July 2, 1940

LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

It depends on where one lives. The suggestion made by the hon. member might be complained about, by someone living at some other point, as being inequitable. The view taken depends on where one lives.

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

Hervé-Edgar Brunelle

Liberal

Mr. BRUNELLE:

That may be.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

If one takes it the other way, namely, to tax on the kilowatt hours, then the gentleman using a large quantity of kilowatt hours will complain that the tax bears inequitably upon him. I mention this because the horn, member suggests the tax should be imposed more equitably. Either way it is imposed, some person will feel he has a right to complain.

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

Hervé-Edgar Brunelle

Liberal

Mr. BRUNELLE:

But if everyone were paying on a basis of consumption of electricity there would be practically no reason for complaint by anyone.

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LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

The other man may say that he would like to pay on the dollar basis, and would believe that that is the equitable ground.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Hervé-Edgar Brunelle

Liberal

Mr. BRUNELLE:

Apparently there are two types of justice.

I have refrained from making any comment on the gravity of the war situation, because I believe up to this time practically everything has been said, and what has not been said is deeply felt in the heart of every Canadian.

Suffice it to say with reference to the mobilization measure which has recently been passed that I have never met a person in my constituency, or anywhere else, who has objected at all to the defence of Canada, or to the means to be taken to defend Canada in Canada. I would not need to say this, had I not in previous sessions disagreed with my friends in connection with war measures. But the situation is no longer the same. On the one hand the law itself restricts the compulsory service to the boundaries of Canada, and on the other hand there is an evident danger of attack in Canada.

In my opinion what has taken place in Europe, and the misfortunes of France justify the recent passing of the mobilization measure providing for the defence of Canada within

Canada. Let every Canadian do his duty. I am prepared to do mine. I am at the disposal of the Minister of National Defence whenever and wherever I may be needed or useful-but for home defence only. I am always opposed, and intend to remain opposed to conscription for overseas service. To foresee and to be prudent is the duty of every representative of the people, and the mobilization measure which has recently been passed is one of prudence.

I have absolute faith in the Prime Minister of Canada (Mr. Mackenzie King). He is, if anyone is, a true Canadian. He is a steadfast and judicious administrator. Moderation, tact and sincerity are qualities he has always displayed in good as well as in bad days, and I am proud to say that no one enjoys to a higher degree or deserves more than he does my confidence and that of the people whom I represent.

I therefore without any hesitation support the budget presented by the government.

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

Frederick Davis Shaw

Social Credit

Mr. F. D. SHAW (Red Deer):

Mr. Speaker, in rising to participate in the debate on the budget, it is my desire to make certain definite observations relative to a question which has not been dealt with to any great degree, namely the question of national health. I anticipate that in what I have to say hon. members, irrespective of party, and particularly hon. members belonging to the medical profession will stand shoulder to shoulder with me.

I should like to concentrate my remarks upon national health, and especially as it applies to children. Therefore, in making no attempt to cover the whole field of national health, I may be in a position to be brief. I hesitate to use the word 'brief", because invariably when it is used someone shouts, "hear, hear." As a rule we hear that from an hon. member who has not time to deal with those matters with which he was sent here to deal.

I believe the presentation of the budget last week brought home to the people of Canada as it could have been brought home in no other way a supreme realization of the fact that we are at war. After all, I do not believe that there is anything in the world which will bring people to a complete realization of their responsibilities more quickly than the application of a tax. I am satisfied that we all realize the gravity of our undertaking. We do not want it thought that we have lost sight of the seriousness of the situation. We must above all else comprehend the responsibilities which are ours.

The Budget-Mr. Shaw

Unfortunately I am not satisfied that all hon. members really realize the responsibilities which are theirs.

I should like at this moment to read a short quotation, but before doing so may I say that it is the tendency of many of us to lose sight of the fact that we have more than one battle front. Some of our people, and unfortunately some of the members of this house, think of this war only in terms of what might be taking place in the North sea, in the Mediterranean or along the Magi-not line, absolutely overlooking the fact that the greatest front, the front which ultimately is going to be the most important, is right here at home.' I should like to read an article which appeared on December 2, 1939, on The Front Page of Toronto Saturday Night and which was reprinted in the Canadian Welfare Summary, December-January issue. It reads:

The psychological task of this war is the task of endurance. This is not a time for the whipping up of temporary enthusiasm by preachments of a kind of hatred which even the Germans can only maintain for six months or a year at a time, and which Anglo-Saxons and French are utterly incapable of making the predominant motive of their acts for an even shorter period. It is vital to remember that the spirit of the country as a whole includes, to a much larger extent than we like to think, the spirit of those who, as a result of many causes but chiefly by their sheer ill-fortune and the hostile conditions of a difficult economic era, are dependent on the civilian health and welfare agencies for a considerable part of the food, clothing and housing which are necessary to keep them in spiritual and physical fitness. We have not only to defeat Germany, we have also to defeat a condition at home which prevents a large part of the population from making its proper contribution to the defeat of Germany or to the achievement of any other national purpose. War is at home as well as in the North sea and on the Maginot line. We cannot afford to lose sight of any part of the front.

After reading that article, I felt that it was my duty to deal with the home front. Being engaged in a conflict as we are, it is essential that our people be strong. The strength of a nation, in peace time and more especially in time of war, depends directly upon the health of its people. History has proven beyond all shadow of doubt that when the people of a nation decline to any degree, either mentally or physically, the glory of that nation is short-lived. A statement like that is irrevocable. I think it is high time that we started to take stock with respect to the health of our people. I do not intend to be unduly critical in what I have to say. That is not my purpose. However, if I were to speak without being

critical, it is not likely that I would be here in this corner. Perhaps I may be excused if my remarks become quite critical at times. I do intend to be accurate. I do not propose to recite long lists of statistics, because my experience has taught me that no matter how carefully statistics may be tabulated, they are not always as accurate as we should like them to be, especially when they have to do with a survey of our health situation.

A few weeks ago certain hon. members made some observations relative to economic conditions which existed in certain provinces of Canada. I speak particularly of my hon. friends to my immediate right. Apparently they are determined to put their constituents first and their party last if necessary. During the discussion of a bill which it is hoped will bring a certain amount of alleviation to the distressful sufferings of our agricultural and unemployed people, they dealt in a large measure with the question of health, particularly the health of little children in the different constituencies. They painted a picture which was not unduly coloured, a picture which was absolutely correct. If all hon. members would be really honest, they could paint similar pictures of conditions obtaining in every province in Canada. When the hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Nicholson) was referring to the hunger and semi-starvation which existed among the little children of his constituency, the leader of the opposition (Mr. Hanson)-unfortunately he is not in his place but I must say what I am going to say-made this statement:

I am distressed to hear him say that children go to bed hungry. Will he state that at any time during the last ten years, since relief was first instituted by the Bennett government, in September, 1930, anybody in Saskatchewan has starved or has been in actual want? I would be disturbed if that were the case. I know it was not the intention of R. B. Bennett and his government that anybody in Canada should be in want, and I cannot for a moment believe that it is the intention of anybody on the other side of the house since 1935 that anyone shall be in actual want.

Then follows this statement upon which I lay particular emphasis:

I can scarcely credit such a thing.

When I heard the leader of the opposition make that statement, the thought came to my mind, are conditions in New Brunswick, from which province he happens to come, in such a satisfactory condition that he is unable to realize that conditions in a constituency as far removed as Saskatchewan are as they were represented as being? So in order to try to find out what the leader of the opposition was

The Budget-Mr. Shaw

really getting at, I made an investigation into conditions in certain parts of New Brunswick, and I quote what I am going to quote for the simple reason that I wish to show the house that the hon. leader of the opposition should have been able to credit what was said by the hon. member for Mackenzie, and furthermore to show the effect that these economic conditions have upon the health of little children. Let me make clear at once that I am not a member of the medical profession but I have spent over one-third of my life in rural areas, dealing with children, and after listening to the hon. member for Wood Mountain (Mr. Donnelly) the other day, I do not think one has to be a member of the medical profession to comment intelligently on questions of health.

I wish to quote from the report submitted by the Saint John Family Welfare Association after they had made a survey of conditions among two hundred families in the city of Saint John, New Brunswick, from which province the hon. leader of the opposition hails. When I speak of Saint John I have no pick on that city. I simply say to all hon. members: Be honest and you will admit that these conditions are not uncommon in all of our cities right across Canada, and if they are common in all of our cities right across Canada, surely you can believe the agricultural representatives when they say that these conditions are true of the rural areas. What I am going to quote may bring tears to the eyes of the most callous politician; I hope it does. I quote from the Saint John Family Welfare Association's report, which appears in the April-May issue, 1939, of the Canadian Welfare Summary, so this was only a very short time ago:

A great many of the families were living in quarters actually unfit for human habitation; there was also overcrowding, suffering from cold, lack of clothing, bedding, cooking utensils and food.

Now for the hon. leader of the opposition:

There was plain evidence of slow starvation among many adults and little children in this group-

I wonder if he believes it now.

and the ravages of diseases were apparent as attested by their medical and hospital records. Most of these homes were without bed sheets or towels and had less than half enough other bedding.

It would be bad enough if that were all, but that is only the introductory paragraph. It goes on:

Some families had one bed for the family and no mattresses; a large number had exhausted supplies of cooking utensils and in some homes one pot was used for cooking and

bottles for drinking, in .absence of cups. In the remainder of the cases visited, the majority revealed evidence of considerable hardship, with undernourishment, and the results had affected a number of children. In almost every case visited, the family were existing very much below the minimum standard of decent living and without enough food or clothing.

Even that as a second paragraph would be bad enough, but I have more here:

As many cannot pay rent, the result is very bad for both landlord and tenant. The record of evictions and seizures of furniture is particularly disastrous for little children of these families; other phases of acute distress relating to fuel scarcity, worn-out clothing, etcetera, might be given, but only a summary of major conditions can be shown here.

Most housing conditions are squalid and unsanitary; a terrible lack of clothing, bedding and utensils. A large section of those visited had been evicted from three to six times a year. During the past two years, 50 per cent of these families had moved from three to twelve times.

Of the families interviewed, 155 were in receipt of work relief and a great many were destitute and in desperate need.

I might mention that there were 200 families interviewed:

The majority cannot be classed in much better condition.

Slightly over 50 per cent have suffered from ill health and had hospital treatment during the last two years, having had from one to six members of the family in hospital at different times. According to a recent report by the district medical health officer on conditions, this was due because

I point this out particularly:

-"undernourishment, insufficient or inadequate food, acute and chronic illnesses, and poor hygienic conditions, have existed so long a time in the community that they are now presenting a most serious economic problem."

I could go on and on and on. But this, Mr, Speaker, proves that the leader of the opposition, knowing conditions in a city in his own province, should have had no difficulty in realizing the truth of statements made by western members with reference to undernourished and starving children. One of the greatest troubles, shall I call it weaknesses, of many members of this house, is that they do not know what conditions are actually like in their own constituencies or provinces. That is true of many, I feel quite satisfied; otherwise we would not have some of the statements which are made in this house. I was more than surprised when the hon. member for Wood Mountain said-and he was making a deliberate attempt to ridicule the members in this part of the house-"I hear people say, 'Oh, it is terrible the way people are suffering, without proper food'." That statement was made on June 21, as reported in Hansard. I

The Budget-Mr. Shaw

wonder if the hon. member, in view of what I have just read as to conditions in Saint John, realizes now that these men were speaking the truth.

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

James Layton Ralston (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

If my hon. friend will

permit me, I have been listening to his address with interest and I would not be one to say that such a statement as he is making should be cut off, but perhaps Mr. Speaker would call attention to the fact that it is contrary to the rules to refer to a previous debate in the same session; my hon. friend should refer to these matters at the time of that debate. I am sure my hon. friend can see that it is difficult for us to retrace our steps over a previous debate, and he can see the reason for the rule. It would reopen entirely a previous discussion which had been closed by whatever vote or other disposition was made of the question.

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

Frederick Davis Shaw

Social Credit

Mr. SHAW:

May I point out, Mr. Speaker, that in making reference to previous statements I am only doing what hon. members have been doing ever since the 16th of May. I am new so far as the House of Commons is concerned. I have tried to learn by watching and listening, and I believe that I am carrying out a procedure in which most hon. members have indulged. I am dealing at the present time with the national health problem. I hope the minister will not say that his budget has no effect upon the health of the nation.

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

James Layton Ralston (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

Mr. Speaker, I endeavoured to be as considerate as I could in calling attention to the rule. I do not think the hon. member has any right to suggest that I am not perfectly happy to listen to him as long as he has the right under the rules to speak with regard to the subject matter, but I suggest that my hon. friend should take my suggestion in the spirit in which it was made. I knew that he was a new member. After I had permitted him without objection or interruption to make his reference to previous debates, I did, considerately I think, call his attention to the rule. It seems to me that my hon. friend might accept that suggestion, and I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to advise him if that is the rule. Then he may go on as long as he likes with regard to the health problem. We are all interested in it. But surely my hon. friend does not attempt to suggest that what I have stated is not the rule. The fact that somebody else did not follow the rule is not, I think, justification for my hon. friend persisting in its infraction. I do not know of any hon. members who have

broken the rule. If I did, I would have felt it my duty to call their attention to the fact if I happened to be leading the house. I think my hon. friend is not taking the suggestion I made in the spirit in which I made it. I do point out that it makes for brevity, accuracy and conciseness in debate if old debates are not reopened, particularly if those who took part in them, and who are now being answered, are not now here.

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

Georges Parent (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

1 wish to call the hon. gentleman's attention to the remark made by the minister. As he has pointed out, no reference can be made to some debate which has already taken place. I understood the hon. member to quote from a statement then made by another hon. member. That is contrary to the rules, and I would ask the hon. member to refrain from doing it.

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

Frederick Davis Shaw

Social Credit

Mr. SHAW:

I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker. I shall make it a point to confine myself to my topic.

I was endeavouring to point out the intense suffering which our Canadian people have been going through during the past number of years because of their ill fortune and because of certain conditions over which they had absolutely no control. I contend that it is necessary in view of conditions as we know them to be, that our governments, and especially the minister of national health, give every possible consideration to the matter of national health. We have adult suffering and child suffering; and all in all it has a direct tendency to affect the efforts which we are able to put into the present struggle. It appears to me that we have been more concerned to preserve the orthodox system of finance and economics than to conserve or preserve the health of our people. It is bad enough that adults are called upon to suffer, but consider for one moment the effect which avoidable suffering has upon children. I know it is charged that many adults are not providing the necessities of life for their children and thus not guaranteeing decent conditions of health, and it is contended that these parents are entirely to blame. But our children outnumber the adults by about four to one, and irrespective of what the adults may be, the children are worthy of every possible consideration, in fact they are the best and most lasting assets we have. Everything depends upon those children. May I quote briefly a statement made by Sir George Newman, formerly general medical officer of health for Great Britain:

The European war has given new emphasis to the importance of the child as a primary

Questions

national asset. The future and strength of the nation unquestionably depend upon its education and equipment for citizenship. Great and far-reaching issues have their origin and some of their inspiration in him. Yet, in a certain narrow sense everything depends upon his physique. If that be sound, we have a rock upon which a nation and a race may be built; if that be impaired, we lack that foundation and build upon the sand. It would be difficult to overestimate the volume of inefficiency, of unfitness and suffering, of unnecessary expenditure, and of industrial unrest and unemployment to which this country consents because of its failure to rear and educate a healthy, virile and well-equipped race of children and young people. There is no investment comparable to this, no national economy so fundamental; there is also no waste so irretrievable as that of a nation which is careless of its rising generation. ...

It is my contention that we have been careless of our rising generation.

On motion of Mr. Shaw the debate was adjourned.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. of the province of Quebec, the Premier of Quebec, the Right Hon. Ernest Lapointe, and other French-Canadian dignitaries? 4. If there is only one version, does it include those speeches made in the French language, and if not, why not? 5. What department of the government was in charge of the preparation and the distribution of this film?


LIB

James Angus MacKinnon (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. MacKINNON (Edmonton West):

1. Yes.

2. Two versions, French and English.

3. In the French version there are speeches in French by their majesties and by the premier of Quebec, but it was not found practicable, in a film which had to cover so much ground, to include all the speakers throughout Canada.

4. The speeches in French by their majesties and by the premier of Quebec are retained in the English version.

5. The film was produced by the Canadian government motion picture bureau of the Department of Trade and Commerce and distribution was made under the authority of the national film board.

Wednesday, July 3, 1940

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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July 2, 1940