February 17, 1937

DOMINION TREASURY BILLS

LIB

Mr. TUCKER:

Liberal

1. How much money is now owing by the dominion under short term treasury bills?

2. What is the average of interest payable on such indebtedness?

3. What is the length of the period such treasury bills are drawn for?

Topic:   DOMINION TREASURY BILLS
Permalink
LIB

Mr. DUNNING: (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

1. $150,000,000.

2. -7566 per cent.

3. Three months.

Topic:   DOMINION TREASURY BILLS
Permalink

QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES-HOURS OF LABOUR

LIB

Mr. MAYBANK:

Liberal

1. What are the hours of labour of hospital orderlies in the Department of Defence and in the Department of Pensions in and about Winnipeg, Manitoba?

2. What are the hours of labour of inspectors in the Department of Agriculture in and about the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba?

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES-HOURS OF LABOUR
Permalink
LIB

Mr. MAYBANK:

Liberal

1. Do firemen in the Department of Defence at Winnipeg work a seven-day week of eight hours per day?

2. How many firemen are employed in said department?

3. Do any workmen in said department work a seven-day week of eight hours per day?

4. What is the number of hours comprising a week's work for firemen in or about Winnipeg in the Department of Defence?

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES-HOURS OF LABOUR
Permalink

DOMINION COAL COMPANY-COAL SUBVENTIONS

CON

Mr. BROOKS:

Conservative (1867-1942)

1. What amounts were paid by the Dominion government to the Dominion Coal Company as bonuses for the manufacture of coke, and the manufacture of steel, for the following years: 1934, 1935, 1936?

2. What amount was paid by the Dominion government in subventions to each province to assist in the movement of coal during the year 1936?

3. What quantities of coal were moved in each province under these subventions?

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   DOMINION COAL COMPANY-COAL SUBVENTIONS
Permalink

MOTIONS FOR PAPERS

CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION-APPOINTMENTS IN QUEBEC AND ONTARIO

LIB

Maurice Lalonde

Liberal

Mr. LALONDE:

For a return showing:

1. The complete list of the positions announced by the Civil Service Commission for

'Mr. Dunning.]

the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, for the years 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, and 1936. , ,

2. The complete list of candidates who have applied for these positions, (a) English-speaking; (b) French-speaking.

3. The complete list of successful candidates for the positions announced.

Topic:   MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION-APPOINTMENTS IN QUEBEC AND ONTARIO
Permalink
LIB

Louis Édouard Fernand Rinfret (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. RINFRET:

The information asked for by this motion is very comprehensive, and to prepare it would take considerable time and cost a good deal. I call attention especially to No. 2:

The complete list of candidates who have applied for these positions, (a) English-speaking; (b) French-speaking.

To make such a list would mean hundreds, in some cases thousands of names for each position; so that hon. members can imagine what it would mean if this informatoin were prepared with respect to all positions over a period of seven years. Other questions asked by the -motion are not matters of record and we would have to take a small census to get the information. I may say, however, that I have explained the situation to the hon. member and he has been kind enough to agree to let the order drop.

Motion dropped.

Topic:   MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
Subtopic:   CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION-APPOINTMENTS IN QUEBEC AND ONTARIO
Permalink

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE OFFICIALS-ALBERTA

SC

Robert Fair

Social Credit

Mr. FAIR:

For a return showing:

(a) Name; (b) headquarters address; (c) title; (d) salary; (e) travelling expenses, of all permanent and temporary officials, with headquarters in Alberta, employed or supervised by the Dominion Department of Agriculture or any of its branches, for the year 1936.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE OFFICIALS-ALBERTA
Permalink

PRIVILEGE-MR. POULIOT


Mr. JEAN-FRANCOIS POULIOT (Temis-couata): As a matter of personal explanation and privilege, may I refer to page 945 of yesterday's Hansard, the first column. Speaking of honorary colonels and honorary lieutenant-colonels, I am reported as saying: These men take advantage of their wealth in order to parade in a uniform which they were too cowardly to wear during the war. Exceptions confirm the rule.


CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM

PROPOSED SURVEY OF LEGISLATIVE AND LEGAL

CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (Broadview) moved:

That, in the opinion of this house, constitutional, parliamentary, cabinet and law reform are long overdue in Canada;

Constitutional Reform-Mr. Church

That with a view of increasing the efficiency of parliament and of government in this country and also of considering the whole question of over-government and over-taxation and giving the people a more modern constitution adapted to the solution of Canada's present day problems, a survey and study should be made either by a select committee of this house or by a joint committee of both houses of parliament with a view of having a report presented to both houses of parliament for these very necessary reforms and for legislation accordingly, so as to increase the efficiency as well as the stability of government in Canada.

Any such suggestions as aforesaid to be subject to the existing rights of minorities which are not to be interfered with but preserved.

He said: The resolution which is before the house this afternoon is No. 1 on this year's order paper but I thought that private members' day was to be abolished. The resolution was on the order paper in the sessions of 1935 and 1936.

The efficiency of this parliament is one of the most important questions for the people of Canada. Politics is supposed to be one of the greatest sports in the world. This parliament is operating under rules which are antiquated, rules three hundred years old. Take the annual estimates; instead of following the practice which is common to municipalities and private business enterprises, under which heads of departments meet together as a central board and go over the estimates carefully, cutting them down where feasible, and, in the case of the municipality, striking a tax rate, what do we do? We simply hold a post mortem on matters eighteen months old. We get the auditor general's report within fifteen days after the opening of parliament, but what is in it? Nothing but a post mortem examination of expenditure made in a previous year. It took three hundred years of parliamentary strife to secure the freedom of parliament and control by parliament over the executive and over the expenditure of money, but here we meet and pass millions of dollars of taxation representing money which has all been spent beforehand. We should reform our own ways of doing business. Parliament is getting to be nothing but a rich man's game. We sit here anywhere from three to six months. One of the glories of the Victorian era was that in those days they built up assets for the future. To-day these assets are being squandered by parliament, and the country does not know about it. In those days the people kept the state; to-day we are getting into a situation where the state keeps the people.

I say that the estimates are brought down early in the session. Under the constitution if this house moves to reduce the estimates

by one dollar, and the motion carries, the ministry resigns. What an absurd procedure! Many men in this house come up here from the municipalities of Quebec and the other provinces, and are accustomed to municipal practice. We have to get some modern business methods in the government of this countiy. We know at the annual meetings of the banks and financial institutions they are complaining about Canada's lack of business methods. Over-government and overtaxation are the curses of this country. There never should have been any provincial legislatures; they were not in the minds of the fathers of confederation but were created by the fathers of confederation for political, not economic purposes, with the result that you have in this country to-day a state of affairs which is intolerable. You have nine provinces all dealing with purely local matters, and a tenth legislature here, the House of Commons and Senate of Canada. In Great Britain there are no provincial legislatures; a population of some forty-six millions is governed by one federal parliament and local government boards over the municipalities. They get speedy results, while we sit here doing nothing.

I have travelled a little on the trains during the past few weeks, and I find them filled with members of commissions-they call them now committees; the Minister of Agriculture had an advisory rehabilitation committee to spend $10,000,000 on prairies, now changed to many committees. A committee of one hundred will be nothing when the work gets going. They are usurping the functions of parliament, going over the head of this House of Commons. We pass various acts, and at the end you see a board or committee provided for and given power to make rules and regulations which have the force of law. They are imposing direct taxes on the people of the country, and the people are not able to pay them.

It is my desire to offer constructive criticism, not particularly of any government, but based on principles. I believe that next session a select committee should be appointed as proposed in this motion, as was done in the old country, where the reform of the House of Lords and many other reforms, were brought about peacefully and without revolution, with the result that today the mother country is recovering from the depression faster than any other country in the world, by reason of a balanced budget, tariffs, a sane and sensible housing scheme, and control over the budget. They are meeting the enemy at the gate-bolshevism, socialism, fascism and all the rest. Look at England

970 COMMONS

Constitutional Reform-Mr. Church

about eighteen months ago, with the black shirts, the red shirts and the shirts of many colours, so that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But in England to-day a cardinal principle is respect for the monarchy, respect for institutions. Sometimes as I listen to things said in this house I begin to wonder whether there are not some Canadians who are ready to praise every country in the world except their own. I tell you, Mr. Speaker, that we will have to reform our ways, for the burdens and restraints and artificial barriers we have placed on business make it hard for men to carry on.

I would suggest that estimates committees be set up. This is not a new proposal. Such committees exist in other lands to-day. In England they have a committee system, and they have had such committees in the United States for about fifty years. Instead of taking up to-morrow the estimates of the Department of National Revenue or the Department of Immigration and having a discussion of policy on the vote for salaries we would appoint a committee on estimates or perhaps two or three committees. The officials of the departments concerned could appear before those committees and give all the information required. This is the municipal system, the board of control system, and in this way we would have some central authority looking after our expenditures. The committee, on which all parties would be represented, might strike off half a million dollars here or a million dollars there, and it would not affect the fate of the government. Under our present system of responsible government the ministry falls if anything like that happens. Our system is three hundred years old; it is out of date.

We have a great deal of useless overgovernment and over-taxation in Canada. If many of these provincial governments were out of existence entirely I think it would be a good thing for the country. I believe we should adopt the British system and enlarge the powers of the municipalities. Judging from the way some of these provinces are going on, after a while there will be no municipal institutions left. The provinces are grabbing all the revenue that formerly was collected by the municipalities. At one time the income tax was the exclusive field of the municipalities. That was the case from confederation down to 1917, when this parliament invaded that field and imposed an income tax for war purposes, which constituted a duplicate income tax. Not satisfied with that, the governments of the provinces came

along and imposed a triple income tax, which surely is an absurdity.

These provinces receive direct subsidies from parliament under the British North America Act, and what are the subsidies given for? The terms of confederation state why they are given; they are to compensate the provinces for their inability to levy indirect taxation, and to maintain provincial and municipal institutions. Now the provinces want the power of indirect taxation, and if it had not been for the action of the other branch of this parliament a bill would have been passed which would have given the provinces power to invade almost all fields of municipal taxation. They would have added a tax on real estate, a tax on the municipal assessment, and, in addition, a duplicate sales tax. That bill was thrown out by the senate, because the interests of the people of Canada and the interests of good government and law and order demanded that this should be done.

It is my opinion that the municipal system should be substituted for our present system. Parliament should meet here for only about three months. Under our present system some of the committees set up do not meet at all; others elect chairmen and that is the last we hear of them for the year. We have altogether too many committees, but we are very badly in need of a legal committee. Reforms must come in the interests of national security. If we had a single parliament during which there was a socialist majority, Canada would be ruined. Whither is Canada drifting? Where are we heading? As I say, in a single parliament untold damage could be done; the state could be revolutionized against the will of the people, if the socialists had a clear majority here. I suggest that we should consider changing the rules of this game. Did you ever hear of a game that had the same rules for three hundred years? Instead of being here for about three months, which is all the time that should be required to transact the necessary business even during the very heaviest session, we are here sometimes for six months, and when we have fall sessions we are here practically the year round. This political game should not be a dead game; it should be up-to-date and modem, and the rules of the game should meet changed conditions.

I believe some measure of constitutional reform should be adopted which will prevent amateurs from periodically interfering with industry and agriculture in Canada. That has been the curse of this country for many years. Artificial burdens and restraints which

Constitutional Rejorm-Mr. Church

have been imposed upon business have prevented business from functioning normally. Parliament hardly ever meets without creating some additional restraint on business and trade. As a matter of fact parliament has become the chief enemy rather than the protector of liberty in this country. Nothing has been done to check the shocking death toll on the highways. We meet here and talk about many things, but the terrible death rate on our roads and highways is ignored, while in England the problem has been practically solved.

Constitutional reform is the only remedy for the meddling of amateurs with business that is going on to-day. Nothing is more essential than good, housing for the working classes and cooperation between the farmers and the consumers, but efforts to deal with these matters have failed. As a result the consumer has been placed at the mercy of the producer. You may remember, Mr. Speaker, that when our parliamentary system was started some three hundred years ago the basis was territorial representation, because that was an agricultural age. Parliament included representatives of the shires and towns and of the producers and distributors of agricultural products. Thus the producers and the consumers were brought together in parliament, not to regulate other people but to regulate their own affairs. The government cannot isolate itself from trade and commerce; if it did so it would' have to cease functioning. I believe our activities should be reorganized so that industry may become self governing within the constitution. The country is sick of politics as it is practised here; that has been stated by many leaders of industry. I wonder how many of the front benchers opposite would be returned to parliament if they had to be elected by a referendum. If a new government were to be elected by a plebiscite how many members of the present cabinet would be returned to office? The government should discharge the trust it received from the people back in 1935, and that is not being done at the present time. The people gave the government a mandate to bring about reforms, and if this is not done it will be all the worse for us. We should have a clear cut national policy and we should concentrate along national economic lines. If nothing is done by the present government I fear-though I hope it will not come about-that we may see an even greater drift in Canada towards socialism.

I should like to see something done along the lines of the action taken in England.

There the union between the forces of Baldwin and Chamberlain and the sane, sensible thoughtful trade union movement saved England last May. I should like to see something done along this line. In the early days of this country everybody owned some property-a farm, a little mill, or something else. We have been slow to see how the rights of property have been taken away in Canada by big business; the old system has passed away, and a very large majority of the people are just proletarians. In the days of Sir John A. Macdonald it was very different. In this house we are behind1 the times, and unless we wake up and reform our house from within it will be reformed1 from without. So far as my knowledge goes, none of the great reforms that have marked the history of England since 1800 originated within parliament; every one began outside. The same is true of this house: all our great reforms, except those which were initiated two years ago by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett), began outside the house. Reform was not enacted into law, either in Canada or in England, until parliaments were driven to do something. Look at the mother country : parliamentary reform did not start in the House of Commons or the House of Lords, but outside those houses. The abolition of the slave trade, the abolition of the corn laws, prison reform, colonial reform, Catholic emancipation, and the reform of the franchise-all these started outside parliament.

The government cannot isolate itself any longer from trade and commerce; if it does, so much the worse for the people. To-day the world is in a state where liberty has been contracted:. We must be on guard as a people, recognizing the extent to which liberty has been contracted, not only in Europe but the world over, until there are left to-day very few parliaments. Even in this country there is little freedom in the press, in the pulpit, in the legislatures, or in the universities. In former times the state was the defender of the people. Where are we today? A couple of sessions ago there was a newspaper identity bill before this house which raised the issue of who owns the newspapers. Many honest country weekly old type newspapers in this country have been driven to the wall because of the economic conditions I described a few moments ago; there have been others merged into unions of papers. Where there used to be two papers independently owned, in the larger cities we now find them controlled by the same interests, and in these newspapers a page and a half is devoted to the turf and

Constitutional Reform-Mr. Church

pages to professional sport as against about a column and a half devoted to parliament once in a while. In one paper to-day may be seen a list of 245 horses now racing, a number equal to the number of members of the House of Commons. I never in my life saw such names; if any hon. member has not a horse named after him let him apply to the paper in question. That is the direction in which the fourth estate in this country is heading, and the lack of attention the press give to government by the people. In no small measure it is due to the attitude of parliament itself, confronted with issues such as the great number of people out of work, and other important social problems. Today the press are paying little or no attention to the proceedings of this house; in fact if I read some papers I should not know that parliament was even meeting apart from the fact that I am required to attend it.

The other day I was in a little Anglican church called Holy Trinity. It is surrounded by towering factories, and at its noon Lenten service is filled with white-collar workers and girls from the factories. The choir consists of splendid men, a few of them are even out of work. As I say, the service attracts a number of white-collar workers; girls who have little money to buy lunch will refresh themselves with a five or ten cent meal and afterwards go into the church. The other day I heard them sing that well know Lenten hymn:

Take up thy cross, the Saviour said,

If thou wouldst My disciple be;

Deny thyself, the world forsake,

And humbly follow after Me.

After that hymn was announced, one of those white-collar workers said to me, "What are you going to do in parliament?" Others after the service asked me to do what I could for the poor white-collar workers who are being driven out of the land1 by the decisions of the law courts, while we sit in the high court of parliament and do nothing. One of the cardinal principles of the British constitution is that the courts are subservient to the legislature. To-day in Canada we find parliament with nothing to do, its powers taken away from it and given to committees and commissions of all kinds. Where are the principles of magna charta? With liberty contracted in every direction, is there such a thing in Canada to-day as magna charta? In the last two or three years, at any rate, I have been unable to find it. It will be remembered that when magna charta was adopted it embodied in many forms the spirit of liberty. One provision was that:

No free man shall be arrested or detained in prison or outlawed or banished or brought to ruin, nor shall we set forth against him nor

[Mr. Church.)

send against him, save by the judgment of his peers and in accordance with the law of the land.

And again:

No scutage or aid shall be imposed save by the common council of the realm.

"No taxation without representation." Is that the law in Canada to-day? No. We have appointed numerous outside bodies that are imposing taxation. It was in defence of that principle of no taxation without representation that the American colonies commenced their struggle with the British government. Yet under universal suffrage we see magna charta restricted, if not abolished, and almost kingly powers conferred upon magistrates in connection, for instance, with the restricting of bail. Thousands of people in Canada are in prison for debt. While such things are going on, liberty is a meaningless thing. Look at the penalties that are being handed out to juveniles fifteen and twenty years of age at a place called Guelph not authorized by law or the criminal code. Where is the spirit of magna charta to-day as regards trial by jury? What substitute have we? In many of the leading cities, the substitute for trial by jury is trial by newspaper. From the way some newspapers are allowed to carry on, trial by jury has become a farce; and when an appeal is made for law reform this parliament has not one member who will rise to say a word in favour of such reform.

All the great landmarks of our constitutional history, beginning with magna charta, going on to the Declaration of Rights, the Petition of Rights, and the Statute of Westminster, were founded on one principle; they were simply the reassertion of the principle of the subjection of the executive and of its members to the law of the land. It was the strength of the barons that made magna charta possible; a police force, so to speak, not to be used unless necessary, which gave us the liberty of our whole constitutional system. To-day that liberty is contracted. To-day the Canadian working man is at the mercy of arbitrary social conditions beyond his control. A century ago reform of the franchise secured the liberty of trade and industry for the mercantile and industrial middle classes. Later it was extended to wage earners; then women were given the franchise and their aid enlisted in the betterment of social conditions. We cannot afford any longer to sit still here and take no notice of what is going on in Canada. The danger to our freedom is greater from within Canada, than from without.

What is Canada's answer to all this? What is the answer of the House of Commons?

Constitutional Reform-Mr. Church

First, we should set our own place in order, overhaul the British North America Act, revise our parliamentary system, our constitutional system, our cabinet system, reform our house of parliament and increase its efficiency; above all, reform our social and economic life so that it will stand as a bulwark against the clamour and agitation of those forces which now find in our dominion so much scope for their work. We should adopt some system of Christian socialism for the workers of this country, the white-collar employees, the artisans and the farmers. A system of Christian socialism was brought in a hundred years ago by the industrial revolution. A similar movement brought about the evangelic and Oxford movements. There were great social reforms brought about in England a hundred years ago and similar reforms have been long overdue in Canada.

We must strive for freedom from within. We must be ever on our guard. Freedom from without will be taken care of by those who prize it even unto death. It was the armed strength of the barons which made magna charta possible, and it is the armed strength of the British Empire which will ensure the freedom of the British people. History shows that disarmament is impossible in a world where intolerance is so rampant. The disarmament of the free is the tyrant's chance now as in the days of King John.

We have been sitting here for many sessions talking about everything and doing nothing. Whenever reform has been mentioned we have been faced with that comedy of errors known as the British North America Act. As I said a few years ago in another debate this act is a relic of days long gone by. The workers of this country have been made to suffer great hardship because of the British North America Act, because back in 1867, certain wise men, whose vision was poor, loaded the provincial system on to the federal government. This is entirely opposite to the system which prevails in England and the United States. In 1867 there were no joint stock companies, there were no telephones, there were no power developments, no N.R.A., no eight hour day, and many of the great discoveries in science and medicine had not been thought of. The authors of the British North America Act did not play squash or badminton and they left us this relic as a result.

A lot of provincial legislatures were created. These are all spending money and the result is over-taxation. These provinces are nothing but a lot of Balkan states fighting among themselves, and the taxpayer is made to pay. The shortsightedness of this act of 1867 should

not be allowed to continue any longer because it has brought about in Canada the creation of a state equivalent to slavery among our men, women and children. Our workers are living in nothing less than hovels; they are being forced to exist in a state of slavery. Yet we sit here as a parliament and do nothing. On April 1 of last year I made the following statement in this house:

I would like to say a word or two in relation to industrial employment, because I want to contrast with the precepts of Christianity the way the industrial workers are used. Contrast our professions with the ruthless competition, the cruelty and vice of present day business and industry. Here personality counts as nothing, the dollar is all supreme. Modern life is machine life, soulless, a life of standardization, high speed production, a highly efficient organization for the making of profit. Everything is done in the mass, and life is made uniform, monotonous and artificial. Dividends are the chief objective; to get dividends human beings are sacrificed. Wages are shockingly low, often below the level of mere subsistence, so that people are forced into immoral and criminal ways of life to eke out a precarious livelihood. The maximum in hours of work is exacted in return for the minimum in wages. Senior employees, whose lifeblood has been drawn from them by long years of faithful service, are in many cases cast out without retiring allowance to make room for younger and cheaper people. It matters not what suffering is entailed for human beings so long as the stockholders are paid their dividends. This amazing selfishness and shortsightedness of the modern industrial system is creating a progressively lower standard of living and a vicious struggle for existence philosophy on the part of the people, increasingly serious social problems which must find their tragic solution either in war or in revolution. In the face of modern methods of competitive living the royal law of love, bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ, is a hollow mockery in Canada, presumably a Christian country. This is the contradiction of modern life; a truly wonderful appreciation of the value of the single soul in some quarters, but an absolute denial of any such value in others.

At that time I was speaking on the National Employment Commission. We are now into another session and nothing has been done. Edmund Burke once said that government is supposed to be a practicable thing, and not a thing to please the schemes of ordinary politicians. Is that so of this country? It is not. We have appointed a lot of commissions, but nothing has been done. My opinion is that the senate could be made a much more useful institution than it is. Last year it did a good work in throwing out legislation for indirect taxation. The senate should consist of the lords of mind and intellect in this country and it should have increased powers. Look at what the senate of the United States did for the people of that country. They exposed the absolute rottenness

974 COMMONS

Constitutional Reform-Mr. Church

of the financial institutions of Wall street and various institutions throughout the country. Has the Canadian senate ever done anything like that? No. The senate should have increased powers; under a new constitution it could be more useful.

Under the existing party system there is no security against further taxation. Parliamentary reform should do two things. It should define how far a money bill which may ruin the taxpayers of this country may go, and it should devise machinery to save the country from revolutionary socialistic acts on the part of any government. Reforms of a certain nature should not become law unless the people have given their assent at the polls. I am not criticizing the Canadian senate, because I believe its membership includes a few of the brightest minds of the country. If we sometimes handled our business here as well as they handle theirs, there would not be much room for complaint. They should have the power to refer back any matter of an extremely controversial nature, and the people should have a chance to give their assent to certain reform measures.

The senate should be representative of all sections of Canada and should be composed of the best minds in science, the learned professions, the employers of labour, the trades unions and the cooperative societies. Such a body would command the respect of the people of Canada. Look at what the senate of the United States did for the people of that country. Governor Couzens' senate committee sat in Washington in 1927 to deal with unemployment problems. The report of that committee was available in 1930 and when the depression came they coped with it. The senate of Canada should have done something about this great problem.

In conclusion I should like to say a word or two about law reform. A learned Scotsman told the law society at Osgoode Hall in Toronto a year ago that the lawyers have to clean up the messes made by the politicians. I commend those words to the government. Law reform has become a meaningless thing in this country. Our gaols are filled with young people whose only crime is that they cannot get a job. It is predicted that in England in fifteen years there will not be any prisons left, owing to the law reforms they have brought and are bringing into effect in the old land. What are we doing? We sit around and do nothing. We refer matters to the supreme court and the privy council, and then refer them all back again. We send to the supreme court and the privy council a lot of abstract questions about the new deal legislation of 1935, instead of submitting

concrete cases to the courts. England has had a system of unemployment insurance ever since 1900, but we are still talking about it. We have to wait to hear from the law officers, and before we hear from them probably the workers now living who would benefit from unemployment insurance will be dead.

There are several reforms that need to be made. There is trial by jury, for instance. The Minister of Justice and the leader of the opposition are benchers of the Law Society of Upper Canada, and must be interested in these questions. As was said before the law society last year, the lawyers have to clean up the mess which the politicians made, and it will be a big job for the lawyers when this parliament gets through talking about the new deal legislation. The new deal in this country^ was all right, if only hon. gentlemen opposite when they were sitting over here had given the new deal a chance, instead of injecting doubts and throwing buckets of cold water over it. They would have given it a chance if they had had any desire to help the working people of this country.

I have in my hand a copy of another act which is helping to clean out the prisons in England, the Money Payments (Justices Procedure) Act, 1935. This act gives poor people time to pay the fines that are imposed. My bill last year was rejected by the Justice department, and I think, Mr. Speaker, we shall have to change the name of that department to the department of injustice, because people can still be imprisoned for debt in this country. It is no wonder that with such acts as this Money Payments Act and others which they have in England the prisons over there are being cleaned out. They have an up-to-date system, and have made many law reforms.

Talk about the new despotism! We have imprisonment for debt in this country, bail refused in trivial cases, and so forth. The whole system is a relic of the middle ages. No wonder it was stated at page 9 of the housing report of 1935:

Slums are a heavy indirect charge on the community. It is estimated by the bureau of statistics that crime costs us in Canada $60,000,000 per year, taking into consideration the lost time of those in our criminal institutions. The Department of Health estimates that public health costs us, including all phases such as medical fees, hospitalization, etc., $20,000,000 per year. These figures would be substantially reduced by the elimination of overcrowding and bad housing.

And, I might add, by urgently needed law reforms.

Topic:   CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
Subtopic:   PROPOSED SURVEY OF LEGISLATIVE AND LEGAL
Sub-subtopic:   SYSTEM, LOOKING TO INCREASED EFFICIENCY AND STABILITY OF GOVERNMENT
Permalink

February 17, 1937