February 9, 1938 (18th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Archibald Hugh Mitchell

Social Credit

Mr. A. H. MITCHELL (Medicine Hat):

I have listened with interest to many of the speeches that have been made during this debate, but it was the address on Friday last of the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) that inspired me to take part. I should like to say to the Minister of Justice through you, Mr. Speaker, that one remark which he made struck me very forcibly, and that was when he told the house that he was concluding his thirty-fourth year of continuous service to the Dominion of Canada. At the time the right hon. gentleman first took his seat in this house I was not very many months old, and so, in my mind, his name is linked with the traditions of Canada as one of Canada's elder statesmen. I wish to congratulate him upon his long service and to wish him thirty-five years more of similar service to the country.
During these thirty-five years, however, tremendous things have been happening in the world and the tempo of living has speeded up considerably, especially during the later years since the great war. Whereas it used to be very true to say that life on this planet depended upon three essential elements, air, water and food, that now has changed with our industrialized and very highly developed civilization, so that the truth is now that the three elements required to sustain life and to enable one to enjoy all its privileges on this earth and in this civilization are, air, water and money. Without money it is not possible in this complex civilization to obtain even food. I wonder how many of us would have our dinners to-night if we did not have the wherewithal to pay for them. And if that is true, and in all common sense it is true, then surely somewhere in this problem of money lies the key to the answer that we look for to solve the problems which we are trying to solve with trade and commissions and one thing and another.
Any man's property and civil rights, his ability to live and to enjoy living in the world, are closely linked up with his ability to pay for what he needs, and to pay with money, because to-day men do not tender bags of wheat and fleeces of wool in payment for what they consume; in this country they tender dollars. The grim spectre of want disappears just as soon as money is available, and it so happens that it is of enormous importance not only in a nation's life but in the life of the individual-no less in my life than in the life of Canada. It is because of the need for money in order to have the right to live that men steal, lie, cheat, fight, murder, and die. They do all these things for money because of what money gives them. It is fair
to say that if you are looking for the devil incarnate, the father of lies, you will find him somewhere around money. And so the remarks of my right hon. friend on Friday last made me feel like saying in this house that what is being done in Alberta is being done for the first time in history, and that is that a government elected democratically has undertaken to challenge the authority of those who control the supply of money-not lumber and wheat and coal and all these things, but money, which is necessary for the exchange of them. It has never been done before, but the challenge has not yet been sustained. It has been made, however, and this is something of the procedure that was followed.
Rightly or wrongly it is a fact that the government of Alberta ultimately went to that system in which all money originates, the banking system, and said to them: Here is a problem. Here is a naturally productive and wealthy area, extremely productive, which is not overly populated, and the people are not able to consume to the limit of their appetite all the things they are able to produce. In effect the Alberta government said to the banks: If all that the people of Alberta are able to produce were in one end of the province, and the people with appetites to consume were in the other end, and the problem was then a transportation problem, we would not approach you, the bankers, at all; we would approach a transportation company and ask it to perform the function for which it exists in the state. But of course it is not a transportation problem. The problem is that while the people are able to produce they are not able to consume, not for lack of appetite but for lack of money, which you and you alone now control. So the Alberta government said to the banks: Will you admit your responsibility in this connection and set about righting this difficulty as quickly as possible? That was the purpose of the letter sent by Hon. Solon E. Low to the branch banks in Alberta. Or failing that, will you admit, if that is the case, that you do not know how to solve this problem of money? Will you admit, for instance, that there has been built up a Frankenstein which has got out of hand, if that is what you think? If you admit that you do not know how to solve this problem, there are men who say they do know how; so employ them, bring them in with you and attempt to solve the problem together. If they fail fire them and get others, until the solution is found. The banks replied that they were willing to cooperate within the bounds of this act and that and so on, which was all very fine. A questionnaire was sent out as a feeler to find
The Address-Mr. Mitchell

out how much cooperation could be expected. It asked for the names of certain people. No replies were forthcoming, which showed the amount of cooperation that was available.
Then a third course became necessary, if the source of money would not admit its responsibility and set about correcting the evil, or in the alternative admit that it did not know how and acquire assistance in effecting a remedy. In that case it becomes necessary for the Alberta government within its own limits to pass such legislation as will demonstrate that the institution which now has the monopoly of banking does not intend that the problem should be solved, nor will it relinquish that monopoly. That is the meaning of the legislation which was passed by the Alberta government. Personally I think mistakes have been made; any government, being human, makes mistakes. But I agree with what was said by the hon. member for Carleton (Mr. Hvndman) a day or two ago, that in Alberta they are at least attempting to do what needs to be done and therefore are to be admired.

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