Walter Adam Tucker
Mr. W. A. TUCKER (Rosthern):
Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to detain the house very long, but I want to bring to the attention of hon. members the situation in which we find ourselves as representing this dominion. Every hon. member who has spoken to-day has endorsed the principle of this resolution. They agree that those who have been unfortunate enough to lose their sight are deserving of some assistance from their more fortunate fellow Canadians. It is admitted that something should be done at once, but nearly every hon. member who has spoken has brought up the question of where the money is to come from. As I listened to the
speeches of hon. members I was reminded of David Copperfield. In that book mention is made of a person who was trying to write a history but who could not get around King Charles' head. It kept coming up and coming up. This problem of where to find the money keeps coming up in connection with every proposal made in the house. It is agreed that it is desirable to do something, but the contention is that we have not the money. We all know that if we were faced with war the necessary credit would be forthcoming. Great Britain considers that she is faced with the danger of war and she is able to make an immediate appropriation of $1,500,000,000. We know that if Canada were in the same danger we would have no difficulty in finding the necessary credit to carry on any defence plans deemed necessary.
The hon. gentleman (Mr. Ryan) who has just spoken has indicated that this resolution has been used by some hon. members as an excuse to make an attack upon the bankers.
I think the hon. gentleman has misconstrued the attitude of that increasing number of men who count themselves as monetary reformers. They do not attack the bankers as individuals; they attack the system which has grown up during the last fifty years. They do not suggest that the bankers are any less devoted than is anyone else to the best interests of society, but they do say that the financial system is not working in the best interests of the people. I would point out that some of the greatest economists in the world to-day have come to the definite conclusion that in the twentieth century we are trying to do business under a financial system that, while it may have done fair service in the nineteenth century, is just as much out of date to-day as is the ox-cart when compared with the motor car. I hear member after member say that the financial system is too complicated for parliament to deal with, but I suggested that if they really want something done along the lines which have been just suggested, they should devote their study to the financial system and the banking policy.
It is a well recognized fact that the country is continually going deeper into debt. If we could not afford to do a certain thing last year, there is not much hope of our being able to afford to do it this year and there is less hope of our being able to afford it in the future. We are willing to speak soft words on behalf of and offer sympathy to the blind, but we have not the money to do anything for them. This reminds me of a certain saying in the bible: They asked for bread and he gave them a stone. It reminds me of the
Pensions jor the Blind
parable of the loaves and fishes at the time when the multitude were to be fed. The question was asked where the money was to come from, but the multitude were fed with bread and fish without money coming into the question. We as a deliberative assembly must devote ourselves to finding ways and means of doing what is physically possible, Tegardless of whether the financial system as at present constituted stands in the way. If we do not do this we are not doing our duty to the people of Canada.
What these blind people need is food, clothing and some of the other good things of life. If the financial system does not permit us to do those things which we as a Christian people realize we should do, which we know we have the ability to do, then it should be changed. If we refuse to study this problem can we say that we are as serious as we should be in our desire to do something for these people? That is the question I put to the house. This is the test that faces this House of Commons. Do we really mean these things? Do we want to have them done? If so, let us begin to study some of the ways suggested by the greatest economists not only of the English-speaking nations but of the world. Let us begin to give serious and sympathetic consideration to those suggested ways and means whereby in this twentieth century we may go forward and place at the disposal of these blind people the things that it is physically possible to put at their disposal. The things that are physically possible should be financially possible, and if under our present system they are not financially possible, although physically possible, then we are subordinating the best interests of the people to adherence to a system; we are refusing, by our adherence to an outworn system which no longer serves humanity to the best possible advantage, to benefit by the abundance which providence has given us. I am not now advocating any particular change in the system, but I know that every hon. member present would like to do something for the blind as well as for others who are unable to look after themselves. As the hon. member for Saskatoon (Mr. Young) has said, fifty-four per cent of what we raise in taxation is going towards paying interest on our debt. That is where the money is going and it is in that quarter that we should direct the searching gaze of parliament to find out whether we cannot there save money and thereby serve the best interests of the Canadian people.
Subtopic: PROPOSED EXTENSION OF BENEFITS OF OLD AGE
Sub-subtopic: PENSIONS ACT TO BLIND PEOPLE OVER FORTY YEARS OF AGE