July 2, 1935 (17th Parliament, 6th Session)


An hon. MEMBER:

Why they were born.
Mr. MaeINNIS: Yes, many of them are
wondering why they were born. On June 24 the Prime Minister stated in the house:
The government is prepared to maintain law and order by all the means within its power and calls upon all law abiding citizens to assist to that end.
One of the functions of a government is to maintain law and order but a government has also another function, to see,that justice prevails within the country and that every reason for disorder is removed. When a government has removed all the reasons for disorder then and not till then is it justified in asking the people to support it in maintaining law and order. This government has not removed the reasons for discontent nor has it met the just demands of the people. They have not met the just demands of the men who are in the camps and who want work to maintain themselves. These men want to live their lives again, they want to take part in the natural life of Canada but this government has not made it possible for -them to do so. On another occasion the Prime Minister stated in the house that there could be no trifling with anarchy, no playing with chaos. Could anything be more anarchic than an organization which forces young men in the prime of their physical manhood to live in such institutions as these unemployment relief camps? Could anything be more chaotic than the failure of our present social system, if we can call such an unplanned, anti-social organization a system, to distribute the abundance at its disposal in such a way as to permit everyone to live a full and natural life? To my mind that is the essence of anarchy and not the activities of anyone who has been denied his just rights by society and prevented from taking his rightful place in the life of the community.
What these men have said is only a repetition of what has been said in this country during the last five years. It is simply echoing what was said by the Prime Minister
during his radio talks at the end of 1934 and the beginning of 1935. Referring to youth, the Prime Minister stated in his first speech:
It is a tragedy of these times that men and women, boys and girls, whose minds should be given to constructive .pursuits, find themselves handicapped and harassed by the uncertainties of life, and -prevented by the anxieties of this, present situation, from giving their best to the things which are most worth while.
I ask hon. members opposite: How are these men in the camps going to give their best to themselves or to their country as long as they remain there? In his fourth address the Prime Minister said:
When I dwell upon these tragic consequences of the economic upheaval, I think more especially about the boys and the girls of the nation who were born in wartime or in the years after the war, who have never known the tranquility of the old days, who have, all of them, been born within sound of the drum. For, with brief, infrequent intervals,^ we have been in battle, one way or another, since 1914. A generation of strife; death in foreign lands, at home the furious struggle for wealth, the dreadful siege of adversity, the march of the bread lines, the resistance of brave hearts against the prospect of unchanging want.
Is not that a perfect picture of what the men in the camps have to put up with? Could anyone -except the Prime Minister put it so clearly? And yet when these men come before him with just demands all he can give them is the reply that all -the forces of the state will be used to com-pel them to go back to camps where they will still be faced with unchanging want. In the fifth speech he said, "I believe in the right of every man to state his case." I think that is the correct attitude to take, but I do not think he believed in the right to these men to state their case.
I suggest that there are -many things which this government could do to meet the present situation, even if it cannot provide work and wages for the twenty thousand men or so who are in. the relief cam-ps. And the first approach to the problem is to deal sympathetically with those who are in that condition-. As I said before, I pointed out the situation to the Minister of National Defence, who was kind enough to give me a half hour's interview in this matter on the last day of April or the first day of May, I forget which. I tried then to put before him the picture as I saw it after my return from Vancouver, but he did not see his way clear, evidently, to do anything. Let -me ask the house this question, is it yet too late to do something? Cannot all parties in the house get together and try to do something for these -men, -men who we are quite convinced are only objecting to the very conditions that we would object to ourselves.
B.C. Relief Camp Strikers

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