February 2, 1910

L-C

James William Maddin

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. MADDIN.

I addressed a question to the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Verville) who introduced this Bill to the House. I asked the hon. member who had drafted the Bill in the form in which it was originally presented. I submit that when a Bill of such importance as this is introduced, the member who presents it is responsible to some extent for the contents of the Bill, and if, as in this particular case, he being a representative of labour in this country, presents the Bill on behalf of organized labour throughout the Dominion, he should be able to point with some pride to the terms in which it is drawn. But, strange to say, the hon. member does not feel like taking the House into his confidence and telling us who drafted the Bill. He is only willing to tell us that it was not drafted by the Labour Department. Perhaps by a process of exclusion, he might lead us to infer who really did draw this Bill. Mr. Speaker, the Bill as presented to this House embodies all the objectionable features that have characterized eight-hour Bills in their introduction to the different law-making_ bodies of the English-speaking world. This is not a new question; from time to time Bills have been brought up in the law-making bodies of this and other countries, from which the objectionable features formerly characteristic of such legislation, have been, to a great extent, eliminated. And I would like to draw the attention of hon. members to the fact that this Bill is word for word, the Bill presented to the Congress of the United States, with the exception that the Bill presented in the United States negatived certain cases in which the law should not be operative. In the United States, the Act was not to apply to contracts of transportation by land or sea; it was not to apply to military matters-

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LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

The hon member (Mr. Maddin) cannot discuss the Bill now; the Bill is before the committee and it is not in order to discuss it at this stage.

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L-C

James William Maddin

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. MADDIN.

I am not discussing the merits of the Bill.

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LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

The Bill having been referred to committee, it is out oi rhe House. The motion now before the House is the only matter that can be discussed in this debate.

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L-C

James William Maddin

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. MADDIN.

With regard to the resolution now before the House, that an expert be employed to inquire into this Bill, I wish to point out that, as this is not new

legislation, and had the Bill been properly framed and presented, had it been drafted in the light of recent legislation which is within the knowledge of nearly every member of this House-knowledge which every member could gather from the library here or from the ordinary publications of the country-it would perhaps not be necessary to call in an expert in connection with the matter. However, this resolution to appoint a professor from Ontario to cull information for the members of this special committee, leads to but one conclusion. It seems to demonstrate that the Labour Department has failed in the purpose for which it was instituted. I would like to know what object this department has' to serve in the interests of the people? We have an industrial struggle going on in the county of Cape Breton, which commenced in July 6. 1909. Representations were made to the Minister of Labour, and his reply has been that, the matter in dispute having been submitted to a board of conciliation, it is not the policy of the government to inquire into a struggle of this kind. The result is that this strike has been continued since July 6, last, and is liable to go on indefinitely. When the Department of Labour washes its hands altogether of industrial struggles and finds its sole excuse for existence in the publishing of the Labour ' Gazette ' and compiling statistics pursuant to the statute read bv the hon. member for East Hastings (Mr. Northrup)-when that is their only service to their country-the minister has failed in his duty if he cannot submit to this seleect committee all the facts essential to the intelligent consideration of the Bill. As I have said, this matter of the eight hour Bill is not a new matter. For some eight or nine years the gentleman who enjoys the portfolio of labour has been employed in the department and the matter of an eight hour day is not a new thing to him. It has been the subject of consideration by legislatures and parliaments for the last forty or fifty years. Why, it is at least twenty years since the English labourer began to look forward to the eight hour day and when organized labour in England published on their posters and correspondence, the old lines:

Eiyht hours for work,

Eight hours for play,

Eight hours for sleep,

And eight shillings a day.

It cannot be said for a moment that the Minister of Labour would be taken by surprise with the introduction of a Bill regulating the hours of labour. Ever since labour was organized to defend its own interests, Bills to shorten the hours of labour have always received the greatest consideration from its representatives. It' is a subject that has been formulated in Mr. MADDIN.

legislatures and parliaments in many countries. I submit that this proposal to shift the resDonsibilitv from the minister to a professor is really an avoidance of the issue. This country wants to know, and particularly does organized labour want to know, where the parliament of Canada stands in regard to this question. Do they accept or reject the principle of an eight hour day? Or are they going to shift the responsibility to a professor in an Ontario university when they themselves should assume it, and answer the question, yes or no?

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CON

George Henry Barnard

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARNARD.

The discussion to-day has demonstrated to me that the opinion I held when the Bill was up for the second reading, was the correct opinion, namely, that there was never any necessity to send this Bill to a committee of the House. It was done merely to avoid a straight issue raised by some members of the House to the effect that the Bill should be limited to - contracts on public works. The very fact that the committee, in order to gain time, is coming now and asking for the appointment of an expert shows that they have had but little difficulty with the subject they were expected to deal with. The hon. member for Wright (Mr. Devlin) suggests that there should be a second expert appointed. I have not the slightest doubt that if the Minister of Labour finds that the first expert gets through his work before the end of the session, a second expert will be appointed. After hearing the remarks of the hon. member for Nanaimo (Mr. Ralph Smith) with regard to the appointment of this expert, I had an open 'mind upon this question, but I feel that in his heart he will now agree with me when I say that the evident insincerity of the replies of the minister to the different questions put to him, has shown beyond question that it is the intention of himself and his department to shelve this Bill. Therefore I propose to vote against this motion.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

Before the minister speaks I want to ask him a question.

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LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

If any other gentleman wants to speak, he must do so before the minister speaks.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

Is the minister in a position to give a definite statement to the House as to the cost of this officer, and how long he will be employed?

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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

I think the cost will be determined by the committee. I think the intention is simply to retain this gentleman to give such information as he can within a short time. It is not the intention of the committee to send him abroad any where, it is our desire to get the information that he has already in his possession. The amount to be paid him, I am

FEBRUARY 2. lylO.

sure, will not be considered by the House excessive. I presume it will be on a basis arranged after consultation between the members of the committee themselves.

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CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE.

As the minister says it is not intended that this gentleman shall travel and obtain by actual experience a knowledge bf the condition of affairs on the eight hour day question in other countries, might I ask him whether he has not at his disposal now the same information which is obtainable by the services of this so-called specialist?

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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

Perhaps 1 have not made myself sufficiently clear to the House. This gentleman has been making a special study of this question for some time, he has all the information at his fingers' ends. The Department of Labour has in its library a great deal of information which will be brought before this House, but it will take an officer of that department considerable time to go through that information and classify it and bring the results to the House in a form as convenient as this gentleman is prepared to do immediately.

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CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE.

Could not all that be done by the minister's department? He says he already has it at his disposal in the department.

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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

I think I have answered that question. I explained to the House that the staff of the Department of Labour is not a very large staff, and the work is very considerable. I am sorry to see that hon. gentlemen opposite, apparently, have not looked over the annual report of the department, or they would know how extensive that work is. To take gentlemen of the Department of Labour off the work they are doing at present, would throw into confusion some of the work of the department, which I think it is desirable should be carried on as efficiently as it can be done with the staff we have at present.

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CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE.

I had not intended to address myself to the question

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LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

The mover of the motion closes the debate, and the hon. gentleman cannot speak now.

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CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE.

I understood the minister was answering questions, I only rose for the purpose of asking a question.

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LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

The debate is concluded, I cannot allow the hon. member to speak now. The minister is allowed to reply, but I warned hon. gentlemen that if any one wished to speak, he must do so before the minister spoke-.

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CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE.

At that moment the hon. member for Victoria and Haliburton rose, and said that before the minister spoke he would like to ask a question. The minister

answered that question, and in the course of his answer I took it upon myself to ask his leave to ask him a question. I was not going to address myself to the subject until I heard the remarks he has now made. It does seem to me, after hearing his remarks, that if we had any doubt before, we can no longer doubt now that there is an Ethiopian in the fence somewhere. This Bill was introduced by the hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Verville) and was discussed in the House, and unless I am mistaken, my hon. friend the Minister of Labour committed himself to the principle of this Bill, if he did not in so many words, by allowing it to go to a second reading, and by referring to to a select committee. Now, as has been said by the hon. member for Hastings, what is the position of the hon. member for Maisonneuve, who introduced this Bill, what is the position of the minister, and what position does he ask this House to take? Here is an hon. gentleman who represents the whole labour organizations of Canada, asking this House to commit itself to the principle of a Bill, and then when the minister proposes that the committee be authorized to employ an ex-nert to advise them upon questions relating to the very principle of the Bill, the hon. gentleman from Maisonneuve, the head of the Trades and Labour Congress, sits silent, and allows that motion to go unchallenged. Why does he do it? Why does the member for Maisonneuve consent to that? If he is sincere in his desire for an eight-hour day, if he really intends to push through his measure, why does he consent to have his Bill knocked about from this man to that man, from this select committee to that travelling investigator, with the result, of course, that his Bill will have to go over until another session? I cannot believe, from the attitude of the hon. member for Maisonneuve, that he is sincere. I think he does not want this House to tackle this question upon its merits, he is anxious to relieve the Minister of Labour from difficulty, to shelve this question, to prevent it from being dealt with at this session. How does he try to square himself with the men whom he is sent here to represent? I think it will foe difficult for him to go back and tell them that he fought in the House of Commons for the Eight-hour Bill, but was unable to get it through. Now, by some arrangement with the Minister of Labour, by some promise, something that is not made clear, he simply sits quiescent while the minister hands over to a so-called expert the investigation of a principle, the acquisition of information which, if he was worthy to hold the position of the Minister of Labour, he ought to know already.

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LAB

Alphonse Verville

Labour

Mr. VERVILLE.

Does the hon. gentleman mean to say that I had a promise or

anything of that kind from the Minister of Labour?

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February 2, 1910