January 30, 1958

LIB
PC

Edmund Davie Fulton (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulion:

There should be no hesitation about admitting that. I suspect that the forecasts that were laid before me then and which have been laid before me since bear out the economic forecast tabled in the House of Commons by the Prime Minister the other day. I suspect that the former minister's

order of April 12 was in part at least based upon that forecast or resulted perhaps indirectly but in large part from the forecast that he had received on the basis of the opinion of the economists whose responsibility it is to advise the government as to what the future months will hold and on whose opinion is based estimates of the labour market, amongst other things, in the coming months.

On the basis of the advice which I received it was apparent, as the former minister has said, that there would undoubtedly be a record movement in 1957 in any event. There was a record movement in the first six months over which we had no control and inasmuch as the movement was piling up we had to act fairly quickly to curtail it at all. If we had not acted quickly it would have reached proportions that might have carried it as high as 350,000 or possibly even 400,000 during the year 1957.

On the basis of the indications of what unrestricted movement would result in, as well as on the basis of the forecasts of economic conditions, we came to the conclusion that it would be advisable to confirm the decision arrived at by my predecessor and, indeed, even to expand it in one or two particulars. I should like to deal with some of the things that have been said by the hon. member for Bonavista-Twillingate as to the ways in which we might have exceeded the terms of what he calls the provisional order he had made.

Let me deal first of all with the question of whether or not it was a provisional order. I do not want to read from departmental documents which are confidential. I will just ask the hon. gentleman, therefore, whether he does not recall that he had issued instructions to overseas officers that the arrangements were to be made effective immediately upon receipt,-

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LIB
PC

Edmund Davie Fulton (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

-which is hardly a good way of describing a tentative order. Then the hon. gentleman says that he was amazed by and is critical of the abrupt termination of the Hungarian refugee movement which he says we brought into effect when we took over. I would ask the hon. gentleman if he does not recall that at some date early in May he placed very severe limitations upon the Hungarian refugee movement.

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LIB
PC

Edmund Davie Fulton (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

The hon. gentleman has not admitted that before or alluded to it even obliquely in the references he has made. Again 1 say I am not hiding behind any decision

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration of the previous government. We had freedom of action to confirm or to vary. We varied it and we varied it in the way I have indicated. We confirmed it as far as it went and we went a little bit farther on the basis of the information which was supplied to us after June 21 when we assumed responsibility in this country. But most of the restrictive measures which were thus confirmed by our decision had been decided upon and communicated to overseas officers by my predecessor.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

That is perfectly correct, and I do not question a single thing the minister has said. There is just one question. I do not want to misinterpret anything the minister has said either. Perhaps I am paraphrasing a little and I will accept any correction the minister wishes to make, but I understood him to say that it was not solely the large volume of immigrants that influenced his decision but also the rather gloomy prognostication about the labour market. Would that be a fair summary of what the hon. gentleman said?

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

The forecasts of conditions which were given to us by the economic advisers when we took over.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

The hon. gentleman does not object to my adjective, the rather gloomy forecasts?

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

The hon. gentleman can use whatever adjectives he likes because those economic conditions were created under the administration of which he was a member.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

At any rate, I shall use the adjective "gloomy" as the best interpretation I can give of what the hon. gentleman says was the information communicated to the government in June. I must say, though, that it is difficult to reconcile that with the view expressed by the Minister of Labour in a speech reported in the Montreal Star of December 10, 1957, delivered to the Montreal personnel association at the Ritz-Carlton hotel. This was six months to the day after the election. The Minister of Labour was presumably speaking after having heard the same advice from the same advisers who advised the Acting Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. This is what the minister said:

There is hardly an. economist or a student of the situation who does not feel the unemployment situation is merely temporary and that given a brief breathing pause the natural buoyancy of the economy will assert itself.

Now, that is the formal view expressed by the minister who has the responsibility in this government for labour problems, a very optimistic view I think anyone would say.

Supply-Citizenship and Immigration Not only that, but we have the Prime Minister himself expressing a view in Winnipeg on the day before Christmas. He did admit there was some problem. This quotation is from the Winnipeg Free Press. I am sorry I have not a copy of the Winnipeg Tribune, but perhaps in these circumstances the Free Press would be satisfactory. I quote:

Prime Minister Diefenbaker said in Winnipeg Monday the current unemployment problem is being met.

It does seem to me that if the minister was given the gloomy view he says he was given in June, and if he communicated that gloomy view of the economic situation in June to the rest of the cabinet, it was not the Liberal government but it was someone else who was deceiving the public in December by saying that this was just a temporary lull and that the natural buoyancy would quickly reassert itself. I do not happen to have in my hand, because I did not realize this point might come up, the record of the federal-provincial conference which was read here yesterday. The Prime Minister's appreciation of the unemployment situation, as stated during the conference, has already been given to the house. He said that it was just a plateau from which we were going to climb to greater heights.

I must say that it is rather difficult to reconcile these optimistic views in late November from the Prime Minister, formally given to the federal-provincial conference, with the view expressed by the minister tonight. I cannot believe the Prime Minister's views were expressed without careful consideration. I know his predecessor would not have made any offhand statements in that way. They would have been based on a most careful appreciation of the economists' views. One can only assume the Prime Minister did the same thing. One can only assume the Minister of Labour did the same thing. Of course, it is true that the day before Christmas, while going through Winnipeg, the Prime Minister may not have been-well I do not attach the same importance to that. I say I do find these things rather difficult to reconcile with what the minister has told us about the gloomy situation he found in June. It seems to me that if this situation was as gloomy as the minister has pictured, then the people of Canada ought to have been told. They ought to have been warned and something ought to have been done about it in June and not on January 20.

It seems to me also, sir, that if the minister had access to the advice of the same economists who prepared this document in March, the advice they gave in June would have greater validity than in March. After

all this was a forecast of the economic weather. It seems to me that the forecasts in June would have had greater validity, in the light of all that had intervened between March and June. I am thinking of the economy and not of other things, though perhaps some of the other things had some influence on the economy. If, as the minister says, he was given this gloomy view in June, surely the Canadian people have been taken for a ride in the last six months by this government. The Minister of Labour goes down to Montreal and says that there is hardly an economist or a student of the situation who does not feel that the unemployment situation is merely temporary, and that given a brief breathing pause, the natural buoyancy of the economy will reassert itself. We are now enjoying the pause.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

We are enjoying the pause from the sound of the hon. gentleman's voice. There is, as usual, nothing very much except sound and fury in the hon. gentleman's statement because there is nothing inconsistent in the statement I have made as compared with the statements made by the Minister of Labour and the Prime Minister. The adjective "gloomy" is one which my hon. friend has himself ascribed to the forecast of the economists who advised him in March and whose advice was concealed from the country, and in fact deliberately disregarded, so that a contrary impression could be created in the budget which his government presented to the country in March of 1957.

In simple terms, so the hon. gentleman may understand the situation, when we took over on June 21 it was brought to our attention by the responsible advisers, who I venture to suggest must have been somewhat more hopeful than they were before June 21, that those whom they advised would listen to them, that factors in the economy were not as encouraging as our predecessors had tried to persuade the Canadian people they were. We took account of that advice because we believe that Canada has built up one of the most efficient and reliable civil services of any country, and that the people of Canada will expect their government to give due weight to the advice they received from those responsible advisers. The advice did not contain unmitigated gloom; it was of temporary gloom relieved by the events of June 10, and was to the effect that if certain actions were taken the decline might be made only temporary.

All the factors pointed to the possibility that, if these actions were taken soon and vigorously, a further decline downward might be halted and from there on, to use my hon. friend's phrase, the natural buoyancy of

the Canadian economy would reassert itself and, with sensible policies applied, an upward trend might be resumed. Realizing that unemployment would reach, I am prepared to say substantial proportions, this winter as a result of the blind disregard of our predecessors of the warning that they had received, we did take account of that advice. We did say we felt that the proper and prudent course was to reduce substantially and deliberately the flow of immigration during the winter months,-

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LIB
PC

Edmund Davie Fulton (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

-leaving ourselves a free hand to adjust the flow in 1958 to the adjusted economic factors which we hope and expect will flow from the new economic policies which we implemented. This is exactly what we are doing, and that is why the Minister of Labour was able to say in Montreal the other day that no economist regards this recession as permanent because the cause of the recession has been removed, namely the Liberal government. For these reasons the Prime Minister was able to say what he did say in Winnipeg as read out recently by the hon. member.

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IND

Henri Courtemanche (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Independent Progressive Conservative

The Chairman:

The hon. member for Port Arthur.

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LIB
?

Some hon. Members:

Port Arthur.

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LIB

John Whitney Pickersgill

Liberal

Mr. Pickersgill:

I was discussing the statement of the minister, and surely, Mr. Chairman-

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IND

Henri Courtemanche (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Independent Progressive Conservative

The Chairman:

In my opinion the hon. member was discussing a point that was not in order. I recognize the hon. member for Port Arthur.

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LIB

January 30, 1958