Mr. GORDON GRAYDON (Leader of the Opposition):
Mr. Speaker, I should like first of all to deal with some matters which were raised by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley) in his speech of yesterday. I think I should begin by giving him this word of encouragement, that alt hon. members on this side of the house, and no doubt all in the House of Commons, appreciate to the full the difficulties and the hard work which a minister of finance in a war-time period must necessarily encounter. Though there may be times when he feels that it is a thankless job, he must also realize that the various criticisms which are made from time to time by his majesty's loyal opposition are made with the veiy honest and sincere desire to help him, and to help the war effort.
I have some comment to make on the minister's address of yesterday because I believe he raised certain points which reflected on the Progressive Conservative party. He indicated that some of us on this side have failed to give praise to the government's anti-inflationary programme. We have been accused from time to time of criticizing the government, but we are now being criticized for failing to praise the administration. The minister set up yesterday-I will not say by design, because frankly I do not think it was by design-what actually was a straw man so far as our position in the matter of an anti-inflationary programme is concerned. It looked to me as if he were out with a lantern in the dark trying to find some non-existent issue upon which he could attack. So that all doubt may be dispelled, I say to him and to other hon. members that the Progressive Conservative party stands for adequate and effective control of inflation in Canada. I do not think the minister meant to characterize us as enemies of inflation control in the dominion, but if he did I would point out to him that this party has consistently attempted to play the game with the gov-erment in connection with their anti-inflation programme. One very good example of that may be cited in the fact that we have not brought down or asked this house to consider any amendment to the budget resolutions.
While perhaps I should not mention this, the minister did in his speech make some reference to pressure groups, not in Canada but in a relationship which he attempted to establish in connection with the republic to the south. So far as this party is concerned we have attempted during this session and in
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other sessions to plead the cause of various sections of Canada, and I do not think the minister would wish to deny us the opportunity to fulfil that bounden duty which is ours. When one speaks of pressure groups, may I take time to say that after all I do not think the farmers of Canada can be called a pressure group; and more than that, I think if they were so regarded, it would be a pressure exerted not for the purpose of gaining an advantage over someone else but rather for the purpose of trying to establish some measure of equality and justice under the present programme.
Upon the shoulders of the government and the wartime prices and trade board falls the burden of responsibility for the administration of the policy which is now in effect. I do not regard it as an incongruous position to take when we seek to find some remedy for the injustices and inequalities which do exist under the present anti-inflation programme. The voices of labour and of agriculture in the House of Commons it seems to me are still, small voices compared to the voices which are raised throughout the country by these various sections themselves. I do not think that this opposition party can be chided for having given any undue leadership to that. But we have tried so far as we could to bring to the floor of the House of Commons and to the Minister of Finance the views of these people, not in the hope of making it more difficult for the minister or for the government, but rather that the government shall not overlook what we think are very often reasonable suggestions made by these groups from time to time.
I do not think that any of us want to offer apologies on the floor of the house for championing the cause of the little man in Canada, whether he be an agriculturist, or one who is in the lower brackets of labour earnings, or a small retailer. No apology is necessary from this party for championing the cause of these men. The minister asked for the cooperation of members of parliament generally in support of his programme. I should like him to understand our position, because it seems to me that some attention and consideration must be given to the various views that are put forward throughout Canada-in order that the anti-inflation programme of the government shall stand; not for the purpose of attempting in some way to weaken it. Because if inflation were coming in Canada-and God forbid that it should ever come; I think that is the stand we must all take in this chamber;
we must give a lead throughout Canada in the fight to prevent it-if inflation does come it will not be by virtue of the fact that the government gives consideration, and full consideration, to the views that are put forward by these various classes of people, but rather because their views were not listened to and an attempt made to find for them a way out of their difficulties. Only by so proceeding will the policy which the government now has in mind be saved.
I do not know whether these figures are correct, but I am reliably informed that some 400,000. men and women have left the farms in Canada since the war began. It seems to me that under the present man-power policy of the government it is almost impossible to rectify the position in which we now find ourselves. All those who come from agricultural districts will be ready to recognize that one of the reasons why men and women have left the farm in such large numbers is, first of all, that they have found greater returns in other lines of endeavour, and, second, that the conditions under which they work in those other lines are more satisfactory and agreeable to them.
Linked up, therefore, with the whole question of the matter of prices for farm commodities is the man-power situation which now exists in the dominion. I say this in all fairness to the government, that not until some semblance of equity exists between those who work on the land and those who work elsewhere shall we solve the whole problem of farm labour and farm man-power.
The government might well have considered the matter of treating agriculture in Canada as a war-time industry. Very little has been done in this regard; there is little indication that the government has it in mind. The inequalities which to some extent have been perpetuated in the present policy are apt if allowed to continue for any great length of time to have the reverse result to that which the Minister of Finance actually wishes to bring about by an anti-inflation programme.
A common-sense adjustment of inequalities will prevent inflation in this dominion. Failure to take into consideration some of these broad facts may offer opportunity for the breaking of the policy and the programme which the government is sponsoring. The government can give justice and equal treatment to these sections of our population without the danger of inflationary tendencies arising in this coun-
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try. I say to the minister that history will show our attitude with respect to this matter to be of greater assistance to those who would prevent inflation than the adherence by the government to a policy which I believe does not meet with the approval of certain sections of our people and which creates inequalities and injustices. Therefore I say to the minister in all sincerity that he should heed these warnings before it is too late to prevent this country from plunging into a devastating whirl of inflation, which would be one of the greatest disasters that could occur.
No party in this house has any monopoly upon good citizenship or the desire to do the right thing during a critical period like this. Opinions may differ. The Minister of Finance may be right and I may be wrong, but I am giving the minister my views in this regard with the sincere and honest intention of helping him, so that the very programme he is attempting to carry out in Canada may not be harmed and may not fail. I would say also that we do not take a back seat to any party or any group in parliament in our wholehearted support of domestic and foreign policies which will enable us to contribute our all in this struggle.
I should like now to take up another point. In his address on the budget the hon. member for Lambton-West (Mr. Gray) made some reference to the present policy of our party in connection with national compulsory selective service. These were his words on March 12, as reported at page 1207 of Hansard:
... I am bound to say that in their zeal for a new leader, a new name, and a new platform . . .
The hon. member was referring to the Progressive Conservative party.
. . . the man-power issue has become a good deal more cloudy on the opposition side than it was last year, under the leadership of the hon. member.
There he was referring to the hon. member for York-Sunbury (Mr. Hanson). If any clarification of our position is needed, I want to say to the house that when the Progressive Conservative party chose a new leader it had definitely in mind the fact that the Manitoba legislature, under the premiership of Hon. John Bracken, endorsed the brief of the Canadian Legion, being the first legislative body in Canada to do so. In that brief will be found these words:
Immediate, complete and scientific mobilization, organization and utilization of all our resources-spiritual, intellectual, natural, financial, agricultural, industrial, man-power-in such manner that Canada may he geared to produce essential foods and munitions and to wage war to her maximum capacity.
When we chose our leader at Winnipeg his uncompromising stand on this point was well known. Let it not be said that this party is ceasing or has ceased to lay emphasis upon the principle of national compulsory selective service. This was made abundantly clear both at the Winnipeg convention and in our keynote speeches in this house, but in case any doubt remains in the mind of a single hon. member here, at the risk of repeating what has been said already let me read this part of the platform and programme of the Progressive Conservative party:
Recognizing that the world struggle in which Canada is engaged requires a total war effort, we believe in compulsory national selective service, and that all those selected to serve in the armed forces should be available for service wherever required. We believe in the effective total utilization and proper allocation for war, by compulsion where necessary, of all the resources of Canada, including agriculture, industry and finance, as well as man-power, and that our aim should be at all times to bring about so far as human means can achieve it, an equality in sacrifice.
Let me aliso point out to the government and hon. members of this house that this party lays the greatest emphasis upon the winning of this war. Our call for a manpower policy for Canada remains unanswered, and the government is playing with fire in failing to tackle this problem manfully and effectively. It is also significant, I think, that the very first plank in the platform of the Progressive Conservative party adopted at Winnipeg was that plank dealing with the war, while the next plank dealt with the rehabilitation of war veterans. So it will be seen at once that our party attaches great significance to those two matters.
I wish now to refer to the amendment and the amendment to the amendment. Perhaps the only comment on the amendment that may be required at the moment is this. We feel that in a time of war such as this we should as far as possible continue our present system rather than change to something new. Such a change, in essence, of course, is what the amendment actually calls for. As to the amendment to the amendment, I should like to comment perhaps at greater length. The adoption of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation amendment I am afraid would mean throwing our financial structure into the realm of politics. In our
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opinion socialism would not lead to better conditions for the Canadian people. The duty of the state is to supervise and control where free enterprise abuses its privileges. Where such abuses arise the state must act immediately and effectively to correct them in the interests of the masses of our people. I fear that if the programme suggested in the amendment to the amendment were adopted-and this I believe is the opinion of a large section of our people-the cure might well be worse than the disease. The policy adopted by this party at the Winnipeg convention in this regard was as follows:
. . . we strongly advocate the strengthening of the basic Canadian tradition of individual initiative and individual enterprise and opportunity, and the freeing of economic activities from bureaucratic controls. Government authority, however, should be maintained and exercised wherever necessary to protect primary producers, workers and consumers from exploitation through such abuses as price fixing combines, monopolies and patent cartels. To those ends we believe that government should seek to create conditions under which the maximum volume of employment and the maximum national income may be assured through the initiative and enterprise of the people themselves.
This policy is vastly different from the policy contained in the amendment moved by the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation.
In the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis) made certain statements which I think I should not let go unchallenged. He made this statement on February 19, as reported at page 566 of Hansard:
I was disappointed with the statement made last evening by the new leader of the official opposition-
Subtopic: DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE