The second fault I have to find with the government is not novel, I am sure, because it has to do with the question of high taxation. The Conservatives have told us taxes are too high. The socialists have told us the same. The Social Credit members and independents also claim they are too high. Even the Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris) has said they are too high and, if it will help any, I shall say also that they are too high. That pretty well makes us unanimous.
But the question is, "What makes them too high?" There are probably two particular reasons. One is that we are a social welfare state to a degree, and the other is defence expenditure. I cannot devote too much time to this question, but in the matter of the social welfare state I would say I do not believe there are many hon. members in this house who are opposed to the social welfare legislation now on the statute books. I think I am right in saying that most of our social welfare legislation was born of the depression years or during a period of conflict. In view of that fact I believe it is time we stopped and assessed the situation.
The Minister of National Health and Welfare has indicated on more than one
occasion that he would be only too happy to assist the aged and others in need if he could only find the ways and means. It is evidently agreed, then, that they need this assistance and the government is prepared to supply it but does not know exactly how it can be done. I would suggest it is time that a committee or some other such organization were set up to determine the means whereby we can correct our existing legislation so as to make it possible to assist those who are in need of help. Each party has different ideas in this regard, and it might be well to take that factor into consideration. It is not a case of being indifferent to the need for this legislation, but there may be a considerable difference of views among hon. members as to the amount required and the means of implementation.
One might take for example the discrepancy now existing, whereby we have wealthy people of 70 years of age and over who are receiving $40 per month, while at the same time we have those younger people who are very poor indeed and are not receiving the required assistance. Some of them are even denied the right to work. Our own civil service regulations do not permit some of them to take on particular types of jobs. In fact the only thing they can get is the air. That is pretty cheap, but there was a time when we had to pay for it, and I am referring to the old radio licence.
But seriously, Mr. Speaker, it is highly important to this nation that we see to it that there is no one in want, whether he be aged, blind, crippled, or in any other position that makes it impossible for him to live in the manner in which he is entitled to live. In saying that I do not mean that an individual should become a charge on the state. He should rather be one who has the privilege of doing something if he so wishes and thereby supplement his allowance if he is in need. However, that is just a thought as to a method of modification.
I believe the people who do most for the economy of this country are those who spend everything they earn. If we have senior citizens in this country or disabled or blind and they need more money in order to live, and through government assistance receive that money, they will do more for the economy of this country than any half dozen wealthy men who do not spend their money, because these people spend every penny they can earn and it is put back into circulation so that it becomes part of the bloodstream of the state.
I would therefore consider that it is most important for us as a parliament to urge this
Mr. Hahn government to meet these needs if it is at all possible, and in this regard I would again emphasize that it is time to reassess our social welfare legislation. I shall probably have more to say on these particular items as they come up in the estimates later.
I have quite deliberately neglected to include war veterans allowances in this group, largely because I was pleased to note that the question is dealt with in the speech from the throne. I hope the impending legislation in this regard will meet the requests made by the veterans last year when they submitted their brief with respect to the amount of the allowance and the permissible ceiling. In this regard I wish to congratulate the hon. members for Vancouver-Burrard (Mr. MacDougall) and Hastings-Frontenac (Mr. White) for joining me this year in putting on the order paper a resolution similar to the one I submitted last year, asking for consideration of this matter. The reason I congratulate both these hon. members is that their action indicates there is some uniformity of view among hon. members in this house, and that many of us are anxious to see that the war veterans receive the consideration which is their due.
Before dealing with the question of fisheries I would like to congratulate the government for including the removal of Ripple Rock in the speech from the throne. This has caused us many worries in the past in British Columbia, and it has been of particular concern to the wives of fishermen and others employed on boats.
I would particularly draw to the attention of the Minister of Fisheries the remarks of the hon. member for Fraser Valley (Mr. Patterson). Speaking earlier in this debate the hon. member asked for an extension of fishing rights above the Pattullo bridge. I recall that last year the minister changed his ideas to a degree, and I was quite enthusiastic. However, the change was not sufficient. I applauded his action last year, and I would be very happy to continue that applause if he would only see fit to increase the period of time during which fishermen can fish above the Pattullo bridge.
In that regard, much has been said about the quality of the fish and the need for conservation. In this connection I should like to read some evidence taken from the Sloan report of 1940, pages 110 and 111, as given by Charles Lisson Smith, who was the production manager of Edmunds and Walker. I know the report is a few years old, but at the same time the fish are the same fish; they use the same river; the bridge is the same bridge, and I think the same situation
The Address-Mr. Hahn holds good today. At least the fishermen are convinced that it does. I read from the report:
Q. Will you repeat again what you were telling us as to what is the business of the company?
A. We buy all British Columbia fish for the purpose of freezing, selling fish, and curing.
Q. In that connection what variety of salmon do you buy?
A. Spring salmon mostly.
Q. And from whom are these purchases made?
A. From anyone offering; for instance in the river, we take them from any fisherman bringing them in, but mostly it is from collectors who buy the fish and resell to us.
Q. Do you buy gillnet caught fish?
Q. And purse seine caught fish?
A. Not very much.
Q. Will you tell us why?
I want you to note this answer particularly.
A. Purse seine fish are not very suitable for our business.
Q. You are speaking only of spring salmon, aren't you?
Q. Tell us why they are not very suitable?
A. They seem to be damaged in the process of fishing or in the collecting. In any case before they reach us they are of inferior quality to either the trolled or gillnetted fish.
Q. Damaged in what way? Can you give us that more particularly?
A. Presumably in the brailing.
Q. In what way is this damage apparent?
A. The fish are smashed, the scales are off and they are bruised, broken.
Q. And does that render the fish of an inferior quality or grade for the particular purpose you require these fish?
A. Most certainly.
Q. In what way does it affect them?
A. No one will buy a battered up fish if you want to sell them fresh. If you want to spend money and put them in cold storage or dress and process them in the way of curing, why naturally no one will take on an article that is all broken and battered; it is not a fine fish any more.
Q. Do you find the same condition where you purchase from the gillnet fishermen?
A. Sometimes, but not so much so. Up river the fishermen have been educated that way for some considerable time, at least the fishermen selling to us. We get a very good quality from the gill-netters up the river.
Q. Up the river from where?
A. From New Westminster bridge.
That is the Pattullo bridge. It indicates that the quality of fish is just as good as that of any that are caught by the seine vessels, or more so. In respect of conservation I would quote Major James A. Motherwell, chief supervisor of fisheries in British Columbia under the federal government from 1921 until at least 1940. At page 105 they were speaking about competition and he was asked this question:
Q. Is it-
"It" meaning competition.
-controlled from an economic standpoint or from a conservation standpoint?
A. Conservation is not affected because we can control any kind of fishing.
There we have a case not of quality but a case of conservation. We have the same fishermen, the same people, who are quite capable of looking after the fishing industry. The fishermen themselves can do the conserving. They are just as co-operative as they were at that time. Undoubtedly the only regulation that needs to be changed is to have the conservation of fish controlled in a progressive manner from the gulf right on up the Fraser past the Pattullo bridge and on into Mission and the area where they do their spawning.
From my studies I find that the prosperity of a nation can be traced to its basic industry; or I might put it this way. The prosperity of a nation is directly proportionate to the prosperity of the basic industry. Our prosperity therefore comes from our hinterland. This applies federally, provincially and, to a lesser degree, locally. When the returns from production do not equal the cost of consumption, then our enterprise begins to fail.
In this respect I find that the dairymen and poultrymen have long known their stock, and that it produces properly only when it consumes properly. They realize that in order to have a cow give sufficient milk, or as much as they think it should give, they must first feed that cow well. In other words it is what the cow consumes that makes the milk. The same thing applies to poultry or any other product.
Today we see certain signs of breakdown of this economy. We have the poultrymen, the dairy producers, the grain growers, the stock raisers, the potato growers, the fishermen and others who complain and have complained, not just this year but last year as well, of the conditions with which they are confronted. For instance, the price of eggs was discussed in this house. We were told that the price is too low, that we should have a higher floor price under them.
One of the causes behind this situation is the price of feed. As I mentioned earlier, the Minister of Agriculture could make us happier at the coast if he were to raise the contribution in respect of feed rates and give us back the $5 he deducted, and make it possible for poultrymen to buy their feed at a lower cost. Another question in respect of eggs is the price spread between the A quality and the B quality. That matter was also mentioned.
Then as to the turkey raisers, I had the privilege of indicating to this house last year that there was a problem. At that time some people in the business called it dumping. It was not dumping in the true sense of the
word because United States birds were selling for the same price in the United States as they were selling in Canada. However, the difference was this. The United States poultry raiser was the owner of a large feed plant and he was interested only in getting the price of his feed out of these birds, with the result that he made no profit on them. That put the Canadian producer in the awkward position of trying to compete with him.
As to the economic policy of this government-if there is such a thing as a policy in respect of some of these things, of which I am rather doubtful-let me say this. There has been much talk about butter and cheese and so on. It is a matter of argument as to whether or not there is a policy in respect of agriculture that is not just as loose as the minister's talk, when he says from time to time, "I did not mean that; I meant something else".
That is the essence of the whole thing. The only result of the increase in the price of feed is that the cost of production goes up, and with that increased cost of production we have, of necessity, an increase in the price to the ultimate consumer, whether it is eggs or whatever it may be. As to the wheat producers, they have their difficulties just as have the butter and cheese producers.
Therefore when you come to consider agriculture, what is the policy? Is the policy going to be that the government will pay for butter until it has a certain accumulation, then give it to hospitals? Is this to be a continuing policy? We should know these things. Certainly the merchants in this country are entitled to know something with regard to what they may expect.
The grain grower certainly has real cause for complaint. Here we have 19-5 per cent of the population receiving about 9 per cent of Canada's income. It is not enough that he is the backbone of the country but of necessity, because of our trade policy, he must be dependent only on the export market. This is true to a degree, but there is a domestic market over which we can have a certain measure of control. Because of this method of handling these things, he runs into difficulties. The same conditions apply to the hog producers. I know the Minister of Agriculture has received a telegram similar to the one I received concerning the effect of the feed situation on the hog raising business.
We all heard the excellent speeches by the hon. members for Queens (Mr. MacLean), and Victoria-Carleton (Mr. Montgomery) with regard to the potato growers. The same question was discussed last year in this house. I do not believe the solution lies so much in 50433-501
The Address-Mr. Poulin a tariff as in a change in the implementation of these regulations. It may be a matter that could be presented through our Minister of Finance. I would not be so ready to agree that we should increase the tariff. I am opposed to that in principle. I would rather see our tariff dates made more flexible, so they might come into operation at a time when they would be of much more assistance.
I realize that my time is getting short. I realize, as well, that the financial and economic policies of this government today are the same as they were when our good friend Adolf Schicklgruber, or Adolf Hitler as he was called, took us out of the last depression. I would, therefore, move, seconded by the hon. member for Bow River (Mr. Johnston), that the amendment be amended by adding thereto the following:
We further regret that Your Excellency's advisers have failed to take or to recommend the necessary fundamental economic and financial measures to place Canadian producers and workers on a sound and prosperous basis, and to ensure our economy against recurring recessions.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY