Being a new member of the House, Mr. Chairman, I did not intend to discuss in any way the old age pension scheme, as I am not familiar with the clauses of the bill. I have listened to the discussion with the greatest care, hoping to gain from it an elucidation of the clauses of the resolution that has been introduced. The mass of
Old Age Pensions
material presented to ns to-night has reminded me of a well-known fable. A deer, having been wounded in the forest, retired to a comfortable shady place where there were enough luscious grass and tender leaves to keep him from hunger and starvation until his wounds were healed. But a great number of his friends came from the surrounding forest to sympathize with him, and one suggested one thing and one another in order to give him relief. They consoled and sympathized with him in his sickness, but it was not long until that deer died-not from his wounds but from starvation. And so it seems with the old age pension scheme.
I would not have risen to-night had I not heard one thing in particular that the Minister of Railways said. After this discussion we are convinced that the position of the Conservative party has been emphatically and clearly enunciated-that they are behind this scheme for old age pensions, whether it be under federal control or in conjunction with the provinces. I wish the minister were here to correct me if I am wrong, because I wrote down the words he uttered. In referring to this matter he said that they, the opposition, were not in favour of the old age pension scheme unless after consultation with the various provincial legislatures. Now, Mr. Chairman, I do not believe that words bearing that meaning were uttered in this House by hon. members on this side. If they were, Mr. Chairman, I would oppose the proposition, because personally I feel that we are wasting precious time on a matter in respect to which there is absolute unanimity, and such unanimity has been expressed in this House tonight.
I was impressed by the words of the hon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps). I felt that he expressed what must have taken place in this House last year when he said there was a great difference of opinion in regard to different clauses of the bill. However, I think we have reached the stage now that it is not a question of the clauses of the bill, because these can be discussed when the bill comes before us. It is not a question of what took place on the hustings last year nor a question of reading reports from lastt year's speeches which have no relation to the question now before the House. The question is, are we decided, are we unanimous that this old age pension scheme should be put into force and that even if not perfect, it will be given a chance. That is the question, Mr. Chairman, and I have heard the leader of the opposition emphatically say that we were behind it if it were decided that the provincial
[Mr. Brad v. I
legislatures should participate in the scheme with the federal government. I regret that we have had so much sophistry and so much discussion; it makes it look to me as if we are not sincere. What does it matter who is to have the honour of passing the old age pension scheme? The point is that throughout the length and breadth of Canada there are people waiting for the verdict of this House. Them we must consider, not whether it shall be a bill of ten clauses or a bill of twenty clauses, but a bill pledged to these people, an old age pension scheme.