March 6, 1950

PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

I know they were.

Topic:   PIT PROPS
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO ARRANGEMENTS FOR OVERSEAS MARKETS
Permalink
PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

You had better go back yourself.

Topic:   PIT PROPS
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO ARRANGEMENTS FOR OVERSEAS MARKETS
Permalink
PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

I should like to ask a question arising out of the minister's answer. Can he give us any idea when these negotiations with the other countries will be completed?

Topic:   PIT PROPS
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO ARRANGEMENTS FOR OVERSEAS MARKETS
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

Just as soon as the other countries indicate that they are ready to sign a contract for the purchase of pit props.

Topic:   PIT PROPS
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO ARRANGEMENTS FOR OVERSEAS MARKETS
Permalink
PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

That is the sort of answer we have been getting.

Topic:   PIT PROPS
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO ARRANGEMENTS FOR OVERSEAS MARKETS
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AERO TIMBER PRODUCTS

REQUEST FOR INFORMATION AS TO RECORDS OF FORMER CROWN COMPANY


On the orders of the day:


LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Righi Hon. C. D. Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce):

On Friday last the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Low) asked the Prime Minister whether he would give the name of the department which has possession of the records of Aero Timber Products Limited. These records are in the custody of the Department of Trade and Commerce.

Topic:   AERO TIMBER PRODUCTS
Subtopic:   REQUEST FOR INFORMATION AS TO RECORDS OF FORMER CROWN COMPANY
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PRICES SUPPORT

QUESTION OF SALE OF TEN MILLION POUNDS IN STORAGE


On the orders of the day:


PC

Lewis Elston Cardiff

Progressive Conservative

Mr. L. E. Cardiff (Huron North):

I should like to direct a question to the Minister of Agriculture, based on a statement which appeared in the press on Saturday regarding the butter situation in Canada. Is it true that the government is going to sell 10 million pounds of butter? If so, to whom, and at what price?

Topic:   PRICES SUPPORT
Subtopic:   QUESTION OF SALE OF TEN MILLION POUNDS IN STORAGE
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Righi Hon. J. G. Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture):

When the government undertook to take butter at a floor price it was

The Address-Mr. Knowles the intention eventually to sell it all. I understand that the amount on hand at present is something under 25 million pounds. I hope that sooner or later we shall sell it all, and we hope we shall sell it in the ordinary way.

Topic:   PRICES SUPPORT
Subtopic:   QUESTION OF SALE OF TEN MILLION POUNDS IN STORAGE
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SPEECH FROM THE THRONE

CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY


The house resumed, from Thursday, March 2, 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, and the amendment thereto of Mr. Drew, and the amendment to the amendment of Mr. Coldwell.


CCF

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

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

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I rise in this debate to register my protest-and in doing so I am satisfied that it is the protest of many thousands of Canadians-against the way in which the government is failing to carry out one of its most important promises in the field of social security.

The people of this country, despite the fact that they have shown much patience with the Liberal party, deeply resent the breaking of solemn promises. One of the offers, one of the promises with which the people of Canada are most familiar, is the offer made in August of 1945 with respect to old age pensions. That proposal was spelled out very clearly. It was to be $30 a month, but please note these features-it was to be payable at the age of seventy to all Canadians, without any means test, and it was to be financed and administered entirely by the federal government.

I know from my experience that during the past number of years hundreds and thousands of people have been hoping each year that that would be the year in which that offer would be implemented. Last summer, after the election of June 27, many people thought then that surely there was nothing standing in the way of such a huge Liberal majority carrying out its proposal for a universal old age pension without a means test.

We are now confronted, however, not merely with a repudiation of that proposal, but with a denial that it was ever made. I wish to quote the words of the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) in answer to an interjection of mine during his speech on February 20, as recorded at page 62 of Hansard of this session. He had been speaking about old age pensions, and about the desirability, so far as the government is concerned, of moving in the direction of a direct contributory system. This was my interjection:

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

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

That was not the federal government's offer to the provinces in 1945. Was that offer not made without its involving a contributory system?

The Address-Mr. Knowles

And this was the reply:

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

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

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

No. it was not. I think that if the hon. member will refer to the proposition he will find there never was any offer of a pension without a means test and without a contribution.

That is the basis of my protest this afternoon-that we have this government not only back-tracking on its promises, not only failing to fulfil them; but now we have the head of the government denying that a promise with which all Canadians are familiar was ever made.

That was not just a chance statement by the Prime Minister, because he went on to say:

There could not be,-

In other words, there could not be such an offer.

-because it just would not work. We cannot have that proportion of the income of the nation derived from ordinary taxation devoted to old age pensions.

Then he went on to express his sympathy toward the old people, but indicated his own personal disapproval of there being no means test by saying:

Why should I, within the next two years, get a pension of $40 per month and hand back only something of the order of 45 or 50 per cent of it to the treasury?

The Prime Minister went on to discuss the matter further, in a lengthy paragraph which makes it clear that he meant precisely what he was saying when he declared that there never was an offer of a pension without a means test and without a contribution. I wish to document rather fully my contention that, to say the least, that is a misstatement of the facts.

I hold in my hand a copy of the proposals of the government of Canada presented to the dominion provincial conference on reconstruction in August, 1945. Under the heading "National Old Age Pensions at age 70", we find this at pages 37 and 38:

As part of the general proposals now put before the conference, it is proposed that the federal government would establish a system of national old age pensions entirely financed and administered by the federal government, and paid at the uniform rate of $30 per month regardless of means to men and women aged seventy and over in all parts of Canada.

The cost of national old age pensions by 1948, for example, is estimated at $200 million. (For details see table I below). There would be a partial recovery from people over seventy paying income tax.

Then on page 38 there is a further indication of what was involved in this proposal:

The principal feature of the proposed national old age pensions is the elimination of the means test after reaching age seventy, regarding this as unsuitable for the oldest group in the community, over eighty per cent of whom are not in fact capable of supporting themselves in useful remunerative work.

That is as clear cut as it could be. The principal feature of the proposal was the elimination of the means test after the age of seventy. Yet on February 20 of this year the Prime Minister said there never was any such offer. The paragraph at page 38 continues:

Payment, of pensions as of right to people of this age offers the best kind of economic security. It removes the fear of destitution much more certainly than any other method, and relieves old people of the necessity of seeking work, or of endeavouring to keep on working in unfavourable circumstances and beyond the age at which they should be able to retire, without dependence on charity or burdening the family. In addition to providing a minimum subsistence for those with no other resources, this system would enable other persons with moderate private savings to retire from active work sooner, or in more comfort than would otherwise be possible.

That offer in 1945 was a long hoped for turning point in this country, so far as thinking about old age security is concerned. I have in my mind a vivid recollection of an editorial which appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press some weeks ago, in which some of us were condemned for having so much to say about old age pensions. One of the reasons we were condemned, it was pointed out, was that by talking so much about old age pensions we were building up the hopes of old people-hopes which could not be fulfilled.

I plead guilty to the first part of that charge; I hope I have helped to build up the hopes of the Canadian people that there would soon be justice for our older citizens. But I point out that the document that really did build up the hopes of the Canadian people that the means test would be done away with was not a propaganda statement by a political party, but a forthright proposal and a definite statement from the government- the statement I have just read. That was the position of the federal government right down to February 20 of this year-that the means test had to go.

On that same page of the government's proposals it goes on to say this:

The removal of the means test would make it possible for these pensions to be administered by the federal government alone on a uniform national basis, without the necessity for provincial participation, and would therefore considerably relieve provincial finances. As the federal government would be assuming full financial responsibility, it would also administer the payment of these pensions.

Please note that in that outline of the proposal it is clear that there was to be no means test, and that these pensions were to be paid in full by the federal government. Now the Prime Minister stands up in this House of Commons and says there never was any offer of a pension without a means test and without a contribution. So-

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

March 6, 1950