June 25, 1943

NAT

Douglas Gooderham Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

I will not follow the hon. member who has just spoken, although I think there are some phases of the Toronto Shipbuilding yard matter that should be looked into. I do not understand why the government has not done something in this regard before now. I believe that a great many industrial disputes that have taken place in Canada have occurred on account of a weak policy on the part of the government. I do not blame the present minister to the same extent as I do the government itself.

With regard to the question of man-power as a whole, I read on a previous occasion something from a memorandum issued by General McNaughton when the war started. I quote:

Some trades are vital, others are less important, and others again can be dispensed with under conditions of national emergency; hence a list of "reserved occupations" is needed.

Again he says:

Some industries are important to or for the production of munitions, others for the maintenance of vital services to the civil community; others again, which are active in peace, are of little importance in war. In consequence, a list of "essential industries" is required.

He prepared these lists, and they have been in the hands of the government unless they have lost them. It is only a short while ago that these priority lists, as far as occupations are concerned, were brought down. Why is that? It shows the lack of policy there has been in connection with labour. After four years of war no policy has been laid down that is worth while, and certainly it is not for want of constructive criticism on the part of His Majesty's Loyal Opposition that some policy of this kind has not been adopted by the government. I warn the government, now that they have taken so long to lay down this policy and to get out their list of priorities, that it will be much harder to enforce them. This business of evolution, which the minister spoke about, does not go in war time. In spite of the urging of the opposition for the government to take a strong stand in connection with man-power, nothing has been done, and it is only now that we have had the survey which the minister the other day put on Hansard, showing where people are, what they can do and what they are doing.

War Appropriation-Labour

We are in a total war these days, but the government do not seem to have thought so, judging by their actions. Although they have been urging the people to take the position implied by total war, they have not taken that position themselves, nor have they had strong policies in that direction.

Speaking in the house on January 30, 1942, I said:

So far as man-power is concerned, our problem is this. For a balanced effort there are so many people in this country. Some of them are trained for special jobs, and some are not trained, having, however, the natural strength and ability to become trained. Some are men of military age, while some are too young to fight and others too old. There are so many women, some married with children, others married without children, some young and others old. This is a vast pool of brawn and brain to draw from. On the other hand, there are so many jobs that have to be done. Obviously some of these people must be diverted towards the preservation of those physical amenities of life, the supply of food and shelter and clothing, transport and so on, which cannot further be shrunk or restricted. We have also, huge numbers of men and women for the army, the navy, the air force and the merchant fleet.

It seems to me it would be only common sense to think it over; yet it has taken until this year to have any sort of survey made in that respect. Later, in the course of the same address, I said:

Total mobilization on the basis of equality of sacrifice would knit together the people of this country in closer bonds of brotherhood than ever before. It would be a long step toward the realization of the new and better world which everybody is wishing for after victory. It would show by this act of the government, backed by parliament, sincerity of purpose beyond all shadow of doubt, and our soldiers, sailors and airmen would have renewed confidence.

I was then speaking of the proposed plebiscite. I went on to say, as reported at page 192 of Hansard for the same day:

What good is a government if it will not act according to the needs of the country without seeking the opinion of the people before it acts?

We have crises every day; the government take steps every day without consulting the people of Canada. They decide to ration this, that or the other thing, but they never consult the people about them. The only thing the people were consulted about is the plebiscite. The government has drifted along, without taking any action. There is no strength of purpose, no leadership; there is only indecision. Speaking in the house during the same debate, on January 28, 1942, the Prime Minister realized the necessity for compulsory national selective service. As reported at page 45 of Hansard of that date he said:

It must not be supposed that there are large reserves of idle people leading a leisurely existence who can now be called to the national ranks. The entire adult Canadian population, with very few exceptions, gets up in the morning, works all day, and goes to bed tired out at night.

Surely he realized the seriousness of the situation even then; and if that was the condition of our Canadian people at that time, what must be their condition now? Yet nothing has been done along the line of compulsory national selective service; we have been simply drifting along. On the other hand, perhaps the Prime Minister gave the reason why nothing has been done, when he went on to say:

In our form of society people have been accustomed to find their own jobs to a very large extent, thus saving vast government machinery.

As a matter of fact, at that time we had all the machinery we needed; all that was necessary was to put it into operation, but I think the Prime Minister was afraid to do so. I do not know just why that was not done. Certainly people do not like to be regimented, but in war time they have to be regimented for their own good. If we are to have a total war effort people must have leadership, and to a certain extent they must accept regimentation. When a man joins the army he does not do just as he likes, and during a war the civil population cannot do as they wish, if they want to conduct a total war effort.

To-day we face a crisis overseas. Major events are about to take place, we do not know how soon. What will be our casualties? Have we sufficient reinforcements and, if not, where are we to get the men? Is the amendment to the mobilization act to be forgotten, or what is to be done about it? Speaking in this house on the taking of the plebiscite I said, as reported at page 196 of Hansard for January 30, 1942:

What do the government hope to gain by a plebiscite? At best the government get a respite of two or three months. Meantime there are all kinds of turmoil.

Well, we had all kinds of turmoil while the plebiscite was being taken.

When the three months are up there will be the same pressure for action.

There was.

This proposal of a plebiscite is an affront to the rights of parliament and an undeserved reflection on the people of this country, of whatever race or creed.

I was right.

It will get nowhere.

War Appropriation-Labour

It has not.

If the proposal carries it will not get rid of the controversy-

It has not.

-and it will leave uncertainty as to future .action-

It has.

-if it fails to carry, our troops will be abandoned to the uncertainties of voluntary enlistment. In either case the country is humiliated and disgraced.

Thank heaven it carried; that is all I have to say about it. It would have been a terrible thing if it had not. What disturbs me about the whole situation is the fact that the amendment to the mobilization act has meant nothing; we have continued to enlist men under a so-called voluntary system; that is all. It is just a fraud and a farce and coercion.

Here is something else that worries me at the present time. In January of this year some figures were tabled, showing that 750.611 notices of call-up had been sent out in this country. Apparently 216,791 men received notices, of whom nothing more was heard. Erom March 20, 1941, to December 26, 1942, the army asked for 150,000 men and were able to get only 107,678 from a total of 750,611 who were called. Now we come to the minister's statement. From March 20, 1941, to April 16, 1943, some 988,475 notices were sent out. Of these men, 379,833 were never heard of again; we do not know where they are. There may, of course, be reasons for this in some cases. Some 289,541 were called after being medically examined, but evidently 128,882 of those called after examination disregarded their notices; that is all there was to it. In all, the army got 126,963 after sending out 988,475 notices. In other words, the army got 107,678 from March 20, 1941, to December, 1942; or for the whole period, from March 20, 1941, to April, 1943, they got 126,963 men in all. In other words, they got an increase of 19,285 men from December 26, 1942, to April, 1943. That was the increase they got. What is the government doing about these 128,882 men who were medically examined and who disregarded the summons of the crown? It just shows the laxity of the administration. Does the government feel it is useless to do anything about this? Does it feel that even if the men are called up there will be no necessity to use them in Canada? What will it do with them after it gets them? As a matter of fact, the whole policy of the government can be described as vaporous, vacuous and vacillating; that is about all it is.

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An hon. MEMBER:

What?-no more?

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NAT

Douglas Gooderham Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

That is enough. I could say much more, so far as that is concerned. I would point out to the committee that so far as the enforcement of the national selective service regulations is concerned, the government is so afraid of losing votes that it will not take a strong stand.

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NAT
NAT

Douglas Gooderham Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

We could do that. The government has all power, but it does not use it. The point is that the government cannot make up its mind. I think I might use in this connection a few words which were used by a famous statesman in the House of Commons of Great Britain. This is what was said on November 12, 1936-and it might be said with equal force about this government at the present time:

The government simply cannot make up their mind, or they cannot get the Prime Minister, to make up his mind. So they go on in a strange paradox, decided to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drifts, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.

I ask hon. members if that does not fit this government to a T. That great statesman in the British House of Commons was Mr. Winston Churchill. I do not suppose people in Canada will go hungry on account of the government's policy in connection with national selective service. We have the food in this country. But if we do not do something about the matter, so far as our farmers are concerned, we shall be responsible for not doing -as good a job of feeding our allied nations as we should have done.

As a matter of fact, some of our people may have to go cold this winter. That will develop on account of this policy of drift, this procedure of putting things off, this vacillating policy of the government which we have had ever since the war started. We ought to take a leaf out of the book of that little island of Great Britain. They are now proceeding to call up part-time workers to do full-time work. They know they have mopped up all the surpluses from other industries, and men and women in non-essential jobs. They report that each worker is doing a day's work which ranks as a world's record for output per unit. But that is not enough to satisfy them. Norman Crump recently gave details of how they are going further in the use of women for part-time work. However, I have not time to give details of that at the moment.

War Appropriation-Labour

We in Canada are not nearly in the position of the people in Great Britain. The minister's figures show that we have some 743,000 men and women who are actually engaged to-day in low priority occupations. That is shown by the minister's tables. We ought to be able to get all the man-power we require very easily, if we had a proper system of selection. That ought to be done quite simply. If we had some proper and * strong policy pronounced and carried out, we should have no difficulty along these lines. But as I said before, this government never announces a policy; it only pronounces public opinion which it has failed through lack of leadership to create. It just follows public opinion. What we need is leadership. As I said before, it will be necessary to send large reinforcements overseas. We have some in Canada who could be sent anywhere. Our troops must be reinforced. However, some who are enlisted in Canada cannot be sent anywhere, a point which was emphasized today by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar. Before these troops can be used, the parliament of Canada must vote confidence in the government. How ridiculous to have the parliament of Canada vote confidence in the government-not just vote confidence by confirmation of an act, but vote confidence in the government itself! That is an entirely different matter.

Then, what will happen? The old Liberal election issue will be trotted out, just as sure as I stand here. We shall hear the old Liberal election issue of "no conscription," the one which they have kept up-

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Your party had- that issue, too.

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NAT

Douglas Gooderham Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

That is the point on which the Liberal party have kept up the racial issue in Canada all these years, with the result that they have brought forth more disunity.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Your leader used that issue.

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NAT

Douglas Gooderham Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

If we do not vote "yea" with the government, we shall be accused of refusing reinforcements for overseas troops. If we vote "nay," we shall be accused of supporting the government, and some of the policies we criticize. I do not know what we are going to do.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver Centre):

Hear, hear.

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NAT

Douglas Gooderham Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

It is a pretty good trick, if one might call it that-about the neatest trick we ever saw. But after all, I

do not think it is quite fair that any opposition should be placed in a position of that kind. Had it not been for hon. members in the opposition, I doubt very much if the government would have had the great majority in favour of the plebiscite which it had.

May I say at once I think the minister is capable of laying down a policy. I do not know whether he has the support of the government, or support sufficient to enable him to carry out the policy he would like to carry out. But he must take the blame, with the government, for .not carrying out such a policy. Everything is not rosy in .connection with selective service. There are -many things wrong, and many which might be corrected; but I say that unless the government takes steps now, lays down a .policy and enforces it in connection with the crisis we shall, have to face with respect to the reinforcements which will be required, the food which we must produce, the munitions which will have to be made quickly, the transportation which we shall have to furnish, and many matters of that kind, it will be everlastingly condemned by future generations.

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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. HANSELL:

I do not believe this evening should pass, and the week-end come upon us without our asking the minister to make some statement respecting the fuel situation in Canada, and how the national emergency is to be handled. I asked the minister that question, I believe almost three weeks ago, and he did not know the answer. The day before yesterday I took my full time in trying ito tell the committee the seriousness of the situation as I saw it.

Speaker after speaker has been dealing with general matters, and perhaps the minister has in .mind, when he rises to speak, giving this country the details of the situation as it exists. Can he do that before eleven o'clock? I do not want to take up any time in making a speech. There he sits with three expert advisers sitting in front of him. They have been there for the last couple of days, but I do not know why, because they have not had to advise him about anything. His parliamentary assistant is beside him, and if he need's any .more help there are two ministers of the crown sitting behind him. He seems to be pretty well surrounded with sources of advice. Will he make a definite and comprehensive statement so that this country may know the exact situation with respect to the national coal emergency? Will he tell how the department is dealing with it?

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

For the last three days I have been trying to say something, but

War Appropriation-Labour

this general discussion, has been kept up and the committee has talked about everything from here to Shanghai. This afternoon we had the exhibition, of a private war between two members on the war appropriation measure. I do not think the minister can be blamed. I have been ready and willing to answer any questions that I can. My hon. friend talks about coal. I think he knows, or he should know if he is sufficiently interested, that an order in council was passed and an announcement was made dealing with the man-power side of the government coal policy. The announcement appeared in all the newspapers, and I do not know that the policy has been changed since the announcement was made.

In general terms it provides for the transfer of coal miners not now engaged in mining back to the mining industry. It provides that they shall not be called up for military service, and it even goes so far as to provide that they shall not join the fighting forces on a voluntary basis. It provides for the payment of transportation costs to miners w'ho may have to move their families to new points of occupation. It also guarantees a minimum weekly earning for the men so transferred. It provides also for a separation allowance, if you want to call it that, to be paid to those who are living apart from their dependents. Appointments have already been made of the eastern and western directors of the man-power side of the government's coal mining policy.

The branch of the Department of Labour charged with the responsibility of going through the registration records and getting the names of all men who have been engaged in mining has been actively engaged at its task, and I believe it is completed. Speaking from memory, I understand the figures from the registration are 31,000. Since the policy was announced, over 1,000 miners have been transferred from i their present occupations back to mining. If my hon. friend would like a copy of the order in council to refresh his memory, I can provide him with one.

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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. HANSELL:

I do not want that. The

minister has told us pretty well what we know already. We wish to know if the programme is working out satisfactorily. We wish to know if we are to have coal this winter and if industry is to be kept going.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I think the fact that

we have moved 1,000 men in the short time at our disposal is an indication that we are going at the problem in a real way. I do not know whether we shall have coal next winter, and I do not think my hon friend

knows. The same question might be asked about farm crops. It is dependent upon conditions outside this country. The Dominion of Canada is on an import basis as far as coal is concerned. Let us ever remember that. It is estimated that 23,000,000 tons of coal will have to be imported from the United States, and this importation will depend upon the situation that exists in the mining industry ' in that country. That situation has been very difficult in the last few weeks. Arising out of this, may I say that I think it is the duty of every member of this House of Commons and of every responsible citizen of this dominion to give the government every assistance in carrying out the policy that has been laid down.

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SC
LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

We think the thing out on paper, and it is much easier to plan than to execute. When we are confronted with what I would term is a grave problem, everybody concerned in the execution of the policy should put forth every ounce of his energy. The government is entitled to the cooperation of every person affected. My hon. friend comes from western Canada and he knows of the situation that existed there last winter. We had an early fall and the thermometer dropped to forty-two degrees below zero in Edmonton. I have a vivid recollection of the telegrams that came to my office in connection with coal supply. I am sure we have a policy, as far as the Department of Labour and selective service are concerned. My hon. friend may rest assured that no stone will be left unturned to see that any mining property that is capable of being operated is supplied with the necessary labour in order that coal may be mined.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

Is it not true that representatives of the mining unions and the operators from the east and west are now in Ottawa meeting with the * war labour board for the purpose of developing provincial machinery?

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I think that is a wage negotiation. My hon. friend is speaking about the war labour board, not the national fuel board.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

I understood from those 1 spoke to that they were here making representations in connection with increasing the production of fuel.

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June 25, 1943