Mr. FINLAY MacDONALD (Cape Breton South):
Mr. Speaker, might I be allowed to
add just a few words to the remarks of the
Nova Scotia Miners
hon. member for Inverness (Mr. Macdougall). and of the hon. member for Cane Breton North-Vietoria (Mr. Johnstone). I represent the constituency where these southern mines are located, and I have just returned from a visit to them. Last Thursday night I met the relief committee, and I do not think I can picture to this House the actual state of destitution that exists to-dav in the town of Glace Bay. As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, the towns in our province of Nova Scotia must look after their poor: under our Poor law they must provide relief for all who come to them asking for relief. Unfortunately, the mining towns, and especially the town of Glace Bay, have long since exhausted their financial resources, and the town of Glace Bay is now hopelessly in debt. It cannot borrow any more money. Lately, when this destitution first appeared, they did secure $8,000 by having the government of Nova Scotia endorse their bonds, but last Thursday night that $8,COO was gone, and the $2,000 that had been made over from a previous relief fund was also exhausted, and on that particular night there were seventy-five families that applied to the town hall of Glace Bay for relief and had to be refused. Such is the condition
For my part, I firmly believe that this House, and every member of it, sympathizes deeply with those men. The auestion that, occurs to me is simply a practical one: What can this House do to relieve that immediate distress? Every part of this Dominion, I understand, has its own individual problems. W'e have ours in the Maritime provinces, and no doubt hon. gentlemen of this House will be more or less bothered, and perhaps bored, with the story of Maritime rights and wrongs before the session is very far advanced. However, it does appear to me that this is one of the problems we have to face. We expect and believe that we shall receive the assistance and sympathy of every other province in the Dominion of Canada, just as when we come to consider their problems, as we shall have to before the session is very far advanced, we are prepared to consider them sympathetically. The problem in this case, while local, has probably far-reaching effects, inasmuch as there is discontent throughout the Maritime provinces, and particularly in the province of Nova Scotia. We are not satisfied with conditions down there. We are not satisfied with the progress we are making, and have made, and we are demanding certain things that we believe we are rightly entitled to.
I would like to suggest something practical; something that we can do for those men.
Some ten days or so ago Sir Henry Thornton announced that he was prepared to give Besco an order for 120,000 tons of coal, but since that time apparently nothing has been done. These two corporations have been simply playing with the question, and in the meantime the miners and their wives and families have been facing starvation, and have taken to looting. I would ask any hon. gentleman of this House if he is prepared to see his wife and family starve. He is not. Of course, the law of the land forbids looting, but there are certain laws that are reallv above the law of the land. I can only repeat what my hon. friend from Inverness (Mr. Macdougall) has said, that the miners of Cape Breton are as honest, as sane, and as manly a class of men as are to be found on the face of the earth. There is only one practical solution for such a problem as this, and that is the miners must be given work; and to give them work, coal must be produced and sold somewhere. The immediate local market, of course, is exhausted, but there is a market available in Montreal. One of the complaints we make down in our province is that the old Intercolonial railway was taken from us, and that the railway rates are now so high as to practically prohibit the shipment of goods from and to the Maritime provinces. I would suggest that the practical solution of the question is this: there ought to be such a reduction in the coal rates from Sydney to Montreal as will enable coal to be placed on the market of the latter city. The British Empire Steel Corporation, according to its statement, is anxious to ship !by the Canadian National Railway, and the railway management is anxious to get the coal at as low a rate as possible.
There is one feature of the discussion this afternoon that I think merits attention. It is the fact pointed out by the hon. minister of National Defence (Mr. Macdonald, Antigonish-Guysborough) that Sir Henry Thornton is not a member of the government. That is true, but after all, in the last analysis, this government owns the railway and should exercise such control that in time of local or national crisis it could direct Sir Henry Thornton to do what should be done in order to relieve distress in any part of the country. It appears to me, after all, that this is more or less a question of ordinary business common sense. We allow things to go on down there, we allow such conditions as have been pointed out to gradually grow until they reach the stage where a strike occurs and the soldiers are called out, with a resultant cost to the country much greater than would have
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been the ease had a sufficient subvention of reduction in rates been granted originally to overcome any such difficulty as exists at the present time.
I have nothing further to add, I do not feel it is necessary to detain the House any longer. I would merely suggest in conclusion that the practical solution of the difficulty lies in fixing such rates on the Intercolonial railway as will secure for this coal an outside market.
Topic: NOVA SCOTIA COAL MINERS