February 2, 1910 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)


William Barton Northrup

Conservative (1867-1942)


It seems to me that if there ia>
one member of this House who should rise and protest against the passage of this question, it is the hon. gentleman

who fathered the Bill (Mr. Verville). One would have thought that no member of this House would dare ask hon. members to adopt a measure which he had not considered sufficiently to enable him to give reasons why it ought to pass. Yet we have the singular spectacle of the hon. member for Montreal (Mr. Verville) wanting the reference of the eight hour day Bill, which he introduced in this House, to an expert in order that he may obtain from this expert information which will enable him to decide whether the measure he himself introduced is a proper one or not. But perhaps the hon. gentleman is not so much to blame for making blunders of that kind, since evidently it is only from members on this side that any information on the labour question can be expected. We had the right hon. the leader of the House declaring to his own supporters that he could not find any one sitting behind him who was competent to preside over the labour bureau and give an intelligent opinion on questions affecting labour; and to make it more clear and positive to the people that the men behind him do not understand questions affecting labour, the right hon. gentleman brought in an outsider, who was supposed to be peculiarly fitted for the post by a lifetime spent in the interests of the workingmen. We had the Minister of Labour (Mr. King) brought in from the outside and put at the head of the labour bureau. What are the duties of that department? On referring to the statute, under which it exists, I find this laid down:
With a view to the dissemination of accurate statistical and other information relating to the conditions of labour, the minister shall establish and have charge of a Department of Labour, which shall collect, digest and publish in suitable form statistical and other information relating to the conditions of labour.
I find it in the revised statutes of 1906. So that for years we have had a department established for a particular purpose, presided over by a gentleman selected on account of his technical fitness for the position; and yet after all these years, we have the singular combination of a labour representative bringing a Bill into the House, without even having in his own mind any reason to justify it, and we have the Minister of Labour, whose duty it was to collect the very information which should be at the service of the labour representative, actually asking the House to allow him to employ another expert to instruct the House on the very questions he is supposed to know all about. It seems to me. Sir, that the American poet must have had just such a case in mind when he wrote:
In short, I firmly du believe In Humbug generally,
Fer it's a thing tliet I perceive To hev a solid vally;
This heth my faithful shepherd ben,
In pasturs sweet heth led me,
An' this'll keep the people green To feed ez they hev fed me.

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