May 27, 1935

CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

That is not so.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I cannot see that I am unfair in my statement.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP 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 answer it, because that statement should not go out without a contradiction.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

If you wish; I want to be fair.

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

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Yes, the_ Canadian _ National Railways and the Canadian Pacific Railway. I am following the arguments of the minister to the effect that this money should be spent in the contract shops rather than in railway shops on the ground that the contract shops are in a bad way and should not be allowed to go bankrupt.

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

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

That is all right.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Then, I say to that extent we would be subsidizing private industry. It is a process of saving private industry from bankruptcy.

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

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Is that not a worthy objective?

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

What about the workman?

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Never mind him

for a moment; I have already discussed that phase of the matter. I say there are three groups to be considered. First there are the working men; I am in sympathy with the idea that they should be saved from unemployment. The second group consists of the equipment companies. The minister has said the reason for giving the work to the equipment companies instead of to the railway shop is that we cannot afford to let the equipment companies go bankrupt. I say that would be a subsidizing of private industry.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No, no.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

The minister may

put it some other way, but that is the way it appeals to me. We are expending this large sum of money partly at least with the idea of keeping private industries going. I will admit that we hope to have something by way of equipment as a result of our action, and I will admit further that incidentally we are going to help to give jobs to a certain number of men. I have already made that statement, but I want to be clear in my thinking and I should like the committee to be clear in its thinking. Although there may be

Public Works Program

some help given, to employees the fact remains that one of the primary purposes of giving the work to the car and equipment companies is that of keeping them from bankruptcy.

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

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

That was not given as a primary purpose, at all. I read that in the letters of Mr. Hungerford and Mr. Coleman. My primary purpose, as I explained, was an endeavour to start the heavy industries going, something which is vastly different from my hon. friend's suggestion.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I shall accept the

minister's words, that one of the purposes of the expenditure is th-at of endeavouring to start heavy industries going. You may call it what you like, but I shall call it the subsidizing of private industry. However, if the minister wishes I shall use his own words, namely that one of the purposes behind this grant of funds is that of starting heavy industries going. I believe those are his words.

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

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

But that is a purpose

different from that which the hon. member mentioned previously.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I am trying to state, in other words, that I believe the principle involved is that of subsidizing private industries, a procedure which to my mind is a new departure. We have had subsidizing of industry in one forrn and another, by way of tariffs, bonuses and so on. Here we have it in another form. We are going to make an expenditure for equipment with the idea of starting privately owned heavy industries operating.

The third purpose is that of having better railway equipment. The minister has read letters which would indicate the companies are of the opinion that we need this equipment. It is rather significant however that the minister has also admitted that the pressure for the purchase of the equipment came not primarily from the railway companies but from the equipment concerns. That is a point which I suggest we ought to keep in mind. However, let us assume that the railways need the equipment, and that when they have this equipment they will have a worth while asset. Then, the two railway concerns are to benefit from a financial standpoint from the passing of this measure. One is the Canadian National Railways, for which the government has a very definite responsibility; the other is the Canadian Pacific Railway, a private concern. I submit that before we give one dollar by way of either grant or guarantee to the Canadian Pacific Railway, a private company, 92582-196

the books of that company ought to be open to the public. To-morrow we have meeting in this building a committee which will deal with the accounts of the Canadian National Railways, and upon which occasion the affairs of the national system will come under detailed scrutiny. Railway officials are brought here to the parliament building; they appear before the committee the members of which are free to ask any questions they may wish. So far as the public is concerned the privately owned railway company conducts its business in secrecy as most private businesses are conducted. In the past that procedure may have been justifiable because private companies were supposed to be entirely responsible for their own affairs. I submit however that when a corporation feels it necessary to come to the government, cap in hand, asking for favours and for a grant or guarantee-and the remission of interest charges involves an actual grant of money-that company should be prepared to open its books and to give a clear statement of its financial affairs. There are many business people throughout the country who would be pleased to obtain a guarantee of funds they urgently require for purposes of carrying on their affairs. A great number of commercial and industrial concerns would like to have that opportunity, but we do not extend a similar privilege to them. Apparently however we find no difficulty in giving guarantees and even money grants to a big railway corporation.

I have said that we have certain responsibilities so far as the Canadian National Railways are concerned; we have not the same kind of responsibility in connection with the Canadian Pacific Railway. I do say however that we have a right to know why they choose to go on the dole. A poor man in any of our cities who asks for help to the extent of only a few dollars each week is immediately required to submit a statement indicating his financial standing. An investigator is sent to make inquiries, and a very careful scrutiny of the entire situation is made. We say that is necessary in order to safeguard public funds. If that is true in connection with giving relief of only a few dollars each month to a private family, I cannot for the life of me see why a great and wealthy corporation that seeks financial assistance should not give to this parliament full details of its financial affairs.

One further point: I am far from satisfied with the reply the minister gave my colleague with respect to conditions of labour in private shops. He said he would endeavour to see that the men are given a fair wage, and that he would be willing to draw the

30S6

Public Works Program

matter to the attention of the railway companies ordering the equipment. That is not enough. In connection with certain public works hon. members are accustomed to insist not only that there should be fair wages and fair conditions in works, directly undertaken by the government, but that the same should obtain in other concerns doing work to which the government is contributing certain grants. I believe the Minister of Public Works will bear me out when I state that clauses providing for this are inserted in bills dealing with the building of bridges, and so on. In some instances we are going further and insisting that goods supplied on such contracts should be produced under conditions of fair wages and fair living. I do not think we should recede from that position in a matter of this kind. It is not sufficient for the minister to say that he will endeavour to see that the men will receive fair wages, that he will bring the matter to the attention of the railway companies. I think we should have inserted in every contract clauses providing that fair wages be paid to the employees and decent conditions maintained in the shops in which the employees are engaged. I think we would be going back on what has been regarded in the past as the policy of the government if we permit anything less than that.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP 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 do not intend to deal at length with my hon. friend's remarks but I shall deal with two or three of the points he made. In the first place he, along with the hon. member for St. Boniface (Mr. Howden), took the attitude that more should be given to the railway shops. I repeat now what I have stated already a couple of times, that the allotment is made by the railway companies. They take the attitude that the amount of nearly $4,000,000 being provided for repairs is all they can economically spend at the present time for this purpose.

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

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

Assuming that the railway companies had this money allotted to them for whatever expenditures they desired to make, is it the opinion of the minister that it would be expended according to the division he mentions now?

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

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Absolutely. They are the people who are deciding how it shall be spent. I have not told them what should be done; rather I have urged them to spend more in repairs. Secondly, my hon. friend said and repeated that we were subsidizing private industry. We are doing nothing of the sort. Any one who has such a command

of the English language as the hon. member knows that we are doing no such thing. He knows that the term "subsidizing" is not correct. That means that the government is paying an amount in cash to some one, but there is no such thing being done in this instance. .Nothing is being given to the private companies other than the orders for equipment from the railways. Most of the money thus received will be paid in wages, either in the shops or to those manufacturing the steel, lumber and so on required for the manufacturing. There is nothing in the way of a subsidy to private industry.

Then he said that apparently we were anxious to keep the private companies from going bankrupt. I admit quite frankly that it gives me no pleasure to see any company in this country go bankrupt. I do not mean to be unjust to my hon. friend but after listening to the rather severe indictment of myself I cannot help but think that he is almost glad to see private industries go bankrupt.

Topic:   PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAM
Subtopic:   WORKS, 'UNDERTAKINGS AND GUARANTEE OP RAILWAY EQUIPMENT SECURITIES TO CREATE EMPLOYMENT
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May 27, 1935