The strike began at four o'clock on the 12th of February. Action was taken after ' several days ' according to the report. A strike lasting several days would hardly have ruined the Boston and Maine Railway, one of the main railways of New England.
Instantaneously. The account does not say that the effect of the report was magical but it was almost the same. Yes, here are the words- ' the effect was immediate.' So, the strike ended at once. Neither party was willing to assume the responsibility of refusing to act upon the advice of disinterested parties, doubtless men of standing in the community, men whose judgment satisfied the public as to where the responsibility rested. My hon. friend from Centre Toronto (Mr. Brock) used some strong language, I think stronger than he really meant. I do not think he would really wish to be remembered as having spoken in that strong way about the labour unions. I am going to be more considerate than my hon. friend. I think he spoke in the heat of the moment. I do not think that the men who comprise these unions are fairly chargeable with being unmanly or cowardly.
I wish to state my position. We were speaking of the two organized parties, organized labour on one side, and railway companies organized under the law on the other. From the railway companies side damages can be collected, but not from the other. Therefore, as an organized body this is a cowardly body. I did not speak of them individually.
The POSTM-ASTER GENERAL. 1 understand wlfct the hon. gentleman (Mr. Brock) said. Tire hon. gentleman is not satisfied with this measure, because he says it is not strong enough. I do not know how far he would be wdlling to go as an employer of labour. He may be willing to go a long distance. But probably there are employers close to him who would not be willing to go so far. Up to the present moment, I think I am right in saying, the employers generally would not be favourable to any law that would go further than what might be called a moral law, one that would bring to bear the pressure of public opinion. I doubt that the manufacturers, who are the great industrial employers, would assent to a stronger measure than this. If there is any stronger measure that they would assent to, I should be very glad to hear what that measure is. The hon. senior member for West Toronto (Mr. Clarke) has left the Chamber, and I cannot so advantageously refer to his remarks. He took exception to this Bill, putting it in somewhat different language from the other members, but with the same idea. He complained of the measure because it did not contain power to compel Sir. WILLIAM MULOCK.
obedience to the award. Again I would ask him, as I ask my hon. friend from Centre Toronto, have they no regard for the power of public opinion ? For that is the power to which we appeal, and, in the long run, I think it the most efficient of all powers that govern the action of persons who serve the public. At all events, in this age I think it is altogether fitter to appeal to the power of public opinion than to the power of the policeman or the sheriff. There are only two powers, the local power and the power of public opinion. For the present, at all events, this measure proposes to appeal to the latter only. Now, exception is taken to this measure as being confined to railways. The hon. member for Jacques Cartier said that the Conciliation Act gave all the powers in question. I have already pointed out that the Conciliation Act does not meet the ease, simply because it could not be put in motion except by the consent of both parties. But supposing that consent were waived, it would still be Inapplicable. A Conciliation Act applies to what are commonly known as industrial disputes, this measure is limited solely to disputes on railways, that may lead to certain consequences. Section 3 reads :
Whenever a difference exists between any railway employers and railway employees, and it appears to the minister that the parties thereto are unable satisfactorily to adjust the same, and that by reason of such difference remaining unadjusted a railway lock out or strike has been or is likely to be caused, or the regular and safe transportation of mails, passengers or freight has been or may be interrupted, or the safety of any person employed on a railway train or car has been or is likely to be endangered.
Then the minister may proceed. This is dealing with a special class of cases in which the general public have a special interest. Whilst the general public may be interested in a degree in an industrial strike between a private employer and his men, it is a different kind of interest altogether from the interest of the general public in the safe and satisfactory operation of public railways. In these the public have another interest besides the general welfare of the country, they are concerned directly in the safety of the passengers and the satisfactory transportation of freight and mails, all of which are essential to carrying on the trade and commerce of the country. It is a special case of special importance, in which the public are chiefly the interested parties. A railway company is given special rights and powers superior to those of the individual. It is given powers of expropriation, power to operate its railways even though such operation may endanger life and property under certain circumstances. It has extraordinary powers, powers to which the private interest of the individual must be subservient. The railways are undertakings to promote the
public welfare. Those concerned in the operation of railways, either as proprietors or workers, are a portion of the general public. Therefore the justification for legislation of this kind in regard to railways rests entirely upon a different principle from legislation applicable to troubles between private employers and their workmen. For that reason it was deemed wise to bring forward a special Bill dealing with a special case. .
My hon. friend from Jacques Cartier suggested that perhaps there was no power under the British North America Act to pass this Bill. Well. I do not think my hon. friend was serious in that observation. This Bill does not propose to affect property and civil rights in any way ; it proposes to hold an investigation. Is there anything in the British North America Act to restrict us in making an inquiry into any matter or any conditions in Canada ? I know of nothing.
I am not aware that public opinion is limited to a provincial legislature for its expression. My hon. friend from Jacques Cartier contended in the early part of the day that we had ample power to settle strikes, and that we should go down to Montreal this afternoon and settle the strike there. Has the British North America Act undergone any change since this afternoon ? It has just the same force now as it had when the hon. gentleman was addressing the House with such force this afternoon. I think no one would argue that we have not power to issue this commission of inquiry. My hon. friend from East Elgin (Mr. Ingram) suggested that the fact of the arbitrators being paid might have a tendency to promote strikes.
The hon. gentleman misunderstands me. What I said was that in Australia they find that paid niembers of the board foment strikes and difficulties of that character for the purpose of obtaining their daily pay. I did not express my owu opinion at all.
Then 1 misunderstood my hon. friend. But I will point out that the objection cited by the hon. member for East Elgin could have no force here because in the New Zealand Act-the Australian Act is taken from the New Zealand Act,-there is a standing board, and therefore the arbitrators know before hand that they will be called upon
to act. In this case there is no standing board, but only an arbitration board to be chosen pro hac vice. Therefore, until a "strike is threatened or commenced, there can be no person chosen and no one knows who the arbitrators will be.
1 am pointing out to my hon. friend that the law there is different, no arbitrators are appointed until the difficulty arises, and the commission is only constituted when the parties to compose the board are notified of their appointment. Mr. Speaker, I think I have reviewed the technical objections that have been taken to the measure, and I have no hesitation in inviting the House to read this Bill the second time.
The hon. gentleman has mentioned the fact that the railways have extraordinary powers. I do not exactly see any connection between that fact and anything in this Bill. I would like to understand this : It is expected by the
Minister of Labour, if we may judge from the illustrations he has produced to the House, that this measure will produce important results, such results ns was produced in Massachusetts in settling an important strike in a period of nine days. Now, if there is any such virtue in this Bill, why should it not be applied to strikes such as that now going on in Montreal ? Is there any reason to suppose that this measure will be less successful with a strike of that kind than with strikes upon railways ? Is there any reason that can be suggested why the measure should not be as useful in one case as in the other ? If it will produce such results, why we might have had this Montreal strike settled already, we might have had the Canada Atlantic strike settled long ago. I have not yet understood from the Minister of Labour any valid reason given why this legislation, from which he expects so much, should be restricted to railway strikes. I am not asking this for the purpose of embarrassing the minister, but only to understand what is in his mind on the subject.