June 10, 1935

LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

My hon. friend repudiates the Liberal government of Ontario for retaining this law on the statutes?

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LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

No, the hon. member is away off the mark. I stated quite clearly what I had to say,

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

The province of

British Columbia under a Liberal government

Criminal Code Amendment

has taken very similar action. I am afraid the hon. member for Northumberland will have to withdraw himself from the Liberal party and its policies.

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LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

If I do I won't go down there among you; I can tell

you that.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

That may be. I think the hon. member will have to adopt the policy of the ex-Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens) and form a party of his own. I repeat it was the Liberal government of Ontario that amended the Milk Control Act.

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LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

If I do form a party I will get further than you did in forming one.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I sent to the library a few minutes ago to try to obtain the official amendment that the Ontario government made to the Milk Control Act, but it was not available. I venture to read from the Canadian Co-operator of April, 1935, what I think may be taken as a correct copy of the amendment. This amendment to the Milk Control Act with respect to the prohibition of co-operative dividends, which was introduced by the Hon. Duncan Marshall, reads:

Notwithstanding anything in the Companies Act or in any letters patent of incorporation or supplementary letters patent or in any other general or special act contained, no person, firm or corporation shall give or distribute any fund, refund, rebate, interest or dividend to any purchaser of milk therefrom, either directly or indirectly in respect of such purchases of milk, except such interest or dividend as may be earned on capital invested by such purchaser in such firm or corporation.

And the Canadian Co-operator adds this note:

The exception in favour of payment of interest or dividends on their capital investment in dairies by milk consumers seems to be a deliberate discrimination in favour of capitalist dairies. In recnt years it has been the practice of some of them to conduct campaigns for the sale of dairy securities to producers and consumers of milk. Capitalist dairy corporations are specifically enabled to distribute their profits 'in a manner agreeable to them, but that right is denied to cooperative dairies.

I have read this amendment because I think there is a danger that we do precisely the same thing if we pass section 498A (1) without some modification or without adding some safeguarding clause. I received a letter the other day from the secretary of the Co-operative Union of Canada, who points out that:

While manifestly not intended to embarrass cooperatives or to obstruct the practice of

cooperative principles, it is possible that the distribution of the net profit surplus made by cooperative wholesales among retail societies might legally be construed to be within the prohibition of the payment of discounts, rebates or allowances, and a similar distribution of the net profit, surplus, by retail societies among consumers might legally be interpreted as reducing net prices to unreasonably low figures. The question of motive is a difficult one to establish in law, but unsympathetic courts might find as a fact that cooperative societies operate "for the purpose of destroying competition or eliminating a competitor."

He suggests that the following be added1 as an addendum to section 498A(1) of the criminal code, and I draw the minister's attention to this in order that perhaps he himself may see fit to incorporate it in the draft:

The provisions of this subsection shall not, however, prevent a cooperative society returning to producers or consumers, or a cooperative wholesale society returning to its constituent retail members, the whole or any part of the net surplus made in its trading operations in proportion to purchases made from or sales to the society.

It would seem to me, Mr. Chairman, that an amendment of that kind would safeguard the cooperative societies. From the present draft I do not think the government is intending to penalize the cooperative societies but since it may have that effect I believe something of this kind is highly desirable.

Mr. 'GUTHRIE: I may tell my hon. friend that a suggestion has been made already in the language in which he has moved it, and the view of the law officers is that this section as drawn would not apply to the cooperative societies. However, it may be necessary to clarify the matter and I will let my hon. friend know the next time the bill is before the house.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I thank the minister. I wanted this matter made very dear because while it is desirable to curb the avaricious practices indicated by the report of the price spreads commission, it is an altogether different thing for people to organize cooperatively and return their dividends. The report of the price spreads commission urges:

-further development of consumers' cooperatives in Canada would' be of general benefit.

It has also declared that the movement-

-should not be victimized in the early stages of its development by unfair competitive practices or price discrimination on the part of manufacturers and wholesalers.

I have very little more to say on the bill as a whole, but in the few minutes left to me I should like to refer again to section 5.

Criminal Code Amendment

Anyone who has been Connected in any way with the labour movement or who has been in close contact with industrial affairs must realize that in many cases the employee is almost helpless. We see this fact in its most exaggerated form in the company towns where a large corporation, very often an American corporation, practically controls the life of the whole community. It is quite obvious that in such cases the employee is helpless. It may be said that he can organize with others tout I submit that so far we have made no provision for the protection of the employee in his right to organize. Under these circumstances it has become practically impossible for employees to form a strong union. We in this house claim that this parliament is an impartial authority; as such it becomes incumbent upon us to protect the weaker members of society who are not in a position at the moment to protect themselves.

I cannot see why there should be such solicitude for the interests of the employers and 'the great corporations. Should an employee break a bit of machinery or smash a window he is considered a criminal, while through a Jong series of years employers have persisted in practices which have undermined the health of the workers, which have condemned them to a life in which they have no joy in living, and which have precluded them from the enjoyment of leisure. Yet these employers are not treated as criminals. In my judgment their crime is far more serious than that of the man who destroys a bit of property. Human life ought surely to be worth more than property. As yet we have hardly begun to protect human life, and while this legislation is far from being what I should like it to be, I feel that it is a gesture toward protecting the welfare of the employees and as such I welcome it.

Progress reported.

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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned without question put, pursuant to standing order. Tuesday, June 11, 1935 The bouse met at three o'clock.


BANKING AND COMMERCE


Second report of the select standing committee on banking and commerce-Mr. Chaplin.


B.C. RELIEF CAMPS REPORT OP MACDONALD COMMISSION APPOINTED TO INQUIRE INTO CONDITIONS


On the orders of the day: Hon,. GROTE STIRLING (Minister of National Defence): Mr. Speaker, I beg to lay on the table report of the commission which was appointed to investigate conditions in the rdlief camps of British Columbia. I should like on this occasion to make a statement thereon. The report is presented by the Hon. W. A. Macdonald, C. T. McHattie, and the Reverend E. D. Braden,, appointed a commission by order in council P.C. 861, dated April 1, 1935, to inquire into the conditions obtaining and all and any complaints which have been made with respect to the administration and management of the camps established by the Department of National Defence in the province of British Columbia. In view of the general interest in this report as evidenced by the many enquiries made by hon. members of this house, I think it would be of interest should I briefly recapitulate the principal points adduced by the commission from the evidence which they collected in the course of a most comprehensive survey of the situation during which, in addition to public hearings in the larger centres in British Columbia., they visited 46 separate camps; in all 277 witnesses were examined. The greatest care was exercised by the commission in order to ensure that all who wished to testify should have a full and fair opportunity of so doing and men were encouraged in the absence of members of the camp staffs to freely state any oolmplaints and grievances which they might feel they had. The commission " questioned all witnesses as to matters which were likely to create a grievance in camp life, such as food, cooking, sleeping accommodation, sanitation, medical attention, recreation, consideration of complaints and other matters." It may be assumed therefor, that every possible complaint or cause of complaint has been fully enquired into. The commission reports: We are quite satisfied that the officers commanding these military districts properly performed their duties in administering and managing these camps, and' that they acted with fairness and ability in discharging a new and difficult task. The military districts referred to are military districts Nos. 11 and 13 with head- B. C. Relief Camps quarters .at Ksquimalt and Calgary respectively. As regards the superintendents of groups of projects, the statement is made: We contacted all the superintendents, and from the results obtained in their work, they appeared quite competent. When you consider the responsibility borne, the nature of the duties performed, the difficulty of maintaining discipline, and the nature of the employment of the thousands in these camips, then, almost without exception, they filled their positions satisfactorily. The exceptions referred to relate to the cases of two individuals .only out of the many whose services were commented upon. In one of those cases, in the light of all circumstances, the commission report: We are not disposed to make any adverse criticism of this superintendent. In the other case the evidence is of a failure in certain administrative arrangements and of a lack of judgment in the individual concerned. The replacement of this man has been under consideration for some time but action was deferred pending the reports of the investigation. Definite arrangements have now been made to replace him. Several complaints of mail being tampered with were received. In this connection the commission reports: We find that the charges were not supported by evidence. As regards foremen in individual camps, after commenting on the difficulties inherent in their position, the commission state: The foremen, as a whole, acted properly and patiently. Certain, individual cases, where complaints against foremen appeared well founded, were brought by the commission to the attention of the superior authorities concerned. These cases are not qpecificaly set .out in the commission's report but as soon as full particulars are .available they will be dealt with as the circumstances may require. It is pointed out however, that during the period of administration by the Department of National Defence, 192 changes of foremen and subforemen have taken place and of these thirty per cent- were for disciplinary reasons or in-coimpetency. One of the complaints made against the camps was the so called "militarization." The commission states: We feel no hesitation in reporting that it did not, and does not, exist in the slightest degree. As regards food, the commission stated: We consistently investigated this important feature of camp life, and became satisfied that the meals which had been, and were being, served to the men were good then, and had been so, long prior to our visits. Reference is made to occasional "bad cooking which may have spoiled good food" and the steps being taken by the Department of National Defence to remedy this situation through the establishment of a school of cooking. The first of these courses has been completed and a second is under arrangement. The capacity of the course is for thirty candidates. In other comments on the satisfactory quality of the food supplied, the commission make a reservation as to the quality of milk and the condition of meat in certain cases. They state that the complaint respecting milk " has now been remedied." As regards meat they state that "care has been taken to provide for a proper supply of meat" but that "on several occasions, the strictness which should have been applied in requiring fulfilment of the terms of the contract was neglected." This matter is being further inquired into and the necessary action will be taken to terminate those contracts where neglect has been shown. There is definite information, however, that in many cases meat not up to the standard has been returned to the contractors at their expense. The commission reports: There was a complaint made as to beds, but this has been remedied, although an objection still exists in some of the camps. Further particulars of this are being obtained and consideration will be given and also to a suggestion as to the issue of "cotton sheets." The commission states that generally speaking they were satisfied as regards cleanliness of dining rooms, kitchens, bunk houses and store rooms, especially the kitchens. They refer to cases of vermin and comment that "steps were being taken to cope with the situation." They remark that "cleanliness was a characteristic of the men in the camps." They refer to one camp in which rats had become a menace. This matter will receive prompt and effective attention. During the past three weeks the rats have been practically eliminated by the use of gas. Except as regards one camp where immediate remedial action is being ordered, the commission reports favourably on sanitation and the same is true as regards water supply. They refer to "the wonderfully good health which prevailed." As regards medical attention to the men in the camps the commission report investigating complaints as to laok of attention and neglect and state that they found these "not substantiated by evidence." B. C. Relief Camps



Certain suggestions as to a change in the system followed for the issue of tobacco are put forward for consideration and these will be carefully examined. In their report the commission then examined the mental attitude of the men in the camps, the question of unsuitability of some of the men for the- -type of life involved or the work expected to be done;- the question of young men in the camps; of the difficulty of men keeping in touch with possibilities of employment; the limited assistance which the provincial labour bureau has been able to offer; the fact that the idea prevails among the men that employers deem them unsuitable for employment. In this connection the commission comment that- We did not find evidence to substantiate this opinion. Reference is then made to the so called [DOT]'clothing racket;" to the alternative of giving a cash allowance in lieu of issues in kind and the opinion is expressed that this-



would not be beneficial to the men utilizing these camps. I may say that this opinion is fully shared by the administrative officers of the department; that the costs for clothing are remarkably moderate having regard to all circumstances and that it is clear that trafficking in this clothing, while it does take place despite all the precautions which have been taken, is not on anything like as large a scale as some reports from outside sources would seem to indicate. Further, measures to act as a deterrent to this diversion of equipment intended for relief, have now been instituted but it is too early as yet to judge the results which will be obtained. I may say that the possible difficulties in connection with the issue of clothing and other necessary equipment were foreseen at the time the relief projects were first instituted and at that time it was decided to rely on the good faith of the men being cared for unless and until it had been established by experience that precautions against theft and misuse were necessary. It must be realized that every restrictive measure which is instituted to prevent abuse by a few unscrupulous individuals impinges also on the vast majority of the men who act fairly in these matters. The commission refer to isolation of some of the camps, to the absence of social contacts and the lack of any change of environment- -with a consequent depressing mental attitude. In this connection, as a result of a survey of the situation throughout Canada which had been placed in hand before the commission was appointed, the conclusion was reached that a system of leave with allowances should be instituted. The necessary instructions in this connection were issued on 8th May, 1935, and the railways are cooperating by the issue of transportation at reduced rates (2 cents per mile). As regards recreation, the commission states: A general complaint was voiced in all camps visited regarding inadequate recreation facilities and appointments. Up to the present no recreational equipment has been provided as a charge against the public for the reason that it was thought that this should and could be provided otherwise. Many thousands of dollars either in cash or in kind were raised through the personal endeavour of the officers of the Department of National Defence, the units of the militia and of the air force and their friends who had a natural desire to assist in helping those less fortunately placed. These funds were supplemented by the small profits from the canteens and the whole has been very carefully administered with a view to doing the best possible, particularly for the outlying projects in isolated localities far from the observation of the public.


LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

May I ask the minister if he has included all the recommendations of the commission in the statement he has just read to the house?

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CON

Grote Stirling (Minister of Fisheries; Minister of National Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STIRLING:

I would not say it has picked up every one of them, but it has dealt with the principal ones.

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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

Will

copies of the report be available?

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CON

Grote Stirling (Minister of Fisheries; Minister of National Defence)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STIRLING:

The hon. member for Vancouver South (Mt. Maclnnis) asked with regard to the printing of the report. The government's idea is that there would not probably be a large enough demand for the report to warrant the printing of it. However I have a spare copy in typewritten form, and if the hon. member asks me for it I shall be glad to let him see it.

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LIB

Albert Edward Munn

Liberal

Mr. MUNN:

I should like to ask a question in this connection. I think all members from British Columbia would like very much to have a copy of the report; perhaps members from other parts of Canada would like to see it, too.

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June 10, 1935