February 8, 1951 (21st Parliament, 4th Session)


Daniel Aloysius Riley


Mr. Riley:

Thank you-one can fairly
envisage the spirits of Macdonald, Laurier and McGee gazing down with benign approval from the linen ceiling of this chamber. Some hon. members of the C.C.F. party are apparently aware of whom I speak, because I see signs of great enthusiasm over there. He is a kindly man, a great champion of the downtrodden, a friend of labour, a man of letters, a bachelor of arts, a teacher of man, an Ichabod Crane, a moulder of little minds. On those occasions when I see the hon. member for Saskatoon (Mr. Knight) part the curtains on the opposite side of this chamber and stride confidently to the seat which he occupies with such an air of wide dignity and legislative resolve I confess to a feeling of envy and wish secretly-to myself, mind you -that we could have such a giant on this side of the house so that I and some of my associates might look to him at times to guide our awkward steps as we bumble about in the dark recesses of the back benches. When I am lulled into revery by this soothing voice, this man with a heart so filled with the milk of human kindness, a heart which like that of St. Philip Neri well nigh bursts the

frail casement which encloses it, I say to myself, "Here is a noble man whose very soul would rebel in horror at the thought of stooping to mean, cheap, contemptible political advantages."
Like him, and following him I feel like a frail skiff wallowing in the foaming wake of a giant leviathan of the deep; like him, I must administer a gentle rebuke to the hon. member for Prescott (Mr. Bruneau). So in all kindness, having the highest regard for the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, I must attempt to straighten out the question of how the hon. member for Saskatoon stands on price controls. Of course the hon. member has spoken at a number of meetings recently at which he expressed himself in favour of price controls, fixed ceiling prices on all commodities including-and the hon. member will correct me if I am wrong-labour, the price of wheat, and all other agricultural products. I would point out to the hon. member for Prescott that he might well take a lesson in unselfishness from the hon. member for Saskatoon when the latter thus tells the farmers of his own province that the prices of the commodities they produce must be pegged in safeguarding the interests of the common weal.
I was delighted to learn that the hon. member for Saskatoon had been in the maritimes, even in my own city. Though I had no word of his visit, I must confess I should have realized that the healthy glow which suffuses his cheeks bespeaks contact with the salt tang of the broad Atlantic. And witness his use of the word "fathom". It has a distinctly nautical flavour. I should have liked to introduce the hon. member to our dock workers. I should have liked to escort him down into the pit of our drydock. I should have liked to take him down into my own ward, where his soft and delicate hand, might have tingled from the healthy handclasp of the workingman. And I should have enjoyed even more taking him out for a short trip on the tossing waters of the bay of Fundy. I am sure the experiences thus gained by him, albeit new, would have been of inestimable value in his sincere effort to improve the lot of those of us who make up the proletariat of this country. He might have found that we maritimers, in our ignorance, I must admit, refer to his doctrines - perhaps erroneously - as the impracticable and meaningless theories of long-haired idealists; and he might have discovered how the misguided workingman of my own city seems intent only upon gaining for himself a decent standard of living and for his children an opportunity to fit themselves into society as useful Canadian citizens.

I agree that the hon. member might have found in my city some elderly folk living in rather modest circumstances. He neglected to add-and of course I do not accuse him of wilful neglect-that these people are very proud that, pitifully small though their means may toe, they have been rescued from an even worse fate by the sound administration which has been in power in this country, by the will of the people, since 1935.
My hon. friend referred to the slums of Saint John and mentioned having seen elderly folk living like rats in the garrets of those slums on an income which he gave as $42.50 a month. This comes as somewhat of a revelation to me, in that previously I had been under the impression that elderly people who existed on an income, not of $40 a month as we have for the elderly people of New Brunswick but of $42.50 a month, lived not in the unpretentious though solidly constructed houses of Saint John but in the shanty jungles within easy reach of his own home.
A few years ago, one of his colleagues, who has no longer the honour of sitting in the house, mentioned the slums she had seen from afar, in my city, during a whirlwind trip through the maritimes. Were she here today, she could repeat his remarks and they would be in harmony with what my hon. friend has said. Unfortunately, she had to go back before her electors, who are apparently fickle for they refused to repose once more their trust in her. I hope, and I believe, that with the decline and disappearance of socialist theories in our country, my hon. friend's career will come to an equally abrupt end.
This eager representative of the people who, in the past, filled his leisure deluging our legislators with countless pages of his turgid oratory for which he took inspiration in the warmth, safety and comfort of his quarters in parliament, had occasion, while on a tour of the maritime provinces, to come in contact with people whom he only knew, until then, from his perusal of books on socialism. I hope the experience he gained during that trip will encourage him from now on to support any government bill aimed at ensuring a more equitable distribution of that wealth which, thanks to Divine Providence, is so plentiful in this country, instead of cluttering up Hansard with senseless and groundless diatribes.
The Address-Mr. Riley
I hate referring to my good friend in such terms, but I know he will accept my remonstrances leniently and in the same spirit that prompted them.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the mover (Mr. McMillan) and the seconder (Mr. Breton) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne. I wish to extend also sincere congratulations to the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Pearson) who, with a number of his colleagues, has made such outstanding contributions in an honest and healthy endeavour to bring about peace among all men of all nations. The people in my part of the country look to the Secretary of State for External Affairs with unswerving confidence, conscious of his ability to exert an effort beyond the ordinary in bringing about the fulfilment of Canada's great role at the conference tables of the nations. In common with the people in other sections of Canada, we too are proud of him.
The Minister of National Defence (Mr. Claxton) must still recall the expressions of confidence accorded to him, and the enthusiasm with which he was greeted in the course of his recent tour of the maritimes. The citizens of my own constituency, and they but reflect the feeling of their neighbours across the land, are girding themselves for great sacrifices if such must be made for the preservation of our democratic way of life.
Today as I gaze over the heads of the executive who guide Canada's destiny I cannot help but refer to another man who seems to me to be somewhat like Gunga Din. I liken him in some respects, but not in all, to that famous Kipling character. From time to time he is literally belted and flayed by both friend and opponent, but when there is a job to be done requiring tremendous effort, wise and quick decision, and almost superhuman perseverance we look to him with deep respect, and we solicit the services of the right hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) to perform another mighty task for our country.
We are about to embark upon a vast program of defence. Industrial Canada is prepared to increase production to an almost unheard-of degree. Defence orders have begun to pour out from Ottawa in an ever-increasing flow. We find that if we are to maintain our production schedule it may even be necessary to import labour from other lands. It is amazing for me to view and to hear about the vast expansion which industry in Ontario and Quebec, and in some of our western provinces, is undergoing now. I am proud
The Address-Mr. Riley when I reflect that my country is well on the way to becoming one of the largest producer nations in the world.
At the same time it grieves me to have to state that in the course of a recent review of employment figures across Canada I have been shocked to learn that unemployment in some of our most important maritime centres extends far beyond the ten per cent mark. I am, therefore, impelled to urge once again, as I have urged before from the floor of this house, that a real effort be made to bring about some degree of decentralization of industry in our country. In my own city of Saint John the unemployment figure is down somewhat in comparison with last year's figure. This has been due in part to an accelerated movement of freight through our port during the course of the past few weeks, but it is also due in part to an accelerated movement of our skilled, semiskilled, and even unskilled labour to the booming industrial centres in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario.
Every day from all over the Atlantic provinces this movement continues. Maritime labour is once again answering the call of industry further inland. If our labour continues to thus migrate to the central provinces-

Full View