Van Horne : Housing – Unemployment — Money

on Friday, 01 April 1960. Posted in Politics

Mr. J. C. Van Horne is the federal M.P. from Restigouche-Madawaska and a member of the Conservative party. However, Mr. Van Horne continues to speak out strongly in the name of the people, even if he is obliged to castigate the Conservative government which is presently in power at Ottawa. The following excerpts are from discourses by Mr. Van Horne in the House of Commons.


From a discourse of February 17, 1960:

Last year I took the trouble to go to England to study the housing system there. I also took the trouble to study the plan which operates in the United States and in other countries. I may say that when you go to buy a house in the United States the first thing that strikes you on entering is that the house comes equipped with up to $2,000 worth of built-in kitchen equipment. This is most important to a family starting out in life. The house comes equipped with a built-in refrigerator, oven, stove, washer and dryer. In some case there are even built-in items which we would even regard as luxuries here but which, nevertheless, are included in the total price of the house. The house may cost $ 14,000, but a man can purchase it for something like $450 down. If he is a veteran he pays nothing down. This enables a family, starting out in life on a low income to acquire a home which is already almost fully equipped...

Here in Canada, this is what happens, and I know whereof I speak from personal experience, having been concerned with housing developments and in other phases of real estate. Not only does a couple need to make a down payment of $2,000, $3,000, or $4,000 — and it usually works out that a family needing a house in Canada has to find something like $3,500 — but the house when purchased contains no built-in equipment to speak of. I am telling you, Mr. Chairman, that as far as the great majority of our young families in this country are concerned they do not have that kind of money to put down. This is what happens: they get it from the finance companies or from the oil companies who take a second mortgage on the house. I know that to be a fact. Many of the oil companies will go to a builder and say: let us handle your second mortgage in return for the business of supplying the oil furnace in the basement. The family might succeed in getting $1,000 to put down. The oil company takes a second mortgage, and after a lot of difficult manoeuvering the family succeeds, after obtaining a loan from the finance company, a note from the builder, and a mortgage from the oil company and the initial loan from the C.M.H.C., in taking possession of the house. What is the result? That family is on hock for the first five years after moving into the house, and this applies to 67 percent of the people in Canada who buy houses under the present system.

I feel this is placing too great a burden upon our people. All I am asking is that this government should place as much confidence in the people of Canada as the United States government places in the American people.

I had an experience with regard to one project where there were 104 applicants for 100 houses. This had nothing to do with any personal business of mine. Out of the 104 applicants only one person was able to make the down payment. However, one oil company was prepared to put up a second mortgage on each of the houses for $1,500 on condition that they got the oil business.

What is so wrong with the United States plan of permitting people to enter a house on a minimum payment of $400 or $500, and what is so wrong with permitting a veteran to purchase a house without a down payment? It may be said that we are building quite a few houses in Canada. That may be true but let us not forget that under the United States system the people there have been able to acquire their homes years ago, whereas under our system housing has not been available to our people because of the high down-payments. What is so wrong with acknowledging the lending value of a house that is already built even though that house was not built under the National Housing Act?

I go down to Madawaska county in my riding and meet some very fine citizen in the town of St. Leonard, let us say, who lives only 500 feet from the state of Maine. He says to me: "Mr. Van Horne, what is wrong with your people in Ottawa? why is it that John Jones who lives 500 feet from me across the line can buy a beautifull house for nothing down because he is a veteran and I have to dig up $4,000 which I have not got and cannot get because I am not earning a salary that will ever permit me to save it?


From a discourse of February 19, 1960.

If we as a party had kept our promises made to the Canadian people before the 1957 elections, there would be no more than 200,000 people unemployed in Canada now instead of the nearly 800,000 unemployed we now have. This number will increase in the next few months, and it does not represent all the people who are out of work. As I said the other day, in my riding many people follow the woods, which is an expression commonly used. Many people work in the bush cutting wood on their own stands. They will go to a pulp company and say: "All right, I will cut you 200 cords of wood." They get no unemployment insurance stamps, and along comes the time when there is no more wood to cut or the snow is too deep to go into the woods. At about this time of the year these people are out of work without any unemployment insurance benefits. What is more important, Mr. Chairman, is that these people do not show in the figures that are before us today.

The first and most serious sets of promises was contained in the Maritime resolutions, the Atlantic provinces manifesto, which were agreed to on many occasions by the party and to which every Progressive Conservative candidate in the Maritime provinces, subscribed before the election of June 10, 1957... Not only have we forgotten the Atlantic resolutions, that great document of Atlantic rights, but the Canadian people also seem to have forgotten about them. I hope that is not because they did not take those promises seriously, but that would appear to be the case.

More people have gone out of business in my riding in the past six months than in any one year since the depression. It is unfortunate that I have to mention these things, but they all come back to one thing: unemployment.

You have to equate what I am saying in terms of suffering and hardship on the part of families. Do you know what it means when a child has to go to school without breakfast? On one occasion last winter in Campbellton 69 children in one school alone went to school without breakfast. Do you not think this is a crime when we live in a country where every Canadian is potentially the richest person on earth, yet children have to go to school without breakfast. Am I going to support a government that does not do more than it is doing to correct these things?

Mr. Van Horne here repeated his offer to conclude an agreement between Canada and the government of Maine where more than 1,000 woodsmen from his constituency work for a season in the woods; — an agreement through which unemployment benefits, financed partially by American employers, would be issued to these woodsmen when they were unemployed. At the present time they receive nothing.

The offer I made four years ago, and which I make again, was as follows. All that I ask is the official status necessary for the purpose of making an agreement, and if I fail I resign. It is as simple as that. If something is not done I will resign anyway.

I know that my remarks do not go down well with some people. They are not intended to go down well. They are intended to get people to move. That is what governments are for, to get something done. I ask the government to give the people of my riding a half decent break and to do it now.

If something is not done within the next month children will again be going to school without breakfast and some of them will be fainting in school because they have had nothing to eat. Yet we boast because we live in a country such as this. We should be ashamed to let these things happen in a country like Canada. Every honorable member should be ashamed. This is something that should be taken to heart. We do not come here for the sole purpose of supporting one party against another.


From a discourse of February 26, 1960.

In my opinion tight money is one of the main causes of unemployment in the country today...

We need tight money in the Maritime provinces about as much as we need a hole in the head.

The source of money has dried up. In provinces such as Ontario and Quebec the money is still available, but it is available through secondary sources at exorbitant rates of interest. I know that every day my office gets correspondence offering secondary financing at 15 percent of 18 percent... We are trying to cure inflation by increasing interest rates, but a general money situation as unsatisfactory as that which exists at present is adding to our unemployment difficulties and having a detrimental effect on the economy in general...

Another thing I do not like about our system there is the Bank of Canada. The Bank of Canada in my opinion is more than partly responsible for the unemployment situation we have today... one man calls the shots and far too often he calls them from Washington. I think it is wrong for a country to place its monetary policy in the hands of one man, the president of the Bank of Canada...

I can tell the house something else too. Instead of curtailing credit.... if we were to take steps to increase it and force the Bank of Canada to do its job instead of letting it be run from the United States, we would find ourselves in a much stronger position. We should make money available to our provincial governments, our municipalities, and our institutions interest free or with low interest rates, or even with interest rates subsidized by the government. The mess we are in, of course, is partly due to having listened to too many Liberal experts who were kept on by this government...

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