirty he knocked again, and receiving no answer opened the door, when he found his guest snoring gently. He said, "Ah, my friend, you are over-working yourself." Another gentleman, a former provincial minister afterwards a member of the federal government, was attending a dinner with a person having the serious looks of the Minister of Labour, a guest was asked by a friend, "I wonder what that most serious man is thinking about?" The reply came, "Don't worry. He is thinking about nothing!"

I am weary of hearing the Prime Minister repeatedly saying he and his colleagues are working twenty hours a day. Of course, it may be all right so far as the Prime Minister is concerned, for it may be taken as a form of punishment for his having centred upon himself public opinion during the last election when from every platform throughout the country he declared, "I will do this, I will do that for you." It was reoeated everywhere. But I do not think the Prime Minister should complain. There are ten million people in this country. Suppose two million of these are electors. Well, if each one of those electors wrote to the Prime Minister for information about something, asking, for instance, who was the Minister of Labour, he would receive two million letters a year-a large number. The Prime Minister is the most decent of men. But the working hours of the ministers cannot differ greatly from what they were when the Liberals were in power. I never heard my leader when he was Prime Minister saying anything about working [DOT]twenty hours a day. He was simply following the example of his great predecessor, Laurier. Sir Wilfrid was astir early in the morning, from eight thirty to nine thirty he dictated correspondence to his private secretary, then he proceeded to the east block to receive callers, at eleven o'clock attended council, at three o'clock he was in the house, and at night he also attended here.

I am getting tired of this humbug about ministers overworking. They are working so much that no one knows what they are really doing-they are always at work. There are

Unemployment Continuance Act

many persons who might come to the help of my hon. friend the Prime Minister. It is a very good thing to keep their minds busy because then they have no time for wicked thoughts albout putting people out of work.

Let us take the ministers one by one, and first we will consider my genial friend the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Ryck-man). He knows we like him and he does very well as a minister. I congratulate him, but he has less work than his predecessors had, because Canadian imports have decreased. If he has more work it is because he increases the tariff either over his own signature or by orders in council, and he is wrong in doing that. I should like to spare him that sort of work. If he did pot do that he would have enough time in which to come to the assistance of the dumb Minister of Labour.

Now let us take my genial friend the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Murphy). He knows we like him also, but he has not as much work as my hon. friend from West Edmonton (Mr. Stewart) had when he was Minister of the Interior, because then the federal government had control of the natural resources of the west. Now these have been handed over to the provinces, and my hon. friend has more time at his disposal. If he has not more time it is because he is bothered by callers who wish to be appointed Indian agents or something of that kind.

Now let us take my good friend the new Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes). I congratulate him upon the fact that the Prime Minister has selected him as his adviser in financial matters. That is a great compliment to my hon. friend, and I am sure he will do very well. But with the revenue of the country falling he has much less to look after. I know he has a good deal of work in looking after conversion loans and that sort of thing, but that is because of the condition of the country. He has less to do than Mr. Robb had, for instance, or than Mr. Dunning had. He might have some time in which to come to the assistance of our silent friend the Minister of Labour.

Then there is my genial friend the Postmaster General (Mr. Sauve). He is doing very well ; he increased the stamp tax so that now we pay three cents instead of two for a letter. But he is doing very well, except when he is dismissing postmasters. He wastes too much time listening to the complaints of sour-mouthed defeated candidates who want postmasters all over the country dismissed for this and that reason. If he looked after the general administration of his department, without wasting time in dismissing so

many good people, he would not be obliged to work twenty hours a day. He might do his work in eight hours, and in the twelve hours saved he might come to the assistance of the Minister of Labour.

Then there is my good friend the Minister of Marine (Mr. Duranleau). I think he does very well as a minister, and that is the best answer to the argument raised by himself and his colleague the Postmaster General when they were in the Quebec assembly. Then they complained of the fact that the Minister of Labour was a lawyer and not a working man, but here we have them sitting in council next to a lawyer who is Minister of Labour. I must not forget my friend the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Stewart), who is doing very well also. I have said that to him very often, and I am in earnest.

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

An hon. MEMBER:

He did not build the station.

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

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

The station is all right

now. I am dealing with a stationary minister, whose tongue is stationed in his mouth so that it does not work. I mean the Minister of Labour; I am not referring to the Minister of Public Works, for whom I have great admiration. Hon. gentlemen opposite should be very quiet; the next time I hear any interruption they will get it quick.

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

Olof Hanson

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Hanson, York-Sunbury):

I would ask the hon. gentleman,

who knows the rules, to observe them. We are discussing section one of this bill.

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

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I think my discussion is

in point, because I am dealing with the members of the cabinet and pointing out that they have much more spare time than the ministers in the last government had, and I am suggesting that they might use that spare time in assisting the Minister of Labour. In any case, I have nearly completed my argument.

I come now to my friend the Minister of Railways (Mr. Manion). He cannot complain of overwork, because he does not have charge of the administration of the railways; he just supervises it as his predecessors did. The Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie) also is doing very well, but he is doing no more than was done by my hon. friend from Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe) when he was Minister of Justice; 'he is doing no more than was done by Sir Charles Fitzpatrick, Hon Edward Blake or any other minister who held that position. They did not work twenty hours a day.

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

Ira Delbert Cotnam

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COTNAM:

How is Mr. Taschereau?

1558 _ COMMONS

Unemployment Continuance Act

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

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Mr. Taschereau has set a

very good example to the federal government by not reducing the'salaries of the civil servants of Quebec, and he would not waste a lot of money in order to bring a man like Mr. Ferguson from England to give evidence at the expense of this country.

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

Ira Delbert Cotnam

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COTNAM:

Oh, oh.

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

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

If you suffer from constipation of the brain so that you can only interrupt instead of making your own speeches I commend you to the Minister of Health, who may be able to recommend a laxative.

Hon. gentlemen occupying the treasury benches say they are working twenty hours a day. Why do they not work only eight hours a day and bring in some of the unemployed to assist them in the direction of the affairs of state?

As a matter of fact, however, the ministers are not working twenty hours a day; only one hon. gentleman says he works twenty hours a day, and I believe him. But, Mr. Chairman, he has to work twenty hours a day simply because he is unfair to the other ministers: he does not allow them to share his work. I am sure they would be ready to shoulder some of the hon. gentleman's responsibilities. The Postmaster General, for example, would no doubt be pleased to help the Minister of Labour and to relieve him of some of his burdens; so would the Minister of Public Works; so would the Minister of Marine; and so would the Minister of Finance, who has to hand over to him the money which is spent in the provinces. The Minister of Labour-I refer, of course, to the present minister's predecessor-was clever enough to manage matters in such a way as to have some freedom to do as he liked. May I read what he said to me in answer to a letter which I addressed to him on September 3, 1931:

It has accidentally come to my attention that this department has received from you personally eleven letters and one telegram, all within the last two days, With reference to unemployment works proposed in your riding.

It was extraordinary to that famous, excellent and efficient Minister of Labour, the present hon. gentleman's predecessor, that within the space of two days his department should receive eleven letters and one telegram from me, thus disturbing his peace of mind. He could not conceive that any man could write eleven letters and one telegram in two days. As I say, it was to him something extraordinary.

And I was forgetting my dear friend and old classmate, the hon. member for Dorchester

(Mr. Gagnon), who sits just as quiet as any minister-as quiet as that other image the Minister of Labour. Is he the minister's adviser? Let the Minister of Labour speak. If he would speak, I am sure he would repeat the nice things my friend from Dorchester has said. And in the meantime may I express the hope that some day the Prime Minister will acknowledge the service given by my good friend from Dorchester by saying to him, "Here, Dorchester, I will have you sworn by His Excellency as one of my advisers." If he has not yet received word to that effect he is about to receive it, and I am sure he will do well in the cabinet, at any rate until he is stricken by that disease of dismissing poor people who have done him no harm. Meanwhile I wish him good luck.

I suggest to the Minister of Labour that, instead of writing hieroglyphics while we are speaking, he should listen to the advice that is given him, at least the advice of the hon. member for Dorchester. It would be beneficial to him. He has been writing on the same piece of paper for ten minutes; I should not be surprised if he found it extraordinary that anyone could write eleven letters and one telegram in two days. Business efficiency and practical methods-that is something he cannot understand. But that is not all; the Solicitor General's advice has not been taken; it has been regarded as so essential to the government that it has been entirely dispensed with ever since the beginning of the session.

Let me point out something else, Mr. Chairman. I have received a very bold and impolite letter from a man in the civil service named Harry Hereford, Dominion director of unemployment. I must confess that I was surprised to get such a letter from a civil servant. I do not know whether he is Canadian-born or a naturalized citizen-in the latter case it may be, perhaps, that it is so much the better for him. But let me give this advice to all civil servants, whatever their salary may be or however great their self-importance. It is that they should be polite to members of parliament, regardless of politics or anything else. When I recommend someone to the Department of Labour I do so not on political grounds but because I am sure that the person whom I recommend is in need. That is the only consideration that actuates me. When, therefore, I consider it my duty to recommend anyone to the civil servant in charge, I expect him to be civil. When I submitted to this man, Hereford, certain requests that I had received from the municipalities in my constituency,

I was merely discharging my duty as a memmarc:

ber of parliament and he had no right whatever to write such impudent words as these: Aucun bon but ne semble avoir ete atteint par cette action de votre part-No good purpose seems to have been served by this action on your part.

May I suggest that if this gentleman wishes to avoid trouble so far as this side of the house is concerned, he had better discharge his duties in accordance with the traditions of the civil service. He should be guided by that very excellent principle that is being observed by the civil service, namely, to serve the people. A civil servant should be, above all, civil. _

The Minister of Labour showed considerable intelligence-and when I say the Minister of Labour I am referring, of course, to the present minister's predecessor-in having his work done by others. During the last campaign the present Prime Minister used to declare, "I will do this, I will do that" ; it was the same old refrain that was heard in every city, town, parish, borough and municipality in the country, and at every street corner: "1 will do this, and I will do that." And when he came into power, to his great surprise, the people said to him: "We expect you to do

this, and we expect you to do that." But what did he do? He sheltered himself behind the provinces and the municipalities. He asked them to come to his assistance, and he called to the council chamber my good friend, Senator Robertson, and said to him, "Senator, I rely on you: you must arrange this for me" The Senator said, "That's all right; we will arrange it with the provinces. The provinces will bear the burden of the administration of this whole unemployment scheme. We will subscribe our share and the municipalities will do as much as the provinces and the federal government together." Now the hon. gentleman who is at the head of the Department of Labour has only to ask the Minister of Finance for one fourth of the money that is to be spent for unemployment purposes, the relief fund being administered by the provinces who contribute their share to it. He need ask for only one quarter of that and then he will not have to worry about the administration of the fund because the whole thing will be done by the provinces. I thank the Minister of Labour for listening to my remarks instead of writing hieroglyphics on a piece of paper. I defy him to say that this is not the case.

I have something else to say about Mr. Hereford. That gentleman blamed me for forwarding some of the requests which I had received from the municipalities before the

31, 1932

Unemployment Continuance Act

order in council defining the jurisdiction of the federal and provincial governments had been passed. When I asked him to return these files to me he replied under date of September 7, 1931, that he was keeping copies in order to show them to the minister. If the trouble I had taken was superflous, if Mr. Hereford did not need copies of the documents I had sent to him, why did he make copies to be submitted to the Minister of Labour?

I am sorry it was necessary for me to be a little rough with the minister at the beginning of my remarks, but I had to do that in order to gain his attention. Is the minister in a position to tell the committee how many white-collar unemployed there are in this country? I will define what I mean by that term. I mean the clerks who were working in stores, in brokers' offices or anywhere-

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

An hon. MEMBER:

Nowhere.

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

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

These men are unemployed and the hon. member should not make fun of them.

How many are now unemployed who were previously employed by grocery stores, by drygoods stores and wholesale establishments? How many commercial travellers have lost their jobs because of the decrease in trade? How many railroad employees have been put out of work while profiteers were selling ties to the Canadian National Railways which was supposed to be in such bad condition? These are matters of great importance, and for the third time I repeat that they are of great importance to the government if it is sincere.

If this government intends to relieve unemployment it should get to the root of the evil. It should know the cause of all this trouble; it should know why these people have lost their jobs. The minister should be able to advise the committee how many of this class are out of work. There are thousands, in fact tens of thousands unemployed at the present time. This information is not new to the minister, and I am trying to impress upon him that the only way to cure unemployment is to get to the root of the evil and then try to remove the causes. As I have said before in this house, during the war some soldiers were wounded by bullets while others were gassed, shell-shocked or received other injuries, but the same remedy was not applied to all. Every case was studied by expert physicians and surgeons and every man received the treatment which was best suited to his case. That is why many of the men wounded during the

Unemployment Continuance Act

war are to-day in better condition-they received the proper remedy.

If the minister can tell me how many white-collar men are out of work, I will sit down. How does he intend to take care of these men? Does he intend to employ them as Volga boatmen on the St. Lawrence scheme?

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

An hon. MEMBER:

Yes.

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

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

It is below the intelligence of the hon. member to make the answer he has.

Does the minister think that these men will be able to do pick and shovel work on the St. Lawrence? They could not do it because they have not had the necessary training. If this government desires order to be restored, there is only one way in which it can bring about that result. The work of the government should be divided among the members of the cabinet instead of being done by a single man, however able. This government should adopt the practice carried out by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) when his government was in power, and by Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Sir Robert Borden. It is only fair that members of the cabinet should share in the work of government. The matter is vital to the country and this method should be adopted.

I do not make these suggestions to annoy the committee and the minister, I am simply trying to make the minister understand. Even though he were the greaest physician in the country, he could not cure a disease without first knowing what it was. Each angle of this unemployment question should be considered separately and the minister should take the trouble to obtain as soon as possible the information which I desire. As a matter of fact, this information should have been obtained immediately the government came into power.

A special committee made a study of the unemployment question for a short time after this government took office. One of its recommendations was that immigration should be stopped. I am glad to see the hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. Bourgeois) in his place because this is the first opportunity I have had to welcome him to this house. He is a perfect gentleman and my only regret is that his political principles are wrong. During his last election campaign he paid a compliment to this government by stating that it had stopped immigration. What did the Acting Minister of Immigration and Colonization (Mr. Gordon) say to that? He said that this government would never close the

door to Englishmen who wanted to come to this country. The minister is bringing young boys out here. It is true that they have the money to pay their passage but he cannot guarantee that they will not in the future be a charge upon this country. Perhaps he should take a position as purser on one of the boats which carry these young Englishmen to this country. I think the salary would be high enough.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF BILL
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March 31, 1932