March 30, 1932

?

An hon. MEMBER:

You should know.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF BILL
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LIB

James Layton Ralston

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I have given my hon.

friend the facts. I have been in my own constituency, and talked with the men who gave the information to me. My contentions are on record in the department over which my hon. friend has control. However, if he is quite content with it-

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF BILL
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Give us the names.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF BILL
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CON

George Gordon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

Yes, let us have the names.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF BILL
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LIB

James Layton Ralston

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

The minister is not interested in them, at all.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF BILL
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CON

George Gordon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GORDON:

Yes, I am quite interested.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF BILL
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LIB

James Layton Ralston

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I believe the Minister

of Public Works wishes to make a few comments.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF BILL
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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART (Leeds):

Mr. Chairman,

I desire briefly to reply to some of the statements made by the hon. member for Shel-burne-Yarmouth (Mr. Ralston). I wish to assure him that when starting out on this program to relieve the unemployed the government and every member of it kept in mind the primary object of having the work conducted in every case so as to provide the largest possible measure of relief to those in need. I think my hon. friend will admit we had no easy task, and that at times it is impossible to conduct work of this kind in a way which will be absolutely fair and satisfactory to all parties concerned. We agree also that sometimes for some motive or another complaints are made which are not well founded. Sometimes the motives are political, and sometimes they are motives equally unsatisfactory. I wish to assure my hon. friend that from the beginning the Department of Public Works and the officials connected with it have realized their responsibility. We started out with the fixed determination that as far as we could control the situation the work should be given to those who most needed it. I am not aware that my hon. friend sent to the department any complaints whatever with respect to work in his constituency. If he did, such complaints were immediately investigated, and if any abuses were found they were corrected -not only in his constituency, but in every other constituency from which any complaints came.

From the beginning the government has made a sincere and honest, and, in large measure, a very successful effort to meet the unemployment situation in the administration

of these works. I am going to read to my hon. friend a letter that early in the season was sent out from the Department of Public Works to all the district engineers. It is dated November 25, 1931:

Dear Sir,-

It has, in a few instances, been reported to the department that the spirit and intent of the Unemployment and Farm Relief Act, 1931, in connection with employment of labour, have not been fully lived up to. The purpose of providing funds from which works would be carried out was to give employment to the needy and this was to be so arranged that the funds available for payment of labour would be distributed as fairly as possible among those in the locality where work was being carried on who were known to be in need, and in the first instance to those who were also the support of dependents.

Employment was to be given to parties in the above category regardless of political affiliations, race or creed.

The department wishes to reiterate that employment is to be distributed as fairly as possible among the people in the locality where money is being expended by giving employment to those in need of funds to sustain their dependents and themselves, and who have not other resources to carry them over the present period.

Employment is to be offered regardless of any political or religious affiliations, or racial stock.

In order that employment may be distributed amongst the needy as fairily as possible, the authorities in the locality who are in a position to know the circumstances of heads of families, and who can be most relied on to furnish a list of parties in need, are to be consulted, and the men are to be engaged in rotation for a few days at a time.

You will be expected to see, as far as possible, that the spirit and intent of parliament in granting the funds for this purpose, and of the government in allotting the funds, are met.

Kindly let me know what your procedure is in assuring this result.

That letter on the instructions of the head of the department was sent by the chief engineer to every district engineer. We have many letters of approval and commendation as to the way in which the works have been carried on. As I have said, any complaint that came in was immediately investigated. In some cases foremen were suspended, in other cases they were dismissed, and in every instance a sincere attempt was made to rectify anything that was not in keeping with the spirit of this legislation and with the tenor of these instructions.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF BILL
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?

Clarence Joseph Veniot

Mr. YENIOT:

The minister will admit that his orders were not always obeyed, then.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF BILL
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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART (Leeds):

In some instances they were not, and, as my hon. friend said, in his constituency where they were not obeyed the conditions were very speedily rectified.

Topic:   UNEMPLOYMENT AND FARM RELIEF
Subtopic:   CONTINUANCE ACT, 1932-CONSIDERATION OF BILL
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I54S COMMONS


Unemployment Continuance Act


LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Was a copy of that excellent letter sent to every Conservative member and to every defeated Tory candidate?

Topic:   I54S COMMONS
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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART (Leeds):

No. This is a letter of instructions to the responsible officers of the department-the district engineers-and it meant just what it said.

Topic:   I54S COMMONS
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

Mr. Chairman, my hon. friend from Shelburne-Yarmouth (Mr. Ralston) not only wrote Mr. Spicer, who under the Department of Labour was the director of expenditures under the Unemployment and Farm Relief Act, but he also wrote to myself, and I was at pains to take up direct with Mr. Spicer the question which he raised in his letter. I am extremely sorry that not knowing that this stage of the subject would come under discussion this afternoon I am at the moment unable to place my hands on the answers I received and the statistics I have with respect to the investigations I made. But I am in a position to say this, that in every one of those cases investigation was made, and the information which came to me was that these works with respect to which my hon. friend was complaining that his friends were not being employed in as large numbers as they ought to be, were direct public works, which are entirely different, as my hon. friend will know-

Topic:   I54S COMMONS
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LIB
CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

-from relief works as such. Furthermore, my hon. friend in his statement a few moments ago said that the foremen in question were appointed by the district engineer of the Department of Public Works at Halifax. If that is so, it is evident upon its face that they were direct public works.

Topic:   I54S COMMONS
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LIB
CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES:

Otherwise the appointments in question would come under the direction of the Department of Labour upon the recommendation of the representative of the Department of Labour in Nova Scotia.

But let me say this to my hon. friend. Although I have not the records before me, I know something of political divisions in that province, I know something of the political atmosphere down there, and speaking from memory, but I think with correctness, I may say my hon. friend was the only member from Nova Scotia who wrote to me by way of complaint with respect to expenditures in tha-t province. Furthermore, let me say to him that his complaint arises in the constituency of Shelburne-Yarmouth. I hope the fact that that is the only constituency from which at the moment I have had complaints of any

kind whatsoever does not cast any reflection upon the character of the political administration carried on there when my hon. friend was minister. But the fact of the matter is this, his are the only complaints I have had from that province. On the other hand, I have had numerous complaints from political friends of my own that they were not getting opportunities for employment, and they presented upon the face of it a very good case indeed why they ought to be employed. They complained very bitterly that a large number of Liberals could get employment.

But to my mind the best evidence upon the whole that expenditures in that province were based upon unemployment and need, irrespective of the political affiliations of those who were employed, is found in the circumstance that the Halifax Chronicle-which I may say is a rock-ribbed, thick-and-thin Liberal newspaper, the like of which is not to be found in any other part of Canada- sent a reporter down through the province to investigate expenditures upon public works, and amongst other places, he visited the constituency of Shelburne-Yarmouth. I am sorry I have not under my hand-if the debate proceeds beyond to-day I will produce it- the statement in that newspaper by its reporter that he found the work had been distributed with absolute fairness so far as the political complexion of the people employed was concerned. My hon. friend is too wise to attempt to argue from the particular to the general, but in effect that is what he is trying to do w'hen he cites the case involving some S200. Let us admit that in the case in point men who should not have been employed were employed. I submit that this proves nothing in view of the fact that there was authorized for the province of Nova Scotia, not only under the Unemployment and Farm Relief Act but through direct public works, the expenditure of no less than $1,600,000, the larger part of which was either expended or in process of being expended. As my hon. friend knows, a large part of that amount was spent on highways under the direct supervision of the province, which made a contribution. I may say to my hon. friend that I have yet to receive one complaint from the province of Nova Scotia that this work was not fairly allocated and divided without regard to the political views of the men employed.

I would say this: If my hon. friend has

no better evidence with which to bolster up his assertion that money was improperly expended in Nova Scotia than the evidence he has brought forward this afternoon-if it

Unemployment Continuance Act

can be called evidence-then he has made a very poor case indeed. I submit that in all fairness to my hon. friend. I think in justice not only to the provincial government but to this government, with regard to expenditures which were made by the Department of Public Works, it is only fair that I should make this general statement in reply to my hon. friend.

Topic:   I54S COMMONS
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CON

Harry Bernard Short

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SHORT:

As my constituency joins

that of the hon. member for Shelburne-Yar-mouth, I am somewhat familiar with conditions in that part of the province. Perhaps I know a little more about those conditions than the hon. member knows, because I spend a great deal more time among my constituents than he spends among his.

I had some $56,000 of this unemployment relief money expended on public works in my constituency, and the only complaint I heard was that too many Liberals and not enough Conservatives were obtaining employment. The trouble with my hon. friend is that his constituency has been Liberal almost constantly since confederation, and a Conservative never obtained a single dollar of public money that was spent in that riding. The Liberals have been so accustomed to spending public money that when a Conservative gets a few dollars they think it does not belong to him, and that is the whole difficulty.

The Minister of Finance mentioned the Halifax Chronicle, which sent a reporter around to the different works to see how the money was being spent. I hold in my hand a report that appeared in the Halifax Chronicle, and every Liberal in the province of Nova Scotia swears by that paper whether it is right or wrong. This article refers to one of the public works undertaken in my constituency, and it states:

Public wharf at Weymouth is completed.

Four hundred foot wharf costing $15,000 built entirely from 'local labour unemployment aid.

Weymouth, February 5.-The public wharf built at Weymouth North during the late autumn and winter under the unemployment relief work act is now completed. The wharf which is 400 feet long was built under the supervision of Captain H. B. Fitzgerald of Weymouth North,-

I may say that Captain Fitzgerald is also a storekeeper. My hon. friend mentioned that a storekeeper had been acting as foreman. Captain Fitzgerald is a storekeeper, but previously he was a ship builder and he is thoroughly competent. I assume that the man in my hon. friend's constituency is the same type. Many of these men are retired captains who built vessels in their day, and

who are familiar with carpentering work of that kind. The article goes on:

-and was of great help to the people of that district who had no employment. It gave work to about 100 men, fishermen, farmers, labourers -regardless of politics or religious creeds. The men worked in shifts with about twenty-three men to a shift; besides the work on the wharf itself, the getting of timber and lumber also gave employment to the nearby mills in the getting and sawing of it.

Further it states:

Practically the whole amount was spent in this place, the money for iron for the piers was spent in Digby county.

I quote this article in order to show that as far as work in my constituency was concerned, the foremen were instructed by the district engineer to give employment to as many persons who needed it as they possibly could, regardless of politics, religious views or anything else. It seems very peculiar that in the constituency of Shefcume-Yarmoutih, which adjoins mine, there should be so many complaints. As I say, I never received a single complaint except that too many Liberals and not enough Conservatives were receiving employment.

Topic:   I54S COMMONS
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March 30, 1932