February 19, 1937 (18th Parliament, 2nd Session)


John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. J. H. BLACKMORE (Lethbridge):

Mr. Speaker, continuing my remarks of last evening, let me declare that I personally long for peace. The social credit movement is a movement designed to obtain peace. Many ardent social crediters are so strongly imbued with the doctrines of peace that they feel that my stand in support of defence is contrary to the ideals of social credit. It is largely because I see in social credit the means of so reorganizing the economic systems of men that peace can become a permanent reality on the earth that I have espoused so fervently the cause of social credit. We are earnestly striving toward a great and glorious ideal; but we must not forget, while looking to the future, that the present has its urgent needs. One of our most urgent needs for the immediate present is more adequate means of defence.
I deplore the misdeeds of the past that have forced us into this situation. In so far as the present government is neglecting its duty in the matter of economic and social reform, I cannot and will not condone its errors. But now that we are in this exigency we must, I feel, comport ourselves wisely.
I appeal to the present government with all the earnestness of which I am capable that they set about reforming the present system. The disgraceful suffering, as inexcusable as it is distressing, which obtains throughout this land should not be allowed to continue. If one year from now I do not see distinct evidence of redress, and if at that time the present government is not showing signs of adopting policies more modern than the outgrown and discredited devices which thus far they appear to have depended upon, then I must say they will have made it extremely difficult, if not intolerable, for me to continue to support them. I believe they want to do the right thing, but they are tiying to do the right thing in the wrong way.
For this year, however, because I consider it to be in the interests of Canada to have greater defence, and because I feel it my duty as a member of the parliament of Canada

National Defence-Mr. Mackenzie King
to help the government in its efforts toward defence, I intend to support the government and to oppose the amendment.
(Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, on Monday last in order that the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie) might present to the house the defence estimates for the coming year, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) moved that the house go into committee of supply. That motion was met by an amendment moved by the member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil). Although hon. members are already familiar with the terms of the amendment, its true significance should once more be pointed out. The amendment of the hon. member is in the following words:
That all the words after the word "that" in the motion be struck out and the following substituted therefor:
"This house views with grave concern the startling increases of expenditure proposed by the government for the purpose of national armament in contrast with the inadequate provision for the social security of all sections of the Canadian people."
In the form in which it has been moved, the amendment expresses want of confidence in the government. From an examination of its wording, it would appear that hon. members of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation had had some difficulty among themselves in agreeing upon something they would all be able to support, something which would appear to condemn the expenditures on defence but which at a later time, should the occasion render it advisable, would enable them to shelter themselves under the statement that they had not in fact opposed the defence estimates as such.
Let me again draw attention to the wording of the amendment:
This house views with grave concern the startling increases of expenditure proposed by the government for purposes of national armament in contrast with the inadequate provision for the social security of all sections of the Canadian people.
Note the words "views with grave concern" the increase in the estimates. Mr. Speaker, we all view with grave concern increases in expenditures for purposes of defence, but that is only a reflection of the concern which world conditions have created in the minds of people in all countries throughout the world. It is not singular that this house should feel concerned at the necessity at this time of adding more by way of defence. When one realizes what the conditions in Europe have been during the last four or five years; when one views the present situation in Spain; when one sees the nations of

Europe doing their utmost to prevent what is now a terrible civil war becoming part of a great international conflict, there is reason for concern. But that concern is something which all of us feel quite as much as the hon. members who have moved and seconded the amendment.
Note, however, that the concern the amendment expresses is not with the increase in the estimates. I desire particularly to draw the attention of hon. members to that fact. There is nothing in the amendment which says that hon. members of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation oppose the estimates to be presented to the house. The concern is over the contrast between the amount to be voted for defence and that to be voted, as they say, for purposes of social security.
May I make one observation in regard to social security. I should be inclined to believe that the security of one's country would rank as the first among all social securities. If through invasion, or aggression in some other form, anything should happen to Canada, I am afraid that what else we may have in the way of social security would, at least for the time being, go pretty well by the board. It is an entirely erroneous conception of the meaning of words to say that social security should be confined only to certain social services some hon. members may have in mind and which could not be carried on at all unless there were social security for the country as a whole.
Let me now speak more specifically about the contrast. I wonder if hon. members responsible for the amendment have ever made a comparison between what is spent in other countries for purposes of social security and for defence and the corresponding sets of expenditures in Canada. If they have, they will have found that in comparison with what Canada is spending for social security, she is spending relatively much less for purposes of defence than is the case with any other country of importance in the world.
Hon. members are most unfair when they draw comparisons between expenditures voted for purposes of defence by this house, and the amount that is being voted for social services by this house. I say "by this house" because of the money of the taxpayers of this country they are taking account only of what is being voted by this house. But hon. members know very well that while there are certain obligations which rest upon the federal treasury, there are also some which rest upon the provinces and upon the municipalities. They have carefully avoided making any mention of what comes out of the taxes of the

National Defence-Mr. Mackenzie King
people of Canada for social services in the provinces and in the municipalities. They touch as respects social services, only upon what comes out of the people's pockets through amounts voted by this chamber.
They have not been fair in a further particular. While ignoring altogether amounts paid out on social services by provinces and municipalities in addition to expenditures from the federal treasury, they have not pointed out that the burden of defence for the whole of Canada must be borne by the federal treasury alone. That portion of the public expenditure is not divided between the provinces, the municipalities and the dominion; it is an exclusive charge upon the Dominion of Canada. That is a very important fact to be kept in mind, because it was one of the considerations in the minds of those who framed the constitution of our country when they assigned certain social services to the provinces and to the municipalities, largely freeing the dominion from payments on that account, but charging the dominion exclusively with the obligation of expenditures for the purpose of defence.
May I point out that the amounts being asked for to meet the defence needs of Canada are not merely for the protection of our shores and harbours; they are for the protection of all of Canada, of all the provinces and of all the municipalities. With respect to what may happen in a time of actual or apprehended danger of war, this federal government is expected to have responsibility for the defence of the entire dominion. The provinces are not being looked to to make any special expenditure to protect their harbours, their bridges or their highways; that is all part of the federal obligation in time of war, in time of possible invasion or emergency. There is no specified obligation upon the municipalities with regard to protecting their water mains, their sewers, their gas mains and the like; all this obligation so far as it arises out of a condition of war falls upon the federal treasury. With warfare what it is likely to be in the future, with possible air and submarine raids and all else that is to be feared, the protection of our great municipalities against the dropping of bombs or the sowing of mines which might disrupt the whole life of a municipality, becomes one of the most serious obligations under the heading of present day defence.
The amendment in other particulars is unfair. Is it a fact that relatively little is being spent by the federal government for purposes of social security? I have had prepared by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Finance a comparison of the estimates of expenditures for social services and national defence
during the last five years. During that period much was expended for social services, to the neglect of what should have been expended for the purpose of keeping the defences of our country up to the standard to which they should have been kept. We get a much better view of the entire picture by taking a period of five years than by confining the comparison to any one. I shall, however give as well the average yearly expenditures
The estimate of expenditures by the dominion government on social services for the five year period, 1932-33 to 1936-37, totals $681,000,000. The average yearly expenditure amounts to $136,200,000. The estimate of expenditures by all provincial governments on public welfare and education for the five year period 1932 to 1936 amounts to $506,000,000 with the yearly average amounting to $101,200,000. The estimate of expenditures by municipalities on public welfare and by school boards for the five year period 1931 to 1935 totals $612,000,000, with a yearly average of $122,400,000. The total expenditure for five years on social services by the three governing entities mentioned amounted to $1,799,000,000 or a yearly average of $359,800,000. Let us now consider the total expenditures by Canada for national defence purposes.

Full View