March 6, 1950 (21st Parliament, 2nd Session)


William Scottie Bryce

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. William Bryce (Selkirk):

Mr. Speaker, in rising to take part in this debate after fifty hon. members have spoken, it is rather hard to say something that has not been said already. You can start off by saying that you have the best constituency in the world, which would be quite easy for me to do, and then you can attempt to cover some other topic that has been touched upon already.
The Address-Mr. Bryce
I might say that Selkirk constituency was remodelled last year and now contains both urban and rural dwellers. But it still contains the descendants of the Selkirk settlers who came out at the beginning of the last century to blast a trail and build a gateway to the golden west. We are now coming to the end of the first half of the twentieth century, and as we look back over the last five decades and remember the calamity of two world wars and the greatest depression in history, we register in our minds the hope that the second half of the century will be free from such disasters.
It is true, and I think most hon. members will admit, that during the last few years our people have been better fed than ever before. It is true also that our farms and our factories have produced more goods and produce than ever before. Yet, with all that, we know that many Canadian people are not well fed today and that a great many Canadian workers are not receiving good wages. Many of our aged citizens still receive small pensions pn which to live. Sometimes the means test prevents them from getting very much.
May I say in passing that I have had more requests about this means test than I have ever had about anything else. As things are today, the man who has been thrifty and has attempted to provide for a rainy day is penalized. The man who has never saved anything, the man who perhaps in many cases has never even paid taxes, can draw a full pension. As I say, the man who has scraped to save and provide for a rainy day is penalized for his thrift. No law should be allowed to exist that penalizes a man or woman for thrift, long considered one of the great characteristics of the Scottish race. We all hope that the second half of the century will prove to be happier and more prosperous for the human race than the first half.
Another problem I should like to draw to the attention of the government is the great need of financial aid for education on a federal basis. In the last few years the effort has been to move people from crowded city areas into the adjoining municipalities. This relieves the city or town of the responsibility but creates a new problem for the municipalities which have to provide education for these boys and girls. The law of the land is that every boy and girl must go to school, and one must also remember that people are demanding better educational facilities for their families than they themselves had thirty or forty years ago. It has been said repeatedly that education is a provincial responsibility but the situation is now getting beyond provincial governments. If our school districts are to have the proper people to teach the pupils and be able to pay fair wages for their

The Address-Mr. Bryce services-wages comparable with other professions-build new schools, and enlarge old ones to accommodate the pupils coming in from other areas, then the federal government must come to the assistance of the provinces.
In the speech from the throne mention is made that a bill for the revision of the Indian Act is to be introduced at this session. I am sure this will be welcomed by everyone interested in the welfare of the Indians. To the members of the committee which sat for three years considering recommendations that could be incorporated in the present Indian Act, this will be most gratifying. As a member of that committee I know the tremendous job they did in the three years the committee worked, and to see the fruits of their labours in amendments to the present Indian Act brought before the house will be encouraging not only to the Indians but also to the people who worked so hard to do a satisfactory job on the Indian Act.
I have already congratulated the minister who heads the department which will now have charge of Indian affairs, the hon. member for Grey-Bruce (Mr. Harris). It is to be hoped that the revised Indian Act will be a new Magna Carta for the 135,000 Indians in Canada. I hope that the new minister will hold his position long enough to be able to do some constructive work in the Indian department. I have only been in parliament seven years but during that time the new minister is the fifth to have charge of Indian affairs, and I hope that he will have charge of the department long enough to do the best job that has yet been done.
We have heard a great deal about lost markets in the last few days, and different reasons have been advanced for the troubles now confronting us. I know there is no simple direct answer to the question. For instance, one of the reasons we hear is the one popularly known as the dollar shortage. Another reason is that improved methods of production have produced surpluses of various commodities. Another reason is that the marketing system which we have been using for the last fifty years is now out of date. Finally, only recently we have been faced with the factor of mass unemployment. There may be other causes, but let us look at those I have mentioned. So far as the dollar shortage is concerned there is actually no shortage of dollars at all. What there is a shortage of is goods that can be produced in Europe and sold to Canada and the United States in exchange for the iron ore, oil, cotton and wheat which those countries are forced to purchase from this continent because they cannot obtain them anywhere else at the present time.

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