April 1, 1903

TREATMENT OF IMMIGRANTS.

IND

Arthur W. Puttee

Independent Labour

Mr. A. W. PUTTEE (Winnipeg).

I wish to bring to the attention of the House and of the government a matter which I think is of some urgency. It is in connection with the immense movement now taking place, of settlers from across the ocean and across this continent to our North-west. It is a matter of gratification to us all, and more especially to those of us who come from the North-w'est, that the settlers now coming in there by thousands are practically all British. It seems that circumstances have brought about a change which even our ow'n officials could not bring about. On Saturday last, there were no less than four ships discharging immigrants at the port of Halifax, and, during the next few hours eight special trains started across this continent to the North-west. They passed through and by Ottawa Monday last. I took occasion to devote the greater part of that day to seeing and questioning these immigrants and ascertaining what accommodation was being provided for their transport across this country. The conditions which they were subjected' to were simply scandalous. Not only did I see this myself, but I may tell the Acting Minister of the Interior (Hon. Sir William Mulock), agents of whose departments are on the trains, that from communication with those agents, I believe they are aware of the facts, and are prepared to report that the treatment and the accommodation provided are simply not decent. On one train especially, that was here Monday, a train composed of eleven cars, there was not more than one car that was fit to travel in for twenty-four hours continuously. The other cars were borrowed from the Grand Trunk and the Intercolonial. The worst, unfortunately, were government cars, borrowed from the Intercolonial Railway. I am not seeking to criticise or find fault with the transportation companies. This is a public matter, altogether public. These cars were simply short trip day coaches, coaches with fixed, narrow seats, with no berth below and no berths at the top, without even so much as parcel racks. Passengers here were complaining very much. They told me that the aisles even had to be used the previous

nights for sleeping, the seats not being movable at all. There was only one car on one of these trains where water was obtainable. I was so informed, and I believe it, for, reaching here where water was obtainable, the passengers proceeded to have a good wash. And the lavatory conveniences were used indiscriminately by male and female. This is not common decency. These people are a very superior class, compared with what our immigration has been at times. They are people who have come from good homes. They are not all young men ; there are families and a large proportion of women among them. And X say it is a reflection on our country and on our methods that they should be carried across the country in this style. When they left Halifax they had before them four, five or six days' travel. When they reached here they had been on the trains nearly two days, and they had nearly four days still ahead of them. ,

Now some remedy should be applied, some way should be found by which the immigrants that are coming to this country may be properly transported. Yesterday 2,000 people sailed from Liverpool, and the number is likely to be increased. The railway company may say that they have not rolling stock sufficient to convey them. No matter what the explanation is, the thing must be remedied. Although the company are transporting them across this country, the company is not responsible for their coming here, they are induced to come here by the representatives of this government. They were told that travelling in this country is far more easy, far more safe and comfortable, and far more luxurious than in their own country, and on this information they do not provide as they otherwise would for their journey. It is not until they get here that they find that 'this state of affairs exists. Now I am not prepared to take any reason as being final that provides for a continuance of this state of affairs. It is not sufficient to say that they are settlers, that they are being transported across this continent at a very low rate Indeed. That may be, but at the same time it does not meet the case. The Immigration Department have officers on those trains who go along with the immigrants, with the idea, I presume, of obviating any difficulties they may meet with. I can understand that possibly the company could not be expected to have sufficient rolling stock on hand, and the probability is that they will not have next week, nor during the whole of the season. Now there is a tremendous immigration coming in this year. All the steamships sailing from Liverpool are practically booked up now away into the season, and if this trouble continues it means sending back to the old country the very worst reports. It means unfavourable criticism, it means dissatisfaction, it means demoralization, and is one of the worst things that could happen

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IND

Arthur W. Puttee

Independent Labour

Mr. PUTTEE.

to people who have left their homes for this new country. Now in bringing this matter up, of course I have no purpose of finding any fault with the government, or with the company, but I do insist for the sake of these immigrants, for the sake of our own reputation, for the sake of that western country where they are going to settle, that something be done immediately to provide for their transportation and to obviate a repetition of these difficulties.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL (Hon. Sir Wm. Mulock).

With reference to the remarks made by the hon. member for Winnipeg (Mr. Puttee) as to the defective arrangements for the transportation of immigrants arriving in this country for the North-west, I think the House will agree that that hon. gentleman has rendered a public service in drawing the attention of parliament and the government to the condition of affairs which he describes. It will be the duty of the government to use all means within its power to correct any abuses of this nature. We can understand that railways may have unexpected difficulties when confronted with such a large demand upon their rolling stock as is the case at the present time, owing to the increased volume of immigration, greater than the country has ever witnessed heretofore. Nevertheless I agree with my hon. friend that we must not accept excuses, but must bring every possible pressure to bear in order that the transportation should be creditable and suitable to the service required.

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CON

Rufus Henry Pope

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. H. POPE (Compton).

I am sure we all agree with the hon. member for Winnipeg (Mr. Puttee) in his effort to have the transportation facilities as perfect as possible for these newcomers from the other side. But that subject is one that has been engrafted into this discussion, and I think it is well that we return to the subject under which this adjournment was moved. It appears to me, Mr. Speaker, that the ministers from the province of Quebec, the exMinister and the present Minister of Marine and Fisheries, are somewhat in the position of the parrot, they talk too much and they get into trouble. Of course we might be asked to excuse the Minister of Marine and Fisheries, owing to the fact that he is young in the business and has not been pro-jierly trained. I would advise the First Minister to create a kindergarten of some sort where these ministers of his can be trained, in which some of the ambitious young men who are sitting behind the First Minister and who no doubt are looking forward to enjoying at an early day a front seat, with the salaries of a cabinet minister, may be put to school, and be properly trained, so that when they do rise to that position and are honoured by an invitation to a seat in front, this country may not be disturbed and excited, and will be able to judge from the

public utterances of the cabinet ministers that he has a right to say -what he did say. Now, Sir, I have been interested in the discussion that has taken place at various times in this House, and have taken some little interest during the last six or seven years in the welfare of bon. gentlemen opposite. I must say that I do not blame the Minister of Marine and Fisheries to the same extent that some hon. gentlemen on this side of the House might be inclined to do. In the first place he is young, and tender, and unsophisticated, therefore, I think we ought to look upon his faults with some leniency, and perhaps he will do better. Perhaps this will be his most serious violation of tlie great constitution of this country, because it is a violation of the constitution of Canada for any minister to make too pronounced a statement upon a public question. We see now sitting lonely opposite us one of the greatest leaders of the Liberal party since 1896, who also fell into this miserable trap of speaking too previously. Now he sits alone over there, because he violated the constitution of Canada, and jeopardized this whole confederation. And now we have a juvenile coming along who has succeeded him, and who is doing the same thing. Now, Sir, we see an old trained politician, a man who has been many years a member of this House and a member of this cabinet since its formation, a man who has recently received title and honour from his Sovereign, and as I look at the * Globe ' newspaper and find the utterances of the Postmaster General at that meeting in which he knew he was to be followed by one of these parrot gentlemen from the province of Quebec, I can understand that he did feel jealous, and he says now : ' 1

know that in days gone by I have been forestalled in this province by the ex-Minister of Public Works, who has cut more ice, so to speak, in my own native province than I have myself ; consequently I think it is well that I should avail myself of this opportunity. He says that in the most diplomatic language, of course, but at the same time he intimates that he knows something of the cabinet of Canada. ' I have some appreciation,' he says, ' of the policy of the cabinet of which I am a member, and I will take the opportunity at this banquet of intimating '-I need not repeat what he said, it has been read here this afternoon. But the statement is intimated as plainly as language could do it, having regard for his position as a minister of the Crown with six or seven years of training.

Well, Sir, he spoke there and he laid the foundation for the hou. Minister of Marine and Fisheries to follow. He said : What

shall we do ? Shall we go backward or shall we go forward ? Shall we aid these great transcontinental lines ? Some of them have been built, but considering the country through which the new lines have to pass for a thousand miles-the country 28J

north of Lake Superior, I presume, he meant -can we expect any man to go and construct a road over that difficult country without assistance ? So that it is not surprising that the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries at that meeting, where he was surrounded by those gentlemen, who have linked arms with him, and supported by newspapers, which, a short time ago, condemned him as one of those things that were not suitable to be Cabinet ministers, enthused by finding himself surrounded by new converts to his popularity, with all these surroundings and after having partaken of a luxurious dinner should have become possibly a little bit unguarded in his statements. That the hon. gentleman, the juvenile of the Cabinet, should have given) utterance in very strong language to the policy of the government is not to be wondered at. We have the 'Globe' of tonight which says of the Transportation Commission :

It may be taken for granted that Mr. Pre-fontaine's foreshadowing of the personnel of the transportation commission is authentic, and that it will be composed of Sir Wm. Van Horne, of Montreal ; Mr. John Bertram, of Toronto and Mr. Matthew Kennedy, of Quebec.

The Toronto ' Globe ' had never heard or any newspaper in Canada had never heard of' it until the hon. gentleman broke forth on that unfortunate evening in Montreal; When we know that the hon. Postmaster General could fully appreciate the jeopardy in which he placed himself in Toronto, we can appreciate that the hon. Postmaster General felt anxious that this should be made public before this new man steps in from Quebec, because he said to himself : I have had as much experience as this other man. I have played a small part in a small game; the ex-Minister of Public Works that man whom they would burn in effigy in my province, has come up, notwithstanding all the sacrifices I have made for my native province, he has cut the ground from under my feet; I find another man coming from) the province of Quebec and the only safe position for me to take is at least to formulate an idea and endeavour to convey some idea to the gentlemen who are listening to me that I, the Postmaster General of Canada, am iu possession of the secrets of the cabinet and that these railway lines are to be subsidized. I do not say that there is anything wrong in a public man saying that great railway lines will or will not be subsidized but, after the severe lesson which has been taught the hon. exMinister of Public Works, after he has been without much ceremony practically driven out of the Cabinet on a great principle of tlie violation of the constitution of Canada, if this is to be the punishment that it is to be meted out to a man of his position and rank in the cabinet, I say, Sir, that the hon. Postmaster General and the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries ought to make way

for some of those other gentlemen who are In the kindergarten preparing for the portfolios that are waiting for them on the front benches.

Motion (Mr. Bennett) withdrawn.

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RAILWAY ACT AMENDMENT.


Mi'. WALTER SCOTT (West Assiniboia) moved the second reading of Bill (No. 16) to amend the Railway Act.


CON
LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. SCOTT.

Mr. Speaker, it may be sufficient at the present time for me to explain that this Bill is, framed to effect an object which was discussed at some length on one of the last days of last session to provide that railways in the prairie country of the North-west shall be properly fire-guarded.

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

I understand my hon. friend (Mr. Scott) wishes that the Bill shall go to the Committee on Railways and Canals where we shall have it fully examined.

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Motion agreed to, and Bill read the second time.


SUPPLY-BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE.


The MINISTER OF FINANCE (Hon. W. S. Fielding) moved that the House go again into Committee of Supply.


CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. S. SPROULE (East Grey).

On our side of the House it was not expected that we would) go into Committee of Supply tonight. It was thought that the evening would be taken up with these public Bills, and I may say, so far as I know, that we are not prepared to go on with supply. There are several Bills which we expected would be discussed but which have been allowed to stand.

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

In view of the statement of the hon. gentleman, I will withdraw the motion for the House to go into Committee of Supply.

Motion withdrawn.

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HOME RULE FOR IRELAND - PERSONAL EXPLANATION.

L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAMUEL HUGHES (North Victoria).

I rise to correct a misstatement that appears in the Ottawa Evening ' Journal ' and the Ottawa ' Free Press ' in relation to some remarks made by the hon. member for Victoria, N.B. (Hon. Mr. Costigan) last night, when some member of the House interrupted that hon. gentleman in his very learned and interesting speech, by interjecting the term ' rats.' The ' Journal ' and ' Free Press ' credit your humble servant with that interruption. It was not my interruption, and I ask these journals to make the necessary correction.

On motion of the Minister of Finance, House adjourned at 9.20 p.m.

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CON

Rufus Henry Pope

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. POPE.

HOUSE OF COMMONS;

Thursday, April 2, 1908.

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April 1, 1903