April 5, 1938

LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Quite.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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CON

William Allen Walsh

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WALSH:

-by arbitrary appropriation of provincial jurisdiction.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Is there an expression of satisfaction that the legislation was thrown out?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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CON

William Allen Walsh

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WALSH:

I shall read on.

The position taken by the Liberal party has been completely upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada and the privy council.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

True.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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CON

William Allen Walsh

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WALSH:

All doubts have been removed by the Liberal party, so it will proceed with the working out of a co-operative program of constitutional means.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Will my hon. friend permit a question?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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CON

William Allen Walsh

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WALSH:

Surely.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

Does he really think it would have been to the advantage of this country to have had a program of social legislation actually placed in operation, an organization set up to deal with it, and then to have that legislation and the organization declared inoperative and beyond the competence of this parliament? Does he think this would really have contributed to social progress in this country?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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CON

William Allen Walsh

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WALSH:

The point of view I always took in connection with that legislation was this, that if it had not been interfered with, if it had been put into effect, the chances are that there would not have been found anyone or any government in Canada to offer effective opposition to that legislation. Moreover, the courts would have been inclined, seeing that the acts were in force, to take an altogether different point of view.

I am convinced that when you take a stated case to the Supreme Court of Canada, you go there with a question mark opposite your legislation; and with that question mark staring the judges in the face they cannot do otherwise than carefully scrutinize the legislation and wonder why it is there. There must be some doubt in the minds of the authorities if they send it there. You go there with a question mark opposite your own legislation and there is a doubt; whereas if you put it into effect and have someone else direct attention to it, you at least stand on the ground of belief in what you have put into effect; you believe that it has some force in law. I may be wrong, but that is my opinion; I am not a jurist, simply a layman. I notice that the most competent authorities on the Liberal side laugh such an idea to scorn. Well, as I have said on different occasions, I am always happy to have the advice of lawyers when it is absolutely necessary; but where common sense is of more value than legal opinion, as it sometimes is, I would rather take the opinion of the lay mind.

The minister has quoted certain figures to show that unemployment has decreased. I do not doubt his figures as tabulated; but I want to point out to him that the distress in Canada is as great to-day as it was a year ago, as great as it was two years ago to-day. We have fewer people unemployed, but I can tell the minister that there is a large number of people in distress who are not on the unemployed list. They are being employed in factories for two or three days a week on a mere pittance, and for that reason their names no longer appear on the unemployed list. That gives rise to distress; that is a serious problem and one with which we should be concerned in this parliament. As I intimated last evening, however, I have very little hope that the problem will be seriously and courageously faced by those who are at present administering the affairs of the dominion. I am only hoping that some of my Liberal friends will take the opportunity to get into this debate and make a real effort on behalf of the people of Canada, instead of coming here to applaud others who are endeavouring to do something in the interests of their constituencies. If there were more thinking and less interfering with those who are trying to do some work, we might make more rapid progress even in this parliament directed by a Liberal ministry.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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LIB

James Joseph McCann

Liberal

Mr. McCANN:

That is the school teacher.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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CON

William Allen Walsh

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WALSH:

Probably it would be better if we had fewer doctors and more school

Relief and Agricultural Distress

teachers. I suggest that this government is fighting shy of responsibility. It is undermining our democratic institutions by appointing commissions to do the work that the elected representatives of the people were presumed to do. It is handing over the legitimate work, the responsibility of cabinet and of parliament, to commissions who are in no wise responsible to the people. This, in my opinion, is undermining our democratic institutions and is taking a direct blow at democracy, for which many have struggled in the past in order to bring it to its present form, which we enjoy as a privilege. The sooner we get back to the democratic, parliamentary form of government, the sooner will the people be satisfied that they are living in a country in which they can expect their problems to be courageously faced by the representatives whom they send here. We are tired in Canada of the commission form of government and of a government in office who are continuously shirking their responsibility to the people and shifting that responsibility on to commissions or into the courts, in this way hiding themselves and their inability to handle problems.

There is one more point that I wish to touch on in closing. The minister made a three and a half hour speech yesterday. I have read it carefully, and I want to ask him, when the bill is finally introduced and comes up for second reading, to take fifteen minutes to outline to the house the real and genuine policy of the present government in dealing with the question of unemployment. I suggest to him that he dismiss all unnecessary words, dismiss all these fine academic phrases and get down to real hard, concrete facts- 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on. Let him do this so that the people of Canada will understand that the problem- is being satisfactorily dealt with; so that those who are unemployed, those who are partly employed, our young people who have not yet had an opportunity of finding employment, will all know that the parliament of Canada, led by even a Liberal ministry, is actually doing something in their interest and working out their ultimate salvation. I shall ask the minister to do that in just fifteen minutes. I shall ask him to give us an outline of the Liberal policy to show what they propose to do during the next fiscal year to meet this serious problem. The minister knows it is a serious problem; everyone knows it. I read in the press last week of 400,000 young people in the city of New York who had not yet been placed in industry or had not found work. The same condition prevails in our own country. What are we

doing to help these people? The responsibility rests upon this government. What are they doing to assist these people who are looking to them? I leave the question with the minister and look forward to a concrete statement, taking about fifteen minutes when the second reading of the bill comes up, so that I shall know what to tell my people, when I return to my constituency, as to what they may expect from the present government in the immediate future.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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LIB

John Mouat Turner

Liberal

Mr. J. M. TURNER (Springfield):

The resolution before the house reads:

That it is expedient to bring in a measure to provide assistance towards the alleviation of unemployment and agricultural distress, and for such payments out of moneys appropriated by parliament as may be necessary for all or any of the purposes of the proposed legislation.

This resolution and the bill that follows should, in my judgment, constitute one of the most important pieces of legislation ever to come before this present House of Commons, because it touches upon the lives and very livelihood of nearly one million people in the Dominion of Canada, in short, one out of eleven of its entire population.

This vital question, yet unsolved, has been a menace to the Canadian people for the past eight years, and according to reports for the past three months or so we are again heading back into the woods instead of in the opposite direction. Relief and unemployment figures are still cause for alarm. It is therefore possible that we may be hitting into another depression without coming out of the one which started in 1930.

There is at present right across the dominion a general feeling of unrest and insecurity, which seems to be growing, and I think we can attribute that feeling to the great number of people who have no work, who are on relief and have very little hope of getting a job. I have several suggestions to make, some of which I gave in this chamber last year. Hon. members will be interested to know that until now unemployment relief has cost this government alone nearly $300,000,000. This is exclusive of money spent by the provinces and the municipalities. Therefore, let us assume that we are starting all over again, having that enormous amount of money to spend. I suggest that, the government consider some of the following suggestions:

1. We should complete the trans-Canada highway from one end of Canada to the other, hard-surface it and make connecting links with the United States and to all our national parks, as a dominion unemployment scheme.

Relief and Agricultural Distress

2. We should see how many of our unemployed we could get to go on the land, in districts which have never been in the dried-out areas. My own constituency of Springfield is one such district, and there are many others. I have had many letters from people living in the cities who have bad some experience on farms, who would be willing to go back to the land if they got proper assistance.

3. Why should we not, with the abundance of surplus electricity given to us by providence, supply all the rural homes with the simple convenience of electricity? In my judgment, that is one of the reasons why the people of to-day, especially the young people, are so desirous of leaving the farms, and are found walking the streets of our cities. They have not any conveniences whatsoever to encourage them to remain on the farms.,

4. We should do something to encourage industries, such as the sugar beet industry and canning factories, which would help not only the farmers and the labour market, but the consumers, who should be the first consideration of this dominion. I suggest that we study New Zealand's example, which at this time is establishing an iron and steel industry which will employ 1,500 men steadily, and I am informed that the money for this enterprise, some $25,000,000, is being advanced by a national state bank without cost to the taxpayers. We should also start a national slum clearance campaign, and also look to the opportunities afforded in the various mining developments. All these works would become assets of the Dominion of Canada, and revenue bearing as well.

Then I suggest to the Minister of Labour that this government should give serious consideration to the proposal that the employable unemployed should be a dominion government responsibility. Prepare the way now to commence on an all-Canada front and place these men on works such as I have suggested. If they failed to take advantage of opportunities afforded them for employment they would then have to seek other work themselves.

Coming back to the trans-Canada highway, with connecting links with the United States and various national parks, I believe it would bring thousands of tourists from across the line and, through the gasoline tax, etc., thousands of dollars into the treasuries of the provincial governments, particularly those in the west, which are almost bankrupt. Merchants, hotels, tourist parks, garages and other lines of business would similarly benefit. We must keep in mind that the tourist industry is the third largest industry in the dominion, and we should do everything to encourage it and

at the same time help to eliminate the terrible unemployment that exists. Also the trans-Canada highway would increase the value of lands in the areas through which ft passes. This is not to be overlooked.

Dealing with the extension of electrical service to districts which have not that service, I would point out that at this time the government of Manitoba has made wonderful progress in this direction and shows a surplus this year. I would ask this government, if approached by the Manitoba government, to lend their assistance in helping the Manitoba hydro in financing the seventeen extensions which they propose to build this year, and which will give employment as well. Some of those seventeen towns are in my own riding, where nearly all the electricity is generated for the province; I refer to such towns as East Selkirk, Lockport, Gonor, Narol, Tyndall and Garson.

This resolution is so important to the welfare of the people of our dominion that I believe the people generally care not whether they are relieved from misery and suffering by an unbalanced budget or monetary reform, if necessary, or any other method, as long as they are given opportunity to work and earn a decent livelihood. May I impress upon our worthy Minister of Finance not to be in haste about balancing the budget until the million people to whom I have referred are first taken care of.

With respect to the disunity that is so prevalent at the moment, I know of no other way that would help as much to hold the nine provinces together in a spirit of good will as the completion of the trans-Canada highway, so that the thousands of people of the east who now go to the United States and elsewhere will go west, and the people of the west will visit the east. In that way, through the exchange of thought, the feeling of friction between the east and the west will disappear and we shall have a stronger united Canada. The cost should be a secondary consideration. I have noticed time and time again in Winnipeg how few Ontario cars we see, hardly any from Quebec, and I do not remember seeing any at all from the maritime provinces. Such conditions are bound to affect our country. The trans-Canada highway should be a magnet to draw the tourist trade of the North American continent, and if made so the tourist business would double in no time.

May I say to the Prime Minister and to the committee that it is about time this supreme House of Commons should go rapidly forward in instituting an unemployment insurance scheme, and that this dominion should have the final authority in all such matters

Privilege-M r. Lacroix

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS
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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Wednesday, April 6, 1938


April 5, 1938