January 27, 1914 (12th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Louis-Philippe Pelletier (Postmaster General)

Conservative (1867-1942)


No, but we have in this Montreal newspaper the statement of the mayors of cities and of the presidents of boards of trade throughout Canada, and I should think they know much more about that matter than we do. I accept their word as representing the true facts. Then, the hon. member for Rouville has referred to the number of unemployed in the city of Quebec, and he has stated that if the Government works were not going on there, there would be a great many people without work. In the first place, I direct the attention of the House to the fact that if we have succeeded to a certain extent in affording employment on Government works in Quebec to so many people during this rigorous winter, that would not have happened under the late Government by whom Quebec was entirely ignored. I regretted to hear the hon. member speak of people being out of work in Quebec on account o'f what he called a lockout in the shoe trade. Surely the hon. gentleman must see that it is absolutely unfair to accuse the Government for what has occurred in that respect. There is an unfortunate condition in the shoe trade in Quebec, a condition which every citizen of Quebec and every Canadian regrets. There are about 3,000 men and
3,000 girls employed in the shoe factories out of employment, and that is a matter of deep regret to me as it is to every true Quebecker, and as it should be to every true Canadian.
But when we come to examine the reason for that, it seems unfair and unjust to bring before the House this fact as one showing a lack of good administration on the part of the Government. The unemployed shoemakers in Quebec are not idle,, the factories are not closed, because of political conditions. Every one knows that a serious conflict has been going on for years in Quebec between the shoe manufacturers and their workmen. There has been strike after strike, and it has now come to a point where one of the contending parties has resolved that this matter

shall end, and forever. The men quit work because one of their number was dismissed, or because his job was taken away from him and given to somebody
4 p.m. else. The men left the factories in a body. Later they desired to come back, but when they did so the manufacturers told them: We have had so much trouble in the past that we are determined to settle this question here and now. If you want to resume your positions in our factories, you must sign an agreement binding yourselves to obey the rules and the bylaws which are established for the proper working of the factories. One and all the men refused to sign that agreement and went home.
I am not entering into any controversy as to who is right or who is wrong in this matter. In this case, as in many other cases, they might try to come to terms. It is out of my province, however, to discuss that phase of the question; but I say that these men are not out of work in Quebec because^ they are forced out of it by political or any other conditions, except that they are at war with their employers, and they want to win that fight for their union, whereas on the other hand the manufacturers want to win the fight for their union. These are the facts, and I hope and trust that the hon. member for Rouville will not have it spread broadcast throughout this country that this local trouble between manufacturers and workmen is one attributable to the way in which Canada is governed at the present moment.

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