I am quite prepared to leave it to the House to decide what the hon. member for South Toronto meant when he referred to the Bill as altogether impossible. The impression which I certainly got, not only from that particular remark, but from the whole tenor of his speech, Mr. MACKENZIE KING.
was that he, like myself, was prepared to support a measure which would really do something effective, but that he was not prepared to stand up in this parliament and say that he would support any measure when in his heart of hearts he felt that it would really do no good to the people on whose behalf it was proposed. And, in view of what has been said this afternoon, I feel that we cannot consider too carefully the question as to whether this measure is likely to do what the hon. gentleman who has introduced it hopes that it may do.
In so far as the Bill relates to the hours of labour on public works, I would like to point out that this government has already taken considerable steps towards meeting the object which the promoter of this Bill has in view. In 1900, the Hon. Mr. Mulock, now Sir Wm. Mulock, introduced into this House a resolution in favour of the payment of fair rates of wages to working men engaged on public works and the enforcing of the hours of labour current in the district where the work is carried on. Since that time the government has endeavoured to see that that resolution has been faithfully and fully carried out; and in all its contracts the government has caused to be inserted a clause requiring the contractor.to pay fair rates of wages and to give the workingmen employed by him the hours of labour current in the district where the work is carried on. The government has not relied simply on the safeguard of a general provision of this kind, but has appointed special officers, known as fair-wage officers, whose duty has been to go to the locality where any public work is to be carried on and prepare in advance a schedule of rates of wages and hours of labour, to which the contractor is required to agree before the contract is awarded.