May 23, 1938 (18th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)


That rather amuses me, because I have had experience for a great many years with estimates, both in putting them through and in criticizing others who have been trying to put them through. I have

read over these estimates; I believe they convey about as much to me as they do to any other hon. member, and I imagine one can look closely and with microscopic care without finding very much in them which would meet the present situation. I find page after page containing votes for wharves, buildings, and this, that and the other thing, distributing moneys very wisely, or with a great deal of skill-I shall put it that way-to the different constituencies. I imagine a number of members will feel more or less pleased when they see the contributions made to their ridings in these estimates. But if we were to say to the 1,500 hungry men in the city of Vancouver that somewhere hidden away among these pages there is an estimate in which some money can be found to deal with their case, I imagine they would not be satisfied. The minister has failed to meet the emergency; not only has he failed, but he has repudiated responsibility. The position which I mentioned earlier in the session is the one which has been taken right along. I am not fastening this particularly on the minister, because I know the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) takes and the former government took the same position, namely, that the responsibility rests upon the provinces and municipalities. That is the constitutional position, and I am not disputing it. But when you come to an emergency of this kind it is of little value to say to 1,500 hungry, destitute and homeless men that "the constitution does not permit us to do anything."
We cannot wait for the Rowell commission. Representations have been pouring in to the commission from every province in Canada, from almost every city the commission has visited-some of them on this very point, namely, the inability of municipalities and provinces to carry the burden of relief. They have not the resources. We might as well face the issue.
But the thing which disappointed me to-day was the stand taken by the minister. He takes a defeatist attitude, an attitude which does not recognize the fact that we have not yet approached a solution of the problem. We have not seriously attacked the problem or thought out a solution.

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