Mr. J. A. MacLean (Queens):
Mr. Speaker, to begin with I should like to join with a number of hon. members who have already spoken in this debate in congratulating the mover (Mr. Cauchon) and the seconder (Mr. Simmons) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne on the excellent presentation of the motion. I tender my congratulations especially because I know they were their maiden speeches, and I know now by experience that it is not without some misgivings that a new member in this house rises to make his maiden speech. That is exactly what I am doing now.
I am one of the four most junior members in this house, and therefore I am under certain disadvantages. It is clear by this time, I expect, that I have absolutely no experience in parliamentary debate. On the other hand, we who are the four most junior members in this chamber have certain advantages which for the present at least are denied all other hon. members. We have an up to date knowledge of what the people whom we represent think of the present government. On that account I feel not only privileged but obligated to express the opinion of the people whom I represent.
I am honoured by the fact that the people of Queens county have elected me to this House of Commons; but I feel also that they have given me a great responsibility. It is a responsibility that is not lightened by the fact that I have been sent here to fill the vacancy created by the death of the former member who represented Queens county for some twelve years, a man who was a capable parliamentarian and one of nature's real gentlemen. In that regard I feel that in one small
way I have a dual responsibility, because in one connection at least I am here to fill the vacancy which was created by the death of the late member for Brandon. He too was a native of my constituency.
The speech from the throne mentioned the pleasure which the Canadian people are experiencing at this time in welcoming Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh to this country, and also the pleasure the Canadian people have in the knowledge that the health of His Majesty the King is improving, i may say that nowhere in the country are these pleasures more valid than in Prince Edward Island.
The speech from the throne also stated that the chief reason for calling this special session of parliament was to find means of raising funds to make it possible to pay old age pensions without a means test to all citizen; with the required qualification of beini seventy years of age or over. That is a pro gram with which I am in complete accord with this qualification; I feel the people of mj constituency are convinced that every effor should be made to raise these funds from present surpluses and by economies which the government may make.
Another point which was dealt with in the speech from the throne was the development of the St. Lawrence seaway. It was pointed out that this was an important development in the economy of our country; that it will provide cheap electric power for a large section, and also improve the navigation of the St. Lawrence waterway. With that I agree, but I do not agree with the priority which has been accorded this project. I say it is high time the people of Canada and the government of our country gave consideration to the dispersal of industry so there would not be the concentration now existing in the two central provinces. This could be brought about by developments in the far-flung corners of our country.
One project that should have priority over the St. Lawrence waterways would be the Passamaquoddy power project, an international project between Maine and New Brunswick. This would provide cheap electric power for a depressed area, namely the maritimes. It would create an opportunity to disperse some of the concentrated industry found in central Canada and locate it in these depressed areas where a surplus of labour is available. This dispersal of industry should be carried on for various reasons, the most important of which is that of defence. The argument will be offered that the reverse is true, that we should concentrate our vital industries in a small area and put a radar screen round them with perhaps three fighter
squadrons to protect them. Perhaps one would be at Bagotville, one at Uplands and one at North Bay.
To my mind that argument is not valid. After all, there was a concentration of heavy industries in the Ruhr valley. The German luftwaffe had far more than three squadrons at their disposal, but with all that they were unable to put up an adequate defence. In my view our only hope of preventing the destruction of our industries from the air is to disperse those industries. In that connection I would remind hon. members that there have been tremendous technical advances in aeronautics in the last twelve years. It is now just as feasible for our only potential enemy to bomb Montreal or Toronto as it was for the R.A.F. to bomb Berlin in 1939. When we look at the conventional map we are apt to forget that there is nothing but a small sea between us and our only potential enemy. It is enlightening to have a look at a globe, or a map with polar projections, to make us realize that the shortest distance from the communist sphere of influence to the United States is across our territory. It would be unfortunate if most of our key industries and a large percentage of our population were wiped out by a couple of atomic bombs perhaps intended for New York or Washington, but dropped on Montreal or Toronto as alternative targets necessitated by weather conditions or better defences at the original targets.
In that connection I would remind hon. members that when the last war began the bomb load of the aircraft of that day was the equivalent of about one ton of TNT. The bomb load of the present-day aircraft carrying a modern bomb is the equivalent of about
50,000 tons of TNT. Conditions have changed; we must remember that.
There are those who would say that I am an alarmist. I do not think that is true. I would hope at any rate that I am a realist. I am not satisfied and I say the people of Canada are not satisfied that the government has taken sufficient steps to protect our country either by way of military defences or home defence. It is an impossibility to bring our vital industries into one small area for purposes of protecting them, even if it could be done, or if they could be protected. After all, we cannot bring into one small area in this part of the country the aluminum development of British Columbia, the oil wells of Alberta and the iron development of Labrador. There may be some who would like it to be possible, but the fact remains that it cannot be done.
Therefore I suggest that we must be prepared to disperse our industries and to build 94699-121
The Address-Mr. J. A. MacLean shadow factories in respect of certain key industries such as the production of aeroplanes and aircraft engines. There are other incidental benefits which would accrue from the dispersal of our industries. One of these is that it would relieve the congestion connected with the housing problem in some of our largest centres. I am not saying for one moment that by a dispersal of industry the housing problems of Toronto or Montreal, or various other centres, would be solved. I do say, however, that those problems would be relieved.
In my constituency we have a housing problem, too, but it is not the kind of problem one usually hears described. It is altogether different because a large percentage of the houses in the rural area of my constituency are unoccupied. I maintain that if industry were brought to the outlying sections of our country the economy of the country would be improved, as would the social life in those areas. I would say too that children brought up in small towns and villages and in the country have an advantage over those brought up in the larger cities, who must live among the flashing lights and the ringing bells. The child of the modern city must feel something like a ball in a pinball machine. On the other hand a child living in the country either consciously or unconsciously comes to recognize that he is part of God's creation, a fact that stands him in good stead in later years.
Since coming here I have been greatly impressed by the beautiful architecture of this building and by some of the memorial tablets. I noticed one, however, which has an unhappy story behind it. It is a memorial to commemorate sixty years of confederation, bearing the notation that it was donated by Canadians living in the United States. It is a sorry fact that, particularly in that part of Canada from which I come, namely the maritime provinces, ever since confederation there has been a constant flow of the best of our population to the United States. This has taken place simply because our economy has been such that it could not look after the natural increase in population. I agree fully that we should have a program of immigration; but before we start that let us create conditions in our own country which will take care of our natural increase. It may astonish hon. members, as it did me, to learn that a few years ago there were more people of Prince Edward Island stock living in the United States than in Prince Edward Island. My province is the only one the population of which at the present time is smaller than it was in 1890.
The Address-Mr. J. A. MacLean
We in Prince Edward Island, and indeed the people from the maritime provinces generally, have been accused of complaining constantly and of wanting something for nothing. I think we have been justified. In my constituency, even in such small matters as public works, we seem not to have been given fair treatment. For two elections now we have been promised public works. We were told we were going to have a new federal building in Charlottetown, that we would have naval barracks and possibly a new drill hall, and that contracts were going to be let in the area for the repair of small naval vessels. None of these things have materialized.
A few weeks ago a litter of pigs were born on my farm, and as is usually the case there was one runt. In the crucial few days of their lives when the struggle for survival is very keen it was easy to observe that the runt was getting pushed around badly. My hired man was looking at the litter and he said, "I notice every time the underdeveloped pig attempts to improve his position he is pushed around and ends up trying to gain nourishment from a mammary gland which is not functioning." Those were not his exact words but that was the general meaning. Every time I think of that, I think of Prince Edward Island. We are the little fellow at the far end of the Canadian table and little meat let alone gravy ever reaches us. That condition should not be allowed to continue. The government of this nation should be above petty provincialism and should treat all sections of the country in the same way.
A great deal has been said in this debate about the high cost of living. I must admit that the small knowledge of economics which I acquired at university now seems to be badly confused. There has been a great deal of talk about too many dollars being in hot pursuit of too few goods. To me that seems to be completely out of character, especially In Ottawa. If that condition exists in the rest of the country I would say that here in Ottawa we might have a situation where too many goods are flirting discreetly with not enough dollars. This problem of inflation is facing the western world at the present time. We have two commitments today where in the past we had only one. We must try to safeguard our standard of living on the one hand, and we must try to protect ourselves in a military sense against destruction by our enemies on the other. We are in the position where we must have our cake and eat it too. What goes for defence cannot be used to raise our standard of living.
IMr. MacLean (Queens).]
The only way we can do both is to increase our production. We must make two cakes if we are going to have one and eat one.
I maintain that if our economy is to be placed in a strait-jacket, if we are to have complete rationing and complete artificial control of prices without increased production, in the end we will not be any better off. But I do realize that at a time when large numbers of our people are in desperate straits due to the high cost of living there is a great temptation to jump from the frying pan into the fire. There is a great temptation to allow ourselves to be led over the precipice into the abyss of a totalitarian state. I hope that will not happen.
But there is an even greater responsibility facing the present government; it is to see that our free economy is allowed to function in the way it was intended to function, to see that there is competition, and that certain profiteers and racketeers of other sorts are not allowed to sabotage our economy, or allow our free enterprise and our very way of life to fall into disrepute even among our own people. After all it is the free economy that we subscribe to that has made us what we are as a nation. I feel that the problem of inflation can be solved. I think this country would be doing its share to curb inflation in the western world if it did three things. First I would suggest that the tax burden be removed from the shoulders of those in the lower income tax brackets. A large number of the people in this country, such as people on fixed incomes, are in the position that they cannot make ends meet. My good friend and former comrade, the hon. member for Coast-Capilano (Mr. Sinclair) has pointed out that travel in foreign countries helps one to understand his own country. I agree with him because I also have had that privilege. But I would point out to hon. members that travel in this country is also helpful. I have done a lot of travelling in the last year. I have not travelled extensively but I have travelled intensively and have talked to thousands of people in the constituency I represent. They have not experienced the problem of having more money than they know what to do with intelligently. I feel that this is one way in which the problem of inflation could be resolved.
Another way would be to Strengthen the anti-combine and anti-cartel legislation of this country, and above all enforce it. A third way in which inflation could be relieved would be to peg prices where the balance of the
economy has been artificially disturbed by the allotment by the government of certain key materials to defence purposes. If you
are going to artificially upset the balance of the economy by allotting in an arbitrary way materials to certain industry, you must also fix the prices on those materials. If you do not you are going to keep certain supplies away from a given market and you will thereby create a profiteer's paradise. Everyone knows that when a balloon comes to earth and you wish to unload it, the first thing you must do is moor it. If you take away part of its load, when you go back for the rest you will find that the balloon has risen out of reach. That is the sort of thing that is happening to our raw materials. If a large amount of them are going to be removed from the market the price of those commodities should be moored so they will be within reach of ordinary industry.
A lot of people may say that I am an alarmist, or perhaps even a Jeremiah. I do not know, but I certainly do feel that the situation is critical. I feel that western civilization is fighting for its very existence at this moment, both in a military and economic sense. In that regard I should like to point out the lesson history teaches us, that almost without exception every great civilization of the past perished not because it was destroyed by attack from without but because it rotted from within. We must not neglect the defence of our way of life on the home front. Some of you will say that such a thing is an impossibility, that these things do not happen any more, that civilizations do not collapse any more, but that is not the case.
I once had the privilege of going through and examining the Roman baths at Bath, England. I saw there a most impressive place where a very high standard of civilization existed in what must have seemed a very secure world. I doubt very much if the Roman officials who lounged in those baths would have believed that 200 years later waterfowl would be hatching their young in the reeds in that location. That is what history tells us happened. If we are not careful there is at least the possibility that our way of life and our civilization will be destroyed because there are great and powerful forces at work to that end in the world today.
I think the members of this house have two alternatives before them at the present time. The first is, when the amendment is voted upon, to express the opinion of the people they represent, and I think that is what the people want them to do. If they follow the dictates of their consciences that is what they will do. The people I represent look upon the House of Commons as a dog in one sense and they look upon the government as the tail. They are absolutely fed
The Address-Mr. Ferrie up with watching the tail wag the dog. In that connection, by way of reassurance to the dog and warning to the tail, my experience is that if the occasion requires it and the one is severed from the other the dog usually survives but the tail never does. Therefore I would recommend to members of this house that when they are required to consider how they will vote they should follow the dictates of their consciences and vote as the people they represent expect them to vote. If they do that, I feel confident that they will support the amendment moved by the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) and seconded by the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker).
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY