There is quite an increase over the expenditure last year. I presume the expenditure is entirely for the expenses of the delegates who attend the international labour organization at Geneva. Yesterday the Minister of Labour tabled sessional paper No. 65, which deals with the problems of the international labour conference over a period of years. I do not understand why there was so much delay in tabling these documents. It contains certain items of importance from a labour standpoint. I notice that the recommendations were approved by the governor in council on March 7, 1939, but the documents were not tabled until yesterday. Matters of considerable importance are referred to as affecting labour legislation in this country. In addition there is what I would term a very important statement by the Minister of Justice concerning jurisdiction as between the federal government and the provinces in respect of various matters dealt with at the international labour conference. In the brief time since this was tabled yesterday by the Minister of Labour-we are working from eleven in the morning until eleven at night- there has not been an opportunity even to glance at all the matters referred to in these documents and appreciate what they involve. I notice, however, that in the final summing up of the Minister of Justice upon various matters dealt with at the international labour conference as they are affected by the question of jurisdiction between the provinces and the federal government, he has this to say:
The undersigned therefore recommends that a copy hereof, if approved, together with authenticated copies of the said draft conventions and recommendations, be transmitted to the Lieutenant Governors of the respective
provinces for the consideration of their respective governments, with a view to the enactment of legislation, or such other action, upon the parts of the subject matter of the several draft conventions and recommendations within the provincial sphere of jurisdiction as each government may be advised to take.
In other words, these matters, in the opinion of the Department of Justice, are for the provincial governments to deal with, and are recommended to them for consideration and whatever action they deem wise under the circumstances. But there is not a word in this report in respect to the draft agreements prepared at Geneva upon matters which are within the jurisdiction of the federal government.
even though the minister did make a brief statement yesterday on these matters, the draft conventions were approved by the governor in council almost four months ago. The matter is submitted to parliament in the dying hours of the session, although the papers could easily have been brought down many months earlier, thus giving hon. members who are interested an opportunity to study the recommendations.
papers been brought down earlier, hon. members would have had some opportunity to study the recommendations of the Department of Justice and see what the government might do in that regard. Why has it taken so long to table the documents? Why do they come down only in the dying hours of the session?
hon. friend has raised this point. As a matter of fact it was raised in the first instance yesterday by the hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Stewart) when I was not in the house, and I believe the Minister of Justice gave an undertaking that I would deal with it when this item was before the committee.
First of all I should explain that the statement made yesterday with respect to the documents tabled arose from the necessity of our carrying out as a government the obligation we assumed as a member of the international labour organization. In effect that obligation is to bring to the attention of the competent
legislative authority such conventions as have been adopted by the international labour organization. Up to 1935 the practice followed was for the Minister of Labour to table these conventions as they were received, and they were made available in so far as they were within the competence of this parliament. With respect to matters which fell within provincial jurisdiction, the practice was to transmit the conventions without delay to the lieutenant governors of the various provinces. In 1935 the previous administration took the position that by ratification of an international labour convention the dominion parliament could of itself acquire complete authority to enact the legislation necessary to carry the convention into effect. That was the whole basis of the legislation passed by this parliament which dealt with hours and with wages-the minimum wage bill, the weekly day of rest, and the eight hour day. A question arose as to the validity of that legislation, and, in particular, as to the sufficiency of the contention that the dominion parliament, merely by ratifying the convention, could acquire a jurisdiction which by the constitution was definitely assigned to the provincial legislatures. The matter -was taken to the privy council. The privy council rejected the contention that ratification of the international labour convention gave legislative authority to this parliament to carry the convention into effect. That being the case, it was necessary for this government to revert to the former practice in carrying out its obligations as a member of the international labour organization. In other words, we must table here the conventions which are competent for this parliament, and transmit to the provinces the conventions the subject matter of which falls within provincial jurisdiction.
On March 6, on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice, the various conventions which had been adopted between 1935 and 1938 were examined as to their subject matter in order to determine which should be sent to the provinces and which should be laid on the table of the house in accordance with our obligations. It then became necessary to determine upon the exact form in which those documents should be laid upon the table of this house and transmitted to the provinces. Correspondence upon the matter took place between this government and the international labour office and our resident officer in Geneva, Mr. Hume Wrong. It was also necessary to have conferences between several departments of our own government-the Department of External Affairs,
the Department of Labour, and the Department of Transport. I am satisfied that under all the circumstances there was no undue delay in the tabling of these reports. While I had not intended to mention it, two of the officers most directly concerned in the matter, the legal adviser of the Department of External Affairs, and the assistant deputy minister of labour, were ill during part of that time. This in itself involved some delay, apart from the correspondence to which I have referred. Certainly there was no desire on the part of anyone to withhold information from the house. As a matter of fact all these conventions were public documents. They have been public documents during that entire period from 1935 to 1938. The whole purpose of the statement was to revise the form in which we should carry out our obligations as a member of the international labour office with the purpose of bringing to the attention of the proper legislative authority the conventions which were adopted.
What is the attitude of the government toward the questions which come strictly within its jurisdiction?-for instance, the question of conditions on ships leaving this country under Canadian registry. Has any policy in that regard been evolved by the department?
The conventions adopted at the special maritime meeting of the international labour conference were in some cases under provincial jurisdiction and in other cases under federal jurisdiction with respect to their subject matter. Those which were under federal jurisdiction were submitted to the Department of Transport. Some have already been ratified and the provisions of them effectively are found within the Canada Shipping Act. Others are still before the marine branch of the Department of Transport for consideration. As a matter of fact they would appear to require further amendments of the shipping act, and up to this time the Department of Transport has not felt it desirable to make those amendments.