June 27, 1935

LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I will not go much further along this line. This whole digression came because of an interjection by an hon. member opposite. I say that our Cooperative Commonwealth Federation group have tried to express sympathy with the men in the camps. We have raised this question again and again in the bouse. We did it on the national defence estimates. The difficulty is that as soon as we make any move along this line there are those, like one of the hon. gentlemen opposite, who accuse us of sympathizing with communist methods.

I want to return to the description of what these men in the national defence camps feel. This is from the diary from which I was quoting:

Here is a summary of the system under which these camps operate: We are not allowed to call meetings, but still they are called.

We talk revolution and all its attending evils (?) without being hindered. We go on strike whenever the mood strikes our fancy. Are evicted. Go to town and get relief until we are reinstated, then back to some other camp.

That is the way in which things have been going on for some time. Again:

But it is not only the conditions of these camps that make us get up and howl for something to be done about our state. It is really the fact that we are getting no place in the plan of life-we are truly a lost legion of youth-rotting away for want of being offered a sane outlet for our energies. Something to do and something for that doing.

Surely that is a legitimate ambition for every young Canadian-something to do and something in return for doing it. I would remind the committee that most of the men are young. The average age is about twenty-three, just boys. If it were not that I am getting my indemnity, I fancy one or two of my boys would be out in these camps because there is practically nothing for boys to do when they get out of school or university. This is the situation we find ourselves in. These camp boys are not hoodlums; they are not criminals; they are simply boys out of a job; and we are refusing in any large way to adopt any policy that will give them a job. We content ourselves with preparing, if they persist in their march eastward, to send out troops to shoot them down. That way of treating them is surely not worthy of the Canadian people. This man later on writes again:

The bank that we are working on is so hard that we couldn't do anything to it even if we wished. Machines have been made so man could do things on a large scale, and here we are playing around with picks and shovels. Here we are, the youth of a young nation- we either stay here or else are forced to bum around the country begging or stealing.

A great and lasting force has risen from this oppression-the seed is planted-the

germination has been more successful even than hoped for. The authorities are beginning to worry over the fact that the youth of the land are leaning to communism. What did the fools think we would do? Take it lying down?

And again on April 3:

The day is nearing! This grand and glorious walkout will tell when all the boys land in the city of Vancouver. We have learned that we can't get anywhere by simply striking and holding the strike within the bounds of the camps. We must wake the public to action- show them proof of our pitiable state. Hundreds will darken the tops of the box cars as they wheel towards the big city. "On to Vancouver" is the slogan. Will Vancouver turn us down? Many are the men who have

been sent from the area to the big

house on the hill at Essondale. One of the

Supply-National Defence

boys went nuts there this winter and had two guards over him till the snow was off the trail. Such is the result of living as we have to under unnatural conditions. What I could show the public if I only had a camera!

I must thank the chairman and members of the committee for their courtesy in permitting me to read these extracts from this boy's diary. What I want to impress upon the committee is that these, boys are ordinary Canadian boys, caught by the depression, unable to continue their schooling, unable to find a job; the state itself not providing any very material help but simply hustling them off into the country in remote camps where they may be less likely to cause trouble. Is that the way to deal with good Canadian boys? I do not wonder that they want to call the attention of the nation to their pitiable condition. And how have we received, them?

I do not think I can speak too strongly of the despicable way in which the Prime Minister received those men the other day. I regret that their leader was a man with a criminal record; that of course discounts him. I 'regret that they are under the leadership of communists, and undoubtely communists have their affiliations-

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LIB
LAB
LIB

Vincent Dupuis

Liberal

Mr. DUPUIS:

Just a question, if the hon. member will allow me. What would the hon. member have done if he had been the prime minister?

Topic:   PENSIONS AND NATIONAL HEALTH
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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Well, it is very difficult to say. My colleague suggests, wait until I become prime minister.

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CON
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I would say the first thing was to receive them with the courtesy due to any delegation that comes to the prime minister of this country.

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LIB
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

The fact that one of those men had a criminal record was held to the forefront not only in the interview but all across the country as discounting the entire group.

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LIB
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

He may have been chosen to represent them, but if the men did not choose any better representatives than some in this house, you can understand the difficulty.

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland)1: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I take exception to the hon. gentleman connecting any hon. member of this chamber with the leader of that group. If I understood the hon. member correctly he drew a parallel between the leader of that group, who admitted he had a criminal record, and hon. members of this House of Commons. I ask the hon. member to retract that inference.

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LAB
LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

It is beneath the dignity of any hon. member of this house to make any such inference.

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LAB
LIB
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I am afraid the hon. gentleman is a bit exhilarated over the victory in New Brunswick.

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LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

I don't have to get exhilarated as far as you are concerned. I ask that the hon. member withdraw the inference he made.

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LAB
LIB
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I will repeat it as nearly as I ca,n remember. The question was asked with regard to this man representing the camp workers. I tried to suggest that they had no opportunity of knowing of his criminal record1; he was selected simply because he was more active than the rest My suggestion was that they had no very good method of choosing their representative and in fact did not do much better than was done in the choosing of members of this house.

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June 27, 1935