March 3, 1937 (18th Parliament, 2nd Session)


James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, the amendment moved by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) reads as follows:
This house regrets that the government has failed to take effective measures to deal with the problem of unemployment.
We in this corner of the chamber will support that resolution. In fact, had the leader of the opposition not moved his amendment, we would have moved one along those lines.
It would seem that the attitude of hon. members toward this great question of unemployment is to no small extent determined by the place in which they sit in this house. It was not so very long ago that the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie) moved a similar amendment. In 1935 he moved the following amendment to the motion to go into supply:
This house regrets that, notwithstanding the specific promises made prior to the election of 1930, and many times since reiterated, and despite the fact that extraordinary powers to deal with unemployment have been repeatedly secured from parliament, the present administration, after nearly five years of office, has not yet submitted to parliament any definite or effective policy to deal with widespread actual unemployment or distress which continues to be Canada's most urgent national problem.
At that time we supported the amendment, and if the Minister of National Defence moved a similar amendment to-day we would give it similar support. But he has not moved it, and so far as we can learn, the government, of which he is a member, has taken no action to deal effectively with this great problem, which he then stated-with which statement I agree-was Canada's most urgent national problem.
Not only did the present Minister of National Defence take that position, but I find that the present Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) was also very anxious to have this problem dealt with promptly. On February 5, 1935, he moved:
That this house is of the opinion that when it is moved into committee of supply priority should be given consideration of the estimates

of the Department of Labour in order that opportunity may be afforded for an immediate discussion and consideration of conditions of unemployment and distress at present existing in all parts of Canada, and of the measures required to cope therewith.
The present government has been in office for well on to two years-

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