June 27, 1935

LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

Mr. Chairman, in accepting the anaemic explanation of the hon. member may I say that if he thinks he can stand there with a smug grin on his face after making an inference comparing the leader of that group-[DOT]

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Order.

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LIB
LAB
LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

I have

the floor.

Supply-National Defence

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LAB
LIB

William Alexander Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER (Northumberland):

On a

point of order, Mr. Chairman, I still insist that the hon. member withdraw that inference. Where do you think you are, in a dock strikers' meeting?

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

There is no point

of order, I think. The question was asked, "What should have been done?" The men made much more reasonable requests than might have been imagined. When they suggested fifty cents an hour they were probably stating the maximum amount, but I notice fifty cents an hour is being seriously considered in Ontario in connection with relief work. Fifty cents an hour for a six hour day and five day week after all amounts to only sixty dollars a month. That is not so very much more than is being spent now per man under this present scheme. And if we did pay these men sixty dollars a month it would take an enormous number of men to exhaust the sum of three million dollars that we are asked to vote to-night. That is the reason that I brought this matter up under this vote. In the supplementary estimates three million dollars can be appropriated for military affairs, but we cannot pay sixty dollars a month to men who are giving or are prepared to give good service in this country.

Then, further, the men asked for workmen's compensation.

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LIB
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Although that is

a provincial matter, the report of the commissioners points out that it constitutes one of the difficulties. Some definite arrangement ought to be arrived at regarding it. At the present time it is a mere gratuity. The relief workers are working side by side with men who have the right to compensation, which they have not. It is a legitimate grievance.

The third point was the recognition of camp committees. Complaints would be heard at any time, the Prime Minister said. But the men asked that they should be represented by their committee. A case was brought to my attention only this afternoon, and I give full credit to the minister for very kindly and promptly taking it up. A man was discharged from a nearby camp. He came to me in the lobby a few hours ago and said he was quite guiltless of the crime charged, that no proof whatever was adduced; he was simply told to get out, and he felt quite confident that that would mean that he could

not get back to any other relief camp. It is to prevent abuses of that kind that we seek to have some change in the regulations.

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CON

Ira Delbert Cotnam

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COTNAM:

You do not know the

case yet; you are only giving one side.

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LAB
CON
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Then, they ask for separation of the camps from control of the Department of National Defence. I think that is a legitimate request; we in this corner have been urging it for years. We do not think unemployed men should be put under the control of the National Defence department. Why should they? The officers over them may be kindly men, but they are not accustomed to the problems which these young men face. Army discipline should not apply in these camps; the training and discipline of army officers does not particularly qualify them to deal with this class of men.

Then, social insurance; that was immediately rejected. I suppose that meant non-contributory unemployment insurance. We in this corner have advocated that for some time. They ask also for guarantee of the relief camp workers' right to vote. That strikes deep at the very foundation of our Canadian citizenship. We have, in practice, disfranchised this whole group of men. They feel that they have no way of expressing themselves at the polls, and so they have taken direct action. Is it to be wondered at?

The Prime Minister says that law and order should be maintained. For years I have stood out for the peaceful settlement of international affairs and also for the peaceful settlement of affairs in our own country.

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CON
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

The Winnipeg strike is too big a matter to enter upon at this time. That is a silly interjection; it has nothing to do with my position. So far as I am concerned I have nothing whatever to be ashamed of in connection with the Winnipeg strike. If the hon. gentleman cares to read the issue of the Winnipeg Tribune just arrived-a Conservative paper-he will find that in the leading editorial, notwithstanding the Winnipeg strike and all that, I am commended for having taken the stand that I am taking these days regarding this matter.

I do not see why in this house we cannot discuss any question on its merits without some member interjecting entirely irrelevant things into the discussion.

Supply-National Defence

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CON
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I think I have

already explained that this is closely connected with these camps to which to-night we are asked to give an additional grant. Further than that, the only reason that I can see-and the minister has given no very good reason-for extending the military forces of this country is to be able, as the Prime Minister says, to maintain law and order.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I want to maintain law and order just as much as anyone who says "hear, hear," but what kind of law and order? It is law and order under which there can be, as there has been in the past, exploitation of the poor with no opportunity for the poor to better their condition? Is that the kind of law and order we want in this country? Is it law and order under which we will have something very like a military dictatorship while tens of thousands of our young boys are prevented from living a normal life, herded into these camps, some of them kept there for four long years, without any opportunity of advancing their education and without any hope of getting any further on in life? Before it is too late I ask the government to reconsider its entire position and, in all fairness, not to let the whole burden of blame fall on a few people at the present time who perhaps have taken unwise steps but who have been incited to do so because of the bad conditions that have prevailed for the last four years. Again I protest against the increase in this item for military expenditures.

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June 27, 1935