Why, certainly. I think there may be doubt as to whether this parliament is more capable of dealing competently and adequately with the question, for instance, of hours of labour and perhaps of wages, than the provincial legislatures. There is a difference of opinion about it. Arguments can be urged on both sides. There is no doubt now that any one province can legislate with regard to these matters. The contention, as I understand it, is this, that parliament should deal with wages and hours of labour in such a way that its legislation would prevail throughout the length and breadth of the whole dominion. On the other hand, there are those who suggest that the conditions complained of are not the same throughout the length and breadth of the country. I remember an argument which I listened to in my own province of Quebec, in which it was suggested that conditions were not the same in all parts of that province, and that hours of labour should be different in the northern mining country, in the lumber camps, in some of the industrial towns, and in the city of Montreal, and reasonably strong arguments were made from that point of view.
But this parliament is in favour of having uniform legislation throughout the length and breadth of Canada. At least, if I understand the expressions of opinions which were given during the last session of the late parliament, in the 1935 session, if I fully appreciate the political speeches made by the right hon. leader of the opposition of that day, and if I understand the same suggestions which have been made from the government side again this session, there is a consensus of opinion that parliament can deal more efficiently and more effectively with these matters than can
B.NA. Act-Mr. Pouliot
the several legislatures. That opinion may be due to what I have observed during my twelve years as a member of this parliament. I notice that whenever any question comes up in which the legislative competence of the dominion is pitted against the legislative jurisdiction of the province, the members of this parliament on both sides immediately assume, with a unanimity that is seldom observed, that the parliament of Canada is more intelligent, more experienced and more competent to deal with such matters than is any provincial legislature.
On the other hand I notice that in the provinces with which I have experience, especially the two larger provinces, the members of the legislature think that with regard to these matters they are closer to the people; they are closer to the soil; they know better what is needed to remedy the evils which exist. I suggest to the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) that this parliament is not the only parliament of the country. There is a real difference of opinion as to whether this parliament is more competent to deal with certain social questions than are the legislatures of the provinces. But if we are resolved that parliament should do it, and that parliament should acquire the legislative competence to do it, the matter is really one of procuring simple amendments to the British North America Act as it exists at present, so as to make it clear that regulations of wages and hours of labour are not included exclusively in "property and civil rights," and so as to make it clear that the parliament of Canada has legislative competence to deal with the question of unemployment insurance.
Subtopic: PROPOSED COMMITTEE TO RECOMMEND AMENDMENTS LOOKING TO IMPROVEMENT OF SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS