Thomas Rodney BERGER

BERGER, Thomas Rodney, O.C., O.B.C., Q.C., LL.B., LL.D.

Parliamentary Career

June 18, 1962 - February 6, 1963
NDP
  Vancouver--Burrard (British Columbia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 39)


February 4, 1963

Mr. Thomas Berger (Vancouver-Burrard):

Mr. Speaker, may I direct a question to the Acting Minister of National Defence. May I ask the minister whether in view of the fact that the United States defence secretary, Mr. McNamara, has told a congressional committee the Bomarc B has only limited usefulness, even against manned bombers, can the minister assure us that under any new dispensation of national defence the government will dismantle the Bomarc bases?

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   BOMARC BASES
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February 4, 1963

Mr. Berger:

On a point of order and with great respect, Mr. Speaker, I submit that the question was a proper question and was in order. The house has a new minister in charge of this department. The new minister, and in fact the former minister, have at no

Inquiries of the Ministry time commented upon the revelations that, came from defence secretary McNamara. They commented on the revelations that emanated from the state department, but in view of these later vitally important revelations I suggest with great respect-

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   BOMARC BASES
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February 4, 1963

Mr. Berger:

He has not made up his mind.

Topic:   ALLEGED LACK OF LEADERSHIP, CONFUSION AND INDECISION
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February 4, 1963

1. During each of the years from 1955 to 1962 Inclusive, what was the amount set aside or reserved by each of the chartered banks of Canada out of income, either by way of write down of the value of assets or appropriation to any contingency reserve or contingent account for the purposes of meeting losses on loans, bad or doubtful debts, depreciation in the value of assets other than bank premises or other contingencies?

2. Were the amounts set aside or reserved out of income for the aforementioned purposes subject to income tax?

3. Did the Minister of Finance in any of the years in question, decide that the amounts set aside or reserved out of income by any bank or banks for the aforementioned purposes were in excess of the reasonable requirements of the bank, having regard to all the circumstances, and notify

1960 1961 1962$17,352 $18,044 $18,3537,825 8,975 9,5007,070 8,300 9,1101,605 2,050 2,09125.280(a) 29,211 20,17228,560 30,750 20,8753,035 4,355 4,575nil nil nil

of Commerce and Imperial Bank of Canada

the Minister of National Revenue accordingly, pursuant to section 68, subsection I, of the Bank Act?

Topic:   BANK RESERVES TO MEET BAD DEBTS, DEPRECIATION, ETC.
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February 1, 1963

Mr. Berger:

Yes, they are. In 1962 the unemployment figure was 5.9 per cent. This represents a decline but, as I said earlier, this represented 414,000 unemployed. The Minister of Labour and the government do not know why unemployment rose sharply from 1953 to 1961. They do not know why it declined slightly from 1961 to 1962. They do not know whether it is going to rise again. They do not know whether it is going to decline further. They do not know what to do about the hard core unemployment that we have had in this country for so many years. The government simply do not know where unemployment comes from, and I suggest they do not know where it goes.

What is most regrettable about the vast unemployment that we have in this country is not the loss of production involved but the demoralizing effect that idleness has upon men and women. Enforced idleness breeds a sense of frustration and uselessness, a consciousness of personal degradation, and this is far more damaging to our society than the loss of production which their idleness represents.

The government's program is one which over a six year period has proved inadequate by any standard. The government have had almost six years to cope with unemployment and do something about it, and they have failed utterly. After six years in office unemployment averaged almost 6 per cent last year. We had 414,000 Canadians unemployed in December, 1962, after the government had had six years to do something about the problem. Many of us recall the empty promise that the Prime Minister made during the election campaign of 1958, when he said that no one would suffer from unemployment as long as he was Prime Minister.

In view of the government's failure, why does the government not adopt a program of genuine economic planning? This is the means by which other countries in the world have cured the unemployment problem. This is how the countries of western Europe and the Scandinavian countries have achieved prosperity and full employment. Why does the government persist in refusing to adopt a program of genuine economic planning? This would involve the expansion of public investment and the regulation of private investment. It would involve the location and relocation of industry. It would involve other

Supply-Labour

measures which come under the heading ot modern, genuine, economic planning.

Why does the government not adopt such a program? After all, what is more important than the provision of jobs for more than 400,000 Canadians who together with their families are suffering, who are not able to enjoy the good things of life that should be the right of every citizen in a country with the abundance that Canada has? What is more important, to provide these people with jobs or to continue to pay homage, as the government does, to economic cliches that have no validity under present day conditions?

When we in the New Democratic party talk about full employment we are talking about something that cannot really be measured statistically. We believe that we will never have full employment in this country until there are more jobs than there are people to fill them. When we reach that situation, Mr. Chairman, it will mean that if there are people moving from job to job, if there are people temporarily unemployed, all of them will live secure in the knowledge that there is useful work for them to do when they are able to do it and when they are required to undertake it.

Speakers in the government party and in the Liberal party, as well as spokesmen for some segments of business and industry in this country, have talked about what they call tolerable levels of unemployment. We in this party do not talk about tolerable levels of unemployment; we regard unemployment as intolerable.

Now, Mr. Chairman, it is not just the manual workers, the craftsmen and the labourers who are the victims of unemployment in Canada today. The white collar worker is increasingly becoming the victim of unemployment. We are all aware of the enormous effect which automation has had upon those engaged in manual work. But we should all realize, and this was apparent from a study made by the economics and research branch of the Department of Labour a year ago, that although automation has increased the number of people required to tabulate and administer and distribute the products of our industrial machine, office mechanization and automation has already cut into that increase. The rate of increase of employment for the white collar worker is already declining. Office mechanization and automation has resulted in the displacement of people employed in sales, administrative and clerical work.

As a matter of fact, an article appeared in the Globe and Mail for November 23, 1962

headed "Automation May Soon Cut Middle-Management Ranks". It is a report by Ronald Anderson and reads in part as follows:

Automation, which has been blamed for high unemployment among unskilled workers, may soon cut into the ranks of middle-management.

Professor J. A. Sarjeant of the University of Toronto school of business told a graduate seminar this week the number of middle-management jobs will be reduced during the next ten years as computors take over many of the planning operations.

Now, Mr. Chairman, business plans ahead, industry plans ahead, so why should not the government of Canada plan ahead? It is essential that the government plan ahead, that the government set some course for Canada's economy, that the government lay down an economic blueprint for this country; otherwise the unemployment problem will get worse and worse as the years go by. It is going to have an increasing effect not only upon the manual worker but also upon the white collar worker.

We in this party believe that in years past we have been governed in this country by people who felt no sense of challenge; we have been governed by people who had neither the imagination nor the will to grapple with the difficulties we face. We have a Prime Minister who cannot make up his mind. We have a Leader of the Opposition who keeps changing his mind.

We observed them yesterday indulging in childish recriminations. These people have no solutions, they offer no solutions to the enormous problems that face us. They denounce a party that proposes a program of genuine economic planning and refer to that program as "magic nostrums". At the same time they propose, for purely political considerations, policies of debt free money. The two party system in this country is today a thing of the past because the two old parties have utterly failed to comprehend the problems that Canada faces in the second half of the twentieth century. We saw yesterday their paucity of ideas and the inconsistency of their policies in relation to foreign affairs. We have seen in this debate, as we have in previous debates during this parliament, evidence of the fact they are at a loss to know what to do about unemployment.

We in this party, Mr. Chairman, believe it is the responsibility of the government of this country to plan our economy to make sure that we achieve prosperity and full employment, to make sure there is useful work for every man and woman who wants to work. We believe it is the responsibility of the government of this country to bring about that situation. We think it could be done if only the government had the imagination and

the will to do it, because it has been done in so many other countries in other parts of the world.

We in the New Democratic party, Mr. Chairman, so long as this parliament lasts will fight to make sure that the government discharges its responsibilities to the people of Canada, and more particularly to ensure that this government discharges its responsibilities to the unemployed of Canada by providing jobs for people who should have had them long ago.

Topic:   I. 19G3
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