May 8, 1929

CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

I have not observed them,

but at all events they have not induced a reversing of the order.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
PRO

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss MACPHAIL:

It wouldn't in Toronto.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

I am one of those here to represent my city, and I think we can judge very well from what the hon. member for Southeast Grey (Miss Maophail) has just said, exactly what the sentiments are which inspire so many of these remarks. The city of Toronto has not lacked in any sense a proper appreciation of her responsibility as a city, to her province, to her dominion and to her empire. I say that on behalf of my city with regard to what I think are feelings which are not justified and to expressions which are made, quite often without cause, by hon. members of this house.

If it would be admitting anything to the hon. member, I will say that the city of Toronto is definitely and I hope unalterably opposed to the adoption of the principle of communism in this country. I do not know this for a fact-perhaps the hon. member for

Winnipeg North Centre will correct me if I am 'wrong-but I am informed that the Labour party in Toronto^ which owns a building called the Temple, does not permit communistic meetings to be held within that building. That is to say, organized labour, which is strong in Toronto and commands the respect of the people of every class, does not choose to allow its building to be used for this same sort of meeting, even when the addresses are made in English. The police commissioners have decided that it is in the interest of public order to forbid communistic meetings being held in a language which is not understood.

In a very ingenuous way the hon, member complains of a man who was arrested for resisting the police and charged with disorderly conduct. I leave it to the house to decide whether or not that was disorderly; it certainly was not orderly.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

My reason for referring to that was because the charge is now being made the basis for an appeal for deportation.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

I think the hon. member is in the proper forum as regards deportation, but in regard to the domestic affairs of the city of Toronto I personally would be very much obliged if hon. members would consider that after all Toronto has got to a point where she may be supposed to be able to take care of her own interests and we do not overwelcome interference and criticism which we think is not justified.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
LAB

Malcolm Lang

Labour

Mr. MALCOLM LANG (South Timis-kaming):

Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that the northern part of Ontario has entered into this discussion I feel that I should express my sentiments on this matter. I quite agree with the sentiments expressed by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) when he says that we should all try to live up to the traditions handed down to us from the old land, the traditions of the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. I do not believe that we can follow that too closely, because just as soon as we depart from those principles we get into difficulties. I also agree with what the hon. member for Nipissing (Mr. Lapierre) has said regarding the good citizenship of the Finnish people in northern Ontario.

I do not know anything about the paper which was suppressed as I did not follow the case at all, but I do feel that the people who seem to be taking this matter so seriously have been misled. I have been in touch with conditions there because the southwest comer of my riding comes within four miles of Sud-

Freedom oj Speech

bury. I meet the people in that section at intervals throughout the year and I know that some people in Sudbury were greatly worked up about this affair, but to my mind it was only a tempest in a teapot. Only a few people were concerned in it, but probably they are the class who would try to get others interested in their agitation and perhaps they did express themselves in a way which was not fitting as citizens of our country. However that may be, the case has been in court and has been dealt with. My opinion is that the Finnish people around Sudbury are not going to be affected seriously by any action which has been taken by certain people or by the courts with regard to this matter. My experience, not only with the Finnish people but with the other European peoples who have come to our country, is that they always prove to be good citizens. It is true that when they first come here and do not know our language they have difficulty in understanding our ways; probably they do not understand our laws and it takes them some time to become accustomed to our methods of living. Whether tlheir children come with them, or are born in Canada., I have always found that after they have attended our common schools they become a high type of citizen.

The tragedy which occurred at the Hollinger mine some two years ago has been mentioned in the house to-day by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre. That was a disaster which was entirely unexpected and something which we all felt very keenly about, but it did occur. I knew Judge Godson for many years before he became a judge, when he was a mining commissioner, and I feel quite satisfied that he used his best judgment in trying to arrive at a finding in connection with the cause of that disaster. Nothing, transpired because of his finding other than that the management have the experience which they had in that particular case and I believe that since this disaster has happened, the management of all the mines in northern Canada and indeed, throughout the whole country, -will be much more careful. In the mining camps in the north country the mines, and particularly gold mines, are known mostly as wet mines, and mining men never believed that a fire such as happened at the Hollinger mines, could occur. But, however that may be, nothing that could be said by anyone or any findings by any commission that might sit on the case could make me change my opinion with regard to the matter, namely, that the responsibility for a tragedy such as happened in the Hollinger mine at that time, must rest upon the management of the mine. Had the management been what it should have been, greater care would have been taken to see that the regulations laid down in the Mining Act of Ontario were properly carried out, and such a tragedy could not have occurred.

There is another angle of the Hollinger disaster which, it occurs to me, has something to do with the comparatively small spread of communism throughout our country. Had there been throughout the mines in the Porcupine camp and other parts of northern Ontario a good miners' union well organized and kept alive; had the miners' union continued to exist as it did in the earlier days oi the camps, then even had the management been neglectful in regard to the care of the mines, the matter would have been forcibly called to their attention by the men working in there, because they would have had behind them an organization strong enough to protect them in making necessary comments or complaints to the management so that the work could be carried on properly and carefully. I know the opinion I hold is not shared by everyone, perhaps not by the majority of the people in the north country, but I think nothing tends more towards a good, safe and successful operation of a mine or any other big industry than a good organization amongst the employees and one that in its operation merits the confidence of the management and the executive, so that the executive of the labour organization will be called in to meet and may meet with the management and discuss around a table the conditions which they have to face in order to make a success of the enterprise in which they are all engaged. For some years past the organization of the men employed in the mines of northern Ontario has not been kept intact. I hope that the time will come when the men will have a good organization. They need it. It will be a good thing for them and it will be a good thing for the mine owners and the mine managers, because only by their properly working together can the best success be made out of the development that is taking place in the north country.

Just a word with regard to communism. I think I am right in saying that they never had a good miners' union in the Sudbury district; but if we had a good miners' union throughout northern Ontario, that in itself would do a great deal towards preventing any spread of communism among peoples who come to our land from parts of Europe where they do not know our conditions and who, under the conditions that exist in the north

Freedom oj Speech

country to-day, are left to fight their own battles, to look after themselves without any organization to help them and probably without the care, sympathy and assistance that they should have from their employers. It is not any wonder that some of them drift into the hands of these agitators who are endeavouring to spread communism throughout the land. I am thankful to say that communism is not spreading to any great extent throughout northern Ontario, but I am not inclined to place the blame for the little that exists, upon the poor individuals who are taking part in that agitation. We who have had more opportunities than they 'have, who have lived in that country for a long time, who are and always have been citizens of Canada, who know the conditions, and who have invited these people to come and live with us, and who want them to remain with us, should take a greater interest in them, and thereby keep them away from the communists who gather around them. I do not wish to take up any more of the time of the house, but when this opportunity arose today I felt that I should make my viewpoint clear upon just these few matters.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
PRO

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss AGNES MACPHAIL (Southeast Grey):

I think all have appreciated the speech of the hon. member for South Timiskaming (Mr. Lang) who has just taken his seat. Let me state in the beginning of the few remarks which I intend to make, that I am not a communist. Neither, indeed, is the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth). It was just this winter that he was chased out of the Labour temple by the communists-or at least, caught his train a moment or two before he intended to. He had his meeting broken up by them and I understand he is not in very good odour with them. So it cannot be said that either of us is a communist, although I need not defend the hon. member because he is quite able to do so himself.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

May I interrupt?

I left the meeting before the row started. Even the communists did not frighten me.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
PRO

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss MACPHAIL:

I can quite believe that. I am interested in this discussion only from the viewpoint of free speech, free assembly and a free press. I was surprised to hear the hon. member for South Toronto (Mr. Geary), an hon. gentleman who is held in very high regard by all the members of the house, say that he was not familiar with the protests that had been made by the liberal-minded people of the city of Toronto. I

[Mf. Lang.]

suppose they are so few in numbers that the sound they made did not reach the ears of my hon. friend. By "liberal" I do not mean Liberal in politics, but liberal in thought; they are not the same thing. But surely anyone who has been reading the press knows that W. A. Cameron, the minister of Lloyd-minster church, conducted a real campaign, and a very able one, in favour of free speech in the city of Toronto, that meetings were held in Hygeia hall and many letters written to the members of this house, all because of the ruling, I believe, of the chief of police of the city of Toronto. I should be glad to think that all over Canada we had freedom of speech and of assembly and of the press. I think it is true that we have freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, except in a few dark spots, but we have not quite got, I think, freedom of the press, and I think all hon. members of this house will secretly agree with that. We boast a great deal about following British traditions and honouring them by copying them, but this is one in respect to which I think we have fallen short. In Great Britain there is much greater freedom of speech than there is here. There one can say I fancy, almost anything and no one tries to stop him. But in this country, unless one is saying what is an accepted fact, one runs into difficulties. I think we might well become more British and less American in that regard. I do not think there is anything to be gained by trying to make all people think alike. I have every confidence in freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press because I believe that the truth will out, and if you let people talk who have nothing to talk about, they will naturally kill themselves; but if they have something that is a living and a vital thing, you cannot stop it from coming out, and the more you try to stop it, thS more it grows until it becomes so strong that it overcomes all obstacles in its path and sometimes brings a great deal of destruction, like a dam when it bursts. That was borne out by the speech of the hon. gentleman who preceded me. I was happy to hear him say that he believed that if there was organized labour in the northern areas there would not be so much communism. That is my own idea, and one always thinks that the person who expresses one's own ideas is very clever indeed. I think that the more opposition there is to freedom of speech and assembly, the more opposition to decent standards of living and to acquiring decent standards of living by organization of the men themselves, the

Freedom 0/ Speech

more communism there will be. Suppress that and you will bring about the thing you fear-communism. I want to support the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre because I believe in free speech, free assembly and a free press. I believe that the more freedom there is in those respects, the greater will be our happiness and our self-respect.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. A. W. NEILL (Comox-Alfoerni):

While I did not follow the hon. meihber for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) in regard to conditions in northern Ontario, I must support him and the hon. member for Southeast Grey (Miss Meuophail) in their advocacy of the right of free speech, even if it comes to free speech in the House of Commons in connection with the forty-minute rule. I do not need1 iperhaps to say that I am no. communist and that I have no sympathy with such doctrines, and I hope there are no communists in the district I represent. I believe that the best method of dealing with extreme views is to afford them the greatest publicity. It is far better to have these doctrines shouted from the housetops or in the public squares than whispered in the cellar, because that is where they will be whispered if you do not allow them free outlet in God's air, so to sipeak. The surest way of propagating a doctrine is to make a martyr of somebody in connection with it. History all down the line tells us that. You can pour a pail of water on a cement floor, and you cannot eliminate it by beating it; you only spread it, and that is the effect of trying to stop people uttering seditious doctrines with which we are thoroughly out of touch.

The hon. member for Southeast Grey spoke of conditions in the old country. I was over there a couple of yearn ago, and I went to Hyde Park one Sunday evening. I was amazed at the freedom of speech that was allowed there. A man mounted a soap box and he talked sedition from the word go, and I was astonished to see that the people were listening to him and appeared to be taking it in.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

How do you know it was

seditious?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

It was in my opinion.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. HEAPS:

That is all.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

And in the opinion of most

people. What was the ultimate result? There were a couple of men who looked like artisans standing in front of me, one of them with his

wife. My hon. friend from North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps) will no doubt want to know how I knew it was his wife. I took that for granted, Mr. Speaker, in spite of my experience with divorce cases in Canada. These two men stood in front of me and I thought they were taking it all in, but at last one of them said, addressing the speaker,, "Oh, go and bile your bleeding head. Let's go home, Bill," and that broke up the meeting. I thought the speaker had been making an impression upon his audience, but the sound common sense of the British working people was too much for him. That remark was the end of him; his audience laughed and disappeared. But if he had been compelled to hold his meeting in a cellar, he might have made some impression.

Another instance which I did not see, a friend told me about. A man drove up in a car and stopped to listen to one of these soap box orators. He left the engine of his motor running, making a little noise. A policeman came over to him and said, "You will 'ave to stop that engine. You are hinterfering with the heloquenee of the horator." That orator was talking sedition but the policeman saw that he got free vent anyhow, and no doubt with the publicity he got he ended as the man did in the other case I mentioned. Darkness, ignorance and suppression are the mothers of sovietism and communism. Give these doctrines the light of day and publicity, and we can trust to the sound common sense of the Anglo-Saxon race that there will .be no danger of our being troubled with communistic principles. But make martyrs of these people and there is something in human nature that lends itself to follow them, and you will be doing more harm by trying to suppress their doctrines than if you gave them access to the free air, where they will naturally dissipate themselves.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. HENRI BOURASSA (Labelle):

The

few speeches that we have just heard have proven to the house, I think, that the initiative taken by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) was quite timely. I did not have the advantage of hearing the hon. member, but I took my impression of what he said from the remarks of the hon. member for South Toronto (Mr. Geary), whose accuracy and probity of mind I trust entirely.

There were two or three points made by the hon. member for South Toronto in reply to the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre which ought not to be passed over

Freedom oj Speech

without some reference. With regard to freedom of speech and freedom of the press, that subject has been under discussion so often that I do not think it necessary to insist much upon it. I almost entirely agree with what my good neighbour (Mr. Neill) has just said about the advantage of letting people have vent for what they have to say, even if it is foolish. That is better than trying to suppress it.

I still more perhaps agree with the hon. member who spoke a moment ago, from South Timiskaming, I think. He hit the nail on the head, so far as agitation and propaganda among the labouring classes, and especially the foreign labouring classes, are concerned. There are two causes for this propaganda. He dwelt upon one-the lack of organization on the part of some sections of our labour world, and the lack of encouragement given to labour organizations either by employers or by the public at large. Quite a number of people in this country seem to imagine that syndicalism or labour organization is a mere matter of class concern for the labourers. That is an entirely wrong view. It is a matter of public interest, of social concern, of public safety for the whole nation. Under modern conditions of life and labour, the whole nation-I will go further.-the so-called possessing classes, have a direct and immediate interest in seeing that labour is properly organized and in a position to deal with a sense of collective responsibility either with employers, or with the public at large, or with parliaments, governments, and s|o forth. I well remember in my young days when, in such organizations as the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, for example, the policy was to prevent or stifle any such things as labour unions. Well, there was among the vast number of employees of that company at that time a spirit far more inimical to the company and to society at large than there is now. Why? Because some few men saw the reasonableness of the employees' position. May I name one? The late Lord Shaughnessy. He, having had the advantage -I call it advantage-of beginning work at the foot of the ladder, had a heart and a mind big enough not to have forgotten the days of poverty, the days of humbleness, the days when he was under the load of authority and wealth which made itself so heavily felt by the labour classes. Instead of fighting that spirit of organization among the employees, he encouraged it. Of course, I admit that large employers of labour by adopting a friendly attitude towards organized labour often get their men to agree to certain conditions which they might not accept if their

employers were hostile to them. But there is not the slightest doubt that since the spirit of syndicalism has spread out, since labour has organized itself in a sensible manner and a sense of responsibility has grown up among the labouring classes, it is easier to settle labour problems.

Now, in regard to the intrinsic and political right-I call it political in the very broad sense of the word-of people holding the doctrine of communism to express their views, well, that is a very broad question. There are many people nearer to the capitalists than to the communists, or people not belonging to any set class, who believe that the doctrine and practice of capitalism., as existing to-day in America especially-and I make no distinction between Canada and the United1 States in this regard'-are just as baneful, just as opposed to the basic principles of natural law, just as contrary to the essential laws of prosperity, of the economic balance, of social and distributive justice, as may be the doctrine of communism. It was found long ago in such countries as England and Germany, for example, that communism is the direct and natural and logical result of the excesses of capitalism. Well, if it is wrong for people to hold the doctrine of communism, it ought to be just as wrong-at least many people would think it just as wrong-for others to hold the doctrine of capitalism. Where would that lead us to? Would the member for Winnipeg North Centre be entitled to raise a movement among the people he represents to get the public bodies of this country to suppress papers or organizations which hold the doctrine of capitalism? And yet he would be just as entitled under the constitution of our country, interpreted in a broad way, in asking for the suppression of capitalism, for the suppression of newspapers and of public meetings holding the views of capitalism, as the member for South Toronto and myself may be allow'ed to propound the view' that communism should be suppressed and that the expression of view of those w'ho hold that doctrine should not be made public.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
CON

George Reginald Geary

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GEARY:

Will the hon. member excuse me? The only point I made was that the action of the police commissioners of Toronto was based upon disorder arising from the advocacy of communistic principles in a langugage they did not understand. I was neither condemning nor approving their action.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. BOURASSA:

I thank my hon. friend. That brings me to another point-language- which should not be lost sight of, but before I touch on it I want to deal with another

Freedom oj Speech

point, that of due respect for courts of law. Here again it is very difficult to draw the line. It is often said that this parliament is the highest court of the land. There is not the slightest doubt that all jurisdictions in the land, whether -civil or criminal, whether federal or provincial, hold their powers from this parliament or from the local legislatures. They are amenable to the supreme action of either this parliament or the provincial legislatures. That so long as parliament or the provincial legislatures do not think proper to change the law, individual judges should not be insulted or attacked or unduly criticized because they administer the law -as it stands, I quite agree. But should we go -the length of saying that no adjudication by any court should be open to criticism or attack on the floor of parliament or of any legislature? Then in what manner could we operate upon public opinion to have such laws changed? When you read history you fin-d th-at no judicial powers-I mean on matters of importance-have ever been changed by the proper authority, let it be king or parliament, until abuses had repeated themselves from time to time, until excesses of authority had been committed by tribunals, and therefore until those abuses and excesses had been denounced by public opinion in one manner or another. Is it not a fact that criminal jurisprudence in England was largely amended in the last century, and for the better of society as well as for the safety of the subject, thanks to the unceasing campaign-many people called it slander- which "Labby" carried on through his paper Truth, when for weeks and weeks, and months and months, he published judgments rendered by courts of assize, police courts or magistrates in England sending men to gaol for eight days for real -crimes, and others to the penitentiary for two or three years for offences which were considered trivial or unimportant by the people generally. The mere fact that the uncertainty of English justice, that the partiality of English judges, was put before the English public week after week by Truth had more to do with the amendment of English criminal jurisprudence than any other agitation to this end.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
LIB-PRO

Robert Forke (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

Didn't they send Labby to

gaol for his freedom of speech?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
IND

Joseph Henri Napoléon Bourassa

Independent

Mr. BOURASSA:

Of course, he was sent

to gaol, he was covered with fines, but nevertheless after a while his views prevailed. I do not think there is a single responsible public man in England to-day, whatever opinion he may have of the late Henry Labouchere personally, who will not admit that it was through that campaign-I repeat, as it was called-of slander-

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink
LIB-PRO

Robert Forke (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Liberal Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

My only point was that

speech was not always free in England.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic:   FREEDOM OF SPEECH, LIBERTY OF THE PRESS, RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
Permalink

May 8, 1929