July 7, 1967

LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Hon. Paul Martin (Secretary of Stale for External Affairs):

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that all of us in the house would want to welcome the hon. gentleman who has just spoken back to his seat, particularly when he knows now that his leadership has been confirmed. However, some of us were a little mystified by the conclave which took the hon. gentleman away from the house. We know now that he is the leader of the reactionary group in his party and that the forces of liberalism which sought to assert themselves at the convention were regrettably unsuccessful.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles:

Now we know why the external affairs of our country are in such a mess.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Martin (Essex East):

My hon. friend drew a picture of the government leaving business unattended. That reminds me of what I saw on page 7 of the Globe and Mail this morning indicating that the N.D.P. convention broke up without dealing with the resolution on a guaranteed annual income.

Under the rules of the house it is not possible to challenge the sincerity of an hon. member, and I certainly would not challenge the sincerity of my hon. friend when he says that we must not adjourn today unless this very important matter is dealt with. My hon. friend, however, should not seek to convince any of us that he is really serious in that proposal. I suggest there is no one who would be more disappointed if we did not adjourn today than my hon. friend who, after his leadership race at the convention, is now looking forward with justification to a well earned rest.

The Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Benson) has dealt with this matter. He is the minister in charge of it. Yesterday he replied to the hon. member for Carleton (Mr. Bell) and pointed out the government's intention with regard to retroactivity. He has recognized, as has the Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson) on a number of occasions, the concern

Motion for Adjournment and the interest of the government in this problem. As my hon. friend knows, this matter was considered very carefully by a joint committee of the house in the last session of parliament. No less than eight meetings were held at which evidence was received from 21 witnesses. A report was filed by that committee late this spring. It contained certain recommendations which are now before the government.

In the light of what the Minister of National Revenue said yesterday, it is not fair for my hon. friend to make the suggestion that he made a few moments ago. No government in this country has done more by way of old age retirement plans for civil servants and others than has the government represented by the party which sits to Mr. Speaker's right.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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?

Malcolm MacInnis

Mr. Maclnnis (Cape Breton South):

Whom does the minister have in mind, Judge Lan-dreville?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Martin (Essex East):

It is not a fair argument to suggest callousness on this side because we have all agreed on a program of adjournment. It is not fair to suggest that because the government is a participant in the adjournment proposal it is callous and uninterested in the economic stress which faces a section of the population of our country. The government is considering the report and it will give it the consideration which has been urged on it by the committee which gave the matter such thorough study. We on this side of the house are as concerned about the plight of retired civil servants as is my hon. friend or anyone else in the house.

In conclusion I want to say that I speak with friendship and affection for my hon. friend. As the hon. member for Nanai-mo-Cowichan-The Islands (Mr. Cameron) said, my hon. friend has been busy. He has been too busy to follow what has been going on in the house. I am sure we all understand that because many others have preoccupations. My hon. friend has not been allowed the opportunity of knowing what we have been doing here because, as the hon. member for Nanaimo-Cowichan-The Islands said in Toronto on Thursday, my hon. friend has been preoccupied.

[DOT] (12:20 p.m.)

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Mr. Speaker, I am one of

those who greatly admire the ingenuity of the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Martin). He can produce a smokescreen at

July 7, 1967

Motion for Adjournment any time. He has done so today. The aspersions he has cast on his allies in the New Democratic party do not indicate that appreciation of good things of which the minister is usually purported to have a monopoly. He said that the New Democratic party had gone right. Well, as I read what they had done I felt they had adopted Walter Gordon, the President of the Privy Council. They adopted him and it began to look to some of us as though a future alliance was being built up, if not in fact, then indeed in name. This reminds one of the old song, "Walter, Walter, Lead Me To The Altar."

All these things are indications. The Canada Development Corporation has a new name, the Canada resources corporation, but behind in the shadows standeth Walter keeping watch on his own. I had hoped that the alliance of the last several years between the socialists and the neo-socialists might lead to the culmination-

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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PC

Michael Starr (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Starr:

They are going to have more meetings.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

-of a happy reunion. Today they are just playing with one another.

I was amazed at the argument advanced by the Secretary of State for External Affairs. It had all the clarity that he normally exhibits when answering questions on foreign affairs. He said his heart bleeds for the retired civil servants. He referred to their economic distress. He recognizes the need and he feels, with all his heart, that something should be done. But when he is asked to do something he increases the salaries of the highly paid civil servants. He multiplies those increases and forgets those who were retired years ago and who today, he admits, are living in economic distress. This government has been recreant. The same situation prevails in other fields to which I shall not refer.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin (Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. Martin (Essex East):

May I ask my hon. friend a question, a very kind question? Why did my hon. friend not act in 1962 when I asked him to do so?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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PC

Michael Starr (Official Opposition House Leader; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Starr:

What have you been doing in the last five years?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Interruptions of that kind result in no detour on my part. I say to the government, you have failed to act. You have deceived parliament and the retired civil servants. Now you say, "Give us a little more time to continue the deception. Next fall we may act; we are going to do something." The President of the Treasury Board (Mr. Benson)

said, "We hope to do something." Let him give an undertaking now. What are you going to do? Let us have none of these hypothetical promises and nebulous excuses. They say they are working on it. The very countenance of the Minister of National Revenue indicates how deeply he is thinking about this subject. Can he not come up with an opinion? Does he not agree with the committee that was composed of members from all parts of the house? Is it so difficult? Why is there this delay? It is simply that this government is playing with the retired civil servants and intends to continue to do so.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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LIB

Edgar John Benson (President of the Treasury Board; Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. Benson:

Mr. Speaker, I should simply like to congratulate the right hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Diefenbaker) upon what may be his last speech in that position in the house. I hope that in our concern, and everyone else's concern for retired people, we will also consider retired leaders of the opposition. With respect to our position-

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

That is rather high class wit.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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LIB

Edgar John Benson (President of the Treasury Board; Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. Benson:

-with regard to pensions for retired civil servants, I should like to point out that there was an adjustment made in 1958 by the government led by the Leader of the Opposition. I should like to point out also that there was no further adjustment made from then until 1962, by which time he ceased to form the government. I should like to point out further that there was a deficit of hundreds of millions of dollars in the superannuation account when the hon. gentleman left the government. This matter was referred to a committee-

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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PC

John George Diefenbaker (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Haven't you got a surplus today?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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LIB

Edgar John Benson (President of the Treasury Board; Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. Benson:

-which indicates the deep concern of this government for retired civil servants. My hon. friend says the matter is a rather simple one. It is stated that the committee has reported, so we should simply come up with a proposition, give it to the house today and that would be the end of it. I should like to assure him that the matter is not as simple as that. This government for the first time in history, when it passed the Canada Pension Plan and the amendment to the old age pension, attached a cost of living index to them. This was new ground in Canada. I should like to point out that to my knowledge none of the labour unions in

July 7, 1967

Canada has a cost of living index attached to their pension plans.

When we reach a decision on this matter, if it is to be a permanent solution as hon. members opposite have suggested, then perhaps there must be some sort of cost of living index attached to it. This is not a simple matter. The worst cases of retired civil servants, indeed the worst cases of all pensioners throughout this country, have been taken care of through the supplementary old age pension plan which guarantees every older Canadian, whether or not he be a civil servant, a minimum income of $105 per month when he becomes pensionable. This pension has the cost of living index attached to it.

Very careful consideration has been given the report of the committee. I have assured hon. members in answering their questions that the whole matter is being given careful consideration. We intend to continue this consideration. Our course of action will be announced in the fall. I have said publicly and privately what my own hopes are in connection with this matter, but it is up to the government to make a decision on the specific plan that will be brought forward. We should not make a decision that will give somebody $25 and somebody else $5. This is not the way to solve this problem. It has to be solved in a way that will prevent its recurrence every few years, as happened under the Leader of the Opposition when action was taken and then nothing happened for the next four years. I believe the retired civil servants got behind relative to the cost of living at that time as well.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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NDP

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

New Democratic Party

Mr. Douglas:

May I ask the minister if the government had not given any consideration to a formula prior to receiving the report on this matter from the joint committee of the house and the Senate?

[DOT] (12:30 p.m.)

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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LIB

Edgar John Benson (President of the Treasury Board; Minister of National Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. Benson:

Mr. Speaker, the government has given consideration to many formulas, including the formula used in 1958 which we deemed not to be appropriate as a method to solve this problem finally. We are continuing our consideration of this matter but it is not quite as simple as my hon. friend tries to point out. People are receiving pensions from the civil service having worked for varying periods of time. One could argue that if one made a flat rate adjustment of some sort and somebody receiving $110 a month received $125 or $135 a month, that person may have worked for the civil service for only a very

Motion jor Adjournment short period but would be treated in the same way as long-term employees, which would be unfair. It is a complicated matter-

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. I do not want to interrupt the minister but I think I should take the liberty of reminding all hon. members who are taking part in this discussion that contributions to the debate must be, to some extent at least, relevant to the motion before the house. I assume it is in order to refer to the pensions of retired civil servants, but remarks should be related to the question as to whether or not we adjourn. That is the question which is before the house.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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NDP

Winona Grace MacInnis

New Democratic Party

Mrs. Grace Maclnnis (Vancouver-Kings-way):

Mr. Speaker, I feel it is very important that a number of us say something on this matter. There is no monopoly in this house, certainly none on the other side, when it comes to diverting attention away from the real issue that is under discussion this morning. That issue, as Your Honour has just pointed out, is whether or not we adjourn or take time off-I do not call it a holiday because most of us know better than that, though it will provide a change of scene and some respite for us-before we deal with the pensions of retired civil servants.

The Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Martin) has had so many years of practice at covering up that he has tried to cover up this matter with a very entertaining diversion about the recent convention held by our party. Other diversionary tactics have been tried. But the fact remains that this matter must be discussed now and we must decide whether or not this government is falling down on its duty by not dealing with the pensions issue before we adjourn.

The Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Benson) indicated that the government could not in the last five minutes bring in a pension plan, or he indicated that the government should not be expected to do that. I suggest there is no validity to that argument. This matter has been under discussion for a long time indeed.

All I want to do at this stage is to adduce the evidence of a witness, one not from our group but one that speaks for a great many people across this country. There are many other witnesses of this type. I want to quote an editorial which appeared in the Vancouver Province on June 24, 1967. As you know, Mr. Speaker, the Vancouver Province does not belong to our party. It is not influenced by our party; neither does it give credit to our party unless that credit is very dearly earned

July 7, 1967

Motion jor Adjournment indeed. In dealing with the question of retired civil servants' pensions, the Vancouver Province has this to say in an editorial:

The New Democratic party has sound reasons for threatening to keep parliament sitting until legislation is introduced to increase the pensions of retired civil servants.

In view of the rising cost of almost everything, the tiny pensions given many former civil servants are a national disgrace.

I picked up a paper this morning, Mr. Speaker, and read that the cost of living index is up once again. The cost of food is up a full percentage point and the cost of clothing, rent and other essentials is again up, showing a steady rise. The editorial continues:

Finance minister Sharp last March disclosed the pension levels of Canada's 30,922 retired civil servants. At the lower end of the scale, 458 draw federal pensions of less than $20 a month.

Pausing there, Mr. Speaker, may I say that these people have given their lives to this country by working in the civil service. I think it is an insult to suggest that these people are looked after by the addition of the old age security supplementary pension to their income. We are insulting our retired civil servants by failing to look after them better than this. We are also insulting the old people of this country by offering them this sort of pension. The article goes on:

At the higher, 2,382 get allowances of $300 or more a month.

This is the argument used by people who are anxious to justify what the government has done in the matter of pensions.

In between, 28,082 draw pensions that range from a meagre $30 a month-

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT TO MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
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July 7, 1967