Mr. J. L. MacDougall (Vancouver-Burrard):
Mr. Speaker, it was not my intention to speak in the debate on the address in reply. Occasion has changed events, however; and after listening to the excellent address delivered the other day by my good friend the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker), I felt that perhaps the other eighty-nine new
The Address-Mr. MacDougall members might have felt, as I have, the symptom so well described by the hon. member. Consequently at this time I take the occasion to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, upon your elevation to the high office you now hold. I congratulate collectively all those who have thus far participated in the debate, and again I add my voice to that of those who have so far extended congratulations.
May I in my introductory remarks speak with respect to the riding it is my honour to represent in the House of Commons. No doubt hon. members are now conscious of the fact that there is one riding in British Columbia which is pre-eminently superlative in all Canada. Let me say, however, that there is another riding which equals the beauty, the magnitude and the importance of that of my good friend who represents the constituency of Vancouver South (Mr. Laing); I refer to my beloved riding of Vancouver-Burrard.
As we enter the portals of this parliament building we see inscribed above the doors these words:
The wholesome sea is at her gates,
Her gates both east and west.
That applies to my riding only unilaterally. I am sure, however, that whoever was responsible for this inscription must first have seen the riding of Vancouver-Burrard.
I know I speak individually and collectively for the membership of this House of Commons when I say that in all the congratulatory messages delivered since the opening of this twenty-first parliament there is one which up to now has not been included, one group which has not been sufficiently recognized. I refer to the group who, by the grace of God, have placed us where we are today. I refer to our parents, who would have been proud indeed if they had lived to see us here. Whatever we may have, whatever we have done or may do, we owe in large measure to the example set by them, to the knowledge we gained at our mothers' knees. I believe all will agree that anything good within us, anything worthy of our country and of the esteem of our electorate, is largely traceable to our inheritance, both by example and by blood.
Burrard, in particular, is similar to other constituencies in Canada so far as its basic composition is concerned. By this I mean that the electorate in all constituencies offer one of the most interesting studies in human nature. They are a cross-section of Canadians from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the people whom you and I, sir, are permitted to represent in this august assembly.
Before I deal in more general terms with
The Address-Mr. MacDougall the dominion, and those basic principles which have brought about the humanitarian policies of the government, may I humbly beseech and pray that the government, as quickly as humanly possible, may evolve legislation to bring about compulsory contributory retirement pensions for all, without a means test. When I make this plea I believe I speak not only for myself but for all Liberal members, and in all probability for many other members from British Columbia.
We on the Pacific coast feel that in some of our industries which are more affected by the winter weather than others we suffer from a degree of unemployment which is peculiar not only to British Columbia but, in some ways, to various other provinces throughout the length and breadth of Canada. We urge that in its wisdom the government may soon be able to evolve some improvement in the Unemployment Insurance Act. Having regard to human nature, and to the attitude which may be taken by many hon. members, particularly the new ones, I believe it might be wise and prudent to review some of the highlights in the history of the human race. We have come far from the days of the garden of Eden. Yet in a measure the troubles, the foibles and the heart-breaks of that ancient time have been handed down from one generation to another.
In the few moments I shall speak I shall do so with the realization that democracy is still the best kind of government for any free people. It is a method of true expression, through the members of this house, of the views of the electorate who are responsible for our presence here today. Therefore it has occurred to me that in discussing human nature it would be well to look back at our ancestral tree to see if we can possibly get closer to human nature as exemplified in the past. Undoubtedly, as the twig is bent, so is the tree inclined. Therefore we cannot hope to register all the foibles and follies and many of the heart-breaks that are part of the history of the human family, but we can refer shortly to some.
I know that I speak with understanding of all agriculturists when I say that Adam was an agriculturist, because in my family bedroom as a boy I saw a picture of Adam tilling the soil. That is truth enough for me. There he was on his primeval farm, living in the lap of luxury, his ways cast in pleasant places, tilling the fine alluvial soil tax free and also free of mortgage. Yet was he not satisfied. There was shown one of the first aspects of human nature which has been handed down to posterity-dissatisfaction.
However, Adam is not the only one whose mental facilities slipped at a crucial moment
in history. History is replete with the names of those whose fame and fortune have turned to ashes or Dead Sea fruit through an ill-timed word or an unfortunate gesture that by the grace of God I hope to avoid today. Lot's wife wanted a second look. Nero took his music lesson at a most inauspicious time. Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. Peter the apostle played with the truth. Judas Iscariot sold his Master for thirty pieces of silver.
In more recent days we have other rare examples. There is Mr. Asquith's policy of "wait and see." We have Count von Beth-mann-Hollweg's "scrap of paper." There have been many examples, and the plot thickens with respect to human nature. The family is the backbone of this country today, and always will be.
It was not long before Adam and Eve found that they were not in complete possession of the garden of Eden. For was it not ordained that there was certain fruit of which they should not eat? This they did, however; and here enters stark tragedy in the form of expulsion and foreclosure. The things we have not and cannot get are still in this day the things that mankind desires most.
We pass on and come to Cain and Abel. Cain was an agriculturist, Abel the shepherd. Why do we stand aghast in the world today when one nation flies at the throat of another, as a result in many instances, no doubt, of overcrowding and lack of commercial trade expansion, when at the very beginning of time we witnessed this sorry spectacle of fratricide, arising out of petty jealousy because Abel's offering was more acceptable than that of his brother Cain?
The storm centre of civilization now shifts from the valley of the Euphrates and the Tigris to Asia Minor, and we find what remains of our illustrious ancestors perched high on Mount Ararat. We cannot follow, in the short space of time allowed to us, all the vicissitudes of the human family of that day, but we shall endeavour to catch a few highlights in the revolving sphere of human endeavour and human relations.
First there was Moses, the great teacher, the author of the Mosaic promulgations which are still adhered to by millions of people throughout the world. His teachings still stand the light of criticism, and suffer not at all in comparison with any other.
Then came the intellectual giants, Socrates, Pericles, Plato and Aristotle. These were men of overwhelming capabilities and mental activity. I know most hon. members will
recognize what used to appear in the early school readers when I quote:
By Nebo's lonely mountain,
On this side Jordan's wave.
In a vale in the land of Moab,
There lies a lonely grave.
And no man knows that sepulchre,
And no man saw it e'er,
For the angels of God upturned the sod,
And laid the dead man there.
These intellectual giants seem to come in groups. When they depart the earth is desolate, but sooner or later another group appears and once more intellect blooms like the rose of Sharon. Whether the intellectual giants produce the golden age or the golden age produces the intellectual giants is debatable. However, during the Socratic period we had a stellar aggregation of intellects which caused Byron to write:
Of the three hundred grant but three,
To make a new Thermopylae.
Then let us move the clock forward another thousand years or so to the glory that was Rome. Standing head and shoulders above his contemporaries was the mighty Michelangelo. His first great work in Rome was the Pieta, which depicted Mary the Mother supporting in her arms the body of Christ just after it has been removed from the cross. It created a tremendous sensation; thousands have flocked to admire it. His next great work was in the chapel of the church in Florence, which is so well known. While speaking of Michelangelo we cannot forget his work in the Sistine chapel, which stands as a memorial to his great achievements, skill and capacity, a monument to the true principles of Christian philosophy and Christian belief.
Such is a kaleidoscopic review of a few of the famous men of history. In making a critical analysis of their lives one fails in many instances to discern the chief element in their makeup which has marked them for fame.
I return now to the reference I originally made to an address delivered a few days ago by the hon. member for Lake Centre (Mr. Diefenbaker). Who knows but amongst the members of the house, whether new or old, we may be sitting with, co-operating with, or fighting with some potential genius of the next five, ten or fifteen years? Therefore I bring those instances to the attention of the house because I believe there is something dynamic in the past that points the way to the future, and that if we are really cognizant of humanity's foibles, from which it has recuperated in the past, and its triumphs, we can go forward with greater courage and with a greater sense that we
The Address-Mr. MacDougall are going to be able to contribute something to the welfare of the individual and collective membership of the house, not only on the government side but in all groups represented in the first session of the twenty-first parliament of Canada.
It is with these ideas, Mr. Speaker, that I leave the thought with you that, whether or not we come down here determined that we are going to turn democracy upside down overnight, we have to be cognizant of the lessons of history. From the time of Adam down to the present there have been outstanding examples of men who have risen above any potential discouragement, any inhibiting factors in their way that might in any way have barred, hindered or impeded their progress toward greater things. I close on this note. I believe that, in spite of any minor frustrations that we may face either individually or collectively, we, like those who have gone before, will be able to rise triumphantly above them and contribute something to the greater development of the Dominion of Canada for all the people of Canada, for all electors, whether they have sent members to the government side or in support of the opposition. Through our endeavours we will leave our mark in and contribution to the future progress of those yet unborn in this vast dominion, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Mr. Angus Maclnnis (Vancouver East!: Mr. Speaker, my first words are very pleasant ones to me, as they are words of congratulation to you on your elevation to your very honourable position. I have known the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Macdonald) since he came here in 1935. I have always had a high regard for his fairness, reasonableness, and modesty in dealing with the matters that came before the house. I hope he will enjoy his position, and I rather think, from what has happened earlier in this debate, and the sweet reasonableness of the official opposition, that he is going to have a very easy time of it. I hope, however-and there are signs that my hopes will be realized-that not all sections of the opposition will lessen any of the normal activities of opposition members just because the electorate, perhaps in a fit of aberration, elected the government with a very large majority.
It is a fact that the government has a large majority, and as a believer in the principles of democracy I accept the verdict of the people; but I only accept it in so far as the government has been elected with the rights and responsibilities of government. What I want to point out, not only to the opposition, but also to the members on the government side of the house, and those members of the
The Address-Mr. Maclnnis government on the opposition side of the house, is this. All that the election settled was the majority that the government received. All the problems that were facing us when we left here on the 30th of April last are still present with us and still have to be solved.
Let me point out that the cost of living, which has been one of the important subjects of debate in the house for two or three sessions, is still going up, and is now at an alltime high. That means that many of our people are sinking deeper and deeper into poverty at a time when the country is wealthier than it ever was before. The housing situation, which has been Canada's No. 1 headache since the end of the war, is worse than ever. I have before me a report of the housing association of my own city of Vancouver dealing with housing conditions in the city in 1949. This is what it says in part:
At the beginning of 1949, the housing situation in Vancouver was worse than it had ever been. As a result of the continued influx of population (22,000 into the city alone in 1948) and in spite of the high rate of building, the city was 5,000 dwellings shorter of its requirements than it was at the end of the war.
That is a problem that the election did not solve, and while it remains the opposition must not remain inarticulate.
Then there is the question of unemployment, which is increasing and adding to the hardships of an ever-growing number of workers. As to the social services of the country, there is an inadequacy which is becoming ever more glaring. It is becoming increasingly more difficult for people past middle age to find employment, and there is nothing in the speech from the throne to meet that situation, or to ameliorate their distress. Then I would mention one other item, foreign trade, which was discussed this afternoon by the hon. member for Kamloops (Mr. Fulton). There our position is daily becoming more precarious.
These are only some of the problems which were with us during the whole of the last parliament and which the election did nothing to solve. It is very doubtful that the huge majority now enjoyed by the Liberal party will do anything to spur the government to greater activity. It has never worked that way before. It is far more likely that the large majority will lead to complacency and that the "social journey" will become an extended stop-over, at least until shortly before the next election. This, then, is no occasion for an excess of sweet reasonableness on the part of the opposition. As far as the party with which I am associated is concerned we shall always, Mr.
Speaker, be reasonable, but you may not always find us sweet.
Now I want to deal with some of the questions which I said were not solved, questions which in an aggravated form affect the constituency I represent. Mine is one of the constituencies of the city of Vancouver. I am not going to say anything about its beauties, though it has its points. I will say that it is one of the most useful constituencies in Vancouver, because the great majority of its population are the people who do the useful work of the community.
Topic: SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY