Mr. C. E. FERLAND (Jolieitte) (Translation) :
Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question
of privilege. When the House met yesterday, the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Manion), who seems to be more affected than any one else by the stifling heat which we are experiencing these days, forgot himself to the extent of using language, in referring to me, which I can only describe as improper. The hon. Minister of Railways asserted that at a public meeting held in Joliette, on July 1, last, I had made misstatements. He based his assertions on a report published in "L'Etoile du Nord" of Joliette, a well-meaning newspaper, whose report, however, is not complete and accurate on certain points. May I, Sir, correct the statement made by the hon. Minister of Railways (Mr. Manion). At that meeting held on July 1, I first expressed my disappointment to the people of Joliette as regards the decision taken by the management of the Canadian National Railways in dismissing 46 employees working in the railway shops at Joliette, 40 of whom were employed in the car-repair department, the other 6 belonged to the locomotive shop. I stated that this decision was arbitrary, unjust and illegal. It is unjust because, in this same section of the central division, when the Canadian National Railway's management found it necessary to reduce their staff in other localities they did so in a ratio of 10 to 20 per cent, while in Joliette, a reduction of two thirds was effected in the car-repair shops. I also stated that this decision was illegal, because it was carried out in violation of an existing contract between the Canadian National Railway and the city of Jolieitte, definitely binding the former, a contract which Sir Henry Thornton, President of the Canadian National Railway deemed it his duty to acknowledge and fulfil when previously a delegation made up of the members of the Chamber of Commerce and the city council of Joliette discussed the matter with him. Finally, I stated that on a question of vital importance and national interest to the town of Joliette, I thought that it behooved the hon. Minister of Railways to intervene when a request was made ito him in order to
prevent an injustice being perpetrated or a contract violated. I then publicly stated, that when I heard of the decision taken by the Canadian National Railways, I immediately communicated with the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals who to my great amazement, answered by letter that this matter came entirely under the Canadian National Railways management and that I should acknowledge with him that it would be useless for a delegation from Joliette to come to Ottawa.
In order to well establish the facts concerning the blame which I attach to the hon. Minister of Railways (Mr. Manion)-not with reference to his receiving a delegation, nor to having closed the door on a delegation which had arrived in Ottawa, but as regards his attitude on that occasion-I shall read the letter which I sent to the hon. Minister and his answer. I contend that this answer is evidence of his refusal to arbitrate in the matter and to listen to our grievances, and, even more, it is a declaration to the effect that it would serve no purpose for a delegation to come to Ottawa.
My letter is dated June 26, last and reads as follows:
Dear Mr. Manion:
You will please find enclosed a telegram which I received this morning from Mr. Hector Mainville of Joliette, regarding the Canadian National Railway's decision to lay off forty men out of sixty men now employed in car department at Joliette, Quebec.
May I venture to say that the above decision is in violation of the terms of an existing contract which obliges the Canadian National Railways to maintain in permanence at Joliette (one of its divisional points) not less than fifty men in that car department, according to the interpretation of Canadian National Railways officials?
I wish you would kindly investigate and see that no unlawful act or injustice is done.
With my best regards, I remain, sir,
Charles E. Ferland.
The telegram which I enclosed, and which was addressed to myself in Ottawa, reads as follows:
Officially decided by Canadian National officials that effective July first forty men out of sixty will be laid off in car department whereas at other points in this district reduction only amounts from ten to twenty per cent. Conditions most disastrous and delegation wants to meet you at your office soon as possible.
Again, on the 29th of June, I received a letter from the Minister of Railways and Canals reading as follows:
Dear Mr. Ferland,
I have received your communication of the 26th instant, and will pass it on to the railway 22110-227
management for their consideration, as the matter is one entirely in the hands of the officials. You will, therefore, appreciate that the deputation should see the management and that there would really be no use in their coming to Ottawa.
(Translation): This letter, sir, is a vindication of my statement to the people of Joliette so greatly affected by the centralization of affairs in large centres such as Montreal and Quebec, and I think I was perfectly justified in stating-
Topic: PRIVILEGE-MR. FERLAND DISMISSAL OF CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY EMPLOYEES AT JOLIETTE