Mr. O. C. Trainor (Winnipeg South):
rise to take part in this debate, Mr. Speaker, in the hope that perhaps I may be able to shed some small ray of light on what has seemed to me to be a very confused argument. On one point only does there appear to be complete agreement, a true meeting of minds. Everyone believes unemployment to be a bad thing. Even here there is an element of unrealistic thinking. The Acting Prime Minister has said that even one person unemployed is a serious thing, and the C.C.F. agrees with him. One unemployed person may represent an undesirable circumstance, perhaps even serious from the point of view of the individual concerned, but it hardly represents a serious condition in the nation.
2332 HOUSE OF
Proposed Committee on Unemployment
The C.C.F. introduced a subamendment which is found on page 2096 of Hansard for February 15, 1954 and reads as follows:
. . . the serious and mounting unemployment situation now facing this country calls for immediate action by the federal government to prevent further economic distress.
Now, Mr. Speaker, let us put alongside of that the amendment sponsored by the official opposition and moved by my colleague the member for Vancouver-Quadra, which states that this house is of the opinion that the standing committee on industrial relations should immediately examine into and report upon the actual unemployment situation throughout Canada and present recommendations to this house as to the short-term and long-term methods of dealing effectively with this problem. The C.C.F. subamendment says, in effect, that the unemployment problem calls for immediate action by the federal government. The federal government, however, in the persons of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Gregg), the Acting Prime Minister, and the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott), along with the customary echoes, say there is no unemployment problem or if there is it is of such minor proportions as to be inconsequential.
Now, Mr. Speaker, how in the world can you get action on an unemployment problem from a government that says the problem does not exist? The very premise of your argument is denied. Consequently all subsequent argument is a waste of breath. The C.C.F. in supporting their subamendment, where any effort was made to support it, urged the adoption of shopworn socialist solutions which are usually trotted out in cases such as this. Such tinkering with the economy in defiance of economic law is no more likely to be successful here than it has been in other countries. Do the C.C.F. seriously expect, by the sound and fury of their oratory or by the exposition of the socialist dialectic, to convert the government? They cannot possibly be so naive. These oratorical pyrotechnics are designed for public consumption, and in the hope that they may possibly impress unthinking and uncritical people.
In contrast, the amendment of the official opposition is a serious and reasonable attempt to persuade the government to look at the problem and examine the evidence. It recognizes the fact that the government does not believe there is a problem, and reaches the obvious conclusion that as long as the government believes this there is no possible hope of remedial action. The amendment says to the government, in effect, "We do not believe your contention that everything is rosy, but let us take a critical look at all the available evidence. If it shows you are right everybody,
including the Canadian people, will be happy. If it does not show this, you will be advised you are in error, and in addition will possess a body of expert opinion which cannot fail but be of help in devising suitable remedial measures."
Incidentally, Mr. Speaker, I wish to commend in the highest terms the contribution made to this debate by the hon. member for Yorkton (Mr. Castleden). I thought that in the main he presented a thoughtful and well-reasoned effort. He put his finger on the basic fact in this whole discussion, that employment in this country depends upon the maintenance of export trade. Export trade, in turn, depends upon a price structure that is really competitive. Apart from an occasional irrelevant remark and his somewhat naive and childlike faith in price controls, his speech was a valuable contribution and I should like to compliment him.
Apparently, however, the hon. member does not realize that price controls mean wage controls, and that they extend to wheat and other farm commodities. Moreover, controls as used in wartime were designed to counteract the pressure of scarcity on the price structure, whereas now there is no scarcity but rather an oversupply. Should we embark upon a program of peacetime controls I am afraid it might have consequences far from palatable to the hon. member's constituents- compulsory acreage reduction; dictation as to kind, quantity and variety of crop, to name but a few. This is not a piecemeal proposition. Once you start you have to go all the way.
The hon. member was pleased to use a medical analogy, stressing the fact that you must first diagnose a disease before treating it-a wellnigh perfect argument in support of the amendment put forth by the official opposition. Diagnosis is often a difficult and time-consuming procedure. It requires careful examination of all the available evidence, and in difficult cases the consultation of whatever experts may be available. It is not a haphazard and offhand procedure. The so-called snap diagnosis is the mark of the quack and the charlatan. Could there be a better illustration of the necessity for the objective study of this difficult and complicated subject of unemployment by a committee?
For the foregoing reasons I seriously question whether the C.C.F., in bringing forward their subamendment, are particularly concerned about unemployment, or whether they regard it as a convenient club to belabour the government for fancied political advantage. Bear in mind that only the government can cure unemployment, and they say it does not exist.
I may say I intend to vote for the subamendment, for three reasons; first and most important, because I will have a subsequent opportunity to vote for the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra (Mr. Green), which really gives some prospect of coming to grips with the problem that, despite what the government says, we in this party believe really exists; and second, because it does say that there is an unemployment problem in this country, something which the government denies; and third, because it is really innocuous and can do no harm.
Topic: OPPOSITION BY INDIA TO UNITED STATES SUPPLYING ARMS TO PAKISTAN
Subtopic: UNEMPLOYMENT-MOTION FOR EXAMINATION BY COMMITTEE ON INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS