Mr. JAMES SINCLAIR (Vancouver North):
Mr. Speaker, it is more than three years since I last had the opportunity to stand in my place and address this house. I have no apology to offer for my absence; for my constituents knew when they elected me that I had enlisted in the R.C.A.F. I am very glad to say, however, that they have not suffered by my absence, because my colleague and very good friend the hon. member for Fraser Valley (Mr. Cruickshank) has taken care of my riding in the interval, and for that I thank him. I have, however, one complaint. He has set so high a standard of service to my riding that it is going to be very awkward for me to measure up to it.
When I last spoke in this house I believe I was regarded as a rather impatient and critical supporter of this government. I may tell this house I was consoled when I was in the British House of Commons in 1942 to hear Mr. Churchill tell his followers not to be mealy-mouthed in debate and chicken-hearted in the lobbies. May I now tell this house that while I may still be critical of some points, my service overseas has given me increasing pride and confidence in this government's conduct of Canada's war effort. I know it is increasingly the custom in this country to complain and rant about every minor restriction and regulation that the government has of necessity to impose in this country because of the war. People also point, of course, to other countries and compare our actions in the most unfavourable light. That seems to be the line taken in Canada. Those of us who have served in Britain and the middle east and the far east have a much better appreciation of what Canada has done. We have lived in countries where there has been a very marked increase in the cost of living, where there is no wage ceiling. Because of government control of wages soldiers realize that there is no great gap between their earnings and the wages of war workers in industry.
It is not, however, only the members of this house who feel an increasing pride in Canada's war effort. I need not recount to this house our efforts on the war front; I need not recount to this house our efforts on the production front. That has been very well said by Mr. Churchill himself. I can, however, tell this house of my own personal pride in that last great advance across Libya in seeing
that the greater part of the vast fleet of trucks which moved the supplies of the 8th army and desert air force across the desert came from Windsor and Oshawa. A very great portion of the supplies in those trucks, of food, guns and ammunition, were also of Canadian origin -even a little beer; very little beer. I shall speak of that on a later occasion.
On the home front I believe the government is worthy of much more praise than has come its way. What has impressed me, and I know what has impressed most returning soldiers, is the abundance of everything in Canada, an abundance of food, of clothing, of cars on the streets. After the war-worn clothing of England, needfully strict rationing, and the total absence of pleasure driving, we find Canada practically a country at peace. The second thing which impresses a returned soldier is how little the cost of living has changed in this country in his absence-a signal tribute to the government's lone and brave fight against the perils of inflation. I say "lone" advisedly; for I believe the government has received little praise in this country for its magnificent effort.
The imposition of ceilings on wages has I believe aroused labour. The imposition of a ceiling on prices has aroused the farmers and business men; yet these steps are unavoidable if there is to be a real control of inflation. Everyone in this country seems to agree with the principle but objects very bitterly to the practice if it affects them personally. No mention of wTage control can be made at this time, however, without reference to P.C. 9384. I am not one who is going to rant and rail against government by order in council. Anyone who has been at war knows the necessity of instant executive action, and that power should be given to a government which has the confidence of this parliament. But I do believe that any such order in council should be capable of justification to parliament by the minister concerned. I do not believe that a Liberal minister of labour can so justify certain clauses in this order.
May I turn first to the actual constitution of this war labour board. There is a common complaint in this country from coast to coast that labour has not been given adequate representation on the many government war boards. If there is one board on which labour should have decent representation it is this national war labour board; yet we find that on a ooard of six they have one nominee. It is true that the government nominates four members and that one of these may be a labour man, but labour does not want government appointees; labour wants its own nominees.
The Address-Mr. Sinclair
To my mind there are three groups involved in wage control, the employer, the employee and the public as represented by the government; and I would say that it would be fair to set up a board of six consisting of two nominees from each of these groups.
My next objection is to the third stated object of the order, which is:
. . . to provide machinery for an orderly
rectification of any gross 'inequalities and injustices in wage rates so established. . . .
Up to this point I agree, but in the mention of the words "gross inequalities and injustices in wage rates" I take it to be tacitly admitted that such conditions still obtain in some parts of this country. The wage ceiling should be elastic. There is no intention of freezing sweatshop wages for the duration of the war. However, the joker is in the last clause, which reads:
... in so far as it is possible consistently with the paramount principle of the maintenance of stability in prices. . . .
In other words an increase can be given in sweat-shop wages provided it does not affect the price of the product of that sweat-shop, which is manifestly impossible. The people of Canada do not believe in sweat-shop wages; they are willing to pay prices which will give the labourer a decent wage.
I think all hon. members will agree that strikes caused by disputes between unions over jurisdiction and other such illegal strikes should be outlawed in time of peace as in time of war. Hon. members may debate whether the right to strike after due arbitration and conciliation should be given to labour in war time; but I do not think many hon. members of this house will agree to the terms contained in sections 33 to 36 of this order. These have to do with prosecutions for offences, the first with the case of an employer who contravenes the order by paying illegal wages or causing a lockout. Section 33 (2) provides that the burden of proof shall be on the accused. Section 35 deals with the employee who is alleged to have taken part in an illegal strike; it provides that the burden of proof that the strike was not illegal shall rest on the accused. Section 36 deals with the man who is alleged to have aided or abetted an illegal strike; it provides also that the burden of proof that the strike was not illegal shall rest on the accused. To my scanty legal knowledge this means just one thing: that the man is taken to be guilty until he proves his innocence, and this in the year 1944, in the fifth year of this war for freedom. I cannot conceive why the Minister of Labour should introduce these things; I cannot conceive why the Minister of Justice should permit it. It
cannot be said to be due to the exigencies of war, because I have taken part in summary trials and in courts martial in Libya within the sound of battle, and even there the airman was considered innocent in every particular until he was proved to be guilty.
These bad causes have had one good effect; they have united Canadian labour from coast to coast as never before. A.F. of L. unions, C.I.O. unions, independent unions, and in fact all but the lackey company unions, are unanimous in their opposition to these features. I therefore urge the government to rescind this order, and to replace it with an order which will treat labour, to use the phrase of the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Maclnnis), not as a commodity but rather as a deserving partner in Canada's war effort, because the record of Canadian labour in this war is good. AVe who have been overseas know that it is better than the British and American records. Our wonderful war production record has been made possible by the efforts of the Canadian working man. In so urging I speak not only for the labour unions in my riding but also for the Liberals of my constituency, who at their annual convention last month condemned these clauses in the strongest terms as being contrary to their conception of Liberalism.
Next I should like to touch very briefly upon the speech from the throne, which I believe to be one of the most heartening and progressive programmes ever offered to the people of Canada. I believe that national health insurance, adequate old age pensions as a right and not as a charity, and a national housing plan, when carried to fruition will be the very brightest jewels in my honoured leader's long career of public service. As far as health insurance is concerned, fortunately in this country there is a very large body of men who are completely sold on the idea; I refer to the 750,000 men in the services who are now receiving the benefits of state medicine. So, too, with family allowances; here again we in the services have had actual experience. I have never heard a single unmarried airman complain because a married man of the same rank, doing the same job, actually was getting more money because of his dependents' allowance; they all agree that it is a first-class thing. I understand that there is considerable opposition from some groups because they feel that this is going to give undue advantage to the large families of French Canada. I say this is a reproach not to the large families of French Canada but to the small families or lack of families in the rest of Canada. If family allowances increase
The Address-Mr. Sinclair
the size of the families in the rest of Canada it will be a very fine thing, far better than any system of unrestricted or selected immigration.
The part of the speech from the throne which most interests me, naturally, is that part dealing with reconstruction, rehabilitation, demobilization and reestablishment. I do not intend to speak of reconstruction or demobilization now, but I should like to speak on the rehabilitation of the soldier who returns from overseas. I do not pretend to be the spokesman of the man overseas; however, I do say that I have a fair knowledge of what the airman overseas is thinking. Life with the Sth army in the desert and with the Canadian army in Sicily has given me a little knowledge of the soldier. The sixty-five days I spent at sea in convoy and my trip home on a Canadian destroyer at least gave me contact with our sailors and our merchant mariners. Discussions with these groups have convinced me that they have a common outlook on rehabilitation, so that when I say "soldier" or "sailor" or "airman", these words are interchangeable. In one way the service man of this war is very different from the service man of the last war. Those who fought so bravely in Flanders fields really believed they were fighting to create a world worth living in, because they had not known the aftermath of a world war. Those who are fighting in this war have no such illusions. They know the bitter disillusionment of the soldiers of the last war. They remember the years of the hungry thirties, and they are determined that this is not going to happen to them. Unlike the soldiers of the last war, when they return they are going to have two very powerful organizations to give them guidance, the Canadian Legion and the Army and Navy Veterans.
The soldiers know what they want; what they want must be established in concrete legislation long before the end of the war, and they must know of it. That the government lealize this is shown by the fact that legislation has been brought down, that blue cards were issued to soldiers telling them about it, and that later on little blue booklets were issued. I feel, however, that the present programme falls far short of what the soldiers expect in one respect. Since the speech from the throne has announced that certain amend- ( ments are to be made I hope that my comments will be taken not as critical of the past but as constructive for the future. To introduce this subject to the house I can do no better than quote the collective opinion of the members of the squadron which I have just left, the City of Windsor squadron. This
squadron could well be taken as being representative of the Canadian fighting man overseas. They have had greater and more varied combat experience than any other unit in the Canadian army or air force during this war. They have served in Great Britain, in Egypt, in Cyprus, in Libya, (in Tunisia, in Malta, in Sicily, and now they are the crack fighter squadron with the desert air force in Italy.
Topic: MEAT SUPPLY
Subtopic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH