I am sure they brought honour to themselves, their constituents and their party. As a matter of fact, when I heard the hon. member for Northumberland extolling the beauty and charm of her constituency I thought that her constituents could argue with equal force about the beauty and charm of their member.
I should also like to extend my congratulations to the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson) and his colleagues on having earned the right to be invited to form a government. When I look at the cabinet, with some notable exceptions it seems to me like an old timers reunion of the Liberal party. Most of the cabinet is made up of members of the former Liberal administration, along with former civil servants and economic advisers to the St. Laurent government. But I want to compliment them on the efficiency which they have already displayed in the dispatch of business, and to express the hope that they will not have competence without compassion, that we will not see efficiency without vision,
the kind of vision that we need in the situation in which Canada finds itself at the present time.
Mr. Speaker, I think the one fact which is paramount is that the people of Canada want this to be a parliament that gets things done. This country is beset by deep rooted problems and there is little to be gained from arguing as to whose responsibility it is for these problems. There is nothing to be gained by mutual recriminations from both sides of the house. The child is on our doorstep; there is little value in arguing about who has the paternal responsibility. We all have a responsibility at this time to meet the situation which confronts us. The opposition parties, in my view, have a responsibility to refrain from all forms of frivolous obstruction and to give the government a chance to bring down its program for economic recovery.
I submit, on the other hand, that the government has a responsibility to tackle the problems which confront it with dispatch and to refrain from making any major policy decisions without reference to parliament. I think the people of Canada as a whole want a respite from elections; but the onus for that lies on both sides of the house. The members of the New Democratic party in this house are prepared to give the government a chance to carry out its domestic program for economic recovery, but on the other hand we expect the government to consult parliament rather than treating it with contempt. We can have in this country a period of stable government only if there is a degree, a high degree, of co-operation from all parties in this house.
Mr. Speaker, may I now say a word about the speech from the throne. This is a document of lights and shadows. Some of the proposals could prove very beneficial. I refer to the municipal development and loan board, the department of industry and the area development agency which will be created within that department, the Canada development corporation, the economic council and the contributory pension plan, all of which are mentioned in the speech from the throne. The value of these measures will depend on the terms of the legislation and whether these proposals are part of a planned assault upon our economic problems or merely a hit and miss set of proposals attempting to patch up a creaking economy.
We in the New Democratic party do not believe that this government, any more than its predecessor, is prepared to undertake the fundamental changes or adopt the far reaching policies which are necessary to make our economy function satisfactorily. May I just
give two brief illustrations. Mention was made today of the rate of economic growth. The rate of economic growth is not like a hockey score; it is not an end in itself. Increased growth is only meaningful if it contributes to the two vital goals of full employment and a higher standard of living for all Canadians. The year 1962 demonstrated that we can have an increase in the gross national product without a corresponding increase in employment. The increase in that year was largely in the extraction industries which do not have a high employment ratio. Consequently, we had an increase in the gross national product but there was no corresponding decline in unemployment.
May I put forward another illustration-the matter of investment funds with which some of this legislation is concerned? Increased investment funds alone are not a solution. Over the period when investment was declining, business savings in Canada actually increased by 4 per cent. If the problem had been a lack of funds, surely the business community would have dipped into its reserves. Last year, in constant dollars, business investment increased by 4.8 per cent but in the same period gross business savings increased by 7.1 per cent. It is therefore apparent that the business community felt that present plant and machinery were adequate to meet the current demand for goods and services.
The great lack, is not just in terms of economic growth, is not just in terms of funds for investment-though these are important factors in our economy-it is the inability of large sections of our population to buy the goods and services which our economy is capable of producing. It is estimated that there is a gap of some $2.5 billions between what our economy is capable of producing and what the people of this country are able to buy. That is why we in this group have constantly advocated two measures, the first of which is that there must be massive doses of social capital injected into the economy. To my mind this is where the speech from the throne falls down. The municipal development and loan board will be some help in giving social capital to the municipalities, but what we need in addition are large scale public works by both federal and provincial governments. We need home construction on a gigantic scale. The unemployed should not be asked to wait until the effects of long run measures have found jobs for them. There are things which could be done now and things which must be done now if unemployed people are to be put to work.
The second thing we advocate is an increase in social security measures as one of the means of distributing purchasing power. Social security measures are not a luxury to
The Address-Mr. Douglas be enjoyed after economic recovery. They are an integral and indispensable part of economic recovery. During the election campaign the Prime Minister spoke of welfare measures and health measures taking second place to economic recovery. We believe there can be no effective economic recovery or economic stability until purchasing power is restored to those sections of our population which have only a limited capacity to consume. An increased effective demand on the part of the lower and middle income groups is indispensable to economic growth and a full employment economy. If the government continues to retain the idea of getting ever closer to a balanced budget as the pivot of its economic policy it will not be able to do either of these two things. The government is facing a dilemma. If it carries out its preelection talk about a balanced budget it will not be able to provide the social capital or the welfare measures necessary for economic recovery. It will have to make up its mind in the course of this and the other sessions of the present parliament whether it intends to adopt modern economic policies or whether it is going to worship the golden calf of a balanced budget. Today, a balanced budget is not essential. The essential thing is to balance consumption and production.
May I briefly mention some of the omissions from the speech from the throne? I have already noted that there is no reference to a short run program for providing jobs. There are in the neighbourhood of half a million persons unemployed in this country who are looking to this parliament to provide jobs. There is nothing in the speech from the throne which gives immediate hope that these jobs will be forthcoming in the months ahead.
There is no mention in the speech from the throne of a comprehensive health insurance program. I can recall in my own constituency of Burnaby-Coquitlam the Liberal candidate, Mr. Tom Kent, saying that the New Democratic party promised to pay 60 per cent of the cost to any province which would establish a comprehensive medicare program but that a Liberal government would not wait for the provinces to act but would bring in a medicare program of its own. In a television debate in which he and I participated he said this would be done in the first 60 days. It is true there was a slip of the tongue; he said "in the first 60 years" but he quickly corrected himself. Some people suspected that the Freudian slip was more accurate than the correction. However, the people of Canada will want to know during the course of this debate whether or not the government is serious about the medicare program promised in the course of the election campaign.
The Address-Mr. Douglas
There is no mention in the speech of a two price system for wheat guaranteeting the farmers $2 a bushel for the wheat they deliver. Today, when I sought an answer to that question, the Prime Minister said it was a matter of government policy which would be announced in due course. The fact remains that the Prime Minister made this promise definitely to the people of western Canada. The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix on March 7 carried a full banner headline quoting him as saying that the Liberal party was pledged to a two price system and a $2 guaranteed price. Certainly I hope the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Hays) or the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Sharp) will make a statement on the subject during the course of this debate.
There is no mention of the 10,000 scholarships of $1,000 each of which the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources (Mr. Laing) spoke in an article which appeared in the Toronto Star on May 1, and there is no statement on the pressing problem of railway line abandonment which is causing so much concern to the people of the prairies. I recall that only a few months ago the Liberal members, when they sat on this side of the house, were screaming for action. But the speech from the throne is as silent as the tomb about what the government intends to do concerning this large scale railway line abandonment being planned by the two major railway companies in Canada which will mean the uprooting of three or four thousand miles of railway line with all that this implies for the people who live in the communities affected and the farms which produce in those areas.
It is my intention to move a subamendment to the speech from the throne but I do not want to start on that before tomorrow, if that
would meet the pleasure of the house. If I have the consent of the house, I should like to move that the debate be adjourned and to call it ten o'clock.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY