July 1, 1942 (19th Parliament, 3rd Session)

LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

It is a voluntary parliamentary committee, acting without any authority from parliament itself. It is an arrangement among a certain group of members of parliament whose .powers, shall I say, come from the vested interests. The hon. member will know what I mean when I say that. I am not saying that there is a similar committee set up here, but I warn the members of this house that they have a duty to prevent any such movement here, even though they are on the government side. After they are elected they do not represent Liberals, Conservatives, Cooperative Commonwealth Federation or Social Credit; they represent all the people. That is what I am endeavouring to do this afternoon in saying what I have said.
Past history has shown that social legislation has made more headway during periods of war than at any other time. We are doing well now to give some thought to the postwar period. The Atlantic charter has been mentioned often since that historic meeting of Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt, and it is to be hoped that the provisions outlined in that charter are not merely idle or empty words. When we speak about some new world order after the war, I suggest that we put into effect now some of the provisions of the Atlantic charter, particularly in connection with two worthy classes of our citizens.
One class I have in mind is made up of the great number of soldiers' widows in this country who have been knocking on the door of parliament for many years and whose plight is known to every member of the house. How about trying out some of the provisions of the
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Atlantic charter on these worthy people? Then how about trying it out on our old age pensioners? Is nothing further to be done for them? True it is that we have on our statute books an Old Age Pensions Act which provides the small allowance of $20 a month for those who have reached the age of seventy years. This amount will hardly keep body and soul together. I wonder how many hon. members realize that the allotted span of life on this earth as laid down by God is seventy years? In psalm 90, verse 10, you will read:
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
With the full knowledge of that before us, how can we call the granting of a pension at seventy years of age an old age pension? I am going to designate it from now on as a death-bed allowance. The great sums being provided by the Canadian people show that we can do anything, and refutes the statements which have been made by former ministers of finance who had always the one stock answer, "Where will the money come from?" when representations were made advocating further social legislation on behalf of our people. I remember one minister of finance holding up his hands in holy horror- I can visualize now the challenging look in his eyes

as he said, "Where can I get $100,000,000 to put these things into effect?" Yet we are budgeting to-day for "close to $4,000,000,000, a sum which staggers the imagination, a sum the magnitude of which few members of parliament can fully grasp.
Since my time is short, the last subject which I have to bring before the house has to do with the protecting of the Pacific coast. The people out there, and the people throughout Canada, are greatly perturbed over events these days. They are more perturbed because there is a feeling among the people that they are not being told the truth of the war situation. I am one of those who believe that our people can take the truth, but once they realize that they are being fooled it will be too bad for those in authority. I think it is fair to. say that since this war started the average citizen has been further ahead with his views than many of the high military authorities. On so manj' occasions they have been wrong.
The Japanese have landed on the Aleutian islands. To back up my statement that the people have not been told the truth, I should like to quote from an article which appeared in the United States press and which was copied by the Ottawa Citizen. I shall read only one paragraph of this article, which
The Budget-Mr. Reid

first appeared in the New York Times. Dealing with the fact that the Japanese had landed in the outer Aleutians, they say:
First we were assured that the enemy had landed in no "inhabited" area. Then it was suggested the islands were too rocky and forbidding to be of much value to the enemy. Later it was admitted enemy ships had entered Kiska harbour and that troop barracks had been erected on the shore. Now we are informed there cannot be more than a few hundred Japanese soldiers there.
I wonder how many people of this country and how many members of parliament are really aware of the significance of the toe-hold which the Japanese have obtained on the Aleutian islands? Even some of our own people do not seem to realize the significance of it. Lieutenant-General Kenneth Stuart, chief of the general staff, who has just taken over the Pacific command, referred to the landing of the Japanese on the Aleutian islands as being "only a little invasion". He suggested that we should pay no attention to it. I suggest that it is more than a little invasion and has more significance than he realizes or most people perhaps realize. I think the Vancouver Sun set this out veiy well in an editorial, which reads in part:
The Japanese are not yet into Alaska. They have not taken Dutch Harbour. But how can any sensible person believe that the Japanese will pause, for our convenience, in the outer Aleutians? Of course they must attempt, at all costs, to neutralize the bases of Alaska, which will be used against them as soon as Russia is at war with Japan. And the fact th.at Japan is moving so early in the north indicates clearly that the Japanese are getting ready for an early attaeK on Russia.
I should not be at all surprised if the Japanese moved forward and made a desperate attempt to attack Alaska. How many hon. members realize that Germany and Japan have put an encircling movement into effect and are attempting to divide the allies one from the other? We all wish to help Russia, but I say that if Alaska is taken by the Japanese, the one great outlet for munitions into Russia from this country will be blocked off.
Where the Japanese have a toe-hold is only 580 miles from Kamchatka in Russia, and that is only 600 miles from Japan. The Japanese are not going to sit back vvhen they have a foothold on the Aleutian islands, and if they should attack Alaska it will be a serious thing for Canada as well as the United States. We sometimes talk of an invasion. An invasion may or may not take place, but the object of the Japanese in taking Alaska and the Aleutian islands would be to stop aid going to Russia from outside countries before war between Japan and Russia takes place.
(Mr. Reid.]
I have one word to say regarding the Alaska highway. For ten years this country has been surveying routes from Canada into Alaska. We had the routes laid out, the estimates made and the plans worked out. We knew the best and easiest route to get in there, and I believe this country made a mistake when it allowed the United States to go ahead and build a road over a very nebulous route into Alaska. We are just as much interested in Alaska as they are, and we should have taken a firm stand, instead of showing a colonial mind, and said: "Here, Mr. United States, we have gone into this thing, and here is the proper route you should take." Some people are already beginning to doubt whether the United States will be able to complete the road they have started and whether they will not have to come back and build over one of the routes we have surveyed.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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