June 28, 1948

CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. KNOWLES:

We voted it down in committee.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Who are "we"?

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. KNOWLES:

The committee, including yourself.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

My hon. friend is pluralizing himself again. We voted it down, he says. They apparently disagreed then as to the necessity of reducing the excise tax. That is typical of the attitude of my friends to my left. On the one hand they say: Support the excise tax, which inevitably finds its w'ay into the cost of living. In the next breath, they condemn the government for not doing something in regard to controls.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. KNOWLES:

On a question of

privilege-

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

I am making my speech now.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

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

Mr. KNOWLES:

My hon. friend misunderstood me. I was referring to the time when this house was in committee of the whole and by a majority voted down the taxes the government was seeking to impose.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

When the hon. member for Lake Centre was absent.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

My hon. friend need not talk about absences. I was not absent.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GIILLIS:

Wrhen the vote was taken, you were.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Conveniently absent.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

That is indicative of the C.C.F. mind, which always ascribes to others that which they do themselves. I was not absent then, and have not been absent when any vote was taken at any time in this house, except when away on business.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

The record speaks for itself.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

With my hon.

friend's interruption I agree.

I referred to the statute passed in- Saskatchewan, "An act -to confer certain powers upon the lieu-tenant governor in council", by which the lieutenant governor in council was empowered- to make orders and regulations for-

-controlling and regulating the prices at which goods, wares or merchandise or any class or classes thereof shall be purchased or sold by retail within the province or any part or parts of the province for use in the province;

The C.C.F. placed that act on the statute books of Saskatchewan, and did nothing about it. The record indeed speaks for itself.

I pass to the next recommendation of the prices committee:

That the government give close consideration to the question of revising the present rent controls with a view to removing the causes of individual cases of hardship.

Why should the government give consideration to that question? It is a power which the wartime -prices and trade board already has and exercises through its rental regulations. It is a power which is -being exercised regularly, with appearances of landlords and tenants before judges throughout this country. Was that recommendation just so much verbiage, to lead the people to -believe that something more was to be done? Are we to wait six months before anything is done? Are you going to act upon it in this parliament, or are you going to act again by order in council?

Then after recommending what should be done, the committee finds another loophole, for section II of the report says:

The committee realizes that in the long run the federal government may be faced with constitutional difficulties in regard to its operations in the field of prices.

You see, Mr. Speaker, how it goes. They take a line, and then deviate a little from it.

Report oj Prices Committee

They say what should be done immediately. They say that consideration should be given, but add, in effect: Remember that if we do not act, in the long run. it will be because we cannot act on account of constitutional difficulties. It is interesting to note that the government are starting to abandon the doctrine of emergency, on which they placed so much reliance. Will the Prime Minister say whether the provinces are being consulted? Will he say whether, if prices can be controlled, it requires the assistance of the provinces? If so, why does not the government bring in a measure such as it did on barley and oats, which required correlative legislation by the provinces to make the federal legislation effective? What has the government done about communicating with the provinces? While Manitoba was not very anxious to co-operate on oats and barley because the premier of the province saw through the sham, I am sure that every province would join and give assistance in solving the problem of the high price level which bears down on all our people.

Here is the next recommendation:

That the government, in considering the removal of existing embargoes on the exportation of food products from Canada, give careful study to the supply situation here, and the proper balance to be maintained between the interests of both producers and consumers.

I do not know whether this has anything to do with the 400.000 head of cattle for which entry is promised under the Geneva agreements, or whether it has reference to some qualified promises which have been made lately that the embargo on cattle is to be lifted. While some government supporters say the embargo is to be lifted, the committee says to the government: Watch out; give it further consideration. That is just another example, sir, of that diversity in a disunited cabinet of which we have seen so much evidence during the last three or four months.

The next recommendation is this:

That the government instruct the dominion bureau of statistics to publish periodically an analysis showing the way in which the consumer's dollar is divided among the various elements which enter into the price of basic commodities.

Another good recommendation. Why has it not been done? If it is done, it will be the best answer to my hon. friends to the left who spend their time preaching about how much of the dollar actually consists of profits to those who place their capital in industry.

The record in the United States clearly indicated in a recent survey that the statements made by my hon. friends of the C.C.F. have no justification there, and I say, according to the evidence placed before the committee, that, excepting those nameless corporations who stand condemned in the report, industry as a whole in this country today is receiving but a fair share of the total consumer dollar. What is our recommendation? First, remove the excise tax. One of the reasons why the standard of living of the people in the lower income brackets is going down is that they are caught in a squeeze between taxation, which is taking 23 cents out of every dollar of the total income in the country, and rising prices, from which no relief to speak of was given this year. Second, the time has come for action, before the present session is concluded, to give relief in the matter of income taxes so that our people may be able to spend the largest possible portion of their income rather than have the government spend it for them.

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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but he has spoken for more than forty minutes.

Mr. SOLON E. LOW (Peace River): I do not intend to take too much of the time of the house this afternoon, but I do think that I should place on record a few things which are pertinent to this whole question of prices, and particularly place before the house a picture of the situation as it exists in Canada owing to the things governments have been doing.

I believe that the government itself feels that it is now stewing in the hellbroth which it has created for itself as the result of its own policies. Prices are still running wild in this country, in spite of the months of investigation by the committee on prices into the cause of prices rises. As a result of the prices situation a good many Canadians are suffering from lower standards of living. I refer now more particularly to pensioners, and to persons in receipt of small salaries. As I go about amongst people I find a widespread fear of the future, a fear which I believe has been induced by their past experience. A type of clever propaganda lias been playing on this fear and trying to make the people move in a certain direction politically.

Altogether too many people in Canada have come to the conclusion that the government flatly refuses to give them the results that they want in the management of their affairs. There is evident on the government benches, to anyone who takes the trouble to listen and to watch, a callousness and indifference to the wishes of the people, and an attitude that can only be interpreted to mean that the government thinks it is not the will of the people

Report oj Prices Committee

that should be used as the foundation for government policy but rather that it should be what a bevy of experts think is good for the people of Canada. That is obvious to anyone who studies the situation at all carefully. This being true, I ask, where is democracy in this country?

I will guarantee, Mr. Speaker, that ninety per cent of the Canadian people want, and have wanted, lower consumer prices for the things that they have had to buy. The people have been completely justified in their belief that this result, lower consumer prices, could have been achieved, in some degree at least, without destroying incentives or without dictatorship methods of any kind; but the government ignores what the people want. Instead they have substituted the recommendations of a horde of intellectuals who think that they know what is good for the people.

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LIB

John Ewen Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR:

Is that the prices committee?

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SC

Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. LOW:

I did not have them in mind especially, but they can be included, yes. One result of this frustration on the part of the people has been to drive thousands of Canadians into the camp of the socialists, in whose propaganda and irresponsible promises they seem to find some hope for the future. The people are not socialists. I do not believe for one second that they are socialists. Furthermore, they do not really want socialism. I have just returned from Saskatchewan, where I was in conversation with a good many hundreds of people. They do not want socialism.

Mr. TOWNLEY-SMITH: They do not seem to want Social Credit, either.

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SC

Solon Earl Low

Social Credit

Mr. LOW:

Social Credit is on the way up, and my hon. friend will find that in his own constituency he needs to look to his guns, to mend his fences.

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LIB

John Ewen Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR:

There are a lot of dead ducks over there now.

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June 28, 1948