Joseph Warner Murphy
Mr. J. W. Murphy (Lambion West):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to join with hon. members who have preceded me in the debate in complimenting the mover and seconder of the address. In view of what the minister has just said in regard to capital expenditures in connection with the Polymer Corporation at Sarnia, I should like again to express the hope that the government will give additional consideration to the protection of that very important area.
In his statement the minister said that the increase in the Polymer extension would amount to some $7 million. I speak for that riding when I say to the house that in addition to that we have an increase from the Imperial Oil Company to the extent of some $14 million, representing an increase in their refining capacity from about 65,000 up to around 80,000 barrels a day. We also have now under construction by Canadian Oil Refineries extensions valued at between $18 million and $20 million, and by the Dow Chemical Company extensions valued at about $3 million to $5 million.
One or two other industries have obtained properties to conduct operations essential to the war effort. It is unnecessary for me to remind the house how those various industries contributed at the time of the last war toward our war effort, and how this increased expansion is going to further the protection which is so essential at this time.
Last session when I raised this particular question the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton) stated that we were relying in that area upon air protection from Detroit and London. I say in all sincerity that because of the importance of these industries to our war effort it is my hope that the minister will give further consideration to air protection for those very vital industries. In my view we should have not only an airport in that immediate vicinity, but some part of a fighter squadron.
The Minister of National Defence has outlined for Canada a defence program which will cost this country $5 billion in three years. Speaking as a layman in military matters, speaking as an ordinary taxpaying Canadian citizen, the situation as I see it today contains a tremendous element of tragedy. The tragedy simply is that this country will have one hundred ships to guard her coasts, and forty squadrons of aircraft to protect Canada and assist in the defence of Europe-but only $5 billion worth, and three years from now.
Meantime Canada has on the minister's desk a paper army, a paper navy and a paper air force. Of necessity the Canadian people will accept the minister's program and will
bear with determination the burden of a defence scheme that will cost them $1,600 million this coming year. But I would hazard that the people of Canada would accept that burden with a great deal more grace were they not so acutely aware that this government has failed them on so many scores in the post-war period. They would accept it in a better frame of mind if they were not now so conscious of the fact that the government has frittered away millions of defence dollars this last four or five years which could have been utilized to build so much of the equipment and so much of the strength that Canada's armed services need so urgently now.
Most of all they would accept it with greater equanimity if they could but be certain that Soviet Russia will permit Canada those three years in which to reconstruct and rearm. This is the real tragedy of the defence situation today as I see it, andi I am sure as the man in the street sees it. The threat of communism, the threat of Russia's imperialism, have not been sudden developments.
The menace of communist encroachment had become so apparent two years ago that it led to the formation of the north Atlantic alliance. That alliance has been functioning now for fifteen months, as the minister has noted. Surely fifteen months ago the Minister of National Defence was aware of the deficiencies in Canada's three armed services, aware that in entering a regional defensive alliance the country would be called upon for something more than comforting ministerial speeches to the effect that no power would dare attack twelve nations united in their determination to resist aggression.
I will readily concede that the organizational details had to be worked out, that discussions on national contributions to the pact consumed time. But the fact remains that this country, as did some of the others, entered the alliance with empty hands. Only the Korean conflict stirred the government to the point where it became aware that entering alliances and making commitments meant forces in being, meant troops trained and equipped, meant ships and guns and planes. .
The explanation that it is difficult to prod democracies into defensive preparations while peace remains is one that is given altogether too much currency. It is one that even now is being debunked-has been debunked. The Canadian people have been concerned, indeed alarmed, by the complacency of their own government, in preparing this country to
defend itself from the menace that has been altogether too apparent, not for weeks, not for months, but for years.
In matters of defence and defence responsibilities, the government has lagged far behind Canadian public opinion. Instead of leading the Canadian people, it has been led. Or rather, it has been compelled to face the international situation and to decide that it is high time that Canada looked to her own security and the security of her allies.
It was only a session or two ago that the Minister of National Defence told the house that the defence forces of Canada were quite able to meet any initial attack or raid on this country. How fatuous such a statement must appear now.
Canada is to have a five billion dollar three-year program of rearmament. Canadians can only hope and pray that Russia will sit back and wait for Canada and her north Atlantic alliance partners to prepare for war, before she ignites the powder-keg that will touch off global conflict.
Canadians can do nothing but accept the rearmament drive as outlined by the minister. They understand the necessity for it. They hope, as he does, that it will achieve its purpose-to demonstrate to Russia that peace, after all, is the wiser course. But they cannot help the fearful feeling that persists, that the government has lingered too long before setting its hand to the task.
But there is a companion piece to this tragedy of national defence that is being enacted daily in the private homes across this country-the homes of pensioners, the homes of wage and salary earners, farm homes and city homes. It is the daily drudgery of penny-pinching to make ends meet. It is the story of the housewife in Sarnia and in Ottawa, in Winnipeg and in Vancouver, who daily is fighting a losing battle against the rising cost of living. And for the housewife with a family of small children it is a bitter struggle as the household dollar shrinks to the point where food has to be sacrificed in order to buy clothes, or clothes have to be sacrificed in order that enough can be provided the family to eat.
' Here again the federal government stubbornly refuses to translate into action facts as they exist.
In the period immediately after the last war the Progressive Conservative party advocated the abolition of controls. I believed then, and I believe now, that such a policy would have contributed to the quicker return of Canadian stability; would have eliminated artificial commodity shortages and artificial price props. Canada then was striving to return to a wholly peacetime economy.
The Address-Mr. Murphy
Now the situation has completely changed. This country no longer can pretend that its economy is on a peacetime basis. The government has launched on a program of controls in order to channel essential materials into defence production. The needs of the day and the hour dictate such a course. But, added to that, the government, with its multi-million dollar orders for supplies and for defence production, has accentuated an inflationary condition that already has become critical for hundreds, indeed thousands of Canadian families.
The Canadian government defence dollar now is bidding against the Canadian housewife's dollar. And that bidding is an unequal contest. By its bulk purchases and its channelling of materials the government is reducing the availability of goods and merchandise on the consumer market. As that availability shrinks, the cost of the items remaining climbs higher and higher. In other words, government policy today is creating and aggravating inflation. In view of this condition, it is not inconsistent now for me, as a member of the Progressive Conservative party, to take a definite stand for a system of price controls in Canada.
Indeed, in view of the tremendous volume of defence spending that now will be pumped into the Canadian economy and into the balloon of inflation, it is my personal view that a mere pegging of prices is not enough. Such a course would be too little; already is too late. I believe this government, for once, should demonstrate its oft-boasted concern for the ordinary working people of Canada and roll back, and I mean roll back, prices to the point where the Canadian dollar represents something more than a fifty-cent piece.
And this is not an irresponsible suggestion. The government has the experience of the last war upon which to draw; it has the multi-million dollar dominion bureau of statistics personnel and facilities upon which it can call for assistance. And it still possesses in the Department of Trade and Commerce a shadow controls organization to which it quickly could give substance. Undoubtedly, the machinery necessary for a selective system of price controls would cost money. But, as I see it, the well-being of the Canadian people is just as vital a matter of defence as any other phase of the national concern and the national effort. The struggle for freedom could be lost at home just as surely as it could be lost in Europe or in Asia, by neglect or lack of preparedness, or lack of intelligent and vigorous leadership.
It might be worth while to call attention to a recent speech in Montreal by Donald Gordon, president of the Canadian National
The Address-Mr. Murphy Railways and former chairman of the wartime prices and trade board. Mr. Gordon is quoted as having said:
Runaway inflation is so destructive that any method1 of stopping it, no matter how difficult or clumsy it may be, is surely the lesser evil.
And he went on to say:
The defence program already has begun to enter into the cost of living because, in a grim and very real sense, it has become part of the cost of keeping alive.
To this he added:
Clearly, our real standard of living is going to depend on the productivity of the whole Canadian economy, as it has in the past ... If prices jump upwards, no one will cheer more lustily in private, or scream more noisily in public, than our communist fifth column, and you can be sure they will work diligently to speed up the whirling spiral of wages and prices.
With those views of Mr. Gordon I am wholeheartedly in accord. Significant, I think, was Mr. Gordon's reference to the necessity for increased production. Here is a prime sore spot in the present emergency, a sore spot which a little government care and tending and encouragement could do much to relieve and to heal. Bluntly, Canadian labour-the factory worker, the office worker, the farmer, the wage earner and the salary earner of Canada-cannot reconcile a two-sided Liberal government philosophy and doctrine, which on the one hand holds to the gospel of individual economy and sacrifice, while adhering, on the other, to a "business as usual", "spend as usual" creed on the part of the government.
True, the government probably has made halfhearted efforts to economize. But the time has come when it must demonstrate the political courage to neglect its constituency fortifications, to shore up the ramparts of the nation. The time has come for real and genuine economies in the whole range of government activity, from reduction in government and government delegation journey-ings and junketings, to cutbacks on deferrable public works. The political toll on the Canadian taxpayer's dollar is altogether too high. If the Canadian people are to be called upon for sacrifices that will whittle down their standard of living, then it would seem reasonable that the government must also lower its own cost of living. And that cost is the price of patronage projects.
But to get back to Canadian labour-unionized labour and unorganized labour: Today
Canadian manpower is being utilized to the full. There are pressing shortages for men in the skilled trades-toolmakers, diemakers and so on. These shortages will become more and more acute as the national defence program gains momentum. The throne speech made two or three references to the fact that
the international situation now had created for Canada an emergency situation. With that I agree. But I believe the government now should make some effort to bring home directly to Canadian workers the urgency of the world situation and the urgency of Canada's need for more and more production. To this end, I would suggest that through its Minister of Labour (Mr. Gregg) and its Department of Labour the government appeal to Canadian unions in all lines of endeavour to suspend for the duration of Canada's national emergency working contract clauses that stipulate the 40 hour week or less, and to permit working hours to be increased 10 per cent.
My own observations in this field have led me to believe that labour would be willing to increase its working hours, and thereby its production, at regular wage rates.
I believe, on the basis of patriotism, and as a direct contribution to Canada's defence effort, that labour would make this gesture. Indeed, many of the rank and file would welcome such an opportunity to supplement their present earnings. They would regard it in a sense as a way of earning their own cost of living bonus.
There would be a double incentive to the workers of Canada if such an appeal were made and accepted. There would be for the whole labour force the satisfaction that would come from the knowledge that they were doing their bit for democracy by increasing the production of all the goods and the materials needed for defence. There would be, too, genuine appreciation of the opportunity to add to their take-home pay. Perhaps the new advisory council on manpower, which the Minister of Labour (Mr. Gregg) announced to the house the other day, will consider this possibility in its survey and review of the Canadian labour scene.
A state of national emergency, however, applies not alone to one section of the population, one part of the national economy. A call for more production from Canadian unions and Canadian workers generally should be counterbalanced with a call on big business, big industry, to play its part.
The financial statements of a whole range of Canadian corporations proclaim Canadian prosperity and unprecedented profits. While it cannot be denied that a heavy burden of taxation upon industry and upon business discourages incentive, curtails expansion, and dries up investment capital, nevertheless these enterprises should be called upon now to bear a far greater part of the tax burden than they now are bearing.
These corporations and companies today are enjoying the profits of the free enterprise
system, the capitalist system, the system which all Canadians in all walks of life now are being called upon to defend, in and out of the services, and to the tune of $5 billion in the next three years. The fight of Canada and the free nations, then, is their fight just as much as it is the fight of Canada's liberty-loving citizens generally.
To the degree that the threat of Soviet Russia and of communism constitutes a national emergency for Canada, the Canadian government should be prepared to act with courage, with dispatch and vigour to draw taut the whole fabric of the Canadian economy. There must be equality of sacrifice. Canadian determination must match Russian ruthlessness.
It must be a source of regret to the Canadian government in the present emergent situation that in the years immediately following the last war it did so little to encourage the flow of immigration to this country. Canada today stands in need of skilled labour for her defence plants, labour for her farms, for her forests and mines, and for her armed services.
The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Harris) in this year of crisis has announced that the government has set its sights on something like 150,000 immigrants for 1951. The minister now has announced what he has described as a balanced program to provide more hands both on the farms and in the factories.
The government has taken several steps which it hopes will help to double the 1950 immigration total of 74,000. In succession it has lifted the wartime ban on German nationals, has decided on a fare subsidy plan for those who come to Canada by air, and has decided to advance passage money to those seeking to come to Canada by ship. But even a doubling of immigration may prove insufficient because it appears possible now that the manpower shortage will become more serious than present estimates indicate.
The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is quoted as saying that Canada must push forward its industrial and economic expansion if it is to become an effective partner in the defensive preparations of the western world. How pitifully late is this statement of government policy! Now, in a year of national emergency, the government deems it wise to bring to Canada thousands of people from Europe to plug the gaps in Canada's manpower supply. Ever since the last war other nations have been actively encouraging British and European peoples to migrate. The best of the great reservoirs of manpower in Britain have been tapped while
The Address-Mr. Murphy Canada dallied. The same applies to Europe with its potential emigrants and its thousands of refugees eager to gain the freedom and the opportunities that this young country affords.
Today Australia is competing for new citizens more energetically than is Canada, and its goal of 200,000 immigrants annually is considerably greater than that of Canada. Reports from Europe indicate that at least 200,000 suitable refugees still are homeless, and that many Germans want to emigrate.
Tragically enough, this government well may have tarried too long. The manpower problems that confront Canada in all probability will be the major problems that confront Britain and other European nations in this emergency year of 1951. Already it is indicated that Britain is becoming reluctant to part with her manpower-the skilled workmen needed just as acutely in British defence and other plants as they are required here.
The new Minister of Citizenship and Immigration perhaps is to be congratulated that he has been able to persuade the government to enunciate a program of 150,000 immigrants for this year. But the uncertainties of the world picture now have created new difficulties which may prove far greater obstacles than any that have existed since the war with nazi Germany ended. Now, when the government apparently is sincere in its desire to increase Canada's population by immigration, it may find desirable immigrants far more difficult to obtain. As in the matter of national defence, the Canadian government now can but scramble to overhaul lost time, can but seek to repair damage already done.
About a year ago the defence minister told the house, when he was presenting his estimates, that:
Our planning must look several years ahead. On the one hand, we must start to work in time to produce the results in personnel and equipment when they are likely to be needed. On the other hand, we must avoid starting things now which might involve us in future commitments for the expenditure of money which might be needed for other defence purposes of greater priority.
Within months came Korea. It was immediately -clear to all Canadians that its government had not been looking ahead to such an eventuality. Personnel and equipment were not there to match Canadian ministerial speeches at home, at the United Nations and in the councils of the north Atlantic alliance. It would seem that the government now is looking three years ahead. But there have been dangerous delays. Canadians are ready to play their full part. But they look to the
The Address-Mr. Riley government now to demonstrate a degree of foresight and of leadership that hitherto has been conspicuous by its absence.
For the government's military preparedness program there will be general public sympathy and support. In the meantime there will be, too, the prayerful hope that once again the government has not been too late; that Soviet Russia will give Canada three years of grace in which to knit her economy for the strains of war, perhaps a war of nerves but nonetheless war, three years of grace in which to recruit, train, equip and field Canada's fighting contribution to the cause of freedom and democracy.