February 8, 1935

INTERNATIONAL LABOUR

DRAFT CONVENTION CONCERNING SEAMEN'S ARTICLES OF AGREEMENT

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Prime Minister) moved:

That it is expedient that parliament do approve of the convention concerning seamen's articles of agreement adopted as a draft convention by the general conference of the international labour organization of the League of Nations at its ninth session in Geneva on the 24tli day of June, 1926, reading as follows:- Convention Concerning Seamen's Articles of

Agreement

The general conference of the international labour organization of the League of Nations, Having been convened at Geneva by the governing body of the international labour office, and having met in its ninth session on 7 June 1926 and

Having decided upon the adoption of certain proposals with regard to seamen's articles of agreement, which is included in the first item of the agenda of the session, and

Having determined that these proposals shall take the form of a draft international convention.

adopts, this twenty-fourth day of June of the year one thousand nine hundred and twenty-six, the following draft convention for ratification by the members of the international labour organization, in accordance with the provisions of Part XIII of the treaty of Versailles and of the corresponding parts of the other treaties of peace:

Article 1.-This convention shall apply to all seagoing vessels registered in the country of any member ratifying this convention, and to the owners, masters and seamen of such vessels. It shall not apply to: ships of war,

government vessels not engaged in trade, vessels engaged in the coasting trade, pleasure yachts,

Indian country craft, fishing vessels,

vessels of less than 100 tons gross registered tonnage or 300 cubic metres, nor to vessels engaged in the home trade below the tonnage limit prescribed by national law for the special regulation of this trade at the date of the passing of this convention.

Article 2.-For the purpose of this convention the following expressions have the meanings hereby assigned to them, viz.:

(a) The term "vessel" includes any ship or boat of any nature whatsoever, whether publicly or privately owned, ordinarily engaged in maritime navigation.

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(b) The term "seaman" includes every person employed or engaged in any capacity on board any vessel and entered on the ship's articles. It excludes masters, pilots, cadets and pupils on training ships and duly indentured apprentices, naval ratings, and other persons in the permanent service of a government.

(c) The term "master" includes every person having command and charge of a vessel except pilots.

(d) The term "home trade vessel" means a vessel engaged in trade between a country and the ports of a neighbouring country within geographical limits determined by the national law.

Article 3.-Articles of agreement shall be signed both by the shipowner or his representative and by the seaman. Reasonable facilities to examine the articles of agreement before they are signed shall be given to the seaman and also to his adviser.

The seaman shall sign the agreement under conditions which shall be prescribed by national law in order to ensure adequate supervision by the competent public authority.

The foregoing provisions shall be deemed to have been fulfilled if the competent authority certifies that the provisions of the agreement have been laid before it in writing and have been confirmed both by the shipowner or his representative and by the seaman.

National law shall make adequate provision to ensure that the seaman has understood the agreement.

The agreement shall not contain anything which is contrary to the provisions of national law or of this convention.

National law shall prescribe such further formalities and safeguards in respect of the completion of the agreement as may be considered necessary for the protection of the interests of the shipowner and of the seaman.

Article 4.-Adequate measures shall be taken in accordance with national law for ensurin'* that the agreement shall not contain any stipulation by which the parties purport to contract in advance to depart from the ordinary rules as to jurisdiction over the agreement.

This article shall not be interpreted as excluding a reference to arbitration.

Article 5.-Every seaman shall be given a document containing a record of his employment on board the vessel. The form of the document, the particulars to be recorded and the manner in which such particulars are to be entered in it shall be determined by national law.

The document shall not contain any statement as to the quality of the seaman's work or as to his wages.

Article 6.-The agreement may be made either for a definite period or for a voyage or, if permitted by national law, for an indefinite period.

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International Labour Conventions

The agreement shall state clearly the respective rights and obligations of each of the parties.

It shall in all cases contain the following particulars:

(1) The surname and other names of the seaman, the date of his birth or his age, and his birthplace:

(2) The place at which and date on which the agreement was completed;

(3) The name of the vessel or vessels on board which the seaman undertakes to serve;

(4) The number of the crew of the vessel, if required by national law;

(5) The voyage or voyages to be undertaken, if this can be determined at the time of making the agreement;

(6) The capacity in which the seaman is to be employed;

(7) If possible, the place and date at which the seaman is required to report on board for service;

(8) The scale of provisions to be supplied to the seaman, unless some alternative system is provided for by national law;

(9) The amount of his wages;

(19) The determination of the agreement and the conditions thereof, that is to say:

(a) if the agreement has been made for a definite period, the date fixed for its expiry;

(b) if the agreement has been made for a voyage, the port of destination and the time which has to expire after arrival before the seaman shall be discharged;

(c) if the agreement has been made for an indefinite period, the conditions which shall entitle either party to rescind it, as well as the required period of notice for rescission, provided that such period shall not be less for the ship owner than for the seaman;

(11) The annual leave with pay granted to the seaman after one year's service with the same shipping company, if such leave is provided for by national law;

(12) Any other particulars which national law may require.

Article 7-If national law provides that a list of crew shall be carried on board it shall specify that the agreement shall either be recorded in or annexed to the list of crew.

Article 8-In order that the seaman may satisfy himself as to the nature and extent of his rights and obligations, national law shall lay down the measures to be taken to enable clear information to be obtained on board as to the conditions of employment, either by posting the conditions of the agreement in a place easily accessible from the crew's quarters, or by some other appropriate means.

Article 9-An agreement for an indefinite period may be terminated by either party in any port where the vessel loads or unloads, provided that the notice specified in the agreement shall have been given, wdiieh shall not be less than twenty-four hours.

Notice shall be given in writing; national law shall provide such manner of giving notice as is best calculated to preclude any subsequent dispute between the parties on this point.

National law shall determine the exceptional circumstances in which notice even when duly given shall not terminate the agreement.

Article 10.-An agreement entered into for a voyage, for a definite period, or for an indefinite period shall be duly terminated by:

(a) mutual consent of the parties;

(b) death of the seaman;

(c) loss or total unseaworthiness of the vessel;

(d) any other cause that may be provided in national law or in this convention.

Article 11.-National law shall determine the circumstances in which the owner or master may immediately discharge a seaman.

Article 12.-National law shall also determine the circumstances in which the seaman may demand his immediate discharge.

Article 13.-If the seaman shows to the satisfaction of the shipowner or his agent that he can obtain command of a vessel or an appointment as mate or engineer or to any other post of a higher grade than he actually holds, or that any other circumstance has arisen since his engagement which renders it essential to his interests that he should be permitted to take his discharge, he may claim his discharge, provided that without increased expense to the shipowner and to the satisfaction of the shipowner or his agent he furnishes a competent and reliable man in his place.

In such case, the seaman shall be entitled to his wages up to the time of his leaving his employment.

Article 14.-Whatever the reason for the termination or rescission of the agreement, an entry shall be made in the document issued to the seaman in accordance with Article 5 and in the list of crew showing that he has been discharged, and such entry shall, at the request of either party, be endorsed by the competent public authority.

The seaman shall at all times have the right, in addition to the record mentioned in Article 5, to obtain from the master a separate certificate as to the quality of his work or, failing that, a certificate indicating w'hetlier he has fully discharged his obligations under the agreement.

Article 15.-National law shall provide the measures to ensure compliance with the terms of the present convention.

Article 16.-The formal ratifications of this convention under the conditions set forth in Part XIIT of the treaty of Versailles and in the corresponding parts of the other treaties of peace shall be communicated to the secretary-general of the League of Nations for registration.

Article 17.

This convention shall come into force at the date on which the ratifications of two members of the international labour organization have been registered by the secretary-general.

It shall be binding only upon those members whose ratifications have been registered with the secretariat.

Thereafter, the convention shall come into force for any member at the date on which its ratification has been registered with the secretariat.

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Article 18.-As soon as the ratification of two members of the international labour organization have been registered with the secretariat, the secretary general of the League of Nations shall so notify all the members of the international labour organization. He shall likewise notify them of the registration of ratifications which may be communicated subsequently by other members of the organization.

Article 19.-Subject to the provisions of Article 17, each member which ratifies this convention agrees to bring the provisions of articles 1, 2, 3, 4. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. 14 and 15 into operation not later than 1 January, 1928, and to take such action as may be necessary to make these provisions effective.

Article 20.-Each member of the international labour organization which ratifies this convention engages to apply it to its colonies, possessions and protectorates, in accordance with the provisions of Article 421 of the treaty of Versailles and of the corresponding articles of the other treaties of peace.

Article 21.-A member which has ratified this convention may denounce it after the expiration of ten years from the date on which the convention first comes into force, by an act communicated to the secretary-general of the League of Nations for registration. Such denunciation shall not take effect until one year after the date on which it is registered with the secretariat.

Article 22.-At least once in ten years, the governing body of the international labour office shall present to the general conference a report on the working of this convention and shall consider the desirability of placing on the agenda of the conference the question of its revision or modification.

Article 23.-The French and English texts of this convention shall both be authentic, and that this house do approve of the same.

He said: Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether or not any hon. members desire to discuss this particular resolution. There are some they would desire to discuss, but if there is to be no general discussion on this one I will limit my observations with respect to it. This draft convention was adopted on June 24, 1926, at a meeting of the international labour organization, and has since been ratified on the dates I shall mention and registered at the registry office at Geneva by the labour organization's registrar. The following are the dates of ratification:

Belgium, October 3. 1927.

Great Britain and Northern Ireland, June 14, 1929.

Bulgaria, November 29, 1929.

Colombia, June 20, 1933.

Cuba, July 7. 1928.

Estonia, May 10, 1929.

France, April 4, 1928.

Germany. September 20, 1930.

India, October 31, 1932.

Irish Free State. July 5, 1930.

Italy. October 10. 1929.

Luxemburg, April 10. 1928.

Mexico, May 12. 1934.

Nicaragua, April 12, 1934.

Poland. August 8. 1931.

Spain. February 23. 1931.

Uruguay, June 6. 1933.

Yugoslavia, September 30, 1929.

Broadly and generally, in our Shipping Act we have made provision for carrying into effect the main provisions recommended by the conference. It may possibly be desirable for me to say that Canada has not a very good record with regard to the ratification of draft conventions which have been adopted at Geneva. Up to January, 1935, the record was a rather unfortunate one, so far as we are concerned. The following list will indicate the number of conventions which have been ratified by the different countries:

Number

Country

ratified

Albania 1

Argentine 9

Australia 5

Austria 13

Belgium 23

Bolivia 6

Brazil 4

Bulgaria 27

Canada 4

Chile 19

China 5

Colombia 24

Cuba II

Czechoslovakia 13

Denmark 11

Dominican Republic 4

Estonia 19

Finland 13

Fiance 13

Germany 17

Great Britain 18

Greece 13

Hungary 15

India 13

Irish Free State 2,1

Italy 21

Japan 12

Latvia 17

Liberia 1

Lithuania 7

Luxemburg 27

Mexico 9

Tile Netherlands 15

New Zealand 0

Nicaragua 30

Norway 11

Paraguay 0

Persia 0

Poland 17

Portugal 8

Roumania 17

South Africa 5

Spain 32

Sweden 16

Switzerland 7

T urkey 0

Uruguay 30

Venezuela 4

Yugoslavia 21

I place this on record not in any spirit of criticism but rather to indicate that we have not taken as prompt action as some of the

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other countries of the world. It is highly desirable that we should ratify these convention agreements. The treaty of peace makes certain provisions to which, in connection with the discussion on one other convention, I shall refer this afternoon. The international labour organization which came into being under the treaty has adopted a number of draft conventions of which, as I have said, we have adopted a limited number.

But apart altogether from our moral obligation under the treaty to ratify these conventions, I think it is in the interests of this country that we should do so, having regard to the necessity of maintaining and improving the standards of work and of living in the other countries of the world, especially the industrial countries with which we compete. We have sometimes complained of unfair competition and of conditions of living and labour in other countries, but failure on our part to ratify certain conventions that have been made has had the effect of creating a rather unfavourable opinion amongst other countries that have adopted them. They have contended that they were led into believing that, when we accepted them at the conference, where we were always represented, they would be put into effect, and sometimes it has been difficult to explain to them that a federal confederation has divided jurisdiction as between provincial legislatures and the federal parliament. But undoubtedly the acceptance of as many of these conventions as possible will have the effect of removing causes of friction and ill-will, and will improve economic international relations. We believe that the best way in which to bring about a better understanding between Canada and the other countries of the world is, so far as it may be possible within our power, to ratify arrangements that have been made by the common consent of countries that have been represented at international labour conventions; and the standards that have been adopted in the convention are standards that will thereby have international application and, in my judgment at least, have a most beneficial effect upon the relations between the several countries of the world and our own. As a matter of fact, most of these conventions represent but minimum requirements, and there are many countries that maintain higher standards than those provided for in the conventions themselves.

The convention to which I now ask the house to give its assent is one concerning seamen's articles of agreement with respect to which, as I have said, the essential legal requirements are embodied in the Merchant

I Mr. Bennett. J

Shipping Act which we passed last session. I think there is nothing further I need say with respect to this particular convention, and the only reason that I am asking ratification now is that it has been adopted by so many other countries and is in fact embodied so far as the legal requirements are concerned in our Merchant Shipping Act.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, I rise not to take any exception to approving the convention which appears under government notices of motion, but rather to point out that what we are in fact being asked to do is more or less purely formal in its nature.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) himself has already intimated that the substance of this particular convention has been enacted into law by this House of Commons and that it appears as part of a statute which is already upon the books of this country. That being the case, it seems to me that we add nothing and subtract nothing from what we have already done, by a formal approval of the convention, unless it be a matter of some general conformity with methods adopted in some other countries.

The particular convention relates to seamen's articles of agreement, and if I am not mistaken those articles of agreement appear as part of the act respecting shipping which was assented to last year. Therefore this house is simply being asked to do again what it has already done. We had an example of that kind of thing all day yesterday when the house spent the entire day debating a resolution proposed by the honourable member for Toronto-Scarborough (Mr. Harris) approving of some of the trade agreements legislation which parliament had already enacted at the government's initiative. Here we are again being asked to approve other legislation which is already on the statute books, and I think it will be found with respect to the next two conventions that we shall be asked to approve that the same is true, that they also form part of the act respecting shipping which was passed as part of a consolidation, as honourable members will recall, at the end of last session.

What I do not understand is why, if we are to approve one or two or three or four or five of these draft conventions, of the international labour organization of the League of Nations, we should not approve all of them. Why single out these two or three especially for approval? It would be well I think to have placed on the record the different conventions that have been passed by the international labour conference and which have

International Labour Conventions

been communicated to the government; Then when parliament has before it a statement of all of the conventions we may later on discover the reason why some call for formal approval and others not. May I, however, before placing this list on the record say that I cannot agree with the statement the Prime Minister made this afternoon to the effect that Canada's record has been bad in the matter of our action with respect to these various conventions.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Ratifications.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The Prime

Minister uses the word ratification. I do not wish to take exception to the use of the word ratification, but I am inclined to think the word "approval" would be the more correct one to use with respect to these conventions.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I was quoting from the language of the League of Nations itself- the process of ratification.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I was quoting from the Prime Minister's resolution, which asks us to approve, which is I think more to the point. However, the Prime Minister a day or two ago meeting the representatives of the Trades and Labour Congress said, as reported in the evening press of February 6:

On the matter of ratifying international conventions adopted at Geneva, Mr. Bennett admitted Canada's record had been bad. However, five such conventions were down for ratification at the present session of parliament.

Anyone reading that statement would be inclined to think that this parliament had been remiss in its duty in the past in the matter of ratification, and that Canada had not been taking a place either as high or as effective as that taken by other countries. Now the direct opposite is the case, as the Prime Minister well knows. The Prime Minister has read us a list of the countries that have ratified this particular convention. I did not get the names of all of them but I took down a few-Albania, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Colombia, Latvia, Esthonia, Hungary, and there were several others that will appear in Hansard. The reason that these particular countries have made it a matter of special concern to ratify is that in most cases they have not already had on their statutes the legislation that is being asked for by the convention.

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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

And they relate more particularly to shipping.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Yes, and as

my hon. friend from Antigonish-Guysborough (Mr. Duff) reminds me, as regards this

particular convention they relate more particularly to shipping.

As the Prime Minister has said, the conventions for the most part represent the minimum requirements. As a matter of fact, Canada is one of the first countries of the world in her labour standards and her labour legislation; and it is because Canada has been able to send word to the labour office at Geneva that she had already enacted most of the measures asked for by these conventions that it has not been necessary to come before this parliament and ask for any approval of them. Instead of our record being bad, it has been so exceptional that it is beyond all challenge.

However, with respect to the procedure, if there has been any laxity of procedure, may I say that what was expected of this parliament with regard to the approval of these various conventions has consistently followed what was stated at some considerable length by the Minister of Justice of the day to be the intended practice when parliament had before it the first series of conventions that we were asked to approve. They were conventions that were drawn up at the labour conference in Washington in 1919, and there were several of them. It was important, it being the first time that parliament was called upon to deal with these conventions, that a careful statement should be made by the ministry as to the proper course of procedure. It so happened that a Conservative administration was in office at the time, the administration of the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen, and the Right Hon. C. J. Doherty was then Minister of Justice. Mr. Doherty not only explained very fully to this house what was expected of it in the matter of the approval of these various conventions, but he read to the house and placed on the record an order in council which outlined exactly the procedure to be taken and what was expected of this government and of the provincial governments. May I read from that order in council. It is a report that was confirmed on November 6, 1920, it reads:

The provisions of the labour part of the treaty of Versailles do not impose any obligation on the Dominion of Canada to enact into law the different draft conventions or recommendations which may from time to time be adopted by the conference. The obligation as set forth is simply in the nature of an undertaking on the part of each member within the period of one year at most from the closing of the session of the conference or, if it is impossible owing to exceptional circumstances to do so, within the period of one year, then at the earliest practicable moment, and in any case not later than eighteen months from the closing

International Labour Conventions

of the conference "to bring the recommendations or draft conventions before the authority or authorities within whose competence the matter lies for the enactment of legislation or other action ", the treaty engagement being of this character it is not such as to justify legislation on the part of parliament under the authority of section 132 of the British North America Act, 1867, to give effect to any of the proposals of the said draft conventions and recommendations, which must be held, as between the dominion and the provinces to be within the legislative competence of the latter. The government's obligation will, in the opinion of the minister, be fully carried out if the different conventions and recommendations are brought before the competent authority, dominion or provincial, accordingly as it may appear, having regard to the scope and objects, the true nature and character of the legislation required to give effect to the proposals of the conventions and recommendations respectively, that they fall within the legislative competence of the one or other.

_ That is the statement made by the Minister of Justice of the day, embodied in an order in council, which order in council still remains and has not been changed. It sets forth the procedure to be followed, and every government up to the present has followed it. If any mistake has been made it has been a mistake of the minister of the day, but I do not think there has been any mistake. I think the then Minister of Justice gave a true interpretation, and it will be recalled that the minister himself attended some of the conferences held with respect to these matters. Not only that however; the Supreme Court of Canada was asked as to the obligation of this parliament with respect to these matters and gave a very definite opinion on the subject. I will not discuss these legal questions; so far as this side of the house is concerned, I will leave that to the ex-Minister of Justice, the hon. member for Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe). In passing however I should like to quote two paragraphs from the direct answer given by the supreme court to a specific question directed by the government to the court as to the obligation and duty of this parliament with respect to these various conventions.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Not all of them.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

And may I

point out that the opinion given by the supreme court was a unanimous opinion. One of the questions submitted to the supreme court in the above mentioned reference was as follows:

What is the nature of the obligation of the Dominion of Canada as a member of the international labour conference, under the provisions of the labour part (part XIII) of the treaty of Versailles and of the corresponding provisions of the other treaties of peace with relation to such- draft conventions and recommendations

{Mr. Mackenzie King.]

as may be from time to time adopted by the said conference under the authority of and pursuant to the aforesaid provisions?

The reply of the supreme court thereto was:

The obligation is simply in the nature of an undertaking to bring the recommendation or draft convention before the authority or authorities within whose competence the matter lies, for the enactment of legislation or other action.

The Prime Minister says not all of them, but that question and the answer covered all. So that there can be no doubt in the world as to the truth of the situation and the clarity of it.

May I say that with respect to all these conventions-I can speak only so far as the previous Liberal administration was concerned, though I think the same has been true of the government of my right hon. friend- the requirements as set forth by the then Minister of Justice and as indicated by the supreme court have been wholly and completely complied with. The procedure has been this. The conventions are communicated by the labour office in Geneva to the government of Canada, to the Secretary of State, I presume, or if sent to the governor general's office, are transferred to the privy council. At any rate, they go immediately to the Department of Justice and the Department of Justice examines the convention and decides to which legislative body having competent jurisdiction it should be transferred. If it is within the legislative competence of parliament to deal with the matter, then the convention is transferred to the minister of the department immediately concerned, and by that minister or some other minister the matter is brought before parliament. Let me say at once with respect

International Labour Conventions

I do not know that there is any necessity for me to say much more. I think it would be unfortunate if the impression went abroad that this country had been in any way behind other countries in adhering to labour conventions when as a matter of fact we have adopted to the full the procedure required and have gone far beyond most countries in the legislation which is already on the books.

To make clear what I have just said, I would point out, by way of illustration, with regard to one of the recommendations withdrawn the other day from the order paper, which the Prime Minister said had been placed upon the order paper by mistake, that as a matter of fact there was no necessity for it because this parliament had already enacted the legislation to which it refers, just as it has already enacted legislation with respect to the convention that is before us at the moment. This was the recommendation concerning the application of the Berne convention of 1906 on the prohibition of the use of white phosphorus in the manufacture of matches. I recall representing Canada at a meeting of the international labour office at Geneva before the League of Nations was ever established, at which time the question came up of the use of white phosphorus in the making of matches, and which occasions the disease called phosphorus necrosis, a horrible and hideous disease. A convention was drawn up at the time asking the different nations to take action to substitute a process which would do away with the use of white phosphorus and its prejudicial effects. A formula with respect to a substance called I think, sesqui sulphide was given to the world to be used as a substitute for white phosphorus. As Minister of Labour in 1910-11 I brought that question before the House of Commons and discussed it very fully. Hon. members will find on the records of parliament a very full statement of the nature of that particular disease. I introduced a bill into the house to put an end to the use of white phosphorus in the manufacture of matches; that bill passed this house, it was in I think 1911, but the election on the reciprocity issue came on unexpectedly and the course of the bill through parliament was not completed when dissolution occurred. A later government, however, that of Sir Robert Borden, with the late Mr. Crothers as Minister of Labour, introduced the bill and it was passed by both houses and became law. Indeed, it was law before ever the League of Nations was established. So far as adding

anything to what has already been done is concerned, we might as well be called upon to approve that particular law to-day as to approve what we are being asked to approve by this convention. Both are already on the statute books; the purpose has been fulfilled. What Canada did when, for example, she was asked as she was about this very matter to which I have referred, that of white phosphorus, was to reply to Geneva that we already had and had had for years upon the statute books a law which covered the recommendation. What would have, been the sense of asking parliament to ratify a convention on that particular subject when wre already had it on the statutes? I mention that because I take strong exception to the statement of the Prime Minister that we have been behind in any particular in fulfilling the obligations into which Canada has entered as one of the members of the League of Nations, especially with respect to labour conventions. We have been ahead most of the time.

If we have not been asked to ratify many of those conventions it is because, up to the present at least, it has been determined by the legal decisions and opinions that have been given not only by the law officers of the crown but by the Supreme Court of Canada that it was not within the legislative competence of this parliament to legislate on certain of those matters. I hope we shall not be asked to approve conventions that relate to subjects with regard to which we have no legislative jurisdiction, but that is something which apparently we shall have to consider. If I understand aright that it is the view of the Prime Minister that this parliament can deal with practically all of these matters, then we have a pretty big order ahead of us. In this connection I should like to place on record the various conventions which we should then be asked to ratify. This is assuming now that the federal government hereafter is going to be called upon to deal with all these matters of labour standards. The different conventions are as follows:

At the first session at Washington in 1919: hours of work. We are to be asked this afternoon to approve that convention. Why are we not asked to approve the others that were passed at the same convention?-unemployment; childbirth; night work (women); minimum age (industry); night work (young persons). These were all passed at the same convention as the one which is coming before us a little later to-day.

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C18 COMMONS


International Labour Conventions


CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The subject of white phosphorous was also discussed at Washington.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I am glad my right honourable friend reminded me of that, but it is not down here as a convention. At the second session at Genoa in 1920 the following conventions were passed: minimum age (sea); unemployment; indemnity (shipwreck); placing of seamen.

These are all matters that come within federal jurisdiction I think, and I imagine it will be found that they have been included in previous enactments of this parliament. Therefore there is no more necessity for asking parliament to approve those particular conventions than for asking it to approve over again the trade agreements as we have been asked to do on a private member's motion.

We come to the third session at Geneva, 1921. There was one convention with respect to minimum age (agriculture); one with respect to right of association (agriculture); one with respect to workmen's compensation (agriculture) ; one with respect to white lead (painting) and one with respect to weekly rest (industry). We are going to be asked to approve a convention with respect to weekly Test a little later. Why are we not asked to approve the conventions with respect to these other matters that relate to agriculture where they come within the jurisdiction of this parliament? They have all been considered. The Justice department has carefully considered the <]uestion of the particular legislative body to which they should be referred and departments of the federal government have considered those that relate to federal affairs. Why single out the convention with respect to weekly rest in industry and then omit the one that precedes and the others that follow, which are: minimum age with respect to trimmers and stokers, and medical examination of young persons at sea? I think I can explain why we are not being asked to approve these last two. They were approved by this parliament several years ago. My impression is that those particular conventions go back ten or fifteen years and that they were approved and were embodied in some legislation passed with respect to shipping at that time on a revision of the Shipping Act.

Now we come to the seventh session at Geneva in 1925 at which were passed conventions with respect to workmen's compensation (accidents); workmen's compensation (occupational diseases); equality of treatment (accident compensation); night work (bakeries).

Then the eighth session at Geneva, 1926: inspection of emigrants.

Then the ninth session at Geneva, 1926: seamen's articles of agreement; repatriation of seamen.

Then the tenth session at Geneva, 1927: sickness insurance (industry, etcetera); sickness insurance (agriculture).

Then the eleventh session at Geneva, 1928: minimum wage fixing machinery.

Then the twelfth session at Geneva, 1929: marking of weight (packages transported by vessels); protection against accidents (dockers).

Those are the other two we are to be asked to approve this afternoon. Why are they singled out of the lot? We have already enacted those that relate to the merchants shipping bill which was passed at the last session. We are now being asked formally to approve something that has already been done, but nothing is said about all these other subjects.

Then the fourteenth session at Geneva in 1930: forced labour; hours of work (commerce and offices).

Then the fifteenth session at Geneva, 1931: hours of work (coal mines).

I was going to say that later in the session we may be asked to approve these, but if so, let us have them before us as soon as possible and let them not be kept back until the very end of the session.

Then the sixteenth session at Geneva in 1932: protecting against accidents (dockers) (revised); minimum age (non-industrial employment) .

Then the seventeenth session at Geneva, 1933: fee-charging employment agencies; old age insurance (industry, etcetera); old age insurance (agriculture); invalidity insurance (industry, etcetera); invalidity insurance (agriculture); survivors' insurance (industry, etcetera); survivors' insurance (agriculture).

I see that the Prime Minister has given notice of bills that he is bringing in next week with regard to the eight-hour day and weekly rest. Evidently he is going to base these bills on what is in the convention with respect to those particular matters. But he has already introduced-and we were told wre would have the second reading of it this afternoon-a bill with respect to unemployment insurance which relates to other forms of social insurance. Why have we not been asked similarly to approve those particular conventions before taking up the bill that may or may not be based upon them?

I come now to the eighteenth session at Geneva in 1934: night work (women) (revised), workmen's compensation (occupational diseases) (revised), sheet glass works, unemployment provision.

International Labour Conventions

Those are the conventions, but there are also recommendations. It is important to notice that the construction that the league itself has placed upon conventions that come to a federated state is that a federated state is in a different position from what is termed a unitary state. As far as a federated state is concerned the office of the League of Nations itself has decided that the conventions shall be to a federated state in the nature of recommendations, recommendations which shall be passed on to the competent legislative authority, and there the obligation with respect to these particular conventions and recommendations ends as far as concerns fulfilling the requirements of the treaty.

Let me come then to the recommendations; it will explain why I omitted the one the Prime Minister referred to a moment ago, because it comes under recommendations. The first session at Washington, 1919, dealt with unemployment, reciprocity of treatment, anthrax prevention, lead poisoning, (women and children); labour inspection (health services); white phosphorous.

Second session (Genoa, 1920); hours of work (fishing); hours of work (inland navigation); national seamen's codes; unemployment insurance (seamen).

Third session (Geneva, 1921); unemployment (agriculture), child birth (agriculture), night work of women (agriculture), night work of children and young persons (agriculture), vocational education (agriculture), living-in conditions (agriculture), social insur-rnce (agriculture), weekly rest (commerce).

There is an interesting thing. In that particular list we have two subjects mentioned, vocational education, and weekly rest. We are going to be asked to approve a convention relating to weekly rest, but we have never been asked to approve a convention regarding vocational education. Yet as the Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie) well knows, four sessions ago he introduced in this parliament a bill with respect to vocational education which passed both houses and is now law. We pointed out at the time that what was necessary with respect to all social legislation iwas to have the money available whereby it could be put into force. I told the minister at the time that I thought he would be wise to find out first where he was to get the money, and afterwards pass the bill. But after the bill was passed the Department of Labour notified the provincial government that 'because they had not any money, they were sorry the government could not put it into force, that money was required for other purposes, and that therefore this

vocational education measure would have to remain on the statutes a dead letter. It is on the statutes now; it has been passed by this parliament but it is a dead letter. I wonder why this government do not ask us to approve the convention under which reference was particularly made to vocational education, especially when at the same session there was a convention passed relating to weekly rest.

Now we come to the fourth session, (Geneva; 1922): migration statistics.

Fifth session, (Geneva, 1923): labour inspection.

Sixth session, (Geneva, 1924): utilization of spare time.

Seventh session, (Geneva, 1925), workmen's compensation (minimum scale); workmen's compensation (jurisdiction); workmen's compensation (occupational diseases); equality of treatment (accident compensation).

Eighth session, (Geneva, 1926), migration, (protection of females at sea).

Ninth session, (Geneva, 1926), repatriation, (ship masters and apprentices); labour inspection, (seaman).

Tenth session, (Geneva, 1927), sickness insurance.

Eleventh session, (Geneva, 1928), minimum wage-fixing machinery.

Twelfth session, (Geneva, 1929), prevention of industrial accidents; power-driven machinery; protection against accidents, (dockers) reciprocity; protection against accidents, (dockers) consultation of organizations.

Fourteenth session, (Geneva, 1930), forced labour (indirect compulsion); forced labour (regulation); hours of work (hotels, etcetera); hours of work (theatres, etcetera); hours of work, (hospitals, etcetera).

Sixteenth session, (Geneva, 1932), protection against accidents (dockers) reciprocity; minimum age, (non-industrial employment).

Seventeenth session, (Geneva, 1933), employment agencies; invalidity, old age and survivors' insurance.

Eighteenth session, (Geneva, 1934), unemployment provision.

Ordinarily I rvould apologize to the house for taking time to read through that complete record, but I think it is all important that this country should understand why some conventions have not been formally approved, and why at this moment the country is being asked to approve five out of that total of nearly one hundred, all of which are quite as important, and most of which are more important than at least three of the number we are being asked to approve this afternoon. I think it is only right that not only this country but

International Labour Conventions

countries throughout the world should know that what has taken place is that when these various conventions have been sent, on the advice of the law officers of the crown, to the lieutenant governors of the different provinces, in most cases it was possible for the provinces to send word to the labour office of the League of Nations that already their requirements have been embodied in legislation which in some cases is far in advance of what is required by the conventions; and there has been no necessity for asking any formal approval. The same thing has been equally true with regard to the legislation enacted by this parliament with respect to many of these matters; the subjects referred to had been anticipated by parliament and w'ere already upon the statutes.

In conclusion let me say that the desirability of having conventions of this kind as widely known and as generally applied as may be possible is perfectly obvious. The *whole purpose of the labour office has been to try to bring about some uniformity of standards between the different countries of the world in the matter of labour legislation, realizing that unless that be done those countries which are highest in their standards will be undermined by countries having lower standards. Canada is fortunately in the position that her standards are high; not as high as they should be, and far from what we hope they will be, but nevertheless relatively and comparatively much better than those of many other countries.

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LAB

Humphrey Mitchell

Labour

Mr. HUMPHREY MITCHELL (East Hamilton):

Mr. Speaker, I have listened with interest to the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett), and of the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) with reference to what in my judgment is one of the most important questions that has come before this parliament since confederation. I am fully conversant with the constitution and policies of the international labour office under the jurisdiction of the League of Nations. I think those interested understand generally that the conventions of the league are not mandatory, but merely sent out to the respective governments for their endorsement and to guide them in setting in motion their policies. I believe that when the history of the league is written the international labour office will stand out in bold relief from any other department of the league in its power for good, in raising the general social status of the working people of every country in the world.

The leader of the opposition quite rightly said that the tendency or driving force is to raise the living conditions and standards

of those countries which are much below our own; those countries in the east, and the eastern part of Europe, which have a tendency to lower the general standards.

But what I am most concerned about is action. The leader of the opposition has said that these conventions have come before this House of Commons before. But to-day, as I understand it, this house is being asked to advance them to a position of realization, of practical application. After all, that is the most important thing. You can bring them before the provincial legislatures and nothing be done. But as I understand it to-day the convention, for instance, in connection with hours of labour-in my judgment it does not go far enough, but that is beside the point-but it can be truthfully said that if the convention is adopted this dominion will be giving leadership to the rest of the British commonwealth, because no British government up to the moment, irrespective of party, has ratified the convention of 1919 with reference to the eight hour day. I think that is a statement of fact, so I welcome the policy of this government.

I am also in agreement to some extent with the position taken by the leader of the opposition, that possibly we have not taken sufficient interest in the league so far as the ratification of these conventions is concerned, but I think it is a fair observation to say that the attitude being taken by the parliament of this country in connection with what I consider to be these very important conventions will give leadership to the world, strengthen the position of the league and add to the influence of the international labour office in its efforts to crystallize world opinion in regard to practices affecting the workers 'both in industry and in agriculture in the various countries. I think in the broadest sense this is a move forward which will help improve the status of the workers, not only in this dominion but also in all the other countries of the commonwealth and, in turn, all the countries of the world.

I am not particularly interested in the legal aspect of the matter. I am not unmindful of its potentiality, but I welcome this evidence that this parliament is endeavouring to meet the needs expressed in these conventions, where those needs are predominantly of a national character, through the instrumentality of this House of Commons. I think it most important that we have some centralization of policy in connection with hours of labour, one day's rest in seven and so on, and that is why I take this attitude. I am willing to take the chance of people using the courts to throw sand in the machinery, because

International Labour Conventions

I think a great step forward has been taken to meet the very pressing problems of the present day in connection with industry and agriculture, in the fact that this parliament has set in motion policies, backed by the conventions of the League of Nations through the international labour office, that will make it possible to take national action on questions that we know in our souls demand such national action. That is why I say that when the history of this dominion is written, if it is proved conclusively that these very important matters come within the purview of this House of Commons it will stand out in bold relief, whether we like it or not. I have made some study of this question;

I have made these few remarks extemporaneously after listening to the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition, but I think this action will prove conclusively to the world in general the deep interest taken by the people of this country in the League of Nations and the international labour office which, after all is said and done, was brought into being under the leadership of Sir Robert Borden and others of this dominion. I think Sir Robert Borden's name will go down in history for the part he played in connection with the treaty of Versailles, which set that machinery in motion. In these days, when the policies of the league are sometimes held up to ridicule, I think it well that this House of Commons should give recognition to the influence for good that is possessed by the league, by the adoption of these measures.

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CON

Hugh Guthrie (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. HUGH GUTHRIE (Minister of Justice) :

Mr. Speaker, I desire to offer just a

word with regard to some of the observations of my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) in reference to the real purpose of the resolution now under discussion. My right hon. friend seemed to be in doubt as to whether a resolution for approval of a convention was the same thing as the ratification of a convention. The resolution is for the approval of a certain draft convention submitted to this country under the authority of the League of Nations, or the labour branch of that august body. What is sought by this resolution is the approval by this house of that draft convention. Ratification is another thing altogether; ratification of a convention is the formal act, the final act, and I believe it consists in the signing of the convention or treaty either by the sovereign or by someone deputed by the sovereign for that purpose. All we seek at the present moment is the approval of the House of Commons of this draft convention. After the approval will follow the formal

ratification, and then I submit that the convention becomes part and parcel of the treaty of Versailles, and we are just as fully bound by a convention authorized by that treaty and properly ratified as we are by the other provisions of the treaty.

I mention this in view of the citation by my right hon. friend of an opinion expressed in this house by the late Right Hon. Charles Doherty in 1920, at that time Minister of Justice, and also in view of a judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada on the same question. When the opinion was given in this house by the then Minister of Justice all that we had before parliament was a draft convention which had been adopted at a labour conference held in Washington in 1919, in pursuance of the terms of the treaty of Versailles. At the conference in Washington a draft convention was adopted for submission to the various nations who had signed the treaty of Versailles. In due course that draft convention came before the parliament of Canada, merely as a draft convention, and a question at once arose as to the nature of the obligations, if any, which had been imposed upon the Dominion of Canada by reason of the fact that we had become parties to the treaty of Versailles. The statement made at that time by the then Minister of Justice in my judgment was accurate in every respect as a statement of the law. In 1925 this question and other questions were referred to the Supreme Court of Canada, and in the judgment of that court the opinion given by the former Minister of Justice, Right Hon. Mr. Doherty, was elaborated and sustained. In the judgment of the present right hon. chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada I find this language:

It seems very clear that the duty arising under this clause is not a duty to enact legislation or to promote legislation; it is an undertaking simply to bring the recommendation or draft convention before the competent authority.

There was no other obligation cast upon this parliament merely by the submission of the draft convention. That was the stage the matter had then reached; that was the stage it had reached when the question was referred to the supreme court. But the situation will become entirely different if this parliament sees fit to approve and subsequently to ratify the draft convention. It then will become part and parcel of the treaty of Versailles, and as such I submit with a good deal of confidence it will come within the jurisdiction of this parliament under section 132 of the British North America Act.

International Labour Conventions

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Hon. ERNEST LAPOINTE (Quebec East):

Mr. Speaker, I desire to reserve any remarks I have to make as to the last point raised by the Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie) until one of the conventions which in my view falls within provincial jurisdiction, namely the eight hour day convention, is taken up further. There can be no doubt that this convention is within the jurisdiction of the federal parliament. One of the reasons why this draft convention which was adopted in 1926 has not been approved by this parliament,-although I believe when the Shipping Act adopted last year has been proclaimed it will be part of the law of the country-is that the powers of parliament in matters of shipping were restricted. In 1926 and again in 1929 one of the main reasons we took the stand which ultimately led to the enactment of the Westminster statute was that so far as authority or jurisdiction in shipping matters was concerned Canada was still a crown colony. The provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1854. which ante dated confederation by thirteen years were almost in their entirety applied to Canada. The Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 gave us the authority or jurisdiction to repeal some of the provisions, so far as their application to Canada was concerned. That authority however applied to only part of the act and our actions had to be approved by the imperial parliament. We were further restricted by the fact that we had no right to enact extraterritorial legislation, and undoubtedly to have full effect our laws relating to shipping must have such extraterritorial jurisdiction. We had no right to enact any law which would be repugnant to an act of the imperial parliament. In point of fact we stated that Canada was placed in an embarrassing position because she had no authority to enact the provisions to which she had pledged herself under conventions relating to shipping at international inferences. Since the Westminster statute >f 1930 this condition has disappeared and rnly last year this parliament enacted a new shipping act embodying the obligations which Canada assumed at the various international inferences regarding shipping. So there is nothing very extraordinary in the resolution before the house. It is within our jurisdiction to act, and in fact we enacted the provisions last year.

There is one observation however I desire to direct, to the right hon. Prime Minister. Is he sure the language of his resolution- and the same language appears in the resolutions following-is correct? He states: "That

it is expedient that parliament do approve" and so on. Have we the right to speak for parliament? We are the House of Commons. I believe we should speak only for the House of Commons, and then a message could be sent to the Senate in order to obtain their approval. I do not think we have yet removed the Senate from our parliamentary system.

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IND

Angus MacInnis

Independent Labour

Mr. ANGUS MacINNIS (Vancouver South):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to say a few words in support of the resolution, and in this instance my support is given unreservedly. Sometimes as I listen to the debates in this chamber I have a feeling that some hon. members are afraid other hon. members may bring in proposals or recommend legislation of a beneficial character. So far as I am concerned I do not care who brings in the legislation, whether it be the government of the day or hon. members of the opposition. All I want to see is good legislation and good law. I believe the adoption of this convention is a step in the right direction and consequently I support it.

I believe the purpose of the international labour organization is to consider ways and means of improving internationally the standard of living of the working classes. They take the various occupations in which the working classes are engaged and set minimum standards for them. I believe the present convention is in that class. In my opinion there could be only one reason why we could or should oppose the draft convention, and it would be that if the standards in Canada concerning a particular occupation were higher than those mentioned in the draft convention it might be more difficult for the dominion to force the regulations. However if we have dominion law covering the point and enforce it I do not think we need have any fear. I believe it essential that w^e should give our approval to these conventions of the labour organization in view of the fact that Canada is a member of that body, and also because to-day we have international rather than national competition. In western Canada, and I speak particularly of British Columbia, we have a great many orientals. Many people seem to feel that the fact we have so many orientals in British Columbia their competition proves detrimental. However I maintain that the competition of the orientals in China and Japan proves a much greater detriment to the people of British Columbia than the competition of the orientals in that province. My reason for making that statement

International Labour Conventions

in this connection is that the standard of living of the oriental and other countries is lower than ours, and anything which can be done to improve that standard and bring it up to ours, or as the case may be bring ours up to theirs, is a movement in the right direction.

Article 22 provides:

At least once in ten years, the governing body of the international labour office shall present to the general conference a report on the working of this convention and shall consider the desirability of placing on the agenda of the conference the question of its revision or modification.

If we approve of this article but find that other countries have not approved or, on the other hand, have approved and are not living up to its terms, we may make a protest at a time of revision of the convention and in that way try still further to improve the standard of living of the working classes the world over.

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February 8, 1935