I have a copy of Hansard
before me and I find that the hon. member is quite correct; I did intimate that the government seemed to be willing to accept that suggestion, but I said also that as chairman of the committee I wished to dissociate myself from it. May I repeat briefly my reason for taking that stand; it is quite true that there are provisions in the act whereby an employee may, for a period of two hours, absent himself from his work for the purpose of voting, and the act states definitely that the employee shall not forfeit his pay for that time. That provision has been in the act for some time, and there has been no protest about it. As a matter of fact, as the hon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps) has said, the employers all over the country have entered into the spirit of the act and have not contested the validity or the legality of that provision. The point I wish to make is this; it is of doubtful validity. In saying that I am not giving my own opinion only, because in the legal sense I do not think it would be considered as worth very much, but those who know something of our laws have
Dominion Elections Act
declared as of doubtful validity an enactment by which the parliament of Canada seeks to bind an employer to pay an employee for something, which is only a matter of contract and therefore falls within the jurisdiction of the provinces. In a matter of at least doubtful validity, when we stretch that period to three hours, the employers of labour might say, "We were willing, without going to the trouble of appearing before the courts, to allow our employees two hours' time, but three hours would be of considerable consequence to us." An employer of labour employing three, four or five thousand hands, might find that the cost would be somewhat excessive. I am under the impression that it is quite likely that some employers might not be willing to comply with the spirit of the act, and might decide to test its validity. In my opinion, and in the opinion of many whom I have consulted, if that is done it will be found to be invalid and the labourer will be in the position where he will not receive any holiday or any pay.