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


Robert Emmett Finn


Mr. R. E. FINN (Halifax):

When we consider this question of unemployment, which has been brought up on the motion to go into supply by the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Maclnnis), supported by the hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens), answered by the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) and dealt with by the various other hon. members who have spoken this afternoon. including the only lady member in the house to-day, the hon. member for Yukon (Mrs. Black), I think it well that our attention should not be directed only to the three or four provinces west of Ontario. I think we

Unemployed Men in Vancouver
should have a thought also for the great provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and the maritime provinces as well.
I well remember walking out of this house after prorogation last year with my hon. friend the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie). I was afraid that the closing of the camp at Halifax, on Citadel Hill, might be a mistake, that the expectations of the Minister of Labour might not be realized, and as we walked along I said to the Minister of National Defence, "Close it if you will, but keep it in such condition that if it is necessary to reopen it there will not be a single man forced to walk the streets, and there will be no crimes committed," such as we have heard mentioned this afternoon as having been committed in Vancouver. The minister did not make a positive reply, but what was said made me think, "Well, Citadel Hill, that great promontory in the city of Halifax, no longer will be used for this purpose even if we find that unemployment is inevitable," and unemployment apparently has become inevitable, not only in the city of Halifax. It has come to us through our fishermen along the shores of Halifax county. From Ecum Seeum for a distance of one hundred and fifteen miles to Dartmouth, and from Halifax city to Hubbard's Cove and the indented bays there has been this relentless enemy which has been ever at the door. I do not say this government has been wholly responsible, but I have read scrupulously the order in council passed by the late administration under the leadership of the present leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) in reference to trawlers. The Minister of Fisheries of that time was the Hon. E. N. Rhodes who, I regret to say, is ill. He stood tenaciously to protect the interests of the fishermen as against those of capitalists who had been responsible for the sores and the hurts in the minds and hearts of the fishermen along the shore. There came a day, there came an hour, and there came a moment when the present Minister of Fisheries (Mr. Michaud) came to a decision. His decision was absolutely against the fishermen and in favour of the privileged interests, in favour of the capitalists, and particularly the National Fish Company and the Maritime Fish Company organizations which have grown prosperous in the city of Halifax.
The fishermen were left where? They were left where they are at the present moment, with starvation in some of their own homes, with their boats and fishing gear swept away by the southeast gales. Some of them lost their lives, never to return to their homes. In
this connection, I believe I can give one of the best illustrations possible of description by the human mind or heart. In a little fishing village on the west coast of Halifax, a place which was once prosperous but is prosperous no more, a fisherman had lost everything, and had not the money wherewith to repair his humble little fishing home. During the late war a building had been erected in that small village, and when he wrote me the building was uninhabited, unoccupied and not being used in any way. This man told me that it was impossible to repair his home so as to make it habitable, that he had a wife and eight children and wanted to know if it would be possible to buy that building or to have some charitable person buy it for him so that he and his family might live in quiet comfort, and not be put out in the cold. When I received the letter I wrote to the minister I thought would be in charge, the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie). He replied properly and correctly that the matter came under the jurisdiction of the military gentleman who was responsible for salvaging, and that the building would have to be put up to tender. That was done, and the man in question bid S42. He was met by a bid of $44 from another person, a man who did not need it. That man got the building, and the man who needed it did not get it.
Has everything the government has done been done by contract? Has that been done in all departments? "Necessity knows no law," and when it comes to a case of necessity I will get what I need to subsist on. There should be no need in this Canada of ours, a country with great prospects, expansive areas and a great future. When I think of our relations with the country to the south of us, a country smaller in area than Canada, but with a population of 130,000,000 people as against our 11,000,000. What is our future? We think of those who have lived in past days and who were the great builders in this great confederation. We think of the ideals of Sir John A. Macdonald, the ideals of Hon. Joseph Howe, the ideals of our great leader who has departed, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the man who envisioned the building of the Transcontinental railway so as to gather the maritime provinces under the wing of Canada and to bring them nearer the great Canadian centres in order that those eastern provinces might participate in the great Canada of the future. One need only read the schedule to this act respecting the Transcontinental railway to realize what happened. In that schedule it is stated in no uncertain words, in words that are true, that unless otherwise specifically

Unemployed Men in Vancouver
routed by the consignor, all goods shipped from Canada shall travel through Canada to Canadian ports. The development of Canada was to come through that. What has happened? He who runs may read.
I was deeply interested when a few days ago in the house a discussion arose between the Minister of Transport and an hon. member, and at that time I was reminded that in my belief the unmaking of Canada is that we own that stretch of the Grand Trunk running between Chicago and Detroit. If one studies the statistics respecting trade through Canadian ports he will find one thing and one only, namely that the stretch of railway between Chicago and Detroit helps the port of Montreal and American ports.. I am not opposed to that port. We realize that while our railway is within the confines of that country, and until we pass Windsor, at which time we come within the jurisdiction of the Board of Railway Commissioners for Canada, we are subject to the interstate law of the United States. Their law is their law, and not ours. Notwithstanding the judgment of Mr. Fairweather, notwithstanding the judgment of the president of the Canadian National Railways system, I say it would be far better to sell that stretch of railway in the United States, to get what it is worth, and to have Canadian owned railways in Canadian territory, managed by Canadians and subject to the supreme will of Canada. Unless we do that, we will have a misnomer in the life of the future Canada we shall not live to see. Some of the younger hon. members may live to'see that day; I hope they will.
When I look across the floor of the house I am reminded that when I attended La Salle Academy in Halifax there was an oratorical contest for the gold medal donated by the then Archbishop O'Brien. One of the judges was the present member for St. Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Cahan), the late Secretary of State. Later, when I came to parliament again in 1935, I was walking out of the house one day during the first session, and the hon. gentleman said to me that he recalled the incident and said, "I made up my mind then that some day you would be in the parliament of Canada, but I never thought I would live to be here with you." He had thought he might- have gone to that great bourne from which no traveller returns. But to-day he sits there, with his years, lovely and beautiful, in the knowledge that he has tried to do his best for Canada and for the little province of Nova Scotia, down by the sounding sea,

in which he was born. He has tried to make it the finest and best of that galaxy of provinces which make up our great dominion.
There is one thing I would urge upon the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers). There is no hon. member of the government who is more assiduous in his duties, there is no one who applies himself more directly and effectively to the great problems that confront Canada in connection with labour and unemployment than the Minister of Labour. That work is his love. When the Prime Minister of Canada (Mr. Mackenzie King) called upon him to enter his cabinet he left the great university where he was teaching to come to teach all those in Canada that there is a broader field to greater knowledge. We cannot close our eyes to the fact that unemployment is ever existent. At times it has been characterized as a sore. I do not call it a sore, I consider it the inevitable aftermath of war. After the great war of 1914-18 we had a survival in business, but then came the great depression of 1929. We are now in the midst of what a very able exponent of peace, an hon. gentleman who guides the destinies of young Canada to-day, only a few days ago said, that it might be the dust of Canada that would turn the scales from peace to war.
In Great Britain we have that aJble, astute Prime Minister, Mr. Neville Chamberlain. He is uncompromising and what is more necessary, he is unbending. He will not yield to the foe, although he is always ready to give consideration to the different views of all parts of the British Empire. He should not be too trustful of those who might attack us behind our backs to-morrow. As Cassius said to Brutus:
There is my dagger,
And here my naked breast; within, a heart
Dearer than Plutus' mine, richer than gold:
If that thou be'st a Roman, take it forth;
I, that denied thee gold, will give my heart;
Strike, as thou didst at Caesar; for, I know,
When thou didst hate him worst, thou lovedst him better
Than ever thou lovedst Cassius.
I differ with the statement made this afternoon by the hon. member for the Yukon (Mrs. Black), and I think in retrospect she will agree with what I am about to say. I understood her to say that a man who could not give value deserved to be idle.

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