February 2, 1910

LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LATJRIER.

No.

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CON

John Dowsley Reid

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. D. REID.

Don't bring it on, keep it back. Of course the hon. member was elected as an independent, and has voted independent ever since he came to this House, and he now wants to pose as the great labour man. Now, every man in this House sees through this whole thing. The Minister of Labour and the hon. member who brought in the Bill have put their heads together, and they are trying to concoct some political scheme by which they can pose as the friends of labour. I think a great reflection has been cast upon the Minister of Labour to-day, when he stands Mr. KING.

up and admits that he does not know anything about the labour question in Canada, or about the eight-hour day question, and he has to get a specialist to come and instruct him, as to what is going on in Canada, Japan, China, India, Africa and all the other places the minister has been to.

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CON

Martin Burrell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BURRELL.

I understood the minister to say that this was a party question, a singular statement to come from a minister. I would ask him to explain what he means.

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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

There are two great parties to this controversy,' Capital and Labour. It is perfectly apparent that on this question there is ample room for debate.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

As long as the Prime Minister kept the young gentleman who now ornaments the Department of Labour as minister, travelling around the country as deputy, and bringing in glowing reports from India, Timbuctoo, China, Japan and various other places, we didn't pay much attention to it. We thought perhaps some of the information might be useful, and we were willing to submit to paying his travelling expenses. In those days we all regarded him and his assistants as only so many political satellites. I know in our district the gentlemen who are connected with the labour organizations have been neither more nor less than political satellites of the government of the day. But when the Department of Labour was formed, and the Prime Minister appointed him as minister of the Crown, then the people naturally began to wonder what was afoot. Then the explanation was offered that this young gentleman was brought in to fill up a gap. We were told that the Minister of Justice had not panned out as expected, he was a failure; that the Minister of Railways had fallen below anticipations, and that this young gentleman was really a prospective Prime Minister. And so other hon. gentlemen who had occupied high positions in the country with a great deal of ability, were supposed to be eclipsed by this young and brilliant luminary, and a new portfolio was created, and this gentleman was foisted into. it. We said nothing. The people were vvilling to put up with a little ornamentation. But when it comes to adding dollar to dollar in the expenditure of this department, when there has been delay after delay in dealing with all these great questions, then the people naturally commenced to wonder what this was for, and we are up against it now. Some one of the Tight hon. gentleman's friends, I do no know whether it_ is a prospective minister or not, but some friend wants a committee appointed to inquire into a small Bill that should not occupy our attention more than twenty-five mintues to determine. But forthwith a committee, acting under the hypnotic in-

fluence of this brilliant luminary, is appointed.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

There are some of the hon. member's (Mr. Hughes') friends on that committee.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

That makes no difference, where a question of principle is concerned, as the Prime Minister knows, there is a bandage over my eyes. This committee- and I care not how many of my side may be members of it-without the authority of this House and improperly (if the facts stated to us are true) engaged the Services of this young gentleman to do work that any boy could do in a very short time. And if the Minister of Labour has anything like the genius and ability that the first minister has given him credit for in his speeches in this House and throughout the country, he ought to be able to give the House the advice which this young man is to be sent wandering over the country to prepare. I shall oppose the adoption of this report.

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CON

George Taylor

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEORGE TAYLOR.

If the motion of the Minister of Labour is made to include instructions to this young man to gather information as to whether the Department of Labour should be abolished,

I will support the motion. But if it is to saddle an expenditure on the treasury, which would be opposed by the agriculturalists of this country and three-fourths of the members of this House are, like myself, representatives of agriculturists-then we ought to vote against spending one farthing in this proposed inquiry into whether eight hours should constitute a day's labour on public works or not. I shall vote against the motion purelv in the interests of my constituents, for they do not want a dollar spent to ascertain whether the monev that they pay to the government should be spent in employing men at eight hours for a day's work when they themselves work for twenty hours a day part of the time. If the government make eight hours a day's work on public works, the farmers will have to adopt the same principle; and I appeal to hon. members representing agricultural constituencies to oppose this expenditure. If the question of abolishing the Department of Labour is to be investigated that will be a different matter, for, as an hon. member said, we have three or four strikes now for one that we had before the department was established. I was interested in one last year, and drew the attention of the Minister of Labour to it. The strike was in a coal mine in Alberta, and the labouring men called upon the minister to repeal his Bill because it was no good and they would pay no attention to it. I put the documents about the matter into the hon. minister's hands. Since the present minister took office, I have recommended the course which ought to be taken in the interest of the labouring man in relation to^ strikes. Have a commission appointed, like the Railway Commission, and then, in case of labour disputes arising, have the representatives of the two sides go before that commission. There should be legislation against strikes, not to take awav from men their right to stop work, but, before they strike, to refer their grievance to the commission, and the commission, after investigating, will settle the matter as railway disputes are settled. The idea of having a minister, a deputy minister and a staff of clerks with a building all to themselves- and (no minister has a more luxurious apartment than that of the Minister of Labour-and yet when a little Bill comes forward we must employ a man who knows something to go about the country, and then come back and tell the minister whether there should or should not be an eight-hour day on public works. Representing an agricultural constituency as I do, I will vote against this expenditure.

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LIB

Ralph Smith

Liberal

Mr. RALPH SMITH.

It is a little difficult to understand how the question before the House should be reduced to a criticism of the Labour Department generally and a very severe personal attack by some hon. members opposite upon the minister who is responsible for that department. As I understand it, this professor was brought before this committee to give evidence as a man of large experience and special knowledge on this question before the committee. That committee was composed of members on both sides, the parties being almost equally represented. After he had manifested to the committee that he had expert knowledge upon this Question, it was proposed, not by the Minister of Labour, but by the members of this committee, that it would expedite the business of that committee and make it more possible to get a report before this House this session if the services of this expert were engaged for a short time. The chairman of that committee was instructed unanimously by the committee to ask the House to consent to the engagement of this expert. It is suggested by my hon. friend from Halifax (Mr. Crosby) that the employment of this outside man is a method of shelving the question and making it impossible for a report to be had this session. Why, the only good reason that could be given for the employment of this gentleman for this service is that it will expedite the business of the committee by giving us expert evidence so that the report can be presented this session. In the committee there was no difference of opinion on the subject Liberals and Con-

servatives were agreed. And the object is to have expert, concise and scientific evidence brought to bear upon the question in order to expedite the business.

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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. A. CURRIE.

What evidence is this gentleman expected to produce, what vast knowledge of the subject has he, to justify this resolution?

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

One would naturally suppose, as this subject has been very much to the fore, not only in parliament, but in the press of the country during this past seven or eight years, that the Department of Labour might very well have issued a blue-book on the subject. The Minister of Labour, I understand, thinks that the department is seized of a considerable volume of information on the subject which must be considered by this committee. There is a good deal of force in the criticism made that, if such be the case, the Department of Labour might very well do the work which this gentleman, as I understand it, is to be called upon to do. However, no such information is before the House in the shape of a blue-book or otherwise, and we have the word of the Minister of Labour that it is necessary to employ this gentleman who is supposed to be an expert on this subject, for the purpose of making clear to the committee the working out of similar enactments in other countries. In other words, he is to bring before the committee an analysis of the legislation of this character which has been passed in other countries as well as his estimate of the results of the passing of such legislation. As I have already said it would appear to me that the Department of Labour ought to have its command all information of this kind. But, apparently it has not that information, at least, it has not the information in such a form as can be readily utilized by the committee. Inasmuch as the committee have unanimously recommended that this gentleman be employed for the purpose in_ order to expedite its work, I would think that the recommendation ought to be accepted bv the House, although, as I have said before, there does seem to me to be a great deal of force in the criticism upon the past work of the Department of Labour which has been made by several hon. gentlemen. The subject of the relations between capital and labour is an exceedingly important one in this country, and I am bound to say that the action of my hon. friend the Minister of Labour, representing the government of the day, does not very well correspond with the attitude which the government took and which he, as deputy Minister of Labour, I presume, took three .years ago when I asked that the Conciliation Bill should be submitted to a committee of this

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LIB

Ralph Smith

Liberal

Mr. RALPH SMITH.

House in order that all parties might be heard. One of the answers made to me at that time by the then Minister of Labour was that the Department of Labour had at its command and could afford to this House every possible item of information in regard to the subject. Well, we have a different tale to-day, but I suppose we must accept the minister's statement of the lack of knowledge in his own department, and as the committee unanimously recommends that this expert gentleman should be employed, it would seem to me. following the usual course of procedure in this House, that the unanimous recommendation of the committee ought to be accepted.

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CON

Edmund Boyd Osler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. OSLER.

Usually if you want to get an absolutely unreliable opinion, you should go to a young university professor. I do not know this young gentleman, and 1 have no objection to his being employed to gather statistics, but the Minister of Labour has stated that he was to be employed to give an expert opinion. I do not think it is possible, in any question which arises in business or public life, to get a man who is so utterly useless as a young university professor to give an opinion, that is the experience of every man of business. No matter how clever the young man may be, his enthusiasm carries him away, he runs to one side or the other, and he has wild ideas. To go to a young university professor to get an opinion is to go absolutely to the weakest source possible; his opinion would carry no weight with any man of ordinary ability.

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CON

Arthur Samuel Goodeve

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GOODEVE.

The Department of Labour has been a conspicuous feature of the government during the past few years. No question has excited more widespread interest in the country in recent years than the question of the hours of labour. We have had this country flooded from end to end, at a large expense to the Dominion, with literature purporting to deal with questions of labour. The government, through the Department of Labour, have been telling the workmen of this country all that they are doing on their behalf. When this Bill was introduced, passed its second reading and referred to the committee with the unanimous consent of the House, the only objection to it was the fact that it was not properly drawn. It was said that the Bill contained that which was not intended by the hon. member who introduced it. We have in connection with the government not only a Department of Labour, but a Department of Justice, and surely if that is the only objection to the Bill the Department of Labour might have been consulted with the Department of Justice with regard to the proper drafting of the measure. The hon. Minister of

Labour (Mr. King) tells us that he himself is prepared to bring in a Bill at this time, but he thought it was wiser to get expert advice from an outsider. The reason advanced by my hon. friend from South Toronto (Mr. Macdonell) in favour of the recommendation of the committee is that an expert should be employed-and I sympathize with that reason-it is the strongest arrangement that possibly could be made of the Department of Labour. My hon. friend from South Toronto said that when the committee met they found that they were unable to get the necessary expert information and advice with regard to this question. 1 would like to know what the Department of Labour is for. I quite sympathize with my hon. friend from South Toronto and the other members of this committee. They cannot be expected to take the time from their duties as members of this House and otherwise to gather the necessary statistics and information, but what have the Department of Labour been doing all these years in not having these statistics properly tabulated in order that they may be placed at the disposal of this committee? We were told that this Depart ment of Labour was to do so much for this great Dominion, and particularly for the labouring classes that it was necessary to appoint a separate minister and create a separate department. It is only a short time since we formed it into a separate department of the government. The minister now in charge of the department, and who was for a long time the Deputy Minister, has travelled in foreign countries at the expense of the people getting information to be used in the preparation of laws for the Dominion of Canada. I venture to say that such recommendations as he has gathered in his foreign travels have not met with favour, at least, in western Canada, and I am speaking for the people of western Canada at this time. I am very doubtful whether we will get professors in colleges in the east to deal with these questions in a practical way, or to give us information which will be of any advantage to us. It resolves itself down to this simple question whether the Bill as introduced was properly drawn and, if properly drawn, whether the members of this House are prepared, at this particular time, to pass a Bill providing for eight hours of labour on government work. The question is a simple one, and it is a question for each member to decide in his own mind whether it should be adopted by this country. I do not think that this Department of Labour should act as a buffer, and I venture to say that in this and in other instances the government, instead of using this department for the advantage of the people, are simply making a buffer of it to stand between the workingmen and the

government with regard to these difficult questions. I am not prepared to accept the recommendation as brought down by the minister under these conditions, but if we do accept it it will only be because it has been pointed out by my hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. Borden) when a unanimous recommendation of this kind comes in it is usual to accept it. But, I venture to say that we would get very much more information from practical men in dealing with a question of this kind.

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CON

Frederick Laurence Schaffner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SCHAFFNER.

I am absolutely opposed to this resolution. I understood the hon. Minister of Labour (Mr. King) to say that the committee was unanimous. I understand that the committee was not unanimous. One member of the committee, at least, my hon. friend from Macdonald (Mr. Staples) was opposed to it.

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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

Will any member of the committee rise in his seat and say that he was not in accord with all the members of the committee on that resolution?

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CON

Frederick Laurence Schaffner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SCHAFFNER.

My hon. friend from Macdonald is not here, but he made that statement to me before he left the House.

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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

As the hon. member is not here and cannot speak, as chairman of the committee, possibly I might speak for him. I would say to the House that every member of the committee present at the meeting endorsed that resolution. It was on the motion of the hon. member for South Toronto (Mr. Macdonell) that this recommendation was adopted by the committee. My reason for not opposing the resolution of the hon. member for South Toronto was that I was most anxious that the committee should feel that any suggestion coming from the other side of the House would meet with the hearty accord of this side.

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CON

Frederick Laurence Schaffner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SCHAFFNER.

Although I am quite willing to accept the statement of the hon. minister, that does not prevent my saying that I am absolutely opposed to any party ground being taken in connection with this matter. Whether intentionally or not, the Minister of Labour referred to it as a sort of party issue. I presume he is a party man, as I am myself; but when I hear such staunch independents as the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Smith) and the hon. member for Montreal (Mr. Verville) support the measure, .that might be some reason why we should support it. I believe that the Minister of Labour ought to have sufficient intelligence, ability and information to settle this matter without any further expert evidence, and I would like to ask what particular qualification this university professor has which the minister has not. From what I have heard it seems to me that it is not for want of information

that the minister is so anxious to have this motion carried, but in order that he may be relieved from the responsibility of making a statement in this matter, which I believe he should be in a position to make.

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CON

John Dowsley Reid

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. D. EEID.

So far as 1 am concerned, I want my vote recorded against it.

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February 2, 1910