Thomas William BIRD

BIRD, Thomas William

Personal Data

Party
Progressive
Constituency
Nelson (Manitoba)
Birth Date
May 4, 1883
Deceased Date
June 9, 1958
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_William_Bird
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=c111b992-19d9-4d12-9d89-aecc72e09544&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
clergyperson

Parliamentary Career

December 6, 1921 - September 5, 1925
PRO
  Nelson (Manitoba)
October 29, 1925 - July 2, 1926
PRO
  Nelson (Manitoba)
September 14, 1926 - May 30, 1930
PRO
  Nelson (Manitoba)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 137)


May 15, 1930

Mr. T. W. BIRD (Nelson):

Mr. Speaker,

I have reliable information that a large number of workmen are stranded at The Pas and are in a serious condition. These men were lured there by prospects of work on the Hudson Bay railway and at Fort Churchill. Can the government do anything either to find these men work or give them free transportation to their homes?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYED WORKMEN AT THE PAS
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April 11, 1930

Mr. BIRD:

I think it would be a good thing if the trustees would cooperate with some of the large departmental stores. Throughout western Canada I suppose the T. Eaton Company is responsible for most of the art which appears upon the walls of our homes, and such stores would be of great assistance in the distribution of these etchings.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
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April 11, 1930

Mr. BIRD:

Have the trustees of the

national gallery made any attempt to distribute the benefits to be derived from that institution by means of photographs or the newer processes of etching? This gallery should try to spread the benefits of art into domestic surroundings. There are many humble people who have not sufiicient means to indulge in art in the sense we know of it, but these pictures could be duplicated by modern processes of etching, and distributed. At times I have found it very difficult to obtain copies of works of art, especially etchings, and I do not think it is right to hoard up works in any institution.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
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April 4, 1930

Mr. BIRD:

That question has been answered so frequently that I would have thought my hon. friend's education would have been, by this time, well advanced along that line. We cannot escape the logic of the situation. My hon. friend says that he represents labour in this house, and I accord to

Unemployment-Mr. Bird

him the honour which he claims for himself. Let me read the pronouncement of one of the most outstanding labour men at the present time. In my opinion he is one of the most sincere labour men in Great Britain, a man who has suffered a great deal for his principles. I refer to Hon. Mr. Lansbury. In regard to this very question that my hon. friend has interjected he saj's, speaking of the Labour government of which he is a member:

We also tackled the question of free trade and tariff reform, taking our stand that neither of these shibboleths could ever be a solution of the poverty problem. We pointed out that in this land, under free trade and free competition, women, children, even babies were exploited; that slums and workhouses, mental asylums, and all social disorders of our day were the accompaniments both of protection and free trade. We also proved that the state and municipal socialist action was absolutely necessary to curb the terrible social evils which, during the days of free trade and protection had grown up in the great industrial centres owing to the reckless manner in which trade and industry were carried on. We argued that neither tariffs nor free trade do secure decent standards of life for our people.

I think that is a sufficient answer to my hon. friend, because while I accord to him the privilege which he claims of representing labour in Canada, yet at the same time I think the Hon. George Lansbury is an authority equal with his own. I was intending to come to that point a little later.

My purpose at the present time was not to enter into a controversy on the tariff. I was pointing out that the government wields an instrument that may at any moment displace labour in this country. I am not speaking of the eventualities that may happen years from now. Any serious change in fiscal policy almost at once displaces labour from one end of the country to the other, and if this parliament has any human feeling at all it would never presume to make any such change unless it provided for the displacement of labour that would surely be one of the fruits of its policy. We are coming to a time when the people are going to demand such humane consideration on the part of parliaments. They say to parliaments: We are not so much concerned with your policies as with their effects upon human beings. We want protection for human beings.

I want to conclude my remarks by stressing that point. I would like to appeal to the humanity of the Prime Minister. I do not think from what I know of him that an appeal like that will be altogether lost. I am not one who mocks at the idealism of the Prime Minister. I think that it is one of the finest manifestations that we have in CanatMr. Bird.]

dian public life. The fact that it may not have borne fruit is a matter for further discussion, but the fact that we have a Prime Minister who does show some comprehensive knowledge of these problems is, I think, something gained. It is a starting point at any rate; but, of course, it ought not to stop there. I would like to appeal to the Prime Minister's idealism. I know that other appeals are perhaps obscured by considerations of party, by presuppositions that really do not relate to the human element. But clearly this is a matter of human importance. Here is something that concerns the immediate well-being of men, women and children.

There are in the final analysis only two kinds of economic theory in existence; there have been only two ever since men have exchanged products with one another. The first theory was crystallized into a doctrine over a hundred years ago, a theory which postulated that the way to make a country great and wealthy was to subordinate the individual to the state, that the only way to build up a country in grandeur, in material possessions, was to forget the individual, to subordinate him to the necessities of the state. The other theory was the reverse. It maintained that the true economics was the economics which subordinated the state of the individual.

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT AMENDMENT OF MR. HE.APS TO MOTION FOR COMMITTEE
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April 4, 1930

Mr. BIRD:

Still my point has force, that we have a class of workingmen in Canada which is not organized, a class which finds itself in the queue at the soup kitchen. These

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men are large in number, but they are not organized; they have no means of making their position felt in the house; they have no one to lobby for them in Ottawa.

The unorganized classes, whether they be farmers or labourers, must learn a lesson: that there is only one way in which they can get justice from the powers that be, namely, through organization. I see very little hope of the unemployed receiving consideration from any government until they become organized so that their diffused power may be focused. There is a good deal of inertia to be overcome among all classes in this country.

A few years ago a prominent public man in the United States said that if ever that country had a revolution it would be produced not by the bolsheviks but by the boneheads. The bonehead constitutes a very large class in any industrialized country, and that class is made up of many varieties. One variety is composed of people who are moved by crass stupidity in regard to social and economic matters. I have actually heard pious people quoting the Scriptures in order to prove that the solution of the unemployment problem was hopeless because the Author of Christianity once upon a time said that the poor will always be with us. That is one kind of attitude which still obtains in almost every industrialized country-a hopeless, stupid outlook upon this question. There is also what I would describe as the Pharisee in modern economic life, the man *who says: If a man is unemployed he has nobody to blame but himself; it is his own fault. Does anyone deny we have that class in Canada? You can find in every city and town the man who, with a superior air, says that if a man is unemployed it is his own fault. I remember years ago reading the life of Will Crooks, one of the first labour members at Westminster. That story of Will Crooks' life cured me of that attitude. He was a man representing the best type of British workman who in his young married life walked the streets of London day after day, and only by an extraordinary amount of will power saved himself from going over the precipice and becoming one of London's unemployables.

There are other attitudes which have been taken. There is the attitude taken by the Prime Minister the other day. I know the Prime Minister is not a stupid man; I would not classify him with people who are labouring under traditional views on this question, but just the same his speech was a real disappointment to me, a disappointment all the keener because some of us saw that speech on the background of the Prime Minister's

Unemployment-Mr. Bird

own mind, a mind that is illuminated with modern economic truth; and I say that a speech such as he delivered the other day was on that account all the more lurid in its deficiency. As I analysed the speech as he went along, I found he gave seven arguments against doing anything immediately for the unemployed in this country. Each of those arguments individually was to me very unconvincing. Collectively they lacked logical coherence; there was running through them no thread of reason. I have not time tonight to refer to them in detail and if I had it would possibly be superflous, because others have adequately dealt with them. Some of those arguments were very far-fetched. For instance the Prime Minister said that stressing unemployment conditions would act detrimentally upon the flow of capital to Canada. That is a far-fetched argument; it is an unworthy argument, because, after all, capital does not enter into the same category with suffering human beings. But from another standpoint, as someone said this evening, it is not right, it is not safe, to hide an evil. It is not safe to talk in quiet tones about something that , is festering in the body politic. When the Prime Minister said that, he reminded me of the refined old lady who died of gastric trouble. The reason she died was because she always told the doctor she had a pain in the chest; she was ashamed of saying where the pain really was. If we Canadians get into the habit of covering over, glozing over, the social evils that are corroding our national life, the possibilities are that those evils will presently become a focal point that will gradually poison our social life. A labouring class-and I dislike using that term-that is well taken care of, that is relieved of its fears, is in any country one of the things that will attract not only capital but everything else we desire to have as a country.

Some of the Prime Minister's arguments were, if not far-fetched, plausible. I am not going to enter into a discussion in regard to the British North America Act because I think that has been very well dealt with. But there was one argument that struck me as being altogether misplaced and it was this: the Prime Minister said: If we yield to this

plea it will mean favouring one class of the community, namely, the labouring class, but the farming class and the professional class will be left out in the cold. I have only one way to answer that and it is this: that the attitude, the spirit, that is out to readjust industrial conditions in this country is the attitude, the spirit that will ultimately adjust

farming matters. Fundamentally the farmer and the industrial worker stand upon common ground. Any attempt to divide their interests can be successful only so long as those two classes do not understand wherein their interests lie. In fact, I cannot see any hope for either the farmer or the industrial worker until they understand the common ground upon which they stand. The spirit in which we in this comer are supporting the industrial worker is identical with the spirit in which we support the producer. After all, it is the attitude, the spirit, which counts.

As to responsibility, the Prime Minister, while recognizing the problem, tried to escape the responsibility. As I view the matter, as I have heard the causes of unemployment discussed in this debate, every cause of the condition we have been referring to points to the national parliament. The problem is a national one, in the only sense in which the word "national" can apply. I am not going to enumerate to-night the causes of unemployment because I would be merely going over ground that has already been traversed; but each cause that has been discussed during this debate resolves itself into a question of policy that belongs to the federal parliament. I do not know of any single cause of unemployment that belongs to any particular section. Take it, for instance, from the point of view of the Conservatives to our right. They say that unemployment is due to the policy of low tariffs that is formulated in this house. It seems to me that a Conservative government when in power would, by the very force of its own position, have to formulate a policy for unemployment. They recognize the unemployment problem as originating here. But the same logic applies to my friends the Liberals. However much they try to shirk the inference, we know that the enactment of a fiscal policy either one way or the other will displace labour in this country; there is no question about that. This house wields an instrument which is potent for good or ill to the labouring men. If you raise the tariff, you certainly put men out of work. If you lower the tariff, you certainly put men out of work.

Topic:   SUPPLY-UNEMPLOYMENT AMENDMENT OF MR. HE.APS TO MOTION FOR COMMITTEE
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