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


Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. H. H. STEVENS (Kootenay East):

Before the minister deals with the question I should like to make one or two observations. A moment ago the minister said that the government would not be influenced by demonstrations. As a matter of fact during the last four or five years the history of this unemployment problem has shown that the government has been influenced by demonstrations. It was not until after a considerable demonstration last autumn that there was a reopening of the camps and some forestry work supplied. Then we had the very tragic case of the Regina riots. I think it was in 1935 that there were riots in Vancouver, when five thousand men marched through the Hudson's Bay store and did considerable damage, though much less than one probably would expect under the circumstances. But it has been as a result of demonstrations of this kind that action has been taken.
As a matter of fact we are training these men to demonstrate; that is the unfortunate part of it. We have known, the minister has known, the province of British Columbia has known, and the country generally has known, that these men began to congregate in Vancouver after the camps were closed on May 1, a matter of two or three weeks ago. The time to have anticipated this trouble was a couple of weeks ago, but now that the men have taken possession of a large hotel-and it is a large hotel-and of the post office, it becomes a pretty serious matter. The strange part of the whole thing is that where these men have demonstrated, either in these circumstances or at other times, comparatively speaking the demonstration has been orderly. These men are learning that it is better to do it in that way, but the long and short of it is that all they want is a job.
A moment ago the minister said-and I ask him to correct me if I am wrong, because I noted his observation-that some 2,500 men had gone out of the camps and many of them
apparently had found work. He cited that, to use his own words, as an indication that these men have other means of finding work.

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