Right Hon, W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister): Mr. Speaker, in looking over the proceedings of the house I notice it has been suggested that some recognition should be taken by the house of the fact that this is Empire day in Canada.
Mr. MACKENZIE KING:
No, it is Empire day in Canada to-day. To-morrow, as I understand it, is Victoria day. I doubt if a more appropriate means could be taken by the house to recognize Empire day than that we all join in singing together the anthem which will be honoured in all parts of the empire on Empire day. If this meets with the approval of hon. members I suggest that we now join in the singing of God Save the King.
(The members rose and sang God Save the King.)
SOLDIER SETTLERS, VETERANS OP FIRST GREAT WAR
Mr. ROBERT FAIR (Battle River):
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by approximately 12,500 citizens of western Canada, asking, among other things, that veterans of great war No. 1 who hold land under contract with the soldier settlement
board be granted clear titles. I do not think anything more appropriate could be granted on this anniversary than that which is asked for in the petition.
I have the honour to
inform the house that I have received a communication from two members informing me that the following vacancy has occurred in the representation, viz:
Of Eugene Durocher, Esquire, member for the electoral district of St. James, Montreal, by decease.
I accordingly issued my warrant to the chief electoral officer to make out a new writ of election for the said electoral district.
FARM LOAN BOARD CORRESPONDENCE RESPECTING RESIGNATION OP S. T. BHABBITS
Mr. D. C. ABBOTT (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance):
I beg leave to present parliamentary return, reference 248, asked for by the hon. member for Mackenzie (Mr. Nicholson), for a copy of all letters, telegrams and other documents with respect to the resignation of S. T. Shabbits.
While there is no objection to the production of the correspondence in this case, nevertheless it is not considered generally in the public interest to produce inter-office correspondence, and the production in this case is not to be taken as a precedent.
It is to be noted that the Canadian farm loan board has been constituted by parliament as a body corporate and politic and is vested with full control over the employment and dismissal of all its employees other than chief executive officers whose appointments are subject to the approval of the governor in council. The board, moreover, is charged with the responsibility of carrying on its operations on a self-sustaining financial basis and does not come to parliament for an appropriation of funds for administrative expenses.
Subtopic: CORRESPONDENCE RESPECTING RESIGNATION OP S. T. BHABBITS
QUEBEC SYNAGOGUE CIRCUMSTANCES OF DESTRUCTION BY FIRE
On the orders of the day:
Mr. M. J. COLD WELL (Rosetown-Biggar):
Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask a question of the Prime Minister, who has no doubt read the reports of the shameful incident which occurred in the city of Quebec, where a newly built Jewish synagogue was burned down. I am suggesting that since this is the kind of occurrence which we witnessed in Europe, the Prime Minister might express on
behalf of the house a condemnation of such proceeding. Then, possibly the Minister of Justice might enable the mounted police to cooperate with the city police to try to bring the culprits to justice.
Subtopic: CIRCUMSTANCES OF DESTRUCTION BY FIRE
Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
My hon. friend was kind enough to give me notice of his intention to ask this question. Although I have not had an opportunity thus far to read the newspaper account to which the hon, member referred, I would not hesitate to say that any act of criminal arson cannot be too strongly condemned, and is many times more reprehensible when its motive is that of in any way seeking to promote racial or religious prejudice.
So far as cooperation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with the provincial police is concerned, it is my understanding that it is the practice of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to cooperate in every way possible with provincial police, when asked to do so by provincial authorities.
Subtopic: CIRCUMSTANCES OF DESTRUCTION BY FIRE
STATUTORY HOLIDAYS STATEMENT AS TO REDUCTION IN NUMBER AS EMERGENCY WAR MEASURE
On the orders of the day:
Hon. N. A. McLARTY (Secretary of State):
On Friday last the hon. member for Broadview (Mr. Church) requested that a statement be made in connection with public holidays. Possibly it would clarify the situation somewhat if I were to make a brief statement.
Under the statutes of Canada Sunday is the only day upon which ordinary businesses are compulsorily closed.
With the development of the production of war materials in Canada on a large scale, it became necessary to make provision, as an emergency war measure, for a reduction in the number of holidays which had been generally observed. Accordingly, by an order in council passed under the War Measures Act and tabled in this house, it was provided that apart from Sundays or such weekly days of rest provided in lieu thereof, the following statutory holidays, and these holidays only, should be observed by employers and employees during the war: New Year's day, Good Friday, Dominion day, Labour day, Thanksgiving day, Christmas day; and that reasonable opportunity should continue to be allowed to employees for the performance of their religious duties.
It was also provided that the provisions of any collective labour agreement that are inconsistent with this declaration of policy 100-198i
should be suspended for the duration of the present war by mutual consent of the parties thereto but pending such suspension should remain in force and continue to be observed. This was a declaration intended to express the views of the dominion government in relation to industry and more especially to war industry.
It will be observed that the terms of this declaration are not mandatory but constitute a declaration of the policy which the government, having regard to the necessities of the war, felt should be followed by employers and employees throughout the country in these critical days.
The order in council, however, dealt with two specific statutes of the parliament of Canada. One is the Civil Service Act, which prescribes the holidays to be observed by the public service of Canada. The other is the Bills of Exchange Act, which contains a provision prescribing the days which in all matters relating to bills of exchange should be observed as legal holidays or non-juridical days. The order in council provided that the terms of these statutes relating to holidays should be suspended during the duration of the war or until otherwise ordered and that the only holidays which should be observed were the ones I have enumerated above.
If provincial governments and municipalities proclaim any day to be a public holiday within their jurisdictions, it is not a matter with which the dominion government has anything to do, but any day so appointed is not a day which can be observed as a bank holiday.
Victoria day, the 24th of May, is not a public holiday in the United Kingdom, and, while there have been suggestions that the order relating to the observance of Victoria day should this year be modified in Canada, the government has to keep in mind that at any hour, so far as we know, word may come of the beginning of military operations on a gigantic scale in which Canadian forces will be heavily engaged. It would, therefore, seem inappropriate that the government of Canada should select this particular time for modifying the regulations which it felt it its duty to make, having regard to the needs of our war effort.
It is, I am sure, the hope of all of us that before the 24th of May next year conditions may have so changed as to permit the public observance of this popular holiday on a national scale. In the meantime, however, as I have said, if provincial governments or municipalities set aside this or any other day as a holiday within their jurisdictions, for
schools and the like, it is not a matter in respect to which the dominion government has responsibility.
There seems also to be some uncertainty as to the proper date for the observance of Dominion day, A perusal of the order of the Tth June, 1943, will show that Dominion day is to be observed and celebrated on Saturday, the 1st day of July, 1944.
Subtopic: STATEMENT AS TO REDUCTION IN NUMBER AS EMERGENCY WAR MEASURE