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 2377 of 2378)


February 18, 1936

Mr. DOUGLAS:

The minister was asked this afternoon as to the wages paid and the type of labour employed by these ships, and he replied that he doubted whether we could control them because they were not Canadian registered. I maintain that no matter what registry they may be under, if they come to parliament asking for a subsidy of $300,000 we should have something to say about the type of people they employ, the wages they pay and the conditions under which they expect men to work. If they are not willing to comply with these requests, I am sure that ships of Canadian registry could be found to take over the service.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OP TRADE AND COMMERCE
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February 12, 1936

Mr. DOUGLAS:

My hon. friend says it is not so. But we know that to be true on the prairies, and there is no doubt it is true in 12739-94

other parts of Canada. While doctors and dentists have given of themselves until some of them are almost bankrupt, many people have had to go without the necessary dental care, the necessary medical care, have had to stay at home and have treatment in their homes, simply because they have not the money. I am not saying this condition can be rectified overnight, but I suggest that the dominion government take immediate steps to formulate a co-ordinated health policy for the Dominion of Canada. The greatest asset of the country is the health and welfare of her people, and that should be the first consideration of any government.

I am most interested in the problem of youth. It was a move in the right direction when the relief camps were transferred from the Department of National Defence to the Department of Labour. I read with something of amusement that these camps are to be abolished at an early date "as expanding employment opportunities permit." In other words, as business absorbs these young men the camps will be abolished. Of course when business absorbs these young men the camps will not be needed. But that is not meeting the problem at all. What we need is the abolition of these camps; what we need is to place these young men in gainful employment and wholesome environment. In the report of the commission of inquiry, excerpts from which appeared in the press last week, we find them lamenting the subversive influences found in these camps. Let me say that there are other influences more subversive, for instance, the demoralizing influence upon young men of seeing the years go by and finding themselves without technical training or mental preparation for useful work, with the result that even if conditions do right themselves these young men will find that their places have been taken by those better skilled and younger than they are. There is the problem.

Last night the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) very proudly displayed some campaign literature. I do not know that it is . worth while in an assembly like this to spend our time metaphorically thumbing our noses back and forth across the floor. But I would like to draw attention to some campaign literature that the people of Canada have not forgotten: "Jobs or doles, which? Vote Liberal." "Vote Liberal and get back from the poorhouse." "Tory policies cannot end unemployment; vote Liberal."

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OP DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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February 12, 1936

Mr. DOUGLAS:

I draw the attention of hon. gentlemen, and particularly the very courteous gentleman across the floor who keeps making noises that are not quite audible or quite intelligible, to thei fact that the people of Canada are looking to this house to do something to implement the promises made during the campaign. I suggest that the time has come for action. We have a tremendous opportunity and a preponderant responsibility. The people of Canada look to us; the people of Canada trust in us; the people of Canada are counting on us; in heaven's name let us not fail them.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OP DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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February 12, 1936

Mr. T. C. DOUGLAS (Weybum):

Mr. Speaker, when the house adjourned last evening I was pointing out that the speech from the throne had entirely overlooked certain elements in our population, not the least of which were those now facing dire poverty and distress on the western prairies. I was on the point of observing that in the district immediately surrounding the city of Weybum alone we distributed last winter over two hundred babies' layettes where children h^d been born into the world to families without fitting garments in which to clothe them. It was not an unusual thing to find new bom children clad in garments made from washed-out flour sacks. I draw these facts to the attention of the house because I believe those people have been totally overlooked in the deliberations of the present administration.

I should like also to draw to the attention of the house some other elements in our population that I think have been

The Address-Mr. Douglas

neglected as far as the speech from the throne would indicate. First I would direct attention to the large farming population. The income of the farmers, particularly those of the west but also those of all Canada, has declined steadily during the last five years, with the result that to-day the best authorities tell us that the average farm income is about $350 per year, and I know many who are living on less. The cost of living and the cost of farm operation have not declined accordingly. The fixing of the price of wheat last summer by the late administration helped a great deal, more I think than they were given credit for, but I want to suggest to the present administration that we need to go further. I would particularly direct the attention of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) to two things that need to be done if we are to help western agriculture. The first is to have that fixed price apply to all grains as well as to wheat; the second is to have that fixed price made retroactive. I know of an instance, and it is not uncommon, of a man who sold his entire wheat crop under economic pressure just six days before the price of wheat was pegged, with the result that he lost eleven cents per bushel on a fairly large crop. But there are farmers who had no crop at all, and who did not get the benefit of this fixed price. At the present time they are faced with appalling conditions. I can remember sitting in an audience in the city of Estevan and listening to the present Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) suggest that he was in favour of some type of crop insurance. I have read the speech from the throne again and again but I fail to find any indication that we are to have crop insurance or anything else that will take care of the economic insecurity of those who, through drought, grasshoppers and other whims of nature, find themselves deprived of their livelihood.

But, Mr. Speaker, there is another circumstance that is oppressing the agricultural community; that is the tremendous burden of debt that hangs about the necks of the farmers. The figures for last year show that the farm mortgage indebtedness of the Dominion of Canada is more than $671,000,000, while for the three prairie provinces it is $324,000,000. On July 1, 1932, the farm management department of the university of Saskatchewan published a statement edited by professors Allen and Hope concerning Scott municipality, which happens to be in my constituency. These gentlemen showed that there were eighty-four farm-owners in that municipality; that the average1 acreage

of these farms was 628 acres and that the average debt against each farm was $14,700. In many cases that is a great deal more than the farms could have been sold for at that time, or even at this. .

Of these debts eighty per cent were incurred when wheat was $2 or more per bushel. Today these people are trying to meet their obligations with wheat at 87^ cents or less, because many of them had only a feed wheat crop last year. Therefore I direct the attention of the government to the fact that the speech from the throne contains no adequate solution of the problem confronting this great agricultural community, that is looking to this house for some type of assistance at this time.

Then I would direct the attention of the house to the fact that across Canada there is a great army of unemployed, with over a million people living on some type of government assistance or relief. What does the speech from the throne suggest that the government is prepared to do for this army of peoplfe? It suggests that we are to have a national unemployment commission. I have read the words, " They asked for bread and they were given a stone." The unemployed of this country have asked for bread and they have been given a commission. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that it is not commissions and supervision we need; what we need is to deal with the fundamental economic issue of the reorganization of our economic system in order to put purchasing power back into the pockets of the common people to enable them to buy back the things they produce. I suggest that these fundamental issues are not being met. What about unemployment insurance; what about the work and wages program about which the Liberal party have spoken so frequently in the past? The people of this country are asking about this; they want to know.

Then I would direct your attention, sir, to another class of people, men and women between sixty and seventy years of age, the people who produced the wealth of this country, who helped build the Dominion of Canada to all that it is to-day. Thousands of them have come to the place where they can no longer face the future with any degree of optimism. Large industries are no longer hiring them; many of them, salesman, commercial travellers, technicians, have been cast aside like a squeezed out orange rind.- What do we propose to do for them? They produced the wealth of the country. I maintain that they have the right to a share in it. I maintain that legislation should be placed on our statute books to take care of men and

The Address-Mr. Douglas

women who, having served their day and generation faithfully and well, now look to society to do its part in giving to them a measure of economic security.

I should like to draw the attention of the house to the plight of the great class of merchants throughout Canada. I hold in my hand an excerpt from a Saskatchewan newspaper reporting a telegram sent by the present Prime Minister to some of his constituents in Prince Albert, in which he said:

I approve wholeheartedly of their recommendations in reference to report of price spreads commission.

From that I took it that the Prime Minister was opposed to rebates and discounts, to these unfair trade practices by which large mail order houses and chain stores have gradually and ruthlessly been driving down the business of the small merchants, yet in the speech from the throne I find nothing to indicate that concrete measures are to be placed upon our statute books to meet that situation. Are we to infer that the rule of laissez faire is to continue? Darwin said that the law,of the jungle is the survival of the fittest; I wonder if my hon. friends think the law of economics is the survival of the slickest. One would gather that, as one sees the very noticeable absence of any legislation in this respect.

I draw attention to the fact that across this dominion there are thousands of exsoldiers, burnt-outs, men who gave the best years of their lives in the great war, men who to-day are partly or wholly incapacitated in the race of life. They want to know what a grateful country-at -least vocally grateful-is prepared to do for them now that they are no longer able to do anything for themselves. Some fine recommendations were made by a commission called the Iiyndman commission; what does the government propose to do about those recommendations? I think the house has a right to know.

One of the most crying problems facing the Canadian people in all parts of this dominion is the tremendous one of public health. People need dental and medical and hospital care. We have all the facilities for rendering those services, yet there is not an hon. member who does not know that people who have money can secure those services and people who have not money cannot, and are not getting them.

Topic:   GOVERNOR GENERAL'S SPEECH
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OP DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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February 11, 1936

Mr. DOUGLAS:

If it ever becomes famous it will do so because it is the speech that forgot the forgotten man. I come from a part of Canada that knows something of destitution and poverty. Last winter the church of which I was minister distributed large quantities of clothing contributed by people in Ontario, part of which came from this city of Ottawa. Tons of clothing were distributed throughout the southern area. I am sure hon. members will realize that I am not drawing on my imagination when I state that last fall there were children going to school in Saskatchewan with only gunny sacking wrapped around their feet. We have gone into homes and found mothers and children lying on piles of bedding in the corner; they did not have the proper bedding equipment or the proper clothing to meet the rigours of a very cold winter. In those sections where necessity for food, clothing and shelter is dire and where people are faced with want and insecurity, what do we find? We find that in this entire speech there is hardly a reference to what is to be done for them. What has the government of the day to offer to these people harassed with debt, needing food and needing clothing?

I hold in my hand a letter from my constituency, one of hundreds which are received by members. This is one from Trossachs, Saskatchewan. I shall not weary hon. members by reading it all, but I would direct their attention to some words from this man whom I have known, a man who has worked for years to help build the province of Saskatchewan and the Dominion of Canada. Men like these are the assets of our country. He states:

I have been trying to get relief. They allowed me $1.35 a month to live on, and would not allow me anything for clothes, and that is something that I really need. But I do not want to get anything I do not need, but I sure need clothes.

He wants only enough clothing to keep warm. I now hold in my hand a letter from one of my committee men. It is addressed from Montmartre, Saskatchewan, at which point he investigated a case, one which is by no means isolated. It could be duplicated again and again. The letter is as follows:

There is a family of eleven persons here living on relief. They are getting eight dollars per month, and range in age from thirteen to twenty-six. This family is starving. Two of them are under the doctor's care through not having enough to eat. Will you please see what you can do for this family? I am helping them all I can at present, hut that is not very much. I know families in this district that are getting more than eight dollars a month, with only three in the family. So

The Address-Mr. Douglas

would you please let me know what can be done for this family? I have just come from a visit there, and they had dry bread and

potatoes for supper.

This may seem a very trivial matter to an august assembly such as this, but I want to tell you, sir, that watching the house this night are families all over the dominion who are facing conditions like that, men, women and children who are looking to this new administration, with its preponderant majority, to bring them some measure of relief from their present hardships. As the hour is getting late I shall defer what further remarks I have to make until to-morrow.

On motion of Mr. Douglas the debate was adjourned.

Topic:   T 2739-6
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