While the boardinghouse master may not have means of reimbursing himself, this legislation was not suggested by that class of people, nor, in my opinion, is it drawn up with the object of advancing their interest. It is to enable us in British Columbia to get seamen.
How are you going to do it otherwise ? Of course, the hon. gentleman (Mr. R. L. Borden) knows that these sailors are in boarding-houses. But while we are splitting hairs over this thing, our trade is going by the board. We in British Columbia are convinced that, if this Bill passes it will be one of the best things of recent years for the benefit of our shipping. After all, sentiment does not figure very much when the interest of a whole trade is at issue.
It seems to me that in drafting legislation, the first thing required is to understand what you want. Our legislation on this subject, as found in the revised statutes is wise legislation, passed because of abuses of a most serious character that had grown up in our Canadian ports. It was intended to suppress an evil in the maritime ports known as the evil of crimping, as a result of which more crimes were committed, I believe, than through any other cause in Canada.
A terrible experience. At last public attention was aroused by the murder of a man-I have forgotten his name-by Captain Pelletier ; and the result was the passing of the statute from which this chapter of the revised statutes was taken. The law now provides that a sea captain must hire his men by the assistance of what is known as a shipping master. A shipping master in each port has
JUtSTE 14. 1905
the power to appoint a deputy shipping master.
The intention of section 7 was to prevent boarding-house keepers and saloon keepers from being deputy shipping masters. That was the intention, and that is the intention to which we must give effect now, otherwise it is likely to lead to most serious results, with regard to saloon-keepers especially. Now what are the conditions prevailing on the Pacific coast which make a
change desirable at the present time? In British Columbia ports as in other ports, where vessels go to discharge their cargoes or take on their cargoes, as we know perfectly well, when a seaman reaches his port of destination and is entitled to his discharge, he almost invariably leaves the ship. I do not suppose that of the seamen on board ships generally, there are 5 per cent who remain beyond a voyage. When he reaches his port of destination the seaman obtains his discharge, if he is entitled to it; if he is not entitled to it, and he can get out of the vessel in any way, as a majority of the men can, he goes to the boardinghouse keeper who takes hold of him and keeps him away. So that either the seaman leaves the ship because he is entitled to a discharge, or he is induced to leave bv the boarding-master, but the result is that the vessel is without a crew. As a consequence of existing legislation, it is represented that m British Columbia, the captains there cannot get their crews, and as a consequence they are obliged to go over to the United States ports in Puget Sound where this law does not apply, and where they secure their crew through the aid of the shipping master who happens to be a boarding-house keeper or a saloon keeper. The reason. I
tha.t ,3? tbat the ship captain who wants to get his crew knows a boardinghouse keeper who has probably at his place four or five men, and the latter knows that m the adjoining boarding-house there may be four or five more. So he goes to this man and says to him; Pick me up a crew of fifteen or twenty men and I will give von so much per head for them. The result is that that this boarding-house keeper is interested in securing a crew, and he goes about it deliberately and gets the crew Hie Jaw as we have it would prevent the captain from charging to the seamen 'me honorarium he is obliged to pay to the boarding-house keeper. He could charge you'd be the amount of his board, but unless that honorarium is inc uded in the board, the captain cannot charge it to the seaman, and very properly so. But the questioq is how are we to meet that difliculty which obliges the vessel owners to go to these Puget Sound ports for the purpose of getting their crews and when they get their crews they also take supplies, and we lose thereby a considerable amount of trade. What are we to do to remedy that difficulty ? That is to 236J
say, what ought we to do to enable a captain to go to an agent-and I say that agent should not be a deputy shipping master, it is improper he should be a deputy shipping master-but what we can we do to enable the captain to go to an agent and get that agent to pick up these men and to bring them before the deputy shipping master and make them sign a contract in the ordinary way. All that is required to be done, if it is found desirable, is to amend the law so as to increase the fees that are paid to deputy shipping master in order that he may procure these sailors without the intervention of an agent. If it is desirable we should do it, let us increase the fees paid to the deputy shipping master-if my recollection of the statute is correct only one-lialf of these fees would be charged to the seamen. Why can't we proceed in that way? Why can't we make provision, to increase the fees of the deputy shipping master in such a way as to offer him an additional inducement to get a crew, instead of the captain being obliged to go to the boarding-house keeper and directing him to do all these things for the purpose of getting a crew? It seems to me we ought to be able to secure our object in that way, bv giving the deputy shipping master that inducement which is necessary to enable him to go to the boarding-house masters and get from them the crew that he requires. It seems to me that is_ a solution of the difficulty, because there is a difficulty for which we ought to find some solution. But I do not think we will solve that difficulty by making the boarding-house keepers deputy shipping masters.
With that state of things, it does not seem that it is necessary or expedient for the Minister of Marine and Fisheries to attempt to go on with this Bill. It is another example of attempting to do things in an improper manner.
On the contrary, this first Bill was prepared and submitted to the proper authorities. This second Bill was proceeded with in the same way. I have done what I was requested to do by the Board of Trade of British Columbia, I have been acting under their advice, or I have been attempting to come to their rescue.
I do not want to suggest that this Bill should not go through in tlie form in which it is unless that is the intention of the House. I understand from my hon. friend that the Bill was submitted to the Department of Justice, and a second Bill was redrafted by the department. I accept all the responsibility for it.
I have listened to the explanation of the Minister of Justice and there is one point that strikes me forcibly.
If I understand the argument of my bon. friend from Vancouver (Mr. Macpherson), and also the resolution of the board of trade read by tbe Minister of Marine, it seems to me absolutely essential, in order that you may have sailors there to take service on the ship, that there should- be some place where sailors could be taken care of in the interim. It is all very well to say that the agent or deputy shipping master could go out and gather sailors, but where are you going to get the sailors if there are none to be had ? Who are going to keep the sailors there in the meantime? Now to-day the boarding-house keepers make a business of that; they take the sailors in and take care of them during a certain time, and the sailors are there and ready to take service on board ship. It seems to me you cannot reach your object in any other way. If you have no sailors there, and there is nobody to take care of them in the meantime the deputy shipping master or his agent will have great difficulty in finding them. I do not see how the business could be worked out along the lines suggested by the Minister of Justice, for the above reasons.
Let me point out the inconvenience that, in my experience, results from the system such as the one intended to be established here. Here is a boarding-house keeper who happens to have six or seven sailors at his place. He takes these sailors and gets them so drunk that they do not know what they are doing. He takes them to the shipping master, who takes them on board ship without any knowledge on their part of their port of destination, or of the nature of the contract they have entered into. The boardinghouse keeper may get a large fee, I understand that he gets $10 or $15 per head, or, is ns in the case pointed out, $80. You will have in consequence a system of crimping established, and you will have these shipping masters or deputy shipping masters interested in inducing these men to desert, and in consequence, forfeiting their wages, and inducing them to go and live in these boarding-houses, so that they may make a profit in re-employing them.
You cannot have many advantages without some disadvantage.-This Act can be improved by making a boarding-house keeper a deputy shipping master, and as such he can be made responsible for any act of his. We can reach these people by the criminal law.