March 30, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)


William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)



May I point out to my hon. friend-because I think he and I have the same motive at heart- in this matter; I think we are each equally concerned in the welfare of the men and women involved in this dispute-the province of Nova Scotia has promised a royal commission. If there is efficacy in a royal commission, if further investigation is going to help the situation, there is the chance. True, the province of Nova Scotia has stipulated that pending the period of the investigation the employees of the company shall carry out their work in accordance with the terms of the existing contract. Now does my hon. friend not think-I do-that if there is virtue in publicity, if there is virtue in a royal commission dealing with this subject, that the miners would be well advised just for that period to carry out the terms of the contract and meanwhile discontinue this policy of loafing on the job? May I say further that when I spoke yesterday with the deputation I asked this question of its members: If the Government of Canada will undertake to appoint a royal commission at the public expense and to give them the power of investigating this whole question, do you think the parties to the dispute will agree to accept the findings of that commission? They intimated that they did not think they would. Under such circumstances is the Government to appoint commissions simply because and whenever it is requested to appoint them? The Government is obliged to take account of many considerations in all its actions. If it appoints a commission in Nova Scotia because of an industrial dispute there after

an investigation under the Industrial Disputes Act has taken place, to-morrow it may be called upon to appoint a commission for like reasons in the province of British Columbia, and next day for similar reasons in the province of Ontario. There has to be some policy followed consistently, and the policy which the Government is prepared to follow is that of seeing that in so far as these industrial disputes can be fully investigated they shall be fully investigated, and that in so far as each dispute can be investigated by a board possessing a personnel in which the different parties concerned will have confidence, the effort of the Government will be to secure that personnel. In regard to the request of the deputation that waited upon it, all that the Government has said is-to quote from the words of the letter which I sent yesterday and which my hon. friend (Mr. Irvine) has read:
-that having had the matter under consideration the Government is of the opinion that the situation is not one which in the public interest can be satisfactorily dealt with under the existing circumstances by a Royal Commission.
"Under the existing circumstances!" And that has reference to the policy which we think is not in the public interest but which is being followed by one of the parties to the dispute at the present time. We are prepared to consider the interests of labour, we are prepared to consider the interests of Capital, but we have also to consider, and to consider primarily, the interests of the public; and I contend, Mr. Speaker, that it is not in the public interest for the Government to issue a royal commission upon request of parties who are taking a course of action which cannot be defended in this Parliament.

Topic:   SO, 1922
Full View