What did you do about that matter? You told some of us that we should not be discussing unemployment, that to talk about unemployment and the possibility of some recession was to bring on recession and to bring on unemployment. In other words, you told us that, like ostriches, we should put our heads in the sand and try to hide from ourselves the conditions that are prevailing all around us. We do not propose to do that, Mr. Speaker.
The same thing applies with respect to farm prices. I am not going into farm prices tonight because the farm problem has been so well debated in this house on the bill which is now before the house and which the government has changed. However, what I am saying is this. What has happened was obvious earlier last autumn; and it was then that steps should have been taken to set up public works programs. I am thinking of
this northern project, mining roads, development roads and so on. When was it announced? It was announced on January 2. When has that project to be completed by the provinces? It must be completed by June. Obviously there is not sufficient time for the provinces to make the necessary preparations and do the kind of job that is required to be done if it is going to alleviate to any great extent unemployment in our country.
I look around and see the numerous things that need to be done in this country. I am not going to put the figures on the record. We have heard a good deal about housing and about new units that have been started and completed over the past year. That is fine. I am glad to know that. But when I see the figures showing the numerous houses already existing with no running water, no bathroom facilities, no inside toilets, I realize that the sanitary organizations of the municipalities and so on could do with some financial assistance in order that they might improve the sanitary conditions from one end of this country to the other.
Two weeks ago tomorrow I introduced in this house a resolution calling upon the government to do something for our educational system. At that time I gave a good many reasons why we should be doing that. I am not going to recapitulate them tonight. However, in the gallery that afternoon there happened to be a gentleman with very high qualifications whom I had never met before but who sought me out and said this to me, "Have you ever thought of this; have you ever thought that Canada did a magnificent job in the air training defence plan, one that proved to be of great benefit to Canada in the years after the war; that defence training plan gave you airfields and facilities of every description". He said to me "You said this afternoon that by 1980 both high school and university facilities would be entirely inadequate and would be overburdened long before then".
He asked me "Why not, as part of Canada's contribution to the world, decide that we are going to set up a commonwealth or wider educational plan so that we can bring in young students from overseas and train them educationally, scientifically and technically; build the facilities and when we are through with that plan we shall have provided ourselves with the facilities which would enable us to take care of our young people in the future?" I thought that was a very excellent idea. There are so many things that might be done in order to relieve unemployment and in order to distribute purchasing power.
Bear this in mind; when people are unemployed they cannot purchase eggs, they 96698-2244
Suggested Resignation of Government cannot purchase butter and they cannot purchase meat, with the result that the farmers who produce those things feel the effects of unemployment, not as acutely as the people in the cities but nonetheless fairly acutely.
Some of us who were here in the 1930's recall that in 1936 and 1937 our people were in the depths of the greatest depression this North American continent has ever seen but, in 1938, 1939 and 1940, when as governments we began to make great expenditures in the field of rearmament because of the threat overhanging the world at that time, we found farm prices rising; the price of eggs rose as did the price of butter, meat and other farm commodities. The two things are inter-related and I say that our government has neglected these aspects of the economic situation.
I said a few moments ago that among other things we should use financial methods to meet this unemployment problem. What did I mean by that? I meant that under the leadership of our governmental institutions -our Bank of Canada, if you like, or a new organization of that description-we should establish a national investment organization.
Such organization would not order but would direct the savings of our people into socially desirable channels, into housing, into improved sanitary conditions, into the elimination of level crossings. What a blot are the deaths at level crossings at the present time. I say that we have many things which we should do other than those which are being done. I say to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Starr) that it is all very well to appeal to our private citizens to do the little things within and around their homes to give some employment in the winter period, but that is a relatively small contribution to the elimination of unemployment.
I think I had now better put on the record this amendment which I now move, seconded by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles):
That the amendment be amended by striking out all the words after the words "steady administration" and by substituting therefor the following words:
"this house is of the opinion that the economic conditions now facing this country, including the uncertainty of our export markets and the alarming unemployment situation revealed by figures released during the past week, call for consideration by the government of the United Kingdom trade proposals as well as other means to secure increasing markets for our farm and industrial production, and also for consideration of immediate action to relieve unemployment and distress by adopting a fiscal policy which will enable the government to re-direct investment and embark on a comprehensive program of public development."
Suggested Resignation of Government
I say to all hon. members in every part of this house that I believe this is an amendment which should be supported in all quarters.
We have heard a great deal about the Thorneycroft proposal back in September last for a freer trade agreement between Canada and the United Kingdom. I do not know where my hon. friends of the Conservative party stand on this proposal and I certainly do not know where my hon. friends of the Liberal party stand on it either, because I noticed that when the trade delegation was in the United Kingdom day after day hon. gentlemen rose in this house who appeared to be very perturbed lest members of that delegation should visit certain industrial plants that might be competitive with plants in the areas they represented in this house. I wonder just how genuinely interested some, not all, members of the Liberal party were in the freer trade proposals. Freer trade is the word that should be used because, as Mr. Thorneycroft said at the time, this would have to be worked out over a period of years and we believe one of the essential things which Canada should be doing is giving leadership in the direction of freer trade across the world. We have suggested the establishment of an export and import board to assist in the sale of our products and the exchange of items for the things we need.
I was very interested the other day to hear one of the hon. gentlemen in the Liberal party rise and ask about the acceptance of sterling. We suggested that in 1947 and my hon. friends in the Social Credit group also suggested it. Always the suggestion was met by the government then in power with the statement that it could not be done and it would not be economic to take any local currency, sterling or any other overseas currencies. Yet we have seen the United States since that time promoting its trade with Japan and some other countries by taking quite large quantities of local currency and by re-investing it to develop those countries which supplied it.
I would even suggest that we make arrangements through a proper import-export organization to exchange goods on a basis of value for value, if you like, and I would certainly like to see trade channels opened up in some directions where I am sure we could dispose of some of our commodities-for instance some of our vast accumulations of wheat-in the years to come. I have in mind particularly the 600 million people on the mainland of China.
As hon. members know, we have long urged the government to recognize the fact that
there is a government in control of the mainland of China and resume diplomatic relations without approving of their form of government or what they are doing, so that our traders may go into that country, if for no other reason, under the auspices of Canadian officials who can introduce them and assist them in the sale of Canadian goods. I want to say that this suggestion is becoming more and more acceptable not only in Canada but in the country whose lead we have followed, namely the United States. One reads the statements which have been made in that country from time to time. The time has come when the facts should be faced and when recognition should be granted. There we have the possibility of trade with some 600 million people, a potential market which is important not only for our farm production but also for our industrial production. I am quite certain that some of our Canadian industries -the electrical industry or the automotive industry with its large output in Canada- could find markets overseas provided we accepted either the goods or the currencies of those countries with whom we traded these things. These are all ways in which we could relieve unemployment.
We have listened today to long speeches which, I have no doubt, are election speeches. I thought as I listened to the Prime Minister tonight that this was the handbook for the Conservative party for the next election which was probably being put on the record this afternoon; and, of course, the Prime Minister and his colleagues have now the facilities which they did not have before to get these things together, facilities which I am afraid my hon. friends in the Liberal opposition will greatly miss, and facilities to which we have never had access. Perhaps we are just as well off doing our own digging, because after all when we do our own digging it sticks in our memories and we do not need to get up and read a long manuscript; we know what we are talking about without having to read from a manuscript.
Topic: AMENDMENT CALLING FOR RESIGNATION OF GOVERNMENT