Hon. Milion F. Gregg (Minister of Labour):
In view of the importance of the matter, Mr. Speaker, may I make a brief statement to the house concerning the present railway dispute. Since the short statement I made a week ago today, hon. members will have seen reports in the press of the various meetings on the part of the negotiating committees in Montreal. They will have noted also from these reports that serious efforts were being made to find a solution to the problem. You will note that last night wires were sent to me from both groups of committees, outlining the discussions yesterday which indicated that some progress had been made but stating that they were not able to continue negotiations last night.
In acknowledging those wires this morning I decided that, rather than do so by sending a wire, I would telephone the leaders of the negotiating committees and ask them again if they could not find a solution by free collective bargaining. If I may be permitted, sir, I shall read to the house my summary, which I think is a fair one, of the message I conveyed, on the one hand to Mr. A. J. Kelly, who is associated with Mr. L. C. Malone on behalf of the men- Mr. Malone was near Mr. Kelly when I telephoned-and on the other hand to Mr. Donald Gordon, president of the Canadian National Railways, who was in consultation with Mr. W. A. Mather, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, when I telephoned between 11 and 11.30 this morning. My summary is as follows:
Your wire of 27th January is acknowledged and I am making further reports on the whole matter to meeting of my colleagues this morning. In meantime a review of reports on your negotiations yesterday would indicate that a good
deal of progress was made in finding common grounds in respect to matters other than wages. Before asking cabinet to consider what attitude the government should take, as Minister of Labour, I would like to feel that every means for free and unhampered negotiations have been considered and reconsidered. Will the heads of your committees please confer by telephone or otherwise as soon as possible and I shall telephone by 2 p.m. today to learn results. I am anxious that full advantage be taken of the resources of unhampered collective bargaining.
I did telephone Mr. Gordon and Mr. Kelly at about two p.m., Mr. Speaker. They told me that a meeting had been arranged for three o'clock this afternoon. I indicated to them that I should like to get in touch with them before the house closes at six o'clock so that we might expect to have a report on any progress that might be made.
Subtopic: STATEMENT ON THREATENED RAILWAY STRIKE