March 26, 1918

UNION

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Unionist

Mr. OROTHERS:

The gentleman; who

represents the Labour Department in the province of -Quebec is Theoifile Bertrand. He was appointed about a year ago, at a salary of $1,500. I cannot recall who recommended him, but he was appointed on my own judgment. Several gentlemen spoke favourably of him. I sent for him, talked the matter over with him, and satisfied myself that he was a suitable man for the position., before making the appointment.

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L LIB

Alphonse Verville

Laurier Liberal

Mr. VERVILLE:

He must have been

recommended by some one, whether by an organized, labour body or an individual. Can the hon. minister tell me whether he was recommended by any labour body in Montreal?

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UNION

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Unionist

Mr. CROTHERS:

I rather think not. My impression is he was not recommended by any labour organization, but was recommended by several leading labour men.

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L LIB
UNION

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Unionist

Mr. CROTHERS:

I think not. There were other names mentioned, but I think they were not recommended by organized labour.

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L LIB

Samuel William Jacobs

Laurier Liberal

Mr. JACOBS:

I should like to have some information in regard to the item of " Packer and Sorter, $762.50 ". What are the duties of that officer?

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UNION

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Unionist

Mr. CROTHERS:

Various duties. I do not know that the words " packer and sorter " clearly define what those duties are.

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L LIB
UNION

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Unionist

Mr. CROTHERS:

No. You will see these officers are mentioned in each one of the departments. They perform different kinds of labour-messenger work principally.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I may say that I hold no brief for Mr. O'Connor; I have met him occasionally, but there have been rumours of late that he might be transferred to another department, or that his services might be dispensed with. I have seen this assertion in some of the newspapers. I hope this is not true, because I can assure my hon. friend that Mr. O'Connor enjoys the fullest confidence of the Canadian public, and especially of the Canadian consumer. The revelations ho made in the investigations which he held during the last year have brought his name very prominently before the public. I refer particularly to the revelations which be made concerning the bacon inquiry

and the egg inquiry. Generally speaking, the cold storage conditions in the country have aroused public opinion to such a pitch that I am inclined to believe that Mr. O'Connor is very much needed in the position he now occupies. I hope my hon. friend will disprove those rumours, and state to the House and to the country that Mr. O'Connor is going to remain where he is. During the war, when we are facing a very serious condition in regard to the high price of commodities, this gentleman has shown so much ability and so much regard for the public and for the consumer that I hope he will continue in his good work. I would not mention the matter but for the fact that I have read statements in the press that Mr. O'Connor might perhaps be shifted elsewhere. I know there are many interests that would be anxious to see Mr. O'Connor out of the way, but it so happens that Mr. O'Connor has struck a note iWhdch brought from the public the response that he was needed. He is possibly to-day the most fearless official in the general public service, on account of his honesty of purpose, ability and keenness. I have read his various reports, as my hon. friend has read them; they cannot be discounted. Mr. O'Connor has aroused public opinion, and it would be a sorry day indeed if his services were dispensed with, particularly at the present moment, under the pressure of some of the firms which were investigated by him during the course of last year. I do not think it is the intention of my hon. friend to dispense with Mr. O'Connor's services, but I would like him to assure us that Mr. O'Connor is there to stay, where he is without fear or favor doing such splendid work for the consumer.

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UNION

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Unionist

Mr. CROTHERS:

I quite agree with my hon. friend. Mr. O'Connor is a very capable and exceedingly industrious man. He works all night very often, and he is a fearless gentleman.

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L LIB
UNION

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Unionist

Mr. CROTHERS:

He has made a number of very valuable reports. Any one who has read the reports he made on sugar, will observe that he followed the sugar from the field where it is grown in Cuba to your table, and the report was so thorough and satisfactory that there have been no complaints concerning sugar since.

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L LIB
UNION

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Unionist

Mr. CROTHERS:

He made a very valuable report in regard to the coal. He has

the means of ascertaining monthly by sworn statement the quantity of coal that comes, for instance, into the city of Ottawa. He is in communication with all the leading coal dealers in Canada and he gets a sworn statement from each one monthly of the quantities of coal they receive, the prices they pay for it, the quantities they sell, and the prices they sell it for. He keeps track of the cost of the manufacture of bread. He can tell you what it costs to make bread in Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal or any other town in Canada. His report on the question of bacon, as my hon. friend said, was confirmed by a very capable commission that was afterwards appointed, and in substance everything that Mr. O'Connor had said in his report was confirmed by that commission. The report is a very valuable one, .and the people of Canada, in more ways than one, are receiving and will receive benefits by Teason of the report Mr. O'Connor has made on bacon.

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UNION

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Unionist

Mr. CROTHERS:

A very important action was taken by Order in Council fixing the taxation of the profits of packers. That was probably the result of the work done by Mr. O'Connor and his very able assistant. He has had assisting him a young lady, Miss McKenna, who took a special course in , economics at Toronto University, who had a fellowship in the University for several years, and who did a great deal of practical work. She has rendered Mr. O'Connor very great assistance. I am sorry to say that we shall probably lose her services very soon because she got married a short tame ago. It will be a misfortune if Mr. O'Connor ceases to work as he has been working for some time, and I think I can assure my hon. friend that he will continue in the position in which he now is.

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L LIB

Emmanuel Berchmans Devlin

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEVLIN:

I do not want to delay the minister in passing his estimates, but we are now at a very important item. The minister has already spoken of the action which Mr. O'Connor has taken in inquiring into the prices which prevail for different commodities. I have not the Order in Council before me, but I think I am right in saying that iri the Order in Council creating the Food Commission power was given to take action to remedy any excessive price that was charged by dealers in commodities. The minister says that theonly action which was taken was

to tax the profits of packers such as Sir Joseph Flavelle, who was referred to by an hon. gentleman on this side of the

[Mr. Crothers.l

(House. This is a matter which concerns the whole people of Canada and the Allies. This evening I find that an organ in this city, which supported former Government and which offers very strong support to the present Government, has an editorial to /which I wish to call the minister's attention. It runs as follows:

At the inquiry being conducted .by Commissioner Tustin in Winnipeg into the destruction of several thousand pounds of chicken taken from the storage of the William Davies Company-

I presume that is Sir Joseph Flavelle's company.

-after it had spoiled1, it has been stated in evidence that during the time the chicken was in storage the company refused to sell chicken to the Winnipeg General Hospital ait the market price.

I do not always rely upon what I read in the newspapers. I am sorry to say I place extremely little faith at times in what I read in this paper, the Ottawa Evening Journal, but I will give Mr. Ross credit for this fact: that when he publishes in his editorial column an instance such as that, he must have ascertained the veracity of it. I call the minister's attention to this particular fact. There has been too much of this going on, and certain of the people of Canada are suffering from it. If the minister will allow me to remind him, without unduly speaking of myself, before the war .started I called his attention by way of question in this House to the increasing cost of living, and I asked him to take some action to remedy, or at least to meet, the situation confronting Canada. From that day to this no action has apparently been taken. I may not .be right in stating, but I think I am, that by the original Order in Council the minister has the power to take some action other than taxing the companies by way of a tax on profits. Sir Joseph Flavelle will pay his war tax the same as every other individual in this country. Everybody at the present moment is trying to do his utmost to help the Allies. Wo have had examples in this city quite recently in the collection for the Patriotic Fund. I know of an incident of one poor woman a widow with ten children giving ten cents, wishing to give her mite towards the Patriotic Fund and thus help the soldiers who are battling for the cause of liberty. Whilst the people are making these sacrifices, should not the /Minister of Labour, if he has the power-and if he has not he should get it-take some action to keep down undue profits? I represent a rural constituency, and I thoroughly

understand from the discussion to-day the difficulty of getting farm labour. I understand that what is produced on the farm to-day must, of necessity, cost more than it did a feiw years ago. I take all that into account. Farm labour is high. That has been stated upon the floor

11 p.m. of the House to-day. Everything the farmer buys to-day he has to pay dearer for. Therefore, he must sell his goods dearer. I do not think any ' exception is taken by the people of this country as to what they have to pay the farmer by way of legitimate profit. Exception is taken by the people to what they have to pay by way of excessive profit to the speculator. If any action on the part of the Government becomes imperative at the present moment, it is some action to save the country from the speculator in commodities. I would like to ask the minister, if he has the power under that Order in Council, if he is going to do anything to remedy the conditions in this country with reference' to excessive profits, and if he has mot that power, whether he proposes to get it.

Mr. CROTHEiRS: My hon. friend refers to the original order of November, 1916?

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L LIB
UNION

Thomas Wilson Crothers (Minister of Labour)

Unionist

Mr. CROTIHERS:

That order provided,

amongst other thinge, that no prosecution can be instituted without the consent of the Attorney General of the province.

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March 26, 1918