April 6, 1936

CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

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

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I suggest that there are both local causes and general causes. It seems to me that in some parts of our

country there are local causes. The leader of the opposition to-night mentioned seasonal unemployment. We know that to be one cause, but I think we ought by this time to see what we can do to lessen the amount of seasonal unemployment.

Topic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OP UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I agree.

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

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

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

There is one particular thing that could be done. It is a long time ago since they tried to dovetail one employment into another so that the total employment would be stretched over a longer season. That is one aspect of unemployment.

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

That is covered, I think.

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

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

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

There is another

thing-technological unemployment. There is not much doubt that a good many people are being thrown out 'of work by new types of machinery constantly coming into use and displacing groups of workers. Something should be done to see that men who are thrown out of work by such technological changes are reabsorbed. Some of them might be absorbed in new vocations. Reeducation might be undertaken. I have mentioned one cause of unemployment today. There are a great many more, as well as the more general causes. Since we must look to the government to solve our great problems, and there are now one and one-third millions of people in the unhappy condition of being on relief, I think it is stupid for the government to go on blindly, year after year, merely classifying the people and giving a little temporary relief in the hope that something some day will turn up. Surely, living in an age when we have some of the elements of science in our being, we ought to apply some of the principles and the technique of science to a problem such as this. I do not think we are asking too much in suggesting that a commission specially set up for this task should undertake to make some inquiries as to the causes and give the results of their investigation. We might learn a good deal from the League of Nations, even though there is no consensus of opinion. We have to deal with the problem here in this country, whether we draw our information from the League of Nations, or from other countries, or make original studies. The least we can do, if we are going to remedy this condition, is to seek the cause. I can hardly understand the minister's hesitation to include that among the duties.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

The hon. gentleman who has just spoken has mentioned science. I do not believe in science because very often

Employment Commission

science is all wrong. He spoke of the League of Nations. The greatest benefit to mankind would be to set all those greybeards in Geneva on fire. This is free advice to humanity. Let us get rid of all those hair-splitters and the world will be the better for it. Let us go to the orient for wisdom. Let us see what a new premier, full of oriental wisdom, says. A conciliator takes the helm in Japan. Hirota, the new premier, says that he believes in applying common sense to statecraft. This is exactly what the hon. Minister of Labour said some time ago. Let us apply common sense. I know some old people who had not the advantage of learning how to read and write but who are full of wisdom. We call them people who give good advice. The patriarchs and the wise men of old very probably never knew how to read and write. They were full of wisdom; they were not full of learning. Let the hon. gentleman who spoke to us of science and the application of science to politics withdraw that advice, because very often those who mention scientific ways for recovery forget that the foundation of all things is very simple common sense. It is so simple that it is often ignored.

People are under the impression at times that recovery will be quicker if some remedies are applied and that the remedy is the better if you know nothing about it. It has been said before when this party was in opposition that a mistake of some so-called scientists was to try to apply to the country as a whole a new experiment. Hon. members know very well how Pasteur, Claude Bernard, Lister, all the real scientists of the world, have proceeded. They have begun with the infinitely small. They have conducted their first experiments on a very small scale. If those experiments were successful they widened the scope gradually. Then, having scientifically proved in accordance with reason and common sense that their first small experiment was right, they applied it on a larger scale, and people came from other countries to get the benefit of their wisdom.

Some comparison has been made between Canada and England. Is any comparison possible between this country and England? Take the British metropolis, the city of London. There in a few square miles you have an agglomeration of people which is nearly as large as the whole Canadian population, which is spread over thousands of miles. Conditions are not at all the same. Moreover Great Britain is an industrialist country, while Canada is very largely, at least to the extent of one-half, a farming country. Therefore there is a great difference between the two.

May I take advantage of this occasion to tell the committee why at times I am misinterpreted when I speak about individuals who belong to the civil service? I have no grudge against anyone, but there is a principle that cannot be forgotten. It is salus populi, suprema lex. The supreme law is the salvation of the country. When there is an obstacle in the way it shall be removed at any cost. There shall be no consideration of friendship, no consideration of snobbism, no consideration of privilege, no consideration of petting or padding. I remember that at college there were some schoolmates who were always around the regents, the teachers and the professors, telling them how wrong the other pupils were and how right they themselves were. We called them "cats," "des chats." We do not need that kind of people to give advice, technical or otherwise, to the government. There are some very able men in the service, but those who have taken advantage of their position to impose upon the government policies that have brought this country to the verge of ruin and bankruptcy should be chastised, and a man should not escape because he had a salary of 810,000 or 815,000.

I say that, sir, to impress upon the government the importance of considering the value of a man according to his accomplishments and especially according to his degree of common sense. I prefer a man who has common sense, though he may not know how to read and write, to a so-called scientist who is just a crank. The first man may be filled with wisdom. Here, sir, we have a pest of doctors, a doctor for this and a doctor for that. Even in official papers we see some people who call themselves doctors of law who got their degrees from a university which does not give lectures in law. That is one instance, and it is most absurd. We do not need doctors; we need wise men, full of common sense. The Minister of Labour is one, and I am sure there are many others. Not only is the minister a man of common sense; he is a learned man. He knows more than reading and writing, which proves that one can have a great degree of instruction and education and be at the same time a wise man. But, sir, I warn the government against all these so-called scientists who are responsible for the social legislation that was the curse of this country last year and that will continue to be the curse of the country until it is repealed or declared ultra vires by the proper court. Not one of those men who imposed that legislation upon the right hon. leader of the government of the time, and upon his cabinet, should be kept in

Employment Commission

the public service. They should be fired and they should be the first to be fired, because they are dangerous to the welfare of Canada. I denounce them, and when I do so I am true to my electors and to my duties as one of the 245 representatives at large of this dominion. I am not small enough to hold any grievance against a single man. I do not expect praise; I am indifferent to criticism. May I say, Mr. Chairman, that I am greatly indebted to the Minister of Labour because, although he does not belong to my race-

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LIB

Olof Hanson

Liberal

Mr. HANSON:

He is a Canadian, is he not?

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Yes, but he is not a

French-Canadian; he has not my language and we worship God in different ways, but he is the first leader of any government who has ever given a word of praise to any private member before his death. I appreciate this the more, sir, because when he spoke so highly of my very humble work I thought I was dead.

To summarize what has been said, I hope the government will see to it that all those dangerous men who were responsible for all the blunders made by the previous administration will be, so to speak, sterilized in order that they may cause no harm in the future. This is one way in which the several doctors we have in this house could prove their usefulness to the country.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I should like to say just one word in reply to the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, who asked the minister why the government had not imposed upon this commission the additional obligation of investigating the causes of unemployment. Quite frankly I will answer that the reason was that so far as the commission is concerned, the purpose of the government is to have it deal with the immediate, pressing problem which we have before us. That problem is to provide, if possible, work for nearly half a million of the population who are unemployed and at the same time provide relief for between one million and one and a half million of those who need assistance. This to be done in a manner which, we trust and hope, will afford relief and further employment and at the same time protect the public treasury and the public interest as much as may be possible.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Dealing with effects, not with causes.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I may say, too, that had we inserted in the bill a provision placing that obligation on the commission I

fear we would have heard repeated, what has been said even without that clause being there, that we have had enough of statistics and enough of investigation; let us get down to trying to provide work and at the same time do what is necessary in the way of relief.

Progress reported.

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ADJOURNMENT-BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Will we take up the same thing to-morrow?

Topic:   ADJOURNMENT-BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

To-morrow we shall continue with this bill.

Without in any way desiring to restrict discussion on the unemployment question may I mention that when the special supply bill is brought down, containing the various projects for which the house will be asked to make appropriations, there will be ample opportunity further to discuss fully all phases of the unemployment question. With that in view, hon. members may see their way clear to facilitate this measure reaching the senate in time for that body to consider its provisions before parliament adjourns for the Easter recess; if that could be done I believe it would be to the advantage of all concerned. I bring the matter to the attention of the house, not, as I have said, with a view of seeking to restrict the discussion in any way, but simply to place before the house the desirability of having these two measures assented t-o before the Easter vacation. In saying this I wish to assure the house that if there should seem to be any restriction of the debate on unemployment, as a consequence of shortening the discussion on these measures, to which I believe there is no objection in principle, ample opportunity will be given later, under the special supply bill, to supplement what is said at this time.

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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Tuesday, April 7, 1936


April 6, 1936