June 25, 1943

NAT
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

-or no policy, as we regard it, in the position of having to vote confidence in it, or it will be said that we refused to vote reinforcements to the hard-pressed men overseas. I say there was never a more reprehensible proposal made in this house. I repeat that we of this party are prepared to do all that should be done to ensure adequate reinforcements and supplies for our men wherever they may be called upon to serve. As I said before, even in this war time, in the midst of war, we will fight a proposed war policy of which we disapprove; but once this house has laid down a war policy in the midst of war, then we will support that policy. That is all that we can do in the midst of war, reserving the right to criticize that policy.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Whether you approve it or not?

War Appropriation-Labour

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?

Mr. COLD WELL@

Often the member for York-Sunbury rises and criticizes the policy proposed by the government in connection with the war, and so do I. But once this parliament as a democratic institution approves that policy and it is required by the government for winning the war, we have no alternative but to support such a policy even if we proposed a better one. That is sd in the raising of loans, for example. I do not like the manner in which loans are raised, but that is the policy laid down. I am quite glad to go on the air and support the policy approved by parliament for the raising of loans, although I think that compulsory loans on a graduated scale ought to be imposed rather than the kind of voluntary arrangement which we have at the present time.

What we demand is that mobilization of our resources, wealth, industry as well as man-power, shall be considered as total mobilization and shall be considered apart from any attempt to stampede this parliament in a crisis. That is what I object to. I am therefore urging the government now, during this debate-for this is where it should be done- to place before the house at this time any proposals which it may have, and not to wait until perhaps, with long casualty lists coming in, and the country filled with alarm, we are called here-what for? For reinforcements? No. The Prime Minister would tell us that we were called together to vote confidence in a government in whom we may have no confidence. And if we vote against it, as the hon. member for Maple Creek says we can do, what will be said? It will be said that the opposition in the house refuses to vote reinforcements in a time of crisis. That is the position we shall be placed in, and I say that if the government is honest with this house it can clear up this situation now by coming before parliament and telling us exactly what it intends to do and asking the support of the house for the policy which it has for carrying out its intention.

What we are urging, what I am trying to urge as I sit down, is simply that the government shall present to the house now a clear-cut policy telling us the number required in industry, the number required in agriculture, and so on, to keep up the supplies we need, and the number we shall require to maintain the armed forces in the face of what might possibly occur. The government may say, "We do not know." Well, they made a survey of the man-power situation.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

Can the hon. member

tell us how many casualties there are going to be?

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Mr. COLD WELL@

No. But any government in power to-day, with its military authorities giving it advice, who does not know any more about that question than I do -for no such advice is available to me-is not fit to govern the country. So that the minister should not ask me but should ask his colleagues. Having made a survey of the resources of the country from time to time, and having the knowledge that the government has, and having also its military advisers who can tell it more or less what is in prospect, the government should come before us with a policy so that we can make a decision now without having to vote confidence in the government at some later stage. For, as I say, so far as we are concerned, we have no confidence in the economic, financial, labour, agricultural and social policies of the government-because, as we saw in this morning's paper, the measure of social policy contemplated by the government is again to be deferred.

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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

You do not seem to

think much of them in any department.

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Mr. COLD WELL@

No, I do not. I have

been here long enough to form an opinion and I have given the government support in all its war measures, but I must confess that the longer I stay here the less confidence I have in its policies. I have a good deal of respect personally for some of the men who comprise the government, but I have no respect and no confidence in the policies of the government, which is a very different thing. And so, I say to the minister

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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

Order. The hon.

member has spoken for forty minutes.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

Now is the time for

the government to come before the house and place its man-power policy before us, asking us to support that policy, apart altogether from any question of confidence in the government itself.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

The more discussion we have the more I regret that a parliamentary committee was not instituted for each war department, and especially for the Department of Labour, at the beginning of the session. Then members would have had an excellent opportunity to discuss fully matters that are of such importance to the country.

I listened yesterday to a part of the speech made by the leader of the opposition (Mr. JUNE 25, 1943

War Appropriation-Labour

Graydon) and I think he spoke very well, but I do not think that he was clear enough. As the government has been acting according to what the member for Riehelieu-Vercheres (Mr. Cardin) said, through fear of a vote of censure from the opposition, on the question of man-power, it is of some importance to know exactly what the leader of the opposition meant by some of the sentences which he uttered and which were the less clear parts of his speech yesterday.

On March 3, at page 938, of Hansard, he said:

May I point out however that there is a feeling throughout Canada, one which will show itself in any movements which lie ahead, that when the war is over we shall have a higher sense of human values and shall give lesser emphasis to material things than we have done heretofore.

The question of human values cannot be included in a post-war policy; it must be considered right now. It must always be considered at the time such questions have to be dealt with and should not be deferred until every man has fallen on the battlefield or everybody has died of hunger. That is not the time to discuss questions of human value. We must discuss them now. I regret that so many young men with promising brains have lost their lives or have been injured since the beginning of the war, and now I come again to the question of national selective service. And here the name of Mr. Little has been brought into the discussion. Some hon. members are familiar with his plan, but I wonder if all have read his memorandum and the correspondence exchanged between Mr. Little and the minister.

I fully sympathize with the minister in the difficulties with which he has to deal in connection with labour matters, particularly because of the fact that he has not a free hand in respect to the man-power problem. To make this point clear, my point is that he has to fill the requisitions of the national defence department; and the old men there, as well as the younger men who have not served in any theatre of war though they have been wearing the uniform for some time, devise policies and sign requisitions for certain numbers of men, just in the same way that they sign requisitions for war material which they obtain from the Department of Munitions and Supply. They do not attach any more importance to human values than to material things. We need not only the arms and physical strength of these young men who are in the army; we need also their brains, their intelligence and their education in the various fields in which they have acquired experience.

Turning once more to what was said yesterday by the leader of the opposition, at page 3999 of Hansard I find this:

... the responsibility for the man-pow'er problem, so far as the Minister of Labour personally is concerned, is an inheritance. . . .

That is true; but on the other hand, Mr. Chairman, the leader of the opposition also had a legacy from his predecessor the hon. member for York-Sunbury, what we may call in law an onerous legacy. I have no grudge against the hon. member for York-Sunbury, though at times I have argued bitterly with him; the only reason I rose each time he advocated a national or union government- the letters N.G. being inscribed upon his political banner during the last election-was because every man with a free mind foresaw the disastrous results of the policies he was advocating, which were followed to a certain degree by the new government. I remember distinctly the day in 1940 when the mobilization act was passed; I recall the hon. gentleman's beaming face. He was feeling so happy because his suggestions had been accepted at least in part. But though the present leader of the opposition said yesterday that the policy of the government from the beginning of the war to the middle of 1940 had been rather complacent, I foresaw then the disastrous results of the policies being advocated by hon. gentlemen opposite. If to-day we have trouble in regard to man-power for agriculture; if we have trouble in regard to the fuel wood industry and in many other ways, it is precisely because the question of man-power has been considered only from the angle of sending ablebodied men of military age into the armed forces. This was a mistake. No one should be too proud to admit having made a mistake; it is always time to correct it. What is wrong is not to change the policy when we realize that what we are doing is having harmful results. That is my point. How can an hon. member still advocate conscription for overseas, either directly or indirectly, now when we have so much trouble in various other fields of human activity? Again at page 3999 of Hansard of yesterday the leader of the opposition said:

The measure of efficiency of a nation effectively to plan in a time of war may properly be regarded also as the yardstick by which we may measure w'hat this nation, or for that matter other nations, may be able to do in the time of peace that will follow the cessation of hostilities.

This fits in with what the hon. gentleman said on March 3 with regard to human values. We must consider the question now in order to have at least some assurance that the future will be brighter than the present. We need a

War Appropriation-Labour

plan, and it is difficult to make one. There are prejudices, so many that I could not mention them all, but there is one to which I must refer. It is that in time of war the Minister of National Defence should rank first after the Prime Minister. In other wars that may have been true, but in this war the minister who has power in hand, if he wants to use it, is not any one of the ministers of defence but the Minister of Labour. Perhaps I shall be the only hon. member to tell the minister that, but I want him to be a free minister as he is a free man. I want him to make decisions based on his own judgment, after obtaining full knowledge-decisions that will bind his colleagues and the war departments. This is my view of national selective service, if such a name should be applied to a system or policy in force in this country during the war. In my humble view immediately after the Prime Minister the Minister of Labour is the one who has in hand1 control of every field of activity in this country. He has control over agriculture, over the army and so on; he can even say to young men who want to enlist voluntarily in the air force or the navy that it is their duty to stay on the job on the farm, in the munitions factory or some place else where their presence is urgently needed. This is my understanding, and I cannot see the Minister of Labour acting as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of National Defence or any of the war ministers. This may sound new; no one has said it before, but I believe in it very firmly and that is why I say it. This is the only place to express oneself with respect to those important matters. If headquarters at Ottawa come along with a requisition for a number of men, and say, "We need 5,000 men" or 10,000, as the case may be, the minister must be in a position to say, "Agriculture needs a certain number of men." Then it will be up to the minister to decide whether the gaps in farming will be filled by those men. The same would apply to the Department of Munitions and Supply. I do not want the minister to have more power, but I want him to exercise the power he has to the best of his ability, whether or not it pleases the brass hats.

Of course other ministers may complain, and may say that we have made engagements to Great Britain. We may be told that the Minister of National Defence went to London in the winter of 1940 and made engagements. This was mentioned in a committee room in this house, after the session was over; but he never told us what his commitments had been.

If the government has been released from pledges given to the people, surely there is one pledge from which it cannot be released,

and that is to see that we have sound government, and that no class suffers from policies enacted by the government. That is my humble view.

I come again to what was said yesterday by the leader of the opposition. I regret that he is not in his seat at the moment, although while he was still in the committee I said I was going to refer to that speech. He spoke about the registration in 1940, and is reported in this way at page 4001.

As the months rolled on, from August, 1940, until March, 1942-and I believe one might properly take in that space of time-in my opinion there was not to be found in government policy a forthright desire or effort to carry out what that registration actually should have meant; because, if the registration was to be useful, so far as our man-power situation was concerned, it should have been used right away.

What did he mean by that, I want to know? Any hon. member should be flattered when one of his colleagues takes the trouble to read his speech and asks enlightenment with respect to the darker comers. The leader of the opposition used the expression "what that registration actually should have meant"; what did he mean by that? And at another point he used this expression: "So far as our man-power situation was concerned, it should have been used right away." Mr. Little was not with selective service at that time, and all the hon. member said about Mr. Little had no bearing on this matter. It was before Mr. Little came. Therefore we want to know what the leader of the Progressive Conservative party meant by that, and if he is still boosting the obsolete policy so dear to the heart of the hon. member for York-Sunbury. Then he went on to say:

While it may be urged that in some respects moves were made to place in position men and women who had registered especially in respect of certain skilled operations, nevertheless I think no one in Canada would sav that there was any real attempt on the basis of that registration to allocate man-power in an efficient or effective way. having regard to the conditions existing in those years.

I want to know if this was said in such a way that it could not hurt the feelings of those who suffer from the application of the mobilization act, and also to appeal to a larger number of supporters in the coming Ontario provincial election. I know the leader of the opposition well enough to presume that not for one moment would he say something in this house only to promote the interests of the Conservative opposition in Ontario.

At page 4002 he goes on to say:

In November, 1942, the government had reached another fork in the road. Having reached that fork, they took the turn which led, shall I say, to a more delicate and a more

War Appropriation-Labour

pleasant political climate. I do not intend to find any special fault with the government for taking that action, hut they did fail to take the turn in the road to which the elongated finger of necessity and the elongated finger of national interest pointed.

What is the road to which the "elongated finger of necessity" and the "elongated finger of national interest" pointed? I have never seen an elongated finger, but I should like to know about it. It is a fine figure of speech, but I do not understand it very well, -and I confess that humbly.

Then he proceeds to discuss the plank in the Winnipeg convention and at page 4003 he quotes from that convention as follows:

Recognizing that the world struggle in which Canada is engaged requires a total war effort, we believe in compulsory national selective service, and that all those selected to serve in the armed forces should be available for service wherever required.

It is the old story of conscription for overseas.

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LIB
LIB
LIB
LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

That is courtesy for you.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

And, sir, this is the way they are acting. They are afraid to say boldly, after the disastrous effects of the disguised conscription of which they complain, "Let us go straight forward to conscription for overseas, for the armed forces". What logic is there in what they say? They complain of the results of the policy adopted-adopted to a large extent on their recommendation or supplication. They complain of those results, and suggest that the government go on in a more vigorous fashion with the same policy. The leader of the opposition continues:

To hear the Minister of Labour talk, one would think that had been done, but what are the facts? On the general advisory board for national selective service there is but one farmer. That is not good enough. The people engaged in agriculture in Canada will not be satisfied with that.

Is that all the leader of the opposition had to say on behalf of the farmers? When I rose in my place to move the adjournment of the house, to remind the government that farmers are existing in this country, and that they are in distress, the leader of the opposition prevented hon. members in his party from rising in their places. I was informed afterward by the press that those who inspire the Progressive Conservative party had decided that that was not -the time to discuss such matters. With the assistance of a few of my Liberal colleagues and of the former leader of the opposition, whom I thank; with the assistance of the hon. member for Yale (Mr. Stirling), the hon. member for York East (Mr. McGregor), the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation group, the New Democracy and the independents, we obtained an opportunity to discuss the matter. There are some draftees who come under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Labour and there are others who come under the Department of National Defence. As the rules governing discussion are rather strict it would'have been impossible to discuss both cases at the same time. That is why we took a whole day for the farmers.

The leader of the opiposition is reported on page 4004 of Hansard as follows:

-but I think he will have to revise his remarks because, if there was one idea behind national selective service, it was to take out of nonessential industry and put into essential wartime activities the maximum of our man-power.

Now we come to Alexander Gunn. I desire information about this man. I gave an interview to the local press and I sent the article to all members. In that interview reference was made to Mr. Gunn who had been brought from England to decide what was essential and what was non-essential industry. I am very much surprised that the minister has not said a word about Gunn. The soldiers need guns, but I do not think the minister needs a Gunn. But what astounds me is the admission that a man who knows nothing about Canadian business has been brought from Great Britain to decide what industries are essential and what are non-essential. I am surprised that this man has been given so much power. I have every respect for Canadians who have been born outside this country'. I have said before in the house that there are some Canadians who were bom outside of Canada who are better Canadians than some who have been born in the country. On the other hand, it is only fair that complete information should be given about this man Gunn so that we may know whether he has had sufficient experience. To a large extent he is responsible for the trouble we are now having in various fields of industry. I hope the minister will be able to attend to this.

Then the leader of the opposition mentioned a dispatch by Mr. Grant Dexter to the Regina Leader-Post, and quoted him as follows:

The failure of the government to use men and women effectively has meant that they have been allowed to remain at non-essential work.

War Appropriation-Labour

What is essential work? What is nonessential work? What does Mr. Dexter know about essential and non-essential work? Does the leader of the opposition mean that conscription should be applied, not only to men but to women? That would be a good thing to know. The leader of the opposition goes on to comment upon the increase in employment in the making of furs. Furs are needed in our winter climate. He referred also to the increase in employment in beverage making and in personal trades, which includes laundries and so on. He is comparing the figures for 1938 with those of 1942, when there was no rationing. The figure for laundries for 1938 is 141-5, and it increased to 194-6 in 1942. All that means that we have more dirty linen to wash. Does the leader of the opposition mean that laundries are not performing essential work?

Then he asks for a sweeping inquiry. We could have had a sweeping inquiry if a parliamentary committee had been in charge of the expenditures of the Department of Labour from the beginning of the session. Witnesses could have been called and we would have been able to obtain information. This committee would have been of great help to the minister from time to time. I want to tell the minister that he will make a success of national selective service-I have not given up hope that it will be a success- just the moment he begins to act as the boss, in the Canadian spirit and not in any imperialistic spirit..

I do not want to be hard on the leader of the opposition because he is one of my best friends and I have great regard for him. He speaks as the leader of a party that was once great, and his words have more weight than those of any other member of the party. I say that without meaning offence to anyone. The leader of the opposition should act as the leader of his party. They should not have a wandering Jew as the leader of the party enjoying the beautiful climate of Prince Edward Island when we are sweating here just because, he is afraid to run for the House of Commons.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

No, I will not sit down.

The hon. member for York-Sunbury does not seem to realize that what I am saying is the truth. This man John Bracken has a different policy for every parish he goes into. We do not hear any statements of his coming from the house, but he goes along preaching a different gospel in every town,

[Mr. Pouliot.j

city or village. He should be here. The leader should be with his army, and the army is here, not in Prince Edward Island. He should be acting as leader and the Conservative party should not be led in caucus by a former secretary of R. B. Bennett.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Mr. Chairman, what has this to do with the resolution?

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Now that the leader of

the opposition has come into the chamber I will tell him what I have said. He will see in Hansard that I have criticized some of his utterances, and I think justly so. I said that he should be the leader of his party, that the Conservative members should have the courage to elect him and not to pass over all-

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June 25, 1943