June 16, 1972

LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laniel):

The hon. member for Sainte-Marie on a question of privilege.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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PC

Georges-J. Valade

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Valade:

Mr. Speaker, I think that we are creating a precedent. It has always been agreed that when the spokesman of a political party in the House initiated a debate by introducing a motion-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laniel):

Order.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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PC

Georges-J. Valade

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Valade:

Mr. Speaker, I am explaining my question of privilege and I suggest that you should allow me to complete my remarks.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laniel):

Order. I must point out to the hon. member that the Standing Orders, as we all know, clearly specify the length of speeches. When a minister introduces a motion concerning a bill, the Standing Orders provide that the minister may be entitled to an unlimited time period, but in this instance, since this is a motion from the opposition, a time limit for speeches must be set. The House even places upon itself sometimes restrictions which are even stricter.

So, there is no way by which we may discuss this practice established for the past few years, and I must recognize the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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PC

Georges-J. Valade

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Valade:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege.

I wanted to conclude by making concrete proposals in order to settle this conflict. Since I cannot make them in this House, I shall do so in front of newspapermen, and I shall say that the leader of the Social Credit Party who often speaks of democracy, objects to my-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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LIB

Gérald Laniel (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laniel):

Order. I invite the hon. member to resume his seat. The hon. member knows as well as I do that the point he is raising is in no way

[The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laniel).]

connected with the question of privilege. A few minutes ago, he blamed other hon. members for preventing him to speak. I think that at this moment, he must realize that the Chair must recognize the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, the tie-up on the waterfront at Montreal, Trois-Rivieres and Quebec City is, indeed, a very serious matter and we earnestly hope that it will soon be settled. I remain to be convinced, however, whether the kind of speeches that may be made in this chamber today, such as the one we have just heard, will expedite that settlement. I hope that some good will come out of this debate, but that remains to be seen.

When I read the terms of the motion put down by the hon. member for Sainte-Marie (Mr. Valade) I wondered what he meant by the concluding words which call for the government "to intervene forthwith to end the strike".

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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PC

Georges-J. Valade

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Valade:

That is what I wanted to say in my conclusion.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

The hon.

member had 30 minutes. In fact, he had 35 or 36 minutes. I listened carefully to his entire speech. I regret to say that it was necessary for me to listen to the translation of his speech, but at least that had the effect of forcing me to give it my full attention so as not to miss anything. He said several times that his motion was explicit. He said several times that his motion was very clear. Toward the end of his speech he called on the government to take measures to resolve the conflict. But at no time did he tell the House what he meant.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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PC

Georges-J. Valade

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Valade:

I have it all here before me and I wanted to put it before the House.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

At no time did he tell us what he meant by government intervention, and I do not think that what he has in his hand will do that, either.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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?

Rémi Paul

Mr. Prud'homme:

He has a secret weapon.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

What the hon. member says in his motion is that the government should intervene forthwith to end the strike. I must say that if he has in mind steps to put this matter before the courts, then we would disagree. If he has in mind some sort of strike breaking action-though it is a little difficult to use that phrase because it is not a strike, it is a lock-out- again we would disagree. I see the Minister of Labour (Mr. O'Connell) disagrees with what I am saying about the dispute being a lockout, but there we are. If the hon. member has in mind calling upon the government to bring in legislation to put these employees back to work, the employees who may not be employees because they have been suspended, we do not agree with that either.

I know there is a great deal of current feeling about strikes, about unions and about workers, and I understand it, particularly when it affects the public generally.

June 16, 1972

But let us not forget that the sanctity of the law and the sacredness of rights must include protecting the law at all times and protecting those rights which have been established in a society such as ours. The right of employers and employees to disagree and to carry that disagreement to the point of a stoppage of work is one of the factors of our society. We have had to live with this for a long time. Someone may come up with a better way and he will be a great hero when he does. In the meantime, we do not aid the cause of amity or industrial peace in our society simply by putting the blame on trade unions, on workers and on strikers. Neither do we solve the problem by making generalized speeches for 30 minutes calling upon the government to intervene and end it without saying what the government should do.

I intend to be very brief. One or more of my colleagues may speak later in the day and, if they do, they, too, will be brief. There is the suggestion that has come from the National Farmers Union that if there is no solution for some time to this matter the government might consider taking over the operations, putting them under an administrator or something until an agreement can be reached. That point will be put forward later, but we contend that even that should not be proposed until a serious effort has been made by the Minister of Labour along the lines he is already following.

If we have a quarrel with the Minister of Labour, and I speak for my leader who happens to be away today, and for the rest of us in this party, it is not with the nature of what he is doing, it is with the degree and the vigour of it. He said the other day in response to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Stanfield) that he was doing his best to get the two parties to have regard for their obligations to each other. Then, he used this sentence:

That kind of intervention I have indeed pursued vigorously.

He looks at me and seems to be asking if I want him to be more vigorous. That is right. Later on that same day, Wednesday, June 14, we find another response to the hon. member for York South (Mr. Lewis). The sentence I have read was from page 3124 of Hansard. Looking over at page 3125, I find this response at the end of a series of questions:

I would point out that the two parties themselves appointed the arbitrators and that four arbitrators are named in the agreement. The initiative falls on one or the other of the two parties. They each have the obligation.

I agree with the minister's statement as a description of the situation as it obtains legally, but the public interest is involved in all of this and it is the job of the Minister of Labour to represent that public interest. Our suggestion, our plea and our urging to him is that he regard what he has called vigorous in the past as not vigorous enough, and that he make every effort he possibly can to get the two parties together in a place they choose, or let him choose the place, and stay with the two parties hour upon hour, day upon day, night upon night if necessary until they either reach an agreement or until they agree to send the matter to arbitration. Our suggestion is as simple as that. We are not asking for legislation. In fact, we do not want it. We are not asking for police action and we are not asking for the matter to be taken to the courts. We are trying to avoid the mistake I think the last member made

Quebec Longshoremen's Strike

in calling for something to be done and not saying what he meant.

I almost have to say that in a sense I like the stance of the Minister of Labour in respecting the law and the rights of both sides. We appreciate the fact that he appreciates the rights of the workers and I cannot quarrel with his respecting the rights of the employers as well. That is the way it has to be. Unfortunately for him, as a new Minister of Labour trying to find his way in this important area, he has this problem on his hands and we think there is no other reasonable and decent solution to it but the one we are suggesting, namely that he do everything he can, and that does not mean legal action or throwing his weight around as a minister of the government who would have the power to bring in legislation, but rather as the Minister of Labour, to get these people together in an appropriate room in an appropriate place somewhere and say: Boys, we are staying here until this matter is settled. Let the government pay the cost of the room and provide the meals when keeping them there until, for their own sake, for the sake of the families of those involved and for the sake of the economy of the country, this matter is settled.

I say again, Sir, we are not asking the minister to adopt in nature something he is not now doing. He has talked to both sides, but we are asking him to carry this to its ultimate conclusion by actually getting both parties together and keeping them there until they, under his guidance and direction, settle this dispute for the good of Canada.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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SC

David Réal Caouette

Social Credit

Mr. Real Caouette (Temiscamingue):

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that earlier I objected to the hon. member for Sainte-Marie (Mr. Valade), who is the mover, continuing his remarks because allegedly he wanted to submit solutions. He had exactly 40 minutes, I believe, to submit them, and he did not put them to good use. It was not my intention to prevent him from submitting solutions, but to prevent him from taking up the time of other hon. members.

Mr. Speaker, I rather endorse the views expressed by the hon. member for Winnipeg-North-Centre (Mr. Knowles) to the effect that the minister should meet the two parties involved, because public interest is at stake and settlement does not concern merely shipowners and longshoremen, but a a great many people involved in trucking, business, etc. Moreover, there are people who have been expecting goods from Japan and other countries for nearly a month and a half and cannot get them.

So, in the interest of the community and the people as a whole, the minister must give orders, meet the leaders of the International Longshoremen's Association and the representatives of management and bring them together around a table to discuss the problem.

Not only the strike is at issue. I can understand the situation on both sides. Wednesday morning, I was in Montreal, speaking on Mr. Jarraud's program on CKVL and a longshoreman called me. He was almost crying while describing the terrible situation in which the longshoremen find themselves at present and he told me that

June 16, 1972

Quebec Longshoremen's Strike

this whole dispute could have been avoided from the beginning in less than 24 hours if only the parties had been willing to meet.

But nobody would give in. The union leader, Mr. Saint-Onge, refuses to meet the employers, saying that they have bent the provisions of the collective agreement stipulating that the computers will be used as of September and not May. Now, the use of the computers started as early as may, which did not please Mr. Saint-Onge.

However, that his was not the only thing that started the dispute. Before this long one, there was a one-day dispute and that was not provided for in the collective agreement. It was decided to strike on that day to support the famous Quebec Common Front of labour unions, but Mr. Saint-Onge does not talk about that. True, the collective agreement contains provisions for the use of computers as early as September, but their use, since May, has not prejudiced those who were working in the ports of Montreal, Trois-Rivieres and Quebec City.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, one must be honest and straightforward, and call a spade a spade. There are lots of problems, and not only on the ship-owners' side, but also on the longshoremen's side.

I was even told by a docker that some workers steal boats, motorcycles, radios and television sets. The insurance companies have to refund the price of the goods stolen in the ports along the St. Lawrence river.

That is not provided or in the collective agreement; yet, such is the practice. The union leaders do not mention that. Mr. Saint-Onge did not refer to it. However, he is always criticizing the employer, the ship-owner, and so on.

Not long ago, a $2 million loan was suggested with a view to replenishing the strike fund of the Montreal dockers. As for me, I say to fellows like Saint-Onge et al. Why not be honest about it? Instead of borrowing $2 million to replenish the strike fund and telling the longshoremen that they will continue to get $20 or $25 a week even if they do not work, why not buy ships and become shipowners and treat the workers as they would like to be treated? But no. They borrow to go on strike. They do not have the courage to borrow to build something.

Mr. Speaker, the problem is difficult but still a solution is possible. Arbitration is necessary at this point. One of the shipowners is willing to go to arbitration, but the union leaders will not hear of it.

That is why, in the name of the common good, of the public interest, the Minister of Labour (Mr. O'Connell) should intervene. Even then, the shipowners should not be kept from going to court to establish who is right or wrong in this case, and arrive at a judgment or decision that would let us know where we are going.

This morning, the radio announced that the Quebec Minister of Labour had bluntly stated this: If Ottawa does not get a move on, Quebec will.

And because this matter comes under federal jurisdiction, the Minister of Labour told us yesterday that he could do nothing more, that all they have to do is negotiate or request an arbitrator, The minister will not assume his responsibility in this respect.

This morning, his Quebec counterpart stated: This is none of my business but since the federal government will not take any action, I shall do so in its place. And he offered his services.

This is why I claim that it is the minister's imperative duty to obtain that both parties come to the bargaining table or accept arbitration, in order to end this disastrous strike, because neither the union leaders nor the employers will provide for the wives and children of the Montreal longshoremen. At the present time, there is undeserved misery in Montreal, and everybody complains about it, including the mothers.

A trucker called to tell me: We might lose our trucks since we cannot meet our payments because the strike prevents us from working. A whole group of people is in the same situation and mainly small businessmen who fear bankruptcy because of this disastrous strike.

And Wednesday morning after I was interviewed on television, someone asked me: What is the federal government waiting for to do something and reach a decision? All the Montreal longshoremen are waiting for this.

Let nobody think that all longshoremen approve their union leaders' statements. Last Monday morning, it was a shame to see the longshoremen gathered at the Paul Sauve centre in Montreal willing to go back to work, while another group insisted on picketing. And labourers working on the same sites were fighting like cats and dogs and tried to break each others legs. Why? For the common good? No. They do not even know why. They fight each other when they need to cooperate in order to obtain justice for everyone.

Unfortunately, many union leaders disagree on this point. Since some employers have also been unfair to the workers, this proves that both parties are to blame, but it is not by keeping them apart that we will get satisfactory results.

That is why it is imperative for the minister to take action and not to allow himself to be outdone by his Quebec counterpart. It would be funny if we heard tonight that the Quebec Minister of Labour (Mr. Cournoy-er) had a meeting with the shipowners and labour leaders this afternoon and that it had been decided to put an end to the dispute. The responsible federal minister would look a little foolish, and I will be watching him on Monday to see if that has happened. In the meantime, however, I would ask whether it would be possible for him to see these people over the weekend and arrange for a meeting.

As far as the computer quarrel is concerned, I cannot accept that is very logical. Perhaps some conditions of the collective agreement have not been observed because of the use of computers in May to decide whether the services of 8 men instead of 10 or 16 would be needed according to the ship's tonnage.

Whether computers are used in May or September is of no serious consequences. However, under the terms of the collective agreement, they are to be used in September. This is a case where the shipowners have not observed their part of the agreement.

June 16, 1972

On the other hand, employees have been told: You will not be replaced until September. In this case, the labour leaders have no reasons to get excited because nobody is losing his job.

Mr. Speaker, this is the serious situation in which the longshoremen find themselves and which is affecting the economy of the entire province as well as that of the rest of Canada.

I repeat that I am in favour of unions, but the Montreal maritime unions are members of an international association. How can there be talk of union solidarity when ships are being turned away from Montreal so that they will be unloaded along the American seaboard by members of the same association? Talk about solidarity!

Mr. Speaker, the longshoremen in the province of Quebec, along the St. Lawrence river, understand the situation and are eager to see this dispute come to an end. If some union leaders and ship-owners do not see it that way, the minister has the responsibility of saying: Come and negotiate immediately so that we may end this dispute, have the longshoremen return to work and restore some order in this very important field of economic activities for the benefit of our whole country and in particular for the benefit of the province of Quebec.

Here are the remarks, Mr. Speaker, that I wanted to make today; there is only one solution, in my opinion, under the circumstances: the minister must take action.

The minister recently replied to my colleague the hon. member for Shefford (Mr. Rondeau) that he had prevented the ship-owners from prosecuting the union because there were other ways to settle the dispute. Now six weeks have elapsed and the other means have not produced results because nothing has been done so far, whereas an injunction or proceedings might have solved the problem by now.

So I should like to know today what means, what solutions the government has in mind or intends to bring forward to settle that labour dispute that has already lasted six weeks and should not have happened.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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?

Arthur Jacob (Jake) Epp

Hon. Martin P. O'Connell (Minister of Labour):

Mr. Speaker, I have listened very carefully and with a great deal of interest, particularly to the remarks of the Leader of the Social Credit party. I found the tone in which he made his remarks very reasonable and helpful indeed. As to the few proposals which he put forward toward the end of his remarks-that is another question. I also appreciated very much the approach taken by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles). I want to reject completely and at once the charge of indifference, the charge of laissez faire, levied by the hon. member for Sainte-Marie (Mr. Valade) who introduced this resolution. It is a complete misrepresentation of the activities in which I and the departmental officials have been engaged. I want to say also that I have had the benefit of continuous consultations with my colleagues who represent Montreal and who sit on this side of the House. I have had representations from them. I know their concern, which I share, about the tragic situation which is now afflicting that port.

Quebec Longshoremen's Strike

I should say at the opening of my remarks that I am now, and always have been, ready to meet the parties to this dispute at any time that it would appear useful and in the public interest to do so, but I will not undertake to take steps that would be useless in the situation, that indeed would be counter-productive. I will not take steps, which some have suggested, that would in fact work against the long term interests of the port of Montreal. This is a crucial time in the labour management relations in the port of Montreal. Some two months ago the parties came to an agreement. That was one of the best agreements, certainly in North America, to regulate the relations between employers and employees in any dock system in North America. It is very important, therefore- and I know all members of the House will agree-that the steps the parties take, particularly the steps which the Minister of Labour takes at this time, confirm and support that agreement and do not in fact undermine the long term interests of the port of Montreal.

Mr. Speaker, I will have more to say about the resolution put forward by the hon. member for Sainte-Marie, but at this point I would like to look at the port situation as it has developed over the past ten years to try to get a better picture in front of the members of this House of the perspective we should take in looking at this particular dispute. I see it is virtually one o'clock, Mr. Speaker, and perhaps before I enter into that part of my remarks I might call it one o'clock.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

Shall we call it one o'clock?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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IND

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Independent

Mr. Speaker:

I do now leave the chair. The House will resume its work at two o'clock.

At one o'clock the House took recess.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY S.O. 58-REQUEST THAT GOVERNMENT INTERVENE TO SETTLE QUEBEC LONGSHOREMEN'S STRIKE
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AFTER RECESS The House resumed at 2 p.m.


June 16, 1972