April 10, 1934

CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I think it may well be

asked why we should take up time going over all this again. It has been gone over at least four times in this house, year after year, to my certain knowledge. I have not the papers with me, the minister has not, the matter was closed and ended twice, three times, four times; now we are at it again. I said that I sat at a conference in the government buildings at Regina. Certain representations were made, I do not carry the names of the people in my head but I think if hon. members will turn up Hansard they will find perhaps that I was then able to remember the names. It was a conference held with the government and certain repre-

Relief Act, 1934

sentatives of those who lived in the devastated areas, and the suggestion was made that they thought it highly desirable that they should have opportunity to treat it not as charity but as a loan; and I said, Very well. After that it was so treated in some eases, not in all. Since then some $8,000 has been repaid, I was not aware of the figure until it was mentioned.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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LIB

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VALLANCE:

In view of what has

happened since 1932, and the desire of these people to pay back that which they got for relief, and in view also of the fact that in no other province were notes or any promise given to pay back that which they got as relief, will the government now consider the suggestion made by the hon. member for Swift Current (Mr. Bothwell) that these notes be cancelled? Because, as I know, those people are in no position, nor will they be for many years to come, to pay those notes. I was rather surprised to learn that even $8,000 had been paid back. I think it would be a very nice gesture, if nothing else, on the part of this government to cancel these notes. I might remind the Prime Minister of this: On the first occasion when this matter was drawn to his attention, he will find, if he looks back over Hansard, that even he had no intimation or knowledge that they were giving notes at that time. In view of that and in view of what has happened since this relief was given and in view of the fact that the other provinces have all got the relief without promise to pay back, I ask the government now that these notes be cancelled.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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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:

Mr. Chairman, I would not bother taking up further time were it not for the fact that the hon. gentleman's statement is hardly correct. Saskatchewan was the only province in which the dominion paid the whole of the relief within a limited area. I may say that the question as to what should happen with respect to any moneys received in repayment, has engaged the attention of the government on more than one occasion, but the sum received was so small that no action was taken. I am not sure whether or not in the last discussion that took place with the treasurer of Saskatchewan it was intimated that it might be desirable to cancel the notes; at any rate the question has been under discussion on several occasions. The situation in that area is entirely different from any other, that being the only part of Canada in which the relief was paid wholly by the dominion government, and no one has yet been able to say

that those who gave these notes have now made up their minds that they desire to have the relief given treated as charity and not as a loan.

I can say at any rate that there is no intention on the part of the government to take any steps to enforce payment of notes. I say that to the hon. gentlemen. That was stated to the Saskatchewan government, I am not sure whether it was stated in this house or not, but both the hon. gentlemen can rest assured that no steps will be taken by the government to endeavour to collect the amounts. But the hon. gentleman must get it clear in his own mind that this is the only case of its kind that there is in Canada. It is the only part of Canada in which the dominion government assumed the total responsibility. Perhaps it will be recalled that on a certain day in July I intimated that a national disaster had occurred by reason of the destruction of the crops in that area, and we treated it as such. I do not know that any further assurance need be given that no one would think for a moment of taking any action to enforce payment, but in view of the difference of opinion entertained by some who received the benefits it would be a little difficult to make the statement that the hon. gentleman suggests should be made.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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LIB

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VARIANCE:

I spent a few days in Saskatchewan within the last two weeks, and I know, and I think the Prime Minister realizes just as well as I do, the difficulty the farmers there-and in fact in all western Canada-are having to-day. If assurance were given by the government that these notes would not be collected I think many who now owe this money to the government or to the relief commission might find it easier to finance the putting in of their crop this year. I can assure the Prime Minister that it is not for any political reasons that we say what we are saying to-day, it is merely in the interests of those in the province who are attempting to carry on.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

Could the minister inform

the committee to whom the notes are made payable?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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CON

George Gordon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

I am inclined to think

that the notes are payable to the relief commission. That was a commission set up by the province of Saskatchewan at the request of the dominion government to supervise the carrying on of relief in that area that had suffered successive crop failures. The notes are payable either to the province or to that commission.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

Have the dominion government themselves insisted on these notes being made in favour of the Saskatchewan relief commission or any other body? And do the government ask for a refund of their portion of any money collected by any of these public bodies that was paid out for relief?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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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:

The hon. gentleman I

think has still an erroneous understanding of the situation. No notes were given after the first year, as far as I have been able to ascertain; that is, by the end of 1931, outside of seed grain notes, none were given. The giving of the notes that were given came about in the way I have indicated. Relief is administered in Saskatchewan through the provincial administration by means of money received from the dominion, just as in all the other provinces, except in the devastated area during the first year, or down I think to 1931-perhaps the hon. gentlemen who have all these matters before them will be able to give me the accurate date. But the report of the auditor general refers only to the period in which certain moneys were received, namely, in 1932. I speak subject to correction but I believe that the only case in which notes were given with respect to relief were in the wholly devastated area, where the dominion government assumed the whole responsibility; and the reasons they were given are those which I have indicated. There is still a sense of pride among some of the recipients, to the extent that they have paid $8,000 to this government on account of the relief then received. My memory is that the notes weTe taken either in the name of the province or in the name of the relief commission, which of course was administering dominion relief. In order that it might be a proper commission we asked the province to appoint it, as we have no power to interfere with provincial matters, they appointed the commission at our instance and it has continued to function since then for the province with respect to provincial relief.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

If I may continue along that line for a moment, my inquiry was a little wider than the answer given by the Prime Minister. I know that in some parts of the country notes were given by recipients of relief at the instigation of the municipal authorities.

Some 'hon. MEMBERS: No.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

Saskatchewan is not the

whole of Canada; there are other parts of the country as well. I know that in Winnipeg

Relief Act, 1934

notes were given by these recipients of relief, and perhaps in some instances some money was returned by them after they had received a certain amount of relief from the local authorities. It was in respect of that form of relief that I was asking whether the dominion government was a party to the request that the recipients of relief should sign notes so that some day they might have to pay back what they had received by way of assistance. I know that in Winnipeg these notes were signed to a very large extent, and there was a great deal of complaint in regard to that practice. I presume, and indeed I am fairly sure, that the attention of the Minister of Labour was directed to this fact during the course of the discussion either last year or the year before. I feel that when a person is in a position to repay the money he has received, that is a very nice thing, but I think in ninety-five per cent of the cases the signing of notes simply means an added burden upon people who probably never will be able to pay back what they have received. I want to know if the dominion government was a party to the request that these notes be signed by those receiving public relief outside of certain areas in Saskatchewan, and whether the government has obtained any funds as a result of these notes having been signed.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
CON

George Gordon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

Mr. Chairman, the answer is no.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
LIB

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VALLANCE:

It is rather regrettable that we should get these things all mixed up. We were dealing with the province of Saskatchewan. In reply to what the Prime Minister has said may I say that I hold in my hand the appendix to the report, dated June 27, 1932, and headed Investigation of Saskatchewan Relief Commission. I turn over the page and I find a copy of the application for relief made to the Saskatchewan relief commission, at the foot of which I find the note which the applicant is required to sign. The note reads as follows:

I, the above named applicant, hereby

faithfully promise and agree to pay to the Saskatchewan relief commission on behalf of His Majesty the King in the right of the Dominion of Canada,-

I think this proves conclusively that this government has absolute control as to what should be done with these notes, which are payable .to the commission on behalf of His Majesty the King in the right of the Dominion of Canada.

-on or before the first day of November, A.D. 1933, the full value of all relief now or subsequently obtained by me from the Saskatchewan relief commission at the values or prices stated by the said commission.

Relief Act, 1934

I think my question was quite in order. Now that these notes are payable to the Saskatchewan relief commission on behalf of His Majesty the King in the right of the Dominion of Canada, I believe this government has the power to say now what it proposes to do with these notes. And might I tell the government again, most emphatically, that we are not attempting to play any politics in this matter; just as much credit will go to the government as will go to those of us who are pressing for this action. If it were not that we are so well aware of the condition that exists out there to-day I do not think we would be pressing this matter, because we are in agreement with what the Prime Minister has said. There are many in western Canada who want to pay back one hundred cents on the dollar, in spite of what may be the opinion in eastern Canada. But in view of the fact that in some other portions of Canada those receiving relief have not been compelled-I will not say compelled -or asked to sign notes I think it would be a very fine gesture on the part of the government if they would now state that these notes will not be collected, so that these farmers may put in their crops this year without fear.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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CON

Richard Langton Baker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BAKER:

May I ask the hon. member this question: If some of these borrowers have the desire to pay back what they have received, does he not think they Should be permitted to do so? There are certain people who like to pay back what they borrow, and they should not be deprived of that right.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
LIB

John Vallance

Liberal

Mr. VALLANCE:

I do not wish to enter

into any discussion with those who are not responsible for putting through this measure, but I will say to the hon. member that when these people said they would like to pay back this money they 'had some hope of being able to do so, because of the promises that were made by the Prime Minister previous to the last election. As a result of those promises they hoped that at some time during the administration of this government they would be able to pay back these amounts, but now they find themselves in a worse plight than they were when the promises were made. For these reasons I suggest that the government take this action.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The observations of the hon. gentleman are so wholly non-political and so disarming that I hasten to assure him that the government will give every possible consideration to what has been said. There is no intention of instituting any proceedings,

he can tell his friends, to recover these amounts, but at the moment I am not going to make any statement in regard to cancelling these notes. Some of these people do not desire that they should be cancelled, and in addition some of them have sent in payments on account, without being asked to do so. So far as I know no person has been asked to pay a cent on these notes. What the hon. gentleman said a moment ago is quite correct; I was not aware that this action had been taken until I was informed that these notes had been given in this form. It came about as I have indicated, but it must not be forgotten that relief is given by municipalities, this being the only case in which the dominion has afforded all the relief. Notes are being taken by municipalities, as the hon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps) has stated, and some of these municipalities might be embarrassed if we took the action suggested by the hon. gentleman. The matter has been discussed by the Saskatchewan government; I think the hon. gentleman knows what has transpired in that regard. My memory is-I still speak subject to correction, because I have so many things to think of-that an assurance was given that no proceedings would be taken to collect these notes. I give that assurance to the hon. gentleman and to the house at the present moment, so [DOT] that his friends need not fear, in putting in their crops, that if they succeed in getting a crop any proceedings will be taken to deplete their assets in regard to the notes which have been given. As a matter of fact they are not negotiable securities in their present form, and I think the assurance we have given the house to-day will have the desired effect in regard to those concerned.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
LIB

Wilfred Hanbury

Liberal

Mr. HANBURY:

When dealing with the

provision in regard to peace, order and good government yesterday the Prime Minister referred particularly to the necessity of maintaining this particular clause because of certain actions that had been taken by certain provinces, particularly the province of British Columbia. His words in that connection were:

These developments have created a situation far different from that we have had to meet at any time previously in this house.

Later I directed a question to the Prime Minister which he did not see fit to answer, the question being as to what action any provincial government could take, even under the enlarged powers which they have taken to themselves, that could in any way inter-

Relief Act, 193/t

fere with any federal statute. As I have said, the Prime Minister did not answer that question. Now I should like to direct it to the Minister of Labour, and ask him to give me that information.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

A question of opinion is always a matter that is in no sense settled by the expression of one's views as against the views of somebody else. It need hardly be said to anyone who is familiar with the working of our constitution and the decisions under it that if the executive of the province is capable of exercising all the powers that the legislature can exercise under section 92 of the British North America Act, and can issue ordinances which have the effect of law, then the desirability of the dominion being in a position to take steps that may protect the federal interests goes without saying, and to legislate for peace, order and good government might conceivably be the only way in which it could be done. That is my view. That is the position which I present to the house as one of the not unimportant reasons why this legislation is sought. I merely mention it in passing as indicating a condition that was entirely different from the condition that prevailed a year ago. That provincial legislation, if in excess of provincial powers, may affect federal laws goes without saying because the books are full of cases in which that has happened. It happened in connection with a statute passed by the legislature of British Columbia regarding the sale of milk, and it was held by the privy council that the statute passed by the legislature was invalid because it encroached upon the federal power and was ultra vires of the provincial legislature. That was a statute that was published and was known to the federal authorities as a statute. If the province in the exercise of the power conferred upon the executive promulgates ordinances, this well may be the only way in which the federal power can be exercised because the ordinances, not being statutes, cannot be disallowed, and the only appropriate action would be under peace, order and good government.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
LIB

Wilfred Hanbury

Liberal

Mr. HANBURY:

The Prime Minister says that the federal government would be unable to disallow the ordinances, but it could of *course disallow the whole Special Powers Act. The Prime Minister has given reasons with which I am not going to disagree altogether why it is perhaps advisable not to do that. The point I have in mind particularly is this. I cannot see what action the provincial government can take within the powers given to the province by confederation that would in

any way interfere with the powers of the federal body. I think that is something that should be very clearly defined because it is quite evident from the actions of some of the provincial governments that they do not know it.

The Prime Minister, referring to-day to the amendment which he was prepared to consider, says that he wishes to retain the phrase "notwithstanding" and so forth, in connection with the relations of the federal government and the provinces. In that connection would it be reasonable to assume that notwithstanding any arrangements that have been made to subsidize provincial governments, under this legislation the government might change or alter in any way the amount of the subsidy now being received by a province?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is an imperial

statute, as perhaps the hon. gentleman knows. In addition to that, there has been a sanctity surrounding subsidies which has prevented the dominion from declining to pay provincial subsidies for the purpose of enabling debts due the dominion by the province to be liquidated. I suppose the hon. gentleman knows that that situation did once exist. The point I desire to make, and I am trying to make it as clear as I can, although it is a lawyer's point, is that the provincial executive in the exercise of the powers conferred upon it by that statute passed by the province does not pass statutes but promulgates ordinances, and such ordinances not being subject to disallowance under the provisions of the British North America Act might conceivably, as many provincial acts have, infringe upon the federal power, and in order that the federal power might be able to deal with that situation promptly-a particular case that I shall not mention is well in my mind-having no power of disallowance of an ordinance the use of this power might become imperative in the national interests. It might be very desirable to act quickly. But that is purely a legal point. I do not put it forward as a matter that should be seriously considered because I hope that none of the provinces would even attempt to exercise the power in such a way as to set at naught the whole system of the constitution. But one never knows what might happen in view of the statements that have been made, especially by the attorney general of the province, when inviting the federal government to disallow the statute. If the papers correctly reported his speech it is quite obvious that some power must be placed with the federal authority in order that it may maintain its position having regard to the fact that the maintenance of our national

Relief Act, 1934

credit is a matter that is very important in the minds of all those who know anything of our business; and our efforts to do that when the province conceivably might, to put it that way, be aiming to prevent us doing it, makes the position one of great difficulty. I am not going to enlarge upon that situation. There it is. I have discussed with my colleague the Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie) the seriousness of the legal aspect of it. This is merely to take care of a contingency that may arise. I mention it now as I mentioned it yesterday as an illustration of one of the difficulties that has arisen.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
Permalink
LIB

Wilfred Hanbury

Liberal

Mr. HANBURY :

So that there may be no doubt in my mind, would the Prime Minister consider this point? Conceivably an ordinance of a provincial government might involve some act that would be inconsistent wtih the powers granted to the province under the act of confederation. Am I correct in that?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   BILL IN TERMS GENERALLY OF RELIEF ACT, 1933, WITH PROVISION RESPECTING DELAYED RELIEF ACCOUNTS
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April 10, 1934