March 3, 1937

?

An hon. MEMBER:

Quack remedies.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Denton Massey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MASSEY:

There have been the Ottawa agreements. There has been the general rise in world conditions. With neither of these things has the present government had anything to do; the former, as the leader of the opposition so ably pointed out yesterday, was bitterly opposed by those who constitute the present government. Of course Canadian conditions are better, but unemployment continues at the ghastly high pitch at which it now is. And why? The reason, it seems to me, is obvious-the result of Liberal policy to attempt to develop Canada outside of Canada. The defects of that policy have never been more ably demonstrated than they are to-day, when trade outside of Canada is increasing yet unemployment refuses of itself to decrease.

On page 1426 of Hansard the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) is reported as having said, last evening.

It has been announced that by reason of the marked economic recovery in the past year the dominion government is now entitled to accept a lesser degree of financial responsibility for unemployment relief.

Those words frightened me when I heard them. What does the minister mean by " accept a lesser degree of responsibility " for the burden of relief? He refers, I assume, to direct relief paid out in dollars. The unemployment situation, Mr. Speaker, is not going to be cured by the continual paying out of dollars. A return of good times-within itself seemingly an act of God as far as this present government is concerned-may fall into the lap of this government and permit

The Budget-Mr. Massey

them, when an election comes, to go to the people and say " see what we have done," though actually they have done nothing at all. But no possible increase in good times can substantially or fully reduce unemployment automatically. Therefore, if the government feel that they are getting to the point where they can accept lesser responsibility as far as the burden of relief is concerned, that indeed is bad news for the people of Canada. I listened carefully to the minister's statement, and heard him say, as reported at page 1428 of Hansard:

We took the ground, Mr. Speaker, before we came into office, and we take the ground now, that if anyone is going to deal with this many-sided, complex question upon the basis of long-term policies, it is essential that the dominion government shall have before it at all times the means of measuring the magnitude of the problem, the means of securing those elements in the problem which will permit its division, as it were, into separate and distinct problems, each of which can in due course be attacked by its own technique, and by its own appropriate governmental or private agency.

I have said in this house before, and I repeat, that surely the problem of unemployment is stark and obvious. Surely it is not necessary to delve down deep into figures and splash about in a bath of statistics and have machines running in Montreal and Ottawa and this, that and the other kind of mechanical appliance pouring out figures, figures, figures, in the face of so stark and obvious a reality. Even when this $87,418 worth of commission brings in its report, what happens?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

John Ritchie MacNicol

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MacNICOL:

Nothing.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Denton Massey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MASSEY:

The Votes and Proceedings of January 29, 1937, contain the following among other questions and answers in connection with the employment commission, asked by the hon. member for Vancouver South (Mr. Green):

How many reports upon measures and means in respect to the employment of youth have been made by this committee?

Referring to the youth employment committee of the National Employment Commission. The answer is:

Five reports have been made to the National Employment Commission.

The next question is:

When were such reports made?

And the answer:

August 6, August 25, October 9, 1936, January 6. 1937 (two).

Five reports on youth have been made so far to the $87,418 worth of commission. Now where is the legislation? What is the value

of the reports? What is going to be done? Some of us who are privileged to have personal acquaintance or friendship with the members of the committee know that they- many of them-have not been idle, that they -many of them-have done their work to the best of their ability. These reports have been sent in to the minister, but what has been done? We listened with a great deal of interest to the speech from the throne, and in it the youth legislation forecast for this session. Where, oh where is that legislation? Wherein is the value of this youth committee of the National Employment Commission? Reports? Yes, but nothing is done. And there is so much to be done. No one can deny that much can be done. Why was something not done long ago, during these past months, these seventeen months all blank, bleached and barren of legislation to cure unemployment?

The one who is now the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), speaking during the course of the campaign, on August 6, 1935. as reported in the Evening Citizen, laid out a program to cure unemployment. He said:

The program to -which a national commission would be asked, by a Liberal government, especially to direct its attention, with a view to ensuring co-operative effort, would include necessary projects already commenced or previously undertaken, such as: public works,

buildings, and municipal improvements; the extension and improvement of highways, and the elimination of level crossings; the provision of airway facilities and ground services; large-scale schemes of afforestation, aimed, amongst other things, at preventing those conditions of drought and soil drifting which follow upon the absence or wholesale destruction of tree life.

Where is any of these things, seventeen months after? The one who made those remarks was given the responsibility of government by the people of Canada, and was given it upon the basis of statements such as these. What -has been done? Surely afforestation is a crying need. It does not require $87,418 worth of commission to tell the minister that that should be done. He knows, he must know that at the rate of cutting in Canada as of 1928 and 1929 the available forests of this country will be done away with in forty years. These are careful estimates, not haphazard figures. Surely the minister can look to Sweden and see there the effect of what has been done there in the way of reforestation: that Sweden to-day, after eighty-six or eighty-seven years of serious and concentrated cutting, has available sixty per cent more timber than it had eighty-six years ago. The minister knows the value of reforestation. He has already admitted it in this chamber. Does he have to wait for this

The Budget-Mr. Massey

$87,418 worth of commission to report? Perhaps the commission did report. What has been done? Where is the legislation? Why the delay?

I spoke in this house about a fortnight ago in connection with housing. The resolution was introduced and duly debated; it was talked out, and it now rests, comfortably or otherwise, in the boneyard. Surely the project of housing is one which must have the full attention of the minister. It should not require $87,418 worth of commission to tell him what has been done in other countries, or to assist him in gathering together those eight outstanding gentlemen who, as Liberal premiers of provinces throughout Canada, were to be assembled in glorious concatenation, and out of which delicious and harmonious gathering there was to be born that which was to be delecfr-able to the nation as a whole. Where is this Liberal prodigy? What is being done to-day? Where is all this cooperation? Nothing is done!

One may travel through the cities of the country and along our highways and find menacing grade crossings. What is being done towards the elimination of the grade crossings menace? Within my own riding there are grade crossings at Jones, Greenwood and Woodbine avenues; also in my political neighbour's riding at Victoria Park avenue, all a distinct menace to the city. This year the estimates contain an item of $19,000 for Toronto to provide, as the hen. member for Broadview (Mr. Church) says, "revolving doors for the post office." Wliat of those projects that could be carried forward to give employment and at the same time bring about an improvement in our cities? Let me refer to page 445 of Hansard.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I regret to inform the hon. member that he has spoken forty minutes.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Denton Massey

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MASSEY:

I appreciate the tolerance of the house, Mr. Speaker, and will say in conclusion that I was about to quote the Minister of Labour, who in a debate in this house, said that it would be necessary to gain the full cooperation of the provinces before much can be done. That is the pronouncement, as far as this session goes, of the Minister of Labour with respect to the unemployment situation. We can do nothing until the provinces are ready to cooperate. What a hopeless state of affairs for the industrial worker to contemplate! How long before the British North America Act will be amended?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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SC

Eric Joseph Poole

Social Credit

Mr. E. J. POOLE (Red Deer):

I wish to say a few words on the amendment, and

in the first place to point out one or two things to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers). A year ago, as I remember clearly, the Minister of Labour, discussing Canada's greatest problem, said that it was to be attacked on all fronts. This group has endeavoured from time to time to indicate the direction in which we must go and to point out to this house that there can be no solution of the problem that faces the people of Canada until such time as there is definite monetary reform. It seems strange that to-day the Minister of Labour has not all the facts before him, and I have wondered since this debate began whether he has taken the trouble to go through the soup kitchens of western Canada, whether he has been in the city of Winnipeg for instance, or Edmonton, or Calgary or Lethbridge. and seen the price we are paying in Canada for the so-called depression.

In the last few days we have heard from the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning), who has spoken in glowing terms of Canada's recovery; he has told us that those old happy days of prosperity are coming back. May I suggest to the Minister of Finance that the prosperity has not been felt by the great mass of people whom we refer to as the unemployed. In the last six years we have spent more than one billion dollars for no other purpose than to give relief. In my opinion it has been a wanton waste, nothing more or less; and I say that neither this government nor the previous government has contributed to the solution of Canada's greatest national problem, unemployment. I say that because we have the physical evidence before us of human waste and moral degeneration. I wonder how many members of the Liberal party have ever gone into the mission relief camp in Ottawa, not more than half a mile from, here, and seen the wanton waste of human life. Have they ever watched the eyes of men, human beings, and thought that after all, questions of dollars and cents should be submerged and human values be allowed to predominate and be uppermost in our consideration?

I suppose I can speak with greater confidence-I am sure, I can speak with at least as much authority as any member of this house-on the question of unemployment. What happenedi in 1930 when the Conservative party was elected? At that time we were promised that unemployment would vanish if they were elected and so for five years we waited' patiently. I do not believe there is any section of Canadian society that is more docile, more patient, than the unemployed, and I am going to use a word now

The Budget-Mr. Poole

which may shake the feelings of some here or impinge upon their dignity; I have wondered, as I have looked into the eyes of the people in the soup kitchens of Canada, whether revolution after all was such a great wrong. We are in the process of one now, and I recognize the necessity of a transitional period. But I say to the government that they have contributed nothing yet to the solution of Canada's greatest problem, not the question of unemployment but the demoralization, the lost hopes of a lost generation. That is what we have. lost.

The Liberal government still fails to realize that it is not a question of work; it is a question of the Canadian people coming into the inheritance which is theirs, and rightly so. You cannot measure the price of the depression in terms of dollars and cents. On many occasions in this house members have risen on the government side and said, or at any rate implied, that the good old days would return, that prosperity would come again by the age-old route of the expansion of external trade. The Minister of Finance, last year as well as this year, told us so. In very jubilant tones he says that prosperity has returned to Canada. The question I ask is: Prosperity to whom? To the under dog, to the mass of the Canadian people, to those who are down and out, to the people who have left our schools and colleges and universities? No, not to them. Canada is losing more to-day than it ever lost-not in dollars and cents, but in talent, in culture, in all the things that go to make a nation.

Last year the Minister of Labour proposed to this house that a commission be set up, and it was set up, and registration of the unemployed was carried out. But to what effect? Did it tell us the number of unemployed in Canada? Did it tell us the number of people who no longer have the right to live?, Of course not. All it did was tell us the number who are on relief. But if we are to get to the bottom of this problem we must divide the unemployed into many categories. There are people who are married and have families dependent on them and who are compelled to go to relief officers, skilful men who have contributed and will in the future contribute to the development of Canada. There are the single unemployed. There are those who are coming out of colleges and universities, and, greatest number of all, those not registered; I refer to the farmers' sons who to-day are living on the farms but if conditions were normal would be in industry.

What was done in Great Britain? While there may be many shortcomings in their legislation to provide for the unemployed,

this government could learn a great deal from Great Britain. What would happen in this country if there was a demand for skilled labour to-morrow in the same volume as in the years 1928-27-28? It could not be found.

In 1925 or thereabouts they set up in Great Britain trade schools throughout the country and taught trades to the unemployed. Then when the building boom came along they were absorbed into industry. I am not saying that is a solution, but I am suggesting to the Minister of Labour that this could have been done by the Canadian government, who have spent a billion dollars and have received nothing for it.

The unemployed of this country are a liability. The Minister of Finance has told us of our increase in volume of trade; according to him our trade has increased by more than twenty per cent. I am not encouraged by that, because there is a story behind it, and I want to take a few minutes to tell the Canadian public what that story is. If the price of wheat and of agricultural products in Canada had increased because there was a natural demand for those things, we might well say that the Liberal government had accomplished at least something. But that is not the fact. The reason the people of Canada to-day are enjoying a higher price level for their products is the demand by other countries for the products of Canada. That demand has arisen not because the purchasing countries have increased their ability to consume goods, but because there [DOT] is the fear of war; other nations are storing up goods, preparing for the inevitable day when war will come and every nation in the world will be affected by the conflagration. Any hon. member who has given ten minutes' serious study to these things must know that.

As I conceive the duty of government it is to have a long range view of these matters, and, recognizing that this is a transitional period, to see the things which they must do during the period of transition and of inflation -so unwelcome to the Minister of Finance, although he is a party to it-with a view to preparing and constructing for the future.

I say that four years from to-day Canada will enter its greatest depression, and not only Canada but every nation in the world.

I say that for this reason, that unemployment is not and never was a problem. Unemployment is a sign of progress. Every unemployed man in Canada has a right, just as surely as the man who holds shares in an industry, to share in the benefits that accrue from increased production and the application of science to production. The little group in this corner may receive the sympathy of some hon. members on the government

The Budget-Mr. Poole

benches because of the difficulties that confront us, but I know the day will come-not because it is desired by the Liberal government. but because it will be thrust upon them-when monetary reform will be seen to be the logical answer and the only answer to the problems which confront the Dominion of Canada.

I wish to commend the remarks of my colleague the hon. member for Jasper-Edson (Mr. Kuhl). He placed before this house facts, something which is not always done. He endeavoured to show the house that production was increasing, but the Minister of Finance also told the house this year and last that in spite of the increased volume of production unemployment is not decreasing as we might expect it should if we were living in the happy days of twenty years ago. I am convinced as a member of the Social Credit party of Canada that in the not far distant future the government side of the house will be lined with monetary reformists. We appeal to the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Labour, the Prime Minister, when we know that certain things must be done in the way of social services, and the question arises, " Where is the money to come from "?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
Permalink

At six o'clock the house adjourned without question put, pursuant to standing order. Thursday, March 4, 1937


March 3, 1937