Let me assure the minister that he will not misunderstand me tonight; but I will assure him, first of all, that he will not switch me from the point, until I am through, no matter how he struggles to do so. I will finish that first.
I have given the answer already, but I have no objection to repeating it. The point is this: having
pointed out this conflict of statements with the Government, I asked the Prime Minister whether the board was to be reconvened as intimated by the Minister of Finance two or three days before, and the Prime Minister gave a clear and unequivocal answer. To make sure that there was to be nothing conditional about it, I inquired whether this reconvening was to be conditional or unconditional, and was told that it was to be unconditional. Now, what is to be thought of a minister of the Crown, in the face of these facts, coming to Parliament to-night and asserting that I am the father of the reconvening of the board, and that, because I inquired whether it was to be done unconditionally, therefore, all the delay connected with the reconvening is attributable to me? Is that the only sense of reason the minister has? Is that the best he can do?
We are now before the members of this House. Now what the minister asks to-night is another question altogether, a question debated in this House some weeks ago on the motion of the member for Calgary (Mr. Irvine). My judgment on that is exactly as expressed then. I did not feel that the conduct of McLach-lan was such that it could in any way be made an excuse for the Department of Labour to cease functioning. That is the opinion I expressed then and to which I adhere now; and that seemed to be the opinion of the Government, however different it may have been from the opinion of the Minister of Labour.
printing, binding and distribution of the Labour Gazette comes under this item. I have heard the opinion expressed in the past by labour men that the table which is given in the Labour Gazette on the cost of living is absolutely Unreliable. The minister has no doubt seen this table many times. Does he think it is a reliable guide as to the cost of living?
I heard it during the regime of the late government. It came to my hearing in the past; I have not heard it since my hon. friend has been Minister of Labour. Like myself, he has been only a short time in office.
So far as I have had an opportunity to look into the matter, I believe that the figures contained in the Labour Gazette in regard to either the increase or the decrease in the cost of living are as nearly accurate as they can be made under all the circumstances. The Dominion statistician gets the figures in regard to the cost of all the commodities that go to make up the cost of living, and these figures are compiled as carefully as possible and put into shape for the Labour Gazette. As I say, they are as nearly accurate as they can possibly be made, although I have not the slightest doubt that any gentleman who cared to do so could prove that at some particular town or in some locality the figures were slightly different, one way or the other, from those given in the Gazette. Generally speaking, however, they are reliable.
Under the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act, the board has been functioning in District 18 for some days now, although, for some reason which I am not quite aware of, it has been for two or three days off the job. The board reconvenes again on the 25th at Canmore, having been already at Drumheller, where it spent three or four days investigating.
Yes; they left the company's employ on the 1st of April when the contract expired, and the board was convened on that date to deal with the situation. It is now proceeding as quickly as possible in a thorough investigation. It
has yet to go to Lethbridge, Crow's Nest, Michel and Fernie to investigate several other mining situations.