March 8, 1932

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Suggestions were asked

for, and in some instances they were acted upon, and in others not. But may I say to the house that if all the suggestions that were made had been acted upon the exchequer would not have been equal to the demands.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

Were

they more extensive than the promises that were made in 1930?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Much; they were so

extensive that no government could contemplate carrying them into effect. The ex-Postmaster General (Mr. Veniot) is saying something. May I ask him to speak up; it does not disturb me. I shall be glad to hear what he says.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

Especially when recommended by a Liberal.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

There is no warrant for

that statement, none whatever. Unfortunately there are gentlemen who cannot see it otherwise. For instance, the other day I was talking to a gentleman who was present at a meeting in the county of Gloucester where the ex-Postmaster General was addressing a gathering, and he held up a letter received from the Minister of Labour and said, " The provincial authorities have nothing to say about this; it rests with the federal members, and I am the man to determine it here, not they." I merely mention that-

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

Mr. Speaker, since the

Prime Minister has made that statement he will give me the privilege of dealing with it.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Not now; you will have an opportunity.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

I want the statement taken back because it is not true.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

If the hon. gentleman

says it is not true-

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

It is not true in the way

the Prime Minister puts it.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

In the way in which the hon. gentleman made it, it is true; let us put it that way.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

I want the right to reply

to the Prime Minister.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

If the hon. gentleman-

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

Does the hon. member

wish to ask a question of the Prime Minister? If not, he is out of order.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

It is not correct in the

way he has stated.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I trust the hon. member

will not say it is incorrect even in the way in which he said it.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

It is incorrect in the way

you state it.

902 COMMONS

Unemployment Continuance Act

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Then let us say it is

correct in the way in which the hon. gentleman said it at the meeting in question. Now, it has been contended that the suggestions thus sought were not acted upon. Well, it was idle to expect that all the suggestions offered could be acted upon. But I believe it will be found that, regardless of political considerations in any way, shape or form, employment was given to those who needed employment to the fullest possible extent, having regard to the fact that the government determined that it would not embark upon a wholesale expenditure of public moneys merely because suggestions were made that would involve that being done. That is fundamentally clear. If all the suggestions which were made were placed before this house they would give to the country a composite picture of a desire to enter upon unbridled extravagance to an extent wholly out of keeping with our present economic condition.

Then we went to the next phase. We approached the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and the western provinces and dealt with them in the same manner. There then came up the question of determining how we could best supplement and assist the provinces in the discharge of their constitutional obligations. We sought to assist the provinces regardless entirely of the political affiliations of those who directed the administrations. Much comment has been made in this house in connection with conditions in British Columbia. That government was Conservative and the contention has been made that we did not fall in with all the suggestions made by the province. That is not untrue; it is correct because we were unable to do so. At least some commendation has come from quarters usually lacking in praise of the action taken in that regard. The province of Quebec, a Liberal government, formulated an extensive program which it sought to have carried out by the joint operation of the provincial and federal authorities and in some instances with the aid of the municipalities. These representations were canvassed and in the end an agreement was arrived at, which agreement will be laid upon the table of this house. The same applies to the province of Ontario, to the western provinces and to the Pacific province of British Columbia.

That is a method by which we endeavoured to give effect to our constitutional duties, to supplement, under the conditions which existed, the legislative power which this parliament had conferred upon it. Complaints were received from time to time. In some instances it was contended that only Liberals were being employed; in other instances it

was contended that only the supporters of former governments were being employed, and in others, that only Conservatives were being employed. In the end, to meet this situation as best we could-it being a difficult situation at best-we asked reasonably responsible men to observe and report upon the work being done, to see that the effort was commensurate with the money being expended and to see that the work stipulated for was being performed according to the terms of the contract.

I submit to this house that in the main we have had remarkable success in dealing with this problem. I will go a step further. We have expended moneys which were appropriated directly for that purpose under the control financially of the Auditor General and of all the departmental engineers responsible for such expenditure-Public Works here, Railways there and Department of Interior works here. These departments and their officials along with the Auditor General's check upon expenditures have been responsible for the work being carried on. As to the work done by the provinces, we had no power to say that it should be done at the least possible initial expense so far as the appropriation was concerned. We told them that we would not pay any part of the administration cost; we told them that the cities and towns would have to pay that. We told them that as they had shovels, picks and other facilities which could be utilized for giving effect to their undertakings, they should be used. We told the Department of National Defence that it should lend its tents and other facilities of that kind to enable the work to be carried on in the national parks. That was done. With the minimum of new material and the maximum utilization of facilities which we had, the work was carried out expeditiously. I shall not read from the report which I have because it would not be fair to those who may follow me and who have not this document before them. I had hoped that this document would have been available to all before I made this statement.

While there always has been and always will be difficulties in connection with public expenditures by reason of the fact that there are men and women who will always think it desirable to get something for no effort from government, and that to impose upon government is a virtue and not a vice, I contend that in the main millions of dollars of public money have been expended fairly since this parliament adjourned in August last until to-day. As nearly one hundred cents for the

Unemployment Continuance Act

dollar as it is possible to get in public expenditure has been obtained, and much employment has been given to those who needed it. If at times there have been causes for complaint, as there have been, we have endeavoured to rectify whatever difficulties or whatever wrongs existed as expeditiously as possible. At the end of this period we face this parliament with some sense of pride in the fact that these vast undertakings have given employment to over 300,000 men working over 6,000,000 hours. While that does not mean that each man has had long work, while it does not mean that each had many hours of work, it means that by the judicious rotation of the work and by the giving of employment for a half day or a longer period, we have been able to accord that which we started out to accord, namely, relief to a large number of those who demanded and required it. That is what we endeavoured to do and that is what we did do. Our duty and our obligation were to provide relief, and that is what we endeavoured to do through the medium of the provinces.

We did not come in direct contact with the municipalities; our contact was through the provinces because the municipalities are the creation of the provinces. A still greater difficulty became apparent in September, that is, that the municipalities and the provinces could not undertake to provide the necessary finances to enable them to defray the expenses they had incurred. Not being able so to do, what was to happen? There was only one thing, that we should lend them the money which they could not otherwise borrow. This government in the exercise of the powers conferred upon it under the statute made loans to the provinces for the purpose of enabling them to discharge their obligations under their agreements and for the purpose of enabling the municipalities to discharge their contractual obligations. This money was loaned at the rate of interest which it had cost us. In response to a question asked a few days ago there has been laid upon the table of this house a statement indicating the sums of money which have been loaned. For instance, at the end of February the province of Saskatchewan had been advanced over $16,800,000; the loans to Alberta amounted to more than $4,600,000; the loans to Ontario were in the form of advances which have been offset by accounts for which we are liable with the exception of $190,000; the loans to British Columbia amounted to $5,600,000 and to Manitoba, $3,775,000.

Those represent moneys that were advanced by the dominion for the purpose of enabling the provinces to meet their constitutional

obligations, except with respect to the province of Saskatchewan about which I shall presently speak and the province of Ontario where an advance was made which was paid by credits which they were entitled to receive under their agreement, and which credits have entirely wiped out the advance that was made.

The obligation which was not one we ourselves assumed but which was one we had to assume if the work was to be carried on, wa3 an obligation that came upon us by reason of the economic conditions that prevailed in consequence of the disruption of the financial structures of the world after Great Britain went off the gold standard. Now I ask the chamber and particularly hon. members opposite if they have any complaint to make with regard to the manner in which we have met those responsibilities. We found every one of the four western provinces, for reasons which I shall not discuss, unable to secure money with which to discharge their obligations in New York. Were we to let those provinces default, or were we to lend them the necessary money with which to meet their obligations? Is there any hon. member who will stand up in his place and say: You should have let them default. That is the problem which confronted us-default or a loan. Is there any hon. member present who would suggest that we should have chosen the former alternative and not the latter? While some hon. members may suggest that it is undesirable to make advances to the provinces under the conditions that prevail, there is no member sitting either to the left or to the right of the Speaker who does not realize the fact that if any province, however small, wherever located, defaulted, this would injuriously affect the credit of Canada as a whole, and what is more, adversely affect beyond any words that I might use, the future of the people of this country.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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LIB

William Daum Euler

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

Were the sums that were

advanced to the provinces taken from the proceeds of the service loan?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932 CONSIDERATION OF RESOLUTION
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March 8, 1932