March 31, 1922

CON
CON

Hugh Guthrie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

That is the change to which the hon. member from North Toronto (Mr. Church) refers.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

The Minister of Labour has made about 375 speeches up to date, and is still talking. He talked all day Monday, all day yesterday, and this afternoon he is still talking-it is evident that the more he talks the less he knows, and the less he knows the more he talks.

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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

My hon. friend has not yet answered my question. Would ihe advise me if there has been any change in the character of the Department of Labour since I assumed control? It is too bad that my hon. friend cannot hear anyone but himself.

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CON
LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

We did not catch that.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

He said there were

200,000 men out of work in Canada to-day. Of course there are 200,000 out of work in Canada and why not, the way the department of Labour is run?

There is something wrong in the conditions under which Canada has been living or is now living. There is a marked necessity for a demonstration of real brotherhood now and in the weeks to come.

He goes on to describe the labour and capital situation.

The labour problem of to-day is very largely a state of mind.

He has been in several states of mind recently.

"I am quite sure there are among you those who will not agree with that thought. I insist and intend to show that this is a state of mind. The attitude of the worker towards his tasks, his lot in life, relation to employer, standard of living, are all questions potent for good or ill in Canada. Labour and labouring men approach these questions in a somewhat unbalanced mental attitude or unbalanced viewpoint. Having suffered only too often they have become soured, discouraged, resentful, and in an improper state of mind, so that they cannot argue out the desires and rights of the workers and the desires and rights of the employers."

Mr. Murdock said he had visited a city some time ago where he had seen married ex-service men given doles. Unmarried ex-service men sleeping in buildings with only an army blanket over them and lined up outside waiting for a

Supply-Labour

bugle to blow in order that they might march inside and get a bowl of soup. All this had distressed the Minister's mind very much.

"It is all wrong," he declared, with sorrow in his voice. "The unfortunate part was that no provincial or municipal assistance could fbe secured, and so far as the interests represented by me were concerned, I was unable to move until the supervision of municipal and provincial authorities was secured.

"Let the people do something in Canada by real brotherhood.

"Can this unemployment question be dealt with? Yes. If we can only correct the state of mind which we know exists."

Then the employer of labour came in for some warning. There were some employers, the minister said, who are in such a state of mind that they have no right to employ members of the human family.

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LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

I rise to a point of order. I understand that, under the rules of this House, when we are in committee on estimates the discussion must pertain closely to the item under discussion.

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PRO
LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

I draw attention to the fact that this long reading of documents wastes the time of 235 members who are here to transact the country's business.

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CON

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

A few minutes ago a point of order was taken on exactly similar lines. The minister was then reading from a report of the Civil Service Commission, entirely foreign to his department, except that his department was like all ether departments of government.

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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

I call the attention of my hon. friend to the fact, that the gentlemen of the Opposition were taking entire exception to certain conditions, which had been handed down to us as heirlooms from our predecessors. All I was undertaking to do was to read what my predecessor prepared as chairman of the committee to deal with the subject. In other words, if that document was an accurate statement of the prerogatives and rights of the Civil Service Commission in October last, it must, of necessity, be a fairly accurate statement of the condition as of March 31, 1922, and that is all I wanted to bring to the attention of the committee.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

That is not a point of order. That is just a sermonette.

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LIB

George Newcombe Gordon (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

The question was raised a short time ago in the House as to the right of dealing with matters of general policy of the department. The question arose as to the relationship of the Civil Service Commission to the office of the department of the Minister of Labour

[Mr. Church.1

and the fixing of the salaries of officials of that department. A discussion took place with regard to the relationship existing, and the minister read a statement from his department, which dealt with that particular matter and which was pertinent. I understand the hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Church) is dealing with that matter, perhaps not in the same manner as the Minister of Labour did, but he is making an effort to deal with a particular issue of the expenditures of this department which are included in the civil government Estimates now before this committee, and in that he would be in order unless he were to go too far afield in discussing some speech which was made at some other time.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

I thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for your ruling. I want to read from this report just one more paragraph. This is taken down verbatim. I may say that the minister's theme was Brotherhood:

Mr. Murdock was quite anxious that the people generally should know his position on such questions.

He was anxious that they should know his position on these real live labour questions and what the policy of the department was as compared with that of his predecessor. I want to read just one more sentence.

I hold this one of those things that has got to be done more now than at any other time in the history of Canada. It is for labour to recognize its responsibility and the fact that the employer cannot, and should not, be expected to furnish all of the harmony necessary to the carrying on of business. The labourer has got to recognize the fact that there was something meant when in this Book of Holy Writ we were all enjoined to do whatsoever our hand found to do and do it with our might. The labourer and those representing labour have got to recognize and daily give a demonstration of this.

I am very much dissatisfied with the condition of labour in this country to-day. We are spending a quarter of a million dollars in this proposed appropriation and in my opinion, we are simply throwing it away in the same haphazard fashion as we did twenty-five years ago. It is the desire of every hon. member to do something to alleviate conditions of employees, workers, artisans and farm labourers in this country, and to do that is what I believe to be practical religion. I am not so unfair as to say that this department is perhaps worse under this Government than it was under any other government. While I am a Conservative, I am an independent Conserva-

Supply-Labour

tive and I am endeavouring to do something for labour in the constituency which I have the honour to represent in this House. I am very much disappointed, as one who has been a member of this House only a few days, to find a minister, like myself a newcomer in this House, who, after he has been speaking on platform after platform for three or four months throughout the country, cannot come forward with a definite policy, when there are 200,000 people out of work in this country. Why cannot the Government utilize the Department of Labour as is being done in the United States to-day? Capital is very highly organized in this country; the trusts and combines are flourishing to-day as they never were before, and if they are allowed to continue to flourish, in six months from now things will be ten times worse than they are at present. In the United States, the Labour Department have their experts throughout the country; they are the eyes of the government; they are going into every city and town in the United States; the Attorney Generals of the different states are at their back and they have had 485 prosecutions of trusts and combines. Thus, the machinery of the Department of Labour in the United States is being used to the advantage of the employee and the artisan. Labour is disorganized in this country. While 5 p.m. it is true we have a Dominion department and provincial departments, while they may have done good work, I do not say that they have done the best they could have done. The -unfortunate part of the whole labour problem is that to-day it is made the political football of this political party and that. I plead for better consideration of labour in this House. I represent a city that is the home of trade unionism. Long may trade unionism flourish, because it has done a great deal for Canada. The minister has done something for labour, but he has been fairly well paid for anything that he has done for it. I should like to see the department with a bigger ideal. I do not care what the department spends; I would be the last man to raise my voice against the estimates of this department if I saw in them some means of solving the labour problem of Canada. The Minister of Labour (Mr. Murdock) during the late election campaign, went up and down this country sympathizing with the poor people who were complaining of the high cost of living. The policy of the hon. members to my left, the Progressive party, is to bring the pro-36

ducer and consumer together. How are they to get together with coal at $15.50 a ton? How is the labouring man going to live when the cost of living is so high as it is to-day? While the farmer may think that he is not getting proper prices for his produce at the present time, yet if the Labour Department will take this matter up and endeavour to do something to bring down the cost of living, to investigate the housing conditions, and like the Labour Department in the United States, endeavour to regulate the trusts and combines, it would be doing something for the benefit of the working classes. Under the British North America Act there is power enough for the Department of Labour to be up and doing, to do what the minister said he would do if he was returned as a member of this House, let alone a minister, to bring down the high cost of living. After listening to the minister for two or three days,

I am sorry I have to say that he will not be any more a success in solving the labour problem of this country than he was in solving the problem of the high cost of living under the late government. I believe some of the members of the Progressive party referred to the high freight rates, the high cost of getting their produce to the consumer. We sympathize with them in that regard. If the minister would think more of labour, be more of a labour man and less of a politician-not be a labour man to-day and a partisan to-morrow-if he would try to think of the employees and workers, in the cities and towns, he would be doing far better than reading lengthy letters in this committee. I am amused to see a letter which the minister wrote the other day to the Liberal organization in the city of Toronto. I will not detain the House by reading it; but if the minister would spend more of his time on labour problems and towards bettering the conditions of the working classes of this country, he would be accomplishing something that would be better for employees and artisans of Canada. I do not wish to offer any opposition whatever to the minister. If he will introduce a big progressive policy along these lines I will give him every assistance and support. But it is useless to attempt to settle strikes by the old methods and red tape and quoting charts on supply and demand. Strikes can only be settled by conciliatory and sympathetic action along practical business lines. In a word, we want practical labour men in the department who have worked for their living and know something

Supply-Labour

about labour conditions from actual experience, and the minister will have my support in any steps he may take to engage such practical labour men.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

The other night I asked my hon. friend the Minister of Labour what I thought was a very pertinent question, but the adjournment intervened between the question and the possibility of an answer from him. I had expected that he might give the information when the House convened to-day. The question was; how the minister reconciled an increase in the vote of $23,000 odd when there was a reduction in the staff of thirty. In placing this matter clearly and concisely before the House I am taking advantage of the implied suggestion of the Prime Minister, that bona fide suggestions would be welcomed, and, furthermore, that the House itself must take the responsibility for any action in regard to the Estimates. I call the attention of the House to the fact that the Labour Department estimates for this year are increased by $23,000. This is the minister's statement, in answer to a question of mine, appearing on page 479 of unrevised Hansard:

The other thirty-

Referring to thirty of the forty-two additional employees.

The other thirty have received notice, which so far as I understand will not be revoked, that they are to leave the service on the 31st of this month.

That is to-day. At another point the minister explained that he was incorporating in the regular permanent staff twelve of the forty-two employees. Now, I want the House to get this point. Last year there was contained in the Estimates a sum of $10,000 for clerical and other assistance, and $10,000 for sundries, out of which would be paid these temporary employees. Inasmuch as the minister has been able to reduce his staff by thirty employees, who leave to-day-this being the end of the fiscal year-there is no necessity for the House to provide in the Estimates for those thirty employees for the coming fiscal year. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I beg to move, seconded by Mr. Sheard:

That in view of the statement of the Minister of Labour, as appearing on page 479 of Hansard, that thirty employees of his department would be dismissed on this day, March 31st, 1922, that item 24 on page 9 of the Estimates be reduced to the same amount as last year, namely, $171,640 for salaries, and $35,000 for contingencies.

This will give to the minister the same amount of money that he required for last year, including the contingencies, which we have not reduced at all.

I am not taking a course that has not been followed1 in the past. Last year motions were made to reduce items, and the government of the day took the responsibility of making or not making the reductions, and generally they rejected the motions. It is quite within the authority and power of the Government to reject this motion; but, on the other hand, I do not wish it to shield itself wholly behind the Civil Service Commission. That commission has certain distinct functions to perform, which we all recognize. This House has certain responsibilities, and the Government has certain responsibilities. We are merely asking the Government now to accept this suggestion by which those of us who vote for it are willing at once to aid in the reduction of the Estimates and to take our 'share of the responsibility for what in some quarters may be regarded as the questionable course of reducing this sum, because .sometimes a Government is a little hesitant about taking that responsibility. We offer the Government this opportunity to take advantage of our assistance in the reduction of this item so as to bring it to exactly the same figure as last year in view of the dismissal of thirty employees.

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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

Mr. Chairman, it is unfortunate indeed that the hon. member for Centre -Vancouver (Mr. Stevens), formerly a Cabinet Minister, cannot .see the real facts. To me it is inconceivable that he cannot appreciate that the allegation contained in his motion is absolutely inaccurate. I presume that he can read and analyze Estimates, and was doing so before I ever thought of becoming a member of this House. May I a'sli him to turn with me to the page showing the number of permanent employees of the Labour Department for the fiscal year expiring to-day? He will find it is 106. Then, if he will follow slowly to the left he will find the proposal is to provide for 117 permanent employees for the next fiscal year. My firm conviction is that the hon. gentleman surely knows that the thirty employees under discussion are not included, and have never been in-, eluded, in either the 106 or the 117 employees as specified, but are temporary employees and a part of the staff that I found in the department when I took charge.

I have stated that when I took over the

Supply-Labour

Labour Department, 147 employees were engaged there. Of that number thirty-seven were temporary employees in Ottawa and five were temporary employees located at outside points. None of the thirty-seven in Ottawa or the five at outside points was included in the 106 permanent employees provided for by the late government in the Estimates of the fiscal year expiring to-day. I think I am justified in asuming that no one knows that better than my hon. friend from Vancouver. All this play and parade, therefore, all this imputing to the Minister of Labour something that he never intended to suggest, will not get the hon. gentleman or other hon. gentlemen anywhere. I intimated that a considerable number of temporary employees had been served with notices that there was no provision for them after to-night. A number of these employees were paid out of certain votes not included in the civil government items. I do not know what it may be necessary to do in regard to any or all of these temporary employees, but I have already assured the House that all will be (dispensed with whom we can get along without. So far as the 117 are concerned, I have repeatedly stated that we are establishing as permanent only a few of those who were handed to me as temporary and whose services are regarded as essential, according to my predecessor, in carrying out the work of the department.

Now, the adoption of the motion made by the hon. gentleman would personally make no difference to me, but it would herald broadcast to the world and to Canadian labour in particular that the Conservative Opposition in this House are doing all they can to stultify the efforts of my department to do the things that labour believes ought to be done on its behalf. That is all that the opposition to these estimates during the past few days has amounted to. If the motion should carry, it simply means that the department cannot even have the 106 permanent employes paid under the provisions of the law for next year. If the hon. member for Vancouver and his associates are prepared to accept the responsibility for that result, why, let the blame rest where it should. Labour will be interested in finding hon. gentlemen like my hon. friend from Vancouver coming out in their true colours. The member for North Toronto (Mr. Church) also has indicated clearly where he stands on questions affecting the rights

36J

of labour. They are trying to embarrass the department in every effort it is making to do the things that ought to be done.

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PRO

Arthur John Lewis

Progressive

Mr. LEWIS:

I see here an item for contingencies, $35,000. Does that cover temporary labour in the minister's department?

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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

It does cover some of it. It has done so in the past and probably will be utilized for that purpose in the future where necessary.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Let me ask a question just to clear the atmosphere a little after the somewhat warm castigation that my hon. friend has laid upon me. I understood all that my hon. friend has said before he laboured so hard to impress upon the House that I did not.

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March 31, 1922