March 31, 1932 (17th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Jean-François Pouliot



Mr. Chairman, may I ask the hon. Minister of Labour, first, what is the number of white collar unemployed in this

country; second, what he intends to do for their relief? He does not answer. Is he asleep? The previous Minister of Labour (Senator Robertson) had powerful brains in a fragile body, but his successor (Mr. Gordon) is his antithesis. On one occasion Paul Bourget received one of his colleagues of the French Academy and put him up for the night. The next morning he knocked at his guest's door at nine o'clock and was answered sharply: "Don't disturb me, I am working." At eleven thirty he knocked again, and receiving no answer opened the door, when he found his guest snoring gently. He said, "Ah, my friend, you are over-working yourself." Another gentleman, a former provincial minister afterwards a member of the federal government, was attending a dinner with a person having the serious looks of the Minister of Labour, a guest was asked by a friend, "I wonder what that most serious man is thinking about?" The reply came, "Don't worry. He is thinking about nothing!"
I am weary of hearing the Prime Minister repeatedly saying he and his colleagues are working twenty hours a day. Of course, it may be all right so far as the Prime Minister is concerned, for it may be taken as a form of punishment for his having centred upon himself public opinion during the last election when from every platform throughout the country he declared, "I will do this, I will do that for you." It was reoeated everywhere. But I do not think the Prime Minister should complain. There are ten million people in this country. Suppose two million of these are electors. Well, if each one of those electors wrote to the Prime Minister for information about something, asking, for instance, who was the Minister of Labour, he would receive two million letters a year-a large number. The Prime Minister is the most decent of men. But the working hours of the ministers cannot differ greatly from what they were when the Liberals were in power. I never heard my leader when he was Prime Minister saying anything about working [DOT]twenty hours a day. He was simply following the example of his great predecessor, Laurier. Sir Wilfrid was astir early in the morning, from eight thirty to nine thirty he dictated correspondence to his private secretary, then he proceeded to the east block to receive callers, at eleven o'clock attended council, at three o'clock he was in the house, and at night he also attended here.
I am getting tired of this humbug about ministers overworking. They are working so much that no one knows what they are really doing-they are always at work. There are

Unemployment Continuance Act
many persons who might come to the help of my hon. friend the Prime Minister. It is a very good thing to keep their minds busy because then they have no time for wicked thoughts albout putting people out of work.
Let us take the ministers one by one, and first we will consider my genial friend the Minister of National Revenue (Mr. Ryck-man). He knows we like him and he does very well as a minister. I congratulate him, but he has less work than his predecessors had, because Canadian imports have decreased. If he has more work it is because he increases the tariff either over his own signature or by orders in council, and he is wrong in doing that. I should like to spare him that sort of work. If he did pot do that he would have enough time in which to come to the assistance of the dumb Minister of Labour.
Now let us take my genial friend the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Murphy). He knows we like him also, but he has not as much work as my hon. friend from West Edmonton (Mr. Stewart) had when he was Minister of the Interior, because then the federal government had control of the natural resources of the west. Now these have been handed over to the provinces, and my hon. friend has more time at his disposal. If he has not more time it is because he is bothered by callers who wish to be appointed Indian agents or something of that kind.
Now let us take my good friend the new Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes). I congratulate him upon the fact that the Prime Minister has selected him as his adviser in financial matters. That is a great compliment to my hon. friend, and I am sure he will do very well. But with the revenue of the country falling he has much less to look after. I know he has a good deal of work in looking after conversion loans and that sort of thing, but that is because of the condition of the country. He has less to do than Mr. Robb had, for instance, or than Mr. Dunning had. He might have some time in which to come to the assistance of our silent friend the Minister of Labour.
Then there is my genial friend the Postmaster General (Mr. Sauve). He is doing very well ; he increased the stamp tax so that now we pay three cents instead of two for a letter. But he is doing very well, except when he is dismissing postmasters. He wastes too much time listening to the complaints of sour-mouthed defeated candidates who want postmasters all over the country dismissed for this and that reason. If he looked after the general administration of his department, without wasting time in dismissing so
many good people, he would not be obliged to work twenty hours a day. He might do his work in eight hours, and in the twelve hours saved he might come to the assistance of the Minister of Labour.
Then there is my good friend the Minister of Marine (Mr. Duranleau). I think he does very well as a minister, and that is the best answer to the argument raised by himself and his colleague the Postmaster General when they were in the Quebec assembly. Then they complained of the fact that the Minister of Labour was a lawyer and not a working man, but here we have them sitting in council next to a lawyer who is Minister of Labour. I must not forget my friend the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Stewart), who is doing very well also. I have said that to him very often, and I am in earnest.

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