March 2, 1949

?

An hon. Member:

Government co-operation.

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CCF

Percy Ellis Wright

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

Mr. Wright:

Government co-operation to go ahead with these schemes and make that province a diversified one instead of a one-crop province as it is at the present time. Those are some of the things which I should like to bring to the attention of the government. I am one of those people who do not believe in hollering blue ruin. I believe we have a great country, and I think all we need is the courage to go ahead and develop it.

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LIB

Roch Pinard

Liberal

Mr. Roch Pinard (Chambly-Rouville):

In

rising to participate in this debate, it is my intention, while trying to adhere strictly to the rules of the house, to discuss some aspects of the political situation in Canada today in the light of recent developments and circumstances. Amongst the many changes which have made of the year 1948 one of the busiest and most active in the political life of Canada, an all-important event has taken place. I refer to the change in the leadership of the Liberal party during the month of August. If one recalls that our party has experienced such changes only three times since 1893, a period of fifty-five years, one is bound to admit that the event of last August is of very great significance.

It is true that a similar change has also taken place in the Progressive Conservative party, but one is not surprised if in this case the event did not attract the same attention or offer the same interest to the political observer. The reason for such indifference is easy to understand. Even to the most enthusiastic of moving picture fans the sixth or seventh marriage of a Hollywood star cannot offer much interest. Likewise, even to the most devoted, or should I say the most hardened Tory, the advent of the tenth or eleventh leader in the last forty years, to

The Address-Mr. Pinard take charge of the opposition, could not but leave him quite cold, or at least very skeptical.

In the case of the Liberal party the election of our new leader, the present Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) coincided with the retirement from leadership of one whom,

I am sure, the history of this country will confirm as having been one of Canada's greatest servants and statesmen, the righc hon. member for Glengarry (Mr. Mackenzie King). The people of the country and everyone in the house were pleased to realize that our former Prime Minister had chosen to remain with us as a simple commoner in order to give the country the benefit of his long and unique experience, not only in Canadian but in world affairs. It is indeed comforting to see that the former leader of the opposition, the hon. member for Neepawa (Mr. Bracken), has also decided to remain with us. He too has made a great contribution, and fortunately the house will continue to benefit from his experience. Such an attitude on the part of the former leaders of our two great political groups, in deciding to remain in the service of their country in this house, offers a much better example than that which was given some time ago by another leader of a political party. I refer, of course, to the late Lord Bennett, who was Prime Minister of Canada for five long years.

The leader of the Conservative party at that time launched before the public in the 1935 election his famous slogan "Canada first", which he defended with his usual emphasis. After suffering a crushing defeat in 1935, a defeat which we all remember, he decided to leave his country of birth and origin, which had bestowed upon him such great honours, and he went overseas to England. He changed his slogan, "Canada first", into the strange declaration, "I am going home."

It is doubtful, however, whether the present leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) will follow such an example after he has experienced the same political adversities. Even if he decided to go back to the province of Ontario in order to become again premier of that province, it is possible that the electors would not accept his change of decision. Then the leader of the opposition would be left with the possibility of offering his services to the premier of Quebec as a friend unless, of course, the latter has then disappeared from public life.

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LIB

Léoda Gauthier

Liberal

Mr. Gauthier (Porineuf):

He would not accept it.

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LIB

Roch Pinard

Liberal

Mr. Pinard:

Or possibly, as my friend says, the offer would be refused because the Quebec premier would try to find better political

advice. Let us return for a moment to that great event of last August when a new leader was chosen to take over the direction of the Liberal party. On that occasion once more the people of Canada understood the two main reasons that are behind the continued success of our political group. Those reasons are competent leadership and sound national policy. Ever since its inception, the Liberal party has indeed enjoyed competent leadership. I think everyone in the house, even my friends opposite, will agree that it is not necessary for me to demonstrate that fact. No better and more decisive proof could be brought than that of simply recalling that ever since the end of the last century, or if you prefer since the advent of Laurier in 1896, the Liberal party has been in power all the time with the exception of the decade from 1911 to 1921, and the sad period that I recalled a minute ago, from 1930 to 1935.

What better demonstration is there of the brilliant leadership which our group, and I would also say the Canadian people, have enjoyed under Laurier and the right hon. member for Glengarry? On the 7th of August last Liberals from all parts of Canada elected their new leader, the present Prime Minister of our country. Since that date the Canadian people have once more realized how fortunate indeed our group has been that there should be a man so highly distinguished, of so great ability, to carry the emblem of Liberalism and follow the path traced out by these great figures who shine in the history of our nation.

The prodigious ascension of the Prime Minister to the highest political honours is a tribute paid by the Canadian people to his sincerity, competence and ability. The fact of his choice by all Liberals throughout the whole country is also proof of the spirit of unity and good understanding which has always prevailed in our political group. This gesture in selecting once again a Canadian of French origin is another recognition by Liberals of the fundamental principle of equality of the two major races of the nation. It is one of the numerous reasons which justify the contentions of our group, that it really represents the aspirations, ideals and thoughts of everybody in Canada, and justify its claim to being a truly national party.

But, Mr. Speaker, I said a moment ago that not only good leadership but also a sound national policy throughout has been one of the reasons for the continued achievement of our political group in the past. A great French statesman once said that politics should be a fight for ideas rather than a struggle of intrigues. Unless a party is willing to base its political actions on intangible principles; unless it chooses to remain faithful to a living

doctrine; unless it devotes all its energies to the defence of national ideas; it cannot survive.

It is true that other groups have been formed, even in our country, which preferred to count on opportunism or on trying to achieve power by making appeals to the weaker instincts of the masses; or who in their bid for office have resorted to promises or flattery; but inevitably such groups, after agitating public opinion for a while, have had or will have to crumble and disappear under public contempt. Ever since its origin the Liberal party has been faithful to its principles and doctrines, and has tried successfully to adapt its course of action to the continuing and changing needs of our time. Many definitions have been given by our party leaders of such principles and doctrines. All such definitions, though they may vary in terms, have expressed the same idea, for which so many Canadians in the past have been willing, and so many are still willing, to fight. Laurier, who is often referred to as the father of Canadian Liberalism, gave a sound and complete definition of Liberal principles when he stated that Liberals should pursue reforms through moderate and democratic means; that they should try to obtain an extension of the political freedom of the people, and also that they should work towards a vision of a greater independence for our people in the international community. He also admirably summed up those principles when he spoke of the superiority of Liberalism when it tries to favour, by its actions, the attainment of an easier life by a larger number.

It is through constant adaptation of such ideas to our ways of life by Liberal leaders ever since confederation that the whole legislation of our country-I refer, of course, to that legislation which is permanent, not to the transitory legislation-is imbued with Liberalism. For that reason I was pleased to realize, when reading the speech from the throne this year, that under its new Liberal leader this government intends, in carrying on its task, to apply the same principles and doctrines as they were expressed anew in the resolutions adopted by our party at its convention last August.

Under our present Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and this government, we find in the speech from the throne that other reforms are proposed which after this session will form part of our legislation. The legislation thus enunciated is entirely in conformity with the principles already defined, and one has only to

The Address-Mr. Pinard recall some of the measures already proposed or to be proposed to realize that they are in complete accord with the ideals of Liberalism. For instance, in order to facilitate an easier life for a greater number the government has decided to introduce legislation to modify and extend the scope of the Family Allowances Act, and legislation also will be introduced to supplement the national health program which was undertaken last year. Again, in order to give Canadians greater freedom, a measure will be introduced to establish our Supreme Court of Canada as the court of last resort for this country. No doubt it was also in pursuit of this ideal of making our country more powerful, so that it may enjoy greater influence, that a few days ago we decided to sign an agreement by which Newfoundland is to become the tenth Canadian province. In 1905 two great provinces entered confederation, at a time when another great Liberal leader was at the head of government. Now our new Liberal leader welcomes another province into our midst. To add special significance to such a great venture, on both occasions it has fallen to the lot of members representing the same historic constituency of Quebec East, two Canadians of French origin-Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Louis St. Laurent-to welcome the entry of these new provinces into the Canadian confederation.

Again, following the traditions of our party and the policies advocated by former Liberal leaders, the government has expressed itself in favour of the opening of new markets and the expansion of trade. In 1911 Laurier was saying, "Our policy is advance. Our policy has been and will be to seek markets wherever markets are to be found." So I was very pleased the other day to hear the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) express the same views, and state that this government will continue to try to secure new markets and new openings for our products throughout the world.

But, Mr. Speaker, if the Liberal party has always enjoyed competent leadership it is because it has constantly followed the same sound policies and has constantly defended the same doctrines. Thus I say that today the Liberal party enjoys the confidence of the whole people of Canada. During that time our Tory opponents have been satisfied to criticize, to make appeals based on opportunism, or to change from destructive criticism to electoral appeals. The reason for their constant failure in the last few years, however, has been their refusal to adopt a national policy which could represent the aspirations and ideals of every Canadian. It would appear from some of the policies they

1076 HOUSE OF

The Address-Mr. Pinard have advocated that their aim and intention has been to bring about a divided country instead of trying to have a united Canada. While constantly opposing the needs of one section of the country to those of another, or again while trying to antagonize one province against the others, on other occasions by their attitude they have tried to create unrest and at times even hatred between the two great races. Thus they have become in fact, even though perhaps unwillingly, the real enemies of Canadian unity. Not only in their speeches but in their writings our friends the Progressive Conservatives seem even today to have some sort of dislike or aversion for the words "Canadian unity." You may look through the declaration of policy that party adopted last October, and in the whole twenty-three pages of what I would call the Tory tale of promises to the people you will not find one word about unity. This pamphlet contains almost everything as far as offers to the people are concerned except an undertaking to work with the people to bring about unity in Canada. Yet after the recent by-election in Nicolet-Yamaska the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) interpreted the result as an expression of gratitude by the people of that riding for the great work accomplished by the Progressive Conservative party in the direction of Canadian unity.

After that election we saw in the press that we Liberals who had participated in the campaign were accused of having raised religious or racial cries on various occasions.

I am asking you, Mr. Speaker: Who has in fact raised such an appeal? Is it the members on this side of the house who have constantly worked to establish unity, tolerance and better understanding between the races of this country? Is it the Liberal governments under Laurier and Fielding or is it the government led for so long a time by the right hon. member for Glengarry (Mr. Mackenzie King) and his former colleague Ernest Lapointe, or is it this present government which has raised religious or race cries in this house? On no occasion have you heard that, Mr. Speaker.

I would refer hon. members to some words that were used in this very house by the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) on January 31 of this year, as reported at page 89 of Hansard:

We have always been able to put forward the same policy and to make the same appeal in both languages. There has never been a Liberal government since confederation which has not recognized at all times in its ranks the principle upon which this nation was really founded, the principle of the partnership of the two races. Our party is the only one which has been able to have leaders from both races: and our party has always practised the precept of unity-which is desired I think by most Canadians.

A little further on he added:

We also stand for national unity, unity based upon the fundamental equality of all Canadians whatever their race or wherever their province.

On the contrary, Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether the leader of the opposition should not be called the real enemy of national unity or whether it should not be he rather than we who should be accused of raising religious or racial cries, in view of the declarations that the leader of the opposition himself has made on many occasions in the past-and I quote his own words as they were reported on one occasion:

Are we going to permit one isolationist province to dominate the destiny of a divided Canada? I hope that each one of you will answer with a resounding "no" which will be heard in every part of the province of Quebec.

This was said by the leader of the opposition on the occasion of the discussion concerning family allowances; and I could cite many of these expressions by the leader of the opposition along the same lines. For instance, if we are accused of raising the religious cry, I would refer this house to a declaration that was made by the leader of the opposition at one time in his own province. He said this, and I quote his own words:

If the Roman Catholics say they are going to bring their faith into the political scene by organizing as a political party, then I say "the war is on." If they do, they are starting something that may end in the abolition of the separate schools in Ontario. If it appears that the Roman Catholics have decided to operate as a political group-

Which has never been the case, by the way, and the hon. gentleman knows it only too well.

-then the contract of 1867 is forfeited and I will be ready to fight to the last ditch.

Those were some of the appeals made by the leader of the opposition. I am surprised to find that today we are the ones who are being accused of raising religious and racial cries. It has never been done by the Liberal party. Nobody on this side of the house has ever tried to do such a thing. Because of the fact that most of the members from the province of Quebec belong to our group, it is untrue to say that the religious or race cry has been raised by anybody on this side of the house.

It is so true that the leader of the opposition has become a real enemy of Canadian unity that he did not go and participate in the election in the riding of Nicolet-Yamaska.

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?

An hon. Member:

He was not obliged to.

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LIB

Roch Pinard

Liberal

Mr. Pinard:

In fact, he was invited to stay out by the candidate of the party at the time.

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PC

Clayton Wesley Hodgson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hodgson:

Twenty-three leaders of the Liberal party were down there. He did not need to go down.

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LIB

Roch Pinard

Liberal

Mr. Pinard:

I am pleased to find out that the hon. gentleman knows that. If he knows, he should have gone there. And if he had gone there with his Tory friends, I am telling him now that his friend from Nicolet-Yamaska would not be sitting in this house today.

I would point out to you, Mr. Speaker, that when the other day we saw the hon. member for Nicolet-Yamaska coming into this house arm and arm with the leader of the opposition and the Conservative member for Argenteuil (Mr. Heon), it was indeed a strange combination-an extremely sad scene, I should say.

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PC

Clayton Wesley Hodgson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hodgson:

You did not like it.

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LIB

Roch Pinard

Liberal

Mr. Pinard:

We remember what he said during his campaign when he refused, in his radio addresses, to give his confidence to the one he today considers to be his own leader. But as was said at the time by some hon. members of this house-I think it was said by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) and also by our own Prime Minister-our Tory friends know quite well that one swallow does not make a summer. They will certainly find that out at the next general election, when it is time to go and ascertain whether the people are in favour of this government or not. They will find then, and we will find, that the government still enjoys the confidence of every province, of every race, and of the majority of the electors in this country.

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PC

Lawrence Wilton Skey

Progressive Conservative

Mr. L. W. Skey (Trinity):

In view of the unfortunate nature of some of the remarks made by the hon. member who preceded me, Mr. Speaker, I feel that I should point out to the house now, for the sake of the record, that the leader of the opposition is not in his place and he was not present to hear what was said by the hon. member who has just spoken.

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?

An hon. Member:

He should have been.

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PC

Lawrence Wilton Skey

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Skey:

I will not spend any more time on that matter. I should like to offer my congratulations to the mover and seconder of the motion for an address in reply. I congratulate them on making the best of what was not too good a speech from the throne. At the same time I should like to extend my personal welcome to the new members who have entered the house since we prorogued last June.

May I also add a word concerning a new constituency in Newfoundland. The name of the new constituency is Trinity-Conception. As the member for Trinity, Toronto, I shall be pleased to extend my personal welcome to a new member from another Trinity constituency as soon as that member is elected from that grand old dominion.

Before I go on with the general tenor of my remarks, which will deal with housing,

The Address-Mr. Skey I should like to refer to another unrelated matter, namely, Christie Street hospital in Toronto which has just recently been handed over to the city. It has been renamed and is now called Lambert Lodge. It is about three years ago that I first made the suggestion that, when the hospital at Sunnybrook came into full operation, perhaps the government would see fit to extend the hospital facilities in our part of the province by handing Christie Street hospital back to the city of Toronto. I am extremely pleased that, through the tenure of two ministers of veterans affairs, two prime ministers and two different mayors of Toronto, my original suggestion has survived. I am pleased that it is now a fact that the city owns Christie Street hospital and that the facilities and hospital beds, which are so greatly needed at the present time, will be available to the people not only of our city but of York county and the part of the province surrounding the city. A few days ago I was happy to participate in the ceremonies, with several members of the city council and many of the hospital staff of Christie Street and the Prime Minister, at the time the key was handed over. It was following that ceremony that the Prime Minister spoke interestingly on the housing problem in Toronto. Judging from his remarks that day, he has changed his mind considerably from the stand he took on October 28, 1947, when he was reported by the Ottawa Journal to have said that he would have no part in passing any legislation to assist subsidized housing in any way. On the latter occasion the Prime Minister said, and I quote from the Telegram of Monday, February 21:

We feel that the proper policy for the federal government is one which is limited to extending financial assistance to individuals and corporations, whether home owners or landlords.

Because the remainder of my remarks will be devoted to housing, I do hope that the government are going to go forward in the general way outlined by the Prime Minister on that day, and that there will be the most vigorous prosecution of, and action on, the housing front in Canada that we have ever seen. I should like to see it equal in some ways the efforts put forth by industry during the war, because I think it is the most acute problem in the country.

According to the Toronto Star of Monday, February 14, the financial editor asked this question:

What has been accomplished in meeting the demand for adequate housing (since 1945)?

His answer was:

The simple answer to this question is "not very much." In fact, it is not unfair to say that we have failed and failed badly.

1078 HOUSE OF

The Address-Mr. Skey

It is not amiss for me to point out at this time that, immediately following the war, the housing problems of our country were largely under the control of the federal government through the wartime powers that they had assumed. In 1945 they gave the electorate to understand that they intended to deal with the housing problem. It was not many months after that before they almost threw up their hands in despair and handed it back to the municipalities.

May I turn to another phase of this question, Mr. Speaker? In Toronto on February 13 the veterans held a meeting in Earlscourt legion hall, which was reported in the Telegram of February 14, 1949. The report reads:

At the meeting attended by representatives from Ottawa and Queen's park as well as local housing officials, the veterans aired hundreds of cases of poor accommodation for which returned men are paying high rents, and other housing complaints.

If there is any group in this country to which this parliament and the people owe a fair deal, it is the veterans, and yet they have been those most penalized. I need only remind the house that after we rose on August 31, 1946, the Veterans Land Act was amended and the acreage provisions were raised from half an acre to something close to three acres. With that one stroke of the pen literally thousands of veterans in Canada were denied the thing that they wanted most, namely, a home, a home in which to settle themselves and their families. The Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Gregg) is in his seat and I am sure that he will not deny the fact that the effect of the alteration made by order in council was to stop thousands of building projects and building plans for veterans across the country. Perhaps the government could argue in this instance that the Veterans Land Act was a small-holding act, and was being used for purposes different from those intended by the government. But what it was doing, even though it might not have been used for the purpose that the government originally intended, was meeting the veteran's greatest need at that time. His greatest need was a home, and he was using the half-acre provision to get himself a home. Since then there has been practically no assistance to this group, which deserves it above all others.

My constituency is in the most crowded part of the metropolitan urban area of the city of Toronto. There we see the full effects of inadequate housing. Hardly a week goes by that I do not get a number of appeals from my constituents, asking me for help in the housing field. I think I can speak with authority when I tell you, Mr. Speaker, and hon. members, that it is causing broken

families. It is placing a tremendous strain on the budgets of veterans and the workingmen. With high rents and high costs for makeshift accommodation, with the number of restaurant and outside meals that have to be paid for, the crowded housing conditions are causing problems of health which the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Martin) should be aware of. In some ways it is contributing to juvenile delinquency. Recently it was reported in the press that one family was using sleeping drugs on their children in order to keep them quiet so that they would not be evicted from accommodation which they had secured after great difficulty. That is certainly bad for the children; it is seriously affecting their health and the well-being of that family. But that is not all, Mr. Speaker. It is contributing to another social and political problem. It is contributing to communism.

Yesterday I was interested when the hon. member for Macleod (Mr. Hansell) spoke of communism and referred to it as "organized desperation." I do not think that that is a bad description, because people get to the point in this housing problem where they say to one another: "Things could not be much worse for us. We are ready to try anything." That sort of thing is true not only in my city but also in Montreal. I am sure that it is true in Vancouver and from coast to coast.

May I give you some insight into that, Mr. Speaker. When we had a provincial election in Ontario last year, in my constituency the returning officer looked for polling stations. In some parts of the constituency he found that there was no place in which to place a poll for the people to vote, because the people in those sections were sleeping in shifts. They were on the twenty-four hour shift, and every bit of accommodation was being used in these parts of Trinity-Bracondale.

Now where is the individual to find any help with these problems? He has not received it from the federal government up to the present time, because, just when the young men and the young women need most to save, they find themselves subjected to taxation which can be described as extortionate or confiscatory, and they cannot put aside anything with which to pay for a new house or to provide any part of the cost of a house under the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation plans. Not only has this taxation been imposed on his or her savings or earnings, but the government's financial policy has led to a cut in the purchasing power of the dollar which amounts to 50 per cent over 1939. In 1939 the Canadian dollar would buy 65 cents worth of goods, using the year 1901 as a base. Now, on the same basis of compari-

son, in October of 1948 the dollar would buy only 32 cents worth of goods. I have here a table showing the purchasing power of the Canadian dollar. It has been prepared by the very reliable firm of George A. Touche and Company, the auditors for the Canadian National Railways. With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and with the permission of the house I should like to place this table on Hansard.

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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Has the hon. member unanimous consent to put this document on Hansard?

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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

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PC

Lawrence Wilton Skey

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Skey:

The Address-Mr. Skey house is aware that Ontario is providing additional credits for those who build houses under the National Housing Act to the extent of $1,000 per unit. They have also special conditions for veterans. This pamphlet reports that Ontario has been forced to guarantee municipally sponsored rehousing schemes up to a limit of $15 million. The province will grant $300 per lot to veterans housing programs; and the province will guarantee building development corporations up to $2 million. Loans on 10,000 dwelling units will be guaranteed up to an aggregate sum of $10 million.

Here we have the provincial governments wrestling with a problem in connection with which it seems to me they have practically no help from the federal government, up to the present time. I am sure British Columbia is having the same problem but I have no information on that province at hand. However I make the statement because I do not want hon. members to think I am speaking only as a Toronto urban member, because I know the problem is one which extends from coast to coast.

When the Progressive Conservative party met in national convention in October last we recognized this situation as an emergency. In our platform we wrote several planks on the subject, one making provision for the extension of the National Housing Act, the second making provision for an extensive research by the government on buildings costs, and the final one a recommendation of dominion-provincial-municipal co-operation in tackling the problem. I believe there is no one in the house today who does not realize that all three levels of government are involved.

When a national highway became a political issue, the federal government was quick enough in calling a conference of the provincial premiers to discuss this worth-while project, one which I favour, but one which in my opinion is not nearly as important in our national life as is the housing problem in the cities of Canada. I should like to see the federal government call a housing conference and back to the limit its Minister of Reconstruction and Supply (Mr. Winters) at such a conference, giving him power to negotiate with the provinces and municipalities in order to find a solution-not just to produce a nice draft of what can or cannot be done. I should like to see this problem really tackled, so that Regent park would not be the only housing project in Canada that has been developed as a co-operative venture by the dominion, the province and the municipality. We are proud that the city council of Toronto have carried out the Regent park development, the

only one of its kind in Canada. But it is a shame that it is the only one; it is a shame that this type of co-operation has not been extended to other communities, as well as in our own, in an endeavour to deal with this urgent national problem.

I have completed my remarks except to say that I hope the new minister of reconstruction will succeed. I hope he will be permitted to meet with the provinces and the municipalities in a conference of the type I have described. There is no doubt that he understands the problem because he said so in Toronto when he spoke there on February 22. But he must do more than understand it; he must fight it and beat it. I hope the government will put its full financial strength behind his department and that we will make the same rapid progress in this field that we were able to make when we turned out munitions of war during a time when we faced a national crisis.

(Translation):

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LIB

Maurice Gingues

Liberal

Mr. Maurice Gingues (Sherbrooke):

Allow me to join those who have already spoken in congratulating the mover and the seconder of the address in reply to the speech from the throne, which is now under discussion. The hon. member for Essex West (Mr. Brown), who is already an old hand in parliament, displayed much talent in moving the address, and the new member for Laval-Two Mountains (Mr. Demers) showed that his constituents have selected as their representative a man of worth, a man who will surely succeed in Canadian politics.

I also wish to join those who believe as 1 do that the best parliamentary system is the two-party system and congratulate the new leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew). Although I do not share his views, I hope that he will hold that office longer than his predecessors.

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to speak on behalf of the people who live in that beautiful Quebec district which is called the eastern townships, to congratulate one of our fellow citizens on his success and to thank him for the great honour he is bringing to our wonderful region.

I should like more especially to tell you, Mr. Prime Minister, on behalf of the Borro-means, that is the former pupils of St. Charles Seminary, that the professors, the former students and all the pupils of the seminary have been proud of you at each stage of your brilliant career as a lawyer and as a statesman. But on the day when you were sworn in as Prime Minister of Canada, the rejoicing was complete "on the top of the high hill"; the joy was ecstatic; your alma mater was jubilant.

The Address-Mr. Gingues

All those who know your old seminary will easily understand that. To all those from other parts of the country who do not know it, I* must say that you were a bright student, always getting the highest honours in your class, and that since you left St. Charles, you have been the model of all Borromeans. As the Bishop of Sherbrooke said one day, and I quote:

Your conduct has made of you an example to follow, a model to imitate, and all this because of the integrity of your life, of your frankness, of your fondness for truth.

Do you not think, Mr. Speaker, that if a provincial-municipal conference were called where the Quebec government would offer to share this revenue with the cities, the latter would be able to meet their present obligations and plan for their future development?

The same applies to the tax on gasoline, which brings in good money, half of which is paid by city dwellers. Since cities must undertake the building and upkeep of their streets, do you not think that the provincial government infringes upon municipal autonomy in refusing to share this revenue with them?

The eastern townships, your seminary and Sherbrooke are proud of you. You can rely on our support. We know you and we like your frankness. Politics needs men like you.

Mr. Speaker, in 1945, a federal-provincial conference was held in Ottawa during which the federal government made certain proposals to the provinces. Unfortunately for the aged, the sick and the invalid, unfortunately for the economic future of the country, the two wealthiest provinces refused to co-operate and, in the case of Quebec, counter-proposals were not even submitted. Since then, the government is being branded as a centralizing power, as the enemy of the provinces.

And yet, Mr. Speaker, if we consider the generous way in which the federal government have contributed to social security, assistance to the young, and through many other pieces of legislation, we must recognize the fact that the central government have only performed those functions which are assigned to them in the constitution, and that they never attempted to encroach upon provincial rights.

I sometimes wonder why the provincial government has not yet called a provincial-municipal conference. The time has come for provincial authorities to invite the mayors to discuss municipal finances. The provincial government should restore their autonomy to the cities and towns of Quebec.

Recently, the cities of the eastern townships attempted, one after the other, to introduce a bill in the Quebec legislature in order to obtain the power to amend their charter and levy a 2 per cent sales tax. They were compelled, however, to withdraw the measure on account of the protests from their citizens. They will have to solve their financial problems in some other way. The 2 per cent sales tax levied by the provincial government in the city of Sherbrooke yields about $300,000 per year.

Those who loudly clamour for autonomy should, to my mind, start by having regard for the autonomy of the government closest to the people, the municipal government. We know our cities are hard put to it to balance their budgets, that they cannot further increase the real estate levy and are duty bound to pay adequate wages to their employees.

How can they be expected to carry out all their responsibilities if the provincial government keeps on draining the sources of income at their disposal? I suggest that the municipalities demand a conference with the provincial government. We shall then see which government most encroaches on the autonomy of others.

Such a conference would also compel realization of the fact that, in our country, all governments-federal, provincial and municipal-must co-operate. This co-operation, on the part of every government, is indispensable if the true interest of the country is to be served. That is, after all, in the interests of every Canadian.

The federal government, it seems to me, has been, up to now, worthy of its responsibilities. However I feel it to be its duty today to alleviate the burden of taxation which the Canadian people have borne with so much courage. Speaking for my constituents, I request the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) to increase the income tax exemptions so as to raise the morale of our people, inspire confidence in the future and bring about those undertakings upon which depends the future development of our great country.

It must not be forgotten that a disheartened people is a people whose collective will may obey any impulse and may accept any belief, even communism, whilst a people whose morale is excellent pays no attention whatever to any dangerous ideology, because such a people is confident and is constantly striving to better its position without fearing that its efforts will be futile.

The Address-Mr. Gingues

If the Minister of Finance should object that he will have to find other revenue sources, I would strongly advise him to find them and to rid our people of this disheartening method of taxation, the income tax.

We could, for example, levy a higher tax on alcoholic beverages and luxury goods in general. We could even organize a national lottery and place it under the jurisdiction of the Post Office Department which, I am sure, could sell national lottery tickets as easily as it sells money orders. Such a source of revenue alone would permit the Minister of Finance to exempt from income tax hundreds of thousands of Canadians, freeing them from all the red tape of the Department of National Revenue, and the government would still be in a position to meet the requirements of its social legislation and the national debt.

As I said, Mr. Speaker, the Income Tax Act is a demoralizing measure and I wonder whether the time has not come to look for something better. Those who direct the taxation policy of the government should ponder and endeavour to obtain revenues by other means.

Any word liable to demoralize another person is an evil word and should never be uttered. Likewise and with greater reason, any law which tends to demoralize a people is an evil law and deserves to be suppressed.

The people are aware that they must pay taxes and are ready to do so. They know the government needs revenue but they hate the present taxation methods. Let us find other methods such as I just mentioned. I have already taken the liberty of writing to the ministers concerned to suggest certain methods. I hope they have studied them and that the next budget will bring forth these reforms. The people will be satisfied, their spirits will be better and they will face the future with confidence.

And now, Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding all that it has done to promote the building of houses, I would like the government to improve the National Housing Act. We all know that this act is nearly perfect. If it has not produced the expected results, it is only because of the high cost of building.

The cost of building, however, is about to become stabilized and the government should, in order to make the National Housing Act more complete, absorb part of the interest.

At present, a worker is unable to build a house for less than $6,000 to $7,000. The interest on $6,000, at 41 per cent, amounts to $270 per annum. In other words, on $6,000 the interest alone would amount to $22.50 a month.

In addition, the Sherbrooke property and school taxes amount to $125 per year. If we add insurance and upkeep, the rent comes to approximately $40 per month.

A labourer will be unable to keep his home if he has to build under such conditions. However, it would be much easier for him to purchase a house and keep it if the government absorbed the difference between 41 per cent and 2 per cent, because there his rent would only amount to some $30 per month.

I therefore urge the government to look into the matter carefully and follow my advice. I am convinced that it is the only way to help thousands of Canadians who wish to buy a house. Being property-owners they will be better Canadians.

Now, Mr. Speaker, may I deal with various matters of particular concern to the constituency I have the honour of representing. A Sherbrooke industry employing some 500 workers, male and female, prospered during the first great war. Right after the 1918 armistice, however, hundreds of glove workers were dismissed and had to look for employment elsewhere. Not only did the industry lose thousands of dollars, but these workers, who had spent many years acquiring the precision which is essential for glove making, were left at loose ends. Glove imports from Czechoslovakia and western Germany were the cause of the trouble.

Remembering this experience, I felt it my duty, as early as 1942, to bring to the attention of the government the importance of this industry to the city of Sherbrooke and to the country at large. At the time the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. MacKinnon) visited the present industries-the Julius Kayser and the Austin Gloves plants. We then supplied the Department of Trade and Commerce with all the information required in order that the government might protect, after the war, an industry that had contributed its share from the economic viewpoint and had given some five hundred local workers steady employment. Unfortunately,

I am afraid that imports from certain European countries will again help to nullify the efforts of hardy Canadians who invested rather substantial amounts, only to find that their efforts were useless and that they had better turn to other industries.

Canadian manufacturers are not seeking any favours, Mr. Speaker. All they want is honest and loyal competition.

However, that is not possible with European countries, since the glove-making industry on that continent does not operate the same as it does here. Over there, it is a

family industry. A man will cut the parts necessary to make hundreds of gloves a day and will then distribute them in homes where members of the families will sew them up, at ridiculous wages. Here, our manufacturers must own huge plants, install therein costly equipment, pay good wages and ensure good working conditions. All this compels them to sell their goods at a higher price than imported goods, in spite of the duties imposed by Canada. This importation, it seems to me, is getting unjust and disloyal. There is still time however, and I today request the government to take every available means to protect the industry and to keep these 500 workers employed. The government can, I think, through conferences with the interested countries, arrive at an agreement which will keep this industry in our midst so that it may continue to progress and to make of Sherbrooke the "cradle of the glove-making industry in Canada."

I read in the newspapers a while ago that a group of Esthonian immigrants were to come to Sherbrooke to work for the Dominion Textile Company. These immigrants were technicians, which would enable the company to take on two Canadian workers for each immigrant it would employ. I hear, Mr. Speaker, that these immigrants are here and that the Dominion Textile Company has taken on six Canadian workers for/ each one of the Esthonian experts. If it is true, it is not so bad then. But they say that the wives and daughters of these foreigners are employed in other industries. If that be true, it is intolerable because we already have here men and women who are looking for work. I read also in the newspapers that the city council of Sherbrooke had allowed that company to accommodate these people in the former military camp "Lord Sherbrooke."

I shall put some questions on the order paper in order that my constituents may get the necessary information on that subject. If I mention it in this house, it is that I want to disengage myself from any responsibility as far as the arrival of these immigrants is concerned. The answers I shall get will show that I had nothing to do, directly or indirectly, with the coming of these immigrants to Sherbrooke.

I am not against selected immigration but I do not believe that the government should grant entry permits to Canada to anyone while there is unemployment in Canada. I trust that before taking action in the future the authorities of the Department of Mines and Resources and of the Labour Department will refer to the member for Sherbrooke.

The Address-Mr. Gingues

The member for Chicoutimi (Mr. Gagnon) said the other day during the course of this discussion that he was afraid that the taxes might lead to revolution. As I said a while ago, I want a reduction of income taxes but I believe that the attitude of the present premier of Quebec (Mr. Duplessis), that dictator, towards organized labour could lead to revolution more than the taxes could.

I was very much amazed to learn that Mr. Picard, chairman of the Catholic Federation of Labour, had been called a "saboteur". I know Mr. Picard and several leaders and chaplains of the Catholic Syndicates. I am well acquainted with their patience and tolerance and with the contribution they have made for the betterment of the position of the Quebec workers and I know that they do not deserve to be called "saboteurs". When a man, speaking on behalf of his government, describes in such terms people who are so honest and so anxious to preserve the good relations which must exist between capital and labour, he simply does so, in my opinion, in order to destroy the labour organization, and I say that he acts as the No. 1 organizer of the communist party. Yes, Mr. Speaker, when the labouring classes have lost confidence in their present leaders, they will choose others, and you know which ones they will select. Our province and the whole country will then see the masses turn to plain socialism, which in my opinion is communism's spring-board. The one responsible for that situation will be the man who, through his dictatorial attitude, will have succeeded in destroying the confidence the workers had in their leaders. This is no time for dictatorship; in this period of readjustment the workers need first the confidence of their leaders and especially the honest and sincere leadership of a government having all the autonomy required for the protection of their rights.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, I am myself a worker, more than anyone else in this house. I know by experience the countless difficulties we had to overcome during the last twenty-five years in order to defend the legitimate rights of workers. The Canadian and Quebec worker enjoys today conditions better than those I have known myself scarcely a decade ago.

That is due to the Liberal governments which have always given fair play to the working class, both by placing social laws on our statute books and by enacting measures enabling workers to discuss on equal

The Address-Mr. Gingues footing with their employers. Mr. Speaker, the saboteur is not Mr. Gerard Picard, president of the C.T.C.C.; it is the dictator of Quebec, who sabotages the Liberal legislation protecting our workers.

Mr. Speaker, I have taken part in many struggles during the past twenty years, but never have I witnessed an election such as that of July 28 last in my province. When I went actively into politics, I laid down a policy for my organizers in the matter of electoral manners. This policy was complied with and I am convinced I have improved electoral methods in my constituency.

Personally I have always believed and I still believe that candidates must appeal to the electors' intelligence. That is what I did. However, those who took part in last summer's election know that some people do not hesitate to resort to all sorts of means to corrupt and buy human consciences. I wonder if those methods will not lead us quicker than anything else to the revolution which the member for Chicoutimi seems to fear.

In my opinion, the methods used during the latest provincial electoral campaigns are far more dangerous than taxes to stir up indignation. The people of my province are now crying over their mistake of July 28.

In conclusion, may I say that although the present government is not perfect, taking its administration as a whole it has faithfully fulfilled its mandate.

Today, under our new leader, we may rightly feel confident, for, as I pointed out earlier, he is a man who loves frankness and truth. With him, we know where we come from and where we head for.

I am satisfied with the way of frankness and truth. I shall fully support my leader and begin by casting my vote in his favour when the motion for the address in reply to the speech from the throne is put before the house.

(Text):

On motion of Mr. Weir the debate was adjourned.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Permalink

At six o'clock the house adjourned without question put, pursuant to standing order.



Thursday, March 3, 1949


March 2, 1949