I did not get that. Wool
stood at 157 in January of 1950. In December of 1950 it was 304. In the past we often heard our good friends of the C.C.F. party say that if only there were socialist governments in Europe and Britain there would be no possibility of any profiteering as far as production was concerned. Well, we have had socialist governments for the last four years or more in Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain, and we have seen those three governments corner the wool market of the world. Did they do that for the benefit of the rest of the commonwealth or for the
good of the rest of the world? No; they did it to make a profit out of the sale of that wool. When the Canadian people buy wool, they have absolutely nothing to say as far as the price is concerned; they must pay what is asked for it.
These matters we must keep in mind in a discussion of this kind. Take cotton yarn and thread. In January, 1950, they were 164; in December they were 169. Take iron and steel billets, partly imported; they went from 187 to 207. Certainly we have no control over those prices. No matter what the Canadian government might do, no matter how hard we might try to get these things from Great Britain or the United States for less money, we have no power to bring about a reduction of any kind. Let us take some other items that enter into the cost of living. Who would dare to say we should stop Canadian farmers selling their beef in the United States market? I well remember the agitation some three years ago when the farmers wanted access to that market, and rightly so. That is one of the principal reasons for the high cost of beef at the present time, but who would dare to say the government should tell the farmers we are going to put an embargo on the export of beef? We all know what would be the reaction of farmers in this country from coast to coast.
These are things we must have in mind in discussing this question. Look at lumber. What would happen if we put an embargo on the export of lumber, and took away from our producers the markets they have in the United States and Britain? There would be a great hue and cry on the part of the lumber operators of this country, and rightly so. In my own constituency we have two newsprint mills and one sulphite mill, and every pound of that production goes to the United States. We all know what has happened to the price of newsprint in the last three years. It has increased by at least 200 per cent. Would it be practical or feasible for the government to say that the price of newsprint must be reduced to what it was three years ago? These are some of the things that we as parliamentarians must thoroughly consider if we are to deal with these matters logically, for these things make one realize how difficult it is for the government to please everyone.
We export many other things. Most of the copper from Noranda and from the big smelters in British Columbia goes to the United States market. We also export to that market zinc, some lead and other metals, and we are glad to have such a market. Is there anything we could do about those prices? Then there is nickel, one of the
biggest, yes the biggest, mining industries in Canada, employing thousands of people and adding so much to our national economy. All that production goes to the United States. Are we going to lower these prices even though our neighbours are willing and ready to pay them? I just bring these points to the attention of the house to help every hon. member realize how difficult it is to deal with a question of this kind at the present time and satisfy everyone.
I spoke to my own people only a few days ago and told them there were many ways in which the Canadian people could help. I am going to enumerate some of those ways. It is surprising that the cost of living should have increased so much during the month of February, but in large part that was due to the fact that during the course of last fall most of the raw material that had to be bought by the United States and Canada had increased in price tremendously. Now the cost of production of the finished article has almost caught up. In the United States, for example, the average price of goods at retail increased only 10 per cent in the nine months between March, 1950, and January, 1951. This is a small increase when compared with the increase in the cost of raw materials. But it is not likely that the gap will last much longer. As the raw materials which were bought at the higher prices get into the finished products, the cost of those products will go up also.
This is not a pleasant situation to face, but we must be realists and study it from all angles. Wishful thinking will not settle the problem. Obviously as long as the countries of the world are bidding against each other for basic raw materials such as wool, cotton, rubber, lumber and lumber products including newsprint, sulphite, wood pulp and so on, and base metals and farm products, Canada has to go along with them or do without. Are we going to do without cotton or without wool? Are we going to do without rubber? I just leave that thought with hon. members to answer for themselves and their constituents. That is why the United States, Britain and France are trying to get the main producing and consuming countries outside the Russian orbit together to devise ways of distributing scarce materials they all want. The whole world wants those scarce materials.
After the last war all nations shared the fear of a depression. They were afraid that what happened only a few years after world war I would recur with all the other disturbing factors that such an economic calamity brings with it. So government policies were formulated, with well prepared
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blueprints properly drawn, designed to bring about full industrial activity, fair prices for our agricultural production, almost full employment and plenty of production to meet the requirements of the consuming public. Under that planning it was hoped that there would be no inflationary or deflationary extremes. Of course practically all those high hopes were built upon the premise that after the complete defeat of the axis powers upon the battlefield we had every reason to expect that the whole world was going to enjoy a very long, if not a permanent, period of peace which would allow it to recover from the terrific loss of life, the tremendous destruction, the misery and despair which followed that war. We must carry that thought in our mind as well, because in part at least the present situation has resulted from the policies of Hitler and Mussolini from 1939 to 1945, and indeed from world war I. We are still feeling the effects of some legacies of both wars.
The organization of the united nations in San Francisco enhanced1 those hopes, which unfortunately did not come to fruition. Instead of unity and understanding among the nations the world found itself divided' into two camps, in fact into two worlds. In the other camp was Soviet Russia with all her might, her advantageous position, the well organized and ruthless tentacles of Moscow communism spreading into every part of the world and the so-called1 cold war. The destruction of human lives and material resources has had a devastating effect upon us. Most of the high cost of living of the present time must be traced to Joe Stalin, with his expansionist policies and the threats of war he is making all over the world. At the present time we know that pressure is being brought upon parliament to apply price controls at once. This measure could easily be passed by the government, but would it be the real solution? Will the Canadian people accept drastic controls under the conditions existing? They worked relatively well during the last war, but they were also highly criticized as I said a few moments ago. The people do not like to be pushed around by too many governmental restrictions, at least not the Canadian people, unless there is a national emergency.
I have no doubt there are many measures that could be applied which are within the power of our people, if they are willing to put them into practice. I know I shall be criticized for some of the statements I am going to make now, but I am speaking my mind sincerely and honestly as a Canadian citizen. There are certain measures which people may be willing to practise under dire circumstances which will perhaps prove to be
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a deterrent to the high cost of living. If labour, for instance, were willing to increase the length of the work week by ten per cent from forty to forty-four or forty-eight hours, and I say that deliberately, it would increase the national output by eight or twelve per cent. No matter what one may say about shorter hours with the same take-home pay, that does not increase national production.
Mention was made this afternoon of the high cost of farm implements. These implements do have a high cost but the farmer also has to pay about three times what he used to pay for hired help. Even during the haying season or the crop season most of the men who used to work on the farm will not work there unless they get the forty hour week. They will not work in the rain-I do not altogether blame them for that, but they will not work any more than eight hours no matter what the condition of the hay may be. They will not work after six o'clock either. All this has increased the farmers' cost of production. The labour unions would do well to think about this principle, too. Three years ago I was at a party in the home of one of our national labour leaders. It was mooted at the time that they might have a strike in the General Motors plant at Oshawa. Two prominent leaders were advancing an argument that even if the men did get an increase of fifteen per cent in their wages that would not increase the cost of production of those automobiles. I told them that I did not want to enter into a discussion, but even a labour leader could not make me believe that when wages are increased in an industry like the automotive industry or on the farm or in any other industry by fifteen per cent, the cost of production will not increase by that amount. You cannot get away from that simple principle of mathematics.
I am not against what labour has done. During the last war labour and its leaders did a magnificent job. We do not want to see the old days return. In my youth while working in the lumber camps in the province of Quebec I suffered from poor labour conditions. I do not want that to happen to my young brethren in the northern part of the province today. At the same time every citizen of Canada, including the labour union leaders, the farmers and the professional men, all have some duties to perform under present conditions. We need more consumer goods to absorb the increased purchasing power. Of course, economically speaking, the best results will be obtained from the workers producing more by working harder and more efficiently. They did that during the war, and they do that most of the time without any increase in pay. All
the extra people, all the extra hours that we can get to increase our productivity are going to help reduce the high cost of living; that applies to every citizen in this country. There are certain conditions which attach to this principle, the first being that the extra wages should not go straight into the spending stream. I could give some lists as to how we are spending at the present time. It is true that they have a right to do it, but so far as our economy is concerned it is not the principle our forefathers were practising. For instance, there is the attendance at movies. I go there myself, and I have no regret on that score. Take the man who is spending money on liquor or consider the amount that is being spent on tobacco. I just mention those facts so that the house will realize that, as the leader of the opposition and the other party leaders said this afternoon, those who are living on a pension or with set incomes are no doubt badly hit, but generally speaking our citizens are reasonably prosperous.
I was speaking to some lumbermen in my section during the Easter recess. During last winter some of them earned from $12 to $16 per day. They are spending money and they have the money to spend. Take the men who are working in the big mills in Kapuskasing. I believe they earn something like $2 per hour. They are not feeling the effects of the high cost of living to the same extent. We are not all in that fortunate position, and to that extent I agree with what has been said. The leader of the C.C.F. party mentioned one or two particular cases in which some people were in dire circumstances. When the leader of a party takes the trouble of citing one instance in which the family is suffering-I admit that should not be tolerated-I believe he is not being fair when he does not give the other side of the picture. I can give that picture. Since the last war many of the people in my constituency have started little grocery stores or restaurants, small enterprises like garages, et cetera, with small amounts of capital. Today they are out of the red and some of them are worth $10,000 or $20,000. This picture can be repeated from coast to coast. We realize that, as the leader of the C.C.F. party said this afternoon, there is some suffering. I could cite some very bad cases myself, but it is not the general situation. Perhaps it is not the fault of the father or the mother, but in some cases it may be the fault of one or the other. Generally speaking, people who are healthy and who have a good occupation are not feeling the pinch as they did in the period 1930-35, and they certainly do not want to go back to those times.
We want to increase the supply of goods so that production will increase more than the demand. Ta:xes will play a part in this, but they cannot be a cure-all and it is not a real remedy. Our good Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) has received a lot of publicity during the last few months about the terrible budget he is going to give this house tomorrow night. He is responsible for the finances of this country. Since I do not know that I shall have another opportunity, I am taking this occasion to compliment him for the good job he has done as Minister of Finance, a very difficult responsibility indeed.
It is recognized that there are drastic ways of curbing inflation, and that they are effective. There is practically no inflation in Russia, but do we want our government to copy the Russian method of deterring inflation? I well recall that only about three years ago we heard of an order given by the Russian government which meant a loss of forty to fifty per cent to the citizens in that country of all the bonds that they had bought during the war. We do not want that to happen in Canada. In Russia all the goods are rationed. They have very little butter. They have practically no meat, but they have many guns and aeroplanes. We know that, and we have to make some sacrifices to meet that threat. Surely, we do not want this parliament to copy the attitude or attempt the methods that Russia has adopted to deter inflation. Surely, we do not want that to happen here. What a marvellous gesture it would be for example
I speak only for myself in this case-if I forgot the interest on my bonds during the next four or five years. I hope I have the courage to do it, and if it was generalized no doubt it would be helpful in aiding in solving inflation.
What about management? Up to the present time our people have had confidence in the Liberal party because we believe in the free play of supply and demand. In the election of 1945 there were no faux-fuyants so far as our policies were concerned. We went to the Canadian people and told them we would gradually remove controls once the war was over. We have done that and the people voted for us in 1945. They voted for us again in 1949 because they had confidence in the principles of Liberalism. But at the same time, did all the manufacturers, did all the wholesalers or the retailers play fair with the government, or our present system and way of living? No doubt there have been some cases where there have been exorbitant profits that have not been warranted, that were unfair to their customers; and unless they mend their ways the government must of necessity to some extent step
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in and stop those activities and some of those excessive profits.
What about the wholesalers? If tomorrow they will say we will accept 10 per cent less gross profits, that would be a marvellous and helpful gesture. What about the retailers in the same way accepting 5 per cent or 10 per cent less, always having regard to the losses they may have in collection and general expense. These are matters we could explain, the same as I did in my own section, to make the people realize that they cannot expect the government to settle alone by itself the high cost of living at the present time but that we must all put our shoulders to the load. Even in peacetime we cannot completely rule out controls. There are limits to fiscal and monetary policy, and no democratic government can do more than is warranted by the active support of its people.
I was in my home town a few days ago and I saw one man buying twenty cases of sweet biscuits. That was hoarding. I know that some people bought sugar at the beginning of the war around 1940 and still have some left. That also was hoarding. I was told by a storekeeper in. the drygoods business, an excellent and alert businessman, that at the present time the retail trade is buying as much as they can because they are afraid the price of men's clothing and of women's clothing will go up after this coming budget. You read in the newspapers a few days ago-I do not know how true it is; I read it myself; that is all I can say about it-that in British Columbia some clubs there bought some liquor to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars because they feared that as a result of the budget tomorrow there would be an increase in the excise tax on liquor. These are examples of things that the Canadian, people do not want to see done generally at the present time or in fact at any time. It is not playing the game with our country. It is not playing the game with themselves either.
This is no time for any businessman to think that he should get all he can while the getting is good. It is no time for the labour union leader to think his union should get all that it can while the getting is good. In that leadership there are good men who realize the seriousness of the situation. I do not want to believe some of the headlines that I saw on Friday and Saturday when information came out from the bureau of statistics to the effect that the cost of living had increased by 4 points or more. They said that we were going to have some labour trouble in Canada. That is not the kind of leadership they have given us during the last seven or eight years. It was better leadership than that. If they have grievances, they should present them to
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the Canadian people, through their government, in a practical way, in order to be listened to by Canada as a whole.
This is no time for the man with money to think that he has the right to hoard and to bid for scarce goods, letting the devil take the hindmost. In doing so, they are all inviting inflation, inviting controls and, perhaps, unwittingly working for the communists. Again I repeat what I said before. There is no doubt that the high cost of living that we have at the present time is to some extent playing into the hands of Joe Stalin and into the hands of international communism, because they can point out what are faults in the economy of the capitalistic system and if unchecked may be conducive to bankruptcy. Again I repeat that the remedy lies with the government and also with every one of our citizens. We all have serious obligations to discharge on that score.
Our people are made of better fibre than that and, as in all times of crisis, they will rise as before to the occasion; and by the help and co-operation of all, they will surmount this difficulty in the same manner and in the same spirit as that they so readily demonstrated during the last two great wars, which gained for us the admiration of all the nations that were in a position to know of our accomplishments.
Again I repeat that we should always remember this. A country like Canada, which of necessity needs world markets for our great exports, cannot entirely control the cost of living. How many pounds of tea do we produce here in Canada? Tea is high in price at the present time, but we have nothing to do with the price of tea over the counter at the moment. How many pounds of coffee do we produce here in this country? Not a single pound. We have to buy it from South America and the South Americans will not accept dictation from Canadians with regard to the price of coffee, no matter how much they like us; we have to accept their quotations. These are matters of supply and demand, of interchange between countries of the world in which one trader cannot dictate to the other in the matter of prices. The same thing applies as forcibly as I mentioned a few minutes ago to the sales that we make to all the nations of the world, for which we get much higher prices than we did six, seven or eight years ago. We cannot and will not put embargoes on our exports at the present time. We still need United States dollars. We want the export markets to be wide open to us. We need to keep our balance of trade. These are necessities, and the leaders of this country must recognize them, and to interfere with them would prove disastrous.
I appreciate this opportunity which has been given to me to make these statements. I made them sincerely and I spoke from the heart. I know that in some sections what I have said will not be popular, but I believe it is my implicit duty to give expression to these thoughts, which I believe are shared by the people I represent at the moment.
I always very much admired the great artistry-I believe that is the proper expression-of the Canadian parliamentary system which is based almost entirely upon the British parliamentary system, with all its common sense and safeguards. Today, on the motion to go into committee of supply, opportunity was given to hon. members to speak on an important problem on which no doubt we shall spend quite a few hours. Buit I believe this is the time and place to compliment the previous speakers-the leader of the opposition and the leaders of the other parties-for expressing their opinions in a clear-cut and forceful way, although you could tell that they all realized the seriousness of the situation. The leader of the opposition was not entirely drastic in his request for controls. He did not make any such plea. We do not want absolute controls that will cut all across the economy. He does not want that because he knows it is not practical. From 1930 to 1935 I sat on the opposition benches and I saw from there the efforts of a fine man, the late Lord Bennett, who was caught in a situation that no human being no matter how gifted he might be, no parliament or no nation could have solved1. I refer to the depression. For five solid years that man must have worked an average of sixteen hours a day. He did the best he could under the circumstances. But sometimes there are certain problems that are outside, bigger and beyond the orbit of a parliament or of a nation.
Today I do not believe that many Canadian people think that we can, as the leader of the C.C.F. said, roll back the high cost of living. You cannot roll back the high cost of living at the present time as you roll back a 20-foot log. You cannot do it in that way, unless you take some drastic measures which the Canadian people will resent for the next decades to come. You must use the system that you have at the present time, try to comprehend the mentality of the Canadian people and in close co-operation with them try to do what is best for them and1 the nation as a whole. We all realize that unchecked! inflation would be calamitous for this country. It is a dangerous issue. The leader of the C.C.F. party made it quite clear from the history of what happened to Germany and what happened to other nations.
We do not want that to happen to Canada. We must always remember this. The government does not deserve to be criticized if they are looking closely at what is happening in the United States, and at their experience with control, under present conditions. Perhaps it is not working as they would like to see it work, but I have no doubt it is doing some good. Already the government, through the good offices of the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe), has looked after some control of commodities in short supply. He has done a good job on that score. Let us take, for example, the buying of automobiles: there are some restrictions today; you have to pay 50 per cent of the purchase price. That is also a step in the right direction. With all these matters up for discussion in the house, I believe it is our implicit duty to tell every one of our constituents that parliament is fully alive to this situation but that it is also fully aware of the legacy which has been imposed upon us and which we are not asking for and which is certainly not of our own making. If the great hopes we had in San Francisco had been fulfilled, if at the present time there were no two worlds, if we had communication as we have between businessmen and had friendly diplomatic relations with Soviet Russia and her satellites, how different the situation would be at the present time- undoubtedly fruitful it would be to allin offering amendments to the motion to go into supply I sometimes think that hon. members go too far. I believe it was only two years ago that the leader of the C.C.F. party offered an amendment to the motion for supply in which he deplored the unemployment situation at that time. We realize that there were signs of unemployment, but most of it was of a seasonal nature. At the same time the discussion was a good one. Hon. members will recall the dire calamities the hon. member suggested would fall upon the Canadian people. He talked blue ruin at the time. In my view that was not the proper way to discuss unemployment.
I must say that this afternoon the discussion was somewhat more elevating. Hon. members who spoke seemed to be trying to suggest ways and means whereby a solution would be found-because it must be kept in mind that no party, no matter what it happens to be, could take the credit to itself for getting a solution which would be reasonably satisfactory in settling to a certain extent the condition of inflation and the high cost of living now prevailing.
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