May I point out one thing. If we have, to-day, stamps printed in both official languages of this country, we owe it to the Liberal administration which fulfilled its duty towards the French language, in this country.
That is no reason to invoke. If in the past errors were committed, if there was neglect, it is not a reason to always follow the same path. When means are offered to us to redress such wrongs and to adopt a reasonable suggestion, like the amendment of the hon. member for Quebec East moved, I see no reason not to acquiesce, when our good friends, the English Canadians of this country, are well disposed towards us I wish to thank these English friends on this side of the house, who unanimously supported the amendment of the hon. member for Quebec East and who proved thereby, that they desire union, harmony and bonne entente and, especially that they desire to give to the French Canadian race the legitimate share to which it has a right.
Mr. Speaker, I shall close my remarks by these few words.
the second reading of this important bill I desire to express my satisfaction at the very large measure of approval which the bill has received from those who have spoken upon it. I do not recall, as a matter of fact, that any hon. gentleman has condemned it outright. In fact, I think that nearly every speaker has found in it a measure of good, and the amount of good which has been found in it naturally varies as to circumstances and conditions. Some, for instance, say it will go a long way towards the relief of unemployment; others intimate it will be of very little value. Some say that it has been introduced about four years too late; others say it has been introduced too soon-it should not be introduced at all. Some say the amount is too large, others that it is too small. Well, I shall allow these criticisms to cancel each other and allow the great body of approval which this measure has received to stand as its commendation and in support of the motion for the second reading.
Now I am sure that hon. gentlemen who have criticized the bill will forgive me if I do not specifically deal with each objection and criticism that has been made. At this time, on the second reading of the bill, that is not expected and I believe that hon. gentlemen have taken advantage of the second reading to express opinions which perhaps otherwise they might feel it necessary to express at a later stage. I have no objection to that. I always welcome fair and candid criticism; it helps the administration of a department. And let me say, as to the suggestions that have been made, that each and every one of them will be considered. They will be taken up with the officials of the department, and I can say now that I know it will be possible to meet some of the requests which hon. gentlemen have made out of the general votes which are in the schedule of this bill.
The criticisms, as I have said, have been of a varied character and I think it proper that I should explain the basis upon which this program has been framed. The object has been to afford a measure of employment particularly in centres where unemployment is acute and where there is a large volume of it; not only that, but to provide a measure of employment that will be sustained over a considerable period of time. This necessarily involves undertakings of a larger character. Let
Public Works Construction-Mr. Stewart (Leeds)
me say to those who seek to balance the expenditures in this schedule on the basis of population, on the basis of comparison of one constituency with another, that they are proceeding upon an entirely false basis. The bill has not been prepared with the object of. giving something to every constituency. It has not been prepared, as has been suggested by many hon. gentlemen, as an election program. If any of the hon. gentlemen who suggested that had been entrusted with the preparation of an election program and had made such a failure of it as I am sure they find in this, then I would say that it would have been a complete failure indeed. If I had been entrusted with the preparation of an election program, had consented to undertake to do so and did not produce any better results than this, I would be ashamed of myself.
I am sure hon. gentlemen will agree that had there been any such plan or purpose behind this measure there would have been found dotted all over the Dominion of Canada, in practically every constituency, small projects. That is not the plan, the purpose and the anticipated result of this program, and I am sure hon. gentlemen will agree that unemployment would not in a very large measure be relieved by a program of works of that kind, because when a small building is constructed, the time occupied is brief; when the building is completed the work is done and there has not been any sustained or large measure of employment provided.
It is well to remind the house of the basis upon which all governments have acted in their programs for the relief of unemployment. The former government, I believe, laid down the principle that unemployment was primarily a matter for the municipality in which it arose; that in the second instance it was a matter for the province in which the municipality was situated and that in the last resort it was a matter for the federal government. Tonight hon. gentlemen have made suggestions as to many undertakings that are not to be found within the scope of this bill. Some have suggested roads, highways, the drilling of wells and other works. Let me point out to them that those are not works in which the Dominion of Canada can engage; they are projects which must in the first instance be initiated by the municipality, by the province, and toward which in some cases, if the program is sound and approved, the dominion may make a contribution. This is not the only
measure which this government has introduced or may introduce for the relief of unemployment in this country and this is not the only program which may be undertaken for that purpose.
The leader of the opposition, the right hon. member for Prince Albert (Mr. Mackenzie King), says that he finds discrimination in this bill; he speaks about his constituency and says that in this legislation there is nothing for Prince Albert and that he finds in it much for Calgary. On the surface of it he may be correct, but let me remind him of the general vote for his constituency. He was speaking of Prince Albert park, as I recall the matter, when he suggested that expenditures might be made. I have before me the expenditures made in that park during 192728, 1928-29 and 1929-30, and I shall give the figures.
Let us come now to the year 1933-34 when the expenditure in that park for that one year was $277,411.07, or more than in the three years when my right hon. friend's government was in power, a larger amount in one year than in the three years I have mentioned. I am sure my right hon. friend could not have been aware of that figure when he was speaking.
Then he spoke about the city of Calgary and the large expenditure there for the barracks. This under-
Public Works Construction-Mr. Stewart (Leeds)
taking has been under consideration for a good many years. It is for the permanent force, and this bill affords an opportunity of having the work done at this time and providing the largest possible measure of employment. It is a needed work, one that has been considered essential for a long period of years, a work that is past due and the completion of which at this time is from every standpoint fully justified by the circumstances.
The former Minister of Public Works (Mr. Elliott) offered a criticism of the measure and stated that provision should be made for public tenders. Let me point out to him that these works are not all to be carried on under the Public Works department. The bill is a comprehensive one, including works that would come under the Public Works department and other departments. Works in harbours are usually done by harbour commissions, and it includes work in parks and works of a kind other than those contemplated in the Public Works Act. In connection with similar undertakings I believe it has not been the practice in the past, either of the late government or of this government, to invite public tenders. I know of undertakings of considerable extent for which public tenders were not invited. But although it is not provided that public tenders must be called for it does not follow that they will not be. The principle has not been abandoned. These works have to be carried out under the direction of the governor in council, and assigned to the particular department and the minister which may appear to be best equipped to carry them on. Already, in anticipation of the passing of this bill, a large number of advertisements have been published by the Public Works department calling for tenders, and there is no reason to assume that the government is abandoning the well established and sound principle of inviting public tenders. I can assure my hon. friend that the government are as sensible of their responsibility in this matter as any member of the opposition can be.
As to the objection that this work should have been done earlier, I would say that in the ordinary course public works expenditures are made out of revenue, and until revenue showed some expansion I think we would have been open to criticism if we had done anything further in this direction than we did. It was necessary to curtail, and curtailment was made.