Mr. E. G. McCULLOUGH (Assiniboia):
Mr. Speaker, I rise with great humility to speak for the first time in this house, recognizing the great responsibility and the honour which have been placed upon me. I arrived in this city on September 2 and came immediately to this building. The beauty and majesty of it thrilled me, and I rededicated myself, sir, to carrying out with the best I have within me the new responsibilities which have been entrusted to me.
The speech from the throne indicates that it is the intention of the government to beautify Ottawa and district. This project is to be highly commended, for things of beauty are in harmony with man's highest ideals and deepest longings. But I am also reminded of little fishing villages where fishermen and their families eke out a living; of the slums in our great cities; of farms which have become derelict and of farmers and their families who, through a vicious, outworn and outmoded system, have had to leave their homes. I remember these conditions which I have seen. I submit to all hon. members that, when we are thinking of a memorial to those who have suffered and sacrificed in this war, and when we realize that the heartaches and sufferings are not only for the duration of the war but will continue for years to come, all of us should dedicate ourselves to building a memorial in the form of a new Canada based upon a system which will give opportunity and security to all our people.
During the debate many hon. members have spoken about their own constituencies, but I should like first to focus the attention of hon. members upon our national and our international problems. I believe I voice the unanimous opinion of the party to which I have the honour to belong when I say that the winning of the war and the winning of the peace are two aspects of the same problem.
The Address-Mr. McCullough
Winning the peace-a part of this problem- lies before us, and as Dwight D. Eisenhower is reported to have said when he arrived in the United States a few weeks ago, it is the bigger job which still lies before us. To-day, when the sacrifices of this war have given us another chance to win the peace, in my opinion it is the real emergency facing us.
Referring to the speech from the throne, I am a little disturbed at the vagueness of its allusions to what may or may not be put before us in the way of legislation. To begin with I would point out that in the building of a new Canada we must recognize that we are not French Canadians and English Canadians, but Canadians, and that we are not only citizens of Canada but also citizens of the world. We must recognize that in formulating a domestic policy for Canada we have a responsibility to the world.
The problems of housing and employment which face us to-day are tremendous and pressing; but at this time I desire to deal with some other questions. First, there is the idea of an emergency. As I understood some hon. members, in discussing the present emergency their idea seemed to be that if we could muddle through in some way for the next year or two, if we could deal with reconversion and the housing shortage, somehow or another we would get out on the broad plane of economic stability. In my opinion we could make no greater mistake, because while we have these immediate problems to-day, the biggest problems will arise after the pent-up purchasing power which exists to-day is exhausted. After the accumulated domestic and foreign demands for consumer goods have been dealt with, then what? Therefore, I say that to-day we should be planning for making fundamental changes; we should be establishing the four freedoms, recognizing the implications of the united nations food conference at Hot Springs, Virginia, where a minimum standard of living was set up for all the peoples of the world. We should so establish the Canadian economy as to be able to fit in with any plans for world order or world peace which may evolve out of the San Francisco conference.
During the war our government has failed on many counts. I would point out something which has not been mentioned here this session, namely the government's responsibility for moral leadership. It is a disgraceful thing that during a period of national dislocation the government has allowed the liquor industry of this country, controlled by private enterprise, to undermine the morale of our people. We are threatened with a serious condition of moral decay, for
which in future we may have to pay in a wave of crime and a weakening of citizenship and leadership. The time has come to do away with corruption in high places. Parliament through this government should take responsibility for moral leadership.
One thing which disturbs me is that many hon. members want to remove all controls and get back to good old pre-war capitalism. Well, pre-war capitalism is as dead as the dodo. We are now in a new stage of capitalism. To-day we find the government underwriting the risks of the so-called free enterprise system. .This is a crucial stage in Canadian history. To-day the government is underwriting these risks of capitalism; for instance, we have the national housing plan, the industrial bank, family allowances, unemployment insurance.
May I first deal briefly with family allowances. It is a good thing as far as the wage-earner in the low income bracket with a large family is concerned, but it does not take the place of decent jobs and adequate wages. In this regard it appears to me as though the government intends to allow private industry to go into lucrative forms of enterprise and exploit them, and then step in with the taxpayer's money to look after papa's children.
With regard to national housing, there again we find not very much of free enterprise; again we find the government underwriting any risk that is involved. The question is, where are we going to stop? When we speak of planning, the fact remains that to-day we are to have planning whether we like it or not; but the point is, who is to do the planning? Here we have a capitalist-government planned by big business, whereas we in the C.C.F., who also have a plan, propose a democratically planned idea for Canada, instead of allowing industry to take all the lucrative enterprises with the government stepping in and assuming the responsibility for capitalism's failures. To-day this is what happens. Private enterprise assumes no responsibility for unemployment; it has no responsibility for the real needs of the people, but the government steps in when unemployment becomes acute. That is the system under which we are operating at the present time.
The C.C.F. plan is that if the government is supposed to use the taxpayers' money to carry on vast social services it is only good sense that the government should also participate in the remunerative and revenue producing industries and thus be enabled to give the people a high standard of living. In.
The Address-Mr. McCullough
that way, through co-related planning, we would do away with duplication and the wasteful system of capitalism.
It would seem to me that this government is concerned in preserving the special privilege of private enterprise. I am more concerned in preserving the industry of our period.
I should like to give some idea of my conduct in future in this house; and while I recognize that hon. members on the opposite side of the house will have the whole say in any legislation which is passed, nevertheless, on occasion, when measures are brought in I shall vote for those that provide some alleviation to the distress and to the worry and trouble of our people resulting from the vagaries of this system which the government seems to wish to uphold.
I wish to deal for a few minutes with agriculture, and first of all let me say that there is no group in Canada more willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary to build a lasting peace than our agricultural community. The Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. MacKinnon) presented order in council 6122, paragraph 4 of which deals with stabilization of the economic and political life in war-tom countries.
In the sixth paragraph it is stated that as a further means of stabilizing wheat prices during the post-war period it is the intention that steps shall be taken to ensure that producers will not a>t any time up to July 31, 1950, receive less than SI a bushel, basis Fort William, Port Arthur or Vancouver.
The point I wish to bring to the attention of the house is this. Here we have an appeal from the government, from the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), asking for cooperation. I can assure the house that western farmers will be ready to cooperate in the fullest measure to attain stability and lasting peace, but here by this order in council we have SI a bushel being assured to the farmers, basis Fort William and Port Arthur. This would mean, with twenty cents freight rate, that the farmers would receive as low as eighty cents a bushel. Again may I say that we may be scraping our bins, and from the speech of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) to-night it would seem that, with a short crop next year, 1946 may bring that condition.
I do not agree with the minister when he states that it is impossible to increase production or that we can bring any form of stability to agriculture by means of the plan which is being submitted to this house by the government. I wish to put before the house a plan which in my opinion would bring some stability to agriculture, and that is a plan
whereby we would establish the principle of the ever-normal granary by storing in our bins one thousand million bushels in years of plenty, whereby we would have a granary on which to draw in years of scarcity which we might face in the future. It is clear to this house that if the war had gone on for one more year we would have been in a crucial situation in Canada. Therefore I say that it is a good sound plan to have the principle of the ever-normal granary. In years of plenty we would store for years of scarcity. I would ask the government to advance the farmers money to buy cement and building materials to build proper storage facilities, and I suggest that the Canadian wheat board be continued and that it take deliveries, or advance storage on the same basis as is paid to the elevators at the present time. In this way the farmer in a few years would own these storage facilities, and if we had scarce years our live stock production would not be jeopardized. In this way we could establish a stable agricultural policy for the country. But if we adhere to the old policy of trying to dump surplus wheat as soon as we have a few hundred million bushels we shall always remain on an unstable agricultural economy.
I wish for a few moments to direct my remarks to the Minister of Veterans Affairs (Mr. Mackenzie), and at this time I would refer to those veterans who served in the last great war as well as in this one. I would ask very respectfully that a pension of S50 a month be granted to those veterans. Second, I would ask that they receive complete health insurance and, third, that the means test of securing a pension be done away with.
I make this appeal on the ground that these men, who number over 2,000, have given up civilian employment and gone out to give service to their country. Moreover, it would mean that well over 2,000 of these veterans would be relieved of the necessity of seeking employment and would have some measure of security. I would point out further that there is an injustice to be remedied so far as these people, who are living in a state of insecurity, are concerned. Let me state a case so that the members of the house will be in a position to sympathize with my suggestion. I have looked into the case of a veteran who served in the imperial army and who again served in the last war. As a matter of fact, in the last war he was a prisoner in Germany and he entered this war as A-l but was let out as an E category man. For the last three years he has been trying to get a pension, and although he is suffering from an injured knee, from hernia and rupture, he has not been able to get a pension up to date.
The Address-Mr. McCullough
While I might be able to make this appeal on grounds of service rendered by these veterans, I would say that they should be given the pension out of simple justice.
Still directing my remarks to the Minister of Veterans Aifairs, I should like for a moment to deal with the matter of veterans wishing to settle on the land. I believe we should recognize that the best advice we can give our returning young men and women is to go on farms, away from the congested areas; but under the land settlement act as it is set up to-day this is not happening. A recent survey, which shows that very few of these young people wish to go back to the farm, would indicate that something must be done. As far as I have been able to find out, those coming under the Veterans' Land Act may receive a maximum of $6,000, of which $4,800 is for land and $1,200 for equipment. I am a farmer, and I think I can speak from practical experience. In the first place $4,800 is too small an amount for land, and $1,200 is totally inadequate for equipment. Here is what a lad going on the land must pay for his equipment. He will have to pay $1,700 for a modern small combine, $1,500 for a small tractor and $1,200 for a modem small truck, or $4,400 for these three major pieces of machinery. Therefore it is clear that this total of $6,000 is quite inadequate. I have tried to find out if there is any other way in which a veteran may get further assistance, but I find that the veteran, having hypothecated his land under the Veterans' Land Act, cannot get any help under the farm improvement act of 1944.
In this connection I should like to make some proposals to this house. My first suggestion is that $10,000 be the minimum amount given to veterans wishing to settle on farms.
I further suggest that those showing good faith by remaining on the land for three years should be given a five per cent discount on the original loan; those staying five years should be given an additional ten per cent, and those remaining for ten years another fifteeen per cent, or a total discount of thirty per cent over a period of ten years. Then I submit that this amount should be amortized over twenty-five or thirty years. If any hon. member thinks this is an unreasonable amount I would remind him of what we were able to do during the war. We found $25,000 to train each pilot, and we found $50,000 to $100,000 for a plane in which to put him. Therefore I respectfully submit that these recommendations should receive consideration.
I should now like to direct my remarks to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell). Today we find a great deal of unrest in the ranks
of labour, which seems to have very little faith in what the future may hold. I quote from page 223 of Hansard, where the Minister of Reconstruction (Mr. Howe) said:
I see nothing disturbing in the present situation as far as employment is concerned. . . .
Then he went on to say that there were 132,520 jobs and 73,150 applications. I wish to point out that many of these jobs are of a temporary nature. For example, I should like to mention a veteran who went into the employment office at Regina to look for a job. The official told him there were many farmers who wanted combine operators and asked the veteran if he could drive a combine. He replied that he could not, that he had been in the transport division of the army. The official replied, "Well, if you can drive a truck you can drive a tractor, and if you can drive a tractor you can drive a combine." Then the veteran said that he had a wife and two children and that he was concerned, about getting something permanent because winter would be coming on in a couple of months. The official said that this work was permanent for the next few weeks, and that he had better take it. I do not want to give the rest of the conversation, because it would not look good in Hansard, but hon. members will understand that this statement by the minister does not in any way reflect the real situation. I have in my hand a little pamphlet which was put out by the Department of National Defence, which says that no man wants to be a square peg in a round hole. We will all agree with that; but now that peace is here, at least we should be able to do for our people what the government has done for our boys in the services, and that is what I am asking.
Further in regard to labour I should like to mention the need for a national labour code and the extension of the already existing though perhaps temporary order in council P.C. 1003. In my constituency I have great coal fields. A year ago the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis) was there, and was reported to have said that Bienfait was the coming Pittsburgh of western Canada.
I visited those mines about two years ago, and I know something of the conditions which exist, and something of the need for labour legislation of a permanent nature. For the benefit of those who have never been in a coal mine or who have never come in contact with the needs of labour I should like to repeat some of the things brought to my attention at that time. We have both dominion and provincial laws giving certain rights to workers in the mines, but I found that some of this legislation has not been carried out. Prior to 1939, when there were large numbers of unem-
The Address-Mr. Lesage
ployed, if any person, working in the mine tried to impress upon the management the need of doing something and carrying out this legislation, he immediately received his discharge notice. This shows the need for collective bargaining, so that workers may gain recognition and have something to say about their hours of work, rates of pay and the conditions under which they are employed. I submit that this would only be establishing two of the four freedoms, freedom from fear and freedom from want, for labour.
I should now like to refer to the War Assets Corporation. This was a highly contentious question in my constituency during the election campaign; and since it involves over $800,000,000 of plant and equipment belonging to the people, for which we have paid, and around $3,000,000,000 worth of surplus war material, I say that what is to be done with it should be the concern of everyone in this house, for this is the property of the people. We believe a lot of it is being destroyed. A week ago I had a telephone conversation with one of the high officials of War Assets Corporation. Without any solicitation on my part he admitted that some of this equipment had been destroyed.
I do not wish to spend too much time on this subject, but I should like to submit a plan to the government for the disposition of surplus war assets. I would point out that many of them could be used for civilian uses. When I was speaking to that official I suggested to him-and I now suggest to the house -that in addition to the plan which, I have been told, is in operation, under which aeroplane parts may' be assembled in a field- parts such as fuselages and wings-'and sold at a nominal fee, wings and frameworks may well be used on farms as cabs for tractors and the like. Hydraulic jacks could be used to make small hydraulic presses.
I would ask that consideration be given to my suggestion, and that when surplus war assets are being sold the government should advertise widely so that the public would be informed.
In this my first speech in the house I have tried to submit some of the plans offered by the C.C.F. But I believe that if we will seek to build a new order based upon the needs of the people and the inherent right of every person to a job and to security, we shall be able to say in the words of Tennyson:
Ring out the thousand wars of old;
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE IN REPLY