April 7, 1936

FIRST READING-SENATE BILLS


Bill No. 42, respecting the Trust and Loan Company of Canada.-Mr. Vien. Bill No. 46, for the relief of Gerald Thompson Miltimore.-Mr. McKay. Employment Commission


REDUCTION OF RELIEF GRANTS


On the orders of the day:


CON

Herbert Earl Wilton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. H. E. WILTON (Hamilton West):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) if the federal fifteen per cent cut in relief grants to the provincial governments, passed on to the municipalities, applies only to the month of April, or is it made as a permanent cut? If so, is there any possibility of the cut being restored in view of the many protests made against it?

Hon. NORMAN McL. ROGERS (Minister of Labour): Mr. Speaker, the fifteen per cent cut applies for the month of April inasmuch as it was indicated to us by the provinces that it was desirable that they should be advised as soon as possible of the policy which would be followed by the dominion government in relation to grants in aid during the coming months. There has been no assurance given as to the continuance of the present grants, its restoration or its further reduction. That matter is receiving consideration.

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CON

Herbert Earl Wilton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WILTON:

Might I further ask the minister if the government took into consideration the fact that the municipal tax budgets were struck on the basis of the original grants?

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Mr. Speaker, I take it that my hon. friend has completed his question. The increased grants which prevailed during the months of December, January, February and March applied only during the winter months, and the order in council made that clear beyond any question; so that if the municipal councils struck their budgets on the basis of the continuance of the grants which prevailed during the winter months they did so without any assurance whatsoever that those grants would be continued during the ensuing months.

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CON

ELLSWORTH ANTARCTIC FLIGHT


On the orders of the day:


LIB

Leslie Alexander Mutch

Liberal

Mr. L. A. MUTCH (Winnipeg South):

Mr. Speaker, I would ask if it is the intention of the government to honour Mr. Herbert Hollick-Kenyon, noted Winnipeg airman who flew Lincoln Ellsworth in his recent epic antarctic flight; also Mr. J. H. Lymburner, an associate of Mr. Hollick-Kenyon and an outstanding Canadian.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

My hon. friend was kind enough to tell me of his intention to ask this question, but I have to reply to him that thus far the government has not had an opportunity to give the matter consideration.

[Mr. Mackenzie King.l

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EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION

ADMINISTRATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE


The house resumed from Monday, April 6, consideration in committee of Bill No. 14, respecting the establishment of a national employment commission-Mr. Rogers-Mr. Johnston (Lake Centre) in the chair. On section 6, paragraph (a)-Registration and classification.


SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Johnston, Lake Centre):

When the committee rose last evening we were considering paragraph (a) of section 6 of Bill No. 14.

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

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Mr. Chairman, there is one problem which faces Canada along with all other countries, the problem of youth. There is also another problem which faces all countries, namely, the problem of the reestablishment of soldiers in civil life. For eighteen years all countries have done their best to try to settle the soldier problem, but if we are to judge from the legislation about to be submitted to us and if we take into account the appointment of a special committee of this house to study the very important question of pensions for soldiers and their dependents, the problem is still acute. Up to the present the debate on the problem of youth has been rather academic, but it is most urgent that a close study of it be made. It is very difficult for a young man who is not an ex-soldier to be appointed to any position to-day because of the preference given to returned soldiers. One of my colleagues told me this afternoon that he had gone to the Langevin block to see about the appointment of a young man of twenty-one who was on the eligible list for mail carriers in one of our cities. The gentleman in charge of this matter told him that although this young man was well qualified it would be impossible for him to get anything for three years because thirty-three returned soldiers had preference over him. This problem is more acute because nearly eighteen years have passed since the close of the war and nothing has been settled. The children of soldiers have grown up and want these jobs but they cannot get them. They complain of this discrimination, but what can be done? I am taking the liberty of making a suggestion to the government, and especially to the very able Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers). Is the government willing to appoint a committee of the house to be composed of members from each province to study this problem of youth? It seems to me that the question is a most urgent one which will become more serious as the years

Employment Commission

go by. I would be very thankful to the hon. gentleman if he would tell us what the government proposes to do.

Hon. NORMAN McL. ROGERS (Minister of Labour): Mr. Chairman, so far as

the setting up of a committee of the house to study the problem of youth is concerned I must say that it is not within my power to give my hon. friend any assurance in that regard. I would point out to him that in the bill now before the committee there is a provision for a special study of the problem of youth in relation to the wider problem of unemployment. We recognize that the young men and women who have come of age during the past five years have been confronted with an extremely difficult situation, something for which I believe there is no precedent in the history of our country. The problem requires special investigation and we are providing in this bill that there shall be a special committee to consider the problems related to the employment of youth.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I thank the hon. gentleman. I have another observation to make, which I shall try to make as short as possible. Paragraph (a) reads:

The commission shall,

(a) carry out as soon as possible a national registration and classification of persons on relief in cooperation with the provinces, municipalities and private and public bodies;

We have to wage a war against unemployment. During the war the allied countries were fighting together. There was the British army, which included the Canadian corps; there was the French army, the Italian army and the armies of the other allies. It was not a case of the British army on one side and the armies of the allies on the other; they were all cooperating.

I understand that anything can be done by cooperation provided the parties concerned are willing to work together.

What was the basis of the British North America Act? That legislation was drafted by a very great Canadian, Sir John A. Macdonald. It was drafted in his own hand, and the original is specially kept in the dominion archives. Why was Sir John A. Macdonald such a great Canadian, and why is his memory still so much respected by our fellow citizens? It was because Sir John Macdonald, like Sir Wilfrid Laurier later on, was a great psychologist. He knew men and understood them, because he met them frequently and listened to them. That was why he was such a great leader of men. He had a wonderful experience and it is because of that experience that the very

principle of the most important section of the British North America Act can be summarized in these words-let everyone mind his own business. The idea behind the British North America Act was that the municipalities should be free to exercise all the powers that were conferred upon them. The same rule was applied to the provinces and it was also applied to the federal power. For a very long time, from 1867 until 1930, that spirit prevailed. In Nova Scotia, Joseph Howe; in Quebec, Mercier; in Ontario, Mowat; in New Brunswick, others-and they have had their disciples in each province- have fought for provincial rights. Why? They feared the encroachment of the federal power upon their own rights. Everyone was master in his own house, and did not tolerate interference from any neighbour. There was no superiority. The federal government had its own limitations and so had the provinces and the municipalities. So to speak, everyone was at home. Now everyone is living in other people's houses. That is the trouble. Why did it happen? It happened because in the fall session of 1930 and in the session of 1931 a tripartite plan was imposed upon this country, and in that plan everything was mixed up by the federal government of the time. It is one of the greatest errors that have been committed, because when it was done the federal power thought that they had authority over the provinces and the municipalities; and it shows that at the time the real spirit of the confederation pact was overlooked and ceased to prevail.

The gentleman who was quoted yesterday, Mr. Hirota, the new Prime Minister of Japan, said something that should be inscribed in every legislative assembly room in the world- there is no problem that cannot be solved by common sense. And it is only a repetition of what Marshal Foch said when he was leading the allied armies to victory by applying to modern times the principles of warfare laid down by the great Napoleon, namely, that war is common sense. It is just because the British North America Act was based on common sense that we cannot change that part of it without making the same mistake that was made in 1930 by the late government.

My hon. friend from Vancouver-Burrard (Mr. McGeer) has given us his views in regard to currency. Some people regard them as extravagant but I am not going to pass any judgment on them now. On the other hand, the federal government has incurred a great responsibility in connection with some works which were not needed and which were

Employment Commission

imposed on the municipalities in a very careless and thoughtless way. The municipalities have accepted the burden; the provinces have accepted the burden; the railways have accepted the burden. But as the years have passed the burden has become heavier and heavier, and now, owing to that reckless policy, the provinces are bankrupt. Many municipalities are bankrupt and the great metropolis of Canada is in dire distress. And there is something else that was ignored in that special session of 1930 when those fresh from victory were claiming for themselves power and rights over the citizens of this country. They forgot that if the federal government has new sources of taxation, if the provinces have new sources of taxation on gasoline, liquor and so on, the municipalities have no more revenue from taxation. It is mostly the owner of immovable property who must pay his share of the responsibilities incurred by the municipality. All that has been said until now is clear to everyone, it cannot be denied by anyone; and to-day the owners of immovable property cannot get a cent from their tenants, or when they get something they get it out of taxes they pay for the support of the unemployed.

We hear about building new houses, about having housing schemes for tenants who will not be able to pay a cent in rent. Another thing that was forgotten by the late government in the special session of 1930 and in the session of 1931, a thing they did not realize during the five years they were in power-

Topic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

If my hon. friends make jokes about it I will name them in the house, in order that their names shall be kept on record to show in what spirit they take the truth. I know that the truth is very offensive to them, but they must listen to the end.

During those five long years it was impossible to obtain a decent answer from the then prime minister or his colleagues, including the ex-minister of labour. Also the prime minister was at one and the same time minister of finance and minister of labour, representing in that government both capital and labour. The first fundamental of a sound, red-blooded Canadian policy was entirely forgotten by that government. To-day we have to think about a policy. I wonder what kind of cooperation will be asked by the dominion government from the provinces and the municipalities. The municipalities have no means to pay, because the owner of immovable property cannot meet his taxes, he cannot get a cent from the unemployed who dwell in his houses, and he cannot be

TMr. Pouliot.]

taxed any more. In my humble opinion the first thing that should be done for the relief of unemployment is to get back to common sense as it prevailed from 1867 to the black year 1930 when the other government came into power.

I am reluctant to do anything that is not acceptable to the majority of the party to which I am proud to belong and on whose behalf I have spoken in several provinces besides my own. But, sir, if the Prime Minister is inviting suggestions from hon. members from Alberta who do not belong to this party, he must rejoice and be proud to receive suggestions from any private member wTho belongs to the Liberal party, who has done so all his life, and who will remain so even if he has to fight Tory policies under a Liberal disguise. I do not wish to offend any one on either side of the house, but mark you, at times wThen a general surrenders he is court martialed, and the court martial takes into consideration any error of judgment that he has committed. A general is not permitted to make mistakes of judgment; he is the less responsible if he takes the advice of those colleagues who are supposed to sit with him in council. At times, unfortunately for this country, that practice has not been followed. The advice came from outside, and it is to those who gave that wrong, pernicious and dreadful advice that I am so strongly opposed. They, it is true, are mere individuals, flies on the window, but with a very fat bank roll. But this is immaterial; individuals do not count, but if a man speaks as one on behalf of ten millions he must do his very best for all the others.

I would warn the government against continuing any tripartite policy of unemployment relief. It is my duty to do so, and I am not afraid to do it. I do not desire to put blame on the shoulders of anyone who is not responsible for the calamities that have fallen on this country for so many years. My suggestion is a very simple one. If we w'ant to have a strong, vigorous and efficient unemployment relief policy, first of all let every one be master in his own house. Secondly, for that purpose let us adjust the British North America Act in order that the spirit which prevailed with such fortunate consequences during so many years shall be restored. The most important committee of this house is the committee on the British North America Act. Their purpose should be to change it not for the sake of change but in order to make it workable in 1936 as it was in 1867, in 1896, in 1911 and until 1930. Perhaps there are sufficient reasons why the committee has not met until now. Per-

Employment Commission

haps it will be impossible for the committee to meet before the end of April, but as soon, as it is possible to call a meeting of that committee, the thing should be done. The provinces should be invited. I cannot understand how it is that, after so many conferences between the provinces and the dominion during the last five years, no agreement has been arrived at by virtue of which the matter could be settled. It is not settled, but it should be-and this is my last point- in order to adjust the problem of taxation. We hear a lot about taxes and about the Canadian taxpayers being overburdened. Some of them are; some others are not. I distinctly remember having suggested some years ago in a small village in my constituency, the beautiful village of Cacouna, that the sum of $500,000,000 should be spent by the federal government for unemployment relief. There was something else. At that time the interest on bank deposits had not been decreased, nor had the interest on bonds. It would have been possible to collect a tax of ten per cent on the interest on the savings deposits in the banks, on coupons, and the interest on mortgages. So far as the last tax is concerned it would have been very easy to collect it by using stamps just the same as we do on cheques and on notes. And, sir, I was greatly honoured when a few days later the exminister of trade and commerce took that suggestion for his own and repeated it in the city of Ottawa. This is my first opportunity of thanking him for doing so, and he mentioned exactly the same amount, $500,009,000 though the hon. gentleman did not mention that this amount should be paid out of an annuity fund to be made up from a tax on wealth.

Wealth exists; it all depends on the degree of wealth possessed by each individual. It is not the money that makes wealth; it is the circulation of money. If confidence is restored in this country the government will have to do very little in order to increase prosperity; confidence will do it. My hon. friends in the far corner will admit this: If one of them gives a dollar to his child, his boy or girl, the boy may buy a book. The owner of the bookstore will give that dollar to a clerk. The clerk will go to the market square and buy a piece of meat. The butcher will give that dollar in taxation; the city will give it to the unemployed and the money goes round and round, just the same as music. And the more it goes round and round the more advantage it is to people; it passes from one hand to another. Therefore it is urgent to restore confidence in this country; that 12739- J19i

is the more important point. The work was well started on October 14, and now we must continue in that direction. The Canadian people spoke very loudly at that time; they said, "We do not want any more of those expedient policies which are no good, which are disastrous and which have brought the country to the verge of ruin and bankruptcy. We need a change." Some very able men formed the new government, and they have been entrusted by the people of this country with the duty of formulating new policies to lead us on the way to progress and prosperity.

With these words, sir, I shall conclude. It seems to me that my views have been expressed very clearly, and I regret to have had to say such elementary and simple things to my distinguished colleagues. Let us all get back to normalcy, to common sense. That is all; it is very easy. Let us put aside all the theories that are pernicious and dangerous; let us consider only the interests of the Canadian people. If we continue to apply the policies that were enacted by the last government we might have civil war in this country in a very short time. Those policies were, wrong, and even the best men in the world cannot make them good. When I say that I do so to clear my conscience.

Topic:   EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF AND PROVISION FOR NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
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April 7, 1936