April 28, 1932

IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

In connection with the

minister's remarks, I notice the front page of the morning's papers carries an announcement of a scheme favoured by himself to enable families to go on the land. Is that some misunderstanding?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

I am just coming to it.

I have had this question up a number of times during the past year. Our efforts, such as they were, were not devoted to dangling a loan or a gratuity before people to induce them to go forward to the land, but rather to place before people who had gone to the towns and the cities-people who had formerly been on the land and still had some money, but were out of employment and saw their little fund dwindling in rent and other expenses that are associated with urban life, and in whose family circle there was a desire to preserve what they had and reestablish themselves-I say our efforts were directed to placing before those people the desirability of returning to the land. That is what the colonization branch of the department has devoted itself to up to the present time. I do not want to boast about these things, because it is only one's duty to do the best one can, but if through good luck one happens to have some measure of success perhaps he may be pardoned for mentioning it in the process of spreading upon the record the facts with regard to the question of unemployment generally. The forces at work did meet with a measure of success. I believe, at least to a large measure, we have exhausted that class of people, but there is the other class who know how to farm, who want to go back to the farm and who are on direct relief. The government have concluded that instead of devoting our

2454 COMMONS

Unemployment-Agreements with Provinces

share of direct relief to that class of people we will meet the proposals of such of the provinces as care to enter into that scheme, and we are ready to enter into an agreement with those provinces on terms such as may be agreed upon. I trust that this legislation will not be too long delayed, though I do not say that for the purpose of trying to restrict discussion, because I would like very much to have the views of hon. members on all angles of this subject. If the provinces still think this a sound proposal, the government is read3;' to devote what would be its share of direct relief to a fund to be set up by the municipality affected-and this has been the proposal from some of the provinces -and contributed to by the province and any other agency that cares to take an interest in solving this problem of unemployment. I think in doing this we will not be embarking upon any unsound principle.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Before the minister leaves

that point I should like to ask a question. Is it the intention of the government simply to take the money which would be devoted to direct relief, we will say S3 or S4 or $5 a week, as the case may be, and instead of giving that to the man if he remains in the city, give it to him if he goes on the land? Is that what the settlement scheme amounts to?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

I *was going to say that

the details and the agreements that are in contemplation have not been worked out. The western provinces have submitted varying proposals, all along the same line. My own view, whether or not the provinces agree with me-and as hon. gentlemen know conditions differ in various provinces-is that this government might well capitalize, for some period in the future, the sum of money which we feel we will be obliged to pay for direct relief, and make that fund available together with the funds the province and municipality affected may be able to subscribe in order that the family may be placed upon some available land. Of necessity the provinces will have to undertake the administration of such a scheme, and I believe they are very willing to do so, but great care will have to be observed to see that wherever possible the lands upon which those people go are crown lands, so that the fund available will not be exhausted by having to purchase land from someone else. I can well imagine that if we start out with a plan under which these funds would be hung up, then there would be

at least one class in Canada who would not be ranked among the unemployed; they would be the real estate agents. That will have to be avoided.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

If I correctly understand the suggestion of the minister it is this, that to those who wish to go on the land there will be given a lump sum, we will say the relief for ten, twelve, fifteen or twenty weeks capitalized, with which it is proposed they shall buy whatever may be necessary in the way of implements or live stock, or perhaps that they shall pay their transportation expenses to the land, but in addition I suppose the minister believes that he will have to continue paying relief to these families after they get on the land until such time as they obtain a crop, so those who go on the land will receive a good deal more than those who stay in the cities. Is that the proposal?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

I would scarcely subscribe to that; the provincial premiers with whom I have had occasion to discuss the matter did not think so. Eor instance, in the province of Manitoba they believe that with a fund of $600, contributed from the three sources, a family can get along. Of course the lump sum would not be given to a man going out on the farm; that would be absurd. The proposal is that each province should administer such funds under commissions set up by the separate governments. I may say that in discussing the question of administering relief by commissions the premiers of the provinces concluded, with great unanimity, that under the provincial machinery already at hand they could administer the funds perhaps better than by a commission set up for the purpose, because the advice of such men as might be appointed to these commissions is always available. So far as this government is concerned I have heard-and I presume other members have heard also-that these relief funds are being used in this or that province, which may be under a Liberal or Conservative or Progressive government, for the benefit of the supporters of that government and to the exclusion of those who are not of the same political faith. I may tell hon. members of this chamber that I will need a lot of convincing before I will believe that at a time like this there is a single premier of any province of this country who would turn aside a worthy, needy, destitute person because of his political persuasion, his religion or anything else. I do not believe it.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

But what about the definite engagement entered into between the federal government as represented by the minister

Unemployment-Agreements with Provinces

and the government of the province of Quebec, wherein it is laid down that the work shall be divided fifty-fifty on a political basis? The minister knows that on certain road work in the province of Quebec it was understood between the representatives of the federal government and the representatives of the provincial government that where the federal government supplied fifty per cent of the funds there should be fifty per cent Conservatives employed. This is a new kind of non-partisan arrangement. I have been told, and I have every reason to believe it to be true, that in the Lake St. John district, where they were constructing a portion of the trans-Canada highway, they had to build two wings to the camp, a wing for the Conservatives and a wing for the Liberals. The inspectors appointed by the federal government were appointed to see that the Conservatives got fifty per cent of the work and supplied fifty per cent of the material. More than that, they had to have two foremen, one Liberal and one Conservative; two timekeepers, two chore boys and two cooks, for fear that the good Tory workmen would have to eat Liberal pork and beans. I think the minister knows that; I am not stating this by way of criticism, but I understand it is a fact. I have some files here to show that federal inspectors have written to certain municipalities to tell them that they understand that up to the present seventy-five per cent Liberals have been employed, and that now the municipalities will have to turn around and employ seventy-five per cent Tories in order to make up for the surplus of Liberals employed before. That seems to me to be supremely ridiculous. I think I can show official letters to that effect. It is ridiculous when we are dealing with matters of unemployment. I am not bringing this up in any offensive sense.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

Surely that is not in writing; it must be a gentleman's agreement.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

It was well understood; I do not think there is any doubt about it. The minister will admit that this was one of the conditions laid down with the province of Quebec last autumn, when that province received assistance in building the transcontinental highway, that fifty per cent of the material and fifty per cent of the labour should be supplied by the Conservatives and fifty per cent by the Liberals.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

Was that agreed to by Mr. Taschereau? Was he a party to it?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Certainly; Premier Taschereau had no objection. He was getting fifty per cent from the federal government and he said, "If that is the condition under which you want us to carry on, well and good."

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

Was it his stipulation?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I understood the stipulation came from the other side of the house. Up to that time these works had been carried on by the provincial government, and in that province there has not been much question about fifty per cent Tories; we were not bothered with political questions at all. It was only when the federal government decided to grant some money that they thought they were entitled to a share. I was told of a municipality in Gaspe where a $2,000 grant was made to the municipality. The federal inspector said, "How many persons are employed here?" They replied, "One hundred." He said then, "How many Tories?" and they told him there were only ten Tories unemployed in the whole village. He then said, "That is too bad, but you will have to fire the ninety Liberals and bring me ninety Tories from some other parish and we will do that until such time as the money is exhausted." Now, we hear endless stories of that kind, and I sincerely hope that under the new scheme that sort of thing will not happen again.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

What about the

Labour party or the Farmer party?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

That is another difficulty. I am not talking about the Farmer party. The difficulty is that the well to do farmers worked on unemployment relief while unfortunate labourers in the village did not get any jobs at all.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
LIB

John Campbell Elliott

Liberal

Mr. ELLIOTT:

Have you well to do farmers down there?

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

We had up to a year or so ago.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

If the fifty-fifty scheme could be extended to British Columbia, it would at least be better than last year's methods.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

In the villages in our province there are a large number of rentiers; usually they take up residence in the village after they have retired from farming. They are retired farmers who have considerable money, or at least suffiicent money to live on. We also have the wealthy class of farmers immediately surrounding the villages and who to a large extent are the political leaders on one side or the other. When these unemployment relief moneys came to be dis-

2456 COMMONS

Unemployment-Agreements with Provinces

tributed, the first to benefit were the rentiers, who, it is true, are unemployed, not having worked for years, because, as I say, they are retired farmers. They were the first unemployed who got jobs; and under the system that was in vogue the second group to get employment were naturally the political leaders of both parties. If the Liberals had fifty per cent of the work, they naturally thought, knowing the generosity of their Conservative friends, that the Conservatives would look after the poor unfortunates who had no jobs, and accordingly they took their most important men and, to get political kudos, gave them jobs. Unfortunately the Conservatives, I imagine, followed the same line of action. The result was that the labourers, the poor people in the villages, got no work, while the wealthy, important people, prominent from the political standpoint, got all the work. That should be corrected, and I do not know how we are going to overcome such a situation so long as we follow what I might call the bipartisan principle. After all, political parties are made up of human beings like anyone else, and they will naturally, if they are not charged with the direct responsibility of looking after unemployment, do what they can to help themselves. I commend that thought to the minister's consideration.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink
CON

Wesley Ashton Gordon (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Labour; Minister of Mines)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
Subtopic:   AGREEMENTS WITH PROVINCES RESPECTING MEASURES TO RELIEVE DISTRESS
Permalink

April 28, 1932