William McLean HAMILTON

HAMILTON, The Hon. William McLean, P.C., O.C.

Personal Data

Progressive Conservative
Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (Quebec)
Birth Date
February 23, 1919
Deceased Date
June 7, 1989
business executive

Parliamentary Career

August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
  Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (Quebec)
June 10, 1957 - February 1, 1958
  Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (Quebec)
  • Postmaster General (June 21, 1957 - July 12, 1962)
March 31, 1958 - April 19, 1962
  Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (Quebec)
  • Postmaster General (June 21, 1957 - July 12, 1962)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 330 of 331)

January 14, 1954

Mr. Hamilton:

As I understand it, air mail is carried on Trans-Canada Air Lines in two ways. If it is prepaid, in other words, at the seven-cent rate, it automatically goes by air. If it is not prepaid it is treated on the same basis as air cargo, and since only 7 per cent of air mail is prepaid whereas another 25 per cent is carried at normal postal rates I would assume that the situation with respect to air cargo and air mail is very similar. However, I have no doubt that the Postmaster General will be good enough to explain that to us as time goes on.

I should like to say just a word, because I did cover the matter previously in an earlier speech, on the question of deliveries of mail. What a miserable situation it is that great areas of our country, major portions of our cities, important business communities, important sections of important business communities, should be denied adequate mail delivery, and should be told that they have to get by with one delivery a day.

Streets where you have store after store after store and business after business after business adjacent to each other are, in many cases, denied twice daily delivery. They have to work out other methods. They have to supplement the work of the Post Office Department with the work of their own staffs in order to be able to get their mail on time and deal with it adequately.

This and many other things are a reflection of what seems to be a general decline in the standards of the post office service in the last number of years. I do not think that it is necessarily a decline due to the members of the staff at the lower level, because most of them have been in their positions for many years. But the decline is taking place and we must search for the cause somewhere. Since the only place where there seems to be some change is in the top people in the department, and particularly the minister, perhaps we should examine the minister. However, I would suggest that if the minister feels so inclined he might be brave enough to let us have access to the Woods-Gordon report to which he has referred. As I understand it, that was a study of certain aspects of the operation of the post office, and I believe it has never been tabled in the house.

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January 14, 1954

Mr. Hamilton:

You had better clean up your mail boxes so they do not look like garbage cans.

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January 14, 1954

Mr. Hamilton:

I think we might get a great deal of interesting information from it and I shall be delighted to see it. Thank you for the offer.

Summarizing what I have tried to set before the house today, may I say that, first, the government has used the post office to pile up huge surpluses in the past twenty years in direct contradiction of the policy of the Post Office Department in previous years; second, the government, for reasons best known to itself, has forced the post office to subsidize the operation of Trans-Canada Air Lines in order that Trans-Canada Air Lines might show a profit; third, the government, through excessive use of the franking privilege by its various departments, is burdening the post office with costs of other departments; fourth, that the users of first-class mail are being forced to pay more than the cost of their service in order to subsidize losses on other classes of mail which are quite legitimate, but which should be properly charged to the general revenue of the government; fifth, that this government is not giving adequate or sufficient postal service at the present time; and, sixth, that

Post Office Act

the government and the Postmaster General seem to have made no demonstrated case at the present time that the proposed increases are required.

For these reasons I am opposed most definitely to the legislation now before the House of Commons.

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January 14, 1954

Mr. Hamilton:

That is the air freight rate. The other is an estimate made from the Post Office Department report and the T.C.A. report.

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November 25, 1953

Mr. W. M. Hamilton (Notre Dame de Grace):

Mr. Speaker, no one, I imagine, rises to speak in this house for the first time save with a certain amount of fear. While I am very conscious of my own shortcomings as a new member, I am encouraged to make this effort by the friendship and fellowship which has already been made so evident toward me from all parts of this house and from a great many of the members. I certainly hope to enjoy it for many years to come.


We, from Quebec, enjoy the same measure of understanding and friendship between the two racial groups forming the majority in our country.

This friendship between the two races has been of great help in the past and it still continues to bring to our country the drive necessary to its progress and development.

It may happen sometimes that our opinions differ, but the fact remains that the respect to which each group is entitled exists between us.


At the outset of my remarks I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to my opponent in the past election who represented the riding of Notre Dame de Grace or Mount Royal, as it was known earlier, from 1940 to 1953. While I have always liked and respected Mr. Whitman, since my arrival the comments about him made to me by his innumerable friends on both sides of this house brought into sharp focus the esteem in which he was and is held by all who knew him. He was popular and was liked by everyone both inside and outside parliament, and while I am very happy to be here I am sorry that my gain was his loss, because I know you will all miss him.

The constituency which I represent is the largest in point of population on the island of Montreal, and it is largely residential. While we have our quota of stores and indus-

tries, I take my greatest pride in the people who live in Notre Dame de Grace and Montreal West, the two areas which comprise the riding. Few of us are rich and fewer still are poor. Few of us are famous and very few of us are notorious. The majority of us are English-speaking, but about one-quarter of us look upon French as our native tongue and about 2,000 are at home in Italian, while you do not have to look very far to find those who have come to Canada from all over the world and who now make their home with us because they think it is a nice place to live. We have Protestant, Catholic and Jewish houses of worship in the area.

An instance of the way in which we all live together and get along together may be found in the fact that a Jewish congregation for a couple of years met and held their services in a Presbyterian church while they were awaiting the erection of their own synagogue. All in all I think we can be proud of ourselves, because we are a typical part of urban Canada and we are making our contribution in many ways to the development and progress of a country of which we are very proud.

But we do have our problems, and one is the question of low-flying aircraft. Not too far to the west of us lies Dorval airport, and every hour there are airplanes passing overhead. These planes go over at heights which seem to us to be unreasonably low, and we are fearful that before very long some mechanical failure, some human error or some act of God will bring death and destruction crashing down from the skies into our homes. All of us are worried as we read from time to time in the newspapers of such accidents in other parts of the world. Surely there must be some method by which the menace of many airplanes flying low every day over the major populated areas could be removed. Perhaps it could be done by rerouting their path to the airport, or perhaps by an amendment to the regulations which would make them fly at greater altitudes. I think this is a problem which affects many communities across Canada, and one which deserves the careful consideration of the government.

Another of our problems in this riding is caused by the fact that it is largely bisected by the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway which enters Windsor station through Notre Dame de Grace. For this reason there is no communication between the northern and southern sections of the riding for perhaps a mile and a half. Hundreds of cars, because this is a major metropolitan area, must go many blocks out of their way in passing from

The Address-Mr. Hamilton one section to the other. What is badly needed are two underpasses at strategic points beneath this railway line, and this matter of course comes to this house through the board of transport commissioners which answers to the government. In co-operation with the civic authorities of Montreal, we have already studied this matter carefully and we have definite ideas on the subject. However, we are going to need both the authority to proceed with the project and some measure of assistance from the funds which are made available by the government for this purpose. I hope that when the matter comes up for consideration it will be dealt with speedily.

The whole question of level crossings, overpasses and underpasses, is one affecting many parts of the island of Montreal. I feel that the government has not dealt with it adequately. Each year in our Montreal area alone many people are killed because of inadequate protection at road and rail intersections. The $1 million per year which the government makes available in its estimates for correcting this situation in all of Canada is totally inadequate, even allowing for contributions by all the parties concerned. It is going to be impossible to clear up this condition if the present attitude is continued. This is a matter of national interest, and I hope the study which the board of transport commissioners is currently making will not be long delayed in presentation and will not be pigeonholed when it does arrive.

I have just one more observation concerning Notre Dame de Grace, and then perhaps I can proceed to other matters. Our postal service is totally inadequate for the needs of a community such as ours. While we are essentially a residential community, stores and businesses are scattered throughout the area. We have numerous salesmen and representatives who combine both home and office. For some reason which was defended on the grounds of economy, but which still did not seem to result in any great reduction in the Post Office Department expenses, mail delivery in our area was reduced a few years ago from twice a day to once a day. This has caused us a great deal of inconvenience. My riding is an integral part of a great city. It is a busy place with many interests, and it is dependent upon an adequate postal service. Many of these activities are being seriously handicapped and inconvenienced by a postal service which would be more appropriate for a small, sleepy country village. We feel that we are entitled to the restoration of adequate postal facilities.

All of Canada, and certainly I think all of Montreal, is awaiting with great interest some indication of a definite date on which work on the St. Lawrence seaway is going to begin.


The Address-Mr. Hamilton We have heard many speeches on this subject from members of the government. We have heard many rather vague statements on the subject. Indeed, during the period of the election I rather expected any day to see a photograph in the newspaper of the Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier) and the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Winters) turning the first sod with gold-plated shovels supplied by the Minister of Defence Production (Mr. Howe). But somehow nothing seems to have happened. I hope that in the course of this debate one of these gentlemen will give us some indication of a definite date upon which these promises will begin to be implemented.

As a councillor in the city of Montreal I have acquired some little knowledge of the problems facing municipalities in Canada. They are serious problems. While the cities in this country have so far been able to keep their heads above water, despite the government's rather callous attitude towards them, the time is rapidly approaching when the federal government must adopt a more considerate attitude if municipal finance is to continue on a sound basis. Today municipal progress and development is grinding to a halt. Capital improvements which are particularly necessary to solve the crowded traffic conditions in the centre of almost every Canadian city cannot be undertaken because they cannot be financed. Police forces are undermanned, and they cannot give adequate traffic safety protection. Water and sewage plants are loaded to capacity and beyond capacity.

In Montreal in September the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton), speaking to an international gathering of municipal officials, congratulated them on being mayors with imagination. Unfortunately, while this government has done rather well through the use of its imagination-its imaginary health scheme is one excellent example of what can be done in this field, and its imaginary devotion to free enterprise is another-municipal administration is a very realistic matter. No amount of imagination can solve the problems which are facing our municipalities, because they are fundamentally problems of finance and a dollar is not imaginary.

The civic government is the government which is closest to the citizens of Canada. It is the government which they see in action every day of the year. It is the government which protects them against fire and theft, which cleans the streets and takes away the garbage, which brings in water and takes

away sewage. It performs all the very essential functions in a modern civilized municipality. It seems only reasonable that this municipal government deserves the help of the federal government in performing these essential functions.

Certainly the two basic suggestions made by this party regarding federal-municipal relationships in the field of finance should be implemented immediately by this government, because they represent no concession by the government but merely the granting to municipalities everywhere of that which is their due. I refer, of course, to allowing cities to tax federal real estate on the same basis as 'other property, and releasing municipalities from the obligation of paying federal sales taxes on their purchases-a tax, by the way, which is paid by no other level of government and which certainly should not be paid by our cities. I was glad to hear in the speech from the throne some indication that action was contemplated in this field. We do not know what the measure will be, but I do hope that when it is introduced it will be in keeping with the size of the problem which exists.

Since my arrival in Ottawa I have come to realize under what a tremendous handicap members on this side of the house labour, due to the absence of any adequate trained technical assistance for purposes of research, and other functions of a similar nature. Members of the government have at their disposal literally squads of highly trained personnel, economists, scientists, research people and others, to work with them; and so they should, for the responsibilities of the government are heavy and their duties great. But surely this side of the house, too, with its equally great responsibilities to examine actions of the government, to conduct our own research into problems which face us and to develop our own thinking on the issues of the day-surely we are entitled to a reasonable measure of assistance and a staff section to do work which we have not time to do.

Perhaps a first step in this direction might be made through the establishment of a research service like that which is available to congressmen in the United States. Called the legislative reference service, it is a division of the library of congress and is freely available to all comers from their legislative chambers on a non-partisan basis. Through it a congressman may get a quick digest of a complicated bill or law, together with all the arguments adduced either for or against it. He can get a research report on anything

from atoms to zwieback, or the entire substance for a speech on any knotty subject to which he may refer, and get the information he might need-and it will be noted that I spell knotty "k-n-o-t-t-y". I was not worried at all about hon. members in this house, but this material does get into print.

The introduction of such a service for hon. members on this side of the house would, I think, be welcomed by all parties. It would supply us with basic information which we badly need but do not always have time to obtain. And to the extent that it made this information available to us I think it would assist us in arriving at sound basic decisions.

I have been impressed in this connection by the number of people, just ordinary citizens, with whom I have discussed this matter and who simply did not believe that some sort of assistance of this kind was not available to us. I can understand that, because it is hard for anyone to comprehend that a government with about 175,000 civilian employees, and a full complement of experts to do much of the thinking for each of its ministers, is not interested enough in careful scrutiny and debate of those measures to provide some degree of assistance in the field of technical research for opposition parties.

Now for a few moments I should like to deal with the steady movement of the present government toward socialism, a trend which was demonstrated so clearly in recent weeks when they refused to offer a private corporation the opportunity to enter into even partial competition with the government's personal air line.

But before I do that I should like to express as my personal view that one of the great strengths of this Conservative party lies in its continued adherence to the basic principles of free competition and free enterprise. Young men like myself, and young women, who have confidence in the future of this great country, and also a certain confidence in ourselves and in our ability to build for the future, do not want the golden opportunities of this future denied to us by a paternalistic government, such as the present one, which wants to do our thinking and our planning for us. We want to retain our independence, and we feel we can best do so as members of a party which stands for economic freedom of the individual and is opposed to the domination of the individual by the state.

To demonstrate how far the present government has crept, in secret and in stealth, toward socialism, I would like to

The Address-Mr. Hamilton show how closely their attitude toward their responsibilities, as expressed by the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) himself, parallels that which is openly set forth by the avowed socialists of this country.

The case for the socialists comes from a book entitled "Social Planning for Canada," which the late Mr. Woodsworth, then leader of the C.C.F. party, in a preface terms "undoubtedly in line with the Regina manifesto". Speaking of national planning, which is of course the base of the socialist approach to government, the authors of "Social Planning for Canada" said at page 222:

The basic logic of central planning is the need for some authority with the responsibility and the competence to see the economic problems of the entire nation as an integral whole.

And again at page 228:

Democratic decision on such highly technical points as whether tariffs should be low or high, or what the percentage of bank reserves should be, is naturally absurd.

And then at page 251, referring to existing control of some aspects of railroad transportation, we find this:

What is required is the consolidation of these controls, and then a deliberate use of them to forward a conscious and consistent social policy.

That, then, is the essential idea of socialists as expressed in this book. Turning to the stand of the present government, we have an address delivered by the Prime Minister at a meeting of the air industries and transport association. Doubtless realizing the weakness of his entire position, he starts out by defending it by a comparison between the jet aeroplanes of today and the wood-burning locomotives of 40 to 75 years ago when he says that the federal government-

-wants to prevent a recurrence of abuses that occurred in Canada's early days when lines were built where there was not enough traffic to support them.

Surely, if he had any comparison to make, he could have found something of the present day, instead of using the dead hand of history to try to arrest our progress in 1953. Then the Prime Minister, in his address, proceeded to lay down very clearly the premise that the present government has decided it will supplant the normal economic processes of a free society. He said:

We will endeavour to determine whether there is enough business in sight for two lines to serve the public at reasonable rates and with reasonable profit.

The decision of the cabinet, he said, would be based on-

1. What is best for the public, not just for a short period, but indefinitely;

2. What will be best for the air industry itself.


The Address-Mr. Hamilton

So here we have the whole damning indictment of a government which has divorced itself from its past great traditions, traditions to which it still pays lip service on every occasion and behind which it hides from time to time when public opinion is outraged, a government which has today embraced and outwardly avows in the words of its first minister some of the basic principles of socialism.

To put my argument in the briefest possible terms, let me say that the base of socialism is state planning; and the present government claims it can decide what is best for the public, not just for a short period but indefinitely, and what will be best for industry itself.

In a free economy, and under free enterprise, such decisions are made by business, by industry, and by the market-place; in a socialist economy they are made by the government. Since these decisions are now being made by the government, it is obviously a socialist government, no matter how much it may protest otherwise.

I encountered recently an interesting example of the way in which this government conducts its business, and it is another telling indictment of its tendency to build up groups of people on the public payroll without any clear idea of what they are doing, or whether they are continuing to do it.

The case I have in mind is that of the fisheries prices support board, an idea which is probably extremely sound in principle. In the twelve months ending March 31, 1953, this board were almost inactive, however; they paid out only $36,500 in a total of 1,307 cheques. Any business firm would handle such an undertaking as the part-time responsibility of one clerk. The present government retained twelve full-time employees to do the job, including an executive director, a marketing officer, a departmental accountant, a departmental solicitor, an economist, two technical officers, four clerks and a typist, plus another economist on a part-time basis. All told, including some $7,200 in travelling expenses and $3,374 for sundries, the operation set back the taxpayers $65,903.17, for the administration of a board which paid out about half that amount in actual subsidies.

The explanation offered is, of course, that when this top-heavy group is not busy supporting fish prices-and that is most of the time-they are doing other work. This brings up another interesting point, however, and that is the extent to which this government is using civil service employees for jobs other than the ones for which they are ostensibly employed. The answer to this

question is hidden somewhere behind the smokescreen which hides so many of the government's actions; but certainly we have here a clear-cut case of one thing or the other. Either we have twelve people doing less than one person's work, or we have twelve people employed for one job and doing another without the knowledge or consent of this house. In either case it is a scandalous proceeding.

Another interesting report which crossed my desk recently was that of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a government body which in its own opinion and that of the government knows better than Canadians themselves what radio and television programs they like to hear.

On the face of it the C.B.C. had a successful year, for despite a loss of over $2J million on their television operations they have a net over-all operating surplus of some $375,000. This looks good in print, and will doubtless crop up from time to time in government speeches across the country, but what we will not be told is how this profit was arrived at. The method was this. First, the government kicked $6| million into the kitty from public funds in the form of a statutory grant; then an additional $5,725,000 was received from licence fees, making a total of $11,975,000 which the C.B.C. received from the taxpayers of Canada for performing a service which, under a government less socialistically inclined than the present one, private enterprise would perform for nothing.

Put another way, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in the past year had a net loss of over $11J million, all of which was picked up by the taxpayers of this country, either in straight grants or in licence fees. Since the total revenue from time charges of all private radio stations in Canada last year was just about $12 million, this means that the government could have bought time for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days in the year, on every private radio station in Canada for the amount of money they poured into the C.B.C.

Before leaving this question I would just like to express my hope-and a vain hope I am afraid it is-that the C.B.C. can be persuaded to release its stranglehold on television in our major cities of Montreal and Toronto, also Vancouver, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Halifax, and allow private television stations an opportunity to go into action. In Montreal, years after we might have had a private television station, the C.B.C. finally got theirs into operation. Now they are creeping toward a second, which will doubtless enable them to accumulate bigger and

better deficits; but there seems not one iota of hope for private enterprise in this field in our major cities.

I am continually intrigued by the mental gymnastics which various members of the cabinet go through in order to try to convince Canadians that some government action or policy, of doubtful value, is really beneficial to all and sundry. I am sorry I have selected the Minister of Finance because he is a nice gentleman and sent me a pleasant note this afternoon.

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