June 27, 1935

LIB

George Washington McPhee

Liberal

Mr. McPHEE:

The province of Ontario boasts of its quintuplets, the Dionnes; Saskatchewan followed suit with five quintuplets of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation on June 19, 1934; the Prime Minister had quintuplet- radio addresses last January, and now New Brunswick, I see by telegrams I have in my hand, has followed with a set of quintuplets-five Tories. The premier of the province and all the members of his cabinet have gone down to defeat. I would say to my hon. friend who is piloting this item through the committee that the people of this country and their representatives on this side of the house might very well say to him and his colleagues as Cromwell said: Get ye gone ; give ye place to better men.

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CON
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I should like to

join with the hon. member for Quebec East (Mr. Lapointe) in protesting against this very large increase in military expenditures. As he said, these three items alone constitute

Supply-National Defence

another $3,000,000. When we have asked that something more be done for the men who are now unemployed, we are told by the government that they have no money. There is trouble to-day, as we all know, in the city of Regina over the question of the trekkers. The trouble arose because of the unsatisfactory conditions in the camps in British Columbia. I think it is apparent to all that not only in British Columbia but everywhere else where the present system is in vogue there is a very great deal of dissatisfaction over the placing of these men in camps and giving them only twenty cents a day. A good deal of the work that is being done in the preparation of landing fields is being done by these men at twenty cents a day, which is all that is paid even for work requiring skilled labour. I do not intend to go into that matter again at this time because it has been gone into again and again, but I do urge that when we are told that we cannot make any more adequate provision for our unemployed because there is no money, that is an absolute sham when in these estimates we can vote $3,000,000 for military purposes.

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CON
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Some of it is for

works, but why not works that will serve the needs of the people? We are living to-day in a period when there is no immediate danger of our being dragged into a great war.

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CON
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

As I said once before, if we were going to go into a world war the provision we have now would not take us very far in such a matter as that. The Department of National Defence says that they have no immediate program that contemplates our being dragged into a war in the international field. When the main estimates were under consideration the minister said that one of the reasons for such military expenditures was that we must maintain law and order in this country, and I fancy that that is one of the very real reasons why we are having such a huge additional expenditure on military forces in this country. If you want public works, build schools instead of arsenals; if you want public works, build homes instead of 'barracks. There is another way of providing public works than that which is being proposed to the committee here.

One cannot but feel that there is a very great discrepancy between the amounts that are being contributed to solve outstanding

unemployment problems to-day and these amounts which are being voted for military purposes. I say that any government that will come down with supplementary estimates for military purposes to the extent of $3,000,000 have no right whatever to say that they cannot afford to pay unemployed men more than twenty cents a day-none whatever. Further than that, if we were paying them more than twenty cents a day, if we were paying them the wages which they quite reasonably ask that they should be paid, we would not have the need of expending money on military forces within this country. We have within the last few days seen a considerable increase in the mounted police force, and I was told by someone to-day that several unemployed firemen around the city of Ottawa are now going around in mounted police uniforms. As this gentleman said, it is an ill wind that blows nobody good. While we are increasing our mounted police, while the soldiers are standing by, ready if necessary to meet contingencies in western Canada arising because of this trouble with the trekkers-3 do not want to be accused of encouraging disorder; I do not want to be accused of urging anyone to take action that will be opposed to law and order, but I do say-

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CON
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

-that if there is disorder at the present time it is the result of policies which for years have been carried out with regard to these unemployed! men. The Minister of National Defence is, in a curious way, at the head) of the department that deals with these unemployed' men. That is the reason I have for taking the matter up at the present time; the two are closely related. If the present policy of giving men only twenty cents a day and putting them in camps is persisted1 in, the minister will also be expected to call out the forces if necessary.

Now I think that the Minister of National Defence has the reputation in this house of being fair; I have always so regarded' him. I regret that his throat is in Such bad condition, because I do not want to put him in the position of having to answer a number of questions; but, reading the report of the commission that studied the situation in British 'Columbia, I think the hon. gentleman was hardly fair when he made his statement regarding that report. The papers throughout the country heralded1 his words, but he gave a very small part of what the report contained. It seems to me that we

Supply-National Defence

should have had1 the whole report; for within even the narrow limits within which the commission worked there was found much that was very unsatisfactory indeed. And remember, these, projects are closely connected with the matters we are considering in this vote. Take the question of food supply. It was said that the food was fairly satisfactory, but the commission said they had to make an exception of milk and meat, surely two very important items in the food supply. They said that the meat was not up to specification and that this formed a just cause of complaint. That was the report of the commission. With regard to cleanliness, they said that on the whole the camps were not in- bad condition, and that, I believe, is true so far as Rockcliffe is concerned1, of which mention has been made to-night. They did say, however, that in Point Grey rats had become a menace more particularly in the bunkhouses. Let me read from the report:

As to Point Grey camp (200), the men properly complained as to the unsanitary condition of the latrines and cess pools; also want of cleanliness in the washhouse and showers. We found that these were disgraceful -crude, unsightly and dirty. The wash basins were worn and chipped, and should have been discarded. All these essentials should be renovated, if not completely replaced.

They pointed to some of these little irritating things. For instance, there is the matter of tobacco. I do not happen to be a tobacco user myself, so that I cannot appreciate the difficulties in this regard as much as some others in the house can. But the commission stated that the men had to wait until they had been in the camp a sufficient length of time to cover the cost of a package of tobacco, at 1-45 cents per day. You can understand how these little irritations would cause dissatisfaction among the men. But much more important than that is the finding of the commission that-

-camp life, generally speaking, is not the normal condition under which men desire to live.

And again that-

-many men who are forced hy circumstances to go to relief camps are utterly unfitted for either the type of life involved or the work expected to be done. Many have been trained in various trades or professions and find themselves utterly unsuited to the manner of life in the camps as to the tasks given them to do.

Then came the very difficult question of workmen's compensation, which is not provided for undter the provincial laws but which at best comes in the form of a gratuity from the federal government.

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CON

Raymond Ducharme Morand (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

The CHAIRMAN:

Will the hon. member try to keep a little more closely to the item. At present he is a long way from i.t.

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LAB
LIB
CON
LAB
LIB
LAB
CON
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Supply-National Defence

be redressed- Bet they soon found that the communist groups, to use the common phrase, double crossed them. I had a letter from our secretary regarding the matter. This may be of interest to the committee as giving an idea of the situation:

The Canadian Commonwealth Federation has extended the utmost support. ^ morally and financially, to your committee. No attempt has been made to dictate or interfere with your policy and tactics. The desire, as frequently expressed, has been simply to help the strikers in every way possible, with all the resources at our disposal, and only in a manner satisfactory to the strikers.

The action taken in a meeting of the strikers indicates that the cooperation and support of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation is unwelcome, and is therefore repudiated by the strikers. It has also been indicated that prominent leaders of the strikers are more interested in capitalizing the situation to the disadvantage of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation than to the advantage of the strikers and the winning of the' strike.

The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation has given concrete evidence of support for the strikers and' their demands and is prepared to continue that support, if acceptable, but finds it impossible to proceed with plans now under consideration, in the face of repudiation by those whom this support has been tendered.

They were thus forced in British Columbia definitely to repudiate cooperation before the trek eastward started at all. I confess that those of us who are trying to represent labour find ourselves in a difficult situation. We have had a great deal of sympathy with the men in these camps.

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CON

Raymond Ducharme Morand (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

The CHAIRMAN:

Surely the hon. member is going too far altogether in making a speech on this.

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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Let him continue.

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June 27, 1935