Thomas Clement (Tommy) DOUGLAS

DOUGLAS, Thomas Clement (Tommy), C.C., B.A., M.A., LL.D.(Hon.)

Personal Data

Party
New Democratic Party
Constituency
Nanaimo--Cowichan--The Islands (British Columbia)
Birth Date
October 20, 1904
Deceased Date
February 24, 1986
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Douglas
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=d34eb71d-3bc8-4258-8a3f-2007fa662c38&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
minister, printer

Parliamentary Career

October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
CCF
  Weyburn (Saskatchewan)
March 26, 1940 - April 16, 1945
CCF
  Weyburn (Saskatchewan)
October 22, 1962 - February 6, 1963
NDP
  Burnaby--Coquitlam (British Columbia)
April 8, 1963 - September 8, 1965
NDP
  Burnaby--Coquitlam (British Columbia)
November 8, 1965 - April 23, 1968
NDP
  Burnaby--Coquitlam (British Columbia)
February 10, 1969 - September 1, 1972
NDP
  Nanaimo--Cowichan--The Islands (British Columbia)
October 30, 1972 - May 9, 1974
NDP
  Nanaimo--Cowichan--The Islands (British Columbia)
July 8, 1974 - March 26, 1979
NDP
  Nanaimo--Cowichan--The Islands (British Columbia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 2374 of 2378)


February 21, 1936

Mr. DOUGLAS:

-'but practically nothing was done to put farming upon a scientific

Supply-Agriculture-Live Stock

basis until this work was taken up by the Department of Agriculture. To say that you are not allowing the farmer to think is nonsense. You cannot provide every farmer with a microscope; you cannot enable him to investigate the properties of mycelium; that must be done by specialists, as in all other business. This talk of thinking for the farmer is nonsense. Most of the farmers are taking the information that has been disseminated among them, learning wisely and profiting thereby. The Minister of Agriculture is to be commended for advancing these proposals with the object of helping the farming population.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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February 20, 1936

Mr. T. C. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

Mr. Speaker, I have no wish unnecessarily to prolong the debate on this resolution, first, because I would like to hear the views of the- Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) on this resolution-I believe that is what we are waiting for; second, because the next resolution on the order paper is one that I consider to be of great importance. When the house adjourned last night I was pointing out that some of the objections that have been raised against this proposal are absolutely unsound. I pointed out that the argument of the hon. member for Broadview (Mr. Church), in endeavouring to wave aside this entire resolution by labelling it state socialism, was 'beside the point. His own leader last year in a radio broadcast made a proposition which in principle was somewhat similar. When I made that statement I noticed the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) shaking his head. I have a great deal of admiration and respect for the right hon. gentleman; and so when he shakes his head I stop and ponder. Consequently I looked up the second of his radio broadcasts, and on page 16 I found these words:

There is another time in the worker's life which must not be forgotten; that time is when, because of old age, he is no longer able to work. As a citizen, he should have security.

It should be a normal and essential function of the state to see that its people, who have contributed to the productivity of the state, who have given their best to the support of the industrial machine, who have spent their vigorous manhood in labour, are not in want when their working days are over.

In the next sentence the prime minister of that time points out wherein he differs from the resolution. He says:

This system of insurance should be on the same social and economic principle as that of unemployment insurance, involving the recognition of thrift on the part of those who will provide for their old age. The present Old Age Pensions Act is unscientific and obsolete and must give way to something which will serve you better.

I do not read that because I wish to tie the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett) up to this resolution but because I want to point out to the hon. member for Broadview that while in detail it is not the same, in principle it is the same; that it is simply beside the point to try to wave away this important matter by labelling the whole thing state socialism.

Then the hon. member for Melfort (Mr. McLean) tried to wave this proposal aside by attacking the underlying philosophy of the motion and saying that this was an age of scarcity rather than an age of abundance. I had understood, sir, that there were antediluvians who still believed in an age of scarcity, but I hardly expected to find them in the House of Commons. I am not prepared to go into a lengthy discussion of this matter because it is irrelevant, but in this day and age it is hardly necessary to point out to any group of individuals the fact that in every line of industry the power to produce has progressed tremendously even in the last ten years. The hon. member for Melfort based his assumption on a statement made by a well known Swedish economist, to the effect that in 1928 production and consumption were running very close together. But it should be remembered that he referred to effective consumption, and we know that effective consumption was possible only because of instalment buying and the mortgaging of the future; that even in 1928 it was very difficult to distribute sufficient purchasing power to consume the large quantities produced. But here is the remarkable fact, that even since 1928 we have gone a long way. In a recent radio speech the President of the United States pointed out that if we could return industry to its peak of 1928 there would still be in the United States six million men who would find no employment because their places had been taken by machines. In

Retiring Allowances-Mr. Douglas

other words we have progressed so far that in 1936 we are able to produce as much as we produced in 1928 without the services of six million men who were employed at that time.

Topic:   RETIRING ALLOWANCES
Subtopic:   PROPOSED ALLOWANCES AT AGE SIXTY AND OVER
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February 20, 1936

Mr. DOUGLAS:

In the United States, but the same principle applies here. In all the world to-day there are more than thirty million men who are unemployed, yet we are able to feed the people of the world and keep them up to some standard of living, which is adequate proof of the fact that we are producing far more than we produced a generation ago.

The hon. member for Melfort also attacks this resolution on the ground that the whole difficulty in Canada to-day is the fact that providence has not wept. After listening to a statement like that I think providence ought to weep. May I point out that providence wept in Ontario, providence wept in the British Isles and in France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Providence wept in other places, but in spite of that fact they had an economic crisis. If the entire problem that we are facing is due to the fact that we have had no crops and that this is an age of scarcity, then, Mr. Speaker, in Canada to-day we should have a shortage of wheat. Instead of that, however, the government is wrestling with a surplus of over 200,000,000 bushels, and if the crops had been normal for the last five years the surplus -would be nearer 800,000,000 bushels. Therefore I think the attack upon the underlying philosophy is simply an attempt to throw up a smoke screen in connection with this matter.

I do think, however, that the argument advanced by the hon. member for North Huron (Mr. Deachman) is one about which we ought to think. It brings up the problem of finding money, and that is something that will interest the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning), as it ought to interest every member of this house. It is a remarkable thing that whenever one brings up legislation involving the welfare and happiness of the people of Canada, someone wants to know where the money is coming from, yet in this country we find money for a great many other things. In the Dominion of Canada we have a governmental service and governmental machinery that is preponderantly heavy. One prominent United States social scientist said to me in Chicago university some time ago, "In Canada you have enough government machinery to run Canada and the United States put together." In addition we have innumerable commissions, a great many of which-or so it would seem to the

public at least-are designed to provide jobs for people who are supposed to deserve their reward. It is costing the people of Canada millions of dollars every year to provide comfortable pasturage for worn out political war horses who have entered upon their reward. We also have a judicial system that has become heavy and complex, that overlaps and is expensive, yet no one asks where the money is to come from for that. In Canada we pay millions upon millions of dollars in interest on bonds. Much of that money was invested when money was cheap, but the interest is being collected to-day when money is dear, when the purchasing power of that money is much greater. Yet we keep on paying those interest charges and no one asks where the money is to come from. The other day we voted an estimate of almost $2,000,000 to look after the health of the cattle of Canada. No one asked where the money was coming from, but when we come to talk about looking after the old people someone wants to know where we are to get the money.

I want to suggest that in my estimation there are three ways by which money could be secured for this purpose. On looking over the past records I find that in 1931 some

63,000 people were receiving old age pensions, costing the country about $14,000,000. In 1935 that number had increased to 82,000 persons, which cost the country some $16,000,000. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that this is a paltry sum compared to the service that is rendered, and compared to the huge sums of money that we spend elsewhere for services that are far less valuable to the people of Canada. I submit that we might find money first of all by curtailing certain expenditures, certain appointments and certain commissions; by reshaping our whole governmental policy in order to cut down duplication; by refunding or reconverting some of our loans at lower interest rates, and collecting income tax on government bonds. I believe in these ways sufficient money could be raised to meet the cost of this undertaking. It might even be possible that the Minister of Finance would be prepared to go so far as to institute, through the Bank of Canada, a national credit fund by which we would be prepared to issue credit against the security of the Dominion of Canada. If it is possible for the government to issue credit against government bonds deposited by financial institutions it should be possible for the government of Canada to issue its own credit against the security of the people of Canada. Of course the cry im-

Retiring Allowances-Mr. Douglas

mediately is "inflation," yet I need hardly remind hon. members that the most orthodox economists admit that the quantity theory of money shows that inflation takes place only when money is issued in excess of goods produced. For the last five years we have had deflation, very rapid deflation, the withdrawal of currency and credit coincident with increase of goods produced, the result being that the relationship between money and goods is out of balance. It would be possible to-day to set up a very large national credit account without in any way upsetting the proper relationship between currency, credit and goods produced.

I ask, therefore, that the house give to this resolution its most urgent attention. We support it not because we wish to place the government on the spot, not because we wish to stick on this detail or that, but because we know that all across Canada to-day there are thousands of men who have been replaced by younger men, salesmen, for instance, who five years ago were receiving fair incomes but whose places have been taken by young university graduates. Two months ago I stood in a foundry in Winnipeg among men who work beside a great electric furnace with a temperature of 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, men who have served their day and generation, and who at sixty years of age are prematurely worn out. We heard of one man who after thirty-four years of service was told he was no longer required. His work had never been steady; it had been seasonal; every winter some men were laid off for at least part of the time. They had never been able to lay aside any large amount of money, and in the case of this man the result was that it meant resorting to public charity for himself and his wife. I ask hon. members most earnestly to give this resolution sober and thoughtful consideration, keeping in mind the men and women to whom Canada owes a debt. Let us do our best to see their need and meet their problem.

Topic:   RETIRING ALLOWANCES
Subtopic:   PROPOSED ALLOWANCES AT AGE SIXTY AND OVER
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February 19, 1936

Mr. T. C. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

Mr. Speaker, I am quite prepared to assume responsibility for talking this resolution out. I rise to support the resolution proposed by the hon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps). I trust however that we shall not have an organization such as that existing in the United States, because I would hate to see a Heaps plan with the slogan, "everybody for Heaps and heaps for everybody."

I have been amazed this afternoon to hear the variety of subtle objections raised to the resolution. Naturally I expected there would be an objection to the expenditure of the large sum of money involved, but I was more amazed to hear some of the other objections voiced. For instance I was surprised to hear the last speaker deal with state socialism when, after all, the reform suggested in the resolution has been in effect in Denmark since 1861, at which time there was a beginning of a system of non-contributory pensions. If I remember correctly, listening to the radio speeches of the right hon. leader (Mr. Bennett) of the last speaker I heard him make a proposition very similar to the one contained in the resolution. It was similar at least in some of the details and would have helped the same people.

Bureau for Translations-Mr. Pouliot

The hon. member for North Huron (Mr. Deachman) made an even stranger objection. If I remember correctly he left the baby on our doorstep; I hope the hon. member will not make that a habit, because it is a most unbecoming one. The suggestion he made that we were advocating lower wages and a decrease in employment and production is beside the point, in view of the fact that in 1927 the party to which he belongs, headed by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) suggested this very thing, but with an increased age limit. In the present instance we are asking simply that the age limit be lowered and the amount increased; we are not asking for state socialism or for any legislation which would increase unemployment. It seems to me therefore that the arguments advanced by these hon. gentlemen have been beside the point. The hon. member for Melfort (Mr. McLean), too, advanced some objections.

Topic:   RETIRING ALLOWANCES
Subtopic:   PROPOSED ALLOWANCES AT AGE SIXTY AND OVER
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February 18, 1936

Mr. DOUGLAS:

I am absolutely opposed to the whole idea of subsidies. Members of this government went through the country stating that they were opposed to state intervention; that they believed in individual initiative, in ruthless competition and the law of supply and demand. However, the moment a company finds that it is not in a position to finance itself a request is made to the government for a subsidy of $300,000. When the minister was asked this afternoon as to working conditions aboard these ships he stated that as these two ships were under British registry, he doubted whether we would have any control over them.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRADE AND COMMERCE
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