I mean for the Rideau canal. I would like the minister to make inquiry and to ascertain if there is any truth in the statement that the secretary of the Liberal-Conservative Association is so blaspheming the holy doctrine of no patronage as to be calling people together so that he may exercise the patronage that is in his hands.
I do not know whether my hon. friend refers to the provincial Government or the Dominion Government. If it is the Dominion Government, my hon. friend the Minister of Railways and Canals will know something about it, I do not employ these labourers. But he asked me about patronage. Let me just tell the committee what I have done during the last six years. I am not going to tell the whole thing. During these years I have never recommended a man for a position who asked for it. I think that, prima facie, the man who asks for a position in the Government is not qualified to fill it. It is a public declaration of his inability to make his way in the open field of competition. I have never in six years recommended for a position any man who asked for it because I have assumed that he was not fit for it.
An hon. MEMBER. But some of his friends asked foT it.
No, his friends did not. I can give case after case. Such men were not recommended by me nor were they appointed. While I have been a member of this Government for six years, I have never recommended a relative to a position; neither has a relative ever been appointed to a position either in my department or in any other department of the Government.
The minister says that he has never recommended or appointed anybody who asked for a position. Coming back to the fair wage officer I mentioned, he said that he did not know about him, but I hope he will know next time.
At the opening of this discussion some person asked about a labour difficulty down in Nova Scotia. I understand that there has been difficulty in the steel works at Sydney Mines. I think the minister is using his influence in mediation between these two bodies as much as possible. His influence, or the influence of some capable officer in his department might bring these two bodies together when they would not come together themselves. It has been found that when an entirely disinterested person, a person of influence, or an officer from the department, goes to the place he is able to do work in the way of conciliation that these men will listen to, when they would not pay much attention to the efforts of others. I hope the minister will use his best endeavours to bring these men together because it would be a very -serious matter to have a strike in the steel or coal works in that place or anywhere else in Canada. If it can be avoided, I hope the minister will try to do so.
Efforts have been made for several weeks, and a gentleman was sent from here to Sydney Mines, with that object in view? We thought we had the matter thoroughly settled but it seems that the employers did not carry out the understanding that we thought had been definitely reached. Efforts are still being made and we hope a strike may be averted.
When I made the remark to the minister that I found by the report that the inquiry as to prices had been extended to production, I was not sure as to what the report actually contained and the minister thought I was mistaken. I would like to read to him from the seventh annual report on wholesale prices in 1916-17, published by the Department of Labour. This is a letter from Mr. Ackland to the minister and it says:
The earlier reports dealt exclusively with the course of wholesale prices, hut the later volumes include statements of the situation as to retail prices a ml prices in other countries with information as to production and market bearing directly on current prices.
"As to production and market." My inquiry was: What is the source of the information or from what statistician does he get this information as to production?
My hon. friend again states that Mr. Stewart compiles the statistics in reference to prices. That is all right; I am satisfied as to that, but what I want to-know is: Who is gathering the statistics and from what source is that statement as to "production and market" conditions obtained?
The prices that are current are wholesale prices in Canada. That covers every commodity required in ordinary life, all the necessaries of life, everything that is consumed by the ordinary man. So far as potatoes are concerned,. I do not know what factory has been producing, or how he can get his information as to the production of potatoes.
Last year the hon. minister laid on the Table, and there was distributed amongst the members, a summary of some amendments proposed to the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act, which were not proceeded with. Does the minister intend to proceed with these amendments this session?