House of Commons Debates – Official Report
COMMONS DEBATES — October 2, 1974
SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
The House resumed from Tuesday, October 1, consideration of the motion of Mr. Louis Duclos for an address to His Excellency the Administrator of the Government of Canada in reply to his speech at the opening of the session.
Hon. Robert L. Stanfield (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, as leader of the opposition, I would like first of all to express to His Excellency the Governor General how happy we are to hear that his health is improving rapidly. Please convey to him our best wishes and our sincere hope that he will soon resume his duties.
I also offer my best wishes and congratulations to the hon. member for Montmorency (Mr. Duclos) and the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Lee), both new arrivals on the front-line, who did so well in their respective tasks of moving and seconding the throne speech.
Mr. Speaker, it has been the custom, and one I have followed in the past, to congratulate new and shuffled ministers at the first opportunity in the House. It is a little difficult, however, to simply follow that past pattern on this occasion because some ministers went up, some went down, a few came in and a few went out. It hardly seems fair to extend congratulations where appropriate without also extending some commiseration where that is appropriate. I spent a good deal of time thinking about this, trying to find a succinct and heartfelt phrase to convey my feelings to some of the new ministers and some of the former ministers. Perhaps it will convey the depth of my empathy if I simply put it this way: speaking very personally, we do not all win.
I remember very well, following the election of 1968 when I entered parliament, that I had to contend with the charisma of the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau). As we meet this time, sir, a new shooting star is streaking across the firmament, the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Whelan) who, by his own honest admission, is more popular than ever. In fact, it is very difficult to tell which is going up faster, the price of food or the minister’s popularity. I must concede that the minister has succeeded in doing something that hardly anybody believed was possible. He has made Mrs. Plumptre’s organization look useful.
Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Stanfield: The Speech from the Throne contained a good deal of reference to inflation. The government has discovered that inflation is a serious and urgent matter. This must rank almost with Columbus’s discovery of America. We are now told that inflation did not recede as expected. I do not know where that expectation existed outside the federal administration. I have to believe it existed there because in Hamilton, on April 25, the Prime Minister was talking about an impatient opposition when he said it did not, and I quote him as reported—
—want to wait the few more weeks or months that will make it evident that we’ve solved the problem.
More than five months have passed since then, and we are still waiting. A little later thhe Prime Minister told Canadians that his government was wrestling inflation to the ground. Now we have received the virtual admission that inflation really has a full-nelson grip on the government. It is true that the Prime Minister slipped out of the ring to pursue some other sports, like puck-dropping and trampoline gymnastics, and for a time has probably forgotten about this wrestling. Now we have the impression that the government has called off all this business about wrestling inflation to the ground and has decided, instead, to try to talk inflation into the ground in dialogue with the people of this country.
A few months ago a spokesman for the philosopher kings said inflation was like rain during a vacation. Obviously, sir, they knew a great deal more about vacations at that time, at least, than they knew about inflation. “Don’t get excited”, the Prime Minister said. At an earlier time he told us inflation was good for the farmers. I think it is a tribute to the intregrity of his administration that during the 1974 election campaign it kept the lid on a public-funded report which said inflation was particularly disastrous for the farmers. That must have been one of those items that ran into the screen which the Prime Minister’s office erected for Senator Davey.
It is not my intention this afternoon to re-fight the election campaign piece by piece but I am obliged, through you, Mr. Speaker, to remind the Prime Minister and his friends opposite that this government ran on the theme of leadership. I felt and still feel that the Prime Minister did not offer Canadians leadership in that campaign but that he encouraged the country not to face, rather than to face, the great challenge of the present and that his campaign’s objective, in that well-known marketing term, was to sell the sizzle and never talk about the steak.
But all that is history now. The government is in office and if it so wishes, it has four years to govern. My party outlined an overall program to fight inflation, but the government sees nothing acceptable in it. In fact, the present paralysis of the government seems to derive for the most part from the fear of an economic recession or an increase in the unemployment rate that would result from its using traditional fiscal and monetary policies to over-
come inflation. I dare remind the government that my party’s plan of action against inflation was precisely designed to avoid this pitfall. But the government called it disaster-prone and it is just beginning to see that rampant inflation has already become a disaster for millions of Canadians.
The question now is, not what we would do if we had the responsibility; the government has the responsibility. The question is, what does the government propose to do?
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Stanfield: What can we look forward to in the way of leadership from the government? The Speech from the Throne contains much talk about leadership but there is absolutely no indication that leadership in fact will be provided. The commencement of this session, opening as it does a new parliament, is an appropriate time for an assessment of our position as a nation. I think it is of some value to all of us to look back on the last few years to see where we have been going. I believe this can be a helpful process in facing up to the dangers which can confront all of us and in helping us to establish goals to be achieved during the life of this parliament. Certainly this involves the control of inflation, but much more as well.
When I entered parliament in the fall of 1967 there was an atmosphere of great confidence, great expectation across this country. I do not think this was entirely attributable to my arrival on the federal scene. The whole country was aware of the spirit of 1967, our centennial as a nation, the year of Expo ’67. In the following year we saw the launching of the just society in an election campaign, as a keynote for the opening of the twenty-eighth parliament and indeed as a keynote for the whole of the twentyeighth parliament. In starting this thirtieth parliament we must ask ourselves what has been accomplished in the first few years of Canada’s second century since 1967. Are we any closer to a just society today than we were in 1967?
No doubt some members of parliament will use this debate to point to a number of measure designed to eliminate or to reduce some injustices, and quite properly so, but are we really any closer in total to a just society? Have we reduced disparity between individual Canadians? Certainly we have had economic growth, but disparities between individuals in Canada today are greater than they were in 1967. The degree of inflation which we are experiencing, and which we have experienced for some time, in itself increases inequality and social discontent. We have the plight of those millions of Canadians who are not part of big business or big unions and who are not organized in a way to protect themselves.
While inflation may provide fortunes for the powerful, the nimble and the fast-buck operators, there is no way Canadians of modest means can protect even their savings. So they are ravaged by a form of theft which up until now the government largely has been condoning with hand-outs and the application of a few band-aids. So the gap in respect of individual disparity has been widening. The Prime Minister once said that rampant inflation restricts the idea of a just society. I believe he was right.
And when he said that, inflation was running at roughly one-third the rate at which it is running at the present time.
But our failures in government are not confined to inflation. Any kind of a just society in Canada should include an overhaul of our welfare system. We are assured that a very comprehensive review is about to bear fruit. If that is true, it will be very welcome news to anyone who wants to see an effective way of helping people in need, at the same time minimizing the stigma attached thereto and preserving incentive and the morale of those affected. In the meantime, the federal government saddled us with changes in our unemployment insurance arrangements which cost contributors and taxpayers over $2 billion in what the government tells us was a good year. Who knows how much this sum will be in a bad year? We may soon find out. There is widespread belief in the country that unemployment insurance is abused, is milked and ripped off. This is damaging to the morale of Canadians and is unfair to those who make legitimate temporary use of the program. The government says there will be amendments. These amendments may be cosmetic, on the one hand, or unfair on the other. We want a review and a full investigation of this program. Such action would clear the air. Then improvements should certainly be undertaken and completed early in the life of this thirtieth parliament.
In six years, what have we accomplished toward easing regional disparity in this country? Much has been spent, but with little resultant narrowing of the gap. There has been no integrated approach toward fighting regional disparity. Transportation remains a mess, and that alone is sufficient to dilute drastically the effectiveness of any regional disparity program. Bad transportation policy and asinine economic policy combined to make the establishment of DREE, in its first half-decade of operation, almost fruitless. DREE seems to be run by improvisation and has accomplished very little. What is worse, because it has accomplished so little it has created a growing feeling in the more prosperous parts of the country that the program is wasting money which should be used to reinforce economic strength where it exists, rather than being haphazardly thrown after bad. The government must get down to business during this parliament and make DREE mean something coherent, so that it can accomplish something that is so important to our confederation and which we all believe to be so worth while.
In 1973 the government met the premiers of the western provinces. Just the other day we received copies of an update from the Prime Minister addressed to Premier Barrett on the event of the recent conference of western premiers. Some of that process is worthy of commendation, which I sincerely extend to the Prime Minister. But why should he, a couple of weeks ago, find it necessary to make some smart-aleck remarks about impotence when there was a call for consultation as the premiers were about to begin their annual national meeting? Perhaps things would go more smoothly if he restricted himself to the written word and tight editing. I do not think it is unfair to say that federal-provincial relations in general have deteriorated since 1967, since the days of co-operative federalism, and that in particular they have reached new heights of tension in the field of resource royalties, taxation and revenue sharing.
If co-operative federalism was at best an imperfect process, its subsequent replacement by confrontation of federalism in this field will be tragic if continued. What has happened to constitutional reform? Federal-provincial priority regarding constitutional reform was set very early during the twenty-eighth parliament. It has been put quite simply: there has been no success in that matter. We remain a sovereign, independent country with no agreed formula for amending our constitution. Today, as we had then, we have the same Prime Minister with some claim to constitutional expertise. So I do not think it is too much to ask for such an agreement, at least on an amendment formula, during the life of this parliament. But there was no mention of this subject in the Speech from the Throne.
Individual economic injustices increase and regional disparities remain as big as they were in 1967, and world disparities also. Back in those heady days or our centennial year we were going to do our part about world disparities, not only in quest of human justice and morality but also in our own self-interest, because these disparities have long been recognized as a threat to world peace. We were then dedicated to committing 1 per cent of our gross national product to easing these disparities, but we have not met our commitment.
Mr. Sharp: Yes, we met it.
Mr. Stanfield: We are way behind today.
Mr. Sharp: We met it the year before last.
Mr. Stanfield: We are well behind in our commitment. We have not met our commitment in that regard. We had the recent warnings of the World Bank and others as to the inadequacy of the existing development plans. We hear news of mass starvation and the threat of war. At the same time, we see in the House the government’s casual attitude toward rotting eggs and we hear the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lang) muse about a policy to encourage the feeding of grain to livestock so that a product of higher value can be exported, although clearly the same amount of grain would feed more people who are hungry.
Then we heard the remarks attributed to Mr. Head, that we were going into a whole new era of left-wing activist international involvement. I wondered, in the first instance when I heard that, where was the will to keep our commitment to supply food and aid, a commitment we had adopted back at the time of our centennial. I wondered what we were going to supply to the underdeveloped and hungry nations. Would it be philosophy, revolutionary fervour, or handbooks on how to form and develop a just society? My reaction to that kind of puffery was this, sir: let us get off that sort of thing fast, and do something in this parliament more worthy of the spirit of generosity and helpfulness that is in tune with the hearts, minds and spirit of the people of this country.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Stanfield: The Prime Minister subsequently said this was fiction. I never really regarded Mr. Head as a master of fiction. In any event, I trusted we would get back on track with our commitment of assistance to those nations which are far less fortunate than we are. References to the just society disappeared from throne speeches with the termination of the twenty-eighth parliament. That is fine; a slogan has only a limited lifetime. But I am concerned, as we begin this thirtieth parliament, that reference to matters of importance and substance have been omitted.
The linguistic rights constituted an essential commitment for the government. That concern was clearly stated in the 1968 Speech from the Throne and still recently in the speech preceding this one. The government commitment in this connection read as follows:
The Government will continue to work in furtherance of the objectives of the Official Languages Act. Further assistance will be offered to the provinces to help ensure that to the extent possible—Canadians can educate their children in the official language of their choice; …
However, Mr. Speaker, in the ministerial statement just made to us, the concern over the linguistic rights seems to have vanished. We could think that all problems on this matter are resolved while in fact they are not. The meaning of the Official Languages Act, its aims and its scope are greatly misunderstood, even rejected by many Canadians. This, because the government has not yet explained adequately this policy throughout the country. Indeed, this failure was underlined in the Report by the Commissioner of Official Languages.
And further, the passing of Quebec’s bill 22 goes contrary to the government’s policy on official languages, according to which Canadians should be entitled to education in the official language of their choice. Bill 22 at any rate impedes the official policy on bilingualism.
In the circumstances, I have to wonder why the Prime Minister chose these circumstances above all to eliminate the Minister of State for multiculturalism, a matter on which he was questioned a short while ago. I said repeatedly that an initiative to support multiculturalism should have accompanied the launching of the Official Languages Act.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Stanfield: Such an initiative would have made that act more acceptable, and certainly would have reduced the feeling among Canadians who are neither British nor French by descent that they were being treated as second-class citizens. The Prime Minister seemed to be a late convert to multiculturalism when he appointed the Minister of State. But why did he eliminate him so quickly after the election? Will not millions of Canadians look at that exercise and be entitled to regard it as an example of cynical political opportunism? Misunderstandings are too easily generated, particularly in a field as sensitive as this. Where they exist, they must be met by some explanation given in a spirit of frankness.
I make a similar plea for frankness, for some explanation, in another important area on which the government expressed itself at the start of earlier parliaments and said nothing about it at the commencement of this parliament. Aside from a reference to royalty payments on reserves, there is no mention in the Speech from the Throne of the government’s intentions regarding our native people. The
new Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (Mr. Buchanan), according to press reports, considers the 1969 white paper scrapped. At the moment, then, Canada’s Indian population is faced with a vacuum as far as future federal government intentions are concerned. Two days ago a demonstration took place in front of the centre block. Disturbances were extended into the streets. Responsible Indian leadership shunned that operation, agitators took advantage of the demonstration to promote the communist party Marxist-Leninist activities and the whole affair ended up marked by foul language and hooliganism.
This demonstration, and others like it, can only hurt the legitimate cause of all native people in this country. Responsible leaders among the native people who are trying their best to control the impatience which has been magnified by years of dissatisfaction, and indeed hardship, need some public expression by the government to support them.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Stanfield: Those who have lost patience and manifested that loss in this demonstration were few in number on Monday, but that number could grow rapidly if it appears the government has lost interest or is too preoccupied with other needs even to include an expression of concern for their interests in the Speech from the Throne. I wish the new minister success in his difficult task. He will find an early opportunity, I trust in this debate, to make up for this omission. We in Canada lost several years as a result of the government’s setting false directions in that white paper of 1969—surely one of the most monumental pieces of ineptitude in our recent history. Time is running out. We must make up for lost time, and we must do so during the life of this parliament.
Another area of concern to which we must give attention is the lack of public confidence in politicians and the political process. Since our centennial year we have seen some improvements which should help reduce the suspicions that many Canadians harbour about politicians and about what is often called the political process. With respect to the matter of financing political parties, the new election expenses legislation, for example, requires disclosure of all substantial donations.
The right hon. Prime Minister issued certain guidelines to ministers and public servants respecting conflicts of interest. On this matter, I can only repeat what I stated at the time, that they are inadequate and I find unbelievable that the guidelines issued by the Prime Minister on December 18 on disclosure of holdings are not implemented to this day. I feel it would be possible to develop more adequate rules during this legislature. Rules binding ministers, government officials, members of Parliament and even hon. senators, if one is to judge by remarks recently attributed to the new government leader (Mr. Perrault) in that place.
Even though we have opened up the affairs of our political parties, excessive secrecy in government continues to breed suspicion. In this House of Commons there is now no way to force information from a minister who does not want to give it. That power disappeared when the right to unlimited debate on estimates was eliminated. When the House could hold up estimates, it could get answers. Now it cannot get answers unless the minister concerned graciously wishes too furnish them.
As the official opposition in this new parliament, we intend to devise and relentlessly pursue means of getting accurate and straightforward information from the ministry. This is absolutely essential in these days of mammoth government which enters daily the lives of our citizens. We intend to be a constructive opposition, but a vigorous one, especially when the rights and paramount obligations of parliament are involved.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Stanfield: The existing practices relating to secrecy of government documents are absurd. They operate for the convenience of the government and not for the benefit of our society. We must terminate this business whereby virtually every government document is marked “secret,” the only exception perhaps being that absorbent paper which comes in little rolls.
Some hon. Members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Stanfield: The automatic presumption of confidentiality should be reversed and replaced by an information policy which guarantees that all documents and information in the possession of the government are made available to the public, unless they fall within very carefully defined exceptions which are spelled out. These are some of the things we must fight for, in the interests of a free society, during the life of this parliament. The right to information is one of the foundations of a free society. A free society can flourish only within a framework of order, order which is respected, order which is reasonably just, order which permits individuals to fulfil themselves.. We do not have that sort of order in Canada today. We do not have the economic stability necessary for such an order. Instead, Mr. Speaker, we have increasing chaos which flows from the inflation that is now rampant in our society. Many individuals have seen the plans of a lifetime completely frustrated. Planning for the future has become virtually impossible for others. The increasing number of disruptions and strikes is a manifestation of loss of order attributable to chaotic inflation, as those who are in a position to do so try to protect themselves and sometimes seem to take advantage of the situation.
Erratic interventions such as those made recently by the Minister of Labour (Mr. Munro), the Minister of Justice, and I think by the Prime Minister himself, in relation to one particular dispute only exacerbate the problem. We just cannot drift along and dialogue, as the Speech from the Throne envisages. This parliament must insist on action as an absolute priority. It is said, it has been said and will be said again, that we are relatively well off, economically, in Canada compared with other countries. Our economy has remained relatively strong because of world demand for the products of western agriculture, something which the government was about to write off about two years ago, and our mining and petroleum
resources which were treated with a great deal of contempt by many Canadians for a long time.
Let us not be under any illusion that we are doing relatively well economically because we have solved the basic problem of manufacturing in Canada, the problem of access to large-scale markets on competitive terms, because we have not. And some apparent success with CANDU is no substitute for an effective and comprehensive science policy, something which we still lack. Relative good fortune, economically, has been ours as a country, largely independently of the policies of the government from 1967 to this time. But this cannot be assumed to go on indefinitely. We must quickly begin to prevent, to fight, to stop the spread of the sickness of disorder in our society which comes from inflation. It is no answer to be told that inflation and resulting injustices and tensions are worse in some other, indeed in most other countries. I say, sir, that we have received a great inheritance in this country. Let us do something with it.
I have heard it said that Canadians complain about inflation but are not willing to do anything about it, that they are not willing to accept the restraint necessary to fight this menace. How do we know that? The government spent a lot of time telling the country that nothing could be done, that inflation was due to factors that we in Canada could not control. This spread and attitude in the country of every man for himself. That is what we have spreading through our society today—every man for himself, and the devil take the hindmost.
I believe, sir, that our democracy is being tested as it has seldom been tested in the past. What is being particularly tested in this circumstance is the competence of our national government to lead. Leadership of the order required to meet the need must have at least three attributes. First, there must be an exhibition of both the will to take the situation seriously and the will to do something about it. Second, there must be the capacity to create stability and throughout the country a climate of confidence in that stability. Third, there must be the ability to inspire self-discipline in the day to day activities of individual Canadians. This individual discipline will not be there unless the leadership of the government demonstrates that it is disciplining its own operations.
We are not simply dealing with something that can be fixed by pulling levers or pushing buttons. We are dealing with a psychological force. The problem must be met in a way that takes that into account. If there is one point that we have tried repeatedly to emphasize to the government over the past two years, this is it. If there is one thing which above all this administration chose to ignore and slough off, this is it. Now we are beginning to hear a different tune. The Prime Minister spoke at the opening session of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers’ Conference. He spoke about confidence. He said he hoped the meeting would be marked by a great demonstration of confidence, and went on to say, “It is the essential element in the world economic structure-perhaps the only element in the world monetary system that is of any consequence at all.”
How can Canadians have confidence unless there is order and stability? This government has over the course of six years indulged in a welter of so-called tax reform, confused competition policy and bizarre anti-profiteering legislation. It is a government whose only cure for inflation five years ago was unemployment, and whose more recent approach has been to play ostrich. The leader of this government is now cognizant of the problem being serious and is overcome with the importance of confidence. I refer him to his interesting “zap” speech and ask, is the Prime Minister now saying to the country, “Zap, you’re confident”?
It is almost five months since we last met in this chamber. Five months ago the previous parliament rejected a budget which did not base itself upon generating confidence. Rather, all too much of it was premised on generating confrontation. Within six weeks, according to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Turner), we will be looking at another budget and we will see whether the Prime Minister, the minister and the government really have learned anything in the interim. I hope they have, sir, because I believe we are on a very dangerous course if they have not.
We are in a period of some sobering problems, and we are in for more difficult days ahead. That is a fact. That is not the simplistic, professional pessimism of those who sit in the official opposition. It is also a fact that the government has not yet come clean with Canadians. I know the Minister of Finance, if he were here, might resent that charge. But he simply cannot defend the integrity of the ministry which he heads. There have been virtually as many different stories, explanations, conflicting advocacies and alibis emanating from cabinet today as there are members in the ministry.
Speaking for his leader and colleagues, the Minister of Finance for almost two years has been offering a onestring bow as the policy to fight inflation—to increase supply. “Increase supply,” he said, “and things will improve.” Now perhaps we will hear the minister and the Prime Minister tell the House where this policy went to ruin in relation to the quota-setting, marketing and storage of eggs. I have not heard either of them pronounce on that situation.
We need an end to this sort of tragic nonsense. Canada needs leadership. It needs it now, and through the life of this parliament, if we are ever to achieve real justice in our society, justice rooted in order and nurtured by freedom. Democracy is being tested. I believe the tensions associated with inflation and related economic and social disorder and discontent may destroy democracy in some other countries. We must show that our democracy is strong enough, that our sense of citizenship, our sense of community and our democratic institutions are strong enough and responsive enough to control inflation in our country to provide a framework of order in which freedom and justice can flourish. That will take leadership. That is what I demand of this government.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Stanfield: It is for this reason, Mr. Speaker, that I move, seconded by the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe
(Mr. Wagner), that the following words be added to the Address:
We respectfully suggest to Your Excellency that the failure of your ministers to act resolutely after the election of July 8 last has contributed to the increasing disparity and the social and economic disarray in the country, which require prompt, decisive leadership which is lacking in the Speech from the Throne.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Right Hon. P. E. Trudeau (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, Monday morning the representatives of the various parties pointed out the great qualities of mind and spirit, the courage and firmness that must be shown by the individual holding that high office. This post is surely the most difficult that can be assigned by the House to one of its members and I would like today on behalf of the government and myself to express our gratitude to you for having accepted that burdensome task without which this House could not make any expected progress.
I would also like, Mr. Speaker, to assure the constituents of Sudbury that the great honour bestowed upon them as a result of your appointment will not be prejudicial to the expectations that they can entertain as your constituents; Mr. Speaker, as for the government members, we will do our utmost to support you when you will be trying to meet the wishes and aspirations of your constituents.
I should also like to congratulate the leader of the opposition (Mr. Stanfield) for his excellent speech which extended somewhat the electoral campaign but still touched upon several important topics all of which, it is only fair to say, we were unable to deal with in the Speech from the Throne especially, Mr. Speaker, to avoid repeating what we intend to do to ensure the progress of our country, but topics with which I myself intend to deal in the House in the course of my speech today; topics, may I say again, which we agree with him are important and make me r ealize that indeed the opposition is really very fortunate in having such a leader and that it will be no easy task for the Progressive Conservatives to find within their ranks a man or woman capable of replacing him adequately.
I should like to address a word of congratulations to the electors of Montmorency and Vancouver-East for their good judgment in electing two young men who stand out for their competence, their political qualities and their sincerity, and who, as they indicated yesterday in their speeches as movers of the address in reply, certainly represent that new generation of Canadians who expect of Canada and its government actions that are truly worthy of the people.
Naturally, I am most happy, as leader of the liberal party, to see that such promising young men should have chosen to fight in the ranks of the liberal party, should have chosen our party as the instrument with which to attempt to build together a better Canada. I am also very happy, as a parliamentarian, to see the House welcome not only the two hon. members I have just mentionned but also, on the other side, the new recruits whose talents will doubtless soon become obvious.
Apart from my pleasure in being leader of a party, and a parliamentarian, I feel pride as a Canadian in seeing so many men and women of high quality who have chosen to make the considerable sacrifice entailed in setting aside their personal business, private affairs and a large part of their family life in order to seek the high honour of representing their fellow Canadians in this House. Only those who have been elected by their fellow Canadians know the great privilege of serving in this House. Only they realize the awesome extent of the power conferred upon them to legislate on behalf of and to govern their fellow Canadians.
Since 264 of us have been elected, the difficulty lies in defining the ways in which millions of Canadians who are separated by geography, social conditions, race, colour and creed want to be governed by those sitting in this House and in the other place. In this chamber sit 264 people of strong character. Each has his own beliefs, his own interpretation of the voice of the Canadian people, his own desire to fulfil the mandate which he alone can define precisely, because every member received it in his or her constituency.
As a Liberal partisan, it is easy to count numbers and be convinced that in the numbers lies the total message expressed by the Canadian people. The truth is much more elusive. There is more to the message than party standings. In a free society, no majority can rule effectively if it pays not heed to the minority. No majority can give leadership of any value unless it is prepared to listen attentively to the voices of the opposition and try to accommodate its legislation and policies in ways which express the total will of the Canadian people.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Trudeau: Nonetheless, as members forming the government party we have to ask ourselves why the people voted as they did, why they decided collectively to give us a second majority; to give us, as it were, a second chance. How can we respond to the wishes of the people? The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Stanfield) has, for his part, given some of his answers. I must say that he seems to have asked more questions and underlined more problems than he was able to provide answers. The one answer he did give on the problem of inflation was rejected not only by the Canadian people but by many members of his own party.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Trudeau: Through the Speech from the Throne and speeches that will be made in the course of this debate by ministers and other members of the government party, we are attempting to give some of the answers, at least for this session. Today I would like to try to describe the larger framework, the one that hopefully will last beyond the first session and carry us further into the life of this parliament. In view of the fact that we were given a mandate which in the normal course of events will last some four years more or less, we have to assume that the
people of Canada do want this government to tackle tasks which are of longer duration than perhaps one or two sessions.
I think it is fair to say that before election day most of the pundits were predicting another minority government. They were writing that, in the midst of anguish and global uncertainty, in a country which very exceptionally gives majority mandates because of the vast cultural and geographic distances which separate us, most predictions were not for a majority government. If the Canadian people, in their collective wisdom, gave one party a majority, I think it is the duty of the leader of that party to try to express some of the larger tasks, some of the unfinished business which could not be properly handled or tackled in parliaments of shorter duration.
It is comforting to me that in his remarks the Leader of the Opposition touched upon several of those larger subjects. He mentioned several of the items of unfinished business which we will attempt to settle in this parliament. It is comforting because the very fact that the opposition has pinpointed them as important gives us on this side great hope that, though we may differ in specific methods of tackling some of those problems, at least our goal will be largely the same, that all the unfinished business which lies before us will be finished, hopefully, by the end of this parliament.
The first matter I should like to deal with is that of a major parliamentary reform. Mr Speaker, it is essential to the survival of democracy and freedom in this country that Parliament remain at the core of this nation. It is therefore necessary for this institution to be able to express the collective will effectively and completely. Far be it from me to equate effectiveness with a certain type of chain production. I should not like the hon. members on this side to think that we wish to increase the powers of the government at the expense of those of the opposition.
On the contrary, we are perfectly aware that a major parliamentary reform is only possible if all hon. members, regardless of party affiliation, are in favour of this reform. The government House leader has already told me that he is heartened by the spirit of co-operation he has found in all members and other House leaders. I do not want to labour the point, but I think it is important to realize that when we compare the Canadian House of Commons with provincial legislative assemblies, we are oftentimes outrun by them because of their ability to pass bills that are generally good much faster than we do. Considering the list of bills introduced in the House last Monday, Mr. Speaker, it is easy to realize that we are again with this good old practice of carrying bills unadopted because of time during one session to the next session or Parliament.
In most departments, I am sure lots of reforms pile up that would be for the advantage of Canadians if only both Houses had time to process those bills. For sure, people looking from the outside get the impression of a Parliament somewhat paralized by outdated procedures and antiquated traditions, and of a Parliament that will itself become inefficient and out-of-date if it is satisfied with giving the impression of efficiency instead of realizing it.
The leader of the House, the President of the Privy Council (Mr. Sharp), and myself have discussed many of these things together and I am sure that during this Parliament, and I hope during the first session, there will be a wish on all sides to introduce many of these reforms and I mention a few of them: The first one should certainly be the more rational use of our time, and I do not mean reducing the length of the discussions when we are studying substantial questions, but by reducing it when we are concerned with purely technical questions or minor amendments; when there is a general understanding, we should be able to put our legislation through much faster and not find ourselves having to put off from one session to another bills that should be adopted in a much shorter period of time.
A second subject which, to my way of thinking, deserves more of our attention is that of the time we give to the second reading of bills. When a bill comes back for second reading, according to tradition and the rules, we are supposed to discuss mainly the principle of the bill.
It would seem to me, Mr. Speaker, that a reasonably united and coherent party should be able to give a general opinion for this party on a bill in one, two or three speeches. This should be done in one or two days but unfortunately we often see that second reading lasts for weeks and even months.
This is a reform that our colleagues in Westminster Parliament have adopted some time ago and I for one am somewhat scandalized by the fact that every time we have discussed imitating this practise there are people, especially on the other side of the House, who were ready, if I may quote Montesquieu: to cough and spit like Englishmen but who never want to adopt what good there is in English institutions—
The third subject is a touchy one and pertains to the remarks made by the hon. Leader of the Opposition ; it is a subject I would like to say a word about and it is that of the oral question period.
The leader of the opposition asked, demanded, rightly so, that the government give better and more appropriate answers to questions put to it.
Mr. Speaker, here also I suggest that the oral questions period become a really serious and productive one, in which the government will do its best to answer questions properly, that it does so following agreements—perhaps following an amendment to the Standing Orders or practices—agreements that would enable the government to know in advance, as it is the usage in the Westminster Parliament, the questions put to it. If questions are asked for technical reasons or to gain debating points, one should not be surprised to see the government reply likewise. But if, indeed, the opposition parties want to obtain proper and precise answers, it seems to me that they could not object too strongly to their giving us notice and allowing us a few days to get the information.
An hon. Member: As it is done for the questions put on the order paper.
Mr. Trudeau: Again, as it is done in the place called the mother of Parliaments, Great Britain. The hon. member
mentions the order paper of the House. Of course, Mr. Speaker, if he looks over his files a little, he will see that in the great majority of cases, around 90 per cent of cases, we give answers—
An hon. Member: Not adequate answers.
Mr. Trudeau:—to questions put on the order paper. Also, as far as supplementary questions are concerned, we are prepared to follow the practice existing at Westminster. This problem of the oral question period is closely related to another question which is still sensitive, that of the roll call which is called in English the roster system. I would be unwise to move back to this system. I would merely like to put before the House and the public opinion a rather simple proposition: there again, if we think that a modern government must be efficient, if we feel that every minister must discharge at the same time several duties, if he must represent his riding properly, if he must be a partisan and take care of his party’s affairs; if, at the same time, he must administer a department sometimes a major one and take part in the business of the House. If we consider all that, Mr. Speaker, it seems a wastage to require that the entire Cabinet attend constantly every oral question period, because according to the statistics, it is obvious that a third or a quarter of the ministers are asked questions each day.
I think that it would be impossible to agree on certain days for debating or asking questions on certain matters . and at that time the ministers would be available to answer these questions.
Again, I do not consider this idea to be so revolutionary and I do not understand the opposition’s distress. I simply hope that the House leader of the opposition will take these questions into serious consideration and try to give them an answer which, if not ours, will at least be adequate.
There are several matters, Mr. Speaker, that will surely be discussed by the leaders of all parties. I would simply say again that our party is not afraid of the electronic media, that we are ready to accept the broadcasting of House debates.
There are arguments for and against such a reform, but to my mind the decisive argument is the importance of bringing the federal presence and of making the existence of this very Parliament felt in all parts of the country. Canada is such a vast country—a topic to which I will return later on—that too often Canadians are somewhat unaware of what goes on in the House. I believe that television and radio would bring them closer to us for our mutual benefit.
The hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Baldwin) mentioned an electronic machine. I would even accept, if that is what he wants, to introduce an electronic vote device which would eliminate this long process which obliges us to spend a lot of our time doing gymnastics.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to say a word about the Senate. I know that it is not for me to say too much about that subject, but I think that it would not be more than good neighbour policy to suggest that at least a few reforms should be considered, reforms which would in no way interfere with the authority of the provinces, but which could be considered under section 91, subsection (1), of our Constitution. As a matter of fact, I have discussed these reforms with the government leader in the Senate, Mr. Perrault, and I hope that in this area also, this Parliament will accomplish some progress. The two reforms that I have in mind are as follows: First, we should limit the duration of senatorial appointments to a certain number of years, seven, for instance, with the option of reappointing senators when they have well served their country. Secondly, we could follow the example set a long time ago by the British Parliament and give only a suppressive veto to the second House.
Hon. members opposite talk about partisan appointments. This is a serious matter which I have already had the opportunity to discuss several years ago with the authorities of opposition parties, and I had then suggested, and I repeat my suggestion today, that if indeed the senators of the Progressive Conservative party, of the Tory party, who wish to retire from the Higher Chamber, refrain from doing so because they do not want to be replaced by Liberal senators, I repeat what I told several years ago to Senator Flynn who, if I am not mistaken, represents the opposition party in the Senate, that, for my part, I would readily appoint Progressive Conservatives to replace the Progressive Conservatives who voluntarily retire from the Higher Chamber. I am well aware, Mr. Speaker, that some of them accept my sugggestion, but there were many more when I first made this offer several years ago, and if the official opposition party continues to act so speedily, they may be even fewer in four years.
It is a humble start but the House will certainly recall that several years ago the government had proposed a much more thorough reform of the Senate which involved provincial participation. But I will not talk about this today. If, in the context of our constitutional reform, we must come back to this subject, the government always has an open mind to discuss this problem.
Another area of unfinished business, and one which is very important for the conduct of this nation, is that of federal-provincial relations. The Leader of the Opposition did deal with that subject. It is certainly one of great importance. One of the notable trends in Canada in the last ten years has been the great increase in the importance of federal-provincial relations. Meetings and discussions at all levels, political and official, have become steadily more frequent. I believe that not a day passes without there being at least one, and sometimes more, meeting of federal and provincial governments or their representatives. It is apparent that this is a trend which will continue, because if our system of government is to be effective at the two levels, federal and provincial, we have to meet the complicated questions which face us in a spirit of understanding and co-operation.
In most of the important areas of government there is no possibility of drawing clear and straight lines dividing purely federal from purely provincial functions. Nor is it realistic to think that action at one level will not have, in very many instances, an important influence on the responsibilities which belong to another level of government. Whether we like it or not, and whether hon. members opposite understand it or not, governments spend a
great deal of time, as we do in cabinet committee, on federal-provincial relations, trying to ensure that the decisions we take which are closely interrelated with provincial problems in their areas of jurisdiction are dealt with in a way which behooves our very complex society. We must recognize that and organize accordingly. That is why several provinces, and I do not know if it is most, have sought to ensure that degree of co-ordination by establishing a department of intergovernmental affairs with a minister at the head of such department.
In our government we established a branch of the Privy Council office to co-ordinate policy under the direction of the Prime Minister. My predecessor and I were of the view that it would not be wise to establish such a department of federal-provincial affairs. It is not feasible to have one minister other than the Prime Minister charged with the final responsibility and authority of co-ordinating the policies and actions that in substance fall within the ambit of one or another ministerial department.
I am satisfied that this decision was right. We have had improved co-ordination of policy and of federal-provincial discussion in recent years. There is obviously much room for improvement. However, I do not think there is a need to change the basic organization. What is needed, in light of the increasing scope and complexity of federal-provincial questions, is a strengthening of the resources which we at the federal level devote to these problems and the negotiations related to them. That is the reason the government decided to create an independent office for federal-provincial relations, to be responsible to the Prime Minister.
This office will be headed at the official level by one of the most senior officers of government, who will be titled “secretary to cabinet for federal-provincial relations” with the rank of deputy minister. The responsibilities will not be substantially different from those of the federal-provincial relations branch of the Privy Council office. Nor will the office be unduly large at the outset. The principal difference will lie in the capacity to maintain relations with regard to—federal-provincial policy generally at a more senior level than has been possible thus far.
Mr. Speaker, another topic I would like to discuss and which I also find important in the context of our federalism, is to increase the federal presence in a general way across the country. A while ago I referred to the great distances that separate us. Now I say that if we look at the political competition between the federal and the provincial powers, we notice that each time the federal government representatives are penalized, at least as far as their number is concerned, by the provincial representatives. There are almost three times as many provincial members as federal members, there are more than six times as many provincial ministers as federal ministers in our office as a whole.
Of course, and I cannot count the politicians working at the municipal level, for every political man and woman in this profession it is desirable to make oneself known, to be seen in the best possible light and because of this competition, it often happens that the federal presence is not really felt as it should be in every part of the country.
Quite often a federal policy is known through the media and by the reactions it causes from provincial governments. Since the country is vast, the distances separating us have prevented us—and I find that a serious matter—from seeing to it that all Canadians never cease to consider Ottawa as the capital of every citizen, as their capital.
We have enacted much legislation in the 28th and 29th Parliaments to increase the influence, the working capacity and the privileges of the hon. members. We shall continue to make progress in that direction but today I would like only to point out how important is this federal presence for the government and tell the House that in our discussions with the provinces we shall put greater emphasis on the principle that moneys coming from the federal tax payer and spent by the federal government on behalf of that tax payer must be recognized as coming from the federal government. I would hope that the various reforms known to this House and which have already been mentioned, like decentralization, keep on making progress, that an organization like Information Canada be entitled to express in an even more real and vigorous way the federal presence throughout Canada. I talked earlier about the advantage of having radio and television broadcasting of the House of Commons debates.
There is another area of business which has remained unfinished ever since we became a country 107 years ago. I was very pleased to note that the Leader of the Opposition gave importance to that fact when he noted that constitutional reform had not yet succeeded in bringing back our constitution to Canada. We were the first portion of the then British empire, after the great revolution which created the United States of America, to establish a constitution which could be the basis for an independent, selfgoverning country. I say “the basis” because we did not become independent in 1867 in every sense of the word. Among other things, the tutelage of the mother of parliaments was reflected in the fact that we were provided with no way to amend our constitution, as was pointed out by many speakers including the Leader of the Opposition. With all our freedom to choose and all our ingenuity to revise, we have never been able to agree on how to amend our constitution.
Every other country in the world, with no exception, has been able at least to do that. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that it is a standing reproach to us as Canadians, and particularly to those of us engaged in the activities of politics, that we have so totally failed in this kindergarten, fundamental structure of political independence. I believe it is time we got into grade one. It is time we in this government, in this parliament, decided that we are going to solve that problem before we pass from the scene.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Trudeau: I hear some hon. members opposite refer to the Victoria 1970 constitutional conference. I would point out to them that there have been 50 years of effort to achieve what we attempted at Victoria and failed. During nearly half of our national existence—just think of it—we
have been trying to solve this problem and have constantly failed. The problem was first fully considered at the dominion-provincial conference of 1927 where it was agreed that Canada should have the power to amend her own constitution. That was under Mr. King’s government. The matter was again studied by parliament in 1931 when it considered the Statute of Westminster under Mr. Bennett’s government. In 1935, parliament set up a special committee “to report on the best method by which the BNA Act may be amended”. The same year, another dominion-provincial conference set up a continuing committee of attorneys general to prepare a draft of a method of procedure to amend the BNA Act. That committee reported in 1936, but again to no avail.
In 1949, Mr. St. Laurent decided to cut out part of the problem and to introduce the first amendment to the BNA Act, which was passed, to provide certain powers to amend purely federal aspects of the BNA Act. He initiated a federal-provincial constitutional conference which met twice in 1950 but, again, produced no real agreement. Then in January, 1960, the dean of this House, the hon. member for Prince Albert (Mr. Diefenbaker), when he was prime minister spoke of this matter in the throne speech debate. He expressed the hope “that the time will not be too long delayed when we will be able within our own country to arrive at a basis for the amendment of our own constitution”. He set up a conference of attorneys general which took up the matter in 1960 and 1961. Most of the provinces agreed on a formula, but differences of view remained and that exercise failed.
In 1964, Mr. Pearson took up the challenge, and once again progress seemed to be made. The House will recall that the Fulton formula became the Fulton-Favreau formula. There were more conferences, more proceedings, more high hopes, and more failures. In 1968—the Leader of the Opposition reminded us of this—we began a most serious assessment and review of our whole constitution. We had a series of conferences and special committees, which all members of this House will recall, and the culmination was in the Victoria conference in June of 1970 when there was at least agreement by all provinces, all eleven of them, on a procedure for amendment. But in the end, the Victoria charter failed to receive acceptance from Quebec, not because of disagreement with the amending formula but for quite another reason.
I have gone into this history for two reasons; one is to show how long and how hard we have tried to achieve complete agreement for action on the basis of unanimous consent and the other is to show how general has been the agreement by statesmen of all parties and in all parts of the country that the problem of the amending procedure and of bringing back the constitution across the ocean to be domiciled wholly and entirely in Canada is one that should be solved. It is one on which there seems to h ave been a general will to reach agreement, I repeat, for 50 years.
I can quote something that scholastics used to quote as being a test of a general desire to seek the truth, “quod ad omnibus, quod ubique, quod semper“. It seems to me that this is something that meets the test. Everywhere, everyone has always wanted to have this done, yet we always seem to have failed. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition and I am very happy to have the support of his party in saying that it is time to decide that this will be done and that we will settle on an amending procedure within four years.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Trudeau: I am confident of the support of the party opposite, and I say that I will seek the agreement of all provincial governments in achieving this end with great determination. If no better formula can be found, then we will propose the adoption of the formula which received agreement in 1970 in Victoria. I am confident that the people of Canada will agree with whatever action is required to settle this question once and for all.
I should like to address my colleagues from Quebec in a special way, because we know it is often there that the stumbling-block was, in 1970 as well as for the Fulton-Favreau formula. I am convinced this applies also to my colleagues on the other side: some will possibly find unthinkable that we should explain to people in Quebec that all we want is to bring back in Canada our own Constitution. But I think it will be fairly easy to convince them that they no longer need to seek the help of Great Britain, that they no longer need to hide behind Great Britain’s skirts when we discuss among ourselves political issues affecting us all.
I want to talk about one more piece of unfinished business, and here too I am very happy that the Leader of the Opposition underlined it as one on which serious action should be taken. It is the question of bilingualism. I was, I admit, surprised to see the Leader of the Opposition wring his hands because we had not mentioned that subject in the Speech from the Throne. He will no doubt recall that when we did mention it in the first Speech from the Throne in the last parliament, members of his party and the New Democratic Party told us that it was much too sensitive a subject to be brought before the House of Commons. Now he is telling us that we should have brought it before the House. I am bringing it before the House of Commons and I hope that here, too, we will agree that it is absolutely vital that we use these four years of reasonably and, hopefully, stable government to establish firmly the federal capital as the capital of all Canadians.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Trudeau: To the separatists who argue that that could never be so for a French-speaking Canadian, all parties in this House can respond that the Official Languages Act would make it so. Therein lies an obligation that we all have, a kind of political contract with French-speaking Canadians under which they would reject separatism and the federal parliament would guarantee the right to French Canadians to communicate with and work in the federal administration in the French language. I solemnly believe that if we do not or cannot make that right a reality during the life of this parliament with its commitment to bilingualism, with the very emphatic words of the Leader of the Opposition in his speech an hour ago, with the strong French-speaking representation
in government, then it will never be done and separatism will have proved its point and Canadian unity will cease to have meaning for the majority of Quebeckers.
Mr. Speaker, I will give a straight answer to the question of the Leader of the Opposition: The government maintains strongly as ever its official language policy and will pursue with renewed vigour the basic goal it set for itself when it came into power in 1968, namely to make it possible for all Canadians throughout Canada to deal with their federal government in the official language of their choice.
In that respect, we should be happy about the progress made during these last five years and regret the slowness that still delays the implementation of the law, but I should like, Mr. Speaker, to express my delight to the hon. member for Montmorency (Mr. Duclos) who, in his first speech in the House yesterday, pointed out that bilingualism is one of the main concerns of Quebecers. He thus expressed a government policy, a policy that we intend to carry successfully during the next four years.
Therefore the Canadian government will continue to promote vigorously the use of the two official languages in its own field and to encourage the provinces to do the same in their fields of jurisdiction.
This government will stand in opposition by all possible means to any legislative or other measures liable to restrict the use, on the part of citizens of the official language of their choice.
Therefore we shall carry on our efforts to remove certains obstacles, for instance those related to the working language, which French-speaking candidates encounter whenever they wish to make a career in the Canadian public service.
Those obstacles, which are too numerous to list in detail, create a serious anomaly in our federalism. French-speaking Canadians, and particularly Quebeckers, are still far from having in our public service a position equal to their number and their ability.
Moreover, they still do not hold the number of high positions to which they would normally be entitled and consistent with their competence, in the best interests of the federal government and the Canadian people. For instance, at the executive level of certain key depart ments, the French-speaking representation is still under 10 per cent. And in general, very little progress has been accomplished in the use of French as a working language. This is an unfair and therefore unhealthy situation which must be corrected as soon as possible.
We could undoubtedly ramble on about the historic and other causes of this situation, about the procedures and the sharing of responsibilities. But the government of Canada is much more interested in applying the r emedies which come under its jurisdiction. We are therefore planning to take the necessary means, of which several have already been implemented, for the representation of French Canadian in the public service to reach as soon as possible, in number and importance, the critical mass required to create an irreversible situation. Once this objective is reached, the French-speaking community of our country will be able to carry on. We will have solved the problem which has concerned us for several generations and Canadian unity will have reached a very important phase.
Mr. Speaker, in so doing, the government was hoping that provincial authorities would follow suit. We were confident that if they did not already do so, they would take it upon themselves to provide their own services in both languages, at the option of their residents.
Yet, even though we have noted some progress in certain provinces, and even in some cases significant progress, we must realise that elsewhere the situation is at a standstill and that, in some areas, regression towards unilingualism is threatening.
In this respect, the legislative measures adopted by Quebec, Bill 22 for example, have not failed to give rise to some concern, not only within Quebec’s population but all over the country. This law has been very much discussed and the constitutional orthodoxy of certain articles has been questioned. It is not impossible that some people might want to contest certain articles to check their constitutionality. If that should happen, the courts would have to decide as was done in the case of the federal law on official languages. Anyway, and even though I personally regret the aspects of this legislation which seem to contradict contemporary trends towards more liberty on the subject of language, we should not lose sight of, and I feel that the Leader of the Opposition seems to have done this, that even after the adoption of Bill 22 Quebec is still, among all Canadian provinces, the one which treats the language of the minority on her territory with the most equity, the most liberalism and the greatest generosity. If, Mr. Speaker, the other nine provinces suddenly decided to show the same respect towards their own official language minorities we would witness a miraculous blooming across the whole country. I hope that there is no question of using a law for one’s friends and another for one’s foes depending on whether one is judging the laws of Quebec and the customs of Quebec as opposed to those of provinces where the majority is English-speaking. The Montreal Gazette has understood this and even though it is a newspaper that was not always easy on Bill 22, they published an editorial dated September 23rd last entitled “Making Bill 22 Look Good”, and this editorial examined the customs used in Ontario and in Manitoba and concluded in the following way:
Whatever the failings of Quebec’s Bill 22, it still preserves a substantial place for English education in the province. Manitoba and Ontario should be prepared to do no less for their French minorities.
I dwell somewhat on this subject, Mr. Speaker, because it is important that people throughout this country under stand in some way the spirit that prevails in Quebec in this r egard. It is obvious, and I said so many times, that if Quebec is not vigorously French-speaking and does not fully participate in the Canadian life as a French-speaking province, the whole country will soon proceed towards English unilingualism, thus destroying one of the charact eristics that constitute the richness and originality of this country. And when I am speaking of a vigorously Frenchspeaking Quebec, I do not mean a unilingual Quebec, on
the contrary, in the mind of a great number of Frenchspeaking Quebecers, the knowledge of English as a second language seems essential to Quebec’s and Canada’s welfare. But all Canadians, whatever their origin and in whatever part of this country they may live, should understand that the universal use of French in Quebec as a working language and as a cultural instrument, as a recreation and teaching language, is as natural as the universal use of English in British Columbia or in Newfoundland.
We should all be glad that Quebec is using all the means available to it to emphasize its French nature, strengthen its culture and ensure its radiance as long as it always acts with all due respect for minority rights, a respect that has always characterized the Quebec attitude in the past. As I said and I repeat, in a continent threatened by uniformity we should all welcome that effort. There are in us as in all human societies prejudices as tenacious as harmful. Persisting in believing that one is less of a Canadian if one speaks French or that the linguistic dualism and cultural diversity threatens the Canadian integrity is, as I have said, one of the most pernicious prejudices that continue to exist among us, a deplorable relic of past times.
We must get together to wipe out the myth of English unilingualism but we must accept both sides of the linguistic partition, the concrete consequences of linguistic dualism not only tolerated with more or less silent resistance but openly accepted, supported, promoted. It is obvious that the French language spoken by six million people on a continent on which live about 240 million Englishspeaking people, if it is to survive and expand, must be carefully attended to.
So one should not panic nor be content with a reaction of indifference to the efforts undertaken in Quebec and other French-speaking communities in Canada to promote and develop the use of the French language. For its part, the federal government will continue to do its large share to strengthen the French fact through its legislation, its policy in the area of culture, broadcasting, movies, even immigration.
And it was essential that the government of Canada, aware of its linguistic duality, projected a true picture of what we are, and that is why in the same sense as we maintain privileged relations with Commonwealth countries we wanted under the leadership of the minister seated on my right, the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. MacEachen), we wanted in the same spirit to strengthen the ties that bound us already with Frenchspeaking countries. This thing must go on and we will soon have the opportunity to extend it in a new area. In fact, the satellite Symphony built jointly by France and the Federal Republic of Germany will be launched in December and I intend, during my next visit in Paris, in the next few weeks, to initiate a Canadian participation in the new international cultural exchanges that will be made possible through this instrument.
When the large majority of Canadians will have understood the importance of an active and earnest cooperation in the objectives I have just listed and will have put to silence all the bigots, the province of Quebec will no longer consider itself apart from the rest of Canada. Its own anxieties being removed it will be able to cooperate more fully than ever in building the country we are forming all together.
Mr. Speaker, if I had not moved a motion on Monday to continue this debate until the leaders of all parties be heard, I would not mind pursuing my speech to the bitter end, as it were.
Mr. Dinsdale: “Bitter” is right.
Mr. Trudeau: I think I will—
An hon. Member: Summarize it.
Mr. Trudeau:—summarize it, as the hon. member opposite suggests. I will summarize some of the topics which my ministers and myself will be dealing with in the course of the present session.
I have now spent a great deal of time talking about unfinished business which would probably carry our endeavours over the next few years. I would point out that I think without exception they were suggestions that the Leader of the Opposition reproached us for failing to deal with, so I hope I will not be faulted for having dealt with them at some length in response to his suggestions.
The other subjects are ones which perhaps are not so easily encompassed in a period of four years. They might take less and they might take more, Mr. Speaker. Many of them are not within the control of this parliament alone, and for that reason I will deal with them today. They concern suggestions made by the Leader of the Opposition. Native rights is one, the problems of poverty is another, and the problems of the status of women is yet another. Inflation is another one, Mr. Speaker. There will be other occasions for talk and discussion, and the subject of inflation, which is of very great interest to all members of this House, will be dealt with at some length by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Turner) when he returns from Washington.
For that reason, Mr. Speaker, I will bring these remarks to an end, just using these last few minutes to say that if the Canadian people wanted action in this parliament, they are going to get action.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Trudeau: They wanted a government which would face the difficult issues, make decisions and move Canada forward, and they voted Liberal because they knew we would do the job. We did not fight and win an election to come back here to play political games, Mr. Speaker.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Trudeau: There is a French saying which I hope translates well. It goes something like this: one does not cross the Rubicon in order to go fishing. We Liberals have work to do and we are determined to get on with the job. I hope opposition members will share our commitment to action and will not engage in the kind of partisan irrelevancies which cost them countless thousands of votes on July 8. We want the confidence of the people. We
are dedicated to the principles of individual freedom and equality, principles which are basic to Liberal philosophy. This will be a Liberal government on the move.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Nowlan: Oh, boy. Who wrote that?
Mr. Trudeau: I commend the Leader of the Opposition on his speech, which was short and to the point. I only regret that, short as his speech was, he took considerable time in licking partisan wounds. The time for action is now. The next four or five years will be years of solid Liberal achievement on behalf of the people of Canada.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Trudeau: At the outset of my speech I invited opposition members to contribute to that achievement with hard work and constructive advice; and, who knows, they might get used to the phenomenon of forward movement and even enjoy the movement.
Mr. Edward Broadbent (Oshawa-Whitby): Mr. Speaker, before commenting on the dissertations we have heard, I wish to pay tribute to a distinguished Canadian, the present leader of the New Democratic Party, the former member for York South, David Lewis.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Broadbent: No man has worked more ably and diligently in this House and outside for the building of an independent Canada in which our citizens can live in social and economic equality. I can think of no higher praise for a Canadian politician. I am sure I speak for all members of this House in wishing him well in his new contribution to Canada as a professor of political science at Carleton University.
It would have been interesting to note the reactions of certain people if they could have been here this afternoon to listen to the Prime Minister’s speech. For example, Nero, if he had been here, would have been embarrassed. Professor Laski would have failed the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) as a student, and the Canadian people, if they had all been present, would have been thoroughly disenchanted. Consider the subjects which came before the House in this afternoon’s question period. They included the fate of Canada’s Indians, 25 per cent of whom live in housing unfit for human beings. Questions were raised about starvation throughout the world. A member of the Conservative party, by way of a question, initially brought attention to the fact that housing starts in Canada, on a yearly basis, have declined by 60,000 units.
A question was asked about the 28 million eggs which, through maladministration, were deliberately allowed to go rotten. It was brought to our attention that milk will increase in price by five cents a quart. This will affect the nutrition of many people, particularly of children whose families are poor. Questions were raised about pensions and about energy. We know that the unemployment rate in Canada is extremely high. According to forecasts, by next spring it may run at about 8 per cent, which will be the highest rate of unemployment Canada has seen in 13 years. We also know that inflation in Canada now runs at 11.5 per cent. All this came before the House. To his immense credit, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Stanfield) tried substantially to deal with these subjects. He recognizes that these are the issues which concern the people of our country.
But what did the Prime Minister talk about? He talked about bilingualism, and I agree that that subject is important.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Broadbent: Apart from that, what did he say for one hour and ten minutes? In a general way he talked about the theory of democracy. Seriously, if he were a first year student of mine and came forward with such rubbish, I would fail him. Then he talked about parliamentary reform and Senate reform, and gave a general description of dominion-provincial relations. After that he talked about consitutional amendments. He raised five subjects which do not affect even .05 per cent of the people of Canada, and spent one hour and ten minutes lecturing us on them. That was disgraceful.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Broadbent: The Prime Minister went to the people of Canada on July 8. In my view, he conveyed the impression that he cared emotionally for the welfare of our people, particularly of working families. He dealt with wage and price controls. I agree with what he said. I think such controls are harmful. I respect the integrity of the Leader of the Opposition. I think his judgment is wrong on that issue, but he argued it with conviction. I also thought the Prime Minister argued out of conviction. It seemed that he was concerned about poverty in our country and about inflation and he wanted to do something about them.
What did we get today? In all seriousness, I think we saw a rerun of a 1968 movie. Compare the speech given to the House after the 1968 election with the one given this afternoon and you will find the same subjects discussed, the same general talk and the same lack of concern about what is bothering people in Vancouver, in St. John’s, in the north or on the prairies. The Prime Minister gave us no indication to show that this country’s real problems matter very much to him.
I now intend to speculate on where the government intends to go. The speech we heard this afternoon shows the government’s general economic philosophy. It shows how it intends to deal with those issues. It is clear from the Speech from the Throne and from two recent speeches delivered by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Turner) that the government intends to deal in the coming months with at least one issue—inflation. It is also clear that it is moving to the kind of deflationary policy which was pursued with disastrous results in the 1969 to 1971 period.
An hon. Member: There is no evidence of that.
Mr. Broadbent: The minister says there is no evidence of that. The allegation is serious and I will try to give my reasons for it.
Mr. Stanfield: There is no evidence of any direction.
Mr. Broadbent: In Vancouver, on September 13, the Minister of Finance asserted that his reaction was one of, and I quote, “deep concern” to the cost increases which he said resulted from collective bargaining. He went on to say:
—we must as a people muster a great deal of self-discipline and self-restraint…I hasten to acknowledge that a heavy onus rests on governments to set the example by curbing increases in their own spending.
Three days later, similar sentiments were expressed by the Minister of Finance in a speech he made in Montreal. In the Speech from the Throne we get exactly the same message. I quote from the Speech from the Throne:
For its part, the government will exercise restraint in its own expenditures—
Two paragraphs then follow in the Speech from the Throne about the supposed virtues of general restraints in spending by the government. Just in case anyone should draw the unpleasant but proper conclusion from this, the government quickly covers itself by the following totally misleading suggestion which appears on the next page:
The government does not intend deliberately to generate slack in the economy—
Presumably we are to conclude that if slack, which is really a euphemism for unemployment, occurs as a result of deliberate government restraint policies, the government cannot be held responsible because it did not desire the necessary consequences of its act. This is both absurd and deceptive. We heard it all in 1969 from the Hon. Edgar Benson. In that year the government went in precisely the same direction. It is very important that members of this House and the people of Canada consider in all seriousness the results of that government policy in 1969. Between June, 1969, and June, 1970, unemployment increased from 385,000 to 592,000, an increase of 67 per cent. During the same period, prices continued to increase at a rate only 1 per cent lower than the previous year. There was a reduction of only 1 per cent in the rate of inflation.
The point is clear. In our economy, general fiscal and monetary restraints have no significant effect on prices. However, they do have a direct and profound consequence on the level of unemployment. Textile workers, electricians, plumbers, sales persons, cab drivers, waitresses, all those the government should be concerned about, are affected by that kind of fiscal restraint exercised deliberately by the federal government. Not only are working families affected by such a policy. There is also a cruel redistribution of income which takes place. The rich clearly gain over the poor. Those whose income is made up in large part from interest rates charged to others, naturally benefit from a tightening of the monetary screws. Consider the following figures from that period. Between 1969 and 1971, the share of family income possessed by the bottom 20 per cent of our population, after only two years of the kinds of restraints the government is now talking about, dropped by over $1 billion. I repeat, the share of income of the bottom 20 per cent of our families in that two-year period dropped by over $1 billion. During the same period, the share of family income of the top 20 per cent of our population increased, surprise of surprises, by about $1 billion.
This is a vivid, tragic and sad fact that we must keep in mind. The government in particular must keep this in mind when it embarks upon such a policy. A major redistribution of income takes place and it favours the rich over the poor. Not only are the ordinary people seriously harmed by a deliberate cutback in, the economy, but the loss to the economy in the output of goods and services is immense. During the 1969-71 period, it is estimated that more than $6 billion in output was lost. In concrete terms, that meant new housing, hospitals, roads, railway cars and many other essentials simply are not produced because of a cutback policy. For these reason the New Democratic Party will strongly oppose any move by the government to place the burden of inflation on the backs of the average income earner and the poor. We will do so because it is economically foolish and socially unjust.
In rejecting the traditional Liberal approach to inflation, I want to emphasize that we do so because the intended cure of restraint adversely affects the very groups the government invokes to justify it. That surely has to be the test. It affects the elderly who spend more on food, housing and drugs than is accounted for in the cost of living escalator clauses that we now have. It affects those in Atlantic Canada more than those in Ontario. It affects both organized and unorganized workers. It marginally affects the unorganized workers more than the organized. It affects women more than men because on the average their wages and salaries are lower. Above all, such a policy affects the five million poor in Canada whatever their age, sex, region or occupation.
I want to say something in this context about the trade union movement. There are those who have attacked the New Democratic Party for its alliance with the trade union movement. The fact that 2 1/2 million Canadians have banded together, office by office, factory by factory, to fight collectively for economic security and better working conditions is to be applauded. The fact that our political party, dedicated to the pursuit of equality, allies itself with 2 1/2 million working Canadians is a matter of pride for all New Democrats.
Some hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr. Broadbent: The suggestion by the Minister of Finance that trade unions must exercise restraint in their wage demands is, I suggest, totally insupportable. Since they are organized, and hence more visible, Canadians in trade unions have been singled out by the government and urged to hold back on their legitimate claims to a greater share of our gross national product. The fact is that, while unorganized workers suffered a net loss in real income during the past year, organized Canadians during the same time barely maintained their position. The men and women in our trade unions simply are not making great gains at this time. They are barely keeping at, or are just slightly above the cost of living increase.
To ask organized workers to suffer a decline in real income, as the Minister of Finance has asked in recent speeches, it to beg the question of who benefits from such restraint. The suggestion that even the tiniest fraction of
these sacrificed earnings would find their way into the pay cheques of the unorganized, or the social allowances of those in need, or the pension cheques for the aged, is a lie, and a dangerous lie. It is a lie because no mechanism exists in our society to enable such a transfer, and it is a dangerous lie because it sets against one another two groups whose interests are not antagonistie.
I want to make a point with an analogy. The kind of argument one hears from the Minister of Finance, certain editorialists and many other people in the country, is that somehow the interests of the unorganized worker and the interests of the organized worker are antagonistic. Consider the following analogy. Picture a shipwreck. There are people in the water. Some on one side of the ship get together and hold each other up in order to keep afloat. Others on the other side of the ship are struggling individually; one by one they sink below the surface of the water and drown.
Then along comes a yacht. The captain of this yacht—let us call him Trudeau—and the first mate, a man by the name of Turner, see the wreck. On the one side they see individuals bobbing in the water, gradually disappearing beneath it one by one. On the other side of the shipwreck they see a group banded together, and because they have banded together they are managing to stay afloat. The captain and the first mate discuss the situation. One says, “If we take them aboard it will be crowded and things might not be so pleasant”.
Mr. Trudeau: Why did you wreck the ship in the first place?
Mr. Broadbent: I will deal with that later. So they discuss the situation and develop a very clever strategy. The captain approaches the ones who have banded together and are managing to keep afloat, and says, “You know, your problem is an international problem and the only way we can save you is to drain the ocean. If we drain the ocean we can save you fellows”. While he is talking to the organized ones, the ones who have managed to hold each other up and keep afloat, the first mate of the ship, Mr. Turner, goes over and talks to the ones who are drowning one by one. He says to them, “You know what your problem is. You know what is causing the difficulty you are in. It is the organized guys over there who are holding each other up. They are bouncing up and down so much in the ocean that they are causing you do drown”. The unfortunate thing about this is that each having told his respective tale, they return to the captain’s cabin and sail off into the distance, leaving all those who were united and those trying to stay afloat individually still floating in the ocean.
My point is that instead of attacking the trade union movement, in the weeks ahead the government should set an example with its own thousands of employees by making sure that future wage settlements are based on real, not current dollars. I might add that it should encourage the private sector to do the same.
Far from harming unorganized workers, many studies both at home and abroad, including the federal government’s own Woods report, have shown that trade unions have provided the stimulus for wage increases among the unorganized. An effective wage restraint program in the organized sector—I want to stress this point—would not leave more to go round for others; it would simply lessen the pressure to pay adecuate wages to the unorganized workers in Canada. We New Democrats will not support a restraint policy for trade unions because it is both unfair to them and harmful to those Canadians who are not in the trade union movement.
The throne speech makes it clear that the government intends, as I have said, to introduce a program of restraints rather than to meet the real needs of Canadians by constructive, imaginative and positive government action. Just as restraint is wrong and divisive when applied to wages, so too is it wrong when it is applied as a general injunction to government programs. Both Liberals and Conservatives view government spending in itself as inflationary. In my view, such thinking is the inevitable product of a rigid, private enterprise mentality. Such thinking permeates the throne speech, and I am not going to trot out all the examples I could. In the speech, the government states its clear intention to make future cutbacks on its programs.
Government spending is in itself no more nor less inflationary than spending by any other group in the economy. The test is what the money is spent on. In some areas no spending by the government is, in itself, an inflationary act. No other issue as this so clearly defines the difference between our economic philosophy and that of the old parties. It is our opponents who are rigid and inflexible in their thinking, and it is they who feel the need to apologize for any public enterprise. It is precisely this state of mind that causes the government to fail to see that what is now required is not a general withdrawal of government activity but, rather, of specific points in its expansion. Left on its own at this time, the private sector both at home and abroad will not only fail to deal with the twin evils of inflation and unemployment but could lead the world into a depression—and I say this with care and seriousness—of the scale experience in the thirties.
There is not an economist in Canada, the United States or western Europe who does not believe that the economic situation today approaches the seriousness of the situation in 1929. I do not say that they all predict an inevitable recession of the scope of the thirties, but I do say that they see the situation potentially as serious as that. One would never have thought it, having listened to the Prime Minister this afternoon. In the view of most economists, the changes that have taken place in the role of government in the western world since 1929, more than anything else, will likely be that which will enable us to survive, but only if government has the intelligence and will to use the instruments of government with seriousness.
The New Democratic Party has always favoured the strong, positive and flexible use of governmental authority to achieve economic and social justice. In confronting the economic problems facing us this fall, we must use these instruments with vigour and imagination unapproached in recent years, and precisely because of the seriousness of the situation. There is no evidence in the throne speech that the government is at all aware of the need for such imaginative and positive action by the state.
They want to relegate the instruments of government to an insignificant role, in principle to go back to 1929. I do not mean to suggest, of course, that they want to move back to that kind of role for government, but they have the same defensive reaction to imaginative use of government that was set in their minds as a carry over from the 1920s. In my view, this is what is causing the profound inhibition that we find in the cabinet. The selective and strategic use of public investment, public ownership and government expenditure must be at the centre of a national development plan that meets the real needs of the people of this country today.
The level of government spending is only one issue. The question that must also be faced is the allocation of that spending. A number of examples of the need for a shift in government expenditures and of the opportunity for creative public enterprise can be suggested, and I will so suggest now. For example, the 1974-75 estimates reveal that the federal government plans to spend $128 million on 19 office buildings. They intend to spend an additional $403 million to complete those office buildings. These same funds could be used to provide housing for 100,000 Canadians. I suggest that they be transferred to that kind of spending now.
Such a change in government spending priorities would meet a number of needs. First, it would provide housing for those who need it. Second, by increasing the supply, the cost of housing in general would be reduced. Thus, in this particular instance we have illustrated that by spending money in a certain sector we would have a deflationary effect on the economy rather than an inflationary one. Third, by this change thousands of lumber workers currently unemployed in British Columbia, Quebec and New Brunswick would once again gain employment as a result of a resurgence of building in housing.
The issue of housing is one I have spoken about in parliament on a number of occasions. In the context of the current economic situation, however, it is more important than ever before that housing construction not be used as a convenient means of slowing down the economy, which has been the real effect of the high interest rate policy the government has maintained now for many months.
In 1972 the Prime Minister requested that the Economic Council of Canada study the role of the construction industry in the economy. Its report and recommendations were released this year. It recommended that future lowincome housing efforts be organized and funded so as to ensure a smooth growth pattern over a period of years. In its recommendations it also stated that low-income housing should not be used as an economic valve, yet that is exactly what is happening in Canada today. It is exactly that which I have opposed in the past in this House as the housing spokesman for my party. Low-income housing starts have declined more drastically in our economy in the past couple of years than the over-all decline in housing. CMHC loans for low-income housing covered 52,000 units in 1970, for example, only 47,000 in 1971 and a mere 34,000 in 1972. The projections for this year indicate that even fewer units for low-income housing will be built.
One of the most cruel acts of the government was to increase, within a month of the election, by 1 per cent or so the interest rate it was charging provincial governments in Canada for mortgage money to construct public housing. This it did after the election, instead of doing the reverse, that is, bringing down the interest rate for the construction of that kind of needed housing. The decline in housing construction in Canada is not merely an example of the unwillingness and inability of the government to view housing as a social priority; the decline in housing starts has also deprived many Canadians of acquiring the most important asset available to them in past generations. For Canadians earning less than $25,000 per year, a house is the most important asset. It is their major source of savings for the future. To allow an absolute decline in housing starts, which is what we are now experiencing at the rate of 60,000 a year, is to allow further concentration of the wealth in the nation where wealth is already concentrated, that is, in the hands of the few. I remind you, Mr. Speaker, of the following statistics.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. I regret having to interrupt the hon. member, but pursuant to Standing Order 38 his time has expired. He would be entitled to an extra ten minutes if he has an amendment, and I would hope he would indicate to the Chair whether that is the case. In addition, he could also seek the unanimous consent of the House if he wishes to continue.
Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre): Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. May I say that the Chair was informed that the hon. member for Oshawa-Whitby (Mr. Broadbent) would be moving an amendment. I understood from Mr. Speaker, therefore, that it would not be necessary to interrupt him at this point.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order, please. I am very sorry, but the present occupant of the chair was not so informed.
Mr. Broadbent: Mr. Speaker, I remind you that the wealthiest 1 per cent of Canadians now own 12 per cent of all assets in Canada, that the wealthiest 10 per cent own 41.8 per cent of all assets, and that the majority of Canadians, that is about 50 per cent of them, own a mere 6.7 per cent of the wealth. Therefore, if we persist in following what has gone on for the past couple of years, and particularly in the last few months, unless there is a major shift in the production of housing, what we will see, precisely because housing represents the major source of wealth for the majority of people in Canada, is further concentration of wealth in the upper income groups. Surely no democratic society can tolerate that kind of development.
A massive increase, not merely a transfer in housing from one sector of government financing to another, in housing funds is required. In no other area is it so obvious that the multiple objective of meeting social needs, providing jobs, levelling prices and effecting a redistribution of wealth can be achieved only by imaginative and positive government action rather than by general government restraint.
A further example in the same domain, in its vividness that should be very much with us today, concerns the situation of the Indian on the reserve. Last year the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
paid $21 million in social assistance payments to Indians who could not work because there was no work available, yet 25 per cent of Indian families, as I said at the outset, need new housing desperately. The government of Manitoba has shown what can be done. That government started a housing project in Churchill with public money and public initiative. Previously unemployed Indian people learned skills, built houses and received wages, not welfare. This is an example that could be duplicated right across Canada if this government were capable of creative, public initiative. Instead, we will get a continuation of governmental paternalism vis-a-vis our native people.
Many specific steps should be taken to both minimize the effects of inflation and maximize the opportunities for employment. The level of government spending must be increased in certain areas, and the priorities for spending must be changed. In part this is needed to ensure that full employment is established. We must not restrain ourselves into a depression. In part this will be needed to provide the funds necessary to meet pressing needs in energy, transportation and agriculture as well as in housing. The government must take steps to ensure that it has a determining voice in all large investment decisions in the private sector. Concern with the right set of social priorities, for example, would lead to the prohibition of department store chains’ decisions to expand in 1975. Despite excess capacity, these department store chains in Canada have embarked on building plans which will use up sufficient resources that might have been used alternatively to build more than 8,000 houses.
In guiding the economy to deal with both inflation and unemployment, the government must intervene not only in the investment but also in the pricing decisions of large corporations. It is at best naive, and at worst dishonest, to continue on the assumption that a mythological entity called the free market will ensure that all prices will be just prices. There is no free market and there are few just prices. The government was willing to intervene one year ago to prevent increases in the price of milk, and then we had a minority government. We learned this afternoon that, no longer under the pressure of losing any votes, it has decided to take off the 5-cent subsidy. A just price would require, as a minimum, the maintenance of that 5-cent subsidy.
A tough excess profits tax must be introduced at the time of the budget. The purpose of this tax will be to ensure that companies, knowing that only profits up to a certain level will be permitted, will decide to moderate their price increases. Through changes in the Canada Pension Plan, the equal rights of women must be recognized. Private pension plans should become schemes of the past. The pensions of men and women should no longer depend on the whims of the stock market, as is the case now, when many people are in danger of facing a decrease in the value of their savings. A substantially altered Canada Pension Plan must offer real security against inflation. The level of pensionable earnings must be substantially increased in order to include the majority of Canadians.
In summing up this part of my speech, I want to stress that we New Democrats do not believe the only economic issue is that of inflation, which seems to be clearly the government’s judgment. It is also that of unemployment. As I said earlier, it is forecast that we will reach 8 per cent some time next year, the highest level of unemployment in 13 years. We reject as morally and intellectually wrong any moves in the direction of general restraint in government spending, precisely because it is ineffective in terms of prices and disastrous in terms of both employment and the distribution of income. Our plea to the government is to abandon this course and to pursue a variety of specific measures or some others along the lines I have suggested.
In concluding, I wish to make a couple of general observations about what motivates the members of my party and what underlies the approach we will take to legislation in the coming session. All parties in the House work for what they regard as the general good. Good motivation is not in dispute. Well-motivated members permeate all parties in this House. What is in dispute is the kind of society each of us wants Canada to become.
From the very beginning, democratic socialists in Canada, like our friends throughout the world—including Mr. Palme, who will be here shortly—have sought to work for a society in which all would have full and equal possibility for developing, exercising and enjoying their talents or capacities. More specifically, this has meant working for a basic change in our economy both to achieve independence and to effect a just distribution of its benefits. It has meant leading the battle for the first old age pensions. It has meant being the first to establish medicare. It has meant calling into question the immense power of modern corporations. It has meant standing up for the rights of Japanese Canadians in the 1940s and standing up for those unjustly imprisoned under the War Measures Act in the 1970s.
We make no spurious distinction between economic and civil liberties. None of these positions was popular when first pursued. None was first supported by parties seeking only electoral majorities. It is our commitment to genuine equality that has motivated our past and will determine our future.
Because of what I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles):
That the amendment be amended by changing the period at the end thereof to a comma, and by adding immediately thereafter the following words:
“and we regret in particular the failure of Your Excellency’s advisers to make immediate proposals to assist those who are hardest hit by inflation, and also their failure to take immediate steps to increase the production of necessary goods and services and thus reduce the unemployment that so seriously affects the lives of so many people.”
Mr. Real Caouette (Temiscamingue): Mr. Speaker, I earnestly thank my colleagues on my right as well as those opposite for their courtesy towards me. I do not intend to defend my case but in the past, during my sixteen years in Parliament, I had the opportunity to see in this House political groups much less numerous than we are but which were really recognized. For instance, in 1946-1947 the Bloc populaire was sitting here in this House. Its leader was Maxime Raymond who was sitting here on my left as well as Rene Hamel from Shawinigan, both mem-
bers of the Bloc populaire. Mr. Raymond was always considered as the leader of the Bloc populaire canadien.
As I mentioned yesterday, I think, Mr. Coldwell was elected along with seven members, and he was always recognized as a party leader. Even before his death, he was recognized as a man of great value.
I should like to thank again the hon. colleagues who recognize me as a leader of the Social Credit party of Canada. It is obvious that I was not elected by Parliament. It is obvious that I was elected by members of my party throughout Canada. It surely does not behove Parliament to say whether the leader of a political group should be its leader. However, the law could have been amended, instead of lowering the number from twelve to ten or eleven, by adding that from now on, a political group of twelve members elected in the House, as long as members are reelected, even though the number would be less than twelve, should continue to be officially recognized as a party. It seems to me that it would eliminate all the big fuss we see these days in the newspapers.
Mr. Speaker, we intend to work not to destroy Parliament, but to abide by the law and to co-operate with all the members whether they are on the government benches or on the other side of the House. We shall work conscientiously, we shall participate in parliamentary business as much as possible in order to be serious men, accepted men, men who participate in the best administration of Canada. That is why my ten colleagues will contribute as well to the effective operation of our Parliament.
Mr. Speaker, I read with attention the two sub-amendments now before the House, and I listened carefully to the speech delivered by the opposition leader (Mr. Stanfield) and the Right Honourable Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau). I read the Speech from the Throne and I made a great discovery. The Speech from the Throne informs us that there is inflation, as if we did not know it. The Prime Minister barely spoke about inflation this afternoon. He mentioned the word “inflation” only once and he discussed some quite important matters such as bilingualism. I heard him and I greatly appreciate what he said about the recognition of the two official languages in Canada.
There is some room for improvement, as moreover he admitted it, in almost every field, for example in Crown corporations. Some time ago, I took an Air Canada plane on which the stewardesses did not speak a word of French. I would not object if the said lady was called Plamondon or Harris, but I object if she is unilingual. I also noted that a young French Canadian who applies for the job of stewardess at Air Canada is required to be fluent in both official languages when the same is not required from an English-speaking applicant elsewhere than in Quebec. She is required to speak English only and have the qualifications of a stewardess which is fine. However, why have a law for the rich and one for the poor? Why require both languages from the young French Canadian when there is no such requirement for the English-speaking? This is simply to draw the attention of the government on that matter. There are fanatics in Quebec, and in great numbers.
When I see Mr. François Albert Angers on TV, he makes me sick a little. As far as he is concerned, only French should be spoken. I also regretted the introduction of Bill 22 in the Quebec National Assembly. With Canada’s official languages act, I think that people in the province of Quebec can very well take care of themselves without Bill 22, which creates more confusion than anything else. It should never have been introduced.
Today, there are fanatics like Angers, not only in Montreal but also in Winnipeg. I Just received a letter dated September 30, 1974, the day of the opening of the session. The address, in case anyone would like to write back is as follows:
303-139 Roselyn Road,
Mr. Real Caouette,
House of Commons,
I have just been listening to your speech on the nomination of the new Speaker for the House of Commons.
I regret very much that your speech to your fellow Canadians was given in a language that the vast majority of your listeners could not understand. Perhaps you intended it as a joke!
(Sgd) G. Christy (Mrs.)
Making a joke of the French language.
In French, G. Christie.
Mr. Speaker, people of that kind are harmful to the national unity of Canada. She tells me:
—the vast majority of your listeners could not understand.
All she had to do was to do like me. I learned English. To speak, I had to learn it. To understand it, I had to learn it. And I did. And I am happy to know the second official language. Why did she not learn French? She would then not have written such a stupid letter. I hope she reads Hansard, because her letter will be published in it.
People say: Oh! in Quebec, you have a bunch of fanatics. All Quebecers are not fanatics. We Social Crediters are not fanatics; we were elected members of Parliament, and we seldom bring up questions of languages among ourselves. Had that lady listened to the French television station in Winnipeg, where the Speech from the Throne was read as it was in the province of Quebec, we would be spared such situations, Mr. Speaker.
The Prime Minister said that we would stress bilingualism even more. This will serve the whole population. When he said that the English-speaking minority in the province of Quebec was perhaps the best treated minority in the whole of Canada, I believe he was absolutely right. The laws and rules in the province of Quebec did not prevent me from learning English. I therefore advise Quebecers to learn the tho languages.
In Europe, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, it is not a rare thing to meet people mastering seven or eight languages.
It is fascinating how those people speak to each other and go from one language to another. It is a fantastic sight.
In Canada, we have only two official languages, and we spend our time arguing about it.
There is no sense in that. The Prime Minister therefor deserves commendation for his firmness in supporting Canada’s two official languages.
Mr. Speaker, this brings me to the Speech from the Throne, which is not a novel thing. The speech proposes to increase production, when it is not possible to sell existing goods. Millions of eggs are destroyed because we have too much, and we hear its said “We did not know”! In other areas, turkeys have been destroyed, not so long ago—25,000 at a time. They are still destroyed. Chickens are destroyed almost all the time. There is horrendous destruction in farm products.
What is the purpose, Mr. Speaker, in increasing production if it cannot be marketed? I quote from the New Democratic Party’s amendment:
Steps to increase the production of necessary goods and services in Canada. Our stores are filled to capacity.
All our stores are full to capacity. Some industries have closed because of a product surplus. Last year, Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources (Mr. Macdonald) said: Tighten your belts, there will be a shortage. I was the only one in this House to say to the hon. minister that he was pulling our leg and that there was no oil or gas shortage in Canada. Today, the Golden Eagle Canada Limited which received five to seven million dollars subsidies from the government is laying off 250 employees in its Saint-Romuald plants because the stores are full to capacity. In the United States they speak about reducing the price of gas by 13 cents a gallon because stores are full to capacity. Arabs and Venezuelians have tremendous surpluses and the government has just told us: We have to increase our productivity. We have in the St. Lawrence River oil resources that are undevelopped because we prefer to develop those of the North Pole where it is colder and the guys perspire less.
In the St. Lawrence River? No, it is too near to us. They squander the funds and then they say: it is necessary to increase production. Mr. Speaker, it is not production that we must increase, but the purchasing power of consumers, so that these raises do not enter in the prices of goods. There is no other solution.
At the present time, there are guys all over the country who are running after escalation of wages in line with the increases in the prices of goods; they go on strikes in Montreal, Vancouver, on the Great Lakes, everywhere, to obtain this escalation. They are granted this escalation, which is to the benefit of the provincial and federal governments, because when they get higher wages, these guys must pay higher income taxes. Once the escalation has been granted, the prices of goods are in turn increased in line with the wages. It is like a dog trying to catch its tail. No solution is ever found. This is to the advantage of the government. Inflation is useful to it. If a product sold $200 were subject to a 10 per cent production tax, that would bring in $20. But if the price is increased to $400, this will yield $40. This is why the government is not speaking too loud against inflation, being merely satisfied with saying that it is unfortunate. But it will impose no control and will accept stiffer interest rates. Soon, the government will have to pay 10 per cent interest when borrowing money. Do you know that when you borrow $100 million at a 10 per cent interest over a 20-year period, it will yield $200 million in interest only. And you still have to reimburse the $100 million you borrowed initially. The government does not talk about that, that is inflation. So inflation must be fought but there is not talk about that and no steps are introduced. In the amendments introduced by the Tories and the NDP there is nothing to fight inflation.
We Social Crediters have a solution that several still find funny, and the majority of Canadians still do not accept it. We saw that at the last election. That does not mean it is wrong. We ask for an income security plan. During the last election campaign the Prime Minister promised a guaranteed annual income, old age security at 60. That was in our program. That is what led me to say at the end of the campaign, I think the Prime Minister is going to vote Social Credit Monday. The actual terms used by Social Crediters!
We proposed and still propose a guaranteed annual income of $1,500 a year payable to all Canadians over the age of 18 whatever their income may be. Those monies should not be taken out of the taxes because that would bring about price increases. We propose benefits of $300 a year for children under 18; additional benefits for the disabled now faced with small, shameful pensions, a supplement of $1,500 a year for a total of $3,000 a year. That is called the threshold of poverty. A spouse would also be given a supplement of $1 ,000 a year for a combined total of $5,500. Today $5,000 or $5,500 in income allows a couple to live and not only exist, complain, feel dejected. Everybody knows that.
Mr. Speaker, the disabled would get $5,500. A widow or widower with dependent children would receive $3,000 a year. For older citizens 60 or over—I do not know what program the Prime Minister will be introducing—but we recommend for them a supplement of $1,500 a year , and $1,000 a year for the spouse, man or woman, for an amount of $5,500 a year.
Mr. Speaker, in the area of fiscal policies I said earlier that the government is pleased with the increase in prices as well as the increase in the incomes of corporations, big companies and individuals because the higher they are the more the government gets. Social Crediters suggest basic exemptions of $3,000 for single people, $6,000 for a married couple and $500 for each child under 18. The taxation system itself would be simplified. Nowadays, we pay a lot of taxes to everybody, we can’t make head or tail of it, we don’t know where we are going. Now, that’s what the government is saying in the Speech from the Throne, we have lost our reason.
Nobody but the Social Crediters suggests an alternative solution, unless we take the financial decisions to settle the whole problem. That’s why we always insist so strongly on the services of the Bank of Canada, which is the Parliament’s institution, the country’s institution.
I got today another letter, from Roxton Pond (Quebec), which says, and I quote:
Dear Mr. Caouette:
I was listening this morning to radio station CKVL. Someone was speaking of savings bonds at 9 3/4 interest rate. I can’t understand why the government has to borrow money since it has its own central bank and can create money anytime it needs it.
The required money, not for the sake of it, but according to the available production. I quote further:
This seems to me to be nonsensical and at the same time stealing the people. This measure puts the whole country into debt. There is always the interest to be paid to finance people. Why doesn’t the government abolish all this interest on created money which should never have seen the day. I think that nothing is more unjust on this earth, that it is exploitation of the worst kind.
Another problem in this country: the unions that will make prices go up.
And I was wondering if you could not convince your colleagues, make them understand, so that once and for all they will set their minds to work for the people and not the financier. Disaster will be upon as sooner or later if nothing changes.
We are very close to disaster, Mr. Speaker, and there is no intention of changing anything. The financial, monetary and fiscal structures are one thing, but they are not the monetary system. Taxation is nothing more than taking money from the pockets of some to put it in those of others. So, instead of helping one get richer, we make him poorer, make poor people out of them both and things get worse. The situation deteriorates from day to day. Production, as I said earlier, is good. The consumers are there, but the distribution to consumers is lacking.
We have therefore been suggesting for many years the granting of a national dividend based upon products surpluses, upon the real gap between products and the purchasing power of today’s incomes. This would not be included in prices: it would be a new credit issued by the Bank of Canada. It would restore economic and social order throughout Canada: there would be no more strikes like those we have today; there would be better understanding among human beings. And we, members of Parliament would have done our job, we would have taken our responsibilities in order that Canadians may be pleased with the administration of public affairs.
On motion of Mr. Lefebvre the House adjourned at 6.21 p.m.