March 15, 1950

PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Not only has it wandered over a field including the local interests of various ridings, as is in keeping with the tradition of this debate, but it has also followed the unusual course of placing on the record political speeches made by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) and others during the election campaign last year.

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?

An hon. Member:

We got results.

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LIB

John Sylvester Aloysius Sinnott

Liberal

Mr. Sinnolt:

Let us have yours.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Those speeches form a very good basis for emphasizing the importance of the resolution before the house, and the reason why it should be supported by all who still believe in responsible government.

The debate is based upon an amendment I moved, and to which there is a subamendment, upon which the vote will be taken. That debate started four weeks ago tomorrow" therefore it would seem desirable to recall the exact' terms of the jnain motion and the amendments thereto. For convenience I propose to read the motion as amended, instead of the motion and the two amendments.

The amendment I had the privilege of presenting, combined with the amendment introduced by the leader of the C.C.F. party, reads as follows:

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 an over-all social security program including national health insurance and the removal of the means test from the old age pension, and

772 HOUSE OF

The Address-Mr. Drew

(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 protect civil liberties and at the same time to curb espionage and other harmful activities of communists and fascists in Canada.

That is the motion as amended. The subamendment changes my amendment only to the extent that it substitutes for the words "a national contributory system of old age pensions without a means test" the broader expression "an over-all social security program including national health insurance and the removal of the means test from the old age pension." It also adds in the fourth paragraph the words "to protect civil liberties and at the same time", and the addition of the further words "and fascists".

I may say, Mr. Speaker, that it is the intention of the party I lead to support the motion as amended by the subamendment. It says substantially the same thing. The variations, I am pleased to say, widen the original amendment, and we accept the advantage of that wider interpretation. As for the exact words included in paragraph 4, I might say that the over-all effect is entirely consistent with the view we have expressed on other occasions, and we therefore are happy to accept it in that form.

1 propose now to deal with points that have fbeen raised by the amendment, with the subamendment. I shall not deal with the paragraphs in the order in which they appear, and shall proceed in this way simply for the ; purpose of convenience.

.Let me first deal with the paragraph which, as amended, reads that the government has-

._failed to take adequate steps to inaugurate an

over-all social security program including national health insurance and) the removal of the means test from the old age pensjpn. .

We have advocated, both in the house and outside, the adoption by the government of an over-all security program including national health insurance and removal of the means test from the old age pension. That was our proposal in the house last year before the election; it was our proposal during the 'election, and it has been our proposal since that time. We have urged, and urge now, that the government take action to deal with it.

I realize there is a motion still under debate before the house which presents an opportunity for discussion of one aspect of this paragraph. That, of course, is the motion of i the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Martin) to refer to a committee the

TMr. Drew.]

consideration of old age pensions. But the very fact that that motion is before the house is a reason why this particular part of the amendment should be adopted. If one thing has happened more than anything else as a result of the motion introduced by the Minister of National Health and Welfare it is the exposure in all its naked reality of the sham that has been behind the propaganda that has been carried on now for several years in regard to the responsibility of some provinces for holding up social security of various kinds. How many times have the people of this country heard over the radio, how many times have the members of this house been told, that if it had not been for certain of the provinces the people of Canada would have had old age pensions without a means test and social security generally, and that that was the only reason. They heard it during the last election campaign, and now we know, from the motion introduced by the Minister of National Health and Welfare, that there was never anything behind that allegation.

Now that the government are here with this enormous majority, which in its study groups has obviously been well trained to applaud at the appropriate moment no matter what may be before the house, they have the means of dealing with every one of the things they said they were ready to deal with. But instead of dealing with them, they refer them to a committee.

Last night in the course of another debate the Minister of National Health and Welfare said: "You are opposing it"

referring to his proposal for a committee on old age security. He was suggesting that it was inconsistent to urge that some subject be referred to a committee for investigation so that the facts could be obtained, while at the same time opposing a motion that was simply for the purpose of stalling action on a very important undertaking of this government which has received the support of every hon. member on this side, whether supporting the government or not.

This is simply evidence of the fact that the government is trying to find a way of stalling on their promises, of not carrying out their undertaking-it was an undertaking- to abolish the means test. That undertaking was not first given in 1949; it was given in 1945. The explicit undertaking appeared in the advertisements of the Liberal party in their election material during that campaign. Since then they have left no doubt about it. They say now: We do not know; we have not the facts, and it will cost a lot of money. Of course it will, but I want to make it quite clear that in supporting the motion, as amended, which is now before us, we do so

with the understanding that we adhere to the policy we have advocated of establishing an over-all social security program on a contributory basis. The astronomical figures that have been put before the house in most cases deal with this matter as if the contributory factor was to be ignored. I have noticed a number of sincere comments by writers in various publications pointing out that we must remember that two plus two still does equal four, and that the government must be cautious in implementing any program that would add to the extremely heavy debt burden of this country. They point out that it would create a tremendous burden if everyone at the age of sixty-five years received a pension of this kind. But if it is sound for an insurance company to provide pensions to people on an actuarial basis, it is equally sound for this government, in co-operation with the provincial governments, to provide a contributory system on a sound basis. It can be done.

First of all, we simply take the figures of the contributions by the dominion government from the public treasury, and subtract therefrom the additional revenue that accrues to the treasury from a contributory scheme; this will give the net result upon which it can be determined whether this country can or cannot meet such an obligation. There is something here more than dollars and cents. We all know that there are a great many people who are not applying for old age pensions because they are too proud to do so. There are others who will not submit to the humiliation of the proceedings involved, and who carry on under extreme difficulties with the assistance of those they can find to help them.

Every one of us knows that the system as it now stands places a premium on the spending of everything that a person has up to the age at which he would be entitled to a pension. We say: If you have been provident, if you have saved money, under the law as it stands you must deduct your savings before you are entitled to a pension. The net result is that the person who has put something aside for his old age finds himself in no better position in some cases than the person who has spent everything, perhaps because of ill health or accident or unavoidable circumstances, and has nothing left to take care of himself.

In the net result, knowing the heart and spirit of the people of Canada, we can be sure they will not permit older people to be hungry, to be without clothing or without shelter, if they can avoid it. Therefore the money that is needed to take care of them must come from somewhere. It is infinitely better that as a matter of right every person reaching

The Address-Mr. Drew the age at which it is deemed appropriate that payments should be received, should receive them, those who have saved should not be penalized, nor should there be the evasions which we know perfectly well the present system invites.

If the government have not the figures, then the government were perpetrating a tremendous fraud on the provincial governments in 1945, because in that year the dominion government presented to the conference a detailed statement of what they were prepared to do. Either they were prepared to do that, or they were not. If they were prepared in 1945 they should be equally prepared now to carry out what they said at that time was the proper way of caring for the older people and others requiring social security in this country.

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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

They counted on the provinces refusing to agree.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

That is something that might very well be dealt with right now. The question whether any province entered into financial arrangements with the dominion government has nothing whatever to do with the fulfilment of those undertakings.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

Some of us were there.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Either your memory is as bad in this case as it was in others, or you know perfectly well that the conference adjourned with the undertaking that it would meet again to consider the proposals then before it. The minister who has just spoken, and the Prime Minister, who is sitting beside him-the Prime Minister particularly-know perfectly well that the different provincial governments, including the governments of Ontario and Quebec, about which they have had a great deal to say, have asked on numerous occasions that that conference be reconvened for the purpose of considering these very things. The Prime Minister should be the last to deny that, because in his capacity as acting prime minister he received those communications direct on certain occasions.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. St. Laurent:

Inasmuch as I am challenged, I must deny the statement as the hon. member has put it. There were no applications from Quebec, and as a matter of fact I happen to know that the government of Quebec stated at that time that they would not under any circumstances agree to the constitutional amendment that would be required to tie contributions to social welfare services.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I am quite sure that the premier of Quebec will be able to deal adequately with this subject, as he has on every occasion on which the Prime Minister of Canada has

The Address-Mr. Drew sought to take him to task. But I can say definitely that during the period to which I have reference the present Prime Minister received communications from me, as from other premiers, urging the immediate reconvening of the conference for the general purpose of discussing these very subjects. The fact that there was no conference is not the responsibility of those who have been challenged in this respect.

I have dealt with the paragraph on social security, and I now pass on to another, because, as I have pointed out, the whole question of social security, so far as it relates to old age pensions, will be dealt with on the other motion. Let me speak about the third paragraph, which states that the government deliberately violated a law of this parliament by illegally suppressing the report of the commissioner under the Combines Investigation Act.

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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

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?

An hon. Member:

That was a long time ago.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

Yes, Mr. Speaker, it is a very long time, and I might remind hon. members that there is no statute of limitations in Canada on the commission of crime. I would also remind hon. members that this is the first occasion on which members of the house have had the opportunity to deal with this subject on a direct motion. I suggest to hon. members who will be voting on the amendment that every one of them who votes against it will thereby declare his approval of the government's breach of one of the laws of this parliament. The amendment presents an opportunity to say exactly what is thought of that.

I should like to refer to the fact that we had the opportunity of listening to a speech by the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) in which he expressed solicitous concern about the Conservative party.

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LIB

Pierre Gauthier

Liberal

Mr. Gauthier (Portneuf):

Someone has to.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

If the Conservative party

required any advice, the last person to whom we would go would be the Minister of Agriculture. In his speech to the house the Minister of Agriculture read a radio address he made last spring which had nothing in the world to do with the matters before the house, and was just a cheap political tub-thumping speech.

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LIB

James Sinclair (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. Sinclair:

Like yours; you are an expert on that. We will take your judgment.

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

I repeat, just a cheap political tub-thumping speech.

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LIB

James Sinclair (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. Sinclair:

You are an expert on that.

IMr. Drew.]

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PC

George Alexander Drew (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Drew:

He placed on the record the statements he made at that time which confirmed everything that had been said by way of criticism of his constant inaccuracies; and even though he wanders out into the passageway in front of the seats so that he gets more movement for his legs, it does not for one moment carry any more conviction because he seeks to make of the House of Commons a political platform for things that are now many months old.

There are one or two matters I should like to recall. The Minister of Agriculture, in his deep and heartfelt concern about the welfare of the Conservative party, referred to the things that they should have done. He has demonstrated to us a number of things that no party with self-respect would have done, but he made one or two observations about the Conservative party which bear repetition. It was the old propaganda, without any relation whatsoever to the truth. I am referring of course to the speech he made outside of this house. In it he used the old hackneyed phrases, and then there is this particularly interesting sentence:

They-

That is, the Conservative party.

-do not seem to think there is any possibility of any person or corporation when given an absolutely free hand taking more out of the primary producer or labour-

You will realize, Mr. Speaker, that my attention was fixed on the page from which I was reading, and for a moment, hearing the applause that greeted the entry into the chamber of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell), I thought that the millennium had come and that the conscience of the Liberal members of the house had been aroused to the point of actually recognizing the issues before us on the amendment. But as I looked up I realized the reason for the applause, and I assure the Minister of Labour that if I had been sitting in my seat I would have joined as heartily as anyone else in the applause. I wish to express the great satisfaction we all feel on seeing the Minister of Labour again in the house, looking as well as he does. No matter how widely our views may differ from time to time-and, strangely enough, our views differ less from those of the Minister of Labour than from those of any other minister-I know there is not one on this side of the house, and without presuming I know my remarks extend beyond the party to which I belong, who does not have warm personal regard for the Minister of Labour.

I shall now quote the sentence which I was reading when I was most properly interrupted by the applause to welcome the Minister of Labour. Since some time has passed, I should like to remind hon. members that I am

quoting from a speech of the Minister of Agriculture, made outside of the house, which was placed on the record by him. Whatever mistakes the Minister of Labour makes, I know he would not have made this speech.

This is the sentence:

They do not seem to think there is any possibility of any person or corporation when given an absolutely free hand taking more out of the primary producer or labour than he is entitled to by retaining too much profit.

Is that not typical? Is that not the old hackneyed propaganda that has been repeated over and over again? And mind you, Mr. Speaker, that speech was made by a member of the government which had been hiding the report on the milling combine and making certain that improper profits could be kept, and that it would not be exposed to the public. If there is any party which by its acts has demonstrated' that it is hand in glove with big interests with a capital "B", it is the party which has seen fit to say to one group of manufacturers: We are so virtuous we will prosecute you; but, to a very much larger group dealing with the main primary product of this country: Oh, no; we dare not touch you. If anyone wonders just why that should be so, let him see who are the men in charge of some of these companies; then he will not have to guess very long as to why there was such consideration.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

Name them.

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March 15, 1950