Mr. J. S. SINNOTT (Springfield):
Mr. Speaker, as I am a new member of this house this will be my maiden speech. I am the new member for Springfield, formerly represented by my late good friend Mr. John M. Turner, who had many friends in this house.
I wish at the outset to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, upon your elevation to the office of first commoner and I also wish you much pleasure in the position you now hold.
I speak here to-night for the first time and I do not intend to speak very long. I am a man of few words; I believe more in action. May I first of all congratulate the mover and the seconder of the address upon their admirable speeches, also their maiden speeches, in parliament, because they represent a large section of the armed forces. I am considerably moved and interested in the large number of members of the army, the navy and the air force who have been watching proceedings in this house from day to day, many of whom I presume left families and jobs to go over to the other side to protect dear ones at home. I am sure that this house will see to it that nothing we can do will be too good for those who have done such a magnificent job.
I believe it is my duty to say a few words about the constituency I have the honour to represent, which is considered to be one of the largest in Canada, containing one of
The Address-Mr. Sinnott
the most varied cross-sections of our population. In that constituency there are people from practically every part of the world and we all get along very well. At the western end we take in the suburbs of Winnipeg and a large part of the Red river valley market gardeners and small farmers. To the north there are large and small lakes where there is a large fishing industry, and centrally there are farm lands which are regarded as one of the surest crop districts in western Canada. Coming to the eastern portion adjoining Ontario, we have a large lumber industry, pulpwood and paper mills. The mines and natural resources of that part of the country have hardly yet been touched.
I join with other speakers in regard to the expansion of industry in the west. In war time we have shown our ability to produce munitions and supplies with as small an overhead as any other plant in Canada. We have the Winnipeg river which supplies an abundance of power to all Manitoba, and its capacity is only partly developed a.t the present time.
We have in Canada the means and the people to produce far more than we can consume, which will enable us to share a large portion of our surpluses with some countries that are not quite so fortunate. It was mentioned here a day or two ago that Canada should have a large immigration. In my opinion, we can take up the slack for a while, but we have in Canada to-day the ability to produce far more than we can consume, so that the only way in which we can make it work is to have a good deal of immigration.
I am one of the many to-day who know that the horse and buggy days are gone and gone forever. I believe in the Liberal party and in the members of this house who are here at this session and I believe that by working together we can bring about the necessary reform. Our Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King)-and I have every reason to believe him-has said that we can make laws only in accordance with the desires of the members the people send to parliament. There is no reason why we should have such criticism as we have had to listen to from the other side of the house, since the war is hardly over yet. God has given man brains and man has produced science and invention, and in this machine age we have seen what science and invention have caused in this world in the way of destruction. Let us hope that the same science and invention will do as much for sound construction in peace time.
As the representatives of the people of Canada, we shall be called' upon to perform tremendous tasks, unheard of and umthought of in the past, and described as nonsense by
some. We are told occasionally that we are up against a stone wall when we come up against the British North America Act. How* ever, I believe, as many other Canadians do, that if the British North America Act does not measure up to the requirements of the Canadian people to-day, the Liberal party and the members of this house have the ability to redraft it in order that the people may have the benefits they should enjoy.
There has been a good deal of talk about full employment, and there has been much criticism. Let us not forget that to-day we are in the. machinery age. At the time of confederation it took many days to get from the east coast to the Pacific coast. To-day you can have your breakfast in Halifax and be in Vancouver for supper. The machines of to-day have been so built that they will make life much easier for the working man if they are used properly. We know that at the end of hostilities, with our soldiers, sailors and airmen coming back, it will be hard to find positions for all. It will be necessary for the opposition in this house, including all groups opposite, to cooperate or we shall find ourselves in difficulties. I regret to say that in this machine age it will be impossible to find jobs for all our people. The only way we can serve the people properly is to put our machines to work and give those people who have no jobs a decent living. Let the machines do the work; that is what machines are for.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, let me say that it will be my endeavour to help the government in any possible manner, and to cooperate with all hon. members of this house to build a better, peaceful Canada.
Mr. PARK A. MANROSS (London): Mr. Speaker, I, too, am a new member of this house, although I do not know whether or not this will qualify as my maiden speech. Since the house opened a good many maiden speeches have been made, and some have been of such high quality that I think I shall require a little practice before I can qualify. I am a new member representing the- constituency of London, Ontario. I am not going to tell you that London is the greatest city in Canada, although that word has been used, or that it is the fairest city, or the gayest city. We are quite content to call it the best city.
The Address-Mr. Manross
In the first place, Mr. Speaker, let me compliment you upon being elected the chief commoner of this house. I think that was a wise choice, and as a new member I hope I may further my education in parliamentary matters by carefully watching your decisions and judgments. Then, as a veteran of the last war, I take great pleasure in congratulating the mover and seconder of the motion for an address in reply to the speech from the throne. It gave me a great deal of satisfaction to see that they were two young men, new members, from the armed services of this country.
One or two of the first speakers in this debate spent some little time in eulogizing their respective leaders. In advertising we sometimes call that "blowing up" our leaders. There are two interpretations of that phrase, and I am not going to deal with either one. The riding of London is an urban constituency. We have 175 subdivisions entirely within the city itself, so that it is a concentrated riding with a large population. We have a great deal of varied industry there, and it is the centre of a large agricultural district. Sometimes it is called the garden spot of Canada, but I am not going to emphasize that tonight, for I might get into an argument. I was interested yesterday to receive a London newspaper, in which I saw the picture of the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Abbott), who I am sorry is absent from his seat tonight. According to the newspaper he is going bo pay a visit to our city on Friday and Saturday. I do not know whether the minister is adopting the suggestion offered by my colleague the hon. member for Vancouver-Burrard (Mr. Merritt) that he visit the military districts and check up on the demobilization programme. Perhaps that is the purpose of his visit, because London is the headquarters of military district No. 1. Incidentally, on the same days there is a meeting in London of the western Ontario Liberal association, but probably that is just a coincidence. However, if the minister wishes to check up as to their demobilization I would say they are thoroughly demobilized, and very well rehabilitated, because our party made a gain of ten seats in that particular district.
The speech from the throne, which we are supposed to debate, cannot include everything the government is going to do, or that it is going to be advised to do, or that we can sell it into doing. It contains a general outline, which is purposely made broad in order that it may be varied. T think the speech from the throne has been pretty well covered by various members of our group, at least, but there are a few special points I should like to emphasize. The first point I wish to
bring up is not peculiar to my riding; it is of interest to the whole country. It has to do with the nurses who are serving in a Canadian military hospital at Sogel, Germany. These nurses enlisted in the army medical corps to take care of war casualties, but now that the war is over they have been sent to Sogel to look after people, mainly Polish and Russian, who are suffering from tuberculosis. These nurses do not object to this, and we do not object to it. It is a humanitarian act. But I wish the government would look into the situation and the conditions under which these nurses are working. The patients are under canvas, and the nurses are in huts, so-called, without any conveniences. The place is muddy. They perform their duties many hours of the day in rubber boots. Nothing has been done to control the fly or mosquito nuisances, with the result that the nurses work under considerable handicaps. Up until the end of August they did not get any butter, milk or eggs, such as the patients were getting. In the final analysis, while these nurses volunteered for service to our troops, they are doing this job quite nobly for the devastated people in Europe. I would ask the government to see to it that the nurses in question have better living or working conditions. I make this plea on behalf of the Canadian nurses some of whom are from my riding. However, what I have said covers all nurses who have gone overseas from Canada. Surely we should take steps to correct this situation.
Taxation was ably discussed this afternoon by my colleague the hon. member for Mus-koka-Ontario (Mr. Macdonnell) in a wonderful address. This is a big subject, and it will be discussed at greater length when the budget is before the house. However, it is well to give it some thought before the budget comes down, because it is often difficult to change a budget, once it has been presented to the house. While this is my first experience in the house as a member, it is not my first experience in dealing with budgets, having been on tariff committees on various occasions. To my knowledge, the only change any committee ever saw fit to make to a budget was to make an addition of the three words "and parts thereof'-and we thought that when we accomplished that we had done something. As outlined by my hon. friend, under a system of taxation one can take only so much from the people, and raise only so much by borrowing.
I certainly would be in favour of the plan advanced by the hon. member for Edmonton East (Mr. Ashby) which, boiled down to simple terms, means old age pensions for
The Address-Mr. Manross
young people. Well, I am content to settle for $100 a month at forty years of age; that is, if they will make it retroactive.
There are some nuisance taxes which do not amount to much and which I think the government would be well advised to abolish. This evening I shall refer to only one of them, a thing called a radio licence fee, or a radio tax at $2.50 a year. When the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was set up it patterned somewhat after the British Broadcasting Corporation. The committee which investigated the matter went to England, looked over the situation, and decided that the same set-up would be satisfactory in Canada. But they overlooked one thing, namely our geography.
England, as we know, is a country surrounded by water for many miles on each side. Beyond that water, before short-wave reception, the only stations they could get were foreign language stations, to which they did not listen. In Canada, however, the situation was entirely different. By the simple turning of a dial we could bring in all stations in the United States and get the big chain programmes. At that time the government decided to set up the corporation and to charge us $2.50 per set, so that we might enjoy the entertainment offered by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, without any advertising in it.
Well, most of us were willing to listen to a few soap operas, if we could get better comedians, with the result that we tuned in to United States stations. Later on, however, it was decided that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation would take advertising over its stations to help pay expenses. This made the broadcasting corporation in Canada a commercial venture. Now, I say it is either a commercial venture and as such should be on its own feet, or it should get out of the commercial picture, and let us pay for our entertainment.
This $2.50 is not a large amount to any individual who owns a radio set. The objection to it is the nuisance feature. You do not remember when your tax was last paid, with the result that some fellow in a uniform comes hammering on your door, and says to you, "Let me see your radio licence", and you are really sunk. Yes, you had forgotten about it. Of course you may have, it but you do not know where it is. I say this fee should be abolished.
There is another tax I should like to talk about because I am vitally interested in it, in fact, all the people in my riding and in all other ridings, the people in every city and town in Canada are interested, because these
plants are widely distributed. Against the industry I have in mind there has been discriminatory taxation for the past number of years. I refer to beverage plants-and hon. members need not start smiling, because it is not the kind of beverage they have in mind. I refer to the carbonated beverages, commonly known as soft drinks.
I think all hon. members have received briefs from their associations. I have investigated those briefs with considerable care, because I am in a position to know something about that industry, and I make the suggestion that some attention should be paid to their appeal for relief.
As it will be recalled, and as set out in the brief, when taxes were first brought down to raise money for the conduct of the war a twenty-five per cent tax was put on this industry, an industry which was built up on the five-cent piece, the same as those other industries offering chocolate bars, and all other commodities selling at a nickel. It was the only industry so taxed. The result was that the product had to sell at1 six cents while the others sold at five cents.
After considerable contact with the department and with the wartime prices and trade board, and also after communication with the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley), it was considered-probably through double talk-that this would be corrected in the next budget. But when the next budget was brought down it put a one-cent tax on everything else, including this industry. The result is that they are still discriminated against, and still have to sell their product at a price higher than is asked by their competitors.
I bring this matter to the attention of the house because they are in a precarious position, since sugar has been rationed to fifty per cent of the 1941 quota. The result has been that the volume of these factories has been cut in half, and they are left out on a limb. I am not contending that sugar should not be cut to fifty per cent. I believe, from the figures we saw in the hands of the wartime prices and trade board and the sugar administrator of Montreal that there is a scarcity of sugar. Whether or not this industry should be at the lowest point in the distribution of the amount available is a matter of opinion. We do not think it should. It is our view that this industry should have as much sugar as is allowed other sweet goods, wines and other lines which receive twenty per cent more.
In other words, the basic period for the rationing of food was 1941, and the wartime prices and trade board say that everything
The Address-Mr. Manross
shall be based on the basic period. Now they come along and give some industries more than others. In other words, they are telling the Canadian public that they did not live right in 1941, that they consumed the wrong goods, and that now they should eat more sweet cakes. Well, I do not think the wartime prices and trade board is well enough versed in nutrition to issue such an order.
The sugar shortage is a world condition, and is tied up with IINRiRA. Let us look at our own situation in western Ontario. Speaking for the city of London, let me point out that we have a large sugar beet producing area at our back door. In that area are two sugar refineries, one aA Wallaceburg and one at Chatham, Ontario. The one at Chatham has a capacity of 80.000.000 pounds a year. For three years it has been closed down for lack of sugar beets. That lack of sugar beets arose because of a lack of labour. Selective service has been appealed to, and labour was promised, but that labour did not come. Permission was asked to advertise for the labour over a period of months, and finally that permission was granted-but too late.
The Ontario government subsidized the growers to an extent of $1.55 a ton last year, up to $225,000, which helped considerably on the beet price situation. But the growers must know a year ahead how many beets they are going to put in. One cannot tell in the spring just what the situation will be. You cannot make arrangements in the spring for, let us say, 50 acres of beets, because you have to prepare more than a year ahead, and continue to rotate the crops. You cannot go out and produce sugar beets on such short notice, any more than you can go out and get a dozen pigs when you do not plan to raise any.
In connection with this sugar situation let me tell the house that at the present time three South American countries have over
800.000 tons of sugar, or about 1.600,000,000 pounds. We cannot get our hands on that sugar because of a pool or cartel, whatever you wish to call it. These three countries in South America will not knuckle down to this cartel policy. In a way we have sort of piously condemned this cartel, but then we have our external relations department with its good neighbour policy. Because of the cartel we say, "We will not buy your sugar," and then under the good neighbour policy we say, "We would like to buy it, but we cannot get it." It is just the same sort of double talk. So much for the sugar situation. The sugar beet growers need labour. They need a plan. They need action from the government. They should know how much help they should hire, how many acres they
should plant, what the price of beets is to be. They should be given a plan and then there will be relief for the sugar situation in Canada.
Quite a bit has been said about housing in this debate. I am not an authority on housing and I am not going to tell the government what to do. However, those who are trying to do that are not authorities either, and they cannot do it. When the Minister of Finance wanted to raise money during the war by means of victory loans he did not call in a bunch of carpenters to sell bonds. He went out and got bond
dealers and insurance salesmen and they organized probably the best bond selling or investment selling organization that ever existed in any country. He got the men who knew how. I know that all hon. members worked on the victory loans in whatever capacities they possessed, whether it was in a desk or outside job, speaking or ringing doorbells.
In the building of houses the same thing should apply. The government should get the people with the know-how. Get the contractors and the builders; provide them with the necessary materials; make it possible for them to get the necessary finances and they will build the required houses. I am not condemning the bureaucrats or controllers, whatever name you want to call them-you cannot call them as bad a name sometimes as you would like-because I think we collected the best group of men that we could get quickly who were out of work-I beg your pardon, I mean men who were out of essential war work. We put them on these jobs as controllers.
However, the emergency is over. Let us look at some of these miracle men who are still on the job. In my district we have a tailor who is conttroller of honey. I was a member of an association of those using small steel parts in connection with domestic production during the war. A controller of steel closures was appointed. Steel closures are made by a multiple production stamping process. After a couple of meetings with this controller I began to wonder what knowledge he had of this business and I asked him, "What did you do before you took this job?" He said, "I was secretary of a horticultural society." I think the only idea of closures that existed in his mind was the fact that a morning glory closes in the night.
As further evidence of the fact that men are being used who are not fitted for their job, may I say that I noticed in a western Ontario paper this week that a production manager of a company who had been receiving a large
The Address-Mr. Manross
salary had toppled over about two months ago with a heart spell and had had to retire. It was a candy business with which he was connected but he has now been made shelter administrator for the emergency. The only thing he ever made that looked like anything connected with a house was candy which looks like a door-knob.
If we continue with this policy of not putting men with the know-how in the right jobs I am afraid that what will come about will be what was perhaps inadvertently stated by the hon. member for Shelburne-Yarmouth-CIare (Mr. Baker) who said, as reported at page 97 of Hansard, that our men will eventually be properly rehabilitated. Eventually is not good enough; we have to have it now. These men have been overseas; they have married; they have come back and they have no place to go. They are living in barracks, old sheds; they are living three and four families in a hovel. Eventually is not good enough. Unless the Minister of Reconstruction (Mr. Howe) does not take better action than he has indicated he is taking we shall not have the houses to take care of these families and with the cold weather we shall be facing a serious situation. So much for controls, although I could give the house more examples.
There is one other thing I would point out to the Minister of Reconstruction and probably the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Abbott). I have not been here long enough to be sufficiently conversant with just what each minister has under his control. Some of the ministers have been here much longer, but I noticed this afternoon that the Minister of Finance looked over to another minister and said, "Is that mine or is that yours?" As a new member, who am I to say anything?
But there is one thing I should like to point out in connection with which every minister has a responsibility. This has probably been mentioned before in this debate. There are a lot of government buildings around the country which were rented by the Department of National Defence. I have a long wire, which I am not going to read, about one in London in my riding. This building was rented by the Department of National Defence and justly so because they needed the space. The firm moved out to smaller quarters because their business had been cut down by virtue of war curtailments. But they want to get back to their building. Considerable alterations will have to be made because the Department of National Defence changed it to suit their needs. At the present time it is filled with goods in dead storage, things that are not being used and that will probably be turned over to the War Assets Corporation.
There are many buildings in western Ontario which have been rented on that basis and the people want to get them back. It seems almost impossible for them to get a straight yes or no. This company states that they now employ thirty men but that as soon as they get their building they will employ eighty men. They state that they want to help rehabilitate the boys coming back. That is the situation and I think the departments concerned could well look into it to see that these civilian buildings are turned back to the owners. This should be done even if the leases have not run out. They need not pay for them, although I am not concerned about the rent. I am concerned simply with getting these buildings back into production so that we can employ our veterans who are getting out of the armed services.
There has been some talk or rumour of a national registration. I hope that is not so because that is simply another control. If it were so I would be ready to wax eloquent for a long time about it. In case it is in the government's mind I should like to say something about it. A national registration was taken in 1940. The plausible story told us at that time was that it was to get track of our man-power in order to see what they could do and what they could not do. The government wanted a sort of identification system. It started out very well; it cost a lot of money, but I do not think the cost was too great if it had done the job it was intended to do. We found out afterwards that it did not work. It was found that it would take a lot of courage to make it work and the government did not have the courage. They lost their courage and they also lost their director of selective service.
While national registration had that purpose in mind it really did not work. When the national selective service came to your factory and said, "We want some men for Central Aircraft," or some other war plant, no attention was paid to the registration cards. The employer made a list of the men and what work they were doing and that is what was used. They did not use the registration cards any more than to know that when you sent Bill Jones over to selective service it was really Bill Jones and not Sam Miller. I think the purpose of the registration card is over, although, of course, various governments still use the backs of them, and I will soon have to have a new one myself. I do not think it is the function of the federal government to supply a system of identification cards or kind of human dog-tag to help provincial governments set up their liquor business or to be used in connection with ration cards. I do not think we should take the taxpayers' money to carry on this national registration.
The Address-Mr. Herridge
There is another fact I should like to mention before I sit down. Practically two hundred seats in this house are represented by hon. gentlemen, whether sitting on this side of the house or the other, who were elected on various platforms, but there was one thing common to them that stood out, and that was that all of them were against mass regimentation. The way to count the votes is not to count just the votes your party got but also the votes for the party apposing you that was also against mass regimentation. In my riding there were about 34,000 votes, and about 30,000 of them were against regimentation; that is, they were split between the government side and our side. So I would say that the public have given the government a mandate, and given this group a mandate, on the basis of no regimentation, and we should always bear in mind that having this mandate we cannot represent our people and regiment them.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OP DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY