March 2, 1949

?

An hon. Member:

Hold it up.

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PC

Charles Elwood Stephenson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stephenson:

Here is the article. It appeared in a government publication entitled Foreign Trade.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. Maclnnis:

That is all right with me, Mr. Speaker.

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PC

Charles Elwood Stephenson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stephenson:

The other is the British or rather the United Kingdom import figures.

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LIB

Thomas Vincent Grant

Liberal

Mr. Grant:

That is one the hon. member made up himself?

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PC

Charles Elwood Stephenson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stephenson:

No.

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LIB

Thomas Vincent Grant

Liberal

Mr. Grant:

Where is it from?

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LIB

William Henry Golding (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Golding):

I would ask hon. members to refrain from interrupting. It is not fair to the member who has the floor, and it is not fair to whoever may be acting as Speaker, when he is trying to get the opinion of the house on a matter of this kind. I should like to ask hon. members if they are agreeable to having these tables put on Hansard.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

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PC

Charles Elwood Stephenson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Stephenson:

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. P. E. Wright (Melfort):

: This debate has

now been in progress for some two weeks, Mr. Speaker, and the general line of approach of the different groups in the house to the problems which we are facing in Canada today has become quite clear. I should like to comment briefly on them, as I see them, and as they have been expressed in the various speeches made.

In the first place, we have the Progressive Conservatives' ideas which have been almost invariably looking backwards. They want to go back to the old wheat board which we had before 1943, and under which we operated on a floor price. Grain was sold in the grain exchange. Unless the exchange went below that price, the grain exchange made any profits that were to be made out of speculation and the people of Canada paid the bill if there was a loss. Others have stated that they would like to go back to the gold standard and the depreciated currency that we have known in the past. I lived in western Canada during the 1930's when we were operating under a depreciated currency, when we were getting approximately $3.86 for the English pound, when we were exporting our wheat, pork and beef to Great Britain and getting back from eighty cents to eighty-five cents on the dollar. And when we went to purchase the things that

The Address-Mr. Wright we had to purchase from the United States, such as farm machinery and many of the household articles which we use, we had to send there $1.17 to get the means of production which we had to have on the farm to produce our wheat at eighty-five cents a bushel and pork at four cents and five cents a pound. Therefore I am not anxious to go back, and I do not think the people of Canada are.

Then they would like to go back to a complete free economy. What does a complete free economy mean? It means monopoly at home and cartels abroad. That is what it means. Certainly neither we of this group, nor do I think the people of Canada, would like to go back to a complete free economy again.

We have the government's approach. They appear to be looking both ways. Some hon. members' speeches would appear to be progressive. They are looking forward; they are looking to the future. Others are looking back. If it is not presumptuous, I should like to give a bit of advice to the government. I was quite a young man when I first went out west. Out there at that time there was a very smart horse dealer who sold me a team of horses. When I got them home and hooked them up and picked up the lines there was one that looked over his shoulder, looked back, and backed up. The other one wanted to go ahead. I never got very far with that team of horses until I traded off the one that was always looking backwards.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

Something like your party.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. Wright:

I suggest to the Liberals that they should trade off some of their members who are always looking back. They should trade them off to the Progressive Conservatives and then they might get somewhere.

I should like now to turn to western Canada, which has always been a country in which we have looked to next year. It is a next-year country. We have always looked to the future. Today we in this group are looking to the future. We believe that there is a great future for Canada. There is a great future for us in this country if we would just grasp the opportunities we have.

In making their reports-the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) yesterday, and the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) a few days ago-the ministers gave a fairly glowing account of production in this country. They used dollars as the basis of their reports. We have a gross national production of something over $15 billion and a gross agricultural production of some $2,800

The Address-Mr. Wright million this year, but I do not think we should use dollars as the standard in measuring our progress. A fairer way would be to give the volume production of goods. So far as volume production of goods in Canada is concerned, we have today approximately the same volume of production that we had during 1944 and 1945. There is a greater dollar value but actually in volume production of goods there has been little increase. That was to be expected, because during 1944 and 1945 we were producing mostly standardized goods, war production. Even the goods which we were using in home consumption were standardized and naturally we were able to get a greater volume of production. Immediately the war was over, we as civilians demanded a more diversified production in this country, and naturally that production, because it was diversified, became less. The government are to be congratulated on the fact that they have brought the production back to where it was in 1944 and in 1945.

However, in spite of this increased production, if we read the financial papers, if we read the annual reports of the chartered banks, if we read the reports of the Canadian chamber of commerce, the manufacturers association, the Canadian federation of agriculture, and the labour organizations, we find a note of doubt as to the future. In giving their reports so far in this debate, the ministers have brought us up to the present, but they have not given any indication of what the future may hold in store for us. We find some of these organizations to which I have referred saying that we are going to have a recession. Others say that that recession may even become a depression. The surest way that they can make it into a depression is to keep on talking about it until they get everybody scared to death, and then they will have a depression. They have not been following a wise course in that respect.

Let me quote a statement which appeared in the Monetary Times-and I think it is fairly typical of the expressions which we find in our publications:

Businessmen are complaining that there was never a time in their memory when it was so difficult to form an intelligent estimate of the state of things to come. So manifold are the imponderables in the international situation, they contend, that about the only way to pick your way through the maze of the future is with a bent pin, like the Chinese do at the race track.

If big business in this country is in the state of mind where it is prepared to admit that it has no plans for the future, that it is just sitting there waiting for something to happen, it is time that we had a government in this country which is prepared to do a little

bit of planning for the future and to let the people know what these plans are.

Why do we find the situation that we have today? Why are manufacturers, the farmers and the labouring people in doubt? If you follow it up you will find that almost invariably the statement is that we have become a great trading nation, and that from 30 per cent to 35 per cent of everything we produce in this country goes into the world markets, and we do not know what these markets may do; we do not know whether the people to whom we are selling are going to be able to continue to buy from us.

Great Britain became a great trading nation in the latter part of the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth century. She became a great trading nation because she was prepared both to sell and to buy. I say that that is the only way that we in Canada can ever become a great trading nation. We can become a great trading

nation only when we are prepared to import as well as export.

In his speech the other day, the Minister of Agriculture spoke of England in the days of Gladstone when she was a great trading nation, but that was seventy years ago. Today the world is changed, and the position in Great Britain has been changed greatly, changed mostly by two world wars. In the first world war Britain had to dispose of some of her assets which she had throughout the world. In the second world war the situation was even worse. In the first two and a half years of the second world war Great Britain carried the load of the defence of democracy in the world, and she did it by disposing of every asset that she had all over the world to get the means of carrying on the war until the United States came in and we instituted lend-lease. What happened at the end of the war? Within three months of the end of the war we stopped lend-lease. The United States stopped it first, and we, like Charlie McCarthy, followed along-"me, too." Then what happened? It was only about three or four months later that we realized the foolishness of the move and that we were not going to be able to dispose of our products. So we made a loan to Great Britain. The United States made a loan of $3,750 million, and our loan was $1,250 million. Immediately that loan was made the United States removed controls, and almost overnight the loan lost about 40 per cent of its value, so far as the purchasing power of Great Britain was concerned. We followed suit, with the result that almost immediately the loan we had made became worth about 70 cents on the dollar.

Then we got into difficulty ourselves with our exchange situation; so we froze $225 million of the loan, thereby placing Great Britain in an even more serious position. After that we had Marshall aid, better known today as the European recovery plan. Under ECA we are again supplying large amounts of goods to Europe. We seem to forget however that war is not over on the day the shooting stops. A war is never over until the damage caused by the war has been repaired. The sooner people throughout the world realize that fact, the better. It matters not who wins a war; everyone must pay for it.

It is just the same as if, living on an island, we found one group in towns and another group in the country. The people in the towns may become dissatisfied with what the people in the country are doing, so they decide to go out and beat them up. We go out and beat them up; we burn a few barns, destroy some stock and come back to town, saying, "Well, we really told those fellows off." But the next day the milkman does not come around; there is no milk. There are no eggs. We are told that the only way we can get milk or eggs is to go out and milk the cow while the farmer is in the hospital, or go out and do the chores required for the supply of eggs. Then we must deliver them to town Exactly the same thing is taking place in Europe. We have destroyed Europe in two wars; and until Europe is rebuilt, until she is back in production again, we will not be able to trade with Great Britain or with other countries of Europe. When we have rebuilt Europe and have established trade relations there on a fair basis, we can hope for some prosperity in our own country.

As I have said, as a result of twd wars Great Britain has not the dollars with which to buy the surplus we have on the American continent. But she must eat; so she makes barter arrangements with her neighbours. In that connection I should like to tell a story about my own community. We have one of the best agricultural districts in western Canada, one which produces an abundance. Around the fringes however there is an area of bush country. During the depression years, in the thirties, many of our people were sent from the cities to homestead in that bush country. Those of us in the better areas had an abundance; our granaries were full; we had hogs; we had cattle-we had everything. But a few miles away our neighbours had only some cordwood and lumber. They received a dollar a cord for the cordwood, delivered in the car, and $10 a thousand for the lumber. But when we in the other area wanted to buy lumber it cost us $30 a thousand. When they wanted to buy any of the hogs which we sold for $7.50

The Address-Mr. Wright they had to pay $20 or $25 for them. It took four of our hogs to supply enough money with which to buy a thousand feet of their lumber. It took 3,000 feet of their lumber to buy one of our hogs.

Eventually some of the 'people got wise, and thought it would be a pretty good idea if we were to trade direct with our neighbours. The result was that one would see a farmer put a couple of hogs on his sleigh, drive away with them, and come back loaded with a thousand feet of lumber. We were practically on a barter basis, because certain people who had control of the finances of this country made money scarce.

The only people who got anywhere during that depression were those who did trade on a barter basis. They built new barns and new homes. Those who traded with them were able to stay off relief. There was in that community, however, another group who followed the old method. They went to the mortgage companies, borrowed money with which to build, and undertook to pay six or seven per cent interest. They then obtained some more credit from the lumber company, and the result was that in about five years the lumber and mortgage companies owned their farms; they were out on the road. There were others who sat down and did nothing, and there were still others in the bush area who did the same thing-nothing. They went on relief.

That is the situation we see in Europe today. When I listen to that program, which is broadcast every Saturday night, and begins "Gold, silver, dollars; gold, silver, dollars"-

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CCF

Thomas John Bentley

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

Mr. Bentley:

"Share the wealth".

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CCF

Gladys Grace Mae Strum

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

Mrs. Strum:

"Money, money, money."

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. Wright:

-it makes me think of the situation in Canada and throughout the world today. Someone is sitting on top of all the gold, silver and dollars, with the result that we cannot exchange our goods. We could not exchange them in the thirties.

I am not saying the barter basis is the only one under which trade should be carried on. But I am saying that it works, and in our own community we proved that it works. I believe England is going to prove that it will work in Europe, and that we had better get wise to ourselves and get in on some of that trade while it is going on-or we will find that we, too, will be on relief, just as were some of those people who refused to barter in the thirties.

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CCF

Thomas John Bentley

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

Mr. Bentley:

Or we will be mortgaged to the hilt.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. Wright:

Yes, or we will be mortgaged to the hilt.

The Address-Mr. Wright

What happens when a country exports more than it imports? If the United States and Canada continue to export more than they import, and refuse to bring back goods to Canada for those exports, they accumulate pounds and francs in Europe. The only good those pounds and francs can be to us is for purposes of investment in the industries or resources of Europe. That was the procedure in the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries, with the result that some of the exporting nations owned the basic resources of many other countries.

That has happened right here in Canada. We have imported more from the United States than we have exported to that country; and as a result of the accumulation here of dollars owned by Americans we find that about 50 per cent of our basic resources are owned by Americans. The condition is not so bad in Canada: we know the Americans. They are our neighbours and our friends; and we can trust them. But let me tell you this, that the people of Europe are not going to trust the people of North America who will come in there and attempt to own the basic resources of Europe-their railroads, their power sites, their manufacturing plants. And if the United States or Canada believes it can carry on on that basis, it is in for a disappointment-and it is not because there is no market for our goods.

The food and agricultural organization tells us that only one-fifth of the people of the world have a reasonable standard of living. Today we have a surplus of food, but that surplus is only in areas where production has been high, while in areas where the purchasing power is low there is still a great need for food.

Here is what the food and agricultural organization has to say:

However, the total supply of food available comprises only part of the picture. Availability per person is another major factor. The world's population has been increasing, and at different rates in different regions. These population increases, over the eleven-year period 1936 to 1947, vary from 3-5 per cent in Europe to over 24 per cent in Latin America. As a result, per capita food supplies have fallen more rapidly, compared with pre-war, than absolute quantities of food produced.

I do not think we will ever reach the point where there is hope for peace as long as there are surpluses of food in one section of the world and starvation in another. We must devise ways and means of distributing the wealth that can be produced on the North American continent. Unless we do that we will find ourselves in the same position as in 1936 and 1937. How did Hitler get the courage to try to conquer the world? He believed the democracies were too weak to resist him, that they could never get together.

At that time we were in a depression, we had millions of unemployed, and he thought we were weak.

Exactly the same situation will develop in the world again unless the democracies get together to solve some of these problems of distributing the tremendous productive capacity of the North American continent. This is needed for the development of Asia and India and the Middle East. We must find some method, barter or otherwise, to distribute our production. If we cannot do it in one way, then we must find some other way. There is no ground for the fear of overproduction. In my opinion, we can never really overproduce in this world.

What about our own country? Have we reached maximum consumption here? I do not think we have. I do not know what most people think, but I cannot help thinking of the old age pension of $30 per month that is paid by the dominion government. Some of the provinces pay supplementary amounts of $5 or $10, but mostly there is a means test attached. Out of that money these people must pay rent and clothe and feed themselves. Yet we have sufficient production to give them a better standard of living. It does not make common sense to me. I do not think we have nearly reached our consuming capacity in this country.

What about housing? We need probably 150,000 to 200,000 new houses this year every one of which will require furniture, kitchen equipment and all the things needed to furnish a home. There is a market for the tremendous production of this country, but apparently we cannot build houses. What about the war veterans allowances? This government is paying $30 per month to men who fought in the first year, an amount even lower than the old age pension. Some of the provinces supplement the old age pension, but the dominion government cannot even match that as far as the war veterans allowances are concerned.

Certainly there is a market for what can be produced in this country. I could go on indefinitely referring to groups of people in Canada who could consume more if they had the necessary purchasing power. We have the wealth to distribute; why not do the sensible thing? Why have a depression when there is a market for our goods, both at home and abroad? It does not make common sense.

We could undertake a tremendous construction program. I was astonished the other day when figures were tabled in reply to a question asked by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell). They showed that the government had on the shelf a program that would give employment, on the job and off the job, to some 40,000 additional workers.

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LIB

Robert Henry Winters (Minister of Reconstruction and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. Winters:

I wonder if the hon. member would allow me to say that the figures I tabled covered projects for which the drawings and specifications were completed, but there are other projects under active consideration and the shelf is being increased.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. Wright:

I am glad to hear the minister's explanation, but I submit that he has left it dangerously late to get his plans in order.

It is now four years since the war, and if those are all the plans he has prepared it does not seem to me that they are adequate. Employment could be given to 40,000 people for the next ten years on constructive work in my own constituency. There is need for a power site at Fort a la Corne on the Saskatchewan river where some 80,000 to 100,000 horsepower could be developed.

There are three uncompleted lines of railroad in the constituency. One runs from Regina through Melfort up to Gronlid. When it was first built it was intended to be extended through to Nipawin and from there on to meet the Hudson Bay railroad to Churchill. This line was built back in the twenties by the Canadian Pacific and I suppose the government cannot do anything about it.

But there are two Canadian National lines. One runs to Arborfield and another runs from Saskatoon through Melfort up to Carrot River where it stops. Settlers have gone in to points fifty miles from those railroads to open up the country, but the government apparently has no intention, at least in the immediate future, of extending these lines. The line which ends at Carrot River should be extended through to The Pas in Manitoba to meet the Hudson Bay railroad. That extension would open from ninety to one hundred miles of the best farming country left in western Canada. Three years ago the Saskatchewan government took certain lands out of the forest reserve some thirty miles from Carrot River and established co-operative farms. Two years ago they had under cultivation 2,500 acres of land; this year they put another 4,000 acres under cultivation, and next year they propose to have a further 6,000 acres under cultivation in that area. There is easily twice that much land which has been broken up by individuals who are located 30, 40 or 50 miles from the railroad.

These lines should be constructed because they would prove to be an asset. They would open up new country and give employment. Why should we worry about a depression in Canada? Why should we worry about places to spend our money? We have plenty of places. What I have said applies also to the line that ends at Arborfield. It should be

The Address-Mr. Pinard extended through to meet the Hudson Bay railroad. This extension would open up new country and provide additional employment.

The line that ends at Gronlid should be extended to Nipawin. The area through which this extension would pass is one of the best mixed farming areas in western Canada. They have a greater diversified production in that area than in any other area in the west. We produce honey, five million to six million pounds of alfalfa seed a year, red clover seed, grass seeds, peas, rape, registered grains. The land has been tested for the production of sugar beets. We could have a sugar beet factory there. The land is suitable for the production of sugar beets without irrigation, and would justify the establishment of a factory. We have power on the Saskatchewan river. We have everything there except-

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March 2, 1949