February 7, 1951



On the orders of the day:


Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Gordon Graydon (Peel):

Mr. Speaker, may I direct a question to the Prime Minister? According to the press, it has been suggested in London that the diplomatic status of commonwealth high commissioners is likely to be altered. Would the Prime Minister care to indicate to the house whether this matter was under discussion at the recent commonwealth prime ministers' conference? If so, have any arrangements of the kind been made?


Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)


Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):

The question was not raised at

the recent meeting in London.




On the orders of the day:


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

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

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

I should like to direct a question to the Minister of National Health and Welfare. Will the government consider the setting up, at this session, of a special committee, similar to last year's committee on old age security, to study and report on the whole question of health insurance for the Canadian people?


Paul Joseph James Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare)


Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of National Health and Welfare):

It is not the intention of the government to recommend the setting up of such a committee at the present time.




On the orders of the day:


Mr. W. Chester S. McLure@Queens


desire to direct a question to the Minister of Transport. This is not a question about reefer cars, but it is not unrelated to that subject. In connection with what is practically a new industry in Prince Edward Island, namely, the exporting of pulpwood,

I have been informed by shippers from Kings county that there is a large quantity of pulpwood cut, ready and awaiting shipment. While the Prince Edward Island Railway, through the superintendent and the divisional freight agent, is endeavouring to assist shippers in the export of pulpwood, there is a considerable shortage of box cars. Will the Minister of Transport endeavour to assist the divisional freight agent at Charlottetown in getting a satisfactory number of box cars for the shipment of pulpwood from Prince Edward Island to the mainland?

Sub-subtopic:   CARS FOR SHIPMENT

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)


Hon. Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport):

I shall be glad to look into the matter.

Sub-subtopic:   CARS FOR SHIPMENT



The house resumed, from Tuesday, February 6, consideration of the motion of Mr. W. H. McMillan for an address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session, and the amendment thereto of Mr. Drew.


Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. H. W. Herridge (Kootenay West):

Mr. Speaker, last night at the adjournment I was attempting to show the effects of decontrol- or a few of them-on the farming population of this country. I should like now to point out briefly some of the effects on the general consuming public and the industrial population. I can give only a few illustrations, because my time is limited and I am sure there are other speakers who will be pleased to give fuller information.

By way of illustration, taking the cost of living index in September of 1939 at 100-8, in February of 1946, when decontrol began, it was 119 -9. At the present time, according to the latest figures, it is 172-5. This indicates a continuous rise. Since last June there has been a rise in the cost of living of about seven points.

Not only do we in this group believe that that increase in the cost of living is raised by, shall I say, the greed of certain corporations in this country, but it is also stimulated to a certain extent by some of the remarks made by ministers in connection with the possibility of imposing price control. We all know that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Abbott) and the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) have on occasions expressed the belief that price controls may be necessary,


The Address-Mr. Herridge although not at the present time. I believe that has caused many firms to increase their prices, because they are afraid that, at some time in the future, price controls will be put into effect.

I think this is indicated by the resolution passed by the Canadian Consumers Association and addressed to the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent). I shall quote only one part of it, because it indicates that they, who represent consumers in this country, believe that ministerial statements had some effect. Their resolution states in part:

Whereas the C.A.C. feels that many prices have been advanced in anticipation of the imposition of price controls, rather than because of necessity . . .

I believe that feeling has been developed. I believe it is safe to say also that prices have increased rapidly, particularly since the beginning of the fighting in Korea, because of the greed of certain corporations, and because of certain ministerial statements. While prices have continued to rise, profits have continued to soar. We in this group have said that if decontrol became effective, without doubt corporations in this country would take increasing profits. That is exactly what they have done.

For instance, the total corporate profit, after taxes, for all companies in Canada rose from $468 million in 1939 to $751 million in 1946. That was during a period of high production and of price controls. After the war, profits rose in 1949 to $1,241 million.

To illustrate the validity of our argument I should like to place on record figures showing the profits of a few of the major corporations in Canada. These are net profits after taxes for several Canadian companies:

Name of Company Aluminum Company of Net profits after taxes, 1946 Net profits after taxes, 1950

Canada $24,485,448

Imperial Oil Limited Dominion Steel & Coal .. 17,326,112 23,932,986

Corporation 5,252,063

Canada Packers Limited . .. 1,816,781 3,480,212

Dominion Textile Company 2,119,770 Loblaw Groceterias 3,108,995

Company 2,185,915

Zellers Limited 374,043 1,169,552

B.C. Packers 1,078,781

I would draw particular attention to the figures for the Dominion Steel and Coal Corporation.

The table I have placed on record is a clear indication of the relationship of decontrol, rising prices and soaring profits. The source of the figures for 1946 is the Financial Post survey of corporate securities for 1947; those for 1950 are from issues of the Financial Post from April 22, 1950 to September 2, 1950.

The record of profits clearly indicates the soundness of the argument that has been put forward throughout the years by members of this group. What has been the position of the C.C.F. in that time? For the sake of my good friends to my right and my friends immediately opposite, who are listening to me with considerable interest, I should like to make this point clear. Price controls, and the necessary subsidies, do not constitute socialism. They are an attempt, under capitalism, consciously to regulate the system so that it will work for the greater advantage of the greater number. There is nothing very frightening about that, and nothing radical about it. It is just an attempt to bring order out of chaos and to bring stability to our financial and economic system, so that the people of this country will have a cost of living that is reasonably stable, and so that we shall have a wage structure that is necessarily more stable because of that price structure.

Since decontrol the C.C.F. have advocated continuously the reimposition of certain controls and subsidies. We offered amendments in the house in 1946,1947,1948,1949, and 1950. Accompanying those amendments from this group were urgent requests that the government recognize the rising cost of living and do something about it by reimposing price controls and, where necessary, providing for subsidies. Even as late as September 2 of last year the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell), the leader of this group, in his speech in the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne, moved an amendment protesting against the failure of the government to impose price controls and subsidies. That amendment, even after prices had risen to the height they had reached last fall, was defeated by a vote of 93 to 18, the C.C.F. being supported only by members of the Social Credit party.

We have always maintained that the removal of controls would mean the skyrocketing of prices, and that it would make it more difficult for Canadians to meet household requirements and maintain themselves in decency and dignity. We have been told repeatedly by government spokesmen that once price controls were removed, prices would level off and adjust themselves. Further we have been told repeatedly by our friends to the right, members of the Progressive Conservative party, that once decontrol was put into effect, increased production would bring about reductions in prices.

The effectiveness of control measures is well illustrated by the government's own figures. During the war, under controls the cost of living index rose only about five

points. Since April of 1946, when controls were removed, the cost of living index shot up from 120.8 to 173 or thereabouts. We have been agitating the adoption of a control policy in this house since 1946. What is the state of public opinion at this time? I do not think there is any question about it. On October 7 the Canadian Institute of Public Opinion released the results of a survey on what people in Canada thought of price control. The question they asked was: "As things are right now, do you think we should have price controls again, or do you think the government should not interfere in prices?" On the basis of the answers they received, this is their estimate of how the people of Canada feel on the subject:

Should have price control 75 per cent

Should not have price control 14 per cent

Qualified 7 per cent

No opinion 4 per cent

No doubt that majority opinion has been increased owing to the rapid increase in prices since the date of that public opinion poll. In addition to that, we have the four large labour bodies, the Canadian Congress of Labour, the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada, the Canadian and Catholic Confederation of Labour, and the dominion legislative committee of the railway transportation brotherhoods, meeting in conference in Ottawa on January 3, 1950, and outlining labour's

demand for the imposition of price controls. We welcome the campaign that is being waged in this country by the labour organizations. We welcome their support and co-operation in this most important matter. In addition to the major labour organizations, there are other labour organizations throughout this country which are expressing their views in exactly the same way.

As I said before, the farmers of this country want parity prices. If the farmers are to have parity prices, we must have some general regulation over our economy. We must have a system of price controls that will ensure satisfactory prices to consumers. We must have a system of price controls and subsidies that will assure satisfactory payments to agricultural producers.

The Saskatchewan Farmers Union and the Alberta Farmers Union met on September 25 last with the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe), the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner), and the chairman of the wheat board and urged price controls on all goods, services, and rents, including the prices of agricultural products. I know that the farmers in my own constituency heartily endorse our appeals for price control. They are suffering from the increased cost of fertilizers, sprays, boxes, wrapping paper and all those

The Address-Mr. Herridge things that are necessary to place fruit and other commodities on the market. They are heartily in favour of the reimposition of price controls and necessary subsidies.

Some interesting developments have taken place in recent months. Lately I received a letter from the city council of Nelson, one of the larger cities in my constituency, urging that I ask the government in the House of Commons to reimpose price controls. These men are in close touch with the people whom they represent. It is true that in 1946 some of them were in favour of decontrol, in the belief that that would- lower prices and free the economy. They were acting according to their best judgment, but today they realize that because of the unstable nature of prices and our whole economic structure, some form of regulation is necessary. I repeat that I have been asked by that city council to urge the reimposition of price controls.

We all know the attitude of members of the Canadian Legion. They have heartily supported the reimposition of price controls in order to protect the living standards of the working people. In addition to that, along with other hon. members I have received hundreds of letters, cards and other communications since coming to Ottawa urging support for price and rent controls.

I remember from my reading of history that Marie Antoinette, when she was informed that the people could not afford to buy bread, said, "Let them eat cake". Surely the government is not treating this important matter of bread, in the sense that bread is the lifeblood of the people, in the superficial way in which Marie Antoinette treated it. If there is any truth in the statement that history repeats itself I would direct the attention of members of the cabinet to the fact that Marie Antoinette lost her head.

The value of price control legislation has been proved by experience. The need for price control legislation is obvious and urgent. The demand for price control legislation without question is overwhelming. Therefore, I move, seconded by the hon. member for Saskatoon (Mr. Knight):

That the following words be added to the amendment, immediately after the words "rising cost of living" in the last line thereof:

"such as the immediate reimposition of price controls, and the payment of subsidies where necessary, so as to protect the health and living standards of the Canadian people."

In order to make clear the effect of this subamendment I shall read in full the amendment proposed by the leader of the opposition


The Address-Mr. Herridge (Mr. Drew), and then add to it the subamendment 1 have just moved. The amendment as amended will read:

We regret that Your Excellency's advisers have failed

(1) to give this nation leadership in the face of the present great danger; and

(2) to bring into being forces necessary to enable Canada to defend itself and discharge its international obligations; and

(3) to take effective measures to combat inflation and the rapidly rising cost of living, such as the immediate reimposition of price controls, and the payment of subsidies where necessary, so as to protect the health and living standards of the Canadian people.

I have just one more point to make before sitting down. I should like to indicate to hon. members the situation that prevails in Canada and in other countries. I have heard members of the government party say that we in Canada are a lot better off than most other people so far as increases in the cost of living are concerned. I have heard that argument many times, and I should like to present some figures to indicate how prices have risen in ten countries since 1945. The sources of this information are the Canadian Statistical Review, United Kingdom Ministry of Labour Gazette and the International Labour Review for July, 1950. The cost of living index is taken to equal 100 as of 1945, and on that basis we have the following


France 484

Canada 137

Australia 136

Netherlands 135

United States 131

New Zealand 119

United Kingdom 114

Sweden 112

Denmark 110

Norway 107

With all our enormous productive capacity, with our great wealth of natural resources, with the ability of our people, with our industrial technique, the fact remains that Canada has had the second highest increase in the cost of living of the ten countries referred to. I think we can do better than that. This government should take advantage of its powers, should take advantage of the experience of legislation in previous years and reimpose price control legislation.

In conclusion I ask hon, members, when voting on this subamendment, to think first of the mothers with children to feed and clothe; second of the young married couples trying to establish homes; third, of the old age pensioners attempting to survive under an avalanche of rising costs and, fourth, of the large numbers living on fixed incomes. I ask members of the house to recognize, on this question at least, the wishes of the great majority of the Canadian people by voting for this amendment, and in so doing to

TMr. Herridge.]

demonstrate that on this occasion the House of Commons reflects the will of the Canadian people.


Arthur Laing


Mr. Arthur Laing (Vancouver South):

Mr. Speaker, at the outset I should like to refer to the bereavement suffered last evening by our colleague, the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker) in the death of his wife. She was prominent in the group of ladies who annually came here, and she will be sorely missed by all who are associated with the Canadian parliament. I understand that the leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) is going west on Friday, and I hope he will convey to her family the regret that is felt by every member of the House of Commons.

I want to express my congratulations-and this is no perfunctory duty-to the mover (Mr. McMillan) and the seconder (Mr. Breton) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne. My memory remains sufficiently vivid of the occasion when, in association with my colleague, the hon. member for Nicolet-Yamaska (Mr. Boisvert), this duty fell upon us. I have told many of my friends that I found it the most difficult thing I had ever done. In our country there has been a most successful development by reason of the competitive political party system. It has done a good job for us, and I was particularly delighted with the speeches of the mover and the seconder of the motion now before the house, because they were both good Liberal speeches.


February 7, 1951