February 24, 1936

LIB

Frederick George Sanderson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

The point taken by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) is well taken. In future I hope hon. members will observe the rule; those who have spoken once in the debate may not speak again, but several hon. members have spoken a second and third time.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. M. J. COLDWELL (Rosetown-Big-gar):

I did not intend to participate in this

debate to-night, but I feel that since the resolution was introduced by the leader of this group, and we have wandered somewhat afield from the intent and purpose of the resolution I should like to say a few words. The resolution has been described as communistic in its nature. I look down the avenues of time and turn over the pages of history and I am reminded of how not far from where I was born and just over a century ago a man who became one of the greatest leaders of his time, Benjamin Disraeli, sought election to the British House of Commons for the city of Taunton. At that time terms were applied to him very similar to those that are applied from time to time to the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth). But call-

Cooperative Commonwealth-Mr. Coldwell

ing names does not refute an argument or destroy an idea, and although to-night there has been some amusement at the expense of hon. members to my left, let me point out that while I disagree with their thesis and their policy, nevertheless they are here because a large section of the Canadian people are dissatisfied with things as they are. That is the reason for their presence and ours in the house.

A short time ago a speaker said that if one had a constructive suggestion to offer in connection with the matter now before us it should be offered. This afternoon the hon member for Grey-Bruce (Miss Macphail) referred to the social experiments taking place in Sweden and the Scandinavian countries. From time to time too we hear a great deal about Russia. Russia is sometimes thrown at us in derision. But we of British birth and British ideals are closely akin to the Scandinavian peoples. The Russian experiment is perhaps peculiar to the type of people who inhabit eastern and central Europe, but the Scandinavian activities are of interest to the people of our dominion and of the British commonwealth of nations because the people of Scandinavia are so nearly akin to ourselves.

I have in my hand a clipping which appeared in the London Economist a short time ago. Sir Walter Layton, the editor, who was for a considerable time the economic adviser of the League of Nations, in making a recent survey of Canadian conditions said:

The question many people in Canada ask to-day is why the economic life of the country which has such vast and varied resources, cannot be so organized as to provide reasonable sustenance for 10,500,000 people when Sweden another country in northern latitudes with a much smaller area and little first class land, manages to support 7,500,000 people without condemning any large portion of them to serious privation.

To-day as I listened to some hon. members, another reference to Sweden, which I shall quote, came to my mind:

The Swedes do not recoil in alarm when some stump speaker shouts, apropos of a measure under debate, "That's socialism!"

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order may I suggest that the hon. member in quoting must state his authority.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

I am quoting from the New York Herald Tribune.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

An editorial?

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

No; an article by Lewis Gamnett in which he reviews a new book.

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LIB

John Frederick Johnston

Liberal

Mr. JOHNSTON (Lake Centre):

What

date?

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

I have not the date. It continues:

They know that every community welfare measure since the first public park was opened and the first toll road was taken over by the state and made free has been greeted with that identical retort by spokesmen for licensed greed. The Swedes settle back calmly and ask: "Does it work?"

It seems to me that the question we have to ask about the system under which we are living is, first of all: Does it work? Then, if a proposal is placed before us we should ask ourselves if it is probable that the proposals would work in the country in which we live, and if it has worked elsewhere. If it has, then I venture to say that it is worthy of study. I have often thought that we could learn much from other countries if we would study what they do rather more intimately than has been our custom. I hope that if the present administration is unsuccessful in meeting the urgent and pressing needs of the Canadian people it will look into conditions existing in other countries and as far as possible endeavour to find in those countries lessons which may be applied to the country in which we live for the benefit and general good of our citizens. If the administration will do that, it will have made a great contribution not only to Canadian affairs but to world affairs also.

To-day in the reading room of the House of Commons I happened to pick up the December issue of the Economic Journal, a publication edited by John Maynard Keynes, the great Liberal economist of Great Britain. True, John Maynard Keynes may be a little to the left of some other Liberal economists, but I believe he is regarded as the outstanding progressively Liberal economist in Great Britain. In that magazine we find an instructive and somewhat difficult article written by Professor Durbin on the theory of value. The article concludes with these words, which I should like to quote:

What is urgently required in economic theory to-day is the extension and variation of our institutional postulates in order that economists may formulate and solve the problems of rational calculus in an integrated economy.

That may be a difficult sentence, but put into the plainest of English it means simply that what we need to do is so to organize and plan our economic life that we may make intelligent and measured progress. That is our problem.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

Are we to conclude from

the hon. member's observation that he regards Mr. Keynes as the authority behind the resolution?

484 COMMONS

Cooperative Commonwealth-Mr. Coldwell

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

I have not suggested

anything of the kind. I have simply given the author of the quotation, to show that the magazine from which I have quoted is one of repute and edited by a man well known to all of us. I am not contending that Mr. Keynes even takes the responsibility for articles appearing in the magazine.

We have a growing consensus of opinion in the world that we cannot continue to drift, but that intelligence must be brought to bear upon the economic and social problems with which we are confronted; that through the use of that intelligence we must find the solution for the difficulties with which we are surrounded. Sometimes I feel vexed when I hear people refusing to discuss such problems. I do not contend that everything I believe is absolutely correct or sound, nor do I -believe that ideas held by other men are *unsound and incorrect. I believe however -that out of the clash of ideas may come *policies which could be moulded to assist the Canadian people, and the people of the world generally, in finding a way out of the morass of despair into which we have fallen.

Several times to-day the problem of new machinery and inventions has been mentioned. Some say that this is the cause of all our difficulties. I say that the difficulty lies in the fact that we have not organized our economy to the point at which we may utilize the machinery of production in industry, on the farms and elsewhere in order that those machines may be a blessing instead of a curse. Again to-day on several occasions we have heard interjected into the debate some observations on money. That is a problem sufficiently large to be discussed separately. Again and again we hear the cry go up: It cannot be done! Again and again we hear about constitutional difficulties in the way of making progress. A few days ago I happened to read the comments of a well known American concerning those who place constitutional and other difficulties in the way. I refer to* Rexford Guy Tugwell, one of the advisers to the present President of the United States. His words are:

The mediaeval dialectician who argues about the most constitutional method of dealing with a volcano is a greater menace to society than the worst type of agitator.

I do not believe in chaos; I do not believe in violence; I do not believe in disorder, and because I do not believe in those things I am anxious to see the government and the people of Canada grapple with these great problems and meet them in such a manner that we shail avoid the difficulties that might otherwise

come to the nation in which we live. May I point this out, that not forever are men and women in middle life and beyond going to be denied the means to live in a land where there is abundance; and still less are those thousands of young men and women growing up in our midst going to stand by and be denied the opportunity to live, to marry, to settle down, to build homes, to lead natural, normal lives, without making striking and effective protests. And Mr. Speaker, I appeal to the government, even if it thinks some of the suggestions we are making from this corner of the house, some of the suggestions that are contained in the resolution put forward to-day are unsound, at least to consider them, and if after mature consideration it believes them to be so unsound as to be impossible of achievement, then I say to the government that it is its duty to bring down alternative proposals that will meet the situation which confronts us.

The Scandinavian countries can teach us many lessons. We heard this afternoon of their great cooperative institutions. I would add that in Sweden, for example, instead of the government taking over bankrupt industries, bankrupt facilities mismanaged by big business, as we and other nations have had to do from time to time, it has taken over and organized some of those great profitable industries which have become monopolistic in their nature and which therefore ought to be a matter of public concern. It has organized those industries in order that the proceeds from them may assist the government of Sweden in financing its general activities- liquor, tobacco, and now it is proposing to take over gasoline and coffee. Things that have become monopolistic in that nation, yielding high returns to the groups that control them are taken over by the government in order that they may be utilized and controlled for the good of the people of Sweden.

During the whole of this depressed period, from 1931 to 1936-and the monthly reports of the Midland Bank of England will justify this statement-the value [DOT] of the Swedish kronen internally has varied less than two per cent, whereas throughout the rest of the world internal and external currencies have been fluctuating from low depths to higher points and back again from time to time. About a year ago in the monthly report of the Midland Bank I saw a graph depicting the fluctuation of Swedish internal exchange from 99-5 to 101-5 per cent of the par level, almost a straight line, while in Britain the value of the internal pound has gone up to tall peaks and then down into deep valleys. Why? Because in 1931 the social dem-oorats and the farmers

Cooperative Commonwealth-Mr. Landeryou.

of Sweden, representing the people and controlling parliament-and quite recently I may say they were returned with a larger support than, ever-intervened to control the economic situation and took over the intelligent supervision of the Swedish financial system. They called in those economists from the universities who are sometimes treated elsewhere with derision and said to them: It is your job to stabilize the purchasing power of the people of Sweden. And they did that very thing. In spite of the fact that during the period to which I just referred Ivor Kruger, Swedish multimillionaire, committed suicide, shaking the financial world to its foundation, the fluctuation in Sweden was less than two per cent.

May I suggest to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning), for whose ability I have the greatest respect, that he inquire into just exactly what was done in the little kingdom of Sweden, and why it is that unemployment there has been reduced from a comparatively high figure in 1931 and 1932 to less than one per cent of the population at the end of 1935. The last figure I saw for the kingdom of Sweden was that out of a population of some seven and a half millions of people only forty-three thousand were unemployed. That is a tremendous achievement. We are a country in many respects similar to Sweden. We are an exporting country; so is Sweden. It is true that we export different commodities. We export wheat; they export lumber. We failed to find a market for our lumber from the maritime provinces and British Columbia until a comparatively short time ago, but Sweden by means of trade relationships which she instituted, largely through the control of the country's economic structure, was enabled to trade to the advantage of her people.

I was going to quote from recent statistics in relation to Sweden, but I shall not do so to-night because the debate has already proceeded for a long time. In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that if we are going to speak we should try to lay before the House of Commons something which is constructive, something which, while not perhaps, in the eyes of the government, applicable to the present situation, may yet induce the government to consider and present proposals of a different nature, designed to grapple with the conditions that surround us.

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SC

John Charles Landeryou

Social Credit

Mr. J. C. LANDERYOU (Calgary East):

Mr. Speaker, the greatest condemnation of the present economic system lies in the fact that it has failed to provide economic security for the great mass of Canadian citizens. I do not believe we can solve the problem by

socializing the means of production. People to-day are not interested so much in who owns the means of production as in who is going to own the commodities produced. I feel that we should socialize the products of the machines, not by confiscation or socializing the means of production, but by placing sufficient purchasing power in the hands of the people to equate the selling price of the goods and services for sale. I believe that in doing that we shall solve the problem of adequately distributing the goods that are produced and the services that we can render. If in any economic system production is not reflected adequately by purchasing power in the hands of the people, then it is a stupid system. We must provide through the paying of just wages to those who render services to production; we must provide through the paying of just prices to those who create or produce the raw material necessary to the creation of wealth; we must provide as a supplement to the wages, salaries and commissions paid a national dividend and thus assure to the people by placing in their hands sufficient purchasing power the ownership of the goods that we can produce in such large quantities.

A complete analysis of our economic system will disclose the fact that its true purpose is to provide goods and services for the people as they require them, when they require them and where they require them. We should analyze our economic system and try to understand its component parts or factors. I should say that the two main factors are production and distribution or consumption. Under production there are a number of factors. In order to produce, a country must have favourable laws of nature. Canada is blessed with favourable laws of nature. Canada also has natural resources in abundance from coast to coast. We must have also a knowledge of the scientific methods of production. This is even more important than labour. If you took the modern machinery that we have in Canada to the heart of Africa, if you had on the one hand the negro labourer and on the other, blocks of gold, you would not be able to turn out the goods as we do in this country. This cannot be done because that important factor is missing. In Canada we have a knowledge of the scientific methods of production. Then we must have labour, whether it be solar or human energy. In this country we use machine power more than we use man power. Another factor necessary in production is this thing called money. People are wondering where it is all coming from, but no matter where it comes from we must

486 COMMONS

Cooperative Commonwealth-Mr. Landeryou

have it in our system, so that we may pay wages, salaries and commissions and thus establish the cost values of the goods produced.

I should like hon. members to carry their minds back to the period of 1914-18 when Canada enjoyed such prosperity, when our economic system was going full blast within the framework of the existing financial system. During that period there was made available to the producers plenty of credit or money. Fear had vanished from the financial world; they were not afraid to invest their money in creating wealth because they knew there was an effective demand or market for. it in the war. Millions were poured into production to create wealth; they were unafraid that purchasing power would not be sufficient to pay for it. They knew that the entire Dominion of Canada stood behind the promise to pay for the goods produced. Our economic system was speeded up with money actually reflecting our collective ability to produce and deliver goods.

If we analyze our system of distribution we realize that here also there are many other factors. Transportation and communication in this country is possibly second to none in any place in the world. We have an elaborate system of distribution in our warehouses and storage tanks, and in our method of selling goods at retail. We have a wonderful system of weights and measures. To facilitate the distribution of goods we must place in the hands of the people sufficient- money to complete the economic cycle; we must place in the hands of the people sufficient -money with which to purchase the goods we have produced. We realize more and more to-day that this is the factor that is missing; we have not sufficient purchasing power in the hands of the people to buy the goods produced. If we are going to solve this problem we must place in their hands that purchasing power.

When we go into a store and see goods piled on the shelves we do not feel that there is a shortage of the measures of weight or of distance. We know that as long as the goods are there the man selling them is not going to say that he is out of yards or out of pounds. People do not run out of yards, a measure of distance, or out of pounds, a measure of weight, as long as there are goods piled up on their shelves. But how many people go into the stores and look at the goods -there just as they would go into a museum and look at the articles displayed there, which they would like to 'buy if only they had the money. I contend that it is just as foolish for people to say that they have no money to buy the wealth which can

be produced in such large quantities as it is to say that there is a shortage of yards or pounds. Surely we can find some means of providing for the producers sufficient credit that they can go ahead and turn our natural resources into consumable goods in sufficient quantity to saturate the markets of this country, and create a surplus that can be shipped -out in exchange for goods not- naturally produced here. Surely we can find some way of placing in the hands of the people sufficient purchasing power to ensure that they can own the goods -that are produced or imported in exchange for our surplus values. That is a problem we have to solve, the problem of distribution. I suggest that there is no better way of solving this problem than to finance consumption, t-he same as we financed the destruction of goods during the war. Millions of dollars were poured out during the war to finance the destruction of goods. I say that we should pour money into the creation of wealth and into the hands of the people in order that they may consume goods. Until w-e d.o that we shall fail to solve our economic problem.

This question of money is continuously being brought up. Where is all the money coming from? We have been told that money must be based upon the intrinsic value of gold and silver, or it must be based upon some other source like financial credit. But I say that money is nothing more or less than a system of figures to give us the information necessary to carry on our economic system. Not necessarily must money be based upon the intrinsic value of gold and silver; but it should actually reflect our collective ability to produce and distribute wealth. If we had a block of gold as big as this desk in front of me, I would not know nor would any other member know how much money we had until we had weighed that gold and multiplied it by the value placed upon it by international financiers and government officials working in cooperation with them. And then you would have a figure by means of which you might calculate how much money you had. The only way you can find out how much money you have in a piece of gold is to weigh it and multiply it by the value placed upon it, whether it be $26 or $50 an ounce. I suggest that money, whether it is stamped upon a piece of gold or a piece of silver or a piece of paper, is only a figure after all, and we should not use this system of figures to figure the common people out of everything they produce. I say that our monetary system should be actually based upon our ability to create wealth and should reflect any increase in that ability to create and distribute wealth and render services.

Cooperative Commonwealth-Mr. Woodsworth

The period of the war to which I referred was a period during which an enormous debt was piled up, but I believe we can produce and distribute wealth under a monetary system that would not create debt. This can be done. From time to time, as legislation is brought down and motions made in the house, we shall do our utmost to point out to hon. members that we have a financial system that will adequately take care of the economic system, and I trust that we shall be given consideration as we do this from time to time.

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, in the very few minutes that remain this evening I should like to refer to one or two matters that have come up in the course of the debate. First of all, I suggest that unless these discussions are going to range over the whole field of economics it is desirable that the Speaker should rather. rigidly restrict the speeches to the subject matter of the resolution.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Is my hon. friend

seriously suggesting that in connection with resolutions of this type it is possible at all to restrict private members in their discussion? This is a very important matter and I ask the question in all seriousness.

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I do suggest that. That is why I objected to the hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) quoting some bank statements which were all very well in their place-I had no objection to their being placed on Hansard-but had no immediate relevancy to the resolution before the house.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

The resolution proposes to take over the financial institutions.

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

But amounts of

money in the banks have no particular relevancy to the resolution. In the same way, I do not know that the doctrines of social credit to which we have just listened have any particular relevancy to the resolution before us. I respectively submit that we are going to get into a bad tangle if on private members' resolutions, specific in character, we are allowed to wander over the whole field. At the same time, it seems to me that we ought to accord some consideration to the newer members of the house who are not very familiar with the rules. I know some have spoken when they were rather out of order; but though I have no particular sympathy with the specific doctrines of some of the members to my left, I felt rather sorry that some hon. gentlemen should attempt to take advantage of their ignorance of the rules of the house. With regard to a matter of this kind, I think the Minister of Trade and

Commerce (Mr. Euler), in his usual restrained and courteous manner, put the matter very well when he pleaded that we should give fair treatment to whatever resolution might be brought forward.

I can assure newer members of the house that as I think most of the older members have come to believe, we in this particular group are quite serious about these resolutions we bring forward. They may or may not be right, but we believe them to be right and have been advocating them now for a number of years across the country. I am glad that apparently we have reached the stage at which personal abuse will not be resorted to as a means of meeting an argument. I was rather sorry that the hon. member for Davenport (Mr. MacNicol) should have seen fit to take up the time of the house trying to connect the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation party with the communists. I have been quite frank to admit that the communist stood for quite a new social order, but-

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

My hon. friend does not intend to finish to-night?

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

No; but, as the

hon. member for Davenport recognizes, our method of attaining our end is different. It seems unfortunate that communist tactics and program should be emphasized in a debate in which we have come forward with an altogether different proposal.

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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Tuesday, February 25, 1936


February 24, 1936