October 11, 1932

CON

Bernard Munroe Stitt

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STITT (Nelson):

Very good. I would like to ask the Acting Minister of Marine whether or not opportunity will be given to Mr. Barker to appear before the board of inquiry that I understand is being called to inquire into this disaster. Mr. Barker

The Address-Mr. Woodsworth

will be in touch with the captain. I hold that he is the most important witness that can possibly appear before this board.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   HUDSON BAY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   SINKING OF STEAMSHIP BRIGHT FAN IN HUDSON STRAITS
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CON

Maurice Dupré (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. MAURICE DUPRE (Acting Minister of Marine):

In answer to the hon. member I will say that the inquiry will be made immediately and Mr. Barker will be . heard as well as all other witnesses available.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   HUDSON BAY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   SINKING OF STEAMSHIP BRIGHT FAN IN HUDSON STRAITS
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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

By the wreck commission, may I ask?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   HUDSON BAY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   SINKING OF STEAMSHIP BRIGHT FAN IN HUDSON STRAITS
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UNEMPLOYMENT-WORK IN MONTREAL


On the orders of the day:


LIB

Joseph-Arthur Denis

Liberal

Mr. ARTHUR DENIS (St. Denis) (Translation):

Mr. Speaker, the City Council of Montreal has decided to carry out certain work in order to relieve the unemployed. A delegation came to Ottawa to request a contribution from the government in order to defray the cost of such work.

No answer having yet been received, I wish to inquire whether the government will now disclose its intentions in this respect.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT-WORK IN MONTREAL
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CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. W. A. GORDON (Minister of Labour) :

If the hon. member will put the question on the order paper I will be glad to answer it.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT-WORK IN MONTREAL
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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Denis

Liberal

Mr. DENIS (Translation):

I aim sorry that the hon. Minister of Labour was unable to catch my question. I notice that there are French Canadian ministers present in the house, could they not answer me orally?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT-WORK IN MONTREAL
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GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH


The house resumed from Monday, October 10, consideration of the motion of Mr. P. G. Davies for an address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session, and the proposed amendment thereto of Mr. Mackenzie King.


LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

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

Mr. Speaker, I find myself

very largely in agreement with the amendment, though from my point of view it does not go far enough. I must congratulate the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) on his conversion to many of the ideas that have 'been advocated from this comer of the house for some years past, but I remember also that when the right hon. gentleman was in office he took no action along the lines that he now advocates. Take unemployment, for example; if, in the last year the right hon. gentleman was in office, he had taken vigorous action along that line,

I am quite well convinced that he would be in office now. Take the question of proportional representation. We introduced that question from this corner, but the government gave no help whatever, though there was abundant opportunity for bringing in this reform. Take the question of a central bank. Older members of the house will remember the inquiries of 1923 and 1924, and I personally brought forward motions along this line in 1926, 1926 and again in 1928. I would ask where the present leader of the opposition was then and what position he and his Minister of Finance took in the debates which were held in those years. However, I am very glad indeed to find that he has been converted, and in this comer we feel that from now on, in discussing some of these measures, we will have the support that hitherto we have not had.

I have been wondering, however, whether the leader of the opposition would go so far as to agree with his colleague from Vancouver Centre (Mr. Mackenzie). Only a few days ago, on September 27, during an address before the Laurier Club, the hon. member for Vancouver Centre is reported by the Canadian Press to have stated his position as follows:

Money must be dethroned as the dictator and must resume its real place as the servant of humanity.

I heartily agree with that statement. Further, the hon. member declared:

The nineteenth century battle for political freedom lias been won. We must now dedicate ourselves to the twentieth century problem of economic deliverance.

Again I heartily agree; we welcome a new recruit. Further on, in outlining the new objectives of Liberalism, the hon. member said that Liberalism must direct its efforts, if it was to keep in the forefront of progress in these changing times, along certain lines which he mentioned, and among other things he included the care of the unemployed as a national duty. That again is very different from the position taken by his leader several years ago. He mentioned also the writing down of interest rates and the establishment of a national bank, and he stated that we must meet with courage the question of our public debt, which I presume means scaling it down in some form or other. The hon. member declared also that we must declare in favour of lowering world tariffs, and so on.

Some hon. MEMBERS; Hear, hear.

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Subtopic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I am very glad indeed to find the support that is being given this corner of the house in connection with these matters.

The Address-Mr. Woodsworth

In the speech from the throne there is nothing to indicate that the government has any proposals designed to meet the pressing needs of the Canadian people. I must say that the speech is replete with meaningless or misleading phrases. Look at the following: "The acuteness of the depression is past," "approaching prosperity," "the strength of our financial structure," and "improved conditions." Since the Prime Minister believes that the depression is fundamentally psychological I presume that he may be pardoned for his professional optimism. Evidently he beileves in the old Coue formula, "Every day in every way we are getting better and better," but I would say that although he may be free to take that position in a professional sort of way, to me it seems intolerable that he, a wealthy man, should proceed with evangelistic fervour and unctuous phrases to lecture the poor people on the spiritual advantages of their poverty. The Prime Minister says:

We have no desire to undermine that high courage, that resourcefulness and ability of our citizens to emerge out of difficulties, strengthened by trial as by fire.

It does seem to me that this is very much like a man standing in security on the bank of a stream watching some poor fellows struggle in the current and go down one by one, encouraging them to battle manfully against the current because it may prove to be the very best way of developing their muscles. I think of men whom I know, who are struggling to support families and who are anxious from day to day and week to week as to where their food is to come from. Some of these men have been driven even to suicide by their anxiety, and what has the Prime Minister to say to one of them? I presume he would say, "Well, my good fellow, I know this is very hard for you, but be consoled; out of it all you will come purified as by fire. You will develop courage, initiative and all those qualities for which Canadians have striven in the past." I think of some of the women whom I know who have no opportunity of securing the medical attention they require; their eyes and their teeth are neglected; in some cases they are putting off from day to day and week to week operations that should be performed at once if their lives are not to drag on in misery. What will the Prime Minister say to one of them? " My good woman, I am veiy sorry; you are passing through a hard trial, but you are developing qualities of high courage, and you will emerge from these difficulties strengthened as by fire." I

think of some of the children who to-day are being denied an education. I know there are hundreds in my own community who are given no chance to go even to the higher grades of public school; who are not having a chance to attend high school, who have not the funds to go on to university; some of them tramping about the streets without the prospect of ever getting a job. What can the Prime Minister say to these, but to urge them that in some way or another, out of it all, in spite of difficulties, they may develop a high courage and be purified as by fire?

When I think of how wealth is acquired, I ask, why should wealthy men talk to poor men in that way? It is all very well to say that in the old days men acquired wealth by their own hard work, by the sweat of their brow; but the greater part of the wealth of this country was not acquired by that means. No one can spend ten years in this house, walking around the corridors here, without learning that a good deal of the wealth of this country is acquired rather by special privileges of various kinds-grants, Beauharnois deals, concessions, charters, subsidies, tariffs, and all that sort of thing; yes, and bank charters, as my good friend from Southeast Grey (Miss Maophail) says. And then we find people who have acquired wealth by the purely arbitrary arrangements of society talking in this way to poorer people who by the same purely arbitrary measures have been deprived of the means of subsistence. I say that this kind of thing is intolerable.

The Prime Minister may talk as he likes about the strength of our financial structure. Well, may I quote a couplet which I have quoted in this house before? Lowell warns:

Think ye that building can endure

That shelters the rich and crushes the poor?

The day before parliament opened I picked up a Montreal paper in which I read of the relief given in the city of Verdun. These are the figures: for a family of three or four persons, $5.60 per week for 14 hours' work; for a family of two persons, $4.80 per week for 12 hours' work; for one person only, $3.20 per week for 8 hours' work. This is the increased schedule that is coming into force; it was ratified by the council of the city of Verdun at a special meeting held on October 3, 1932. I ask whether these amounts are sufficient to support any Canadian family in decency? Yet the Prime Minister is afraid to have larger sums granted lest this might discourage initiative and so forth on the part of the people. In the same newspaper I

The Address-Mr. Woodsworth

noticed a letter calling attention to an incident which had occurred a few days before. Let me read it:

This week at Cap aux Os, Gaspe county, a little girl eight years old fainted in school. The teacher took her in charge and when she came to, asked her if it were customary for her to have fainting spells. The little girl opened her eyes and replied: "No, but it was my turn to go without breakfast this morning."

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

May I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that any man who wants to ridicule that kind of thing is hardly fitted for a place in this house. When we get away from our figures and our great international policies and get down to cases like that, then I ask, what application have a great many of the phrases in the speech from the throne to the lives of the ordinary people of this country? In Toronto Saturday Night I see a writer, basing his calculations on government statistics, declaring that there are 100,000 young men coming forward every year, our own Canadian-born, looking for jobs, while there is no place in which they can be absorbed. A great many of these young men are college graduates, and others are high school boys. Many of these young men are riding the freight trains. I made an appeal yesterday that if possible these transients might be returned to their destination after the harvest was over, and one newspaper states that I was appealing to have them allowed to ride the freight trains to go home. That was not my thought at all. Our coaches are almost empty these days, both on the Canadian National and on the Canadian Pacific, and I say that the least the government could do would be to afford these young men transportation on decent trains. The trouble with many of these transients is that no one can say where their domicile really is. They have not been located in any particular place for any length of time; they have been transient labourers drifting back and forth, helping with the harvest in the west in one season, and in another season working in the timber forests of the north. It is not fair to insist that they be regarded as domiciled in any one place; that is not the way in which this country has been developed. But they should be cared for, and it is simply adding insult to injury when we talk as if these people were criminals and begin to lecture them about avoiding anything that will sap their powers of initiative.

The speech from the throne refers to the "enviable financial position of this country," and I admit that a few financial and industrial concerns may be prosperous. I noticed some 53719-5

weeks ago, in the New York Times of June 12, a statement with regard to the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey:

As Imperial earned the equivalent of 68 cents a share last year, the New Jersey company included in its consolidated report $12,784,000 from this source.

So that our Canadian oil company is assisting to the extent of $12,000,000 to keep up the tottering structure of the New Jersey company. Banks and some other institutions are prospering; but what about Canada's 500,000 unemployed, to put it at the minimum? What does the speech suggest for them?

The problem of unemployment continues to receive the anxious attention of my ministers.

After three years the problem of unemployment "continues to receive the anxious attention of my ministers."

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Two years.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I stand corrected; two years and three sessions. The speech goes on:

Plans for the reestablishment of the unemployed in various parts of the country are in preparation and will become operative as soon as, in the opinion of my ministers, the public expenditure incident thereto will be productive of commensurate benefits.

Which means simply nothing; everyone knows that. It is simply a stringing together of phrases that give no idea of what the government proposes, and lends a great deal of colour to the belief that it proposes nothing at all.

I would seriously suggest that the Prime Minister and the other ministers be forced to spend some six months of each year going in and out among the people until they find out what the condition of the people really is and what the people are thinking. They seem to be so isolated from the life of the common people that they have no conception whatever of actual conditions.

The Prime Minister says that there is one province that has asserted that it is able to look after its own affairs. May I ask this question? Are our French Canadians satisfied with the conditions in their own province? There came to me a few weeks ago two pamphlets which I found of interest; one was an attractive folder by the Montreal Light, Heat & Power Company. In the section dealing with labour I found the following statements :

Montreal is particularly fortunate in the fact that the French Canadian makes up a large percentage of common and skilled labour population. . . . For many reasons they are not

The Address-Mr. Woodsworth

responsive to the influences which underlie the contagious industrial unrest that is noticeable throughout the world to-day.

Then I turn to another document that goes on in very much the same strain. This is a very well gotten utp publication, issued by the city of Montreal and, I am sorry to say, signed by Fernand Rinfret, the member for St. James. I find the following under the heading of "The Factory Labour Situation:"

With his background of religious instruction and social training, the French Canadian workman is solid. . . . The French Canadian is happy and philosophically content with his lot. . . . Families are proverbially large.

The women are industrious, trained in craft work, and skilled in machine tasks. ...

As the most highly developed industrial centre of Canada, Montreal is the logical reservoir for skilled and unskilled labour. As the chief port of entry from Europe, Montreal ordinarily holds a substantial percentage of the incoming industrial workers.

Consequently the stability of the permanent labour body, coupled with opportunities which a floating population normally presents, make Montreal an ideal source of factory labour.

If the French Canadians are content to be hewers of wood and drawers of water, then with its large surplus population Montreal undoubtedly offers wonderful facilities for the setting up of American factories. This publication continues:

The city's labour problem is minimized, particularly in times of depression, by the absence of organized socialist or communist bodies.

If this pamphlet had told the whole truth it would have stated that anyone making a protest would be promptly clubbed.

Mr. LaVERGNE : Not in Montreal.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Yes, in Montreal. The hon. member will remember that last year I quoted from an article which appeared in the Montreal Witness.

Mr. LaVERGNE : But the hon. member was not quoting facts.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I quoted from a paper which I have found to be quite reliable. The speech from the throne goes on to say:

-this season's bountiful harvest forecasts greatly improved conditions-

I do not think that statement is true of the west. I do admit that there is a 'little more money passing, that certain benefits have accrued because of freight charges and so on, that a certain amount of money is paid for materials purchased from the east and to that extent the eastern financial interests are benefiting, but the western farmer's interest is not so much in the size of the crop as in the question of markets, prices and debts. Without a larger market, without increased

prices and without a decrease in debts the position of the western farmer is absolutely hopeless and unless the western farmers succeed the whole west goes down.

I should like to repeat an incident related to me last year by a gentleman who first definitely verified the facts. A woman came into town to purchase some garden seeds- I do not know whether or not She had been told that she ought to go into mixed farming as a solution of her troubles-and brought with her four dozen eggs. She was able to sell the eggs at only five cents per dozen, receiving in all twenty cents. She bought two packets of garden peas for which She paid ten cents each and upon her return home she counted the peas and found there were only thirty-three. This incident is almost an epitome of the conditions which exist throughout the west with regard to most commodities and illustrates the situation facing even mixed farmers. Without arguing the case, I say that there must be either a scaling down of debts, a lowering of interest rates or a measure of inflation, or reflation, if you like. Only this will accomplish the desired results. It is the only way by which the west can exist and let me warn that if the west is permanently out of business it will be hard on eastern Canada. Even for selfish reasons the west cannot be ignored.

The Prime Minister emphasizes the fact that his government stands for a sound money policy and he ridicules any reforms in money matters by referring to them as cheap nostrums in the form of quack remedies. He was so enamoured of the phrase that he rolled it over four or five times.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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PRO

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss MACPHAIL:

A sweet morsel.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Sub-subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Yes, a sweet morsel to be rolled under his tongue.

Had the Prime Minister been present I would have called to his attention an article which appeared in a recent issue of Time and Tide. This article is by Sir Arthur Salter, to whom the Prime Minister referred last spring as ranking as one of the foremost authorities in the world at the moment. Sir Arthur says:

I believe that a concerted policy of reflation to a determined point would be an immense advantage to the whole world.

I have read the speech from the throne very carefully but I can find no indication of any comprehensive program to meet changed world conditions. In other parts of the world they are awakening more rapidly than are we to the need of more fundamental changes, and in this connection I should like

The Address-Mr. Woodsworth

to quote from a rather unexpected source. Addressing a recent conference on business education, the Prince of Wales said:

We have all been learning through the surest and hardest of lessons-adversity-how closely the prosperity of all nations of the world depends upon the prosperity of each and all of them. In these days of swift transport and communication and of interlocked commerce and finance, it is more than ever true that nations cannot live to themselves alone.

And again:

The world-wide trade depression and economic disturbance from which we all suffered so much has been largely caused by maladjustment of distribution and consumption of the world's capacity for production. The potential output of the existing means of production in the world is far greater than ever before. If all the employable labour were employed for a reasonable number of hours per week, the world would have at its disposal a volume of commodities and services that would enable the entire population to live on a higher level and comfort and well-being than has ever been contemplated in the rosiest terms of the social reformer.

The urgent task for the world is to bring about the adjustment necessary to bring consumption and production into proper relationship. not a simple, not an easy, but quite a possible task.

Mr. LaVERGNE: Why is the Prince of

Wales an unexpected source?

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Subtopic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
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October 11, 1932