Oh, quite; I have no intention of suggesting that the acting Prime Minister limit the inquiry into the problem to that somewhat superficial aspect. I suggest that a study of that question must embrace most of the economic troubles that beset this nation, because you have to find out not only some way of distributing the surplus population from the city, but why there is this trend. The cause will be found to embrace the relative standards of living and the entire question of our industrial and distributive system, and to involve the whole subject of education and the varied opportunities which are afforded people in the rural and urban areas. I was disappointed-perhaps not disappointed but to say the least, surprised-rto hear the suggestion that that trend might be stopped were a change of government to take place. Any such suggestion shows a very shallow knowledge of the situation, because that trend has prevailed under every government and in every country. It was taking place with just as great acceleration in the nine years preceding 1930 as in the four or five years since; it is dependent on no special government being in power, and is far beyond any question of party politics. Its causes go far deeper than that; they go
to the very roots of our modem civilization, our industry and our agricultural system. I venture to suggest that in connection with that very problem the economic council would be obliged to investigate a subject which I think above all others should be investigated, the distribution in a proper way of that which we can produce and the relationship of finance and other factors to that distribution. This opens up a very wide field, and that is why I have in mind something perhaps a good deal more permanent and a good deal more important in the future than is visualized by the acting Prime Minister in this beginning. I quite realize the fact that the last session of parliament prior to an election is no time to set up wide and extensive machinery of any kind which might take over functions hitherto either unperformed or considered governmental. May I say at once that I only welcome this as the acorn from which a much larger tree may grow. I should like to see- and I hope this will be the germ-not a body composed mainly of departmental officials but a body truly representative of the problem itself, a body as permanent in its nature as the national council on technical and scientific research.
I am not going to compare those two problems. The acting Prime Minister has well said that economic and social research and all the problems related to that question are far more important and deserving of far more attention on the part of any government than are the problems of scientific research. The acting Prime Minister did not go quite that far, but that was the suggestion. I have said before, and perhaps it will do no harm to repeat it, that while technical and scientific research is carried on in many branches and in many places under private enterprise and initiative, because the results of that research may be reflected in increased profits, increased dividends or increased comforts to those engaged in the research, in the case of the corporations or firms carrying it on, properly speaking this question with which we are now dealing is one which affects primarily the state itself, society as a whole, not one individual particularly or primarily, not one firm or corporation, but the state as such. The solution of these problems would be reflected not necessarily in increased profits or dividends but in higher standards of living and better living conditions for the people as a whole. That means that there is only one body which should become primarily responsible for making that research possible; that body is the state, which represents all the people and society as a whole.
I must confess, though I speak always with deference because of my more limited experience, that I cannot agree with the suggestion of the right hon. leader of the opposition that this council should be made a branch, as it were, of the present national council on scientific research. I agree entirely with the suggestion of the hon. member for Bow River; indeed I think I have made that suggestion myself, that while in one sense the problems are similar, there is a vast difference between the two. It is a question of knowledge and research and of the application of knowledge which 'has been obtained, but the methods are different, the subjects are different, the very bases are different. I agree at once that somewhat the same type of mind is required, that type of mind which, regardless of whose toes are trodden upon and regardless of how many existing prejudices may be upset, will search and delve until it reaches the truth and will bring in conclusions based upon that truth. I agree that the true scientific mind is required in both cases, yet I do suggest that the training of the mind and the objective are wholly different. More than that, the very basis is different. When you are dealing with scientific and technical research you are dealing with factors which may or may not be known but which, when found out, are tangible, immovable and certain; they are exact. In the realm of economic and social science you are dealing with something intangible, in regard to which differences of opinion will exist; you are dealing with questions on which at present few men agree. We have different schools of economic and social thought, and I may suggest that some of those schools of economic thought, some of those who are seeking a remedy for our present ills, hate each other worse than they hate the common enemy. So long as you have that frame of mind you cannot have the exact, scientific attitude brought to bear upon the problem which is essential.
Moreover I believe that the nature of the problem itself is so important and its scope so tremendous that it well deserves a separate establishment known and honoured as the national council of economic research, with its attention diverted to no other matters and with full power to carry on its activities. Further may I express the hope that we will see in this country not a body which will usurp the authority of parliament-I have never suggested that such an economic council should have the executive authority to put its findings into effect-but a body speaking with authority based upon knowledge, and after all upon knowledge alone can true authority be based. I hope this will grow
out of the present proposed legislation. I hope we shall have a body speaking with authority and taking the responsibility of advising the government as tj what policies would be most beneficial. Naturally any government and any parliament must take the responsibility of putting into effect and enforcing those policies. I am not suggesting in any way that the rights and responsibilities of parliament and of the government should be upset or usurped by any such body, but I am suggesting that governments and parliaments to-day are functioning, passing laws and taking action often on a basis of either ignorance or inexact and inaccurate information, and I believe this would do something to remedy that condition. I am not worrying just now about the welfare of any party, because I think after all that is a very trivial matter. I am hoping that out of this legislation as time goes on and as the idea develops, takes root and is accepted, as I believe it will be accepted, with acclamation-and the wider its spread and the deeper its roots the greater the acclamation-we may reach that point which we must reach or our problems will not be solved, that point when in parliament and out of parliament we can discuss these social and economic problems, which are of such overwhelming importance, on their merits, on a basis of knowledge and without the interjection of partisanship and political feeling. Perhaps that is too much to hope for, but at least it would take away some of the stigma and some of the stain of partisan politics if that information were at the disposal of the house and the government which must take the responsibility for introducing the legislation.
Perhaps I need say no more just now; after all this is only the resolution stage and I cannot tell, nor is it right for me to anticipate, to what degree and in what measure the legislation itself will bear out what I have said. In closing, however, may I say that I welcome this move because I see in it the adoption of a principle, the germ of an idea, which although it will be small this session, for good reason, perhaps may grow until it will form one of the most dominant and important factors in our modern civilization. The scope of the work to be done is enormous and the number of subjects to be investigated is legion. As I close I would suggest also that this is not merely a matter of searching out statistics and facts, important and all essential though those may be. I yield to none in my admiration of our bureau of statistics, which I believe to be one of the most efficient in the world to-day, much of its information
being useless because no use is being made of it. But if this were only a matter of delving into statistics and stating and correlating known facts, it would be but a barren move. Eventually we have to place on such a body the responsibility for the drawing of deductions and the correlating not only of facts but of opinions, and the responsibility for at least trying to think out something we have never thought out before, namely, what is going to be the final effect on the public weal of those different lines of isolated action. We have in Canada a number of outstanding illustrations indicating the need for a body such as I have described. I am not going to refer to that bete noir of the house, the transportation problem, nor shall I refer to many other matters. I should however like to mention one basic problem which may have caused more trouble for Canada than any other: I refer to the two divergent and conflicting policies which have been followed in Canada ever since western Canada was opened up. One policy encouraged by governments and by all who were interested in development was to make of western Canada a huge wheat exporting country. The western country was developed on that basis, and apparently every political party-and I am not now blaming the parties-parliament itself forgot that when accepting this as a paramount and foundation policy they were making of the west an agricultural country dependent upon huge exports for its existence. Side by side with that we attempted to build up within Canada the conflicting policy of a self-supporting industrial system. I submit that these two policies are mutually destructive; you cannot have both. Perhaps the source of some of our greatest troubles in making trade agreements and trade pacts and in getting reasonable tariffs, find their root in the fact that parliament went in two different directions, attempted to establish two different lines of policy, one of which was subversive of the other. You cannot have a country producing huge quantities of agricultural products, quantities normally in excess of its domestic needs, and at the same time have a self-contained industrial country which is not prepared to import the goods which must be accepted in exchange for the farm produce exported.
Again I am not suggesting that such a council should assume the responsibilities of parliament or of governments, but I do suggest that had a council been established many years ago and been given authority to make effective recommendations, the power to go into the facts and point out what would be
the results, the power to give guidance to parliament in what I consider was at that time a foolish and mutually destructive course of action, it might have prevented much of the disturbance and trouble we now find in Canada. One party in this chamber I am afraid cannot shake the finger of scorn at another, because the same policies have been followed by each and by parliament as a whole. Further than that, those policies have been supported by the people as a whole who thought they could visualize the ideal of a huge exporting country on the one hand and a self-contained industrial country on the other.
I suggest that is the kind of work which an economic council properly constituted and properly functioning might well perform. It could make suggestions to parliament and to government as to real lines of governmental and state policy which would result in reasonable balance and reasonably happy functioning. To-day one of the problems has been suggested by the acting Prime Minister, but the basic problem, that of making use of the abundance we can produce, to my mind lies at the root of our difficulties. This problem should be studied and examined impartially and free from partisanship or prejudice, so as to ascertain whether or not we may solve what has become not only a problem but a menace to ourselves and to civilization.
Topic: IS, 1935