April 17, 1935

CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

May I say at once that I agree entirely with every word the hon. member has said. The reason that in the past the cities have got most of the work lies in the fact that they have made more applications than did the rural municipalities. I must say however that I agree entirely with the hon. member's statement, and so far as I am concerned I shall endeavour to see that the idea he has expressed is carried out, because I think it is a proper one.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Perhaps it

would be wise for me to say a word at once concerning the statement made a few moments ago by the Minister of Railways and Canals to the effect that if we are to have this measure assented to by five o'clock we must make more rapid progress than we are now making. While we on this side are anxious to expedite matters as much as possible I hope the government will not attempt to crowd us into the position of having the bill passed at all costs on the score that the deputy to His Excellency the Governor General is waiting to give assent to the bills. I would suggest that the government decide at once that the assent to whatever bills there may be will be given at a quarter past six o'clock to-night. We shall know by six o'clock whether or not we have received the information to which we are entitled before this measure passes.

I wish to repeat to-day not only what I said last night but my observations on the address in reply to the speech from the throne delivered at the opening of the session, namely, that we expected the government to bring forward its program in regard to unemployment relief or for providing employment at the early stages of the session, and did not expect it to be left until the moment of adjournment. Hon members will recall I indicated upon the first occasion we were quite prepared to facilitate the program of social reform, improvements to the capitalistic system and the like, but that we insisted that these particular measures should not be used to prevent the immediate consideration of that which we regarded and still regard as the most important of all problems, namely, the question of the unemployed and the giving of employment and affording relief.

The whole session has been taken up thus far in a discussion of measures other than those relating primarily to the great problem of unemployment now existing. As hon. members are well aware the provisions of the unemployment insurance measure will not come into effect for another year or two. The legislation concerning the weekly day of rest will not at the moment affect the unemployed, nor will these other measures of so-called social reform which have taken up time and discussion. They will not affect the present unemployment situation. Hon. members on this side of the house have from the beginning of the session emphasized the importance of giving the matter of unemployment consideration before anything else, and we particularly emphasized the importance of giving the house an opportunity to discover from the government whether or not they have any policy at all, or anything which could be called a policy with respect to unemployment.

This is the first opportunity we have had to discuss what the government may have in view with regard to relieving the situation. The debate which took place on a motion to go into supply was one which surely made evident to hon. gentlemen opposite our desire to get information and to discover what the government's policy was. However we received no answer from the government upon that occasion; we were given no indication as to what their policy was, and I do submit that if the present legislation is part of the unemployment program this house should have been given it long ago.

How does it come about, for example, that we have had before us for some time the estimates respecting geological surveys, and that only now have we had presented a program of exploration and investigation with respect to the mining industry, a program which certainly could most properly have been considered under the estimates for the surveys branch of the Department of Mines. Nothing was said on this point. Did the ministry have a program of this kind in mind when they were preparing the main estimates? If they had, why did they not put in the main estimates, under the heading of geological surveys, some indication that a larger appropriation would be required? Why did they not state upon that occasion that the appropriation would serve the double purpose of furthering exploration and investigation in connection with gold and other minerals in northern Canada, and at the same time help to create employment for some of those who were unemployed?

Public Works Program

We object strenuously to the fact that under the guise of helping to provide employment and to provide unemployment relief the government is really putting through a policy with respect to an important phase of business, and is placing before us as a matter primarily of relief what ought to have appeared in the main estimates as part of the general business of the country. The same is true in connection with what is being asked for by the Department of Railways and Canals. It is certainly true with regard to the Interior. It is equally true with regard to Public Works. There are works here in the nature of public works that ought to appear in the estimates of the Department of Public Works as part of the expenditure for public works throughout the country to be voted in the regular way.

One of the most ludicrous features of this measure is the clause which is inserted to the effect that if anything occurs in the nature of an emergency the government must be free to go ahead and spend a lot of this money in a way quite different from that in which it would be obliged to spend it under the regular appropriations of this parliament. What possible emergency can there be at the present moment in the mind of the administration other than the emergency of a general election which is to come along very shortly? I mean to say that if the government is contemplating emergencies arising in connection with the expenditure of these public moneys, surely we ought to have heard about them at the beginning of the session, and when the main estimates were brought in provision ought to have been made there for them. In last year's bill for relief we had the same expression used in respect to emergency, and the same provision was made for emergency, and yet the money asked for and voted to meet these possible emergent situations has not yet in very large part been expended.

What have we this morning in the way of information from the minister with regard to this one item? One thing we have been told is that we are being asked to vote one million dollars while the Minister of Mines does not think that that one million dollars can be spent. I ask my hon. friend the Minister of Finance whether he as Minister of Finance approves of that method of voting public money, asking parliament for millions of dollars without he himself or any of his colleagues even knowing *or being able to tell parliament how the money is to be spent. As a relief bill, it is a make-believe.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

May I ask what item the right hon. gentleman is referring to when he says that the money could not be spent?

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

No. 2. I do not know whether my hon. friend heard it but the Minister of Mines said to us emphatically, "I will say I do not think we oan expend this million in a year." Surely then there is no emergency with respect to what may be needed in the expenditure of that money at any rate.

I do not want to take up the time of the committee unduly. What I wish to make perfectly clear is this, that the government will have ample opportunity to make the preparations that may be necessary in regard to any of this work they are contemplating; to go ahead with the preparation of their plans during the next four or five weeks; the fact that this bill does not pass to-day need not mean that the government cannot arrange for their geological parties and all the rest of it during the interval. But unless we can get satisfactory explanations to-day of what the government really intends to do I may say to my hon. friend that I do not think the bill will go through to-day.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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CON

Ira Delbert Cotnam

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. OOTNAM:

Do what you like.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

My hon. friend says, "Do what you like," and the Minister of Railways said the same thing last night. He said he did not care whether the bill went through or not. I think he ought to care, and I think the government ought to care very much, when measures of this kind are brought down, that they should be brought down at a time which will ensure their being passed by parliament.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I meant that I did not [DOT]care politically because I think we could use it very much more against my right hon. friend if the bill does not pass than if it does.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Exactly. My hon. friend has just borne out what I have said, that the purpose of the bill is a political purpose.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
Permalink
CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I deny that, Mr. Chairman. The purpose of the bill is to relieve unemployment. I say that politically it does not matter to .us, but from the standpoint of unemployment relief it certainly does matter, and I pointed that out clearly last night.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Both the

amounts of money that are asked for here, moneys which the government admits it has not made up its mind how they can possibly

Public Works Program

be used within the time, and also the manner in which the bill has been brought down, clearly indicate that it is a political bill, and it is to work in this way: The government say to themselves, "If we get this bill through we have $17,000,000 which we can begin to get 'busy with immediately, having in view the prospect of a general election; and if we do not get this bill through, we can go out in the country and talk about the opposition having blocked us in the matter of unemployment relief."

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
Permalink
CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Hear, hear, my hon. friend says, but I think the unemployed and the country generally will be quick to appreciate that the opposition, which is seeking to serve the country's interests is justified in demanding more than forty-eight hours from the time a bill is introduced in this house to the time it is to be assented to by the representative of the crown, to consider the provisions of the measure especially when the present is practically the only opportunity that has been given to this parliament to discuss the government's plans with respect to unemployment generally. We intend to get such information as we can from the administration as to what they are going to do for the unemployed and how they are going to do it, and we are not going to be crowded into the position of simply passing this measure regardless of what information we receive by three or four or five o'clock this afternoon. If we can get it through by then, well and good, but that will depend on the information we can obtain meanwhile. If we cannot get it through, it will just have to remain over until parliament reassembles, and in the meantime the administration can go ahead and further their plans just as they do with respect to all their departmental work. The minister of Finance himself a few weeks ago pointed out to me that they wished to send parties into the field and that he knew that all the plans had been made for that considerably in advance, and that they had taken a long time to make. That was before any supply was voted. Now either one of two things is true: Either this matter has been thought of for weeks and months, in which event the department will already have been planning for it, and we should have been so informed weeks ago, or else it is a mere afterthought which has come at this time, a make-believe policy with respect to unemployment, in which event the government will require a little time to work out the plans they are going to mature a little later. So I do

not think anyone will suffer if the bill does not pass by six o'clock this afternoon. If it is to pass by six o'clock, we shall want the measure in such form that we can approve of it.

The Minister of Railways did suggest that he had one or two amendments which he was going to propose later. I think it would be well that we should have those amendments before we adjourn at one o'clock so that we may see if they are satisfactory and sufficiently comprehensive to cover the points about which we are most concerned.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

Mr. Chairman, I resist the temptation which comes to me to reply to the remarks of my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition, although I must say that I do feel sorely tempted to traverse the ground, but if I attempted to do so I would be consuming time which ought to be devoted to satisfying that eagerness for information which hon. gentlemen opposite exhibited last night and again this morning, and with respect to which I do not find any fault. I will, however, make this one observation, that I do not for a moment subscribe to the suggestion of my right hon. friend that this is a political measure. If we had thought to make it a political measure we have an example and a pattern which we could have followed by merely picking up the legislation which was brought down by my right hon. friend and his government on the eve of the general election of 1930. As a matter of fact the modesty of this appropriation in the light of existing circumstances in the country is I think a complete answer to the suggestion that there is anything political contained in the bill. The object of this measure was to make available such a limited amount of money as we felt we would properly be justified in appropriating to cover the widest possible area, not only so far as territory was concerned, but so far as the numbers affected by unemployment are concerned.

There is no disposition on the part of the government to crowd hon. gentlemen opposite, to use the expression which they themselves use, and certainly there is no desire to use the circumstance that His Honour the deputy of His Excellency the Governor General has announced that he is coming down at five o'clock. I shall be very glad to get in touch at once with the acting Prime Minister to see if it cannot be arranged that His Honour shall come at six o'clock instead of at five, so that we shall have at least the advantage of that additional hour.

Public Works Program

I am rather surprised at the suggestion of my right hon. friend that if this bill does not pass the government could still go ahead and make its preparations. Such a suggestion certainly runs counter to the whole attitude of the right hon. gentleman throughout this whole parliament. He is the one who has insisted that we stand by the letter of the document and that we must have chapter and verse for every proceeding. The right hon. gentleman is now suggesting that without any authority of parliament at all, because the government has brought down a certain measure which for one reason or another has not become law, we shall nevertheless go ahead and contemplate embarking upon expenditures of tens of millions of dollars. I am rather surprised at that suggestion and I do hope the necessity will not arise where we will have to take the law into our own hands to that extent. I trust we will be able to quench the thirst for wisdom on the part of hon, gentlemen opposite to the extent where we will have this bill passed in the Senate prior to six o'clock. At all events let me say this to my right hon. friend, and I do not say it in captious spirit or with a view to reaping any party or political advantage: If the

bill does not pass and the government feels itself warranted in proceeding to embark upon these expenditures, my right hon. friend will be estopped from any criticism of our having taken' such a high-handed course of procedure. I can assure my right hon. friend that my colleague, the Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Manion), will be only too happy to see that the suggested amendments are submitted immediately so that they may be considered by hon. gentlemen opposite and the committee before we resume at three o'clock.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

May I say

to my hon. friend that my suggestion as to the desirability of the government getting under way with preparations prior to the actual carrying out of work essential even to forming an estimate, was only reechoing what the minister himself has said they have been doing already. He told us a little while ago that they have been working on this in the department. What right then had they to go ahead and work even on the preliminaries wlhen they did not have the authority of parliament? I am merely pointing out the bearing of what the Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes) has just said to me, I am not [Mr. Rhodes.)

suggesting this to the minister. He said that they could not even undertake the preparation of plans unless they had the final word of parliament.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

I never said that.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I think that

was the interpretation the minister desired to have placed upon his words. There is a very great difference between a government laying its plans with a view to what shall be done .when parliament ultimately passes an appropriation and saying that nothing can be done in the meantime.

Another point I should like to refer to is my hon. friend's reference to the Senate. Since when has the government been receiving from the Senate the assurance that matters respecting unemployment relief totalling something like $18,000,000 will not be subject to any discussion in that house? My hon. friend has just told us that the Senate will approve of this measure. Is there some agreement between the government and the members of another house?

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

I am sure my right hon.

friend will forgive me but I think he will be the first to admit that it is not proper for him to put words in my mouth. I neither mentioned the Senate nor did I have it in mind.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I beg your

pardon, you used the expression "Senate."

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

Hansard will bear me out. I never had that house in mind. We are dealing with matters affecting this house and that is as far as we can go. If the Senate should decide not to pass this bill before six o'clock that is quite another matter. I can assure my right hon. friend that that was farthest from my mind and there has been no understanding and no point of contact so far as I know.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

My hon. friend could hardly take it for granted that there is to be no discussion. It has been stated that some time before six o'clock this bill will be assented to. I do not think there is any doubt but that my hon. friend's remarks will bear out what I have just said. They were to the effect that this measure is not going to be discussed in the Senate. It is unfortunate if that is the case and for that reason I hope an effort will not be made to crowd an expenditure of millions too suddenly through both houses of parliament.

Public Works Program

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OF RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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April 17, 1935