March 13, 1930 (16th Parliament, 4th Session)


Michael Luchkovich

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. MICHAEL LUCHKOVICH (Vegne-ville) moved:

Whereas the discontinuance of the federal grant in aid of technical education has imposed a heavy liability upon the provinces, which they find it difficult to sustain;
And whereas the future industrial and commercial development of Canada depend iD large measure upon the creation of a well trained personnel;
Therefore be it resolved-that, in the opinion of this house, the grant should be continued at least for another ten years.
He said: Mr. Speaker, in proposing this resolution I am actuated not by any malicious desire in any way to embarrass or inconvenience the government, but once again to reopen a question that has been agitating the minds of a large percentage of our population for a number of years, and that has been very closely aligned with the future welfare and prosperity of Canada, namely, federal government aid to technical education as it affects our industrial development. You will notice, Mr. Speaker, that the latter part of the resolution calls for the continuance of the technical education grant for a further period of ten years, implying thereby the assumption that such a grant is or has been in effect.
And as there actually has been an act authorizing payment by the federal government of grants for technical education, it becomes essential, in order that hon. members to-day may understand the real import of the legislation. that some account' of the historical background and the main events leading to its final enactment as a Dominion statute should be imparted to the house.
Technical education has been a subject of Dominion wide discussion for the past twenty-five years, especially in those quarters where the need for skilled workmanship was found to be essential. It was therefore only a matter of time when this question would come up for discussion in the House of Commons. Indeed, the anticipated discussion in this chamber had reached such a high degree of intensity that something had to be done, and so a royal commission was appointed in 1909 to investigate the whole subject of technical education. It consisted of seven members, who visited many parts of Europe and the United States and held over one hundred meetings in the Dominion. When you consider, sir, that over fourteen hundred witnesses were heard in Canada alone, and that the total expense bill of the commission amounted to over $100,000, it will convey to you some idea of the tremendous task the commission had on its hand-a task that required three years of hard grinding work before a report could finally be submitted to parliament in 1913.
In 1914 the great world war broke out and the whole matter was left in abeyance until after the armistice. It was not long, however, before parliament took this matter up again with renewed vigour, which finally culminated in the legislation of 1919, now knownas the Technical Education Act. Thisact provided for the expenditure of an aggregate sum of $10,000,000 over a period of ten years, to be .paid to the provinces according to a graduated scale as follows: in 1920, $700,000; in 1921. $800,000; in 1922, $900,000; in 1923, $1,000,000; in 1924, $1,100,000; and a like sum for each of the five succeeding years ending with the fiscal year 1929. The sum of $10,000 was to be paid in each year to the government of each province, and the remainder of the appropriation was to be allotted and paid in proportion to the population of such provinces respectively as determined by the last federal decennial census. The money has been paid, the act is no longer available, and federal technical education grants have been relegated by the government over yonder to the junk pile of forgotten things.
Now, the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) being in his seat, I should like to ask
Technical Education-Mr. Luchkovich
him: Can the Prime Minister of Canada justify his refusal to continue these technical education grants on the ground that Canada does not at the present time need technical education? Or, if she does need technical education, that these schools can carry on effectively without further federal financial aid? If that is so, Mr. Speaker, I feel confident that loud reverberations of protests and disapproval from coast to coast shall reach him from every hilltop, dale, hamlet, town and city in our wide Dominion.
If the Prime Minister bases his refusal to continue these grants on the plea of economy, then I contend it is the falsest kind of economy. If he claims that the grant was never intended to be permanent but was meant only to help technical education get a fair start, then I submit that technical education has never been given the proper impetus because of the lack of anything like permanency or sufficiency of funds to carry on so important and so great a task. If the Prime Minister believes that payment of technical grants by the federal government might constitute an infringement on provincial rights, I again protest that there will be no such infringement. I think it was the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) who said the other day that these grants were grants of grace and not grants that were authorized by our constitution. That may be so. They may be grants of grace; nevertheless I think that this is one grant in respect to which the Minister of Finance will not be able to slip out from under. It may be a grant of grace, but if he does slip out from under he will do so, I should say, very gracefully. While this last argument concerning the possibility of infringement of provincial rights is fresh in my mind I should like to deal with it, Mr. Speaker, in order of priority. [DOT]
When in 1909 it was proposed to the then Minister of Labour, the present Prime Minister, to appoint a commission to look into the basis of technical education and industrial training, not only in other countries but also in Canada, the question of the British North America Act had first to be considered; for under this act education is one of the subjects exclusively assigned to the provincial legislatures. That being the case, it was considered advisable that the Minister of Labour communicate with the premiers of the various provinces to ascertain whether they respectively had any objection to the appointment of such a commission, and when the replies came in from all the provinces it was found that not one of the premiers had any objection to the appointment of such a commission. Nor have I, Mr. Speaker, during the ten years
[Mf. Luchkovich.]
that the Technical Education Act has been in force, heard of any protest on the ground of infringement of provincial rights.
While I know it is a very difficult matter to draw a distinction between technical education, as such, and the general or popularly understood definition of education, in view of the differences of opinion that might be entertained as between this parliament and the various provincial legislatures, I am, however, of the firm conviction that although constitutionally the federal parliament cannot deal with matters of education, as we understand it, in the public and high schools, it is nevertheless in connection with trade and commerce justified in promoting the cause of technical education. My own native province of Alberta will gladly welcome such a movement, and I can assure the Prime Minister that he can safely hand us a few million dollars without the least fear of a constitutional question preying upon his conscience.
There are two matters that I should like to refer to at the present stage. At page 1067, Hansard, 1909, the Prime Minister made two very pertinent statements. I have heard it said of the present Prime Minister that his knowledge of economic affairs is vastly superior to that of his famous predecessor, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and in view of this suggestion I was rather surprised, in view of what he said in 1929, to read these two statements in Hansard of 1909. The Prime Minister said this in reference to foreign competition in trade and commerce:
The other thing that may help us to meet this competition is the greatness of our natural resources, combined with the industrial efficiency of our own working people, and this industrial efficiency can only be brought about by the development on a general Scale throughout the whole Dominion of sound technical education, carried on by the authorities whose duty it is to do it. Only by the development of this system of technical education, so far as we can possibly carry it, will we be in a position to face the future with a confidence of success.
Further on, he said:
We cannot too often remind ourselves of the fact that society does owe something to the great body of working people who are obliged to begin life early, to begin to toil before their education is completed, that we owe something to them in the way of conferring an opportunity at least to each to realize the capacities of which his nature may be capable. Carlyle says, in one of his famous works, that for a man to die ignorant, who has capacity for knowledge, is a tragedy. Well, sir, if this be true, the crime must somewhere rest upon the heads of those who have it within their power to confer the opportunity and who yet withhold it.

Technical Education-Mr. Luchkovich
These statements were made by the Prime Minister, as I have already mentioned, in the year 1909. When the resolution asking for a commission was introduced by the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie), in 1909, the Prime Minister very warmly congratulated the mover of the resolution for the exceptionally able, forceful and comprehensive manner in which he had introduced it, all the more so because he thought this matter could not be viewed in any other light than as one of great national concern. I have read the speech of the hon. member for South Wellington and I have also read the speech of the Prime Minister. If I can be as consistent in my advocacy of federal grants to technical education as the Prime Minister was in his speech, I feel absolutely confident that this government will not and cannot refuse aid for a further period of ten years; for I defy any member of this house to read the Prime Minister's speech of 1909 and prove to me that any other construction can be put upon it than that of an ardent advocacy of federal responsibility in matters of technical education. It was, as I have already intimated, a wonderful speech. I think it is the best speech I have ever read on technical education in relation to the desirability of government aid in that direction.
In view of the Prime Minister's refusal to continue these grants, I would again ask the question, Mr. Speaker: Do the statements I have read not sound like the bitterest irony? What could have prompted the Prime Minister's sudden change of front? Was it economy? Was it political expediency? Or was it mere thoughtlessness? If it was political expediency, I wonder whether it was the sort involved in the case of a very homely but very influential old maid who was approached by a campaigner during election time? In other words, did the Prime Minister outwardly extol technical education and inwardly condemn it? If he did, his action was similar to that of the election campaigner; for would it be expediency for the Prime Minister to refer to the eyes of this old battle-axe as "those big, wonderful, beautiful, expressive windows of the soul," when all the while he felt that never were eyes so harsh and fishy and dead? Would it be expediency to refer to her teeth as "those wonderful regular, pearly ivories," when deep down in his heart he knew they looked like the pillars of Hercules; to say that her feet were like Cinderella's when in reality they were as big as clodhoppers; that her nose was perfectly refined and well chiselled when in truth it looked like the leaning tower of Pisa; or that her general
make-up was a modern replica of classical Venus when in actuality she looked more like a scarecrow caricature? I ask, Mr. Speaker, is it consistent in one breath to laud these grants to the skies and in another to claim that they are preposterous and unfeasible, and all in the name of political expediency? Possibly my analogy is a little far-fetched and somewhat gross, but it is no more gross than the refusal of the government to give technical education grants in 1930, after extolling them to the skies in 1909. In respect to the Prime Minister's reference on that occasion to Carlyle, I can assure him my regard for Carlyle is just as high as his, yet I cannot help but wonder what poor old Carlyle thinks if he has any means of hearing what we say in this house, and what he would think of any such gross misapplication of his gems of wisdom as has been exhibited in the government's refusal to make these grants for technical education. Certainly, if I were in Carlyle's place, the peace and calm of paradise would have absolutely no interest for me. If I were to paraphrase the Prime Minister's remarks wherein he said:
Carlyle says, in one of his famous works, that for a man to die ignorant, who has capacity for knowledge, is a tragedy. Well, sir, if this be true, the crime must somewhere rest upon the heads of those who have it within their power to confer the opportunity and who yet withhold it.
I would say that for the Prime Minister to refuse these technical grants, that he so eloquently advocated and are within his power to. grant, is worse than a tragedy; it is a colossal national travesty on justice and consistency.
I have several letters which I received this year with reference to my resolution on technical education, and I am going to read two or three of them. The first of these letters is from Mr. William I. Reid, manager and secretary of the Westminster Iron Works, Limited, who writes as follows:
Dear Sir;
It has come to the writer's attention that you propose to move a resolution in the House of Commons, requesting the government to consider the advisability of the continuance of the technical education grant for a further period of ten years.
We wish to express our appreciation in commendation of your action in this matter.
We have a technical school in our own city and the nature of the service rendered and the education that the young men receive is very valuable indeed to local industries. We can say from personal experience in our own business, that we have been employing graduates from the technical school for four or five years, the boys come to us fairly well trained, having
Technical Education-Mr. Luchkovich
an idea of the technical nature regarding industry, and become real good mechanics at the expiration of their apprenticeship period.
We think it very important that this matter be given full support by all the members of parliament, so that the government will continue further financial support.
We trust that your efforts will be crowned witli success, and that the government in its wisdom will see fit to extend this financial aid for a further period of ten years.
1 have another letter from Mr. Edwin Tomlin, managing director of the British Columbia Cement Company, Limited, as follows:
Dear Sir;
As chairman of the British Columbia division of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, and also as one engaged in the manufacture of cement, I should like to thank you for the action you have taken in supporting the continuance of federal aid to technical education. I regard technical education for our growing boys of the utmost importance, as in the event of their failure to receive same, it will place them at a disadvantage in the struggle for a livelihood, and also be detrimental to the development of the Dominion of Canada, as unquestionably a country will suffer if its citizens lack proper education.
I have a third letter from Mr. W. G. Carpenter, principal of the Calgary Technical School. The letter is as follows:
Dear Sir,-
It was very gratifying to receive your letter of the 6th inst., expressing interest in the progress of technical education for the province of Alberta with particular reference to the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art, located here in Calgary.
I am sending you under separate cover, half a dozen copies of our latest announcement in which you will see the details of the course we offer. You might like to give these to some of your fellow members who might be interested.
We are doing a unique work in Canada. Our courses are selected in the light of the possible use in our province of the services we give, and we are in the fortunate position of being able to say that to date the majority of those who [DOT] have taken courses from the institute, have found employment within the province. The average age of the student body is between twenty and twenty-one years. The seventy per cent of our enrolment comes from outside Calgary, Edmonton, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, and Red Deer, from which it will be seen that our courses are particularly appealing to those living outside the cities. You will also note that a number of our courses are designed to eater to the making of farm life more attractive. We offer courses in gas engines and tractors and farm machinery, black-smithing, farm carpentry, brick, cement and mortar and in motor cars. We handle more students in our tractor and gas engines department than any other in the institute. The electric department is limited in its accommodation. We take only 60 new students each year, and for the past year we have been under the necessity of refusing admission to over 100. We make no academic requirement for admittance, and have some with university degrees

and teacher's certificates on our lists while there are others who have very low standing, too low in some cases to really profit very much. We try to make our shops as close a duplicate to an industrial unit as it is possible, and the material with which we work is largely material which we get from the outside which goes back into use when it has been put into running condition in our shops.
At the back of the calendar I am sending, you will find the attendance graph. I might elaborate it here by saying that we had 888 enrolled during the year 1925-26, 1,273 for the year 1926-27, and to date with three months yet to go, we have on our books, 1,690 enrolments which is about 34 per cent increase. Included in this 1,690 are 275 in correspondence courses for steam engineering and for mines certificate, fireboss, pitboss and mine superintendent, 644 in day courses, 720 in evening classes, and 51 in a summer school which vre held last summer. Another index as to the increase in our work is the student hours as taken from the registers for January, this was 56,730 as against 40,529 for January, 1927, which is an increase of 42 per cent. You will note by comparing these figures with the graph referred to above, that the student hours for January, 1928, exceeded the eight months attendance for 1920-21, by 16,405 and that it is just about the same for the full eight months of 1921-22.
We do practically no advertising excepting what the students who have been with us tell their friends when they go home. If we were to advertise we could double our enrolment if we had room to accommodate them.
The withdrawal of the Technical Education Act in 1929 will retard very seriously our development. The west has not been in a position to avail itself of the grant since 1919, as was the east particularly Quebec and Ontario. These places got started early with their programs which have made interesting progress. In the west it has been slower and the non-continuance of the Act will mean a hardship in many respects.
I am very sure that there is an important contribution to be made both toward the correcting of certain defects in our general education system and in developing of intelligent people who may profit by the great resources of this magnificent province. A little assistance at this critical period will be very material and the further extension of the Technical Education Act it seems to me one of the best uses that some public money could be placed to at the present time.
Thanking you very kindly for your letter and your interest,
Very sincerely yours,
(Signed) W. G. Carpenter,
Those are only a few of the many letters which I received in connection with this matter.
I realize that my time is passing very rapidly, but there are a few things to which I should like to refer before I close. I should like to see a little more attention given to the reasons advanced in 1909 by the Prime Minister of Canada when he was speaking

Technical Education-Mr. Luchkovich
upon technical education grants. The fust reason he gave for extending those grants was:
It seems to me there is a great need for the development of a system of technical education in Canada. This need has been demonstrated in half a dozen different ways. First of all, it has been demonstrated by comparison of conditions in this country with conditions as they are in Germany, in France, in England, in Switzerland and in the United States.
And then further on he says:
All these countries are competitors of Canada, and are doing a great deal to equip their army of workers and enable them to take their part in this world wide competition. And were there no other reason why the authorities of this country should do their part in promoting the work of technical education than that our competitors are doing so that of itself would be a strong reason why much should be done.
That is the first reason.

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