April 10, 1957 (22nd Parliament, 5th Session)


Elmore Philpott


Mr. Elmore Philpotf (Vancouver South):

There was no discussion, Mr. Speaker, on second reading of this extremely important measure. It is quite possible there would not have been very much discussion on third reading except for the amendment moved by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre.
It seems to me that is a shame, for several reasons. I regard the hospital insurance measure, which is now to be passed, as one of the greatest national landmarks ever erected in this country. While I believe we are divided on the one small point raised in the amendment of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, I think we are agreed on the substance of the bill. In fact one might almost use the terms of the famous advertisement for ivory soap, 99 and 44/100 per cent pure. So far as I can judge the sense of the house, the house is agreed upon 99 and 44/100 per cent of the bill as it now stands, and only disagrees on one small fraction of 1 per cent.
I submit, Mr. Speaker, that this is a great landmark of social advance in Canada. It seems to me that landmarks are of two kinds. There are the great historic landmarks which grow out of events of history, like the battle of the plains of Abraham, which decided that this great country was to be a bi-cultural country, a bi-national country, if you want to call it that, with neither conquered nor conquerors but two races of equal partners joining together to make this great Canadian nation. Or events such as the war of 1812, which decided for all time to come that this nation north of the 49th parallel was to survive as a free member of the then British Empire, and now the British commonwealth, as the beginning of what became the Canadian nation.

Or we could have events growing out of, we will say, the rebellion of 1837, an unhappy event in itself but one which brought great benefit to the Canadian people in all particulars save one, because one of the unfortunate aftermaths of that particular event was that our more belligerent Conservative friends in the city of Montreal objected to one of the terms of the settlement and burned down the parliament buildings as they were throwing rocks at the then governor general. The unfortunate result we see here most Monday mornings, because if it had not been for that unfortunate event the capital of this great country would have remained in Montreal and would not have been in Ottawa, and we would not have to hurry back from our week end vacations, as so many of us now do.
But, Mr. Speaker, there is a second type of landmark which I think is a more creditable type. It is the great landmark erected by good legislation, by advanced laws; landmarks which mark the product of political wisdom, social insight and crystallized national conscience. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that we never had a more constructive example of a great forward social advance than we have in this bill to which this parliament is giving third reading today.
I would note as examples of this great constructive social advance the setting up of the principle of responsible government after that tragic uprising of 1837; the great process of confederation that joined the scattered colonies of British North America into the Dominion of Canada in 1867. Perhaps the greatest political achievement of all, Mr. Speaker, was the final winning of equal status, I think mostly fought through, or certainly started by, the great statesman Mackenzie King, but finished by another great Canadian statesman, Right Hon. R. B. Bennett, who of course crossed the t's and dotted the i's of the statute of Westminster.
I think, Mr. Speaker, a great constructive forward event perhaps not sufficiently appreciated by a sufficient number of people in this country was the rounding out of the concept of the Dominion of Canada by the admission of Newfoundland into this federation after so many years of separation. But I submit, Mr. Speaker, that no greater social landmark has ever been erected in the Dominion of Canada than we are helping to erect today in the final passing of national health insurance legislation. I am candid enough to say that all parties in the Dominion of Canada have contributed to this happy event.
On the estimates of the Minister of National Health and Welfare last year I made some remarks, and I think all hon. members will recall that the hon. member for Winnipeg 82715-213i
Health Insurance
North Centre described what I said at that time as a provocative speech. Naturally I was trying to show that Premier Frost and the Ontario government were in the key position in Canada to make or break the success of this thing. Having said that most frankly at that time-and I think I was right when I said it-I should like to say right now that I think the enlightened Conservative premier of Ontario, Hon. Leslie Frost, has rendered a great national service in helping to break the log jam that had existed in regard to hospital insurance.
I am sure my hon. friends of the Social Credit party will agree with me to this extent, but they will also agree that I am not an indiscriminate admirer of all of the acts of the Social Credit government of British Columbia. However, at this time I want to pay my tribute to Premier Bennett and the Social Credit government of British Columbia for having been the first in Canada to come under this agreement, and thereby set an example for all the rest. That applies not only to Premier Bennett but to the Social Credit premier of Alberta, Mr. Manning, and the C.C.F. premier of Saskatchewan, my good and honourable friend Tommy Douglas; and last but not least in the line-up so far is that rather remarkable statesman, that ambidextrous politician, that man of many parts, Hon. Mr. Smallwood of Newfoundland, of whom we have heard much good already and of whom much more good will be heard before we are finished.

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