March 9, 1961

PC

Richard Devere Thrasher (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Thrasher:

The hon. gentleman is known as "jumping Jack", and I believe that name is consistent with his character. I would suggest to him that perhaps he ought to continue the law course he has been taking because it is apparent he is not too well acquainted with the law.

The hon. member during the course of his speech mentioned something about unemployment. Apparently he has lost his liaison with the premier of his province, Mr. Smallwood, who is now in ill health and forced to take a rest even while the house of assembly of that province is in session. I should like to quote now from the March 5 edition of the Newfoundland Herald in which the premier is reported as saying that 52,400 new jobs have been created in that province. If this is the case and these jobs have been created in that province, much of the credit must go to the federal government which provides over 60 per cent of the money expended by the province of Newfoundland as well as many millions more by way of family allowances, increased old age pensions, public works and so on.

I listened with interest this afternoon to the very admirable and scholarly address given by the Leader of the Opposition during which he analysed the present economic difficulties and the employment situation in this country. In his analysis he dealt at great length with the causes of this situation. He showed an admirable grasp of the subject. There was only one thing he forgot. He did not say anything about a cure. We were all interested-

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

I will be speaking again on that.

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PC

Richard Devere Thrasher (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Thrasher:

-in hearing about a cure, but we heard nothing. We heard this speech a year ago, at which time we heard nothing about a cure, and I look forward to hearing it again a year from now.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

Why don't you do something about it? You are a member of the government.

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PC

Richard Devere Thrasher (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Thrasher:

This afternoon the Leader of the Opposition asked the minister to comment on the manpower committee of the other place. Surely, he must know that it would be improper for the minister to make a statement on a committee sitting in the other place.

The Leader of the Opposition also made some reference to the unemployment insurance fund and to its depletion. Presumably, the unemployment insurance fund was established to assist people who were suffering from unemployment. This fund is bound to suffer depletion in a period when there is high unemployment. The opposition speaks from both sides of its mouth at once. It criticizes us for spending money out of the fund. Which way are they going to have it, Mr. Chairman? They cannot have it both ways.

The Leader of the Opposition also took exception to the Minister of Labour dealing with the affairs of this department. He apparently is not interested in such matters as vocational training, municipal winter works, civil rehabilitation and the other services provided by the department. If he were, he would have made some mention of them. He could hardly wait, Mr. Chairman, to give us a little lecture on the causes of unemployment. We are still waiting to hear about the cure, but I understand now that perhaps we will hear something from him later in this debate.

The Leader of the Opposition asked the minister about the Industrial Relations and Disputes Investigation Act, and wanted to know why it had not been amended. We are interested in hearing about the amendments he considers are necessary to this act. However, if he wants to know what the holdup is, I can tell him that labour and management have been so far apart in the amendments they have suggested it has not been possible to bring about any reconciliation in their respective views. One of the problems in this country may be that we have not been able to reconcile the views of management and labour. We are attempting to do so, Mr. Chairman, and we have called a meeting for that purpose for March 15 of this year.

The Leader of the Opposition spoke a great deal about President Kennedy. One would have almost thought President Kennedy was the new leader of the Liberal party, since the hon. member spoke in such glowing terms of him. I am not so sure President Kennedy would be prepared to accept such an honour.

However, I believe the reason why hon. members opposite do this is that what we have done to combat unemployment in all sectors stands out in shining contrast to their own dark and dismal record in this respect. They turn, therefore, to President Kennedy for a basis of comparison. Certainly this comparison is far more favourable than it would be if comparison were made with anything the Liberals had done.

I would point out, too, that President Kennedy is in the United States and we are in Canada. The Leader of the Opposition went to great lengths to quote the opinions of United States economists. This is quite all right and we do not take exception to it. However, I point out to him that the problem we have to solve is in this country and I would suggest that he turn his attention to what is happening here. I might add that we do not hesitate to compare our program with that presently being suggested by Kennedy. He is an energetic and aggressive young man with tremendous power at his disposal.

It is interesting in this connection to note that many of the things he is suggesting now are things that are already being done in this country or which are presently being introduced. Even the Leader of the Opposition will, I think, admit this. The other day President Kennedy said that labour and management must forget their differences and concentrate on areas of mutual interest. Apparently this statement has failed to come to the attention of the Leader of the Opposition.

On February 3, President Kennedy made certain proposals to congress. The Leader of the Opposition has invited an examination of those proposals and I hope he will not be disappointed by the results of that examination. TOiere were 12 matters. The first dealt with expansion in housing. This we brought about two years ago and we are still taking action in this field. He proposed an extension of the unemployment insurance benefit period to 39 weeks. It may surprise the Leader of the Opposition to learn that at the present time in Canada unemployment insurance benefits can be collected over a period of up to 77 weeks.

As far as the opposition are concerned I think they are just bankrupt of ideas and have tried to hide behind President Kennedy's success. We had a 40-minute economic analysis this afternoon but we did not have a minute for the cure. I commend the Leader of the Opposition on his analysis; I commend him for his bedside manner. But I cannot commend him for any prescription he had to offer.

9, 1961

Supply-Labour

President Kennedy suggested before congress that the national employment service should be extended. This we have done, and the Minister of Labour made some reference to it this afternoon. The president recommended aid to dependent children of unemployed persons. One of the first things we did when we came to office was to extend the provisions of the Unemployment Assistance Act. He recommended aid to distressed areas. We have already taken action along these lines. It is clear from the attitude of the opposition in the speeches we have heard today that their psychology is one of depression. They have no real policy in this field. They ask what we are doing.

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?

An hon. Member:

What are you doing?

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PC

Richard Devere Thrasher (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Thrasher:

First of all, I will refer again to the suggestion regarding assistance to surplus manpower areas. We asked the municipalities, if they feel they are entitled to double depreciation allowances, to apply for that type of assistance. We would then investigate the situation in the light of figures available from the Department of Labour and the Department of Trade and Commerce. If we are satisfied in the light of this examination we shall grant double depreciation allowances to any new industries setting up in those areas. The opposition say they would not have done it this way. The real answer is that they would not have done it at all.

This afternoon the Leader of the Opposition quoted from Mr. Coyne. Apparently he overlooked Mr. Coyne's reference to the effect of United States tariff barriers on Canada's economic advancement. In his analysis of the economic situation the Leader of the Opposition pointed out that one of the softest spots in our economy was the manufacturing industry. He said the manufacturing industry had not kept pace with developments elsewhere. Why did he stop there? Why did he not take up Mr. Coyne's argument? He must be familiar with it, because apparently he read the speech. The reason is that the Liberals have put themselves in an untenable and indefensible position by opposing the legislation dealing with the revision of the definition of class or kind made in Canada. It seems to me that every time this government takes some action which will be of some benefit to the economy of the country we are told by the opposition that it is no good, that it is unsatisfactory. Yet this afternoon-and,

I understand, not too long ago in Montreal_

the Leader of the Opposition stated there was no one cure for the problem which exists in Canada today. Certainly this government recognizes that fact. That is why we are introducing a wide variety of measures to deal with this problem. But every time we intro-

Supply-Labour

duce a measure in this house we are met with cries from the opposition that it will not do any good. They fail to relate the whole package. They take each individual effort, or part, and try to separate it from the complete economic program we are offering this country. They attemnt to create fear in the minds of Canadians and to give the impression that Canada is going backwards instead of moving forward.

Recently in Windsor we saw a significant attitude displayed by the Liberal and C.C.F. parties in this country. I intend to quote, now, from a column which appeared in the Windsor daily Star of March 4, written by Mr. W. L. Clarke in which he said:

Windsor has lost two big orders for transmission towers. The fabrication is to be done in Europe. The C.C.F. government of Saskatchewan passed up Windsor for one order.

The Liberal government of New Brunswick passed up Windsor for the other order.

As both the C.C.F. and Liberals have been harping on unemployment for months, it is surprising that they passed up these two golden opportunities to place manufacturing orders in Canada where Canadian workmen could do the fabrication.

Perhaps they only like to talk about unemployment, but when they get a chance to do some* thing to help, they turn the cold shoulder on Windsor and Canadians.

That is the attitude of the opposition, Mr. Chairman. That is the attitude of the people who sit on your immediate left. They attempt to sow in the minds of Canadians a fear that this country will go backward instead of forward.

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An hon. Member:

It is.

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PC

Richard Devere Thrasher (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Thrasher:

We are moving ahead, perhaps not at the rate all Canadians would like to see, and perhaps not at the rate that this government would like to see; but we are bringing in measures to deal with this situation and we shall continue to bring in measures which are suggested to this government as long as they are adaptable to the conditions which exist in this country.

May I say that the program of this government is the most massive program ever brought before a Canadian parliament to deal with the economic situation of this country. We are giving the type of leadership that is needed. I just mention in passing that my own university, Assumption University of Windsor, has an application before the central mortgage and housing corporation for a loan to make possible the construction of a new students' residence. That loan will be granted and it is another indication of what we are doing as a government to aid the economy of this country. It is also an example of what this government is doing to aid my own area, that is, the county of Essex.

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CCF
PC

Clayton Wesley Hodgson (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hodgson:

The Leader of the Opposition will not like your talking that way.

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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

There has been a good deal of comment about the ethics of the Minister of Labour in revealing the circumstances of Mr. Exelby who appeared on this now very famous C.B.C. program. I do not condone any person going on public television to portray in any way a situation which is not in accordance with the facts. If that has been done, the gentleman in question has made a mistake and the C.B.C. with him has made a mistake. But even if those mistakes have been made, in my opinion that does not justify the Minister of Labour standing up in the house to smear the person in question, to smear the C.B.C., but more important than that, to bring into question the situation affecting 693,000 unemployed persons in Canada.

It actually matters not to the unemployment situation in Canada whether or not this program was aired. The fact is that all over this nation there are tens of thousands of homes in which there is real suffering, in which there is heartache; and this government hides behind an error of one person, if in fact it was an error. The Minister of Labour, as has been said so well already, has himself broken the law and contravened the statute, but this is not the first time this method has been resorted to. After all, when a number of cards came to hon. members of this house there was evidence-

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PC

Eldon Mattison Woolliams

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Woolliams:

Mr. Chairman, will the hon. member permit a question?

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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

-brought to our attention that some of the people who had signed the cards had been brought into the unemployment insurance offices and a great deal of pressure had been applied to them. They found that

the kind of gruelling they were given was not very pleasant. When the minister had this matter brought to his attention in the house he made some very tar-ranging and far-sweeping statements. He smeared well-known people in the labour movement that day, and when I asked him whether this matter would be referred to the industrial relations committee there was no reply.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. Martin (Essex East):

It never sits. It has a chairman, but it does not sit.

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CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

I suggest that this question should be referred to the industrial relations committee. I suggest that we call before the committee the trade union people in question and these loose-tongued employees of the national employment service. Let us get to the facts; let us bring the minister before the committee and let us confront him with the evidence that has been brought to our attention.

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LIB
CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

This question is now more important than merely whether or not there has been some misrepresentation in certain matters. The present matter concerns whether or not confidential information in the hands of the government affecting the lives and happiness of Canadians may be disclosed at any time.

Surely our society has not reached the point where Canadians dare not give truthful and confidential information to government employees for fear that the minister may direct that this information be made available. In reply to this charge the parliamentary secretary said, "Look; we increased their salaries". I think that is entirely beside the point. Does an increase in salary mean that an employee, on instructions, must disclose information of a confidential character to be made public in the House of Commons?

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PC
CCF

Hazen Robert Argue

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

Mr. Argue:

When I sit down I will permit all the questions you wish to ask. This summer we are going to have a census in our country. There will be information requested of every Canadian citizen. If the Minister of Labour will disclose confidential information, what guarantee is there that the Minister of Trade and Commerce will not disclose confidential information of this type for political advantage?

I say that Canadians are not safe in reporting information to the government or information in the census inquiry just so long as any member of this government may disclose information of a confidential character. Where is the bill of rights? Where is the protection to

Supply-Labour

ordinary Canadian citizens, when their private circumstances may be disclosed at any time by the Minister of Labour in the House of Commons and they have no opportunity to reply?

I suggest that this whole question regarding what took place at Galt should be brought before the industrial relations committee. Let us put on it the spotlight of a public inquiry, where one can hear the defence as well as the prosecution. The government's attitude to unemployment is apparently this. If the unemployment figures are high, they say, "We are making a massive attack to reduce unemployment and the main reason we cannot reduce it is because of what is said by the prophets of doom and gloom". Then they say, as a kind of last ditch argument, "Well, after all there are a lot of people who do not want to work. They have been forging names on cards. They have been offered employment, but they do not want to work".

How is it that so many Canadians became indolent and lazy during the time of this administration, when apparently there were so many less in this category a few years ago? If in 1956 the average unemployment was 200,000 persons, and we then heard no accusations that people were indolent, were sponging unemployment insurance and did not want to work, how is it that for last year the figure was up to 448,000? Does the minister say that 248,000 people are getting unemployment insurance in an illegal fashion?

We hear a great many excuses these days as to why there is so much unemployment. A few weeks ago the Minister of Finance said in this house that one of the reasons why there is so much trouble today with regard to unemployment is because of the wartime babies. He said there were too many wartime babies and they are now old enough to be on the labour market. He said, "We cannot deal with the love life of Canadians and the new citizens we have who are coming of working age. There were too many wartime babies". We asked why so many people are on the unemployment rolls. "Too many pregnant women drawing unemployment insurance who should not be receiving it". Some answer.

Everybody is responsible for the mess but the government, and it was this government that was going to clean up the mess; and there was a mess when the government came to office. The only trouble is that mess is bigger today and conditions are worse than they were before the government started this massive attack on unemployment.

The Minister of Labour and his parliamentary secretary apparently have the same scriptwriter. A lot of the same phraseology

Supply-Labour

appeared in the text of both statements. But they say that the government is on the job. The Minister of Labour said this afternoon, "We are constantly developing our understanding of unemployment and are obtaining a more effective utilization of our manpower resources through the work of the economics and research board".

There is more understanding and knowledge but less done with that understanding and knowledge, with more unemployment. Then the minister played an old record with an old theme. I heard the Minister of Labour speak to the Canadian Labour Congress delegation and thought he made a rather impressive speech. He outlined a lot of things that the government said it was doing but his conclusion bothered me. He said that the government had done its job and it is up to management and labour to carry on. We have asked him in the house if he has done anything to bring management and labour together; his answer was no. We have asked him in the house if he has made any recommendations to management and labour; his answer was no, the government has done all it is going to do and it is now up to management and labour.

The government said it wanted some ideas. It said it is making a massive attack on unemployment but would like more ideas. I can give the government more ideas. I mentioned over 25 points this afternoon which the Liberal party had suggested last year and most of them had to do with conferences bringing people together in talk fests. I can remember when the Prime Minister was in the opposition and every time the government made a mistake he suggested it call a conference-let us have another conference- and it had so many conferences that the leader of the opposition of that day became Prime Minister. We can have too many conferences. We need some action.

I would suggest that one of the things the government should do is change the financial policies of this country so that the interest rates are reduced. Just imagine that three quarters of a million Canadians are unemployed. The minister may say that they are indolent, he may say that they are lazy and do not want to work, he may say they are falsifying their evidence and making false statements on television but the statistical fact is that three quarters of a million people are unemployed and the provinces and municipalities are having to pay the highest interest rates they have paid in 20 years in floating their debentures.

We heard this evening that the main trouble is that the provinces are not doing their jobs. Let the government cut interest rates in half and the provinces will be able to

do a much more effective job than they can do when the government is choking provincial economies and choking provincial governments with this fantastically high rates of interest. I would suggest that this is the time for expansion in the money supply. This is not a time for tight money and high interest rates.

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March 9, 1961