Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Prime Minister) moved:
That on and after Monday the tenth instant and every day thereafter, government orders shall have precedence over all business except questions by members and notices of motions for the production of papers.
Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Winnipeg
North Centre): Mr. Speaker, I wish to say a few words before the motion now before us is passed. On Friday last the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) made no reference whatever to unemployment and the serious depression prevailing throughout Canada. I do not know
Business oj the House
whether or not it is ihis intention to deal with those matters at this session; he made no reference to them. I submit that unemployment is one of the most important matters with which the country is faced. Two years ago a special session of parliament was called to deal with this important problem, and today we have more unemployment than we had at that time. If there was need of a special session then there is much more need to-day.
Cities in the west are almost desperate, they have not been able to obtain any clear undertaking as to the manner in which the Dominion government will give relief during the coming year. As a result they are at their wit's end to know how to carry on financially. My own city of Winnipeg last year spent over 5900,000 of the city's own funds for relief. That must be multiplied by three if we are to have the amount necessary in the city of Winnipeg alone. Other western cities are in very much the same position. Provincial governments are not able to handle the situation; they do not know how to arrange matters for the coming year.
I should like to make special mention of the recent edict banning riding on freight trains by .people stranded in different localities. For a time the authorities permitted this practice; in their efforts to find work men were allowed to travel in this way. Then notice was issued that on a certain date this method of travel was to be stopped. The result was that some men tried to burry to their homes or elsewhere for the winter. Others stayed to carry on the work of the harvest which is not yet fully completed. Only yesterday I had a resolution sent me from my own party, the Independent Labour party of Winnipeg, urging that the government should grant free transportation of the unemployed to their own homes. That seems reasonable. For a time these men were allowed to travel on the freight trains. Whether or not the government connived at it, certainly a great many municipal authorities urged the unemployed out of town, practically forcing them to ride on the freight trains. A number of men have told me that the authorities issued instructions that the unemployed had to ride the freight trains and get out. I do not think this condition ought to go on for many weeks. The freeze-up is coming, and these men ought to toe suitably provided for. It seems to me that the provinces have a right to know what the government is going to do in the matter.
Then there is the larger question of the general depression, of which unemployment is only one phase. I believe the depression is
as great to-day in western Canada as it was two years ago, and almost as great as it was one year ago. True, we have had a fairly good crop in certain sections, but that crop is not bringing sufficient returns to pay for the cost of putting it in and taking it off. The result is that the money going to the farmers is mortgaged. It seems to me that without going into this matter at further length the Prime Minister ought to assure us that there will be no adjournment of this session until these matters are fully discussed, and until he has stated very definitely what he will do with regard to the whole situation. In the judgment of a great many of us the legislation implementing the agreements arrived at by the Imperial economic conference is not as important as the immediate relief of our own people. It is quite possible that the government may take advantage of its large majority to force an adjournment at the conclusion of that business, so that we would have no opportunity of discussing matters vital to the interests of the ordinary citizen. I ask the Prime Minister to give this house an assurance that before we adjourn we may have the fullest information w'ith regard to the attitude of the government concerning these matters that affect the welfare of the people of Canada.
Subtopic: PRECEDENCE FOR GOVERNMENT ORDERS- OPPORTUNITY FOR DISCUSSION OF INTERNAL ECONOMIC QUESTIONS