I would suggest that this government should seriously consider the necessity of laying plans for a large body of public works. I would suggest something else, too, that it is time we considered placing contracts for capital equipment for the undeveloped areas of the world on much the same basis as we have been placing contracts for the production of defence equipment which now, apparently, was money down the drain.
Those are two methods I would suggest, Mr. Chairman, whereby this government could at least temporarily stem this tide that seems to be rising all across the country. While I am certainly glad to welcome this amendment to the Unemployment Insurance Act, I am afraid that although it does reveal the fact the government is really uneasy about the unemployment situation, it reveals also the fact that the government has not the foggiest idea what has caused it or the slightest idea how to cope with it.
Mr. Chairman, representing as I do an industrial constituency, it will come as no surprise to you to hear me speak on a matter concerning the working people.
I am certainly quite happy to express to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Starr) as well as to the Conservative government the approval of the working people with regard to this measure which proposes to increase from 16 to 18 weeks the period during which benefits will be paid during the winter.
Over the past few weeks, we have heard hon. members from the other side of the house, Liberal members, speak of the situation of the workers in very lugubrious tones indeed. However, they have forgotten to say that a situation such as this does not spring overnight. If in certain parts of this country at this time there are a few areas where unemployment is prevalent, it can be attributed to the lack of foresight of the former government. It is from the former administration that we have inherited the situation facing us at this time.
However, it is of good omen that the Conservative party be called upon to deal with the situation. Every time this nation
has found itself in more or less difficult situations, it has turned to the Conservative party. I am happy to be a member of this party and to have the opportunity of helping my colleagues solve this problem which we inherited from our predecessors because of their lack of vision.
Workers in various centres will certainly be happy to learn that the benefits have been extended from 16 to 24 weeks under a Conservative government. In my own constituency of St. Hyacinthe-Bagot, official figures show that unemployment, far from increasing, has been decreasing.
Official figures which I obtained from the St. Hyacinthe unemployment insurance office show that last June there were about 1,500 unemployed registered at the local employment office. On October 31st last, always according to the figures from the unemployment insurance office in my district, this number was down to 1,100, which means a decrease of about 400 since we came to power in June last.
I would therefore like to draw the attention of this house and also of this country to the fact that the Conservative party is not the party of hunger, the party with a short memory or the party which spreads hardship everywhere but rather the party which can sympathize with human need, the party whose members all join here together trying to bring a solution to the problems left to us by our predecessors. In this, I choose to see evidence of the great satisfaction and also the great confidence we have in our Minister of Labour and in the Prime Minister of Canada (Mr. Diefenbaker).
information of the members who just spoke I would tell them that the reason I must take part in the debate is that one of the cabinet ministers stated, during a visit to Moncton, that it was strange we have heard no effective protest in the House of Commons from the member of parliament for Westmorland on behalf of the residents of that area. The minister was referring to the Canadian National layoffs. If I were to resume my place and not say a word in this debate, then I would be open to criticism from the Minister of Transport who made that statement in Moncton about a year ago.
Unemployment Insurance Act
I should like to commend the Minister of Labour for introducing this resolution so quickly. We know that the minister is one of the most sincere members we have in the government. I know that when I remind him of some of the things he omitted from this resolution he will take note of them and perhaps give greater thought to the policy of his party than some of the members on the treasury benches. I should like to bring to the attention of the minister what his party said they would do when they were elected. Again I am reading from the Diefenbaker national policy, which some members of the cabinet seem to regard as being unworthy of merit when inquiries are made about it. I am reading to the minister from the new national policy, verbatim quotations from the speeches of the Prime Minister, and on page 7 it says:
The Progressive Conservatives are convinced now, as always, that the free enterprise system coupled with effective free trade unions, offers Canadian labour the best assurance of opportunity, security and highest possible standard of living. To attain this end we shall-
And among other things it says:
Improve unemployment insurance legislation to include: Coverage for greatest number of wage earners; increases in benefits and allowable earnings; extension of benefit period to 52 weeks; elimination of waiting periods; prompt payment of claims;-
Those people who are now applauding this statement should recall that this afternoon the minister told us about waiting periods. I would advise those members to take a very serious view of this matter because I think many of them will be laid off after the next election.
I would pass on to you a few gems of wisdom that were given out by your own Minister of Transport. There is a clipping in a newspaper report of a speech by the Minister of Transport while he was in Moncton, New Brunswick.