May 27, 1935 (17th Parliament, 6th Session)


James Shaver Woodsworth



There appears to be a good deal of doubt as to just how far this is a relief measure. The bill is entitled "an act to create employment by public works and undertakings throughout Canada and to authorize the guarantee of certain railway equipment securities." We are dealing now particularly with the railway equipment securities, but I take it that the real purpose of the expenditure of this large amount of money is to create a greater measure of employment. It seems to me
there are really three groups that have to be considered. First we have the workingmen. I would join with others in suggesting that a much larger proportion of this money should -go to the railway shops which are now in operation, and that as much of this money as possible should be spent for repairs rather than on new equipment, because in connection with new equipment there is much less labour than in connection with repairs. I think the minister has made it clear to us that the second group receiving consideration -I think I might go so far as to say relief- consists of the heavy industries of this country or, as he puts it, those engaged in the manufacture of capital goods.
It does seem to me that this subsidizing of private industry is rather a new principle. In the past in this country private industry has been subsidized by tariffs and bonuses but now we are doing it in a new way, by directly contributing out of the public fund, in order to keep up private industries, some of which have been closed down for five years. A little while ago the minister said railway shops could not be permitted to go bankrupt, implying that private concerns might be allowed to do so. In this case the minister is insisting that the private concerns should not be allowed to go bankrupt; I think that is clear. In answer to my colleague from North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps), with regard to the conditions of labour, the minister said that it was quite possible that private concerns might go bankrupt, but he is not permitting these heavy industries to go bankrupt. He is deliberately taking several millions of dollars belonging to the people of Canada to subsidize private industry.

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