May 7, 1901 (9th Parliament, 1st Session)


Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)


My friend, Mr. Bergeron, was never invited to form a part of this association, I need scarcely add. lie was not enough of a labourer for that. The second affidavit is signed by Louis Archambault, artisan, of the city of Valleyfield, who declares solemnly :
First. I have been a labouring man for over ten years, and I earn my livelihood as such in the town of Valleyfield.
Second. I am a member of the St. Jean Baptiste Society and of several other benefit societies.
Third. I made application last summer to become a member of the Union OuvriSre of Valley-field, and I was refused admission as a member.
Fourth. I was refused said admission as a member, and I attribute this refusal to my Conservative political opinions.
Fifth. The officers of the said Union OuvriSre are all Liberal chiefs, who took an active part in the Federal election of last fall; that is to say, the president, the vice-president, the secretary and the treasurer.
And acknowledged before a Justice of the Peace.
I said it was a seeret organization. Here is an affidavit from Alfred Gagne, a labouring man of Valleyfield, who declares solemnly :
I belong to and am an active member of the Union OuvriSre of Valleyfield. In order to attend any of the meetings of the said union, one must give the pass word and exhibit a book of the rules of the union. One of the rules of the union imposes upon all its members the obligation never to repeat or divulge what takes place at the meetings.
I have said so much and I have read these affidavits in order to give the House the justification of what I stated on a previous occasion as to the character of the association. It is not incorporated. It does not form part of one of the 200 odd chartered associations connected with labour. It is a
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secret association bearing tbe name of a labour union, under tbe control of officers who have no interest in common with labourers and who are strong political partisans. I could give other names of gentlemen in the town of Valleyfield who belong to the union, who are not labouring men, who are men of influence and who, strange to say, are all of the same political persuasion. Every bon. member of this House knows that' members are generally asked, in some capacity or other, to join associations of this kind. I repeat that the candidate in the constituency who for twenty years had represented that constituency was never upon any occasion invited to form part of this association, nor was any important man belonging to his side of politics. Now, going a little deeper into the subject, I stated that it was not the operatives who had brought about this strike, which is the worst feature of the case. This circumstance throws some light, as my hon. friend the member for Winnipeg (Mr. Puttee) said, on the utter impossibility of explaining this strike otherwise than by the interpretation which I gave to it on the 3rd of April last. There was no difficulty between the operatives and the mill company. But. that was not what the hon. Minister of Public Works (Mr. Tarte) said. If tbe House will remember the words that he uttered, when I presented my motion, it will find that the hon. Minister of Public Works attributed the strike to the cruelty and unjustifiable exactions of the mill company. This is what the hon. Minister of Public Works said :
The Montreal Cotton Mills Company own probably the largest mills in Canada. They are a strong, (powerful, enterprising corporation. They bought the Buntin property, and undertook to lay the foundations for a new addition to their mill. It was late in the fall ; the weather was cold-indeed, it rained, I suppose, two or three days a week. The men, who were working in the water to the belt, were being paid $1 a day. They thought they were not being paid enough, and I think they were right. I am not here to iustify any strike, or any organization for striking purposes; I state the facts as I know them to be. In Valleyfield, as elsewhere in the district of Montreal, the workingmen formed an organiziflion. Now, I am very sorry that my hon, friend (Mr. Monk) has received so much wrong information.
Now, I stated in tbe House, and tlie fact was not contradicted, but, on the contrary, if bon. members will read tbe debate of tbe 3rd of April last, they will see it was admitted, that it was Mr. Greenshields, acting as attorney for the Montreal Cotton Mills Company, who obtained the signature of the mayor of Valleyfield and the signatures of a couple of other councillors, who are also justices of tlie peace, in order to secure the presence of tbe militia. I stated that this digging of the foundations had ceased several days previous to tbe strike, previous to the violent acts, which had nothing to do with the summoning of the militia and that in reality it was tlie summoning of tlie militia which bad to do with tlie disaffection in tbe town of Valleyfield. Allow me to give tbe House evidence of this, evidence taken for tlie most part out of tbe papers which have been brought down and of which I was deprived from the lltli April, the date of tbe first instalment of tbe return, until after this discussion in tbe House. In the first place, the Labour Gazette itself gives us in very plain words exactly tbe same version as I laid before this House. The Labour Gazette, in an article which I presume emanates from the pen of tbe editor, states :
As appears from this telegram, the mill operatives were not working at the time at which it was sent, and this fact constituted their action a general strike. There were thus, in reality, two distinct sources of friction between the company and its employees. The first, the original strike, begun by the men temporarily employed as labourers in the excavations being made for the new mill, and who were demanding an increase in wages (which strike began on the 22nd of October) ; and the general strike of the mill operatives, which began at the time of the arrival of the troops in Valleyfield, on the evening of the 26th. This latter strike was one which but for the presence of the military in Valleyfield would probably not have occurred, and for this reason is best described as a strike of resentment, or at most, one of sympathy with the original strikers. It was to the strike of the mill operatives that the offer of the friendly intervention of the minister referred.
Further on, at page 103 :
As appears from the company's telegram to the Minister of Labour, the strike of the labourers engaged on the work of excavation ended in the company deciding to discontinue the work; under any circumstances it would have continued only about three weeks longer had no dispute arisen.
Now, Sir, a most unfair and, to my mind, a most unjust advantage was taken of one of the principal operatives engaged in the cotton mills at Valleyfield by my hon. friend for Beauharnois (Mr. Loy), producing before this House a series of affidavits having for their object tbe laying of the responsibility of this
strike upon one of tbe labourers. My
lion, friend (Mr. Loy) produced affidavits to show that one Damase Tessier was the man who gave the signal for tbe strike, and tlie boil, gentleman thus endeavoured to saddle tbe responsibility for tbe strike upon him. I think my bon. friend (Mr. Loy) wall have cause to regret that action on bis part, because Mr. Damase Tes'sier, as I am informed, is not a political heeler, not an employee on tbe canal, nor a merchant tailor, nor a farmer, but be is one of tbe conspicuous figures among the operatives of the mill. Mr. Tessier is a man who has risen from the position of ordinary workman to that of foreman, having under liis control fifty or sixty men, and a man of that character -was entitled to receive 'some notice

from tlie lion, gentleman (Mr. Loy) of tlie grave charge which he intended to lay on his shoulders, and given an opportunity of explaining his conduct. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Loy) not having thought fit to do that, I will lay before the House the affidavits of Damase Tessier, to the effect that he never, under any circumstances, took part in the initiation of this strike, and never gave a signal for it. His own affidavit, which is perfectly straightforward in that regard, is corroborated by three or four affidavits, which he has produced in order to put his position Clearly before this House, and to avoid his being open to Diame from the authorities of the mill. This is what Mr. Tessier alleges :
1. I, Damase Tessier, labourer, of the town of VaUeyfieM, do declare solemnly that after taken cognizance of certain declarations produced by Mr. Loy before the House of Commons tending to show that I, on the 21st of October last in the afternoon, according to Prank Lacoste ; on the 22nd October last according to Narcisse Wells, and on the day of the strike according to Emede Laberge, the three signers of the declaration above mentioned, gave the signal of the strike, declare as follows :
1. I deny all the allegations as not being in conformity with the facts.
2. Neither directly nor indirectly did I give the signal for the strike in raising my arm or in any other manner whatever.
3. On the morning of the strike, Mr. Sparrow, my superior, called me to his office in connection with the strike which was then in question, and on my return to the works, in spite of my counsels I found that the labourers had already put on their coats and quit work.
4. I persisted during the whole time in dissuading the labourers from leaving the works ; contrary to the allegations of the said declaration.
And I make this solemn declaration, etc.
This declaration of the foreman, containing the disproof of the allegation that he took a leading part in the initiation of this strike, is corroborated by Athanase Du-breuil, labourer, of the town of Yalleyfield. who, I believe, is working under Mr. Damase Tessier it is corroborated by Mr. Zenopliile Gastien, labourer, of the town of Valley-field, who was one of the men working under Damase Tessier, and both of them declare positively that their foreman took no part whatever, either in the beginning or in any part of the strike. It is corroborated by Mr. Joseph Brisson, labourer, of the town of Valleyfield, who states he was with Mr. Tessier at the time, that he gave no signal and took no part in the initiation of this strike ; it is corroborated by Mr. Ovide Perrault, labourer, of the town of Valleyfield, who declares to the same effect, and by Mr. Jos. Boy, labourer, of Valleyfield, who declares :
I was working under Mr. Damase Tessier at the time the strike took place in Valleyfield in the month of October. Mr. Tessier never, directly or indirectly, induced the men to go on strike

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