Mr. Fernand Viau (St. Boniface):
Mr. Speaker, the resolution introduced in the house this afternoon by the hon. member for Brandon deserves another reading for the information of the hon. members. It is as follows:
That, In the opinion of this house, the government should consider the advisability of taking advantage of every possible opportunity to promote the decentralization of industry, particularly with reference to defence industry, thereby,
(1) helping to reverse the trend towards concentration of population in large metropolitan areas with the accompanying social evils;
(2) encouraging a more equitable distribution of population and development right across Canada, and
(3) assuring the strategic dispersal of vital war industries in the interests of national defence.
The principle of that resolution or motion presented by the hon. member is perhaps very commendable, but we are indeed surprised that the opposition should put forward such a resolution since it amounts to inviting the government to implement a regimentation policy which has long been denounced by the Liberal party. We would understand a motion like this being introduced by a socialist group, such as the C.C.F. party but coming as it does from a Progressive Conservative member, it surprises the house.
Of course only an authorized spokesman of the Progressive Conservative party can present such a motion in its name. This new stand in favour of regimentation can only be explained by the fact that his party has never, for more than a quarter of a century, put forward a clear-cut policy as far as the
economic and social welfare of the Canadian population is concerned.
A few weeks ago, we witnessed a tragedy on the T.V. screen when the young representative from Three Rivers (Mr. Balcer), proud of his membership in the Progressive Conservative party and in his capacity as chairman of the national association of his party, was utterly unable to state the Progressive Conservative policy in answer to questions put to him by newspapermen on behalf of the Canadian population.
It is therefore not surprising that the house was astonished this afternoon to hear a member speak in favour of a policy of regimentation because but a few months ago, in fact last July, the official spokesmen of the Progressive Conservative party emphatically opposed certain powers that parliament proposed to grant to the right hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce and of Defence Production (Mr. Howe).
Industrial decentralization consists in using regimentation to uproot certain industries established in the industrial provinces of Quebec and Ontario, and forcing them to establish themselves in other provinces, following a survey of the industrial situation throughout Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Tonight I would like to state the views of western Canada, and more particularly those of Manitoba. I believe that the policy so well shaped by the Liberal government of Canada has, everywhere and at all times favoured industrial decentralization because, after all, even in Manitoba, during the war, we witnessed the departure of a large number of our young people and heads of families who enlisted to defend their country. Others went to work in industries established in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario; in spite of all that, many Canadian citizens came to settle in the western provinces and particularly in Manitoba.
Since the great victory of the allies in 1945, numerous industries have established themselves in Manitoba, where an imposing number were already operating. For instance, in my own city of St. Boniface we have the largest stockyards and packing plants of the British Empire, while in greater Winnipeg there are large textile, clothing, sugar beet, cement and other industries. Since 1945 more than 500 new industries have been established, a fact which has enabled the people of western Canada to receive each month a large amount in the form of salaries. The establishment of these industries has obviously contributed to the economic advancement of the Canadian nation.
Salaries in western Canada packing plants are in excess of $14 million. I wonder if the hon. member for Brandon would not be the first to protest, if the government were forced, as a result of this motion having been carried, to require, for instance, the packing plant in Brandon to remove to Portage la Prairie, shall we say, so that the people of that community could be allowed to enjoy the economic benefits accruing from such a plan. Yet, that would just about be the policy which would follow upon the passage of that motion.
I do not think we should adopt that motion since the Liberal government, after all, ever since it came into power back in 1935, has taken all possible steps necessary towards improving the economic and social well-being of the Canadian people.
As regards decentralization, may I point out that industry has always been encouraged along that line by legislation introduced in this house and now placed on our statute books.
The report of the industrial development bank indicates that it has on numerous occasions extended financial assistance to those Canadian citizens who wished to establish industries in western Canada. We might add too that the National Housing Act has made possible the building of a great number of houses in western Canada. All that has brought constant benefits to the Canadian people. These are but two instances of beneficial legislation enacted by the Liberal government. Such legislation is abundant. With the support the Canadian people has always given the Liberal government, I am sure that we will be able to keep on improving the economic standards of our country, which makes the envy of all the other nations of the world.
I am opposed to such a motion because it would mean the enforcement of an act of regimentation which, as I stated a moment ago, is inconsistent with the policy of the Liberal party. Moreover, through the increase in population in western Canada, and the establishment of industries in always increasing numbers and through the help of the minister of industry and commerce of Manitoba,-who has done everything in his power and has even appointed a foreign representative to find ways and means of bringing new industries to western Canada, all that with the support of the federal government- western Canada will soon enjoy constant prosperity in the industrial sphere. I would rather
Decentralization of Industry support a policy of steady economic progress, such as we have always enjoyed since the Liberal government came to power in 1935.
The beneficial steps taken not only by the provincial ministers of western Canada but especially by the federal Liberal government were meant to ensure the progress of the agricultural industry which has steadily improved not only under the right hon. Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) but in particular under the direction of the right hon. Minister of Trade and Commerce. I am sure that but a small minority among Canadians, during the depression, would have been ready to burn them in effigy and that, with the present economic and social development going on throughout the country, the Canadian people are willing to erect a monument to these ministers. All this is due to their knowledge of our problems and of course to their desire of forever upholding the great principles of the Liberal party.
Mr. Speaker, these are the few remarks I wished to make tonight. I am sure that what we want is to maintain our policy which has been so firmly established for a long time and to reject any legislation conducive to regimentation.
Subtopic: MOTION URGING ALL POSSIBLE EFFORTS TO PROMOTE DECENTRALIZATION