Unemployment Reliej-Mr. Gray
January of last year the then, Premier of Ontario, returning to Toronto, announced the substitution of a big public works program for direct relief, to be put into effect as rapidly as possible. That is the report in the Mail and Empire of Saturday, January 20, 1934-
. .. We in Ontario will carry on as before with the assurance that the dominion government will cooperate to the fullest extent.
With the assurance that the dominion would cooperate with the Ontario government during 1934, an assurance which has not yet been denied by the Prime Minister or the Minister of Labour (Mr. 'Gordon), the Premier of Ontario launched into a tremendous road building program in May, 1934. New roads were opened, old roads were widened, ditches were filled, in a frantic effort to win the election in Ontario; and now after some $8,000,000 has been spent throughout the counties of Ontario the dominion government refuse to contribute its share and the province and the municipalities of Ontario are left holding the bag.
I say further in connection with Ontario, and I assume the situation is similar in other provinces, that they have been left in a state of uncertainty during these years in view of the fact that the Prime Minister and the government have frequently threatened to cut off relief at any moment. There has been no set program, nothing to enable the provinces to say: This is the program; this is the
policy of the dominion government, and we are prepared to march forward in cooperation with it. Yet during all these years, as pointed out by the hon. member for Vancouver Centre, enormous sums have been spent by this government; as of March 28, 1934,
guarantees of some $96,000,000, loans to the provinces of some $52,000,000, and cash under relief measures amounting to $115,000,000. Having spent these enormous sums I claim that my right hon. leader was correct when he urged even at the very first session that there should be an audit of these various expenditures. One has only to look at the report of the auditor general, not only of last year but of this year, in which he complains that he has been understaffed, that the scope of his examinations has been limited because he has not been given the required assistance, and that large sums of money had been over-contributed by the dominion, as indicated on page 25 of his report. From the report of unemployment commissioner Hereford, we find that he has a staff of only some thirty-five to administer this huge matter, and when one considers that only a few days ago in the course of discussion on
the unemployment insurance measure we heard that there might be a commission with a staff of three or four thousand people, one realizes exactly how little the government have really studied this situation. They are prepared now, and I am not finding any fault with it, to set up an economic council; yet when we urged them repeatedly to set up an unemployment commission they steadfastly refused.
In spite of all that has been said with respect to these figures-and I have shown how they have mounted-what has happened? As the hon. member for Vancouver Centre has shown, in spite of all these things the Prime Minister has been going up and down this country and from one end to the other telling the people of Canada that we are on the road to prosperity. I propose to give only one or two quotations. Speaking at Montreal on May 11, 1931, he said:
I think there are some evidences that we have reached the dead level of depression and that the movement from now on will be upward.
At Ottawa on January 31, 1932, in a new year's message, he said:
In my belief the worst is over. Canada has survived the crisis, and the same spirit and the same strength which have withstood the stress and strain of the past year will carry us over all intervening difficulties into an era of prosperity hitherto unknown.
In December, 1932, at London, he said:
Next year will see the beginning of an era of prosperity.
At Winnipeg on October 10, 1933, he said'
Canada is standing on the threshold of
On December 3, 1933, he told an audience at Sherbrooke, Quebec:
There are distinct evidences the catastrophe has ended. The dead rock bottom of the depression has been reached.
Then as late as the summer of 1934 we find him telling a Montreal audience:
I believe we have passed and left behind us the great depression we encountered in 1929
and 1930____ We are standing on the threshold
of a greater progress and a greater prosperity than we have ever known.
All during these years we have been at the dead rock bottom, climbing the hill, turning the corner, weathering the storm, seeing the light, and in all that time the Prime Minister, to whom we looked for leadership in connection with this all important problem, was giving us this bright picture as he saw it. It culminated on January 2 of this year-that is an important date-with the new Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Hanson) publishing a full page advertisement entitled Cana-
Public Works Program,
dian Cavalcade. In the background we see boats lying at the piers, the smokfi belching from the factories, the wheat fields being reaped with combines, and we read these lines, amazing in view of what took place that very evening:
As the year 1934 passes into history, Canada can look back upon a period of unimpaired progress so definitely sustained that it has brought us to the pathway that leads to a sound, sensible, and stable prosperity. The advance that we, as a country, have made during the past year has demonstrated anew the inherent strength and stability of the dominion. We have seen the faith to which we held so firmly in the darker days abundantly fulfilled-the confidence to which we clung in gloomier years triumphantly vindicated. With clearer skies above us, and firmer ground beneath our feet, we have advanced with unimpaired progress along the road of national reconstruction and economic recuperation.
How was the new Minister of Trade and Commerce to know that his leader, who had been recognized as-
At once the cook and the captain bold And the mate of the Nancy brig.
And the bo'sun tight and the midshipmite, And the crew of the Nancy brig-
-was that very evening to sail this ship, that has been referred to so often during the various addresses of the Prime Minister, into a sea uncharted and unknown; that he would within a few hours jettison the whole Tory policy in an attempt to save the ship; that he would nail to the masthead not the flag of progress but the flag of Tory despair?
At eleven o'clock the house adjourned without question put, pursuant to standing order.
Tuesday, February 26, 1935