February 28, 1928 (16th Parliament, 2nd Session)


James Malcolm (Minister of Trade and Commerce)


Hon. JAMES MALCOLM (Minister of Trade and Commerce):

In spite of the remarks of my hon. friend from Southeast Grey (Miss Macphail), in which she expresses an unfavourable opinion of this year's budget, I am glad to be able to compliment my colleague, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb) on the statement of Canada's business which he has presented for this year. It is but a reflection of favourable editorial comment which has appeared in the Canadian press from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and I believe, in spite of everything that has been said by hon. gentlemen opposite, that every man in this house realizes that we in Canada have readjusted our finances and re-established our national credit in a manner more satisfactory and more complimentary to us, since the war, than has any other nation in the world. What percentage of this credit is due to the self-reliance and industry of our people, what percentage to the acts of a benign Providence and what to the actions of the government seems, however, to be a matter for debate. But I think that anyone who has read the statements of leaders of finance and industry, or who has studied the Canadian figures of production, both agricultural and industrial, will admit that we in Canada since the war have as a people done some very remarkable things.
Some hon. gentlemen, speaking on the budget, appear to be unable to comprehend the national sentiment that prevails in this country. Probably they are too close to the accomplishments of the last five years; they are like the men who cannot see the woods for the trees. Let me place on record a comment made by a disinterested observer, a man with a great deal of knowledge of the affairs of the world. Mr. Marcosson, writing in the Saturday Evening Post, used the following words: *
Equally provocative of comment is the existing Canadian prosperity; the tides of Dominion internal and external trade were never quite so high or the national bank roll of Canada so securely entrenched. All the costly economic hangover of war is completely out of the Canadian system; the country faces an era of unprecedented development.
That comment coming from such a disinterested observer is worthy of a great deal of consideration in this Dominion.
It is a remarkable fact, Mr. Speaker, that each successive budget since 1922 has been met by hon. gentlemen opposite with the statement

The Budget-Mr. Malcolm
that the industrial life of Canada is facing ruin and that the budget under discussion will complete that ruin. Unemployment has always been cited in this house as an evidence of the lack of appreciation of industry by the government-this government always has been accused by hon. gentlemen opposite of being unwilling to consider the unemployment of labour in Canada. To me it is very difficult to explain, except for one particular reason. Our estimated population in 1914 was about 7,693,000; fourteen years later, in 1928, our estimated population is about 9,519,000, or an increase of practically 2,000,000 in the population of this country during a period of fourteen years. Yet we are told that Canada is not growing.
That population has been absorbed, Mr. Speaker. The figures of employment in industry show a remarkable increase, and yet hon. gentlemen opposite are quite honest in their expressions of opinion, and those expressions of opinion can find some unemployment figures to support them. In this Dominion we have at the present time tens of thousands of artisans and sailors who are out of work, and who are not worrying about it. They expected to be out of work; they made provision for it, and now they are getting ready to resume their spring operations. These men are not now and never have been a problem of employment in Canada. I come from a district in western Ontario where every town has its full quota of sailors who are now enjoying our Canadian winter sports, having fully expected to take a two months' holiday in the winter before starting work again in the spring. In addition to these men, however, we always have the newcomer; we always have had him and always will have him. He is a man who in many cases has not adjusted himself to the fact that in Canada many occupations are seasonal, and he is an ever present problem for municipal and provincial governments. Until such time as he realizes that his occupation is seasonal and that during nine or ten months of work he must make provision for the remainder of the year he will always say that Canada cannot produce enough jobs to take up the entire twelve months. That is something which we must admit in this country.
Now I want to speak of this question of unemployment from another angle, and first I would like to read a statement from the industrial employment bureau;
There was a very noticeable decrease in employment in the textile industry. A seasonal curtailment was reported in the boot and shoe industry and many of these factories are operating on part-time schedules. Operations in several lumbering sections of the country were
greatly curtailed during the past thirty days, and a large surplus of this class of labour was reported.
Hon. gentlemen might consider that a very unsatisfactory state of affairs, and probably it is, but this statement does not deal with conditions in Canada; it is issued from Washington and covers conditions in the great republic to our south. They also suffer there from this same problem of seasonal employment. While hon. gentlemen opposite may discuss unemployment in Canada, as they have a perfect right to do and in connection with which they have reasonable figures, and while it must be admitted t-hat there is a certain amount of unemployment in cities like Toronto, Winnipeg and Montreal, yet one has but to read the industrial press of the United States to learn that of the 42,000,000 workers in that country to-day 4,000,000 are unemployed, or 10 per cent of the total. That is admitted by the statisticians at Washington and by the leaders of the trades unions. The condition in Canada is entirely due to seasonal employment, and does not in any way reflect a condition comparable with that existing in the United States.
In this connection I would like to place a few figures on record. In 1921 the unemployment in the Dominion of Canada, not from the figures of the government but from those of the trades and labour coucils, represented 12.7 per cent of their total membership. By 1927, however, we find that we have absorbed those newcomers to our country so well that the percentage has gone down to 4.9.

Full View