April 29, 1902

FIRST READINGS.


Bill (No. 143) respecting the Bell Telephone Company of Canada.-Mr. Belcourt. Bill (No. 144) to incorporate the Metropolitan Bank.-Mr. Belcourt. Bill (No. 127) to confer on the Commissioner of Patents certain powers for the relief of George M. Depew.-Mr. McCarthy.


SETTLEMENT OF RAILWAY LABOUR DISPUTES.


The POSTMASTER GENERAL (Hon. Wm. Mulock) moved for leave to introduce a Bill (No. 146) for the settlement of railway labour disputes. He said : The object of this Bill is to prevent lockouts and strikes upon railways by providing a more satisfactory way than those violent measures afford for the settlement of such disputes, and of differences as from time to time arise between railway companies and their employees. Although this is hardly the occasion for any lengthened observations, still as the measure is somewhat novel, perhaps a few words now would not be out of place. I would say that the proposition is in fact one for compulsory arbitration between railway companies and their employees in regard to the various subjects of contx-oversy that from time to time arise between those parties. The measure is confined entirely to the railway world, it does not deal with any other than railway industries, and therefore it is not a precedent for the ti-eatment of disputes between other classes. Railway companies, -it is to be remembered, occupy a unique position. Whilst strikes and lockouts upon railways affect the companies and their employees, there is a third interest to be considered, the public interest, perhaps the greatest of all, and that paramount interest appears to give jurisdiction on this occasion for the House to adopt what is apparently an extreme means in order to ward off the evil consequences flowing from railway strikes and lockouts. It is unnecessary to point out what those consequences are, they are apparent to all. When a strike takes place upon a railway the road falls iixto disrepair, the traffic is less safe, the travelling public and the train hands alike suffer and run greater risks. Delays in transportation of goods are moi'e fi'equent, and at times the strike culminates in a cessation of the operations of the railway. Railways are the creatures of parliament, they are created in the public interest, and for that reason they are given rights paramount to those of the individual. They are created to serve the public, in the first place, and it is the duty of the people's representatives to see that the object of parliament in granting charters is not defeated, either by the company or by their employees. Last winter there was a wheat blockade in the North-west Territories. We are told that, partial as was the interruption of the railway on that occasion, it caused a very considerable public loss. What would have been the consequences to Canada, if the Canadian Pacific Railway, instead of a partial failure of service on that occasion, had been unable to turn a wheel for a week ? It would have wrought, doubtless, widespread disaster to our country, yet such a contingency is always possible so long as there is ' no satisfactory tribunal for promoting friendly relations between companies and their men, and settling the labour disputes that are always arising between i-ailway companies and their employees. Sooner or later strikes and lockouts lead to arbitration. Why not sooner rather than later ? This measure proposes to substitute the provisions of this Bill, when it becomes an Act, for the present procedure of a strike or a lockout. The measure provides for the establishment of a tribunal equipped with ample powers for the settlement of all these questions. It is proposed to apply its provisions xxot merely to railways operating under Dominion, but also to those operating under provincial charters, and it will also be made applicable to the Intercolonial Railway and to any railways owned by provinces, with the consent of the governments of those provinces. It will apply to a railway operated by steam, electricity or any other motor power. The range of subjects that may be referi*ed is only limited by the variety of the subjects of dispute arising between railway companies and their employees. The "measure declares that strikes and lockouts shall be illegal, and it provides penalties for the contravention of these provisions. For the settlement of disputes there will be provincial boards of arbitration to deal with these questions if they are of a provincial character, but if they are more far-reaching than provincial, then, they will be dealt with by a Dominion board. The different provincial boards will be equipped with a clerk, who will be the medium of communication between the parties to the controversy and the board, and who will perform the clerical duties proper to his position. Each provincial board will be composed of three ai'bitra-tors, one to be chosen by the railway companies of the province, or operating within the province, according to a scale of voting that is provided in the Act, another to be



eliosen by the men, and the third arbitrator to be chosen by these two, or failing their making a choice, then by the Governor in Council. For the purposes of this measure the North-west Territories are deemed to be a part of the province of Manitoba, and there being seven provinces, there will be seven local boards. The railway companies will elect one arbitrator to each of these seven boards, the employees will elect another arbitrator to each provincial board, and these two will elect a third, or in default the Governor in Council will appoint the third arbitrator. Thus you will have seven arbitrators representing the railway companies, seven employees' arbitrators, and seven arbitrators appointed by the government. In the event of the subject of dispute being more than a local one, it will be dealt with by the Dominion board. The Dominion board will consist of five members, two to be chosen out of the seven elected by the railway companies, two out of the seven elected by the employees, and the fifth to be chosen by the four, or failing their making a choice, then, by the Governor in Council. It will l>e the duty of this board, in the first instance, to be conciliatory and to endeavour to arrange a settlement of all matters in dispute. Failing in their efforts in that direction, the board is clothed with ample powers to proceed as arbitrators and to determine the questions referred to it and make an award. The award of the chairman and one other member of the board, being a provincial board, will be the award of the board. The award of the chairman and two other members, in the case of the Dominion board, will be the award of the board. The award of the board will be current for such time, not exceeding a year, as the award states, with a provision, however, that either party to the dispute may terminate it within a lesser period, but nevertheless, the award, when made, will continue in effect until another award has been made to take its place. It will not be permitted to any of the parties to the dispute to appear by counsel or professional gentlemen before the arbitrators unless by Consent of both par ties and of the arbitrators themselves. The award itself will not be cognizable in any court, and it shall not be removable to a court by certorari or in any other way for the purpose of amendment or of being quashed. In reference to the mode of election of provincial boards, the following is the proposal : There will be at Ottawa, an officer, to be called the registrar, whose duty it will be from time to time to prepare the election registers. The duration of a provincial board will be three years, the elections being triennial, unless a vacancy shall occur, in which case there is provision for a by-election. A voters' list will be made up for the railways, and Hon. Mr. MULOCK. another for the employees, each railway operating within the province, being given as many votes in the election of its arbitrator as it has employees within the province. In regard to the employees, each employee in the province will have one vote. There will be two distant registers, the railways voting as one class and electing their representative on the board, and the men voting as one class and electing their representative on the board. They will vote by voting papers to be transmitted to the registrar, and these papers will be opened on a day named. There is provision for nomination and the usual machinery for the holding of such an election. In the event of a railway company. or other party, refusing to abide by the award, the measure provides penalties, and the last clause declares that these provisions shall apply to the government of Canada in refcpect to the Intercolonial Railway and to consenting provincial governments in respect to any railways which they may own and operate, and that the award shall be binding on the, respective governments.


CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I understand that the railway company shall have as many votes as they have employees. How will tliev vote ?

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

That is as between the different railway companies, giving them their relative voting power.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

Yes, just so. It may appear to be an Inartistic method, but if any hon. gentleman can advise any better method, it will be welcome.

I may say that it is not the intention of the government to pass this measure this session. It is presented to parliament and to the country now in order that it may receive consideration at the hands of the'pub-lic, of the railway companies, and of their employees during the recess, and the government will welcome any suggestions calculated to perfect the measure, so that it may more effectually accomplish the object in view, namely, the peaceful settlement of labour disputes Without any interruption to the operation of these railways and in a measure satisfactory to the great interests involved-to the interests of the railway companies and of the men.

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IND

Arthur W. Puttee

Independent Labour

Mr. A. W. PUTTEE (Winnipeg).

As regards the scope of the Bill, do I understand that it will apply to all railways chartered by this parliament; to all railways of a local character; and to electric street railways of a municipal character ?

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

Yes. It will apply to all railways in Canada whether incorporated by the Dominion parliament, or by provincial legislatures, or otherwise; in-

eluding the Dominion government railways ! and also including any railways owned by [ provincial governments, should such pro- j vincial governments give their consent. It ' is not felt that we would have the right to make a mandatory order against a provincial government without its consent. The Bill will include tramways, electric railways, and so on.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN (East York).

I would suggest that the Bill include telegraph companies as well. I throw out that suggestion to the minister.

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L-C

Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. INGRAM.

Is there any legislation in any country in the world similar to this ?

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LIB

William Ross

Liberal

Hon. Mr. ROSS.

There is a compulsory arbitration Act in force in New Zealand, and it was adopted by the Commonwealth of Australia.

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L-C

Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. INGRAM.

I know of the Australian legislation, but is this law similar to that ?

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

My hon. friend (Mr. Ross) refers to the legislation recently passed by the legislature of New South Wales. That was a law dealing with labour questions between man and man, and I believe the last clause of that measure makes it to some extent applicable to government railways. But it is to be borne in mind that both in New Zealand and Australia the railways are owned by the governments, so that the legislation there is scarcely a precedent for us here. I am not aware of any legislation of this precise nature, although there are features of this measure borrowed from the New Zealand measure, and some parts of the machinery are taken from legislation in our own country.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

Is it the intention to have a sufficient number of copies of this Bill printed, so as to enable it to be distributed amongst the various bodies interested?

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

I understand that the printing is controlled by the Printing Committee, but the government would be only too pleased to see a sufficient number of copies printed to meet all possible requirements. I should have added, that this measure will be In charge of the Minister of Labour, and the Bill gives him power to make rules for the better carrying out of the object in view.

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IND

Arthur W. Puttee

Independent Labour

Mr. PUTTEE.

If I understood the minister aright, there would be only one board in each province which would deal with matters in every city of that province that has an electric street railway. That I presume will take that class of industry altogether out of the operation of the Conciliation Act. I may say that I consider this Bill to be a very important measure indeed.

It seems to me that this is perhaps the most serious attempt along this line of industrial legislation that has ever been introduced into this parliament. I think we can congratulate ourselves, as well as the Minister of Labour, that all interests likely to be affected by this legislation are now in a position to fairly consider the measure: and that there is no antagonism at present between the parties in this country who will come under the scope of this Act. We may congratulate ourselves that there is also in Canada a decided leaning towards the progress of conciliation and arbitration, and that seeing that the Bill is not going to be pressed this session, we may in the meantime have the Bill fully considered by those parties who are interested. In 1900, when the Conciliation Act was introduced, I then was bold enough to say that I did not agree to the principle of voluntary conciliation; that I did not think we were justified in going to the trouble of passing a voluntary Conciliation Act of that kind. I went on record as being absolutely in favour of giving the principle of compulsory arbitration a trial. Since that time I have freely acknowledged that there has been some good accomplished by the Conciliation Act, and for my part, I have always been ready to assist it. I am pleased to say that the Conciliation Act has done some good, but at the same time I have not in any way revised my opinion that is is the most ineffective method we could take to deal with the very numerous cases of labour disturbances of one kind or another, that are bound to occur in this country as well as in other countries. I believe that a proper understanding and a proper application of the principle of compulsory arbitration, will affect a greater number of these cases than can any other system. The weakness of our present Act was apparent last year, when two of the greatest disturbances we have had in the country occurred; one on the Canadian Pacific Railway, extending from coast to coast, and the other in the mines of the mountain country of British Columbia. As a matter of fact, strikes are by no means always traceable to the employees, although that phase of the question is not given much attention. There is more than a suspicion that strikes are some times brought about on account of the needs or interests of the stock market for instance, and this has been charged to be the case in reference to some of the disturbances that have occurred in British Columbia. Our present Conciliation Act cannot even get started to investigate such matters. If I understand aright the proposition that has been put forward this afternoon, as far as the transportation companies are concerned they will mechanically come under the operation of this Bill should it ever become law. The minister has said that it involves the policy of compulsory' arbitration. I did not expect that it went

so far as that. I gladly welcome that however, but at the same time that very principle raises the question immediately, of the amount of caution that must be given to the consideration of this law. There must be nothing added to arbitration that will strengthen the fears of those who think that arbitration is only an extension of the method of going forward in the direction of striking a dead level in the matter of men's employment; or, that the law can be used in any way as an utter bar to progress along the lines that organized labour seeks to adhere to. The organization of labour is not now simply based on restlessness. Organization is now gone into on a business basis. Men give up their time and their money to it. They hire others from their own ranks to give their whole time and attention to the advancement of their interests and they expect to reap the benefit of that. They expect through their organization, througli everything they can command to coordinate their interests, that they are going to get what every business man expects to get from his business-a return for the effort put forth; and in no way must the impression go out that the operation of this measure is going to bar the legitimate progress which the labour organization seeks for. As a matter of fact, it need not; but at the same time the opponents of the method now adopted by organized labour may seek to spread the impresion that it aims only to maintain the dead level. If this Bill should finally become law, its scope will be wider than I had dared to expect the Minister of Labour would put before parliament, because I was told two years ago that these matters were beyond the jurisdiction of this parliament; but if it shall extend to street railways, the scope of the measure will be sufficiently wide to enable us to see how this principle does operate; and I, for one, hope it will be found so satisfactory that we may then feel warranted in extending the operation of the principle to other industries.

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LIB

Ralph Smith

Liberal

Mr. RALPH SMITH (Vancouver).

Mr. Speaker, it is impossible for the members of this House to form anything like an intelligent view of the proposition before them, not having seen the Bill. The only acquaintance we have with the principle at all is obtained from the explanation that has been given by the minister this afternoon. If I understand him aright, the great principle of the Bill is to make strikes impossible on railways. That principle of compulsory arbitration is an experiment in this country, one which has never yet been introduced in any degree in the Dominion of Canada-in fact, I may say on the American continent; but the principle of compulsory arbitration for the settlement of labour disputes is a very common principle in New Zealand and other of the Australian colonies, Mr. PUTTEE.

and a very successful principle at that. I think the minister has acted wisely in not seeking to apply such an important experiment to all the industries of the country. 1 am not certain that even the organized labour men of the country would support the general principle of a national compulsory arbitration. But I think he has acted very wisely in seeking to apply the principle to the operations of railways. A labour dispute on a railway is not like a labour dispute in any other business. We may have, for instance, a strike in a factory, the evils of which are practically confined to the people who live and work in that factory. We may have a strike in a coal mine or in any other kind of mine, the evils of which would be practically confined to the operations of that mine. But in the case of a labour dispute in connection with a railway, we are reminded that the most important factor affected by the outcome of the trouble is the great travelling public. Therefore the minister has acted wisely, when introducing experimental legislation of this kind, in attaching it to that industry which stands not only in greater need, but in absolute need of compulsory arbitration. If the public are to be safeguarded in travelling upon railways, it must be made impossible to have labour disputes on railways. The safety of the public is dependent on a good understanding being maintained between employers and employees on railways, and the only, good reason that can be given for the application of the principle of compulsion in the settlement of disputes between the two parties is that there is a greater party than either which is seriously affected by the operation of a strike. And, Sir, all legislation practically, I may be permitted to say, rests on the principle of compulsion. In almost every instance its purpose is to protect the great public against the peculiar and special interests of private individuals or corporations; and I know no case in which the principle of compulsory arbitration can be applied so successfully as in the operation of railways. I think the minister has acted wisely, too, in permitting this Bill to be printed and circulated through the country for the consideration of the people affected by it. I do not think it would be a proper thing to apply an experiment of this kind without affording the parties affected by it an opportunity of looking into the matter and expressing their opinions upon it. In fact, I think that would be a good rule to follow in connection with all measures of (vast importance-that they should be submitted for the consideration especially of the parties whose interests are likely to be affected by them. That is particularly desirable in a case of this kind, so that the men on the railways and the companies will have an opportunity of looking into this measure fully, and the members of this House will know by next session exactly what the interested parties think of

it, and will then be in a far better position to deal with it. I believe that if this Bill is circulated throughout the country, it will be demonstrated that the employees on railways almost to a man will endorse the'prin-ciple of compulsory arbitration. In my experience, in nine cases out of ten, the labour men all over the country are willing to submit their grievances to arbitration. As a matter of fact, the most important incorporated unions on the American continent have provisions in their constitutions seeking to bring about the settlement of dis putes by arbitration. The whole difficulty about voluntary arbitration in the past has been the objections which corporations have had to the principle. I contend that this is where the government ought to step in, in the interest of the public. It must be admitted by the members of this House that a serious strike on any railway endangers the life of the great public. We must remember this, too, that a strike in a mine may stop the operation of the mine ; but the only people affected toy it are the people directly employed. But a railway must operate. If tha employees refuse to work, or if the employers refuse to concede what they think is their proper claim, the railway must operate all the same ; and there is where the necessity exists for provisions whereby serious troubles on railways may be averted. I think the minister has introduced a principle which will be endorsed by the labour men all over this country, and'I hope he will take every means of circulating this Bill among the interested parties.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

Is it intended that this Bill shall be brought to a second reading so that there may be a discussion on it, or is it intended simply to print it ?

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April 29, 1902