May 6, 1903

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

My hon. friend will see that however sanguine one is in regard to the efficacy of this measure, it niust be remembered that it is only a tenative one. It was begun last year with reference to railways alone, and has been continued with respect to railways alone, because of their special character. They stand on a different footing. I stated before and I repeat it now. that we hope public opinion will favour the extension of this principle beyond the present limited scone of railways, but I doubt if public opinion in Canada to-day is sufficiently prepared to say that we should pass even

what some lion, gentlemen call this weak measure and make it applicable generally throughout Canada to all sorts of industrial establishments.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir. CLARKE.

Why should you have any objection to this measure being applied to other industrial establishments if It depends on public opinion ?

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

There are a great many measures that might be passed but it is usual for legislatures to wait until public opinion is reasonably ripe before thrusting them upon an unwilling public. If public opinion were against this mode of treatment, then, to proceed with undue haste might set back the movement rather than accelerate it. There is such a thing as making haste too fast and if, later on, public opinion, from the working of this measure in regard to railways, comes to the conclusion that it will be beneficially extended and made more general that extension will take place and good will come from it, but if we had a large part of the public perhaps resisting it we would be forcing it upon an unwilling public. There is nobody in this House who can speak for the employers of labour and say that they would consent to this measure. There is no member of this House who will say that even the employees would consent to this principle being made general. I, however, believe that a considerable number of them throughout the- country would welcome it, but it is impossible for any one to get up in this House and say that the general public want this measure to be extended and to to have general application.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

Might I ask the hon. minister on what authority does he say that no person in this House can speak as to the opinion entertained by the employers of labour ns to whether the extension of this principle to their different crafts would be acceptable or not ?

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

I think there is no member of this House who has any authority to speak on behalf of the employers of labour in Canada. I am not aware that the employers of labour have met and expressed an opinion upon this subject. If they have and if there is any one who could speak on their behalf, no one would rejoice more than myself at such an announcement, and I am sure the hon. member for Toronto (Mr. Clarke) would agree with me.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

It will be a pleasure to me to agree with the hon. gentleman, though it will be a hard matter sometimes.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

I am sure my hon. friend will agree with me at the present moment that even he, however well informed lie is as to the state of public opinion, either in the ranks of the employers or in those of the employees, and however

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LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir. WILLIAM MULOCK.

courageous he may be, will not at this moment undertake to speak on behalf of either one and to say that either one would give his consent to the extension of this principle.

5Ir. CLARKE. The hon. minister is certainly right in saying that I would not undertake to speak for either party, for the employers or the employees. I am sure that every person on this side of the House earnestly desires that all the good the hon. minister expects from this Bill may be accomplished and more than accomplished. I understand from what the hon. gentleman said during the explanation which he made upon the second reading of the Bill, that lie had consulted all the employers and employees who will be affected by the operation of this Bill when it becomes enacted. That being the case, and anticipating, as the hon. gentleman does, and I hope rightly anticipating, great benefit from the passage of this Bill, surely if it is to be of any practical benefit to both employers and employees it was the duty of the hon. gentleman to instruct some officer, or officers, of the Department of Labour, to ascertain from employers of labour other than those engaged in conducting railways, and from employees other than those engaged on railways, what their opinion would be if general legislation of this kind were passed instead of leigslation applying solely to the operation of railways. If there is to be any benefit derived from the operation of this Bill in its application to railways, why not extend the benefit to others ? Why not to steamers, why not to those large industrial establishments scattered all through the country, why not have all these great industries brought under the operation of this Bill ? Surely there has been a dereliction of duty on the part of the officers of the Department of Labour, if not on the part of the hon. minister-I say it, of course, with a great deal of respect-in not taking steps to ascertain what the opinion of the employers of labour and of the employees in Canada is as to the general application to other industrial establishments of the principles of this Bill.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

The hon. k on tl Gin a. 11 has bGGn in public life many years. He is well aware that public opinion is not obtained in regard to great legislative measures by any such procedure as that. You could not send out a bulletin to five or six million people and ask them what their opinion is on a proposed measure. There is a well recognized way of ascertaining public opinion. Subjects are discussed in the House, in the country, on the platform and in the press and gradually public men come to form an opinion as to what is the will of the people, and from their places in parliament they make their opinions known. If the hon.' gentleman who is in touch with public opinion

in a great industrial centre is able to speak for kis people we may make some progress, but there is no such practicable method as he suggests for ascertaining public opinion. This discussion will perhaps lead to the general public taking an interest in this idea. From time to time discussions on this line are developed. This afternoon I threw out a hint which I hope will bear fruit, that the employers and employees should endeavour to consider this question, and perhaps they might organize with the object of getting representatives together to debate it. But it cannot be done without the fullest discussion, and that is a process involving a considerable length of time. Employers or employees would not be able to give a valued opinion upon the question without full discussion. Discussions such as these prepare public men to consider public questions and to give valued opinions upon them. I have to thank the House for allowing me the privilege of a second time of addressing it on the subject, although I had no intention of suspending action for the purpose of considering any of the points that were raised by the hon. gentleman.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. JOHN HAGGART (South Lanark).

Mr. Speaker, I intend to say a few words in reference to this, what I call, peculiar legislation, introduced by the hon, Postmaster General (Hon. Sir William Mulock), legislation introduced for the purpose of informing the community and which is to be acted upon by public opinion. The hon. gentleman mentioned some legislation of this kind in the state of Massachusetts, and we had legislation of a similar character introduced in 1900, legislation, as the hon. minister says, which is intended to carry out some views, or some ideas of some people in this country with means of enforcement and penalties attached when its provisions are not carried out. This legislation has no effect at all. This Bill is evidently prepared on the lines of the New Zealand legislation, introduced in 1894 or 1895, providing for the creation of conciliation boards and boards of arbitrations. I listened to the hon. minister and he particularly stated that as long as times were prosperous and as long ns wages were advancing in the country the awards of the board of arbitrament would be accepted both by the employees and by the employers of labour in the community. But the moment depression comes, it is likely one or the other will object to the award. I have read an American author who speaks highly of the New Zealand system, and who says it is in advance of any legislation in any part of the world. I have also read the report of the Australian commissioners who inquired into the New Zealand system with a view to its adoption in Australia. On the other hand, I have read a New Zealand author who condemns the system altogether, and indeed the opinion now seems to be. that the result of the arbitration law in New Zealand law is not as satisfactory as its friends hoped for. I believe there is a necessity for legislation in some direction for the settlement of these labour disputes, but whether it is within the authority of this federal parliament or of the provincial legislatures is a question for serious consideration. My hon. friend (Mr. Monk) pointed out that this Bill took jurisdiction over provincial railways and electric railways, as well as Dominion railways, and the minister replied to him that this Bill was only for the purpose of finding out the facts and influencing public opinion. It is notorious that the control over provincial and electric railways is in the provincial legislatures, and thus it is that we are legislating here to influence public opinion to influence the local legislatures to pass laws to remedy grievances. The minister told us that the simple fact of the finding of an arbitration board in Massachusetts so influenced public opinion that the disputants were compelled to settle a strike. If the hon. gentleman inquires, he will find that the Massachusetts Railway Commission has the power to remedy such grievances, but legislation of this kind, although it may be passed by the legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is not the sort of legislation that is usually adopted by a British parliament. What is the need of this Bill at all, if it is only for the purpose of reporting the facts. The government have power now to appoint a Royal Commission at any time, and the report of that Royal Commission may affect public opinion and what is better still, it brings the matter before this House. There should be an alternative in this Bill, so that if public opinion is not sufficient to enforce the award of the board of arbitration, then the law should step in to enforce it. That is what I would call proper legislation. This Bill is simply parade legislation. It can be of little or no utility when there is no penalty provided to enforce its provisions.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

I congratulate the Minister of Labour upon the decided change he has made in this Bill as compared with the Bill which he introduced last session. Last year's Bill was on the lines of compulsory arbitration, but the minister had an opportunity of meeting those who would be affected by such legislation, and he ascertained public opinion so quickly that the result was that he introduced the measure which we are now discussing. I shall not offer any opposition to this Bill. It certainly cannot do any harm, but I do not expect that much good will come from it. However, the minister hopes a great deal from the Bill, and I trust that his expectations will be more than realized. Last year, with a great flourish of trumpets he proposed compulsory arbitration ; but he recedes from that position now, having ascertained what public opinion was in the meantime.

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An hon. MEMBER.

What was it ?

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

The result was the emasculation of last year's Bill and the presentation of the present Bill, and I thinli the minister acted very wisely in accepting the suggestions that were made to him. My hon. friend from Winnipeg (Mr. Puttee) who takes a great deal of interest in matters affecting the working classes, tells us that this Bill is acceptable to the railway employees whom the minister had the pleasure of meeting, and he says that the reason it is acceptable to them is because it does not affect them in any way. They are perfectly satisfied with the provisions of the Bill, because it does not affect them in any way. That I believe is the fact, except in so far as the findings of the arbitration commission may affect them through its effect on public opinion. I hope the Bill may have some good effect, and I am not going to offer any opposition to it; but I have not heard any sufficient answer to the question propounded again and again on this side of the House, why, if this measure is going to work satisfactorily-and X sincerely hope it will-its provisions are only made applicable to railway disputes instead of being made applicable generally to all industrial disputes in the Dominion of Canada. The minister has nothing to fear from making the application of this Act general. I am satisfied that the measure is so harmless, if I may be permitted to use that expression, that its application to all the industries of the country would not be opposed by the working classes. They are always willing to place their side of a case before arbitrators or before the public, and I am perfectly satisfied that if they were all brought under the provisions of this Bill, they would willingly accept it and it might do some good.

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LIB

Joseph Israël Tarte

Liberal

Hon. Mr. TARTE.

The Bill of my hon. friend is based on the ArbitrationActs passed in the United States. The first two states to establish boards of arbitration were the state of New York and the state of Massachusetts, in 1886. Fourteen other states have since passed similar laws. These states are : California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa. Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut and Indiana. The state boards in the United States are composed, just as the Bill of my hon. friend provides that this board shall be composed, namely, of three members-one an employer, one an employee, who is generally appointed at the recommendation of the labour organizations, and the third of another class. The state board of arbitration may be invoked by the desire of both parties to a dispute, or the board may interfere itself.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

Are the Acts compulsory, then ?

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

What are the powers of enforcement 7

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CON
LIB

Joseph Israël Tarte

Liberal

Hon. Mr. TARTE.

When both parties agree to submit a labour dispute, the result is binding. Only in Massachusetts, New Y'ork, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin have state boards been appointed; in all the other states the law has been a dead letter. The report of the Industrial Commission, which I hold in my hand, and which is a very interesting document says :

It is very difficult to estimate correctly the amount, nature and value of the work of the state boards of arbitration.

The resume of this report is that these state boards have not done much. There are only three or four states in which they have done some active work. Outside of these states they have not accomplished anything. As some hon. gentlemen who have spoken on this Bill have said, it cannot do any harm. I hope that it will do good; but if we are to judge of the results of this legislation by the results which have been achieved in the United States, I am very much afraid it will not do as much as some of our friends expect it will. However there is no harm in trying, and, so far as I am concerned, I am glad the hon. Minister of Labour has introduced this Bill. We have not so far tried any device for settling our labour disputes, which are becoming dangerous, and it is time we tried something. On that account I think both sides of the House will be pleased that the Minister of Labour is doing something, and if he does not succeed, he will try to do something better in another year.

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Motion agreed to, Bill read the second time, and House went into Committee thereon. On section 1,


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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

I move to insert in the fourth line the word ' may ' between the words ' strike ' and ' interfere.'

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May 6, 1903