Mr. C. E. FERLAND (Joliette-L'Assomp-tion-Montcalm):
Mr. Speaker, in rising to oppose this amendment to the Excise Act I wish first to express my deep regret that the tax on Canadian raw leaf tobacco has been increased from 10 cents to 20 cents a pound. I protest again against this excessive tax on the Canadian natural product, for which in my district the farmer is paid only 10 cents a pound. I believe the new tax will give the coup de grace, the final stroke, to the tobacco industry in my district in Quebec. The constituency of Joliette-L'Assomption-Montcalm is the largest centre of production of raw leaf pipe tobacco in Quebec, and in that district there has been a high development of production and distribution.
Our Quebec tobaccos have been popular throughout Canada, and pipe smokers know very well that the tobacco produced in my district is of the best. During the first great war a tax of 5 cents a pound was placed on
The leader of the opposition (Mr. Hanson), the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis), and the hon. member for Inverness-Richmond (Mr. McGarry), asked me about the adoption of the single shift system at the Inverness coal mine at Inverness, Nova Scotia. I think this should be stated, that I received no copy of the telegram except through my hon. friends. I requested the provincial authorities of Nova Scotia to furnish me with the necessary information to enable me to reply.
The mine in question is owned by the government of Nova Scotia. Those responsible for the operation of the mine reported a serious situation due to absenteeism. For example, for the period from January 2 to July 10, 1942, with a labour force of 312 men, they reported that during 152 working days approximately eight thousand shifts were lost by the employees. On the night shift of July 7 a number of men were off work. On July 8 the miners did not turn out for work because of the annual horse races, and the mine was idle. On July 9 the miners did not turn out for work, and again the mine was idle. On July 10 some men were off on the day shift, and on the night shift more than 25 per cent of the total working force of the miners failed to turn out. The absenteeism was causing loss of production, and the cost of operation was excessive. For these reasons the management decided to single-shift the mine, and worked out a programme that would increase production and bring about more stabilized and uniform conditions.
The majority of the men belong to the United Mine Workers of America. I know that it has been stated to some hon. members that the change in working conditions was a breach of a contract with the union. However, the provincial authorities are of the opinion that no breach of contract took place, because the district executive of the union have been told verbally on more than one occasion that the change might be necessary unless the serious condition of absenteeism was overcome.
As to the effect of single-shifting the mine, there are, as I indicated, 312 men on the payroll. Of this number 237 are at present employed, leaving about 75 men immediately affected. The management believe that the absorption of all the men will take place
very shortly if the cooperation of the working force is obtained and production can be increased.
It appears that the quality of coal is not as good as it was formerly, and the management are faced with the necessity of increasing the output or considering closing down the mine.
Topic: LABOUR CONDITIONS
Subtopic: LAYING OFF OF MEN IN PROVINCIALLY OPERATED COAL MINE IN NOVA SCOTIA
There is I think a disposition on the part of everyone in this house to expedite the passage of these bills, in order that we may finish the other business of the session. I am not going to make a speech on any one of them, least of all on this one. But since the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) is in his seat, and this is the bill which deals with the question of the increase in the excise duties on liquors, and having regard to the debate which has taken place in this house on at least two occasions with respect to the question of the consumption of liquor in Canada, I desire to ask the Prime Minister if he and the administration have given any consideration, other than that indicated by the Minister of Finance, to this great national problem in war time?
The government has been giving very careful and repeated attention to the question. I agree with my hon. friend the leader of the opposition that it is a great national question. So far as I personally am concerned, anything that can possibly be done to control the liquor traffic will be done. But as the hon. gentleman knows, the matter does not rest entirely with the federal government; there are other governments that have control. Certainly I think that at any time, and most of all in war time, every effort should be made to restrict the liquor traffic as much as possible.
Mr. JEAN-FRANQOIS POULIOT (Temis-couata): Temperance is a great virtue. But a wine-taster who was my guest some years ago told me at dinner that if everybody would