February 10, 1948

?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Yea.

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO PRICE INCREASES AND MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO
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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Those against please say "nay."

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO PRICE INCREASES AND MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Nay.

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO PRICE INCREASES AND MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO
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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

In my opinion the "yeas" have it.

Mr. Speaker put the question as follows:

The question before the house is an appeal from the Speaker's ruling. The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) raised a point of order to the effect that in the course of his reply in the debate on the motion to appoint a select committee the right hon. the Prime Minister imputed certain motives to the opposition members. I ruled that the Prime Minister did not.

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO PRICE INCREASES AND MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO
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LIB

Joseph-Adéodat Blanchette (Chief Government Whip's assistant; Deputy Whip of the Liberal Party)

Liberal

Mr. BLANCHETTE:

I was paired with the hon. member for Stanstead (Mr. Hack-ett). Had I voted, I would have voted to sustain your ruling, Mr. Speaker.

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO PRICE INCREASES AND MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO
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LIB

Alcide Côté

Liberal

Mr. COTE (St. Johns-Iberville-Napier-ville):

I was paired with the hon. member for Grey North. (Mr. Case). Had I voted, I would have voted to sustain the ruling of the Speaker.

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO PRICE INCREASES AND MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO
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PC

Heber Harold Hatfield

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HATFIELD:

I was paired with the hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. Gariepy). Had I voted, I would have voted against your ruling, Mr. Speaker.

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO PRICE INCREASES AND MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO
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PC

Winfield Chester Scott McLure

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McLURE:

I was paired with the hon. member for Beauce (Mr. Dionne), Mr. Speaker. Had I voted, I would have voted against your ruling.

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO PRICE INCREASES AND MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO
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IND

Georges-Henri Héon

Independent Progressive Conservative

Mr. HEON:

I am permanently paired with the hon. member for Joliette-L'Assomption-Montcalm (Mr. Lapalme), Mr. Speaker. Had I voted I would, with great regret have voted against your decision. .

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO PRICE INCREASES AND MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Mr. Speaker, if it is any consolation to hon. gentlemen

opposite I would1 say to them at once that, being most anxious to see this committee appointed as soon as possible, I promise I will not take up too much more of the time of the house this afternoon. So I hope that without its being found necessary on my part to raise any question of privilege or point of order I may be permitted to continue my remarks without being interrupted too freely from the other side of the house.

Obviously, having regard to the amount of talk-if that is not an unparliamentary expression-to which, we have been obliged t listen for the last week, I cannot attempt in a short time to do more than give illustrations of the sort of' argument that has been presented by hon. gentlemen opposite, and to which I am expected to reply.

In the first place, I would say that in following the debate I have not been able to discover anything that v'as too small for hon. gentlemen opposite to take exception to; and, after saying that, may I make the further assertion that I cannot think of anything they have brought forward thus far as to which, if we had brought it forward, they would not have found an equal amount of argument to present on the opposite side. They were determined at all costs to make it as difficult as possible to have this committee appointed. They were determined to make a display before the country of several days of Obstruction of the government to have it appear that the measure the government was bringing forward was not in the public interest.

As an illustration of what I have said about nothing being too small, let me direct attention to the first clause in the motion I presented for the appointment of the committee which reads:

(a) the causes of the recent rise in the cost of living.

That word "recent" has been just too much for hon. gentleman opposite. They had to take exception to it. I was astonished at the number of members who did so, and particularly at some of those who took that exception. When this house reassembled at the beginning of the new year, my hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bracken) rose in his place and said, as reported at page 543 of Hansard for this year:

... I wish to move, seconded by the hon. member for Muskoka-Ontario (Mr. Macdonnell) the adjournment of the house under standing order 31, for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely the sudden and unprecedented rise in the cost of living. ,

Prices Committee

The hon. gentleman mentioned the "sudden rise in the cost of living." Well, when the government was drafting this motion, being anxious to gain as large a measure of support and agreement as possible from hon. gentlemen opposite, we thought it would be desirable to put in the word "recent" in order to have the motion accord with what my hon. friend felt was the most urgent matter. He was anxious that it was the recent increase that should be taken into account. May I just ask hon. members this question. Suppose the government had left out the word "recent" and the clause had read "the causes of the rise in the cost of living." What would we have heard from hon. gentlemen opposite? We would have been told that we were giving the committee an academic task, that of going into the causes of the rise in the cost of-living, something which might take them back not only generations but possibly centuries; that we were deliberately trying to give the committee something to do which would take up all their time before they would get anywhere at all. I need not elaborate the point further, but I give this as an example-and it is an example which applies all along the way-of many of the points which have been raised, and to which exception has been taken and the government's motives misinterpreted and misconstrued.

Then I come to the question of recommendations, the next objection which was raised frequently-that the government had not put in a clause giving this committee power to make recommendations. Well, I would recall to hon. members what I said in introducing the motion, before anyone on the opposite side had spoken. I said the government had purposely left out that clause at this stage for the reason that we wished to have the committee get on with the work of investigating causes, that parliament and the public might know the results thereof as rapidly as possible; that had the committee been asked to make recommendations, we would have found that the time of the committee would be taken up, as is pretty obvious from the debate which has taken place here, by discussion between members of different parties as to which particular recommendation should be made, whether it would be a recommendation along the lines of my hon. friends of the Progressive Conservative party or a recommendation along the lines of the C.C.F. or along the lines of the Social Credit party, should that party have a recommendation that it might wish to make. Certainly, with a request for recommendations of this type, the time of the committee would be

taken up in a discussion of which particular recommendations they should make.

I need not take much time to point out the truth of what I am saying, and of how futile that might render the work of the committee. During this debate many references have been made to the committee which was appointed in 1934 to deal with the question of price spreads. That committee was given power to make recommendations; indeed it was asked to make recommendations, and what was the result? Well, the leader of the C.C.F. party (Mr. Coldwell) has told the house what was the result of giving that committee power to make recommendations. If hon. members will 'look at page 863 of Hansard for February 4 of this year they will find the following remarks by the leader of the C.C.F. group:

Reference has been made to the price spreads committee of 1934. I looked up the record to see how long it took that committee to make its report. On February 2, 1934, just fourteen years ago to the very day that we began to discuss the resolution now before us, the order of reference for the setting up of the committee passed this house. On February 22, twenty days later, the first meeting was held. The last meeting was on June 22, 1934. Then, as hon. members will recall, the committee became the royal commission. On October 30, 1934, the royal commission met for the first time. On February 1, 1935, one year later, the last meeting of the commission was held, and on April 9, 1935, it reported. Confirmation of what I have said will be found in the report of the commission which I have before me.

Imagine for a moment what would have happened if the government had said in this motion that the committee was to make recommendations! Would any hon. member suggest that this particular instance would not have been cited immediately by the leader of the C.C.F. and other hon. members opposite as a reason why we should not give the committee, at this stage, power to make recommendations? Does anyone suggest that we would not have been told that it would take two years before this house would get any word from the committee on which action could be taken one way or the other? Nothing could be plainer than that.

But what is even more to the point is what the hon. member himself was prepared to do with regard to one. of the amendments which were before the house. It will be noticed that in the passage I quoted the leader of the C.C.F. party was talking about the committee on price spreads. He was presenting an argument showing how long it took that committee to make a report. The leader of the opposition had before the house an amendment which asked that the resolution

Prices Committee

be amended to provide, among other things, that the committee examine and report upon-

(g) spreads between prices received by producers and prices paid by consumers.

That particular clause was left in by the C.C.F. when the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre moved his amendment to the amendment that had been moved by the leader of the opposition. In other words, after telling this house that on the basis of the experience of the price spreads committee, it would be two years or more before we could expect any report from this committee, the leader of the C.C.F. group, as well as th" leader of the government, was prepared to support-I mean the leader of the opposition-

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO PRICE INCREASES AND MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO
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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GRAYDON:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Well, if my hon. friend gets any satisfaction out of that, let him have it; because it will be a very long time before he will ever, have any satisfaction from office.

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GRAYDON:

Coming events cast their shadows before.

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Mr. Speaker, if the word "insincerity" is not unparliamentary, I should like to use it in reference to this particular action on the part of a leader of a party that will denounce the. appointment of a committee with power to recommend on questions of spreads between prices received by producers and prices paid by consumers and then, when that has served his purpose, turns around and is prepared to vote with those who are in a party opposite to his own, that the committee be now given the power to report on spreads between prices received by producers and prices paid by consumers.

I hope I have made it plain also that if, as the committee pursues its investigations, it is thought advisable to have its powers enlarged so that it might be given an opportunity to make recommendations with respect to certain matters, the government will be quite prepared to consider any request of that kind at the time it is brought forward. But what we do not wish today, at the present time, is to give any excuse whatsoever to the committee for not devoting its time and attention in a thorough way to the investigation of the rise in prices and the cost of living, which is what we believe the public are most concerned about.

Another argument put forward by hon. members opposite is that I had said, speaking with respect to the price spreads committee when it was before the house-I refer to the

motion to appoint a committee on price spreads in 1934-that under the Combines Investigation Act there was plenty of authority to proceed and to effect a remedy. And because I had said that in 1934 in relation to that particular committee, hon. members opposite say the government should have found enough scope at this time under the Combines Investigation Act to settle this matter of prices.

I thought I made it quite clear that the committee which was dealing with price spreads had before it an entirely different kind of problem from what we have at the present time. We may have certain aspects of that problem to deal with at this- time; but at that time wfhat the committee was trying to find out was how it was that on the one hand primaTy producers were being exploited because the prices they were receiving for what they were selling were being kept down, while, on the other hand, consumers were being exploited by some agencies which were keeping up prices in regard to those very same commodities which they desired to purchase. Somewhere in between there was some force at work which had the effect of accounting for that large spread. The particular kind1 of organization which would be found in a case like that would be in the nature of what we call a combine or merger, or an association of persons who bound themselves together to serve their own particular ends as against those of producers or consumers. That was the duty of that committee at that time-to investigate mergers, trusts and combines. And naturally, when speaking on that question, I said that there was an act on the statute books dealing with mergers and trusts, and that there was sufficient authority under that act to find out what was necessary to be found out in connection with combines, trusts and mergers.

But here, in present circumstances, we may have many causes of prices being kept up, in *which the question of combines does not enter at all. Combines may be one reason for prices rising. But they are not the only reason. The government is seeking today, under the Combines Investigation Act, to find out to what extent mergers, trusts and combines are responsible for this rise in the cost of living. But we cannot stop there. We must look for everything we can discover, affecting the increased cost of living, and once that information has been secured it will not take long for this parliament to meet those conditions by legislation, if they are of a character that can be met by legislation.

The whole question then was, as Mr. Stevens himself made clear when he spoke on his motion, that the committee was ap-

Prices Committee

pointed to look into the possible, alleged or presumed existence of a combine. That is what the whole inquiry was about. From this side of the house it has been made clear from the outset that the whole administration under the Combines Investigation Act is directed toward one specific end, namely, that of discovering combines. It is not for discovering causes of rising prices outside the Combines Investigation Act altogether.

Another criticism levelled at the government in connection with this motion is that the scope of the committee is not wide enough. Hon. members opposite say the scope is not wide enough, and there have been amendments moved to enlarge its scope. What is the sdope? It is the causes of the recent rise in the cost of living. You can take it all in that one paragraph, if you like. The paragraph is all-embracing as to whatever affects the increased cost of living. Can anyone suggest any wider scope than that? To discover the cause of the rise in the cost of living, can anyone give wider scope than is contained in that one sentence where, without any limitation or without being circumscribed in any way, the committee is given power to investigate every possible cause?

A number of things have been mentioned by hon. members opposite in their amendments-policies, subsidies, and what-not. Any one of those things they have mentioned, if it is responsible for the rise in the cost of living, can be investigated by the committee under the clause I have mentioned. The purpose in introducing those amendments could not have been to widen the scope. If accepted, they would only have served to narrow it, if anything, by directing the attention of the committee to certain specific things. The committee might then have felt that it should give its time to those specific things, rather than to the all-embracing question it is asked to investigate.

So far as the subject matter of the amendments relate to causes of the increase in the cost of living, whether due to government policies, subsidies or anything else, they will be under investigation; and those matters are adequately taken care of by the first clause in the motion. These are all involved in the investigation; and to introduce other factors is simply to destroy the purpose of the motion.

No, Mr. Speaker, the amendments have not been made to enlarge the scope of the committee. They have been made to change the purpose of the investigation. The committee is to be appointed to gather facts and to get information so that this House

of Commons and the country may be clearly and fully informed. But the movers of the amendments say, in so many words, "no, that is not what we wish this committee to do; we wish the committee to discuss policy. We do not want it to discover facts. We do not want this committee to obtain information; we do not want it to give us facts. As a matter of fact, we do not want the committee at all." That is perfectly clear from one motion which was put, and to which I made reference today. I hope my hon. friends opposite will not take objection if I refer to it again. The motion by the leader of the C.C.F. was to the effect that all the words after "that" in the motion be stricken out and that there be substituted therefor a certain declaration of policy or opinion which the amendment contained. In other words, the contribution made by the C.C.F. in their second amendment was to the effect that we ought to have no committee at all to investigate the causes of the rise in prices, but that any committee that might be formed should be diverted to something else altogether.

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO PRICE INCREASES AND MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO
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CCF

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

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

Mr. KNOWLES:

Yes, action.

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Now, if my hon. friend would just try to restrain himself. I know he likes to appear before the public from day to day by his interruptions.

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO PRICE INCREASES AND MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO
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CCF

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

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

Mr. KNOWLES:

By your attitude you admit that we are right.

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO PRICE INCREASES AND MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

He is not by any means making the impression either upon the house or the public generally that he thinks his utterances make, when he interrupts other speakers.

As I have said, the purpose was not that. Another purpose brought forth clearly by some of the amendments proposed was that we should give this committee power to make policy and recommendations involving the expenditure of large sums of public money. Here again we have another example of what I was speaking of before as tendencies in this debate which are evidence of the change that is coming over the thinking of some hon. members with reference to British parliamentary procedure and practice. It is something that we ought to consider most carefully.

The rules of this house have been framed, and the practices of parliament up to the present have been framed, amongst other things, to protect the public treasury, and not to make it possible for any group in parliament to have large sums of money taken out of the public treasury because they themselves

Prices Committee

wish to have it spent in a particular way. The whole effort of the past has been to place the responsibility for expenditures of public moneys on the shoulders of the government, and to hold the government responsible to parliament and the people for expenditures. Some of these amendments have involved a departure from what is a very sound principle of government.

Another criticism that has been made is that the powers of the committee are restricted. I have already covered that in part, in what I have said about the scope of the committee. Someone said that, unless there was power given the committee to make recommendations, there was no power in the committee at all. Here is what the motion says:

That the committee shall have power to appoint from among its members such subcommittees as may be deemed advisable or necessary to deal with specific phases of the enquiry, and power to send for persons, papers and records, to examine witnesses under oath and to print such papers and evidence from day to day as may be ordered by the committee.

There is another paragraph to which I would particularly direct the attention of hon. members who say that the powers of the committee are restricted. This reads:

That the committee shall have power to engage the services of counsel, accountants and other necessary assistants who shall be paid out of the appropriation for parliament.

What greater powers could be given to a committee than that? There are all the powers of a royal commission, the power to summon persons from one end of the country to the other, to engage experts to make inquiry into any phase of this question, to have highly trained accountants serve the committee in its efforts to find out what is the cause for the rise in prices. I can understand persons who, in times like the present, may have been hoarding, or who may be seeking to profit, complaining about an investigation into the questions of hoarding and profiteering; I can understand them not liking the idea of a committee that will have all the powers necessary to discover these things; from that source I can understand opposition to a committee of this kind. However, I find it difficult to discover any ground of complaint, from the point of view of the public interest, against a committee which will seek to serve the public by discovering as soon as possible what the causes are that account for the recent rise in the cost of living in our country.

One other matter. We have been told over and over again that it is action that hon. gentlemen want, not a committee. To some extent their behaviour during this last week has borne that out. They certainly have not

made it easy to get a committee functioning. We have been a whole week in just trying to get a yes or no answer as to whether a committee should be appointed. What action have we had? We have had something in the nature of action from hon. gentlemen opposite, but all along it has been what might be termed "a delaying action".

When I spoke a week ago Monday I told the house that we would set apart the following week for the discussion of this measure, that we would give precedence to it over any other measure, that the government was anxious to have this committee appointed as soon as possible. What happened the week before? I had to ask hon. gentlemen opposite please to come along with the names for the committee that I had requested in a previous week. I should have said that, as soon as the house reassembled in the New Year, I gave my hon. friend, the leader of the opposition, the assurance that we would appoint this committee within a week. I said, first of all, "possibly in two weeks." I knew from the past that hon. gentlemen opposite have been accustomed to delaying a little the sending in of the names for committees, and that has proved to be true again in this case. The leader of the opposition said, "No, we must have this in a week." I said, "All right, let us have it in a week, but before it can be set up within the week we have to have the names for the committee." I had to ask hon. gentlemen please to hurry along with the names so that we could go along on Monday with setting up the committee.

What happened on Monday when the motion was introduced to set up the committee? I proposed to give the motion precedence all through the week, but hon. gentlemen took exception to my effort in that regard. They raised objection to the discussion on the appointment of a committee from being gone on with on the following day. Well, we did manage to keep the debate going for four days in the past week, through yesterday and up to the present time. This whole matter might have been settled on Monday afternoon, over a week ago, but here we are on Tuesday of the following week still seeking a simple yes or no answer to the question of appointing a committee to investigate the rise in prices.

I say again that the action of hon. gentlemen opposite has been definitely a delaying action. The responsibility has not been that of the government; the responsibility is that of those who, up to the present time, have made it difficult to get this committee appointed. As I have already said, if hon.

Prices Committee

gentlemen of the C.C.F. had had their way there would have been no committee at all. Their amendment was to the effect that the entire motion should be struck out and something else substituted in its place.

Let me come now to a further criticism. We have been told that the government's action has been evasive, that there has been inaction and that we are responsible for that. Let me say that if there has been any evasion or inaction the blame is not on the shoulders of the government; it is squarely on the shoulders of hon. gentlemen opposite.

We have been told by the leader of the C.C.F. that he was angry; we have been told by him and others that the public were angry. May I say that I do not think that anger is an argument or an answer to anything. I am quite prepared to admit that hon. gentlemen opposite have shown many signs of anger and displeasure, but I would say that so far as the public is concerned the anger is not against the government; it is very much against those who up to the present have been making it as difficult as possible for the government to get this committee appointed.

I want to give my C.C.F. friends and some other hon. gentlemen opposite something to think about in the next few days. If they listen to a statement I have here they will probably take it from the source from which it comes when they might not be prepared to take it from myself. No doubt some of them have already seen what has been appearing in many of the journals of this country with regard to their attitude in this debate. Let me just repeat what I have said. I have had conversations with a great many people during the course of this last week, and particularly at the beginning of this week. I have been asked, why this waste of public money? When is this waste of the time of parliament to cease? These people have said, "Surely it is possible for the house to make up its mind whether it wants a committee to investigate this matter without talking day after day to debate this question, delaying the consideration of other questions already on the order paper and others still to come.

I hold in my hand one editorial; I give it as a sample; I cite this particular editorial because I do not think anyone in this House of Commons will accuse me of having inspired the source from which this editorial came. It is an editorial from the Toronto Globe and Mail, of date February 6, 1948. The heading of the editorial is, "Evasive Inaction", the very words that hon. gentlemen opposite have been using. They say the government is seeking to evade. They have been accusing it of

inaction and so forth. In order that I may not be accused of omitting any significant clause in the editorial, I should like to read the whole of it to hon. gentlemen opposite and in particular to the members of the C.C.F. party. The editorial, as I say, is entitled, "Evasive Inaction". It reads as follows:

Opposition groups in the commons failed, during the debate on the parliamentary price probe committee, to achieve acceptance of several amendments. Some of these probably had merit. But the government's refusal to accept them is no excuse for the boycott of the committee threatened by the C.C.F. leader. Whatever else may be its defects, the committee, with all the authority of a commission, is empowered to examine and report on "the causes of the recent rise in the cost of living." This can mean a lot or little, depending on the diligence and initiative shown by the committee. There are here surely no barriers to full examination into those charges of profiteering and other abuses of the short supply situation in consumer goods, which have been flying back and forth across the country.

It is perhaps significant that the loudest cries about the "ineffectiveness" of the committee have come from the same quarters that have had the most to say about profiteering and other excesses. Mr. M. J. Coldwell, national leader of the C.C.F. party, is the chief advocate of the boycott-"W7e are going to be no party to this manoeuvre." He was also the author of the assertion that Canadian packing companies would make an "unearned increment" of $10,-OOfh'OOO out of the meat price rises in early J anuary.

If Mr. Coldwell is not trying to escape the obligation of proving this latter statement, he should be willing and eager to give the committee a chance to demonstrate its effectiveness or lack of it. His course is simple. He can go before the committee at the earliest possible moment, restate his charge and bring forward the evidence to support it. If the parliamentary committee is, as he implies, an instrument of evasion, the nation will not be long in finding this out.

As matters stand it would seem that Mr. Coldwell and his followers are attempting to avoid the penalty for having talked too much by talking some more. If they are prepared to make good on their allegations of profiteering, they need not be fearful of the inadequacies of the committee. We venture to suggest that, lethargic as it has been on many things, parliament, when prodded by a convinced public opinion, will readily make good any shortcomings which may be found to exist.

I recommend that editorial as a sample of editorials which are appearing right across the country today, as evidence of what public opinion is asserting in this country today. The people are tired of having members of parliament seek to thwart a measure that will throw light on the question that, above all others, they wish to have investigated, which is what they want and what they recognize will be most effective of all in this matter.

Prices Committee

As I said at the beginning of this debate, there are some evils that publicity will cure which penalty will never cure, and there are none of that category which will disappear before an informed public opinion more quickly than anti-social evils, such as profiteering and hoarding at times like the present; the very evils which this committee is being appointed to investigate.

As against the attitude taken by hon. gentlemen opposite in this debate with respect to the appointment of a committee to investigate the cost of living and the rise in prices, may I give to the house the attitude of the Liberal party in regard to the two other large investigations on the cost of living and prices which have been held in previous parliaments. Two committees have been referred to repeatedly in this debate, and my remarks in regard to what was said in discussion of these committees have been frequently quoted. I notice that, in all these quotations, hon. gentlemen opposite were very careful not to quote the really important part, namely, the attitude of the Liberal party toward the appointment of a committee. They did tiy to construe other parts as having a different meaning from what they were ever intended to have. But the position of the Liberal party in regard to both of these committees is quite clear. The first committee was appointed in 1919. Sir Thomas White, who was then minister of finance in the Conservative government of the day, moved for the appointment of a committee to study the question of the cost of living. That motion was brought forward and it was carried unanimously. There was not the loss of a day; there was not the loss of an hour. The matter went through this house in accordance with what the house believed at that time was the wish and feeling of the public in a matter of this kind. The feeling today is just the same as it was then, and many of the reasons for the committee are just the same as they were at that time.

What about the price spreads committee of 1934, which was moved for by Mr. Bennett? That is the debate from which, to a greater or lesser extent, my remarks have been quoted. Let me give the house exactly what I said in speaking in that debate on the appointment of a committee to investigate. I quote from Hansard of February 2, 1934, at page 217, in the debate on the appointment of the price spreads committee:

May I say a further word in order that there may be no misunderstanding of my attitude or of that of the party on this side of the house? We have repeatedly stated'-and indeed the legislation that has been introduced under the former Liberal administration shows the evidence of our belief-that we believed there are

many evils of a class which publicity would do more to cure than penalty. Certainly evils which are in the nature of anti-social practices, if that term may be used to cover what I think we all have in mind, namely, the kind of thing that enables the mean man to profit by virtue of his meanness, are perhaps more effectually cured by publicity than by aught else. Anything which will throw light upon these antisocial practices is, I believe, wholly in the public interest. Certainly the kind of practices set forth in the -resolution as introduced by the government, constitutes a class of evils from which this country is today suffering to a great degree in common with other countries throughout the world, I doubt- very much if there is a single evil that more affects the well-being of consumers than those agreements which artificially fix or control prices and one way or another restrict and hamper trade. The internal trade of our country has become honeycombed and enmeshed by secret understandings and agreements. So far as the Liberal opposition is concerned, we heartily welcome anything that will throw light upon this class of evils. I can say for the official opposition that its members will join very cordially -and wholeheartedly with the Prime Minister and his friends in endeavouring to make the investigation just as thorough as it can possibly be made.

That is what the government is seeking to do today, to have a committee appointed which will make an investigation, as thorough as it can possibly be made, into this great question.

Lion, gentlemen opposite have helped to make it as difficult as possible to get this committee appointed. It is now for them to say what their attitude is to be when it comes to a vote on this question. Let me tell hon. gentlemen immediately that they will have an opportunity to vote on this question. I should say again the government is asking this house, and asking everyone in this house, to assist it in appointing a committee to investigate the recent rise in the cost of living. The government intends to appoint that committee regardless of any attitude taken by the opposition to obstruct it. We do hope that, in the end, all will join and do their best-, as we believe the country will wish us all to do, in furthering the work of this committee. But if they are not prepared to do that, they will be answerable, not to the government, but to parliament, to their constituencies, and to the people whose interests we are here to serve.

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO PRICE INCREASES AND MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO
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LIB

Joseph Jean (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. JEAN:

I was paired. Had I voted, I would have voted for the motion.

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO PRICE INCREASES AND MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO
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LIB

Douglas Charles Abbott (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ABBOTT:

I was paired with the hon. member for Stanstead (Mr. Hackett). Had I voted, I would have voted for the motion.

Topic:   FLAXSEED-CATTLE REQUEST FOR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ASKED ON FEBRUARY 9
Subtopic:   APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INQUIRE INTO PRICE INCREASES AND MATTERS PERTAINING THERETO
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February 10, 1948