May 20, 1963

LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

I was bound to make that mistake, and I am glad that I made it at once. It is not easy, but in this case it is easier than is often the case, to abandon the habits of six years. I should like to echo what the right hon. gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Diefenbaker), said about your qualities which will ensure that you will fulfil this important position with dignity and complete acceptability to all members of the house.

Then, I should like to pay my respects, and I do so in no formal way, and to extend my congratulations to the mover (Miss Jewett) and seconder (Mr. Choquette) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne, for what I thought was the very thoughtful and distinguished way in which they discharged the responsibilities and duties which are never easy but which they made seem to be easy. Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, I may also be permitted to associate myself with the Leader of the Opposition in his gracious observations about His Excellency, the Governor General, and to express the wish of every member of this house for his speedy and complete return to full health so that he may continue to discharge the duties which he has already discharged with such great distinction as the Queen's representative in this country. The Queen, whom we do not forget today of all days, is the Queen of Canada and the head of that commonwealth to which we are

all in this house, irrespective of party affiliations, devoted, and whose usefulness in the world for international peace and security we would like to see enlarged.

I would also like to extend a welcome on behalf of the government to hon. members in all parts of the house, and in particular I think it would be appropriate for me to extend that welcome to the new members who are with us. I did my small best to keep some of them from enjoying the honour and the privilege of membership but, Mr. Speaker, they got here in spite of, and perhaps even because of my intervention against them.

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition congratulated himself-and I am not complaining about this at all, indeed quite the contrary-that during his two hour speech he showed a great deal of charity and forbearance, and for that measure of charity and forbearance which he displayed this afternoon we on this side, I suppose, should be grateful. However, he continued to show that passionate preoccupation with personalities, which he used to show on this side, and he interested himself in certain matters which I thought had very little to do with the business of parliament or the business of government at this time. In that respect I hope he will forgive me for saying so, and in respect of some other parts of his speech he showed he had learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

He pleaded with me, if pleaded is not too strong a word, to give certain decisions at once on matters of policy, when I got up to reply and to announce at once the decision of the government in respect of some very important matters of policy. He rather complained that we had not done so on this side right away. Of course, Mr. Speaker, I could remind him that this government has been in office for less than a month, and I think I am being accurate when I say that during that very short time we have made more decisions on matters of policy than the previous government made in a much longer period of time.

For instance, the Leader of the Opposition complained that we have not done anything about dairy policy except to make some minor changes and to indicate that we were going to follow the policy of the previous government; but he did not point out that we had only four days in which to act after taking office in order to avoid the lapse of the whole price support policy of the previous government. He complains that in four days we were not able to work out a complete new dairy policy and a new policy on other matters of agriculture. We will do that, but it will take a little longer than four days.

The Address-Mr. Pearson

The Leader of the Opposition also indicated that we should do something now about reversing a decision regarding the abandonment of a branch line out west, a decision made as a result of hearings of the board of transport commissioners that took place last November when the right hon. gentleman was still in office.

I should point out, Mr. Speaker, that this parliament has been called together at the first possible date after the election. That in itself is a startling innovation as against the procedure after the last two elections. It would have been tempting to have postponed the meeting of parliament for a week or two so that we would have met after the NATO council meeting, which in some ways will interfere with the convenience of certain hon. members of the house. It would have been tempting to postpone the opening of parliament for a few weeks so that all hon. members who had gone through the rigours of an election campaign could have had some time to rest and refresh themselves, but we called parliament together on May 16 and this was done because the government, though technically in a minority in the house, as it is, is determined to do its utmost to move the business of this country forward at once, and that can only be done through parliament.

To the members of other parties in the house I say, Mr. Speaker, that in order to move forward the business of the country and the business of the house with the greatest possible expedition and effectiveness, which I am sure is the desire of all hon. members, the government will not be looking to any members of any party or group to give up any rights, or to act in any way against individual conscience or party principle. This government is not inviting any special arrangements and will not indulge in any special manoeuvres in order to remain in office. We do not believe that that is necessary or desirable.

We have put forward in the speech from the throne, and we will be adding to the proposals in that speech, a program which we believe to be constructive and which embodies projects for legislative action that will be to the advantage of the nation. It is my belief that this program, if parliament sees fit to put it into effect, will be for the good of Canada. I believe the program we have put forward and are now submitting to the House of Commons will enable this parliament to do a constructive job for our country and, of course, that program may be amended as a result of the decisions of the house from time to time.

I am hopeful that all of us as members

of the house will be able to look back with

some pride to the twenty sixth parliament

The Address-Mr. Pearson of Canada, and I hope the time when we do that looking back will be some years from now. In this connection I cannot forbear to point out, as a great deal of mild amusement has been created in the minds of the Leader of the Opposition and others about our 60 days of action, that in the first 60 days after the election of 1957, when the Conservative party took over, there was no opportunity for parliamentary action, nor in the 60 days after the June election of 1962.

The Leader of the Opposition singled out for special attention not only the proposal in the speech from the throne but other ideas of his own to improve the processes and the effectiveness of parliament, and to improve the process for electing Canadians to the House of Commons. I am glad he did so.

Mr. Speaker, we on this side hope-and indeed we are confident-that the committee which will be set up under your leadership and which, of course, will be a committee representing all parties in the house, will make recommendations not only to improve our day to day operations and strengthen parliament by making parliament a more efficient mechanism, but perhaps Your Honour will see fit to look into the whole structure of parliamentary government to see how that structure can be strengthened. This is necessary because there is no way of making parliament-which is so essential to the free countries today, and against which so many attacks are being made-stronger in the minds of democratic people than by increasing the effectiveness of that institution and bringing it into harmony with modern conditions. When we were in opposition last session we put forward certain proposals with regard to measures we thought would be of immediate value in speeding up the business of parliament. Now we are in office we still consider those proposals to be good, and perhaps proposals of that kind could be proceeded with fairly rapidly.

The same considerations with regard to strengthening parliament apply to the strengthening of our electoral procedures and electoral machinery. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, it is becoming very expensive and very exhausting, and perhaps it is not necessary any longer-we have both spoken of this before-to take the length of time that is now required to choose a parliament of Canada. That length of time was laid down in 1867, when communications were not quite as rapid as they are today, when the media of communications by which candidates could get in touch with their people were not as efficient as those we now have, and which perhaps we sometimes think are too efficient. As far as expenditures are concerned, we on this side are on record, and have been on

record for a good many years as part of our party platform, as desiring to do something about this question so that expenditures can be limited and covered by regulations which will have to be carefully laid down by the treasury. I hope in this parliament progress will be made in that regard.

The Leader of the Opposition talked about redistribution, which should have taken place before now, following the last census. In the redistribution we will never perhaps, under this federal system of ours and in this country so diverse in its elements and so vast in its expanse, be able to apply any exact mathematical criteria to our constituency representation; but it is of course important to correct, and correct as soon as possible, some of the anomalies which now exist. This may require, as I understood the Leader of the Opposition to say, some addition to the number of members in this House of Commons. He suggested this might require us to give up our desks and get a little closer together. I do not know whether this means closer together politically, or only closer together physically. However, I gather from his observation that perhaps we could indulge in this kind of, if I may put it this way, legislative bundling where you would have less legislative bungling. In any event it is an idea that I am sure will be pursued by the house and by the committee of which you, Mr. Speaker, will be chairman.

The Leader of the Opposition had something to say about the items in the speech from the throne. He asked me a good many questions, some of which I hope to deal with during my remarks. If they are not dealt with by me, they will be dealt with by my colleagues who will be taking part in this debate if it goes to its appointed day. According to the Leader of the Opposition the speech from the throne was noteworthy for its generalities rather than its specific proposals. I gathered the impression that he felt the speech from the throne contained certain dangerous tendencies toward centralization and toward a bureaucratic control of the economic life of this country. In that respect he was worried because it showed socialist inclinations on the part of hon. members on this side of the chamber. At other times this afternoon he expressed worry because we on this side are now becoming too deeply involved with big business in this country. It is perhaps a tribute to our agility that we are being criticized both for being too socialist and too big business at the same time.

So far as centralization is concerned, there is nothing in any of the proposals in the speech from the throne or in the legislative enactments which I hope will follow the

speech from the throne, which will lead to the wrong kind of centralization in this country. We do not want that in our kind of federal state. We want to give to the provinces all the jurisdiction and all the powers they have under the constitution, and the means to carry out and exercise those powers.

I hope the Leader of the Opposition will remember when he says, as he did this afternoon, that centralization has been the dream of the Liberal party-I have his words here -"ever since the days of Macdonald", that you do not have to go into Canadian history since the days of Macdonald to discuss centralization, because the greatest centralizer of them all-and in the light of the conditions of that time he may have been right-was Sir John A. Macdonald, who favoured a legislative rather than a federal union in the origins of our political society. That dream, if it was ever held by Sir John A. Macdonald-and he certainly expressed it on more than one occasion-would today be very inappropriate indeed.

The Leader of the Opposition went through some of the detailed proposals in the speech from the throne. I would point out, Mr. Speaker, that these proposals, or the most important of them, are already on the order paper in the form of resolutions for legislative action. I ask the right hon. gentleman to compare that kind of action with the situation which existed when we confronted him from that side of the chamber, when he was prime minister; I ask him to compare it with the order paper on the first day after the opening of a session.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

We had 31 items on the order paper.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

The right hon. gentleman says they had 21 items on the order paper-

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Some hon. Members:

Thirty one.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

-but look at the 21 items and see if they contained the items for economic advance, economic development and national growth that are on the order paper on the first few days of this new, twenty sixth parliament.

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Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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PC

George Clyde Nowlan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

The only ones there are those you borrowed from us.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

The right hon. gentleman complained that a lot of things we talked about on this side when we were in opposition, and during the election campaign, do not appear in the speech from the throne. Well, there are limits to what even we can do in 60 days-

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Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

The Address-Mr. Pearson

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

-to say nothing of the limits that are required by adequate and full parliamentary consideration of all these measures. I think this is a very good first legislative stage. That is what it is, Mr. Speaker. This is the first stage-and this has been pointed out by us so many times-in a four year parliamentary program for development and advance in this country. That is how we put the matter to the people in the election campaign, and that is how we intend to act on it. This is the first 60 days of action, to be followed by continuous action after this 60-day period is over. The right hon. gentleman no doubt read everything we said during the election campaign and he will recall that we put forward our four-year program with what we considered to be appropriate priorities attached to it.

We said during the campaign and subsequently-and indeed, earlier in this house, in more detail, I believe, than any opposition party ever gave before, what we would do and in what order we would do it. Now we are taking steps to do what we said we would do. The intentions of the government as set out this year in the speech from the throne are not vague aspirations to be acted on sometime, maybe never. We have set out simply in the speech the main matters we intend to bring forward during this session. They are headed by the measures for economic expansion which I promised during the campaign to bring forward in the first 60 days of the government's life. These measures will be before the house during the next month and it will be for the house to decide whether they are to be converted into legislative action. When we have completed our program for this year, if we do complete it in accordance with the judgment of the house, we shall go on, if parliament sustains us, as I believe it will, to the further stages of our four-year program.

The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Diefenbaker) spent a good deal of time establishing the foundation for an argument which I am sure we are going to hear from him a great deal in the future. He tried to establish a foundation for the assertion that we on this side have inherited a booming economy.

We shall come to this in due course. The right hon. gentleman sought to show we had inherited all this, with people at work, people happy, enjoying incomes coming in; deficits ended and that kind of thing. So if anything should go wrong in the next four or five years it will be such a contrast with the happy situation which existed in April 1963.

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PC

George Clyde Nowlan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

That's the truth.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

However, the Leader of the

Opposition was careful to leave himself an

The Address-Mr. Pearson escape hatch. He talked more than once about the problems we face and, indeed, we do face problems. He went as far as to say that the Liberal government which went out of office in 1957 had also inherited-these were his words-a buoyant economy, and that we had handed over to the Conservative government which succeeded it a stagnating and a depressed economy.

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Some hon. Members:

Right.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

As the Leader of the Opposition himself has said, these interruptions are sometimes very helpful. The former minister of national health and welfare (Mr. Monteith) says "Right". In fact, we inherited the economy of 1935 which could hardly be considered a buoyant economy. The right hon. gentleman boasts, however, that his government left the country in fine shape with its economy booming. In fact, in the last month of the life of the old government there were 549,000 people out of work in this country.

1 do not intend to waste much time either in this debate or in subsequent debates on stale arguments about the past. But I do intend to put on record once and for all the truth about the economic situation of this country when it was under the leadership of hon. gentlemen opposite, because the Leader of the Opposition placed on the record some selective figures to establish his own position.

The right hon. gentleman boasted about the big increase in the gross national product last year. There was a big increase. I recall that in the last budget debate we had, in April, 1962, I believe-it was not really a budget debate because the minister of finance of that day ensured there would be no budget debate, but I had an opportunity to speak on the motion for interim supply-I pointed out that 1962 was going to be a good year and that the minister of finance of that day was too pessimistic in his calculation of the likely increase in the gross national product. I went on to say that although there would be a substantial increase in the gross national product it would not take care of some of the dangers of the economic situation which would persist in spite of this increase. Well, that is exactly what has happened. There was a big increase last year compared with what had happened in the five previous years. The right hon. gentleman says the increase, in constant dollars, was the largest in any country in the western world. No doubt, in the course of this debate we shall have to put on record the figures bearing on that statement. But it was an increase, in constant dollars, of 6.2 per cent, which was very good indeed compared with 1 per cent in 1957 and 1958, 3.5 per cent in 1959,

2 per cent in 1960 and 2.6 per cent in 1961. Those were the real increases in our gross

national product over that whole period after allowing for price changes. Those were the increases during the period of Conservative government since 1957 over the whole six years-an increase which, over those six years, amounted to 18 per cent. What was it in the previous six years of Liberal administration? It was 36 per cent.

Now the right hon. gentleman says the economy is in fine shape though over the past six years it was advanced at only half the pace at which it was advancing before they came to office. That is the record of our national production. But what do these figures mean for the people of this country? After all, production is for people. These are not merely statistics in a table. The former government never seemed to understand that ours is a growing country-that our population is increasing, though I may say it is not increasing as it should be increasing or as it would be increasing if we could keep our people inside our borders. As a commentary on the right hon. gentleman's satisfaction with the situation in this country at the present time I would remind him that in the last year for which we have figures the net immigration into this country was practically zero; almost as many people left Canada as came in, and the people who left this country were, for the most part, educated people-technicians, scientists and teachers. Had they remained, our unemployment problem would perhaps have been worse but we suffered a considerable net loss in that particular exchange. Nevertheless, our population which stayed at home is growing. If our total production does not increase steadily and adequately, then the production available to each Canadian in this growing family gets smaller, and this does not represent progress in terms of people. This is what happened most of the time under the previous government and we do not intend it to happen during the lifetime of this government if we can do anything by governmental or legislative action to avoid it.

Last year the increase in production was only enough to put the country a little ahead of the six years of Conservative government. Our real production, as I have just said, was last year 3 per cent higher than it had been in 1956. There was a 3 per cent improvement in six years over the previous six years, when national production per head was not 3 per cent but 16 per cent. In face of these figures, the right hon. gentleman professes to be proud of the record of his government. It is not a record, Mr. Speaker, which we consider a cause for any satisfaction, and it is a record on which we are determined to improve. The government needs higher standards than that in assessing the development

and position of this country. The people of Canada are entitled to higher standards than they have received over the past six years.

I saw no signs from the statement of the right hon. gentleman today, any more than I did in the previous statements when he was on this side of the house, that he understands that we are living in a twentieth century economy; that this is a scientific age, an age in which industry if it is given the freedom to which it is entitled in our society today, and if it is given the co-operative assistance which must come from government even when that means government intervention, can ensure that this country will go ahead in a way which will be adequate to take care of our work force. We are an advanced country in these matters. We are a growing country. Our production is increasing. But the questions to be answered are, how fast is it increasing, how far is it increasing, and is the increase sufficient to put people to work?

The basic truth about our economy today is that we must run very fast in production or else we will slip behind in employment. The number of jobs is going up, and the Leader of the Opposition has given us a figure today. But the number of jobs will not go up as fast as the number of people to fill them. That is the nature of the problem which we face, and that is what has been happening, Mr. Speaker, in the last six years. Over all that period, from the month of July 1957 to March 1963 inclusive, there were on the average 413,000 Canadians without work. That was the average figure. The number of jobs went up and we were all glad to see it go up; then it went down and we were sorry to see it go down. But all the time unemployment remained too high, at an average of 413,000 men and women without work. During the post-war years from 1946 to 1957 the average was 171,000.

Now, I admit at once that conditions were not the same in the earlier post-war period as they were from 1957 to 1963. There were difficulties to be faced which any government in this country would have had to face in that six-year period. Any government at that time would have been faced with bringing men home from the war to an unemployment problem which would be catastrophic, and they would be unable to put people to work. We were also told, and we had experience with this, that Europe would not be able to buy our products because Europe would not have the finances to do so. We faced certain advantages in export trade, but certain grave difficulties with controls which countries in Europe had to build up to keep out foreign goods as well as they could. There were difficulties in both periods; but in one period

The Address-Mr. Pearson we had an average of 413,000 people out of work, and in the other an average of 171,000, which is a difference of a quarter of a million. It is that difference which we are determined to do something about.

I say no more than I said when I was on the other side of the house. It was not easy for the previous government, and it will not be easy for us. Perhaps we will make mistakes in our efforts to do something about it, but our policy will be to encourage industrial expansion as fast as possible. That is where the jobs must be found. We will take up the opportunities and make good the delays, the indecision and the mistakes which have been made. The policies of this government will do all the government can do to set and to keep our country on the road to that kind of economic expansion for which we have the resources of both men and material, so as to achieve the kind of economic expansion which is absolutely necessary in this day and age if people are to work. That may require a steady increase in gross national production beyond that which we have had even in our good days, and it will certainly require a much greater increase in expansion than we have had on the average over the last six years. That is our policy. That is our program which we expect on this side to put into effect stage by stage. Mr. Speaker, I believe that this house will understand the importance of this program, and I believe this house will co-operate with the government constructively, and critically when necessary, in putting this program into effect.

Mr. Speaker, may I call it six o'clock?

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Maurice Bourget (Speaker of the Senate)

Mr. Speaker:

It being six o'clock I do now leave the chair.

At six o'clock the house took recess.

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AFTER RECESS The house resumed at 8 p.m.


LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

Mr. Speaker, at six o'clock I was dealing with some of the economic proposals in the speech from the throne and certain comments made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Diefenbaker) on those proposals and on the economic condition of the country as he saw it, the inheritance, the booming inheritance, as he put it, that he had bequeathed to us. I endeavoured to indicate that if this situation of so-called boom over six years were repeated during the next six years, if we had a six-year prolongation of that, we would be in serious trouble indeed in this country.

The Address-Mr. Pearson

It is interesting to note that while the Leader of the Opposition referred to this period of boom in such terms and tones of glowing satisfaction, that satisfaction does not seem to have been shared by the people of Canada. Otherwise the Leader of the Opposition would not have lost 15 of his cabinet colleagues and 110 or 112 of his members in the course of 12 months.

The Leader of the Opposition also made some observations on the reference to farm policy in the speech from the throne, its inadequacy and its generally unsatisfactory character. He was inclined to sneer at the appointment of a second minister of agriculture so that the problems of agriculture and the problems of the farmers could be given more careful and detailed consideration. The party opposite has done a good job, and I freely and frankly admit it-

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Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Prime Minister)

Liberal

Mr. Pearson:

-in selling its agricultural policies and in selling the successful policies of the Canadian wheat board to the farmers; but the facts themselves, the hard, cold, facts, show what it has in fact done for the farmers in terms of income over the period when it was in power. The latest official figures, those that were given to parliament last December by the then government and which can be found on page 2577 of Hansard, show that in 1956 before the government of that day took office realized net income from farming in Canada was $1,238 million and five years later in 1961, after adjustment for the increased cost of the things farmers buy, realized net income was $1,192 million. In other words, realized farm income was down during that period by 4 per cent.

That is the farm problem, Mr. Speaker. It is a serious and difficult problem. Hon. gentlemen opposite have talked a lot about it but they have not solved it.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Was that not a crop failure year?

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May 20, 1963