February 1, 1943

CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. M. J. COLDWELL (Rosetown-Biggar):

We have listened to-day to two quite long speeches. My time is more limited than that of the speakers who have preceded me, so that I shall be able to touch upon only two or three phases of the problems that confront the country at the present time. I want briefly to congratulate the mover (Mr. Harris) and the seconder (Mr. Halle) of the address in reply, because I think, as Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Graydon) said, they made notable contributions to the debate. Also I want to add my word to that of the Prime Minister and say that the new leader of the opposition this afternoon seemed to have all the assurance of an old-timer in the position he now occupies.

This afternoon the Prime Minister suggested that we should keep away as far as possible from anything savouring of party politics. I think the Prime Minister had a good time in his speech to-night, and I noticed that he could not resist the opportunity of taking an occasional crack not only at the new leader of the opposition but at the little group that moved across the floor of the house and now occupy seats to the extreme left in this chamber.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

Why not?

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

No reason whatsoever, except that the Prime Minister was not following his own advice.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

He never does.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

To-night I want to

follow rather closely the speech from the throne. First, let me say that I think we all meet at this time with a feeling of some relief, because the war situation during the time the house has been in recess has taken a decided turn for the better. That does not mean, I believe, that the war is nearing its close. I am in agreement with the Prime Minister when he said that he thought this war was going to be much longer than most people anticipated some time ago. If I may say so, I think when we have Germany and Italy beaten and suing for peace, we shall still have a sizable job to do in the Pacific. Therefore I am not under any illusions as far as the war goes.

I have read the speech from the throne carefully several times since its delivery last Thursday. It is long, and except for occasional statements of obvious facts, is filled with platitudes, which like all platitudes may be nothing more than empty words. If "freedom from want should be the assured

The Address-Mr. Coldwell

possession of all", as the speech from the throne says, then I suggest that "the early appointment of a select committee to examine and report on the most practicable measures of social insurance" should be accompanied by the immediate raising of the pittances paid to our old age pensioners, the veterans of the last war and their widows, and the dependants of those who have lost their lives in this war, and of the beggarly provision of $9 a week for single men and $13 for married men who have already been discharged from the forces.

My knowledge of the record of governments headed by the present Prime Minister makes me very suspicious of proposals to appoint select committees to examine and recommend policies and programmes of social significance. We have had many such committees since 1921. We examined unemployment insurance, for example, in the early 1920's, and an act reached the statute books in 1940. We were promised senate reform in 1921, and in 1943 the senate remains with thirteen seats vacant and is as undemocratic, useless ands expensive an institution as could be found anywhere in the civilized world.

Thus the trite statements about the necessity for a comprehensive national scheme of social insurance and a charter of social security for the whole of Canada leave me cold, particularly when I know, as everyone in this house must know, that a comprehensive national scheme like those now in existence in New Zealand, under consideration in Australia, or a consolidation and expansion of social security measures as outlined in the Beveridge report in the United Kingdom, is impossible of enactment by this parliament without a new division of constitutional powers between the federal and provincial governments. I have said, and I repeat to-day, that the government has allowed this problem to continue when an attempt should have been made long ago to find ways and means of straightening out the difficulties and modernizing our constitutional relationships.

These difficulties should be faced by all of us. I know of course there is a fear in some quarters that any change in the constitution might interfere with the preservation of rights which are the very basis of the confederation agreement. It seems to me that such rights could be adequately safeguarded by the enactment of a statute of this parliament, or a Canadian hill of rights, recognizing clearly the rights of the minority, and of the majority as well if you will, as fundamental to the existence of confederation and thereby being the means of setting at rest once for

all the very natural fears that exist. But the passing of a comprehensive national social security plan must be preceded1 by an agreement between this parliament and the provinces that we shall have the right to enact it and put it into effect. A piecemeal plan depending upon grants in aid by this parliament and concurrent legislation by the provinces will in my opinion be ineffective and, indeed, may lead to difficulties between the provinces and the dominion and therefore may produce a dangerous spirit of national disunity.

To a truly comprehensive national plan this party will give its undivided support. Indeed, I think I can say without fear of contradiction that our movement, and particularly our late leader, J. S. Woodsworth, pioneered for old age pensions, unemployment insurance, socialized health services and other forms of social legislation. But because we have asked from time to time on behalf of the Canadian people for bread we are not prepared to accept the offer of crumbs.

Nor do we deceive ourselves into believing that even the most comprehensive plan of social services would solve our post-war

problems.

The speech from the throne states that the government has begun to explore the international agreements and domestic measures which will help to secure adequate incomes for primary producers and full employment after the war-again the kind of pious platitudes with which the lengthy speech abounds. Have we learned no lessons from our experience during the war? Surely everyone can see that we are doing things to-day that some of the ministers who surround the Prime Minister at the present time said could not be done in the days of peace because we could not find the money with which to do them. Now, with some 700,000 of the fittest of our young folk in uniform, we are producing more than twice as many goods as we produced a few years ago. Indeed, on the estimated production of 1942 we are producing more than jwo and a half times as many goods as we produced in 1933, when those same young people or their parents rode the rods or languished in unemployment and want. What we are doing to-day to win the war we can and must also do to provide for the welfare of the Canadian people. Our country has been transformed from a land of idle factories, many unemployed1 and wasting resources, into a country with almost full employment, vastly increased production, and a rising national income. When the war ends, pretence of poverty or an alleged lack of money will be no excuse for intolerable conditions, nor must we allow this excuse to be made although

The Address-Mr. Coldwell

even now the government's own agencies are circularizing the employees of the government, warning them that they ought to buy annuities in order to avoid) becoming objects of charity from their relatives or the community in the future. '

In spite of the pious platitudes about adequate prices for primary products and full employment, there are unmistakable signs that unemployment and perhaps also ruinous farm prices and poverty are in the offing unless we do more than explore international agreements and domestic measures in the hope of making some undreamed-of discoveries. We dare not delay in formulating policies and programmes that will protect our citizens from the scourges of unemployment relief and poverty. We have found billions annually for the destructive, wasteful and yet very necessary purposes of war. We must assure our people that we can and will find billions annually for the constructive, lifegiving and equally necessary purpose of the peaceful development of our land.

Let us not put off the doing of it any longer. Instead of merely appointing a select committee on reconstruction and reestablishment, let us appoint a representative body-and by that I mean really representative, one representative of labour, agriculture, industry and all the principal fields of endeavour in our country-and let that representative body be a body of national planners, as it were; with this addition, the definite commitment by this parliament that Canada is prepared to accept from that body a programme of national social economic development upon which this parliament will spend, in cooperation with the provincial authorities-and I mean that this parliament will appropriate the sum of money -an amount, let us say, of not less than $5,000,000,000 in the first two years after the cessation of hostilities. With that national appropriation in sight the exploration of appropriate domestic policies could proceed with reality, and the boys now fighting our war would have an assurance that we were in earnest regarding expressions of faith in a new and better world. This, may I say, is not a proposal for priming an economic pump. On the contrary, it must be part of a national policy formulated for the social development of our resources and to prevent a return to pre-war capitalism which will mean inevitably a return to pre-war poverty. We dare not continue to allow this nation to remain under the control of monopolistic private enterprise, the power of which has grown apace during this war.

Two things, then, are necessary: first, the pledge of the appropriation of funds sufficient

to enable us to undertake immediate post-war national social development projects of housing, electrification, irrigation, reforestation, road building and so on; second, plans for the post-war conversion of publicly-owned war industries and machines for the production of peace-time goods and services. These together with monopolistic industries and financial institutions, which must be socialized, and the development of cooperative institutions, would provide us with the means for the long-term planning of our economic life for the benefit of all.

But can we even hope that the present government will plan constructively for the postwar period? Even during the present war we have had no over-all plan for the effective mobilization of our resources. We have the conscription of man-power for the army, but we have failed to apply the same policy to industry and wealth. The report of the war expenditures committee of this house, presented on Thursday of last week, should not only give us food for thought but jolt us out of our complacency. On the subcommittee which drafted the recommendation to which I wish to draw attention there was no member of this party, but the report confirms the misgivings we have expressed from time to time since the war began. Note this recommendation:

That as soon as company financial statements are available for the year 1942 a special study should be made of profits, accelerated depreciation and corporate taxation. The question of excess profits and accelerated depreciation has caused the subcommittee considerable concern. Very substantial profits are being earned in some instances far in excess of normal profits and while the Excess Profits Tax Act should result in no one being allowed to retain any excess profits which have been earned yet in many instances we found, as a result of rulings which have been given, companies will at the conclusion of the war own valuable physical assets which have been entirely paid for out of money which would otherwise have been payable as excess profits. Steps should be taken now to prevent sale of physical assets and company reorganizations during the postwar period to escape taxation or to provide for the sterilization of physical assets whose cost has been completely written off through permitting very drastic depreciation write-offs as are now in effect with respect to plant and equipment of war-time industry.

I want particular attention paid to this last sentence:

The subcommittee found that in regard to industries engaged in war production rulings have been given in most instances permitting plant and machine costs to be written off in three years.

In other words, the cost of these industries and the machines is written off in three years. The Canadian people pay for them in the

The Address-Mr. Coldwell

prices they pay for war goods, and at the end of the three years the corporations own the plants and the machines.

I have often said and I want to emphasize that the profits of industry in this war not only are going to appear in the annual balance sheets of the corporations, but will be much more material, though hidden from our view, when drastic depreciation write-offs have given monopolistic industry the new factories, power plants and machines for which this nation has paid. My opinions have now been confirmed by the report of the subcommittee, which I have quoted.

I am not going to belittle what this nation has done in spite of the lack of any over-all production plan, but the thousands of trucks and the equipment covering acres of railway sidings from Windsor to Montreal are eloquent testimony to what I mean. Over two years ago we were told that this country could not build ocean freighters. Afterwards we went into merchant shipbuilding. To-day we have acres and acres of trucks and other equipment -I have seen them, and so have some hon. members who come from southern Ontario- piled high, because we lack shipping. This is the condition, partly because of the submarine menace, and partly because we had no plan of our own to build ships to transport the goods we were about to make.

Had we had a war-planning body to organize our industry and guide the use of our man-power, we should not now be suffering from acute shortages in so many directions, and have such surpluses in some others. The trouble has been that our country, at the beginning, was encouraged to believe that Canada's main contribution would be made in the raising of armies, whereas we are now beginning to understand that Canada's main contribution must be made in other fields, while we maintain the army approved by parliament, fully reinforced in the theatres of war.

. 0n September 9, 1939, in my speech supporting the declaration of war, I took a line which was then unpopular but which time is vindicating in several particulars. I said, as reported at page 57 of Hansard for 1939, second session:

We are the nearest dominion to Europe. We have tremendous resources. In modern 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 struggle.

Then I quoted a letter from Sir Wilfrid Laurier dated May 15, 1917, 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 the face of this condition there are still people yelling for more men being taken away from occupations in which they are so much needed.

Those were the words of Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1917. And with that before us in 1939 we failed to make the inventory we should have made of our resources, our machines and our man-power, and' failed to adopt an over-all plan which would have assisted us in meeting some of the difficulties which have overtaken us.

Now again, as then, our farms are depleted of labour badly needed for the production of bacon, dairy and poultry products for overseas. Grain lies under the snow unthreshed, and t'he government discourages production of wheat which in my opinion will be needed in the future to prevent further mass starvation in many countries when the war ends. This incidentally might be utilized now, and, indeed ought to be used as soon as the submarine menace has been sufficiently overcome to feed our Russian allies, who are putting up such a magnificent fight on behalf of the united nations, and our Chinese allies, many of whom today are suffering the pangs of starvation. Yet we adopt a policy of restriction of a foodstuff which is the most easily stored foodstuff of all. Grain, too, which is stored on the farms is made a burden to producers, while elevator companies are paid storage for the wheat they have received from the farms. The government by order in council decreed last March that essential farm workers should not be drafted into the army, but-and I say this without fear of contradiction-that order is being entirely disregarded by some of its own national war services boards. Young constables of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are sent out to investigate the claims of men applying for postponement and, although they know nothing of the needs of agriculture, their word is accepted instead of the statements of reeves, councillors, doctors and ministers who know whether the applicants are essential on the farm or not.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Not to

speak of members of parliament.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

Yes, not to speak of members of parliament, as the hon. member for York-Sunbury (Mr. Hanson) has added. The whole man-power question has been mishandled from the beginning, and grave injury has been done in many instances. The government's industrial labour record is also bad, but I intend to leave that record for a thorough discussion by some of mv colleagues.

The Address-Mr. Coldwell

I wish now to move an amendment to the amendment. This afternoon the leader of the opposition moved an interesting amendment. The three clauses dealt with the use of Canada's man- and woman-power; it asked for a rational labour policy, and it sought to provide adequate measures for the assistance of Canadian agriculture. We are in agreement with those three aims; but in spite of the professions of the party sitting with new garments in this house, I think it is altogether significant that the amendment deals only with human power and agriculture, complaining that these have not been sufficiently mobilized. It fails to make any mention of what I have just referred to in this house, the necessity for the mobilization of industry and wealth. If you are going to demand a labour policy, if you are going to demand an industrial policy on a compulsory basis, then at the same time you must also demand something which is more necessary at the present time because compulsory mobilization of man-power is already in effect. I refer to the compulsory mobilization of industry and wealth. I read the programme of the Winnipeg convention and I think I noticed two little words. After calling for the mobilization of man-power, the leader of the opposition, this afternoon, called for the mobilization of industry and wealth, "where necessary." I suspected that there was a joker in the policy adopted by the convention which was attended by my hon. friends, and therefore I want to move the following amendment, seconded by the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Maclnnis):

That the motion be further amended by adding to the amendment the following words,

"And further we regret that Your Excellency's advisers have failed to take the necessary action to achieve a total war effort by neglecting to apply the powers contained in the National Resources Mobilization Act to war industries and financial institutions in the same manner as they are being applied to the mobilization of man-power for military service."

I am not going to deal to-night with the pressing need for a reduction of farm debt because, as I said before, my time is not unlimited. I shall not deal with the question of adequate parity prices for agricultural products, because this will be dealt with by some of my colleagues. But I do wish to say a few words about the Casablanca conference about which the Prime Minister made some explanation to-night. This was a conference between the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the President of the United States. We share the satisfaction expressed in the speech from the throne; but we regret, because of circumstances of course, that

Premier Stalin and Generalissimo Chiang-Kai-Shek were not present. We feel that if they could not have been present themselves, they might have been represented there.

The remarkably successful invasion of north Africa by Anglo-American armies was one of the most remarkable feats of organization the world has ever seen and one to which we should pay tribute. But the situation which developed thereafter, I believe, filled everyone with any sense of democracy with grave apprehension. I know it did me. Nor has that apprehension been allayed by the retention in places of great power of former French collaborationists with the nazis. The appointment as Governor of Algiers of Peyrouton, the friend of Pierre Flandin, the former minister of the interior of the Vichy government and former minister to Argentina, if I am not mistaken, has strengthened this feeling of misgiving across the world.

For example, we know that Jewish refugees from nazi aggression and volunteers who fought against the fascist and nazi troops in Spain when this war was being rehearsed are still languishing in north African prison camps under conditions which are reported to be particularly vile. It seems to me that Canada, as one of the united nations with her sons and her materials fighting in every quarter of the globe, has earned the right to make herself heard on behalf of persecuted democrats and oppressed minorities wherever they may be found. I want to go further than that and say that in my opinion the time has arrived when Canada as one of the smaller nations sharing the sacrifices of this war should demand on her own behalf and on behalf of all the small nations a voice in the inner councils of the united nations. I realize, of course, as the Prime Minister has said, that it is impossible to call together the representatives of all the nations involved in this war on every occasion, but I certainly think a meeting of the nations should be held in the near future, at which meeting the nations themselves could appoint a small executive council to carry on with the conduct and strategy of the war.

I know that at least one of our great allies, China, feels the need for the formation of an executive council of the united nations. Such a body is essential if we are to achieve greater unification and closer cooperation in the formulation of a more effective war strategy, a clearer understanding of war aims and a more regular exchange of views regarding the post-war world for which the democratic peoples are fighting. I take it that the democratic peoples know, in a vague sort of way it is true, the kind of world for which

The Address-Mr. Coldwell

they are fighting. Such a council should be concerned, too, with evolving an international instrument capable of dispensing justice and enforcing law and order in the post-war world.

These are not Anglo-American problems alone; they are the common problems of all the united nations. It is sometimes argued that we are represented now by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. That is not my view, nor is it the view of Australia, as Prime Minister Curtin's speech to the people of the United States made abundantly clear. Those of us who heard that speech last week will remember the unmistakable manner in which he expressed his views over the air, speaking not to the government of the United States, not to its great President, but, as he said, appealing directly to the people of the United States. I suggest that Canada should join her voice to those of China, Australia and the other nations who are urging the formation of an executive council of the united nations. A united purpose to win the war, a united purpose to rebuild the world is essential to the well-being of mankind, but it is manifestly impossible to go into these matters at length to-day. I am asking the Prime Minister now to arrange for an early debate on the place of Canada in the council and strategy of the united nations.

It is, I think, significant that last year the speech from the throne made no reference to the fate of our army which we had dispatched to Hong Kong, and this year no reference is made to the gallant and major part played by the Canadian soldiers at Dieppe. I understand that the Dieppe attack was reviewed carefully at Westminster. It should be reviewed equally carefully by this house, because in the main our own men were involved. This house, too, should be made aware of the extent of the submarine menace to our shipping, of the steps taken to defend our coasts and coastal waters, and to what extent, if at all, we rely on the United States army for the defence of any of the vital strategic defence areas of this country or just beyond it. The government must decide whether all this should be done in open or closed session, but the time has come when hon. members should insist on a complete report to this parliament. In view of Canada's contribution to the common cause we should not allow ourselves to become the mere satellite of any of our major allies. Because of our peculiar position between the two great Anglo-Saxon nations, because of the fact that we are not interested in the building up of any sort of imperialism, and because of the fact that across the north

of our country stretches the main air route between the great populated areas of the world, Canada's voice may be of more importance in the future than most of us can realize now.

My time is just about up, but in my concluding remarks there are one or two other things that I want to say. I am glad to note that the Prime Minister is thinking of relieving his ministers of some of the work and duties in this house. We are told in the speech from the throne that assistance will be given to them. I have suggested on more than one occasion in former years that the government adopt in this house the British system of under-secretaries, not only because I believe it would relieve the ministers, but because I believe it is good that the younger members of the party in power should have an opportunity of gaining that experience which is essential in an institution of this description. I therefore am veiy glad to welcome the proposal of the Prime Minister. It has been made before; it has been supported in this house from all quarters of the house before; and I sincerely hope that this time the suggestion will be carried out, not only as a war measure but as a policy of future governments in this country.

I was disappointed, however, to hear the Prime Minister say that he thought a revision of the rules of the house ought not to be undertaken during this period of war. I saw, as did the hon. member for Parry Sound (Mr. Slaght) who is sitting right opposite me tonight, His Majesty the King read the speech from the throne in Great Britain at eleven o'clock one morning. We went to the commons gallery and we heard the mover and .the seconder of the address; we heard the leader of the Labour opposition, we heard the leader of the Liberal party; we heard the first ten minutes of Mr. Churchill's speech as Prime Minister; and we were on our way to luncheon shortly after one o'clock. In two hours that business had passed through the British house. I have read the rules of some of our sister nations, New Zealand, for example, where the rules have been changed in comparatively recent years; and in my opinion if we would modernize the rules we could do very much in this house without interfering whatsoever with freedom of expression or freedom of speech.

After what I have said, I do not want to transgress the rules of the house by going beyond my time limit as I am apt to do; but I want to say again, Mr. Speaker, that other matters connected with the government's proposals will be dealt with by my colleagues when they have an opportunity to speak.

Criminal Code-Female Jurors

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. J. H. BLACKMORE (Lethbridge):

Mr. Speaker, inasmuch as this is the first full day of the session and I am sure nearly everyone is weary, I wonder if it would be tusking too much to ask Your Honour to call it eleven o'clock.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

It is rather hard for Your Honour to call it eleven o'clock, but if my hon. friend would like to move the adjournment of the debate I do not think there would be any objection.

On motion of Mr. Blackmore the debate was adjourned.

On motion of Mr. Mackenzie King the house adjourned at 1050 p.m.

Tuesday, February 2, 1943

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink

February 1, 1943