April 22, 1936 (18th Parliament, 1st Session)


Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (Broadview):

Mr. Speaker, before t'he bill receives third reading I should like to1 detain the house for only a very few moments. By standing order 38 the motion for third reading is debatable, and I am thereby permitted to speak.
At the outset may I say that I am greatly disappointed in the bill. In the first place, the title of the bill is not correct but, as I said on Monday, it may be changed in another place. In the second place, the bill does not give the employment commission in making agreements with the provinces, corporations and individuals the powers they should have. The functions of the employment commission which will carry out the terms of this bill and the preceding one are purely advisory. Time and again we find in the bills bhat they are "to advise and report" or "to report and advise." What are the unemployed going to do while all this advising is going on? The government has admitted that no concrete or definite plan by the commission can be secured for almost a year. In other words, we shall have to wait another year before any concrete developments or definite plans will be proposed. Then, when they are proposed, what will happen? The commission will report and advise the minister who, in burn, may reject their advice, the same as he may reject the advice of the officials of his own department.
I was pleased yesterday to note the showing of independence of three of the one hundred and seventy members of the party in office. There seemed to be an awakening as to what is going on, as to what people are saying, because we know that Ottawa never knows what the rest of the country is thinking. Those who are new members will have a rude awakening from their constituents. I say that they are elected here to function as members of parliament, and not to alwlays sit still and do the bidding of t'heir party or leader, or of the government or any other group. They are free citizens under a free constitution. Look at the way private government members 12739-1321
in the old land criticize even government bills dealing with social matters and unemployment, and that sort of thing. Perhaps if in this house we had a measure for the relief of unemployment such as was introduced in England conditions might be different. We know that Great Britain is recovering faster than any other country, and its recovery is being brought about because the British people have attacked this great social disease in the practical and the 1936 way. Instead of a commission cure, a cure which will never amount to anything, they have adopted other means. Commissions have never cured anything in Canada since we have been a country. Hon. members have been elected as a commission of 245 members to deal with the problem, but we sit here day in and day out and do nothing about it.
With all due respect may I say that the government is one of conscientious Canadians, but I must add that the house must not be asked to pass Bill No. 19 without knowing the names of all the members of this sevenfold amen, this last word, so to speak, of the government commission on unemployment. We know who one of them is, Mr. Purvis, already named in advance under the new triumph of the present government of separatism. _We used to have the King, the Senate and the House of Commons. Now announcements are made by order in council without reference to the sovereign or his representative in Canada. Before the bill is passed we should know how it will operate, because I believe there will be a conflict of law, and this Bill No. 19, with regard to its industries clauses, will wind up in the law courts. No doubt agreements with industries, individuals and corporations will be taken to court. Application for injunction can be made, because it is my opinion that parliament has no power to pass the bill now before us on account of the interference with property and civil rights in the provinces.
There are at present before the supreme court several bills-ten bills in all-dealing with subjects closely related to this new deal of 1935, and before this measure passes we should know what the Supreme Court of Canada has to say about such matters. No statement has been made about unemployment insurance, or the power of parliament to regulate trade and commerce which has been unregulated since confederation. That field is within the jurisdiction of parliament, and with the exception of some minor laws has been unexplored since confederation.
I for one do not propose to sacrifice my rights as a member of parliament. I know
Unemployment-Mr. Church

the conditions of the industrial workers in the three ridings east of the Don river in Toronto. There is a proposal to appoint the president of an industry in my constituency as chairman of this commission, and about that matter I may have a word to say a little later on. In passing I may observe that he is a gentleman of ability, and I take this opportunity to pay tribute to his talents.
I wish particularly, however, to say a few words for the great mass of intelligent electors in Canada. I am speaking for those independent people in this country who are not interested in a solution of this problem along political lines. The great mass of electors who send members to this parliament wish us to reassert the supremacy of national over party interests in Canada, and they should compel us, their elected representatives, to discharge our duties as private members. They should make us function and do our duty in order to help rebuild the structure of our social and economic order.
The country is heartily sick of politics as it is played here. We want a new set of rules for the game. Nothing illustrates that point better than does Bill No. 19. Last night the hon. member for Temiscouata (Mr. Pouliot) asked the government if they were compelled to accept the recommendations' of the commission and he received the reply that the government was not committed to that advice. May I point out that there is a rule of anticipation in the House of Commons. I would not have spoken on third reading had it not been for the action of the government on April 6 when, in the presence of about forty per cent of the members, a committee was set up to handle the railway problem, the greatest problem in Canada and one involving a deficit of about $60,000,000. Without notice in votes and proceedings the government shunted consideration of this important matter to another body; it passed the buck to the committee on railways and shipping. If I were to speak at length about this matter I would be ruled out of order, and further reference in the house will be deferred until the presentation of the committee's report.
What will happen if on May 1 there are demonstrations in the larger cities? And there are bound to be demonstrations. Those men will not read Thomas Carlyle; they will not quote Shakespeare as is done by hon. members opposite. They are going to ask this question: What have you been doing about unemployment? I hope the hon. member for Greenwood (Mr. Massey) will hear what I am saying, because he is interested in that part of the city where industrial

workers are not getting proper treatment. [DOT]For the balance of the session, if this bill No. 19 passes, whenever we propose anything constructive to relieve unemployment we will be ruled out of order under the anticipation rule. The preamble of this bill says that it is to foster agricultural settlement, and conserve and develop the natural resources, but in the whole bill from cover to cover, there is not one line about these great problems, and when this bill goes to the house of philology, as I call it, we shall see an awakening. This parliament is to blame.
I was very much interested in some of the remarks that were made by my hon. friend from Rosthern (Mr. Tucker) and my hon. friend from Vancouver-Burrard (Mr. McGeer) in connection with the plight of our municipalities. The municipalities are asking that something be done along these direct grant lines, and they have been looking to parliament for a long time in vain for direct aid for relief works. I agree with what those two hon. gentlemen said in that respect, and on this government, as long as it is the government of the day, lies the responsibility of solving these problems in a practical way. We on this side of the house have made suggestions, but the government will not listen to them. They have millions and millions of dollars to give to the railways and to the provinces for unemployment relief, and the province deducts often ten or fifteen per cent for overhead and other expenses instead of giving the whole grant directly to the municipalities. So, Mr. Speaker, I was very glad to hear those two hon. gentlemen support me in my contention. I believe that instead of Bill No. 19 we should have an up to date, long term policy for providing full time employment, and if the Liberal party- and they are- the government of the day- cannot find a solution, what will happen in ten years will be that the socialists will come into power in this country. That is what is going to take place. Sir Oswald Mosley calls the present state of affairs "a slow crumbling into ruin." But England did not wait for "a slow crumbling into ruin" to develop. The government acted promptly. It tackled this problem in the House of Commons. As far back as 1909 the British government introduced unemployment and sickness insurance, and established a system of pensions and of labour exchanges. A census of labour was made. We have never had a census of labour, and it is all guesswork how many unemployed we have in this country, and how many of those on relief are employable or not. England did not wait for this so-called slow crumbling into ruin. The British people

Unemployment-Mr. Church
adopted a housing and construction policy; they tried to balance their budget; they adopted a policy of preserving their home markets by tariff concessions as much as possible for their own workmen by protection and by reforestation and a suburban policy, and as a consequence they have tided over the depression and have become to-day one of the most prosperous countries in the world.
In this country in recent years we have been too prone to load federal and provincial burdens upon the municipalities. Our constitution in that respect is well on its way to becoming upside down. The Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) said that the present government could not make a direct grant to the municipalities. That only shows the necessity of parliamentary and constitutional reform. I had a motion on the order paper dealing with that question, but the resolution was called only once although it had precedence I agree to let five or six other motions have the precedence. It is only begging the question for the government to say that they cannot make direct grants to the municipalities. They have made grants to municipal bodies before. In 1919 they made grants to the municipalities for housing, and ninety-five per cent of that money, millions of dollars, was paid back by the municipalities. So what is the use of the government making that argument? Grants have been made by the federal government to municipal institutions all over this country, for pensions, housing and many other services, and to quasi municipal harbour commissions and other social services. The municipalities themselves have no new sources of taxation. They have increased taxes on property owners so much that property is now taxed to death and nobody wants to own it. This affects real estate; it discourages employment; it discourages housing construction, and it leads to congestion and a lower standard of living. In Ontario the municipalities have found little sympathy from the province, because Ontario is seeking to balance its budget at the expense of the municipalities. The provinces were created for political, not economic, purposes. That was one of the greatest mistakes made at the time of confederation, and that is why we are not able to solve the economic problem in Canada. Four of our provinces would have become bankrupt but for federal assistance. Prior to March 5 of this year the federal government advanced $111,000,000 out of the public treasury to the four provinces west of the great lakes. That is a new constitutional development. If the government, in contravention of the British North America Act, can aid the provinces in this way to the extent of $111,000,000; if they are able to get round the British North America Act and give cash grants for outside services and federal subsidies, why cannot they come to the help of our municipalities? The provinces up to 1930 were able to run their own affairs out of their subsidy and direct taxation, but the municipalities are looking to this parliament for help. As I stated the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Crerar) and the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) the other day gave a heartless reply to the municipalities.
Look at what the United States senate has [DOT] done to solve the unemployment problem.
I referred yesterday to what it did in 1927 under a senate committee there, and the report that was made at that time. Our own senate last year made 555 amendments to our social and unemployment insurance bill, and yet it did nothing to help relieve unemployment in the past 12 years. This Bill No.
19 is fifteen years too late in getting started here. The government ten years ago refused to adopt the policy which we are now asking them to adopt on the third reading of this measure. I can see no object in the present policy of the government in this bill. The unemployment insurance bill that was passed by this house last year is tied up in the courts awaiting a decision while the unemployed are calling for jobs. This unemployment commission can make rules and regulations and make agreements with provinces and corporations outside the control of parliament altogether. That is what Lord Hewart called the new despotism. Where is the liberty of the subject to be if these matters are taken out of the hands of parliament and handed over to a commission which is given powers over the heads of the law courts in this country?
What does this bill say about business? The commission can make agreements with [DOT] corporations. What corporations? Are they going to make agreements with some of the corporations on which the chairman of the commission is a member of the board, such as the Sun Life, the Bell Telephone and many other companies, including some companies in New York. Are they going to make agreements with these companies? The bill in its present state is an interference with business and with corporate direction of property in this country. It is a most amateur performance and in its present form it will not aid employment because of the restrictions which it is going to place on industry, which should be unfettered if it is going to help give employment. We are giving this commission the right to make agreements with companies
Unemployment-Mr. Church

over the head of the province and with business over the head of parliament. Is parliament no longer to be a sovereign power? I contend that this bill is an interference with the liberty of the subject.
This bill permits extensive regulations to be made. Before it passes I should like to ask the government if this measure represents its long term policy for the solution of this problem? Neither doles, nor insurance nor hand-outs will ever take the place of the desire of the free citizens of Canada to work. The whole proposal is only a palliative and it will be a most bitter bill for the unemployed to swallow on May 1 when many of them hope to get off the dole and into remunerative employment. This bill from cover to cover is nothing but a blank cheque. Section 11 states that obligations are to be met, on and after March 31, 1937, but are any plans or surveys not even to be laid before the house as preparation for meeting these obligations?
On April 1 of next year-no, I am wrong; it is on March 31, 1937, Mr. Purvis' birthday, that this bill will expire. Parliament no doubt will then be in session and will get the bills. We can sit here in an $18,000,000 building as members who have certain rights and privileges; then we can look across the Ottawa river and see the slums of Hull which are as bad as anything I have ever seen, in New York city. We will get the bills on March 31, not on April 1. The money will be spent and all that will be left for parliament to do will be to conduct a post mortem. It will be a post mortem conducted on a sevenfold coroner system, to be known as an employment commission.
The government may enter into agreements with corporations, partnerships or individuals, but no mention is made of the municipalities. Not one cent is being provided for the municipalities. The only way they can get any money is from the provinces, and then a string is attached to it. Deductions will probably be made from this trust fund. Last night the government admitted that they were not aware that deductions had been made from the trust funds handed out to the provinces. This bill is supposed to assist in the relief of unemployment, but I think the Prime Minister said either too much or too little. A survey should be made as to what has become of these federal funds. Have they been audited by the auditor general? Has he seen that the money reached its proper destination?
I should like to say a word about the chairman of this commission. I have known this gentleman for some years, and I know he is a gentleman. He is the president of the largest industry in my riding, The Dunlop

Tire Company, but that is not going to prevent me from speaking my mind as a member of this house. I took part in a by-election in 1934 and at that time the head of this industry was very much interested in the results. Last year he took a great deal of interest in the general elections and efforts were made to defeat the hon, member for Greenwood, a gentleman who has made a great study of this problem and who knows much about the conditions of the people in his district. This Mir. A. B. Purvis of St. James street is to be the chairman of this new hallelujah chorus of government achievements. This is the man who is interested in the Bell Telephone Company and the Sun Life Insurance Company, the insurance company that took millions and millions of dollars out of this country. As I said he is the president of the largest industry in my riding, the Dunlop Tire Company.
The employees of this company have done a great deal to build up the Riverdale section and the over-the-Don district of Toronto. For many years the skilled workmen in this industry had made a most notable contribution to industry. They realized the benefits of protection and they appreciated its relation to employment, but they have been laid off or else are working only part time. During the by-election of 1934, the representative of the party in this section of the house was refused the right to address the workers in this industry because Mr. A. B. Purvis of St. James street was .then opposing this party. The other candidates in that by-election were able to get into the pliant although I probably had done more for this industry as a municipal worker and officer. It obtained many large contracts in the open market. This company was previously headed by a very able man, a former minister of the crown. He was a popular and lamented citizen who did a great deal for Riverdale district, my predecessor, the late Hon. E. B. Ryckman. However, new officers and heads of departments were brought in recently and the result has been that many of the employees are now working only part time, and some heads, who are Americans, to take the old officials' place. This industry wtas a credit to Canada under the protectionist system and the men who built it up were some of our best citizens. The present government candidate in the by-election and in the general elections last October had the active support of the Liberal president of this company. Bill boards in the neighbourhood of this plant were covered with the slogans: Vote Liberal and end unemployment; Beat Bennett and bad times; For action, Snelgrove; Curb the trusts; Secure lower bank, mort-

Unemployment-Mr. Church
gage and interest rates and, Protection for the home owner. That is what appeared on the bill boards as appeals to the workers of this industry.
The announcement of the proposed appointee to this position is irregular. I think it is unwise to make an announcement of an appointment to a public body, whether it is provincial, municipal or federal, before the appointment is actually made. This is a funny state of affairs. I am sure we could fill these desks three or four times with men who would be willing to act as commissioners. There are many who would be willing to go round advising and readvising the minister. The minister is so fond of getting advice himself he got a copy of Carlyle for the benefit of the unemployed in Canada and fed them on quotations from Carlyle. Now it is to be president Purvis who will advise and report to him.
Not only is this gentleman president of the company I mentioned; he is also connected with the Bank of Montreal, the Bell Telephone Company, the Canadian Investment Fund Limited, the Canadian Lastex Company Limited, the Consolidated Paper Corporation, the Liverpool, London and Globe Insurance Company, the Sun Life Insurance Company and the General Motors Corporation of New York. He is an estimable citizen and one who has done a great deal for his country, but in this instance I think he is attempting to do the impossible. I am surprised that a man of Mr. Purvis' ability would lend his name to something like this. He was bom in England and he knows as much as any citizen just what are the conditions over there and in this dominion. All he will be able to do will be to advise and report, report and advise, then take something out of the report and then add something to the report. I am surprised that he would have anything to do with a bill such as this.
I have the figures showing the extent of relief assistance given in the United States. There are 24,000.000 Americans who are living on relief money, about 14,000,000 of them receiving a livelihood from the work relief program, while the other 10,000,000 are getting local relief. The Cleveland News carries an illuminating illustration; it shows a number of smoke stacks of varying sizes indicating the decrease in unemployment since March, 1933. I quote the following statement:
Figures about the decrease in unemployment since March, 1933, show that we are lagging behind Canada, Sweden, Belgium and Great Britain and that we are just a trifle ahead of Japan. These statistics come from official sources in Washington and Geneva. The United States News illustrates with smokestacks of varying sizes the percentage of decrease in the number of jobless in each of the six countries. Through the courtesy of this Washington newspaper, we are permitted to reprint the pictogram, which speaks more eloquently than words or statistics.
This illustration shows that the percentage of decrease in unemployment in the United States since March, 1933, has been 19 per cent; Japan, 18 per cent; Great Britain, 24 per cent; Belgium, 27 per cent; Sweden, 36 per cent; Canada, 42 per cent. Yet, in the face of these figures, an hon. member yesterday blamed the party to which I belong for the unemployment that we have in Canada. Unemployment in this country is attributable in the first place to the government preceding the late administration, for that government took no steps to prevent dumping, nor did it make any effort whatever to preserve the home market for Canadian industry and Canadian producers or take any steps to study unemployment as I have said.
I believe in protection for the industrial worker. We have heard a good deal of criticism of the United States, but I would point out that in that country, under the United States government, under the Home Owners Corporation Act, 1,000,000 homes were saved from foreclosure. Look at what the senate of the United States accomplished in 1927 in connection with unemployment. Look at what was done over there in the investigation of Wall street and of racketeering in financial businesses in their relation to the unemployed, sweat-shops and child labour. The Senate of Canada goes on holidays and does nothing in connection with this matter. Why should it not have done something comparable with what was accomplished in the United States ten years ago? Our senate could have brought down a report the size of a bound volume of Hansard, but instead of that it quibbles about dotting an "i" here or crossing a "t" there.
Bill No. 19 refers to conservation but there is not one word about conservation in it. In my opinion the municipalities are being made the goat in this bill, and home owners are unable to retain their homes. England leads the world in unemployment insurance pensions, and we find Italy helping the municipal institutions in that country with a program which will extend over the next forty-five years In particular I would urge action designed to eliminate the suffering resultant from bringing into Canada immigrants who are inadequately informed concerning the conditions they are called upon to face here, and who are the victims of self-seeking immigration agents No one should be left to go cold or hungry in this country; those who
Unemployment-Mr. Mackenzie King
are unable to work and are in need should be provided for adequately. Work should be found or made for all able-bodied workers who, without it, would be in need of the necessities of life, and reasonable means should be adopted to increase the earning power of those who are relatively inefficient.
The Victorian era built up assets for the future, but those assets have been squandered through a mad spending period in the last forty years. The modern politician seems to think it necessary to extend parliamentary interference to every phase of life, business, commerce, imports and exports and everything from Dan to Beersheba, in the form of useless commissions, with the result that we are over-governed. In the early days there were no bankrupt municipalities; to-day there are 247 and they are all crying out for some assistance and receiving none. The solution of the unemployment problem should be found in this house and not in any commission. A committee of this house should be set up to study the whole question, just as we have a committee on so important a subject as railways and shipping. The solution calls for national sacrifice and not for parliamentary repartee. The government of the day must be a constructive force whose object should be the building up of a healthy society; otherwise there is a danger of the people turning to socialism. In sound progressive measures lies the hope of the country. Such a policy may be unpopular in parliament, but if the fight is carried outside we shall find that the rules will be broken, for the man in the street has grown weary. He is of the opinion that the government is dealing with the unemployment question with the object of preserving its own existence and not for the good of the people as a whole, and that its attempts at reform are only halfhearted. The domestic policy has failed, for the stock in trade of the government seems to be summed up in the struggle of the ins and the outs.

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