I think the measure of support and reaction to this program is witnessed by the very applications which have come to the Prime Minister and to the federal government. This is the true measure of its success. I am sure that our major attack on this problem will mean a great increase in trained personnel, in employment in primary and secondary manufacturing in the years ahead. I wish to compliment the Minister of Labour and the government on what I think is one of the major keystones of the policy and practice of this administration.
Mr. Chairman, the $28 million vote that we are asked to approve affects what is known as joint plans. I therefore believe it would be unfortunate to let this opportunity go by without knowing exactly where the members stand on the question of joint plans, especially the members from the province of Quebec sitting behind the treasury benches.
Mr. Chairman, I would not have raised this point tonight if, while making two speeches in this house since the beginning of the present session, one during the debate on the speech from the throne and the other during the consideration of the first general estimates of the Department of Public Works, I had not been subjected to a barrage of questions from the Conservative members of the province of Quebec who, several times-and
Hansard is there to prove it-asked me to state the stand of Liberal members on joint plans.
Well, Mr. Chairman, in order to dispel any ambiguity, I wish to take this opportunity afforded by consideration of this item to place on record the policy of the Liberal party as regards joint plans.
And I want to say that our policy, which was clearly stated on different occasions-
Yes, Mr. Chairman. I submit that the point raised by the member for Levis is irrelevant.
It is not that I fear to follow him on this ground, but it is a waste of time to discuss matters that have nothing to do with the matter under discussion.
In this case, the act was passed by the house, the principle has been accepted, and it is now only a matter of asking the house for an additional amount. Therefore there is no need to reconsider the principle of the act. It is simply that, if the hon. member for Levis is allowed to continue his remarks to that effect, we will soon be getting into full scale, and completely irrelevant debate.
I think that such has been the case long enough today.
Mr. Chairman, with regard to the point of order raised a few moments ago by the minister, I think we should point out two facts. First, the minister has said that the remarks made by the hon. member for Levis go beyond the limits of this debate; well, it should be remembered that the same question was discussed for about an hour or two. Consequently, if at that time the members were going beyond the limits of the debate, the hon. member for Levis has the right to do the same, because the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Fisher) was the first to bring up the point that the hon. member for Levis is now discussing.
As to the principle of the act, the minister is absolutely wrong when he says that a member is not allowed to discuss it now. But under vote 636 which is now before us, a member has the right to discuss the principle of the act. This seems clear to me. Consequently, I respectfully submit, Mr. Chairman, that the hon. member has the right to pursue his remarks since we have been discussing for two hours the principles of education in the
province of Ontario. Therefore, the member has, a fortiori, the right to do as much as far as the province of Quebec is concerned.
Mr. Chairman, I have only a few words to add. The hon. member for Laurier said that we talked about it this afternoon.
I admit that part of the debate was beyond the scope of the vote under discussion. However, there was no mention of the principle of the act but rather of its application in the province of Ontario, which is quite different from the argument that the member for Levis wants to raise.
Second, the rule setting the limits of a debate is very well set forth on page 738 of May's sixteenth edition.
Once again, I do not want to prevent the member for Levis from discussing that matter. He already has had the opportunity to do so. If he wants to come back to it, it is his business; but I submit that we will move away for good from the vote under consideration.
Mr. Chairman, I should like to put in a word or two on the point of order that has been raised by the minister of points of order. My point is this. The minister says that in our discussion in this committee of an additional vote under a law we cannot discuss the principle of the law. That is the most extraordinary attempt to limit freedom of speech that I think I have ever heard in the committee of supply. Surely we can point out that the principle of the law is working badly, as it obviously is when three quarters of all this money is being spent in one province. Surely we can point out that in the application of the principle the thing is not working out properly, and to lay a foundation for dealing with the application one has to recall what the principle is. That is precisely what the hon. member for Levis was doing.
The minister has obviously raised a very important question, that of the relevancy of the debate. I know that he is referring to May whom he has quoted in part yesterday. But a little further, on the same page, I read this:
If the sum demanded by a supplementary estimate is of the same order of magnitude as the original estimate, the chairman has allowed questions of policy to be raised upon it which would have been in order if it had been an original estimate.
The first point is that this is an important amount that members are being asked to vote. The second point is that the discussion that has taken place on this item has ranged widely enough to cover the policy of the original law as well as the question of voting this additional amount. Third, with regard to the remarks upon which the hon. member for Levis was embarking I would point out that he was speaking about the principles of joint programs. This is a joint program and if he relates his remarks on joint programs generally to the joint program that is now under study, then to my mind he is fairly well within the realm of relevancy. I do not feel inclined to stop him at this stage although I would caution him that, as the minister has well pointed out, the rules of relevancy must be adhered to and he must correlate his remarks to the particular item.
I wish to point out to the Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys that tonight, the chief whip of the Conservative party (Mr. Pallett) spoke for half an hour and the hon. member for Halton (Mr. Best), for fifteen minutes.
Then, I do not think the Liberal opposition can be blamed for taking the floor too often on this matter since the Conservatives themselves took more time than we did. Mr. Chairman, I am not a lawyer, but my judgment tells me, and especially common sense, that it is logical for a member to express the attitude he intends to take concerning a credit as important as that of $28 million which is now put to us.
As I said at the beginning, I would not have raised the matter if, in the course of two speeches I gave in this house, I had not been submitted to a barrage of questions about joint programs.
So that there shall be no misunderstandings, I will put on record the policy of the Liberal party, which remains the same, not only in the province of Quebec, but throughout the country.
Well, that policy on joint plans is outlined in a pamphlet which we are distributing all over the country and which is entitled The Option Formula. I quote:
Although tax sharing is essential, other forms of co-operation between the provinces and Ottawa exist which will provide a better balanced development of Canada.
Such are the federal-provincial joint programs in the field of welfare, for example old-age assistance, pensions to the blind and the disabled-
As well as this project which is about technical and professional training.
-In that field, Ottawa must help develop, all over the country, such assistance programs; but if it remained indefinitely in that field, it would run the risk of creating, in the long run, administrative difficulties.
A new Liberal government, after having made arrangements with the provinces, will withdraw from those joint schemes which are now well established everywhere. At the time of its withdrawal, the federal government will confer on the provinces direct taxation powers and increase its equalization payments to a degree equivalent to the federal contribution to those programs.
Thus, the federal government will be able to suggest new joint programs if necessary. Yet, in view of applying further schemes, a new Liberal government will ensure that any province unwilling to take part in one or the other, would not suffer with regard to revenue. As the federal taxes will pay a new joint program, any province may have an option and receive from the federal government some financial compensation equal to what the province would have received if it had shared in the joint federal-provincial scheme.