May 23, 1938 (18th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Angus MacInnis

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

Mr. ANGUS MacINNIS (Vancouver East):

Before you leave the chair, Mr. Speaker, I wish to say a few words in connection with the matter raised a moment ago by the hon. member for Kamloops, (Mr. O'Neill) and replied to by the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers): For some weeks past a serious situation has been growing in British Columbia and particularly in the city of Vancouver. On several occasions during the past month the matter has been brought to the attention of the government by other members from British Columbia as well as by myself.
It is all very well for the minister to say that the government will not be influenced in the slightest by any demonstrations of the kind that are now taking place in the city of Vancouver, but that does not solve Vancouver's problem. It does not provide for these people who are unemployed, and until we make some satisfactory provision for the unemployed, we shall inevitably have difficulties of this kind. As a matter of fact the situation to-day reminds me very much of the condition that prevailed in the spring of 1935, which culminated in the riots at Regina on the first of July of that year. Surely this government with the experience before it which the previous government had, is not going to let matters drift until real trouble develops as in 1935. That is what we must avoid, and if drastic steps must be taken, then let that be done. But first we should make sure that there is no other way by which we can find a solution for our difficulties. I

Unemployed Men in Vancouver
do not believe we have made sure that there are not other ways by which we can deal with this question.
Yesterday I received the following wire from Vancouver:
That 1,500 single unemployed including a large non-residence proportion are occupying the Hotel Georgia, the post office and the art gallery as means of drawing their plight to public attention. We feel that assurance of work from the government upon a government plan or any assurance of work will meet situation. Otherwise fear serious consequences will ensue. Urge immediate action.
This telegram is signed not merely by one individual but by fourteen people prominent in the civic life of Vancouver and in the legislature of British Columbia. It is signed by six out of the eight aldermen in Vancouver, and by seven members of the provincial legislature, including Liberals, Conservatives, and members of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, also by one British Columbia cabinet minister, as well as by the chief of police, W. W. Foster, of the city of Vancouver.
I submit that the statement made in the house to-day by the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) is not a satisfactory reply in relation to the problem which to-day confronts Vancouver. If it was not the intention that these men should establish domicile in British Columbia they should not have been given employment in the first place; since they were employed for the whole or part of the winter on the forestry projects in that province, I do not think it is a satisfactory way of dealing with them now to say that they shall not get relief and shall not be given government employment in British Columbia.
When we were debating the unemployment relief and agricultural assistance bill the member for the Yukon (Mrs. Black) made a striking appeal to the members of the house to be sympathetic and to go easy with the Minister of Labour. I did not say anything after the member for the Yukon had spoken, although I thought a great deal; and contrasted the position of the Minister of Labour with that of thousands of young men in this dominion. It is true that the minister works very hard, but it is equally true that he has many compensations for his hard work.

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