This is not Montreal-Cartier.
I want the right to speak here.
I resent any insult against Cartier from any part of the house.
Order. I would remind hon. members that when the Chairman rises all hon. members must take their seat. I call on the hon. member for Battle River and ask him to discuss these subsidies.
I have been trying to do
that for the last five minutes. Just as soon as I have an opportunity to speak I shall continue with the subsidies.
Do not mention
I represent the common man
and I wish to say a few words on his behalf tonight. I am in favour of subsidies. The government has done away with some which should have been continued for quite a while. When the hon. member for Lethbridge was speaking he mentioned a letter which was in the Ottawa Citizen this afternoon. I am one jump ahead. I shall read a letter taken
from the Ottawa Citizen of this morning, and I intend to ask hon. members not to forget about it, because it is a challenge issued to a number of people who perhaps do not claim to be in the common people's class. Hon. members will find this letter interesting.
I am going to place it on Hansard, because I think it is a good example perhaps to the Minister of Justice or whoever may want to do away with subsidies and they may answer some of the questions and arguments raised in this letter. The letter is as follows:
$40 a Week Budget
Editor, Citizen:-This is an open letter to Finance Minister Abbott and the gentlemen who got the $2,000 tax-free money.
We are the gentlemen and one lady who received the $2,000 tax-free exemption. It is up to us to do a little bit for the fellow who did not have that privilege and who cannot come into this chamber and speak for himself. I, as one of the common people, am going to speak for them tonight, and I hope it will not fall on deaf ears. I continue with the letter:
The following cannot lightly he brushed aside -not turned off by saying the writer is an atheist or communist.
May I digress for a moment and say that the policies of this and other governments are responsible for the rising of the communist programmes in this and other countries. Do not blame the other fellow. The letter continues:
Our young people served in the war, returned home to the usual great promises, got married, spent their savings and gratuity on buildings and furniture at outrageous prices. Today they are faced by a situation which is the outcome of our system of government and which means trouble, want, and sorrow for these young people who after years of war hoped to build up a home and family here in Canada. How many of these young people are getting $40 per week? Can you Mr. Abbott show how a couple with even one child can live for less in Ottawa?
The following will give you some idea of what can be purchased for $40 per week:
63 meals per week at 30 cents.... $18 90
(no extra meals for visitors)
2 00Light and power
1 00Clothing and shoes
Those items amount to $40, provided that a man can get a job at $40 a week and provided that he does not have sickness and some of the other difficulties which many people in the working class run up against. A little later on, he goes on to show that this amount provides nothing for shows, no tobacco or drinks, no entertaining, no holidays, no savings, no happiness, only worry. Then he asks: "How does it look to you, gentlemen?" It is signed "E. Richardson, Ottawa."
I have been on the production line of this country producing agricultural wealth for more than thirty years. I know the conditions that many of us have gone through, not because it was our fault but because it was the fault of governments in office. That same system prevails today. Some people give reasons of various kinds and I am going to give the committee one tonight. I expect to be challenged but, regardless of any argument that may be brought up, I think it will still hold good.
This is a little item which was given to me by a young lawyer friend in western Canada, in Lloydminster, in fact, a young man who spent some years in Ottawa during the war. He left here as a lieutenant-commander and is now practising law in Lloydminster. When speaking to me the other day he gave me this item. It illustrates perhaps some of the reasons why we have some of the mess in our country's government today. The article is as follows:
When a man gives you an orange, he simply says: "Have an orange." But when the transaction is entrusted to a lawyer, he adopts this form:
"I hereby give and convey to you, all and singular, my estate and interests, right, title, claim and advantages of and in said orange, together with all its rind, juice, pulp and pips and all rights and advantages therein with full power to bite, cut, suck and otherwise to eat the same or give the same away with or without the rind, skin, juice, pulp and pipB, anything hereinbefore or hereinafter or in any other means or whatever nature or kind whatsoever to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding."
Later on, another lawyer comes along and takes it away from you.
Perhaps some of the lawyers in the committee will tell us whether this is right. While this is considered a joke by many people, it is an expensive joke to the people of Canada. I think, if we got down to business and used some common sense instead of so much technicality in our money system we could have a commonsense system instead of the fallacious one we have used in the past, and then the people of Canada could enjoy the production of this land which could provide,
under a sound business government, a better life for the common people and others than any other country on God's green earth.
After the talk about businesslike methods and the palaver we have heard tonight, is there any way we can find out how many are in favour of passing this item and how many are against it?
I am sure that ho'n. members were interested in the comments made by the hon. member for Cartier who declared that he was elected in the recent by-election on the record of this government.
Order. It was agreed that we should discuss subsidies from now on and not the Cartier by-election.
I was merely going to mention the fact that on April 1 the Minister of Finance announced the decontrol policy of the government and then, a few days later, we had the increase of ten per cent in the rentals which, I suggest, may have been a factor previously, but I shall not proceed with that argument.
What was the date of the by-election?
The election was held on March 31.
It has been suggested that subsidies have been introduced to serve two purposes: to increase production and to keep down the cost of living for the people of the country. The government was justified in introducing that policy during the war, and the situation at the moment does not warrant reducing the appropriations for this important work. I have before me the national accounts, income and expenditure for the period 1938 to 1945. I find that the estimated distribution of income, recipients by income classes excluding agriculture and the armed forces, indicate that twenty per cent of our married men in the country received an income of SI,000 or less. That group of our people received 6-3 per cent of our national income. Let me repeat that. Twenty per cent of our wage earners received six per cent of the total income, while at the other end of the brackets three per cent of our people, with incomes of over 15,000, received fifteen per cent of the total national income. This suggests that the twenty per cent who get only six per cent of the national income are not able to protect themselves when prices rise. When the cost of milk goes up fifty per cent it means that they have to get along with less milk or butter
or go without dental treatment. Further, you find in the maritimes that thirty-eight per cent of the population received less than $1,000, and only thirteen per cent of the total income, while at the other end the two per cent who get over $5,000 get a total of fourteen per cent. In the wealthy province of Ontario you find only fourteen per cent of the people getting incomes of less than $1,000, and four per cent of the total income; but you have three per cent of the people getting over $5,000, who grab fifteen per cent of the total income. That was for the year 1942.
I suggest, therefore, that, while that set of circumstances continues, it is important that the federal government, which is the only government that can look at the picture as a whole, should decide that it is important that the children in Nova Scotia should have milk, and should use a part of the national income to subsidize the production of food to make sure that the people in all parts of Canada are properly fed.
What did they do with the $300,000,000 baby bonus?
There are other things to buy besides milk.
It is suggested by some that shotguns be used to deal with the officials of the wartime prices and trade board, but no Progressive Conservative has risen tonight to suggest that we should not pay subsidies. The hon. member for Lake Centre elicited a great deal of information, but nothing has happened. The hon. member for Kamloops made an eloquent speech, but he did not suggest that we should get rid of another subsidy. He might have turned to page 81 of the wartime prices and trade board report, where you find a subsidy of $1,352 given in connection with fish hooks, and suggested that that should not have been paid. Nothing has been said, however, about a single item regarding subsidies in the past or the maintenance of subsidies at the present time.
I add my support in urging that the Minister of Justice, who is piloting this bill through, observe the complete silence to my right and at the same time listen to voices from our side of the house, and some from his own side, urging that the federal government should still look at the question of subsidies with a view to ensuring that Canadians, men, women and children, do not have to pay sixty cents a pound for butter, resulting in a diminished' use of butter, and that the producers of primary products are not compelled to
abandon the production of necessary commodities for the feeding of our people. The hon. member for Melfort pointed out that there was the necessary machinery, in connection with subsidies, whereby production of commodities could be increased.
During the war the federal government decided, rightly I think, to spend $70 million on milk and on goods that we should be importing from other countries, and if the price that was paid in the foreign country made it impossible to have these goods sold in Canada within the ceiling, subsidies were paid. It was considered that cocoa beans and coffee, citrus fruits and other commodities that were available in other parts of the world should be brought in and that subsidies should be paid. This same policy must be continued so long as costs increase so rapidly that our people cannot maintain that standard of living which is essential in this day and age.
The hon. member for Battle River tried to make fun of the legal profession. I do not know that that contributes much to the debate; it takes up a great deal of the time of the house. The only thing I will say about the legal profession is that their sense of fair play is sufficiently developed that they know enough to leave other professions alone. The hon. member wound up his remarks by saying that we should discuss the question in a business-like manner. I am entirely in agreement on this point.