Mr. N. A. McLARTY (Essex West) moved:
That the following address be presented to His Excellency the Governor General, to offer the humble thanks of this house to His Excellency for the gracious speech which he has been pleased to make to both houses of parliament: namely,-*
To His Excellency the Right Honourable Baron Tweedsmuir of Elsfield, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour, Governor General and Commander in Chief of the Dominion of Canada.
May it Please Your Excellency:
We, His Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the House of Commons of Canada, in parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Excellency for the gracious speech which Your Excellency has addressed to both houses of parliament.
He said: The speech from the throne, sir, quite naturally makes reference to the advent of His Majesty to the throne of the British commonwealth of nations. May I add to these words, so expressive of our deep and abiding loyalty, a few words indicative of our good wishes to our sovereign lord King George VI and to Her gracious Majesty the Queen. May they long be spared to occupy with dignity and grace the throne of this the greatest of all commonwealths since the world began.
I feel, sir, that our thoughts with respect to the monarchy have been most aptly expressed by His Excellency, who two years ago said:
In the last two hundred years, while the throne has lost in definable powers it has gained in significance. It is not only highe'' than any other human estate but of a different kind from any other, for it is the mystical indivisible centre of national union. It is the point around which coheres the nation's sense of a continuing personality. In any deep stirring of heart, the people turn from the mechanism of government, which is their own handiwork and their servant, to that ancient abiding thing behind the government, which they feel to be a symbol of tb air best achievement and their future hope.
I should like at this time to express to the right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) my appreciation of the honour which he has conferred upon me in asking me to move this resolution this afternoon. I should like also to assure him and his colleagues that the good people of the constituency of
The Address-Mr. McLarty
Essex West, which I have the honour to represent, regard it as a definite recognition of the ' importance of that industrial portion of Canada.
This is the second occasion on which we have been honoured by an address from His Excellency. At the time of the last address he had been but recently appointed. We knew him, but we knew him much in the same way as he was known wherever the English language is spoken. Since that time he has visited most parts of Canada and has become acquainted with our people. His intellectual curiosity in every activity that comes within its sweep, is, in the height and swiftness of its quality, peculiarly his own. It has already applied itself to the sympathetic understanding of the problems and possibilities of nearly every one of the varied expressions of Canadian effort between the two great seas. It might be fairly said that Peter now knows the lobster industry; John S. Blenkiron could now operate a mine; Andrew Amos could drive a harvester; Dick Hannay could now ride the logs down the river, trap a wolf, put out a forest fire or run a paper mill; and Jacqueline Armine, with her staunch understanding and her reassuring smile, could help any troubled Canadian Adam to see his way through.
I believe I but express the unanimous opinion of this house when I say that the closer that acquaintanceship has become the more His Excellency and his gracious lady have risen in the esteem of the people of Canada.
I deem it a very special privilege to have the opportunity of being the first to welcome back to this country the right hon. the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bennett). It is a matter of congratulation not to him alone, or to this house alone, but to Canada, that he returns with his health fully restored and his accustomed force and vigour unabated. Since His Excellency prorogued this house last June the right hon. gentleman has, shall I say, surrounded the globe.
I believe it might 'be fairly said of him, as it was once said of the great Ulysses:
Much have I seen and known, cities of men, Manners, climates, councils, governments: Myself not least but honoured of them all.
May I suggest, sir, that it is a matter for gratification, in which the right hon. gentleman will share, that under the influence and direction of a wise and benign government Canada is rapidly returning to prosperity.
In moving this resolution this afternoon I feel that I have a simpler and more congenial as well as an easier task than fell to the lot
of those who have moved similar motions for some years past. I am inclined to think that when they referred to the progress and prosperity of the country they must have felt that they were discussing something hoped for but unseen. There is ample evidence on all sides to-day that we are emerging from the forest of depression. It would be unfair to suggest that the pathway is not obstructed by some entangling underbrush, but at least we have left the forest behind us.
The fact of this returning prosperity is evidenced everywhere. The prices of our primary products are constantly and consistently rising; the basic industry of agriculture, apart from those exigencies of nature which neither man nor government can control, is in a better position to be operated profitably than at any time during the last six years. The pulp and paper industry is producing at an unprecedented rate, and while the price of that commodity has not responded to the general upturn in demand, that can be expected within a reasonable time. The fishing industry is enjoying a better year than it has had for some time. The lumbering industry is pulsating with new life. The mining industry has in the last year contributed more to our national wealth than in any other year in our history. The manufacturing industry, the largest single contributor to our national wealth, contributed last, year over $1,400,000,000. the largest since 1929.
And, sir, I believe that the stimulation of our international trade has been the greatest contributory factor in this general uptrend of economic conditions. No matter how critical anyone may be of this government, he will at least admit that they have gone about the business of stimulating that trade with great enthusiasm and high ability. Since their coming into office they have concluded the trade agreement with the United States, they have concluded an agreement with Japan, they have completed a temporary agreement with Germany, they have secured a cancellation of the Soviet order of 1931 prohibiting imports from this country and the chartering of Canadian vessels. It was announced in the speech from the throne that the Minister of Trade and Commerce is now in active negotiations with our sister commonwealths of New Zealand and Australia, and I believe it will be welcome news to this house that negotiations have reached a point where the definite principles underlying the trade agreement with the United Kingdom have been settled and the agreement will be laid before us for consideration before the present session is concluded.
The Address-Mr. McLarty
I believe it is no exaggeration to say that never before in the 'history of Canada has there been such an intensive and well directed drive for the stimulation of our international trade as that made since this government took office.
What has been the result? The figures are so well known to members of this house that I hesitate to repeat them. But briefly, in the first eleven months of 1936 our imports grew from $511,000,000 to $582,000,000, an increase of 13-8 per cent. In the same period our exports grew from $759,000,000 to $928,000,000, an increase of 22-3 per cent, and the highest since 1929.
Now, sir, we shall be reminded that there has been a general upturn in world economic conditions and international trade, and that independently of and apart from anything this government might have done there would inevitably have been an improvement in our trade. There is some point in that argument. But would it not be equally reasonable to suggest that the realization of other countries as well that prosperity can best be brought about, not by damming up, but by opening the channels of trade, had something to do with that general economic upturn?
And, sir, the matter is not so easily disposed of by simply attributing it to a general economic uptrend. It will not be assumed that any international trade treaty will in one year, much less one month, do all the good that its proponents may claim or all the harm that its opponents may prophesy.
But Canada has two agreements which have now been in operation slightly over a year. At the last session of parliament it was announced that an amicable agreement had been arrived at with Japan. At the time it was suggested that the Canadian market would be flooded with Japanese goods. But what has happened? Our exports to Japan have increased by 33 per cent, and in addition our favourable trade balance with Japan has increased from $10,470,000 in 1935 to $13,990,000 in 1936.
The situation in regard to the Canada-United States trade agreement cannot be analyzed quite so simply. In a general way the articles which we export to the United States may be divided into four classes: (1) items not
affected by the agreement; (2) items bound free of duty; (3) items bound at a low rate of duty; (4) items subject to the reduction provided in the agreement. To those who suggest that the action of governments has little influence on trade, that as the wind bloweth where it listeth, so trade floweth where it listeth, an analysis of the figures in those four classes is illuminating.
Dealing with each class separately, our exports of items not affected by the agreement increased by only 1-2 per cent. Our exports of items bound free of duty increased by 18-3 per cent. Our exports of items bound at a low rate of duty increased 21-9 per cent, and our exports of items subject to reduction in the rate of duty increased 62-3 per cent. Bearing in mind the wide relative variation in our exports as between articles not affected by the agreement and those on which the reduction was secured, can anyone suggest that the results of that agreement during its first year of operation have not been beneficent?
Then there is another matter arising out of the agreement with the United States. The house will remember that one of the terms of the agreement provided that under certain definite regulations tourists visiting one country from another would be permitted to bring back $100 worth of goods free of duty. At that time apprehension was felt that our imports under this item would be so substantial that, especially at border points, they might be ruinous to the retail trade. In my own constituency, separated as it is from the United States by only a narrow river, and with splendid transriver facilities, that apprehension was necessarily present. But it has been found so far that the fear of harm which might result was greatly exaggerated. And when it is remembered that in the last year 2,700,000 tourists crossed into Canada at the port of Windsor alone, any loss that may have been sustained has I suggest been amply recouped by the increase in the tourist trade.
But, sir, there are two features of our economic uptrend that give cause for apprehension. The first is the condition of the building and construction industry. While there was a slight uptrend in that industry last year, namely three per cent, the amount of that increase is inconsiderable when we remember the severe and precipitous decline which that industry had sustained. It is remarkable that with the general upturn in all our major industries the building and construction industry alone has remained quiescent, like a painted ship upon a painted ocean.
There is another fact that must be clearly faced. While industry has been definitely improving, and while employment is definitely on the increase, the reduction in the number of unemployed and the number on relief has not been anything like proportionate. It is easy to explain this in a casual way by suggesting that a certain proportion of the unemployed are unemployable, or that a certain number come to an employable age
7'he Address-Mr. McLarty
each year. That is quite true, but that is not an ephemeral condition; it is continuous, and must be faced as a definite fact in our economic life.
And, sir, it is to the solution of these two questions that the national employment commission, appointed last May, has been directing its efforts and its energy.
In his address His Excellency refers to the work which has been undertaken as the result of the appointment of that commission. While the powers of that body are advisory it has obviously become an arm of the government in dealing with the most serious difficulty that still faces the government, that of employment. The personnel of the commission was announced last May, less than eight months ago. It was representative not only of the various geographical areas of Canada but also of the different branches of our industry. I believe the members were wisely and well chosen. It would be invidious to mention names, I know, but I would like to congratulate the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) and the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) upon securing the services of Mr. Arthur B. Purvis as chairman of that commission.
In ability and energy Mr. Purvis is unsurpassed in Canada. The sincerity of his purpose is testified to by the fact that, at his own request, his salary was fixed at SI per year. The company of which he is head I believe has come as close as, if not closer than, any other company in Canada in reaching that goal of making labour and capital co-partners in a common enterprise.
The commission, sir, has already recommended the farm employment plan, and the speech from the throne forecasts that another plan will be presented shortly which, with the cooperation of the provinces, will provide for the establishment of unemployed young people. It has been studying and in due course doubtless will make representations in connection with a long range program calculated to obviate the recurrence of the conditions which we have experienced in the last few years.
As an immediate aid to the building industry it has recommended-and the government has accepted its recommendation-the home improvement plan. That plan, as every member of this house knows, provides that to the extent of S50.000.000 the government will guarantee the lending institutions against loss, to the extent of 15 per cent, where the loans are made for the purpose of enabling the repair, improvement and rehabilitation of homes. It is directed primarily to putting
men back to work and to assisting the building trades.
The recommendation of the commission to the government probably was preceded by an investigation as to how a somewhat similar plan, adopted in the United States, had operated. To those who think that a very small stimulus would result from this measure, the results secured in the republic to the south are illuminating. There in June of 1934 President Roosevelt signed what is known as part 1 of the Federal Housing Act, providing for loans for purposes similar to those contemplated under the home improvement plan. In the United States that plan became operative about October of the same year. Up to the end of last month loans had been made under that plan in the United States to the number of 1,326,000, to an aggregate amount in excess of 8500,000,000. But, sir, that does not tell the whole story, for there were people who papered and painted and modernized and improved their homes for no other reason than that their neighbours were doing the same thing. The estimate made by the bankers' association of the United States, as to the private investment in repairs, improvements and rehabilitation of homes, was an additional amount of $1,750,000,000.
There were three very definite results of the experiment in the United States. I have referred first to the stimulation given private investment which makes the plan much wider and more effective than the mere announcement of loans totalling $50,000,000 would indicate. The ratio of stimulation in the United States is estimated at three and a half to one.
Another feature is the large percentage of money which finds its way to labour. The estimate of competent American authorities has been that eighty-five per cent of the money so spent finds its way to labour.
The third point, sir, is that it is continuous in its operation. It is not a plan that operates for only a month, six months or a year. May I quote from the bulletin of the federal housing administration, issued in July last, which sums up this idea in the following language:
Gradually developing from the influence of economic improvement it intensifies and sustains the improvement that caused it.
It can be readily seen, sir, that if the plan operates in Canada as well as it has operated in the United States, bearing in mind also the fact that we enjoy a much lower discount rate under this plan than they have in the United States, it will give a definite and effective stimulus to the building industry.
The Address-Mr. Veniot
The commission was kind, enough to recommend, and the government was good enough to accept the recommendation, that in the first instance this plan should be put into operation in Essex county. That was appreciated, sir, not only by the members from Essex county but by all those who saw in that gesture definite evidence of the government's desire to help the progress and prosperity of that important part of Canada.
Behind it all is this thought, that added confidence is given by the fact that the government has expressed its willingness to guarantee, even to a limited amount, loans for the purpose of repairing and modernizing the homes of its citizens. After all, sir, one of the primary functions of government is to promote the morale of the people.
There is one other matter mentioned in the speech from the throne which, because of its high humanitarian aspects, I believe will receive the unanimous approval not only of this house but of all the citizens of this country. I refer, sir, to the promised legislation to provide for pensions for the blind at a lower age than seventy years.
I have referred with pride to distinguished men in high places who, by doing their duty well, have helped this country through. May I, from my place here and at this time, pay my highest tribute to the undaunted spirit of the people of Canada, which is triumphing over all resistance-the hundreds of instances of industries carrying on for years at a loss to maintain their employees so that eventually all might survive; the thousands upon thousands of employees who divided their working hours with others and who, when their earnings were down, took barely a living wage so that things might carry on: the all too many tragic thousands who earnestly sought and are still earnestly seeking the opportunity to labour and to earn-I trust their seeking will be over long before the term of this parliament is run; the myriads of persons on the land who, at shrunken prices and with failing yields, in the face of drought and disaster, re-sowed their fields each spring and each spring looked hopefully once more to the skies to send the rain, all with a fortitude quite unsurpassed in any land in times of peace.
It is this stoutness of the heart, this determined integrity of the mind, this "ils ne passeront pas" of the soul, that will conquer all.
The rains may beat us and the great mists blind us,
The lightning rend the pine tree on the hill;
Yet are we strong and yet shall the morning find us
Children of tempest, all unshaken still.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: ADDRESS IN REPLY, MOVED BY MR. N. A. MCLARTY AND SECONDED BY MR. C. J. VENIOT