March 28, 1945

NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

One need only go to Fort McMurray to see where $1,500,000 and more has been spent by the government on a plant, but I shall deal with that later on. It is impossible for government to operate a business. At that plant they have a staff of 203, I am informed, where previously there was a staff of sixty-seven. The present staff of 203 produces fifty barrels a day, while the previous staff of sixty-seven produced from 300 to 400 barrels a day. The government cannot run business. But after the war the working man will be appealing to the Minister of Labour. He is the only minister to whom he can go. He cannot go to the Minister of Finance; he cannot go to the Minister of Justice; he cannot go to the Minister of Fisheries; he cannot go to the minister of this or that; he must appeal to the Minister of Labour.

This delegation coming here to-morrow is to represent from four to five hundred men to be laid off by the shipyards. Is the government going to tell these men where they can get jobs? This will be only a start. I really want to help the minister; I want to see him take the reins in his hands and make preparations to give jobs to men. When the men come back from the war they are not going to stand around twiddling their fingers and asking for a job, or I will be surprised if they do. They will want jobs.

I do not want the minister to adopt the attitude of other ministers and tell me that it is not his business. I am a labour man and a business man. I have had perhaps more to do with the employment of men than any other member at the moment in this house. I worked up from the bottom to the top. I have been a labour man all my life and my heart has always been for the labouring man.

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PC
NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

Yes, what a man. Of course the hon. member for AVood Mountain would not know the first mortal thing about

Supply-Labour

labour. He might be able to pull teeth or take a nail out of a finger or give a man a dose of salts or something like that-

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An hon. MEMBER:

Or a permit for liquor.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

I do not think he would do anything like that. But if I ask him to place a hundred men, give them jobs and pay them out of profits, I should like to see him do that, and I am saying that in the kindliest way. I like the Minister of Labour, and I always have, but he has been a labour union man. I do not know that he ever had anything to do with giving jobs, and that is a different thing altogether. Men are given employment by industry and their wages are paid out of profits. The profits may be small or large-I am not going into that-but that is the only way that jobs can be provided. You cannot draw on your bank account all the time; you have to have a return to provide jobs. You buy your raw materials in the cheapest market and you sell whpt you manufacture in the most reasonable market you can find. Perhaps I am out of order and all this does not come under this item, but as the minister himself has said his business is to provide jobs. I agree with him and I want to help him to provide jobs.

I will be interested to see just who handles this delegation that is coming here on behalf of five hundred shipworkers who are to ask where they are to get jobs.

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An hon. MEMBER:

Now.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

Right now. Not only that; there will be another big factory sending a delegation here representing, not five hundred people, but perhaps ten thousand. That is what will happen when the war ends, because there is no use in filling shells with powder that cannot be used. A man working in one plant told me that they would have to keep it going because there were fourteen thousand men and women working there. A shell does not last very long and the powder deteriorates, but no sane man is going to run a shell factory and put powder into shells that will not be used.

The minister has been able to do a good job so far because there has been a tremendous demand for labour, but that demand will cease after this war the way it did after the last war. The last war ended on November 11, 1918, and I can remember 925 happy men working and drawing their pay every two weeks. Within a week or ten days, I have just forgotten the exact time, that staff was reduced to 150; in three weeks more the factory was working three days a week and within three months they were all laid off 32283-22

except the office staff. Does the minister think these munition plants are going to turn their wheels just to make a wind? Certainly not. It is a big problem and I should like the minister to tell us what programme he has? I think it was at Winnipeg that he said he had a programme. Men will be displaced by hundreds of thousands, and that is a problem we have to face. I can tell the minister this, that the men will not just sit and twiddle their thumbs this time, or sell shoe laces on the comer or come rapping at the door to sell pins. They want work. What is the minister's programme to give them work?

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I do not wish to be accused of repetition, and I do not want my hon. friend to think for one minute that I am running away from his question. Up to this minute we have been able to place everybody, speaking in a broad way, through selective service. My hon. friend was a manufacturer himself and no one knows better than he does that you cannot change over from war to peace without creating pockets of unemployment. That is the reason for the establishment of unemployment insurance in this country. There is no man breathing who can maintain continuity of employment in the sense that my hon. friend indicated. The Minister of Reconstruction has already stated that he is going to set aside one day a week-I think it was Monday-for consultation with labour organizations in this country if they so desire, and he' is doing that. You are bound to have some unemployment when factories are turning from war production and tooling up for a new operation. My hon. friend understands that. As I said earlier this evening you have to be pretty careful when this war is over 'that you do not create an emotional condition that will be pretty hard to handle.

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CCF

William Scottie Bryce

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. BRYCE:

I should like to take this opportunity of renewing some of my requests to the Minister of Labour. I think it would be foolish of me to let an opportunity like this go by when he seems to be so good natured and jolly to-night. Perhaps I shall have better success this time than I have had in the past.

Last session I asked the minister about the calling up of farmers' sons for service in the army, and he assured me that that would be taken care of. But I can assure him that the very same thing is happening to-day that happened a year ago. When you find a widow with two sons fighting overseas, and you take the third son into the army, I think that is unfair. I can give the evidence to the minister. I know a farmer close to my home. He has only two sons and both have been

Supply-Labour

called up. It is necessary in the interests of agriculture that these men be postponed. The minister said a few minutes ago that we are producing bigger and better crops than ever before. Yes; we are producing to-day bigger and better crops of what the Minister of Agriculture does not want-wheat. We do not need any more wheat; the Minister of Agriculture has said that in speeches all across the country. On the other hand, our butter stocks are as low to-day as they have ever been. We are short of butter. Why? Because we have not the help on the farms to milk the cows. The hon. member for Souris said that we are down thirty-two per cent. We are down fifty per cent in our hog production in Manitoba and there is no prospect of the situation improving for some time because we have not the help.

Without taking up too much time I ask the minister if he cannot do something with respect to the calling up of farmers' sons. Once a farmer's son is called up and gets into the army, it takes a regiment of soldiers to get him back out of it. The minister knows that because he has been in the army just as I have been. You can go and talk to the commanding officer, but it is a hard job to get a man out of the army once he is in. It should, however, be easy for the minister's department to find out just what the situation of these farmers' sons is before they are called up and attested. Can the minister give any assurance that he will do something about the matter this time, or is he just going to give a promise that will not mean anything?

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

It is fundamental that ignorance of the law is no excuse. We have broadcast and advertised what the regulations are with regard to the calling up of farmers' sons and men working in agriculture more than any other thing. I cannot go around personally to tens of thousands of people and whisper in their ears: You do not have to be called up. But we do publish advertisements in the newspapers and broadcast over the radio just what the regulations are, applying to men working in agriculture. It has all been put on Hansard too. As I said to my hon. friend last year I cannot go around and tell every man personally just what the regulations are, neither can my organization. My hon. friend comes from Manitoba. I have some knowledge of the board there and I think it is a very good board, presided over by Mr. Justice Adamson. There is a limit to what I can do.

I shall always be glad to listen to the representations of any member of the house, no matter on which side he sits but I cannot, and I would not if I could, surreptitiously or in [Mr. Bryce. 1

any other way indicate to these boards what they should do. Once a man gets into the army he is out of my jurisdiction completely. It is then a matter for the military authorities. If there is any other way that my hon. friend can suggest of acquainting these men of what their position is under the law and regulations I shall be glad to hear it.

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CCF

William Scottie Bryce

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. BRYCE:

Once a man is in the army you cannot do anything about it. That is just my point. I know that the minister cannot get into personal contact with every man, but his department calls the men up and the department could- find out what the position of the man was in civilian life before calling him up for the army. There is your contact, and there is a slip-up there.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

If a farmer's son wants to join the army, the navy or the air force, I cannot stop him from doing so because this is still a free country, thank heaven. But I think they all know what he law is with regard to workers in agriculture. If they do not, I do not know how we can get it over to them. A man engaged in agriculture does not even have to have a medical examination. All he needs to do when he gets his call is to say he is employed in agriculture, and he is left there until his case is investigated.

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NAT
LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

My hon. friend says, no. I should like to know of any case to the contrary. After all is said and done, when you are sending out calls like this organization is doing, to upwards of a million men, there is bound to be a slip made some time. In passing, let me say that I sometimes wonder how some people who on the public platform advocate that every man should be in -the army are yet so solicitous of those people who do not want to go into the army. It is a very difficult policy that I have to administer in justice and without fear or favour.

As to the question raised by my hon. friend, if he has an answer I should like to know what it is. The procedure is so simple. Every boy or girl in this country is taught to read and write, and newspapers are still printed. We put advertisements in the newspapers; we send out letters. If one can do any more than that, I do not know what it is.

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PC

Norman James Macdonald Lockhart

Progressive Conservative

Mr. LOCKHART:

What about the thousands of emergencies that arise.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

Well, let us have the

"thousands of emergencies". The mere fact my hon. friend says there are thousands does not indicate that there are.

Supply-Labour__________

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PC

Norman James Macdonald Lockhart

Progressive Conservative

Mr. LOCKHART:

Well, there are. I can

give the minister fifty right now.

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PC

George Russell Boucher

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BOUCHER:

I wish to mention to the minister a recent situation, as far as selective service calling men into the army is concerned, which, I think, needs his attention. In a case brought recently to my attention a farmer's only son, having served for three years in the air force in this country and having been willing at that time to go active, found that requirements in, the air force were no longer as urgent as they had been, but that the requirements at home to assist his aged father and mother were very serious. He asked for a postponement and was advised by his commanding officer that he had a fit and proper case for discharge to permit him to go back to the farm. He was allowed twenty-one days' leave after which he was to pick up his discharge papers. This was in February; whereupon a new regulation was issued which provided that he was no longer entitled to discharge after having served for three years in Canada before being called up, but that he would be redrafted from the air force to the army. My point is that if national selective service call for a man they should say where he fits into our manpower picture. This man has not a chance to go back to the farm; the discharge promised him is now denied him by a change in the regulations whereby, having served for only three years in Canada instead of three years overseas, he is being drafted-in effect, contrary to the promise made to him-into the army notwithstanding that he is required on the farm. If I were the Minister of Labour, being in charge of national selective service, I would say that that individual should be sent to the farm and not to the army at this particular time. He has served for three years, has been willing at all times to go overseas and do his part but was not permitted to do so, and there is no help on the farm to continue the production which is so urgently needed. He should be given a chance to apply again for a discharge and state his case to go back on the farm, instead of which he is being drafted from the air force into the army. It may be that we badly need men, in the army, but we certainly need assistance in agriculture; and I think the minister in charge of selective service should not have allowed manpower to get out of his control and be handled by the two departments of national defence so that they can swap personnel and increase their numbers.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

My hon. friend is a

[DOT]total conscriptionist, but he has put up a pretty fair exhibition of straddling the fence.

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PC

March 28, 1945