Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Prime Minister):
I do not propose to trespass at any length on the time of the house. The subject matter of the bill, the second reading of which I moved some days ago, is apparently well within the minds of most members of this house. There have been universal expressions of approval of the principle of a national unemployment insurance measure; that muoh at least can be gathered from the discussions that have taken place. No hon. member, so far as I could hear, except possibly one, the hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Bourassa), indicated other than approval of the general principle that underlies the measure. In fact, only a very brief discussion took place in any part of this chamber with respect to the bill itself. There being therefore a universal approval of the measure, the question that was discussed at some length was whether or not it was within the competence of this parliament to enact this legislation.
It is an amazing thing that hon. gentlemen opposite should cheer so vigorously every possible reference to the impossibility of this parliament passing this legislation. Just why they should be so vigorous in their approval of every word that was said against it, and then suggest that they favoured it, I cannot understand; neither do I understand it yet. One would think that in dealing with a matter of this character every member of the house would be astute to discover some means by which the measure could be made operative if it is so much desired-and there has been universal expression of the desirability of enacting this legislation. I find it
Unemployment Insurance-Mr. Bennett
difficult therefore to understand just why this chorus of approval of any reference by any speaker to the impossibility of parliament passing this legislation should be coupled with such a vigorous expression of approval whenever hon. members said that they were in favour of it. What was desired in the way of leaving an impression on the public mind? That the legislation would be good if enacted by somebody else, but bad because it was suggested by this government?
The leader of the opposition suggested that there were reasons why he could not enact it during his term of office. None of these reasons had to do wuth constitutional grounds except one: the Senate stood in his way. That was the lion in the path. And yet I observe that that stalwart, Sir Allen Ayles-worth, was one who voted against the old age pensions measure.
Subtopic: MEASURE TO ESTABLISH AN UNEMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL INSURANCE COMMISSION