February 2, 1933

UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

May I ask the hon. gentleman a question? He said it had been stated that in the event of this program not

Cooperative Commonwealth-Mr. Geary

being brought about by peaceful means, force might be used. Was that statement made by one of the speakers from this comer at any time?

Topic:   COOPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH
Permalink
CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

Yes, made yesterday during the course of this debate.

Topic:   COOPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH
Permalink
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Mr. Speaker, I

think the hon. member ought to mention the one who made the statement.

Topic:   COOPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH
Permalink
LIB
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Pardon me, I did not make it. I am sure the hon. member for South Toronto (Mr. Geary) will be fair in this.

Topic:   COOPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH
Permalink
LIB
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

No. What I said was, if it were not brought about by peaceful means I feared-

Topic:   COOPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH
Permalink
LIB
CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

Mr. Speaker, I am in the judgment of Hansard. At page 1689 the hon. member is reported as follows:

Well, if many take the position that we cannot do this thing constitutionally, and behind it is the threat that it will not be permitted to be done constitutionally, then none of us can answer as to what may actually take place.

I do not want to quibble over words, I a.m only saying that the well-known socialist argument has been advanced, and I deduce from that that what is sought is the establishment of a system similar to that which they have in Russia today. There is no other example today of anything approaching a cooperative commonwealth as set out by socialistic writers except what we find in Russia.

And the ban. member for Winnipeg North Centre, on the same page, just above the quotation which I have read, said:

It may very ivell be that force may prove inevitable-

Topic:   COOPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

A threat.

Topic:   COOPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH
Permalink
CON
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

No, Mr. Speaker. I have no objection whatever to my words being quoted, but I did not suggest that we would in any way bring about a revolution by force.

Topic:   COOPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH
Permalink
CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

I am only intimating, what is perfectly clear from the extracts I have read, that hon. members opposite take the view that if this is not brought about by peaceful evolution then it will come to pass by revolution and force.

Topic:   COOPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH
Permalink
PRO
CON
PRO
CON
PRO
CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

Putting the best construction on the conditions in Russia that one may, one favourable to the Russian situation, I ask you, sir, if by any possibility there can be in this country any feeling that our people, our proletariat so-called, our farmers, would be satisfied with the condition of things under which people are obliged to five in Russia? There is mo other cooperative commonwealth suggested. I was looking for a definition; if there is any other my hon. friend, the member for Winnipeg North Centre will be able to indicate it in his reply. There was no looseness in the drafting of this resolution, because I looked back over the program that had been set out in Hansard, and I find that the same thing occurred there. Looking at page 1689, the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre is reported as saying that the Independent Labour party believe in the establishment of a cooperative commonwealth, with production for use and not for profit as its economic basis. And further on on the same page, that the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation has on its program the bringing about of-

-a federation of organizations whose purpose is the establishment in Canada of a cooperative commonwealth in which the basic principle regulating production-

And so on. So that the resolution now before the house follows in terms exactly the program or platform of the Independent Labour party formed in 1921 and the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation of which we hear now for the first time.

In that view was not the interjection of the Prime Minister perfectly apposite? Does it not mean that if we are to adopt a system of a cooperative commonwealth such as they have in Russia, the only one proposed, we thereby scrap confederation and the constitu-

1754 COMMONS

Cooperative Commonwealth-Mr. Geary

tion of this country? The observation was fully justified by the words of 'the resolution now before the house. It is a far cry, as the hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Bourassa) said, from such a resolution to one emphasizing the duty of citizens to work together and cooperate for the good of the state. With such an expression I would have no fault to find. I think it is our duty to work together, to do the best we cam by united effort to lift the pall of depression which has fallen so densely upon the world and in a lesser degree upon this country of ours.

The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre was good enough to say in closing that he trusted the discussion would not degenerate into a calling of names, but that on the other hand we would attempt to discuss seriously the principles which are at stake. May I say in all kindness that it is a pity the hon. member violated that sentiment before he gave it utterance. He does not advance his cause, nor do those who spoke after, or some of them; they rather cheapen it by levelling taunts such as were levelled at the Prime Minister of this country on matters that are purely personal. I resent that, as I would resent its being said of any hon member of this house. All I would say in passing is that the words of the hon. member in closing his speech were good. These words I hope we can follow, and discuss this matter on its merits and with a desire to elucidate some of the reasons for and against this action which is advocated.

My hon. friends advance a proposition. Now their business is to make that proposition good, and if they can make it good in this house or in the country they will have achieved their object. But they cannot make it good by deviating into attacks upon the house as a whole or upon individual members of it. As a matter of fact, the program ns I read it is exactly the program of socialism as we find it in the United States. Hon. members opposite know the magazine The World Tomorrow, which is purely socialistic. Their program follows the program of the socialist organization over there, without deviation in essentials, and it is interesting to note that that magazine was very strongly behind Norman Thomas, the presidential candidate of the socialist party at the last election-apparently a fine citizen, an upstanding man of character and conviction. Probably the socialist party was never better led than it was at the last presidential election and if I remember rightly that party got

fewer votes, relatively and absolutely, than it has received in any other presidential election.

Now my hon. friends disclaim, and of course I accept their word, any intention to capitalize the unrest of the country. Let me say to them however that they are doing so, perhaps unconsciously; nevertheless, this movement does look towards the capitalization of unrest, and you will find that, I judge, from the comments that have been made at these different meetings. However, let us pass that. I refer them to the speech-and his speeches are always eloquent-of the hon. member for Bow River, a speech that suffered somewhat from the same disability to which I referred earlier. It was a speech that consisted, I submit without argument, in a diatribe against capitalism, and I think that what the hon. member was aiming at was not capitalism under the capitalistic system in all its branches, but that part of it which has evinced itself in the plundering by a few of the public domain or treasury or the pockets of the people; and in common with all other members of the house, I would take no exception, I would offer no objection to a campaign that could be carried on to clip the wings, to destroy the power of those people who have, by manipulation of stock markets, by manipulation in the offices and not in the plants, destroyed the productive power and the very solvency of many of our best industries. I have many in my mind at the moment. They do not need repetition, but the fact remains, and I think you will find this side of the house, as you will that comer, allied with any effort to destroy the possibility of that sort of thing occurring again.

My hon. friend from Bow River-and this is really what brought me to my feet-instanced a case in the police court in Toronto. From his description of the man who sat on the bench I think I know the magistrate; but he narrated something that seems incredible. He gave it with the tone of one who was watching an executioner. Some poor devil camie up and was asked a question or two and was given three months in gaol, and this he said went on hour after hour. I do not know much about the police courts; my practice does not happen to lie there; but I read of their proceedings and I have never heard of anything like that. I think my hon. friend has forgotten the circumstances to some extent. True it is that in some cases some poor destitute person comes before the court wanting shelter; he has asked during the night to be picked up-at any rate this was.

Cooperative Commonwealth-Mr. Geary

the fact before we arranged matters better in Toronto-an order that he might be given warmth and shelter in one of the institutions, particularly the gaol farm near Toronto. Today however, under the honest and capable administration that exists in Toronto, our destitute are being taken care of in great numbers-the more's the pity-single men and married men and their families, and are receiving food and clothing and are given shelter. There has been no corruption. We get people not only from the city itself but many hundreds and thousands from outside; yet, with the aid of this government and the provincial government and our own treasury we have been able, I say with some pride, owing to the very careful and sympathetic administration of the resources entrusted to us, to take care of the destitute in the way I have described.

The proponent and supporters of this resolution went by very easy steps from the general determination to establish a cooperative commonwealth to certain measures which they thought this house should take under advisement at the moment. These I suppose are what are referred to in the resolution as the immediate steps which the government should take. My hon. friend from Winnipeg North Centre went immediately to "economic planning." I believe my hon. friend from Red Deer introduced that in this house last session or perhaps longer ago than that. From that the hon. member went to banking and credit, currency and inflation, and of these matters I wish to speak for a moment, because apparently they are steps which are to be taken at once in order to bring about the condition of affairs which my hon. friends have described as a cooperative commonwealth. Later there will be opportunity for discussing these questions in detail.

There is however one observation I desire to make with regard to credit. I gather from the speeches made that the credit aimed at, the credit which it is desired to establish, is some sort of credit administered practically directly by the government of this country, directed or administered by a body answerable to this House of Commons. If that means that individual cases of credit are to be handled directly or in the manner I have indicated as indirect, by this House of Commons, then I can say at once that I am opposed to it. All my life I have wanted to be able to step up to some wicket and hand in my note and say, "I want this much," and get it. But I can conceive of no rhyme or reason, nor will my hon. friends when they come to think of it, why the money of this country, any more 53719-111 i

than the money of private people, should be handed over except on recognized and proper principles of loan. If, on the other hand, what my hon. friends aim at is a central bank as established in some other countries, there is something to be said for it as well as something to be said against it. There will arise difficulties, because in Canada we have no money market, for instance. It would mean placing in the hands of selected bankers an expensive institution, and you would still be in the hands of those who are anathema to my hon. friend-the bankers. We have a system now. How well it works I cannot tell; I do not profess to say. Under the Finance Act there is a certain loosening of credit over and above the gold coverage. In any event that is not a matter in regard to which immediate steps can be taken- It is a matter that requires study and investigation by a committee or commission, or in some way, so that the arguments pro and con can be stated in the house in such a way as to enable the house to make up its mind on the question.

As to inflation, there are two kinds so far put before us. One is that suggested by the hon. member for Macleod (Mr. Coote) and, I think, the hon. member for Southeast Grey (Miss Maophail), which is simply the printing of money. If I remember rightly, the hon. member for Southeast Grey last year advanced this proposition-that we should 'build the St. Lawrence waterway; it would be expensive, but we could pay for it by bills freshly printed for the purpose. Yesterday the hon. member for Macleod said very much the same thing, and then proceeded to state how this money would be put into circulation. His proposal firstly was that a certain amount be given away, and secondly that we should use that money to build all sorts of public works and social enterprises and that sort of thing, most of which I do not think we need at the moment, and none of which we can afford.

With that sort of inflation we have this difficulty, which my hon. friends will recognize at once. If you inflate money you can buy in the end, with that inflated money, the same number of articles that you could have bought with the money as it stood at the price these articles then were. There may be stimulation for the moment; they expected it in Great Britain, but the results which they anticipated have proved to be entirely illusory; they have not received the benefits they hoped for. We would have the same result as far as internal trading is concerned, but if it was only an internal matter it would make no difference whether we printed dollar

1756 COMMONS

Cooperative Commonwealth-Mr. Geary

bills, hundred dollar bills, wampum, or anything you like, If we simply traded our money within the boundaries of this country, all would be well and good; but it is when you come to deal with matters outside the country that you have to rearrange your thoughts.

The other method suggested was to tie up our -currency t-o British sterling. Toward the end of last session the hon. member for Wey-burn (Mr. Young) gave a very lucid and forceful address with regard to this matter, one which would bear re-reading by hon. members. But sterling is not stabilized, it is often subject to the raids of speculators. During the last four weeks it has risen twenty-five points and we cannot anticipate what raids will be made by continental countries; it may be forced down to a point lower than it was four weeks ago. Sterling is subject to constant raids by continental financiers, and if we tied to sterling we would be tying to something unstable commercially. If we tied to sterling we would have to consider the matter of balancing the benefits against the cost. This country has been hard hit by a depreciated currency because it is a producer of primary products, but on the other hand Canada is a great debtor and unfortunately the substantial part of our indebtedness rests in the United States.

Topic:   COOPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH
Permalink
PRO

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss MACPHAIL:

Does the hon. member mean that this country is particularly hard hit by a depreciated currency or by lack of a depreciated currency? [DOT]

Topic:   COOPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH
Permalink

February 2, 1933