June 26, 1925 (14th Parliament, 4th Session)


James Shaver Woodsworth


Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Centre Winnipeg) :

I think it is not necessary for me
to add very much to what has been said in support of this amendment. We ask only for fair play for labour. I take it that the time has gone by when any hon. member of this House will deny to labour the right, if labour so chooses, to take political action through the formation of its own organizations. We are all familiar with the fact that all over the world to-day there are distinct labour parties. We are all familiar with the record of the labour party in Great Britain. I quite concede that Canada is not industrialized as Great Britain is, but a great many labour men in Canada have come from Great Britain, and they feel they ought to look to Great Britain for a lead along this line. It seems to me that the parliament of Canada would be well advised if they encouraged a movement of this character. Let me point out, as I did in committee, that when this matter was up recently in the British house, and an effort was made to get rid of legisla-

Elections Act
tion which gave an opportunity to Labour people to subscribe funds for election purposes, Mr. Baldwin made one of the most notable speeches of his career in appealing for labour, even against the measure as advanced by his own followers and insisted that labour should have eveiy right to control its own funds.
With regard to a suggestion made by the hon. member for Cariboo (Mr. McBride), I urge that it would be very unwise indeed to attempt to say just in what manner labour unions should dispose of their funds. They have the right to dispose of their own funds, according to their own regulations. The great evil surrounding the contribution of funds lies in secrecy. In the case of labour unions, before any amount can be voted, the matter is brought before the whole membership in regular business session, and if they choose to support any particular candidate, whether it be the Labour candidate, or the Liberal or Conservative candidate, they are to be at liberty to make their decision.
I would point out also to the government that the Labour party throughout the country is beginning to revise its estimate as to how much it may obtain or hope to obtain through the present administration. We have come here pleading for provision for unemployment, for old age pensions, for the eight hour day, and for active interference in industrial disputes in such a way that the interests of the labour man may be safeguarded. We have had again and again for four years troubles in Nova Scotia, and this government absolutely refuses to take any effective action in regard to safeguarding the interests of .the workers. Again we have to plead that the laws now on the statute book, placed there in 1919, which discriminated against labour by certain clauses in the Immigration Act and in the Criminal Code, should be removed. None of these things has been done. Now we come urging for one little amendment closely connected with the good government of the country. That is something that'will facilitate labour in electing its own representatives.
As I said on a previous occasion, again and again when labour men strike or take some other form of industrial action, gentlemen in all parts of this country protest that labour ought to use parliamentary means, that labour ought to seek to present its case on the floor of the House of Commons or in the various provincial assemblies. Yet, when labour makes any effort whatever to assert its rights by the use of the parliamentary machine, it finds itself effectively blocked. We believe in that 3174
respect there is a distinct discrimination against labour, and we ask in all fairness that this particular clause should be removed.

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