April 2, 1930 (16th Parliament, 4th Session)


Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Very well,
we will say ten men to the combine on the average. In other words, we need 60,000 harvesters less each year, or a number equivalent almost to the entire harvester excursions which formerly moved from east to west. That alone is a significant fact in connection with this whole discussion.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I turn for one moment to Great Britain. I find that one of the greatest authorities there, Mr. Arthur Kitson, who is a manufacturer, an authority on financial questions and also president of the British Banking Reform League, says:
It is quite certain that the need for labour must become less and less with the growth of inventions and the increase in industrial efficiency. Indeed the real problem we have to solve is not so much that of finding constant employment for our people as our supplying them with life's necessities and comforts out of the abundance of goods created. Even to-day the labour of less than 10 per cent of the population will readily suffice to maintain the entire inhabitants of this country in a high state of comfort. Suppose discoveries and inventions during the next half century result in the displacement of all manual labour by machinery, must the bulk of the 'world's inhabitants then perish?
Is work to be the sole basis of living, Mr. Speaker? We will have to answer that question sooner or later. Sir Charles Sykes, a Yorkshire manufacturer, says:
The problem of unemployment or its cause is not due to a defective system of production, but to a defective system of distribution.
As I said, I could continue almost endlessly with illustrations of how jobs are vanishing from under the hands and eyes of the workers of the world. We find a striking illustration reported by the United States department of labour, whose report, referring to the copper refining industry, says:
The figures show that during this period of nine years,-
That is, from 1918 to 1927.
-the number of men employed was reduced from 578 to 233, with a coincident increase of about 10 per cent in total output.
Then you find another in the automobile business as a whole; you find since 1922, that 1,400 per cent more cars are produced with
only ten per cent more men employed. It would be unfair for me to conclude this part of my discussion without reference to a newspaper which has done much to educate the public with regard to this question. I refer to the Ottawa Citizen. In an editorial appearing some time ago it dealt with this situation, and hon. members might compare this editorial with the statement of Sir Charles Sykes, the Yorkshire manufacturer, with that of Mr. Arthur Ivitson, or with any other authority dealing with the question, and a striking similarity in their conclusions will be found. The editorial states:
If every able-bodied adult in Canada were set to -work eight hours a day at productive labour, there would result such a surplus of production that the factories would be closed clown in a very short time, even if the goods were given away, simply because the power to produce is greater than the- power-but not the capacity-to consume.
That the increase of purchasing power among the masses of the people is a necessary first step towards industrial prosperity is recognized by students of up to date economics. So far as unemployment is concerned, it seems logical that the one solution is to find some way of diminishing the hours of labour without reducing the purchasing power of the individual.
That is only a part.
Whether the present industrial system can be reorganized on this basis is a question for discussion and solution. The fact remains, however, that only along this line does improvement seem possible. It is not debatable that improvement should be made, if possible, by orderly rather than violent means.
At this stage perhaps I should draw just one more comparison. Not long ago I picked up a United States publication called Labour, coming from Washington, under date of December 14, 1929. In that publication I find the following editorial:
Fewer Workers, Less Pay-And More Work
Some figures in the last report of the Interstate Commerce Commission are very important if not wholly pleasant reading for railroad workers.
The average number of rail employees in the United States during 1928 was 1,656,411, and their total pay was $2,826,590,000.
This is a drop, in round numbers, of 79,000 employees and of $84,000,000 in compensation as compared to the year 1927.
At the same time, the reduced force of workers in 1928 handled 4,073,000,000 more ton-miles of revenue freight than the larger force handled the previous year.
Hon. gentlemen may reply, "But that is the United States, we do not have that terrible situation existing in this country." In order to give a comparison in this country I will quote Senator Robertson, the former Minister of Labour in the Meighen cabinet. That gentleman points out that the Canadian railways
Unemployment-Mr. Garland (Bow River)
employed 9,000 fewer men in 1927 than they did in 1920, and paid them 123,000,000 less in wages. This in spite of the fact that there was an increase of 1,500 miles of railways operated during that period and an increase of about 30 per cent in the volume of traffic handled.
I think these facts speak eloquently for themselves. I wish I had the striking delivery and verbiage of some of our older statemen. No finer picture could be drawn of what is actually taking place at this moment, and of what has existed for the past twelve years, than the picture drawn by Disraeli himself of similar conditions which existed in his day. Over eighty years ago these words were uttered by Disraeli:
A spirit of rapacious covetousness desecrating all the humanities of life ... is our besetting sin.
The words used by Disraeli were "England's besetting sin." The quotation continues:
The altar of mammon has blazed with triple worship. To acquire, to accumulate, to plunder each other by virtue of philosophic phrases, to propose a Utopia to consist only of wealth and toil, this has been our breathless business for the last twelve years, until we are startled from our voracious strife by the wail of intolerable serfage.
The hon. member for North Winnipeg and his colleague represent the wail of intolerable serfage; the rest of you may place yourselves where you will.
Perhaps sufficient has been said regarding immigration and its effect on unemployment in Canada, but I wish simply to point out one fact which may be of interest. During the last two years there is no doubt that unemployment has existed, and that it has been known to the Minister of Labour and to the Minister of Immigration. During that period 331,775 immigrants were brought into Canada. The unemployment condition was such, particularly in the west, that protests were registered. Western cities sent delegations to Ottawa, and correspondence took place between the premiers and the Minister of Labour. But has there been a cessation? Have the gates been closed until unfortunate Canadians have found jobs? Not a bit of it. During the one month of January, 1930, 290 immigrants were admitted to Canada, destined for the province of Alberta alone. This has been done in the face of protests which have been lodged with the federal government. Is there one industry in Canada in which there is at the present time any shortage of labour? If there is not, then for heaven's sake let us close the gates at least a little while until employment can be given to the men already here.

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