June 28, 1935

LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I rise not to oppose this vote but to ask why other similar associations are not given grants as well. There is an association that appeared before our committee dealing with the question of pensions for the blind, the Canadian Federation for the Blind, which I think has been doing very good work right across the country. I understand it has some twelve branches; I know it has been very active in my own city as well as in Toronto, Montreal and elsewhere. It would seem to me highly desirable that this association should have a grant as well. I know there is an item here for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, but as I understand it the type of work carried on by the Canadian National Institute differs very materially from that carried on by the Canadian Federation for the Blind. I regret exceedingly, as I feel a great many members of this house regret, that apparently we are

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not to have any legislation providing for pensions for the blind. I wish, even at this late hour, the government could see its way clear to reconsider that decision, but especially in view of that fact it seems to me that the blind ought to be given some encouragement to carry on the type of educational work they have been carrying on in order to improve their condition. I hope the minister will consider the possibility of making a similar grant to this other organization.

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CON
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Just a moment. I have asked whether the minister will not consider the claim of this other organization. A few moments ago we were told that an item had been put at a certain figure because no other figure had been asked. Have there been no requests for a grant on behalf of this Canadian Federation for the Blind, or is there anjr reason why they should not have a similar grant?

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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

Mr. Chairman, I cannot recall offhand whether or not there was a specific request from the organization to which my hon. friend refers, but if they missed making a request it would be unique, because I may say to my hon. friend that one of the great difficulties of a minister of finance is the preparation of miscellaneous items for either the main or the supplementary estimates. The requests come in not by the dozen but by the hundred, requests of every conceivable kind, and while in the winnowing process there may be an injustice done here or there I am sure not only this government but all governments do the best they can to hold the balance fairly even and to deal with individual compassionate items on their merits.

In the 'case of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, that was an oldi institution, in good standing and country wide in its operation, and because of the difficult times through which we have been passing the sources of private donations, which hitherto have been if not ample at least reasonably sufficient to m-etet the needs of the organization, to a large extent have dried up. The result has been that unless somebody came to the rescue of the organization and assisted it in connection with its debt loan, its work would be very seriously impaired. This special item was therefore put in the estimates for the purpose of endeavouring to enable that very worthy organization to carry on. It toy no means follows that because this or any other organization is given special consideration in the estimates there are not other worthy organizations which might be

included, but we must try to keep our sense of proportion and do the best we can in the circumstances. I should be glad to make further inquiry more specifically with respect to the organization which my hon. friend from Winnipeg North 'Centre has mentioned, and I may say to him that we certainly will give sympathetic consideration to it, as we have endeavoured to do in connection with all these compassionate items. I think that same statement could be made with regard to any minister of finance or any government w*e have had at any time.

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Item agreed to. The Economic Council of Canada Act, 1935, [$20,090.


LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

May I ask the minister

if the members of the economic council have been appointed and, if so, who they are and when they were appointed?

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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

I do not .think they have been appointed.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

This is most extraordinary. I remember very well when the right hon. member for Argenteuil (Sir George Per-ley) rose in his place and said that for the assistance of the Prime Minister the appointment of an economic council, a super brain trust, was urgent. The enactment was passed; nothing has been done. The Prime Minister seems better than ever; he appears to be in good health; he is in the house more than he was before, and there is no economic council. We do not need it. Moreover, sir, I strongly object to that economic council because it is a direct insult to every member of the cabinet. Either the members of the government are lompetent or they are not. If they are competent we do not need an economic council; if they are incompetent let them say good-bye to us. I want to defend the dignity of the members of the cabinet; I am acting on their behalf, and I find this legislation extremely stupid. There wais some talk in the press that this and that gentleman would be appointed to the economic council to advise the government -to advise the government now that all the legislation has been passed. .It has been said already that the government is eating soup for dessert; I see every minister with a toothpick in his mouth before luncheon and before dinner. It is most extraordinary; it is incredible; it is inconceivable. This legislation was to save the country'; this council was to improve the legislation, and all the legislation was baked)-I mean half-baked-before any member of this economic

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council was appointed. Sir, it is a farce; it is a joke. In the United States there was a brain trust which turned out to be no good, and the president appointed) a super brain trust. He left the brain trust that was no good underneath and put on top of it a super 'brain trust, instead of dispensing with the first.

The only reason for this economic council is to give these hair-splitters who try to put their dreams into operation a chance to see what they can do. I should like to ask the present leader of the government to drop this vote. The taxpayers of Canada will have to pay this amount if this item is passed; they will have to pay taxes in order to keep that economic council going when it is an insult to each and every member of the cabinet including the Prime Minister. It is a crutch which is half broken before it is used. I am asking the government to drop this vote, because it is a waste of money.

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LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

When the bill to establish an economic council was before the house I understood that this body would not cost the country one cent. I thought it was to be composed of men already in the civil service who would act on the council free of charge and would receive no additional remuneration. How will the $20,000 be spent?

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LIB
CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

I have no details of the item, because it does not come under my department. The hon. member will realize, however, that there would1 be certain expenses to be met.

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LIB

Edward James Young

Liberal

Mr. YOUNG:

What for? They live in Ottawa, and they meet here once in a while in a room paid for by the government.

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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

The hon. member would not expect them to stay here all the time. However, if there is any question about it, I am content that it should stand.

Item stands.

Amount required for compassionate allowances to farmers who have suffered loss on account of shipments of cattle made through the Richelieu Corporation, during the fiscal year 1933-34. Payments to be made only on the specific authority of the governor in council, $42,000.

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UFA
CON

Richard Burpee Hanson (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

It is to provide compensation to farmers in western Canada who consigned goods to the Richelieu

Corporation under the mistaken belief that that corporation was bona fide and carrying on under government auspices. There is no legal liability on the government, but it is felt that the expenditure is justified on compassionate grounds.

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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARDINER:

How did it happen that these people consigned goods on the assumption indicated by the minister. Did they act on an advertisement of the corporation?

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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

My information is that, without knowledge of the department, the Richelieu Corporation went through a portion of western Ontario and stated that the department had assisted in providing stalls for the two ships fitted out by the corporation and used this statement as evidence of the good faith of the Richelieu Corporation. In this way they induced farmers to consign goods to them.

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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARDINER:

I assume that the corporation was made up of individuals. Was any action taken against the individuals to recover the property so consigned?

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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

My recollection is that the corporation went into bankruptcy. A criminal charge was laid against the officers of conspiracy to defraud; I understand the charge failed.

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Item agreed to. To provide hereby, notwithstanding anything contained in The Consolidated Revenue and Audit Act or any other act or law, for payment out of the consolidated) revenue fund to the present Canadian Minister to France of an annuity at the rate of $3,000, to commence upon his retirement and to continue thereafter at the above rate during his lifetime, $3,000.


June 28, 1935