February 2, 1910

CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. A. CUEKIE.

I wish to put myself on record, as a manufacturer, in favour of the eight hour day. It appears to me that this labour bureau is something of a cyclone cellar where these problems are relegated by the government when they come up, and the chief party to building this cellar and nailing a tin roof on it is the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Verville). For several sessions a resolution of this kind has been on the order paper, and the hon. gentleman has always failed to have the courage to put it to a vote, and the motion before us is simply another way of side-tracking the question. I do not see what information an expert can give that will be of any value to the House, or which the House has not already. We have had some experience already in connection with experts. The Department of Militia sent an expert to South Africa to write an account of the war, and we have not yet had his report. Another was sent to Japan and China to give us a report of what was taking place in those countries, but we have never had that report yet. If we appoint this gentleman, his report will probably be as little likely to be forthcoming, and we shall have this matter up session after session and the government will continue to side-track it. It would be best for'this House to deal with the matter fairly and squarely and let every member vote according to his conscience and his opinion. As one who has had ex. perience in the matter, I unhesitatingly commend the eight hour day to employers of labour. They will find that their labouring men will do as much work in the eight hours as in the ten. It seems to me that the government should not be behind the great majority of manufacturers who are now coming to realize the advantages of the eight hour day system. I am therefore opposed to any further delay. I do not think the expert we are asked to employ has any practical experience in the matter. In my opinion, the men in this House are sufficiently level headed and well versed in business to deal with the question fairly and honestly.

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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EHODES.

In employing this expert, is the object to have him pronohnce on the merits of the eight hour day or solely for the purpose of assisting the committee in drafting a measure tu carry out that system?

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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

Perhaps I could best reply to the question by quoting the hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster).

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CON
CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EHODES.

What I want is the opinion of the minister himself.

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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

My opinion coincides with that of the hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster). The other day in speaking on this question, that hon. gentleman said:

The specialist's work comes in after you have a collation of what exists and when you want evidence as to the results of that. Then, a specialist, who has made a study of the question, has travelled and has the experience, would be a very great benefit to the committee. I would not be opposed to having the very best we can get in that respect.

That is the motive which has actuated the committee.

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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EHODES.

The hon. minister has not answered the question I put to him. I asked if, in employing an expert, his object was to have an opinion as to the merits of the eight hour day, or whether the committee were simply calling in this expert in order to have his assistance in drafting a measure to carry out that system.

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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

The committee, in its report, asks that leave be granted to employ the services of a specialist to assist the committee in its researches into legislation respecting the hours of labour. That makes it perfectly clear what the intention of the committee is.

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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EHODES.

Have those researches to do with the merits of the eight hour day or merely with the drafting of the measure to carry that out?

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LIB
CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EHODES.

Then I understand that this expert is to give an opinion also as to the merits of the eight hour day?

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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

He will go through the discussions on that subject in other countries and the legislation adopted by these countries.

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CON

Charles Alexander Magrath

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MAGEATH.

Is it the intention of the government to have this Bill dealt with this session? I want to see the matter settled. It is not a party question, but the hon. minister is endeavouring to shunt the Conservative party into it by saying that his views coincide with those of the hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster). But I assume that the minister has views of his own, and if so we ought to have them. I want to know if we are to have the Bill before the House this session, as I want to vote for it.

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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

The intention is to get the Bill before the House as quickly as possible. Whether the government will be able to carry out that intention depends on the attitude of hon. gentlemen opposite.

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CON

Arthur Meighen

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN.

The reply given by the hon. minister to the question of my

hon. friend from Cumberland (Mr. Rhodes) puts the whole question on another footing.

1 apprehend that the hon. member for South Toronto (Mr. Macdonell) when, as a member of the committee, he acceded to the position taken by that committee, did so on the understanding that whatever expert was employed would be employed to procure details for the purpose of drafting a measure rather than for the purpose of deciding on the principle of the Bill. I have a very distinct recollection of the discussion on the resolution when first introduced and a still more distinct recollection of the position then taken

scholarship in the matter was to gain information as to the principle of the Bill.

I believe that if they had understood that the Minister of Labour was going to bring the principle of the Bill into question in this House they would not have acceded to that unanimous report. Therefore, this unanimous report of the committee is not entitled to that deference which under ordinary circumstances such a report would be entitled to. I for one will have to cast my vote absolutely against the proposition.

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CON

Martin Burrell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BURRELL.

It seems to me that the position the House is in now is plain and simple. So far as I remember the former discussion on this Bill the difficulty that presented itself was the bearing it would have on large contracts now pending with the government, and a great many hon. members who felt that was a questionable feature in the Bill would have been gratified if that difficulty were set aside and the principle of the Bill applied to the employment of labour on public buildings. That would have been a fair compromise, and I believe that many of us wanted to see the Bill based on that principle. I must confess that we have had an extraordinary exhibition on the part of the Minister of Labour this afternoon. He did not answer the questions put to him by my hon. friend from Nova Scotia (Mr. Rhodes) and his utterances were particularly cloudy and ambiguous. As to the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Smith) surely his, experience must tell him that this proposal of the minister is not calculated to expedite the deliberations of the committee or to expedite embodying the ilrinciples of the Bill in legislation, but rather to retard it. As the ambiguous utterances of the Minister of Labour goes, they remind me of the lines of Hosea Bigelow:

For when you've done all your real meaning

to smother,

The darned tking'U up, and mean something

or nuther.

I thoroughly agree with hon. members who have said that the Department of Labour which has been for years thrashing out this and similar questions, ought to be if it is not, in a position to give the necessary information to the House to enable them to decide on this Bill.

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LIB

William Cameron Edwards

Liberal

Mr. EDWARDS.

As I opposed the Bill when it was first brought up on the ground that it was contrary to the best interests of the agricultural class I feel that I cannot consistently support the present resolution. I wish now, Mr. Speaker, to put myself on record as being opposed to this Bill as I am opposed to anything which makes in the direction of interfering with the interests of the agricultural classes of our community.

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L-C

James William Maddin

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. MADDIN.

For information, I would like to know from the hon. member (Mr. Verville) who introduced the Bill; who drafted the Bill in the form in which it was presented to the House.

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LAB

Alphonse Verville

Labour

Mr. VERVILLE.

I do not know that I have any right to answer that question.

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CON

February 2, 1910