May 7, 1901

CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

The secretary, and I shall refer presently to that gentleman, is an employee on the Beauharnois canal. The treasurer, so far from being a labouring men, is a merchant tailor who is an employer of labour, and the three of them are active political partisans.

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CON

Matthew Henry Cochrane

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE.

It is a wonder he did not have a dredging contract.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

My friend, Mr. Bergeron, was never invited to form a part of this association, I need scarcely add. lie was not enough of a labourer for that. The second affidavit is signed by Louis Archambault, artisan, of the city of Valleyfield, who declares solemnly :

First. I have been a labouring man for over ten years, and I earn my livelihood as such in the town of Valleyfield.

Second. I am a member of the St. Jean Baptiste Society and of several other benefit societies.

Third. I made application last summer to become a member of the Union OuvriSre of Valley-field, and I was refused admission as a member.

Fourth. I was refused said admission as a member, and I attribute this refusal to my Conservative political opinions.

Fifth. The officers of the said Union OuvriSre are all Liberal chiefs, who took an active part in the Federal election of last fall; that is to say, the president, the vice-president, the secretary and the treasurer.

(Sgd.) LOUIS ARCHAMBAULT,

And acknowledged before a Justice of the Peace.

I said it was a seeret organization. Here is an affidavit from Alfred Gagne, a labouring man of Valleyfield, who declares solemnly :

I belong to and am an active member of the Union OuvriSre of Valleyfield. In order to attend any of the meetings of the said union, one must give the pass word and exhibit a book of the rules of the union. One of the rules of the union imposes upon all its members the obligation never to repeat or divulge what takes place at the meetings.

I have said so much and I have read these affidavits in order to give the House the justification of what I stated on a previous occasion as to the character of the association. It is not incorporated. It does not form part of one of the 200 odd chartered associations connected with labour. It is a

4541 MAY 7, 1901 4542

secret association bearing tbe name of a labour union, under tbe control of officers who have no interest in common with labourers and who are strong political partisans. I could give other names of gentlemen in the town of Valleyfield who belong to the union, who are not labouring men, who are men of influence and who, strange to say, are all of the same political persuasion. Every bon. member of this House knows that' members are generally asked, in some capacity or other, to join associations of this kind. I repeat that the candidate in the constituency who for twenty years had represented that constituency was never upon any occasion invited to form part of this association, nor was any important man belonging to his side of politics. Now, going a little deeper into the subject, I stated that it was not the operatives who had brought about this strike, which is the worst feature of the case. This circumstance throws some light, as my hon. friend the member for Winnipeg (Mr. Puttee) said, on the utter impossibility of explaining this strike otherwise than by the interpretation which I gave to it on the 3rd of April last. There was no difficulty between the operatives and the mill company. But. that was not what the hon. Minister of Public Works (Mr. Tarte) said. If tbe House will remember the words that he uttered, when I presented my motion, it will find that the hon. Minister of Public Works attributed the strike to the cruelty and unjustifiable exactions of the mill company. This is what the hon. Minister of Public Works said :

The Montreal Cotton Mills Company own probably the largest mills in Canada. They are a strong, (powerful, enterprising corporation. They bought the Buntin property, and undertook to lay the foundations for a new addition to their mill. It was late in the fall ; the weather was cold-indeed, it rained, I suppose, two or three days a week. The men, who were working in the water to the belt, were being paid $1 a day. They thought they were not being paid enough, and I think they were right. I am not here to iustify any strike, or any organization for striking purposes; I state the facts as I know them to be. In Valleyfield, as elsewhere in the district of Montreal, the workingmen formed an organiziflion. Now, I am very sorry that my hon, friend (Mr. Monk) has received so much wrong information.

Now, I stated in tbe House, and tlie fact was not contradicted, but, on the contrary, if bon. members will read tbe debate of tbe 3rd of April last, they will see it was admitted, that it was Mr. Greenshields, acting as attorney for the Montreal Cotton Mills Company, who obtained the signature of the mayor of Valleyfield and the signatures of a couple of other councillors, who are also justices of tlie peace, in order to secure the presence of tbe militia. I stated that this digging of the foundations had ceased several days previous to tbe strike, previous to the violent acts, which had nothing to do with the summoning of the militia and that in reality it was tlie summoning of tlie militia which bad to do with tlie disaffection in tbe town of Valleyfield. Allow me to give tbe House evidence of this, evidence taken for tlie most part out of tbe papers which have been brought down and of which I was deprived from the lltli April, the date of tbe first instalment of tbe return, until after this discussion in tbe House. In the first place, the Labour Gazette itself gives us in very plain words exactly tbe same version as I laid before this House. The Labour Gazette, in an article which I presume emanates from the pen of tbe editor, states :

As appears from this telegram, the mill operatives were not working at the time at which it was sent, and this fact constituted their action a general strike. There were thus, in reality, two distinct sources of friction between the company and its employees. The first, the original strike, begun by the men temporarily employed as labourers in the excavations being made for the new mill, and who were demanding an increase in wages (which strike began on the 22nd of October) ; and the general strike of the mill operatives, which began at the time of the arrival of the troops in Valleyfield, on the evening of the 26th. This latter strike was one which but for the presence of the military in Valleyfield would probably not have occurred, and for this reason is best described as a strike of resentment, or at most, one of sympathy with the original strikers. It was to the strike of the mill operatives that the offer of the friendly intervention of the minister referred.

Further on, at page 103 :

As appears from the company's telegram to the Minister of Labour, the strike of the labourers engaged on the work of excavation ended in the company deciding to discontinue the work; under any circumstances it would have continued only about three weeks longer had no dispute arisen.

Now, Sir, a most unfair and, to my mind, a most unjust advantage was taken of one of the principal operatives engaged in the cotton mills at Valleyfield by my hon. friend for Beauharnois (Mr. Loy), producing before this House a series of affidavits having for their object tbe laying of the responsibility of this

strike upon one of tbe labourers. My

lion, friend (Mr. Loy) produced affidavits to show that one Damase Tessier was the man who gave the signal for tbe strike, and tlie boil, gentleman thus endeavoured to saddle tbe responsibility for tbe strike upon him. I think my bon. friend (Mr. Loy) wall have cause to regret that action on bis part, because Mr. Damase Tes'sier, as I am informed, is not a political heeler, not an employee on tbe canal, nor a merchant tailor, nor a farmer, but be is one of tbe conspicuous figures among the operatives of the mill. Mr. Tessier is a man who has risen from the position of ordinary workman to that of foreman, having under liis control fifty or sixty men, and a man of that character -was entitled to receive 'some notice

from tlie lion, gentleman (Mr. Loy) of tlie grave charge which he intended to lay on his shoulders, and given an opportunity of explaining his conduct. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Loy) not having thought fit to do that, I will lay before the House the affidavits of Damase Tessier, to the effect that he never, under any circumstances, took part in the initiation of this strike, and never gave a signal for it. His own affidavit, which is perfectly straightforward in that regard, is corroborated by three or four affidavits, which he has produced in order to put his position Clearly before this House, and to avoid his being open to Diame from the authorities of the mill. This is what Mr. Tessier alleges :

1. I, Damase Tessier, labourer, of the town of VaUeyfieM, do declare solemnly that after taken cognizance of certain declarations produced by Mr. Loy before the House of Commons tending to show that I, on the 21st of October last in the afternoon, according to Prank Lacoste ; on the 22nd October last according to Narcisse Wells, and on the day of the strike according to Emede Laberge, the three signers of the declaration above mentioned, gave the signal of the strike, declare as follows :

1. I deny all the allegations as not being in conformity with the facts.

2. Neither directly nor indirectly did I give the signal for the strike in raising my arm or in any other manner whatever.

3. On the morning of the strike, Mr. Sparrow, my superior, called me to his office in connection with the strike which was then in question, and on my return to the works, in spite of my counsels I found that the labourers had already put on their coats and quit work.

4. I persisted during the whole time in dissuading the labourers from leaving the works ; contrary to the allegations of the said declaration.

And I make this solemn declaration, etc.

(Signed) DAMASE TESSIER.

This declaration of the foreman, containing the disproof of the allegation that he took a leading part in the initiation of this strike, is corroborated by Athanase Du-breuil, labourer, of the town of Yalleyfield. who, I believe, is working under Mr. Damase Tessier it is corroborated by Mr. Zenopliile Gastien, labourer, of the town of Valley-field, who was one of the men working under Damase Tessier, and both of them declare positively that their foreman took no part whatever, either in the beginning or in any part of the strike. It is corroborated by Mr. Joseph Brisson, labourer, of the town of Valleyfield, who states he was with Mr. Tessier at the time, that he gave no signal and took no part in the initiation of this strike ; it is corroborated by Mr. Ovide Perrault, labourer, of the town of Valleyfield, who declares to the same effect, and by Mr. Jos. Boy, labourer, of Valleyfield, who declares :

I was working under Mr. Damase Tessier at the time the strike took place in Valleyfield in the month of October. Mr. Tessier never, directly or indirectly, induced the men to go on strike

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

or had any understanding of any nature whatever with them in order that they should go on strike. On the contrary, he continually counselled them and dissuaded them from going out on strike and endeavoured to induce them to remain upon the works.

Now, Sir, I submit that in justice to this foreman, the House should come to the conclusion that the allegation that he initiated the strike is not well founded, and that the strike, as well as all the proceedings in connection with it, were initiated elsewhere, It is a singular * circumstance that all the action brought to bear upon the Labour Bureau in connection with this strike was brought to bear, not, as tbe law contemplates which was introduced into this House last year, by the employers of labour or by those employed and who had a grievance, but by Mr. Bertrand, tbe employee of the government on the Beauharnois canal. He it was who sought to Interest the Labour Bureau in this strike, who corresponded with the Minister of Labour, wIiq telegraphed to the Deputy Minister of Labour, and who, after the arrival there of the Minister of Labour, played the part to which I shall refer presently. In the correspondence brought down, other than the military correspondence, we find, in the first place, the telegram of Mr. Louis Bertrand, on the 26th of October-that is to say. four days or almost a week after the digging of foundations had ceased-to the editor of the Labour Gazette, in which he says :

As we had no news from you, would like to know the reason you did no

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LOUIS BERTRAND.


Then comes a reply from the editor to Louis Bertrand, secretary, Valleyfield-still an employee of the government on the Beauharnois canal: As editor of Gazette, am unable to leave Ottawa. Am writing you fully.


MACKENZIE KING,


Editor of the Labour Gazette. We find moreover that in a letter of the same date Mr. King states to Mr. Bertrand, the lockman, employed on the Beauharnois canal : Dear Sir,-Your telegram of this morning was a surprise to me, as this department had not received any formal communication from the union at Valleyfield to send a representative there. I notice on the blank form of schedule which you filled in reference to the present strike, under the head of ' remarks," you state that the union would be glad if I came down and saw things for myself as these schedules are sent to both employers and employees, and are only for the purpose of gathering information for publication in the Labour Gazette, a reference of this sort could hardly be regarded as sufficient justification for this department to send any one to look into the dispute in question. Besides, as editor of the Labour Gazette, I would not on my own initiative feel free to leave Ottawa without special authorization from the minister. Since receiving your telegram I have communicated with the Hon. Mr. Mulock, Minister of Labour, who is at present in western Ontario, and will doubtless receive a reply as soon as my telegram reaches him, and I will notify you immediately of the result. Yours faithfully, MACKENZIE KING, Editor of the Labour Gazette. I call the attention of the House to the fact that the employees of the mills having made no demand of any kind whatever, Mr. Bertrand, still warmly influenced by the idea that lie must absolutely defend the interests of those people, and obtain some justification for them ; anxious to come to the help of those strikers who were not on strike, who had made no demand, evidently entered into communication with the Hon. Mr. Mulock. We have not his communication here, which is to be regretted, but we have the answer of the Minister of Labour, and what does he say ? Telegraphing to the lockman at Valley field, he says to him on the 27th October : Just received telegram from Mr. King, Deputy Minister of Labour, informing me of telegram from you asking government representative to meet parties to Valleyfield cotton mills dispute with a view to conciliatory action. If friendly intervention of Department of Labour acceptable to both parties, I would be pleased render every possible assistance looking to satisfactory settlement if differenced by means either of board of conciliation or arbitration. If both parties desire it, I will be glad to confer with them with a view to selection of satisfactory board and to be a member of the same either as umpire or otherwise. At present much engaged with elections. If parties look favourably upon this offer, would suggest that for present strike be suspended and men return to work, and on the 8th November I will proceed to Valleyfield to confer with both parties and lend every possible assistance in the direction indicated, so as -to bring about such a settlement of matters in dispute as will meet the reasonable demand of both parties. Am under engagement to address public meetings every day (Sunday exoe-pted) until election day. Therefore, to -take up the Valleyfield strike matter until after election would compel me to abandon further part in pending political campaign; nevertheless, am perfectly willing to make this sacrifice if parties to dispute are unwilling to suspend strike, and if they desire my immediate friendly intervention. Am telegraphing to like effect to mayor of Valleyfield and Mr. Greenshields on behalf of Montreal Cotton Company of Valley-field. Perhaps you would see him upon this subject at once. (Sgd.) W. MULOCK, Minister of Labour. Now, let us take the answer of the mill company to this despatch which brought to their knowledge, evidently for the first time, the fact that their operatives wanted something. In the telegram sent by Mr. Green-shields on the 28th of October-and the dates are of some importance-in answer to the telegram of the minister, Mr. Greenshields says : Your telegram received re strike at Valleyfield. There is no dispute between the company and their operatives, and no demand has been made by them on the company. They are not working, but for what reason we do not know. The reason was that the troops were there- The demand for increased wages was made by men who were temporarily employed as labourers in excavations being made for a new mill. This work, under any circumstances, would have been stopped in about three weeks, and, under the circumstances, the -company have decided to discontinue the work. There is nothing to arbitrate or settle between the company or any of their employees. The company appreciate your kind offer. So I was right when I stated that there was no difficulty at the time Mr. Greenshields' intervention obtained the sending of troops to Valleyfield. There was no difficulty between the mill company and the employees, and we are led to ask ourselves for what reason this strike was brought on ; for what reason Mr. Bertrand, the lock master, the man who had no interest at all in common with these officers, brought about the summoning of troops to Valleyfield and the intervention of the Labour Bureau. Let us take the acts of the Deputy Minister of Labour after he came to Valleyfield. And perhaps the best way is to take his own account, together with the affidavits which I will lay before the House, and particularly what is set forth in the improved return from the Militia Department -the return which was only brought down after the debate of the 25tli April last, when I was taken to task so severely for having dared to make some reflections on the role played by the Deputy Minister of Labour. Let me read what the deputy minister says he did at Valleyfield. and I am quoting from page 102 of the Labour Gazette, the account given by the deputy minister himself. It is entitled: ' A settlement affected ' : Immediately on his arrival in Valleyfield, Mr. King put himself in communication with the company and the men, obtaining, during the course of the day, several interviews with both parties and arranged for a meeting of the strikers to tj9 held in the town hall that evening. At this meeting, a final settlement of the difficulties was arranged. The strieking operatives maintained that the reason they did not return to work was because of the presence of the militia in the vicinity of the mills. They stated that it was because of the militia being, as they believed, called out unnecessarily, and, as they thought, for the purpose of intimidating the men, that the strike among the mill operatives had begun. This cause being removed, they were prepared to return to work at once. As evidence of good faith in the matter, they agreed to return to work the following day, and remain at work provided the troops were withdrawn during the course of the day. This was on Monday the 29th October. Mr. King arrived in Valleyfield that morn-



ing, and. according to his own statement, immediately busied himself with interviewing both the strikers and the employers. He found out that the presence of the troops was the cause of the irritation, and set to work to remove that cause. He succeeded, and we find in the papers brought down congratulatory messages from the minister in charge of the department. Had Mr. King done what lie says he did, there would be little fault to find, but what I say he did upon arriving, and what I can prove he did, was to call upon, at the very first- not any of the disaffected labourers or mill operatives, who surely were entitled to his first attention, not the mayor of the town of Valleyfield, none of the company's employees-but the fatal Mr. Louis Bertrand, the man who was employed on the canal, who was so eager for government intervention, who was spoiling for fight on behalf of the strikers, and wanting justice done to the mill operatives. He went to Louis Bertrand first. Then what did he do ? Did he afterwards call upon the striking operatives ? Did he seek, in the words of the statute, to allay the difficulty existing between the operatives on the one side and the mill company on the other ? No, his second visit was to a farmer, Mr. Leger, the great political man of the place, a man whose interests were not those of the operatives. Then did he, in the third place, call upon the operatives of the mills and seek to find out what was the real trouble ? No, he had business at the central Liberal committee rooms, and there he went. There he and the Liberal candidate held quite a long conference together, and I think I am in the judgment of the House when I say that a man, occupying a quasi judicial position, as this young man did on that occasion, should not, under circumstances of this gravity, have gone to the very focus of the political struggle. For there was a great political struggle on hand at the time. He went to the central committee room, and had an interview with the Liberal candidate. What took place at that inerview I do not know. But it was most imprudent, indiscreet and unjust conduct on the part of this emmis-sary of the Dominion government, 'called upon to arbitrate between people who were certainly suffering from the effects of a grave misunderstanding, to have divided his visits between this man Bertrand, Mr. Leger, the farmer, and the central Liberal committee rooms. I will admit that in the case of a strike or other similar trouble, it is open to a man. occupying a quasi judicial position, to call together the candidates of both parties- both engaged in an important struggle-and seek the intervention of both in order to secure a pacification and settlement of the case. But he never went to see our good friend Mr. Bergeron-he had nothing to do Mr. MONK. with him. He called upon the three persons I have mentioned ; and I will read an affidavit to that effect: I, Joseph Cardinal, carter, of the town of Valleyfield, solemnly declare that in October last, at the time the strike took place in the town of Valleyfield, I brought a man named King who represented himseilf as a referee named by the government to settle the strike, from the LaRocque house to Mr. Dechene, and from there to Mr. Etienne Leger, farmer, and president of i'Union Ouvrigre ; thence I took him to the central Liberal Committee, where the Ministerial candidate, Mr Loy, came out to the carriage and held a considerable conference with the said King. And I make this declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true, etc. So, on arriving at Valleyfield, Mr. King saw fit to call, did call, upon active political partisans. And, what is even more serious to my mind, we have the declaration that be called at the Liberal central committee and held a long conference with the Liberal candidate.


LIB

George di Madeiros Loy

Liberal

Mr. LOY.

May I ask the bon. gentleman (Mr. Monk) when Mr. King called at the committee room ?

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

At what time ?

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LIB

George di Madeiros Loy

Liberal

Mr. LOY.

Yes, at what time ? Was it previous to the meeting that had been held or after it ?

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I do not know. The affidavit does not mention the hour.

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LIB

Onésiphore Ernest Talbot

Liberal

Mr. TALBOT.

Nor the day-whether it was on the day of his arrival or not.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir. MONK.

My bon. friend (Mr. Talbot) must not mix liimself up with things he knows very little about. The day may be of great importance to my hon. friend, hut, as it happens that Mr. King was only there one day, it is not easy to raise much controversy-

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LIB

Robert Franklin Sutherland

Liberal

Hon. Mr. SUTHERLAND.

I thought Mr. King was there two days.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

W'ell, we will look it up.

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LIB

Robert Franklin Sutherland

Liberal

Hon. Mr. SUTHERLAND.

I gathered that from what the hon. gentleman (Mr. Monk) read.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

Is there any doubt about the interview ?

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

No, there is no doubt about that, but there is great doubt about what took place at the interview. I said that Mr. King had been there one day, hut the hon. acting minister (Mr. Sutherland) thought lie had been there two days. The difference is not very great-but the hon. minister is mistaken ; Mr. King was there one day.

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May 7, 1901