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


Martha Louise Black

Independent Conservative


Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that I need offer no apology for my courteously sympathetic words to the hon. Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) the other evening. In fact, I can quite imagine myself at times feeling sorry for the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Maclnnis) for perhaps a different reason. But we have on the coast, in Vancouver, a sore that is fast degenerating into a running sore. It is worse than a double nettle, and we have got to make up our minds to get rid of it. Undoubtedly many of these men who left the camps after a winter there had a little money, but I know from experience that men coming in from logging camps, where many of them have been working for high wages, spend practically every cent they have with them in a week or ten days or less than a month, and then they come to the agency begging for an advance on the work they are going to do next season. Youth is hot and adventurous and spends money freely on what we perhaps of the older generation call nonsense and foolishness.
I feel that I can speak fairly plainly now because the boy of mine who went over a year ago used frequently to visit the camps

Unemployed Men in Vancouver
of the unemployed under the previous government, and speaking in confidence to his mother he said, "Mother, the men in these camps are far better off than the privates in the army. They get money. They have the camps. They can come and go as they please. They are under no discipline. The privates in the army are in camps but they are under a very severe discipline." And he said, "My idea"-and it is my own idea now- "is that these men should either be put in camps to work constantly or join the army." We are begging men to join our army because we may need them some day. Why should we do that when we are taking care of men who are doing nothing? Far 'be it from me to advocate a Hitler or a Mussolini in this country. But when I hear young children to-day telling their mothers to "shut up"- "I hate you"- "I won't do it"-I wonder, Mr. Speaker, what we are breeding and what we are going to have in this and the coming generation? As I said the other day, boys in Vancouver, in British Columbia, from twelve to twenty years of age, are disobeying the law and being sent to the gaol and the penitentiary. Why? Because in the first place they have not been brought up properly at home. I am not ashamed to say now that when I was seventeen years old I spoke most disrespectfully to my mother, and my father knocked me down. When I gathered myself up he said, "Go to your room. Never let me hear you speak to your mother again in that manner." It was pretty hard discipline for a young girl, but I look back now and I thank God that I had such a father to discipline me, and he disciplined us all. If the children of to-day were disciplined as the children of that day were, we would have a better race. They are in some families.
On the coast of British Columbia, in Vancouver, we have a climate far better than any other climate in Canada, and naturally people tend to migrate there. I don't believe at all in saying, because you come from Saskatchewan, I in Alberta am not going to give you a mouthful; or, because you come from Nova Scotia, I here in Ontario will see you starve. Because, after all, we are all people of Canada. It is a federal matter. People should not be allowed to starve as long as they are willing to work. I do not care who the minister is, I do not care who the man or the woman is, whether it be prince or pauper; I can offer my sympathy to them when they are in personal sorrow or when they are labouring under great mental stress. A mother's heart perhaps is a little softer than the heart of an ordinary member
unmarried or one who has no children. She may be foolishly sentimental, according to others, but at the same time we can see far into the future. This is a marvellous land. From east to west there is everything to make the country desirable. We have unlimited resources, we have members from both sides of the house talking about the development of these resources, but they can be developed only by our hands. It is up to our younger people to have the opportunity to develop these resources, and surely the minister and the government will evolve a way of developing them.
I thought when relief was given in the first place, many years ago, that it was a mistake. I have never had anything for nothing; I have always had to work for it. I think all ablebodied men and women and children should have to work for all they get. It is a different matter with men who are not well and with women who are unable because of family duties to go outside and work, and we should have a paternal attitude towards them. But just as sure as there is a heaven overhead, if we are not going to go a little deeper into this matter of unemployment, some day we are going to have a revolution. I am not so much afraid of a revolution in this country as in a country where people have more of the Gallic or high-strung temperament. We shall be slow, but eventually we must look out for our unemployed or there will be trouble.
In British Columbia there is always more or less crime. The police of the neighbouring state of Washington shove their undesirables over to us, and in turn we shove our undesirables over to them, so I can well imagine that many of these unemployed men may not come from Ontario or Saskatchewan. They may come from the other side of the line; it is difficult to tell. But surely we cannot allow men to go in and take possession of a federal building. After all, that is ours, yours and mine; it is not the property of the people of Vancouver alone. Surely we cannot allow that to happen. We must not have riots, with broken heads, broken hearts and perhaps men killed now and then. We must think; we must work hard, and I have enough faith in the government of to-day to believe that they are doing the very best they possibly can, if not for the sake of the unemployed, if not for the sake of the individuals, at least for the sake of their own reputations. I cannot look at one side of the house and think those men are all the best that God put on earth, any more than I can look at the other side of the house and think those men are all the worst. I think

Unemployed Men in Vancouver
perhaps when hon. members criticize me and other hon. members of this house, in their hearts they may have the idea that they know what is right, or that they could solve the problem. I have no such idea. I do not know, and I feel sorry for those who have that burden to bear, but it is a burden they must assume. They have accepted these positions and they must bring us out of the mire of despond in which we now find ourselves.
Many of these unemployed men went to Vancouver with money in. their pockets. With care that money might have lasted two, three or four weeks, or perhaps two months. But, as I have said, young blood is hot, and the money goes quickly. Then they are led away by agitators, of whom, alas, there are far too many, not only on the prairies or in British Columbia, but all over Canada. Somebody with a glib tongue comes along to stir up those who are less glib or those not so well balanced.
Mr. T. J. O'NEILL (Kamloops): In asking my question to-day I seem to have stirred up a field day at the expense of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers). I assure him I had not that intention, but in this discussion I have noticed something that I think should be mentioned at this time. The supplementary estimates have been just brought down, providing quite a large sum of money that will be used principally to relieve the unemployment situation. But it is now almost June 1. A good deal of that money is for public buildings, and after these estimates have been approved by the house plans must be prepared, tenders must be called for, and in all about three months will elapse before construction is actually started. By that time unfavourable weather conditions will have set in, and either the projects will have to be abandoned until next year or men will have to work under very adverse conditions and at much greater cost to the government than would be the case if we were ready to start work now.
I am not particularly directing these observations against the present government, because this sort of thing has gone on in this country for years and years. I do not know whether or not it is because of the fact that we have the fiscal year ending at the wrong time; I do not know whether that has anything to do with it. Personally I do not see why there should be any difference between the end of the calendar year and the end of the fiscal year, but certainly we should be starting work on these projects now instead of possibly the first of September. I know we

cannot correct that situation this year, but I think it is something every hon. member should take into consideration, to see if there is not some way of overcoming the difficulty so that work may be started in the spring of the year rather than in the fall.
Hon. CHARLES A. DUNNING (Minister of Finance): I think there is a good deal of force to the remarks of the last speaker (Mr. O'Neill) but in considering the difficulty to which the hon. member has referred it may be helpful if I point out that with respect to the supplementary estimates now before the house I know that many departments have their plans well advanced in order to enable quick action to be taken with respect to many of the projects contemplated under the supplementary estimates. In order still further to facilitate action along that line I hope to ask the house either to-day or to-morrow for interim supply on the main estimates-this being necessary, of course, because of the near approach of the end of May, which is the limit of our present authority in that regard-and also for a proportion of the amounts involved in the supplementary estimates, in order that work may be provided as quickly as possible in connection with projects as to which the preliminary work has been done by the departments concerned.
The criticism of my hon. friend is quite proper and does apply to government work generally. You cannot proceed until you get your authorization; and even in asking for interim supply of course it must be a condition that the granting of such supply does not debar criticism or consideration of any individual item. That is the usual condition, but I just wanted to assure my hon. friend that every effort will be made by the departments concerned to get under way immediately with projects for which definite plans exist; and they do exist with respect to quite a number of matters contemplated by the various departments.

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