April 10, 1934 (17th Parliament, 5th Session)


Joseph Philippe Baby Casgrain



Mr. Chairman, I think I can agree with most of the remarks made by the hon. member for St. Denis (Mr. Denis). He is right in recalling the promises made by the government a few years ago, and more especially in 1930 when this government was supposed to settle all the ills and troubles and problems of the country, to give to the workingmen six days' work a week and to the farmers large profits for the things they produce on their farms. We now have to consider this bill, which is to reenact legislation put before the house by this government in the years 1932, 1933 and 1934. When we look at the results that have been achieved under this measure we really do not think that the government has any reason to be proud of them. There is still unemployment in all parts of this country; in the province of Quebec from which I come, in Ontario, in the western provinces and in the maritimes. We are told to-day that this legislation is absolutely necessary, that it was necessary before the month of April-and we were taken to task by the government because this legislation was not renewed before the first of April. The legislation was not renewed, and up to the present time we do not find that things are going so badly as we were told they would. We have before us the consequences of the operation of this act, resulting in an expenditure of 8110,198,272. I started to scrutinize the expenditure item by item and asked the government for some explanation, but although these figures have been placed on the table of the house for the attention and consideration of the members, when we asked the minister this evening for certain explanations with reference to large amounts such as the one I started to discuss concerning the Department of the Interior, amounting to over $2,000,000, it appears that there are yet some figures not within the minister's reach. I do not want to be unfair to him; he is not now in his seat-it may be that he has gone to look for some of the information that has been asked by hon. members on this side. The reason this bill is put before the house at this time is that the government wants to have another chance to settle the problems which it undertook to settle in 1930. For this purpose the government comes to us and asks us to renew legislation which we have been enacting for the last three years, to give them blanc seing, a blank cheque as it was called when this legislation was intro-
Relief Act, 1934

duoed, permitting the government to do all that it thinks best in the interests of the community in order to relieve unemployment throughout the country. I for one think that in view of what the government has achieved in past years under this legislation they should not be entrusted with this blank cheque. We criticized this legislation when it was first introduced, and we oppose it now for the reasons which have been pointed out by my hon. leader and other members of this party including the hon. member for Ontario (Mr. Moore) who spoke this evening. We hear from people all over the land who speak on behalf of the government that things are going a little bit better. One thing the people need to-day is confidence, and I think this is reactionary legislation the effect of which is to weaken confidence, at a time when the government should be doing everything it can to encourage people to start works that may give more employment and more bread and butter to the population. This afternoon in the banking and commerce committee a most important witness, Mr. Jackson Dodds, said that more trade is the cure for our ills and problems. This government may bring in all kinds of legislation, but they will not be able to achieve their end and settle the problems of this country and bring back prosperity as long as these provisions remain on the statute book.
I have some further remarks to make, but I think some other hon. members want to take part in the discussion.

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