Abraham Albert HEAPS

HEAPS, Abraham Albert

Personal Data

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)
Winnipeg North (Manitoba)
Birth Date
December 24, 1885
Deceased Date
April 4, 1954
agent, upholsterer

Parliamentary Career

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

Most Recent Speeches (Page 861 of 861)

January 19, 1926


This is labour employed in manufacturing, all classes.

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January 19, 1926

Mr. A. A. HEAPS (North Winnipeg):


am very sorry indeed that the previous speaker (Mr. Flemming) did not have the strength to continue. I hope that after he has been in the House a little longer his strength will be fully restored, and that he will be able to continue his speeches to the end.

It has become customary, Mr. Speaker, for the various speakers in this debate to congratulate you upon your re-election to office. With other hon. members, I also, on behalf of the group I represent, wish to extend my congratulations to you, Mr. Speaker, and I do it not only on account of the qualities which you possess but also on account of the fact that in your re-election a precedent has been broken. During the past week or so we seem to have done nothing else but be asked by the various speakers on different sides of the House to follow precedents. I am noit such a great lover of precedent myself; what I like to do is to congratulate a person wlho

The Address-Mr. Heaps

has been responsible for breaking a precedent. At the same time, while I congratulate tlhe Speaker of the House, I have to extend to him a little sympathy, because, after all, any hon. gentleman who occupies the position of Speaker and has to sit in the chair all afternoon and evening, listening to what one (hon. member after another has to say, is certainly deserving of a little sympathy as well as congratulation. I thought we had had enough lasit week in regard to precedents and that nothing further would be said by members of this House regarding them. But the hon. Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell), not being satisfied after some of the members had gone back to the time of Cromwell and King John, actually went back to the time of Moses to find a precedent. I have no desire to igo back any further than that. Indeed I have no desire to discuss precedents in this House, but those which have been spoken of are such as might be well worth following in some respects. We little realize that when a precedent is made another has been broken. No precedent is made without another being broken. When it is stated in this House that King John was compelled to sign Magna Charta, there was then no precedent for a king being compelled to sign such a document. When Oliver Cromwell took certain actions, there was no precedent for the things he did, and when we speak of the mother of parliaments, those members who have been over there will have noticed that in one of the main halls of the mother of parliaments there is a little brass tablet on the floor which denotes the p'ace where Charles I was tried. In the yard of the mother of parliaments there is a bronze monument erected to Oliver Cromwell, and why was it erected? Because he was one who followed the customs and precedents? No, it was erected in his memory because he broke nearly every precedent he could think of.

We are now considering the Speech from the Throne, and from a purely Labour viewpoint there is nothing in it to be enthusiastic about. There is reference in that Speech to the completion of the Hudson Bay railway.

I am not enthusiastic about the completion of that particular railway. There is reference in the Speech to the return of the natural resources to the province of Alberta. I think the natural resources should be returned to all the provinces, but from a purely Labour viewpoint it is not of much importance or significance. There is also reference to one or two other matters, particularly rural credits, which I am quite prepared to support, but even that does not touch the industrial ques-

tion with which I am so closely associated and which I am anxious to see this parliament deal with. From the Labour viewpoint the Speech from the Throne is notable for the omissions, (there is no reference in it to some of the pressing problems which concern Labour. Yet when I look away from the Speech from the Throne, which I suppose is the settled policy of the government, and look over to the opposition and I analyse and scrutinize closely what the hon. leader of 4he opposition (Mr. Meighen) has to say in reference to matters pertaining to Labour, I find that the right hon. member's speech contains just as little with reference to Labour as does the Speech from the Throne. The only references made in that Speech and in the amendment have to do with enlarging the volume of employment in Canada-a very nice and catchy phrase, but what does it mean? I presume what the hon. leader of the opposition means by broadening the volume of employment in Canada is the imposing of a higher tariff so that more men may be employed' in Canada. I do not believe in the idea that an increased tariff necessarily means more employment. If I thought for a moment that an increase in the tariff would have the effect of making the conditions of the worker in this country better and of bringing about more prosperous conditions in Canada, I would be the first to vote for a higher tariff. But I am convinced1 that such is not the case; I cannot bring myself to believe that a higher tariff would bring about that condition.

Then the question arises, what are we to choose? What have those who are here ostensibly to further the interests of the worker to choose from so far as the Liberal party and the Conservative party are concerned? I have been in this House now for eight days. I confess that I have learned a great deal and have received a splendid .education-or reeducation-in history and constitutional practice. I have listened to the members on the Conservative side condemning the Liberal government for all they are worth, and with a good deal of what they said I am in hearty agreement. I have listened to hon. members on the Liberal side condemning the Conservative party, and with a good deal of what they said I am in hearty agreement. The fact that I am here, and that the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) is here, and the fact that we have a fairly large Progressive group in this House, indicates that there is a very large section in the Dominion of Canada which has faith in neither one party nor the other.

The Address-Mr. Heaps

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January 19, 1926


All salaries in this particular classification.

I listened yesterday to considerable arraignment of the government from the lips of the leader of the opposition and I gathered that one of the principal reasons for his condemnation of the Liberal party was the fact that in past years they had appointed so many royal commissions which had never accomplished anything useful. I quite agree with that statement, but it seems to me that before any member of the opposition presumes to criticize any other party on the score of appointing royal commissions that prove futile it might be just as well for him to consider what was done by the royal commission appointed by the Conservative party in 1919 for the purpose of investigating industrial relations in Canada. Such an inquiry would prove, I think, rather illuminating. In the year 1919 a commission was appointed to investigate industrial conditions in Canada and it submitted its report in due course. I have in my hand a copy of that report from which I learn that the commission consisted of the following members:

The Honourable Chief Justice Mathers, of Manitoba, chairman;

The Honourable Smeaton White, a member of the Senate, and managing director, Montreal Gazette Publishing Company, Montreal;

The Address-Mr. Heaps

Charles Harrison, M.P., railroad conductor, North Bay, Ont. As representatives of the public.

Mr. Carl Riordon, president, Riordon Pulp and Paper Company, Montreal, P.Q.;

Mr. F. Pauze, lumberman, *Montreal, P.Q. As representatives of the employers.

Mr. T. Moore, Ottawa, president of the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada;

Mr. J. W. Bruce of Toronto, member of the Labour Appeal Board. As representatives of the employees.

This commission went at great length into the study of industrial conditions in this country and I cannot conceive what the object in appointing it could have been if its report was not intended to form a basis of action by this House. If commissions are appointed merely as a means of shelving difficult problems then of course they are absolutely useless, iand it has occurred to me that one of the reasons for appointing these commissions is precisely this. Any problem that is rather awkward is referred to a royal commission. And what did this particular commission report? After studying the problem from one end of Canada to the other it made the following statement in section 21:

The chief causes of unrest may be enumerated as follows:

1. Unemployment and the fear of unemployment.

2. High cost of living in relation to wages, and the desire of the worker for a larger share of the product of his labour.

o. Desire for shorter hours of labour.

4. Denial of the right to organize and refusal to recognize Unions..

5. Denial of collective bargaining.

6. Lack of confidence in constituted government.

7. Insufficient and poor housing.

8. Restrictions upon the freedom of speech and press.

9. Ostentatious display of wealth.

10. Lack of equal educational opportunities.

The report goes on to give a list of what the commission regards as desirable measures to be undertaken by parliament or other authorities to cope with the situation. It recommends, for example, the fixing of a minimum wage especially for women and girls and for unskilled labour, a maximum working day of eight hours, and a weekly rest of not less than twenty-four hours. It also makes a recommendation in regard to special insurance against unemployment, sickness, invalidism and old age. For many years we have been promised action along this line, and turning to the platform of the Liberal party of the year 1919 I find resolutions in this connection embodied therein as passed at the convention held in Ottawa at that time. I note also that the question of old age pension has been before the House on more than one occasion. If I mistake not, a committee was appointed last year to look into the question and it recommended favourably upon some form of old age pensions to be instituted as a

Dominion measure in co-operation with the provincial authorities. I hope therefore that in this House during the present session something will be done to put this recommendation into practice. I have had a little experience in looking after the needy in the city of Winnipeg and I am fully aware of the difficulties of the problem; I know what it means to an elderly person to have no means of making provision against the future. When we read what wages the average worker in Canada receives at the present time, I do not think that there is a member of this House who would suggest that those wages are adequate to meet any contingency either in connection with old age or on account of sickness or anything else.

Let me deal very briefly with the question of unemployment. In this regard I must give this much credit to the Conservative party, that when they were in office they did give some degree of relief to men and women who found themselves out of work by contributing one-third of the funds which the municipalities provided for the relief of unemployment. I regret to say however that when the Liberals came into power one of the first things they did was to cut off that relief to the unemployed. Now there is no use in this parliament trying to ignore the fact that there is in Canada to-day a serious unemployment problem, and the sooner that fact is faced squarely the better it will be for this Dominion. And in regard to old age pensions, the provinces are demanding some form of assistance for the aged throughout the country. This is becoming a pressing problem in the city of Winnipeg and it is highly important that something should be done to meet the situation. As regards unemployment, I have been receiving telegrams daily from the civic officials of Winnipeg demanding that the government take action in this direction; and in addition to these I have been getting telegrams with reference to the disabled returned men. The action of the government in cutting off those men who have less than a 20 per cent disability has imposed an added burden upon the various municipalities- The government so far have given no definite assurance that they will look after these particular cases. We dlo not know whether they will do anything to assist the aged and the needy in Canada. These are problems which I hope to see taken in hand at this Session of parliament. So far as the Speech from the Throne is concerned, I must say that it conveys very little that is promising to myself; I see in it very little hope or encouragement from the standpoint of labour itself.


The Address

Mr. Sutherland (N. Oxford)

As the hour is late, Mr. Speaker, I do not wish to detain the House further. This is my first effort to address the members of parliament and I want to express my appreciation of the courtesy which they have shown me not only on this occasion but ever since I have come to the House. No doubt in the near future I shall have a further opportunity of discussing on this floor -the questions that are near and dear to us of the Labour group.

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January 19, 1926


If the hon. member wishes

to ask anything, I am quite willing that he should do so in the proper form. He says, what about myself? I am quite prepared to say something about myself if he wishes me to do so. In the last election I ran in North Winnipeg, and in North Winnipeg they created a new precedent. They sent me down to Ottawa in place of a Conservative or a Liberal. Both parties had candidates in the election. We were in rather a unique position in North Winnipeg. When the election was over I met my esteemed Conservative opponent in the constituency, and one of the first things he said to me was: "I am

glad of the result of the election, because you beat the Liberal." The following day I happened to meet the Liberal candidate, and he said: "I am glad you were elected because you beat the Conservative." Furthermore, the members of the party which I represent were also satisfied. So that we happen to be in the unique position in my constituency that we were all satisfied.

I have not been very particularly impressed with the figures which were quoted yesterday, either from the Liberal side or the Conservative side. I tried to make something out of the figures submitted by the right hon. leader of the opposition and the acting leader of this House (Mr. Lapointe) but I found some difficulty in understanding what they were tiying to arrive at. We were told there was a decrease of employment in one month last year compared with the same month in the year 1924. That may be perfectly true, but a mere bald statement of that character does not prove anything. This evening I intend to present figures which I have tried to work out myself on the question of unemployment in Canada, and I have tried to work them out on a slightly different basis from anything I have heard in this House during the time I have been here. We were given figures yesterday in connection with employment in the United States. I have not thought it well to go south of the line in order to find figures to make comparisons with conditions in Canada. I do not think it is always fair to compare conditions in the Dominion of Canada with those in the country to the south of the line. The people of the United States as a result of the war became enormously rich, but the same cannot be said of Canada and most of the allied countries. But when my hon. friend speaks of a greater volume of employment in the United States, I happen to have under my hand some figures in connection with the railroads of the United States 14011-18J

-and what applies to United States railroads,

I might say, applies equally to railroads, as well as to manufacturing industries, in this Dominion. What do I find in this article, which is taken from the official records of the United States Interstate Commerce Commission? It states:

There were 5,578 fewer workers on railroad pay rolls in October 1925 than in October 1924, although traffic was larger in October 1925 by nearly 1,000,000,000 net ton miles and by over 13,000,000 passenger car miles.

Thus we find that although there is more traffic, more passengers and more tonnage hauled on United States railroads, less men are employed to-day than were employed in the previous year, and a similar condition applies to the Dominion of Canada. Therefore, it is not always fair to give bald figures without at least trying to understand the meaning and significance of them.

I want to deal for a moment or two more with some figures regarding industry in Canada, because so much has been said during the past few days about bad and good trade. I have endeavoured to secure some kind of figures which would give me and, perhaps, other hon. members, a better understanding of this particular question, I find that the total value of manufactured products-and this might be a fair criterion in any case of the total wealth produced by manufacturing industries in this country-amounted in 1917 to $2,805,800,366. These are only manufactured products; they do not include agricultural products. In 1923 the amount was slightly less, namely, $2,781,165,514. I do not intend to weary hon. members with all the figures in the intervening years, but with the permission of the House I will place the statement on Hansard. The statement is as follows:

Value of products manufactured

1917 $2,805,800,366

1918 3,174,264,687

1919 3,170,842,586

1920 3,667,180,375

1921 2,516,977,811

1922 2,439,843,766

1923 2,781,165,514

It would hardly be fair for me to give these bald figures to the House without at least referring to the true significance of them. If I say that in 1917 the volume of production was so large,. I also ought to state what the purchasing power of the dollar was in that particular year. What do I find in that regard? If I take the index number of 1913 as 100, the index number in 1917 would stand at 200.1 and in 1923 at 168.9. In other words, there was a decrease of about 31 points in the index number. This

The Address-Mr. Heaps

taken on the basis of 168.9, would meanan increased purchasing power of 18.4 per cent. So if you are to get the actualvalue of the production in the year 1923 you will have to add to the figure I gave, 18.4 per cent, and this would mean that in 1923 the actual production in Canada was the greatest in our history. I am not trying to make party or political capitalfor either the Liberal or the Conservative

party. I am trying to arrive at a true basis of the facts so that we shall have a better understanding of the situation.

Let me go a little further with this brief analysis of the situation. The following is a statement showing the actual amount produced by every man employed in industry, that is, every man who works for wages:

wn $5,279

1918 6,131

1919 6,347

1920 7,296

1921 6,864

1922 6,293

1923 6,222

On the other hand we have again to follow the same form of arithmetic in arriving at a conclusion, because we find that in 1923 the value of the dollar was lower than in 1917, and in 1920 the index value of prices was 293.6, the highest in the history of the Dominion. Consequently if we are to arrive at a proper conclusion, we find that the actual amount produced in 1920 was relatively small. When we come to the year 1923, we find that on a basis of 1917 prices the actual amount produced by a person working for wages was $7,372. In other words, since the year 1917 there has been an increase in the individual output of the worker by approximately 40 per cent. That is a point I wish hon. members to notice when we are dealing with the question of employment and unemployment. The following is a statement of the number of men and' women engaged in manufacturing industries in this country:

1917 531,466

1918 517.704

1919 499,557

1920 502,627

1921 366,694

1922 387,689

1923 416,994

1921 was a- low year, but in 1922 the number had slightly increased, and in 1923 the number of those employed increased to 446,994. We find, as between the years 1917 and 1923, a large number of men who were not employed. Although the total production in Canada had increased by a very large ratio, the number of men employed in industry was becoming less and less. Another question

arises. If fewer men are being employed in industry .to-day and! production is higher, what is to be the remedy? Is it possible for the tariff to deal with a situation of that character? Personally, I do not think so. The question lies far deeper than the tariff. One question is: what does labour get out of that which it produces? I have in my hand a statement showing the amount of wages received by labour for various years, as follows:









Average yearly earnings .. $ 748

.. 862

.. 924

.. 1,098

.. 996

.. 937

.. 959

Although production by the individual had increased by approximately 40 per cent, the real wages, that is wages based' upon the purchasing power of the dollar, had increased by only about 11 per cent.

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