April 2, 1947

PC

John Thomas Hackett

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HACKETT:

I will deal with whichever statement pleases you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to say to the minister now that, however much I might in the heat of political controversy wish to score on somebody, I do not wish to do that-probably I could not anyway-in this instance. I do not wish to take out of the minister's speech a phrase, a paragraph or a page that may reflect an opinion which is not his. I have read his remarks not once but many times. Having scrutinized them with the utmost care, I interpret his speech as a whole,-and I will not worry him with half a dozen quotations, which I have here in my hand and c-ould give him,-and it left me and the house under the impression that in his considered opinion a national emergency is not a condition sine qua non to the invasion by the federal government of the provincial jurisdiction.

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LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

I was merely presenting to the house what, in my opinion, that case decided; that is all.

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PC

John Thomas Hackett

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HACKETT:

I agree with what my right hon. friend says, and I am not attempting to go beyond that. I am merely attempting to lay before the house the point of view of the right hon. gentleman who is the conscience keeper of the government. The Minister of Justice is the legal adviser of the government, and different members of the cabinet go to him in their perplexities for enlightenment and direction. I submit the fact that the right hon. gentleman holds the views he has expressed in the house, and believes as he does that something other than a national emergency warrants the invasion of the provincial field by the dominion, must necessarily have its bearing upon the attitude of the federal government toward the invasion of that provincial field.

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that there has been a progressive advance by the federal government into the provincial field. It is reflected in many areas. Primarily and above all it is reflected in the disunion and conflict which exist at the present time between the dominion and the provinces. But it is reflected elsewhere. May we consider the War Measures Act, chapter 206 of the revised statutes. This act provides that, during a period of war, invasion or insurrection, real or anticipated, the federal government may invade the provincial field and the governor general in council may take over legislative powers otherwise denied to him. But that there should be no misunderstanding as to the limits of time within which these extraordinary powers could be exercised, after they had been first limited by section 2 of the act, section 6 goes on to say:

The provisions of the three sections last preceding-

Those are the sections which enable the governor in council to exercise the unusual powers.

-shall only be in force during war, invasion, or insurrection, real or apprehended.

We have the additional section to make it certain that this invasion of the provincial field shall cease when hostilities cease. Parliament was summoned in September, 1945, and on December 8 the National Emergency Transitional Powers Act, 1945, was given royal assent. Here I take issue with the right hon. gentleman. He says in his speech that these extraordinary powers conferred by the War

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Measures Act were curtailed by the act of 1945. In my view they were extended. They were extended as to time; they were extended as to the area within which they might be exercised, and they were greatly increased and broadened. That act contained a limit on the duration of these extraordinary powers. It said these extraordinary powers should not be exercised by the governor in council after December 31, 1946, if parliament sat in the months of November or December, 1946. If parliament did not sit in either of those months, however, the exercise of these powers should terminate fifteen days after parliament met in 1947. On one of the last days parliament sat in 1946 an amendment was introduced extending the period within which these extraordinary powers might be exercised until sixty days after parliament met in 1947. Parliament met on January 30 of this year, so that the period would have expired on March 29 or 30. The act contained a provision that the period might again be extended by an address. This address was adopted, and, as matters now stand, these powers are susceptible of enjoyment until May 15, which, if my memory serves me well, will be more than two years after the termination of the war with Germany.

In the meantime parliament dominated by the government had imbedded in a number of statutes extraordinary powers which are susceptible of exercise by the governor in council for periods varying from one to a number of years; in some instances no time limit was placed upon them. As examples, I refer to the crown companies act; to the legislation by which the government took a monopoly over aviation and out of which it sidled a little later on; the act by which it took over the manufacture of aeroplanes, from which at a cost of untold millions it withdrew the other day, in a way which, despite the statement of the Minister of Reconstruction and Supply (Mr. Howe) has not yet been satisfactorily explained to the house. There was also the seemingly innocuous measure by which supplements to the contracts of postal carriers were to be paid, which gave the governor in council the right to rewrite contracts for the carriage of rural mail, and this under national emergency legislation. Then the Canadian Wheat Board Act was amended. I shall not dwell upon it beyond referring to the extraordinary powers with which it vested the governor in council. That great commodity grain, the greatest single commodity produced by the greatest single class in the country, has been placed under the monopoly of the government, under the dictation of the

governor in council, without, be it said, any appeal as of right to the courts of the land. Then we have had the act for the sale and export of agricultural products. I have not any doubt that there are a number of other instances. I recall the Patent Act, for instance, under which, in certain circumstances, the governor in council is given the right to expropriate patents. People come to this country and confide in us. They give us their secrets, under the Patent Act; and, forsooth, upon the recommendation of the governor in council we may expropriate that property for the benefit of the crown.

I mention these facts merely to show that there is a growing tendency on the part of the government to arrogate to itself the right to legislate for the people of Canada, and that the tendency to trespass upon the provincial field, the tendency to invade the realm which is sacred unto the provinces is progressing, and is rapidly gaining ground.

I listened with some interest to the hon. member for Bona venture (Mr. Arsenault), who made some references to prices of maple syrup, milk and automobiles. But that gentleman entirely overlooked the fact that some eighty years ago the provinces of what is now Canada came together and entered into a solemn pact, by the terms of which certain rights, certain prerogatives, were reserved to the provinces. And had it not been that a complete understanding and agreement was arrived at between these contracting parties, there could not have been a dominion; there could have been no Canada.

We have agreed that, in the event of a national emergency, certain extraordinary rights might be vested in the dominion, in the federal authority. It is wrong to kill; and if a man wantonly kills a fellow man he is hanged for it. But if he kills in self defence he is justified. To apply a principle somewhat akin to that, when the life of a country is threatened, when its very existence is in the scales, then there emerges the overriding principle of selfpreservation which obliterates contracts and constitutional safeguards; then the great elemental doctrine of survival overshadows for the moment those lesser contingencies which are the basis of our national life. Just because it has been the ill-fortune of the generation which is so abundantly represented in this chamber, to have witnessed two such great cataclysms; to have seen the life of our country twice imperilled, and to have seen the invading hordes almost at our gates, and because to resist those perils we have found it necessary to take administrative shortcuts

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to muster our strength to repel the foe, is hardly a reason to perpetuate them long after those perils have passed.

I come now to the speech of the minister. He has said that the reason which justifies the dominion in its invasion of the field of the provinces is to be found in his speech. I endeavoured-and here I shall pause just to open a parenthesis to say that when hon. members opposite say the party to which I belong voted for the resolution on which this bill is founded they are stating something that is not at all in accordance with the facts. No member of this party voted for the resolution. I think the minister will agree that the questions we asked were appropriate. They were questions to which answers were due. Questions were asked to which answers were given, although they were not entirely satisfactory in every instance.

Speaking to the resolution, the minister referred to conditions which, he said, constituted a national emergency. There are three or four of those references about which I shall say a fewT words as I go along. One of the grounds of a national emergency to which he referred is that of housing. Then he made reference to rental controls. May I say in passing that I am a believer in private property. I believe that the owner is entitled to the use of his property, and to its administration.

The government has attempted to provide housing; and many people have reached the conclusion that it has failed in its attempt. In fact many have said in the house-and have advanced solid arguments and many facts in support of those arguments-that had the government refrained entirely from its attempt to provide housing, more houses would have been provided than the government has found it possible to provide.

The government is attempting to provide bouses on an uneconomical basis, which means tnat at least some of those houses will be occupied by people who will not be paying for them. They will be getting something for nothing from the government and to that extent they will be subject to the government's whims and good will, because like accommodation for the same outlay will not be available elsewhere. Rent controls keep owners out of their properties and frequently keep people out of an occupancy to which they are entitled. They may have been absent at war or they may have been called away to other fields of activity, but when they come home they want to get into their houses. The government seems entirely to overlook the fact that nobody wishes these houses to be vacant. There would be just as many people in these houses if these controls were removed as there

are now; the only difference would be that the people who would occupy them would be either the owners or tenants occupying them with the consent of the owners instead of the controller.

I have more confidence in mankind; I have more confidence in the generosity and good will of people than has the government opposite which paints such a dark picture of all the horrors that will occur should people be allowed to have their properties and enjoy them as they always have in the past. It is the full application of the principle of private property that has made Canada diminutive as she is in numbers, the powerful entity that she is today in the concert of nations. It is because we have respected the rights of the citizen that we are looked upon as the haven and the refuge of peoples whose lives have been trampled upon. I do not believe that many would be harshly treated wore all of these restraints lifted.

The other day I heard a many say, "If I am allowed to raise my rents twenty per cent under control I must do it because, I do not know what the controller will do to me the next day. However, if controls were off I could protect a good tenant. I carried some of my tenants for five or ten years during the period of depression, for no rent in some cases and at reduced rents in all." I have more faith in the generosity of the Canadian people than have the gentlemen who occupy the treasury benches. I believe if we go back to a reign in which people can give some scope to their humane tendencies and their kindly feelings instead of being under the lash of some, I was going to say of a bureaucrat-I do not use the word in any other sense than its dictionary meaning; that is someone in government office; someone who cannot know the circumstances of each ease but who has to act by a rule which has no universal application-we would be much better off.

If we could free ourselves once again from the restraints which have been placed upon us we would have found a remedy for three-quarters of the ills from which we suffer.

I go on now to deal with some other alleged reasons for maintaining controls. . The right hon. gentleman referred to inflation. That dog has chased us a long way, but I do not know that it has bitten anybody seriously as yet. Our money is not as good as it was. Why? Because it has been diluted. I am not going to bandy words with the right hon. gentleman as to what inflation means. He talks of these matters in language which I am unable to follow. But the fact is there.

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We have been through a great ordeal, an ordeal which has tested our soul, our every resource and energy. We have paid1 for it in blood; we have paid for it in sacrifice; we have paid for it in treasure.

One-half of the actual cost of the war has been paid out of current taxes; two-sixths have been paid out of borrowings, and one-sixth has been paid through the depreciation of our dollar, call it inflation or whatever you will. We got that one-sixth from the Bank of Canada and from the chartered banks. It was, to put it baldly, obtained by the use of the printing press. Our dollar does not buy what it used to buy; our dollar cannot buy what it used to buy, because it has not the inherent worth and value that it had before it was diluted. I think that is something that everybody understands, and when we talk about increased prices we must take that fact into consideration. The minister feared that the cost of living might increase if controls were removed.

In determining the cost of living, whether we will or not, we must take into consideration the total of these subsidies, whether they be $600 million, whether they be $800 million or whether they be $1500 million. This has not been done. These have resulted from our activities; these have resulted from our way of financing this war; they are burdens which have reduced our resources and which have resulted necessarily in higher prices and in higher costs, expressed in the Canadian dollar.

I wish to submit that there is no national emergency at the present time. Our fighting forces are home from the front; they have been brought back and they have been disbanded and dispersed. They have found gainful occupation. Our great industrial machine which for five or six years was devoted to the manufacture of the munitions of war has been dismantled and dissolved. Many parts have been sold. The people who worked so valiantly, the men and women, the boys and girls, to produce munitions which were so essential to victory have taken up other activities and are now engaged in peaceful occupations.

I have here the whole story, but I am not going to worry you, Mr. Speaker, with all the details. I know that when I have completed this enumeration some hon. gentleman opposite will say that that is evidence of a wise and beneficent government, that it is evidence of the good administration that Canada is enjoying today. I do not wish to be disagreeable, but I believe that the prosperity which is ours today is ours despite the administration and despite its many errors.

Let us take bank clearings as an example. Bank clearings were greater in 1946 than they were in 1945. In the first two months of this year, 1947, they were even greater than they were in the first two months of last year. That is true of the combined bank clearings of Toronto and Montreal. Reports for the rest of the country are not yet available for the first two months of this year. Take bank deposits; they were greater in 1946 than they were in 1945. Take company earnings. Last year they were greater than they were in 1945. Take employment; it was higher in 1946 than it was in 1945.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. KNOWLES:

And so is the cost of living.

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PC

John Thomas Hackett

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HACKETT:

Yes. Take unemployment insurance; and I have the figures here somewhere if I can find them, which were published in this morning's press. This shows that the jobless insurance fund shows big gains. It says:

Canada's unemployment insurance fund increased by more than $4 million in February, and payments made to unemployed workers "were considerably lower than in the same months last year," the unemployment insurance commission announced today.

Then they give the figures as approaching some $400 million in the coffers of that enterprise.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

All of which adds up to good government.

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PC

John Thomas Hackett

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HACKETT:

May I say to the hon. gentleman opposite that the point I am talking to is not good government; it is not dollars and cents. The point I am talking to is the tendency of the government to destroy confederation, to trample on the rights of the provinces and to dissolve that partnership which was entered into eighty years ago. That is the point to which I am talking, and that is the point which has brought to a focus the disagreement in this family of nations which make up the Canadian people. It is that spirit to which the hon. gentleman has given utterance which threatens the very solidarity of our country.

I go on: foreign trade was greater last year than it was the year before; production was greater; carloadings were more numerous last year than the year before. I am aware that hon. gentlemen will say, "Oh, yes, but we have done these things." I admit that they have happened while the hon. gentlemen were in office. But again I would point out that if wisdom, if prudence, if respect for the lessons of the past counted with the cabinet as we hope it will always count with those who

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occupy the treasury benches, their demeanour in the matter under discussion would have been entirely different.

The government says there is a national emergency; it presents as evidence of the fact a list of the articles which are still under control. I do not wish to be amusing; I turn to the items covering ladies wear. It is a long list, but it hardly creates a national emergency. I might turn to some agricultural implements that it is well that farmers should have. I might even condole with my dear friend the hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario (Mr. Mac-donnell), who votes with me even when I am wrong, and say that I regret that he cannot now sell his old automobile at a high price since it was removed from control yesterday; but, Mr. Speaker, when we speak of a national emergency we are speaking of something that threatens the very life, the existence of the country. We are not speaking of some petty, puny, paltry expedient that may be resorted to to maintain a party in power or to meet the whim of some leader powerful in that party.

Mr. Speaker, the emergency which justifies the trampling under foot of a country's constitution is not a petty thing; it is something that is overwhelming; it is something that threatens the life and the soul of a nation. This long list of sundry conveniences and requirements laid on the table to-day does not represent the type of emergency that justifies the suspension of the constitution. Nothing less than the crushing hoofs of the horses of the Apocalypse, something like flood, famine, pestilence or war, can constitute a national emergency. Nothing else can justify the action the government has outlined in this bill. No such emergency is established by the list of petty wants offered to a sorrowing house late yesterday afternoon.

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CCF

John Oliver Probe

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

Mr. J. O. PROBE (Regina City):

I have waited a long time, weeks now, to have an opportunity to present a few words on the subject matter under debate today, as to whether economic controls should be allowed to lapse or whether they should be continued. Like the genial hon. member for Bonaventure (Mr. Arsenault), who spoke a few moments ago, I wonder whether the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) has taken more props from under our feet during the very time that we are debating the matter of continuing these controls.

This afternoon I listened attentively to able arguments by two of my hon. friends from the Progressive Conservative party. Personally I am happy to hear their policies so keenly expounded, even though their policies are not looked on by myself or my party with the

greatest favour. I should like to say to the hon. member for Stanstead (Mr. Hackett) who argued, as no doubt a brilliant lawyer should, the case for discontinuance of controls on the ground of provincial autonomy, whatever that may happen to mean in a lawyer's vocabulary, that it seems to me it is a term which has been used to cover almost any legislation that he may want to oppose when he has no other reason to do so.

In suggesting that controls be discontinued, the hon. member for Stanstead made reference to the fact that we have not in this country an emergency such as that of war or of flood or of pestilence. The hon. gentleman with his background differs considerably with me because of mine. While in his own circle of acquaintances when there is not a war there may not be any emergency, I must say that during my upbringing from a child my family and my friends have always lived in a state of economic emergency from day to day. I think that is as important in their lives as is a state of war in the life of a nation. When that third or that half of a nation is facing daily calamities that are as serious to them as war is to a nation, to argue provincial autonomy to evade our responsibility is, in spite of the brilliance of the argument, an utter evasion of the case.

I was impressed by the hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario (Mr. Macdonnell), whose address is always interesting, and I wish to refer to one or tvwi of the remarks he made. For example, in referring to my colleague, the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Maclnnis), who spoke yesterday and referred to cut-throat competition and monopoly exploitation, the hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario attempted to show that these two terms were contradictory to one another; that it was impossible to have cut-throat competition on the one hand and monopoly exploitation from the same source. I would point out to my hon. friend that while the two things may not be simultaneous they are definitely consecutive in the scheme of economics as it exists under what is called private enterprise. Undoubtedly, when capitalism had its beginnings, there was a form of competition. In its early stages, markets were limitless and there was no need for other than healthy competition as between producers. As I say, there were markets. As the markets became restricted, however, there was for those who wished to exist in the competitive field the need either to restrict their activities or to eliminate those who competed with them; so we stepped from competition to cut-throat competition; and, as more and more throats were cut, eventually we reached the stage

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ence to the fact that wheat is now somewhere around $3 a bushel on the international market and our floor price is $1.55. He said, "Sir, you certainly got a floor, not upstairs but away down in the basement." With that I can agree. But our farmers generally are favourable to the idea of orderly marketing at assured prices, and hope and beg that such controls as are necessary to give the producers the prices they require in view of what they must pay for the things they buy may be retained or reinstituted. That is what is meant by parity prices, and "parity prices" is a slogan you will hear a great deal more often from now on. You will hear it not just from the farmers of my province, who know something about the general meaning of the phrase and who have suffered because there has not been parity; you will hear it from other classes of society in this country who also want parity.

Our consumer prices were kept in hand fairly well during the war and until the last couple of months, and for that I congratulate the government. But I say they are making a mess of things right now. They do not believe in controls; they admit they are going to give us a form of orderly decontrol. Heaven help us if it is any less orderly than at present, because now it is almost a rout. Yesterday the price of sugar went up one cent, and the price of gasoline is quoted at a cent higher as of yesterday or today. It went up two and a half cents in Regina. We are also threatened with increased freight rates. If we want to retain the capitalist system after the lessons taught by the war we have just gone through, when we found that by putting our social house in order we could provide fair distribution for goods in short supply, not just to those who could afford to go to the black market or those who had the largest number of tickets in the form of dollars; if we feel it is just too bad that the poor children cannot get milk at ten cents a quart; if in order to obtain diapers for our babies we have to receive them in parcels from Great Britain, a country which is rationing its own supplies and which is being looked upon with considerable disfavour because it is attempting a new social order, and that because there is not enough profit in manufacturing baby clothes in this country to give manufacturers an incentive to supply our own people; if we just want to let things drift away planlessly, we should support hon. gentlemen to the right, or those across the way. They offer no other course but drifting.

The other day I read a description of free enterprise which, in view of what I have told the house this afternoon, seems rather apt.

Free enterprise was likened by a labour leader in this country to an ocean. Those who believed in free enterprise said to all the people, "Now, we will throw' you all into the ocean. Those who are worthy will reach the shore because they will have the strength to persevere; those who are inefficient will perish." I want to give a little quotation from the remarks of the hon. member for Rosedale (Mr. Jackman), as reported at page 1772 of Hansard: *

. . . one of the greatest virtues of the whole system of free enterprise is that those who are inefficient disappear. If they cannot hold their own and render service to the people at reasonable prices-

I want to be fair, so I continue the quotation :

-it is soon found that someone else takes their place and their business.

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PC

Harry Rutherford Jackman

Progressive Conservative

Mr. JACKMAN:

I would just direct attention to the fact that the latter part of that quotation obviously refers to businesses; and I think the fact that inefficient businesses do disappear under the free enterprise system' is a good deal like having white corpuscles in one's blood stream, because they purify the stream.

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CCF

John Oliver Probe

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

Mr. PROBE:

That is right; but let me finish my own little allegory. Free enterprise drops us into the sea of economic opportunity. The trouble is that certain people have weights tied to their legs. Others, perhaps through circumstances such as I mentioned in connection with the Electric Boat Company deal or the briquetting plant at Estevan, are given water-wings to help them swim to shore, or they may even be picked up by a good sized, raft or a speed boat properly equipped with good old privileged capitalism. It is that form of capitalism to which I object, and it is for these reasons that I want the government not only to retain what feeble controls they now exercise, but to reinstitute those controls which have been removed.

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PC

Douglas Gooderham Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. D. G. ROSS (St. Paul's):

Mr. Speaker, I am rising for just a few minutes because of a statement made by the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. McCann) in reply to my colleague the hon. member for Muskoka-Ont.ario (Mr. Macdonnell). The hon. member mentioned that there were some 140,000 employees of the government, and the minister said the number was 135,000, according to the bureau of statistics. I do not want that statement to go unchallenged, because, according to a return I have here, the number of employees of the government of Canada, including employees of boards, commissions and corporations appointed by the federal authority, was 173.961 as of December 31, 1946.

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LIB

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I submit that this matter is entirely extraneous to the debate.

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PC

Douglas Gooderham Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

It is not extraneous. My colleague was talking about the number of bureaucrats in the country, and so on, and I want to get this straight.

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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order. The hon. gentleman will admit that we are on the second reading of the omnibus bill, which has nothing to do with the civil service.

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PC

Douglas Gooderham Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

It has everything to do with it, because the whole question is a matter of controls, and the number of people in the employ of the government has a great deal to do with those controls. The statement made this afternoon should not be permitted to go out in that way, because I have the figures here. The monthly payment is 826,162 COO. which would be at the rate of $317,544,045 a year. I do not want to take up more time, but I want that statement corrected, as I think is my right.

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LIB

Colin William George Gibson (Secretary of State of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. COLIN GIBSON (Secretary of State):

With respect to the statement just made by the hon. member for St. Paul's (Mr. Ross), I think I should point out that the figure he has just mentioned represents payment not only to civil servants but to employees of crown companies and commissions, and that the figure mentioned is very much larger than the amount paid to civil servants only.

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PC

Douglas Gooderham Ross

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

I am not talking about civil servants; I am talking about the people in the employ of the government of Canada. That is what the people of this country are interested in.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. E. D. FULTON (Kamloops):

Mr. Speaker, thus far the debate seems to have been largely devoted to a discussion of free enterprise or free initiative economy as against a system of government controlled or planned economy. As was pointed out earlier by the hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario (Mr. Macdonnell). hon. members of the C.C.F. have taken the position that when we speak of returning to a free economy, a system of free enterprise, we in the official opposition envisage the sort of laissez-faire economy which prevailed in the nineteenth century, and which undoubtedly had its worst development in the nineteen-thirties.

The hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario pointed out this afternoon that we do not mean that kind of economy at all. We do, however, mean the type of economy under which freedom of initiative can be given full play, rather than one under which initiative

would be hampered by excessive government controlling and government planning. The type of unrestricted monopolistic capitalism to which the hon. member for Regina City (Mr. Probe) referred is not the type of free enterprise we have in mind at all. But after what has been said, if hon. members in the C.C.F., for whatever reasons they may have, refuse to believe that we do not mean a laissez-faire capitalism, then of course we cannot force them to believe it. It is rather wasting their own time and the time of the house, however, to state with no better foundation than their own desire to believe it, that we wish to go back to that type of economy.

In my subsequent remarks I shall devote some attention to the type of system we have in mind when we use the expression "free enterprise." At the moment, however, may I refer to the statement made last night by the Minister of Reconstruction and Supply (Mr. Howe), because I believe that statement typifies completely what, for want of a better term, I would call the bureaucratic frame of mind.

The minister's statement is found at page 1957 of Hansard, as follows:

Hon. gentlemen seem to think that, after some six years of controls administered by the government, it is now necessary for various members of the opposition groups to examine each item of control and give their opinion on whether the government is doing the right thing or not

In this sentence the minister, by implication at any rate, indicated that it is not proper or necessary, or even perhaps desirable, for us to examine these measures.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Would the hon. member

please finish the sentence? He has used only part of it.

Topic:   EMERGENCY POWERS
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF CERTAIN ORDERS AND REGULATIONS
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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FULTON:

I intend to do so. The

minister went on to say:

It seems to me that the government which has had experience over six years in the administration of controls should be capable of deciding the appropriate time to abandon them.

That is the end of that particular quota-iton. It might seem to the minister that that should be the case; it might seem to the house that that should be so. But the point at issue is that apparently the government does not know the best time or method to remove controls. And, further, whether that is so or not, it is surely the function of the opposition to assist the government in arriving at that decision. That is one of the things for which we have an opposition, one of the reasons we have debate and free discussion in the House of Commons. Unless we are

Emergency Powers

to adopt the principles that we should abandon elections, abandon responsible government, and abandon the system we follow of allowing people to make up their minds and express their views as to the manner in which they should be governed-unless, as I say, we are prepared to change our principles, then when we come to this House of Commons it is our duty to tell ministers, whether they have been here for six years or sixteen years, whether we think they are administering the affairs of the country in the best possible way. It is not in keeping with the traditions-may I put it in that way?-which have given this country democratic government in the past, for ministers to indicate that others' opinions, honestly held, are of no value, that in any event they will not be regarded, and that they should not be expressed.

I use those words because I think the following expression of the minister last night indicated what he had in mind. He went on to say:

Therefore I would urge that this session be not prolonged by debate that can have no real effect on the situation.

Surely that indicates only one thing, that the government has come to the house with its mind made up, with a closed mind, and is in the mental attitude where it will refuse to accept any suggestion, however much thought has been given to it, or however much real value it may have.

Topic:   EMERGENCY POWERS
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF CERTAIN ORDERS AND REGULATIONS
Permalink

April 2, 1947