February 2, 1939

LIB

Hughes Cleaver

Liberal

Mr. CLEAVER:

House Construction in Canada 1921-1930 Inclusive

1921 $ 76,655,000

1922 104,202,000

1923 97,645,000

1924 91,225,000

1925 96,490,000

1926 109,562,000

1927 124,940,000

1928 139,166,000

1929 128,901,000

1930 93,292,000

Total $1,062,078,000

From these figures it will be seen that the yearly average of house-building during this period was $106,207,800. These figures I submit establish conclusively the fact that our normal quota of house-building in order to keep up with our normal demands should fee rather better than $100,000,000 worth annually.

Coming to the period of the depression and succeeding years we have the following figures for 1931 to 1938:

1931 $ 81,684,000

1932 28,893,000

1933 23,930,000

1934 30,588,000

1935 36,409,000

1936 42,858,000

1937 56,207,000

1938 55,025,000

Total $355,594,000

Yearly average, $44,449,000.

It is therefore perfectly obvious that during the last eight years we have been building less than half our normal housing requirements.

The present house shortage is not as apparent as it would be under normal conditions, on account of unemployed people being forced to live under very crowded conditions. At the time this special committee sat to investigate the housing problem we had over 11,000 people living in one room per family. Just imagine, one room per family to live in, eat in and sleep in. Other thousands of our people were doubled up two and three families in a house. Figures as to this condition for all Canada are not available, but the city of Toronto took a census, and in that city alone it was found that over 8,500 families were living two and three families to a house. People do not voluntarily live under such conditions and just as soon as men regain employment they will demand homes of their own, and we shall not have the houses for them.

I need not draw attention to the fact that such crowded living conditions are not conducive to good health, nor are they conducive to good citizenship.

Turning again to the report of the committee we find figures as to infant mortality. For 1933 the infant mortality rate for the entire city of Toronto was 6-34 per cent of the births occurring there in that year. In comparison with that figure take one of the crowded areas of the city, the Moss Park division of ward 2, where the infant mortality rate was double the rate for the entire city. And this high mortality rate caused by overcrowding is not confined to infants; it applies to adults as well. Figures for Canada apparently were not available, but the committee in its report gave the figures for the city of Glasgow. In Glasgow where families were living under crowded conditions, one family to a room, the death rate was 2-59 per cent, whereas when families were living under normal conditions for that city of four rooms to a family the rate was only 1-08 per cent, or less than half. I shall not weary the house with crime figures, other than to say that in the crowded areas the crime percentages are simply appalling, over the entire field of crime, from murder down to juvenile delinquency.

Now when we required the houses and when we were spending $60,000,000 annually to maintain the building trades in idleness it seemed to me nothing short of sheer folly to do nothing about it. In 1936 I felt that something should be done, that we should at least spend some of the $60,000,000, that we were spending to maintain builders in idleness, to stimulate the building industry and put the men to work. I so intimated in 1936, but

The Address-Mr. Cleaver

received very little support at Ottawa. So I went back to Burlington, my home town, and discussed the matter with our municipal council. Burlington is at the head of lake Ontario, and has about 3,500 inhabitants. Burlington decided to try a modest scheme of bonusing house building. Like every urban municipality in Canada Burlington had hundreds of vacant lots to which the municipality had obtained title through tax sales. Some of the lots had been worth $600 to $800 each in normal times, but we decided to give them away for $50 to anyone who would build a house of specified value within one year. As a result of this plan nineteen new houses were built in Burlington in 1937. During the preceding six years only four houses had been built in the town, an average of less than one a year. Hon. members can thus see what we were able to do by just a little bit of stimulus or bonus to the house building trade.

Eighty per cent of the cost of every house of moderate price is labour, direct or indirect. This figure was definitely ascertained and reported on by the committee in its 1935 report. The direct labour is that employed where the house is built; the indirect labour is that employed in the manufacture and fabrication of building materials to the point where they can be used in construction. I refer to the labour employed in the manufacture of bricks, lumber, flooring, sash and doors, trim, plaster, hardware, plumbing supplies and the like. Hon. members will see that this little experiment of ours meant $72,000 worth of new payroll expended somewhere in Canada. Or, expressed in human terms, we put ninety men to work -in profitable employment at $800 a year, and I take that figure because that is the average sum paid to wage earners employed in the building trades, according to the bureau of statistics.

Let us look now at the tax results in Burlington. We not only took men off the relief rolls and consequently reduced our relief expenditures, making a saving to the taxpayers in that regard, but in addition Burlington is receiving every year about $2,499 in new tax money from the houses which were built in 1937. It is true that we had to write off between four and five thousand dollars of tax arrears on the vacant lots which we gave away in 1937 but who will say it was not good business? And this reduction in taxation, this improvement in conditions in a municipality, leads to still further building. In 1938 we went further still; in our little town we had twenty-four new houses built, and right now, in midwinter, there are six houses under construction, with twelve further

sales completed ready for construction to commence in the spring.

I have given our experience in Burlington to show what can be done, and now I should like to discuss the matter from a national standpoint. If we could increase house building in Canada even to our normal requirements, without overtaking any of the eighty thousand houses we are behind, it would mean an annual increase of $50,000,000 a year. Expressed in wage rolls it would mean an annual increase of $40,000,000, and expressed in human terms it would mean fifty thousand men taken off relief and put to profitable employment at $800 a year. I should like to place on record also at this time the all-inclusive figures of the construction trade. Up to this moment I have been dealing simply with housing construction. Taking the same ten year period from 1921 to 1930, the figures are as follows:

1921 $ 240,133,000

1922 331,843,000

1923 314,254,000

1924 276,261,000

1925 297,973,000

1926 372,948,000

1927 418,952,000

1928 472,033,000

1929 576,652,000

1930 457,000,000

Total $3,758,049,000

The yearly all-over average on construction work in Canada during that period was $375,-

804,000. Again taking the eight year period of the depression and the years following, that is, from 1931 to 1938, the figures are as follows:

1931 $ 315,482,000

1932 132,872,000

1933 97,290,uU0

1934..- 125,812,000

1935 160,305,000

1936 162,588,000

1937 224,057,000

1938 188,277,000

Total $1,406,683,000

During that period the yearly average was only $175,835,000. In other words from these figures it is clear that over the whole construction field we are down about two billion dollars annually. If all the construction trades could be brought back simply to normal, without catching up on the slack at all, we would add 125,000 men to our employment lists and would take that many men off the relief rolls. That figure is made up in this way: $50,000,000 worth of additional house building, with an eighty per cent labour content, would mean 50,000 men put to work. Then $150,000,000 of additional industrial, business and engineering construction work, with a forty per cent labour content, would put 75,000 men to work, or a grand total of

125,000 men.

The Address-Mr. Cleaver

This government has gone perhaps as far as it should at present to stimulate personal endeavour in industry. (1) The government has taken off the eight per cent sales tax on all building material. (2) It has granted a tax subsidy with respect to all new homes costing $4,000 or less, built in municipalities which have qualified under part 3 of the act by making $50 lots available to builders in reasonable quantities. (3) It has made loans available in almost all communities, to all credit-worthy people who wish to build. (4) It has made two per cent money available as an indirect attack on our slum problem. The rest, Mr. Speaker, I submit is up to us, and just to show how badly we private members of this house have fallen down in our part of the responsibility I want to give the figures of the municipalities which have qualified for the tax subsidy under part 3 of the act. That legislation has been in force now for seven months. Yesterday I received from the Department of Finance a letter in which the figures as to the municipalities which have qualified to date for this tax subsidy were given as follows:

Nova Scotia 4

New Brunswick 1

Quebec 0

Ontario 12

Manitoba 4

Saskatchewan 5

Alberta 5

British Columbia 2

In other words we have a grand total of 33 municipalities out of 4,346 municipalities in Canada. I submit that this constitutes a direct challenge to every member of this house to take off his coat and go to work. It is time, I suggest, that we stop criticizing the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) for what he has done or has not done, and assume some of the responsibility ourselves. In my riding I have found that better results can be obtained when politics are removed and when prominent Conservatives join with prominent Liberals in these meetings. Councillor Rennie of Burlington, who is president of the Conservative association, deserves a great deal of the credit for what we have been able to do in that town, and I am glad to take this opportunity of acknowledging that fact. He has also gone with me to address meetings throughout the riding in connection with the housing question. My good friend the hon. member for Peel (Mr. Graydon) is joining me at Georgetown at a meeting soon to be held there in order to discuss this matter, and I in turn am quite prepared to go with him to any part of his riding for the same purpose. If the members of this house could only become sufficiently interested to pull their weight in connection

with this problem, what a refreshing thing it would be!

I am firmly convinced that one of the strongest forces retarding recovery in Canada to-day is fear. If all hon. members of this house would call a political truce in discussing our problem of unemployment-

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UFOL

Agnes Campbell Macphail

United Farmers of Ontario-Labour

Miss MACPHAIL:

And every other

problem.

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LIB

Hughes Cleaver

Liberal

Mr. CLEAVER:

I agree-and present a united front to combat unemployment, I believe that very substantial and very lasting results could be obtained. So far as I am personally concerned I am quite willing that the Conservative party or any other party should have all the credit for curing unemployment in this country as long as all our people are put to work. I do not know of any sadder thing in human experience than to see a father of young children denied the right to earn for himself and his family an honest living through his toil. In my opinion present living conditions in Canada are a challenge to our Christian civilization. Are hon. members going to accept that challenge and do their part to help, or are they going to content themselves with simply criticizing those who are trying to do their best?

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CON

James Earl Lawson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. J. EARL LAWSON (York South):

Mr. Speaker, in speaking the other night on the order before the house the hon. member for Brant (Mr. Wood) referred to the triplet of defeated candidates for the Conservative leadership who were sitting in support of the new leader of the official opposition. I desire to take this opportunity to assure the hon. member for Brant that he will find those triplets not merely sitting in support of the new leader of the official opposition, but loyally and actively supporting his cause, particularly because he has those very human qualities of friendship and understanding which endear him to all members of the National Conservative party which he has the honour to lead.

With respect to the leader of the opposition may I heartily endorse what has been said in the house by the other two of the triplets. I suggest to the hon. member for Brant that in his observations he missed something; he failed to observe that there were five candidates for the leadership of the National Conservative party. Now that the hon. member who has the honour to lead the party has been chosen, he is attracting to the National Conservative party more votes than the famous quintuplets are attracting tourists to Callander. If any further evidence were required as to the forward march of the National Conservative party I would quote

The Address-Mr. Lawson

from the writings in 1927 of a Liberal member of the house. The article was written on the eve of the Conservative convention held in Winnipeg in 1927. After the hon. member had outlined the causes as he saw them for the former defeat of the Conservative party, he then proceeded as follows:

Now, as I have outlined the causes of defeat of Toryism wherein lies the remedy? Soft words butter no parsnips. More people perish from fear of the scalpel than from septicaemia. The remedy must be heroic. Toryism cannot play both ends against the middle and win. The way to tolerance is the road to understanding. Wisdom must come to Toryism before the people think of giving it power. It should prove its fate by selecting as its leader one from the province of Quebec, a Canadian of French origin, and a Roman Catholic in religion.

Well, Mr. Speaker, the new leader of the National Conservative party has nearly all those qualifications. And who, do you think, was the hon. member of the house who uttered those prophetic words?-none other than the hon. member for North Huron (Mr. Deachman). So for once in my life I find myself in agreement with the hon. member in that the Conservative party is on the road to power following the next election.

I was indeed disappointed when I listened to the speech from the throne, because I fully anticipated that in view of the developments last year before the special committee of the house on radio, and in view of the public outcry there has been against the' administration of radio and the functioning of the bureaucracy of the broadcasting corporation, the government in the meantime would have devised and proposed some measure to deal with the situation.

By reason of temporary illness I was not present in the house when the discussion with respect to prohibiting Mr. McCuIlagh from expressing his views over the air with respect to national problems was at its height. On this occasion I have no intention of repeating any of the arguments so ably made on that occasion by other hon. members. I could not however but be impressed by the absurdity of the position taken by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the government in defence of the bureaucratic and undemocratic attitude in respect of the administration of radio. I for one will not allow the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) to create a false impression in the country through the resounding declaration he made in the house that the government proposes to give the people's representatives in parliament an opportunity to deal with the situation. In reply to some speeches which had been made the Prime Minister said a committee of the house would be set up to consider the subject matter, and he went on to say:

Every opportunity will be given hon. gentlemen opposite to name their members on that committee.

What a concession! Was there ever a time in the history of this supposedly democratic institution of parliament when the respective parties in the house were not given the opportunity of naming members who should represent them on any committee of the house? The Prime Minister went on further:

An opportunity will be given to the committee to call the general manager, the governors and any others connected with the corporation, and they may go very fully into all the rules and regulations which have been drawn up.

What a privilege is being granted by the Prime Minister! Think of the absurdity of setting up a committee of the house to inquire into the action of a government-created body, and to be allowed no evidence and no witnesses except those who compose the very body with respect to which the inquiry is being held. At least in the words of the declaration of the Prime Minister this session as spokesman for the government he has been more frank with hon. members and the people of the country than he was last session when a similar committee was set up. At least on this occasion by his words he lets us know in advance that the committee is to be a glorified whitewash brush for the purpose of whitewashing the administration of the radio corporation and the government. To accomplish that purpose last session it was necessary to rely upon his Liberal supporters in the house who were members of the radio committee to do the whitewashing job. I propose to take a few minutes to demonstrate what was done at the last session.

On February 7, 1938, it was ordered by the house that the select committee on radio broadcasting appointed to consider the annual report of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation be empowered to examine and inquire into all such matters and things as may be referred to them by the house, and to report from time to time their observations and opinions thereon, with power to send for persons, papers and records. I ask you to note the lack of limitation so far as the order of the house was concerned as to what persons, papers and records might be sent for. On the face of it the committee had wide power to send for persons, papers and records. Now let us see what happened.

The very first witness called before the committee was Mr. Brockington, K.C., chairman of the board of governors of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He proceeded in his evidence with a sticky laudation of the Minister of Transport (Mr. Howe) and of the present government, and then he pur-

The Address-Mr. Lawson

ported to read what he alleged to be an excerpt from the minutes of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which excerpt declared, in part, the intention and the policy of the government with respect to radio.

After Mr. Brockington had finished his evidence I asked that the minutes of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation be filed with the committee and be available to its members. Who do you think was the first hon. member of this house to object to our having access to the minutes? The Minister of Transport himself. To permit a witness to read an excerpt from a document and not allow the inquiring tribunal to have access to that document is so offensive to every principle of British justice that I insisted that the committee be put on record in connection therewith, and so I moved, seconded by my colleague from Fraser Valley (Mr. Barber):

That the minutes of the meetings of the board of governors be filed by the governors with the clerk of the committee for the information of the members of the committee and be made available to members of the committee.

That motion was defeated by a vote of nine to two. Let me read to you, Mr. Speaker, the names of the hon. members of this house who voted against that motion and made it impossible for the committee to have access to the minutes of the broadcasting corporation. They were the hon. member for Ottawa West (Mr. Ahearn), a Liberal member supporting the government in this house; the hon. member for Laurier (Mr. Bertrand), a Liberal member supporting the government in this house; the hon. member for Chambly-Rouville (Mr. Dupuis), a Liberal member supporting the government in this house; the hon. member for Spadina, a riding in the city of Toronto (Mr. Factor), a Liberal member supporting the government in this house; the hon. member for Algoma West (Mr. Hamilton), a Liberal member supporting the government in this house; the hon. member for Port Arthur (Mr. Howe)-the hon. Minister of Transport, the responsible minister of the crown; the hon. member for Bow River (Mr. Johnston); the hon. member for Neepawa (Mr. MacKenzie), a Liberal member supporting the government in this house; and last but not least the hon. member for Cariboo (Mr. Turgeon), officially the assistant whip of the Liberal party in the House of Commons.

Those who voted in favour of the motion were my colleague, the hon. member for Fraser Valley (Mr. Barber), a Conservative member, and I.

Again I call attention to the fact that the order of this house gave power to the committee to send for papers and records.

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LIB

Samuel Factor

Liberal

Mr. FACTOR:

May I ask the hon. member a question?

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CON

James Earl Lawson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAWSON:

Yes.

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LIB

Samuel Factor

Liberal

Mr. FACTOR:

Did not the order of reference limit us to investigating financial and other operations of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation?

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CON

James Earl Lawson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAWSON:

I shall deal with that at some later stage. I should like to do it now but my time is limited. While the question is on my mind, let me say to my hon. friend that there was nothing more important before that committee than the finances of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, because it was proposed to increase the licence fees payable by the people of this country from $2 to $2.50, and to make them pay a separate licence for each radio set.

The order of reference gave us the widest power to call for persons, papers and records. I ask, how could evidence be obtained as to whether or not the radio fees should be increased against the taxpayers if no evidence was allowed except that of those who are in the pay of the broadcasting corporation?

But the matter did not end there. After the committee had listened at every sitting to the board of governors of the broadcasting corporation, to the general manager, the program director, and all those who were most interested in supporting the very system and the very administration which the committee was appointed to investigate, the chairman of the committee, the hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Beaubien), a Liberal member supporting the government in this house, proposed to close off the inquiry and to draw up a report. I pointed out to the committee that opportunity should be given to hear from those who had knowledge of broadcasting and who were not in the pay of the government. I took occasion to point out to the committee its position in these words:

I again say that this committee is not in a position to judge whether the expenditure proposed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for the development of radio, and by reason of that expenditure-therefore the necessary increase in licence fees is justifiable or otherwise when we have only had the opportunity of hearing one side of the case.

Several excuses were offered by members of the committee, who by the way were not Conservative members, to prevent other evidence being called; hence I moved:

That the chairman or president of the broadcasting association of Canada be requested to

The Address-Mr. Lawson

appear at his own expense before this committee a? \ witness, with respect to the subject matter of the order of reference to this committee.

To the hon. member for Essex East (Mr. Martin) went the distinction of objecting to that motion, the hon. member for Essex East also being a Liberal member supporting the government in this house. The hon. member is qualified as a lawyer, and the plain wording of the order of this house was that we had power to send for persons, papers and records.

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LIB

Paul Joseph James Martin

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN:

Will the hon. member

permit a question?

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CON

James Earl Lawson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAWSON:

I am sorry I cannot, because I should not be able to finish my speech unless the house granted me unlimited time, in which event of course I should be delighted to answer any questions.

Nevertheless, despite the wording of the order of reference, the chairman of the committee, the Liberal member for Provencher, ruled that my motion was out of order. And sc again we forced it to a vote, and this time the ruling which prevented us from calling any other witness was sustained by six to two. Let me read you the names of the members who supported the chairman in his ruling: the hon. member for Kamouraska (Mr. Bouchard), a Liberal member supporting the government in this house; the hon. member for Spadina, a Liberal member supporting the government in this house; the hon. member for Algoma West, a Liberal member supporting the government in this house; the hon. member for Victoria-Carleton (Mr. Patterson), a Liberal member supporting the government in this house; and the hon. member for Essex East (Mr. Martin), also a Liberal member supporting the government in this house. Those who voted for the privilege of calling witnesses other than officers of the broadcasting corporation were the late lamented Mr. Alex. Edwards, then the hon. member for Waterloo South, a Conservative, and I.

In these circumstances I retired from the committee and refused to attend any further sittings to draw up a report, as a protest against the steam roller tactics adopted by the supporters of this government in that committee. Then imagine my surprise as I read that in this house the Minister of Transport had the effrontery in making a speech here to declare-

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CON

Charles-Philippe Beaubien

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BEAUBIEN:

Mr. Speaker, before

the hon. gentleman-

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CON

James Earl Lawson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAWSON:

-that a committee of this parliament-

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CON

Charles-Philippe Beaubien

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BEAUBIEN:

Mr. Speaker-

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CON

James Earl Lawson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAWSON:

I trust, Mr. Speaker, that this will all be deducted from my time.

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CON

Charles-Philippe Beaubien

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BEAUBIEN:

May I ask the hon.

member a question?

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CON

James Earl Lawson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAWSON:

If it comes off my time,

I shall be delighted.

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CON

Charles-Philippe Beaubien

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BEAUBIEN:

I just want to ask a

question. If the hon. member does not want to-

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CON

James Earl Lawson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAWSON:

A number of hon. members want to ask me questions.

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CON

Charles-Philippe Beaubien

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BEAUBIEN:

Was not the hon. member aware that he could make a motion to have the order of reference enlarged, which he did not do?

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CON

James Earl Lawson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAWSON:

Whether an hon. gentleman had knowledge that he could move to have it enlarged has nothing to do with the subject matter. It was down towards the end of the session. The order was already-

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February 2, 1939