February 4, 1943

PROPOSED MINISTRY AND BOARD TO SUPERVISE SHORTAGE


On the orders of the day:


NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GORDON GRAYDON (Leader of the Opposition):

I am going to ask the Prime Minister another question, and perhaps I will have better luck with this one.

From communications I have received, the fuel shortage in many parts of Canada continues to be acute. On Friday last the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker) directed a question to the Prime Minister on this point. At that time the Prime Minister asked the hon. member to allow his question *to stand as a notice and indicated that a committee had been appointed by the cabinet some little time ago to deal with the problem. Perhaps the Prime Minister is now in a position to indicate to the house and to the country what steps the government has in contemplation to meet this quite serious shortage.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):

I have in my hand material that was sent to me by the committee to which my hon. friend has referred, but it did not seem to me to be in such form that I would care to present it to parliament. Also I should mention that the committee is associated with the wartime prices and trade board. I think the reply should be made by the Minister of Finance. I have had a word with the deputy minister of finance about the matter, and he indicated that he thought he would be in a position to see that the minister would have a definite statement to give [DOT]to the house to-morrow.

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LABOUR CONDITIONS

REPORTED LAY-OFF AT MONTREAL ANGUS SHOPS


On the orders of the day:


?

Thomas Miller Bell

Mr. M. J. COLD WELL (Rosetown-Biggar):

Just before I came into the chamber I met a delegation of men from Montreal, and as a result I should like to direct a question to the Minister of Munitions and Supply. They are perturbed because reports indicate that a serious lay-off is to be made in the Angus

Labour Conditions

shops, Montreal, where the production of the Valentine tank is to be discontinued. According to their statement some 4,000 men will be affected, of whom only 1,500 may be taken over for the production of other war equipment. The war expenditures committee had this matter before them at one time, and we were given some assurance that when this time came the men would be given other war work to do. I wonder if the minister, either to-day or to-morrow, for he has not had time to look into it, would be prepared to make a statement, because this matter is seriously disturbing a large number of men in Montreal.

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   REPORTED LAY-OFF AT MONTREAL ANGUS SHOPS
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Hon. C. D. HOWE (Minister of Munitions and Supply) :

With regard to the position of the Angus shops, I am aware that newspaper reports are current that there will be a suspension of the production of Valentine tanks on April 1. That is by no means a certainty. Discussions are going on at the present moment looking to the continuation of the contract. It depends upon a number of factors, some of which are beyond our immediate control, but I should say there is an even chance that the work may be continued. In any event, if the work is discontinued there is other work to go into the Angus shops. We are short of capacity in certain lines, and it is probable that there will be a transference of part of the capacity, in any event. With regard to t'he transfer of only a portion of the men to other work, I can assure my hon. friend that everyone at present working at the Angus shops will be transferred to employment either in the Angus shops or in other plants in Montreal. Those men are skilled mechanics, and there is and will be I think a real shortage of skilled mechanics.

Topic:   LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic:   REPORTED LAY-OFF AT MONTREAL ANGUS SHOPS
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VISIT TO OTTAWA OP REPRESENTATIVES OF MONTREAL DISTRICT AIRCRAFT WORKERS


On the orders of the day:


SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. J. H. BLACKMORE (Lethbridge):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask a question of the Minister of Labour. The other day a strike delegation from Montreal, representing aircraft workers, was in Ottawa, and asked a certain settlement of difficulties and grievances which were troubling them. I understand that they were given some assurance that their troubles would be looked into, and some adjustment made. Is the Minister of Labour in a position to report to the house the progress made in settling their grievances?

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Hon. HUMPHREY MITCHELL (Minister of Labour):

I believe the question the hon. member has just asked was answered yesterday by the Prime Minister.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

That is correct.

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GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH

CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY


The house resumed from Wednesday, February 3, consideration of the motion of Mr. W. E. Harris (Grey-Rruce) for an address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session, and the amendment thereto of Mr. Graydon, and the amendment to the amendment of Mr. Coldwell.


LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. THOMAS REID (New Westminster):

Mr. Speaker, the speech from the throne this year was one of the most encouraging and reassuring delivered to parliament since the beginning of the war in 1939. Recent successes in Libya, Russia and the Pacific, coupled with the news which has come out from Casablanca to the effect that the allies are now able to maintain the initiative, and will do so this year, has given renewed hope and courage, not only to the Canadian people and their friends across the boundary line, but to all peoples in slavery and under the heel of the nazi and Japanese dictators. Canada's contribution has to a large extent contributed to the initiative wre are about to take. Our contribution has been most effective, both as to the men and women in the services and as to the large quantities of munitions and supplies we have sent to Great Britain and our allies.

While continuation of the war until the unconditional surrender of our enemies must be our first consideration, the proposed measures outlined in the speech from the throne with respect to social security have been well received throughout the entire length and breadth of Canada. Some measure of social security was to be expected. In fact I may go further and say that keen disappointment would have been felt by many of us, especially in view of the Beveridge report, had the government not made certain proposals looking to the establishment of social security, the provision of useful remunerative employment, the removal of fear and want, and the creation of a national system of health insurance.

This is not the time to deal with details of any proposed recommendations in respect of social security, but I would commend to members of the special committee to be set up to deal with the report, and to every member of the house, a study of the Beveridge report. It is my opinion that it is the finest document of its kind in the world to-day. It is published by the Macmillan company, and since only a few copies are available in the parliamentary library I suggest to the govern-

The Address-Mr. Reid

ment that steps be taken to see that this work becomes readily available to members of the House of Commons and to the public generally.

If there be any who fear the introduction of social security measures, may I for a moment refer them to the three guiding principles outlined by Sir William Beveridge. In clause 7, at page 6 of his report, we find this:

The first principle is that any proposals for the future, while they should use to the full the experience gathered in the past, should not he restricted by consideration of sectional interests established in the obtaining of that [DOT]experience. Now, when the war is abolishing landmarks of every kind, is the opportunity for using experience in a clear field. A revolutionary moment in the world's history is a time for revolutions, not for patching.

The second principle is that organization of social insurance should be treated as one part only of a comprehensive policy of social progress. Social insurance fully developed may provide income security; it is an attack upon want. But want is one only of five giants on the road of reconstruction and in some ways the easiest to attack. The others are disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.

The third principle is that social security must be achieved by cooperation between the [DOT]state and the individual. The state should offer [DOT]security for service and contribution. The state in organizing security should not stifle incentive, opportunity, responsibility; in establishing a national minimum, it should leave room and encouragement for voluntary action by each individual to provide more than that minimum for himself and his family.

There are two cogent reasons why Canada must follow the lead given to us by Great Britain. The first is contained in the Atlantic *charter, in which Canada fully concurred. It reads;

To bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field with the object of securing for all improved labour standards, economic advancement and social security.

The second is stated by Sir William Beveridge, as follows;

There will, it may be hoped, come a season when it is profitable to consider the practical relations of social insurance in Britain and of schemes for the same purpose in the dominions, in the colonies and in other countries of the world. On the assumption that once again it will be possible for men to move from one country to another to find the best use for their powers, it will be desirable to consider the making of reciprocal arrangements between the schemes of different countries facilitating transfer from one to the other, that is to say arrangements enabling men on migration to avoid forfeiting security and allowing them to carry with them some of the rights that they have acquired in their former country. That should, in due course, become a practical problem. It is not possible to-day to do more than mention the problem to show that it has .not been forgotten.

The matter of immigration following the war has been mentioned by hon. members who spoke earlier in the debate. I shall make only one comment respecting that matter. Canada must first stabilize her domestic economy for her own people, and especially for her own returned men and women, whose sacrifices must never be forgotten, before she embarks upon any general policy of immigration from Europe. Conditions after the war will not be the same as they were before 1939, and it must not be overlooked that even to-day Great Britain is producing well over fifty per cent of her food requirements.

I commend the government for the steps taken, and particularly do I commend the Minister of Pensions and National Health (Mr. Mackenzie), whose activities in this regard have at last borne fruit. I trust that in any legislation that is brought down the guiding principle will be that enunciated by Sir William Beveridge, namely, a national minimum about which prosperity can grow, but with want abolished. We are taking t'he positive rather than the negative side. I believe it is well to emphasize the positive side. On the positive side we are putting work and useful employment ahead of the other measures. There may be opposition to the measures proposed, not perhaps from inside the house but by interests outside. There always has been opposition when measures have been introduced looking to the betterment of the lot of the common people. There may also be the cry, "Where will the money come from?" We have heard that cry many times in this house, especially up to 1939. It must not be forgotten that in no year until 1939 did Canada spend more than $500,000,000 by way of total expenditures, but this year our expenditures will amount to something like $4,000,000,000, just eight times as much. I think that should answer any cry of, "Where will the money come from?"

Travelling eastward for the session I was gratified to hear that the medical profession from one end of the country to the other were one hundred per cent behind the health insurance proposals and had been most helpful in drafting them. This is a splendid beginning and augurs well for the success of the scheme. I am hoping that the special committee which is to be set up will get to work as speedily as possible and that definite action will be taken during the present session. If this is done, the hopes of thousands of our people may be realized, especially the war widows and other widows, and also the aged. Large numbers of these people have almost given up any hope of a better world this side of the resurrection.

The Address-Mr. Reid

Mention is made in the speech from the throne of a joint committee to be set up by the United States and Canada to deal with agriculture. In their speeches both the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) and the leader of the opposition (Mr. Graydon) mentioned the food problem. It is a matter which has become of great importance and it is causing grave concern. I believe we have barely tohched upon the food problem which confronts not only the north American continent but all our allies, and the matter warrants more attention than has so far been given to it. All the facts of the situation should be made clear. Many people in this country have not realized that food is required not only for the Canadian people, for our fighting men and women, but for all our fighting allies.

From 1939 up until some time last year the first necessity was for guns, tanks, aeroplanes and other military supplies. The extent to which we have been successful in regard to these was revealed in the speech made by the Prime Minister. I commend to the study of every hon. member of the house the figures which he gave. Sometimes I think that we are not proud enough of the tremendous contribution which is being made by the Canadian people to our allies and to help the bringing about of victory. The important necessity this year is for food. There is a challenge to Canada's fertile plains to provide the food quotas for victory. Although over 100,000 men have left the farms to go into the various services, last year our farmers produced greater crops than in the year previous, and for this some commendation is due them.

I should like to take a moment or two of the time of the house to refer to the great task and the high responsibility which Great Britain has undertaken; it has not been touched upon so far in this debate. First of all Great Britain has her own people and troops to feed and clothe. Her next responsibility is the hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war which were taken in Libya. The people in the Libyan cities which she has taken over must be provided with the necessary food. On top of this, quantities of food have been sent to Russia. I do not think it is generally known that butter left this north American continent last year for the soldiers in Russia. We all know the civilian population of Russia have been denying themselves every possible morsel of food in order that their soldiers may be taken care of. Let us not overlook the fact that many if not all the Russian granaries have been in the hands of the nazis for over a year. Great Britain has also been called upon to >

send wheat and other food supplies to the people of India out of her own meagre supply.

I have not the figures of the present food requirements of the Canadian navy, army and air force, but the other day I saw some figures in the press with regard to the food requirements of the United States army. I know it will surprise you, Mr. Speaker, as it did me to learn that it takes over 15,000,000 pounds of food daily to feed the army of the United States. What I have just outlined is a challenging problem of itself; but there is something more: there is the spectre of famine which is haunting every country in Europe. All these peoples are looking to the fertile plains of the north American continent for food.

These facts should be placed more plainly before the people of this country. Tell our people what will be required this, year, and I am sure they will gladly respond. Can we meet this challenge? I say yes, we can meet it, but not in the way we have been endeavoring to meet it in the past year. Questions have been asked regarding a food ministry. I propose that a food ministry be set up, not next week or next year, but right-now. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, to hon. members and particularly to the government that the present Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) be made the head of that food ministry. But should he be given this power and authority, his efforts would be greatly thwarted did we not also give him the power to fix the prices of farm products.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Page Mr. Donald Gordon.

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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

I am not going to make an attack on the wartime prices and trade board at this time. I criticized the board at the last session, and I may have -plenty to say before this session is over. I do not want the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) or any other member to accuse me of attacking Donald Gordon or the wartime prices and trade board, except in this one particular. I object to the method by which they have endeavoured to handle the farmer and farm prices.

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Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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February 4, 1943