March 2, 1933

?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

If they don' t. I assume they should. The system of communication is perfect.

We come now to that organism the function of which, stripped of all verbiage, stripped of all the accumulations of legend, tradition and precedent, is to make possible the exchange of goods and services between one industry and another-finance. I do not intend to go into the intricacies of finance but I am going to ask this question: Judged from the point of view of a medium of exchange, is finance functioning as it should? I do not think there is an hon. member who has looked at what is going on, who has seen the accumulated wealth-money is not wealth, it is goods-who has observed the suffering of the people; I do not think there is anyone with the intelligence worthy of a member who will say that finance is functioning when considered from that point of view. At the moment I do not intend to go into why it is not functioning, I simply state that to my own satisfaction, and following the logical processes of elimination to which I have alluded, finance is the weak spot in our economic circle.

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Speakman

That being the case, what are we going to do? Why are we in this corner called radicals? It is because, faced with these facts as is every hon. member in this house, with the little knowledge of which we are possessed- we have not all the wisdom in the world, but just that of an ordinary, average man-we are prepared to say that if this thing is not functioning, all these precedents, all these accumulations of debt, of interest and of interests will not prevent us from saying: Cut loose from it, remedy the weakness and have a financial system which will achieve the purpose for which it was born and created. I do not care how good it is for piling up debts; I do not care how efficiently it functions in providing interest for bond investors; I do not care how skilfully the bankers or the financiers are functioning as wholesalers and retailers of a commodity termed money; I do not care how much it means to them and what hardships will be involved to these few men, if the system cannot do that for which it was created, then it must be changed.

Much will have to be done; this is not the end, it is but the beginning. We will do first that thing which comes first to our hand and which every logic and all experience points to as being the right thing to do-we will create a central bank. From that point we will spread out until the nation controls the credit of the nation. Why do I say that? I am not making a statement simply for the fun of making one. I make it for this reason : It has been admitted by many hon. members in this house, including the Prime Minister, that the basis of all credit, no matter whether it functions through banks or industrial companies or otherwise, is the wealth of the nation, the productive power of all the people. That fact was admitted when the power was sought to place behind the tottering financial institutions of this country the financial credit of the nation itself, as was done a year ago. The true basis of all credit is in the nation and in the people of the country. If the people of the country create the basis of our credit, if credit itself is the lifeblood of our country rather than a money-making proposition, rather than an industry in itself in which profit is considered indispensable, then I say that from both points of view the nation itself that made the credit should control it, not for the good of the few people to whom we have given it and from whom we can take it away, but for the good of all the people in this country.

I am not unmindful of the fact that this country does not live within itself. I am not one of those who believe that we should live by ourselves. I think we could do it if we had

to-we could cut down our production of wheat by four-fifths and produce only enough upon which to live-none of these things are impossible, but they are all extremely improbable and not very wise. We could live within ourselves, but it would be very foolish to do so. We would be attempting to sweep back the rising tide which is drawing the countries of the world together, and, I hope, gradually making of them a great commonwealth of nations. I am not unmindful of these facts; but surely a credit based upon the nation itself could be made just as available for intercourse with other countries as a credit based upon gold or upon the say so of a few financiers. Surely that is not impossible. It is an easy matter for those who disagree with us to say that it would be difficult. Of course it would be difficult, but nothing worth while in this world can be achieved without difficulty.

It will be difficult, but what is the alternative? What is the alternative to moving forward and attempting to tear out the roots of unemployment? Stay where we are. I am one of those who prefer to move forward, neither tolerating, on the one hand, turbulent violence and destructive anarchy, nor, on the other hand, accepting that passive inertia the end of which is death from dry rot. We cannot stay as we are; there is an inexorable law of nature which says that you must move forward or backward. At the moment we are steadily moving backward. Every additional unemployed, every additional man, woman or child that goes on relief, is a step backward, a step nearer disintegration. When we are told that the problem is difficult, we say: Yes, it is difficult, but not impossible, and surely it is better to go forward and meet and conquer difficulties than to stand still and die like a coward or a slave.

I am not in the habit of using strong language, but this is a serious subject and some of us feel rather strongly in regard to it. I am not one of those who say that we alone have seen what is going on around us or realize the suffering. All hon. members realize the suffering; I venture to say that every one of us feels as bitterly as I do about it. The only difference is that I am not bound-I am not talking about partyism now-by old precedent or to any ancient belief. I have been able with a tremendous effort to throw that off and am prepared to go forward as long as I am wholly certain that the- road along which I am moving is a sound one and that the objective which I seek to attain is also sound. What objective do we seek to attain? The elimination of unemployment? Yes, partly that, but seek also to attain something

265G

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Maclnms

else, something that we are bound to meet, something at which at some time we are bound to succeed. We are moving forward to the time when one simple thing will be accomplished, and that is When this world's wealth, which this system has enabled us to create, will be used for the benefit of those who created it. We have the key to unlock the door which opens into nature's great storehouse of plenty which science has made available to us.

Mr. ANGUS MaoINNIS (Vancouver South): Mr. Speaker, of all the depressing things that have cotme to my attention since the beginning of this depression, the most depressing was the speech of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Gordon) in presenting this resolution to the house on Friday last. It was bereft of hope; it was without plan or policy and even, I believe, bereft of any understanding of the fundamental causes of unemployment. The hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Speakman), who has just preceded me, explained at some length the causes of unemployment, and though I may not entirely agree with him, yet I am in sufficient accord with him not to take any exception to what he has said. We can, however, put the causes of unemployment on a more simple and fundamental basis than the hon. member for Red Deer has done. Unemployment is really not something to be afraid of or that we should consider an evil. It is only when we have unemployment coupled with certain conditions that the fact of unemployment becomes undesirable.

Very early in my life I came across the fact that work was something that was given to man as a punishment. I noted that when Adam was driven out of the Garden of Eden, the punishment meted out to him because of his sin was that he would have to work. I notice also that when a judge wishes to be particularly nasty with anyone who comes before him, in rendering sentence he says: Five or ten years with hard labour. In my reading of history I have also noted that primitive man was not in the least afraid of being unemployed. When nature was kind to him and her fruits were plentiful and easy of attainment, he did not have to work so hard; he had more leisure and consequently was a great deal happier. In the next stage of human society, that is barbarism, the same thing occurred. When nature again was kind, man could get his living so much easier and consequently he had much leisure, or unemployment, if you like, and was much happier. It is only when we come to the present system, that of capitalism, under which the machinery of production is owned by one

class in the community and operated by another, that unemployment is undesirable, and it is only undesirable for a certain section of the community. It is not undesirable for those who own the machinery. They do not worry about not having to work; in fact, they greatly enjoy their good fortune. Because they have not to work, they go to the West Indies or some other warm country in the winter; they go to the lakes in the north in the summer and they have a good time living at the best hotels and having all the best things of life. It is only the working class- who produce the goods of the world, who feed these people who live in idleness,-who are afraid of unemployment. That being so, we find that unemployment arises because of the social relationships that exist in human society. Unemployment will not be cured so long as those social relationships continue. There is the cause of unemployment, very briefly and very fundamentally too. Maybe hon. members will not agree with me, but it does not make any difference whether they do or not. That is the cause and it will have to be realized before a solution for unemployment can be brought about.

The only hope the minister has to offer us is economy, that it is costing less to-day to deal with the unemployment situation than it did two or three years ago. When this government came into office we had a special session of parliament to deal with the question of unemployment, and I should like to read from the records a short paragraph to show how the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) at that time thought the unemployment situation should be dealt with and how he pointed out that economy was not the way to deal with it. On page 91 of Hansard of September 11, 1930, the Prime Minister, in order to indicate what would be the effect of the $20,000,000 that he was asking from parliament, had this to say:

That is, if a public work is undertaken in a community where there is considerable unemployment of one class, and that class thereby finds employment, then there will be a reaction of course, lor the benefit of other classes who are also unemployed. By reason of the fact that employment is given to the workers in class A, the workers in other classes will benefit from the result of that employment. In other words, moneys will circulate through the productive effort of those who are paid for their services, and enure to the benefit of other classes in the community, both men and women, whether they be clerks, of whom more will be required in offices, stenographers, of whom more will be required in the counting rooms, or those who work in restaurants, or those who provide food or clothing. That has been the experience of the world, and no one knows it better than the right hon. gentleman himself.

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Maclnnis

He was referring to the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King). What I wish to point out is this: that if the Prime Minister were correct in saying that with the spending of money further activity would accrue than that directly created by the expenditure itself, that reactions in other ways would be caused, then the reverse is also true; that if we economize here by a reduction of wages, there by a reduction of unemployment relief, that economy will have reactions through curtailment of economic activities in spheres altogether apart from where the actual economy has been put into effect. So that the more the Minister of Labour or this government economizes, the more unemployment will increase. That is a fundamental economic fact from which there is no need to try to get away. No doubt he expects to get away from it by putting people back on the land. Because in the last fifty years the urban population has increased from eighteen per cent to something like fifty per cent of the whole, he is convinced that such increase in urban population has been the cause of our economic difficulties. I do not believe that has been the cause.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

I said it was only one

of the causes.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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IND

Angus MacInnis

Independent Labour

Mr. MacINNIS:

I do not wish to imply

that the minister said it was the whole cause. If he states it is only one cause, I shall accept his word. I do not believe, however, that it is even one cause.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

Very few men in Canada

would agree with you.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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IND

Angus MacInnis

Independent Labour

Mr. MacINNIS:

Possibly the rest of them are wrong.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

Likely.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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IND

Angus MacInnis

Independent Labour

Mr. MacINNIS:

Both city and farm

workers to-day are engaged in agricultural production. The farmer who produces wheat for a world market is not alone in that production; he is merely taking part in its production. The man who lives in the city and helps to make a tractor, the man who lives in the city and helps to make a truck or a wagon, the trainmen, the seamen who transport the wheat-all are engaged in the production of wheat, as much as the farmer who does the work on the land. This is equally true of those who are engaged in the production of other agricultural products. If these products, were consumed on the farm where they are produced, then the original producer would be alone responsible. But they are produced for a world market, and their production is not complete until the ultimate

consumer is reached. Between the farmer in the field and the ultimate consumer there is a host of workers which takes as great a part in the production as does the farmer on the land.

I do not believe there is much use putting people back on the land when those who are there to-day cannot remain. They cannot make a living, and they cannot bring up their children. As a matter of fact, because of the difficulties they have to face, farmers are finding difficulty keeping their wives with them. In the Ottawa Citizen of February 14, there was a Canadian press item from Calgary wherein Charles Robertson, secretaiy of the Canadian Legion, Alberta division, declared that settlers who took up farms under settlement schemes were leaving the farms and coming into the cities because under present conditions they found it impossible to meet their obligations.

While I am on this point may I say that in my view a very serious principle is involved in the back to the land movement. The people being put on the land under these schemes go with the idea that they are to produce only for themselves, that they are to make only their own living, and at least at this time they will not come into competition with farmers already on the land. Such a movement, as a matter of fact, tends towards the creation of a peasantry in Canada, a peasantry which will eke out a precarious living from the land when there is nothing to be done in the city. That peasantry will form a labour reserve to be called upon at a time when working conditions in the cities improve. Such a condition will be dangerous to the people affected and dangerous to workers in the cities. Certainly Canadian people should look carefully into the movement before they give it the mark of approval. While we are dealing with unemployment-

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

The Trades and Labour

Congress of Canada approves of the idea of settling people on Canadian lands.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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IND

Angus MacInnis

Independent Labour

Mr. MacINNIS:

That may be quite so,

but it does not necessarily follow that everything of which the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada approves must be right. I take the liberty of differing from the congress any time I feel like doing so.

We should deal with the unemployment problem from two points of view. First of all, if it is a temporary problem and if it is only a matter of time until the workers will be back into industry, I would say that possibly the provisions the government are making would meet the situation. If a man

Relief Act, 1938-Mr. Maclnnis

knows he will be out of work only a few months or a year, but that at some certain time he will return to industry, then I believe the providing of assistance might meet the circumstances. But the abnormal situation has existed for so long that no one can say when, if ever, workers will return to industry. Not only oan wre say that, but everybody who has given intelligent consideration to the matter must realize that industry can never again absorb more than fifty per cent of workers mow unemployed. With that fact we must remember that throughout the world there are 30,000,000 people in that unfortunate position.

In this connection I should like to quote the words of Ramsay MacDonald, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, as delivered recently in the House of Commons upon the occasion of the opening of the session. He said:

Moreover, in the study of who the unemployed are, and what are the prospects of the unemployed in this country, even if normal trade were restored, we are faced with this tact and nobody can deny it.

We are faced with the fact that a large number could be reabsorbed into industry. If the coal trade improved, through hydrogenation or any other expedient, more miners would be employed. If iron and steel revived more iron and steel workers would be employed, but we are going to have in the future a larger production by the use of scientific methods than we have ever had before, and a very substantially lessened body of working men and women engaged in production.

What is to be done about the remainder? There is the problem, and this government is the first government to face the actual problem that when trade has become brisk, as anybody can naturally expect trade now to become for this country, we shall still have a residuum. We shall still have a population which, were they not human beings

Note this-

We shall still have a population which, were they not human beings, one would describe- merely for the sake of making quite clear what their position was-as scrap.

Hon. members will note that so far as the Prime Minister of Great Britain is concerned -and I shall quote other members of the British cabinet who hold a similar view-a great portion of the unemployed may be considered as mere scrap. The article continues:

Are we going to allow, is this nation going to allow, great bodies of men and women, perhaps even amounting to a couple of million, to be to all intents and purposes in our society superfluous scrap? The government, so far as they are concerned, say No! Therefore the problem of unemployment is not one of temporary relief.

Sir, we have come rto the stage where the problem of unemployment is not one of

temporary relief. There you have the view of the leader of the British House of Commons, the leader of the national government. May I quote again briefly from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Neville Chamberlain? He said:

They must recognize that, while schemes they put forward might perhaps provide employment for a few thousands here and there, they could not expect that in the immediate future anything which they dad would cut unemployment by. say, half. To deal with unemployment on a large scale, they have got to deal with the causes which brought it about and which were not confined to any one country but operated all over the world.

I do not wish to quote any more, but here are two genetlemen whose opinion I believe the Minister of Labour and' other members on both sides of the house wiil'1 consider to be of some value. Let .me say again that our problem of unemployment is, like the problem of unemployment in the old country, like the problem of unemployment in every country of the world, not a temporary but a permanent problem.

The minister takes great credit for the reduction of relief costs from $46,000,000, I 'believe, in 1931, to something like $25,000,000 in the current year, although he said the number on relief has greatly increased in the past year. I quite agree with him that the number on relief 'has greatly increased. In May of last year the number who were receiving direct relief from the Dominion government was only 718,000. Every month from May until January the number has continued to increase-

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

That is not- correct.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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IND

Angus MacInnis

Independent Labour

Mr. MacINNIS:

Every month except one. For September there was a reduction from August. I have the figures 'here, if the bon. gentleman would like me to read them. I got them from the Department of Labour.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

No, I have them here.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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IND

Angus MacInnis

Independent Labour

Mr. MacINNIS:

I think the hon. gentleman will find I am correct. In so far as these savings that he speaks of have been effected by a lessening of political graft in the handling of unemployment, relief, it is all to the good, even if the unemployed do not benefit. But all the saving that has been made, with that exception, has been made at the expense of the unemployed, made at the co^t of ever lessening relief.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

That is not correct.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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IND

Angus MacInnis

Independent Labour

Mr. MacINNIS:

It means a lowTer standard of living, more misery, slow starvation in the midst of plenty. And' may I say in regard to this matter of cost that we are merely counting

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Maclnnis

the cost in teems of money? Unemployed workers do not eat money, neither are they clothed in money. They eat food, the product of human labour, and if they are clothed at all they are ellothed with the products of human labour. And this has only been brought into being by those who are working now, or perhaps by some of 'those who are now unemployed. The money phase is only a bookkeeping procedure for the owning class in this country in order that they may know what disposal was made of their share of production.

As to the question of clothing for the unemployed, I understand that single unemployed men working in the camps-or in the camps, whether working or not-are being provided with clothing. But there are a great many on direct relief in the cities who are receiving no clothing at all. or for whom there is no provision in the relief schedules for clothing. [DOT]

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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CON

George Brecken Nicholson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

What cities?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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IND

Angus MacInnis

Independent Labour

Mr. MacINNIS:

In the city of Vancouver the number of families on relief on February 15 was 7,130. an increase of 306 in the preceding two weeks. For these 7,130 families there is no provision for clothing in the direct relief. I have here an item from the report of the Vancouver Welfare Federation, consisting of a number of societies formed for the purpose of looking after the needy. Mr. Willard Kitchen, one of the directors, reporting to their annual meeting on the question of clothing, said as follows:

Regarding the problem of clothing for the needy which the federation attempted to meet, with indifferent success by inclusion of a special fund for this purpose in the 1933 campaign, Mr. Kitchen stated that the directors had reached the conclusion that private charity cannot indefinitely meet this need and that the problem must sooner or later be faced by the governments of the city and province in conjunction with the dominion government.

I think that is proof enough that the clothing problem is not being cared for now in direct relief.

I have here another statement, an editorial from the Vancouver Province, when the usual appeal was made for discarded clothing. At that time-this was last November-the number of families on relief was some 6,000. The Province said:

They are drawing allowances for food, but nothing whatever for clothing, and as they are without work and without incomes they have no means of purchasing.

Then it goes on to say:

The lack of clothing falls with particular severity on the children. Without adequate clothing the little folk cannot go to school in the winter weather, and missing school ait this 53719-169

time means even more than missing a drilling in the three "R's." It means missing five or six hours a day in a warm and cheerful atmosphere. It means missing interesting contacts. It means extra hours in a home want-ridden and often gloomy.

And these were the homes that our friends opposite were afraid the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation might take away from people should they ever get into power!

The great need is for clothing for the children. But something must be done for the grown-ups too. There is an old saying to the effect that the coat makes the man. It is equally true that the lack of the coat unmakes him. And every woman, even if she has had no such unhappy experiences herself, can imagine the black despair which poverty can breed in the breast of an unfortunate sister.

I presume she can also realize the great pleasure it gives her to go out wearing some other woman's hat.

The minister in his speech made some reference to the destruction of individualism, and said that the individual himself would have to do something in order to meet the situation he was confronted with through this world wide depression. It is rather strange that the minister should take that position. The Prime Minister, and I believe most others on the government side of the house, tell us that the economic condition is a world wide one and that nothing can be done except by international action, yet the Minister of Labour says i't is up to the individual to do something. If the nation cannot do anything, surely it ought to be conceded that the individual cannot do anything that will be of any appreciable effect. The governments of the world, this country included, ought to realize .that the world is facing a situation such as it has never faced before. Economic changes we have had before; economic systems have given way and others have taken their place, but now we have a breakdown of an economic and social system with the world on an industrial basis, something we never had before. All other changes came about when world economy was much more simple, that is, when world economy was on an agricultural basis. In that case the individual was in close contact with his means of life, but now we are living in a state where, with our huge industrialized cities, we have millions of workers divorced from every contact with their means of life and if they are to live and work for their living that work must- be organized for them by some force outside of themselves. It is quite useless to tell the individual at the present time that he must do something for himself. As a matter of fact we must cooperate whether we like it or not, and let us not forget that

Relief Act, R)S3-Mr. Maclnnis

every step that has been made in human progress has been accomplished through cooperation. Now cooperation is necessary on a scale greater than was ever known or even thought of before, or back to the jungle we go. That does not mean at all that individualism will disappear, but under these conditions the individual can give the greatest expression to that individualism only through cooperation.

I do not think it is necessary to say anything to impress upon this house the seriousness of the unemployment situation and the great increase in the number of unemployed that is taking place. When the census was taken in June, 1931, it showed that Canada's wage and salaried workers numbered 2,564,879, of whom 8T39 per cent were working. Those not at work numbered 471,668, or 18-6 per cent. In that month the index of employment stood at 103-6, while last December it stood at 83-2, a decline of 19-7. Thus the number of people employed in December would be 2,093,211, which, less 19-7 per cent, would be 1,680,849. With the population increasing at the rate of 1-8 peT cent per year the number of employable salaried and wage earners in December would be 2,634,130. When the number employed in December is subtracted from this figure it will be seen that 957,281 were not at work, so we can see the enormous increase in unemployment, and there is no indication that in the near future there will be any let up. If we are going to deal with this question effectively we shall have to deal with it in a more comprehensive and fundamental way than we are doing at the present time. As as matter of fact now we are only adding to the depression instead of relieving it. Speaking on Friday evening last and referring to the lack of policy on the part of the government in respect to unemployment, the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) said:

With respect to the first, the present government's policy is that of the dole, and, with respect to the second, they have no policy at all. Such policies as they have with respect to trade and the like, their fiscal policies are all of a nature to strangle trade instead of encouraging it, and more than anything else are responsible for unemployment in Canada reaching the proportions it has to-day.

It is rather strange how the Liberal party changes places with the Conservative party every once in a while. When the Prime Minister introduced his unemployment relief bill in 1930 he made the following statement:

Many of us who sit on this side of the chamber believe that the policies of a government in a new country with practically un-

'Mr. Maclnnis.]

touched resources is responsible for unemployment. Those who sit to your left, Mr. Chairman, are of the other view and believe that world wide conditions have brought about this result.

Now we have the leader of the opposition taking the position that the policies of the government are causing unemployment, while on the other hand the government takes the stand that their policies have nothing to do with it, that it arises out of world conditions over -which they have no control. However, whether world conditions are responsible or whether the policies of the government are to blame I believe we must have some policy in this country to deal with the unemployment situation regardless of what the rest of the world may do, either that or possibly go down to ruin with the rest of the world.

The leader of the opposition offers two proposals, one of a temporary nature and the other somewhat more permanent. The first is a national unemployment commission. I do not see that such a commision could accomplish a great deal. Possibly it could deal more effectively with what the government is doing at the present time, but certainly it could not initiate policies unless the government favoured that action being taken. The other proposition brought forward by the right hon. gentleman is unemployment insurance. While we in this corner of the house, particularly the labour members, always have been in favour of unemployment insurance, we never suggested it as a permanent cure for unemployment. It is a more scientific and better way to deal with the unemployment situation than anything we have at the present time, but where unemployment insurance is in effect the unemployment problem also exists and is just as crushing as it is here.

May I say in addition that while we would welcome unemployment insurance we quite realize that it is not the solution of the unemployment problem. Unemployment insurance, to have any particular effect, should have been put into operation some years ago. The time to take out an insurance policy on your life is not when you are on your death bed; the time to look after an insurance policy on your building is not when it is on fire, but that is what we are doing at present. There is practically no possibility of arriving at a satisfactory basis at the present time because with the increasing hazard a stable premium would be exceedingly hard to find. How can you make it contributory insurance when you have possibly 900,000 unemployed at the present time who cannot contribute and who have no employers to contribute for

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Casgrain

them? If these men are to participate, a fund will have to be created by the government. For these reasons we feel that while we shall welcome unemployment insurance and while we hope the government will bring down the bill very quickly, it is not a solution to the problem. We feel that something more fundamental will have to be found.

The minister closed his speech with an expression of confidence in the future. I notice that last year, some time in May, he concluded on the very same note. He said, on February 24 of this year:

I have myself a confident belief that with the gradual turn towards other vocations than those which have afforded a certain sense of security to our people in the past, and better business conditions, it will not be too long delayed when the granting of direct relief to our citizens will disappear.

If the Minister of Labour has nothing to offer but a mere expression of confidence that something is going to happen at some time in the near future which will improve business conditions, then it is hardly worth mentioning. His prophecy in that direction last year was not fruitful of much result. All you have to do is to look at the trend of industry. The monthly index of Canadian business conditions, as worked out by McConnell & Ferguson Limited, shows the percentage of business at the lowest point it has reached since the beginning of this depression, and a falling off from a year ago which is very marked. Let us take the four basic factors, all of which have lost ground. In December, 1931, car loadings of revenue freight were 72-5 of normal; on the 1st of December, 1932, it was only 64-9. Construction contract awards, in December, 1931, showed the figure at 85-6, and in 1932 it was 65-1. As regards bank debits, on December 1, 1931, it was 88-6, and on December 1, 1932, 79-5. In electrical energy output, on December 1, 1931, the figure was 82-6, and on December 1, 1932, it was 76. Now, the unemployment figure given us shows the same thing-an ever-decreasing business and an ever-increasing unemployment, and I hope that before this session is over the government will bring forward something that will be of greater benefit to the unemployed than anything they have so far given us.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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LIB

Pierre-François Casgrain (Whip of the Liberal Party)

Liberal

Mr. P. F. CASGRAIN (Charlevoix-Sague-nay):

We are asked by this resolution to endorse the principle that it is expedient to introduce a measure to continue in force the provisions of the Relief Act of 1932 until March 31, 1934. If I understand correctly, the purpose of the resolution is to revive and put into force for another year the same bill 53719-169^

brought down last year over which there was so much contention regarding the large powers given the government to solve the unemployment problem. The complaint made at that time by members on this side and by other members as well was that powers which were by far too wide were given the government in dealing with this matter. It was then contended that it was a usurpation of the powers of this house in view of the fact that the government had the right to do almost anything, that they had a blank cheque given them, which would surely result in trouble. We have had this afternoon an admission from the minister that these very results have ensued.

The contention was also made last year that the parliament of Canada, which under that measure was giving large sums of money towards the relief of unemployment, was being deprived of the control of that money by the persons who were to spend it. We argued then on this side of the house, and rightly so, and our leader (Mr. Mackenzie King) in his brilliant speech a few days ago in this house once more referred to the same thing which he advocated last year and the year before, that in order to solve this problem properly it would have been far better at the very outset of the present situation to organize a national commission which would be dominionwide, to deal with unemployment, having pretty much the powers given to the imperial purchasing commission during the war, and to other such bodies which were working under the direction of the federal government. That was the opinion of my right hon. leader, and it was shared by all those on this side of the house and by a considerable number of the people throughout the countiy. Had such a commission been appointed, the things that have occurred in the province of Quebec and in various other parts of the dominion would not have taken place-such things as were referred to in the house this afternoon by the hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot). I do not say that I would subscribe to everything that the hon. gentleman said but I do say that in what was put before the house this afternoon, when the situation was so clearly explained by that hon. member, we have in a nutshell the situation as it has existed not only in certain parts of the province of Quebec but elsewhere as well, under this very measure which we are now asked to enact again.

I 5vas surprised to hear the Minister of Labour (Mr. Gordon) say this afternoon that if there were reasons for complaint such as were indicated, and if the back to the land movement had not brought the results anti-

Relief Act, 1933-Mr. Casgrain

cipated, it was not the fault of the government but the fault of those administering the legislation in the various provinces, in this instance the province of Quebec. The minister expressed great satisfaction with the organization in the province of Quebec, but he washed his hands so far as objections were concerned with regard to the working of the relief measure, and he did so on this ground. He said, "We have no control of the matter. We have nothing to say as to where people are to be located, in what districts they are to be settled, because it is all done through the organization." Well, that brings me to the point which we emphasized last year and which my right hon. leader touched upon the other day, when he said that it would have been far better if a commission had been appointed to deal with the whole matter, so that this parliament of Canada, which is supreme and which is playing the leading part in the settlement of this problem, would have been in a position to control expenditures not only in the province of Quebec but throughout the country, and we should not have had the spectacle of the minister standing up today and telling us-quite honestly, I say to his credit-that the government were not responsible for what had taken place because they had no control over these things. I submit that this is one good reason for complaining about this legislation, because it deprives parliament, the representatives of the Canadian people, of any say in the matter, although we have to vote the money. It deprives parliament of any voice in regard to the distribution of the money. I do not think we can stress that point too strongly, because it is a complete vindication of the position we took on this side of the house last year, the position stated by my right hon. leader then and in the previous year, and which he referred to once more in his speech on Monday last.

Last year when similar legislation was before the house we stated that there might be certain cases where the provincial government, without intending to evade the law or without intending to do anything wrong, might find itself in a position similar to that outlined to the house this afternoon by the hon. member for Temisoouata. I do mot intend to traverse all the ground covered by the hon. member, but in view of what has been stated this afternoon I think the hon. minister owes it to himself, to this country, to his government and to his leader to see that in future we do not have such things as have been outlined to this house. In 1630 the govern-

ment said that it would settle the question of unemployment, but it has not done so. As has been suggested from this side of the house, the government should take this matter in hand and deal with it in such a way as finally to settle the question.

After all, the question of unemployment rests with this parliament. I remember hearing the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett), when sitting on this side of the house, state that this was a national question, that it was too big for the provinces and the municipalities. He said that the federal government ought to step in and take charge of the matter, and that if he were called upon to prescribe, he would settle the question. I submit that now is the time for the right hon. gentleman and his Minister of Labour to redeem the pledges made in 1930. When that is done we will not have to listen to such complaints as have been made this afternoon by hon. members on this side.

If I wanted to make a long speech and weary the house for many hours I could read into Hansard many reports made by officers of various departments of the government. These reports were prepared as returns to questions I put both this and last session. Instances are cited in my own county where relief work which should have gone to those in need was given to those who had plenty. Such facts back up the argument we have been advancing for the last three years to the effect that a national commission should be appointed to deal with these matters. Just the other day the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Stewart), when told of an instance of this character, stated that .an investigation would be made to ascertain the facts. It will be found that m many cases this relief money has not reached the people who were most in need of maintenance.

Up to the present time this legislation has not met the requirements of this situation. I am not opposed to the principle of the legislation, because I think a situation has developed where the government of the day must take the matter strongly in hand and deal with it in a proper way. We hear prominent people friendly to the administration saying that a national government is needed. When such a course is advocated it shows that there is dissatisfaction with the administration. This government has failed utterly to discharge its duties and implement the promises made in 1930. As has been said before, and as may be said now, we do not share the view that a national government is needed. We believe that what is needed is a change of

Penitentiary Act

government, because the present government instead of taking the country out of its distress is quickly piling it upon the rocks.

After three years in power all that the government has done, to quote the words of the Postmaster General (Mr. Sauve) this afternoon, is to do the best it could. Its best has not been very much, because the situation has not been improved. It is worse than it ever was; it is surely worse than it was in 1930 when the government came into power. The situation will not right itself even with the assistance of this measure. Unless the government is willing to put its ear to the ground to hear what is going on, it cannot meet the wishes of the people. This legislation is simply a last resort because the government has nothing else to offer. The only thing the government seems able to do is to renew legislation which has utterly failed to meet the needs of the country and to implement the promises made in 1930.

Would Your Honour call it eleven o'clock?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION FOR ONE YEAR OF PROVISIONS OF RELIEF ACT, 1932
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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Friday, March 3, 1933


March 2, 1933