Mr. Chairman, I am very happy to take part in the debate on the Canada pension plan bill which is no doubt the most important piece of legislation introduced in this house at this session.
This importance stems in a large measure from the fact that it represents a danger for the economy, and especially for our democratic institutions. But I should like to make it clear, to avoid any misunderstanding on the part of our opponents, that we Creditistes are definitely in favour of a most generous old age pension. Personally, and all the members of our group share my opinion, I believe the present pension should be doubled. Furthermore, the pension should be paid to all those who are 65 years of age and without any means test. On the other hand, an investigation should be made in the case of those who would apply for a pension at age 60. Instead of passing this bill, since Canada can physically and materially afford it, the existing act should be improved so that a couple who has been married for at least five years may receive the pension at 65 years of age, and if the husband reaches 65 first, the pension should also be paid to his wife whatever her age may be.
At the present time, the pension is inadequate for a single person and I never could understand why a married couple had to live on a pension calculated for a single person, a pension which makes it hard for one person to make both ends meet. It is inhuman and unaccountable in a high production country like ours. All members of parliament should
Canada Pension Plan
be concerned about that situation, which should become enough of an obsession to disturb our sleep as long as the problem is not solved. Certainly the legislation before us is no solution to this problem, and here is why.
This legislation takes away part of the purchasing power of those who already do not have enough, so that they may use it in 10, 15, 20 years from now, or even later. We might as well tell those people: Do without bread or other material goods which you have legitimately earned, to which you are entitled and of which there is plenty right now in order that you may enjoy them a little in 10, 20, 30 or even 35 years from now, without knowing, besides, whether or not you will live long enough to enjoy them.
Such are, in brief, the provisions of this pension plan. I know that the citizens of the province of Quebec where I live, will not directly participate in the federal pension plan, but I know that the Quebec government is preparing a pension plan based on the same principles as those of the federal government, and everything I have to say of the federal pension plan applies also to the Quebec pension plan.
In short, Mr. Chairman, the purpose of the government with this pension plan is lofty, generous and most human, for the idea is to find means of enabling old people to enjoy a larger share of the consumer goods which raise the standard of living and increase comfort, all that in about 10 years. Therefore, I admit that the purpose is sound, lofty, human, and logical.
Nowadays, and increasingly so in the future, people 60 years or over will be excluded from production jobs. Automation increases total production and individual productivity to such an extent that even now there are not enough jobs on the labour market for young and energetic people, educated or not. This situation is bound to get worse from day to day, and yet statistics show that production increases rapidly. I am not speaking of the costs of production but of its volume.
Since production will be higher in the future, is it logical to take away from the public, by compulsory contributions, purchasing power which is already inadequate in relation to the volume of products on the market, and keep it in reserve in order to buy an even more abundant production in the future?
We all recognize that the abundant production, present and potential, is and will always be the result of two basic causes: science
Canada Pension Plan
and life in society. It is obvious that if we lived isolated from one another, without contacts between us, a lot of inventions and commodities would never have seen the light of day; on the other hand, as science does not belong to anyone in particular it is an heritage which reverts equally to everyone. Hence everybody is entitled, free of charge, to part of the material goods resulting from science. In a profit sharing organization each shareholder gets what is coming to him. It is according to these principles that our senior citizens are entitled to a share of the overall production. Through a lifetime of work they contributed to make Canada what it is today. Most of them brought up a family, thus providing the country with human capital, the greatest asset a country could have. They made sacrifices for the education of their children and went without a great many of the comforts they could have had. They also paid a considerable share of the taxes which were used to build up Canada. I would go even further. Most of them would still be willing and able to serve industry and continue their productivity. However, they can no longer work and, as a result, they have to be satisfied with a pittance which, for several years to come, will be ridiculous, pitiful and unworthy of a country as rich as Canada, a country which has become wealthy thanks to the labour of its inhabitants.
I believe that the main reason why the government wishes to proceed thus with this bill is because the two old line parties, the Conservative and the Liberal parties, look at this problem from a false angle. Since the government looks at it from the financial angle it is primarily concerned about determining the amount of money required to give a mere pittance to those elderly people. Naturally, it endeavours to find the most practical and least painful means. Something marvellous came out of this effort, since the government will kill two birds with one stone. First, it will obtain the necessary funds to pay an allowance to the aged by levying a compulsory contribution. Second, it will also be able to use those funds to make up its deficits, since this compulsory contribution will bring in billions of dollars within a few years. Therefore, it will be in a position to tell the people that it set up an old age pension plan without increasing taxes, because it will never be admitted that a compulsory contribution is a tax in disguise, a shameful tax, even more discriminatory than the personal income tax. I say that this compulsory
contribution is a hypocritical and ignominious tax whereby dog eats dog, as the communists would say.
What do our elderly people want? A shelter, wholesome and plentiful food, proper clothes, medical and surgical care, drugs when needed, and some recreation. I do not believe that such requirements are exaggerated; on the contrary, they are perfectly reasonable and particularly deserved.
Who, in or out of this house, would claim that Canada cannot supply this minimum of comfort to persons who have reached the age of 60? I am not talking in terms of money, but in terms of products. If this is the intention of the government, if those people are entitled to this, why then exact from them a tax in order to give them something to which they are entitled in all fairness? If the objective of the government is the same as ours, that is to grant those people well-deserved amenities, then it is worthy of our congratulations.
What we cannot accept is the method used to finance this program. Why deprive the present generation of part of the goods and services produced in order to make it available to future generations?
Does the government fear a large decrease in production or its complete stoppage? The only reason why the government requires such a contribution, which is a dictatorship in disguise, is because it is the slave of a monetary and financial system controlled by bankers who disregard their responsibilities to the people.
It is criminal to accept such bondage. In this way the people are misled, but those who control money and credit are satisfied. It is pure and simple gangsterism.
When money is needed to help the people or give them what belongs to them taxes are collected first. When $200 million are needed to save the English pound sterling, this amount is issued and made available to Great Britain.
If it is proper and possible for the Bank of Canada to issue $200 million for our "mother-in-law", Great Britain, why could it not be proper and possible to issue the credits required to finance the Canada pension plan?
Why must the Canadian government start by depriving the Canadians of today in order to give to the Canadians of tomorrow, when everyone is sure there are enough goods at present and there will be still more in the future?
I am dead set against communism, because everybody, including the Liberal party, denounces communism. Yet, the proposed method of financing for the pension plan amounts exactly to the application of the basic principle of communism, which consists in depriving some people of their property in order to distribute it to others, to spread poverty around instead of well-being, rather than trying to raise the standard of living of everybody. Why is the government acting in this way?
When billions are being spent on safeguards against communism and its propaganda, why does the government attempt to force on the people communist-inspired legislation?
The government takes such action simply because instead of playing its part, that is carrying out the mandate they received from the people, to give leadership, they prefer to yield to the requirements of high finance where their party funds come from, and comply with the old financial system that cheats the people to the benefit of high finance.
The government, on the occasion of the establishment of a pension plan, had an opportunity to show that they really practise democracy and that they administer by the people and for the people, in creating the credits required for the administration and the implementation of this project.
Let them not tell us that it would be illegal under the law, because to my mind laws should be passed to help the people and not to do them harm.
If some people are adversely affected by certain acts, it is not the people but the acts, especially those benefiting a small group of financiers, that should be changed. The government has here the opportunity of supporting what it had in mind when it voted with the Creditiste party in 1963 to have a debt free monetary system; if the government does not take this opportunity, the Liberals will once again be accused of being phonies, liars and turncoats, interested only in votegetting schemes.
I am asking the Liberal members, on behalf of the people, to give us the truth. You have approved debt free money. Why then, when the time has come to use that system, do you say it is impossible?
Mr. Chairman, we the Creditistes are opposed to compulsory financial contributions and suggest that the Bank of Canada should issue the necessary credits to implement this act since production is high enough. It should
Canada Pension Plan
make such credits available to all those who qualify and they will then be able to select for themselves whatever products are on the market.
The terrible thing about this plan is that the small wage earner is made to contribute while there are restrictions on those who could make larger contributions.
If we Creditistes were in power here is what we would do: we would pay a monthly pension of at least $150 to all those who are 65 years of age, and, furthermore, the expenditures involved would be financed from the credit issued by the Bank of Canada. That is my suggestion to the government today.
The compulsory contributions imposed under the government pension plan are nothing but a new means of taxation which is more odious, more hypocritical, than anything we have seen yet. Canadians will be required to make compulsory savings but 20 years hence the dollars thus saved will probably not buy half of what they can buy today.
To me it is the most socialistic legislation ever introduced in this house. It is a further step toward communism, that doctrine we condemn and want to fight with billions of dollars worth of armaments, but that we are establishing little by little here in Canada.
Let us be frank and honest with ourselves. If communism is bad, condemnable and monstrous, why try to imitate it in our legislation instead of providing measures which would show that democracy is, and by far, the system best suited to our mentality, to the private individual and to the Canadian people?
Subtopic: PROVISION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF CONTRIBUTORY PROGRAM