February 11, 1936 (18th Parliament, 1st Session)


Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

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


If it ever becomes famous it will do so because it is the speech that forgot the forgotten man. I come from a part of Canada that knows something of destitution and poverty. Last winter the church of which I was minister distributed large quantities of clothing contributed by people in Ontario, part of which came from this city of Ottawa. Tons of clothing were distributed throughout the southern area. I am sure hon. members will realize that I am not drawing on my imagination when I state that last fall there were children going to school in Saskatchewan with only gunny sacking wrapped around their feet. We have gone into homes and found mothers and children lying on piles of bedding in the corner; they did not have the proper bedding equipment or the proper clothing to meet the rigours of a very cold winter. In those sections where necessity for food, clothing and shelter is dire and where people are faced with want and insecurity, what do we find? We find that in this entire speech there is hardly a reference to what is to be done for them. What has the government of the day to offer to these people harassed with debt, needing food and needing clothing?
I hold in my hand a letter from my constituency, one of hundreds which are received by members. This is one from Trossachs, Saskatchewan. I shall not weary hon. members by reading it all, but I would direct their attention to some words from this man whom I have known, a man who has worked for years to help build the province of Saskatchewan and the Dominion of Canada. Men like these are the assets of our country. He states:
I have been trying to get relief. They allowed me $1.35 a month to live on, and would not allow me anything for clothes, and that is something that I really need. But I do not want to get anything I do not need, but I sure need clothes.
He wants only enough clothing to keep warm. I now hold in my hand a letter from one of my committee men. It is addressed from Montmartre, Saskatchewan, at which point he investigated a case, one which is by no means isolated. It could be duplicated again and again. The letter is as follows:
There is a family of eleven persons here living on relief. They are getting eight dollars per month, and range in age from thirteen to twenty-six. This family is starving. Two of them are under the doctor's care through not having enough to eat. Will you please see what you can do for this family? I am helping them all I can at present, hut that is not very much. I know families in this district that are getting more than eight dollars a month, with only three in the family. So
The Address-Mr. Douglas

would you please let me know what can be done for this family? I have just come from a visit there, and they had dry bread and
potatoes for supper.
This may seem a very trivial matter to an august assembly such as this, but I want to tell you, sir, that watching the house this night are families all over the dominion who are facing conditions like that, men, women and children who are looking to this new administration, with its preponderant majority, to bring them some measure of relief from their present hardships. As the hour is getting late I shall defer what further remarks I have to make until to-morrow.
On motion of Mr. Douglas the debate was adjourned.

Topic:   T 2739-6
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