July 2, 1935

CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The prosecution has

arisen out of a breach of the Railway Act. I want to make that clear.

Leaving that for the moment, I must apologize to the house for the delay which has occurred in giving this information as it disrupts the natural flow of the argument. How many men does the house think have passed through these camps? The total number is 116,480, and 22,365 have left to take up profitable employment while 12,601 were let out for purposes of discipline. This gives some idea of the activities of the communists in these camps and gives some idea of the propaganda which has been carried on and the methods adopted. Others have left to take up employment where they thought they could find jobs, some 60,000 having gone to unknown jobs. The largest number of men ever at these camps was 25,500; last summer this number dropped about 12,000 and last winter it rose to 20,500. It stands now at 13,000. These figures give some idea of the nature, the character and the purpose of these camps and how well they have served that purpose. One of the most distinguished labour ministers of England, who has since passed to the great beyond, when on a visit to this country stated that this was one of the most amazing ventures from the standpoint of sound principle that he had ever seen. He was referring to the provision by which these men were given shelter, food and clothing, until the opportunity arose of being permitted to go to work. When I say that the number of men in the camps dropped last year to 9,000 from a maximum of 25,500 one is able to gain some idea of what the situation was. As I have said, the number of men have dropped to about 13,000 and that

B.C. Relief Camp Strikers

number will be decreasing steadily, as I explained to these men, because of the opportunities which will be offered of work on the highways and roads in the mountains of British Columbia which cannot be undertaken until late in June. When those opportunities for work are offered they can avail themselves of them, if they so desire.

As I said, I do not propose in any sense to anticipate what evidence will be given or what may be said with respect to the tragedy at Regina. This morning I received a telegram from Mr. Gardiner to which reference has been made by the right hon. leader of the opposition. This wire reads:

You have no doubt been advised of latest developments. We wish to state that men had interviewed us at five o'clock. They stated they had advised your government through your representative they were prepared to disband and go back to their camps or homes provided they were allowed to go under their own organization. They state this was denied them. They asked' our government to take responsibility for disbanding them to their own camps or homes. While we were meeting to consider their proposals and any suggestions we might make to you trouble started down town between the police and strikers without notification to us of police intentions which has resulted in at least one death in the police force and scores of citizens strikers and police wounded. We are nevertheless prepared to undertake this work of disbanding the men without sending them to Lumsden. Will you consider negotiations on basis of this proposal.

James G. Gardiner.

I replied as follows:

Your message received indicating your willingness to undertake work of disbanding strike marchers without sending them to Lumsden. Please indicate just what this means in order that there may be no misunderstanding.

That does not look like a desire not to cooperate with the provincial authorities. The premier of the province stated that these men demanded1 that they should be permitted to disperse but with their own organization. That is just exactly what we do not propose they shall do. We do not propose that they shall go to Vancouver, where we already have had communists taking part in activities on the waterfront, as referred to the other day by the hon. member for Vancouver Centre (Mr. Mackenzie). We do not propose that they shall go there to swell the ranks of the communists and add to the difficulties of that city. Their demand was not that they be permitted to disband and go to their homes where they had homes or go back to the camps, but, as Mr. Gardiner says, they demanded that they be permitted1 to disband under their own organization, and this we refuse to allow. Since I

came into the chamber I received another telegram from Mr. Gardiner which may be an answer to the one I sent. This telegram reads:

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 end 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.

That is the -message to which the right hon. leader .of the opposition referred a moment ago. It will be observed (that Mr. Gardiner talks about disbandment but he leaves out that explanation which I requested ini connection with, their demands that they be allowed to go under their own organization. To -that we have not received any reply. As long as they stay together, as the Minister of Finance says, they will disband.

Now let me read the last answer which I wrote -while I was listening to the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre:

Large number of so called strike marchers now at Regina have never been in relief camps and being homeless cannot be sent to any definite locality as being their homes. The federal government is ready and' willing - to feed these marchers at Lumsden and transport them to that point. Apparently leaders demand transportation to Vancouver as organized bands which we are not willing to do in

B.C. Relief Camp Strikers

view of the illegal character of their organization and avowed purposes of their leaders. Of course we have no intention of interfering with any action you may decide to take that does not involve these men in violation of the laws of the country.

That is the position we have outlined in the telegrams that have passed between us to-day. I am not going to do more than merely indicate that that being the situation we are faced with an- organized attempt against the national life of Canada. This is not sporadic; it extends from coast to coast. It is not dominion wide; it extends to other sections of this continent. They started to-day at noon at Valcartier. A happy contented group of men have been preyed upon by agitators, and at noon to-day they said they were going to strike. This uprising against authority, against law and order, is in our judgment a considered and deliberate attempt to carry into effect the known doctrines of the communists. We are not prepared to yield to it; and what is more, we believe that it is not a matter of a province; it is a matter of the nation as a whole.

I will not burden you with the sheaves of telegrams that have come to me along the line, especially in the northern parts of Ontario and other parts of Canada, where the population is far better informed with respect to communistic doctrines and tendencies than it is, for instance, in the city of Ottawa, and where they make bold to say that they demand-not request but demand-that these things shall be done. They demand that these men shall continue their march upon Ottawa, these strikers, and that the police be withdrawn-"We demand that the police be withdrawn." The similarity in the language of the telegrams would seem to indicate that there was one master mind somewhere behind this movement, or several. And even the one from New York was couched in terms so like some that we have received from Toronto and other parts of Canada as to make one believe that they had a common origin.

It is not easy for me to speak at such length about a matter of this kind1 to-day. If I say that my night has been saddened and my day as well by what transpired yesterday, I suppose that will afford an opportunity for jeers-

Topic:   B.C. RELIEF CAMP STRIKERS
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No.

Topic:   B.C. RELIEF CAMP STRIKERS
Permalink
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

-from the hon. gentleman from Winnipeg North Centre. And when they talk about an order in council having

been passed by this government dealing with these matters, I say that any man who said that and who Was a member of parliament insulted his own intelligence.

Topic:   B.C. RELIEF CAMP STRIKERS
Permalink
LAB
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I did not say you; I said any member of parliament.

Topic:   B.C. RELIEF CAMP STRIKERS
Permalink
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Mr. Speaker, the

Minister of Justice made that statement with regard to me and I denied it. It is not worthy of the Prime Minister to try to leave that impression.

Topic:   B.C. RELIEF CAMP STRIKERS
Permalink
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I will put it this way. According to the hon. gentleman's own statement he was present at the C.C.F. provincial gathering at which a motion was made that a message be sent to the Prime Minister that help be sent to the strikers in Regina, and condemnation was made of the government of the day, naming the Prime Minister by name, for the passing of such an order in council.

Topic:   B.C. RELIEF CAMP STRIKERS
Permalink
LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

I was present at the meeting of the council, but I was not present at the time that motion was made.

Topic:   B.C. RELIEF CAMP STRIKERS
Permalink
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I am very glad to hear the hon. gentleman say that. But I do say that when anyone suggests that an order in council could be passed by this government dealing with a matter of this kind, he does violence to his own intelligence. I do not think there is any doubt at all about that, because this house a few weeks ago passed a statute that provided it could not be done; and no one with intelligence would pass an order in Council knowing that- it had no value as such and1 would not be worth the paper it was written on and would not furnish a defence or excuse for any action that might be taken under it. That, I think, is so clear as not to call for comment. I repeat, I find it difficult to speak at all about this matter; but it is of such importance that even though- it has greatly inconvenienced me to do so, I have endeavoured to place some of the facts before the house and the country.

When I think of that courageous officer of the law who was employed by the city of Regina and who is now lying stark and dead in 'the city whose welfare he was interested in and whose safety he defended, I cannot but think of the tremendous responsibility that rests upon each of us lest it should be said that by the course we have pursued we have led men to believe that they might resort to the most violent means to accomplish their

Insurance Acts

ends and have with them the support of decent law-abiding citizens. I know it is not so. I know that the Canadian people do not believe that; and, weak as some of our institutions are, and failing, as they must have failed at times, to meet all the demands that might be made upon them, we are still convinced1 that the pe'ople of Canada are not prepared to substitute for those institutions the rule of the commune and the guidance of the soviet.

Topic:   B.C. RELIEF CAMP STRIKERS
Permalink
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I wish to thank the Prime Minister for his undertaking to bring down the telegrams that have passed between the Prime Minister of Saskatchewan and himself. May I ask whether that assurance will include all the messages between the federal government and the government of Saskatchewan. May I also ask whether the right hon. gentleman will kindly consider the request that the instructions, if any, given to the police be tabled.

Topic:   B.C. RELIEF CAMP STRIKERS
Permalink
CON

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

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

So far as correspondence is concerned, there is none except the telegrams; they will be produced. My present view is that it has never been the rule to permit instructions given by officers commanding to those charged with enforcing law and order to be brought down in the House of Commons. I will look into the matter further, but that is my present conviction.

At six o'clock the house took recess.

After Recess

The house resumed at eight o'clock.

Topic:   B.C. RELIEF CAMP STRIKERS
Permalink

INSURANCE ACTS

CANADIAN AND BRITISH INSURANCE COMPANIES

UFA

George Gibson Coote

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. G. G. COOTE (Macleod):

If I may

have the unanimous consent of the house I should like to make a statement regarding two bills wdiich are on the order paper in my name, Nos. 13 and 14. Hon. members will remember that when Bill No. 13 was before the house the first time the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) said he had received assurance from the Canadian Life Insurance Officers' Association, which includes Canadian, British and foreign companies, registered with the federal insurance department, that if these bills were not proceeded with they

would see that no rate of interest in excess of six per cent per annum was charged on any policy loan after the first of January, 1936, this to include automatic premium loans and all charges of every kind in connection with such loans or other loans. I asked the Minister of Finance (Mr. Rhodes) since that time to confirm that by letter, and I have a letter from the Minister of Finance dated June 28, in which he says:

I have pleasure in writing to advise you that the department of insurance and the government will be at pains to see that the undertaking given iby the Hon. N. W. Rowell, K.C., counsel for the Canadian Life Insurance Officers' Association, as to the rate of interest that will be charged after January 1, 1936, will be carried out in strict conformity with the undertaking, the terms of which you have before you in the copy of Mr. Rowell's letter, dated the 24th of June, addressed to Mr. Finlayson, the superintendent of insurance.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I do not wish to proceed further with these two bills at this time.

Topic:   INSURANCE ACTS
Subtopic:   CANADIAN AND BRITISH INSURANCE COMPANIES
Sub-subtopic:   ACT-FOREIGN INSURANCE COMPANIES ACT -BILLS NOT TO BE PROCEEDED WITH
Permalink

B.C. RELIEF CAMP STRIKERS


The house resumed consideration of the motion of Mr. Rhodes for committee of supply.


CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. H. H. STEVENS (East Kootenay):

I question very much indeed if there has been before parliament during this session a subject of greater importance or fraught with more serious possibilities than that which was under discussion this afternoon. I might remind you, sir, that the motion to go into supply has always been considered the most suitable oocasion for members of the House of Commons to place before the house any subject that is considered to be a grievance or is regarded by the people generally as containing the germs of a grievance. In other words it has been a time-honoured practice and habit, as well as a very high privilege, to use this opportunity to discuss matters of importance to any section or to the country as a whole. This subject which we have been discussing I choose to define as the plight of youth. The immediate matter, of course, that is of grave concern is certain outbreaks and disorders that have occurred in regard to the plight of youth.

This afternoon we had a number of addresses. It is not my intention to analyze or reply to them or deal with them to any great extent. I should, however, like to point out one or two things. We had an

B.C. Relief Camp Strikers

address by the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King),, and the house will recall that he closed his remarks with the observation that perhaps the subject of gravest concern was whether or not the federal government had invaded the rights of the province. To me the statement of the right hon. gentleman seemed rather strange. I am not very much concerned about whether or not the government of Canada has infringed to a certain degree upon the narrowly interpreted constitutional rights of the provinces in this respect. The thing immediately before the government of course is the dis* turbance in Regina. Certainly the government ought to act constitutionally and carefully within its right. But after all the thing of immediate concern is that the government should discharge its duty, which according to the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) and the Minister of Justice (Mr. Guthrie), it is amply demonstrated it has done. Therefore I could not understand the attitude of the right hon. gentleman, because to me the matter of supreme concern was not even the riots, although that certainly is of great importance, but rather what lies behind all this, what is the cause of all this. Is there anything that parliament can do to remove the causes of these disturbances and riots? I hope before I shall have finished, to indicate at least what in my opinion might be done to correct the situation. At the very outset, therefore, I suggest that we do not waste very much time discussing whether or not the government is doing its duty, because as far as I can gauge the matter the government had no choice. It had to preserve law and order within its constituted powers and rights. This at has done. But has it done in that respect any more than its duty? There is nothing about that which should call for either encomiums or condemnation; it is the plain simple duty of the government to maintain law and order in the country-of course I always interpolate this; subject to its constitutional right and power. So all I have to say on that subject is that apparently the government has done its duty, a distasteful duty. But there is another point that ought to be canvassed and canvassed carefully, that- is, what are the underlying causes of the disturbances that forced the government to discharge a most unpleasant duty? It is with that phase of the subject that I intend to deal.

Let me first ask what was the origin of all this trouble. It will be recalled that a few years ago, I would say from three to four years ago, we found literally hundreds, yes

thousands, of the youth of Canada wandering up and down, particularly in the summer time. As I went westward to my own province of British Columbia I counted on a single train one morning a hundred and twenty-seven of them. I have counted fifty and sixty just as trains were passing, young men riding to and fro on the freight trains. Sometimes I talked with these boys. I talked to one young chap who said he had made three cross-country trips in one season. I talked to others who boasted of how far they had travelled. That is a condition that prevailed three and four years ago this summer. The provinces told us, particularly the province from which I come, that young men were pouring in there from other parts of Canada, constituting for them a very serious problem in addition to their own local problem of relief. This complaint developed. The federal government offered, freely I think and of its own volition, to undertake the care of destitute, homeless, unemployed young men. I should like the house to bear that fact in mind, that the federal government undertook to care for that class of the unemployed. When they undertook to do so they laid down certain rules, certain principles if you like, one of which was that these young men had to foe healthy. I stand to be corrected by the minister who is in charge if I should inadvertently mistate the case, but I understand that one of the conditions was that they must be healthy; indeed, sir, I think they passed a physical examination before being admitted to 'camp. They had to be young; they had to be homeless; they had to be destitute and they had to be single.

Well, sir, that is rather a disturbing condition which I think should challenge the sympathetic consideration of every member of this house, as I am sure it does. But here is where I think we are somewhat failing: we are at the end of the session, and so far as parliament is concerned we have done little or practically nothing towards the solution of the problem of caring for this great number of young men. It is argued by some that by providing these camps we have discharged our duty. It must be borne in mind that when this was undertaken by the federal government it was not done as a permanent measure; it was looked upon as an emergency. That at least was the impression that was made on my own mind; I cannot speak for others. It was the expectation and hope that we would carry these young men through a winter and that probably in the following summer, or at least in the not too far distant future, they

B.C. Relief Camp Strikers

would be absorbed into the ordinary life of the country. Certainly no one to whom I mentioned the subject considered that it would go on for three years so far, and possibly for another year or two as well. It was never looked upon as a condition with which we should ask young men to bear a period of years.

Let me say further, Mr. Speaker, and I say this with great deliberation, that it is asking a great deal of youth to remain docile, in camps where they receive subsistence plus a very small remuneration in the nature of an honorarium of $5 a month. I say that is asking a great deal of youth. I do not wish to be told later that I am getting sentimental, because I do not think that can be said, but surely we are not going to ignore the fact that in the veins of the youth of Canada are still pulsating ambition and the desire to get somewhere and be something. To my mind parliament cannot consider that it has discharged its duty unless it has .made some provision for the satisfying of that very human and legitimate desire on the part of these young men.

Then, sir, what occurred next? There was a strike in some of the camps and the young men trekked into the city of Vancouver. I have resided in British Columbia now for forty-one years, with the exception of the unfortunate periods of time I have had to spend in this house during the last twenty-five years. Last summer and the summer before I personally visited many of these camps, and I should like to say a few words as to what I saw there and the impressions I received. I visited quite a number of the camps; on each of these visits I had several meals at different camps. Generally speaking I found the food to be good; I do not think there was very much to take objection to in connection with the food, so far as I could judge. It was plain; it was wholesome; there was a reasonable variety and on the whole I would say it could not be the ground for very much complaint. The clothing the men were given certainly was of a kind that should be satisfactory; on the whole I would say it was perhaps better than the men would obtain themselves if they were buying it. I do not think there could be any reasonable complaint in that connection. In regard to housing-outside of some possible inconveniences that might have crept into some of the -camps foy being brought in with the men themselves, in the way of vermin and so forth, which I think was rare-I should say it was quite in keeping with the normal camp life we have in British Columbia in the mining and logging camps. So on the whole I would

say the physeal convenience and comfort of the men was reasonably well looked after, and -as far as I was able to judge there were no sound grounds for complaint.

I saw something else, however, which impressed me tremendously. At one camp the young men were employed in the construction of or preparation of the ground for an airport. Hon. members know what that means; there was a considerable area of, I should say, sixty or seventy acres or thereabouts. The camp of which I was speaking was in a valley in the mountains, what we out there would call a "wash"; that is, a flat of the valley which had been filled up with the wash from mountain streams, consisting of great boulders some l^fger than a -man -could lift and others commonly called by the men working among them "niggerheads," large coarse gravel and boulders. When the discussion was taking place this afternoon I noticed that some hon. members referred to these young men as though they were all men who did not want to work, loafers and so on. Apparently that thought was seeping through the minds of some hon. members. I saw these young men in the month of August, working under a blistering sun with the temperature, I should imagine, -close to 100 in the shade. I observed them over a period in the neighbourhood of at least ten days, working away day after day at, perhaps, one of the hardest, -most- -discouraging and most disagreeable tasks that any man could undertake. I do not know of a harder or more disagreeable job than working under a blistering sun taking boulders out of a gravel wash. If anyone -can tell me of a more difficult or disagreeable task I should like to know what it is. The point is this: I visited that camp; I sat among the men at their meals; I talked to the .men, and I never heard a single word of complaint. I saw them working in the -middle of the morning and in the middle of the afternoon; apparently they were doing what would be normally expected of men, receiving a full wage. That made a very deep impression upon my mind, the fact that it was possible to get young men in an unemployment camp on a subsistence basis to do that sort of work.

I went to another camp that I recall; this one was in what we call the sand hills, in the dry belt district. These men were cutting the curves out of some of these mountain roads, faced with the blazing sun on the banks which they were cutting away. They were working in dry, dusty, fine silt, another very disagreeable job. These young men did splendid work. I had not an opportunity of measuring it in any way; they may not have done as

B.C. Relief Camp Strikers

B. C. Relief Camp Strikers

which I am now going to read. This business man says, and I attached it to my letter:

I am also enclosing you a copy of the Strike Bulletin, the first issued by the young men who are dn from the camps. They are tagging on the streets to-day. It is a sad situation. They are on the average bright, healthy, clean looking young boys, and might be either your sons or mine, and it is just too bad the buck is passed between the three governing bodies to the extent it has been. If something is not done, there is going to be trouble. These young men will not stay in camps and be deprived' of taking their share in work and wages with others.

That was the opinion of a sane business man, as I have indicated, and I passed that opinion on to the right hon. gentleman largely because this sane individual, and he is in every sense that, made this observation: "If something is not done, there is going to be trouble." I felt myself that he was right, and I felt so much concerned about it that I passed the information on. I received a brief answer from the right hon. gentleman which I will read:

I duly received your letter of April 30th, enclosing a telegram signed by the board of St. Giles United church and Chown United church. A similar message hiad already come to me and had been given careful consideration. _

Although there is practically no trouble in the other relief camps, the only suggestion put forward by the British Columbia government is to provide "work and wages" for everyone. If this were done, it could not be confined to those now in the camps, but would bring in thousands of people who are not now on relief, and, in my opinion, it would be beyond the power of the people of Canada to support such a policy throughout the dominion.

Thanking you for writing me so fully and frankly,

And so forth. That was signed by the right hon. gentleman who was acting Prime Minister (Sir George Perley). I thanked him for his courtesy, and I have no complaint to offer in that respect. But, sir, it strikes me that that is not good enough for the people cf this country. We are not going far enough in merely dismissing the matter in that way.

Well, the days passed and the trouble in Vancouver was quite serious at times. On one occasion these young men walked through one of the big department stores and destroyed considerable property, five or six thousand dollars' worth. There was a good deal of trouble but not nearly as much as one might expect when fifteen hundred men from the camps were gathered in a city where there were already a lot of idle men. But on the whole there was not very great trouble until

after the longshoremen's strike broke out, which was an entirely separate matter and had nothing to do with these young fellows.

On May 23, after the Prime Minister's return, I felt it was my duty to write again because in the meantime I had received a letter from the mayor. I therefore wrote to the right hon. the Prime Minister in these terms, and I ask hon. members of the house to do me the courtesy of listening to this because I make some suggestions in it which I wish to make again to-night. I wrote:

I received a copy of the letter of the mayor of Vancouver dated May 17th, which was sent to yourself, several others, and to myself.

It was a letter that was sent to a number of persons.

This is too serious a matter to allow personal criticisms of the method of approach by the mayor of Vancouver to interfere. _ May I therefore, with due respect but with great urgency, write you as follows.

First, will you kindly read a letter I submitted to Sir George Perley, Acting Prime Minister, on April 30 last (copy of which I attach hereto).

That is the letter I have just read.

Second, without labouring or arguing the matter, may I make the following suggestions toward the solution of this problem:

(a) That the federal government immediately discharge its promises to complete the trans-Canada highway by energetically undertaking that work throughout British Columbia.

This in itself would absorb a large proportion of those young men who are now housed in these camps.

(b) That the dominion government should institute a program of road construction from the great national parks in British Columbia and1 Alberta to the international boundary in cooperation with the provincial authorities.

At present you have many millions of dollars tied up in these parks with only the most atrocious roads approaching them from the international boundary. I have fully discussed this with several of your ministers, and urge it as a practical and ultimately remunerative program.

(c) Many of the great watersheds of Canada are becoming rapidly denuded of their forests with danger firstly, to the watersheds, and secondly, the loss of timber without provision for reforestation.

I therefore suggest a program of reforestation which will take many years to complete, absorb a great many men, and will ultimately amply repay the country for the money expended. This would be healthy, useful work on a sound economic basis.

(d) I suggest to you again, as I did more than two years ago, that you call a conference of those leaders in finance who control the credit of Canada and submit to them the fact that new housing and general construction in Canada (replacement, maintenance and repairs) is approximately three years behind normal.

There is an abundant supply of material, skilled workmen, engineers and architects.

B. C. Relief Camp Strikers

There is an absolute need of housing. The only thing lacking is an intelligent application of the credit of the country, now in private hands, to the solution of this problem. It is therefore not unreasonable to submit to those who control the private credit of the country this problem and require from them a declaration of their attitude toward the same.

It is my considered opinion that if they refuse to discharge this responsibility then the state is justified in stepping in and organizing a great building and construction corporation financed by a public issue of bonds and make these advances for construction purposes at a very low rate of interest. This whole matter would be self-sustaining and ultimately amortize itself.

I make these four suggestions to you because I am deeply concerned about the terrible seriousness of the situation and am convinced that adequate leadership can only emanate from the federal government.

I received no answer to that from the Prime Minister but I did receive the following letter from his secretary:

I have for acknowledgment your letter of 23rd May, and regret that owing to the fact that the pressure has been so great recently the opportunity of dealing with the matters therein set forth did not present itself until to-day.

The questions raised in your communication have been brought to the attention of the ministers, whose departments are affected thereby.

Yours faithfully,

A. W. Merriam.

I am reading these letters to place myself clearly before the house. Both letters were written before this difficulty arose and this trek to Ottawa commenced, the first letter on April 30 and the next on May 23. I wrote those letters because I was convinced that the situation was serious and I was mortally afraid that if these men started to move towards Ottawa, as they later did, there would be trouble and tragic results. It is a most disturbing thing that we are here in parliament while 2,000 men, not all of them from British Columbia by any means, are gathered in the very centre of the country. Yesterday there was bloodshed and trouble. I cannot press upon the attention of the house too strongly the solemn words uttered this afternoon by the Prime Minister when he referred to the officer who lost his life and the others who' are at death's door. This is a most serious thing. The lives of many of these young men are being risked in these disturbances and I am convinced that if parliament will frankly face the situation and give the government its unlimited support, a program of this kind can be adopted without impairing at all the financial structure of this country.

92582-263J

Topic:   B.C. RELIEF CAMP STRIKERS
Permalink
CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member has

spoken for forty minutes.

Topic:   B.C. RELIEF CAMP STRIKERS
Permalink
CON
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Go on.

Topic:   B.C. RELIEF CAMP STRIKERS
Permalink

July 2, 1935