February 7, 1934

LIB

Charles A. Stewart

Liberal

Hon. CHARLES STEWART (West Edmonton) :

Mr. Speaker, I have been greatly interested in the debate this afternoon; it has brought out many diverse opinions. I am bound to say that with much that has been uttered by the last speaker (Mr. Geary) I agree; but when he states that a public building has no value as a coverage for the issue of currency, to some extent I must disagree with him. I cannot see any difference between the borrowing, which is the usual practice, of the money necessary to construct a public building, having the bonds mature ten, fifteen or twenty years hence and paying interest on the investment during the whole period, and the issue within reason of money for a public building that is a permanent asset, less, of course, depreciation. I can quite appreciate the fact that my hon. friend is fearful of inflation and too much, money, but in my opinion the money is not going out of Canada; this is a domestic undertaking and has nothing to do with our exchange, and during the period of the investment we may well be in the position in which we are to-day, that we still have the necessary gold coverage, or, if need be, we can reduce it to twenty-five per cent.

I am opposed to the unlimited printing of money, because this would be useless, but I am fearful of our position generally in Canada, not alone that we are debtors to the extent of $9,000,000,000, which is a colossal sum for the Canadian people to pay interest on, but that we have our own federal debt, plus our railway debt which, as was mentioned by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) a few days ago when he was speaking in the house, we shall have to assume. For the life of me I cannot see that it is safe for the federal government to borrow more mone3r and pay interest on it. The worst feature of the situation is that in all probability for the next few years we shall be faced with inability to provide by way of taxation the necessary revenues to carry on our ordinary everyday expenses. We are not the only sinners in that respect. The provinces are following in our footsteps, so that we have not a pleasant financial prospect to face. If the government, as announced in the speech from the throne, intend to begin the construction of public works to relieve unemployment, then to me it seems that the safe course to pursue is to issue additional

currency to a reasonable amount for that purpose. I do not say it should be issued to an unlimited extent, but I do hope they will not go into the marts of the world and borrow more money, thus adding to the public debt of this country upon which we now have difficulty paying the interest.

I do think this will be helpful; I quite agree with other speakers that it will not meet the situation in its entirety, but I think perhaps it would help carry us over what undoubtedly is going to be another serious year so far as unemployment is concerned. For a few moments to-day I had the pleasure of talking with General McNaughton, and I was rather pleased to learn that the result of the efforts of the federal government to provide employment, not necessarily paid employment but at all events to give men who could secure no employment, food and clothing-

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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

And shelter.

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

-though I do not think we need bother to mention the remuneration they receive. I learned that almost fifty thousand young men have passed through the hands of the department. That is a very large number of our citizens, and if fifty thousand more men could secure employment under the plan now proposed it would all be helpful. Naturally this would apply not only to unmarried men but also to married men who are in receipt of relief today.

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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I just want to correct the hon. gentleman on one point, because I know he will be anxious to have it right. Fifty thousand men have passed through their hands, but there are twenty-one thousand men still in their employ.

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

I was merely mentioning the number given me by the general as having been employed from time to time since the inception of the camps.

I do not intend to go into the question of unemployment generally; we all deplore it and we all agree that something worth while should be done. I merely wish to say that so far as I am concerned I personally do not agree with the idea of going into the money marts of the world and borrowing funds for this purpose. I think plenty of work can be provided in the construction even of public buildings that are required by the federal government throughout Canada. I do not say that by this means we will employ a very large percentage of the men now out of employment, but it will be helpful and in my opinion it will be safe. So I hope that when the government bring down their program

Unemployment Relief-Mr. Maclnnis

they will bear in mind the two points I have mentioned, that we should not be charged with inflation, that we shall have plenty of coverage for the issue of this currency, and that the injection of this currency into circulation will be helpful in many quarters and will provide employment for those who cannot secure it otherwise.

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IND

Angus MacInnis

Independent Labour

Mr. ANGUS MacINNIS (Vancouver South):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to say

just a few words in support of the motion moved by the hon. member for Macleod (Mr. Coote): The hon. gentleman has a certain

amount of expert knowledge along financial lines. I do not say that I have any such knowledge, but it often occurred to me that a sound system of finance that impoverishes three-quarters of the population must have some flaw in it somewhere, and that is what has happened within the last few years.

I do not see that it should make any particular difference to the credit of the country if the dominion were to issue $100,000,000 of new currency or if the government should establish a credit of $100,000,000 in order to carry on some kind of work. The hon. member for West Edmonton (Mr. Stewart) is concerned about the debt of the country, and I should like to say something in this connection because I believe I know more about it than I know about finance. I believe it is absolutely impossible to carry on the system under which we are living without an ever-increasing amount of debt. I say it is impossible for this reason, that the producers of wealth never receive for producing that wealth sufficient to enable them to consume it, and consequently the surplus values which they produce cannot be removed from the market or disposed of except by creating new debt. That debt, whether it arises through investment in new capital equipment, whether it arises through government borrowings for public works, or whether it is spent in destructive effort in war, keeps piling up. There is no possible way by which those surplus values can be disposed of except by creating debt, so the longer the capitalist system continues the more debt we will have.

I believe that in dealing with this question of unemploj'ment we should take it for granted that every other hon. member of this house is just as interested in the problem and its solution as we are. Last year I spoke at many meetings at which I criticized the Prime Minister and the policies of this government, but I always stated that I was satisfied that the Prime Minister was just as much interested in finding a solution for the problem of unemployment as I was. But I wish to go further

than that. The Prime Minister insists on trying to find a solution within the ambit of the present system, and I say that a solution within the ambit of capitalism is absolutely impossible.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

No.

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IND

Angus MacInnis

Independent Labour

Mr. MacINNIS:

Very well; bring forward your solution and pass it on to the Prime Minister. I am sure he will be glad to get it, because he has been looking for a solution for the last four or five years. Even if we went back to the peak of employment and production that existed in 1928, still one-half of those unemployed to-day would remain unemployed. The technological improvements in mechanical equipment make it absolutely impossible to decrease unemployment unless we increase very substantially the rewards to labour in the production of wealth. That is the point we should bear in mind, that no matter what steps we may take here, whether they be by way of shortening hours of labour or the provision of public works, they are merely palliatives, though even palliatives should not be turned down in an emergency of this kind.

I do not think there is any particular merit in the solution offered by the hon. member for Stanstead (Mr. Hackett), who suggested going back to the land and living as our pioneer forefathers did one hundred or one hundred and fifty years ago. Why stop there? If we are mot to take advantage of all the advances that have been made during that time why should we stop at one hundred years back? Why not go back many thousands of years and live in caves in the earth, as our forbears did? It is just as logical to suggest one as the other. As a matter of fact, life is very simple, if we would only take time to analyze it and not base our assumptions on preconceived ideas. Man has always been able to sustain himself, and has always done so. Primitive man provided himself with food and if he needed clothing he provided himself with it. But, as man advanced and gained knowledge certain divisions of labour came about, so that instead of one man doing all the labour necessary for his own sustenance he did only a certain part of it. Then he exchanged directly the product of that labour with some one else for something that person had produced. Now that we have reached the machine age although everyone of us, when he can, performs some useful social function in society, we are unable to exchange with others without paying tribute to a third party.

I am a street-railway man. When working in my home city I take various people to

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Unemployment Relief-Mr. Maclnnis

work in the morning,-the tailor, the baker, the barber, the candlestick maker, the carpenter, the machinist. In taking those people to work I am merely exchanging certain services for services these people are performing for me. The tailor makes my clothes, the barber cuts my hair, the carpenter builds my house, and so forth.

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CON

Eccles James Gott

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GOTT:

I rise to a point of order. The hon. gentleman has spoken for ten minutes and has not referred to the matter before the house.

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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member addressing the house is in order.

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IND

Angus MacInnis

Independent Labour

Mr. MacINNIS:

The resolution under discussion is very wide and if the hon. member for South Essex (Mr. Gott) does not like what I have to say he does not have to listen to it; consequently he will not learn anything.

The point I make is this, that while we are performing these services we are paying tribute to certain other people who have gained control of our activities. The amount they take in tribute has become so great that there is not anything left in the hands of the producers whch will enable them to consume the wealth they have produced. If hon. members wish proof of my statement all they have to do is to refer to -the resolution passed only a few days ago concerning the appointment of a committee to investigate the spread in the prices of commodities. The condition I have described has become so unbearable and so obvious that in these days everyone can see it.

I suggest the resolution moved by the hon. member for Macleod has considerable merit not as a solution for our problems, but along with certain other palliatives it would be the means of doing something for the great number of unemployed who find themselves not only suffering physical discomfort but who are in danger of losing their morale in the struggle with the conditions confronting them.

Mr. J. II. STITT (Selkirk): Mr. Speaker, I have listened with a great deal of interest to the resolution before the house this afternoon, and in order that anything I have to say may be properly recorded I beg leave as an introduction to my remarks to read the resolution. It is as follows:

That, in the opinion of this house, in view of the large number of unemployed, and with the necessity of increasing the purchasing power of the people, it is expedient that the government give immediate consideration to the inauguration of a large scale program of public works, to be financed by a direct issue of noninterest bearing dominion notes.

The people in my constituency, and those of the province of Manitoba certainly expect

fMr. Maclnnis.]

me to make some contribution to this debate. I do not pretend to be an expert economist; I do not pretend to have a solution, but while attending a university for a period of three years before the war I had the pleasure and experience of trying to master some of the principles of economics. Then, following the war I was employed for a period of three years in the bureau of statistics, and for another three-year term I have been a member of this House of Commons. During my membership in this chamber I have learned something from the debates. May I say at the outset that I agree very much more with the hon, member for Macleod (Mr. Coote) than I do with the hon. members for Stanstead (Mr. Hackett) and South Toronto (Mr. Geary) who spoke this afternoon. I should also make it clear that in accepting the nomination as a candidate in the constituency of Selkirk I told the electors assembled that if the time came in this House of Commons when I believed the interests of my country were in conflict with those of my party, my country would get my vote.

I do not see any great reason why the government cannot accept the motion now before the house. It is already committed to a program of public works, although it is not stated in the speech from the throne whether or not there will be a large-scale program. In the very nature of things, if the program of public works is to be used as a remedy for unemployment it ought to be not a small but a more than ordinary program. From rumours I have heard and from reading between the lines I believe the government is contemplating a rather extensive program.

I should like to say this afternoon something which I hope will sink into the minds and hearts of every hon. member of the government and every hon. member supporting it. Before doing so, I must ask you, Mr. Speaker, to call for better order. I should like in this connection to refer to the reasonable speech made by the hon. member for West Edmonton (Mr. Stewart). There is an issue facing the government to-day the like of which has never faced any government in Canada. To the extent to which the government faces that issue it will be either victorious or defeated. Nay, more, Mr. Speaker; the welfare of the great mass of humanity in Canada will be enhanced, or the opportunity will be lost. There can be no doubt about that. If I could write upon the wall like the prophet of old, "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin." I would take the words of the hon. member for West Edmonton and say, "Beware, before you commit yourselves

Unemployment Relief-Mr. Stitt (Selkirk)

to a policy of going out, borrowing money and adding to the already burdensome debt of interest overhanging Canada at the present time." I suggest that the government do not neglect the proposal contained in this resolution, and that it consider the financing of public works projects by the direct issue of non-interest bearing dominion notes. I want to make myself clear. I do not believe in uncontrolled and unwarranted inflation, but I say that we have entered into an agreement with the great powers of the world-I believe that Canada is a signatory to that agreement-whereby our gold base may be reduced to 25 per cent. We are standing at the threshold of opportunity when the value of gold has been increased to this enormous extent by the action of the President of the United States, who has handed to this government and to this country, if they want to take, it, a present of almost $60,000,000. That is the situation to-day.

There is this to be said for the proposals enunciated by the hon. member for Macleod. He was fair and reasonable throughout the greater part of his speech. He did not advocate uncontrolled inflation. I want to say this right here in this house, that I believe that the kind of preaching of sound money that we have had in this country is wholly unsound. It has been sweet-sounding for the receivers of interest, but it has meant fury for the masses of Canadians; there is no doubt about that.

I cannot, however, follow the hon. member for Macleod when he proposed that this money ought to be issued in the form of scrip and that through stamps affixed thereto it should depreciate by one per cent per month.

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UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. COOTE:

I made that as one alternative suggestion. There were several others.

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CON

James Herbert Stitt

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STITT (Selkirk):

I do not think that suggestion is acceptable because it occurred to me, when that suggestion was made, that after a period of eight years the symbol of wealth which he proposed, namely scrip, would be automatically destroyed. But there is another reason even more cogent why his proposition should not be accepted. We would then have two kinds of circulating media in this country. We would have a poorer medium as against a better medium, and according to Gresham's law, which would immediately start to operate, the superior medium would be hoarded and the inferior medium would go into circulation. I do not think that you can have in any country a currency medium of more than one kind. I

think the experience of the world has tended tp show that the inferior medium always drives out the superior and more excellent one.

Nor can I quite agree with the hon. member for Macleod that that is the best way in which to give purchasing power to the people. There certainly is more than one way which ought to be considered. It is, however, one way by which we can secure purchasing power for the masses of the people and give them considerable employment.

The hon. member for Stanstead (Mr. Hackett) in his remarks said that there was no unemployment on the farm. It is true that there is plenty of employment on the farms in Canada to-day, but the agriculturists of this country are almost in a state of serfdom. They are down almost to the status of peasants on the soil. What is the situation that we have in western Canada? Half our export market has been lost; the price of wheat has been reduced almost by fifty per cent, and the whole graungrowing industry has to operate on a twenty-five per cent basis. Is this the time to increase the competition amongst producers on the farm? Is this the time to make more difficult the conditions under which agriculture is operating in this country to-day? That is only a palliative that will last only a little while. It is not really trying to mobilize the forces which we have in this country, and it is not a serious attempt to really cope with the situation.

I remember also that the hon. member for Stanstead said that we have built up in this country an industrial system of which we are proud. But, Mr. Speaker, I for one am not very proud of our industrial system. I do not see how any man in this house can be proud of the situation to-day, with thousands of railwaymen, for instance, thrown out of employment, and where the artisan and the mechanic has no longer any function to perform, where not only are the muscles of men deteriorating through idleness but the skill which their hands have learned through years of labour is being lost, and where hope is fading from their eyes and faith is dying in their hearts of having any reasonable kind of future life. No, Mr. Speaker, I cannot agree with the hon. member for Stanstead when he says that we are proud of our industrial system. I am ashamed of it, Mr. Speaker.

I had occasion the other day to speak in a church in this city for a little while, and I could not help saying that when that little group in the corner of this house says that things are wrong, they are certainly express-

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Unemployment Relief-Mr. Stitt (Selkirk)

ing the truth. Things are wrong, and no matter what speeches are made on this side, no matter how many platitudes are uttered, no matter how we may talk of the spirit of the pioneers, I say that what this country wants is the pioneer spirit in legislation-the spirit that is not afraid, the spirit that is not the high priest of the status quo, the spirit that will go out, to use the words of Lloyd George, and develop our domain, and that will bring to the masses of humanity the necessities of life, for those necessities exist in abundance if only we have the will and the energy and the inspiration to find a way of bringing them to the people.

As there is going to be a program of public works in this country I think that the government should give very serious consideration to the motion that has been proposed. I have just been worrying about an attitude that the government might adopt, and I am going to tell the government through you, Mr. Speaker, if I may, just why I have been worrying as I have been. We have a situation existing in Canada in which we have to pay many millions of dollars in interest on the obligations of the national railway. According to the information that was given to the house by the banking committee last year, that situation is costing us $428,000,000 in interest annually. What are we going to do about it? Are we going to reduce taxation? Are we going to issue money on a twenty-five per cent gold basis and on a plan, consequent upon a revaluation of gold, so that we may cut down taxation? Are we going to refuse to give the people of this country the services they require and lose the opportunity of stimulating business? Or are we going so to organize and control the situation that we shall be in a position to give to the masses of the Canadian people the opportunity they deserve? There is no man or no group in this house that I need be afraid of and I want to say again just as profoundly and deliberately as I can that if this money that can be obtained by the reconstruction of our finances is not used in a humane, in a heroic and in a reasonable way to promote opportunity in this country, then the government will be defeated. In my humble opinion it will deserve defeat.

There is perhaps another matter to which I should refer. I think that one of the great difficulties which we are facing at the present time is the interest burden which the country is carrying. One of the reasons for this is the loss of equilibrium between the value of money being paid in the way of interest and the wages received for labour and. prices

obtained for other commodities. How can a man who agreed years ago to pay eight per cent interest upon an obligation feel that it is equitable for 'him to have to pay that nominal amount when he has to produce two and one-half or three times as much goods to meet his obligation? I believe that the time has come when we shall have to get money out of the pockets of the hoarder's and put it into the pockets of the spenders. Any scheme which can be elaborated by this house to do that very thing will help to solve the situation.

As an example, let us consider the situation of a farmer who contracted an interest obligation in 1926 when wheat was selling at $1.56 per bushel. With wheat selling a't 52 cents per bushel last year, that man had to produce three times the amount of wheat in order to pay the interest upon an obligation contracted in 1926. A nominal rate of interest of eight per cent in 1926 becomes twenty-four per cent when based upon present-day purchasing power. That is usury. When we talk about the sanctity of contracts and when we sanctify nominal rates of interest we forget that what looked like a reasonable contract in 1926 has become a slave pact in 1933. I think it was revealed last session that the parliament of Canada has the power to reduce interest rates already contracted for, and I believe we should exercise that power. If I have the time I shall try to develop my argument.

One of the great difficulties we are facing at the (present time is the fact that we are in the straitjacbet of interest. These long term contracts have taken possession of our whole body politic and economic and we do not seem to be able to extricate ourselves from the burden which is overpowering us. But we could do so by means of a simple amendment to the Interest Act. All we need to do is to state in clear-cut language that all interest rates contracted for and payable in Canada are to be reduced by thirty-three and one-third per cent. The question may be asked: What is going to happen to our external debt? What will happen to our external debt if we go on the way we are going? We shall not .pay any of the principal, let alone the interest. A true Conservative policy, a true Liberal policy and a true Progressive policy is one which faces facts. It is one under which the debtor can meet the creditor and say: This is all that I can pay; these are all my goods; this I will pay you but give me an opportunity to conserve some portion of the money you have loaned me and provide me an opportunity to pay you without becoming your slave.

Unemployment Relief-Mr. Stitt (Selkirk)

It will be stated that we owe $4,000,000,000 in the United States and that we must pay the interest upon this obligation. I believe that matter could be arranged by the international joint commission. I believe we could go to the United States and say something like this: Uncle Sam, we have been the best payers in the known world; in the past we have paid you all the interest and the principal we agreed to pay; we have also paid you a pretty penalty by way of exchange and we have given you nearly all the gold that we have produced during the last three or four years; when we borrowed this money you were willing to take our grain, our wheat, our coal and our lumber but you have now closed your doors; instead of leaving us a reasonable opportunity to pay you, you have put us in a position of serfdom. That is what the American tariff policy has done to this country. England is not able to pay her obligations to the United States. The Argentine is not able to pay and Russia still owes $500,000,000 which she has refused to pay. Why cannot we say to President Roosevelt and his advisors: You have a National Recovery Act in your country and we need one in ours; you as a great nation are dedicated to the principle that you cannot exist half slave and half free and we ask you to extend that principle to us your northern neighbour.

There is another way in which this could be done. In the act which we could pass curtailing interest rates by thirty-three and one-third per cent there could be a final clause to read as follows:

This act will not become operative until proclaimed by the governor general in council.

In the meantime we could go to the United States and show them the situation which exists in this country. We could say to them: Let us float new loans in your country at one-third less interest and thereby give us a chance to preserve our autonomy and our position as a creditor country.

Four billion dollars is owed to the United States and something like $1,400,000,000 to England. What has England done? The government of that country reduced the interest rate on a large loan, I believe it amounted to hundreds of millions of pounds, from over four per cent to something like two and one-quarter per cent. Did we not spend $2,000,000,000 in money and sacrifice the lives of 60,000 of the best of our sons to go to the assistance of England and the empire? Why could we not say to them: If we are British subjects and have paid you this tribute, why can you not give us an opportunity to free ourselves from these shackles that bear us

down? Give us a chance to live and to perform the services which are required by our people.

There is still another matter upon which I should speak. An excellent means of assisting the promotion of prosperity and increasing employment in this country would be provided by the creation of a reconstruction purchasing board financed by new money issued on the new gold basis. This would link up the buying power of agriculture and put the industries of Canada to work. This question may be asked: Is there any credit left in Canada; is there any purchasing power? Yes, there is. I believe it is true to say, of over 50 per cent of the farm owners and home owners in Canada, that they have no mortgages whatsoever on their lands and homes. I believe there are many farmers and home owners who have mortgages of less than 25 per cent of the value of their properties and upon which all interest and taxes are paid to date. By a questionnaire which can easily be devised in the' bureau of statistics an examination can be made of the purchasing power of these Canadians. Questions like these might be asked: Your name, your legal address; the municipality in which your land is situated; the encumbrances upon your farm or property; the amount owing, and whether taxes are paid or not; how much of your land is developed, and so on. A number of other questions would suggest themselves, all intended to ascertain the purchasing power or credit of the individual. Through the officials, the information received in answer to the questionnaire, might be verified by means of four letters. One letter could be sent to the registry office in which the land is located, to ascertain whether there was any encumbrance or not. Another letter could be sent to the assessor to see what the situation was in regard to tax payments and as to the amount of land cultivated and developed. A further letter could be sent to the bank manager, or a letter might be sent to the municipal official regarding the credit of the individual; and by means of a reconstruction purchasing board we could begin to place orders in the factories upon receipt of orders from the home owner or farmer, which would mean employment for citizens and credit extension for the farmers and home owners.

I am told that it is imposible to work out this scheme. It is not impossible; I contend that it is quite easy. I worked on questionnaires in the industrial census for three years in the civil service of this country, and the essential element in the scheme I propose is that it will prevent hoarding. No money

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Unemployment Relief-Mr. Still (Selkirk)

would be lent as money to the farmer or the home owner. The orders would come from these people to the reconstruction board and would then be offered to the manufacturers, and the money for the goods would be paid to the manufacturers or their agents direct, secured by a lien in the form of a promissory note from the agriculturist. By this scheme the 8100,000,000, if it is going to be created, could be put into circulation in the most feasible way, and it would guarantee a greater velocity of circulation than any other scheme I have been able to think of. It would mean that the farms would be reconditioned; old barns and homes would be repainted and redecorated. After the plan had been in operation a few months the board would find itself in this position; it would have orders possibly for four thousand mowers, five thousand binders, ten thousand sets of harness, fifteen thousand cultivators, twenty thousand democrats; and the farmer or home owner would be able to specify in his order to the board the particular kind of article he wanted. This would insure his getting a standard article and that the money was not being placed by those who were hoping to further their own political fortunes.

Just realize the situation we are faced with. Here is a scheme whereby the country can issue, without paying interest thereon, a sum of money all the way from 81 to $250,000,000; and as the money has not to be paid for in the ordinary way, that is to say, secured by obligations entailing the payment of interest, we shall have for it such goods and services as the country needs at the present time. Factories would start to work on orders for goods not [DOT] yet manufactured, and it would mean that the whole of eastern Canada would start operating again to supply the demands of western agriculture. It would mean, I believe, according to reasonable estimates, that the money would be turned over ten or twelve times, and if we utilized 8100,000,000 in this vay we should be able to provide within Can-ida at the present time anywhere from $1,000,000,000 to $1,250,000,000 of new business.

I have put up this scheme this afternoon largely because the opportunity presented itself and not because I have been prepared in the way I ought to have been to submit this suggestion. I appeared before the royal commission on Banking and Currency and presented these ideas to them. I was told I was afraid to make these proposals to the House of Commons. I am not afraid to make them, and I make them in the humble hope that they may be of some assistance and that this house will perhaps recognize that there are *ways whereby we can put this country to work

at the present time. Let me add this additional feature. In handing these orders to the manufacturers we could say. "You are not going to have any overtime in your plant. If you are going to get these orders you will have to operate on a six or a sevenf-hour day and you will have to pay wages that are fair and reasonable, wages that will provide a reasonable standard of living." Perhaps this criticism will be advanced: Well, this is good only for a year or two, so long as the money lasts. I ask, however, what man can look forward more than one or two years in this present world with the forces of change and even of chaos operating in it? You can take this scheme of mine and if you save $133,000,000 of interest yearly you can put $100,000,000 into business in Canada annually, and you will not have the same interest obligations in twenty-five years that you have to-day.

The great burden we are facing at the present time is the burden of rigid interest rates, and it is closing around us like an anaconda ; it is squeezing the life out of the country or, to change the metaphor, it is poisoning the whole process, economic and politic. It means that capital to-day has no confidence; it is so imbued with fear that it cannot go ahead. When the present leader of the Conservative party in the province of Manitoba saj^s that this is the time for governments to get out of the way and give business a chance, I say that business is paralyzed with fear, and this is the time for the government to step in in a reasonable way to give a lead to business, to give the business man some confidence and to rebuild, on this system which is crumbling down, a new system that will be an improvement in which opportunities will be enlarged and Canadians may inherit the life for which they were intended.

I have given much thought to this proposition. I have laid it before influential men in this country and it has been received with a great deal of approbation. I hope that my contribution to the debate this afternoon will be taken in the spirit in which it is intended. In the year 1914 I offered my life for my country; that life was not taken. I offer now what ideas I have, prompted by no ulterior hope of profit to myself.

In closing I should like to commend the eloquent testimony which the hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Bourassa), in his speech on the address to His Excellency the other evening, paid to the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) . That was a speech made by perhaps the most independent man in the house, a man who is now moved by the spiritual verities for in his speech he spoke about those

Questions

imponderables that moved the Prime Minister in his service to this country. He spoke about a possible basis of union when we could forget the party questions that divide us in the house at the present time. The citizens of Canada are not interested in the maledictions that are hurled at the little group in the corner and they despise the petty talk that goes across the floor of the house from party to party in a partisan warfare which really does not spell and will not work welfare in Canada. It may be stated that what I have suggested is only a dream, but it is something that I have worked out as a lawyer with what little knowledge I have of economics, with my experience as a member of this chamber and with what training I received in the Dominion Bureau of Statistics.

I remember one day when I was a soldier on the battlefields of Flanders, there was a huge gun that used to go off periodically; it exploded at a cost of $1,400 for each shot. As I listened to this gun, I used to wonder in my humble and perhaps dreamy way whether the time would ever come when I would have $1,400 to complete my education. That opportunity came and I am here this afternoon, humble as I may be, unlearned, unschooled and without the art of eloquence to move people who are not even listening to my voice. But if we had $2,000,000,000 to spend upon a war in Europe, if this country had thousands, nay millions, of dollars to send us over there in a blood-letting expedition, the horror of which can never be realized and never be painted by anyone who participated therein, surely the government of the day will not lose the opportunity; surely they will see that forces over which they have no control have placed in their lap, if they want to grasp it, the colossal sum of $250,000,000. Will it be used in a heroic and righteous way? Shall this country achieve prosperity or shall the nation perish?

Mr. HENRY E. SPENCER (Battle River): Mr. Speaker, I wish first of all to congratulate very heartily the hon. member for Selkirk (Mr. Stitt) on the able, earnest and valuable speech which he has just delivered. If hon. members would speak as directly as he has done on the subject before us, I feel sure many of our problems would be quickly solved. He has touched on certain important points, with some of which I shall deal; and I shall make some references to speeches made by other hon. members.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   PROPOSED PROGRAM OF PUBLIC WORKS FINANCED BY DIRECT DOMINION NOTE ISSUE
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At six o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Thursday, February 8, 1934


February 7, 1934