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


James Murdock (Minister of Labour)



Mr. Chairman, it is unfortunate indeed that the hon. member for Centre -Vancouver (Mr. Stevens), formerly a Cabinet Minister, cannot .see the real facts. To me it is inconceivable that he cannot appreciate that the allegation contained in his motion is absolutely inaccurate. I presume that he can read and analyze Estimates, and was doing so before I ever thought of becoming a member of this House. May I a'sli him to turn with me to the page showing the number of permanent employees of the Labour Department for the fiscal year expiring to-day? He will find it is 106. Then, if he will follow slowly to the left he will find the proposal is to provide for 117 permanent employees for the next fiscal year. My firm conviction is that the hon. gentleman surely knows that the thirty employees under discussion are not included, and have never been in-, eluded, in either the 106 or the 117 employees as specified, but are temporary employees and a part of the staff that I found in the department when I took charge.
I have stated that when I took over the

Labour Department, 147 employees were engaged there. Of that number thirty-seven were temporary employees in Ottawa and five were temporary employees located at outside points. None of the thirty-seven in Ottawa or the five at outside points was included in the 106 permanent employees provided for by the late government in the Estimates of the fiscal year expiring to-day. I think I am justified in asuming that no one knows that better than my hon. friend from Vancouver. All this play and parade, therefore, all this imputing to the Minister of Labour something that he never intended to suggest, will not get the hon. gentleman or other hon. gentlemen anywhere. I intimated that a considerable number of temporary employees had been served with notices that there was no provision for them after to-night. A number of these employees were paid out of certain votes not included in the civil government items. I do not know what it may be necessary to do in regard to any or all of these temporary employees, but I have already assured the House that all will be (dispensed with whom we can get along without. So far as the 117 are concerned, I have repeatedly stated that we are establishing as permanent only a few of those who were handed to me as temporary and whose services are regarded as essential, according to my predecessor, in carrying out the work of the department.
Now, the adoption of the motion made by the hon. gentleman would personally make no difference to me, but it would herald broadcast to the world and to Canadian labour in particular that the Conservative Opposition in this House are doing all they can to stultify the efforts of my department to do the things that labour believes ought to be done on its behalf. That is all that the opposition to these estimates during the past few days has amounted to. If the motion should carry, it simply means that the department cannot even have the 106 permanent employes paid under the provisions of the law for next year. If the hon. member for Vancouver and his associates are prepared to accept the responsibility for that result, why, let the blame rest where it should. Labour will be interested in finding hon. gentlemen like my hon. friend from Vancouver coming out in their true colours. The member for North Toronto (Mr. Church) also has indicated clearly where he stands on questions affecting the rights
of labour. They are trying to embarrass the department in every effort it is making to do the things that ought to be done.

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