Mr. R. W. GLADSTONE (Wellington South):
Mr. Speaker, in the debate on the address ill reply to the speech from the throne the choice of subject is left wide open, and during this debate hon. members who have taken part therein have covered a great range of subjects. I propose to discuss some factors of human relationships in our national economy and to warn against the growth of communism in Canada. I intend to be explicit in certain things so that no one will have room to twist my words and give a wrong interpretation of my attitude toward any sector of the population.
I am a firm believer in trade unions and the -right of collective bargaining, which communism destroys. I believe that through organization the position of labour has vastly improved in recent years. I believe in giving to every person a fair, but not an unfair, opportunity of improving his or her position through personal initiative. I recognize that public utilities constitute a field for government or municipal ownership, and that other public services are adaptable to -co-operative ownership and operation. Otherwise I support private enterprise with safeguards against practices that unduly increase prices to the consumer. With this limitation I believe that Canadian business and industry should be organized, financed, developed and managed by Canadians, individually or in groups.
Agriculture is our No. 1 basic industiy, and I regard profitable farming as an indispensable requirement for full employment in our urban centres and for industrial prosperity. I favour generous assistance, as -I am sure all hon. members do, to veterans and their dependents and to all who, through incapacity or age, cannot earn for themselves. One additional assistance is imperative in my opinion, namely, provision for medical and hospital treatment.
I oppose government control by special interest groups. I believe parliament should be representative of all vocations. Our population divides itself largely into two main groups: one, those who -work close to nature in developing and preparing resources of the farm, the forest, the sea and the mines from which come food, clothing and shelter for all; two, those who work these products further through stages of processing and distribution by means of labour, professional and clerical services, education, science, invention and manufacture. It is
The Address-Mr. Gladstone
largely between the first and last of this second group, labour and manufacturing, that our antagonism, arises, and where sometimes inequality of opportunity exists under the terms of the laws set down by parliament. I wish to deal with these two groups, industry and labour, associating therewith considerations of the theoretical versus the practical in our national economy.
First of all, I will consider industry. In my opinion it is grossly unfair to stigmatize industrialists as profiteers because some may have taken advantage of circumstances to amass fortunes. We ought to strengthen our legislation against the greedy and unscrupulous. Studies should be made to further preventive measures such as may be possible through dominion-provincial co-operation to deal with combines, mergers and the regulation of powers granted under the Companies Act.
The burden of debt places a limit on the undertakings of governments and municipalities. Home owners are ambitious to see their homes free of debt. War added enormously to the debt of Canada. Like home owners, our government should strive to reduce debt to some extent each year, especially during prosperous years. The main source of funds for the reduction of debt must come from profits earned. If we destroy the opportunity of business to earn profits where will be the opportunity to reduce our debt? It is imperative that industry should contribute generously toward the reduction of our national debt after providing a reasonable return on the money invested1. But, first of all, in any industry there should be ample provision for plant modernization and for reserves of working capital whereby industry can carry on through any period of recession, in the interests of highest employment and a minimum lay-off of employees.
Changes in industry through research and invention may see one product replaced by a new product in a very short time. These and other hazards are a constant menace to the continued production of many lines. Speaking of hazards, let us take as an example the former silk manufacturer. He finds today that his product has been replaced largely through plastics, nylons, mercerized cottons and so forth. The same is true of aluminum. This product is finding new competition in magnesium, which is twenty-five per cent lighter and seventy-five per cent stronger than steel. The iceman no longer cuts ice on the rivers and lakes since refrigeration was developed. Take the hazards that the telephone
and telegraph companies have in sleet storms which are so common in this country, requiring the expenditure of tens of thousands of dollars to replace poles and wires.
No industry can survive without machinery as modern as that of its competitors either at home or abroad. Costly laboratories are a necessity of the major industries. New products are developed through research by skilled engineers and scientists. Provision for the continuance of an industry is a justifiable charge against profits earned, and it is vital to continued employment. Expenditures for research would not be available either in time or in amount if approval rested with the government at Ottawa. Disregarding costs, in wartime great organizations of experts can be employed by a government, but not in peacetime.
Let me turn, Mr. Speaker, to some of the considerations that are involved in the successful operation of industries. Mention has been made of some steps taken toward the socialization of industry by the C.C.F. government of Saskatchewan. I would remind you that this experiment commenced during a period of prosperity when goods were in short supply. There is nothing creative in taking over an established industry. I am told that the losses of some industries are pooled with the profits of others so that all may be kept going. Management in industry has to reckon with possible losses as well as with profits. The thing that matters is the progressive development of the industry and its continuance during bad years as well as during good years.
It will be realized that I am a supporter of the right of every person to improve his or her opportunities through the exercise of initiative and by hard work. Let me give an example of the benefaction that came from the inventiveness of one man. That man worked at an idea after his day's work was done and he developed an engine of simple design that could be made cheaply. That man was Henry Ford. The Ford may have been a Tin Lizzie, but it brought the pleasures and health stimulation of nature's farms, forests and lakes to millions of city dwellers.
Henry Ford had a heart for his employees. Nearly thirty years ago, when wages were low, he established a minimum of $5 a day for even the humble sweepers in his plant. The Henry Ford attitude toward employees prevails in many industries today and should be encouraged.
The London chamber of commerce had a survey made of some nine industries in the
The Address-Mr. Gladstone
city of London where the manufacture is carried on of such goods as plumbers' and steamfitters' supplies, threshing machines, hosiery, refrigerators, concrete machinery, doors, cranes, shoes, radios and home appliances. The survey showed total sales of $16,921,375 for those nine industries. Total costs of everything, except wages, salaries and taxes, including materials, outside services, light and power, freight, printing, advertising, insurance, interest and depreciation amounted to $9,529,055. Taxes, including sales tax, amounted to $1,951,052. The remainder was divided as follows: paid 'to workers, $4,612,834; paid to shareholders, $292,166; the remainder being reinvested in buildings, machinery, and working capital in the amount of $536,268. The division of the sales dollar was 56J cents for materials; 11J cents for taxes; 271 cents for workers; \\ cents to the shareholders; 31 cents for new buildings, machinery, inventory, working capital and reserves.
Out of the $5,441,268 that remained after deduction of total cost of materials, et cetera, the workers received 85 per cent, and the shareholders, 15 per cent.
One cannot over-emphasize the importance of an industry being strong to provide good working conditions, latest machinery for economic production, and to meet competition, and with ample financing to give freedom of development. This is all in the interests of employment and a high standard of living.
I will turn now from the management side of industry to the part of labour in processing the natural resources. I think it may be well to divide the consideration of the labour element into two parts relating to the past and the future.
Too much credit cannot be given the great masses of the people for their faithful contribution to the war effort, both on the farm and in 'the factory and elsewhere. The government set an example to the world in the methods they employed in keeping our economy well balanced. Some regulations hurt in places; but, all in all, our people responded cheerfully and made sacrifices where necessary to assist in winning the war.
When the war ended we set our sights toward the restoration of what might be regarded as a new normal. Calculations had been much upset through conditions in Europe and' elsewhere which were beyond our control. The import and export trade has not been as anticipated, and we have experienced difficulty in finding dollars to meet our payments to the United States. The United Kingdom is no longer in a position to make payments to us which will offset our requirements for United States dollars.
Labour has been able to retain and increase the scale of wages paid during the war, but these higher wages have been offset by rising prices of most of the necessities of life. The downward trend of commodity prices in the United States gives hope that the peak in prices may have been reached. There is a great backlog of construction need in Canada which we hope can and will be called upon for continued employment at our present higher scale of wages for the maintenance of our high standard of living in Canada.
The situation has compelled the government to take emergency measures to eliminate our purchases from the United States. We dislike these reductions pertaining to fruits and vegetables which are a more considerable item requiring United, States dollars than we may have realized. For instance, according to the Montreal Standard, in normal times sixty-five carloads of oranges and twenty-five carloads of grapefruit come into Montreal every week. Since November last when quotas were established that quantity has been cut in half.
We become ashamed of our complaining when we recall that for six years or more the people of Britain seldom saw an orange or a grapefruit. Advantage of scarcity was being taken in some places and so control prices of citrus fruits have been re-established. Inflated prices were being asked for cabbage, celery and the like, and measures were taken to correct this. The protest of the housewives was justified and timely.
I do not know whether or not it will be regarded as good politics, but I do not hesitate, to give credit to members of parliament in the C.C.F. group for their efforts in parliament in many circumstances for the maintenance of our high standard of living, a sentence which should not be quoted apart from some things I might mention contra. Solvency of Canada must be maintained. I do think they advocate expenditure of money with little consideration as to where the money will come from. The C.C.F., in
advocating government ownership, point to hydro and to various public utilities as examples of success in public ownership. In Guelph we own and operate our gas and waterworks, transportation system and hydro electric power and1 light distribution most satisfactorily through commissions named annually by the city of Guelph. The control is not in Ottawa; it lies with the electors who pay. Possibly there may be other spheres of public service to which public ownership might well be extended. As a Liberal I can
The Address-Mr. Gladstone
support and promote co-operation in localities where it would seem that the public interest will be served better than through private ownership. But always I would keep the control and direction near to the people %vho pay.
The C.C.F. would nationalize the banks. I disapprove. The people of Canada own the Bank of Canada and thereby exercise certain controls over the privately owned banks. There is no doubt our banks are well managed. It would be disastrous to place discretion as to size of loans in the hands of some government official.
Criticism of industry in Canada comes largely from the C.C.F. party. They give examples of excess profits in some industries and imply that the same may be true in industry generally. I again give members of that group credit for their earnestness and for their contribution toward improvement of social conditions in Canada. They have done well relatively to the things within their own experience, but in relation to industry I fear they frequently expound theories rather than observe practical considerations. The group, having regard to its becoming any considerable factor in government, has a doubtful future. It came into being in Saskatchewan largely through drought conditions and crop failure. Their membership today is generally from Saskatchewan, a few from British Columbia and Manitoba, with but one member in all of Canada east of the great lakes. It cannot be said that experience gives them practical knowledge of the operation of many of the component factors of our economy.
I should like to refer briefly to the picture of the situation in Europe commencing with the early part of this century. We had a prosperous Britain, highly industrialized, and the focal point for the distribution of goods from all corners of the world. We had a Germany that was strong and prosperous through science and invention; but the ambition of the Kaiser for world domination brought on the war of 1914, so disastrous in many respects to the allies and throwing upon Germany a burden of debt against which she struggled for many years. The result was that in desperation a radical party obtained control and, under the dictatorship of Hitler, a new effort through arms came about in 1939, We see the picture of distress today in Europe whereby our empire is in such desperate straits financial and, where the industries of Germany are destroyed and the country dismembered. There came a change in the political alignments in that country and the forcing upon small nations of ideologies that 5849-111
are not a part of democracy. There is surely a lesson there for us in the trend that things may take, where we may be led unwittingly and unsuspectingly from stage to stage into changes in our system of government. I think it is exceedingly desirable that we in Canada, through this period of prosperity, exercise every care and see to it that influences do not undermine the loyalty of many of our people to our democratic form of life. This will come about only through hard times, and I say respectfully to my C.C.F. friends that their chief hope of success in the future may be the result of bard times.
The high cost of living is a matter of concern for all of us in Canada today and means must be found to stop soaring prices and even to roll back prices to some extent. Sir Stafford Cripps, the socialist chancellor of the exchequer in the United Kingdom, has stated that prices cannot be controlled without wages being also controlled. Our hope in Canada is that present scales of wages may be continued while prices in certain places are reduced moderately. There has been demand for rolling back prices to the 1946 level. I would warn that farmers cannot be expected to produce butter at forty-four cents a pound. The ceiling of seventy-three cents may be too high, but it stands there as a barrier against prices soaring to ninety cents and $1 a pound, as in the United States.
Mr. Speaker, our friends in the C.C.F. party-and I am on most friendly terms with all of them-are at the crossroads of their existence as a group of any dimensions in parliament. If conditions deteriorate they may make some gains, but if times are good they are pretty much through. They are good members, so good that if their contribution has pretty much ended, as now constituted, I hope the electors may deal kindly with them by returning many of them to continue their crusading within the ranks of two-party government.
The danger time for Canada is before us. Labour organizers see more difficult times ahead for their unions. If the peak in wage scales has been reached the monthly dues from workers are bound to fall off. The organizers have recognized this danger and hope to meet it by swinging labour into politics as supporters of the C.C.F. This will not succeed, for the reason that very many workers own their own homes. My factory people in Wellington county are solid and sound in their thinking. They fear the extreme in any such movement. The other day I read of a worker who developed a great interest in the socialist party. It went well
The Address-Mr. McLure
Topic: QUESTIONS AFFECTING MEMBERS' TRANSPORTATION
Subtopic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH