Abraham Albert HEAPS

HEAPS, Abraham Albert

Personal Data

Party
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)
Constituency
Winnipeg North (Manitoba)
Birth Date
December 24, 1885
Deceased Date
April 4, 1954
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Albert_Heaps
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=5f73217f-27d7-4bec-9943-554ca0daade8&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
agent, upholsterer

Parliamentary Career

October 29, 1925 - July 2, 1926
LAB
  Winnipeg North (Manitoba)
September 14, 1926 - May 30, 1930
LAB
  Winnipeg North (Manitoba)
July 28, 1930 - August 14, 1935
LAB
  Winnipeg North (Manitoba)
October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
CCF
  Winnipeg North (Manitoba)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 858 of 861)


January 25, 1926

Mr. HEAPS:

I think it was one of the

hon. gentlemen sitting over there. I do not know his name or the constituency he represents, but I do not think there is any doubt that the statement was made.

Topic:   NOVA SCOTIA COAL MINERS
Full View Permalink

January 25, 1926

Mr. HEAPS:

Some hon. members near me say tlie statement was made; others say it wa.j not made. If such a statement was not made I will be the first to withdraw my -remarks.

Topic:   NOVA SCOTIA COAL MINERS
Full View Permalink

January 25, 1926

Mr. HEAPS:

I do not object to his sitting at home. Mr. Kyte said:

Knowing the conditions in Sydney at the present time I accept the statement attributed to Mr. McLurg in this despatch; there is no doubt or question about it. But my right hon. friend and his friends will doubt it, and I question whether they will be very highly elated when they find that the statement made here is true. The question of unemployment, therefore, is about settled so far as Sydne3r and Glace Bay are concerned. If this despatch is true, and I believe it is; if the steel plant will soon be working on a basis of one hundred per cent production, then there will be employment for every steel worker in the city of Sydney and for every coal miner in the county of Cape Breton.

Within twelve months of this statement being made by one of the former representatives of Cape Breton, we are again faced with the situation that there is more trouble in that area. We were told in this Statement that if at that time the question could only be settled-and we were assured it was-there would be no further unemployment amongst the steel workers or coal miners of Cape

Nova Scotia Miners

Breton. What do we find? We find that to-day there is the same acute problem in Cape Breton as there was a vear ago. and I am satisfied that so long as the British Empire Steel Corporation remains in Nova Scotia the same situation will exist there.

Last summer, when the question of relief was so acute, I received a letter from a lady in the mining area of Nova Scotia, and perhaps it is worth while giving the substance of that communication. She said:

Before Besco came into Nova Scotia we did not know what poverty or trouble was in this particular area; but since Besco has come in, we have always had trouble in this particular district.

That seems to sum up the situation fairly well. Since the British Empire Steel Corporation became organized it has always been a question of a fight either between the government and Besco or between Besco and the men who are in its employ. There was a time not very long ago when Besco threatened the citv of Sydney, telling the people of that city that if they, Besco, could not get their way they would allow grass to grow in the streets of Sydney. Any corporation which has the power to threaten a city like Sydney should not be allowed to continue in business). If they can make such threats to a city and! then come here and make further threats as they have done for quite a time, then I say that it is time there was a policy not only on the part of this government but on the part of the government of Nova Scotia as well. The question is, therefore, is Besco going to rule Nova Beotia, or are the common people of Nova Scotia going to rule?

At six o'clock the House took recess.

After Recess

The House resumed at eight o'clock.

Topic:   NOVA SCOTIA COAL MINERS
Full View Permalink

January 25, 1926

Mr. HEAPS:

I am very glad to hear the

statement of the hon. gentleman, and I accept it. I hope he will continue to oppose Besco, as I do. I am also extremely glad to notice the awakened interest of hon. gentlemen opposite in the conditions of the workers of this Dominion. I hope that interest will grow in all parts of the House. I am always extremely anxious to have these questions aired.

* I listened to a rather peculiar piece of arithmetic this afternoon from one hon. gentleman opposite. He stated that about $400,000,000 had been contributed by the Maritime provinces to the loss on the Canadian National railways, and because of that loss he claimed the Maritime provinces were now entitled to some kind of consideration. If that is correct, and we are to go on that assumption, then I think every part of the Dominion can expect something from the Canadian National railways, and if every part of Canada should ask something on that particular score, I wonder what would be the end of the Canadian National railways. That peculiar kind of arithmetic reminds me of a little story which it may not be out of place to give the House. A boy in the city of London was selling newspapers, and he became desperately hungry. Not knowing how to appease his hunger, a rather peculiar idea struck him. He met a kindly looking old gentleman and asked him to give him sixpence, He said to the old gentleman, "If you will give me sixpence, I will show you how to make ninepence qut of it." The kindly old gentleman took him at his word and gave him sixpence. The boy then went over to a bakeshop, bought himself a threepenny loaf of bread, and came back with threepence in his hand, which he gave back to the kindly old gentleman. The old gentleman asked the boy, "How do you make ninepence out of

sixpence?" "It is very simple," said the boy, "You have got threepence, I have a threepenny loaf; that is sixpence; and the baker has threepence, that is ninepence." That is how some hon. gentlemen opposite are dealing with the loss on the Canadian National railways-trying to stretch it a good deal further than perhaps it ought to go.

There is one other phase which perhaps has not been touched upon by hon. members representing Nova Scotia in this House, and that is the question of evolution in industry at the present time. I think we all must realize that the same problems now confronting Nova Scotia are confronting the mining areas in practically all parts of the world, and that the troubles of Nova Scotia are no different from the troubles of the miners in the United States and in Great Britain. What do we find? In Great Britain a royal commission has been appointed to inquire into the mining industry. We find the same thing at least being mooted to the south of the line, where the miners have been on strike many, many months.

The conditions in Nova Scotia may be due to various causes. They may be due to the fact that to-day less coal is being consumed in the Dominion of Canada. In the city I come from, coal for cooking purposes has almost become a thing of the past; electricity is taking its place. Even here in Ottawa oil is taking the place of coal, to a great extent, for heating purposes. When we find this change taking place in industry I think we ought to recognize the facts and deal with the problem, not purely in a partisan spirit, but as a national problem, in a national way; and one of the things I regret in the House this afternoon is that while this question was introduced as one affecting the poverty-stricken areas of Nova Scotia, it resolved itself subsequently into the question whether hon. gentlemen to my left had any right to sit on the government benches. The misery of the miners in Nova Scotia or poverty in any part of Canada should not be used in that way at all, because wherever human suffering prevails the issues are far more grave than the mere question of whether the Liberals or the Tories should sit on the government benches.

One of the speakers this afternoon referred to the over-stocked markets. If the markets are over-stocked to-day, say in Montreal or some other part of Canada, how will a reduction of freight rates bring about immediate relief to the miners of Nova Scotia. Even if you transport the coal for nothing, if there is no market for it it cannot be sold. So the

Nova Scotia Miners

question lies deeper than the mere question of freight rates as between certain cities of the east, or as between certain other parts of the country.

We have had sitting in Nova Scotia a commission that reported recently. If that commission was going to solve the problem of the coal miners in Nova Scotia, I should indeed feel very happy, but somehow or other, from the very brief opportunity I have had of perusing the report of that commission, I find nothing in it to give me any hope that at any time in the near future the problems of Nova Scotia are going to be solved. Why? The basic facts in connection with tihe mining situation in Nova Scotia have been overlooked by that very commission. The question of a decent minimum standard of livelihood for the miners is something that was not properly dealt with by the commission, and so long as the miners can work only two or three days a week, so long as they have not the right to a decent minimum living standard, you are going to have trouble in Nova Scotia or in any other part of the Dominion where the same conditions prevail. The question arises: Can

those miners in Nova Scotia attain to that standard of living to which every human being is entitled? I very much doubt whether they can, under the conditions as they exist there. What do I find in the report of that commission? They claim there should be a revision of wages every six months, and what is to be the basis upon which wages are going to be paid? The basis upon which' wages are to be paid is the ability of the industry to pay wages. Now if you go to some manufacturers land ask them what ability they have to pay wages, some will tell you they cannot afford to pay wages at all. We in the Labour movement claim that wages must be a first charge on industry, irrespective of profits. That is something which the commissioners in the Nova Scotia inquiry entirely overlooked; they looked to profits first, and to wages second.

Thinking over the discussion here this afternoon, I have been trying to arrive at its real objective. Has it been the question of alleviating the condition of the miners in Nova Scotia? If that is the question, I am heartily in accord1 with the motion made to adjourn the House; in fact, Mr. Speaker, I rose in my place and voted in favour of adjourning the House to discuss that particular question. But what do I find in the afternoon's discussion? The man whose name has been most prominently mentioned all

afternoon is Sir Henry Thornton. Why does the name of the manager of the Canadian National Railways loom so large in this discussion, when we are dealing with the poverty of the miners of Nova Scotia? I am just wondering, Mr. Speaker, whether the poverty of the miners of Nova Scotia is not being used as a smoke screen from behind which to attack Sir Henry Thornton. So far as Sir Henry Thornton and his management of the railway is concerned, instead of being attacked by hon. members in this House he ought to have their full support in trying to bring the railway into a condition where, instead of it being a liability, it will be an asset to the Dominion of Canada. I am rather interested in that particular phase of this situation. I am not interested in Sir Henry Thornton as an individual; I have never seen him and should not know him if I did see him; but I am interested in the fact that the people of Canada to-day have got a railway, and they have got it not because they wanted to own it but because of the failure and blunders of the managements of these various roads under private ownership. For that reason they Came into the hands of the government, and the government, or in other words the nation, found itself with a liability. It should be the duty of this House to try to convert that liability, as I said a moment ago, into an asset. Sir Henry Thornton and the employees of the Canadian National Railway cannot feel that they have the confidence of the people if the management of the system is to be subject to attacks at all times in this House. I have seen, Mr. Speaker, similar oases before. An exact parallel is the condition as it exists between the Canadian National and the Canadian Pacific. The greatest trouble with Sir Henry Thornton to-day, in the opinion of some people, is that he has become too strong a competitor for the Canadian Pacific; and if instead of achieving a considerable measure of success in the position he now occupies he had allowed the road to go from bad to worse, then not one word would have been heard in this House about Sir Henry Thornton, not one word such as has been uttered here during the past few days. Why should Sir Henry Thornton's name be brought into this discussion? I think that one who manages a public utility should be given a free hand. If he committed blunders or mistakes in the management of that utility it should be the first duty of this House to get rid of him. Now the question arises: is Sir Henry Thornton making a success of

Nova Scotia Miners

the position he occupies, or is ihe a failure? If hon. gentlemen opposite think that Sir Henry Thornton is not filling satisfactorily the position to which he was appointed, then let them come in an honest and straightforward manner and ask for his dismissal. It would be far better to do that than to make flank attacks from time to time upon him.

When it comes to a question of sympathy with the miners of Nova Scotia, for those men who are suffering so much to-day, I yield to no one. I am prepared to sit down and discuss the situation with any one, no matter in what quarter of the chamber he may sit, in order to try to arrive at a satisfactory solution of this problem. If it is a question of reducing freight rates, let us have a reduction ; if there is something wrong with the attitude of the corporation that owns the mines, let us know it; but let us stop following a pettifogging attitude such as so many hon. members opposite have adopted in discussing this particular question,-for example such as " that we on this side had 200,000 more votes at the last election than hon. gentlemen on the other side." What has that got to do with the situation? If my hon. friend opposite who dealt with that aspect of the situation wanted to be logical, he should send a cable over to the Conservative government in Great Britain telling them that they have got no right to occupy the treasury benches because they too to-day represent a minority of the votes cast in the Mother Country.

Topic:   NOVA SCOTIA COAL MINERS
Full View Permalink

January 25, 1926

Mr. HEAPS:

Mr. Speaker, in opening my

remarks I mentioned that I was extremely grateful to the hon. gentleman opposite for having introduced this particular question this afternoon. I was glad to notice also that the co-operation of the group to which I belong was sought. I think I would have been far more satisfied, however, if the hon. gentleman who introduced this question had given those interested some notice of his intention to do so. It so happens that this afternoon the ieader of the group to which I belong is out of the city. He knows far more about this question than I do; he has studied it from every angle and could have dealt with it in a more able manner than I possibly could. The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre

(Mr. Woodsworth) and -the late member for East Calgary. Mr. Irvine, introduced this question into this House on many occasions. As a new member I am very glad to see that there are several other members now in this House who are taking up the cudgels on behalf,

I hope, of the miners of Nova Scotia. I say miners advisedly, because in the discussion this afternoon, if I heard correctly, one of the hon. members opposite said he represented Besco. To me that appears rather a frank admission *and a rather unusual statement to make in this House.

Topic:   NOVA SCOTIA COAL MINERS
Full View Permalink