I rise on a point of order. In fairness to the speaker I think it should be said that we on this side of the house have difficulty in hearing him because of the noise that is going on. I should like a little more quiet so that we can understand better what he is saying.
This is the first time I have heard any complaints about not being heard in the house. I think there may be reasons for the noise in the house this evening, although I do not know. The noise may be more excessive than usual but I am sure I am speaking in good voice.
The minister will admit that the rug was pulled out from under the feet of the negotiators. There was a doublecross. They had reached the point of signing on the new terms when something else broke loose in Victoria, shall I say, and a new obstacle was put forward. Some of us believe that the obstacle was put forward to prevent a real economic development of the Columbia in order to make the Peace river project more acceptable. This is a side issue, but there are many who believe this is the actual reason for the second doublecross.
Despite all this disagreement the minister said in one of his letters that he felt it was imperative that there should be agreement between British Columbia and Canada. However, the time was drawing near when the then president of the United States was about to retire and apparently it was thought that it would be a very great mark in the history and development of Canadian-American relations if the Prime Minister of Canada were to go to the United States and sign this agreement before President Eisenhower withdrew from public life. In fact, I might go so far as to say that the situation was almost as mixed up as a dog's breakfast. Nevertheless it was decided to rush down to Washington and sign the agreement at all costs.
I was not a member of the house at the time the Prime Minister returned here on January 18, 1961, after signing the agreement but I can almost hear his sepulchral tones as he described the signing of this momentous agreement on the eve of the departure of President Eisenhower from public life. He went on to speak of the invitation to a reception at the White House and said in part, as found on page 1159 of Hansard:
That fact gives it emphasis. During the course of our stay there the Minister of Justice-
Now Minister of Public Works.
-myself and several representatives from the two countries were entertained at luncheon at the White House, the last function of the kind that will take place during the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The last supper. This is the most expensive last supper, Mr. Chairman, that has been indulged in during our generation. As I have said earlier, this is a poor agreement, a poorer arrangement for Canada than was the old Kaiser deal, the deal that was blocked by the International River Improvements Act. I believe it is wrong. I believe this treaty should be renegotiated.
There are any number of reasons for renegotiating it and there is one reason that I have not heard mentioned in the house, although it might have escaped my notice. I believe the senior member for the Kootenays did mention the fact there had been no definitive decision concerning the feasibility of the base for a dam on the High Arrow. Of course, the High Arrow is the crux of this treaty. Under the treaty we accept full responsibility for maintaining the project. The High Arrow dam will hold back some 20 billion tons of water. Mr. Deane, a professional engineer in the west Kootenay, writing in the Nelson daily News, had this to say:
-since foundation conditions at High Arrow have turned out to be worse than hoped for at the time of drafting the treaty, Canada should re-open negotiations with the U.S. to find alternatives which do not force B.C. and Canada into such an uncertain engineering and financial gamble. The Mica dam site, in contrast to High Arrow, is considered ideal for a large storage dam with rock extending right across the river channel, at shallow depth, allowing the dam to be completely founded on rock.
This is one reason why the agreement should be renegotiated. There is no reason in the world why this agreement should not be brought before the House of Commons at this time to determine whether or not it is feasible or whether this parliament is prepared to accept it. The day after the Prime Minister returned to the house, he was questioned by the Leader of the Opposition. This question appears on page 1166 of Hansard for January 18, 1961, and I quote:
May I ask the Prime Minister whether the government proposes to submit this treaty to the committee on external affairs of this house before the agreement has been concluded with the province of British Columbia?
Mr. Speaker, I cannot go any further at the moment than to say to the Leader of the Opposition, as I already stated, that it is the intention to have this question placed before the committee on external affairs. When that will be, I cannot say at this time.
Of course, it would have been unusual if the Prime Minister had admitted at that time there was even a suggestion there should be an agreement with British Columbia before this parliament dealt with the matter. He had
just left a dinner at the White House after signing this agreement. Then, nine or ten months later he finally said we would have to have an agreement with the province of British Columbia before the matter was referred to a commons committee.
This matter could come before the committee now. However, we might have a third parliament before this treaty comes before a committee of this house. This is the second parliament since the treaty was signed, and there will probably be a third. I am afraid that the minister himself, because of his resignation from the cabinet, will not be in a position to sign it. I feel quite confident that no one on that side of the house will ever ratify the agreement.
Mr. Chairman, I did not intend to take part in the debate. However, after listening to some of the statements made this afternoon, I feel it is my duty to make a few remarks. I wish to assure you, however, that I will not be long.
We are asked to approve interim supply in order, we are told, to pay the civil servants, and we will be asked later to vote supplementary estimates for the Canadian National Railways.
Mr. Chairman, when will this patchwork system come to an end?
I admit that I have barely three months' experience but if anybody other than the federal government were administered in this way, I am convinced, on account of my business experience, that the country would be driven to utter bankruptcy on short notice.
Mr. Chairman, if there is one body in the world which must have a clearly determined and very precise budget, it is the government of Canada.
Whereas we expected to find an accurate bookkeeping with specific items for such a month, such a week or such a day, we are in presence of the greatest administrative jumble ever seen. Enormous expenditures are made in all fields and, then we are told in the house that more money is needed to pay unforeseen expenses.
As an example, I shall give the specific case of the C.N.R. to which the government is constantly giving money. Now, representatives of the two old line parties find it strange
that Social Crediters should ask questions in committee, because they want to know what use was made of the $50 million passed unanimously in previous years.
Moreover, our group wants to know what use will be made, or rather has already been made, of the further amount of $20 million that we are being asked to vote today, because we are sure that those $20 million have already been spent.
Besides, those questions will remain unanswered like all those we have asked on financial matters.
As a matter of fact, when it is a matter of providing credit to the C.N.R. or to any department concerned with top administration, a wall of silence that a private member is unable to penetrate, is seen rising between the administrators and the government.
Now, we see again today, like this afternoon, some Liberal puppets play their comedy, and cry shame to the Conservatives who grant over $130 million per year to the C.N.R. in order to help this crown corporation wage an unfair war against all our organized truckers across Canada.
The Liberals say that the government wants to bankrupt private enterprise. The jokers forget that in 1957, for instance, as shown at page 3313 of Hansard for April 5, 1957-I believe the Liberals were in office at that time-they voted C.N.R. grants in excess of $318,700,000 to enable it to wage its war against the truckers' association. Those are amounts which supported the fight against the truckers' association.
And now these people pose here as defenders of private enterprise. What a joke, Mr. Chairman.
I am not against giving some assistance since our Social Credit principle is that the government should not exist to give prodigally to all organizations but to give reasonable assistance.
But when such assistance is of such magnitude, when it replaces any efforts those industries should make to help themselves, I consider this kind of assistance harmful even for the companies. Because if you take a man and give him enough money to live without having to lift a finger, you will be rendering this man the greatest disservice. The same goes for the large industries which receive more and more every day from the government to make up for their deficits.
If we have so much money to give away, Mr. Chairman, let us do it as a really democratic government. Let us do it in the
interests of the people who have elected us the same as they did you. Let us give assistance to heads of families, to their children who are awaiting our legislation, instead of laughing and joking.
I expected to find in this house a group of seriously dedicated men. I was most disappointed. What did I find? I did not find administrators, I did not find men who came here to prepare the budget the people have been expecting for over a year. We find here electoral jokers aping puppets and playing politics.
That is why we have in some instances supported this government, because we came here to act in all sincerity. We came here not to launch an election after one or two months. We came here, members of the Liberal party, to administer this country.
What is administration? Administration is to foresee, to prepare legislation so as to put bread on the table of our Canadian families tomorrow.
As for yourselves, you came here to play politics, and to chant: let us go to the country, let us go the country.
We came here to administer the affairs of the country, and this we will do as long as we feel like it, by fastening you to your seats. You will have to stay there and to put up with us.
Mr. Chairman, if the government have so much money, let them fill up the unemployment insurance commission fund_____
If you do not know, others do and you will just have to learn it.
Mr. Chairman, let them fill up the unemployment insurance commission fund so as to make for a more equitable distribution of unemployment insurance benefits.
I should like to say a few words on the Unemployment Insurance Act. It seems that the act has been drafted, not to protect certain groups of people, but to take away the unemployment insurance contributions which they made while they were working.
I want to deal especially with the problems concerning our woodsmen. Mr. Chairman,
I am not joking, although I see some hon. members grinning stupidly on my right.
I am not joking. This is too serious.
I wish to tell the house about one case concerning unemployment insurance, but there are 40 or 50 such instances in my riding.
Many farmers of my district must go in the woods during the winter because they are unable to support their families on their income alone. Everybody understands that, and those who are interested in my area know that farmers have to spend five or six months in the woods every year. I have here a letter from one of my constituents. I shall not read it to you, but it is pathetic. He is the father of eight children, he owns eight milch cows, and every fall, he has to take to the woods.
It is his wife-stop laughing, because you also have wives-who has to look after the animals in the winter, do the chores and milk the cows. This is nothing to be ashamed of- you surely drink milk-but his wife has to do that. The man has to stay away working in lumber camps for six months.
On the first day, Mr. Chairman, his unemployment insurance booklet is taken away from him and, during the six months he is going to spend in the woods, stamps are affixed in it. He comes back in the spring and goes to the unemployment insurance office only to find he is not entitled to benefits because-
No, it is not in another riding. Look at what is going on in your own and you will see how painful it is. As for me, I know the people, I get around in my riding.
That man, three years in a row, did the same thing each spring. He thought the law was the same for him as for the others. So, when spring came around, he reported to his office and got his unemployment insurance benefits. Now, his whole case is being re-examined. And there are fifty such cases in my riding. All are being reviewed. And, after three years, that farmer is being told to pay back $2,700 before the month of March. The sum of $2,700 is being claimed from him. He was informed in writing by a lawyer, if you please. He was then forced to sell his cattle and all his machinery to pay off and had still $784 to pay. He got another letter from the lawyer whose cost he had to pay, which made a total of $870.
The man became a labourer and it so happens that his salary was seized. He does not even have enough money to support his eight children.
I am most interested in the remarks of the member for Roberval (Mr. Gauthier) but unfortunately I can scarcely hear him. I would ask the members of the committee to co-operate and invite them to tone down their private discussions in order
to allow the hon. member to proceed with his observations. Surely the members will understand and I thank them for their co-operation.
I thank you very kindly, Mr. Chairman. Fortunately there are still intelligent people in this house.
I have only quoted this as an example. I have written to the Minister of Labour in this regard, but I know he is not acquainted with all such cases, and I am sure that he will examine the situation with great care, for I am told that there are cases of that kind not only in my constituency but in every constituency, Mr. Chairman.
We are here in order to work in the interest of the people. First, we have to discover the diseases from which the people are suffering because to cure the ill, a precise diagnosis must be made in the first place. That is the reason why I pointed it out to the house.
If it is money which is lacking in the unemployment insurance fund, we only have to provide the necessary amount so that the farmers may get the products which will allow them to live like human beings, instead of taking away from them the assets which they took 30 years to build.
If I mention this situation, it is because the related facts are absolutely true.
It is possible to improve their condition through unemployment insurance. I beg of you not to deal lightly with this matter but to take the humanitarian action the people expect of all the hon. members.
With regard to the second point, I shall be brief. If, after having made up the shortfall in the unemployment insurance fund, we still have money-we should have money, for, since I have been here, millions have been paid out without anybody knowing for what purpose-we shall have at least the satisfaction of knowing to what end it has been employed, because the benefits will be felt throughout the population.
We have only to increase the number of projects in the winter works program, which are a great help in some areas. It is just a palliative, but it is better than nothing. Let us double the amount for winter works, to help all our unemployed survive this offseason of four months without too much hardship.
We hope that the government and all hon. members, when those items are discussed in the house, will feel duty bound to make a thorough study of this and to take serious action for the benefit of all our people.
How can the hon. member explain to the people at home that he voted to keep in power a Conservative government which wants them to give back the unemployment insurance benefits they received under a Liberal administration?