- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 5 Apr 1945, p. 393-408
- Douglas, The Honourable T.C., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Problems that face the people of Saskatchewan, and the people of the three Prairie Provinces. Capital for development the West and from where it came. Payments out of wealth produced. Problems when very little wealth is produced. The need to pay interest on capital. Liquidation of the Prairie debt and to what it is due. The sharing of responsibility with regard to seed grain between the Province and the Federal Government. The problem for the Saskatchewan people of having to buy most of their manufactured goods in a closed market, and at a much higher price than farmers on the United States side of the border. Consequences of the freight rate structure for the Prairie farmer. The issue that constitutional development of Canada has not kept pace with the changes that have taken place, and the result of an unnecessary and grievous burden being placed upon all Provincial Governments. An examination of that issue. The need for more sources of revenue for the Provincial Governments to run the social programmes. Plans for the postwar period. The need for a Dominion-Provincial Conference for the purpose of reallocating powers and determining sources of revenue. The issue of social welfare. The demand for increased social services. Saskatchewan's priority to take care of the needy. Steps taken to assure these needs including a health programme, Mother's Allowance, Old Age Pension. Plans for a farmer's crop insurance plan. Taking care of the physically disabled. The Saskatchewan Government's motto of "Humanity First." The economic basis of Saskatchewan's postwar plans. Developing economic resources. Providing employment to those returning from the war. Industrial development on a threefold basis: through private enterprise, on a co-operative basis, and on the basis of government enterprise, with examples.
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- 5 Apr 1945
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SASKATCHEWAN'S POSTWAR PLANS
AN ADDRESS BY THE HONOURABLE T. C. DOUGLAS Premier of the Province of Saskatchewan
Chairman: The President, Mr. C. R. Conquergood
Thursday, April 5, 1945
MR. CONQUERGOOD: A year agog the Executive of this Club decided to send invitations to each of the Premiers of Canadian Provinces to address our Club during the season, on their suggested postwar programs. Today, we welcome the Premier of Saskatchewan to our Club.
The Honourable T. C. Douglas was born in Scotland and at the age of six came to Canada with his parents. As a youth he learned the printing trade in Winnipeg, and still carries his union card. In 1924, he entered Brandon College to study for the ministry and in 1930 he received his Bachelor of Arts degree and also a call to become the pastor of Weyburn Baptist Church. During his college course, he won fame in sport circles by capturing the lightweight boxing championship of Manitoba. At University, he won gold medals for debating, dramatics and oratory. In 1933, he received his Master of Arts degree from McMaster University with a thesis on mental hygiene and public health.
In 1933, he attended the national convention of the C.C.F. party as a delegate.
In 1934, he was an unsuccessful candidate in the Saskatchewan election as a Farmer-Labor representative. In 1935, he was elected to the Dominion House representing the Weyburn constituency as a C.C.F. member. He has had nine years experience in the Federal House. In the spring of 1944, he resigned to accept the leadership of the C.C.F. in Saskatchewan, and as you know, was successful in that campaign. The Legislature under his leadership completed its session just about two weeks ago.
I have much pleasure in presenting The Honourable T. C. Douglas, Premier, President of the Council and Minister of Public Health for the Province of Saskatchewan, who will address us on "Saskatchewan's Post-War Plans".
HONOURABLE T. C. DOUGLAS: Mr. President, Fellow Guests, Gentlemen: I want to thank Mr. Conquergood and the members of The Empire Club for your very kind invitation to be here today. I never sit down to a dinner like this but I am reminded of a story that has been passed down in our family for a good many years. The story is that one of my ancestors, whose name was Sir James Douglas, used to live in the City of Edinburgh, and he was noted for being quite a wit. Most of my ancestors were just half-wits, but he was a whole wit. He was noted for having a rather sarcastic tongue in his head.
It so happened that a certain American millionaire was coming to the City of Edinburgh and he was to receive the freedom of the city at a dinner to be given there. That is the only thing you ever get for nothing in that city. When the American millionaire heard that Sir James was going to be there, he said, "Nothing doing. That fellow Douglas will make some nasty remark about me. I am not going."
The Lord Mayor of the city spoke to Sir James and it was agreed that Sir James would confine his remarks for the whole evening to a single statement. So he went to the dinner-a Scotsman always likes to get a free meal-and he sat for a long while and said not a word.
The main dish was a little chicken pattie, of which the American millionaire consumed huge quantities. Finally, he felt he ought to make some excuse for his appetite, so he turned to the Lord Mayor and said, "You know, I have eaten almost as many of these chicken patties as Samson slew of the Philistines". "Yes", said Sir James, "and with the same weapon--the jawbone of an ass".
I was rather pleased when today one of your oldest members said he was surprised that I was young. Most people begin by saying they are surprised I am so small. I am not alarmed by the knowledge that I am either small or young. I am getting over the youthfulness almost every day and I have given up all hope of ever growing any bigger.
My father, though, was a big man--like most Scotsmen--and he used to like to tell stories about the Scotch because a joke is the only thing that a Scotsman can enjoy at his own expense.
This story is about a Scotchman who got a job as a policeman. He bumped into a little Cockney and he got in an argument with him. The Cockney was getting the worst, of the argument and he got angry. He shook his fist in the Scotchman's face and said, "I could eat you". The Scotchman said, "Mon, if you could eat me you would be a biological monstrosity because you would have more brains in your stomach than you have got in your head."
Now, I do appreciate the kind invitation of your Club to come and speak to you. I do not feel, because we have many differences in point of view on social, economic and political matters, that it should not be possible for us to discuss together the plans which concern the future benefit and mutual interests of this country. I think that it is proof of the broad interest of your Club that you have asked me to come here and speak to you about the postwar plans of the Saskatchewan Government.
Before we talk about Saskatchewan's post-war plans, let me just put to you very briefly the problems that face the people of Saskatchewan and, as a matter of fact, the people of the three Prairie Provinces.
First, the Prairies were opened up by a pioneer people, who had no great amount of money to invest, with the result that the capital for developing the West came from Eastern Canada, from the United States and from the United Kingdom. That is a good thing. But it has meant that throughout the years, whether we had crops or had no crops, a steady share of the annual production of wealth has had to be drained off from the Prairies to pay interest on that capital investment.
Now, there has been no complaint about making payments out of wealth which is produced, but, as every one knows, there have been years when very little wealth was produced. Yet there had to be drained off a portion of that, wealth to pay interest on capital, or there had to be a further accumulation of debt and, that has worked a tremendous hardship.
Any of you who are engaged in the credit business will agree with me when I say the best proof that the people of the Prairies have wanted to pay their debt is that during the war, when the price of farm production has gone up, the farmers have come forward to pay debts which in some cases credit institutions had long ago given up as hopeless. Credit men are amazed at the way payments have come in, with the result a great deal of debt on the Prairies has been liquidated.
The same is true not only of the people of Saskatchewan but of the Government of Saskatchewan. The Government of Saskatchewan has met its obligations and intends to continue to meet its obligations.
There has been some dispute, for instance, on the matter of seed grain, which I will not discuss now because it is a political question. All I want to say is that the Saskatchewan Government was never a debtor; it is a guarantor, along with the Federal Government. There is no question of default. The only matter under dispute is how the share of responsibility shall be divided as between the Province and the Federal Government.
There is the first problem-the fact that most of our settlement in Western Canada was financed by capital which came from outside, with the result a steady share of our income must be drained off annually, irrespective of whether we have a crop or not.
Another problem is that the people of the Prairies, living as they do in a largely agricultural economy, find that they must buy most of their manufactured goods in a closed market, and during the 'twenties and the 'thirties, they found themselves paying for their machinery, for their clothing, for their farm implements, for their cars, for their gasoline, for their radios, at prices anywhere from 25 to 50 percent more than the farmers on the United States side of the border.
Well, you might persuade them that in the interests of a young and growing country they ought to make this concession, until they find that they must sell their products on the markets of the world; that their wheat must be sold in competition with Argentina's cheap labour; that their bacon and pork must be sold in competition with Denmark which is close to the markets of the world; that their butter must be sold in competition with New Zealand, which has a climate that allows the farmers to keep their stock out twelve months in the year. The Prairie farmer then finds, while he bought all the things which he needed in a closed, protected market and paid the top price, he must sell in an open market at a very low price indeed, and at one which fluctuated from day to day and from year to year.
Not only that, but the Prairie farmer found that this thing called the freight rate structure-a thing, amazing and wonderful to behold-was so constituted that, when he tried to ship goods from one part of the country to the other, freight rates were almost prohibitive.
I still remember the time that Gerry McGeer, formerly Mayor of Vancouver, and now a Member of the Federal House, went before the Board of Railway Commissioners and said, "All I want to draw to the attention of the Board is that Japan is located at the other side of the Pacific Ocean."
The Chairman said, "I think, Mr. McGeer, the Board is perfectly aware of that."
Mr. McGeer said, "Well, I was looking up the freight rates and noticed that it cost more to send wheat from Regina to Vancouver than to send it from Regina .to Tokio. I thought probably you were under the impression that Japan was somewhere in Alberta."
When you remember that during the 'thirties, at a time when on the Prairies we were having partial crop failures, with a lot of either frozen or low grade wheat which was excellent for chicken feed, we found that it cost us more to send the chicken feed down to the Ontario farmer than it would cost to send it to Great Britain. When the cost of sending Ontario apples to Saskatchewan was more than the cost of sending Ontario apples to Great Britain, you can see that the Prairie farmer has come to feel that the dice have been pretty badly loaded against him.
Then there has been another problem. As the years have gone by, as the need for social services has developed, the constitutional development of this country has not kept pace with the changes that have taken place, with the result that we have now come to the spot where an unnecessary and grievous burden is placed upon all Provincial Governments.
When the Fathers of Confederation drew up the British North America Act, social services were almost unheard of. The world hadn't yet heard of such things as Old Age Pensions, Mothers' Allowances, Unemployment Insurance. Technological unemployment, as we knew it in the 'thirties was unknown in 1867. So the Fathers of Confederation, in allocating the powers as between the Provincial and Federal Government, gave the Provincial Government responsibility for social services, because it wasn't a very heavy responsibility, but overlooked the very important detail of giving to the Provincial Government the necessary sources of revenue with which to discharge that responsibility. As the years have gone by in the interim, social services have taken an increasingly important place in the thinking of all civilized nations, with the result that today in every part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, social services have a very high place in all our social legislation.,
The Provinces have found that they are responsible in times of distress for caring for the unemployed, caring for the sick, caring for the needy, caring for the aged, caring for the disabled, with none of the sources of revenue that would make it possible to adequately discharge that obligation.
So the time has come when our Constitution, we feel, must be streamlined to meet the needs of the Twentieth Century.
Now, that, very briefly and very sketchily, is something of the problem that faces the people of Saskatchewan.
What are our plans for the post-war period to meet those problems? I think I can put them roughly into three classifications.
First, what we think should be done, and what we hope will be done on the constitutional level. We feel that there is a great and pressing need for a Dominion-Provincial Conference, to be called primarily for the purpose of reallocating powers and determining sources of revenue.
We are frank to admit that there are some powers which the Provincial Government probably ought to surrender to the Federal Government. Take, for instance, the power to make labour legislation. Every Provincial Government knows the moment it passes progressive or advanced labour legislation that province is penalizing its own business men and its own manufacturers who are in competition with another province which probably hasn't any labour legislation or very meagre labour legislation. The only wav you can have adequate labour legislation is to have labour legislation in effect from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
Therefore, it is probably time for the Provinces to surrender that Dower to a Federal authority.
The same thing is true of some forms of taxation. I _ think the war has proved that there ought to be one taxing authority, especially with reference to income and corporation tax. To have the average business man or the average individual paying two sets of income tax, paying tax on tax, is not only cumbersome, but it is inequitable, and the war has probably proven to us the necessity for having one taxing authority collecting all funds by means of corporation income tax, and then reallocating that money to the provinces, either on the pro rata basis or on the basis of need.
But, on the other hand, there are certain things which the Federal Government will have to surrender. The Federal Government will have to make up its mind to one of two things: either the Federal Government must assume responsibility for those who are incapable of looking after themselves-the aged, the needy, the widow, the orphan, the physically disabled, the unemployed, the unemployable -or they must be prepared to allocate to the Provinces, either on a basis of need or a basis of population, a sufficiently large grant to allow the Provinces to take care of those who are in need, and such a grant, if given, of course would have to be inviolate against seizure under any pretext whatsoever.
Now, we don't think, as a Province or as a Government, that there can be any planning for the post-war until we have first of all set our house in order with reference to these constitutional readjustments. When I mention the Dominion-Provincial Conference, let me say here and now, as far as the Government of Saskatchewan is concerned, we will go to such a Conference not thinking only in terms of Saskatchewan, but thinking in terms of the welfare of Canada as a whole, because more than being Saskatchewanites we are Canadians. We must be prepared to merge our Provincial interests in the larger national picture, just as the Canadian people, in turn, must be prepared to merge their interests in terms of the larger Empire picture, and the welfare of the family of nations as a whole.
Let me say something about the second basis upon which we think our post-war planning must be placed, that is the social welfare basis. I do not believe that any part of the English-speaking world will ever again go back to the old theory that the state has no responsibility for the individual. Social services are here to stay. Let us make no mistake about that. I think the war has driven home to us this fact, that if you and I believe, as I suppose most of us do, that the citizen has an obligation to the state in time of war; then we must believe the corollary to that, that the State has an obligation to the citizen in time of peace; that if we have the right to come and ask a man to risk and lay down his life for this country when it is in danger, then that man says the State has a responsibility to him and his family if, through no fault of his own. he is unable to provide for himself and his family.
We are never going back to laissew faire policy. In every part of the British Commonwealth of Nations today, what do we find? We find in the United Kingdom itself a growing demand for increased social services and better social welfare. We find in New Zealand, we find in Australia, we find in the county to the south of us, the United States of America, a growing demand that society, collectively, shall accept responsibility for caring for those who cannot care for themselves.
In Saskatchewan we place that first. We say that before any other obligation, our first obligation is to take care of the needy. To that end we have taken a number of what we think are important steps. We have started a health programme now which provides free care and treatment for all persons suffering from tuberculosis; free diagnosis, care and treatment, hospitalization and surgery for all persons suffering from cancer or suspected of suffering from cancer. We are now supplying a completely free treatment to all persons thought to be suffering from venereal disease. We are bringing penicillin to all practitioners for the treatment of venereal disease. We have set up completely free medical, hospital, surgical and dental services, free drugs and appliances for all Old Age Pensioners, all blind persons and dependents, all widows and children in receipt of the Mothers' Allowance.
It covers over 25,000 persons who since the 1st of January this year have been given completely free health services in the Province of Saskatchewan. We think this is our job. We have increased the Mothers' Allowance, in addition to giving them free health service. We have increased the Old Age Pension, in addition to giving pensioners the free health services I mentioned.
We have other things which will have to be done in the future. The day is not far distant when all across this country there must be a crop insurance plan so that farmers in every province, when they have crops, will be able to put money aside into a fund which will tide them over the period when there are no crops.
We are going to have to take care in this Dominion of Canada, and we want to do it very soon in the Province of Saskatchewan, of those people who are physically disabled, people crippled with arthritis and rheumatism and infantile paralysis, people who are a burden on their immediate friends or upon the community, and who we feel ought to be accepted as a responsibility in the same way we accept responsibility for the aged.
These are social services which we have started, and which we feel must be continued. The Government has set as its motto "Humanity First". The first demand upon the Treasury, the first demand upon the attention of the Government, the most important part of the legislation put upon the statute books must be concerned with human need and human welfare.
I want to say here to this Empire Club that if there is anything which has kept the British Empire as a great entity in world affairs, if there is anything that will keep it a powerful force in the years that lie ahead, it will be to continue increasingly to place the welfare of the individual in the forefront of our thinking. No nation is great, no Empire is great, when it has lost sight of the value and the work of the individual.
Already there are signs all over the British Empire. Statesmen of various political opinions and various social ideologies are recognizing that the first charge upon any government is the care and the welfare of the common man.
Let me deal now with the third basis upon which we think our post-war plan should be based, the economic basis. We recognize that no Province in Canada can possibly hope to remain an island of security in a nation where there is economic insecurity. No Province can possibly hope to have a Utopia of abundance and plenty if the rest of the country is plunged into the depths of an economic depression, any more than the Dominion of
Canada itself can hope to enjoy prosperity and abundance if the world is plunged into a period of economic maladjustment. The Province is a part of the nation, just as the nation is a part of the Empire, and the Empire is a part of the great world scene. We are bound to be affected by what happens in the rest of the world.
But, Mr. Chairman, the one thing which a Province can do and which a nation can do, and which the Empire can do, is that we can cushion the blow of economic mal adjustment in other parts of the world. For instance, during the 'thirties, we couldn't sell our wheat. We couldn't sell our timber. We couldn't sell our leather. It wasn't our fault we couldn't sell these things. We couldn't make people buy these things. But we maintain because we couldn't sell our wheat was no reason why some of our people should go without flour; because we couldn't sell our lumber was no reason why our own people shouldn't build houses and why carpenters and bricklayers should walk the streets; and because we couldn't sell our leather was no reason why we couldn't use leather here at home, but that we can cushion the blow to some extent.
We think that blow can be cushioned in Saskatchewan, and in Canada as a whole by a development of the economic resources which we have.
I am rather dismayed sometimes when I read of people who are distressed about the million young men and women who will be coming back from overseas. They say, "What will we do with them? That will mean another depression. That will mean more unemployment."
Gentlemen, if our economy is sane at all, if we live in a rational world, why should we be dismayed about another pair of hands and another brain put to work on the task of production? Every person who is put to work ought to mean an increase in the total amount of wealth available for consumption by the people of Canada. We ought to welcome back every person who is capable of working. We ought to welcome any increase in our total production of goods, if we are prepared to see that those goods are made available to the people who need them. Let us not be pessimistic and let us not be fearful.
In our Province in 1943, only nine per cent of our production came from industry. Only two per cent of our population were engaged in any industrial pursuit. That is too small. You can understand why our people feel they have become hewers of wood and drawers of water.
We have tremendous natural resources waiting to be developed. We are not suggesting for a moment that in a Province like Saskatchewan we can develop industry on the scale which the Province of Ontario has, and the Province of Quebec. Nor do we think for a moment we can develop artificial industry such as, for instance, the textile industry, but there are industries in Saskatchewan which are indigenous to Saskatchewan, and could be engaged in the processing of the things which our people produce from the farm, the forest, the lakes and the mines.
Now, we propose that these industries shall be developed on a threefold basis. First, that they shall be developed through private enterprise. We have welcomed at all times, and will continue to welcome private enterprise into the development of the industries of the Province of Saskatchewan. We have private enterprise there now. We will continue to encourage them to come in, not to exploit our resources and our people, but to co-operate with us in the development of these resources for the mutual benefit of both contracting parties.
Secondly, we want to see these resources developed on a co-operative basis as well as on a basis of private enterprise. We have gone a long way already. Our farmers own a tremendous grain handling system. Our farmers own today their own oil refinery. They have Co-operatives for distributing binder twine, flour, many things which the farmers can use in bulk. There is not a conflict there between private enterprise and co-operative enterprise. There is a place where they meet. In the distribution of many of those goods private enterprise was guilty of duplication and wastefulness in distribution. The Co-operatiyes have eliminated much of the duplication and much of the wastefulness. They are buying their goods from private enterprise and distributing on a more economical basis, and they are co-operatively controlled by the farmers themselves and any person who is familiar with the scene in the United Kingdom will know what a large and important place the Co-operative movement has played in the British economy and the British war effort.
The third basis upon which we propose to have this 'industrial development is on the basis of government enterprise. Here again we believe, not that government and co-operative enterprise are at variance with private enterprise, but that each have a field; that there is a field for government enterprise, as you have proven yourselves in this Province by your Hydro-Electric System, which is one of the finest in the world. We feel in Saskatchewan, where our electrical power has been in the hands of various duplicating companies that that is something which ought to be owned and controlled by the people through their Provincial Government. To that end we have already bought out the controlling interest in one of the largest power companies, and we propose to develop further along that line.
We are in the process of erecting three fish filleting plants, with a view to developing a fish filleting industry for the fishermen in Northern Saskatchewan.
We are now in the process of erecting a woollen mill, because up to now no attempt has been made to process the wool grown right on the Prairies and produce wool in our own province.
Our Co-operatives are taking steps now, not only to refine oil but to put up a linseed oil processing plant. We grow the finest flax in the world. We can process it into linseed oil, and make it into linseed cake for feeding of stock. That can be done by the farmers themselves through their own Co-operatives.
We have set up a brick and clay products plant again, because there has been little or no construction in our Province, because building material has been high, be cause private enterprise has been timid about going in. We envisage after the war a house building programme. There is nothing we need in Saskatchewan more than decent homes.
We are hoping also to go into lumber. The present Timber Control regulations prevent us doing so during the War. We have given way to that. We have no wish at all to interefere in any way with the war effort, but we are convinced as soon as the war is over a great house building programme. should be started again as a cooperative effort between the Government on the one hand, seeking to get the raw materials, the people themselves, and private enterprise, which we feel will be interested in coming and advancing people money and loaning people money under the National Housing Scheme to make it possible for them to build in the Province of Saskatchewan.
Let me stress this, that when we talk about industrial development we think that such development is a cooperative effort. We are beginning a new age in this country. Our friends, the Americans, have already shown us what can be done by means of chemurgy, where in the Midwestern States they have made synthetic rubber out of grain, they have made grain alcohol, they have made plastics, they have trade wheat syrup, they have made wheat starch and made them successfully.
We haven't even begun. We think there is the place where the Government can go in and set up pilot plants, can experiment with industries which utilize agricultural products for the manufacture of goods which people need. It doesn't mean that because we believe in government ownership we believe in it to the exclusion of everybody else. We do believe that the government, wherever it can give a lead, that the Co-operatives, wherever they can do so more efficiently, that private enterprise, wherever it will come in and work in conjunction with the people, can together begin to build in Saskatchewan the kind of industrial economy that will give to our people the economic security they have been denied so long.
I want to say just this before I sit down. When this war is over we shall have to make tremendous adjustments, not just in Saskatchewan but all over the world. The greatest enemy of the British Empire, the greatest enemy of Canadian unity and of Canadian well-being is not, as some people think, those who would dare to blaze new trails. The greatest obstacle to future peace and happiness are those people who insist on clinging to the past long after the past is dead.
The Saskatchewan Government is not desirous of destroying things which are proven and which are meeting human needs, but we are desirous of making those changes which are necessary if the period that will follow the war is to have more human happiness than the period which preceded the war.
"New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth, They must ever up and onward, Who would keep abreast of truth. Lo, before us gleam their camp-fires, We, ourselves, must pilgrims be; Launch our Mayflower and steer boldly, Into Life's tempestuous sea,
Nor attempt to unlock the future, With the Past's blood-rusted key."
But I bring you this message from Saskatchewan, Members of The Empire Club. Just as we must stand together in the period that follows the war, I want to tell you that the people of Saskatchewan, whether you agree with everything we do or not, stand with you and with the rest of the people of Canada in the prior task, that is, the task of destroying tyranny and driving it forever from the face of the earth.
Our people have proven by the eighty odd thousand of their sons and daughters who are in the Armed Forces, by the contribution they have made to Victory Loans, by the marvellous agricultural production which exceeded even our fondest expectations, the Saskatchewan people have proven to the rest of Canada and the world that they stand with you for the bringing about of that day when -
"The meteor flag of England, Terrific yet shall burn, Till Danger's troubled night depart And the Star of Peace return."