Hon. H. H. STEVENS (Kootenay East):
Mr. Chairman, the procedure at this moment seems somewhat different from that of the special session on the last occasion on which an emergency of this kind arose, but I presume that remarks made now need not be repeated later, at another stage of the proceedings. I should like to address myself briefly and in a very broad and general way to the situation now confronting parliament. By the adoption of the address in reply to the speech from the throne parliament has placed itself clearly on record and has outlined the course that it proposes to take. That course is one of effective cooperation with Great Britain and France in the prosanition of the war. The exact form and defails of that cooperation of course cannot possibly now be disclosed in their entirety. This we recognize fully. As my leader (Mr. Manion) indicated in his remarks the other day, we desire at this time genuinely to cooperate with the government in the discharge of its grave and onerous duties.
I submit that this is not the time for captious criticism or for hypothetical dissertations upon methods or theories of procedure or upon systems of government. In other words, I think we should forget the differences of the past as far as that is possible and genuinely unite and cooperate to face the tragic conditions with which we are confronted at this hour. I wish once again to assure the government, as. my leader has done already, that by constructive cooperation we desire to assist the government in their most difficult task. Perhaps the committee will bear with me while I quote a few words which I recall vividly as being uttered by that great leader of the Liberal party, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, a little over twenty-five years ago. I recall the occasion as if it were yesterday. He stood in his place with that grace and dignity which
War Appropriation Bill
won for him the respect and indeed the veneration of his political friends and political opponents alike. Beloved and respected as he was by those who knew him, I can think of no better sentiment to inspire us in this period through which we are now passing than the words he uttered on that occasion, particularly as they apply to the matter immediately before the house at the moment. Sir Wilfrid said:
Speaking for those who sit around me, speaking for the wide constituencies which we represent in this house, I hasten to say that to all these measures we are prepared to give immediate assent. If in what has been done or in what remains to be done there may be anything which in our judgment should not be done or should be differently done, we raise no question, we take no exception, we offer no criticism, and we shall offer no criticism so long as there is danger at the front.
I shall never forget the tense moments when those words were uttered. I am conscious at this time that conditions at the front are extremely serious. I do not know that this is the time to say much along that line, but I cannot forbear from making one brief reference. Why has Hitler attacked Poland? Here was a little country already in possession of a non-aggression pact with Germany. Poland had no desire or intention of interfering with the affairs of others. It was a country brought once again to life-it is an ancient nation-by the unanimous opinion, other than perhaps that of the Germans, of those who attended the peace conference. Why should Germany want to violate its nonaggression pact? Poland had resisted any contact with the soviet government because it could not sanction the attitude of the soviet authorities. It was a country which was largely agricultural and which sowed its crops under, shall I say, the shadow of religious shrines. Believing as they did very deeply in the efficacy of the Christian religion, it seems to me that there is only one answer to this question-the antipathy and bitterness which existed against the manner of life of these people, against their beliefs, their ideas and their religious conceptions. There seems to be no other reason, which could be offered. As far as Danzig was concerned, the Germans had it. They were in the majority and they were directing its affairs. It is true that Danzig was under the control of a commission of the League of Nations, but the Germans were in as full physical control as they possibly can be at any time in the future. This thought has pressed itself upon my mind. I cannot for the life of me get away from the idea that we here in Canada, just as were the Poles, are faced with the necessity of defending the things which we hold dear, whether they be religious or social or economic.
Turning more directly to the resolution before us, I give utterance again to the sentiments expressed in 1914 by Sir Wilfrid Laurier. To the measures proposed by the government, to the suggestions contained in this resolution, we take no exception and we offer no criticism at this time. We desire to give to the government a perfectly free hand. We desire to offer constructive cooperation in the serious task they have before them. I trust that it will not be considered out of order should any hon. member, whether he sits on the other side of the house or on this, deem it necessary or desirable or advisable during this session, or during the months to come at future sessions, to offer suggestions to the government. Indeed, the other day the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) invited such suggestions. Anything that I shall say to-day is not by way of criticism, but merely by way of suggestion. I know I am expressing the views of my leader and of my colleagues generally when I say that we have no desire to criticize or to prolong the discussion.
The resolution does two things. First, it authorizes the government to make considerable expenditures for certain things that they deem to be necessary and essential for the defence of Canada and the prosecution of that degree of cooperation which we have already sanctioned. Of course it is quite useless, indeed not desirable, to ask for details of these matters now, and we shall not do so. We simply say to the government that we will gladly cooperate, and grant the request for this sanction and trust the government, in fact suggest to the government, that they exercise every reasonable care to see to it that nothing other than the first duty to the country at this time, namely, the public safety, shall be the motive directing them in the expenditure of these funds.
I have one suggestion to make regarding the last paragraph of the resolution, which authorizes the government to raise by way of loan the sum of $100,000,000. In the first place, this loan should be raised at a low rate of interest-a very low rate indeed. I am confident from remarks that have been made to me by responsible financial men that it is possible at this time to raise the funds at a low rate of interest, and I am assured that if the government will ask for the funds it requires on a very low interest basis they will meet with a generous response from the public as well as from financial institutions throughout the country.
Another thought that occurs to me is this. Sometimes when a loan is issued there is a provision that no sums above the amount asked for will be accepted. I suggest to the
Mrar Appropriation Bill
minister (Mr. Ilsley) and through him to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ralston), not in any dogmatic way, that they should accept any amount that is offered, but that they should very carefully consider accepting as much as may be offered. That is my opinion. In other words, leave the loan open, so that if it is oversubscribed the full amount subscribed may be accepted; because I am convinced that the country will need all the financial resources it is able to make available.
The government is asking for $100,000,000, which is to include $16,000,000 already expended, thus reducing the amount made available by the loan to about $84,000,000. Obviously it is not my duty to suggest to the government that that is not enough; but I do express this private opinion, that more may be needed in the next few months. Parliament may not meet until January or February; we do not know, and I personally would not object if the amount to be raised were made larger, because $84,000,000 is only some $30,000,000 more than was asked for in 1914, when circumstances were vastly different from those of to-day. It must be remembered that mechanization, which is the keynote of all present military and naval forces, is very expensive. The government have the right, of course, under governor general's warrants, to supplement the sum now proposed to be raised, if it proves to be insufficient. But it is likely that subscriptions can be obtained at a lower rate of interest now than will be possible later on, and I suggest that that point be kept in mind.
Another suggestion I would make to the minister and the government is this: Do not overlook the gold resources of Canada. It has been demonstrated in the last few years that Canada is capable of producing a tremendous quantity of gold. Not so many years ago when someone suggested that Canada's gold production might reach $100,000,000 he was laughed at, but during the last few years we have produced gold to a value of over $150,000,000, taking into account its increased value; and I think production during the current year will exceed that figure. That is a very substantial amount, and there is no reason why we should not make a maximum use of our gold production in Canada by adding to our reserves and utilizing the advantages which accrue from that method of financing. We often talk about the gold reserve as something so sacred that it must not be touched, a reserve in excess of our minimum requirements which may be used in times of stress or necessity. That is something we should keep in mind. These are times of stress and necessity, and while I would not for one moment
suggest that we should lower the standard of reserves which has been set up, I do think we should add to those reserves from our production, instead of simply shipping the gold out of the country as an export commodity. We should exercise our rights under the law and in accordance with the practice, and use those reserves to the limit to which we are capable of using them.
Another thought that might be expressed at this time, and I offer it largely, if I may so, to encourage the government to follow the path of reasonableness and caution, is this. We hear a lot of talk about the conscription of wealth, but I have not yet heard anyone define in specific terms what he means by the conscription of wealth. The term is used very loosely; I submit there are as many definitions of "conscription of wealth" as there are people who use the phrase. I very much prefer the term "mobilization of wealth." If the conscription of wealth means, for instance, the nationalization of industry, I warn the government against any such step; it would mean national confusion and chaos, and, I believe, collapse, if we were to attempt to change from the present organization of our industrial and financial life to a system of nationalization or government operation of industry. I suggest to the government, therefore, that they approach this question with great care.
But I do hold very strongly-and I gathered from the Prime Minister's utterances the other day that he has some such view in mind- for the coordinating of the wealth resources of the economic structure of Canada in a united effort to prosecute this war; in other words, for the mobilization of the industrial, financial and other resources of Canada for the common purpose. With that I am agreed, and I think it is the objective we should have in mind. In this mobilization, particularly of industrial resources, I suggest that the government keep in mind the splendid compilation of information made by the census bureau of Canada regarding the industrial life of this country. I do not think it is used either by the scholastic fraternity in their economic instruction in the universities, or by financial or industrial men in Canada, or even by the government, to the extent to which it might be. The government should make full use of this compilation of information-which is completely analysed and tabulated by a competent staff of experts who understand their business thoroughly-and of the census bureau and the trained staff in its industrial branch.
I should like to utter a word of encouragement to all as to the attitude of the people
War Appropriation Bill
of this country. I shall give only two or three illustrations which have come to my attention. We hear a great deal about profiteering and the dangers of profiteering, and with all that I agree. We should be extremely careful about profiteering, but on the other hand let us realize the goodwill and the good faith of the people. Only a comparatively small number of the people of this country would selfishly and in a spirit of greed seek to profit from the war. On the other hand, hundreds of thousands of industrialists, merchants, business men and financiers are just as anxious to serve the country without profit as any who can be found in other walks of life. The other day in Ottawa a group of business men met, representing the whole clothing industry. They have offered voluntarily, without any suggestion or influence on the part of the government or any other group, to stabilize wages, to arrange an equitable distribution of orders-that is, to do away with pulling for orders, with one seeking to get an advantage over another, or using political or other influences to get orders-and to place all the resources of the industry at the service of the government virtually at cost, that is, the cost of operation together with overhead. This is a generous offer. It is made by the industry as a group. I suggest that we do everything we possibly can to encourage an attitude of this kind; and I suggest to the government that through the agencies they have set up the same idea might be passed on to other industries. Under our economic system there is the possibility of controlling an industry from within, whereas when we seek to control it from without we often experience difficulty and disappointment. In any case I point to that offer of the clothing industry as one that should be commended.
I received also an offer from the Masters' and Mates' guild, a splendid class of men whom I believe we all honour-men connected with coastwise and deep sea fishing. This communication is from the Pacific coast, but I have no doubt that it will apply also to the other coast. They suggest-as do the marine engineers, another splendid body of men-that they will place their whole guild as a body at the service of the government. Conscription vanishes into thin air when you have suggestions of this kind. I repeat, they suggest they will place the whole body of their membership without reserve at the disposal of the government, and they offer to cooperate with the government in allocating the work that their members are best suited to perform. This is a fine offer, a splendid example which may be and I think will be followed, if it is made known, by many other unions, groups and guilds throughout the country. I say again
that I think public notice of these things ought to be taken and some encouragement and commendation given in regard to them.
I indicated when I rose that my purpose was to be brief and not to delay business. I have offered these few remarks to indicate a course which we as a parliament and also as private members may usefully promote, and also to demonstrate to the government that we wish to render them reasonable cooperation and assistance, to be constructive in our criticisms, and, as far as we possibly can, to make the pathway as smooth as it can be made for them.
I offer, as the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier said, no criticism of this method of financing. In whatever respect it may be different from what we might think would be best, we do not interject objections at this time. We simply suggest that the greatest care be taken as to the manner in which these large sums-not only those now proposed but others which undoubtedly will follow-will be used and expended, and urge that they be expended solely and wholly with regard to the public interest, the prosecution of this great war, the defence of Canada, and our cooperation with the motherland. These are extremely critical times, and we cannot take too seriously the duties which rest upon us at this hour.
Topic: WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic: PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY