An hon. MEMBER:
Oh, no; it was not the reason.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION' OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Oh, no; it was not the reason.
I raise no objection to that. I wish I had time-
Go right along.
Take all the time you want:
Take your time.
The constant interruption of my hon. friends puts me very much in mind of a small boy who sat beside me in school in the days when we sat two at a desk.
You are wasting your time now.
I am surprised at the lack of dignity on the part of the Minister of Fisheries (Mr. Michaud).
This boy had a boil on a part of his anatomy which I need not mention, and I noticed that any time I touched that boil he set up a terrible howl. I think my hon. friends are very much in the same position to-day in view of their action with respect to the radio. But to come back to what I was saying.
Very dignified, for an exminister.
I am not protesting against Father Lanphier being banned from the air on this occasion for a specific breach of a specific regulation. In fact, I congratulate the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation upon its common sense in last week reestablishing him on the air after one month's penalty for a breach of that specific regulation. But I observed that Father Lanphier made the statement that he was not returning to the air until certain terms and conditions were settled with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Now it is with respect to that business of terms and conditions that I wish to protest.
Father Lanphier was previously prohibited the use of the air by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and I read the reasons they gave for that prohibition-no, excuse me. He was prohibited from the air and subsequently reinstated after representations were made by the radio league of St. Michael's church, Toronto, and this was the promise exacted from Father Lanphier by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation before he was permitted to return to the air: That he, Father Lanphier, would confine himself in his broadcasts purely to religious subjects and avoid politics and controversial theories in economics. Well, if Father Lanphier, because he is a religious teacher, is not to be allowed to broadcast in his sermons matters touching upon politics and controversial theories in economics, then I ask, why has the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation permitted my friends of the Social Credit party to broadcast for the past two years in the province of Alberta? Let us look facts in the face. Social credit was first introduced and sold to the people of Alberta from the pulpit or platform of the Prophetic Bible Institute, and for the last two years addresses have been broadcast almost every Sunday by Mr. Aber-hart or by the provincial secretary of Alberta, addresses which are mixing up general politics and controversial theories in economics. I am not saying a word in the way of criticism. I am trying to defend the principle of their being permitted, and to stop the gagging of people in this country who wish to use the-air and the facilities of the radio.
My hon. friend wanted to know why I said the government was responsible. I will tell him why. In the first place, the government, or this parliament if you will, created the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation when it fixed its powers by statute, and its by-laws have to be approved by the government. And did not Mr. Brockington, when he was before the committee, as I previously stated to-day,
The Address-Mr. Lawson
tell us that the Minister of Transport attended the first meeting of the governors of the corporation and informed them what the policy of the government was with respect to broadcasting? As this government created the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, so it can alter the powers of that body by limitations upon it, or destroy it if it so desires, by the introduction of legislation in this parliament; and I say that this government cannot absolve itself from and dodge its responsibility by taking the attitude that has been taken in this house on more than one occasion, on one occasion at any rate, by the Minister of Transport, namely, that the government has no responsibility for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and metaphorically washes its hands of all responsibility. It does that every time public pressure becomes too great.
A certain gentleman, Mr. Speaker, tried that same tactic nineteen hundred years ago. Pontius Pilate, charged with the responsibility of pronouncing judgment upon the greatest man who ever inhabited the earth, literally sent for a basin of water and washed his hands because he had not the courage to do his duty and discharge his responsibility. He has gone down through nineteen hundred years of history as a horrible example of refusal to discharge responsibility. I leave it to this government to decide the position it will occupy in the future history of Canada.
In the rest of the time at my disposal I wish to deal with one reference that is contained in the speech from the throne. The speech states:
Legislation will be introduced to establish a defence purchasing board with power to purchase equipment for the defence services and to ensure that, where private manufacture is necessary, profits in connection with such are fair and reasonable and that the public interest is protected.
I presume that the proposed legislation is the result of the recommendation of the royal commissioner who investigated a private contract entered into between this government and a gentleman by the name of Mr. Hahn, which is popularly known as the Bren gun contract. I believe there are sharp differences of opinion in this country on the question whether or not all instruments and munitions of war should be made by the government in government arsenals and factories, or should be made by private industry. There are those who believe that no profit should be made out of instruments or munitions of war and that therefore they should be manufactured by the government in government arsenals. There are those who believe that if they are manufactured by the government you will not get efficiency, and
such people say that the only way to get efficiency is by the competitive system. I believe all people are agreed that there should be no profiteering in munitions or instruments of war. Well, that raises several questions. If they are to be produced by private industry, what measure of profit is to be allowed? If they are to be produced by government, what is the measure of cost? If they are to be produced by private industry, what manufacturers are to be given the preference? Are contracts to be awarded to the lowest bidder under sealed tenders, irrespective of what plant or equipment he may have available? If the contracts are not to go to the lowest bidder under sealed tenders, how on earth are you ever going to prevent political patronage?
I have a suggestion to offer to this government and the country. We have a railway problem. Every year the taxpayers are called upon to put up between 840,000,000 and 850,000,000 to pay the deficits of the Canadian National Railways. I believe there is a sincere desire on the part of all thoughtful men to reduce deficits and thereby reduce taxation. One factor contributing to the large deficits of the Canadian National Railways is the overhead on idle shops, factories and plants. I want to recount the shops which at the time of formation of the Canadian National Railways were available in the central region alone-I have not time to go all across Canada. In the central region there were at the time of formation six shops. One was at St. Malo, near Quebec city, with, capacity for 1.000 men per shift employed in repair and construction. Another was at Point St. Charles, near Montreal, owned by the old Grand Trunk. Another was at Stratford, Ontario, also owned by the old Grand Trunk, and another at Leaside, near the city of Toronto, owned by the Canadian Northern. The plant at Leaside I believe has capacity for about 1,000 men per shift. Then there was a shop at London owned by the old Grand Trunk, and one at Joliette, Quebec, owned by the old Canadian Northern. My information is that the shop at Joliette is completely closed and idle, that the one at Leaside is used only for the repair of steel freight cars, and the one at London for the repair of steel passenger cars. None of these shops is operating at anything like capacity. Each is equipped with lathes and much machineiy which I am told would be useful in the manufacture of instruments of defence. The Canadian National has available, and I assume the other railway also has, large staffs of expert mechanics, most of whom are suffering from lack of employment and many of whom are on relief rolls.
The Address-Mr. Bonnier
Has my hon. friend any
proof that railway shop men are on the relief rolls? Give me one example. There is a dearth of skilled men in this country to-day.
I frankly admit that I
have no proof. I know this, that by reason of the recent change, whereby instead of car repair men getting so many hours' work a week, full time is worked now by some on the basis of seniority, a great many men who are not high enough in the line of seniority do not get any work at all.
From the railway.
From the railway is what
I am talking about. That condition exists in the riding adjacent to mine, which I previously represented.
I have only a few minutes left and so must hurry on. Why not have our munitions and defence equipment manufactured as far as possible in our railway shops, on a basis of cost of material and wagi*s plus a fair return for plant, machinery and overhead? This would assist in relieving the burden of taxation upon the taxpayers and in providng employment for that army of skilled mechanics who depend upon the railways for work.
I do not want to discuss the Bren gun report at this time, but it was on a cost plus basis. If the Bren contract was an improvident one, then we should have no more like it. If it was a prudent contract, how much more prudent it would be to give that work to our railways on a similar cost plus basis so as to relieve the burden of taxation and provide employment for skilled railway mechanics. I regret I have not the necessary technical knowledge to determine the extent to which the idle plant of the railways could be utilized, or the benefits which would be obtained by the taxpayers, or the number of skilled mechanics who would be provided for. But I am satisfied from inquiries I have made that the scheme is feasible.
Now, sir, a young newspaper publisher, an energetic young business man, to whose radio addresses I have previously referred, has intimated that our public men to-day are sadly lacking in concrete proposals to solve our national problems. It is to these we should apply ourselves, instead of spending our time, as he says, in playing the game of party politics. I put it to the government and the members of this house: Let us accept that
challenge. If the government want to make a contribution to the solution, or at any rate partial solution of some of Canada's problems, why not set up a committee to study the feasibility and advantages of the scheme I have just outlined? I am confident that such efforts on our part would be a great deal more advantageous than anything produced as a result of the time now spent by committees in studying abstract questions which will not in this country call for practical action for ten years to come.
Mr. J. A. BONNIER (St. Henry) (Translation) :
Mr. Speaker, my first duty is to congratulate the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Matthews) who proposed and the hon. member for Stormont (Mr. Chevrier) who seconded the address in reply to the speech from the throne. The seconder is a young man whom I met some twelve years ago during a trip to Europe. His courtesy and dignified manner impressed me. Meeting him again twelve years later as a fellow-member of the house, my opinion of him has not changed. The passing years have not taken from him any of the qualities which led me to the first opinion I formed of him. He has a bright future before him. He is certainly destined to replace the old fighters who have so long worked for the welfare of the country. These men are wearing themselves out, and when exhaustion forces them to lay down their arms it is men like the hon. member for Stormont who will worthily replace them.
I am astonishe4 at the lack of solicitude for Montreal shown by the hon. member for Mount Royal (Mr. Walsh). It is a strange thing indeed to object to the improvement of one's own city. What can be the reason of the hon. member's objection to the construction of a terminal for the Canadian National Railways? He should at least admit that the project will be most useful inasmuch as it will provide work for citizens of Montreal at a time when everyone is anxious to do away with direct relief. But, apparently, he will criticize anything. Last year also he, no doubt, criticized public works allotted to my constituency.
I wish to thank the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Cardin) and the Secretary of State (Mr. Rinfret) for their assistance in obtaining works for my constituency. With their aid it was an easy task to convince the Minister of Transport (Mr. Howe) of the necessity of providing a population of about 50,000, trapped so to speak south of Lachine canal, with adequate means of reaching the centre of the city. The hon. member for Mount Royal again criticized the project. But the Minister of Transport readily saw the reasonableness of my request, made in my name as well as on behalf of the citizens of St. Henri, for an adequate outlet as in other parts of the city.
The Address-Mr. Bonnier
I take this opportunity also of expressing my gratitude to the minister of transport for having started the construction of a tunnel on St. Marguerite Street, and another at the corner of Notre-Dame and St. Ferdinand Streets, one of the spots where traffic is jammed, where tramways serving the west end of the city were constantly blocked and which badly needed such an improvement. I wish to thank the minister for his favourable treatment of our request. All those works are in progress, with the exception of the Lachine canal project. According to the engineers in charge of that project, the plans, on which they are working since the month of July, will soon be ready. Then tenders will be called, the contract will be given and the work started.
A railway terminal is also essential to a city of the size of Montreal and nobody is justified in criticizing that project. We should be proud of the metropolis of Canada. It is entitled to an adequate railway terminal as much as any other lesser city. Every citizen of Montreal should be glad of the improvements undertaken by the government in that connection.
Many hon. gentlemen opposite have had a good deal to say about our national debt. Is it not a fact, though, Mr. Speaker, that the Conservative party is solely responsible for the entire gross debt of the country? When the Laurier government went out of office in 1911, the debt stood at $350,000,000, which is the amount of the debt of Montreal to-day. But, between 1911 and 1921, the Conservative government added to that debt every year, until it reached approximately two billions.
There is the war debt.
We are ready to discuss it. It is always said that for purposes of war nothing is too much. But war was made a business speculation. Such was the Conservative record at the close of the Great War. Between 1921 and 1930 the Liberals reduced the debt. They brought the sales tax down from 6 per cent to 1 per cent. But what did the Conservatives do when they came to power in 1930? They restored the sales tax to 6 per cent and increased the national debt by $800,000,000. Whenever the Conservatives take over the administration of the country they increase the debt.
The other great drain on our finances is the railway debt. It is an elephant indeed. But who left us this elephant? The Conservatives. Let not my hon. friends opposite complain of the debt. All I ask of them is not to seek to regain power in order to increase it still more.
Is the debt not increasing now?