As regards the empire trade agreement, I hardly think the minister could refer to the previous government as continuing a policy of economic nationalism in view of that important legislation, which apparently not only met with the commendation later of the present Liberal government but was given an extension of time during which it was kept in force. I would also make this suggestion. I believe the minister will agree that the previous administration did make a serious effort to conclude a trade pact with the United States. Is that economic nationalism? Is it blocking the channels of trade to endeavour to make an agreement of that kind?
The minister goes on to take to task the preceding administration for not concluding a trade pact with the United States. I suggest to him and to the government in all seriousness that the previous government were
Relie] and Agricultural Distress
prepared to conclude that trade pact, as has already been overemphasized, but they were not prepared to pay the price which the present government has paid in order to secure that agreement with the United States. It is very much like the case of a man who told me over the weekend of his endeavours last summer to purchase a house. He was offered the house at $10,500; but he was not prepared to pay that price, and last week the owner called him up and offered the house for $8,500 so as to get rid of it. Would that man have been justified in the first instance in accepting the first offer in view of the fact that he has now been offered it for $8,500. Well, the present government took the United States offer and sold out certain interests in Canada in order to conclude that trade agreement with the United States, and it is under that agreement that wre are living to-day. I suggest to the government that that very agreement will eventually aggravate the unemployment situation and make it well nigh impossible for any government to deal satisfactorily with the question of unemployment. I want to give this warning to the government. If they propose to enter into a trade agreement with the United States, they will further aggravate and further increase unemployment in Canada owing to the importation from the United States of goods which could just as satisfactorily be manufactured in this country, giving employment to people here.
When the minister was speaking in glowing terms of the economic condition of those engaged in fishing, particularly in Nova Scotia, I noticed a strained look on the countenance of the hon. member for Queens-Lunenburg (Mr. Kinley). I could see that he was listening intently, waiting for some ray of hope as the minister pictured the conditions of the fishermen and told us how their lot had improved as a result of the enactments of the Liberal government in the last two and a half years; and then the hon. member fell back in his seat with a disappointed look; for he knew that what the minister had just said was not a reality in that part of the country from which the hon. member had just returned.
I would suggest to the minister that he be more careful in making statements as to conditions unless he has firsthand information. If my information is correct, the lot of these fishermen in Nova Scotia and in other parts of Canada is not too happy at the present time; they are among those who are only
partly employed and therefore are in a worse position than those who are altogether unemployed.
I was pleased to hear the minister suggest that there would be new roads to our national parks. I am sure that the members from Prince Edward Island will immediately call attention to their various home towns and point out that there is need on that island of some new and improved roads in order to bring the proposed national park in Prince Edward Island into contact with the larger centres of Summerside, Charlottetown and other larger places on the Northumberland strait. There is some ray of hope there, and I trust the Minister of Public Works or the minister who will be in charge of that particular project will see that the suggestions of the Minister of Labour are implemented and that during the course of this summer we who are fortunate enough to spend a few weeks on the island will have an improved road over which to travel to our destination.
I am glad that the minister is so confident as to the future. I, too, am confident, just as confident as the minister; but I want to make this observation, and I do so not by way of political gesture but sincerely: I
would be more confident if there were a different government in office. I would not care whether that government happened to be called Conservative or even if we had a Liberal government in power so long as it had a different set of leaders, who would actually give a lead to the people of Canada, leaders who would not equivocate, who would not just stand on the side-lines and hope for the best but who would give a very well defined lead. Under those circumstances I would say that there might be ground for the minister's optimism.
Subtopic: MEASURE FOR ALLEVIATION OF UNEMPLOYMENT AND AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS