November 1, 1949 (21st Parliament, 1st Session)

LIB

John Decore

Liberal

Mr. Decore:

I intend to bring to the attention of this parliament a matter which I consider of importance to the future of this country. We in Canada have made great strides in our social welfare program for the benefit of the Canadian people. I should like now to express my views about education. When I say I desire to express my views on that subject, I should say they are only my views and not the views of someone else.
It seems to me that when it comes down to the basic necessity of living, the basic element of human progress, education is one of the most important factors. Nothing could be more desirable or more far-reaching than the attempt of this parliament to improve the opportunities of education for young Canadians. After all, those young Canadians will be the fathers and mothers of our future generations. This country needs men and women with a high level of education, so that they will be better qualified in discharging their responsibilities as citizens.
Canada today is playing a gigantic role in the destiny of mankind. Canada is, in fact, a new nation with a great future before it. So far our natural resources have only been tapped, and we require men with skill in science and the technical knowledge to develop those natural resources. Educated men and women are required by this country in case, at some later date, it is necessary to defend it. After all, the educated citizens of this country will place higher values upon, and have greater appreciation of the fact that the freedom we are now enjoying has been handed down to us as a result of centuries of struggle. We have spent billions of dollars in trying to protect our democracy and our international position. Today we are heavily burdened with international problems, but this should not prevent the consideration of the advance of human welfare.

Education is the foundation stone in the structure of our democracy in Canada. It is the greatest weapon against poverty and hardship. For that reason, I feel that eventually we should adopt, as a basic principle, recognition of the fact that education is a national concern. During the past few years the people of this country realized with a shock what war and steadily rising prices had done to our schools. The constant financial pressure had made it difficult for many communities to keep abreast of the requirements of education. For a number of years I served as a member of the school board and noted, in my own town of Vegre-ville, the overcrowded classrooms and inadequate equipment. There was not much we could do about it because the taxpayer was already overburdened.
In my constituency today there are a number of districts where schools have been closed owing to a lack of teachers, or where the instructors are not qualified in the art of teaching. Many of the teachers have migrated to better jobs at better pay. When I speak of teachers I speak with some feeling because, during my younger days, I taught school. I am not here to champion the cause of teachers, but we must have an abundance of good teachers in Canada if our standard of education is to be at a satisfactory level. Able men and women must be encouraged to go into the teaching profession. I know of children who have attended my classes in public school who, although they possessed the ability to become some day great leaders of this country, were unable to pursue advanced studies because of financial difficulties.
This government has already gone a long way in aiding Canadians by the introduction of family allowances and the program to provide educational facilities for veterans. I believe the government should be prepared to go farther than that, eventually. When I suggest that this parliament should give some aid to provincial governments for educational purposes, I realize that some provinces are more fortunate than others because of the richness of their natural resources. The province of Alberta is indeed most fortunate in this respect. The wealth that is now pouring into the treasury of the provincial government as a result of the discovery of oil is, in fact, an embarrassment to them.
In our province of Alberta there is no earthly excuse for the government not making more substantial grants to education which would be in keeping with the requirements and the expanding needs in that province. The farmers upon whose land oil is discovered receive little direct benefit from the discovery because few of them have mineral rights. All that these farmers receive is the 45781-85i
The Budget-Mr. Decore rancid smell of oil twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, plus a little compensation for the use of their land. It is for this reason that I believe the royal commission now investigating the question of education in Canada, among other things, will make an important contribution to the solution of this problem. Some formula needs to be worked out by means of which more opportunities will be created for education for our young Canadians.
I am not suggesting at all that this parliament should in any way encroach upon the subject matter of education which is now within provincial jurisdiction. I sometimes wish, though, that this parliament had some means of controlling the propaganda that is being fed to our children. When I say this, I am referring to something which has taken place in my province of Alberta. In 1937 a book was published by McDougall and Paterson called "The World of Today". This book was authorized by the minister of education, at that time the late Mr. William Aberhart, for the use of Grade IX pupils.
On page 321 of that publication you will find the following:
Some people feel that the capitalist (competitive) system is out of date in this modern world, and should be modified or replaced entirely by a system better fitted to deal with the problems of today. Three of these plans are especially interesting: the Communist (as in Russia), the C.C.F., and Social Credit.
I am sure that we have no objection to our children's knowing something about Social Credit theory, if they can only find out what it is, or about the C.C.F., the Conservatives, the Liberals or any other political party. But the fact remains that thousands of students in that province were subjected to this type of vicious propaganda. They were subjected to the idea that our so-called competitive system is out of date and should be entirely replaced by one of these three doctrines. It was only after this book had been in use in our province for some years, and after considerable pressure had been exerted on the minister of education and on the government of our province by individuals and various organizations, that this book was finally revised in 1940. I have here with me both of these books in case any hon. member should be interested in looking them over.
The revised copy in use in Alberta today is so similar except for the changes that I have already mentioned, and some cartoons that have been left out, that the old original copy is still used by a great many students in grade IX in the schools in our province; these books are handed down by their brothers and sisters who used them in previous years.

The Budget-Mr. Decore
It is not my intention to be disrespectful to any hon. member or to any political group in this house. However, I have heard of expressions coming from some of my Social Credit friends-and when I say some of them,
I mean just some of them-to the effect that my election to this house was made possible by the communist vote of the Vegreville constituency,-

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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