July 2, 1935

CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

I should like to add a few things if I might be permitted.

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Some hon. MEMBERS:

Go on.

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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member may

proceed with the unanimous consent of the house.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

I had not noticed the rapid passage of time. I believe that parliament could give the government its mandate, shall I say, to undertake something of this kind. I am not saying that this is the only way, but may I just refer to what I said? It is not very complex. First, I suggest utilizing the services of these men on the federal highway. A few moments ago I was figuring out what the demands of these young men amounted to. I am not going to split hairs over who made the demands or who drafted them. They ask for fifty cents an hour, and that is not an unreasonable thing to ask for. Six hours a day for five days a week amounts to $60 per month. I understand that it is now costing the government-the minister will correct me if I am wrong-somewhere between $45 to $48 per month to support these men.

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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STIRLING:

Thirty-nine dollars.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

The minister says $39 but I do not know whether that covers all the police activities and the other expenses which are necessary; I doubt if it does. Suppose it is costing us $30 or $40 a month; for a difference of $20 a month we can secure from these young men a full day's work. lit is true that the day will be a short one of six hours, but these men will be given reasonable contentment and their self respect will be saved. At the same time parliament will be saved the terrible embarrassments to which it is now subjected. We can put thousands of these young men from British Columbia to work on the highway and the other roads to which I referred.

May I draw the attention of the house to the fact that we have invested millions in our national parks but we still have a barrage between the parks and the international boundary which prevents tourists from entering the parks. They can come up but when they go back they tell their friends about the awful roads in British Columbia. It is true the provincial government is trying to

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patch up these roads but they cannot do very much. If these roads were put in condition I venture the statement, with which I believe the minister will agree, that we would multiply the number of tourists 'by ten. Every tourist pays S2.50 to enter our park and our revenue would be increased which would salvage some of the cost.

I suggested reforestation also. I say to this parliament as earnestly as I can that there is an area of several thousand square miles north and west of here which will be a wilderness in a few years unless some authority takes hold of the question of reforestation. It is not sufficient to say that that is a provincial duty, the duty of parliament is first to formulate a national policy utilizing the national parks and other forest reserve areas and then enter into cooperation with the provinces for a reforestation scheme. We could thus absorb twenty or thirty thousand of these men quite easily. The other suggestion I made was in connection with housing; I think this offers wonderful possibilities, and there are other suggestions which could be made. I implore parliament to give consideration to the putting into force of constructive efforts to put these men to work.

I should like to conclude by making one or two references. This afternoon while listening to the debate there was brought to my memory an essay of Lord Bacon which I read many years ago. One of the most important things where seditious disturbances obtain is to remove the causes of sedition, and I think that was the view held by Lord Bacon a couple of centuries ago when he said:

Concerning the materials of seditions, it is a thing well to be considered; for the surest way to prevent seditions (if the times do bear it) is to take away the matter of them; for if there be fuel prepared, it is hard to tell whence the spark shall come that shall set it on fire. The matter of seditions is of two Kinds; much poverty and much discontentment.

I pause there for a moment to emphasize that seditious disturbances can arise only where there are underlying causes which form a fruitful ground for their growth. "For if there be fuel prepared, it is hard to tell whence the spark shall come that shall set it on fire." These young men have been labouring under a sense of injustice, not injustice from the government but injustice from the state and from society. As one young boy said to a lady who was interviewing him when he was asked what should be done to improve the camps, "I do not want to improve the camps; I want work." Was not that a reasonable request? Lord Bacon also said;

The first remedy or prevention is to remove, by all means possible, that material cause of sedition whereof we spake, which is, want and poverty in the estate; to which purpose serveth the opening and well-balancing of trade; the cherishing of manufactures; the banishing of idleness; the repressing of waste and excess by sumptuary laws; the improvement and husbanding of the soil: the regulating of prices of things bendible; the moderating of taxes and tributes; and the like.

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An hon. MEMBER:

And the tariff.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Someone says to amend

the tariff, and it is quite possible that they might do that. But there are some very good suggestions there, and the point they demonstrate is that it is the duty of parliament within the next few days to address itself to the task of finding some remedy for the conditions which prevail.

I wish to quote briefly from Lord Bryce's work on Democracy, because it is well sometimes to keep in mind some of these old principles:

The earlier steps towards democracy came not from any doctrine that the people have a right to rule, but from the feeling that an end must be put to lawless oppression by a privileged class.

That is well worth conning over at the present time. Someone asked, what about the price spreads commission report? I submit to the house that if it wants to find, as Lord Bacon says, the causes of seditious utterances, if it wishes to find the causes of such utterances in this country it will have to find them in the evidence given before the price spreads commission of things that have developed and grown on the body politic, conditions that have grown up in the industrial and economic structure of the country which, to say the least, are inequitable and unjust. And it is the presence of these conditions in the state that has caused many to be resentful. The author continues:

No one is good enough to be trusted with unlimited power. Unless he be a saint-perhaps even if he be a saint-he is sure to abuse it.

The argument therefore is that it rests on parliament to administer the affairs of the country in the interests of all; and that is the ijeason I make this plea to-night-not that we should criticize the government for the difficult task it is now confronted with. Let us stand by the government. I noticed the other day that hon. gentlemen opposite applauded the Prime Minister when he described the difficulties and the manner in which the government was facing them. Hon. gentlemen did well.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I was not here.

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Mr. STEVEN'S: No, my hon. friend was not here, but hon. gentlemen did well. But that does not discharge the duty of parliament; it is merely saying to the government that in so far as the discharge of its duty is concerned parliament is behind it. The other problem, however, the problem, namely, of removing the causes which have led up to the disturbances, is a responsibility still undischarged by parliament, and what I ask is that before this parliament prorogues we offer to the young men of this country who find it so difficult to get a job some hope for the future. Let me say to the Minister of Justice, who has left his place, that when he says, as he said this afternoon, that a camp has been opened for the marchers to go to and where they may obtain shelter and food, that is all very good. But would it not be infinitely better if we sent a messenger to these young men, offering them some hope for the future, some hope of getting employment and earning a living? If we did that we should quickly witness the dissipation of the seditious disturbances which have caused so much unrest and trouble and anxiety.

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LAB

Abraham Albert Heaps

Labour

Mr. A. A. HEAPS (North Winnipeg):

were worn. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) said this afternoon that the meeting was unlawful in its character. I would say that the proper way to have handled the situation last night, assuming that it was unlawful-and I am not sure whether it is unlawful to hold a public meeting in the market square in Regina-was to arrest those who were responsible for the calling of the meeting, but to allow the meeting to take place and to finish in a peaceful manner. The audience, consisting of two or three thousand men, women and) children, had assembled1 .believing that it would be a peaceful meeting. If the police were going to take action against those who were peacefully assembled there I think the least that might have been done was to give warning to these .people that they were in an unlawful assembly, and they should have been allowed to disperse quietly and peacefully. Evidently, according to the newspaper dispatches, this was not done.

Then may I go a step further. I do not like the use of force if it can be avoided. After all in circumstances such as these force is no remedy. Force never was and never will be a remedy so far as young people like these are concerned. I read in to-night's papers that these young men in the exhibition grounds at Regina are surrounded by mounted police who are armed; they are surrounded by an. armed force. I do not know why these young men should be made to feel the full effect of the force of law in this dominion. Both in my travels on the continent of Europe and in my early life in Great- Britain I learned the difference between the continental and the British attitude towards law. In Great Britain you find respect for the law; on the continent you find fear of the law. I would far rather see the British idea of respect for the law prevail in this country than to instil into the minds of our younger generation a fear of .the law which as they grow older will cause them to have a grudge .against the state, which they should not have if they are given a proper opportunity in life.

What do we find? These young men are described by the hon. member for East Kootenay as young men who might be our own sons. Through no fault of their own but owing .to economic conditions for which they have, of course, no responsibility, they are compelled to go into concentration camps. I know it has been said by hon. members opposite that they are not forced to go into these camps. But .may I inform the house that to my own. knowledge young men who were the recipients of civic relief were cut off

such relief and told to go into these work camps so that they would he less burden to the municipalities. If that was not forcing them into the .camps, I do not know what it was. With -the hon. member who has just spoken, I think that this parliament ought not to adjourn until something is done to deal with this problem. After all, if there is one thing that this parliament was elected to do almost five years ago it was to grapple with the .problem of unemployment; yet here we are further from a solution than when we met in September, 1930. In. July, 1935, we are facing one of the most difficult situations that the parliament of Canada has ever faced. I know we may all have our share of responsibility either individually or collectively for the lack of action by this parliament. It may be difficult for me to say at this moment and in the present discussion what we should do. I do not know whether what the hon. member for East Kootenay has proposed is a solution; I doubt very much .if it is. But so far as the young .men in the camps are concerned, either in the east or in the west, I would like to see the government adopt a far more sympathetic attitude towards them than they have shown in the past few weeks; for after all these young men are the rising generation. Some of them have recently left school; some are from the universities, and, as the hon. member who has just spoken said they are a fine, clean-cut body of young men. I know several who have been compelled by economic necessity to go into these camps to eke out an existence. Giving these young .men $40 or $50 or $60 a month for work in .the camps as proposed by the hon. member for East Kootenay would be a much better method of dealing with them than the subsistence measures adopted by the government. But there are other methods that could be followed for dealing with the situation. Personally I would like to see these camps abolished. Second, I would like to see them taken from under the control of the Department of National Defence, and the military character of the administration entirely done away with. If these young men were given an opportunity they might become men that the country could be proud of, but given the conditions under which they are living to-day there is no telling what their future may be.

I do not know that there is much more that I can say at this time. I have asked the government to deal more sympathetically with these men; in fact we in this comer have taken that stand for quite a length of time. I believe that these camps ought to come under the Department of Labour. This after-

B. C. Relief Camp Strikers

noon we heard statements in connection with conditions in these camps, taken from the official records of the government, which do not altogether tally with the report of the royal commission that investigated camp conditions in British Columbia. May I quote from page 12 of the report of the Macdonald commission, the section entitled Forgotten Men. It says:

A growing conviction seems to have entered the minds of most of the men that they are a forgotten group. The isolation of many of the camps renders it impossible for men to keep in touch personally with former employment or with new work opening up. It is true that the provincial labour bureau does seek to bring men in camps to the attention of employers, and that the department will furnish transportation to men going to bona fide positions, yet the employment of men from the relief camps is so rare that a fixed idea prevails among the men that they are deemed unsuitable f'or employment, and are shunned by those seeking workmen. We did not find evidence to substantiate this opinion, but are convinced that such a feeling exists in the minds of the men, and adds very greatly to their unrest and dissatisfaction.

And again, quoting a further section of the same report, at page 13:

When one remembers that during the long winter months most of the camps are almost completely isolated, and that weather conditions leave very many days with no possibility of work, it is easy to realize the large part that better recreation arrangements play in the contentment of the men. Some of the camps have radios-many have not. Some of these have been donated, but others have been bought by contributions from the men and canteen profits. Tubes and batteries wear out, and there are no funds to replace them. The installation and maintenance of a radio in each camp would be a worthy attainment. Lectures or entertainments, except in a very limited way, were not provided.

This goes to prove that everything is not quite as rosy in these camps as some hon. members who have spoken have attempted to make out. What I wish to impress upon the government is if only these young men who to-day find themselves the victims of economic conditions over which they have no control were given a decent opportunity they would grow up to be good and useful citizens. Under the present circumstances there is no saying what may happen to them. They find themselves the unwilling victims of a certain class of agitator for whom no hon. member of this house, I think, has very much use. Yet there is no more fertile field for the dissemination of communist propaganda than in those camps in which the outlook of the men for the future is so dark and hopeless. If the government want to stamp out that kind of propaganda let them do as the hon. member

for East Kootenay suggests; let them go to the root of the trouble, deal with causes and not so much with effects. If they do that, hon. members in all parts of this house will give support to any suggestion which the government have to make for dealing with this extremely difficult and complicated situation. Some few years ago we in this corner of the house suggested that the men who find themselves in these camps might be established in self-contained, self-sustaining units throughout this country. We believe that could be done. It has been attempted in some parts of the world with a certain amount of success, and there is no reason why the same thing should not be done right here in Canada.

In conclusion may I say that I do hope our government, instead of using force towards these young men, will show a more conciliatory spirit and do something which will allow them to become the type of Canadian citizen of which future generations may be proud.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (East Toronto):

Mr. Speaker, the riots and unrest in the west are bringing very vividly to this house and to the country the greatest problem Canada has to face, namely, that of unemployment. I agree with much of what was said by the hon. member for East Kootenay (Mr. Stevens) as to the immediate necessity for the adoption of a vast reconstruction, housing, building, land settlement and reforestation policy for the people of this country; the quicker it is done, the better.

What are the insurance companies doing about the unrest and unemployment that exists throughout the country? You must look at the causes and effects of the riots that have occurred in the west. There is unrest caused by unemployment all through the country. The universities have closed; the high schools are closing, and this is aggravating the unemployment situation in the industrial centres. In my opinion, the banks and insurance companies should do something in our support On the other side of the line the New York Life Insurance Company at Gravesend Beach, Brooklyn, has lent $25,000,000 for the construction of houses at cut rates in order to get people off the dole and back at work, and they have lent that money for reconstruction without municipal, state or federal aid, and have come to the support of the government. Why not- here? The insurance companies of Canada, which are hoarding a great deal of money, should do something for housing and reconstruction in this country. In addition, as I said the other day, the high interest rate*

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PRO

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss AGNES MACPHAIL (Southeast Grey):

Mr. Speaker, I am sure there is no hon. member who was not alarmed when he read the account of the riots in Regina last night. For some time many people have been asking themselves what right the federal government had to stop 'Canadian citizens riding in automobiles or trucks or walking along the highway. What right has a government to stop any group of Canadians from coming to Ottawa? In 1932, the year of the imperial conference, four thousand farmers came to Ottawa. It is true that no member of the government met them. That was an act of discourtesy which it is hard for the government to explain. But the fact remains that no attempt was made to stop their coming to this city.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Law abiding citizens.

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PRO

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss MACPHAIL:

Someone says they were law abiding citizens. Certainly, but no proof has been offered that the twenty thousand men in the camps are not law abiding citizens. Then, during the war five thousand farmers came to Ottawa, and I am not so sure that they were particularly law abiding. I do not think angrier farmers ever went anywhere than those five thousand farmer's who came to Ottawa during the war, nor indeed the four thousand who came in 1932, after the very courteous invitation to any hon. member of the government to address them had been refused. They were angry enough to do anything. If they did not riot it was simply because leadership did not appear at the moment directing their actions in that particular line. Certainly their lack of action was not through their lack of disgust with the government.

Without even pretending to know anything abput constitutional law, a fact which probably places me in a position different from that occupied by some other hon. members, I question very much whether the federal government has the right to go to the city of Regina, take the attitude it has taken and act as it acted last night. I think we need not depend altogether on press reports, because some private messages have come through from middle class, highly educated people corroborating the stories carried in the press. The indications are that the meeting was being conducted in an orderly way, and that it was the police who broke it up. They were the instigators of rioting and disorder.

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CON
PRO

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss MACPHAIL:

I would not be so sure about that. I think the point raised by the hon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps) is an astute one. He points out that the police came out wearing steel helmets; people who come wearing steel helmets expect trouble. In all probability they knew what their part was to be, and expected that anything to be found would be thrown at them.

I believe the leaders who made their representations here in Ottawa are and were at that time communists; there is no doubt about it. But I believe it is also clear that the bulk of the men in camps are not communists, and I believe each one of us sitting in the House of Commons, regardless of politics, when he read of the interview between the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) and the eight delegates, felt that the right hon.

B. C. Relief Camp Strikers

gentleman had been particularly unfortunate in his treatment of them. I would say he is rather unfortunate in his treatment of most delegations. His treatment of the farmers in 1932 is something not easily forgotten. On this occasion he threw in the face of the man Evans the fact that he was a ticket-of-leave man, while Evans, communist that he is, had until that moment remained courteous. I am not so sure that anyone cou'ld justify that method of procedure, and the fact that he drew attention to the suits they were wearing and fountain pens. Have we ever asked ourselves why we can buy fairly good clothes and fountain pens? That did not seem to me to be a proper way to meet the delegates who came to Ottawa representing a very large body of men. I think each of us was struck by the orderly conduct of the men from the time they left Vancouver until the eight delegates left to come to Ottawa-and I am not condoning their conduct while in the presence of the Prime Minister. One could not do so any more than one could condone his conduct.

From the point of view of the future of Canada in my opinion it is much healthier to find that twenty thousand young men are restless to the point of revolt, after having been kept in camps from one to three years, than it would be if they were content. Why should we expect young, virile people, whether they be men or women, to he content with a life which at best gives food, provides work which may not be interesting and for which there is no pay, and houses them in camps where all natural living and interests are denied? It is not reasonable to expect that they would be content with such a life, nor would it be healthy for Canada if they were. What outlet is there for the ambition, imaginations and energies of these approximately twenty thousand young Canadians? What does the future offer them? What hope have they of founding a home and making the natural contacts with members of their own or opposite sexes, if they are to be kept in camps from year to year?

I think the exhibition offered by members on the government benches-not by all, it is true, but by many of them-when the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) was speaking was one which should not have been made in the chamber of any governing body in at least an English speaking country. One member distinctly called out to the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre: "What are you grouching about? You have enough to eat." If that is not a low plane upon which to consider

this whole matter, then I have never heard of one. Surely we who have enough to eat, who have reasonably good clothes to wear and some security-at any rate until about September-should be willing to consider the well being of these young men who have not that which they as much as we deserve, but which we have and they have not.

Do hon. members in this chamber think they are better than these men? I think not. I do not think I am any better. I believe they have the same right as we have to Canadian life and the best that 'Canada can offer. If we are going to continue indefinitely keeping 1,350,000 people on relief and twenty thousand of them in relief camps we had better take turns. If we have not brains enough to distribute the plenty that exists, then I say that at any rate we should be sporty enough to take our turn at living the sterile life which these twenty thousand are called upon to live.

I think, and I have thought it a good while, that we could have a very extensive program of public works of one kind or another, and that if we were willing to think of money as an expression of wealth we could finance it. I do not know how long it will take us to get round to that, but surely some time we will get to it. Not because I am not a member of the government but because I am a Canadian, I resented the attitude shown this afternoon by government members. I resented, further, the exclamation hurled at the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, and I appreciate the speeches made by the hon. members for East Kootenay (Mr. Stevens) and East Toronto (Mr. Church). The observations of these hon. members indicate that even in the government party there are people who realize the true facts and the possibility of very great trouble unless we come to our senses.

It is altogether too simple to say that this was a communist uprising. The government have played1 that little trick too often. Every time they get into a jam one of them, and particularly the Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie), begins to shout about the communists. But it is like the old story about crying "wolf, wolf!" after a time it becomes outworn and does not get the expected result. I felt sure when I heard that the explanation was to be given this afternoon by the Minister of Justice that the government were certainly in a tight comer because there is no one on the government benches who can sound so plausible as the Minister of Justice, and none who can so effectively raise the bogy of communism, with the possible excep-

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tion of the Prime Minister. Let ns admit that Evans is a communist; let us admit that Collins who came here is a communist; I think there as no doubt of it.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Then why are they

leaders?

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PRO

Agnes Campbell Macphail

Progressive

Miss MAOPHAIL:

I do not know. They

are not my leaders; I did' not choose them.

I suppose they are leaders because no one on the government side or any members of the government offered any leadership to these twenty thousand young men, and they were desperate and1 were looking for leadership. Let us admit, I say, that these two young men are communists, but at -the same time let us be reasonable and sensible and admit that among these twenty thousand men who are in camps throughout Canada there are just as fine young men as are to be found anywhere; and1 if the present economic condition continues as it is, in another two or three years there will be turned out of our public schools, business colleges, high schools and universities another vast army that will have to go into these unemployment camps, or go on relief I was going to say, but it seems that it will be into the unemployment camps. So we might very seriously consider the matter, and no longer say over and over again the word communist, communist, communist, thinking we are forever going to frighten thinking people in Canada by such methods. I say that as creators of communism the Prime Minister takes the cake. I think he has done more to create communists in Canada than any other ten men, and that would include Evans and Buck and Collins1 or whoever they were. The one speech he made .the other day in meeting these men and the speech he made to-day will before to-morrow morning have created communists out of people who before have thought sympathetically with communists.

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CON

Bernard Munroe Stitt

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. B. M. STITT (Nelson):

Mr. Speaker,

I have listened with a good deal of interest to the hon. member who has just taken her seat (Miss Maophail). It would seem that one of the purposes of her speech was to make it appear that the guilty parties in this riot at Regina were the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

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PRO

July 2, 1935