October 15, 1951 (21st Parliament, 5th Session)


Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Clarence Gillis (Cape Breton South):

Mr. Speaker, I listened with considerable attention to the mover (Mr. Cauchon) and the seconder (Mr. Simmons) of the address. The hon. member for Beauharnois delivered his speech in an able manner, but I was not able to understand all that he said. He made one observation with which I do not exactly agree when he referred to the seaway project. He is reported as having said that he felt that all the members of this house and all the people of Canada would give unanimous support to that project. In passing I just want to assure him it is in connection with that particular observation that I do not agree with his speech.
The throne speech could well be an election document. It covered everything in all provinces. It catered pretty well to every section of society. It contained something for everybody in Canada. I read it over, and I thought if I were the Prime Minister, with the international situation as it is, I would write that kind of document for the
[Mr. Mclvor.l
election next June. When you finish all the issues, promises and hopes that are in this particular speech, you wonder what the Prime Minister will find for 1953. It covers nearly everything.
Before I mention what I really want to say in regard to the subject matter of the speech,
I should like to mention one particular item about which I am very pleased. That is the decision by the federal government, agreed to by the provincial governments and sanctioned by the engineers, to construct tne causeway across the strait of Canso. Although promises have been made many times over the years, at least it is now on paper. In reading the newspapers I noticed that the premier of Nova Scotia, Hon. Angus L. Macdonald, delivered a lengthy press statement. He went back over the years to the first survey which was made about fifty years ago, and thanked everyone who had anything to do with the project. He thanked boards of trade, chambers of commerce and the public at large. I have had a little to do with this project myself in the last twelve years. I have thought a lot about it, and talked about it. No doubt through an oversight the premier of Nova Scotia neglected to mention the federal Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier). As one who has been closely associated with the minister in dealing with this particular project, I want to make up for that oversight by thanking the minister. With all due respect to boards of trade, chambers of commerce and everyone else, I do not think anyone was more interested or worked harder for that project than the minister. I have had on the record and off the record discussions with him. I know that he must have been quite pleased when he found the speech from the throne contained a definite undertaking that the project for which he had worked so hard would finally be brought to fruition.
In discussing the project about four years ago, while it was still a doubtful possibility in the minds of the engineers, I told the minister I was confident that at some time the project, either a bridge or a causeway, would be undertaken. The reason for my confidence at that time was the interest of the minister in that particular project. I suggested that when the bridge or causeway was finally completed, it should be called the Chevrier permanent crossing which links the mainland of Nova Scotia with the island of Cape Breton. I want to thank the minister, because I know he worked hard for the plan. I do not want to forget our own minister in the cabinet, the Minister of Resources and Development (Mr. Winters). Since he came into this house I know that he has been

The Address-Mr. Gillis
working hard for the project. 1 can say that now because I had off the record discussions with him. He supported the plan and pushed it. I am pleased that one of the things about which I have felt keenly for a number of years has finally reached the paper stage, and has become a part of the program of public investment to be carried out in the near future.
This afternoon, Mr. Speaker, there was considerable discussion concerning the control of prices. The leader of the opposition (Mr. Drew) expressed his view, as did the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) and the leaders of the C.C.F. and Social. Credit parties. I believe every member of the house should be thinking about the problem and expressing some opinion on it. We can all agree it is the one important problem that faces this country today. It is the one issue about which we have to do something. When I read about NATO conferences, economic aid overseas, the doings of the United Nations and the appropriations of money necessary to keep these organizations going -they are all necessary-I sometimes think we are missing the boat.
For some time I have thought that there is not much danger of an immediate war. Of course the more prepared we are for it the longer that day will be in coming. I do not think the communist party expects a war. They have another way of doing it. They can wreck our economy by inflation. In the period they have set for themselves-they have a timetable for all these things and do not guess-as the period of national revolution, they will not do any of the fighting. They are going to promote a breakdown of our democratic institutions, and soften up the country against the time when they move in. This was the plan followed in Europe, and the war helped it. Of course, I think Uncle Joe is sitting back. He is quite prepared to fight in China to the last Chinaman, so long as he can keep us involved in a war there. Spending a lot of money on defence is the most inflationary kind of spending. The weapons the communists are using are to
create dissension and unrest among our own people, to have strikes and create lack of confidence in our institutions. This weapon of inflation which they are using at the present time, if we do not watch it, can undermine all the other activities in which we are engaged.
This matter of inflation is one of the devices about which we have to do something. I do not want to get involved in a discussion of the mechanics of the thing at the present time, because time is too short. I did not agree with the Prime Minister (Mr. St. Laurent) this afternoon, but that does not mean that I am right or that he is right. I do not agree with his comparison of Canada and the United Kingdom in discussing inflation. There is no similarity between the economies of the two countries. Britain is fighting her way out of the ruins of a war and the cost of rehabilitation. This is something we do not understand. It is a problem Britain has which we do not have.
Then there is the matter of price controls in Britain. I do not believe price controls will work in any country which has to import practically everything the people eat, wear or manufacture. I do not believe subsidies can be successfully applied to that kind of economy, because that country has not control of its price structure. The prices they have to pay for the goods they need are determined outside of the country. I feel that Canada and the United States are not only definitely influencing world prices, but are actually fixing world prices. The beating that Britain had to take in the devaluation of her currency, the large amount of imports she has to have which make it impossible for subsidies to work effectively in controlling her prices, completely change the picture from that existing in Canada or the United States.
On motion of Mr. Gillis the debate was adjourned.

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