Mr. Langiois (Megantic):
Mr. Speaker, I had indeed noticed it. I am not as blind as some hon. members opposite who do not see the importance of that problem as other hon. members do.
I know that the minister does not intend, according to the answer he gave yesterday to the hoh. member for Ontario (Mr. Starr), to intervene in the conflict, and that he leaves it to the parties to work out a solution to their problem.
Mr. Speaker, I have noted a fact which is often distressing; before taking action to settle a dispute or a problem, the government
DEBATES November 24, 1967
waits until it degenerates into a serious crisis and then, when there is practically no way to settle it, administrators, arbitrators, etc. have to be appointed. Why does the minister not intervene at this time to settle the dispute? Why is the minister afraid to become involved in this? It is his job, why does he not do it?
Mr. Speaker, what kind of occult forces are at play behind those strikes, those conflicts, particularly this one, to make the minister refuse to deal with it. He knows very well that the eoonomy cannot afford another strike. There have been enough, why wait until that conflict becomes worse before intervening directly?
What the minister said yesterday is true; we do not have time to deal with all those problems. But if parliament does not have time to consider them, it is the minister's duty and role to do so. It is up to the minister to act immediately so that parliament may not be compelled to take steps in the near future.
When the minister is discharging his duties off-handedly, the government is compelled afterwards to pass legislation to settle those problems. As those responsibilities are not discharged, because nobody cares about the matter a crisis breaks out. The house must then be adjourned to settle the problem.
Due to the problems which we are facing at the present time, such as credit restriction, the rise in the cost of living and all the other factors giving rise to inflation, the risks of a recession which are evident for those who have insight, the economic difficulties, especially in the eastern part of the country-it must not be forgotten that the dispute in the Montreal harbour does not only affect the province of Quebec, but also all Canadian producers who use the port of Montreal and the St. Lawrence seaway-I think that the minister cannot afford to ignore a problem and to let it develop into a national or serious crisis. If the house adjourned today under standing order 26, it is because this problem is of national concern, otherwise Mr. Speaker would not have accepted the motion. In this connection, Mr. Speaker, I do not question your judgment, but that of the minister.
I readily believe that the minister does not have to worry about such matters ahead of time. However, the answer he gave yesterday to the effect that he had no intention to settle the problem or to intervene was rather clear. It would have been better for him to say: let
November 24, 1967
us wait a while and see how things develop. But it is absolutely false to tell us that he will have nothing to do with it, that it is none of his business.
I should like to ask the hon. minister to intervene, to summon the two parties and see where the trouble lies, where the problem or difficulty started. We had an arbitrator and a commission last year, in 1966, to do so: the Picard commission. Who has failed in applying the recommendations of the report? Who is responsible: The employees or the employer? We should know. Why should the minister, who endorsed the Picard report, now wash his hands of the whole matter, when it may well be that something is lacking in the report or in its implementation?
It is his duty as minister to look the situation over and to correct it. The minister is the only one who can solve it; I am quite familiar with problems of this type; quite a few of them have arisen in the past. Instead of ironing themselves out, they get progressively worse. We are reaching the point where nothing can be solved. The two parties take up their positions and, finally, parliament is compelled to step in through legislative action.
So, Mr. Speaker, the minister cannot afford to let the situation deteriorate in this economic area. Then, some people wonder why grumblings are being heard in some provinces, particularly in Quebec. We voice our concern over separatism, the fate of Canada, we discuss changes in the constitution, bilin-guism, anything you want. In the last analysis, it is simply-
Subtopic: LABOUR DISPUTE AT MONTREAL-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 26