July 2, 1935

LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I am very glad to have that further assurance as it bears out what I have said as to the wisdom of getting the fullest information on all these matters which are likely to enter into a discussion of this question.

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LAB
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

I do not know that the article is true; I have no reason to believe that it is.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

It affords one more ground for an inquiry. There should be a full investigation into all the facts and circumstances surrounding the present situation. It is evident that at least one life has been taken as a consequence of what has already taken place and there surely is need for the fullest inquiry into circumstances which brought about a tragedy of the kind. I do not think the government can escape having a very full investigation into that particular incident and of the group of incidents associated with it. Apart altogether from what has happened up to the moment, if a worse situation is to be prevented within the course of the next few days or weeks, it is important that word should go out immediately that an inquiry is being instituted which will allow the public to have the fullest light possible on the whole situation.

In connection with this investigation I should like to point out that the government at Ottawa and the government of Saskatchewan are alike interested1 in having the fullest particulars given to the public. The government of Saskatchewan has its responsibility with respect to the maintaining of law and order just as much as the government at Ottawa, or, I should say, more, if the statute, which governs in these matters is to be observed. I think that the investigation which takes place might will be conducted by representatives of the government at Ottawa and the government of Saskatchewan. I do

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not believe that an investigation carried on at the instance of one government alone would be sufficient. There is no reason why in a matter of this grave importance and consequence there should not be an inquiry carried on jointly by eminent gentlemen appointed at the instance of both governments.

I should like to read two telegrams which I have received since coming into the chamber this afternoon. I hope that the reading of these telegrams will help to establish the necessity of much more in the way of explanation of the situation as it has arisen in Regina than has thus far been given in the house by the Minister of Justice. These two wires indicate very clearly that as between the authorities1 at Ottawa and the authorities at Regina there has been a distinct difference of view as to who was to exercise or be permitted to exercise full responsibility for dealing with the situation that has arisen. The first telegram is from the Hon. James G. Gardiner, the premier of Saskatchewan, and refers to a telegram sent to the right hon. the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett). In reading this telegram I submit that the representations it contains are as much entitled to the acceptance of this house as are the representations of the Minister of Justice, especially where there is a conflict between the two. The sooner the apparent difference of view is cleared up and we get an accurate knowledge of the situation the better we will be able to proceed further with what will necessarily be a subject of discussion for some time to come. The wire is as follows:

Regina, Saskatchewan,

July 2, 11.25 a.m.

Right Hon. W. L. Mackenzie King,

Leader of the Opposition,

Ottawa, Ontario.

I have to-day wired Premier Bennett as follows: "Yesterday morning men indicated to your representative Mr. Burgess their willingness to disband the march and return to the Points from which they came. They repeated this to Mr. Burgess and representatives of the police at 2.30. Your representative refused to have provincial representation at that meeting. The men met us at five o'clock stating that since your representatives had refused to consider this the provincial government take responsibility for disbanding men to their original camps or homes and supply them with food in the interval. While we were considering this matter police raided public meeting to arrest leaders, precipitating a riot. Men at present in buildings at fair grounds completely surrounded by police who permit no one to enter and men to leave only in twos. Police intention to force these men to Lumsden camp or starving them into submission. This will eud in a worse riot than last night. These men should be fed where they are and immediately disbanded and sent back to camps and homes as they request without any attempt to force them into Lumsden and this should be done

within next two hours. This government has a responsibility toward its citizens to provide them with ordinary protection against this imported trouble. We would ask you to immediately withdraw orders issued affecting the liberty of individuals within this province and affecting the law and order of this province. You might assume that we are as much concerned about law and order in this country as you can be and deal with the elected representatives of this province regarding matters concerning our people instead of through an appointed political representative. We are asking you if you are going to feed these men within the next two hours and are asking you to instruct us within two hours what plans are to be made for their disbandment."

James G. Gardiner.

When the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) rose in his seat I was about to make an inquiry of the Prime Minister based on this telegram as I regarded it as a matter of great importance but when I saw the hon. member rising to speak I waited to hear what he had to say. What the Minister of Justice has since said has in part answered this telegram. I understand from the minister's remarks that the government is undertaking to feed the men but I have not got quite clearly the government's plans with respect to their disbandment and the government requiring that they should return to the camp at Lumsden.

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CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GUTHRIE:

To feed them, to provide shelter and transportation to Lumsden or Dundurn; to disband them and send them back to their camps or to their homes, but not as an organization such as they contemplated yesterday.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I am glad to

have that further word of explanation from the minister. The other telegram which I received just a moment ago is from the Hon. T. C. Davis, attorney general of Saskatchewan. It refers to a wire sent to the Minister of Justice, and reads:

Regina, Saskatchewan,

July 2, 1935. 11.58 a.m.

Right Hon. W. L. Mackenzie King,

Ottawa.

I have just wired Minister of Justice as follows:

"In connection with strikers youT government instructed R.C.M.P. officials here direct from Ottawa without our knowledge or concurrence. Upon our protest you maintained you had right so to do because contemplated actions were being taken under the Railway Act, a dominion enactment. When it became apparent that men intended to proceed from province by highway police instructions indicated that again you were instructing police direct without our knowledge or concurrence. When I inquired from police authorities as to your right so to do I was advised that you

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were acting under relief measures act and order in council passed thereunder which had the effect of giving you control of the situation and the right to instruct police.

I have traced the history of this act and 1931 enactment expired in 1932 and 1934 enactment expired in March this year. I believe further act introduced this session but have no knowledge if it has become law and in any event if it is law as introduced it expressly rovides that the governor general in council as no authority to pass order in council thereunder when the House of Commons is in session. You then instructed police authorities without our knowledge or concurrence to proceed under section 98 of the criminal code. The duty of enforcing criminal law is upon the government of this province but you are instructing police in connection with the enforcement of the provisions of the criminal code. You have appointed lawyers to prosecute and you have entirely ignored regularly constituted provincial facilities for the conduct of the prosecutions. This action on your part has gone too far now.

I demand that I be advised forthwith as to whether you consider the enforcement of the criminal code in this province is your responsibility or ours and I demand that you forthwith instruct the police to take orders from me and from me alone in connection with the enforcement of the provisions of the code in Saskatchewan and I take this stand because of the provisions of the police agreement and the provisions of subsection fourteen section 92 of the Brtish North America Act_ which imposes the responsibility of the administration of justice in the province upon the provincial government.

That is the end of the quotation. The telegram goes on:

You will see that action of federal government up to a few days ago has been taken under alleged order in council passed under relief measures act which does not permit order in council while house in session. Federal government is absolutely usurping the powers of the province in connection with the administration of justice.

T. C. Davis,

Attorney General.

The reference to the act which that telegram contains, the act, respecting relief measures, which was passed at this session, is accurate in what it states as to the provsions of this measure not being applicable While parliament is in session, because section 3 reads:

In addition to the powers conferred under the provisions of any statute or law the governor in council may, when parliament is not in session, take all such measures as in his discretion may be deemed necessary or advisable to maintain, within the competence of parliament, peace, order and good government throughout Canada; and at all times take all such measures as in his discretion may be deemed necessary or advisable to protect and maintain the credit and financial position of the dominion or any province thereof.

It will be apparent from what I have read that a question which may give rise to conditions even more serious than that of the 92582-262J

manner in which the particular strike marchers have been dealt with is disclosed in the apparent conflict between the Dominion of Canada and the province of Saskatchewan as to their respective jurisdictions in the matter of maintaining laiw and order. I should like to know from the Prime Minister whether he has abandoned the view that the provinces are responsible for the maintenantee of law and order-that such is the primary responsibility of the province-and, if he has not, I would ask him how he or the Minister of Justice can justify the action which thus far has taken place and is taking place at the moment, of federal officials acting under directions from the federal government, taking in one of the provinces of the dominion a course of action which is contrary to that afforded by the authority given in the statutes, and which is provoking a serious difference between one of the provinces of the dominion and the dominion itself.

As I said at the outset, I do not wish to debate this subject at this stage because I do not believe it can be debated with fairness to all concerned without our having before us the documents and the records which will help to explain the situation fully. I repeat, however, that the matter is too serious not to be cleared up before this parliament prorogues, and I hope that my right hon. friend will agree to place on the table of the house within a few hours the entire correspondence that has passed between his office and that of the Premier of Saskatchewan and between the office of the Minister of Justice and the government of Saskatchewan, and also any instructions that have been given to the police, so that we may have them before us to read and consider, that later on we may be in a position to discuss this matter further. I should also be glad to hear what the Prime Minister has to say in reference to the representations made in the wires I have just read.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Prime Minister) :

I deprecate very greatly the suggestion that those who for the moment are charged with responsibility are less considerate and thoughtful of the rights of individuals than others who happen to sit opposite. I do not believe that, man for man, the men who sit opposite to me have any greater heart or finer sympathies or a greater desire to serve their fellows than those who sit on this side, and I say to the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) that when I read his speech-it may have been incorrectly reported-in which he said that we would welcome bloodshed and use force, he did violence to what I conceive to be the decencies

B.C. Relief Camp Strikers

of life. To suggest that anyone on this side of the house desired to cause bloodshed or to use force against individuals is as false as it is possible for a statement to be. But on the other hand it is equally true that so long as we are charged with responsibility, be it short or long, we will discharge it. And I think the most unkind suggestion contained in the opening observations of the right hon. gentleman opposite, that because this house did not afford a further discussion of this matter which was at the time in the condition in which it then was, because the Speaker said that it had been formerly discussed-to say that this was a cause contributing, to what extent the right hon. gentleman would not mention, to what had happened in Regina yesterday, is in my opinion an unworthy observation, an observation unworthy of any public man who has had responsibility.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I said that no one could say whether or not it had been a contributing cause.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I was careful to listen

to what the right hon. gentleman said. Now what are the facts? The facts are that the Speaker ruled that the matter in question had been discussed in this house on previous occasions and there could be nothing urgent about the continuation of the same matter, and he ruled within the section, just as his predecessor had done, that this was not a matter that came within that provision. From that ruling a member appealed'. The right hon. gentleman voted to reverse the Speaker's ruling; we voted' to sustain it, and in my judgment the Speaker's ruling was correct. As a matter of principle it was correct; where in this house there had been a discussion of a matter which was prolonged, extending over many days, it would seem to me to be fairly reasonable to say that there was no such urgency as necessitated the adjournment of the house for its further discussion. And so far as I know-I have not been in the house every evening-when supply was taken there were opportunities to discuss these matters; and to-day when the hon. gentleman proposed the adjournment of the house I certainly believed that we should call supply to afford him an opportunity to discuss the matter. One cannot read what took plaoe without a feeling of deep regret,. One cannot read1 it without realizing that one who had sworn to protect the life and property of the city by which he was employed has lost his life, and lost it at the hands of others than the police. Two of the mounted police are lying at death's door, as a result of attacks upon them last

night in the city of Regina. The question of fixing responsibility is one which doubtless a coroner or icoroner'fe jury will inquire into; there must of necessity be an investigation. I am not in any sense going to endeavour to anticipate what the coroner may do or what the decision may be, but one thing I desire this house and this country to understand, that is that not a mounted policeman last night had a bullet in his holster; not one. The instructions were definite, having regard to what has transpired in various parts of the world in recent years, and they were obeyed. There were no cartridges in the hand's of any member of the mounted police last night. Yet this afternoon there are mounted policemen lying in the hospital shot with bullets. The Minister of Justice reminds me that the question of whether they were shot with bullets has not been determined. Well, there were men injured who were shot, I will put it that way. He says that it may be that these1 two men were not injured with bullets, but there were men injured with bullets. Those are the naked facts.

Was the assembly last night an unlawful assembly? What did the leaders say who travelled, west from here? What did Evans say? What did he say at Sudbury as reported in the public press? He said that blood would flow in the streets of Regina. What about the young men who have said they were invited into this movement as an adventure? They looked upon it as a great lark, and when they found what its true character was, they could not withdraw from it. Why? Because they were terrorized and controlled by these leaders. The Minister of Justice has mentioned the numbers of them, some seventy or so, but seventy leaders of the calibre of those who came here are1 capable of directing the activities of many hundreds of men, as every one knows. Let it be understood by this house this afternoon that these men, hundred's of them, were never in any camp in Canada, never received either clothing or food or shelter from this government or any other government, they were picked up as this crowd1 moved across the continent by appeals made to them, by men who declare openly that they are communists. They have seen fit to make known their demands to little lodges scattered throughout this country, which, in turn, send on the facts as they see them; telegrams pour in upon me by dozens and by hundreds, one from New York, demanding in the name of the United States that certain things should be done. I read you one from Paris the other

B.C. Relief Camp Strikers

day. All across this dominion are gathered together little bands, which demand that we do certain things.

I am informed and I believe that this movement is, as the Minister of Justice has said, not a mere uprising against law and order but a definite revolutionary effort on the part of a group of men to usurp authority and destroy government. Those who are familiar with what happened in one city of this dominion at one time will appreciate how there may be a partial realization of their hopes and expectations in that regard, for no one who has read of what took place at that time, of the taking possession of government, the endeavour to police the city and to order its activities, to control the feeding of the people with a system of cards under allotments, can fail to realize the danger that confronts us in such a revolutionary movement as that. Some of these telegrams that come are signed with very strange names, such as the Junior Band of Communists. They now openly call themselves communists, no longer disguising themselves under some fictitious name, but glory in calling themselves communists and indicate clearly what their purpose is. Declarations were made by the leaders of this group in Regina, gathered together in the manner I have stated. I have stated as clearly as possible that they were not only those who came from the camps, with them I shall' deal presently, but they were an aggregation of all those who had been attracted to this movement, some as a lark, an adventure, some for the purpose of finding opportunity to give effect to their opinions by the destruction of organized authority. [DOT]

That was the position last night in Regina. Tear bombs were used in an endeavour to quiet the disturbance without injury to person. The city police were not under control of the federal power in any way, this government had no authority to direct their actions. They took their action I believe for the preservation of life and property in the city they had been sworn to protect, and one of them died in the discharge of his duty, killed by those who defy law and challenge authority. That is rather a solemn thing to contemplate. Now that a question has been asked I will ask the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) a question. I wonder if he has ever thought of the implied approbation of the action of these men that is involved in the speeches he has made. I wonder if he ever calmly paused to consider how much they have relied upon the voice in parliament of their spokesman to make known their opinions. And when they go to extreme

action to serve their ends I wonder if then it does not occur to him, as it did this afternoon when he was denouncing them for having made inroads in the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, that it is far too late now to quell the monster, the Frankenstein he has invoked. He has conjured up a spirit that will not down. There is no thoughtful man in this country who does not know that you cannot go about Canada talking the loose sort of talk that has been going on during these months and years by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, and by his colleague the hon. member for South Vancouver (Mr. Maclnnis)-

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

And Bow River too.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

-without resulting outbreaks. One realizes the extent to which this incitement has carried these young men. Listen to them, hear what they say. Misled, misguided, easily influenced, not inmates of camps at all, never were, dragged out by this insidious propaganada to do what? To be in the forefront of the disturbance while those who led them were sitting quietly in the background seeing them suffer. That has been the history of it.

Now under these circumstances let us review the situation so far as Vancouver is concerned. Vancouver's mayor led the procession one day and headed the police the next-not literally the next day, but that was what happened. All the time we were crying aloud to the premier of British Columbia, saying that we were ready, willing and anxious to do anything that might be necessary, the cry that went forth was " work and wages," the incentive to further acts of disturbance and further efforts against constituted authority. That is a solemn thought, when you think of the easily impressionable minds of younger men, governed as they are by these leaders with treason in their hearts and the destruction of our institutions as their end, and when you find those who sit in high places, those who govern and control, not using their authority but tacitly, by the demands they make, giving them encouragement to seek the ends they have in mind. I say, sir, there is not a thoughtful man in this country who has read what has transpired in Canada during the last two months who does not realize that by resolutions passed by this body and that, by resolutions and telegrams of sympathy, by expressions of good will for those nursing what they regarded as a grievance, every day these people have become bolder in their conduct because of the reception they received from those they believed to be their friends.

-

B.C. Relief Camp Strikers

That is the fact. As I stated the other day, in some respects it does credit to human sympathy. Man is a sympathetic creature and when he sees his fellow less fortunate than he, if he has money he usually puts his hand into his pocket and gives him the price of a meal, as he calls it, though very often it is for a drink. He gives him assistance wherever it may be necessary for the purpose of providing him with comfort, we will say, when he lacks it, or with shelter when he lacks it. He makes contributions to organized institutions in the country, and what are the organized institutions? You can go into any great city and start with the Salvation Army, the homes of refuge, the homes maintained by the charitable organizations, 'the nuns and the churches of the country. Look at them; night after night they are open to receive those less fortunate than others, offering them solace, food, comfort and, if possible, some clothing; endeavouring to make life, shall we say, possible to those suffering misfortune. One of the things I sometimes feel, and that I think most men feel as they look about them, is that the effort to substitute governmental for human aids and efforts has had the effect of somewhat dampening human sympathy and the power of men to share the hardship of their fellows.

Those are the conditions to which I refer. Will anyone deny them? When the government of this country found that these young men without homes were drifting backward and forward across the country they organized these relief camps, not as long ago as the hon. member has said. These camps were organized as a temporary-and only a temporary-shelter to provide food and clothing and to enable the men to live in comfort at the expense of the state until the time should come when they could find profitable employment. Now let me read something. I sent for the report which I have on the operation of these camps, and I wish to direct attention this afternoon to a few words from that report. I have not time to deal with the matter at length; if the statements made were not so serious I should not think of dealing with them at all. Just listen to this:

Discipline

From the commencement of this scheme of relief, administered by the Department of National Defence, it has been the policy that personnel engaged on the relief projects should remain as civilians and be treated in a manner similar to that obtaining in ordinary camps such as those established by contractors for construction purposes, timber operations, etc.

A man is free to leave a project at any

time and in the case of a man who desires to leave a project to accept other employment and furnishes definite proof of the offer of a position, he is provided with free transportation for a distance not exceeding the distance from the project to the point of his engagement.

No powers of compulsion have been taken by the Department of National Defence and control of personnel is exercised by an appeal to their reason and intelligence, not to their fear of punishment. If a man refuses to comply with the simple regulations which are no more stringent than those of a well conducted construction or lumber camp, he is discharged. Any man who considers that he has been unjustly treated or has a legitimate complaint, may carry his complaint to higher authority provided he acts individually. It is a definite rule that committees, combinations, or mass protests, will not be received or considered. The method of dealing with complaints _ is receiving attention with a view to clarifying the procedure now in force. Note: Instructions were revised accordingly on May 4, 1935.

Then reference' is made to the questions of sabotage and the distribution of subversive literature throughout the camps. In other words the regulations endeavour to make it abundantly clear that the young man who behaves himself and conducts himself as he would in an ordinary camp receives every consideration that can be accorded him, and at the first opportunity for work he can go to that work and his transportation is paid. Let me go a step further. It was felt that education should not be neglected, and here are the regulations with respect to education:

When the scheme for the care of unemployed, single, homeless men in camps administered by the Department of National Defence was instituted it was realized that provision of facilities to enable these men to retain or improve their mental efficiency was of paramount importance. Steps were taken, soon after the camps were established, to provide teachers, either from the relief personnel themselves or through the Frontier College, an organization that is supported entirely by voluntary subscriptions from the public generally.

By arrangement with the Frontier College, selected men, who were taken on the strength of the projects, worked as labourers with the men during the day and held classes during the evenings. This system, within its defined scope, has produced satisfactory results but has suffered through the frequent changes in the labourer-teachers who either returned to universities to resume their own academic training, or who secured positions in industry at remunerative rates of wages.

Then I have here the number of those thus engaged, running up over one hundred at one time and lessening, of course, as the winter departed and the warmer weather began. Then take the provision made for their instruction in trades and crafts. In view of what has transpired to-day I want this house to understand something of what has been done by

B.C. Relief Camp Strikers

this country to deal with this problem. I have the regulations here with respect to every province:

Alberta: The provincial department _ of

education authorized the director of technical education to place an educational supervisor on the projects located along, and in the vicinity of, the Calgary-Banff highway and are providing correspondence courses for other projects where desired....

British Columbia: In continuation of the

system instituted in the winter of 1933-34 correspondence courses are now established under the provincial department of education in elementary, high school and technical subjects....

Instruction in Trades and Crafts

Belief personnel who so desire are encouraged and assisted to learn trades, as opportunities permit, or at least to become accustomed to the use of tools. Considerable construction of camp buildings, wood and concrete culverts, wooden bridges on highways, etc., calls for employment of men of the handy-man type. Men with no previous knowledge have gained instruction and experience in such work in considerable numbers, and to this extent are profiting by such knowledge and employment under the direction of skilled foremen. Men showing adaptability have been so trained and frequent promotions on subordinate and junior supervisory staffs of such men have been made.

Then there was a complaint with respect to compensation for injury. I wish to point out that provision was 'made to deal with that question in a manner that most people would regard as fair. Then I turn to the question of their spiritual welfare:

The spiritual welfare of the men engaged in the various projects is considered a responsibility of the church organizations.

Every facility and encouragement is afforded the clergy and church workers to hold services and make contact with the men on the projects. Clergymen posted to or visiting camps for the purpose of ministering to the spiritual welfare of the men are given board and lodgings in kind and are reimbursed reasonable out-of-pocket expenses necessarily incurred. Due to the location of many of the 'projects, distant by many miles from large, or any settlements, the visits by clergymen to those projects have not been frequent. Where urban centres are adjacent to the projects, the attention has been greater. In many of the camps, services of various denominations were held regularly, particularly in the ease of some of the larger projects to which certain denominations supplied resident chaplains. The men are permitted to attend church services at their own volition.

That is the provision for their welfare, their recreation, and their leisure time. I have mentioned these matters because I believe this house and country should understand that this was an effort made to care for those who had no homes during the time they were without profitable employment.

Now I turn to what perhaps is the most important point of all. I believe I should at once clear up a difficulty apparently existing in the minds of some hon. members, with regard to the numbers of men passing through these camps. When it is alleged that these men stay in the camps two, three or four years undoubtedly an erroneous impression is created. When I give figures, as I shall, as to the numbers of men who have passed through the camps I shall do no more than give them roughly. There may be many other matters to which I should refer, but this afternoon time does not permit my doing so.

I shall now read the table indicating the number of men who have gone into the camps and the number who have left, so that hon. members will realize that the turnover has been very rapid, that some have obtained permanent positions and others at least temporary (positions. I shall have to ask hon. members to pardon me for a few moments until I obtain the figures.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Would the

right hon. gentleman simply wish to put them on Hansard?

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I think it is important

that I give the number, because I believe the figures would destroy the idea that these men have been kept in the camps for long terms of years. I should like to make it clear as to what the movement has been. However, as I was not aware that this matter would be discussed and as the point in the document before me is not marked, I shall have to ask the Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes) to consult the index and find the information for me. While that is being done I shall proceed to a discussion of the next point, namely, that being in these camps in the numbers I shall presently indicate, to my certain knowledge in many cases these men were happy and content. Who destroyed their contentment? That is the question for us to answer. Who destroyed the peace of mind and happiness of these men? Who interfered? Who must accept the ultimate responsibility for going into the camps and destroying the peace of mind and happiness of these men? It. is of no use to make the complaint that these camps were not first dlass hotels; they were not intended to be. But they were as good as many lumber camps in Canada-I say they were better, because they made provision for education, spiritual welfare and other matters which I shall not discuss at length. Who was it who became responsible for the destruction of the morale, peace and contentment of these men? That

413S

B.C. Relief Camp Strikers

is the real point. All the excuses and sophistry in the world do not get us away from the fact that from time to time emissaries of a destructive and subversive force in Canada went among these men. They admitted that to me the other day; Collins admitted it to me. Collins of Glasgow said, "That is what I have been doing in the last six months, and," he said, "I have a right to do it." What they were doing was organizing and agitating. First of all they were agitating against conditions and were telling the men in the camps how badly they were used and cared for, how recreant to its duty the government had been, and what an utter disregard of humanitarian instincts there had been. This is the tale they were told. Then they said, "We must organize; workers must organize; we must dictate to the government what it shall do; we must have wages on a basis we shall say-not what the capitalist shall say, not the country, not the government." I could give the particulars of the agitation, because I have them as they have been furnished from time to time. Many hon. members have seen them.

Let us be fair and frank about this matter this afternoon. First, these agitators went into the camps sowing seeds of discontent, disruption and rebellion in the minds of these men. It took a long time to do it. Why? Because the men realized that the turnover of labour in the camps was great, that changes were taking place rapidly, and that many were leaving to go out to profitable employment. They knew that was happening day after day and week after week. In the end however these agitators wore down that sense of contentment in British Columbia. As the minister has pointed out, we knew that they were going to move upon Vancouver at a given date. They deny that that is so-but in the end they moved in upon Vancouver. Did *they not receive succour and support in Vancouver and Victoria? By means of a tag day $6,000 was raised for them-$6,000. That was the humanitarian instinct, to which I referred a moment ago, expressing itself in terms of dollars.

Then when they found it was no longer possible to influence and to direct public opinion either through the mayor-who had ultimately to read the riot act; no longer heading parades, but reading the riot act-or any other body, they considered what they should do next. The point was how to get rid of them. I hope my information is not correct as to the means resorted to-but this government had no idea that they were going to leave Vancouver. No member of the government to whom I have spoken about the

matter had -any knowledge of it. But at a given moment they boarded freight trains. The government were advised of that fact. They travelled foy fast freight, and we had no force to cope with them at Kamloops; we had no force to cope with them as they came down this side .of the mountains, nor had we any force at Calgary. I say to the right hon. gentleman, when he suggests that there was some ulterior purpose in. the fact that they were allowed to go east as far as Regina, that the question of dealing with them was taken up by the minister just as rapidly as possible, when the moment came that the railway companies complained of trespass upon their property endangering life and property. Of course under the Railway Act these men were trespassing. As hon. members have said, the fact that they were trespassers did not- constitute a very great offence. But when the numbers counted not tens or twenties but hundreds, then there was danger to life and to property and danger in the transportation of the .mails. Both railway companies complained.

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LIB
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The so-called marchers were then between Swift Current and Moose Jaw. On the day they reached Moose Jaw the railway companies told the government they could not longer deal with the situation.

Now I want to remind the house of something more. One of the reasons, and one of the very great reasons, why this matter was dealt with after they had come into Saskatchewan was that they had succeeded in taking out of other camps in Alberta a considerable number of men who prior to that date had been peaceably and happily employed in these camps. In other words, their propaganda was successful in taking men out of camps in Alberta on the Crowsnest line and on the main line of the Canadian Pacific, and these men attached themselves to the strikers at Medicine Hat and other points so that when they reached Moose Jaw their numbers were very much larger than they had been. Before they reached .Moose Jaw the minister had taken action in consequence of complaints made by the railway companies and their statement that they were unable to deal with the matter with the limited number of constables under their control, and that they required police assistance. That of course is the explanation of what was said the other day. Ordinarily with respect to the enforcement of law and order the province, of course, must determine what action shall be taken, and the province calls upon the federal

B.C. Relief Camp Strikers

power to give them assistance whenever it is desired. But in the agreement betweeen Saskatchewan and Canada, and it was an agreement that was consummated during the administration of the former Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe), not by the present Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie), it is provided that the dominion reserves the right with respect to the police for a breach of federal statutes. Just as soon as these men reached Regina the premier of Saskatchewan, angered at their being in Saskatchewan and stopped there-and I appreciate his feelings- sent most violent messages to the government, and I think when the right hon. gentleman reads them he will not be so anxious to see them. We will produce them, of course. Message followed message. These people, he said-I paraphrase-were brought into

Saskatchewan with the connivance of the government and with the assistance of the railway companies, and therefore there was no right now to stop them in Regina.

Now I put it to the former Minister of Justice, who I see is no longer in his place: would he under that agreement of his decline to do just what the Minister of Justice did? The premier of Saskatchewan was advised of this. The legal representatives of both railways waited upon the attorney general. We were so advised by telephone-I do not think it is in writing-and what happened? No action. The Minister of Justice believed, as I believed, that this was no longer a sporadic or spasmodic uprising. This was a revolutionary movement, and as I said the other day the forces of government for the preservation of law and order must be used for that purpose, and they were. There is the story.

We have endeavoured by every means within our power to prevent just what happened yesterday. When it was suggested a few days ago that we were rather anxious to use force and that I might have been far more conciliatory with these eight men who came to me than I was, I would like to say this, and I will leave it to any person who was present: I declined to indicate the least show of temper, although heaven knows there had been good excuse for it, and I restrained myself from any violent statement of any kind despite the provocation. But when I heard Evans say what he said as to his purposes, and Collins make the statements he did, I felt I would be recreant to my duty if I did not say to them that law and order would be maintained in this country because it was the duty of the federal power to preserve peace, order and good government. I think if the hon. member

for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) had himself been present he would have been amazed at my moderation-amazed at it; for if it had been his case, in view of the condition into which he worked himself up in this house one evening about that time I do not know what would have happened. But I make that statement unhesitatingly and maintain that it cannot be contradicted.

We told them what? I am not going to go back and repeat it all, but we told them that we would provide them with a camp, and in order that it might be freed from the imputation of military discipline the Department of Labour, which had a representative at Regina, made the necessary arrangements for providing a camp at Lumsden. The water was laid on in a few hours, tents were provided and a commissariat to take care of the men. All this was done, and the worst of it is that some of those who had been picked up on the road, who had yielded to the solicitations of the propagandists and agitators, wanted to go to Lumsden. But could they go? Their baggage, their little dunnage bags, were taken and the pickets were reinforced to prevent them from going. A few found their way ultimately to Lumsden.

With respect to the unlawful assembly last night, I say "unlawful assembly" deliberately; for in Saskatchewan there was a decision-it is true, I believe, that it was by a county court judge-following the decision of the Supreme Court of Ontario, and may I remind this chamber that this great province dealt with this very subject. The evidence was given to a jury, defences were made by learned counsel and by the accused themselves, and they were found guilty. An appeal was taken to the supreme court, the highest court of appeal in the province of Ontario, and by unanimous judgment, delivered by Chief Justice Mulock, the court decided that there was no question in law upon the evidence adduced that these communists constituted an illegal association. That decision it is true is not binding on other courts of Canada except in the province of Ontario. Now look at what happened at Nipigon in defiance of that decision. Tim Buck said: I am a communist and I challenge the government. Yet Mr. Roebuck has done nothing and he is the attorney general of the province. I challenge, Tim Buck said; the government to proceed against me-this man who is out on ticket of leave, this man whom the highest court in this province had determined was properly convicted for promoting sedition-for that is practically what- it amounts to-and the destruction of our in-

4140 COMMONS

B.C. Relief Camp Strikers *

stitutions. They know about him carrying on his agitation, defying law and order, and no one says a word. There is a case in which the federal1 power has no authority to drop in and assist unless we have evidence of the revolutionary character of what is taking place. Attention is directed to these things, but no action is taken. There they are and there they remain.

*Let us go a step further. Mr. Buck is now running as a candidate against the bon. member for North 'Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps). He has fourteen organization rooms in that constituency, and he is openly challenging authority-openly; he does not offer any apologies for it a.t all. Here I stand and scoff at you-that is his attitude. Look at the effect of that upon this country as a whole. Look at the result upon the body politic. Look a.t the result upon the morale of the people of this country. That is the thing we have to consider. We were on safe ground when the railway companies were being dealt with. That was a breach of a federal statute and not of the criminal code. That was a special statute in which iwe were interested in the transport of mail and the safety of passengers, a matter solely within federal jurisdiction. That is the reason why we took the position which we did. What did Grover Cleveland do when he was faced with a situation almost like this one in the state of Illinois when the mails were no longer being carried? He took federal power for the purpose of maintaining law and order, in order that the mails, which were of national concern, might be delivered. Our railroads are a subject solely of national concern and come under the jurisdiction only of this parliament. When we found that condition existing, we took the steps we did. Is there any hon. member of this house who, charged with responsibility, would have done less and maintained his oath of office? That is the question.

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?

Charles Stephen Booth

Mr. WOODS WORTH:

Before the Prime Minister leaves that point, would he mind explaining how the assembly of last night was an illegal assembly?

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Last night's assembly

was an unlawful assembly within the decision of the Supreme Court of Ontario. I shall not labour it at length but if the hon. gentleman desires to read the judgment, I shall send him a oopy. This judgment was circulated widely. The assembly last night was an unlawful association within the meaning of that judgment and I do not think anyone who is informed has any doubt about it.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I do not quite

follow the right hon. gentleman. I understood that that did not apply in the case of Manitoba. Does it apply in the case of Saskatchewan?

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

What I tried to make clear was that it would be for the courts of Saskatchewan to decide. The leaders have been arrested and their trial will be held and I shall not comment on what the evidence will be. They have been charged and an opportunity will be afforded to them to make their defence.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I am just trying to clear up that point. I understood the Prime Minister to say that the dominion could not prosecute in Manitoba but apparently it is prosecuting in Saskatchewan.

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July 2, 1935