February 20, 1950

RADIO BROADCASTING

INQUIRY AS TO SETTING UP OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE


On the orders of the day:


PC

Donald Methuen Fleming

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Donald M. Fleming (Eglinion):

May 1

ask the Minister of National Revenue if the government will proceed this session to set up a special committee on radio and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation?

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO SETTING UP OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

James Joseph McCann (Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys; Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Hon. J. J. McCann (Minister of National Revenue):

Yes, Mr. Speaker, it is the inten-

(Mr. Abbott.]

tion of the government to set up the committee as soon as possible, and I expect to place a motion on the order paper this week.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO SETTING UP OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
Permalink

SPEECH FROM THE THRONE

CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY


The house resumed, from Friday, February 17, consideration of the motion of Mr. F. H. Larson for an address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session.


PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. George A. Drew (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, in rising to take part in this debate I wish to express my personal respects to the mover (Mr. Larson) and the seconder (Mr. Dumas) of the motion, who. have discharged that duty in keeping with the customs of this debate.

As to the speech from the throne itself, it contains so little of a definite nature that any remarks which may contribute to the effective consideration of our problems necessarily must be related more to what the speech from the throne does not say than to anything it does say.

There was one significant comment in the excellent speech made by the hon. member who moved this motion, and did it so well. He said, at page 27 of Hansard:

I feel that I may be open to criticism for not taking issue with the government on some of the matters of a more contentious nature.

Then he went on to explain why, on balance, he felt justified in approving what they had done. That brief comment, however, reflected what is in the minds of so many members on both sides of this house. There has been widespread and justified criticism of the government since last we met; and that criticism is directed not only to particular acts of omission or commission by this government but also to the very important fact that neither parliament nor the people were given information which the government have admitted they had in their possession for some considerable time. That brings before us an issue which goes to the very root of the established principles of responsible government and, in turn, to the very root of freedom itself.

There comes a time when all wise parliamentary bodies must carefully examine abuses which have crept into their procedure and practices, and correct them before it is too late. Not only here in Canada but in other free nations as well the emergency powers, conferred upon the executive and

intended only for the purpose of meeting the desperate demands of war, were carried forward into the years beyond. Although many of those powers and controls have since then been repealed or diminished, the state of mind and the attitude toward parliament which those powers created do persist to an extent' that may threaten the survival of our parliamentary system.

During the war, governments found it necessary, or claimed that they did, to keep a considerable amount of information to themselves, and, on the grounds of security, refused to parliament information which ordinarily parliament would have not only the right to obtain but the right to be given voluntarily as the basis of informed debate. Men who have been in the habit of treating information as their own special prerogative may find it difficult to throw off this habit, but the time is long past when it can be accepted as an excuse for withholding information from parliament, without serious danger to the continuance of our parliamentary system.

I think every hon. member of this house must be gravely concerned about what has happened in this country since we were last in session, and there should be equally great concern about the suppression of information which should have been given to the representatives of the people in this house. As recently as December 1 the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) gave a glowing account of the prospects for production, export trade, prices, and employment. It was only on the last day of the session that the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) indicated in some slight degree the extent to which our food exports to the United Kingdom might drop in 1950. That was serious enough in itself. What has happened since then is infinitely more serious. The loss of our assured markets for wheat, bacon, cheese, eggs, and other food exports, has had an immediate and disastrous effect on domestic farm prices. It is hard to realize that it is only a few weeks ago that the government was telling us we had no problem of surplus food products. Now the problem of surplus food, and the threat of even greater surpluses, is endangering our whole agricultural price structure, and threatening the security of our farmers.

The Minister of Agriculture now says that he expected this situation for two years. If that is so, why were we not given this information during the early days of the last session, when steps could have been taken in advance to meet the situation with which we are now confronted? The failure of the government to take effective steps in this matter

The Address-Mr. Drew has produced immediate and serious consequences which are being felt in every part of Canada.

When the trades and labour council of Canada and the Canadian Congress of Labour made a joint representation to the government on January 2, they said:

The unemployment situation in Canada has become so serious as to cause apprehension throughout the nation.

In response to that statement the Department of Labour announced on January 7 that there were 261,000 unemployed, and that- -a considerable portion of the current unemployment results from the continuing growth of the Canadian labour force, rather than from a decline in employment.

On January 19 the Minister of Finance stated that the unemployment situation in Canada was purely seasonal. As recently as January 30 the unemployment insurance commissioner said in Winnipeg-and I quote his words, as reported in the press:

The labour unions are exaggerating the total of unemployed in Canada.

The figures of unemployment released two days ago give some indication, but only a partial indication, of how serious the situation really is. Total unemployment is now said to be 375,600. Such a figure is hardly in keeping with the statement in the speech from the throne to the effect that unemployment is due to seasonal and local conditions. The percentages in different parts of Canada tell the story. They are highest in British Columbia, where they are shown as 15-8 per cent of the labour forces. Next come the maritimes, with 10-2 per cent of the labour forces unemployed. Quebec, with a percentage of 7-8 per cent, comes next, largely because a great part of that province is affected by the same conditions which affect the maritimes and British Columbia. Ontario and the prairie provinces are still the lowest, with the same figure of 5-3 per cent.

These figures disclose that a considerable proportion of our unemployment is not seasonal or due to local factors, but is the direct result of the loss of seaborne trade. Undoubtedly the British Columbia figures are to some extent accounted for by the abnormal weather conditions of the past two months, and it is partly for this reason that their figures are so much higher in percentage than those of the maritime provinces.

One of the extremely disturbing factors is that unemployment insurance figures seem to be used in determining the number of unemployed. It will be noted also that in the press release of the Department of Labour which gives the total of 375,600 unemployed, that figure is under the heading, "Persons seeking

40 HOUSE OF

The Address-Mr. Drew work through the national employment service, February 2, 1950." There is not an hon. member in this house who is not fully aware of the fact that a large percentage of the unemployed do not seek work through the national employment services. It is well known that throughout the rural areas, and in many occupations, individuals seek employment on particular jobs. These figures are undoubtedly far below the real figures for unemployment at this time.

In considering the unemployment insurance figures as the basic factor in arriving at estimates of the unemployed, it is necessary also to remember that less than half of the employed in Canada are covered by unemployment insurance. Every social service worker, every welfare mission, knows that in addition to those receiving unemployment insurance there are many unemployed whose numbers are difficult to determine and whose plight is a cause for grave concern to this house.

The situation is serious. It is not too much to describe it as critical, because of the rapid acceleration of the unemployment figures in so short a time. It is to be hoped that this house will receive detailed information today from the Prime Minister as to the steps which will be taken to meet a situation of which the government has certainly been aware for many months.

The problem itself is serious and urgent. But what is of special importance to the members of this house is the fact that any indication of the real situation was withheld from hon. members, and is in fact not disclosed in the speech from the throne which we are now asked to approve. The statement of one of the senior members of the government only three weeks ago, that the unemployment situation in Canada is purely seasonal, simply emphasizes the fact that members of parliament have the responsibility not only to deal with unemployment itself but also to consider the action of the government in relation to parliament, and its effect upon our parliamentary system.

The fact is that unemployment is considerably above the figures given by the government, and is steadily rising, for reasons which the government refused to admit to this house during the last session.

The serious threat to our farmers, both in the loss of markets and in the severe drop in prices, is also something that has happened in the two months since the end of the last session. We received 'no indication of any condition such as that which has now become apparent, although the government has been repeatedly warned of the danger and measures were urged to meet, the situation.

Our forest industries, particularly those engaged in overseas export business, are already severely hit. So also are the mining industry and the fishing industry, particularly in the new province of Newfoundland. Where is there any indication of this situation in the speech from the throne and when has the government given us any indication of its knowledge of what was coming?

The fact is that this speech from the throne, which after all is simply a statement put in the mouth of the king's representative by the government, is a statement of propaganda about the excellent things this government has done. In the face of conditions which are disturbing Canadians from coast to coast, there is nothing but a suave assurance of everything being perfectly satisfactory. There is this unemployment, which the figures of the Department of Labour made so clear on Saturday-not so much in their present total, but in their acceleration within the past few weeks. Yet what do we find in the speech from the throne to suggest any action by the government to meet that situation? There is the promise that the provisions for unemployment insurance will be extended. Certainly they will need to be, unless the government recognizes that the people of this country desire unemployment insurance when it is necessary, but want the chance to work, and want the necessary measures taken right away that will provide work.

It will be recalled that a motion was presented to this house calling upon the government to take steps to restore and expand our overseas trade. It was pointed out then that employment and the prices of our products depended upon the maintenance of that trade in a country where three out of every eight workers depended upon export trade for their daily jobs. The government not only failed to meet this situation; it refused to act when the danger was clearly forecast by members of this house.

The loss of export business, particularly to overseas markets, is the cause of the very real difficulties with which we are now confronted. Here again we have a record of suppression of information which is a direct and continuing challenge to the supreme authority of parliament. As long ago as April 25 of last year the Canadian Exporters Association, which is made up of men whose business is the export of goods, in a statement presented to the Minister of Trade and Commerce, expressed the combined judgment of those who know what is taking place. I should like to quote from that presentation of April 25 last, in order to show how clearly those who are in this business were warning

the government then of exactly what was impending. This quotation is from their brief:

We question the wisdoni of frequent announcements which have been made by government spokesmen to the effect that Canada's export trade of 1948 set a new peacetime record in dollar value, without qualifying such statements by emphasizing that such record was only made possible by the expenditure of ECA money and the excessive dependence of Canada on the United States for so large a percentage of Canadian exports in raw commodities and finished goods. As a result of these announcements, the Canadian Exporters Association finds that Canadian producers and the people of Canada are largely unaware of the markets Canada has lost abroad, of the danger that continues to threaten our export trade, and the extent to which Canada's present and future economy is menaced, with the attendant problems of unemployment and consequent lowering of our standard of living, and the exclusion of Canadian products in countries where they are badly needed.

We all know today that every statement made by the government gave a contrary impression to that which was so clearly put forward by those who were actually engaged in the export business. The people of Canada were told that the situation was entirely different from that which the Canadian Exporters Association indicated and which events, unfortunately, proved to be true.

In the same formal presentation we find reference to another example of the kind of statement that has been given to the Canadian public and which has created a false sense of confidence while the government has withheld the vigorous action which should have been taking place to meet a situation of this kind. I quote again from their brief:

The announcement made in January of 1949, that increased trade with the British West Indies had been made possible by arrangement with the United Kingdom government of new dollar allotments to the British West Indies colonies, was greeted with enthusiasm by Canadian exporters. It was, however, a great disappointment when we later learned that the amount of money involved was limited to only three and a half million dollars and that this amount was to be used in trade with the whole dollar area and not for trade with Canada alone. We submit that, contrary to the government's press release of January 4, this was less than what could be considered token shipment and has had very little effect in even partly restoring Canada's export trade.

That quotation refers to a situation that is serious, particularly so in Newfoundland and the maritime provinces, where there has been such a long record of trade with the British West Indies. This statement by the Canadian Exporters Association was completely accurate, and indicated once again how unreliable so many of the statements of the government have been in regard to export trade. When it is realized that at least seventy-five per cent of all our unemployment amongst employables is directly attributable to the

The Address-Mr. Drew loss of export trade, we are better able to judge the seriousness of withholding this information from parliament.

What makes the situation doubly serious is that in addition to industrial unemployment there has been a severe drop in prices of agricultural and other basic products directly related to overseas exports. Now we see unmistakable evidence of resistance growing in the United States to Canadian exports in certain lines to that country. It should also be remembered that industrial exports are being affected as well as commodity exports. On July 22, 1949, the Canadian Exporters Association made the following statement to the Minister of Trade and Commerce; and whatever reasons there may have been for not acting earlier, on July 22 those reasons certainly were not apparent. I quote again:

Our members are concerned about the losses of so many markets for manufactured goods and the present and future effect on industry and particularly employment. We submit that it is in the production of manufactured goods rather than our primary or agricultural products that Canada's greatest labour force is employed, and losses resulting therefrom will affect the Canadian economy more substantially. Our members who have spent so much money and effort in developing exports are now wondering whether Canadian consumers' goods have a legitimate place in world markets. Many are indeed closing up their export departments and are relying more and more on domestic trade, which, while satisfactory now, may not be maintained under changing conditions.

That statement also has proved to be all too correct.

One thing which is apt to give a misleading impression as to the relationship between export business and employment is the fact that the most recent figures of export in dollars relate to production which has already taken place and for which employment has already been given. Particularly in the field of industrial production much that will be exported in the months to come is already made. Present employment is related to anticipated exports; those engaged in the export business are relating their production program to what they may expect to sell some time ahead. As a result, figures of exports in dollars give no indication of the extent to which employment is dropping as a result of shrinking exports and anticipated loss of exports in the months ahead. This is related to the fact that those who know the situation are expecting a still greater reduction in the months ahead. The government is well aware of this fact, and has been well aware of it for many months.

I ask the members of this house to compare the statements and information we have received, with the reality which is now disclosed in unemployment figures, in the prices

42 HOUSE OF COMMONS

The Address-Mr. Drew

of our primary products, and in the statements of those who are actually engaged in the export business. All across Canada businesses built on export are releasing employees because the government is doing nothing effective which offers any reason for confidence in the optimistic statements contained in the speech from the throne.

The way in which the representatives of the people in this house have been treated by the government in this respect is in keeping with its attitude in many other matters of importance to the people of Canada. When we find that essential information has been kept from parliament in regard to employment, production, and export trade, the suppression of the report on the milling combine simply becomes part of a uniform pattern.

If there has been any tendency to regard that subject as a closed book, the Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson) disposed of any such tendency when he travelled across the country during the past few weeks explaining how virtuous the government had been in dealing with that particular report. In his explanations to the public there was no hint of apology for the flagrant and unqualified breach by the government of a law passed by the parliament of Canada. Not only did he seek to justify the law-breaking by the government, but felt called upon to offer the justification for the action of the millers themselves. In Vancouver, on January 27, according to a Canadian Press dispatch he said:

Had the millers been allowed to engage in competition for price reduction, the whole cost would have fallen on the taxpayers in the form of increase in the flour subsidy.

I have no doubt that the millers will welcome the new special pleader for their cause. He went on to say:

Mr. McGregor missed that point in his report.

That is something we were not told in the last session. We were told a great many things. It was just like a case of hiccoughs; something new came up every time that the Minister of Justice spoke, and most of it had just about as much body to it as the speech to which I referred. But this is a new one. The minister said:

Mr. McGregor missed that point in his report.

Thus we find that the Minister of Justice, in his recent trip of self-glorification and selfjustification, indicated quite clearly that he did pass judgment on Mr. McGregor's report. We were under the impression that he had not. His statement in Vancouver would have had no meaning unless it was intended to convey the impression that this had something to do with the government not acting

upon the report. In fact that was what he was explaining. He said at the same time that had the government prosecuted the millers-and I quote:

There wouldn't have been a case in fifty years when the crown would have looked so cheap.

It becomes necessary to remind the Minister of Justice, and the government which has identified itself with this, including the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott), that the real issue is not whether the government should or should not have prosecuted, but that the government suppressed this report until it was impossible for anyone else to prosecute, even if the government did not feel like doing so, and also that the government suppressed the report at a time when it would have been extremely interesting to the people of Canada to know of the special concern of the government about the milling industry.

A new angle to this unpardonable breach of law by the government has emerged since the last session. It will be recalled that the last of several explanations of the Minister of Justice, which kept occurring to him from time to time for his breach of the law, was that he had discovered how difficult it would be in any event to publish the report within fifteen days. As that was the last explanation offered to this house, and as it was the last explanation for his own conduct, we must presume that it was intended to be taken seriously. Nevertheless we find that two subsequent reports under the Combines Investigation Act have been delivered to the Minister of Justice: one on the glass industry, and one on the match industry. The report on the alleged glass combine was submitted to the minister on December 13. It was published fourteen days later, on December 27. The report on the alleged match combine was submitted to the minister on December 27 and published thirteen days later, on January 9. Thus we have positive evidence, produced by the Minister of Justice, that publication can be made within the fifteen days required by law, and it was with good reason that no one had ever suggested that fifteen days were not adequate. When the Minister of Justice says that never in fifty years would a government have looked so cheap as this government would if it had prosecuted the milling industry, he overlooks the fact that no government has ever been made to look so cheap as this government has by the different explanations he has given for breaking the law.

There are a number of aspects of this report about which little has yet been said. Not only was the law broken; not only did the government fail to take any action on the report itself; not only did it follow a course

which prevented others from taking action that ordinarily could be taken; but there has been no explanation about one very remarkable feature of this report, which is no explanation of the solicitous attitude of the government toward those engaged in this industry. On page 79 of this report we find the statement of the commissioner that:

It is clear that the association had in effect a double set of minutes. One of them, official and signed, gives little or no indication that the members reached agreement, or even discussed agreement, regarding domestic prices and related matters. The other, which was apparently regarded as even more confidential than the minutes, discloses the details of many such agreements which were obviously designed to lessen price competition in the sale of flour and other related products.

I have not yet seen any statement by the minister which suggests that Mr. McGregor missed some point in connection with this. If he thinks that Mr. McGregor did, then it would be well to explain why that view is held.

It is only for the courts of this country to say whether anyone was guilty or was not. It should be pointed out, however, that a consideration raised by the finding of the commissioner was the question not only of the breach of the Combines Investigation Act, or the breach of the section of the Criminal Code in regard to combines, contrary to the public interest, but the possibility of a breach of section 413 of the Criminal Code. That section provides that a director, manager, officer, or member of any company or corporate body who omits or concurs in omitting to enter any material particulars in any book of account or other document with intent to defraud is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to seven years' imprisonment. If there was a double set of records, as the commissioner reports, and as is set out in detail in the report, then certainly it is a subject which should have received the most careful consideration.

One of the details disclosed was that there was an agreement in restraint of competition in one set of records and not in the other, if the findings in the report are correct-and that does not relate to the judgment of the commissioner; it relates to the actual words quoted from the records put in evidence. Therefore more was involved in this report than a mere breach of the Combines Investigation Act or that section of the Criminal Code which is ordinarily invoked in such cases.

Only the courts have the right or power to decide guilt or innocence in a case of this kind. But the explanation made by the Minister of Justice on behalf of the milling industry should include some explanation of 55946-i&

The Address-Mr. Drew the reason for keeping a double set of minutes, if those engaged in that industry were satisfied that the government approved what they were doing. Surely there are obvious reasons why lawbreakers must not be lawmakers. The courts might well find the milling industry was innocent of any offence. But, no matter what the courts might find, the government broke a law of this parliament, hid the facts as long as it could from the public, and then offered no apology at any time to parliament for what had been done. On the contrary the minister primarily responsible has recently once again been justifying what the government did. Others prosecuted under the same law, or any other law, have a right to feel a sense of grave injustice when prosecutions are launched by a department of the same government which deliberately placed itself above the law and above parliament.

There is another reason why it is appropriate that this subject should be discussed today. When we met at the beginning of the last session this information was not before the house. Mr. McGregor had not yet reached the point where he found it necessary to resign because of the conduct of the government, and, by his resignation, force this matter out into the open. This, therefore, is the first time members of the house have had an opportunity to pass in a formal way upon the conduct of the government and to say by their votes whether the government is responsible to parliament or is free to decide what laws it will break and what laws it will observe.

This very same attitude, all part of the same pattern, was displayed by the government when an effort was made on a number of occasions during the last session to find out what information the government had in its possession about communist operations, and what steps it was taking. Right up to the last day of the session questions were asked continually about information in the possession of the government regarding the national film board, which it was admitted was no no longer making secret films, because of screening for communist activities.

It was even suggested it was unfortunate that this subject had come up for discussion in the house-unfortunate that hon. members representing the people of Canada should have an opportunity to discuss a situation regarded as so serious that even the ordinary films made for educational purposes in the armed forces were no longer being made by the national film board, but were being entrusted to private film producers as being a safer method than through the government body itself. The impression left was that

The Address-Mr. Drew there was nothing unusual in the situation; and that was the attitude of the government right up to the very last day.

It will be recalled how question after question was directed first to the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton), when he admitted that the films of his department were no longer being made by this board, and later to other ministers. In an effort to find out what information the government had in regard to activities which caused sufficient concern to cause to be withheld from that board such relatively simple productions as those described, these questions were asked.

The attitude of the government was that this was simply an ordinary screening. Then we learned through the press a short time afterwards that a new film commissioner had been appointed to the national film board, and that he had been asked to take that position some three weeks before. Thus we learned ffiat, while the House of Commons was still sitting, and while we were trying to get information as to what the government knew about this department, and were left with the impression that there was nothing positive they could tell us, they had information sufficiently positive to make them decide to change the commissioner of the national film board and to have a housecleaning in that government agency.

Just to emphasize the fact that the government has a great deal more information in its possession than it has given to the house, in spite of the repeated questions, the Minister of Justice only last week stated that communist spies are operating in this country and that the government is taking action to deal with the situation. It is strange how necessary it seems to be for the elected representatives of the people to depend upon our very excellent press for information they seek in the house, and to which they are entitled, in full detail, in the house.

In view of the gravity of the international situation, and the lessons taught by the admissions of Dr. Fuchs, this house should insist that immediate steps be taken to prosecute any spies known to the government. If the government knows that there are spies, then there should be prosecutions. If the government does not know who the spies are, then the Minister of Justice was just talking through his hat; it is one or the other. Action in regard to this menace is long overdue- action to restrain the subversive activities of the communist party in this country, in accordance with the recommendations received by the government long ago.

This statement of the Minister of Justice serves to emphasize the failure of the government to act upon the recommendations in the

[Mr. Drew.l

report of the royal commission on espionage. Do not let the government place any cloak of virtue about itself for those prosecutions. It is necessary only to go back to the record to find how difficult it was to get the government to act on that occasion, and to realize that it was only under pressure it acted, even then. But the government did not carry out the details of that report. It did act upon the positive findings that there were grounds for prosecution against certain individuals implicated in a spy ring directly related to the Russian embassy here in Ottawa. But the commission also found that there were other spy rings-and this House of Commons has a right to know what has been done in regard to those other spy rings. It has also the right to demand that the government act upon the recommendations made in that report to deal with possible communist activities within government agencies themselves.

There was one recommendation to the effect that there be careful consolidation of all supervision of that kind. Yet, if the house was correctly informed during the last session, there has been very little in the way of an effective method of dealing with this important subject. The report certainly made it imperative that these activities be dealt with in a way that would be in keeping with the seriousness of the disclosures made in the report. What may have appeared urgent then becomes doubly urgent now, in the light of recent events. If there are secrets in this country which are of sufficient importance that certain government agencies are denied the right to deal with them because of suspected communist activities, then there are added reasons in these last few days and weeks why the most vigorous and effective steps should be taken to deal with subversive communist activities in every part of Canada, and of every kind. The whole tendency has been to minimize the importance of this subject. Certainly we are awaiting information as to what action has been taken in keeping with the seriousness of the disclosure.

In the meantime communist activities are going on apace and wide open. Although communist publications are being permitted to circulate the most outrageous statements about Canadian public men, there is no apparent attempt to act under existing laws which are being broken, to say nothing of the necessity of more effective provisions in the Criminal Code, to deal with subversive activities of this kind. It will be recalled that there have been repeated requests for an amendment to the Criminal Code which will make it possible to bring before our courts those who are engaged in an organized effort to destroy our free democracy. Having regard to the seriousness of the statement made by

the Minister of Justice last week in regard to known spying in this country, the silence of the speech from the throne as to any action to be taken to suppress communist activity can only indicate a continuing failure to appreciate the real nature of the menace which we face.

Another significant omission from the speech from the throne, which must cause great concern to a large number of Canadians, is any positive assurance that the government intends to take effective action concerning old age pensions. For several years we have urged the introduction of a national contributory old age pension plan with adequate pensions payable as a right, without a means test, which the late Tommy Church so properly described on a number of occasions as the "meanest test". Those who now constitute the present government were lavish in their promises only a short time ago. Now we find no assurance in their official statement of the business of this session as to what they intend to do on this subject. We find on the order paper notice of a motion to set up a committee of inquiry. There are occasions when committees are essential. There are occasions when committees are the only way in which essential information which should be before this house can be properly brought forward, as in the case of national defence, external affairs, and subjects of the kind, where experts cannot satisfactorily appear on the floor of the house to answer the questions which must be asked if adequate information is to be available.

Surely this is a subject on which the government has all the information necessary. Certainly we have been assured that it has been giving the matter full and adequate consideration for a very long time. The government certainly has the staff available for that purpose. It has had this subject continuously under consideration for many years. It was considered by both dominion and provincial governments in 1945 and 1946, and statements were made which were presumably based upon an examination of the subject. If the government still lacked information on this matter when we met last fall and an inquiry by such a committee was necessary, then- that committee should have been set up at the beginning of the last session and not at this time. Certainly it was not because the matter was not brought to the attention of the government during the last session. Members on both sides of the house are well aware that this is a subject on which the government has given assurances. They are well aware that all the plans of the various governments dealing with the question are already available to the government. In the end the government must assume the responsibility

The Address-Mr. Drew for the decision it will make, and the time is ripe for the government to make a decision in keeping with the assurances "upon which it received the support of the people.

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

William Earl Rowe

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Rowe:

They want to use them over again.

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

An hon. Member:

They did not do badly last time.

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

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

A very significant remark was just made: "They did not do badly last time." It would be well if members of the house carefully examined what was said on that occasion in regard to a number of vitally important subjects.

Members, on both sides of the house are well aware that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the way in which the government has dealt with the subjects I have mentioned this afternoon, and that was very clearly indicated by the mover of the motion. The most urgent subject for consideration is the rising tide of unemployment caused by the loss of our export markets, with a sudden resulting drop in prices for agricultural and other primary products, as well as decreasing demand. These and the other questions before us can only be dealt with effectively if the house reasserts its authority over the government and declares in no uncertain terms that parliament is supreme over its executive committee. We have a right to know, and to know immediately, with what measures the government proposes to meet this situation. We have been told on many occasions, publicly as well as in this house, that plans for public works of various kinds are being held back only until a demand for employment presents itself. That time is now. What are the plans, and when will they be put into operation? The speech from the throne gave us no information of any kind on that subject.

We will support every effective measure which will give employment to those who are looking for work in every part of Canada today. There are new resources to be developed, which will in turn create great new opportunities for employment. There are different types of public works which can be carried out. Do not let anyone make the suggestion that emphasis upon the need for steps that will deal with employment is an attempt to undermine confidence in this country. The thing that will undermine confidence in this country is the people being unable to see immediate and positive action on the part of this House of Commons and the government which is its executive.

In examining the new resources and the new things to be done, we may as well examine

46 HOUSE OF

The Address-Mr. Drew first of all the immense possibilities of the development of power across Canada; because there is no single public undertaking which in turn creates so much employment as the development of electric energy. It is true that in most provinces the development of electric energy is under provincial commissions, but there can be no doubt whatever that this government, with the support of this House of Commons and of parliament, will find the provinces and the municipalities ready and willing to develop those resources which in turn will provide productive bases for new employment in the years ahead.

There are great irrigation undertakings long overdue in many parts of Canada. Such undertakings would also create great new productive capacity in every part of this country. In the prairies there are areas where some of the richest farm land in the world is just a short distance away from soil which affords a bare living. The difference is only the want of irrigation. There are great possibilities in the use of the Saskatchewan and other rivers in the west, just as there are possibilities in the use of rivers right across this country for the enrichment of the soil, the expansion of our great productive capacity, and, what is so important to all, an increase in employment which will provide a livelihood and bring happiness to many people in this country. There are great land reclamation projects to be carried out. There are great conservation programs which will increase our productive resources and afford employment in the years ahead.

All these things I have mentioned are self-liquidating public developments in which every dollar spent would be a sound investment in the future of Canada, and a safe investment, under the most stringent definition of safety. In fact it has been demonstrated already that public developments of this kind can be financed by private investment if the government should feel that any of them should not be carried forward through the investment of public funds. That has been done in province after province-and it is interesting to note that the securities issued to finance public developments of this kind sell as readily as dominion government bonds, and yield as high a return to the investor. From Newfoundland to British Columbia there are things to be done for the advancement of our country which will create employment now, and many times that employment in the years that lie ahead for a nation far larger than Canada is today.

There is one thing we must keep in mind, however. No new road, no new power plant, no new irrigation project, no newly-productive area in itself will give employment in the

years ahead unless we can find markets for that greater production. Let no one say that we are painting a gloomy picture because we examine realities. Let anyone who is concerned as to that go into the missions and other places across this country where people are fed, and see the men and women there looking for food; then ask whether this subject should be discussed in this house. Our task is to find ways in which to give those people new hope, and immediate hope, for the months and years ahead. In all humanity there can be no excuse for a continuation of the situation with which we are now confronted. A hungry world wants the food we produce; and while I have indicated disagreement, which I think is soundly based, with what was contained in certain statements by the Minister of Agriculture, I do believe the minister said something in London just over a year ago that badly needed to be said-that there was something wrong when here in Canada vast quantities of food were available, while artificial barriers prevented that food from reaching the hungry people who needed it.

Other nations need our industrial and other products. The barriers to trade must be broken, and as a nation we must get out and sell. The position has been that the world demand for the things we produce in such abundance has limited) the necessity for ordinary selling. This is a real world, and in this world the daily bread of people must be earned by work. The things we produce will be sold only by ordinary, sensible selling methods. There is a world that needs our food. There is a world that needs the industrial products that the skilled workers of this country can turn out in such quantities, and it is for us to find a way by which they can reach the markets of the world. The job of the government is to take every possible step to break down trade barriers so that we can get out and sell. The job of the government also is to break the log jam that exists now because of the inconvertibility of exchange. I do hope we will not hear a repetition of those assurances that nothing can be done, such as we heard a year ago. Many hon. members will recall that we urged1 the government to face reality and assist the export trade by getting the Canadian dollar to somewhere near its real exchange value in relation to United States funds. We were told that was nonsense; yet it was not long afterward that the nonsense became a reality.

Let no one tell the members of this house that no steps can be taken to make exchange convertible. It was always convertible, prior to the last few years. It was convertible before Canada even became a nation with its own currency. This is not a time for Canada to sit back and wait for the lead of others.

We are the greatest exporting nation per capita in the world. We can become an exporting nation far beyond anything we dream of if we will develop our resources and use the productive capacity that God has given us. To no other nation in the world today is such an opportunity offered; no other nation is faced with such a challenge to give leadership. Surely what has been done in the past can be done now and in the future. Surely some way is open to sensible human minds by which our food products and our excellent industrial production can get to the markets of the world which want what we have to sell and which, by that very demand, will afford employment and bring about expansion in every part of Canada.

So much for the practical problems presented by this situation with which we are confronted. Quite apart from those practical problems, however, the conduct of the government has raised an issue which will determine whether we are in fact a true democracy here in Canada. Government of the people, by the people and for the people was not first used as a definition of democracy by Abraham Lincoln. It was used at least twenty-three hundred years ago to describe the democracy that had emerged in ancient Greece. Even in those earliest democratic city states, however, democracy did not mean government of the people by all the people meeting to discuss-their affairs. Democracy meant government of the people in their own best interests by the freely-chosen representatives of the people. Democracy has always been government of the people by the elected representatives of all the people. All the people of Canada are represented by the members of this house. The 14 million people of this country find their collective voice amongst the members who sit on both sides of the house. This is the structure of democracy. The mere existence of this chamber, however; the mere fact that members representative of all the people sit here; the mere existence of this magnificent parliament building in Ottawa; the beauty of the decorations and all the dignity that may accompany the tradition associated with this parliament, do not in themselves offer any guarantee that in reality there is government for the people by their own representatives.

The most beautiful house of parliament in the world is that in Budapest. Representatives from every part of Hungary meet in that lovely building by the Danube. But there is no democracy, and there is no freedom.

Neither is any freedom found because of the fact that men and women from all over Russia gather within the stern and majestic walls of the Kremlin. Those who have seen

The Address-Mr. Drew the semi-oriental beauty of that building know that if dignity and impressiveness were any assurance of the real machinery of democracy, it would be found in the Kremlin itself. That is not the test. The test of democracy is, first of all, whether the people know the essential facts when they choose their representatives; and then, in turn, whether their representatives who meet in parliament are fully informed as to every important fact upon which decisions are made by their executive committee, the government.

Today I am discussing the information available to the present members of this house. Our last session ended only two months ago. Were we fully informed in regard to all the information in the government's possession about trade and the threat of unemployment, lower returns to our producers, and decreasing production? Were we informed, as we should have been, about the way in which the government dealt with combines, which can restrain the trade of this country and reduce the price advantage that comes from free competition? Were we fully informed as to what the government was going to do about communist activities in this country, which have assumed such importance? Were we fully informed as to what the government knew about communist activities within the national film board, to say nothing about several other boards which are of equal interest to the members of this house, and will be throughout the session? These are questions which are of quite as much importance to those who belong to the party from which the government is formed as they are to the members of the opposition.

I hope that no one will say that the majority of government supporters is so great that it is a waste of time to raise these questions here today. The size of that majority, in itself, imposes upon those who belong to the government party the highest obligation to observe those principles of responsible government which rest upon the supremacy of parliament. In fact it is to those who belong to the parties from which the government is formed that we must look for action in keeping with their own belief as to the responsibility of parliament, if this situation is to be dealt with as it should be.

It would be like a breath of cool air on an extremely warm day-not a day like today, but on such a day as doubtless we shall have before this session comes to an end-if some hon. gentlemen who are not members of. the opposition were to say here some of the things they have already said outside this house.

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

Mr. Coie@Maiapedia-Malane

Name them.

The Address-Mr. Drew

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

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

If any government feels safe in the conviction that whatever it does it will receive the support of its party followers, then our parliamentary system stands in very real jeopardy.

The issue placed before the house by the conduct of this government is an issue which is being drawn clearly throughout the world today. If any hon. members are unaware of a place in which they can find an excellent discussion of this very point, I would commend to them the speech of one of the candidates for the Liberal leadership a year ago last summer. The issue placed before this house was stated then, and it is one which has been emerging more clearly all the time. It has been simply stated, perhaps too simply to be sufficiently impressed on many minds, by one of the greatest modern students of democracy, Sir Norman Angell, in these words:

The Russian view is that the power of a government should be used to repress heretical objections to the true doctrine: to forbid political oppositions, even in its satellite states.

The western view is rather that the function of power in a free society is the precise opposite: To ensure the right of political opposition, the right of access to the facts upon which governments base their policy, the right to discuss those facts and to oppose the conclusions drawn by the government.

In that simple statement the emphasis is placed, as it is throughout the excellent book from which the quotation comes, upon the importance of access to all the. essential facts by the representatives of the people, as well as the importance of all essential facts being voluntarily furnished. It is obvious that those who are not within the secret confidence of the government cannot be in a position to know all the facts that come to the government from its many agencies.

To some people, this quotation from Sir Norman Angell's description of the problem of modern democracy may seem an oversimplification. To some it may not seem that the issue can be so simplified. There are many stopping places between those two points. But these are the two distinct and opposite points of view. On one side is government, which, having attained power, seeks to limit the opportunity of free discussion, either by preventing criticism or by suppression of the facts. The other is government which insists upon the right of the people's representatives to all the facts, and the right of those representatives to discuss those facts with complete freedom, so that decisions may be made with the full advantage of all the advice that can be gained from the representatives of all the people with the special knowledge of the particular parts of the country from which they come.

While there are many intermediate points between the two, those who steer their course away from the widest interpretation of the meaning of democracy are challenging democracy itself, no matter what they declare to be their purpose or what they say their belief really is. What it is so essential for us to remember is that the vote at the ballot box is not the proof of democracy, and that the presence of members here in this house is not the proof of democracy. There are ballot boxes in Russia, in Hungary, in Germany, in Czechoslovakia, and in all the countries today under the domination of the crudest form of dictatorship the world has yet known. There undoubtedly will be ballot boxes throughout the whole of China, and a vote will be taken which will probably be close to a one hundred per cent vote, when communists will be returned with great acclaim in every polling subdivision, No, the ballot is not the proof. It is what the voters know about the issues, and it is what the voters know about the things that are before the people for consideration. Then, having made their choice-

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

An hon. Member:

They did.

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

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Yes, they did; and this government will in due course be answerable for what the people did not know. You have the members sitting here in this house, and those who sit here are displaying limited knowledge of the machinery of democracy if they laugh at the suggestion that it is important that the members know what the facts are. Unless and until the members of this house, of all parties, assert their supremacy over the executive by their vote in this house; until they tell this government that it has no right to decide which laws it will observe and which it will not; until they tell this government that the laws passed by this parliament are the laws of the land to be observed, first of all and not last of all, by the government; until the members of this house, and particularly the members who belong to the party from which the government is drawn, assert their voice-until then, our own parliamentary system will continue under an ever-darkening cloud.

With a return to responsible government, and with the supremacy of parliament restored, we can look with confidence to the future. Wider opportunities are available to this country than were ever open to our vision in the past. The great oil developments of the west and the iron developments of the east are merely an indication of the vast expansion which lies before us. But we shall only be able to do the job we were chosen to do as representatives of the people of Canada if we insist upon receiving, and

receive, full and accurate knowledge of every essential fact that the government is able to obtain through its large and highly-trained civil service.

It is because of my confidence in what can be done to meet the tests that lie ahead if we really assert the full supremacy of parliament, and because of my confidence in what can be done by a free parliamentary system, that I present to this house the following amendment. I move, seconded by the hon. member for Peel (Mr. Graydon):

That the following words be added to the said address:

"We respectfully submit to Your Excellency that Your Excellency's advisers have:

(1) failed to take adequate measures to preserve and expand markets for Canada's surplus products of farm, forest, sea and mine, and to deal with the problems of increasing unemployment and reduced income to Canadian farmers and other producers; and

(2) failed to take steps to inaugurate a national contributory system of old age pensions without a means test; and

(3) deliberately violated a law of this parliament by illegally suppressing the report of the commissioner under the Combines Investigation Act on the flour milling industry for ten months, including the period of the recent general election campaign, and denied to parliament information essential to the performance of its duty and the maintenance of responsible government; and

(4) failed to take adequate measures to curb espionage and other harmful activities of communists in Canada.

For these and other reasons we respectfully submit that Your Excellency's advisers are not entitled to the confidence of this house."

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

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):

It is indeed a pleasure, Mr. Speaker, for me to join with the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) in extending the usual congratulations to the hon. members who moved and seconded the address in reply to the speech from the throne. The hon. member for Kindersley (Mr. Larson) and the hon. member for Villeneuve (Mr. Dumas) are among the younger and newer members of this house, having come into parliament for the first time at the last general election. For this reason, if for no other, we as their colleagues are proud of the way in which they addressed the house. I think Kindersley and Villeneuve may also be proud of the manner in which they are represented here. The speeches made by the mover and the seconder reflect credit upon themselves, upon those who sent them here, and upon this parliament itself. The hon. member for Kindersley made a speech which, I am sure, we all felt deserved our congratulations and which was highly gratifying to us in its demonstration of the forensic ability he has brought to this parliament. He is one of the youngest members of the house, and has farmed in Saskatchewan since his college days, with the exception of

The Address-Mr. St. Laurent four years when he was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, where he served with great distinction. He was decorated for that service. I think it is safe to say that the hon. member has a promising career before him.

The hon. member for Villeneuve (Mr. Dumas) spoke in both French and English. Those of us who were able to follow him in both languages heard, I think it is fair to say, an address of high merit. It was something that we expected from the hon. member, and we were not disappointed. The last election was not the first time that the hon. member had been elected to public office. He had established for himself a reputation in municipal affairs as manager, alderman and then mayor of the town of Malartic. The hon. member is a qualified land surveyor and forestry engineer, and I am sure that his professional knowledge and experience will be of value to us in the consideration of many of the problems with which we shall have to deal. The electors of Villeneuve can feel that they have made a happy choice in the selection of their representative in this parliament.

Of both I think it is fair to say that no finer introduction could have been made to the consideration and discussion of the questions with which we shall have to deal during this session than the utterances of these hon. members who respectively moved and seconded the address in reply to the speech from the throne. I repeat, I am very happy to extend to them sincere congratulations.

I think I should also extend congratulations to the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew), not of course upon the assertions contained in his motion of amendment to the address in reply to the speech from the throne, nor upon the sentiments in the last paragraph of his amendment, but upon the ingenuity of some of the arguments submitted to us here today, upon the expression of his confidence, which I share, in the great future of this country, and in the abundance and varied nature of the resources with which it is blessed. Perhaps I might also offer congratulations to the leader of the opposition on, shall I say, the realism of his followers- perhaps the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) and the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Low) might call it the optimism of his followers-in providing him with a permanent residence here in Ottawa as leader of his party. The hon. gentleman-

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

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Mr. Speaker, I should explain that I understand it will be available for the present Prime Minister.

The Address-Mr. St. Laurent

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

Jean-Paul Stephen St-Laurent

Mr. Si. Laurent:

I had understood that it was being vested in a trust made up of representatives of the party of which my hon. friend is the leader, and I would not expect anything else from that party but the establishment of a permanent residence for their leader.

The leader of the opposition seems to be somewhat concerned about the future of democratic institutions in our country. Well, he from time to time imparts some wisdom to his fellow citizens, and I was gratified to note that he was reported as having said this in London on February 8. I quote from the Globe and Mail of February 9:

Our democratic system rests on the faith the people have in those offering themselves for public office.

Well, that is probably a lesson he learned from the last election. It was demonstrated in something like 73 per cent of the constituencies of this country that they did believe in a true democratic system, and that they did place their faith and confidence in the members of this party to discharge for them those functions of their citizenship which it is not convenient for them to deal with themselves in town meetings.

In his following words I think the hon. gentleman explained why there was that confidence and trust in those who were offering themselves for public office. He continued:

The basic word in that system is truth. In the end it will be the people who will decide, and they will turn invariably to the party which they have come to trust and rely on.

And that is what they did; and that is no doubt what impressed itself upon the hon. gentleman and moved him to make that declaration.

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

William Earl Rowe

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Rowe:

They did not have the McGregor report then.

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

February 20, 1950