March 31, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)


Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)


I thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for your ruling. I want to read from this report just one more paragraph. This is taken down verbatim. I may say that the minister's theme was Brotherhood:
Mr. Murdock was quite anxious that the people generally should know his position on such questions.
He was anxious that they should know his position on these real live labour questions and what the policy of the department was as compared with that of his predecessor. I want to read just one more sentence.
I hold this one of those things that has got to be done more now than at any other time in the history of Canada. It is for labour to recognize its responsibility and the fact that the employer cannot, and should not, be expected to furnish all of the harmony necessary to the carrying on of business. The labourer has got to recognize the fact that there was something meant when in this Book of Holy Writ we were all enjoined to do whatsoever our hand found to do and do it with our might. The labourer and those representing labour have got to recognize and daily give a demonstration of this.
I am very much dissatisfied with the condition of labour in this country to-day. We are spending a quarter of a million dollars in this proposed appropriation and in my opinion, we are simply throwing it away in the same haphazard fashion as we did twenty-five years ago. It is the desire of every hon. member to do something to alleviate conditions of employees, workers, artisans and farm labourers in this country, and to do that is what I believe to be practical religion. I am not so unfair as to say that this department is perhaps worse under this Government than it was under any other government. While I am a Conservative, I am an independent Conserva-

tive and I am endeavouring to do something for labour in the constituency which I have the honour to represent in this House. I am very much disappointed, as one who has been a member of this House only a few days, to find a minister, like myself a newcomer in this House, who, after he has been speaking on platform after platform for three or four months throughout the country, cannot come forward with a definite policy, when there are 200,000 people out of work in this country. Why cannot the Government utilize the Department of Labour as is being done in the United States to-day? Capital is very highly organized in this country; the trusts and combines are flourishing to-day as they never were before, and if they are allowed to continue to flourish, in six months from now things will be ten times worse than they are at present. In the United States, the Labour Department have their experts throughout the country; they are the eyes of the government; they are going into every city and town in the United States; the Attorney Generals of the different states are at their back and they have had 485 prosecutions of trusts and combines. Thus, the machinery of the Department of Labour in the United States is being used to the advantage of the employee and the artisan. Labour is disorganized in this country. While 5 p.m. it is true we have a Dominion department and provincial departments, while they may have done good work, I do not say that they have done the best they could have done. The -unfortunate part of the whole labour problem is that to-day it is made the political football of this political party and that. I plead for better consideration of labour in this House. I represent a city that is the home of trade unionism. Long may trade unionism flourish, because it has done a great deal for Canada. The minister has done something for labour, but he has been fairly well paid for anything that he has done for it. I should like to see the department with a bigger ideal. I do not care what the department spends; I would be the last man to raise my voice against the estimates of this department if I saw in them some means of solving the labour problem of Canada. The Minister of Labour (Mr. Murdock) during the late election campaign, went up and down this country sympathizing with the poor people who were complaining of the high cost of living. The policy of the hon. members to my left, the Progressive party, is to bring the pro-36
ducer and consumer together. How are they to get together with coal at $15.50 a ton? How is the labouring man going to live when the cost of living is so high as it is to-day? While the farmer may think that he is not getting proper prices for his produce at the present time, yet if the Labour Department will take this matter up and endeavour to do something to bring down the cost of living, to investigate the housing conditions, and like the Labour Department in the United States, endeavour to regulate the trusts and combines, it would be doing something for the benefit of the working classes. Under the British North America Act there is power enough for the Department of Labour to be up and doing, to do what the minister said he would do if he was returned as a member of this House, let alone a minister, to bring down the high cost of living. After listening to the minister for two or three days,
I am sorry I have to say that he will not be any more a success in solving the labour problem of this country than he was in solving the problem of the high cost of living under the late government. I believe some of the members of the Progressive party referred to the high freight rates, the high cost of getting their produce to the consumer. We sympathize with them in that regard. If the minister would think more of labour, be more of a labour man and less of a politician-not be a labour man to-day and a partisan to-morrow-if he would try to think of the employees and workers, in the cities and towns, he would be doing far better than reading lengthy letters in this committee. I am amused to see a letter which the minister wrote the other day to the Liberal organization in the city of Toronto. I will not detain the House by reading it; but if the minister would spend more of his time on labour problems and towards bettering the conditions of the working classes of this country, he would be accomplishing something that would be better for employees and artisans of Canada. I do not wish to offer any opposition whatever to the minister. If he will introduce a big progressive policy along these lines I will give him every assistance and support. But it is useless to attempt to settle strikes by the old methods and red tape and quoting charts on supply and demand. Strikes can only be settled by conciliatory and sympathetic action along practical business lines. In a word, we want practical labour men in the department who have worked for their living and know something


about labour conditions from actual experience, and the minister will have my support in any steps he may take to engage such practical labour men.

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