Mr. D. G. ROSS (St. Paul's):
Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Matthews) and the hon. member for Stormont (Mr. Chevrier) upon the splendid way in which they moved and seconded the address in reply to the speech from the throne. They both did themselves great credit. I should like also to congratulate the hon. member for Essex West (Mr. McLarty) and the hon. member for Edmonton West (Mr. MacKinnon) upon their promotion to the privy council.
I was very much interested just now in listening to what the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. Maybank) had to say. He said he was not at all satisfied. I would remind him that there are probably thousands of Liberals throughout the country who feel as he does. The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) said that he was master of the ship of state, that he could not leave the helm, that he must stay there all the time to guide the ship through the stormy waters. The stormy waters have all but sunk the ship, but the trouble is that since 1935 it has not left the dock. The ship has been laid up at the dock and we have been paying wharfage fees. Wharfage fees for three years cost a lot of money. This is our money; this is the public's money. I do not think the Prime Minister had the courage to embark, but there is a pilot available who will launch the ship of state on these stormy waters. He is ready and he is willing. He is courageous.
His record shows his courage, and he has ability as a soldier, statesman and parliamentarian. He is full of kindness and understanding and is just the man for the ship. We are all proud to sit behind the hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Manion). He showed his courage in 1914, and he again showed his courage in 1938 by offering his services to his country which had been so devastated during the last four years by the government in power. Canada is very fortunate in having a man of his calibre and ability.
The announcement that Their Majesties, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, had decided to visit Canada was greeted by all in my riding with a deep sense of gratitude and satisfaction of what they consider a recognition of the loyalty and affection which they hold for their majesties. Our only regret is that their majesties' visit will be all too short. I know they will receive a rousing and royal welcome from all, even from those who through no fault of their own are struggling against privation and, in some instances, starvation and destitution because of lack of work. How much better it would have been if their majesties had been able to look into the faces of happy throngs of people filled with that contentment which comes from a good day's work well done and well rewarded. This might have been possible if we had had the leadership and the virile and vigorous action which we were promised at the last election. There are no more loyal citizens of the Dominion of Canada than the people to be found in the riding of St. Paul's. Despite the inertia and ineptitude of this government their majesties will receive a royal and hearty welcome in my riding.
Three and one-half years ago we listened to a speech by the newly elected Prime Minister in which he said:
. . . unemployment is Canada's most urgent national problem. It is an endorsation of the Liberal proposal to deal with this question by means of a representative national commission, and by policies which will serve to revive industries and trade.
A representative national commission was set up by the Prime Minister. Through it we found out precisely what we knew before. We all knew that there was a maladjustment of labour in Canada. It did not find out what that was or what the interdependency of labour in this country was. It collected figures and dealt with decimals and percentages. At the present time those rows of figures are in the waste-paper basket. Its reports have been pigeonholed and its findings are now covered with cobwebs; gone into inertia like the present government. The adding machines, the calculating machines,
The Address-Mr, Ross (St. Paul's)
the desks, the furniture and the permanent personnel are scattered and gone with the wind. That commission did not put men in jobs. Unemployment remains. The commission has now been disbanded. The government are not dealing with unemployment as they promised to do, through a commission. They are not dealing with Canada's most urgent problem. As a result of the work of the commission we can now find out every month or so how many people are on relief, but we cannot find out how many workmen are unemployed. The newly elected Prime Minister in his dedication speech said:
In the new era which dawns to-day the struggle for the rights of the people will, in the realm of economic liberty and security, be carried on as never before.
The people now regret that new era. Where is the economic liberty and security? The people still must depend upon the government for subsistence or continue to tremble at the insecurity of their jobs. The Prime Minister said further:
Poverty and adversity, want and misery, are the enemies which Liberals, will seek to banish from the land. They have lain in wait at the gate of every Canadian home during the past five years, and their menacing mien has served to destroy the souls as well as the minds and bodies of an ever-increasing number of men, women and children in our land. Wetake up at once as our supreme task, the
endeavour to end poverty in the midst of plenty, starvation and unnecessary suffering in a land of abundance.
After three and a half years, poverty, want, adversity and misery still lie in wait at the gate of the home of every Canadian workman. We still have poverty in the midst of plenty. We still find starvation and unnecessary suffering. Where are the opportunities for workwhich were to be provided? There have
never been as many unemployed since 1935 walking the streets looking for jobs. The Prime Minister said:
We take up at once as our supreme task, the endeavour to end poverty.
They took up the shovel and they are still working hard leaning on it. I was not surprised at the rosy picture painted by the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers). He had to do it. It was good government propaganda, but the public know better. However, he gave himself plenty of praise and gave the government of which he is a member a big hand. They do nothing, but they can give a good talk.
The direct relief figures for Toronto show that in the month of December, 1938, there were 66,519 individuals on relief, an increase of 4,642 over 1937. The 1937 relief costs for that city amounted to $7,194,954. In 1938
these costs had increased by $329,559 to $7,524,513. The cost to the city increased from $2,400,000 in 1937 to $2,575,000 in 1938, an increase of $165,000. These figures include administration. This amounts to 2-63 mills on the assessment. What a terrible burden to be saddled on the taxpayers of Toronto! But worse still. What a horrible situation we have when we think of 66,500 of our people receiving hardly enough for a bare existence 1 These people receive, on an average, $10 a month to take care of their entire living consisting of fuel, rent, light and so on. Just think of it! In December there were 66,500 of our people in Toronto receiving relief. These people do not want relief; they want work. Less than five per cent of them are unemployable. There are more people legitimately on relief to-day in Toronto than there were in 1935. I wonder if hon. members have ever tried to exist on $10 a month. Mr. Speaker, these people, who can work and will work, are entitled to the receipt of a larger monthly sum than $10.
What has the government done to take care of this situation? There have been a few relief works started where men have to go day after day on the chance of getting a few days' work, and applicants for these jobs, I might say, are pretty carefully scanned for their political colour. It is true that there is an opportunity through government loans and housing, but with high taxes and the high assessments which are necessary in Toronto there is no incentive to erect new buildings because there is no return for the investor. The down-town district of that city is becoming a section of isolated buildings surrounded by parking lots, as a result of tearing down buildings because the owners cannot afford to pay the taxes on them. What a terrible situation, this destruction of property! General unemployment in industry in Toronto is to a great extent responsible for the high taxes. Low wages, part-time wages and unemployment are responsible for the arrears of taxes. The corporation of the city of Toronto owns some eight miles of streets with their houses on both sides, the buildings having been taken over for non-payment of taxes. There is little revenue in Toronto from this type of property; in fact, property is a liability.
The speech from the throne says:
My ministers recognize that the plight of those who are still unemployed cannot await necessary constitutional amendments, nor the summoning of any conference.
And the government proposes to expand its long range program of public undertakings. I suppose, Mr. Speaker, by this time the government has become thoroughly hardened to this chronic state of industrial 'unemployment.
The Address-Mr. Ross (St. Paul's)
In Toronto over 66,000 of our people are on relief, and I venture to say that another 60,000 are working only part time-66,000 represents ten per cent of our population, and with another 60,000, on part time, that accounts for twenty per cent of our population in Toronto. How ridiculous, then, it is to talk about a long range program-a long range program, mark you-after three and a half years of poverty, and with adversity, want and misery still before the gate of every Canadian home! This do-nothing government, with its long range program, is trying to shoot at the problem from a distance. Why not come close to the horrible spectre and grapple with it?
Let me quote from a letter just received from the principal of the Jesse Ivetchum school in Toronto, which has turned out some of our finest Canadian citizens in the past one hundred years. He says:
Recent graduates have been quite up to usual standards, but have been forced to step out into conditions which this country has never before inflicted on its youth.
He says he has never seen conditions worse in this country within his memory. He goes on: '
Few opportunities afford a living wage, and idleness is enforced particularly upon those of lower educational equipment. In the years of idleness the mental, moral and physical standards of that youth drop to such an extent that the nation's chief asset often becomes a liability.
I am writing you now because in the last month four boys from fair homes near here have been arrested for petty theft, victims of circumstances for which we citizens are responsible.
I am inclined to agree with him that a great many of our citizens are responsible because they elected this do-nothing government. He goes on to say:
This situation is not merely local but is general to the whole city and to the whole of Canada. The citizen of all ranks is quite aware of it and wants immediate remedy not only for the sake of our valuable youth, but to protect society and to avoid the terrible future cost of indifference.
And yet we are told of a proposed long range program of public undertakings! He says further:
We have no right to discriminate against youth as in our present thoughtlessly begotten relief system. We now cut youth off relief, mothers' allowance and pension at sixteen years, and do not again afford relief till marriage. We spend millions on relief for all except youth, in a most questionable and many think a demoralizing method. We discriminate against youth at the worst possible time in life.
The youth leaving school with high ideals for the future, finding himself in an indifferent
society, becomes hostile to that society. We to whom this country afforded such rare opportunity in our youth cannot blame him for the loss of morals.
The federal government has, we believe, devoted $1,000,000 in the form of so-called vocational classes of education. In cooperation with the province of Ontario there is a class in a Toronto garage where some thirty boys are paid seven dollars per week to take a course in welding, and in Galt there is a class of less than thirty taking a machine shop course.
As a result of ten years' experience with this problem, no matter how smug we may be, this is a contemptible showing.
Something must be done, Mr. Speaker, to occupy these boys and girls who are coming out of school, and done, not in two or three years, or in two or three months, but done now.
I am sure there are dozens of other principals of schools such as the Jesse Ketchum school in Toronto who could tell a similar story. A long range program may be all right for some purposes, but something must be done now. A long range program! How typical of this do-nothing government throughout its three and a half years of inaction!
Let me quote from the Toronto Globe and Mail of January 20 of this year:
Mr. Neeland, deputy provincial secretary, in commenting on the jump in crime stated that, "the number of prisoa sentences in Ontario would reach a new high-higher than the previous record of 21,421 in 1930."
Chief Constable Draper, head of the prisoners' rehabilitation society, could not be reached for comment. But in his 1937 police report, in commenting on the increase of crime among the younger-aged groups, he said: "Improper understanding of the value of discipline, and failure on the part of responsible adults to administer it in an effective manner and at the proper time, breed a lack of regard for authority and obedience in child life which ultimately leads to crime and incorrigibility."
It was just running through my head whether the parental negligence of the Prime Minister had anything to do with the unhappy state of the Liberal family from coast to coast. I agree with Chief Constable Draper that the reason he cites is one of the reasons, but how can you expect parents who day after day have been trudging the streets in an effort to obtain work, with all the worries they havq on their shoulders, to begin to pay the proper attention to their children? Again, Mr. Speaker, how can you expect children, who have been brought up in the surroundings of bitterness caused by the failure of the parent to obtain work and the loss of self-respect through having to accept relief, to have a right outlook on life?
The Address-Mr. Ross (St. Paul's)
And remember, this is the plight of over fourteen thousand families in Toronto. There is an emergency, Mr. Speaker, and something has to be done. Talking is no good. Action is required.
The principal of the Jesse Ketchum school makes this suggestion:
But there is one field in which our youth could be developed, which is inexpensive, has no waste, has no conflict with labour and which is the most effective way of meeting the greatest dangers of our present apathy. It can be applied immediately right across this country, already provided with facilities inviting our use. The field of discipline, physical, mental and moral health training for good citizenship stands preeminent.
We could easily open our armouries by day, and use instructors supplied by the Militia department. corps of commissaires, and others, to give these lads at least a six weeks' course of well disciplined physical training to send them out well set up, healthier, alert in mind, body and spirit, to be much more readily welcomed in any line of industry that may open, and in society itself.
These lads could be paid one dollar per day to feed themselves, with an extra twenty-five cents for bedding if the youth cannot live at home. A unit of a thousand such could be assembled in Toronto armouries in twenty-four hours. Slight additional cost would provide a very small staff and perhaps a pair of boots and socks where needed.
He goes on at further length, and then says:
It is better and more economical to give our youth a break than to break our youth. A stitch in time saves nine.
If constitutional difficulties stand in the way of action, it is the duty of this government to find some way of getting around those constitutional difficulties. What is the Department of National Defence for? It is for the defence of Canada. It is for the defence of Canada from without, yes. Has it not a duty to defend Canada by whatever methods it sees fit, not only from without but from within? Has it not a duty to defend Canada against the enemies that are springing up, on account of the physical and moral destruction of our youth which is taking place? The Department of Labour may not have the constitutional power. The Department of National Defence has. Let the Department of Labour use the Department of National Defence in the cause of the defence of the morale of our Canadian youth. Do it right away: it is urgent.
How disillusioned the voter of 1935 must be when he recollects the nicely printed election cards and flaming bill-boards, "Elect us and you will get action"; "Get off the relief roll, get on the pay roll"; "King Or chaos." The Prime Minister gave that promise
to the electors. Four hundred thousand workless in Canada know how it has been kept. The fact is that after three and a half years, unemployment, our greatest problem, on which rest so many of the other problems of this country-railway deficit, over-government, tremendous taxation, and over-expenditure on relief works of no pressing need-has not been dealt with, much less solved. It is far worse.
The theory that increased world trade would bring unemployment solution to Canada may have had more merit before the day of economic nationalism, but it has broken down and can no more be depended upon. Canada can depend for her well-being upon what she can expect to export to other lands; first, only in so far as she can trust the economic stability and integrity of those lands and those peoples who need and must have our products; second, by producing by Canadian labour those products which we can in Canada consume. How far have we gone towards producing those products? Is there any evidence that the Prime Minister recognizes these facts? No. The Prime Minister is chasing the mythical butterfly of foreign trade in these days of economic nationalism. He is trying to show the world what a good fellow he is, at the expense of the industrial worker of this country. The industrial worker is told that for the sake of foreign trade he must starve in competition with foreign slave labour, foreign bargain-counters of surplus goods, foreign depression bankrupt sales, foreign standards of living.
Is it not the duty of the Prime Minister to take some steps to see that this condition does not exist? Our workmen can produce products in competition with any foreign country on a fair and even basis. What encouragement has been given along these lines? The mechanic or the artisan wishes to work at his trade with future prospects and security. The young people coming of workable age wish to learn a trade that has future security. They do not want relief or work on relief projects. We shall never get this country better by spending money on palliatives, makeshifts, unnecessary public works. This will only increase the burden. Canadians want useful work in industry. The government gives aid and assistance towards many classes of trade and production, such as the tourist trade, agriculture, mining development by geological surveys, and certain primary industries by railways and roads, but the secondary industries in which such a large proportion of our workers are either unemployed or on part time, have been underpaid
__________ The Address-Mr. Ross (St. Paul's)
of necessity by competition, and get no encouragement. In fact, the aid given to these other departments of industry is obtained very often at the expense of and from the secondary industries. There is no mention in the speech from the throne with respect to the encouragement of our great secondary industries, and yet in 1935 these were the figures for the five major groups of our industrial life provided by the census returns. There are five groups, namely, animal products, vegetable products, iron products, textiles, and wood and paper products. The total gross value of the production was $2,-
050,000,000, and the number of people employed at that time was 480,000. Industries employing that many people surely deserve some consideration, but they are entirely neglected except when they are the target of criticism and abuse or are looked upon as a source of revenue.
We have the statistics with respect to the products of Canada. There is a prospective market in Canada for certain products now imported from other countries. Has the government considered these statistics with a view to increasing work for the industrial workers by taking advantage of the prospective market which we have? No. The industrial worker has been neglected for three and a half years.
Mr. Speaker, what a fair land Canada is! An industrial future is definitely forecast for us by the abundance and variety of our natural resources and the creative genius of our people. There is only one way for us to prosper and profit to the full from our resources. We cannot avoid becoming an industrial nation. This is essential not only to our national economy but to our place in the world. It is not possible for a great people just to be a market for the products of others while selling only raw materials to others. No nation grows great by what it sells; it grows great by what its people produce and use. Merely selling off our natural wealth will get us nowhere. It is economically wasteful and it retards the development of a national spirit. There is no growth in the mere selling of raw materials. Industry has socialising effects in creating a diversified market and a self-sustaining people. The best basis of prosperity is production. Mere trade, however big, is not enough. The best indication of prosperity is the full dinner pail. The barometer is how much money each man makes and how much he works, not the volume of trade. Spent money will never lift us. We can be raised only by producing more of the things of life. It is
not the selling or the trading that is good for us but the making and using by the people.
The natural resources of Canada belong to the people of Canada. They are administered by the various governments of Canada, and it is the duty of the government to see to it that they are so administered that as many people of Canada as possible get the benefit; otherwise we are selling our heritage for a mess of potage. The people have the right of opportunity, under fair competition, to make supplies and machinery and supply labour which enter into the development of those resources. We should not think of allowing the importation of cheap, foreign Chinese or Japanese labour to develop these resources. Why, then, allow the importation of any more than is necessary of these supplies and machinery, which are made under unfair competition? Last year we imported six and a half million dollars of mining machinery from the United States. If Canadians had made it, or at least a great deal of it, there would have been just that much less unemployment. Last year we imported nineteen million dollars worth of agricultural machinery. If Canadians had made it, there would have been just that much less unemployment. These are only two examples. There are many others. What has this government done to explore this field? It has been chasing after the butterfly of foreign trade. Surely the mining development taking place in Canada and the future prospects for a demand for mining machinery provide an opportunity for lessening unemployment. This government has given no such encouragement with respect to this.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to say a word with regard to the method of making the so-called tri-party treaties. These tri-party treaties are terribly misnamed because they are twenty-five party treaties. I do not see any mention of the twenty-five party treaties in the speech from the throne. Why should the government fool the people into believing that these twenty-five party agreements are tri-party agreements? They are not only treaties between Canada, the United States and Great Britain; these treaties include concessions to Germany, concessions to Japan, concessions to Italy and many other countries, concessions equivalent to those to the United States, for absolutely no return by way of concessions to Canada. In some instances we have an arrangement for an equal dollar for dollar trade balance, but we have not a working hour for working hour balance.
The Address-Mr. Ross (St. Paul's)
Our workmen are in competition with lower standards of living, regimentation and slave labour.
However, a word or two about the making of these treaties. During the past eighteen months those who have been the guardians of the industrial worker have been sweating blood, afraid, in some instances to speak for fear of retaliation. During the negotiations for the treaties, requests by various industries for hearing were denied-a dictatorial attitude. I cannot help but view with alarm the far-reaching consequences to Canada as a result of this treaty. I ask the people of this country to keep an open mind.
I ask them not to become prejudiced by the efforts to create a patriotic issue. It may have been necessary for Canada to forego some of the preferences to the British market that we were requested to forego by the government of Great Britain, in order that a closer relationship with Great Britain and the United States might be obtained. We were so advised by the Prime Minister; but before the people of Canada can come to an intelligent conclusion as to the course pursued by the government in making these treaties, they should be fully advised as to what we were requested to concede, and, further, what we were compelled to concede. All the relevant correspondence in the matter with respect to this treaty should be published. Our sacrifice of preferences is tremendous-quite sufficient for an exchange of considerable further concessions to Canada. The main issue is, will the consummation of this treaty give one more man a job in Canada?
Mr. Speaker, I submit that the- government did not have to give the widespread increases in the concessions to the United States for the paltry advantages which we have obtained. Now. how was the treaty negotiated by Great Britain? Through the board of trade on the advice of the British import duties advisory committee composed of outstanding experts, who received advice and information and representation from various trade organizations. Then some thirty experts proceeded to Washington. In the United States information with respect to various products and industries affected was published; industries and farm organizations were notified that there would be public hearings of their cases. In Canada the treaty was negotiated by three civil service executives. I do not wish to belittle the ability or the knowledge of those directly connected with the making of the treaty; I have the greatest regard for their ability; but I do suggest that carefully selected executives of Canadian industry should have
been asked to assist the government in reaching a fair and equitable course towards any trade relationship that Canada's economic position requires. A few executives of the government could not possibly have sufficient knowledge or a full enough understanding to be entrusted with the consummation of a treaty with such far-reaching implications, and I know they are the best brains in Canada. The best scientific brains possible should have been enlisted in a matter of such import and having such far-reaching effects on our Canadian people.
It may be the custom to negotiate such treaties secretly, but surely not so secretly that those industries which are to be affected should not have knowledge. This would certainly prevent inertia in those industries not to be affected by the proposed treaties. It would have allayed fear and encouraged any expansion that might be contemplated. It would not cause unemployment as has been the case in the unaffected industries.
Whom do we blame? I submit that the development of industry for the production of goods consumed or used by Canadians has been set back years by the ineptitude and inertia of this government.
And now, one word about the amendment moved by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth). First of all, I submit that by the laws of Canada and through the Bank of Canada and various departments of government we have the machinery for a very effective control of financial interests and monopolistic enterprises. If monopolistic enterprises and financial interests .are exploiting the Canadian people, it is not because the administrations of the various governments of the country are powerless or unable to control them or because these administrations are unwilling. And second, I think I have amply demonstiated a field which, if it had been thoroughly explored during the last three and a half years, would have amply proved that unemployment, at least in the urban centres, can be eliminated. Therefore, I intend to vote against the amendment.
When we consider that there are 400,000 workers idle in Canada, and 400,000 more people on part time, I do not think there is any gratifying reduction in the total number of unemployed. It is terrible to think that this situation exists and still has not been dealt with, and now we are told, after three and a half years, that the ministers recognize that the plight of those who are still unemployed cannot wait, and propose therefore to expand the government's long range program
The Address-Mr. Blanchette
of public undertakings. Why such a hurry now after three and a half years of do nothing government? I submit, Mr. Speaker, that what we want is action.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) has been so busy appointing commissions to man the ship of state that for the past three and a half years the ship of state has never been able to get away from the dock but is just where it stood in 1935, and the people of Canada, you and I, have been paying wharfage dues all these years. We must get a new skipper with courage. There are honest passengers waiting to get on, fine decent passengers willing to help. There should be no poor in Canada who are willing to work. Let us make the prophecy come true-the twentieth century belongs to Canada, not to the Liberal government.
Mr. JOSEPH A. BLANCHETTE (Compton) (Translation): Mr. Speaker, I desire first of all to congratulate the two hon. members who proposed and seconded the address in reply to the speech from the throne. Both performed most creditably the honourable task which had been entrusted to them. Allow me to offer my very special and warm congratulations to the hon. member for Stormont (Mr. Chevrier) for the high repute in which he is held and which reflects on his constituency, his mother tongue and his Canadian origin. He is a perfect gentleman, active and industrious, and always seeking to promote the interests of his constituents. The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) could not have made a better choice, and we are most grateful to him for it.
Mr. Speaker, I shall have the opportunity in the course of the session to make some observations in my native tongue. On the present occasion I wish to continue my speech in English.
(Text) Mr. Speaker, at the very outset of my remarks I wish to add my sincere appreciation to that already expressed by speakers in this debate on both sides of the house with reference to the mover (Mr. Matthews) and the seconder (Mr. Chevrier) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne. The speeches of both these hon. members have been highly praised by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), and by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Manion) and by the press, and rightly so, because the consensus of opinion is that they were of an exceptionally high order as regards both style and rendition. All this goes to show that great credit is reflected not only on the mover and seconder but also on the ridings which these gentlemen represent in this house.
The eastern townships are also especially gratified at the announcement that Their
Majesties the King and Queen are to pay a visit to our section during their sojourn in Canada. I know their majesties will find the hearts of our Anglo-Saxon and Norman stock responsive and imbued with loyalty, fidelity and appreciative homage to our devoted rulers.
This debate, as do all similar debates, has brought forth comments both favourable and unfavourable upon the actions of the government. We may have found in some instances excess of zeal either in praise of the achievements or in condemnation of the lack of achievements of the government, but there is one point at least upon which I believe all hon. members will agree; that is, that exceptionally difficult times are being experienced not only in Canada but throughout the entire civilized world. Were unemployment and social and economic unrest prevalent in Canada only, in spite of my sitting on this side of the house I too might be prone tc criticise the government and our Prime Minister. But when with a calm and open mind I survey conditions in other sections of the world, and the economic and social disturbances with which they are affected, in addition to those which we find here in Canada, all the miseries and privations and hardships that exist under dictatorships and that do not prevail in democratic countries, I feel that Canada is not such a bad country to live in and the government is not altogether derelict in its duties.
The government, after all, is a human institution. It is composed of men of some competence in their respective fields, but just as no individual is able to please everyone, is it possible for this government to do so? I speak of the cabinet as a whole; criticise them as we may, we must admit that we have as Prime Minister of Canada a statesman whose qualifications of foresight and statesmanship and whose knowledge of external affairs as well as of economics and social science are recognized not only in this country but throughout the British empire and elsewhere. In our private affairs we would not hesitate for a moment to confide our legal business to the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe), our agricultural concerns to the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner), our financial affairs to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning), our labour relations to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers), and our structural undertakings to the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Cardin) and the Minister of Transport (Mr. Howe). All the ministers are doing their utmost to attain the ends which we are all seeking, the relief of unemployment and the betterment of economic and social
The Address-Mr. Blanchette
conditions throughout Canada. This government may not have accomplished all that the opposition feel it should have done, but I believe the record of this administration compares favourably with that of the previous one.
Perhaps hon. members are a little more exacting when in opposition than when sitting on this side of the house. Certainly I find that the accomplishments of hon. gentlemen opposite in six sessions cannot compare favourably with what has been done by this government in the last three sessions. My memory takes me back to 1930, when unemployment was to be done away with within ninety days, when a way was to be " blasted " for our products into the markets of the world, and we were told that all the ills of civilization could be banished from this young country if the government would only do its duty. Time marches on: 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935. What improvement in 1935 over 1930? That was a question not for hon. members of this house, but for the electorate to decide. And their verdict was given at the polls with no uncertain voice.
What are some of the achievements of the present government? In 1936 the deficit was
3160,000,000; in 1938 it was reduced to $13,-
575,000. The 1936 budget reduced the tariff on 192 items. In 1937 there were further reductions covering 354 more items, including a wide variety of household articles, wearing apparel and implements of production. In 1938 building supplies and materials were exempted from sales tax to encourage the construction of homes. Yet, despite the most sweeping tariff reductions in Canadian history, customs receipts increased from $74,000,000 in 1935-36 to $93,000,000 in 1937-38. More than $600,000,000 of the public debt has been refunded during the past two and a half years, resulting in a saving in interest charges in excess of S10,200,000. The annual interest bill for the last fiscal year was the lowest for any year since the war, despite the fact that in the past seven or eight years more than one billion dollars had been added to the public debt. The average interest rate on the Canadian public debt between 1931 and 1938 was diminished by 29 per cent.
This party, firmly believing that trade is the basis of industrial and commercial development, and that this country with its vast resources needs trade, upon its accession to power immediately declared its willingness to cooperate with other nations in examining current trade difficulties with a view to their removal. As a result, Canada's total trade in 1937 almost attained the two billion mark. In 1937 Canada's trade was greater by 50 per
cent than in 1935. For the years 1935-36 and 1937-38 the increase of trade with the United States was $231,000,000.
In agriculture the policy of the government has been to lower the cost of production and enhance the selling price of the product. Likewise mining and fishing have been helped to a marked degree. The value of our animal products in 1937-38 represents an increase of more than $35,000,000 over 1935-36. The production of our fishing industry in 1932 was valued at $26,000,000 with an export value of $18,500,000, whereas in 1937 its value was over $40,000,000 with exports increased by some eight or nine millions.
Total mine products for 1935-36 were valued at $284,000,000 and for the fiscal year 1937-38 at $391,000,000, an increase of $107,000,000, or 37 per cent. For the fiscal year 1935-36 exports of products of the forest totalled $182,000,000, and for the year 1937-38 they were $253,000,000, an increase of $71,000,000, or 39 per cent. Total production of all industries for the year 1935 amounted to $2,559,523,000 and for the year 1937 to $3,044,189,500, an increase of $484,666,500. The estimated national income for 1935 was $4,094,000,000; for 1937 it was $4,870,000,000, an increase of $776,000.000. In each instance the increase amounts to 18-9 per cent.
In October, 1937, the employment index reached the highest point in the history of Canada, higher even than in the boom year of 1929. The housing act, the youth training projects and grants towards public works aided in the relief of the unemployed. The sums poured into the channels of unemployment relief since this government came into office afford proof that it is seized with the gravity of the situation. Referring to the joint grants which Quebec has received in order to relieve unemployment these may be summed up as follows, from January, 1936, to October, 1938: Total relief grants in monthly allocations aggregated $17,210,625; direct relief, $24,976; public works, $4,073,831; agricultural aids. $162,871; youth training, $86,227; other provincial assistance, $108,485, or a total of almost $22,000,000. In addition, from August, 1936, to September, 1938, there was contributed towards the cost of old age and blind pensions almost $15,000,000. In November, 1936, the Quebec provincial government submitted to the federal government eighty-seven relief projects, all of which were approved. In September, 1937, the same government presented a list of thirty projects in connection with relief, all of which were again approved. In other words, the provincial government submitted to this govern-
The Address-Mr. Blanchette
ment its relief projects, and if these projects did not meet with the desired success or failed in their purpose, why should this government be held totally responsible? The administration and spending of these funds, together with the choice of the labourers, to a certain extent, and the location and nature of the project, were in the hands of the provincial government.
I do not wish to convey the impression, Mr. Speaker, that I feel the government has done all that its critics say it should have done, but I believe it has done its duty in view of world conditions prevailing. By no means do we consider our work finished, because this session is but beginning. During the past three years few of us, if any, have not found the ministers and the heads of the various departments hard at work in order to relieve the conditions that exist throughout the country, and I believe that to term this parliament the do-nothing parliament is as much a misnomer as it would be to call the previous parliament the do-all parliament.
In a cursory way I should like to touch upon three subjects mentioned in the speech from the throne. I refer to agriculture, unemployment and youth training. One of the most vital industries in this country, agriculture, has not been on a paying basis for a number of years, though conditions have been ameliorated to a certain extent in some quarters. Agriculture must be made more profitable if we wish our farming classes to be encouraged to continue in their vocation. This class has suffered more than any other, through the depression of its dollar purchase value. Our farmers ask, not for a minimum wage, but rather for a living wage in return for their investment and their labour; and I believe that no grant this government could make would be better or more fruitful in its results than that meted out to the farming population which forms the sinew and backbone of the nation. And if a particular agricultural crop or product should require temporary assistance, everything possible should ' be done to come to its rescue.
According to the 1931 census, 46 per cent of our entire population is rural. In the province of Quebec, roughly speaking, there are 136,000 farms of an average value of 86,452 per farm, with an average area of 127 acres. At the last census 36 per cent of the province of Quebec was rural. Those figures also tell us that the gross revenue for the average Quebec farm is $1,359, and that the cost of feed, fertilizer, spraying chemicals seed and hired labour averages about $200. If we add to this the disbursements for insurance, interest on investment, depreciation and
fuel, we must add at least another $212, giving a very conservative expense account of $412, leaving a net return of $947 to provide for an average family of eight persons. This modest amount must suffice for medical care, educational development, social diversion, clothing, life insurance and the purchase of food not raised on the farm, providing an annual amount of approximately $118 per capita of our farm population, or not quite $10 per month.
I believe, Mr. Speaker, it will be admitted forthwith that to cite the problem, by breaking down its factors, is to ask in no uncertain terms for a solution of this paucity in the revenue of the farmers in return for their toil. The farmer has helped greatly in the development of this country. He has maintained, step by step, each stage of progress which we have attained. He helped greatly to win the war. He has produced some of our greatest men. His achievements are an open book, and we may safely deduce his future by his past. It is seldom that we read of uprisings in his midst. The chief asset of Canada, as it is of any other country for that matter, is the farming class which offers a bulwark or a precious stability to its institutions.
The farmer is not asking for a minimum wage, but he has a right to a living wage. He should receive a reasonable return for his investment-his labour. If that return or remuneration is not sufficient to give him a living wage, if that return or remuneration is suicidal, then I believe that ways and means should be devised for his rescue for the time being, until such time as the price of his major crop or major product has been resuscitated. I feel that I have in a cursory way presented the case of the Quebec farmer and I trust that the Minister of Agriculture will do his utmost, when bringing down his estimates, to come to the assistance of the farmer who is in need of this assistance.
Of similar major importance is the question of unemployment. In this respect Canada is not unique; it resembles many other countries. None the less the gravity of this question demands the serious consideration and cooperation of all concerned. Much to my regret, the $30,000,000 made available by the Municipal Improvements Assistance Act, untouched as yet in some sections of the country, does not speak very eloquently of the cooperation of which we hear so often from some quarters, but which we do not always see translated into tangible actuality. Public works, tourist and mining roads, municipal developments, housing and the develop-
The Address-Mr. Blanchette
ment of air ports-all of these are conducive to the relief of the unemployment situation, and in my opinion should be favoured and enhanced as much as possible. Neither has close cooperation been given in some quarters to the national housing act. Cooperation should have been whole-hearted, because this act, with the Municipal Improvements Assistance Act, could create employment to the extent of $150,000,000 with no increase in the debt or taxation of the municipalities or provinces and with very little expense to the federal government.
As a tangent to unemployment, and really as part of the problem although generally treated under a separate heading, I should like to say a few words about youth training. This training was begun in 1937 on a cooperative scale. It was continued in 1938, and I was pleased to hear in the speech from the throne that the policy is to be continued, I trust on a larger scale than in the past. The keystone of the next generation is inherently in the youth of to-day, many of whom have been forced to abandon trades, schooling or professions for lack of funds and who have become, through no fault of their own, wandering ships on our economic sea with no port to which to go. All this in spite of the vigour, vitality, earnestness and ambition of our Canadian youth.
One of the definite factors which must be taken into account in connection with this youth problem is the trend away from the farm to the city. This factor cannot be brushed aside lightly. Between 1921 and 1931 there was a decline of over 26 per cent in the number of farm operators under twenty-five years of age, and this decline is continuing. The depression has made employers, who in the past had catered to the teaching of trade, reluctant to assume the continuance of that practice. In support of this contention I would state that of 7,700 firms approached by the national employment commission, only 24 per cent had any youth training plan.
I believe it is a recognized fact that since 1929 industry and commerce in their various branches have lost many of their skilled and qualified workers. In my opinion both industry and commerce should endeavour to take as many of our youth as possible. Incidentally the various governmental departments might set an example by replacing incumbents of superannuation age with unemployed youth, thereby putting no hardship on the former and preventing the discouragement of the latter. One of the occupations in this country which is not overcrowded is aviation. What
a field this industry offers in its many branches to the serious minded youth of to-day! I believe the government could help materially in fostering the development of aviation. With that aim in view it should establish training schools in provinces which heretofore have not been favoured with such. To my mind this would be of great assistance to our youth as well as reduce unemployment.
I know that all these suggestions for the relief of agriculture and unemployment and to provide youth training necessarily mean the spending of money. I realize that at times governments are criticized for increases in spending. If the moneys voted are necessary; if they are employed for a useful end and are honestly spent, I must say that I do not sympathize with such criticism in times of depression. When sickness attacks the human body, we do not cavil at the expense necessary to save it and to bring it back to health. To a great extent the economic body should be treated similarly. All that can be done to save it should be done, no matter how expensive the treatment, providing the expenditures are to relieve the ailments which are gnawing at our economic structure and at times threatening its very life. The existence of a nation, or by corollary the existence of any major or component part of it, cannot be measured in dollars and cents. To do so may seem to be good accountancy, but at times it. may become a travesty on social justice, a shirking of our responsible duty and the opening of the door to greater want, privation and suffering.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY