Some years ago the government issued a commission to inquire into tlie sweat shops, and found a very serious condition of things existing. Certain manufacturers, who wanted to take an unfair advantage of their competitors, housed poor men and women in miserable shops without sanitary conditions in order that they might get cheap labour, and these cheap goods were put on the market to compete with those of respectable manufacturers iwjio, paid good wages and employed their work people in decent shops. The result of that commission was a decision to put a stop to competition of that character by legislation which would protect the working classes by compelling the manufacturers to give them decent places to work in and decent wages. That is the main object of any legislation of the kind now proposed. No manufac-urer who wants to do a fair and legitimate business will encourage the sweat shops which were proven to have existed to a great extent in this country. It is in the interests of every decent respectable citizen to haVfe that kind of thing changed, and any legislation which will do away with it, and which will not work injustice to any respectable manufacturer, the House should be willing to pass.
I happen to be one of the manufacturers who employ considerable union labour. In my business I have never had any difficulties with my men and the union with which we do business. I think that the manufacturers and the labouring classes would improve their positions very materially if they would try and come together. We would then not have measures of this kind on our statutes, but as things are it is probably necessary that we should have them. I understand from the hon. gentleman who introduced the Bill that the position of the men is going to be exactly the same if this Bill is passed as it is at present; but there is one objection to which I wish to refer, and that is the objection pointed out by the hon. member for East Elgin (Mr. Ingram). Suppose a manufacturer of iron goods incorporates the union label in the pattern as part of it instead of pasting it on. To do that puts him to considerable expense, and should there be afterwards any difficulty between him and the union, he may have a large stock of goods on hand which will have to be destroyed. There should be some provision to get over a difficulty of that kind.
That is a matter entirely of agreement between the manufacturer and the union, and it would be the (business of the manufacturer to provide against any contingency of that kind before agreeing to use the label.
I think if 1ke hon. member for Nanaimo would consent to a clause providing for incorporation of these unions, that
would cover almost entirely the objections to the Bill. There may be other objections which the manufacturers could point out, and which would necessitate the Bill being very carefully drafted. Personally, I would like very much to see an Act passed which would work as well as apparently does the English Act; and if the hon. member is willing to add a clause to the effect that the unions shall be incorporated, that will do away with the objections generally expressed to the measure.
Is this not the place for the Minister of Labour (Sir William Mulock) to come in and show us a way out of the difficulty ? He has the assistance of his deputy minister, who has made a special study of all these questions and is ready to advise him, and of a staff of officers who are skilled in unravelling these labour tangles ; but instead of the Minister of Labour leading the House on questions of this kind, as he should, he sits there dumb as an oyster
Surely he can advise his supporter from Nanaimo (Mr. Smith) how to get out of this difficulty. My hon. friend from West Toronto (Mr. Osier) has suggested that a little consideration and a little conciliation applied to the problem would immediately smooth the way-and no one is so competent in the matter of conciliation as the distinguished member for North York and Minister of Labour (Sir William Mulock). Surely, after what has been said, we shall hear from him.
I am afraid my hon. friend from South York (Mr. W. F. Maclean) is the last person in this House to admit that any person could advise as to what course he should pursue here. I, therefore, would not venture to take such a liberty with him. He knows the situation of the Bill before the House. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Ralph Smith) who is in charge of it has moved the Bill. If any hon. gentleman desires to amend it, there is opportunity to do so. It is not a government question. Every hon. member is at liberty to advance his views, and you, Mr. Chairman, I am sure are only waiting to receive amendments. The hon. member for South York (Mr. W. F. Maclean) has been first on one side of the question and then on the other, and now he is trying to get out of his difficulty by dragging me in to do his work. I cannot so invade the hon. gentleman's preserve.
(Translation). Mr. Chairman, no privilege can be granted but to a person who exists physically or morally. The trades-unions cannot be sued unless they are incorporated. It has been so decided by the Ontario courts in a case of ' The Metallic Roofing Company el Canada v. Local Union No. 30, Amalgamated Sheet Metal Workers' International Association, 5, O. L. R., 424 (D.C.) ' It was held that :-
The right to maintain an action or the liability to be sued can only be by or against persons as individuals, or as a corporation or a partnership, or where individuals are carrying on business in a name other than their own, or where they have been given the capacity to own property and to act by agents. A local union of workmen, a purely voluntary association, without such capacity, are not liable to be sued; and a writ served upon the agent was therefore set aside. Taff Vale R. W. Co. vs. Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, 1901, A. C. 426, distinguished. Where it clearly appears that the association sued is not an entity, which may be sued by the name it hears, it is more convenient to set aside the service of writ on a motion made therefore than to allow the case to proceed at the trial with a certainty of its ultimate dismissal.
The same decision was rendered in the case of ' Krug Furniture 'Company vs. Berlin Union of Amalgamated Wood Workers, o. O. L. It., 403, Meredith, J.' The judgment was the same, that is to the effect that a trades-union could not be sued if it were not incorporated; that the members should be proceeded against individually, and the action should be dismissed if it had been taken against the association.
The question has been decided also in England, by the Appeal Court in 1901, in a case of ' Liuaker vs. Pilcher and others,' reported in volume ' 84, Law Times Reports,' new series, page 421. In this case the action was held valid because it had been entered against the trustees of the trades-union, but notwithstanding that decision the courts in (lie province of Ontario have persisted in dismissing the law suits brought against the non-incorporated trades-unions.
There is no doubt but that is the law in the province of Quebec.
1 would favour the idea of granting rights to the trades-unions provided these associations exist legally. I think it would be absurd to confer such privileges upon an indeterminate class of men. The exercise of a privilege requires that a person should exist physically and morally. For those reasons, Mr. Chairman, I move in amendment, seconded by Mr. Leblanc, that the following words: 'duly incorporated,' be added after subsection (a) of section first.
It is easy for the trades-unions to obtain incorporation; we have a law to that effect; it is chapter 131 of the Revised Statutes of Canada. According to that law trades-unions may be brought into legal existence without any heavy costs. Why should they
not submit to the law as the other public bodies do V
My honourable i'riend from York (Mr. Maclean) has told us that the lawyers, for instance, enjoyed certain rights and privileges.
This is very true, but the lawyers have a law which has brought them into legal existence as a body. I am in favour of the workmen, and I wish their unions nothing but prosperity. I recognize the fact that the workmen compose amongst our people a class which is numerous and worthy of protection. Yet, if we are to protect their rights, it is necessary that the unions which they form should have a judicial standing, and I propose this amendment in order that the rights which this parliament is about to confer upon them may have their full effect.
Mr. Chairman, as I have just stated in French, I am favourable to the principle of this measure. But, if we are going to grant a privilege, we must grant it to somebody, to some person who exists physically or inorally. If you do not grant it to an individual, you must grant it to a corporation, to a body that will exercise the rights granted and that can be brought before the courts in case of any question arising as to the exercise of that right. It has been decided in Ontario, in the case I have just quoted, that the trades unions cannot be brought before the courts-you must sue the members individually. It has been decided in England that if they have trustees that may be sued. It is very easy for the trades unions to be incorporated under the Federal Statute chapter 131. Incorporation does not cost much, and I do not see why we should not decide that this privilege of using a Union label shall be given to some person or corporation, instead of giving it to all workers. 1/ we give it in this general way, we do not know who will be the proprietors. That is why I move as an amendment to add the words ' duly incorporated ' after the words ' working women ' in the second line of subsection (a). I think that, with such an amendment no objection could be raised to the Bill ; because, when the labour unions are incorporated they will be entitled to their distinctive mark just as any other corporation is. The hon. member for South York (Mr. W. F. Maclean) has said that all the high classes have privileges. That is true. But these classes are incorporated. The lawyers have privileges, but, they have duties also ; and they enjoy these privileges because they are incorporated. And by this amendment I ask that if the workingmen are to receive these privileges they shall also be incorporated. We must recognize their right, but wre must follow the ordinary rule of law.
I would like to ask the learned and hon. member (Mr. L. P. Demers) a question. He says that the lawyers are incorporated and are responsible. Will lie say that if a person feels aggrieved by a lawyer he has any recourse against the corporation to which' that lawyer belongs ? I think not.
If the committee intend to adopt the amendment suggested by my hon. friend from St. John and Iberville (Mr. L. P. Demers), a very superficial examination of the Bill will show that it will be necessary to amend several sections to make them conform to the amendment.
I do not understand that these words should be inserted just where the hon. member for St. John and Iberville proposes. If these words are to be added, in order to give them proper significance, they should be just before the word 1 association.' If the hon. gentleman (Mr. Ralph Smith) who is in charge of the Bill intends to assent to this amendment it seems, to me a little more consideration might be given to the exact form of the amendment to carry out the idea that has been suggested.
I do not agree with the amendment at all ; but that is not the question. If this House will not pass this Bill without the amendment, then I want the Bill with the amendment. If it conies to a vote, I will vote against it. But if the House will pass the Bill with that amendment, then I want that amendment.