March 25, 1924

LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

As I explained

when the bill was given its first reading, the purpose of this legislation is merely to make one slight change in the description of No. 2 apples. In the French version the word "eighty" appears, in reference to the percentage of apples that are free from scab and other defects and which shall constitute Grade No. 2, and the present amendment is to substitute for the word "eighty" the word "eighty-five," so that the French version may conform to the English version of the act. That is the sole purpose of the bill.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

This was not included

in the Speech from the Throne.

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LIB
LIB
LIB

William Richard Motherwell (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. MOTHERWELL:

It will have no

effect whatever on apples of special grades. The purpose of the bill is merely to make the correction I have mentioned.

Bill reported, read the third time and passed.

INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES INVESTIGATION ACT, 1907; AMENDMENT

Hon. JAMES MURDOCK (Minister of Labour) moved the second reading of Bill No. 7, to amend the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act, 1907.

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Motion agreed to, bill read the second time, and the House went into committee thereon, Mr. Gordon in the chair. [Mr. Meighpn.l On section 1-Statutory declaration to accompany application for appointment of Board.


CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Will the minister explain the purpose of the bill?

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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

The change proposed in this section merely contemplates that, in cases where it has been impossible for employer and employee to meet and negotiate, a declaration may be accepted from the employees indicating that it has been impossible to secure a conference or enter into negotiations and that as a result a strike is likely to occur. There have been cases in the past where such a provision has appeared necessary.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

There is before the law

courts on the way to the Privy Council for decision at the present time the question of the jurisdiction of parliament to enact legislation of this qature, and the question at issue is as to whether this parliament can delegate to itself the power to regulate the public utilities of municipalities. The municipalities operate many public utilities such as light and power, and under section 91 of the British North America Act it seems to me that this parliament has enough to do in reference to federal utilities, such as the postal service, without encroaching upon the realm of the provinces and the municipalities. I do not think that parliament should pass any legislation that has any relation to the municipalities without the consent of those municipalities. I understand that the Department of Justice has given an opinion that this whole act is ultra vires, and that opinion is supported by two courts of record in the province of Ontario. I think that is good not only as a matter of law but of policy. For how can this parliament say: We are going to regulate the

municipal activities of, say, Winnipeg, Edmonton or Vancouver, and virtually act as a court of appeal in labour disputes between those municipalities and their employees? It is not in the public interest that there should be such interferences with the harmonious operation of public utilities by municipal corporations from the commercial aspect.

I should like to know who is asking for this legislation, because I understand the Department of Justice has advised that it is ultra vires of this parliament. Until the Privy Council has given its decision in the case now pending as to the respective powers of the federal parliament, the provincial legislatures

Industrial Disputes

and municipal corporations, I think it would be unwise to proceed with the bill. Certainly if it is enacted it will stir up trouble all over Canada, and the operation of public utilities by our municipalities will be very seriously handicapped. The present law is working quite satisfactorily, and our public ownership bodies are paying the highest wages to their employees. In my own province there is no complaint that the law is not working well. On all these grounds, therefore, I am strongly of opinion that we should leave well enough alone, or in any event defer action until we get the decision of the Privy Council on the case now in the courts which decision may be expected next May or June.

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LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. IRVINE:

Mr. Chairman, I have been told that this clause is very favourable and very just to labour. But it is in one sentence a page long, and I can make neither head nor tail of it; I do not know what it means. I am reasonably certain that very few labour men would be able to interpret the clause. Therefore I would ask the Minister of Labour to kindly explain once more what it really means, because I did not get his first explanation. *

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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

If my hon. friend from

East Calgary (Mr. Irvine) will look at the explanatory notes on the right hand pages he will find that the only changes proposed are printed in italics, their purpose being to permit the acceptance of a request from employees for a board of conciliation, even although those employees are not able to declare that they have met the employer and exhausted negotiations. As long as they can declare that they have made all possible efforts to obtain a satisfactory settlement, that will be sufficient for the Department of Labour to act upon.

Might I say to my hon. friend from North Toronto (Mr. Church) that the particular question which he dealt with is not referred to in any of these proposed amendments? He is quite correct in saying that a board appointed by the Department of Labour was enjoined from proceeding with an investigation in regard to certain employees of the Hydro-Electric Commission in Toronto. An application was made to the department, and .following the usual practice of many years the department asked the Hydro-Electric Commission if they would agree to the formation of a board. The Commission hesitated for some time and finally did, in substance, decline to give their sanction to the formation of such a board. The department regarded the situation as so important that it proceeded to appoint a board, and the Hydro-Electric Commission at once took proceedings in the courts to obtain an injunction, which injunction the department has scrupulously observed. But we went into court to ascertain the rights of the federal Labour department under the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act. One judge issued the injunction and another judge, of equal standing, disagreed with his learned brother and referred the case to the Court of Appeal of Ontario, where argument was heard about a month ago. A decision is expected in a few days. As my hon. friend from North Toronto suggested, the case will probably go to the Privy Council for final determination. I may say that should it be decided that we have no right to appoint a conciliation board in the case of disputes between municipal corporations and their employees, it would simplify our work very much. But the proposed amendments have no connection with the question raised by my hon. friend, and I am quite sure he will not contend for a moment that the act is not applicable to recognized dominion-wide public utilities. The particular section we are now considering has no bearing on the case before the Court of Appeal.

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CON

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

Will the hon. minister

go a step further and tell the House what the result would be, if the proposed amendments are passed, in the case of a strike of the employees of any government department, and the department in question refused to negotiate with the strikers? Could the strikers thereupon go to the minister's department and as a matter of right obtain a board of conciliation?

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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

I could not say what I might do or the department might do until we were confronted with the circumstances and were able to take them into consideration.

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CON

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

Similar cases have arisen in the past, so it is nothing new. We had a similar case in Winnipeg, where a department refused to treat with strikers.

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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

I never before heard it intimated that the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act applied to such disputes.

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CON

James Arthurs

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHURS:

As I understand the act, and as the hon. gentleman has endeavoured to explain it, it would seem to apply to any body of organized labour.

Industrial Disputes

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LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

The Industrial Disputes Investigation Act applies to public utilities which are specified in section 2 of the act. The Post Office Department would not be a public utility as contemplated by the act.

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CON
LIB

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

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

This is an amendment to section 15 of the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act. It is a question whether that inquiry is in order.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

The whole question of the power of this legislature to enact a law of this kind is now before the courts, and if the act is declared unconstitutional then this amendment would also be unconstitutional. If the act applies to municipal public utilities, why should employees of the Post Office Department not be given a board if they wish to make a declaration under the act? Moreover, they are getting only one-half what the Hydro-Electric employees are getting to-day. Their lowest wage is $790 a year whereas in the other case it is $1,200 or $1,300. I contend that this whole matter should be held over until next session pending the decision whether this parliament has power to pass legislation of this kind.

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March 25, 1924