February 2, 1933


On the orders of the day:


LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. J. P. HOWDEN (St. Boniface):

I

would like to bring to the attention of the government a rather serious condition that exists in the city of St. Boniface. The matter is embraced in a brief telegram. But if it is against the rules of the house to read the telegram, I will explain the matter.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

I think it would be as

well to address the question direct to the government. It is not a desirable practice to read telegrams or newspaper extracts in prefacing a question.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
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LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

The message is from the mayor of St. Boniface. He states that the merchants in St. Boniface have refused to honour the vouchers of the city of St. Boniface for relief. He says that the city of St. Boniface, in applying to the provincial government, have been notified that they cannot afford any relief, and he wires to me, asking that I present the matter to the federal government in the hope that possibly this government may be able to fill the gap and render the necessary assistance. May I, therefore, ask the Prime Minister, as representing the government, whether the federal government of Canada is in a position to assist the city of St. Boniface at this time.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
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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 think the Minister of

Labour is in a position to answer that question.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. W. A. GORDON (Minister of Labour):

Many requests come to the federal government from municipalities throughout Canada, suggesting that this government should deal directly with the municipalities.

I would earnestly suggest to the hon. member that he ask the mayor of St. Boniface to turn to the premier of Manitoba with his troubles, and proper subscriptions such as we have been making will be made in order to assist them in the discharge of their functions.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
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LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

I have already stated

that the mayor of the city and the council have appealed to the local government, which is unable to help them.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The question has been

asked and answered.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF
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LIB

John Power Howden

Liberal

Mr. HOWDEN:

I have not yet received

an answer whether the government will or will not assist in the matter.

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COOPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH


The house resumed, from Wednesday, February 1, consideration of the motion of Mr. Woodsworth: Whereas under our present economic arange-ment large numbers of our people are unemployed and without the means of earning a livelihood for themselves and their dependents; And whereas the prevalence of the present depression throughout the world indicates fundamental defects in the existing economic system; Therefore be it resolved,-That, in the opinion of this house, the government should immediately take measures looking to the setting up of a cooperative commonwealth in which all natural resources and the socially necessary machinery of production will be used in the interests of the people and not for the benefit of the few.


UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. E. J. GARLAND (Bow River):

At the adjournment of the house last night I was endeavouring to point out that the evils from which we are suffering under the present economic system are attributable in a large degree to the fact that we predicate success under that system on the accumulation of wealth. We were not, I suggested, very particular as to how the wealth was acquired, by what method it was obtained, at what cost to the people, the extent of the suffering involved, nor did we have any regard to its effect on the welfare of the people as a whole. All that seemed to be required was to acquire wealth, and if one secured enough of it we would spread red

1714 COMMONS

Cooperative Commonwealth-Mr. Garland

carpets for the fortunate possessor, strew roses in his path, he might even aspire to the highest offices in the land.

I suggested that the philosophy under which the system operated belonged to a barbaric stage in the progress of society and not to what we are pleased to call a Christian social order. The condition of things I indicated belonged to a primitive and barbaric state of society, and underlying it all was the philosophy of the survival of the fittest. As pointed out yesterday by an hon. member, the commercial system seems to be actuated by that idea, and he properly paraphrased the old sentence; because, were it the survival of the fittest, that would be bad enough but, as he well said, it means today- the survival not even of the fittest but of the " slickest."

Someone has said somewhere that if he were asked to design a crest emblematic of the present order he would first draw the two donkeys' ears that bedecked the head of the mythological King Midas. He is said to have devoted his entire attention to the acquisition of wealth, turning everything to gold, and we are told in the end he suffered starvation, despair and death. Now we see around us an economic system based on precisely the same philosophy that actuated King Midas, the acquisition of wealth, and it is dying, as its prototype did, in starvation, misery and despair. This does not mean, of course, that capitalism will vanish tomorrow or next week. It does mean, however, that in sound evolution, economic forces, forces beyond the apparent control of either of the political parties in this house, will bring an end to a system a characteristic of which is inhuman injustice.

I would ask hon. members opposite whether they imagine for an instant that a state that is not founded on social justice and equity can survive. If they do, then they ignore the teachings of history; for we have seen empires and nations dethroned and dispossessed of power 'because injustice had crept into the functioning of the economic and social systems under which they existed. Regard, if you will, the Roman empire, where great Oaesars and nobles invested with special privileges passed on their way to an unhappy end. Study again the French revolution, characterized by the Bourbonistic type of mind-a type of mind still prevalent in this country, sad to say, the mind which can suggest to people who are suffering that if " they cannot get bread they should eat cake." That type of philosophy, which is still prevalent, was responsible for the destruction of the

Mr. E. J. Garland.]

leaders of France at that time, so that all that is left of that era, apart from a few written words in the history of the day, is the memory of red threads in the stockings knitted by Madame Defarge and those associated with her when the heads of the rulers fell. Consider again the situation of Russia, then the last remnant of medieval autocratic feudalism left in Europe, a remnant which in turn came to its unhappy end.

What have we here today? The leader of the opposition well described the situation not long ago when he said that we have a form of imperial feudalism. We have more than that; we have an economic imperialism, extreme in type, into which has been concentrated, by a process of greed and acquisition on the part of the few, the entire control of and dominion over the wellbeing of our people. Do you imagine that the capitalistic kings and emperors of finance and industry today are on a sounder basis or can survive any longer than did the old feudal kings and emperors of past days? Disabuse your minds of that idea; the present condition cannot continue. This injustice cannot last. As the hon. member for Southeast Grey (Miss Mac-phail) said yesterday, "red-blooded Canadians," to use the words of the Minister of Railways (Mr. Manion), will not permit the continuance of such a system in this country. In Great Britain at the moment there is such gross inequality -that a study of statistical returns will indicate that about ten per cent of the people control almost all the wealth and power in the state. That seems pretty bad, but turning my studies to a work by Professor W. H. Wakenshaw, formerly of Exeter college, Oxford, in regard to the distribution of wealth in America, I find that in 1850 sixty-two per cent of the national income went to the producer and thirty-eight per cent to the non-producer; by 1860, ten years later, forty-three per cent went to the producer and fifty-seven to the non-producer; by 1870 thirty-three per cent went to the producer and sixty-seven to the non-producer; and by 1900 ten per cent went to the producer and nearly ninety per cent to the non-producer. Of course we may dispossess ourselves of responsibility in that regard by saying that it is not so in Canada. Unhappily for those who hold that view our own statistical returns will disabuse them of that conception. If -hon. members will take the trouble to analyze thoroughly the income tax returns of Canada they will find, speaking roughly, that there are about 5,300,000 persons in this country of twenty years of age and over, the

Cooperative Commonwealth-Mr. Garland

adults of Canada. Of that number about three per cent pay income tax while ninety-seven per cent apparently have not enough income to fall within the income taxable class. Of course this does not mean that there is not a large body of wealth outside the income taxable group, but hon. members know how difficult it is to live upon their present salaries or indemnities; they are subject to a small amount of taxation under the income tax and therefore know something of their difficulties in maintaining a reasonable standard of living. The knowledge of this fact will give them some conception of the extraordinary disparity in income in the dominion when they realize that ninety-seven per cent of the people are on a lower plane and are living under very much lower standards than they are themselves.

No system in which such inequalities exist can continue. I should like to ask hon. members opposite and to my right if they think that we are upon a solid foundation when the economic system apparently relies for its stability upon the economic freedom of the few and the economic enslavement of the many? We may not think ourselves responsible for the excessive disparity which has brought this condition about, we may not think ourselves responsible for the unrestrained racketeering upon the part of the .ndustrial and financial institutions in their wild exploitation and waste of our natural resources, in the grabbing for wealth, in unjust taxation, and for many other evils inherent in the system, but I do not think that I need to tell hon. members that we are responsible, particularly in this chamber. Upon us has been placed the onus of solving these problems and bringing about a social order in which justice shall prevail. We are responsible and we have a duty to see that these wrongs are ameliorated or replaced by a system more equitable, by one which will subordinate the interests of the individual, the greedy, predatory individual, to the general good of society.

Any student of the questions back of the present world system of monetary control, involving as it does our own country, knows that it involves also the piling up of the means of production at the cost of a progressive, relative lessening of the means of consumption. The consuming power has seriously declined, there is less and less inclination at this moment to increase the production of goods; in short, as one of my colleagues has said, the end of an era has arrived. There are still experts, so-called, who suggest that we should continue to

develop production. The Prime Minister himself in his now famous, or perhaps I should say notorious New Year's address, directed the attention of the people of wealth in Canada to the necessity of investing their reserve funds in production. In the name of heaven why should we produce more goods which the people are not permitted to consume, or more goods which cannot be shipped abroad under the existing system? What object could be attained at this moment by investing more money in production? As has been so well said by those who have preceded me, the job is to develop a system by which we can consume and then production will take care of itself.

After all, this is a part of the real issue, of the practical question which is before us, the suffering, the inhuman injustice and misery which is all around us. Individual hon. members are more and more becoming cognizant of the true condition, but many others have not gone behind the cold statistics. Do they realize what 700,000 or 1,000,000 unemployed men means? Do they understand the spectre of want? Do they understand the gnawing worry and anxiety of the family whose breadwinner cannot get a job no matter how he tries? Do they understand the degrading and demoralizing effects of having to go down daily or weekly for relief, of going to certain stores in order to obtain a very meagre existence from a not too benevolent state? I wonder if hon. members have any conception of the weakened minds, broken bodies and diseased souls which these conditions have brought about? Have they studied the figures of suicide to ascertain their causes since this depression commenced? Have they studied the records of the penitentiaries, have they found out that these institutions today contain about double their normal quota? Have they undertaken an investigation of the insane institutions even in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec and found them overflowing and this in the face of the fact that all too many others are unable to secure admittance to such institutions? I wonder if hon. members have really understood the inexcusable horror of real want?

Have hon. members ever gone into a magistrate's court some morning when the vagrancy charges are being brought up? I had the suffering to endure of attending a court in Toronto a few months ago, and I shall give the house a picture of what I saw there. There was a number of men ranging in ages from sixteen to thirty-eight years. Most of them appeared to be the ideal type of citizen, earnest looking, and, according to their

1716 COMMONS

Cooperative Commonwealth-Mr. Garland

declarations, willing to work; they were healthy looking except that they were becoming rather pallid and thin-cheeked. The same ritual took place in every case. As the unfortunate man was brought before him the magistrate said "guilty or not guilty?" "Guilty, sir." "Do you want work?" "Yes, sir." "What kind of work?" "Any kind, sir." "How long have you been unemployed?" The answer to this question varied from two to three years to two weeks. "You cannot get work?" "No, sir." "All right, three months." And so it went on, as the court pursued its relentless task. The magistrate seemed to be a human sort of individual who had an understanding of his task but he was as much a victim of the system as those who were brought before him, there was nothing he could do to give work to those men.

The steady stream was broken twice by pitiful incidents. There was one man brought there, a six-footer, a fine looking type of man who looked like a Cape Bretoner or a highland Scotchman; he had the high cheek bones and the prominent nose of the fine highland type. He stood in the dock with a sort of defiant look upon his face and as the magistrate said "guilty or not guilty?" He said, "guilty, sir." "Do you want work?" "Yes, sir." "What kind of work?" "Any kind, sir." "How long have you been out of employment?" "Two weeks, sir." "You have been in the city for two weeks?" "Yes, sir." "You cannot get anything to do?" "No, sir." "Do you want work?" "Yes, sir, I will take anything." "What have you been doing this summer?" "I was working on a farm." He then gave the name of the farmer and the location of the farm. With a lawyer's trick the magistrate turned to him quickly and said, "what did you do with the money you made farming?" With a slight smile upon his face the man replied, "I was working for my board." The apparently customary judgment of three months was .then given.

Does the house get the significance of this? Three months for what crime? For the solitary crime of not being able to get a job under a system which has broken down and which can offer no job. This is why we are sending our own Canadian citizens to gaol. There was only one foreigner vagrant present the morning I attended court, a Macedonian, an old man who had been picked up by a constable upon the streets in a sick condition. He had asked to be sent to a hospital and this was the only instance in which a constable was called upon to take the witness stand. The magistrate called upon the court interpreter, who happened to be a little, stout Jewish or Armenian

woman. She stepped over to the dock and talked with the man in his own language, and her interpretation corroborated the evidence given by the constable. She said that the man said he was sick and would like to go to a hospital. For the first time the magistrate seemed to be disturbed; he lifted his hands off the desk in a gesture of despair, thought for a moment and then said, "Oh, well, you will get some medical care there; three months." Three months for the sick as well as for the well, and we call this a Christian society, we call this a human society. We believe that a system of this kind can endure; bon. members opposite think they can make it endure but I tell them that they are treading in the midst of dreams if they imagine that such injustice will continue to be endured by the people of this country.

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CON
UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Just a

moment, and I will answer any questions that I have time after my forty minutes is up.

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CON

James Earl Lawson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAWSON:

Will the hon. gentleman

give me the date of the incident to which he refers?

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I do not

have the date of the incident at the moment nor is it necessary because you can go to any magistrate's court in Canada where vagrancy charges are tried, and you will find the same thing, or practically the same.

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CON
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Sit down!

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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

I would ask the hon.

gentleman not to interrupt without permission from the hon. member who has the floor.

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UFA

February 2, 1933