Mr. R. T. GRAHAM (Swift Current):
When the debate was adjourned last evening I was discussing the matter dealt with in the speech from the throne under the general head of social security. I had pointed out that a mere statement of the problem which we wish to solve, and unity of desire to achieve a measure of social security, will not in themselves be sufficient to enable us to reach our objective. One of the first essentials of planning for social security will be to put our house in order so that the foundation can bear the superstructure or the load that we propose to put upon it. May I say in passing that no plan of social security in a country such as Canada, with so important a part of its population engaged in agriculture, should lose sight of the position of the person engaged in farming. Certainly any plan based on the assumption that a measure of social security would merely add to the load that agriculture is already bearing would be a fatal mistake on the part of those attempting to put such a measure into effect. Our first duty is to examine the structure of Canada's economic life to see whether it can be improved so that it can bear that load which we propose to put upon it.
I ask myself what would be the two most important things to be dealt with in order to achieve our objective. First I suggest to the government and to this house that the fiscal policy of Canada must be such as to encourage the greatest possible exchange of surplus products with other countries; and secondly there must be a recognition on the part of that very important group in our Canadian national life, namely, labour, of the true relationship that exists between their wage rates, the cost of production and their own standards of living. I propose, in the very short time I have, to deal briefly with these two points.
I have often been amazed in the last few years to note that in all the strange formulas presented by different groups and individuals to cure our economic ills, the oft-repeated principle of common sense, to embark on a policy of free intercourse with the other nations of the world, has been so little put into practice. History shows that Great Britain rose to its greatest industrial strength and its highest standard of living under exactly that policy. The United States, in the early days of its development, accomplished the same measure of prosperity by free intercourse among the component parts of that great empire. It was only when their productive capacity rose to the point where they could not only serve the needs of their own people
The Address-Mr. Graham
but produce great surpluses that could be exchanged with other countries, that it has been gradually brought home, by the utterances of public men in the United States, that the advisability of continuing the high protectionist policy of the United States is wrong and will not succeed. That great empire, Soviet Russia, will in all likelihood go through the same experience as the United States. It may accomplish wonders internally so long as it is in that stage of development, but when it reaches the point of saturation it must look abroad to increase the standard of living of the people.
This is a particularly opportune moment to bring to the attention of the house the advantage of a policy so long urged by practically all economists, and certainly by many groups in this house down through the years. I suggest to the government that the greatest contribution made by the Liberal party in Canada to the general prosperity of the country has coincided with those opportunities which it has taken advantage of to increase trade with the country to the south of us. That is a standing tribute to the policy of free trade, and my own submission is that, unlike some other formulas, if we find a small dose of medicine accomplishing fairly good results it is sensible to continue the treatment and see if we cannot attain the degree of satisfaction in our economy which we all so much desire.
May I hope, too, that there will be no delay in this house on that particular question. In view of the recent Winnipeg convention, the long known attitude of the new leader of the Progressive Conservative party, and the attitude which has been expressed by the leader of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and .the leader of the New Democracy or Social Credit group, I take it that this is a most opportune time for Canada *to embark upon a policy which would produce the highest possible national income and ensure the highest possible standard of living for its citizens.
The other point with which I propose to deal is the position of labour. I have on my desk the report of the special committee of this house which sat in 1937 to consider farm implement prices. At page 1230 a breakdown is given of the actual costs entering into the manufacture and distribution of a horse-drawn binder betwen the years 1913 and 1936.
I draw the attention of the house to that particular table, because the more I have studied it the more I am convinced that in those figures lies the secret of the cause of many of the failures in our economy during that period. If hon. gentlemen will examine
this table they will find in the story it tells, first, that the direct labour costs entering into that binder increased during that period by over one hundred per cent.
As my time has almost expired, I shall have to leave this question with the hope that an opportunity will be given to me later to develop my argument.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OP DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY