Mr. C. W. HODGSON (Victoria, Ont.):
Mr. Speaker, in rising to take part in this debate, I wish first to congratulate you on your elevation to the chair and, second, to congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) on his long term of office and of service to the country. I am sure we all wish him good health to finish out his term of office. Next I wish to congratulate the leader of the official opposition (Mr. Bracken) and to congratulate the people of Manitoba on having seen to it that he was their premier for twenty years. I wish also to congratulate the constituents of his riding on having seen fit to send him to Ottawa to represent and to lead our party. He was very wise, I believe, in not coming into the house on receiving the nomination, because in that period he travelled across Canada, saw all the different parts of the country and made a study of them, meeting people and gaining a wealth of knowledge which will certainly be of benefit to Canada in the future. So far as our party is concerned, it was not suffering from lack of leadership because it was being ably led by my genial friend the hon. member for Peel (Mr. Graydon).
I am somewhat like the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner), who spoke last night.
The Address-Mr. Hodgson
He said he came here with a majority vote. I am in the same position. I want to congratulate him on coming here on that basis. He said he had only one opponent. I have him beaten, because I had two and I still came here with a majority vote. My Liberal opponent had been a friend of mine for years and I could not say a thing bad about him. He served the country for ten years prior to this year.
In the house we have 103 new members, and 149 members are here on a minority vote. I believe my hon. friends to my left outstrip us all in that regard, because out of twenty-eight members, twenty-five are here on a minority vote.
In introducing my riding, I may say that I did not know that one could come to the House of Commons and do so much advertising. I will avail myself of the opportunity for a few minutes, but I will make it short. I have the honour to represent the riding which was so ably represented by Sir Sam Hughes, who was our member for about thirty years. He was minister of militia in the last war.
My riding is made up of two counties. Victoria has fertile soil and a climate that is adapted to farming, and the farmers are great producers of hay, grain, meat and dairy pro-iucts. While I am on this subject, I may say that this year one of my constituents made quite a nice shipment of Holstein cattle to Mexico, thus opening up a new venture in trade along that line.
The county in which I live is Halliburton. I happen to be the first member ever elected from that county either provincially or to the dominion house. It comprises the pre-Cambrian rock area and we have the finest stand of timber, bar none, left standing in Canada to-day. We have also in that rock deposits of uranium, which was the basis of the atomic bomb; in the whole area of Victoria-Hali-burton we have the Kawartha lakes and the Trent valley canal system, and in Haliburton county alone we have 559 lakes. We have everything that goes to make a tourist country.
The tourist industry in Victoria county is fairly well developed, but in the north it has just been scratched. It would have been developed more fully if the war had not come along, resulting in shortage of labour and materials, with government regulations putting a stop to buildings in that class of industry.
In this municipality, made up of small villages and small towns, we have the town of Lindsay with a population of 10,000. We have some thirty sawmills, four planing and finishing mills, and so on. We have a large
tannery, a large woollen mill and many other small industries, and we have two large chemical plants. We have also the dominion arsenal. This plant is one of the finest in Canada, one of the best equipped in the country. I hope the Minister of Defence (Mr. Abbott) can keep that plant running, and if he cannot, I see no reason why the Department of Reconstruction cannot put in some peace-time industry there.
We have a riding made up principally of private enterprise. We have a lot of good labour. It is a railroad centre, and I take my hat off to labour any day in the week because I have been a labour man myself all my life. The reason why I say they favour private enterprise is that ninety per cent of our farms are operated by their owners, as are all our industries with the exception of the dominion arsenal. We have never had any labour trouble; we have the finest group of labour men that exists anywhere.
Anything I say here or any part that I play in this parliament I feel I should do it as my constituents would want me to do it. Although I was sent here with a majority I consider that I was sent here to represent all the constituents of my riding. That will be my thought and view throughout my parliamentary experience.
I think I would be remiss in my duty unless I said something about the flag. Someone has taken upon himself the responsibility of pulling down the old union jack from this parliament building and sticking up another flag in its place without consulting this parliament. That I think was a mistake. However, probably the time has come when we need a new national flag; but, speaking for myself and for my constituents, we think the old union jack is good enough for us.
I should like to say a word about national selective service and the war labour board. But before I do that I should like to welcome all or any hon. members who wish to visit my riding. They would be only too welcome, and if they do not believe what I say about its possibilities and beauties I ask them to come and see for themselves. If they cannot come let them ask the Minister of Labour (Mr. Mitchell) or the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley), because they both had a good look at it in the last election campaign. I welcome them back at any time and I hope that they will not wait until the next election rolls around. In fact I should like to have the Minister of Finance there this fall. Although we may differ on politics at times, we do not differ when it comes to a victory or peace loan.- If the Minister of Finance
The Address-Mr. Hodgson
came there and opened the victory loan campaign I might have the honour of introducing him, and I will guarantee him a larger audience than he had when he spoke at Lindsay before June 11 last.
With regard to national selective service, they have been short-sighted and inefficient. That is also true of the war labour board. On August 31, 1942, all the operators and lumbermen received a notice to appear at a meeting in my town under penalty if they were not there. Lists of prices and wage schedules that we could pay to men, both loggers and cutters, were laid down. We tried to live up to this as well as we could, but it was inadequate to fill the bill. I told the board so at that time. However, ten months later, after the operators were put out of business so far as cordwood is concerned, we were paying $3.75 and the war labour board said that we must cut it down to $3.40. The result was that our men left and disappeared into other work, and our organization was broken up so far as producing wood was concerned. At that time I was producing 500 cords of body hardwood a month, and for the benefit of hon. members from the fishing areas on the coast, a cord of body hardwood is the next thing to anthracite coal.
Ten months later I received another notice to meet in the town of Huntsville in an adjoining riding. At that time they told us to go out into the bush and get out cordwood because there was a crisis at hand, and that we could do it at any price. They said to us: "If you have not the money we will finance you; if you have not the men we will give you internees." Well, the house can realize the position I was put in living in a riding comprising people of English, Irish and Scotch descent with a really first-class bunch of workmen in that area. If I had started to bring in internees I do not think I wTould be here to-day. However, the policy adopted was short-sighted because the operators who were taking out the cordwood saw the crisis coming in January and February, 1942. The government or the department did not see it until June, 1943.
I should like to say a few words on housing, because it affects us too. To-day housing is being handled by two departments of the government. I think one would be sufficient. They have been fumbling the ball more or less back and forth between the two departments. If they had one improved programme of housing they might go through for a touchdown. We do not need wartime housing. If they gave private enterprise half the chances that they gave wartime housing, private enterprise would build more houses and build them 47696-30^
better and more economically. We have no wartime housing in my riding, but houses are being built by private enterprise, by soldiers who are coming back from overseas and by citizens. Those houses and that programme are being held up at the present time because of the freezing of materials for wartime housing. Wartime housing is not producing materials of construction; it is stealing them from the producers with the help of the government, and the net result is production of a number of houses at public expense in an uneconomic way at the cost of the building of a greater number of houses by private enterprise at private expense. Wartime housing is not making more labour available; it is only adding competition for the scarce supply existing. The performance of labour on government projects is proverbially less efficient than on private projects. The net result of the intrusion of Wartime Housing Limited is to increase the cost of houses. It has been demonstrated that in the temporary house field wartime housing cannot build as economically as private enterprise. The government would be well advised to release some of these controls and let our returning soldiers, and our citizens go ahead and build their houses.
I have a neighbour living across the road from me. He is not a wealthy man but he gathered together a few dollars to build a house. He started that house in the spring; he worked a lot of the time on it after he had his supper; he worked at night and he finally got the house to the position where he could live in it. He had an order in for windows, doors and the like. He moved in after I had lent him a few windows, and after he had patched up some with paper and so forth. Then he received a notice that his order for windows and doors had to be cancelled owing to government control. That is the situation in many cases, and it is certainly wrong so far as private enterprise or anybody who wants to build a house for himself is concerned.
I could go on and talk for quite a while yet and touch on a lot of other matters, but I have had an opportunity of advertising my own riding and an opportunity of inviting all hon. members to come to my riding at any time and I shall close with these few remarks.
Topic: GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OP DEBATE IN REPLY