Gladys Grace Mae STRUM

STRUM, Gladys Grace Mae, B.A., B.Ed.

Personal Data

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)
Qu'Appelle (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
February 4, 1906
Deceased Date
August 15, 2005
homemaker, teacher

Parliamentary Career

June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
  Qu'Appelle (Saskatchewan)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 86 of 87)

October 23, 1945


There is a very important point involved here which we are losing sight of. Regardless of whether these transportation services are privately or publicly owned they are primarily designed to give service to the Canadian people. I think we shall all agree that in the past we have been extremely wasteful in the construction of railway lines. Windthorst, the town where I live, is serviced by the C.P.R., and two miles north is the Kipling-Regina or Brandon-Regina line of the C.N.R. These lines run parallel two miles apart, sometimes widening to a space of three or four 'miles. Then there is a strip of territory to the south where people have to travel more than twenty miles to get to town, a great area wherein there are no railways, buses or air lines. I believe that so long as you have competing private firms servicing transportation in this country you will have that sort of thing. The constituency of Qu'Appelle, which I represent, has a very good train service, and there are also two buses travelling in each direction every day alongside of the main line of the C.P.R. So that the people have four choices every day, two buses and two fast trains, while there are great stretches of territory where nobody has any transportation at all. I believe the only way for the country to have a rational kind of transportation is to have it socially owned, and plan to cover this country to serve the needs of the Canadian people.

When we say that only the C.P.R. gives service, that is a terminological inexactitude; it is not correct. Last year I came to Ottawa three times, and I have come here twice since the session opened. Sometimes I go by Canadian National and sometimes by Canadian Pacific, depending on who has a reservation for sale. The service is equally good. The line of the Canadian National is not quite so rough, and a little shorter. That is the only difference. We can allow our prejudices to blind us to the thing we are trying to do, but if it is transportation in which we are interested let us plan to cover this country with transportation instead of allowing competing lines to run along the same tracks and leave other large areas without service.

As for the devotion of employees, I am surprised that the hon. member for Davenport in his search for efficiency would tolerate having a suitcase forgotten and then a duplication of services, someone running back for the suitcase. That would not be tolerated on a socially owned line.

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October 23, 1945


One must be sensible about this. The incident may be flattering to the dignity of the hon. member for Davenport, but it is not efficiency, and I do not think anybody should be asked to pay for that sort of sloppiness in transportation. The only way to achieve a rational system of transportation is for all forms of it to be owned by the government, I care not whether it be Liberal or Conservative or C.C.F., and then have the buses feed the railways and have the air lines cover those territories where railways have not yet been built.

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October 19, 1945

Mrs. GLADYS STRUM (Qu'Appelle):

Mr. Speaker, the entire house has listened with a great deal of interest and satisfaction to the reports from the various delegates to the San Francisco conference, and the discussion on its merits from all parts of the house has done credit to this body.

The ramifications of the provisions of the charter have ben so ably dealt with that there is very little left to say. I shall deal only with those aspects which have not as yet been mentioned.

United ft'ations Agreement

The first paragraph of the charter states:

We, the peoples of the united nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women, and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom ....

This is a worthy objective, nobly conceived. Our task is twofold: first, to see that in Canada the terms as laid down by the charter shall apply and, second, that in the international field nothing is left undone to promote the conditions that will make possible realization of these aims. What are these equal rights of men and women? How shall we approach the objective to "promote social progress and standards of life in larger freedoms''?

The biggest question mark to-day on the Canadian horizon is jobs; jobs, and how much does the job pay? We must begin right there *with the interpretation of the San Francisco charter and with the words "equal rights of men and women." The right to work at decent pay is a fundamental right without which there can be little freedom. Certainly for the able-bodied adult, freedom from want and freedom from fear hinge on this simple need.

Can Canada really afford this simple freedom for women, or shall women be asked to retire from the field of gainful employment and paid labour? I submit to the house, Mr. Speaker, that no one has ever objected to *women working. The only thing they have ever objected to is paying women for working. Many women will have homes that will absorb their time, and sufficient income that they will not want to seek employment outside their homes. Most women are happiest when these two conditions are comfortably met. But as I look over the "Canada Year Book" for 194344 I find that in many industries women played a very important part in production. In the processing of sausages and meat, butter and cheese, animal oils and fats, fish curing and packing, and related industries using fur, hides and leather from animals, slightly over a quarter of the jobs were held by women. Some 13,047 persons were employed, of whom 3,520 were women. In the textile trades and industries almost one-half the workers were women. They handled cotton, wool, flax, silk and synthetics. They made bags, tents, sails,

rope, clothing, hosiery, gloves, hats, caps, thread and so on. Of the 11,721 persons employed, 5,843 were women. In the processing of wood and in the making of paper products, bags, boxes, printing, bookbinding, beekeepers' and poultrymen's supplies, boat-building, the planing of sashes and doors and flooring, coffins and caskets, carriages and sleighs-all these things were listed, and women were not excluded from one of these industries. Of the 20,543 jobs, 6,921 or more than one-third were held by women.

It will be said that this was a period of abnormally high employment, and now that the war is over most of the women can go back to their homes and take their bread and cake from their husbands, their fathers, their brothers, or, if the worst comes to the worst they can go on relief and be sweet and thankful for it. I wish to point out that while it was a period of abnormal activity it was also a period of abnormally high marriage rates. Thousands of young women left the labour market to marry and become mothers. The birthrate, too, was abnormally high. The last available figure is for 1942, when it reached an all-time high at 272,313, an increase of 17,000 over the previous year. Naturally these young wives and mothers will, in the main, be only too happy to stay at home and enjoy the privacy and comfort of a happy home, and their reward will be the hapiness that comes from seeing the growth and development of sturdy, well-fed youngsters, provided that their husbands have jobs which will support them. The family allowance is crutch under family income, to supplement it. It can never begin to meet the needs of a robust, growing family that seems to be always hungry and always in need of a new pair of shoes.

Women who seek employment for pay do so for several reasons. First, there are the unmarried women who desire to be self-supporting. Many have dependents; parents unable to earn but not yet pensionable; parents unemployable but under seventy, or other relatives unable to take care of themselves, or perhaps brothers or sisters who are taking advanced training in educational fields. Second, there are the married women, mothers and wives, who must earn to supplement the family income. This needs very little explanation. Many wives have always worked to avoid hiring help in the family store or post office. For the same reason wives take jobs in other people's stores, post offices, factories and offices, to add to the family income. Many homes now owned by families

United Nations Agreement

never could have been paid for had it not been for the mother's earnings which helped to supplement the father's income.

Then there is the next group of women, whose talents and training do not lie in the domestic field. I should hate to see a law or custom that would impose upon all males the same sort of employment. I should think it would produce many misfits if we expected every man to make his contribution to the community as a plumber, a janitor or even as a lawyer. By the same token it is unfair to expect that every woman will love housework or be skilled in its many branches. To be a good mother does not require that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth do the royal laundry. Other people are paid to wash Her Majesty's dishes. In fact I have never seen it suggested that the royal family was anything but a model of contentment. It is a medieval hangover to suppose that every successful wife and mother must personally perform the duties of the household; in fact it was never required of women who had the means to pay others to discharge these duties. If the training and ability of the individual woman, be she spinster or wife, fit her to accept gainful employment in the professions, in business or in industry, it should be her right to accept such employment. In fact any attempt to deny her this right is a violation of our solemn pact endorsed by the Canadian delegation and by us in the San Francisco charter.

The next argument against women being gainfully employed may be that women depress wages. The simple remedy for this objection is to pay a certain wage for a job regardless of whether the applicant is male or female. When you buy a bus ticket, a railway ticket, a meal or a book the vendor does not ask you whether the purchaser is male or female, nor does the price go down if the purchaser is a woman. For their own protection men must insist that equal pay be given for equal work.

Finally, there is an urgent social and moral problem involved in the right of women to economic independence. Our Doctor Bates of the health league of Canada has cornered every member of this house, either in groups or individually, to gain support for his attack on disease. He is especially concerned, and rightly so, with preventive work. I need only remind hon. members of his V.D. clinic, where many thousands of cases are receiving treatment with penicillin. It was, I am sure, a revelation to all of us to hear Doctor Bates relate his conversation with the young Russian doctors who visited his clinic. Their statement, that at the outbreak of war they did not

have enough V.D. cases in Russia to demonstrate its ravages to the medical students, came as a blow to us, and in comparison with our record fills us with shame and envy.

Equally significant was the statement that this was the result of placing women on a plane of economic independence. If we are ever to approach the position where we can say with pride, as a nation, that we have eliminated forever the scourge of venereal disease and prostitution, then we must hold as sacred the right of every person, man and woman, to maintain self-respect, and natural pride in honourable work, paid for at a level that will provide happiness, security and cultural advancement.

In closing my plea for taking seriously our solemn declarations at this milestone in the world's history, I wish to state that the urgency of our task is matched only by its magnitude. It is our only hope. It is our next step. Our task would be simpler of achievement if every nation shared our inherited religious practices, the inherited colour pigment of our skins. But the time to act is now. We cannot wait to make the world all Christian, or all democratic. We must take this contemporary world, and under the urgency of our need for peace we must learn to live together, or cease to live at all. This is an attempt to find a method, and incomplete as it must be at this stage, it merits the support of Buddhist, Hindoo and Christian alike.

I am very happy to 'be able to support the provisions of the San Francisco charter, to be applied throughout the world, and especially am I concerned that they apply here in Canada; that there be written into Canadian statutes "the equal rights of men and women."

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October 1, 1945

Mrs. GLADYS STRUM (Qu'Appelle):

I did not intend to take part in this debate. There seem to have been a great many opinions expressed and a great deal of information and data brought before this house. There are a few things that I as a new member fail to understand when we come to deal with this problem. It is very difficult for a new member to come to this house and find that all hon. members agree that something is desirable and yet nobody wants to tackle it. I think the hardest thing that a new member has to put up with in this house is frustration.

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October 1, 1945


I do not think we need to have any more royal commissions to deal with what happened to the veterans of the last war. We have the evidence in every community, and anyone who has lived here since the last war, as I have, does not need any royal commission to find out what happened. I submit, Mr. Speaker, the thing that happened to the veterans is the very same thing that happened to everybody else in this country; they were the victims of a set of circumstances with which our governments failed to deal. There are a few things in the brief submitted to the Rowell commission by the Hon. T. C. Davis, who was the attorney general of Saskatchewan in 1937, that have not yet been mentioned, and I am going to bring them to the attention of the house for a few moments.

We have recently dealt with the problem of a floor price for agricultural products. I wish to draw the attention of hon. members to the fact that in the eighteen years between 1920 and 1937 wheat reached SI a bushel only six times. Only six times in eighteen years did those veterans get what we now say should be the floor price. I should like to draw the attention of the house to the fact that in those eighteen years cattle went as low as $18, $19, $20, $22 a head, and the highest price recorded was $59 a head. I wish to draw the attention of the house to the fact that those veterans who were selling eggs took, according to the report of the Saskatchewan government, as low as seven cents a dozen for the year's average, which meant that those eggs went as low as three cents a dozen when they hit the rock-bottom price in the summer months. I think, we must accept these figures; they are the figures submitted by a Liberal government to a royal commission, and I believe them. I lived through them, Mr. Speaker, and I know what they meant to the family income and to debt. These people have produced enormous quantities of wealth, huge surpluses and gluts,

Soldier Settlement

and the worst part of the whole picture was the price failure, not the crop failure. The result was huge burdens of unpaid interest that became principal and finally took the farms out from under the feet of those people who had saved us from the fate of the people of France and Belgium.

If I were a veteran coming into this country to-day and saw a parliament sitting here talking about what each speaker in all parts of the house has called simple justice; "simple justice" everybody says, and yet we sit here and do nothing. I have been warned that is what is called "talking it out." I have been warned that you can talk a measure out so that you do not have to deal with it, and then you do not have to account for your actions. I hope that is not what we are witnessing, although I have a horrible suspicion-if I were a veteran coming back to-day I would feel very jittery to think that the new government was that kind of a government, and that that sort of policy would affect my future in the next few years.

We hear references to family allowances, and that the family allowance is a means of farm security. I think the family allowance is a good thing; I never criticized it. The C.C.F. were the few people who talked about it in the last few years. I did not hear a popular demand in the country for family allowances aside from C.C.F. platforms, when we said that they had started them in New Zealand and that it would help the mother of a family-

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