Mr. R. R. KNIGHT (Saskatoon City):
Mr. Speaker, I feel that I should first thank hon. members of this house for extending to me the courtesy which they did on Friday night, a courtesy which was a greater one than I realized at the time. I know now that hon. members were willing to give me an opportunity as a new member to speak without having to make a break in my remarks to an audience which is if anything even more distinguished than the one I was to address on Friday night.
I take it to be a great honour to speak for the first time in this place. I know that hon. members will not have the faintest idea who I am, but I speak here with the consent of the constituents of Saskatoon City. I hold this privilege not, I believe, through any ability or virtue inherent in myself, or because of any failure on the part of the former representative, who was a very popular member of the Progressive-Conservative party, one who was universally esteemed by his constituency, and one who I am sure had won the favour of all those in this house who knew him.
I would say that the C.C.F. candidate was elected in Saskatoon City on a basis of principle rather than personality, because the constituents of that place, like those of many other places in the commonwealth of British nations, realize that progress is on the march to-day, and we cannot stand still in a changing scene or, as the great master of English himself expressed it;
. . . God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
I was astonished to hear my hon. friend the member for Regina (Mr. Probe) describe Britain as old Tory Britain. I wonder if I might be allowed to digress for a moment to bring before the house a matter about which I feel deeply, and that is with the respect to the participation of school teachers in the public life of this country. May I offer to my hon. friend my sincere sympathy in that the collegiate institute board of the city of Regina has refused to grant him leave of absence while he serves his country in this house. This captain, who for four years, three of them overseas, served his country in His Majesty's uniform, is thus subjected to petty persecution by what are often little men. Hon. members will understand that I can sympathize more readily with my colleague because I myself have suffered to all intents and purposes the same treatment from the high school board of the city of Saskatoon. I say that without any personal animosity, because I say in tribute to that board that its relations with its teachers have always been extremely cordial, and that includes myself. But I am fighting for a principle, for teachers across this land, and I would ask the members of the high school board of the city of Regina whether that is their idea of cooperation with this government or any government in the matter of rehabilitation of our returned men. I wish to go on record as protesting most strongly against this tradition which I am afraid is fostered by school boards across this country, that teachers should be denied the right to take part in public affairs. I protest against this idea that teachers should be regarded as intellectual sissies or mental milque-toasts, in whose: veins runs skim milk instead of red blood.
That gallant battalion, the Saskatoon Light Infantry, for all I know is returning to its native city to-day, though it may still be on the water. I do know that the man at the head of that gallant battalion, which fought its way through Sicily, Italy and Holland, Lieutenant-Colonel Walker, was decorated at Buckingham Palace by the king the other day. He is a man beside whom I had the honour to teach; for he is history teacher in the institution from which I come.
I crave the indulgence of the house in speaking of this matter; for I know that it may not be of particular interest to many members, but I wish to get on record the naive statement of the high school board of the city of Saskatoon in regard to myself, in a clipping which was sent to me. I shall read a part of it. The heading in this newspaper clipping is; "Knight granted leave of absence." It goes on to say:
However, it is stressed by the board that this did not imply he would be reengaged, which matter would depend upon the recommendation of the school principals and the approval of the board and-
-competition with other school teachers at such time as the request for reengagement is made.
Hon. gentlemen can judge for themselves whether that comprises leave of absence.
I noticed in the Winnipeg Free Press a few days ago that Doctor Carlyle King, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan, was attacked by a gentleman by the name of Mr. Paul Prince for participation in political activity. It does turn out, although I do not think this has any political significance, that Mr. Paul Prince happens to be chairman of the Liberal Association in the province of Saskatchewan. I say I do not think that has any political significance, because I would not accuse gentlemen on the other side of the house of condoning any such action. I am pleased to say that the Winnipeg Free Press, which could hardly be considered a non-partisan paper, roundly takes Mr. Prince to task for his attack on Doctor Carlyle King.
As I look round me here I see in this house many ex-schoolteachers, some of them distinguished members of this house. I shall name three. First, my leader, the member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell). He himself has had some experience with Regina school boards. Second, the hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Bracken), and third, the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner), sitting on the government benches.
But a nos moutons. I was saying that the hon. member for Regina City had described Britain as old Tory Britain. Well, Tory Britain she has been, but many members of this house, particularly those of the French race, will remember that little incident in "Le Medecin Malgre Lui" de Moliere-and en passant, Monsieur le President, je regrette depuis longtemps que je ne puisse pas parler tres bien cette belle langue
the incident you will remember where the quack doctor, on being taken to task, and that by a lady, for saying that her heart lay on her right side instead of her left, said, "Ah, madame, nous avons change tout cela!"-and so Britain, too, has had a change of heart.
May I say how much I have enjoyed listening to the speeches in this house? I think the speech with which I was most delighted, that is to say from the point of view of oratory, was delivered the other day by the hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Lalonde). His speech, of course, was one with the subject matter of which I am not able altogether to agree.
The Address-Mr. Knight
That, I suppose, would be natural, seeing that we sit on opposite sides of this aisle. May I suggest to him that there is much to be said for tradition, of which he spoke a good deal; so long as it does not stand four-square in the path of progress. His viewpoint, I hope, is not betrayed by an expression which he used, perhaps a little loosely, as reported in Hansard of September 11, page 76:
. . . from the highest rank to the humblest labourer. . . .
That a labourer, sir, should necessarily be humble is not a part of the philosophy of this group to which I have the honour to belong. I suppose that the remark was merely a trick of vocabulary; I have no idea that the hon. gentleman intended to put any significance in it. But it shows a tendency to which we are all subject. Another expression which he used, and to which I can heartily agree, particularly in its application to our day, was his remark in French, at page 80, that "il faut enfin, ou-vrir les yeux." We must indeed open our eyes, particularly to the inevitability of the social advance of which I have spoken.
I had intended to draw to-day three things to the intention of this government. I do not. know whether I have time to cover them, but I shall begin with the subject of housing, which seems to be a particularly popular subject in this house-naturally enough, because it reflects the importance of the subject in the minds of the people. I doubt whether badgering further the minister responsible for this matter will serve any useful purpose. The government seems to be powerless to do much about housing. I say, sir, that it is again a matter of "too late." I would suggest that the housing of the heroes who fought in this war is, or should be, a war measure and should have been acted upon contemporaneously with the war itself. Now we find ourselves in short supply of lumber, plumbing materials and- other necessary articles. I do not know the figures, but I do know that you cannot dry lumber overnight; and I will venture a guess-you may correct me if I am wrong- that in 1944, forty per cent of the lumber cut was exported for sale outside this country. To my mind, sir, a part of that-yes, all of it, if necessary-should have been stored and dried for our present-day use.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY