July 18, 1924

LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Hon. CHARLES MARCIL (Bonaventure):

I only have a word to say on this subject. I had the honour of presiding at the last meeting of the committee in the absence of

Topic:   INDUSTRIAL AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Subtopic:   THE EIGHT HOUR DAY
Permalink

IS, 1924


Industrial Relations the chairman, the hon. member for Cape Breton South and Richmond (Mr. Carroll). In my constituency the people do not limit themselves to eight hours a day; the majority do not work less than eight hours, and quite a number of them much longer than that. However, the proposition here is to apply the eight hour day to public works which I understand will add twenty-five per cent to the cost of such work. It is largely a question of economy. Are the finances of Canada in such a condition as to justify the payment of an additional twenty-five per cent? It is up to parliament to decide what shall be done. Another phase of this matter which is more likely to affect Quebec at the present time, is that a large number of industries, chiefly in pulp manufacturing in Quebec, do not observe the Sabbath day. These works continue in operation in districts where the observance of the Sabbath is very general. The violation of the Lord's Day Act is fairly general by these mills, and municipalities in the province have adopted resolutions at public meetings, township meetings and so on, protesting strongly against this want of respect for the Sabbath day, a day which should be generally observed throughout the whole of Canada. Some years ago I had the honour of doing my share in having legislation passed to enforce the observance of the Sabbath day; but when the Senate dealt with the measure, they placed an amendment at the tail end of it, in two lines, stating that the enforcement of the act would rest with the provincial authorities. Therefore, the enforcement of the act rests with each province. I am glad, however, to see in this reference to the Supreme court, there is also included the question of the forty-eight hour week which means six days a week and not seven. For that reason I am glad to say a word in favour of this report, everything that the Minister of Labour (Mr. Murdock) has said, and the action being taken now in referring the question to the Supreme Court of Canada. When we have their decision on this point and when we know exactly the powers of this Dominion and the powers of the provinces as well, we shall be able to deal with the matter fairly and as it should be dealt with in the interest of the labouring classes and of a Christian country such as Canada is.


CON

John Lawrence Stansell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. L. STANSELL (East Elgin):

Mr. Speaker, before being called upon to vote on this question, not having had an opportunity of studying the amendment, I should like to ask the Prime Minister or some other 301

member of the government qualified to give a legal opinion, if, in the event of this amendment carrying applying the eight hour day to Dominion public works and undertakings, it will apply to hours of labour in this parliament.

Topic:   IS, 1924
Permalink
CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (North Toronto):

Mr. Speaker, we are not going to get an eight-hour day by legislation, or by appointing a committee on industrial relations, or by getting an opinion from the Supreme Court of Canada, or by sending delegates to Geneva to discuss labour questions and to pacify Europe. We are certainly not going to get it by placing it on the bill of fare two or three hours before the close of a five months' session. The only way to secure an eight hour day is by educating the public. I may point out an example and I would ask the government to follow it. There are 12,000 employees in the city of Toronto, from which I come, who are working an eight hour day. That applies to the street railway, all public departments, including the police and fire departments, and public utilities. The eight hour day will come by education first of all, and not by legislation.

We have a department presided over by the

Minister of Labour (Mr. Murdock), who has been to Geneva assisting in pacifying Europe and the world. If the government want to get a national eight hour day, in which I am a believer, let them do something in a practical way: let them, before they pacify

Europe, first of all pacify their own employees and give them an eight hour day, fair wages, proper working conditions and proper salaries -a fair day's pay for a fair day's work-and all this without any reference to the Supreme court. The Minister of Labour should work to pacify the employees in his own department and in all the government departments, and let the good work continue. Let him get his colleague the Acting Postmaster General (Mr. Stewart) to assist him in giving a square deal to a few postmen. In that way something will be done to educate public opinion in advance for a general eight hour day. The government should let charity begin at home in this matter by beginning this amongst their own government employees who are badly in need of it. and they can carry out this pacification and fair dealing themselves along these lines in the recess of parliament if they want to assist in bringing into effect the eight hour day throughout Canada. Let them stop preaching and practise what they preach. While the question is one for education, and while it may be all right to get the opinion

Industrial Relations

of the Supreme court, still no eight hour day for Canada will come until the government help their own employees and are fair to them.

Mr. JOS. T. SHAW (West Calgary): Mr. Speaker, the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Centre Winnipeg (Mr. Woods-worth) has two parts. First of all, he proposes to apply the eight hour day to Dominion public works. As the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie) has said, there surely cannot be any question of the power of this parliament to decree that, in the carrying on of public works, the eight hour day shall apply. The eight hour day has been an election cry for many years; this is a good opportunity for the friends of labour to pass judgment in this parliament at this time whether or not they favour an eight hour day. An hon. gentleman to my left says that he is going to vote against the eight hour day because some men do not work enough, because they do not give sufficient value for their money. Moreover, he wants to reduce the cost of labour. He thinks the cost of labour is the cause of all our troubles, although he brings forward not a single fact or circumstance to justify his opinion. He gives the high cost of labour as the reason for the high cost of living, for the high transportation costs, for all the difficulties from which we suffer. He must have been absent from the House the other evening when, I think, the hon. member for Centre Winnipeg presented facts and figures to show exactly what relationship wages have to the high cost of living. Certainly those figures are far from establishing the imaginative statements of the hon. member for Dufferin (Mr. Woods).

The second part of the resolution does not ask this parliament to do anything. It asks the government to introduce legislation for the purpose of picking out from the industries of Canada those which are for the general advantage of Canada and which will, therefore, automatically come under the provisions of the eight hour day, if effect is given to the first part of this resolution. That as I understand it, is all that the amendment calls for. It simply says that the government shall introduce legislation, I presume at the next session of parliament, fixing these particular industries, and therefore, automatically, as I say an eight hour day shall then apply. I think both parts of this amendment are highly desirable and commendable, and labour in this country will be able on reading the vote in this matter to determine who their real friends are.

Topic:   IS, 1924
Permalink
LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. WILLIAM IRVINE (East Calgary):

Mr. Speaker, the amendment is in itself a very

small concession to the demands of labour throughout Canada. I have been amazed at some of the things that have been said by some hon. members in objecting to this amendment, and much more amazed at the attitude of the Minister of Labour (Mr. Murdock). The Minister of Labour has had, I think, thirty-six years of training in the front line of labour struggles, as he says, and there he has been initiated and understands their movement very well. Now when he gets to be a cabinet minister, he promptly forgets all about that; contents himself with telling labour how much he used to fight for them. The labour people of this country are sick of that kind of thing and they are looking for some definite little bit of action. Verbose promises do not get us anywhere. The Minister of Labour has here an opportunity to put into practical effect all the splendid ideals and the enthusiasm and inspiration of thirty years in the Labour movement. But when that opportunity presents itself to him what does he do? He begins to make excuses. Excuses of the Minister of Labour are many, and seemingly one is always ready. In the one instance we have the Privy Council; he cannot do anything because the Privy Council stops him. The next time he cannot do anything because the Supreme Court of Canada might say something about the question. Then he cannot do anything because the provinces have to be protected and there is certain provincial jurisdiction. The next time he cannot do anything because Moses, some 4,000 years ago, fixed the laws and, therefore, nothing can be done in the parliament of Canada. That is not a caricature, that is in reality what the Minister of Labour is saying. One of the reasons given by the minister for inaction on the part of this government is that if we do anything we may interfere with provincial jurisdiction, and so on. But as pointed out by the hon. member for West Calgary (Mr. Shaw), one of the things which the amendment seeks is to have the government put into practice the principle of the eight-hour day in the case of any undertaking that falls entirely within the federal jurisdiction. The Supreme Court could have nothing to do with any such matter and no provincial rights would be encroached upon.

Topic:   IS, 1924
Permalink
LIB

James Joseph Hughes

Liberal

Mr. HUGHES:

Does the hon. member

advocate that there shall be privileged classes in this country?

Topic:   IS, 1924
Permalink
LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. IRVINE:

We have already endorsed

the principle of the eight-hour day inasmuch as our signature has been appended to the Treaty of Versailles. This being the case there is no reason whatever why the Dominion

Industrial Relations

government should not apply that principle in all cases that come within its own jurisdiction. If the provincial governments do not wish to adopt the principle that is their business, and they must assume the responsibility for whatever course they pursue. But the Minister of Labour cannot advance, as an argument to justify failure on the part of the Dominion government to observe the very principle which this Dominion has adopted, the fact that the provinces have not seen fit to ratify it. That is no excuse at all. I was surprised-not very much but somewhat surprised-to hear gentlemen who claim to be farmers opposing the amendment on the ground that they themselves have to work sixteen hours a day. Well, -any man who boasts of working sixteen hours a day may have a mighty strong back but I would not say the same for his upper end.

Topic:   IS, 1924
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

They are forced to.

Topic:   IS, 1924
Permalink
LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. IRVINE:

No man should be forced

to work sixteen hours a day for the benefit of the big interests. And as to the agrarian population, if they will bring some organizing genius into play they ought to do away with the necessity for working sixteen hours a day.

Topic:   IS, 1924
Permalink
LIB
LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. IRVINE:

That is what I am trying

to do right now as well as I can. Now, it is not the principle of the eight-hour day that is under discussion, for that principle has already been adopted; there is no question about that. All that we want is to have the Dominion government apply that principle to labour which is engaged in its own works and over which it has absolute jurisdiction.

Topic:   IS, 1924
Permalink
LIB

Thomas Vien

Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

What warranty has the hon.

member for assuming that the provincial government has no rights, so far as the eight hour day is concerned, jointly with the federal government in Dominion works and undertakings?

Topic:   IS, 1924
Permalink
LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. IRVINE:

I will answer with another

question: What reason has the hon. gentleman for even entertaining the idea that the provincial government has any such rights?

Topic:   IS, 1924
Permalink
LIB
LAB
LIB

James Murdock (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MURDOCK:

When speaking I indicated in what way the provincial government 3011

had some right. Does my hon. friend think that my view in that respect was right or wrong? If it was wrong, will he tell us in what way?

Topic:   IS, 1924
Permalink
LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. IRVINE:

Does the Minister of Labour mean to say that the Dominion government has not the absolute right to say what shall be done in relation to its own contracts.

Topic:   IS, 1924
Permalink
LIB
LAB

William Irvine

Labour

Mr. IRVINE:

I am not saying that the

provincial governments have no rights, but I do say most emphatically that they have not the right to dictate in regard to what is distinctly a federal affair.

Topic:   IS, 1924
Permalink

July 18, 1924