Arthur LAING

LAING, The Hon. Arthur, P.C., B.S.A.

Personal Data

Vancouver South (British Columbia)
Birth Date
September 9, 1904
Deceased Date
February 13, 1975
businessman, manager, public affairs executive

Parliamentary Career

June 27, 1949 - April 30, 1953
  Vancouver South (British Columbia)
June 18, 1962 - February 6, 1963
  Vancouver South (British Columbia)
April 8, 1963 - September 8, 1965
  Vancouver South (British Columbia)
  • Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources (April 22, 1963 - September 30, 1966)
November 8, 1965 - April 23, 1968
  Vancouver South (British Columbia)
  • Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources (April 22, 1963 - September 30, 1966)
  • Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (October 1, 1966 - April 19, 1968)
  • Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (April 20, 1968 - July 5, 1968)
June 25, 1968 - September 1, 1972
  Vancouver South (British Columbia)
  • Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (April 20, 1968 - July 5, 1968)
  • Minister of Public Works (July 6, 1968 - January 27, 1972)
  • Minister of Veterans Affairs (January 28, 1972 - November 26, 1972)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 502 of 502)

September 29, 1949

Mr. Laing:

Yes, I know, railroads-where a particular packing plant in the province of British Columbia would be in a position to offer its men higher wages than a packing plant in another section of Canada. Owing to the inability of the plant where profits are not so high to meet this demand, that plant would hold out against the payment of higher wages and thus prevent the payment of higher wages in the plant prepared to grant them. I believe there is a good deal of advantage in leaving the packing plants on a basis of locality.

In the future, I believe we shall have to provide a new formula for public utilities because I doubt very much if the attitude of many public utilities today is in the public interest when they operate on a cost plus basis and say to the public, "We require more money because we can prove we have spent that money". This bill would probably harm those people it is intended to assist. I believe it would lead to a tremendous amount of confusion in a province where, in the plants which I have enumerated in my riding, they would still be subject to provincial regulations in industrial relations. The plants involved account for a considerable portion of our supply. We shall be wise indeed, particularly in respect to food, if we permit the widest possible play of economic and competitive forces. I doubt very much if this bill is designed to ensure that in the future.

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September 16, 1949

Mr. Arthur Laing (Vancouver South):

Mr. Speaker, my first words in this parliament will be to express thanks and appreciation to the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and his colleagues for having given me the distinctive honour of seconding the motion for an address in reply to the speech delivered most graciously yesterday by His Excellency the Governor General. I shall be ever mindful that this honour-and, Mr. Speaker, at the moment for me, this tremendous responsibility-is far less a tribute to myself than a tribute to the beautiful province from which I come, and to the people of my riding of Vancouver South.

It is most appropriate that, coming as I do from our most westerly province, I should take this opportunity of welcoming to the parliament of Canada the elected representatives of that great and beautiful province of Newfoundland. I do so in the hope and confidence that they will be happy here and that the province will grow and develop in the atmosphere of freedom and equality that is characteristic of the Canadian family.

This new parliament of Canada chose yesterday a Speaker to preside over its deliberations. Under our parliamentary system the Speaker is not only the first commoner, but is responsible for the preservation of the dignity of parliament as a whole. It was my privilege in the past to have known Mr. Speaker as the hon. member for Brantford City, and from the impressions then gained of his graciousness, wide understanding and deep sincerity, there was no surprise when yesterday his elevation to the# speakership was acclaimed in all parts of the house.

To the hon. member for Nicolet-Yamaska (Mr. Boisvert), who has had the senior honour of moving this address, I tender my heartiest congratulations upon his splendid presentation today, tempered and qualified by the envy that is mine at the immense facility with which he used both our great tongues. He is to be congratulated also because he and his riding became the spearhead of the Quebec campaign which resulted on June 27

in an almost unanimous endorsation in his province of the policies of this government and its leader.

It is my good fortune to be among the first in this house to express congratulations to the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and the members of his government upon the unprecedented success of June 27. Many opinions have been given and more will be heard to explain this victory, which is unparalleled in the parliamentary history of this nation. All words will fail, as my words now will fail, to put in proper perspective the supreme position occupied by the Prime Minister, who came to the service of this country upon the tragic and untimely death of another of Canada's giants.

He served with great distinction, first as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and later as Canada's first Secretary of State for External Affairs. In this latter position he carried Canada's stature and respect among nations to new and impressive heights. On August 7, 1948, he was called to the leadership of the Liberal party by the widest support a national leader had ever received from delegates from all parts of Canada. His record in government had been excellent and indeed the history of all the departments of government he headed has been highly acceptable to the people of Canada. But neither his departmental record nor the general attestation of his government would have availed in such a victory without the monumental characteristics of leadership which he personally displayed.

The Canadian electorate prefers character to incandescence. The Canada-wide tour of the Prime Minister was a personal victory unequalled in the history of Canada, and reminiscent Canadians are called to remember in that connection the great personal magnetism of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. I find it impossible to pay a higher tribute to my leader than to say that the pathway to this House of Commons for so many members who have come here for the first time was the solid foundation of his integrity.

When 1 refer to our Prime Minister it is easy for me to recall our leader of another day who across the years was the engineer and architect of so much of the road by which we have so safely come. His absence from this parliament will be keenly felt after a distinguished public service dating from 1908. I am of the thought that the senior members of this house will think that the house is not the same without the presence and counsel of the Right Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King. Hon. members in all parts of the house will rejoice with me that Providence has vouchsafed to him a continuing and even improving

The Address-Mr. Laing health so that he may further benefit the people of this country by putting on permanent record details of the events and the challenges of the tempestuous days in which it was his privilege to serve.

As a British Columbian it is my great pleasure to say a word in merited praise of the minister from my province (Mr. Mayhew). His untiring efforts on behalf of his department in all the provinces of Canada, his zeal for the affairs of people as they are touched by federal policies in all parts of the country, his efficiency and deep integrity of purpose, have endeared him to our people and have greatly enhanced the standard of public service in our country.

We who come to this parliament for the first time from our most westerly province wish to pay our respects to the senior and continuing members from British Columbia who at all times have shown fidelity and diligence in the discharge of their public duties. Permit me to compliment the senior members in all parts of the house who have returned to this high office in the gift of the people. What a remarkable commentary upon personal service and what reassuring evidence of public gratitude it is when in this twenty-first parliament of Canada we can welcome one, in the person of the distinguistied hon. member for Quebec South (Mr. Power), who without interruption throughout the years has been a member since the thirteenth parliament. I note that in this parliament we have among us one who first came to the house in 1911.

I should like to express our sorrow at the death of the late Right Hon. Ian Alistair Mackenzie, who had been appointed a senator from British Columbia. We were proud of his life and accomplishments, and we deeply regret his passing. His was a distinguished public service, first in the provincial field and then in the wider sphere of federal affairs. His memorial, more enduring than bronze, is the veterans charter of Canada; his supreme eulogy the deep and abiding friendships which he made. No higher tribute can be paid to our country and to the opportunities it offers for those of ability and perseverance than the story of this Scots immigrant lad who forged to the very forefront in his people's regard.

It is the happy privilege of those who participate in this address to say a few words concerning their own provinces. Our beautiful province of British Columbia is enjoying an era of vast expansion. Industrial development and an equable climate have focused the eyes of all Canada upon our Pacific

The Address-Mr. Laing shores. Our population has more than doubled since 1931 and the increase since 1941 has been estimated at 400,000.

We have tremendous wealth in forests, mines and fisheries and all three industries, spurred both by demand for their products and by technological advances, have enjoyed great growth. Our agriculture is both unique and important in its diversification. Soft open winters in the coastal areas are ideal for dairying and the overwintering of many seed crops. In our central and northern sections, altitude and latitude combine to produce disease-free seeds of great vitality which command a ready export market as yet not fully exploited.

In the Okanagan valley particularly, where irrigation water is the farmers' gold, but also in the Kootenays, we have established a tree fruit industry and a marketing service whose products, for quality and pack, have become the standard by which all others, imported and domestic, are judged.

Our agriculture is intensive. Hon. members who come from agricultural ridings will catch the importance of my words when I remind them that we have dairy farms in the province of British Columbia where the municipal tax alone is $8 per acre, and in some places irrigation has now reached a cost of $25 per acre; but, as if to make up for these costs, our production is exceedingly high. Local production figures have been recorded in recent years, as to potatoes, of over 1,000 bushels per acre; oats, 150 bushels per acre; and apples, 1,800 bushels per acre. Our provincial government has embarked upon a program of expansion of the industrial and communication services into our hinterlands. Ours Is a province in which communication is arduous and costly. The recent announcement of the Prime Minister of his intention to recommend to parliament certain assistance in the extension of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway from Quesnel to Prince George has earned the gratitude of the people of the province of British Columbia.

Our people will rejoice that legislation is being introduced to facilitate, in co-operation with the provinces, the construction of a trans-Canada highway. Nothing so much as a broad highway connecting us will supplement those sentimental threads and economic cords that bind our provinces together.

British Columbia is a province of surpassing grandeur. Our northern park lands, our deep, rich valleys, our lakes and tumultuous waterways, our deeply indented seashores, which combine the qualities of the Mediterranean and the Norwegian fjords, are becoming the mecca of many thousands of tourists.

Tourist visitors to the province of British Columbia from outside Canada are expected this year to exceed the total population within the province. If we had opposite us the great congested cities of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit, it might well be that the tourist traffic in British Columbia would be our first industry.

We are beginning to see now that what we thought once was our great drawback is in reality one of our greatest assets. Ranges of snowclad mountains feed rushing waters through tortuous and narrow defiles to the sea, to give us the second greatest potential of electric energy in all the provinces of Canada. Vast established industries are looking toward us for sites where low-cost power and all-year shipping facilities provide ideal conditions for manufacturing.

Our blessings have come not unmixed. Indiscriminate development of water power could jeopardize our famous salmon industry, because the upper reaches of our rivers provide spawning grounds for the salmon which create this immense source of wealth. In this connection the superb contribution being made by the engineers and biologists under the direction of the international Pacific salmon fisheries commission should be duly noted and appreciated.

The influx of new citizens has created in all our major centres a demand for housing which, though per capita we have built more houses than any other area of Canada, still greatly outstrips the supply. The people of British Columbia will welcome the announcement that legislation is to be introduced to accelerate the building of new houses in our country.

Our windows look out upon the Pacific; we depend for our prosperity upon our export trade, and we share the concern of all Canadians, in common with the citizens of all western democracies, as to the implications of present currency difficulties. But, Mr. Speaker, we share also the pride of all Canadians in the predominant showing made by the representatives of Canada in the recent discussions concerning these problems. We also share the confidence of the people of Canada that these difficulties can and will be overcome, and we in British Columbia stand behind the policy of the government in seeking multilateral trade so that we can develop our trade in any part of the world with anyone who will trade with us.

The riding of Vancouver South comprises a narrow southern strip of the city of Vancouver running east and west, bounded on the east by the municipality of Burnaby and on the west by the Musqueam Indian reservation, inhabited still by a number of Indians

whose forebears gave Simon Fraser considerable trouble in his explorations of 1808. Vancouver South holds the distinction of being the electoral district with a larger number of home owners than any other electoral district in the Dominion of Canada. It slopes towards the sun, and intense pride of ownership is indicated by beautiful boulevards, well-kept homes, and artistic surroundings. Commendable civic foresight has provided many and large public park facilities throughout the entire area.

On the south the riding is bordered throughout its entire length by the north arm of the Fraser river. This arm of the Fraser river is a narrow and shallow stream, but it is carrying today a volume of water traffic second only to the St. Lawrence among Canada's natural waterways. Great lumber mills, plywood and sash and door factories, furniture industries, and all the activities allied with lumber, line its banks for miles.

This stream knows nothing of the majestic deep sea steamers, but it is the home of the towboat, the little work horse of the sea. New industries of all kinds are being attracted to the area, which is the most rapidly expanding section of our city. Last year more than 800 million board feet of logs and lumber came into the river, and products in excess of a value of $46 million were transported on its narrow surface.

But more interesting than the industries of Vancouver South are its people. In the older residential districts are the homes of industrialists and members of the various professions. The newer districts have seen extensive building to provide homes for merchants and those engaged in our nearby industries. We have in our riding over 8,000 voters of German ethnic origin, very few of whom came to us from their homeland. We have sturdy sons from the lands of the Croats, the Serbs and the Slovenes. We have many independent and vital people of Ukrainian origin. We have some Chinese, and we have some Hindus. All these people came to us in search of economic and political freedom, and some of them came to us in search of freedom to worship their God. In many cases they had fought, in the lands from which they came, a losing battle against tyrannies and despotisms of various kinds, and they may be depended upon to stand shoulder to shoulder with us against the encroachment of despotism here, and in the preservation of those things which eternally matter to a nation and its people. Not alone in independence, but in their culture, too, they are bringing enrichment to us.

This is the economic pattern and this the social mosaic that is Vancouver South. More than that, it is the tapestry that is Canada.

The Address-Mr. Laing Our strength is our diversity. The contributions of our people in the arts, in science, in technology and in culture are the sum total of all the pages of man's history. Our social alchemy is producing pure gold. Among all our people there is one common objective, the hope and aspiration of those who dwell on the farmsteads that slope to the St. Lawrence, of those who live in the land of Evangeline, of those hardy souls who sail forth to the Grand Banks, and of those who till our western plains. Their chief objective, indeed their one objective, is that in peace and security they may have the right to make the most of their individual lives.

Probably this world will never free itself from troubles. Twice in one generation our young nation has seen the rugged finger of sacrifice point the way, and twice Canada has answered. Old discords lie in uneasy sleep, and the far-off thunder of new discords is already heard. Our generation finds itself in the travail of working out a reasonable compromise between two opposed ideologies. The first places complete personal liberty and absolute freedom of independent action, with no restraint, as its goal for the happiness of mankind. At the other extreme are those who would concentrate all power in the state, on the assumption that if men of evil with concentrated power could bring evil upon the world, then men of good will could produce only good. Both extremes fail to heed the oft-repeated warning that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

This is the current crisis to which mankind, in its groping, has come. The contest is raising new frontiers. They are frontiers that are less and less nationalistic or of creed. They are frontiers being raised in the hearts and minds of men everywhere. Extremism has had its victories, only to find its people either in ashes or in chains. How strange it is that we should continue to debate the feasibility of a middle way. We in Canada are the middle way; and to those who conjure up in their minds dangers of sweeping political victories, let me suggest a study of Liberal faith. We have no fixed boundaries. The party to which I have the honour to belong is a social journey, not a political destination.

In our national life there are certain fundamental credentials which elevate and advance. They are the same articles of faith that create character in the individual. They direct that we shall accept our responsibilities and keep our word. Our nation's contribution to the cause of free men everywhere during two wars, and its efforts to restore mankind afterwards, make her the admiration of every other country and the envy of

The Address-Mr. Laing most. Our resources are vast; our technologies in the forests, in the mines and above all in the air, are nothing short of superb. Our people are wise, and of good heart. Their continuing fidelity will ensure success in attaining that prime objective of humanity, which is human happiness expressed in its widest interpretation.

On motion of Mr. Drew the debate was adjourned.

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