I am sorry if my remarks have been incorrectly interpreted. We do not desire to criticize destructively but to offer constructive criticism. And now, Mr. Speaker, I will close. By profession I am a clergyman, one of only three, I believe, in the present parliament. Now, as a clergyman, I marry people to make them happy; as a clergyman, I bury people when they are dead. A few months ago we witnessed, I think I can say, the pre-nuptials in the glorious election; I believe last week we perhaps arrived at the place where we witnessed the marriage ceremony, and hon. members opposite have begun to sail the seas of political matrimony in perfect harmony. How they do love one another! I offer them my sincere wishes, as I offer many young couples health, happiness and prosperity and, of course, the proverbial "May all your troubles be little ones." We desire to contribute something to their happiness and welfare; but I do trust-and I am saying this in all seriousness-that in the next five years I shall not have to suffer the embarrassment of having to take part in the funeral service.
Hon. CHARLES A. DUNNING (Minister of Finance): I shall detain the house but a few moments. I wish to congratulate my old friend the hon. member for Broadview (Mr. Church) upon retaining his old time ability to draft an omnibus resolution which would permit the house to discuss almost anything under the sun, also upon his manner of presenting his resolution and upon the general tone and temper of the debate. The hon. member for Davenport (Mr. MacNicol) contributed constructively; but naturally, oecupy-
ing a seat on this side of the house, I listened with great pride to the hon. member for Trinity (Mr. Plaxton), in his maiden speech. The house gave him the usual respectful hearing accorded a first effort, and I feel sure that everyone, regardless of which side of the house he sat on, was pleased, that the hon. gentleman acquitted himself so well. May I also say that in my opinion, as the Hansard of this house of to-day is read in future years, it will be generally conceded that the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) in his maiden speech made a notable contribution indeed. In fact, the debate as a whole has been on a very high level, if one excepts the somewhat partisan remarks of the hon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps). There is evident in the house a sincere desire on the part of all members to contribute something constructive toward the solution of problems, the existence of which we all recognize, and in connection with which we all assume our due responsibility for offering something, during the period of our presence here, to bring about improvement.
I only desire to say one or two words by way of information with respect to last session's housing act which has been discussed by several speakers. The hon. member for North Winnipeg was rather reproachful of the previous government and of this one as well, because greater progress had not been made. He spoke very disparagingly of the fact that less than a million dollars has yet been advanced out of the ten millions appropriated by parliament for this purpose. Of course, the less than a million advanced does involve five times that amount of construction. One should bear that in mind, and it is well also to bear in mind that while the legislation was passed in July of last year, we were already entering upon a general election. The legislation depended for its successful operation upon acceptance, by a variety of interests, of various responsibilities under the terms of the law.
Business interests generally are not inclined to assume new obligations just created by an expiring parliament. There was very definitely a waiting tendency on the part both of those who were expected to supply part of the funds, and of the construction industry generally in relation to the dominion housing act. The present government found that condition on coming into office, but it has decided that the housing act now on the statute books is worth a fair trial. No one in the house would claim perfection for it. I am sure the sponsors of it would not. We certainly do not regard it as perfect, but we do
Reconstruction Policy-Mr. Dunning
believe that the experience which the government and the house and the country generally may gain by operating it in its present terms will give us the surest possible lead as to the manner in which it may be improved and made more effective. The number of applications coming in is steadily increasing. The number of loaning institutions, life insurance companies and the like, who are taking advantage of its provisions, signing the agreements provided for in the law, is increasing. Some companies are even advertising for business under the terms of the act.
Someone mentioned the desirability of widening the terms of the law in order to create machinery whereby renovation and repair of existing properties might be made possible. Whatever merit there may be in such an idea, it is very doubtful if the machinery of the dominion housing act is the best means of effecting that end. We are watching very carefully the experience in the United States with respect to legislation of this character, that is legislation having to do with the repair and renovation of existing properties and also with respect to slum clearance. In the discussion last year it became quite apparent that no one expected the present housing act to effect what is described as slum clearance. That is a far greater and wider problem than the provision of new moderate priced houses.
As to the other subjects discussed, reforestation and the like, I can only repeat what I said a day or two ago with respect to the supplementary estimates, that each department of the government and each minister are now studying with the utmost care the possibility of providing productive public works expenditures. Perhaps I should not have used the term "public works." What I mean is expenditures to create employment which will be productive and self-sustaining rather than expenditures of such a type as to create further expenditure. To illustrate: We would like, if we could, to get away, as far as possible -we cannot get away from it altogether-from building that class of building which, while adding to a certain public facility, let us say a post office, does not increase the revenues of that facility one iota but does operate to increase the expense of operation. When you build a fine new post office in a small community, that is merely the commencement of the expense in connection with it, because for ever after you must keep it up; you must clean it; you must provide caretakers with salaries and so forth to look after it. That is an illustration of what I call relatively unproductive public expenditures, and I know those
who have served in previous governments will agree with me that it is rather difficult to provide a sufficiency of the other type of public expenditure. That question is engaging the attention of all the members of the government at the present time, and I think it is a little early in the session for the hon. member for North Winnipeg to reproach us so bitterly because we have not now, within two days of the conclusion of the debate on the address, brought down a full-fledged program to solve all the problems to which he referred.
We know the country is expecting much of this parliament; it has a right to. We will attempt to discharge our responsibilities. And we appreciate the manner in which hon. members generally have discussed the resolution now before the house. Probably the purpose of the resolution has been served by the discussion which has taken place. Perhaps my hon. friend who moved it will not agree with me, but to my mind the great advantage of these private members' resolutions is that the government is given an opportunity to learn publicly the constructive ideas brought here by every member of the house, no matter from what part of the country he may come or to what particular party he may belong. That is a great advantage. As to whether it is desirable to have a vote, of course that is in the hands of the mover of the resolution.
Topic: RECONSTRUCTION POLICY
Subtopic: PROPOSED MEASURES IN RESPECT OF HOUSING, LAND SETTLEMENT, REFORESTATION,- YOUTH IN EDUCATION, INDUSTRY AND EMPLOYMENT