June 25, 1943

CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

All I can say is-

Mr. LaFLECHE: I hope he does not mean that.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

I am glad the minister has said that he hopes I did not mean that, because in effect I did mean something like that. .

Mr. LaFLECHE: In effect you are very much mistaken.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

I am glad to know that, and I shall not say what I intended to say. But I would say to the minister, who was then the deputy, that Mr. Thorson told me that he gave this letter to his responsible deputy, who I believe went west shortly afterward. The inference I drew from that was that it must have got into someone's hands out of the hands of the deputy minister. No one other than the minister himself had a list of these names.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Would the hon. member clarify the charge he is making against the government? My mind is not too clear about it?

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

My point is that the minister asked me to give him the names of persons who had been called in the middle of the harvest, and I gave him eleven names. I asked him to investigate them but I said that I could not vouch for all of them. The minister promised he would investigate. On February 21, four weeks later, the Regina Leader-Post contained a long, critical and bitter article concerning me, because I had

requested, so the paper alleged, postponement for these men. The minister having promised to investigate, and naturally to report the result of his investigation to me, as he did subsequently, I should have had the report before it got into the public press.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

They used the information for political purposes?

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

It looks as though the information was used for political purposes. The records will show that following the Prime Minister's statment in March, 1942, which laid down a policy, whether or not one agreed with it, Saskatchewan was treated in a manner different from the other provinces with regard to call-ups and postponements. I say that the Prime Minister laid down a policy based on an order in council. I do not care whether one agrees with that policy; once it has been laid down it should be carried out fairly in every province. That is the point I wish to make. A writer who I presume is friendly to the government-the Regina

Leader-Post is certainly a friendly newspaper -wrote this article in that paper on Monday, February 15, 1943. One of the members of the board, Mr. Stewart, had commented on an analysis of farm deferments, and Mr. Burton Richardson replied to Mr. Stewart and showed that he had spoken too soon. I quote:

Farm worker deferments from April to November, 1942, in the three prairie provinces have been:

Deferment Not

asked granted Per cent

Winnipeg 4,312 422 9'8Regina

3,974 916 23-05Edmonton 2,101 96 4-5

There was a slight improvement after the Prime Minister made his speech in the house. From October 9, 1940, to March 12, 1942, the Saskatchewan board received 2,218 applications for farm worker deferments, granted 1,370 and denied 848, or 39 per cent. From April to November, 1942, both inclusive, this board received 3,974 applications for farm worker deferment, granted 3,058 and denied1 916, or 23 per cent. Over the whole period its rate for refusing farm worker deferments has been 28 per cent.

In Manitoba the board was granting farm workers deferments before the change in policy in March at the rate of 61 per cent, but since then it has been granting them at the rate of 90 per cent. In the Quebec district the rate for granting such deferments was 67 per cent, and it rose to 95 per cent after the government changed its policy, or issued a clarification of its policy, whichever way you want to put it. The Ontario figures are the most interesting of all. The rate of farm

TFar Appropriation-Labour

worker deferment granted was 93 per cent, and after the clarification it rose to 96 per cent. Practically everyone who applied in Ontario was granted a postponement, but in Saskatchewan we find an entirely different picture.

I do not want to pursue this further now. Those of us who come from Saskatchewan ask only for the same treatment as is given to the ' other provinces and the other military districts. We want no favours. While there may be a slack period for a month or six weeks, when this period is over the harvest will be upon us. Unless something is done we may see a repetition of what happened last autumn, when, because of a shortage of labour, hundreds of thousands of acres were either not harvested-

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LIB
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

I was going to add, or cut. The weather had something to do with it, but the weather did not have everything to do with it. Fortunately we had a remarkable winter, in Saskatchewan this year which seemed to make some amends for the shortage of labour last autumn. When I was out there in April I saw the most extraordinary sight I have seen in the thirty-four springs I have been in western Canada. There were the combines working in the fields, and the crops were turning out moderately well, having stood out all winter. The crops that had to be threshed from the stook were not in quite as good shape; those swathed were largely spoiled.

Owing to the growing shortage of food, western Canada has gone into the production of high protein foods, meats and fats. If we did not know it before, we ought to know it now, that the shortage of high protein foods and meats and fats to-day in Great Britain is causing a great deal of anxiety; and yet I have known of farmers who have had to sell their brood sows and their milch cattle this spring because they could not see how they could attend to their stock with their inability to get labour.

I know perfectly well that we are at war, and let me add that while I may not have agreed w'ith the policy which the government laid down for the sending of large numbers of men overseas as we know have been sent overseas, yet parliament having approved -what Canada is to do, we must keep up the reinforcements for our troops in order that they may be effective on the field of battle. I recognize that necessity fully. To-day we are reading in the newspapers items from London and North Africa foreshadowing an early invasion of Europe. Where that invasion will take place we do not know, but it is pretty certain that some attempt is to be made, and we hope successfully, to invade the European continent. It is said further that at this very time units of the navy and of the air force as well as of the army are in position to strike and that in all probability the Canadian army will form one of the spearheads of the invasion. Such reports are of unusual significance to this committee and to the house at the present time. We know that the venture when it is made will be very costly in human lives. If we did not know that before Dieppe, we knew it afterwards. What I would like to ask the committee is this: What is the situation which Canada will face when that time comes, possibly in the near future?

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NAT
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

Yes; we have to reinforce our army and keep it up to strength, whether we agree or not with the policy originally laid down.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Yes, what is the position with respect to reinforcements?

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

You will hear in a moment. -

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NAT
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

I understood the hon. gentleman was addressing his question to me.

The Minister of National Defence told us -if I am wrong I would like to be corrected, but I got these figures from Hansard-that we have some 190,000 in the armed forces overseas, the bulk of whom are well equipped and well trained soldiers ready to strike. He told us that we have in addition 250,000 general service personnel who could be sent overseas at any time. But this figure includes, as I understand it, a good many recent recruits who are yet insufficiently trained in the arts of modern war. Besides these there is the home establishment personnel of some 80,000 men. These, I understand, are engaged in instructional and other duties within this country. They are men who for various reasons are not fit to be sent overseas or are considered more important to be kept in the field of training here in Canada. We also have a part-time reserve army, a volunteer army of about 120,000 men. Then there is the home defence personnel who have been called up for service under the National Resources Mobilization Act. The Minister of National Defence told us, as I recall it, that

War Appropriation-Labour

these men number about 68,000, and that they could be placed on duty under various orders in council anywhere in Canada, Newfoundland, Labrador or Alaska. The Minister of National Defence also told us that at the moment reinforcements are adequate. But in the light of the casualties that might be sustained in an invasion of the continent of Europe a pressing need might suddenly arise for all the reinforcements we can muster during the next few months. Again, let me repeat, this afternoon I am not going into the question of the wisdom of the government's military undertakings in the light of the needs of agriculture and industry. But I do think that consideration should be given now to what the government's policy should be if the need for heavy reinforcements arises. I venture to say that never since the war began has the government or this house, for that matter, faced the problem of devising a plan that would best serve the common cause or ensure our maximum contribution in the direction in which it can be most useful.

Now the time has come when our allies are crying aloud for more food from this country and we face a fuel shortage. The army at the same time is likely to need heavy reinforcements. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, we should make our decision now as to what we are going to do in the light of all the circumstances of which we have knowledge.

I have said that should an invasion of the continent of Europe occur our casualty lists would, I fear, be very heavy. Under those circumstances it would be difficult for this house to give proper consideration to the problem of man-power amid the pressure of an urgent war situation. The government must surely realize this, but I fear that it hopes to relieve itself once again of the necessity of giving calm consideration to the question and of making up its mind. I believe that it is hoping to rely on the pressure of public opinion to deliver it from having to make its own decision. That is not responsible government. In the long run it will be bad for the government, bad for parliament, bad for this country. That is a policy of drift which this house should protest vehemently against while there is yet time.

The story of the government's man-power policy has been one of opportunism rather than of calm consideration of the needs of the country as the war developed. Never have we had a clear-cut policy laid out for any length of time. I realize that as the war has developed, and as the government has committed this country to various plans with, or more often without, the consent of this parlia-

ment, or rather without prior consultation with parliament, all parties in this house have had to reconsider their policies in the light of circumstances and the needs of the country. Now we have surely reached the point, with the immediate prospect of heavy casualties and calls for increased food and other supplies, when this house should be fully apprised of the government plans to meet the situation. A year ago we discussed the amendment of the mobilization act, a measure which, incidentally, we criticized when it was passed in 1940, because we said at that time that the government would not use that act to do aught else than mobilize man-power, and time has shown that we were correct in that position. I have only to refer in a few brief words to the story of the Aluminum Company of Canada. When our people were being frozen in their jobs and wages, when farm prices were being frozen at a level too low to give a decent and adequate return, these people were not only paid a high price for their product but they were given an escalator clause in their contracts-not with Canada, because we have not even got a contract with them; we are following somebody's else's contract-so that during this quarter of the year 1943 these people are receiving five and a half cents a pound more for their aluminum because, it is said, the costs of transportation and so on have gone up. I said in this house on July 7, 1942, as reported in Hansard, page 3997:

What should this house do? In our opinion, this house should decide now, at once, without further delay, for total mobilization of industry, of wealth and of man-power. But what are we doing under this bill that we are discussing?

That was the bill to amend the mobilization act following the plebiscite.

We are merely allowing the government once more to postpone its decision on one phase of the mobilization that I have mentioned, and that not the most important. This, it seems to me, is distinctly an abdication of the responsibility of this parliament; it is undemocratic, it is unworthy of our tradition. This is the place where these grave decisions should be taken; this is the place where the policy should be laid down; this is the place where every regulation to be used under that policy should be carefully scrutinized by members of this house.

When, fourteen months ago, the people of Canada voted to free all the parties in this house from pledges given not to impose conscription for overseas service, they expected us to put into effect a policy of total mobilization for total war. I want to make it very clear that when I appealed for an affirmative vote on that plebiscite I did not do so on the ground that we should, mobilize manpower only; I said that as far as we were

War Appropriation-Labour

concerned we would demand, and continue to demand, that if we were to compel young men to join the army as we were already doing, we should use the same means to mobilize in the national service giant corporations like the Aluminum company, Consolidated Smelters, and Falcon-bridge Nickel. It will be recalled that the letter of the president of Faliconbridge Nickel was tabled here the day before yesterday, and I shall have something to say about it on a more appropriate occasion. I thought with it would be included a letter from the Prime Minister saying what he thought of the statement made by Mr. J. Gordon Hardy, when he expressed satisfaction that their plant over in Norway had been preserved and used by the Germans. I thought the Prime Minister would have conveyed to Mr. Hardy, as he should have done-because although the Prime Minister said something in the house, Mr. Hardy may not have read Hansard or the reports in the newspapers-what the government and this house thought of a man who would say that kind of thing in the midst of this great struggle.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I do not want to interrupt my hon. friend, but I think there is another time and place for discussing that matter.

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Mr. COLD WELL@

That is what I said.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

The whole thing is out of order.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I am just calling the Chairman's attention to- it.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

May I say to. the minister that that was just an aside, and I have finished what I intended to say as an illustration.

I said that our party stood for the total mobilization of industry and wealth as well as manpower. We expected that a policy of total mobilization would be put into effect. This has not been done. On the contrary, as I think I was able to show conclusively recently and as I have remarked already this afternoon, the government in the last twelve or eighteen months or two. years has delivered this country more completely into the hands of powerful corporations .than the country was before the war broke out.

When the offensive against nazi Europe opens and the demand for reinforcements comes, the government may take advantage again of a war necessity to enlarge the conscription of man-power, and rely on this house being compelled to support, it because of the extremity of the situation. Speaking on July 7, 1942, just after I had spoken that day, the

Prime Minister said, as reported in Hansard, page 4015:

I wish, however, to leave no doubt in the mind of any hon. member that, if I am at the head of the administration when such a decision is reached,-

That is to say, to send men mobilized under the National Resources Mobilization Act overseas. [DOT]

-I shall ask to be assured of the confidence of the House of Commons before the government proceeds to enforce the decision.

In other words, we in the opposition, who may have little or no confidence in the government, are going to be compelled not to vote certain reinforcements to the men overseas, but to vote confidence in the government as the price which this house must pay for the reinforcement of our men in the battle line. That is the way the Prime Minister left it on July 7 of last year. Now on many occasions we of this group have voted against the government's economic and social policies, and I may say that if the rules of the house would have permitted, and it did not involve a reduction in the appropriation, I would have moved during this debate a vote of want of confidence in the government on account of the deal with Aluminum Limited, and I shall seek an opportunity yet to bring that matter before the house in a proper way. But, should the war situation require it, the government proposes to put me, my colleagues and other opposition members, including I take it hon. members to my right and to my left who are dissatisfied with the government's lack of policy or wrong policies-

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June 25, 1943