July 19, 1911

CON

Arthur Samuel Goodeve

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GOODEVE.

I must say that I expected, when my hon. friend began his remarks, that he would deal with this question from the point of view of the interests concerned, and the public welfare, and that he would not have introduced into the discussion editorials from party journals that have been written certainly for political purposes, and not to alleviate the situation in the west at the present time. If there is one thing above another which to my mind, is all important in connection with the western situation at the present time, it is that it should not he made a matter of party politics. The moment it is attempted to make political capital out of the serious industrial situation in the west at the present time, that moment the difficulty of settlement is going to become increased, and a heavy onus will rest upon those who take that course in approaching this question. The government, through the Department of Labour, has tried to deal with this question in a fearless and a direct manner. When the cessation of operations took place, the first step taken was to endeavour to get the parties to agree to allow the dispute to be investigated, so that the public might know what were the causes of the dispute, and what would be a fair basis of settlement. As a result of the method by which the department approached the question at that juncture, we were able, without any act of compulsion, to get the parties voluntarily to agree to refer the matter to a board. I admit that it took a little time. But I may say that any other method would not have accomplished the result at all, that the parties would not have willingly referred their differences to a board if we had tried to coerce them. By adopting the method of voluntary conciliation, we were successful in getting the parties to go before a board, and in having a hoard investigate the conditions. That board has gone into the matter fully, and the report which has been presented by the board gives to the public I think an intelligent idea of the causes which are at the bottom of this dispute. It does more than that, it outlines what, in the opinion of the hoard, appears to he a fair basis of settlement of the dispute. It is true that it has taken the board a considerable time to get through its work; but hon. gentlemen must remember that the dispute in British Columbia and Alberta at the present time is one of the largest mining disputes that has ever taken place on this continent. There are some 18 different mining companies affected; there are 18 locals oAhe United Mine Workers affected. The dispute is not one which could have been dealt with quickly, if it were to he dealt with intelligently and thoroughly.

The chairman of the board has very wisely taken the view that if this western situation is to be satisfactorily solved at all it will not be by going superficially into the matter, but by investigating the difficulty thoroughly and giving to the public as full an account of the situation as it is possible to give, at the same time making recommendations which, in the light of all the information, he has reason to feel will furnish a fair basis of settlement The board's report has been given out. It is not unreasonable to hope that the parties, having before them the report of the board, although up to the present, they have not seen their way to reach a settlement, will now use that report as a basis for coming to an agreement.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

Would the minister tell me when he received that report and when it was given to the press?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. KING.

suggested, an agreement can not be come to. We have reached that third stage and I think that if hon. members will unite with the government in expressing the view that it is desirable to keep party considerations out of this question altogether and advise the parties to try to come together on the basis of the award, they will be helping in bringing about a speedy termination of the dispute. _

Just one word more before I sit _down. I think it is well that my hon. friend has brought up this question, for this, if for no other reason, that the people of the provinces in the west which are likely to be affected by this matter ought now, while it is summer to take some steps themselves to see that if we approach winter without this dispute being settled, provision is made for coal for the people there. When the strike took place in Lethbridge some five years ago, on which occasion I intervened myself, the strike had been going on for nine months, we were then in November, snow was on the ground, and those provinces were face to face with a very critical situation. But, it is different in this case. This strike has lasted now for not quite four months. We are still in the early part of the summer, it is possible for those who see danger ahead to make provision, in the event of a settlement not being speedily reached, and I think it would be in the interest of all companies and individuals concerned not to pin their faith too much on an immediate settlement, but to make provision for themselves against any contingencies. The reason that I advise them not to pin their faith too much on an immediate settlement is that the main question concerned is as to whether there shall be an open or closed shop, or as to the degree of recognition which is to be given to the union. I must frankly confess that I do not know of any means that can be used to end a dispute upon that question so long as one body of men take the view that they will work only with union men on certain conditions, and so long as the employers take the view that they will not allow their mines to be operated on those conditions. It comes then to a test of endurance, and it is well for the country to know the facts and face them squarely. However, I believe if the parties do that, with the advance which has been made by this investigation, it may be possible for this dispute to be speedily terminated.

In conclusion, let me say that the thanks not only of the government, but of the whole country are due to Mr. Gordon, chairman of this board, for the exceptionally able manner in which he has performed his work. Mr. Gordon went into the whole question with the other members of the board patiently and exhaustively, and those who have been present have felt that he has rendered a very great ser-Mr. KING.

vice to the Dominion, notwithstanding what hostile political critics may have to say.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL (Toronto).

The Minister of Labour has been at any rate candid with the House and the country and like the candid doctor who is not afraid to tell his patient the truth he announces to the people of Canada that there is no remedy to be had. The minister has enlightened the House with a long recital of the facts, but what the country wants to know is what relief the government is going to afford. This strike is more particularly one in which the public has a very much greater interest than it usually has in conflicts between labour and capital. Here is a section of the country that for six months in the year is practicably inaccessible to the carriage of _ bulky commodities such as coal and being destitute of wood for fuel purposes the inhabitants are face to face with impending disaster. The first minister is responsible for the doctrine that the government as a whole is responsible for everything that takes place in any department of the government and I commend to the right hon. gentleman that sins of omission as well as sins of commission in any department shall be shouldered by the entire government. Had not this present government been laivsh in giving away the fuel areas of that country for little or nothing in bygone days there would have been to-day a weapon in the hands of the government which would have prevented a strike. In entering a conflict of this kind both parties look to the chances of ultimate success and they know that is measured by the amount of public pressure that can be brought to bear on either side of the question. The American government in their administration of the coal fields, especially in Alaska now retain in fheir own hands large coal areas for public purposes, and had the Canadian government retained only a fractional pant of the vast coal lands in this very region these coal lands would now be capable of early development in the public interest and the dire consequences resulting from this strike would be minimized if not obviated. I understand that coal is being shipped into these provinces for months past by interests that know there will be a great scarcity of fuel in the coming winter, and no doubt the Minister of Labour in his capacity as regulator of combines and trusts will be called on to interfere .iust as soon as the winter comes. The government is well aware that the conditions on the prairies are different in this respect from those in well settled parts of the country where there are means of rushing in a fuel supply in an emergency and altogether it seems to me that from beginning to end 'the whole matter has been inadequately

handled by the government. Immigrants are rushing into that country daily and hourly and if it be found impossible for them to obtain fuel during the coming winter disaster is bound to overtake Jthem. The government has allowed thfe thing to drift along until at this late date all that the minister can do is to hand in a report and say to us, ' What are you going to do about it?' It is the business of the government to do something about it so as to protect the people of the west from hardship.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. TURRIFF.

It is unfortunate that the speakers on the other side of the House pay more 'attetntion to trying _ to '.blame the government than to suggesting a remedy. The question of how the people of the west are to get fuel during the coming winter is a serious one. Let me point out to the hon. member for Toronto (Ma\ Mac-.donell) that this government has done .iust exactly what he says they should have done. Several years ago they withdrew absolutely from sale all the coal lands of these western provinces and for years back no one has been able to purchase an acre of coal land from the government.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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CON

George Taylor

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mir. TAYLOR (Leeds).

Because it was all sold.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. TURRIFF.

I may tell my hon. friend (Mr. Taylor) that there are thousands and tens of thousands of acres of coal lands the equal of any that have been disposed of available to anybody who is willing to develop them, and to pay a yearly rental of $1 per acre and a certain royalty per ton on the coal. My hon. 'friend (Mr. Taylor) or anybody else can get some of the richest coal lands on earth for a specified rental and royalty and without having to invest one dollar on Capital account. In addition to that in the Crows-nest Pass on the British Columbia side, the government has 50,000 acres of the finest coal lands in the world ready for development. At present there are hundreds of thousands of tons of coal coming in from the United States to southern British Columbia and all through the Calgary district and the railways are using American coal now. That very report which was tabled to-day states that the minimum wage paid in one of these mines during the past year amounted to $4 per day for the miner, that the maximum wage was $12 a day, and that the average earning of the miner in that mine was $6 a day. Under these conditions the men have struck and they demand that none but. union men shall be employed and the operators contend that they cannot afford to operate their mines if they have to meet the demands of the miners. I do not know which party is right, but there

is the condition. Will some one suggest now a means by which the Minister of Labour can end that unfortunate strike? In dealing with it I think we should deal with it as a coal strike, and not bring in party politics for the purpose of blaming the government for something, for which they are not to blame at all.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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CON

Arthur Samuel Goodeve

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GOODEVE.

In view of the quotation from the resolution of the Nelson Board of Trade, may I ask the Minister of Labour if he has notified both parties to the dispute, as well as the public, that they have no intention of taking any further action in the matter, and that they will leave the parties to the dispute to work out their own salvation?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. KING.

The purpose of my remarks to-day was to acquaint the public as well as the parties themselves with the fact that for the present the view of the government is that, the matter having been fully investigated and a report brought down, the parties should now feel that they themselves must try to get together and settle this difficulty. If they believed that the government were going to intervene further, what my hon. friend said at the beginning of his remarks would probably take place: they would wait for that further intervention before coming to a settlement. But I would not like my hon. friend to believe that because the government takes that position it is not watching every phase of this situation and taking care to see that the interests of the public are duly protected.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

After listening to the discussion I do not think there was any justification for my hon. friend from Assi-niboia (Mr. Turriff) charging members on this side of the House with introducing party politics. My hon. friend is very ready to make charges against members on this side of the House when they are discharging their duty. For my part, 1 would like to know if it is not the duty of members on this side of the House, particularly gentlemen coming from the west, to direct the attention of the Minister of Labour and of the government to a condition of affairs that is threatening the western development. I notice that my hon. friend had no suggestion to the government or the House for the settlement of this case; but he is seeking from the opposition side what the Department of Labour is unable to give. When the Lemieux Act was introduced, we were told of past strikes and the suffering that the public of this country had endured in consequence of them, and we were assured that when the Lemieux Act was put on the statute-book, strikes would be at an end. Now we have, as the Minister of Labour states, the most fax-

reaching strikes ever known in the history of this country, and still we have the Lemieux Act on the statute-book. What is the matter? Either the Minister of Labour or his department are unable or unwilling to enforce the Lemieux Act, or else the Lemieux Act is not sufficient to meet the difficulty. I would like my hon friend the Minister of Labour to state which side of this question he is on, and which side the department is on. In the early part of this session, when a matter of this kind was up, my hon. friend pointed out that the difficulty was whether unions should be recognized or not. I asked on which side was my hon. friend and his department, and my hon. friend said, 'we are on neither side'. When we have a Labour Department, and a full-fledged minister, and a Labour 'Gazette', and correspondents all over this . country, it seems to me that if that is the essence of the difficulty, my hon. friend should be able to say, after years of experience and investigation, whether it is in the best interests of this country that labour unions should be recognized or not. It is not enough for my hon. friend to say, I am not on one side or the other, I have not made up my mind whether labour unions should be 'recognized or not. We had all that information before my hon. friend was put into the government, and when we had this labour legislation, we were told that before labour disputes reached the stage of strikes, the Lemieux Act would be applied and everything would be settled. The duty does not rest on the opposition to settle these strikes. The opposition is not responsible for the Lemieux Act. We questioned when it wasl introduced whether it would be sufficient to meet the case; but we were told and the country was told, and the labour organizations were told, that in future there would be no strikes. And now we are confronted with strikes lasting for several months, and a supporter of the government asks, what has the opposition to suggest for the settlement of this difficulty? My hon. friend the Minister of Labour has been criticized for delivering political speeches. It strikes me that my hon friend is more of a partisan than a Minister of Labour, or he would have been out in the west looking after this difficulty himself. It hardly becomes my hon friend to suggest that it is the duty of the opposition to make suggestions how this matter could be settled, and I don't think he will do it again.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

It rather amused me to hear the statement of the minister that this matter should be kept out of the domain of party politics. That is very good advice, but I would like to remind nun that from time to time on the public -platform, and sometimes in this House Mr. BLAIN.

he tells the country how many strikes have taken place and about the important part taken in their settlement by the Labour Department and the Minister of Labour, and how many were settled by his intervention. He is quite willing that this matter shall be in the arena of party politics when there is anything to be made out of it; but when he sees danger ahead, he wants it to be kept out of politics. I was very much amused to hear the minister give the history of the operations that have been carried on since the appointment of the commission was made, and then to find, after it was all cleared up, that the Minister and the Department of Labour had nothing to do and did not intend to do anything-they only intended to stand aloof and let the parties fight it out. This reminded me of the story of the Irishman who met the bear. He was not very pious, and did not know what to do. It occurred to him that as he was face to face with trouble he ought to pray. At last the situation became very dangerous, and he said, 'I am not much at praying, but, good Lord, if you don't help me, don't help the bear, but just stand aside, and you will see one of the damnedest rackets you ever saw'.

He said we are not done with it because we are watching it carefully and are waiting patiently what will be the outcome. That reminds me of a story I heard of a celebrated Scotch grit away up near Owen Sound who had a little rat terrier. That terrier one day caught a small rat as it came out of its hole, and having chewed it up, watched that hole steadily for years but never another rat came out of it! In like manner the minister is going to watch that rat hole and will continue to watch it all year to see if anything will come out which he can turn to political advantage.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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CON

William Sora Middlebro

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MIDDLEBRO.

Might I ask the Minister of Labour (Mr. King) when did the government come to the decision to sit tight, and did it advise the parties to the dispute that it had come to such a decision?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. KING.

The government is taking exactly the same position in this dispute as it has done in all disputes. When the board makes its report, it is not necessary for the government to make any statement. That report is submitted for the consideration and action of the parties.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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CON

William Sora Middlebro

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MIDDLEBRO.

Evidently the Department of Labour is absolutely useless in the present instance. The minister says the question is one of endurance, but that is the case in every strike, and he is practically admitting that the Department of Labour, to which we grant an annual subsidy of some $30,000, is pracicalfy of no use whatever. Evidently the minister hopes

that by sitting tight and looking wise he is going to hatch out a solution of the difficulty. He reminds me of a hen sitting for weeks on an empty nest and expecting some results. To-day the hon. gentleman hopes that by looking wise and sitting tight on nothing, he will accomplish something. That seems to be his policy. I was rather struck by the remarks of the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Turriff). To my mind these remarks were a corroboration of the general opinion that the western members on the government side have control of the government. The other day wnen we offered a resolution to grant some substantial recognition to the veterans of 1866 and 1870, that proposal was turned down because it did not meet with favour among the western members on the government side. They said they were not in favour of granting any recognition to the veterans of 1867 and 1870. Although they W'ere in favour of granting similar recognition to the veterans of 1885 and to the South African volunteers. A similar control is evident in the matter we are now discussing. While we are told by the Minister of Labour that his policy is to sit tight and do nothing}, we have had the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Turriff) telling us that the operators are getting too much pay as it is.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. TURRIFF.

I did not say that.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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CON

William Sora Middlebro

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MIDDLEBRO.

The hon. gentleman said, speaking of the pay they were getting, that they were still dissatisfied, and 1 took that to mean that, in his opinion, they were getting sufficient pay to-day. He apparently also thinks it is good policy to have the coal which is being used in our west taken from the mines in the United States, transported by American railways and delivered in this country, thus encouraging our neighbours to the south. That is a policy on the. lines of reciprocity, and the hon. gentleman thinks it is a good policy. We on this side do not agree with him. And I think that it is up to the Minister of,Labour (Mr. King) to take some steps for the purpose of settling this strike.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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CON

John Dowsley Reid

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID (Grenville).

Was there not a commission appointed by the minister last year to visit the different countries throughout the world and find out the conditions of labour in each?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. KING.

My hon. friend must be thinking of the commission on technical education.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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CON

John Dowsley Reid

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID (Grenville).

At all events the minister himself visited a great many foreign countries in order to find out how they settled their labour troubles. He went to China and even to Japan to find out how strikes were settled in those countries. He was then in the position of deputy minister

and had full power to go to all those countries and see how the labour unions were working there and how strikes were settled. Therefore, if there be anyone in this government qualified to give some information regarding the settlement of strikes, that one should be the minister himself. The minister, however, and the member for Assiniboia (Mr. Turriff) want information from this side on that point but there has not been any member on this side who has had the opportunity the Minister of Labour has had of finding out what has been done in China, Japan and other couhtries. When this Labour Department was first created, I understand, the object was to put into the hands of the government a means of settling strikes, yet not one has so far been settled by this government.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL (Toronto).

Yes ,the telephone girls of Toronto.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-THE PORCUPINE FIRE.
Subtopic:   THE COAL STRIKE.
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July 19, 1911