December 9, 1909

L-C

James William Maddin

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. MADDIN.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me point out that the government has introduced in public contracts a fair wages schedule insisting that the hours of labour on government contracts shall be those current at the place of employment, and this was granted at the request of organized labour. Now, it is not sufficient for this government to say, when labour asks for an eight hour day: Oh, never mind that, we will think it over, and we will gather information; we gave you a fair wages schedule and insisted on current hours of labour under government contracts. Why, Mr. Speaker, what contractor could hope to obtain anything else but current hours of labour under his contract? If a contractor undertakes to erect a public work at Vancouver or at Sydney, can he hope to obtain any other than the current hours of labour at Vancouver or at Sydney, and would it not follow that those would naturally be the hours of labour, whether they were embodied in the government contract or not? The same with regard to a fair wages schedule. The wages that obtain in Victoria and obtain in Sydney are well known to the trades in those places, and contractors seeking for workingmen in those places will find it difficult to get such labour at a lesser schedule, even if there were no fair wages schedule in government contracts. _

With regard to the applicability of this Bill in its present form, I do not feel like supporting it in all its details. It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that from the point of view of that part of Nova Scotia from which I come, it would not be in the best interests of labour, nor would it be in the best interests of the industries there to adopt this Bill in its present form. This government bought from the different coal mines of Nova Scotia last year, for the use of the Intercolonial alone, coal to the value of nearly $1,750,000. I must say that whilst practically an eight hour day obtains amongst the miners of that province who are employed at the working face, it would be impracticable, almost physically impossible, for any of the coal mining companies in Nova Scotia to furnish coal to the government under the provisions of section 1 of this Bill as it stands at present.

At six o'clock, House took recess.

After Recess.

House resumed at eight o'clock.

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L-C

James William Maddin

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. MADDIN.

Some reference was made during the course of this debate to the suggestion that this Bill savoured of class legislation, that it was unfair to the farmer who was obliged to work very long hours. My hon. friend from East Grey (Mr. Sproule) took occasion to say that farmers, to his knowledge worked twelve, fourteen and sixteen hours per day. That will be con-

ceded by any one familiar with the duties of the farmers, but when it is borne in mind that the farmer is not thusly engaged every working day in the year, one will at once note an important difference. During wet weather, whilst a good many of the farmers find employment indoors for most of their time, there is nothing to prevent, and nothing does prevent large numbers of farmers from folding their arms, sitting at the window, and looking out upon their broad acres while they are making from $20 to $50 a day. Then again, during the winter months, after the farmer has harvested the products of the soil and has laid away for himself a caddy of Macdonald's tobacco, a chest of tea and other things necessary for a severe winter, he is in an entirely different position from the man who is at the beck and call of his master for ten hours during every working day throughout the whole year. Furthermore, the farmer is his own master and on such days as he does not feel like working, or is ill, he may either work for a short time or lie off at his own discretion for the rest of the day. His crops require to be harvested and of necessity they must be got in immediately, but during the intervals between seed time and harvest and harvest and seed time he has ample time to recuperate and ample leisure for all the purposes of an ordinary man's life.

This legislation is altogether experimental in so far as this Bill is concerned. It is proposed by the Bill to have an eight hour day applied to work on government contracts. This, I submit is an experimental piece of legislation which should be undertaken by the government. Whether or not it would be wise for this country to introduce this legislation generally is a matter which inquiry would reveal. But the experiment has been tried in other countries and has been found to be successful. There are objections! raised to it but whether these objections are of such a substantial character as would warrant this government in turning down legislation of this kind remains to be seen. The question may be raised as to how this measure would affect competition in certain classes of manufactured goods. A manufacturer, for instance, says: I cannot manufacture these goods on the basis of an eight hour day because my competitors across the line in the United States, or in Germany, France or Switzerland, are employing people for twelve, fourteen and sixteen hours a day and in some of the markets that compete with my products the same manufacturers would have to submit to no regulations in regard to child labour or the labour of women and it would therefore be unfair to compel the manufacturer in this country to compete on an eight hour day basis if his competitors in other countries enjoyed a longer working day and employed a cheaper class of labour. However, Mr. Speaker, that is a matter for inquiry on the part of the government. It was found that in the production of cutlery in England under an eight and nine hour day the English manufacturer was able' to produce his goods and to compete in the market with the German manufacturer who employed child labour and who employed labourers for twelve and thirteen hours per day. It is evident that there are some classes, at least, of labour, where an eight hour day is practicable. It is for this government to select those classes of labour. There are again instances in which perhaps an eight hour day is not practicable. But, Mr. Speaker, to say that this is provincial legislation, that it is not within the province of this parliament to enact legislation dealing with an eight hour day, is to evade the real object of this particular Bill. This Bill does not seek to make a universal eight hour day but seeks only to recognize the eight hour day in connection with government works. It is experimental and should be inquired into by the government. They should be prepared to blaze the trail, set the example to the provinces and to employers of labour to see to it that the toiling classes get an opportunity of experimenting with the application of a workable eight hour day system. How can this be obtained? I submit that here and to-night this House can resolve itself into committee, take this Bill up and amend it in such a way as to make it a practicable Bill, a Bill that would warrant hon. members on both sides of the House supporting it, so that it would be of some practical use to the people in whose interests it is presented to this House.

There is one other phase of this matter which I propose to deal with. At the meeting of the Trades and Labour Council, held from September 20 to 24, in the city of Quebec last year, at which meeting the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Verville) presided, the parliamentary secretary, Mr. O'Donoghue, solicitor of the council, making a report on the 22nd, spoke in reference to the eight hour Bill as follows:

Mr. Verville introduced a Bill to provide for an eiglit-liour day on government contracts. The Bill stood while I was endeavouring to prevail on the government to make it a government Bill and thus insure its passage into law. I further endeavoured to secure enough supporters to at least make certain of a division on the second reading. The absence of the Hon. Mr. King, and illness in the family of the then Minister of Labour, Hon. Mr. Lemieux, were other causes that contributed to the delay. Finally, when it was determined to push the Bill, it had become tied up on the Order Paper and the only thing that could be done was to have the order discharged so that a discussion could be had on the merits. Through the courtesy of the Prime Minister this was done, and the subject was duly ventilated on May 7. Mr. Verville presented the resolution in a very forcible and able speech,

his eliorts being ably seconded by Mr. G. A. Turcotte (Nicolet), Mr. Joseph Girard (Chicoutimi et Saguenay), Mr. J. D. Taylor (New Westminster), and Mr. A. B. Crosby (Halifax).

Hon. Mr. Lemieux said:

He found that there were some very grave difficulties in the way. In nearly all states of the American commonwealth there exists, he said an eight hour law, but it has been limited to certain industries. As drawn, he would not support the Bill, but he declared it was legislation that was worth studying and investigating. An eight hour law on government contracts, he argued, would be in conflict with provincial legislation as it stands. We could only pass such legislation as regards government works, because individual contracts come within the definition of ' civil rights ' which are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces.

Further on -this parliamentary correspondence says:

It is quite apparent that the Hon. Mr. Lemieux was not able to give to the subject the study it deserved or lie would not have spoken as he did. In the first place the delegates will recall that on several occasions the lion. gentleman declared himself fully in accord with our demand in this regard and stated that all we had to do was to convert his colleagues. If the hon. gentleman thinks the Bill is class legislation, he cannot fairly be in favour of it, whether in its present form or in any other.

In'conclusion, this gentleman says:

The debate served a useful purpose at all events in showing what we have to meet when the Bill is next introduced. While the opposition jeered at the honesty of purpose of Mr. Verville, it is worthy of note that the Hon. Mr. Borden did not speak in favour of the Bill nor did others of the opposition except those mentioned above.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to say with regard to this parliamentary report of the parliamentary solicitor of the trades and labour council; this man who is nothing more nor less than a political henchman for the Grit party and has been serving in that capacity in connection with that body for some time now; I wish to characterise his public statement to the trades and labour council as a falsehood. He says: 'I, however, endeavoured to secure enough supporters to at least make certain of a division on the second reading,' and in connection with that statement I wish to point out that five members are enough to bring about a division on any question before the House, and I say that I have come in personal contact with and have spoken to no less than 64 Liberal-Conservative members in this House who were never spoken to by Mr. O'Donoghue with regard to that legislation. Notwithstanding that there were a number of members on this side of the House not only Mr. MADDIN.

willing but anxious to support an eight hour day, this gentleman undertakes to tell the delegates at the Trades and Labour Council that the Liberal-Conservative party jeered at it, while at the same time hq becomes the apologist for the ignorance of the Minister of Labour on the subject. Then he goes on to speak of the courtesy of the Prime Minister, and he remarks that the Hon. Mr. Borden did not speak in favour of the Bill. What about the other 210 members who did not speak in favour of the Bill; he has nothing to say about that. I say, Mr. Speaker, that the Trades and Labour Council or any organized labour body in Canada which seeks legislation from this parliament, if they are sincere about it and will play fair they will always receive from the Liberal-Conservative party courtesy and fair consideration for their demands. But, Sir, I protest against being misrepresented in the Trades and Labour Council or any other trade organization by this parliamentary representative of theirs.

Now, this Bill has been on the Order Paper for at least four sessions, and it would seem to me that Mr. O'Donoghue has let the cat out of the bag when he tells, the delegates that he used his utmost endeavours to have the government adopt it as a government measure and thus ensure its passage. Why did he not take the trades and labour council into his confidence and tell them what success his efforts met with. But, if Mr. O'Donoghue does not care to reveal that secret of his, I, for my part want to know to-night what is the attitude of the Department of Labour and of the government towards the adoption of the eight hour day on government works. It is the duty of the government to give this House an answer to that question, yes or no. Are we to suppose that a department of government whose sole function, judging by its past record, has been to compile statistics is not able to tell parliament-after having had this Bill staring them in the face for four years-whether this Bill can be put into practical shape or not. It is the duty of the government to grapple with this important question and to grapple with it now. It is a question that is deeply interesting not only to employees but to employers as well, and I say that the proper thing to do is for this House now to resolve itself into Committee of the Whole and to consider the Bill clause by clause and legislate on it. This is experimental legislation and it is the duty of the government to carry on such an experiment. In the different colonies of Australia they have experimented with the eight hour day more thoroughly than anywhere else in the British empire and under the eight hour syistem which prevails in the greater part of the Australian commonwealth, they have

developed strong men, virile men, men with imperial ideas, men who, when it comes to voting for national defence or contributing to the mother country talk of Dreadnoughts. I may say, Mr. Speaker, that as the Bill now stands I would not vote for it, but I believe that it can be made workable and the time to do it is here and now to-night. Let the government grapple with the Bill now and don't let them send it to that committee graveyard whence so many Bills of this character have been consigned.

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LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Liberal

Mr. D. D. McKENZIE (North Cape Breton).

When this Bill was introduced I did not think it was going to take a political turn, and I did not quite expect that the hon. member for Cape Breton (Mr. Maddin) would wax so warm and so eloquent from the party standpoint in regard to it. I know a good deal about labour and labouring men. I do not profess to be so familiar with the doings of the Trades and Labour Council as the hon. member (Mr. Maddin), but I do not think he has much reason to blame the council or its representatives if they do come to a certain conclusion in respect to the attitude of the Conservative party in this country towards labour legislation. If the hon. gentleman (Mr. Maddin) personally had 18 years or 24 years out of 40 years of experience in dealing with any legislative body and during the whole of that time he failed in getting one line of legislation in the interest of labour, he would not be to blame, any more' than the Trades and Labour Council is, if he came to the conclusion that he had nothing to hope for from that quarter. That, Sir, is the history of the Conservative party in respect to labour in this Dominion. The Conservatives had 18 years of continuous control in this country; the conditions with regard to labour during those 18 years were just the same as they have been before and since and it can be truly said that although the labour men continuously asked for relief, the Conservative party never did anything to improve their condition.

My hon. friend from South Cape Breton has nothing to complain of, in the face of that record, if labouring men generally have no confidence in the party to which he belongs. If anything has been said which he regards as harsh, it is only due to the reputation which that great party has earned for itself. My hon. friend admits that this Bill cannot go very far as remedial legislation for the workingmen of this country. The class of people with which this Bill undertakes to deal is an infinites-simely small fraction of the working people of this country, that is, the people who work on government contracts or who are in the employ, directly or indirectly, of the government. They aTe a class of people from whom we hear no complaints. I have never

heard any complaints from men employed by the government, either in offices or on public works, that their hours were too long or their conditions arduous or uncomfortable. For that reason, I do not think this legislation is at all necessary for that class of people. The only good purpose this Bill serves is that it brings this question straight before this House and gives the members an opportunity to express their opinion respecting it. It is the principle at stake, and it is the assertion of that principle by the. members of this House that is of value. It is admitted that this House has not the power to pass legislation on this subject that will be of use to the workingmen of this country generally, and I do not think there is much use of going about it piecemeal and passing legislation which will merely deceive and mislead workingmen. After we go back to our constituents, if this Bill passes in its present form, we shall be asked: Haven't you passed an eight hour law? We shall have to tell them that we have not; therefore, they will be deceived, because they will think we have, when we have not. It is better to be straight and honest with these people and tell them that we have no jurisdiction to pass a uniform law for all the provinces. I_think_we should have a uniform law on this subject throughout the Dominion, and the only way in which that can be brought about is by means of a conference of the governments of the various provinces. This government would be doing a great service to the workingmen of this country if they would exercise whatever influence they possess in bringing together the governments of the various provinces and inducing them to agree upon legislation which, although enacted by the separate provinces, would be uniform in its effects throughout the Dominion.

Now, this question is not new in the province from which I come. It was discussed in the legislature of Nova Scotia in 1904, the last year that I had the honour of being a member of that body. The different workingmen's organizations, particularly the Provincial Workingmens' Association, which was the only organization in Cape Breton at that time, met the government and discussed with them the pros and cons of the question. No decision was reached at that time, but since then the government of Nova Scotia has undertaken to deal with the question in a thorough and business-like manner. I find that an Act was put upon the statute-book of Nova Scotia in April, 1908, which provides:

1. The Governor in Council is authorized to appoint a commission of three members whose duty it shall be to inquire into and report upon the economic effect of a limit to a working day for the workmen employed in the

various industries in the province of Nova Scotia, with especial reference to the effect of such limitation upon the following matters: (a) production, (b) wages, (c) employment, (d) export trade, (c) Canadian industries, regard being had to the different conditions obtaining in different districts, of amount and cost of production.

2. The commissioners shall have all the powers of a commission appointed under chapter 12 of the Revised Statutes, 1900, ' Of Inquiries concerning Public Matters.'

The government of Nova Scotia has taken a proper and systematic way of dealing with the question. That commission was appointed nearly two years ago, and has been inquiring into this' question during the last 18 months at least. I hope that at the next session of the Nova Scotia legislature we shall have from that commission a report of value to the whole country, reaching a conclusion on this difficult and complex question. It would not be of any use to jump at passing an Act in this House that would bring no practical good. The discussion on this Bill is, however, of great value. I am delighted to hear from a member from British Columbia who has had to deal experimentally and practically with this question, the hon. member for Kootenay (Mr. Goodeve). It is worth a good deal to this House to have the opinion of a gentleman who has gone through the experimental stage of this question and is prepared to stand up in this House and say that in British Columbia the eight hour system has proven itself satisfactory. There is no reason why, if it has been satisfactory in British Columbia, it should not be satisfactory in every other province of the Dominion. Expressing my own opinion, which may have to be modified to some extent after we hear the conclusions of the commission to which I have referred, who have had a much better opportunity than I have had to form correct conclusions; but, speaking for myself, I am in favour of the principle of the eight hour day, and I regard any favourable expression of opinion that may be obtained from this House as an advancement of that principle. ; But I think we are courting a difficulty if we send this Bill in its present form to a committee. I cannot see what a committee could do with it. They could not reject the Bill altogether, for that would mean rejecting the principle involved. They could not adopt it, for that would lead to difficulty with no compensating result. I think a resolution of the House approving of the principle of an eight hour day is about all we can get out of this Bill as it stands at present. The hon. member for South Cape Bretoq says that it would interfere with the work on ships in connection with the Dominion Coal Company and the Dominion Iron and Steel Company. I do not think it would go that far. So far as work on ships is concerned, it would be just as bad to enact a ten hour law as an eight hour law.

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LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Liberal

Mr. D. D. McKENZIE.

Ships and shipping are operated! under an entirely different law. This Bill, whether passed or not, would not interfere with the Shipping Act and the articles of the seamen, under which ships are operated. In the county of Cape Breton we have, I suppose, more labouring men, in the true sense of the term, than any other county in Canada. We have on the island of Cape Breton some

9,000 workingmen, who can be really called *workingmen, and possibly 95 per cent of those are in the county of Cape Breton. Therefore, when the hon. gentleman and myself undertake to talk about an eight hour day law, we ought to talk about something that will toe of practical benefit to the large number of people we have the honour to represent. But so far as this Bill is concerned, I do not regard it as being of any benefit to the people from the labour standpoint. It is only to benefit those working on government contracts, and I do not think they are in need of any sympathy from me; but whenever my hon. friend or any other hon. gentleman will introduce a Bill-if such a Bill can properly be introduced in this House -that will be of benefit to the workingmen and that will give them an eight hour day, I shall be quite willing to support it, and will support it, in every legitimate way. However, as it is conceded that this is a matter within the jurisdiction of the provinces, I do not think there is much use in our discussing it except in the expectation that our view will be of great benefit to the different provincial legislatures iq enabling them to reach a conclusion favourable to the eight hour day.

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L-C

James William Maddin

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. MADDIN.

I would like to explain to my hon. friend from North Cape Breton (Mr. McKenzie) that this Bill would apply to shipping, being enacted by the same bodv as makes the Merchants Shipping Act and seamen's regulations. The Bill savs:

Every contract to which the government of Canada is a party, which may involve the employment of labourers, workingmen or mechanics, shall contain a stipulation that no labourer, workman or mechanic in the employ of the contractor

It does not say employed on that particular job

-shall be permitted or required to work more than eight hours in any one calendar day.

That in effect repeals the Shipping Act, and would make it necessary for a vessel to drop her anchor wherever she might happen to be at the end of eight hours.

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CON

Thomas Beattie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BEATTIE.

I have a good deal of sympathy with the object of the Bill, but it does not go far enough. If the mover of this measure would include all the workingmen, I should be happy to support it,

but, in its present shape, it would only give relief to one out of a thousand. If the hon. gentleman will make his Bill apply to workingmen in general, it will have my sunnort.

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CON

Adam Brown Crosby

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. B. CROSBY (Halifax).

Last session a resolution was submitted to the House, which has been referred to tonight, and I may say that on that occasion I was very much disappointed in the mover of that resolution, the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Verville). I was very much disappointed at the manner in which he brought it up. We are asked to pass a Bill anplicable, not to the workingmen throughout the Dominion, but only to those employed on government contracts and government construction work; but, of course, when lawyers take any measure in hand they can always make it look either like five cents or five dollars, as they think best, and every one of them puts a different construction on it. As I understand this Bill, it is intended to bring about an eight hour day on all government construction work. The hon. gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. McKenzie) said that the Conservatives had never done anything for labour. Well, if any one would look over the hon. gentleman's record, he will not find that he has ever done anything for the workingman. The hon. member for Frontenac (Mr. Edwards) drew our attention to the declaration of the Minister of Finance, who expressed himself distinctly in favour of no one going on government work except Liberals; but I tell the hon. gentleman we are going to have a change very soon. I believe we shall have it before this Bill goes through. The hon. Minister of Labour (Mr. McKenzie King) said that my hon. friend from Cumberland (Mr. Rhodes) was prepared to vote this Bill through, no matter what happened. But if I understood the hon. member for Cumberland properly, he was in favour of the Bill and would vote for it if it compelled every man, who made a government contract, to establish the eight hour day system in his works. That is what I understood the hon. gentleman to say, but I do not think that any one has any other desire than to deal with this Bill on its merits as it affects public works. We have had a great deal of talk about the eight hour day and the nine and ten hour day, and the twenty-four hour day. In fact, the labouring man works for twentv-four hours, so they say, and never stops. When we had a twelve hour system, we had double shifts, but a man had to work twelve hours and keep the machinery going all the time. Now, if we adont the eight hour day, we can have three shifts in the twenty-four houis. There is no trouble keeping the machinery 40

going all the time; but this Bill does not refer to any thing outside the construction of government work. We are told by the Minister of Labour (Mr. King) that this is a measure which must be dealt with by the local legislatures. Just think of our sending a Bill to a local legislature and asking that legislature to enact an eight hour day solelv for the public works of Canada. The Bill is one which should be dealt with by this parliament, and we must deal with it. It has come here to stay. First we had the 12 hour day, which was cut down to 10 and then to 9, and I would like to ask any body if he regrets any one of these changes. We were met with the same cry when we talked about limiting the employment of child labour and preventing a child from going to work under 14 years. When that was proposed, those who opposed it said that the children would be so well educated they would not go to work at all. Now, in our province- we always lead in those matters-we have that condition, and what is the result? Everybody is happy, and the children of the workingman are educated. There has never yet been a reform in connection with labour which has not met with the opposition of the employers. It is not because he gets down and figures out how it is going to do him harm; he only thinks that it will do him harm. But it will not do him any harm. Why should we have this one or that one telegraphing: Don't let that Bill go through? Are they all government contractors? Have they all got a pull with the government? Some certainly say that they have a pretty strong pull, but I do not know about that. But we have nothing to fear. This is a Bill that it is the duty of this parliament to deal with. We are asked how will this Bill operate with regard to factories? Why, it will be just the same as in the employment of clerks and book-keepers under present conditions. The government have a civil service whose duties are essentially those of accountants, book-keepers and clerks. These people work from three to five hours a day, I think; will any man say that when a private employer engages a book-keeper or clerk he must allow him the same hours as those of the civil service? If not, why should it be supposed that when a private employer engages a labourer or stonemason he will have the same hours as a similar workman in the employ of the government? We have heard a good deal about the farmers in this connection. The hon. member tor South Cape Breton (Mr. Maddin) spoke about that. Why, the farmer gets a return for every hour he works; in fact, his farm is making money for him even when he sleeps. The farmer has his sowing season and his reaping season, but part of the year he can sit in his easy chair. The

*workman has to work every day or starve. If anything happens to him and lays him off for a few days, he does not get anything for the time so spent. If he is sick and is laid up for a week or two, he does not call in a doctor, for he would never recover if he did-if he does recover, the doctor keeps him in hot w'ater a good while. I am surprised to hear the hon. member for East Grey (Mr. Sproule) talking as he does about the farmer, for that hon. gentleman generally gives us good advice, and I am glad to follow his advice on nearly all occasions. But, as I have shown, there is no comparison between the farmer and the workman; we are all working for the farmer, and even the weather works for him when he is asleep. I am surprised that the hon. member foT East Grey is not more considerate of his own profession by improving the position of the workman so that the doctor may have a better chance of having his fees paid.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

How about the farmer when he has a crop failure?

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CON

Adam Brown Crosby

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROSBY.

He never has a crop failure-the government always fixes that. Even if things do go wrong with him, the government always sees to it that he has enough for the winter. But the workman has no one to protect or help him, except a few of us here who are going to do what we can for him.

I stand by the principle of this Bill as I read it. I do not wish to quibble, or twist, or turn by sending the Bill here or sending it there. Of course, if we cannot deal with the Bill before this House, I will not oppose sending it to a committee. We have enough lawyers here to spoil any Bill, but I am willing to take hold of the Bill with some other laymen and put it in shape so that the working people and the country generally will be satisfied with it.

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LIB

Ralph Smith

Liberal

Mr. RALPH SMITH (Nanaimo).

The discussion this evening has resolved itself into a debate on the general question of the eight hour day. That is a principle, I believe, that the large majority of this House will regard very favourably. There has been considerable experience of the eight hour day not only in Canada, but in some other countries. In Australia, they have general laws regulating the hours of labour, not only for government employees, but for the general industries of the country, which laws have worked with very great satisfaction. My hon. friend from Kootenay (Mr. Goodeve) has reminded hon. members that in British Columbia we have very important legislation in relation to the eight hour day. Our law applies to certain industries only-coal mining, metalliferous mining and smelting. The people of British Columbia generally believe that that legis-Mr. CROSBY.

lation has worked to the general interest of these enterprises as well as to the benefit of the province as a whole. It is true, as my hon. friend from East Grey (Mr. Sproule), says in answer to the hon. member for Kootenay, there was some little trouble with regard to maintaining the .same standard of wages for eight hours as had been maintained under the ten hour system. Of course, that disorganized the industries for some time. But now and for some years the law has worked satisfactorily. The coal miners of British Columbia had an eight hour day before there was legislation on the subject. But we on the Pacific coast are liable to be affected by American influence, and the miners of British Columbia were afraid that with the introduction of American capital into the coal mining of that province the influence of those concerned might possibly add to the length of the working day. The miners considered that it would be wise to make provision by law that eight hours should be a working day in mines. That was done, so that we now have had for some years an eight hour law at the coal mines and in the smelting works which has operated very satisfactorily in that province. The principle of an eight hour day has always been difficult of general application. I think the hon. member for Grey (Mr. Sproule) was quite right when he sought to discriminate between industries, in showing the difficulty of operating an eight hour day in all industries alike, inasmuch as a man can do as much work in six hours in some industries as he can do in ten or eleven hours in other industries. So I think to that extent my hon. friend is quite right.

In England they have sought to legislate on this question, and last session they passed for the first time a law regulating the hours of labour in mines for all persons, restricting the hours to eight hours a day. Thirty-five years ago they passed a law in England relating to factories and mines, and dangerous employments for women and children, and it has worked with great satisfaction. Personally I would support an eight hour law if it could be made practicable. There is great difficulty, however, in having absolute equality in the hours of labour in all industries, and when we come to consider certain employments, my contention is that it is impossible for men to do their best for any longer period than six or seven or eight hours a day. In other employments, perhaps, a man could work with advantage a longer number of hours.

But the principle of an eight hour day which seems important to me is the opportunity that it gives to men generally to appropriate the benefits ;of education. It seems to me that when we discuss the economic results of the reduction of hours on production, we forget the effects it would

have on men themselves, at least in certain employments. As I have said, there is no doubt that men can usually produce more in a shorter number of hours than they can by working ten hours a day. There is no doubt about that principle, for the reason that when men get the benefit of shorter hours, they are in a position to take advantage of the social and educational conditions in which they may find themselves. So the economic loss in reduced hours is overbalanced by the greater strength and efficiency of the workers. So I think the general principle of the eight hour day is well settled in the minds of people everywhere. The trades unions have done more for themselves by a reduction of hours than they have done by anything else. In England where the hours of labour are the shortest in the world, shorter than in Germany, shorter than in the United States, and I believe in some trades shorter than in Australia, they have an eight hour*law; and all the benefits of that condition of things in England have been brought about by a strong and intelligent organization amongst the workmen themselves.

Now, in the course of his remarks, my hon. friend from Cape Breton (Mr. Maddin) made one or two statements that I wish to refer to. He remarked that the Minister of Labour had suggested that it was necessary to have a select committee to collect evidence before dealing with this question. Now I agree with that position entirely. But my hon. friend complained that the Labour Department ought to have been in possession of such evidence already. Now, Sir, I assume that the minister's answer to that position would be that he wants a committee to study the evidence he already has in his possession. The minister may have that evidence, no doubt has the evi-evidence, but it is impossible for every member of this House to have that evidence. I have not the evidence, for instance; but we ought all to have it in order to study it before legislating on this question. I do not see that any harm can come from a complete _ and thorough investigation of this question. Now I want to say how far I am prepared to go on the question of regulating the hours of the public servants in this country. My hon. friend from Halifax (Mr. Crosby) says that the government have already brought the hours down three or four a day. My understanding is that the Civil Service has been put on the basis of an eight hour day, that instructions are posted up in the departments insisting that the civil servants shall come to their office at nine o'clock in the morning and work until five in the afternoon, which, of course makes an eight hour day.

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CON

Adam Brown Crosby

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROSBY.

I did not refer to the Civil Service as regards their working hours, I only referred to them to establish a comparison between their hours and the 40i

hours of men working for private individuals. Nobody expects that men in private industries should work no longer hours than the civil servants. I did not reflect upon the Civil Service hours at all.

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LIB

Ralph Smith

Liberal

Mr. RALPH SMITH.

I did not say my hon. friend was reflecting on the Civil Service, but his remarks will carry their own reflection. If I understood my hon. friend correctly, he said more than once that under this government civil servants worked only three or four, and not more than five, hours a day. My understanding is that some months ago regulations were posted up in the departments insisting that the employees should come to their work at nine in the morning and stay till five in the afternoon. I mention that to show that the government has accepted the principle of an eight hour day in the Civil Service at Ottawa. I believe that the government should be a model employer. The government represents the people of this country, and if the people generally are in favour of the principle of an eight hour day, there can be no objection to the government carrying out that principle with their own servants. I believe every man in the employ of the government, especially those engaged in mechanical operations, should only work eight hours a day.

Now I want to look at this Bill and see whether it is possible to accomplish the object aimed at by the Bill in its present form. I want to say that I do not believe we ought to pass legislation in this House that cannot be made practicable in its operation. I do not think it is possible under all circumstances to operate the principle of this Bill. I am strongly in favour of an eight hour day for all government employees, and I am in favour of the government establishing all over this country the best possible conditions for their employees, as they have done by the fair wage principle. I agree with that absolutely, but I do not think that the proposal of my hon. friend would accomplish the object which he professes to have in view. I believe that his intention is good, I believe my hon. friend wants to do something to improve the conditions of labour in this country, and I think that he is right in seeking the assistance of the government to bring about that object. But the very worst thing my hon. friend can do is to propose legislation to this parliament which this parliament cannot possibly pass.

In looking over the Bill one must see that it is impossible for this government to determine that in every contract that the government enters into it must regulate the hours of labour not only of the men employed on that particular government contract but regulate the hours of labour for the whole business which is being operated by the man who has the contract with the gov-

ernment. Let me give this illustration : Suppose that a grocer doing business in the city of Victoria, perhaps to the extent of $10,000 a month, fills a contract for supplying groceries to a government steamer in the harbour of Victoria to the extent of $100 a month; that grocer would be compelled to carry on his business on the prin-riple of the eight-hour day. The Bill ought to provide for these important effects of its operation. All the systems of transportation having contracts with this government must operate on the principle of the eight-hour day. All subsidized steamers and steamers having contracts with the government to carry the mails from Liverpool to Montreal must carry on their operations, under the principle of the eight-hour day. All systems of transportation having contracts with the government must be operated under the principle of the eight hour day if these contracts are to be maintained, because the Bill provides that wherever there is a contract with the government the whole business of the contractor must be carried on under the principle of the eight-hour day. I believe that my hon. friend has the best of intentions and motives in presenting this legislation, but it is utterly impossible for this parliament, however well disposed it might be, to carry out the principle of this Bill worded as it is. Therefore, I am strongly in favour of the Bill going to a committee. There is another thing that I would like to say. I believe that the effect of this legislation, if it were put in operation, especially in some parts of the country, would be to reduce the wages of men who are employed on government contracts. Let me give my hon. friend an illustration: Suppose that carpenters and stonemasons in Quebec and Montreal work ten, eleven or twelve hours a-day. I believe they do because the province of Quebec is farther behind in social legislation than any other part of this Dominion. My hon. friend, of course, for some time, has been bringing his influence to bear upon the legislature of Quebec which has the general legislation with respect to hours of labour affecting /public business in its own hands, but there is no place in Canada where men work as long hours as they do in Quebec. Suppose that the general hours of labour and business of stonemasons, bricklayers or carpenters in the city of Montreal numbered ten or eleven a-day, that under this Bill you put up a building and the contractor was obliged to employ his men on the eight-hour day principle. We must remember that the wages and conditions under government operation are regulated by the principle that the wages must be the standard wages of the district and the conditions and hours must be the standard conditions and hours of the district. If carpenters are

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LIB

Ralph Smith

Liberal

Mr. RALPH SMITH.

employed in Montreal at $2.50 a-day for ten or eleven hours and the conditions of the district have to determine the conditions under the government contract then the government itself in its own labour department would be compelled to reduce the wages so as to meet the general conditions applicable to work of this kind. I think the application of this Bill would really reduce the wages of labour to men who were employed on government contracts. I think the 4iscussion has been important, but I think this Bill is impossible. I am prepared to support the principle that the government ought to give their own employe.es an eight-hour day 'and ought to use all the influence they can to regulate the hours of labour on government contracts, but I do not think the object that my hon. friend has in his mind can be accomplished by this Bill. I therefore strongly recommend to him the suggestion of the Minister of Labour that a committee be selected from which we may be able to have a Bill before this House which will be practicable and thus bestow some benefit on the workingmen of this country as far as those employed by this government are concerned.

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CON

George Henry Cowan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. G. H. COWAN (Vancouver City).

Mr. Speaker, with a great deal of what the last speaker (Mr. Ralph Smith) has said I am prepared to agree. With his declarations of sincerity in regard to the principle of an eight hour day I am prepared to agree. But, I would venture to say that his logic is a little astray when he tells this House and the country that he is an avowed advocate of the principle of the eight hour day, and when that principle goes up against a grocer in Victoria who happens to believe in the principle of a ten hour day, he tells us that this is a difficulty in the way, that it is the lion in his path. For my part I have this amount of courage that if I believe that the principle of the eight hour day is correct I am prepared to say that everything in the way of the adoption of that principle must give way. If that grocer in Victoria-I thought he was in Vancouver, but he is in Victoria-being a contractor for the government, adopts a different principle from that which the speakers here to-night have been declaring they believed in, then it is up to that favorite government contractor to abandon his ten-hour principle and adopt the eight-hour principle. I regret that my hon. friend the Minister of Labour (Mr. King), in whose sincerity I have not one particle of doubt and of whose careful study of this question I have personal knowledge, has dropped into exactly the same fallacy. He tells us, as does the hon. member for Nanaimo, that he will allow the great labour population of Canada to be denied their rights because some contractor will be

obliged to change his system of labour employment in his factory or other industry.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. KING.

Will the hon. gentleman kindly inform the House what statement I made that enables him to draw such an inference? I am not aware of having made any statement which would warrant an inference of that kind.

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CON

George Henry Cowan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COWAN.

I think that the report of my hon. friend's speech will show that I have drawn an exact and accurate inference from his remarks. I hope that I am mistaken because I would be sorry to find the Minister of Labour, with the responsibilities of office upon him, stand up in his place in this House and declare that he is in favour of a principle but he is not in favour of carrying out that principle because it would interfere with those who disbelieve in the principle and act in a different way. I hope I will find that I have made a mistake. But, I know that I have made no mistake in regard to the hon. member for Nanaimo. He has given an instance. A grocer in Victoria has a contract with the government. That grocer has one principle of employment different from the eight hour principle. It would demoralize the system of employment and therefore we must deny the labouring men of Canada their rights. I am sorry I cannot agree with my hon. friend from Nanaimo (Mr. Ralph Smith) in that position. I do think too that the Minister of Labour fresh and young and full of enthusiasm and actuated I believe by a single and sincere desire to advance the cause of labour-

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?

An hon. MEMBER.

Oh.

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CON

George Henry Cowan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COWAN.

Yes, I am prepared to give every member of this House the largest measure of credit in the matter of motives, but I am not prepared to give the Minister of Labour credit for a single attempt to-day to crystallize in the statutes of Canada any provision for the betterment of labour. Had there been a case made out for referring this to a special committee I would have been content to reserve my judgment on the sincerity of the gentlemen who advocate such a course, but not one particle of argument has been advanced to indicate that there is the slightest necessity for any evidence, which is not already within the knowledge of the House, in support of the case. I say that this Bill should get its second reading and go to the Committee of the Whole. I hope therefore, just to test the courage and sincerity of the members of this House in facing what I am prepared to admit is a difficult question, that the member for Maisonneuve will continue to press that his Bill be dealt with now.

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CON

John Dowsley Reid

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. D. REID (Grenville).

I am sorry to have to disagree with my hon. friend (Mr. Cowan). I believe that when he has

been here a session or two he will not have the opinion he now has as- to the sincerity of the government when they make a motion of this kind. Our experience during the past week is enough to satisfy us on that point. When the resolution of the member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie) was put on the Order Paper I thought it was placed there at the instance of the government in order that they might _ get some credit for it, but we found the Minister of Labour moving an amendment which practically side-tracked the issue for the balance of the session. Now we have another Bill introduced by the member for Maisonneuve. That same Bill was introduced last session by the same gentleman, and the session before, but every time it appeared on the Order Paper the influence of the government was brought to bear on the hon. member for Maisonneuve and he was afraid to move the Bill in the House and take a division on it. This year he wants the Bill pressed but the Minister of Labour gets up and says: Oh, he agrees with the principle, he is in favour of it, but yet he wants to side-track it. He tells us he wants the labouring men of this country to believe that he is in favour of the eight hour day, but he wants a special committee to examine into the question, and that is the last you will hear of the Bill this session. Is that fair to the labouring men of this country. We all understand the Bill and the Minister of Labour understands it as well as anybody else, but the truth is he is afraid to come out fair and square on the issue. I think the time has come for every man in this House to show his colours and declare whether he is in favour of the Bill or not. I shall vote for the Bill, and I refuse to have it sidetracked at the instance of the government. Let the government come out honourably and show the labouring people whether they are in favour of this measure or not. I do not hesitate to say to the labouring men from the Atlantic to the Pacific that the action of the Minister of Labour so far as this Bill is concerned is a fake from the beginning to the end; and that the minister is acting in opposition to the interests of the labouring men of Canada.

Mr. EMMANUEL DEVLIN (Wright)'. I wish to offer a few remarks which I hope will be construed as I want them to be, as fully sympathetic to the cause of labour. It has been my good fortune to have had considerable experience, not altogether in a practical way, but to have come into contact with the labouring classes, and I feel that no man in this House is actuated by sentiments more favourable towards^ the labouring classes than I am. I have listened to the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Verville, and I want to say right

away that I am heartily in favour of the eight hour day. I feel that the labouring classes of this country should not be called to- work harder even than hon. gentlemen sitting on the opposite side of the House. 1 believe that the labouring classes should have the same fair treatment that capital receives in this country. I would like to see the Bill go one step further, if it were possible, and regulate the wages which the labourer would receive under government contracts when their day's labour is cut down to eight hours. After reading the Bill over several times, I see that the contractor who assumes a contract with the government of this country shall be forced to regulate the hours of labour, and he is left free to deduct from the poor labourer's wages an amount corresponding to that reduction of hours. I do not think it is in the interest of labour that such legislation should be enacted, and I speak most sincerely when I say that I believe no hurried action should be taken in this matter. I believe that the suggestion of the Minister of Labour and the suggestion of the member for Nanaimo, as representing labour in this *country, to refer the Bill to a special committee for further study should be accepted. I think that every consideration ought to be given to this Bill and that it should be the duty of that special committee to study all the questions involved- so that the labouring men of this country shall not receive lower wages because of the shortening of the hours of labour.

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CON

George Henry Barnard

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEORGE H. BARNARD (Victoria, B.O.).

Mr. Speaker, I have listened with a great deal of interest to the debate on this Bill and with more than ordinary interest to the speech of the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Ralph Smith). While that hon. gentleman was making his speech, I could not help thinking how he would have graced the position of Minister of Labour. It may be provincialism to a certain extent, but in my opinion he is the man who, both by training and by natural ability, was entitled to the position; but I can quite understand that the province of British Columbia could by no possibility expect to have two members in this government. With regard to this Bill, everybody seems to be in favour of the principle of it, but nobody seems to want it to go through. I think there should be very little difficulty in straightening out the Bill. If the hon. member who introduced it would be willing to have it amended in committee in such a way as to meet the objections which have been raised, there is no reason why it should not pass its second reading, and for my part, if he chooses to press his motion to a vote, I am prepared to support him. With regard to the speech of the hon. Minister of Labour, he sought to make a little trouble for the hon. member for Cumber-Mr. DEVLIN.

land (Mr. Rhodes); but the hon. member for Cumberland was at least definite in what he wanted to say, while I doubt if anybody knew just what the views of the Minister of Labour were on this question when he got through. His position reminds me somewhat of an undertaker who, a short time ago, while away on a visit, was asked what his calling in life was. After hesitating a moment, he said: ' I follow the

medical profession.' It seems to me that the Minister of Labour has undertaken the role of undertaker to the government, for this is the second time in seven days that we have seen him bury a Bill which I am inclined to think in his inmost heart he believed to be right. I am in favour of this Bill.

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December 9, 1909