March 15, 1939

CON

David Spence

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPENCE:

They do not know how to deal with it.

Mr. MASSES?: The resolution before the house anticipates a measure to provide assistance in the alleviation of unemployment and agricultural distress. It seems to me extraordinary that two months of the session should pass before the problem facing the man on the street or the man on the farm is given any consideration by the government. Here is one of the greatest- possibly the greatest-problems facing Canada

Public Accounts Committee Report

today. Those are problems which, as I have already said, either directly or indirectly affect the life of every man, woman and child in the dominion. I am going to make no apologies this afternoon for discussing the subject matter of this resolution at considerable length, and attempting to present to the house the unvarnished facts. I do not fear the undesirability of laying such facts before the country. It is highly to be desired, especially in view of the speech to which we have listened this afternoon, that such facts be presented.

I shall not, however, attempt to discuss the problem of agricultural distress, though I plan to speak upon this great question at a later date. I realize fully that this problem is irreducibly linked up to its twin problem of unemploymient and that a healthy condition of agriculture is tantamount to a prosperous Canada. Sufficient be it to say here that the government has treated the agricultural situation for the last three and a half years as a succession of emergencies. Under and by reason of this performance the problem of agricultural distress has in fact become a succession of emergencies. Surely the facing of these successive crises as isolated individual phenomena does not constitute an agricultural policy.

As I have just stated, the problem of unemployment and its resulting distress touches our national life at its most vital point. History tells that story. The urgency and need for swift and courageous government action is painfully obvious. I shall attempt to demonstrate before I sit down that it is the absence of such action that has caused and is causing the condition which we face in Canada at the present time. Not minimizing for a moment the value of efficient and equitable trade treaties-I certainly do not

include the last two trade treaties

and of

a large export trade, we -must realize that we in Canada consume about eighty per cent of the goods we produce and manufacture within our own borders. Further, even though we are the fifth exporting nation of the world, we may claim only about four per cent of the total world trade.

The challenge to the government is to put Canadians to work in Canada and to realize to the fullest possible degree the natural resources with which we have been blessed and to reestablish the principle that Canadian raw materials should be processed as far as possible by Canadian workmen. There is nothing wrong with our Canadian people. There is nothing wrong with our Canadian youth. The unemployed Canadian, the youth who has yet to find his first job, is

ready and willing to go to work, earnestly seeking the opportunity to give outlet to that virility and energy which has always characterized the individual Canadian. Thus I say, the government is challenged to clear the way for the creation of new jobs, not palliative methods of employment,- not casual employment, but new jobs of a permanent character, and to create opportunity for the development of Canada by Canadians. It is with the deepest regret that we are forced to the realization that the present government has failed so miserably to answer this challenge. As I wish, Mr. Speaker, to discuss this matter from several different angles, and as it is approaching six o'clock, I desire to move the adjournment of the debate.

Motion agreed to and debate adjourned.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS- UNDERTAKINGS IN GENERAL INTEREST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO PROVINCES
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At six o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Thursday, March 16, 1939


March 15, 1939