May 6, 1903

CON
IND

Arthur W. Puttee

Independent Labour

Mr. PUTTEE.

It seems to me that it is wrong to resort to the military in these matters, and I do not think that such a proceeding will commend itself to the people of this country.

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CON

William Rees Brock

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. R. BROCK (Toronto Centre).

labour unions in this country, we find that the imainspring is on the other side of the line. I am strongly in favour of an organization of labour in this country, but I say that it should be under the control of our own people and our own government. We should not have before us continually the danger of being obliged to follow any particular organization to the other side of the line and beyond the control of our own people. The time may come when we shall be rushing to arms to protect this country from that kind of thing. This is the time for the government to take hold of the question. I do not say how that should be done, but they will be able to say. They should! take hold of this and deal' with it, apart from politics, framing measures solely with the view to meet the difficulty that faces us. At the present time it is a very difficult matter for us to say when the military power should step out and the civil power should step in. I certainly think in this case the civil authorities in Montreal should have had power to deal with the difficulty and deal with it firmly. I believe with the bon. member for North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton) that the individual in this country has rights. I am willing (o concede to a labour organization also that it has rights. But when the organization undertakes to interfere with the individual and with his personal rights, the whole power of the country and the government should be brought forward to put a stop to that interference at once. The difficulty in the United States, as we know, is want of power in the central authority to deal with these matters. In these troubles the people who suffer most are not the workmen, not the manufacturers, not the capitalists-the whole accumulated evil falls upon the consumer, upon the masses of the people who have to pay the bill every time. If you preveut miners from getting out coal, they will get back at you, because they will merely charge a dollar or two more for every ton and, so far as the capitalist is concerned, he will be as, well off as ever. The men who are posing as representatives of labouring men forget that in every one of these contests the workingmen come out at the small end of the horn. They always do. Not a single case can be named where the workmen have not got the worst of it. So I say the proper course is for a good strong government to take hold of this matter and prevent these people from the United States coming in here and agitating in this country, for it can be seen that their only object is agitation. They do not care that these poor longshoremen are out of work they are idle and spending money sometimes very injudiciously. All they want is to pose before the people of this country and the United States as being anxious for the welfare of the people for whom they are agitating. although they are causing them to lose not only their time, but their money.

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CON

William Rees Brock

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BROCK.

I do trust the government will see their way to do a little more

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS (Hon. A. G. Blair).

What would the hon. gentleman (Mr. Brock) suggest

that a good government should do ?

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CON

William Rees Brock

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BROCK.

If I were Minister of Labour I should be in a position not only to make suggestions, but, I hope, to do something. Why, this is almost childish. When an hon. gentleman on this side presents the view that the government are not doing all that they ought to do we are asked : What is your policy, what suggestions have you to make ?

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

Certainly, because you do not make out a case until you do.

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CON

William Rees Brock

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BROCK.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I do not wish to detain the House any longer. But I can assure you that, to myself personally as well as the city I represent, this is a very serious matter. Before sitting down,

1 may mention one thing. At this season of the year the importers of this country are bringing in a very large quantity of what we call spring and summer goods. We know that shipments of these goods are in the vessels in the port of Montreal ; but tlie goods cannot be delivered, they cannot be distributed throughout the country, under the present circumstances. The result is that a serious loss is going to fall upon these importers. For, the goods now coming in are usually of light material-what I may call fashionable goods-and suitable for the season. If the goods are not sold now, there will be a serious loss in carrying them over, because, next year they will be unfashionable and worth almost nothing. Therefore-there may be some selfishness in it- I am associated with those who are anxious that this difficulty be put a stop to as quickly as possible.

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LIB

Ralph Smith

Liberal

Mr. RALPH SMITH (Vancouver).

Mr. Speaker, I deplore the existence of industrial struggles, such as those going on in Montreal and in other parts of the country, just as much as any hon. gentleman in this House. But I want to say that, so long as hon. members of this House are not prepared to assume that some fault may be found on both sides in this struggle, so long will affairs remain in the present condition. Now, Sir, these people have reason for the position that they take. It is time, their reasons may not always be good reasons. But, when large bodies of men who depend not upon a bank account, but upon each dollar as it is earned as a daily wage, without any prospect of maintaining a living whilst on strike, take the course that these men have taken, we may depend upon it they have some reason for entering upon such a struggle. Now a great deal has been said including what has been said by the hon.

member for North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton), with regard to outside agitation. I do not think the position taken on that matter by these hon. gentlemen is a fair position at all. How would the hon. member for North Norfolk like it if I were to demonstrate to him that alien capitalists in this country had provoked strikes by their tyranny and oppression ? So long as the hon. member objects to the doctrine that the individual labourer is not entitled to come to this country and have a voice in the sociological questions without being considered an agitator, what is he to say when the capitalist employer, who is an alien, seeks to oppress and tyrannize over our people by his method of carrying on business ? Now," there are two sides to this question.

I do not believe in strikes. I want to say that I have been associated for many years as a leader of a labour movement, and I have never yet been in a single strike, I have always used my influence against strikes. But I want to remind hon. gentlemen in this House that there are national strikes, that there is the strike of war, that there is the position taken by one nation against the other-and even the modern method of settling these questions ultimately is for the parties to take up arms against each other and demand their rights. That being so, it must be easy for hon. gentlemen to concede that labour and capital-and labour especially, which lives in dependence upon the exercise of its force for a daily wage, is entitled to adopt that method, so long as, in doing so, it does not interfere with the constitution and with the laws of this country.

X do not think I would under any circumstances be inclined to permit an alien agitator to come to this country and dictate to me as to what were the proper conditions under which I should work. Sir, there is not as much in the contention supported by the hon. member for North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton) as he asserts. This institution at Montreal, contrary to what has been said on the floor of the House to-day, is a voluntary institution, and does not receive dictation from over the line. I am speaking subject to correction, but if I understood the hon. gentleman aright, he said that it was not a voluntary institution but that it was subject to dictation from the other side. I wish to say that no alien agitator has anything to do with the conduct of the business of this institution. I agree with the hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) that the most legitimate kind of influence is that which emanates from the authority of the government. But we must remember that the government have no power to insist that these people should settle their grievances : and I would like the hon. gentlemen who represent the interests of organized capital in this House to lie able to assure the government that if provision was made empowering the government to compel a settlement of these troubles, they would support a proposition of that kind. If I had time and opportunity,

1 could demonstrate to this House that in nine cases out of ten of labour struggles, labour has volunteered to stand by the results of compulsory arbitration enforced by government, and that in only one case out of ten do we find the capitalists prepared to do so. Now, it is right that these facts should be presented to this House. Both sides have a right to be represented in this matter. There are two sides to this question. What does the ordinary member of this House know about the actual grievances of these poor men in Montreal? What proof can any member of this House give to show that there may not be the greatest possible reason for this strike at Montreal? Where is the remedy ? The remedy I believe is in increased legislation along these lines.

I do not believe that the people of this country would support the principle of compulsory arbitration, but I believe they would agree to accept some further amendment of govermental dictation along the line of compulsory investigation and conciliation ; I believe in that principle. The Minister of Labour has a Bill before the House for that purpose.

Now, Sir, as to the request made upon this government to assist in paying the expenses of protection of the public in this strike at Montreal. I do not think that would be a proper thing to do, for the outside authority to have such power. I consider that the power to call out military protection by the municipality is a wise provision. But, I want to say this, that if any financial assistance is given by this government in consequence of a strike of that kind, I can easily conceive how much more ready the municipalities would be to call out the militia without necessary provocation when they know that the expense would have to be borne by another authority. There are two sides to this question also. I want to say, and it ought to be said to the credit of the strikers in Montreal, that the newspapers, who are as a rule anxious to record the .misdeeds of the strikers, have not been able to chronicle a single unlawful act on their part. What reason can he given by the authorities in Montreal for calling out the militia in this instance ? If the expenses of this protection are to be paid by *this government, how much more easily it will be for these municipalities to call out this protection because somebody else has to pay the hill. The greatest safeguard for prudence in such matters, is the fact that the people who are concerned must pay for the protection they require.

Now, Sir, I will support any proposition in this House that will bring to- an end these industrial struggles. I will subscribe with my vote to any measure that will increase the powers of the government to make compulsory investigation into these

matters with a view to avoiding trouble. But, so long as bon. members in this House are prepared to look only on one side of this question, so long as they are prepared to assume that there is only one party in the struggle, and only one that is absolutely right, while the other is absolutely wrong, then I want to say that those hon. members utterly fail to grasp the facts of the situation. I want to tell the hon. member for North Norfolk that any individual, or any member of this House, who does not recognize the rights of labouring men to enter into voluntary association, is as big a demagogue as the man who would adopt unconstitutional methods to accomplish his purpose. There are unreasonable men in the labour movement; yes, there are unreasonable men in the capitalist movement; and what is wauted is proper government authority to deal with these extreme people, and to provide that the business of the country shall be conducted for the benefit of the whole community.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL (Hon. Sir William Mulock).

The question introduced has assumed a somewhat wide range. I do not propose to discuss the labour question in the abstract, the fringe of which has just been touched by some hon. members ; I would rather confine my few observations to the question that led to this discussion. The trouble in Montreal to-day is not new. It has been growing for some time. The two parties evidently have been organizing, and have entered upon a contest of strength Before the outbreak of hostilities the government endeavoured to prevent them. I am sure that lion, gentlemen are all most desirous that the interests of the country should be paramount in a matter of this importance. I am sure that no lion, gentleman would desire to make any political capital out of a question such as this. I say this with nil frankness and in all sincerity. Whatever views may exist, I will say this, tlioiig-h a party man, that I hope the day will never come in a Canadian parliament when the members will make a football of the labour problem. It has challenged the efforts of the best governments and the brightest minds the world has ever known, and it is not yet solved. We have a task before us, and we will be better able to solve it if we keep the one object In view of the common interest of Hie country.

Now, Mr. Speaker, before this trouble began the government sent for representatives of the two parties. You will understand tile delicacy of the negotiations, in view of the strained relations that exist and have existed for some time. You cannot with success plunge into the midst of a stiuggle between two parties who are excited and determined. But so far as our private interviews, influence, advice, and pressure could go, they were exercised to induce, if possible, a settlement and to re-Mr. SMITH (Vancouver).

move all causes of difference. Our advice was refused. It was deliberately given, it was deliberately taken into consideration, and it was deliberately refused.

Mr. MONI-C. May I ask the hon. gentleman who the representatives sent were ?

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Tire POSTMASTER GENERAL.

I assume in advance that my hon. friend (Mr. Monk) is most anxious for a satisfactory solution of this difficulty, and he will quite understand that, to go into particulars and to give names, would jeopardize the negotiations that have continued up to this moment. At no time since the trouble began lias there not been present in Montreal endeavouring to make overtures to and to establish relations with both sides a gentleman of high standing and in close touch with the government. We have not only had him in daily and constant communication with us, but we are in telegraphic communication with him, and even since this debate began the right hon. leader of the government (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) has received telegraphic despatches reporting the state of affairs. The hon. member for .Taeques Cartier (Mr. Monk) asks a natural question, but I am sure it would only strike him as equally natural for me to say that I doubt if anything would be gained by giving away, if we have the right to do it, the confidences of which we are the recipients on both sides.

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L-C

Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. INGRAM.

Would the hon. Postmaster General say whether the advice was deliberately refused by one or both sides ?

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

The hon. gentleman (Mr. Ingram) will, perhaps not press me too far upon that point. He has tlie same object that we have in view and it is extremely important that the government should be at all times able to enjoy the unqualified confidence of disputants in labour troubles, not only on this occasion but on all occasions, and if the government's influence is to be for good we must preserve the unqualified confidence of disputants no matter how wrong either of them may be. I say that not desiring to withhold anything, but for the reason which I am assigning here. The hon. member for Centre Toronto urges us to do something. There are only two things that can be done in regard to labour strikes. If you had a law by which you could by force compel men to go to work you could invoke such a law. This is a free country and there is no such law upon the statute-book. I do not think that any hon. gentleman would propose to put such a law upon the statute-book. There is one other method and that is by friendly conciliation and by bringing the pressure of public opinion to bear. In regard to either of these steps there is a right time and there is a wrong time. There is a time when intervention would be effective ; there is a time when it would be a failure. It is difficult to strike the right time. It does

not appear yet to have arrived, for we cannot induce either of these parties at the present moment to receive any friendly overtures from the government. What more can be done at this stage is a question that I am unable to answer. The hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) mentioned that it was my duty to make a statement. I hope lie did not think I was refusing to do my duty or shrinking from trying to do my duty. I rose several times, but in deference to the wishes of others that I saw rising I gave them the right of way, but, and it was not through any disinclination, as soon as I had the opportunity, to make these few observations. As to the suggestion that the government might bear the expense, the law is to-day what it has been since confederation. It is no new law. It was not passed by this government and not hy the immediately preceding government, but it has been ratified by parliament and by public opinion for a generation and more, and that law is that the municipality must bear the expense of calling out the militia to maintain order within the municipality. I would say that at this very moment we have a gentleman of high position in this country in Montreal endeavouring to induce the parties to receive in a friendly way the overtures from this government with the view of arriving at a settlement. It took the President of the United States a good while to solve the problem in the anthracite coal regions. For some time the strikers refused to listen to his suggestions. They continued that strike for five months and national disaster was the outcome, the injury spreading beyond the confines of the United States. We suffered ourselves. He could not at first succeed but in time he did succeed. As the struggle continues these two disputants may become more receptive of friendly advice, and all I can say on behalf of the government is that we are in an attitude ready and waiting and anxious to be allowed to be the medium of peace whenever the two parties will permit us to act in that capacity.

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The PRIME MINISTER (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Lauri-er).

Mr. Speaker, before this debate is concluded, I want to call the attention of the House to a statement of fact which was made a moment ago by the hon. member for Montmorency (Mr. Casgrain), and one which calls for some consideration on the part of every member of this House. The hon. member for Montmorency stated a moment ago that some of the volunteers who are now doing duty on the harbour at Montreal are threatened with dismissal by their employers if they continue to be removed from their daily occupations. I think that when the hon. member for Montmorency made that statement lie was misinformed. I cannot believe that there is in the city of Montreal any man so mean, any man so unpatriotic as to threaten one of his employees who happens to be a volunteer

and is performing his duty as sucli with dismissal. I cannot believe that there is any employer of labour, knowing that his employee is engaged in protecting property, who would threaten him with dismissal because he has to be absent from his occupation. There was some feeling upon this question in the state of New York last winter when it was reported in the press that a labour organization in Sclmectady, New York, had expelled one of its members because he was a member of a military organization in the state. I hope we are not going to have anything of that kind in this country. I have seen the statement that during last winter some labour organizations in this country had discouraged their members from joining the militia force. .1 do not believe that statement, and in reference to the statement of -the hon. member for Montmorency, I still refuse to believe that there is any man in Canada who would discourage any of his employees from becoming members of the volunteer force. It would be a sad day indeed for Canada if any citizen were to discourage any one at all from discharging his duty to the country, and if the hon. member for Montmorency is correctly informed, I think that the voice of parliament ought to be unanimous in declaring that if such a threat were to be carried into execution, if the volunteers now doing duty for their country were to be dismissed, the man who did that would be branded with infamy and he would be consigned to the indignation of every patriotic citizen of Canada.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. E. F. CLARKE (West Toronto).

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Montreal, St. Lawrence (Mr. Bickerdike), in speaking upon this question a few moments ago, said that the difference, so far as remuneration is concerned, between the longshoremen and the employers had been practically settled, and that the only matter in dispute, the only question that kept the parties separate, was the question of the recognition of the union of the employees. If that is a fact, I am sure that we can appeal to the hon. Postmaster General to use his good offices to get this union recognized ; because, I believe, it is one of the conditions imposed upon those who tender for work in his department that the work shall he done in a union office, and that the union scale of wages shall be paid. The demands of the men certainly could not have been so unreasonable as some hon. gentlemen have pointed out. because the hon. member for Montreal, St. Lawrence, has told us that the parties have agreed as to -the remuneration and that the only question is as to whether the men have the right to unite together for the purpose of protecting themselves, and whether it is a reasonable position for the -employers to take to say that the men shall not have that right, and to say that those who organize themselves into a union of employees shall not be given

employment. This is a very serious position and one that ought to engage the attention of the Department of Labour, and engage it forthwith. We on this side of the House have no desire to make political capital out of these labour disputes. If any such capital has been made out of them, I am not going beyond the line of my duty when I say that the Postmaster General, in addressing the electors from one end of Canada to the other has pointed out that if the government is entitled to confidence for one thing more than another it is because it has established a Labour Bureau, which from time to time adjusts the labour difficulties which may arise.

I want to enter my protest against the statement made here : that foreign agitators are at the bottom of all this trouble. It is an insult to the Canadian workman to say that foreign agitators whom he never saw before can come to Montreal, Toronto or anywhere else, and can induce Canadian workmen to leave their employment and demand unreasonable terms. Such a statement is absurd. It needs only to be mentioned to be scouted at once. Canadian workmen have had organizations from one end of Canada to the other for the past half century, and the record of these unions is the best possible answer to the charge made against Canadian workmen as to their unreasonable demands. I myself have had the honour of belonging to one of these organizations for about thirty-five years. That organization has had an existence in Canada for nearly three-quarters of a century ; and during that long period, on only two, or at most three occasions, were the most amicable relations which exist between the employers and the men, in any degree strained. The great bulk of the men who compose the labour unions in Canada are men whose interests are identified most closely with the interests of their employers and the interests of the country. They are most reasonable men ; they ai;e conservative in their methods. They do not desire to create a condition of things that will compel them to strike. Striking is the last resort in the case of the great majority of them, because as the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Smith) has pointed out, no matter what may be the result of the strike, ultimately they are the sufferers. Those against whom they strike do not in the end suffer, because, as my hon. friend from Centre Toronto (Mr. Brock) has pointed out, the other parties to the difficulty eventually compel the public to hear the losses to which they have been subjected. Even if the workingmen be successful, it takes them a very long time out of the additional wages they receive, to recoup themselves for the losses they incurred during the time they were demanding their rights. I do not desire to prolong this discussion, but there is one phase of it. in relation to the efforts which the government is making Mr. CLARKE.

to settle the matter, on which I desire to say a word or two. We are bound and we are ready to accept most fully the statement made by the Minister of Labour in respect to the action of the government during the past month or two to bring this difficulty to a satisfactory settlement. But is there not too much mystery about the methods which the government are employing ? The Postmaster General made the statement that when the President of the United States interfered-and interfered wisely and patriotically-to bring that tremendous conflict between labour and capital to a satisfactory settlement, he appointed commissioners to represent him. But let me point out that the people of the United States were apprised at once as to the action of the President, as to who represented him, and as to what lines the attempts made to bring about the settlement, were based upon.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

It was many months after the strike.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

I am speaking now of the time when the President intervened, and he at once apprised the people of what was being done hour by hour and day by day.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

My recollection is that the strike began in March, and that the President did not intervene until September.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

But the moment the President did intervene the public were apprised of all that was going on, and the hands of the President were strengthened, because the public were at his back. I am satisfied that if the Minister of Labour would take the House and the country into his confidence, and tell us who are representing him in Montreal and what their instructions are, then if the instructions commend themselves, as I have no doubt they will, to the majority of the people of Canada, the hands of the minister would be upheld, public opinion would be focussed upon this trouble, and a settlement would probably be reached sooner than it otherwise would.

One word as to the affiliation of Canadian labour unions with the American unions. No Canadian union is obliged to affiliate with a union on the other side. The advantages of affiliation are mutual. Unfortunately, up to the present time, aye and at the present time, a greater number of men belonging to Canadian unions go to the United States to seek employment, than do American labour unionists come from the United States over here. The international card is a substantial advantage to the members of the Canadian unions, and that card has never been dishonoured by the unions on the other side. That card forms a bond of union between the workingmen on both sides of the line, and the reason the Canadian unionists identify themselves with

American unionists, is because they believe it to be to their advantage and because they do not believe it is derogatory to their position, or to the interests of Canada that they should so identify themselves. These are the facts, and if, as my hon. friend from Winnipeg (Mr. Puttee) has stated the employers of labour in the port of Montreal have been arranging for the past six or nine months to have men in Montreal when navigation opened to take the place of the longshoremen ; may I not without prejudicing the case say, that these employers placed themselves in a position to accentuate the hostility of the longshoremen ; that they were doing what was likely to antagonize the longshoremen of Montreal, and to make a reasonable settlement more difficult ? As the hon. member for Vancouver (Mr. Smith) pointed out, there must be a recognition cf the rights of both parties before a satisfactory settlement can be reached ; there must be an observance of the golden rule. Except in a very extreme case, I have never known an instance where fair propositions for settlement were made by one or other of the parties, that these propositions did not eventuate in a satisfactory settlement.

1 hope that the efforts of the Minister of Labour wifi be crowned with success, but 1 repeat that a great deal of good would be done if he would take the House into his confidence and state who represents the government in Montreal, what has been done, how far he has succeeded in bringing the parties together, and what is the real reason why he has not been completely successful in his efforts. Before' I take my seat, I again repudiate the statement that foreign agitators are the cause of this trouble in Montreal. I am sure the bon. gentleman made the statement in good faith, but I do not believe that statement is susceptible of being substantiated. It is an insult to the Canadian workmen to say [DOT]that they cannot recognize their own interests, and that they nave been led away by men whom they do not know, to commit acts which may bring disaster on themselves and their families.

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Robert Bickerdike

Mr. BICKERDIKE.

If the hon. gentleman (Mr. Clarke) refers to me, I wish to sav that I did not make that statement. What I said was that the head of that organization was an American.

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May 6, 1903