June 26, 1956

CCF

Erhart Regier

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

Mr. Erhart Regier (Burnaby-Coquitlam):

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased indeed to hear the wonderful pre-election talk, that I have just listened to, by the hon. member for Rosedale. I have been worried about what he is going to do if, before that election rolls around, the C.C.F. in this house introduces another resolution asking for the immediate implementation of national health insurance. The curtain might be a good place to hide behind at that time, after the speech that has just been made. However, I do want to refer to one attack the hon. member made on the opposition in this house. Mr. Speaker, I no longer count the Social Credit members in this house as being

5418 HOUSE OF

Request for Election and Senate Reform in the opposition. They are now merely a poor second-hand rubber stamp for the Liberal or the Yankee party in Canada.

Topic:   SHIPPING
Subtopic:   SUPPLY SHIP "C. D. HOWE"-REPORT ON FIRE
Sub-subtopic:   REQUEST FOR ELECTION-SENATE REFORM
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

Pretty cheap.

Topic:   SHIPPING
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CCF

Erhart Regier

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

Mr. Regier:

I know the hon. member for Lethbridge is pretty good at interjections.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

Pretty cheap.

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Subtopic:   SUPPLY SHIP "C. D. HOWE"-REPORT ON FIRE
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CCF

Erhart Regier

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

Mr. Regier:

The hon. member for Rosedale wondered why Her Majesty's loyal opposition had abstained from attending the granting of royal assent when it last occurred. I might reply for myself personally, and I think for the members of this group. As the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) made very plain the other day, we feel this government no longer has the moral right to sit in office. We feel they absolutely emasculated all rules of decency, all rules of parliament, and that it was no longer a democracy that marched over to the other place to meet Her Majesty's representative. I felt that it would have been a disgrace to pretend to Her Majesty's representative that this pipe-line bill was the will of the Canadian people. Even such an honoured man as the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) speaking as Acting Prime Minister yesterday evening-

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?

An hon. Member:

Ha!

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CCF

Erhart Regier

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

Mr. Regier:

-informed this house and the country that the people of Canada were not with the government on this pipe line deal when he pleaded, "Will you give us only three weeks of electioneering and then the people of Canada will change their opinion."

One of the reasons I rise at this time to express my motive for supporting the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition is the matter of housing. As early as January 18, about a week after the opening of this house, we had an announcement by one of the leading chartered banks of Canada to the effect that they had arrived at a position where they would have to limit further investments in the field of housing and I asked a question about this on orders of the day. The bank-and I am referring to the Royal Bank of Canada-has supplied leadership among the chartered banks in the matter of financing new homes for Canadians. The Minister of Public Works (Mr. Winters) was not here on the 18th but on the 19th I again rose and in reply to my question the Minister of Public Works, as reported at page 281 of Hansard for that date, said:

I understand that yesterday In my absence the hon. member for Bumaby-Coquitlam asked the following question:

"In view of yesterday's announcement by the banks indicating a decline in money being available for housing, would the government consider again

supplying a portion of N.H.A. funds as it did before the first session of this parliament?"

In reply, I should point out that I do not know of any general announcement by the banks regarding a decline in money available for housing. There has been no indication by prospective borrowers that there is a general shortage of mortgage money under the National Housing Act. As the hon. member knows, the act contains authority by which Central Mortgage may make loans directly to borrowers if loans are not being made available by approved lenders. If a shortage of mortgage money did occur it would be a matter of government policy, in light of the circumstances at that time, to determine to what extent the corporation's power to make direct loans should be used. At the present time this authority is being used in the smaller communities.

And then note this; the minister concluded with this statement:

It is the government's intention to ensure that a high level of house building continues.

Only the other day, on June 21, the government having been severely reminded on several occasions of the growing shortage of mortgage money, I asked the Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris) about a statement of his and my question is reported at page 5238 of Hansard of that date:

... I should like to ask the Minister of Finance whether he would care to clarify what he said a few moments ago, that he had become aware of this shortage or apparent shortage only a few weeks ago. On January 19 the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Winters) in replying to a question said that there was no indication by prospective borrowers that there was going to be a shortage. Was it only a few weeks ago that the minister became aware of a shortage?

The Minister of Finance replied:

I think I can correctly say it was only about two weeks ago that I personally was informed of the difficulties.

At that point the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles) asked:

Where has the minister been?

I should like some time to have an answer to that question posed by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre: Where has the minister been?

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Right here doing his work.

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CCF

Erhart Regier

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

Mr. Regier:

I think it would be only right if at this time we had a little review of what has gone on over the past few years in the matter of mortgage money for new homes in Canada.

Under the operation of the act prior to 1953 most of the mortgage money for new N.H.A. homes was supplied by mortgage companies and by the insurance companies of Canada with the government lending to these institutions 25 per cent of the money that was needed. The insurance and mortgage companies made a little bit on this 25 per cent in that they were able to obtain a higher rate from the purchaser than they had to

pay the government for this share of the money. However, the time came when the investment houses of Canada felt they had invested a sufficiently large share of their capital assets in housing and henceforth they would have to limit their investments in new housing to the percentage they felt was safe to have invested in housing and that any new money they would have available for this purpose would consist only in the natural growth of the percentage in terms of dollars in line with the growth of the companies and with the repayments of the loans that had already been made.

The government had ample warning of this and looked around for other means of obtaining mortgage money and they decided to call on the chartered banks of Canada. When they did call on the chartered banks of Canada, however, they decided to supply no longer 25 per cent of the needed money and ever since that amendment to the National Housing Act the federal government has not supplied 25 per cent of the capital needs for new housing. The chartered banks of Canada, some of them rather reluctantly, entered the field of housing and on the whole I think perhaps all hon. members will agree that the chartered banks of Canada have done a significant service to the Canadian people. Many suburban areas in Canada which hitherto had been unable to lay their hands on N.H.A. mortgage funds were able to undertake housing programs because of the existence of chartered banks branches in the suburban areas simply because the banks proved themselves more accommodating and a little more willing to move into the suburban areas than the insurance companies had been. However, even the chartered banks, like the insurance companies before them, decided it would be safe for them to invest a certain specified percentage of their assets in housing.

The time has now arrived-and it arrived for some of the banks as early as six months ago-when that percentage allotment has been used up and last new year the banks gave warning to the government that henceforth their investments in new housing would be limited to the repayment on advances they had made in former years and the natural growth in the assets of the banks and to the extent that the percentage in the assets each year would be able to make more money available to them. The government had plenty of warning and yet the Minister of Public Works on January 19 saw fit to deny any knowledge of the impending shortage of mortgage money. As late as June 21, even the Minister of Finance denied that he had had several months of warning.

I feel the Minister of Finance, if indeed he is a minister of finance, had ample warning;

26, 1956 5419

Request for Election and Senate Reform he had at least six months' warning as did the Minister of Public Works. However, there were so many beginnings, so many new houses that had started, they felt the Canadian people would not notice this shortage of mortgage money with which they were going to be faced and they decided to wait and see what transpired.

If I read correctly the words of the Minister of Public Works as he spoke them yesterday on the orders of the day, it is his intention to have fewer new houses start in the last six months of this year than was the case in the first six months of this year.

The Minister of Public Works was very careful, when answering the hon. member for Broadview yesterday, to tell him that the number of housing starts had grown for the first five or six months of this year, but he very carefully avoided any reference to what has taken place within the last month throughout Canada. I am sure the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Public Works have enough communications in their offices, both letters and telegrams, to indicate to them in no uncertain terms that the major source of mortgage money for new homes in Canada has to all intents and purposes come to an end and that a new way out has to be found by the government.

One of the recommendations I have made from time to time is that the government re-enter the field, at least to the extent of supplying 25 per cent of this money, as they did before the chartered banks were brought into the picture. I cannot blame the insurance companies of Canada, nor can I blame the chartered banks of Canada. After all, for many years during the hungry thirties we did not build any new homes in Canada, and yet the population grew. During the war housebuilding came to an end, so that at the end of the war there were from half a million to a million homes badly needed. We have never yet caught up.

The Minister of Public Works pointed out that last year we built some 50,000 more homes than new family units were formed. At that rate, 50,000 a year more new homes than new family units being formed, it would take us ten years before we came anywhere near to having an adequate supply of houses for the people of Canada.

Another reason why I feel that I at least have lost confidence in one minister of this government and that an election should be called-and I am again coming back to the same minister-is the policy he pursues.

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Subtopic:   SUPPLY SHIP "C. D. HOWE"-REPORT ON FIRE
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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Oh!

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CCF

Erhart Regier

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

Mr. Regier:

I notice the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration laughing when I say

5420 HOUSE OF

Request for Election and Senate Reform an election should be called. I would just love to see him contest any seat whatsoever in British Columbia.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

Would the hon. gentleman accept my challenge and come and run against me?

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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

How brave can you get?

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CCF

Erhart Regier

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

Mr. Regier:

I am not prepared to be a candidate in a riding where I know that some people have for so many years been held in subservience and slaves to the fish companies-

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

That is a nice way to talk about the free Newfoundlanders.

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CCF

Erhart Regier

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

Mr. Regier:

-and have grown old without ever having had a nickel in their pockets. They are slaves to the economic system that prevails there and to the Liberal party of Canada. However, I tell the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration that on his policies of racial discrimination and on that one issue alone I will defeat him in any riding in British Columbia.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration)

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I suggest that when the free Newfoundlanders hear that the C.C.F. calls them slaves they will know how to deal with the C.C.F.

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Subtopic:   SUPPLY SHIP "C. D. HOWE"-REPORT ON FIRE
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CCF

Erhart Regier

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

Mr. Regier:

I am afraid that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will not have any room to be a candidate in my riding because already I hear that the Minister of National Defence has selected that riding. If that should be the case, might I inform him that he may find a bunch of shipwrecked people in the slums of Vancouver centre whose vote he can buy at $5 a piece, which the Liberal party has always bought ever since they robbed Arnold Webster of that seat in 1935, and that in my riding the Minister of National Defence will be unable to win an election on that basis. There will be a thousand volunteer workers who will be worth more than $100,000 of Liberal bribe money any day.

Now I should like to come back to the Minister of Public Works. A year ago, Mr. Speaker, you will remember, we held up the prorogation or the adjournment of this house on the subject of federal aid to universities. That was sufficient cause to hold up the adjournment. That subject was worthy by itself. However, on the day following, as a result of our holding up this house for one more day, the member for Regina City (Mr. Ellis) was able to ask the Minister of Public Works concerning the sale of veterans' houses to the veterans in Regina. When I got home after the adjournment of the house I found that there were also hundreds of people in

the lower mainland who were very much interested in this subject. When the minister on that day-I believe it was July 29- replied to the member for Regina City, his reply was to the effect that the government, in selling these homes to veterans, was not planning on making any money. The plan was only to break even, but the government was not planning on making any money from the veterans.

I had noticed that the member for Regina City asked, "Why is it that the veterans of Regina are being asked to pay for these houses almost as much as the houses originally cost? When I came back to the lower mainland, I found that the veterans there in the Renfrew Heights subdivision were being asked to pay, not a little less than these houses cost, not what these houses cost, but much more than these houses cost. The Liberals who were at the mass meeting in Renfrew Heights repeated the minister's answer, "We are not making any money on these veterans' houses." However, I feel that the government may not be planning on making any money on these veterans' homes over the nation as a whole, but that is not interfering with the government's plans to make these veterans in this area and living in those homes make up the losses that the government will have to accept in other of the 92 cities of Canada.

The veterans in Renfrew Heights in Vancouver are being asked to pay thousands of dollars more for these homes than these homes cost, in order to help the government out of the losses it is experiencing on homes in other Canadian cities. That was one statement I made at one time at this mass meeting, and one statement that the government has never yet officially denied. The only answer government spokemen had at the meetings was that the veterans are buying these homes. I can list my home for sale, which is perhaps worth $15,000, and I can sell it for $30,000. As long as I am willing to take a $10 down payment, I can always find a fish who will buy that home and obligate himself and his descendants after him to pay interest for all eternity. The reason why the veterans are buying the homes is that they cannot resist buying them. The down payments are so low and, despite the denials of the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation officials, there is pressure exerted upon them to purchase these homes. They finally yield and buy these homes, simply because they have not the necessary down payment to go on the market and buy themselves decent homes at market values.

I feel that the Minister of Public Works should reassess the whole situation, and from

the Vancouver people he should take only such money as these homes in Vancouver cost. It the government has made a blunder and perhaps lost a thousand homes in a swamp somewhere in northern Ontario, the veterans in Renfrew Heights should not be asked to foot the bill for them in the cost of their homes.

Then, coming back to the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Winters), I am afraid time will not permit me to deal with everything I should like to concerning that minister.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

You are wasting your time on too much boasting.

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CCF

Erhart Regier

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

Mr. Regier:

I am very glad to be able to represent such a progressive community as Burnaby in the House of Commons. We have there a voluntary organization known as the New Vista housing society, of which the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Winch) is a permanent member of the board of directors. This organization collects money throughout the municipality of 80,000 people for the purpose of building low rent housing for senior citizens and other people of equally low income. They obtain from the Social Credit government of the province, reactionary as it is, formerly a Liberal-Conservative coalition government almost as reactionary, a grant of one-third of the capital cost. Through tag days, service organizations and what-have-you the people raise as much money as they can. They receive one-third of the cost from the provincial government. But then does the federal government come along through Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation and make a grant? Oh no. It would be horrible to help our senior citizens and people on low incomes. We could not afford to do that. They will grant them a mortgage which has to be repaid with interest over a period of 30, 40 or I believe in some cases even 50 years.'

When one looks at the resources of the various levels of government in Canada, I feel it is high time that the municipal government and the provincial government should be relieved of costs such as these. If they are not relieved, then their contribution should at least be matched by an equal contribution by the federal government. These old age pensioners are very fortunate in comparison to those who must rent on the open market. However, even to them $25 a month is a very large share of their income indeed to have to pay for rent. Why? In order to repay the mortgage held by the federal government.

The hon. member for Burnaby-Richmond (Mr. Goode) gets considerable publicity back home with his announcements each time the

67509-343J

26, 1956 5421

Request for Election and Senate Reform federal government helps with $100,000 for unit 6 or 7 or whatever it may be of the New Vista society. In the same publicity he does not inform the people of Burnaby that they themselves have made a cash donation and that the government in Victoria gives a donation but that the magnificent handout from Ottawa has to be repaid with its pound of flesh in interest,

The hon. member for Rosedale (Mr. Henry) mentioned old age pensions. I am very pleased to say that we in western Canada take a little more progressive attitude regardless of the kind of government we have. I should not say "western Canada" because there is a Liberal government in Manitoba which still only pays a niggardly $40 a month to needy, old age pensioners. However, under certain conditions, and the conditions vary from one province to another, old age pensioners in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia can receive as much as $60 a month. But most of the old age pensioners live in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec and I have no reason to believe that the cost of living in Ottawa, Montreal or Toronto is very much lower than it is in Saskatoon, Edmonton or Victoria. The minister or his officials have indicated to the newspapers that they have a surplus for the last two months of $247 million. If they have such a surplus, I think one of the wisest ways in which they could invest at least a portion of it would be to make a little progress once and for all in the field of old age pensions.

In 1927 the federal government started to make a payment of $20 per month by way of an old age pension. In terms of the goods that old age pensioners have to buy the government, with its payment today of $40 a month, is paying less than it paid in 1927. We have made no progress whatsoever as a nation. We have gone backwards, and it is high time that another J. S. Woodsworth and a ginger group again had the balance of power in the House of Commons and forced this issue so that we might obtain $65 a month for men at age 65 and for women at age 60.

I think I have said almost enough. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Drew) has called for the dissolution of the house. I am looking at the seating plan of the House of Commons, and I see that we have a Minister of Labour (Mr. Gregg) who is doing practically nothing to find jobs for Canadians over the age of 35 who are unemployed. These people are left to the tender mercies of the municipal welfare officers back home. Then we have a Minister of Justice (Mr. Garson) who unfortunately is ill at this time. Perhaps I should not say anything about him, but I have noticed that he is more concerned with

5422 HOUSE OF

Request for Election and Senate Reform maintaining friendly relations with the ten provincial attorneys general than he is to see that all Canadians from coast to coast enjoy at least some basic rights as Canadian citizens. That is a concept he has never yet grasped as Minister of Justice.

I see a Minister of National Revenue (Mr. McCann) who still collects income tax from single citizens of Canada earning the magnificent total of $1,001 per year. We have a Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) who may know a lot about wheat although according to some of my colleagues he gets badly mixed up about wheat. However, as the farmers of the rest of Canada know full well, he knows very little about most of the farmers of Canada who do not grow a grain of wheat. We have a Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent), or possibly I made a mistake. Maybe we have not got a Prime Minister.

I have not noticed him for several years. However, we have an Acting Prime Minister who also acts as Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe). He is more interested in maintaining the value of the Canadian dollar by the mass export of our raw natural resources south of the border to maintain employment there than he is in building up trade within the British commonwealth.

Then we have a Minister of Finance (Mr. Harris). Someone once said that he is a small town country lawyer from Ontario. When it comes to matters of international affairs at least, I hope he never succeeds to the leadership of the Liberal party because I am afraid his concept of Canada's role and Canada's potentialities for world peace is very small indeed. We have a Minister of National Defence (Mr. Campney) who I am confident knows no more about his department than I do. We have a Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) who just loves to take two steps forward and three back every time he makes a speech. Nobody yet knows what position he takes on any problem.

We have a Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Martin) who will be perfectly happy to inaugurate a national health insurance plan in Canada as soon as all Canadians have asked for it. We have a Secretary of State (Mr. Pinard) who I am told represents the province of Quebec, whatever that may mean. We have a Minister of Transport (Mr. Marler) who, in my experience, is only too happy to let the harbours that are established monopolize the field and who is unwilling to undertake any harbour development except that which involves the well established vested interests in the major cities of Canada.

We have the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Pickersgill) whose citizenship I understand is based on a fishing village

[Mr. Regler.l

in Newfoundland. I do not know whether or not he was born there as a Canadian baby. However, the Canadian people are resentful of the fact that thousands of Italians, thousands of Chinese and, for all I know, maybe thousands of Janpanese are being allowed to immigrate into Canada. I am not for one moment going to oppose that immigration. However, to our commonwealth allies from Ceylon, from Pakistan and from India, 150 a year is the limit and no more. There is racial discrimination and the minister knows it. I will give him credit for this. I heard him admit racial discrimination.

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Subtopic:   SUPPLY SHIP "C. D. HOWE"-REPORT ON FIRE
Sub-subtopic:   REQUEST FOR ELECTION-SENATE REFORM
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June 26, 1956