Mr. M. J. COLDWELL (Rosetown-Biggar):
1914-18, but the war did none of these things; on the contrary, it left us with the seeds of the present conflict.
Some of us at the close of the great war saw in the League of Nations an instrument to preserve peace and to establish a better world order. We saw it undermined by the very leaders who to-day are faced with war. When collective action could have been used to prevent war it was not used, and one of the first acts of our own government, I am sorry to say, was the one to which the Prime Minister himself referred yesterday, namely, the withdrawal of oil sanctions against Italy in the Ethiopian difficulty in 1935. I am not going to enter into recriminations, but before we are asked to vote for the speech from the throne and its implications, which have been further clarified this afternoon, we ought to be told what the war aims really are so far as Canada is concerned. Without such a statement we can scarcely be expected to vote for the address, even though for other reasons we might like to do so.
In an article in the Christian Science Monitor of September 6 Sir Norman Angell has something to say on this point-the point that collective security against violence is the basis of all civilization and of all organized society. I quote:
Will a victory of Britain and Prance mean 'llc^ory /or thtit constitutional principle, so tjmt henceforth it will be evident to aggressors that they will have to meet not merely the power ot their intended victim, but the power "/.y Part of civilization? If that is indeed the principle for which our countries are hghtmg and it triumphs, then their triumph *n a very exact sense save civilization; will help the world to end that anarchy, that absence m the international field of all law against violence which lies at the root of war; will give to force in the international field the olhce which it has within nations-the office of withstanding violence by collective defence of the victim so that law and reason may prevail.
But that triumph depends upon a condition winch should be of especial interest to readers of the Christian Science Monitor, the condition namely of believing deeply that this is indeed the purpose of our arms. If we think that the mere defeat of Germany will of itself give the peace we shall, of course, fail, for we defeated Germany twenty-one years ago and that defeat and our victory has not given peace. That costly victory proved futile because afterwards, although each was willing to use force to defend himself, we were not willing to use it to defend law when others and not ourselves happened to be the victim of its violation. If as a result of this war we are brought to realize that only so can force be made an instrument of peace, security, and justice, and the lesson is carried to the world, then our agonieB will not have been in vain.
As one who has always opposed war, who until very recently believed that all international problems could be settled by conference rather than by force, I am of the opinion that if we reconstitute the League of Nations it will involve the surrender perhaps of that portion of national sovereignty which involves the use of force; 'but, as in every civilized community, we shall have to recognize the fact that a reconstituted, reorganized league for law will require some power placed behind it which will enable that society to enforce its decisions upon an aggressor nation.
Where does Canada stand in relation to this problem? Before we are asked to approve the speech from the throne we should be informed, it seems to me, without evasion, without equivocation or mental reservation, what our peace aims are-because I prefer so to describe them. That brings me to another thought; what of our domestic policy during the war? Are we going to permit one group in our land to profit at the expense of all the rest of us? Already fortunes are being made out of the rise in price of certain stocks on the speculative market. Prices of commodities have risen also. The price of flour has risen without warrant, because the Canadian carry-over of wheat was all disposed of to the millers, exporters or speculators at least a month before this crisis developed, and at a very low price. The 100,000,000 bushels or so, speaking in round figures, of our carry-over of wheat was still mainly in Canada. Neither our government nor our farmers who produced it will reap any gain from that wheat. Only those who to-day stand between us and those who need it will make rich gains. I submit that the government should take effective steps to see that this does not happen. The same with sugar. In this city over the last week-end butter went up 7 cents per pound in the course of a day or two, and the hon. member for Lethbridge (Mr. Blackmore) last night gave the increase in the price of lard.
I have had letters from constituents of my own pointing out to me that almost immediately the price of flour went up; and we all know what has happened to the price of sugar. These profits are being taken by middlemen of various types and, incidentally, on the instructions of large monopolistic distributors, at least in some instances. We urge, indeed we have the right to demand, that in view of what is happening the government should do what is being done in some other countries when it becomes necessary; it should exercise its power to commandeer these supplies and fix prices as a symbol of good faith with respect to its promises. That should be done
before we vote on the speech from the throne. Unless it is done, I feel that I shall have to vote against the speech from the throne.
Moreover, when the bills for financing war activities are brought down they should be accompanied by proposals for paying for this war as it is being waged. We should not inflict on the generation that follows us the cost of another great war. And we must not permit an increase in the already almost intolerable burden of national and other public debt. We believe that there are untouched financial resources which the government may still tap, or resources that have been only partly tapped as yet. The reduction in corporation income tax granted in the last budget should immediately be repealed ; taxes on higher incomes should be increased at once, and an excess profits tax and capital gains tax should be instituted. By a capital gains tax I mean a tax on the unearned increment due to the rise in stocks and shares and other securities on account of the present crisis. A capital gains tax, properly applied, would prevent fortunes being made out of the agony of the present crisis and provide a large revenue. As we have so frequently urged in this house, the manufacture of arms, munitions and war material should be nationalized. If the government will not go that far immediately, at least they should bring them under direct public control and eliminate all private gain from these essential war
I emphasize this because we believe that, apart from the defence of our own shores, our major contribution to the allied cause can be made in the economic field. We are the nearest dominion to Europe. We have tremendous resources. In modem war huge masses of men are being replaced by mechanized units which require vast quantities of supplies to maintain them in the line. Frenzied demands for the enlistment of more and more men, if granted, may defeat the very object in view, success in this straggle. This was to a more limited extent true in the last war. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, for example, noted that condition in a letter which he wrote on May 15, 1917, to Sir Allen Ayles-worth, in connection with the problem of conscription, in which he said:
There is a shortage of labour in agriculture and industry, in fact in every field where brawn and muscles are needed, and in tho_ face of this condition people there are still yelling for more men being taken away from occupations in which they are so much needed.
That was during the great war. Sir Wilfrid went on to say that had they been in power when the crisis came in 1914 the first thing they would have done would have been to
survey the entire Canadian scene and see exactly what men could be spared, and not do what was then done, allow, or rather urge, men who were badly needed in other capacities to enlist and go overseas and be taken away from the production that was towards the end of the war so badly needed.
Then, what are we going to do about the young men who are called up for defence or who join the forces of the crown at this time? To my mind the condition of such young men is one of the tragedies of war. Not only the risk of death or of being maimed or contracting disease and so on, but the effect of war upon their future, ought to be taken into consideration immediately. We believe, as I have said, that the sending of expeditionary forces is unnecessary and unwise. But if we enlist men for home defence their future after the war should be a matter of grave consideration now. Provision should be made to enable them to continue their education and preparation for civilian life after peace has been proclaimed. We do not know when peace will come; we pray it may come soon, but whether soon or late, we should be considering some preparation now. Unemployment existed before the war came, in spite of increasing preparations for the struggle. I have often said that such relief as the world has had from unemployment over the past few years has been largely due to the mad armament race that was going on, and that I wondered what would happen if disarmament came either as a result of international conferences, as I hoped, or as a result of war. Here we are faced with what may be a long war, and we shall have to meet the consequences that follow. Unemployment, then, should receive some consideration now. To my mind the government should establish at once a committee, upon which labour, farmers, industrialists and others shall be adequately represented, to prepare for the aftermath of the war. Unprepared in this respect, Canada may share in the general chaos which may overwhelm Europe when the war ends. I believe that that is one of the alternatives that the world faces at the present time-chaos as a result of the struggle which is now being waged. We should do our best to see that we are not faced with anything of that sort in Canada.
These are present problems. To my mind there ought to be no thought of adjourning this parliament until some consideration has been given to them. Indeed I go further, and say that perhaps a number of committees of this house might be set up to study these problems and advise and assist the government upon them. We were sent here as members of parliament to meet grave problems
The Address-Mr. Coldwell
that might arise from time to time, and at least some hon. members of this house may be expected to devote their energies to them freely as a war service.
The speech from the throne says that a state of war exists. Until this afternoon we did not quite know what that meant, but we now know more clearly. The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation - because I am speaking not only for myself, but also for the movement with which I am associated-has placed before the house some of its thought in connection with this situation, and in doing so has endeavoured to offer some constructive proposals. We do not expect all of them to be adopted immediately, but we offer them for the consideration of the house in the hope that at least some of them may be helpful in meeting the situation that we now face and which we shall face in the days to come. Frenzied speeches, heroic appeals and frantic efforts, such as we are witnessing here and there throughout the country, in my opinion will hinder rather than help the government in this crisis.
We of this group abhor war; we have said that over and over again. I know other members of the house feel as we do, but perhaps we have been rather more vocal in that respect, if I may put it that way, than some other people who may abhor it equally. We believe that the causes of these wars lie in the contradictions of the present economic system all across the world. In spite of that, however, we recognize that in this struggle there may be other factors. The future of our democratic institutions and the stopping of aggression may be involved as well. We do not think, as some appear to think, that war is a Christian duty. Rather indeed we regard its occurrence as an indictment of our Christian society, and we urge the people of Canada to respect those who have a conscientious objection to participation in war on that account. Let us remember that we are being told this war is being waged to preserve democracy and prevent aggression. Surely these things, like charity, should begin at home. And let there be no interference with the right of labour to organize, with the right of farmers to demand and receive a proper reward for their products and their labour, with the rights of free speech, of peaceful assembly and of religious freedom. The measure of our success, it seems to me, will be our success in preventing regimentation and repression and in maintaining, yes and extending, our democratic rights, which totalitarianism in every form and under every guise threatens throughout the world. We must see to it that in Canada at least the lights of such freedom as we have are not blacked out.