Mr. ARMAND CLOUTIER (Drummond-Arthabaska) (Translation):
Mr. Speaker, I would have liked to take part in the debate on the address in reply to the speech from the throne, but I preferred leaving my elders in
politics put forth their ideas and make recommendations while I listened attentively to their speeches and their political programmes which were no doubt inspired by the feelings of the electors in their respective constituencies.
May I first of all be permitted, Mr. Speaker, even at this late hour, to congratulate the Right Hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) on having given the old province of Quebec three new French-Canadian ministers. This representation was anxiously expected by the electors of that province and you may rest assured that these truly patriotic people shall not fail to remember. I wish to extend to these three new members of the government, who have nearly all lived with us, the greetings and congratulations of the electors of the historical constituency of Drummond-Arthabaska which I have the honour to represent in the Canadian Commons.
Let the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Fournier) be assured that our people rejoice at his appointment. While he does not come from our section and has never lived there, many of his relatives and friends are to be found in my constituency, particularly in Victoriaville. On their behalf as well as on my own I wish him success, good health and a long career.
To the hero of Mont-Sorrel and Vimy, the Hon. Minister of National War Services (Mr. LaFleche), I would state how glad my electors were to learn of his appointment, particularly in Victoriaville where he spent part of his youth and still counts a large number of most sincere friends.
As for the Minister of Fisheries (Mr. Bertrand), a native son of our district, since he first saw the light of day in the charming town of Princeville, also in my constituency, we are delighted to see him occupying such a high post and we are confident that with both his colleagues whom I have just mentioned he will continue the long line of great politicians who have represented my constituency, the Dorions (l'Enfant terrible), the Lauriers, the Lavergnes, the Perraults and the Girouards, and that history will see fit to link his name with those who have been the pride of French Canada, of their province and of their country.
Since the budget debate, Mr. Speaker, offers to every member scope for remarks on a variety of subjects, you will allow me to touch briefly upon every question, for I have no intention of detaining the house unduly at this late date. I intend merely to bespeak the mind of those who in 1940 did me the great honour of calling on me to represent them as member for Drummond-Arthabaska on the highest court in the land.
I have had no occasion to speak in this house since the resignation of the former Minister of Transport and Public Works (Mr. Cardin) for whom I have always had and still have the greatest admiration. A man of great culture, a fluent speaker, a great parliamentarian and a great Canadian, I wish him to know that my electors would have had him remain a member of the government where he would have scrupulously watched over minority interests through the preservation of a truly national spirit in this country. Unfortunately, without notice to the Quebec members of whom he was the leader, he resigned from the present government to become a private member. No doubt he had serious, very serious reasons for doing this.
The subamendment recently moved by the hon. member without first consulting his colleagues from Quebec has produced quite a commotion among us and we have often wondered what were the intentions of the hon. member in this connection. Personally, and especially at first, I would have been inclined to endorse at once this subamendment purporting to suspend the calling of men under the National Resources Mobilization Act.
However, after having taken the advice of my colleagues more experienced in politics, after having spoken to the Liberal leaders of my constituency and especially after having heard the masterly speech delivered by my leader, the right hon. Prime Minister of Canada, against this subamendment, on February 19 last, in which he enumerated the effects which the adoption of such a subamendment would1 have among the armed forces of Canada, as well as in Great Britain and the other dominions, in the United States and other allied nations and, above all, among our enemies, I realized that voting in favour of this subamendment would mean casting a vote of non-confidence in my leader and his government. On this occasion, Mr. Speaker, I adked myself who would be called upon to replace the right hon. Prime Minister who, upon losing the confidence of the deputation, would tender his resignation. Would it be such men as Mr. Meighen, Mr. Bracken, or the leader of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation group (Mr. Coldwell), or the Social Credit chieftain (Mr. Blackmore), every one of whom, since the beginning of the war, has persistently advocated conscription for overseas service and criticized the Liberal government, claiming that they have not gone far enough in the prosecution of the war and that Canada should participate to the last man and the last dollar? [DOT]
I have gladly voted with the government on this occasion and I say without fear that,
at the present time, the right hon. Prime Minister of Canada is the only man qualified to prosecute the war. This fact is acknowledged by right-thinking Conservatives in my constituency.
I feel bound to make the following statement: as long as my- leader, the right hon. Prime Minister refrains from putting conscription into force for overseas service, I shall remain among his most faithful followers; however, I must say to him that if he ever gives way to the imperialists, even though they be members of the present government, or to the opposition, and puts conscription into force for overseas service, it shall be my painful duty to fight him, for I am opposed to conscription for overseas service and as a gentleman, and a man of honour, I shall keep my pledge; in other words, I shall discharge the trust reposed in me by my constituents in this respect. Doubtless, my constituents would have preferred to see the hon. member for Riehelieu-Vercheres (Mr. Cardin) refrain from obstructing the government's policy. On the other hand, had the hon. member had good reasons for moving his subamendment, I still feel that this conflict between these two outstanding figures of Canadian politics should never have occurred. After the work accomplished in Quebec during the last quarter of a century by the hon. member, to promote friendship, to preach conciliation, to establish mutual understanding between the two great races of our country, we would have wished to enjoy seeing these two great men marching hand in hand, in close cooperation, and pursuing the tremendous task they had undertaken in the footsteps of their great and revered leader, Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
Mr. Speaker, I have followed with great interest the budget speech delivered by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Ilsley). Generally speaking, this budget brings a marked improvement to the condition of the people. It remits half the liability for war taxes on 1942 incomes; it simplifies the final settlement of accounts with the income tax office through a 5 per cent increase of the deduction from wages or salaries.
The new taxes, unimportant as they are, will not affect him, if he will only tone down on alcohol and tobacco. It must also be remembered that the workers are assured by the government that the buying power of the Canadian dollar will be maintained, and thus they are freed from all material worries till the end of March, 1944. This is truly a workingman's budget, Mr. Speaker. The increase of more than 20 per cent on alcoholic beverages ensures both moral and practical
The Budget-Mr. Cloutier
results; it fosters temperance and economy, and both these things are conducive to the greater industrial and financial effort which we will have to put forth during this critical year. On this point, the civil and religious authorities from the province of Quebec willingly approve the federal government.
Canada will spend the enormous sum of nearly four billion dollars on its war effort and will contribute a billion dollars to aid the united nations this year. What classes will benefit most from the five billion dollars which the government will spend for war purposes, on food, munitions and arms, if not the farmers and the workers? The farmers in my county are prosperous nowadays as they never were before. Many of those who had borrowed money from the Canadian farm loan board have asked the board to reimburse both principal and interest on their loans.
As to the working men of my constituency, many of them who are working in the war plants of the district and who only earned $15 a week in the past, though they were glad to earn that sum then, are now earning from $75 to $100 a week. Not long ago I met a working man from my town who, during the depression had to wait six months before obtaining a job at S14.99 a week. He told me he had earned $116 in a single week; he added that he had paid $30 in taxes of all kinds, namely, income tax., unemployment tax, compulsory savings, etc., and that he had SS6 left for the week, instead of the $14.99 which he earned heretofore. This worker, a true Canadian and a real patriot, told me that, even if the government were to double his taxes, in order to preserve his religion, his tongue, his freedom of action, his freedom of speech in this countiy, he would still be quite satisfied.
I must congratulate the hon. Minister of Pensions and National Health on his vast programme of social security for the post-war period, a programme which he himself laid before the parliamentary committee on social security, whose chairman is the hon. member for Queens (Mr. Macmillan), the operation of which will cost the enormous sum of one billion dollars a year. I have gone through that report and I have been glad to see that it advocates a great deal of social legislation.
There is first a contributory health insurance proposal that would cover the whole population and would be subsidized by the central power subject to certain conditions to be fulfilled by the provinces.
Second, the report offers also to pay children allowances of $8 or $9 a month for each child or graduated according to age, without taking into consideration the family revenue, but doing away with the income tax exemptions for dependent children.
Third, there is a provision with regard to unemployment insurance. It tends to increase the insurance benefits paid to workers with dependents.
Fourth, it mentions free medical care for every one.
Fifth, maternity allowances for women workers only.
Sixth, sickness benefits with rates comparable to those of the unemployment insurance.
Seventh, increase of old age pensions from $20 to $30 a month and lowering of the age for eligibility from seventy to sixty-five for men and sixty for women.
Eighth, setting up of a new contributory system of superannuation.
Ninth, payment of pensions for total incapacity to those unfit for work.
Tenth, death allowances at the rates of $100 for adults, $65 for children and $25 for infants.
Such are, Mr. Speaker, the principal measures embodied in that social security plan.
I was glad to note that the recommendations made by my good friend the hon. member for Compton (Mr. Blanchette) and endorsed by myself concerning family allowance have been incorporated in this plan. And1 I must congratulate him on the forcefulness which he has displayed in the speeches he has delivered in this house, particularly in that of February 19, in which he so brilliantly and so eloquently pleaded for the enactment of such a measure.
As I wanted to endorse the recommendations made by the hon. member for Compton with regard to family allowances in the event of this report on so-called social security being presented after the adoption of the budget, I intended also to demand an increase of old age pensions, which doubtless had become imperative, and I am glad to find that a provision calling for that increase has been included in the report.
While I am dealing with the matter of social security, may I call the attention of the government to female labour, particularly to industrial female labour at night.
One of the most deplorable effects of industrial capitalism has been to take women out of their homes and throw them in increasing numbers into industries. Women have re-
The Budget-Mr. Cloutier
sponded, actuated in the first place by the necessity of supplementing a family income which is entirely inadequate and lured by a selfish and blind propaganda setting woman's dignity not in her role as wife, mother and queen of the home, but in the assertion of her personality, in the organizing of her own life and in her emancipation.
So, for the last three years, the enlistment of thousands of men in the armed forces and the building up of new industries have created an urgent and extensive need for additional labour and such is the need that our Canadian women are called upon to meet. Such is the terrific tax raised by modern total war. Tens of thousands of Canadian women are already serving on the industrial front.
It behooves our political and industrial leaders, conscious of their responsibilities to the nation, to restrict to the real needs the taking on of women in industrial plants, particularly in war plants. Now, far from being so, in a good many war industries, men, even of military age are being freely set aside in favour of girls who, of course, are paid less and thus removed from their home and from school, for a great number of them are barely more than children, and laid open to the moral dangers of the factory and even to many a physical hazard.
Many employers of Canadian war industries do not seem to have realized the impropriety of having women work in the night-time. Night work exposes women, and especially girls, to a multitude of physical and moral hazards, leading to the disintegration of the home.
To this very day, nations most busily engaged in the conflict are endeavouring to secure strict adherence to the provisions of the International Labour office which, for half a century, has striven to prohibit women from doing night work in industry.
For instance, in Great Britain, the employment of female labour on night shifts in factories is prohibited by law and is allowed exceptionally only on special permit.
Is it not truly deplorable, therefore, that our own country should countenance, as it does, girls, wives and mothers engaging in a form of labour which amounts to the sabotage of our nation?
I trust I may be allowed, Mr. Speaker, to read a copy of a resolution passed at the Quebec Province Catholic Action Congress, recently held in Montreal. It reads as follows:
Resolutions respecting female labour.
The following are resolutions passed by special organizations of the Quebec Province Catholic
Action gathered in congress at Montreal and are to be referred for adoption to the provincial and dominion governments:
1. Prohibition of night work for girls and married women;
2. Prohibition of factory work for married women with children under 18;
3. An 8-hour day and a 48-hour week;
4. Prohibition of too strenuous work and the lifting of too heavy weights;
5. Improvement of sanitary and safety conditions wherever these are still below standard;
6. The general extension of industrial social service;
7. The creation of working conditions and of standards of supervision calculated to ensure the moral safeguard of girls and women;
All of which will serve as a protection against the abuses of female labour and as a safeguard to the family, unit of a sound nation.
Inasmuch as the same resolution was passed in the various towns of my county, I feel bound to express in this house the feelings of my electors on this grave issue.
Mr. Speaker, I listened with the deepest interest to the splendid speech delivered in this house by the hon. 'member for Shefford (Mr. Leclerc). It contained many thoughtful statements, and constituted a magnificent plea on behalf of the workers of the small manufacturing towns of the province of Quebec.
The present plight of the small town industrial worker is obviously unfair.
Wages have been frozen to the lowest level of any industrial province of the country. Had not the federal authorities acted with such speed, these workers would have been better off. The freezing order came into force on November 15, 1941. At that time, the provincial government of Quebec was considering the adoption of various orders to raise the basic wages. Notices to that effect had already appeared in the Official Gazette of the province. The orders would have been in force after three months. The federal order was enacted before the expiration of this delay, with the effect that a legitimate adjustment of wages in small industrial towns of the province of Quebec was prevented and, at the same time, a rank injustice was perpetrated. All these workers who, during the depression, could not obtain a readjustment had their wages frozen at the level obtaining during the depression. With the hon. member for Shefford, and on behalf of the working class of my constituency, I strongly protest against such discrimination and I hope the government will take the necessary steps to remedy the conditions existing at present in the small manufacturing towns of our province.
The Budget-Mr. Cloutier
Mr. Speaker, I would feel derelict in my duty, if I refrained from pointing to the house the sorry plight of weekly newspapers at the present time, especially those published in the small towns of our province and circulated mostly in rural districts.
As a result of the restriction imposed upon publicity by the government a large number of these newspapers will find themselves in a most embarrassing financial condition and may even be forced out of business. Yet, no one has contributed more generously to our war effort than our newspapers. We have in my county five weekly newspapers and I wish here to commend them for their earnest cooperation with the government during the campaigns in connection with the victory loans, the sale of savings certificates and) the Red Cross. .
Our weekly newspapers must be maintained, Mr. Speaker. I therefore respectfully suggest to the government that they compensate for the loss in commercial publicity by a large amount of advertisements concerning the different departments of administration.
I feel it my duty on behalf of the farmers, the farmers' help and farmers' sons and of the persons employed in a part-time capacity in industries connected with agriculture to thank the government for having adopted the measure which came into force on March 23, 1942, exempting these classes of citizens from military service. This measure, Mr. Speaker, has been a real boon to the agricultural population. Here is, for example, what happened in a parish in my constituency. After that law came into force, a few citizens of that parish came to my office seeking more information and the proper procedure in the matter of getting a postponement should any one be called for military service. I explained that the procedure was as follows:
(a) The farmer's son, the farmer's help, the farmer or part-time farm help who receives notice to pass his medical examination, must do so within three days from the date of such notice ;
(b) Should he wish to apply for a postponement, he must apply in writing, within fourteen clear days from the date shown on the notice, to the registrar of the division where the notice originated.
In filing his application for postponement the applicant must:
1. File with the registrar of the division an affidavit stating that on March 23, 1942, he was wholly employed in agriculture or that he was employed in a part-time capacity only in lumbering, forestry, fishing, hunting or trapping;
2. File a letter signed under the seal of his parish priest or the mayor of his municipality, attesting the truth of the statements.
I must say, Mr. Speaker, that these men went to work with a fine desire of cooperation and that out of ninety persons called for military service from the agricultural municipality, eighty-eight were granted a postponement.
The difficulties which I met in connection with the mobilization act came from people who, although acting in good faith, instead of consulting me, chose to take advice from persons with political opinions different from those of our party. These individuals to whom I shall refer as petty politicians, dissuaded them from seeing me and advised them not to pay any attention to the notice. In advising them to do so, they knew that these young men who had been called for military service would have trouble with the authorities concerned and thus supply an opportunity to state that the Liberal party was not any better than their own and that we had conscription. They even went as far as to say that conscription was effective for overseas.
I had to deal with a good many of those cases, and I accompanied the young draftees concerned to Montreal so as to explain their cases to the registrar-by the way, I did all this without any compensation, to help them -whom, I must thank as well as all the members of his staff for their hearty cooperation.
I imagine that some of these young men have not yet legally applied for the deferment to which they would be entitled and who are worried and living in fear of the .military police for not having obeyed the law. I join with the hon. member for Labelle (Mr. Lalonde) who, in the magnificent speech he has made in this house, has requested an amnesty for these young men who have been deceived by shortsighted politicians.
Mr. Speaker, I would have liked to tell you about the war effort of my constituency, particularly in connection with the third victory loan, but I presume that I will have a chance to take up this subject before the end of the session. I shall then speak in English so as to be understood by my English-speaking colleagues for whom I have the greatest regard and consideration.
Before I conclude my remarks, I shall say a few words about the airmen, sailors and soldiers from my constituency. Our people are proud of them. As to those who have fallen on the field of honour, I wish their relatives to be sure that we will always keep a pious and grateful remembrance of our heroes. To the family of Flight Sergeant
The Budget-Mr. Tripp
Beliveau, who died for his country, I offer in the name of the whole population of my constituency the most sincere sympathy.
I do not want to forget Corporal Cloutier, severely wounded at Dieppe, presently in the hospital. According to the medical men both his legs will have to be amputated. He is only twenty years old. What a pity to see such a young one become an invalid for the rest of his life! I am proud to tell you that this hero is a son of my county. He has been a fine representative of his race at the Dieppe raid: "Rather die than surrender." His name will never be forgotten among our people who will remember this victim of the war who risked his life for them in the defence of justice, right, liberty and honour.
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE