Mrs. MARTHA LOUISE BLACK (Yukon):
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) occupies a most difficult position. He must provide the actual moneys to be paid out for pressing needs, and he must look to the future in order to provide the staggering amount required to pay the interest on those moneys. No matter whether we agree with his policies or not, we all realize that he lives in an atmosphere of horrible anxiety, and is weighed down by enormous responsibility. I believe that all hon. members, irrespective of party lines, will acknowledge that under the circumstances the minister has done the very best possible.
Returning to my constituency last summer I was anxious to find out how some of my Liberal supporters would take the fact that I voted against the trade agreement with the United States. I spoke to one of our very dear friends, a hide-bound Liberal, if there is such an article, who had supported me because of a great favour the previous member for the Yukon had done him. I said, "What did you think of the stand I took?" His reply was, "Oh, I don't know; it all works out the same way in the end. Dunning put on an eight per cent sales tax, and after all what you loses on the swings you gains on the roundabouts."
The isolation of the Yukon will make whatever remarks I have quite different from any of the speeches of other hon. members. We are separated by a land belonging to another nation. We are separated from Canada by seas, mountains and rivers. Since I have sat in the gallery and in the house, in those years from 1921 to the present, I have heard hon. members one after another cast little slurs on the Yukon, with its small population, which they said was always coming to the government asking for money. It was only a few days ago that the hon. member for Pictou (Mr. McCulloch) asked what the government of the Yukon had cost in 1935 and 1936 in-
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elusive. He also asked for information about the population. The answer he received was that the moneys for all expenditures by the federal government during 1935 and 1936 inclusive amounted to $568,081.54. The population of the Yukon on June 1, 193.1, according to the last census, was 4.230. It is probably the same at the present time.
I ask the government and hon. members if it would not be just as fair to ask for information as to what value the Yukon has been to Canada. From 1898 to 1936 inclusive the Yukon has produced in gold alone $193,578,489. From 1925 to 1936 the production of silver in the Yukon territory has amounted to $11,195,090; there is no record of silver production prior to that time. I believe a moderate estimate would put previous production at $1,000,000. The production of lead from 1925 to 1936 amounted to $2,312,772, and prior to that time amounted to possibly $125,000. Customs duties collected on imports entered for consumption in the Yukon territory, from 1898 to 1936 inclusive, totalled $7,262,994.41. Then we must not forget for one moment the great market the Yukon territory has afforded Canadian goods. Millions of dollars have come to Canada from the Yukon every year. The Canadian packers, wholesale firms and machine manufacturers have benefited. From 1898 to 1936 the expenditures of the Department of the Interior in the Yukon territory amounted to $11,489,883. Other expenditures made by the government for the Yukon territory include those for public works, post offices, justice, Indians, telegraph lines-there has always been injustice in connection with that item, because much of the cost was charged to the Yukon when it should have been charged to British Columbia-miscellaneous expenses and mounted police. From 1898 to 1936 expenditures on these items totalled $20,895,649. These, added to the expenditures by the Department of the Interior, make a grand total of the cost of the Yukon to Canada of $32,385,532. I would ask in all reason if we have not returned that amount of money, in view of the fact that we have produced almost $225,000,000. I should say that was very good interest for the government of Canada.
It is said that Seward, Secretary of State under Lincoln, who purchased Alaska from Russia for the United States for the sum of $7,200,000, died of a broken heart because of the ridicule heaped upon him. Alaska was called Seward's icebox and Seward's folly, and yet we all know that within recent years that territory of Alaska in one year alone returned to the United States as much as
$120,000,000. Hon. members must try to realize the significance of the fact that the Yukon, a much smaller territory of only 200.000 square miles, in less than forty years has produced at least $225,000,000, and I believe I am safe in saying that the land has not yet been scratched. That amount seems to me somewhat more than a fair return on the national expenditure of $32,385,532. The return is almost $200,000,000 greater than the expenditure. From the first rush in 1898 the Yukon has never asked for mercy, but has asked only justice in all things. When Lord Byng. as His Excellency the Governor General, came to the Yukon, after he had visited the various mining camps, he said to the then member, "Captain Black, I believe you represent the only truly socialistic community in the British Empire to-day," to which the member replied, "No, we are not socialists up here." "On the contrary," was His Excellency's reply, "you are ideal socialists. You have no very rich; you have no very poor; you have no social distinction. Both the men and the women must work, or go without. You take care of your sick and aged, if they have no means of their own." That, of course, is true.
It is in this connection that I want to speak about the old age pensions as they are applied to the Yukon. Many of our men and women have been in that country for from thirty to forty-five years and have not at the present time sufficient to keep them in their old age. Some of them had money and went through it, while others worked steadily almost beyond human endurance for that length of time and- yet have not sufficient to take care of their old age. The local government gives these people $20 a month. It is not called, a pension; it is referred to as a dole, which is a most offensive thing to every self-respecting man and woman. No matter how poor we may be, we all have a right to honest pride. The great majority of these men and women have worked hard while in the Yukon. They receive this $20 a month in the form of a dole and, unless they are absolutely helpless, under the conditions that prevail there they are able to live even on that small amount. Wood can be had for the cutting, there are fish in our waters and game in our woods; there are plenty of moose and caribou, and during the summer months our gardens produce almost anything that anyone might want. Then there is a great spirit of comradeship and generosity among Yukoners which I do not think can be equalled- anywhere else in the wide world. I have lived
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in the Yukon since 1898 and I cannot recall having met half a dozen truly mean men or women.
Many of our people who are entitled to old age pensions would like to go outside where they could be near relatives and friends. At present they are forced to remain in the Yukon because they are deprived of this dole when they leave the country. I contend that the dominion government should pay the whole cost of pensions for these people. If a man or woman lives for five years in British Columbia, after spending twenty-five or thirty years in the Yukon, he or she can obtain only 85 per month, an amount hardly sufficient for even an old person to live on. The government pays the whole cost of these pensions in the Northwest Territories, and if the same could be done in the Yukon it would help our people greatly. They could1 then go outside where they would be more c omfortable, where they would be close to relatives or friends and be able to enjoy some of the amenities of outside life. Sections 1, 2 and 3 of chapter 156 of the revised statutes of Canada give to the residents of the Northwest Territories the right to receive a pension from the dominion government, and I ask this government to consider giving the same right to Yukoners. These men and. women have worked hard and have been a credit not only to the Yukon .but to Canada as a whole. I ask the government to give the same consideration to the people in the Yukon as is given to residents of the Northwest Territories.
Once again I must refer to the superannuation paid to civil servants in the Yukon. The superannuation act was changed by the government in office prior to 1930, and this change has been continued down to the present time. When the government announced through an order in council that Messrs. George MacLean and George Mackenzie, former gold commissioner and acting commissioner in the Yukon, were being paid superannuation on their combined salaries and living allowances, I looked for the same justice to be shown the other civil servants in the Yukon. For years the following civil servants have been contributing on both their salaries and living allowances:
Interior department: Messrs. .Teckell, Grant, Burton, Faulkner and Gillespie.
Justice department: Mr. Blankman.
Customs department: Mr. Betts.
Public works department: Mr. Wyness.
The above list does not include any post office employees, the three officials in the White Horse customs or the eight or ten men who have been retired from the various de-31111-109
partments. It is on record that these members of the government service have paid into the superannuation fund on the basis of salaries and living allowances. Section 2 of the Civil Service Superannuation Act provides as follows:
(1) "salary" of a contributor means the regular salary paid in respect of his service, together with the value of living and residential allowances but does not include allowance or payment for overtime or other extra allowance or pay or any gratuity.
It will be seen by this section that the government promised the payment of superannuation on both salary and living allowance and the employees paid accordingly into the fund. For some time the government retired employees on this basis. Later when certain civil servants from the Yukon and the Northwest Territories were brought down they realized that they would be retired only on their regular salaries. Accordingly they made application to the government for a return of the money they had paid into the fund1 on their living allowances, which application was granted. I think all hon. members will agree that by that act rank injustice was done to those civil servants who remained in the service in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Members of the service who for years had been paying on both living allowances and salaries, on retirement, either compulsory or voluntary, found to their consternation and, despair that the government had betrayed' its trust. In many cases incomes were reduced below the actual cost of living necessities. We would have the same thing in a widow going to an insurance company for the $5,000 or $50,000 of insurance for which her husband had paid and being told by the company that as they could not afford to pay all that had been paid for, she would receive only half. That is just what is being done to the civil servants in the Yukon. The Yukon civil servants made their payments when they were due, but the government, in order to make a few friends, changed the act over night and1 has failed to meet its obligations. I am asking only for justice for these men and women who have worked so hard in the north.
Labour organizers are beginning to work among the workmen of Canada, and it behooves the leaders among the employers as well as those among the employees to meet each other on a footing of reason and equity. The fight that is going on in the United States between the leaders Green and Lewis for control of the powerful labour organizations under one head is already finding a repercussion in this country and in my own land to the north. When one realizes that many
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of the labour unions in Canada are so closely bound with those of the United States that before making any settlements regarding policy permission must be given by union headquarters in the United States, the time has come when thoughtful men and women must ask, "Whither are we drifting?" Would it not seem strange to ask Italy or Germany or Russia for permission to carry on our business? As an integral part of the British Empire, would it not be more sensible to have an imperial labour organization?
Times are changing; they have changed. Laws accepted as a matter of course to-day would have been revolutionary fifty years ago. The same will be true of development in another half century.
For a number of years in the north my closest associates and best friends have been the working men and women of that country. At one time I myself cooked for sixteen men, baked bread for as many more, and did all of the work with the assistance of my twelve year old son, baking time off on Saturday afternoons to have candy pulls or other parties for the boys in the Sunday school class I taught at the Forks. I know whatwork is; I know what luxury is. Hard work
never hurt anyone, given good health.
My heart goes out to the women who at the present time must watch their children deprived of the necessities of life. I know that in addressing hon. members of this house I am talking to many who have children of their own; in a special degree they
must realize their responsibility for the wellbeing of our children and our grandchildren. The Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) understands as well as if not better than any member of this house the dangers and anxieties of our present situation.
On the whole, labour conditions in the Yukon have been fairly good. Hitherto we have been free from the strikes that trouble the outside world, but this spring, to my shocked surprise, a strike occurred in the silver district. At first a "sit-down" strike was intended, but better counsels prevailed. One mounted policeman visited the camp: he said, "Boys, this is, after all, private property; I think you had better go down to Mayo"; and the boys moved off. I am told that the citizens of that town, the strikers' committee, and the mounted police communicated with the present acting commissioner asking that he order the government liquor shop be closed during the period of the strike. These requests were either ignored or refused-I shall be very careful to obtain exact information upon my return to the Yukon in the
spring. But to the credit of the strikers, they themselves organized a committee to see that there was no disregard of the decencies of life. I believe that the mining company met practically all of the demands of the workers, at least sufficient of them so that the men went back to work. Can anyone in this part of the country or in the United States imagine a strike of several hundred men carried through with absolutely no rowdyism in spite of the fact that there was only one police officer in the entire district? I wonder how many people in this part of Canada appreciate what the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have done in the isolated districts of our great country? Surely high tribute must be paid to the strike committee and the men generally, and also to the lone member of the mounted police who represented the federal authority.
Governments must move with the times, and learn to face new conditions. For the first time in the history of the Yukon I have come to realize that we must meet labour conditions such as exist all over the world. Fortunately we have had almost invariably strict observance of law and order. I have known one mounted policeman to go among a milling mob of several thousand men, including "bad men," as we call them, from the south of the line in Alaska, and step up to one of these men and say, "Boys, I don't think you want those guns with you here. You won't have any use for them. We don't have any use for them." In the early days the mounted policeman was never armed, but no harm was done; men who were known in Alaska as bad men readily gave up their guns. This they did not because of fear of that stripling, not because of the way they expected law and order to be executed in the Yukon, but because everyone in that country knew that the entire force of the Canadian government was back of that one lone mounted policeman. We thank our justice department, we thank our governments-no matter under what regime-for the execution of law and order in the north. True, many times in the early days the police protected the unjust as well as the just, but after all these things work out in the long run.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, may I say that, my remarks are wholly inadequate to the love I bear for that great north land. From the bottom of my heart I thank every member of the government and every member in this house-the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), the leader of the opposition (Mr. Bennett), and the Minister of Justice
The Budgets-Mr. Rowe (Athabaska)
(Mr. Lapointe), and every private member- for the great kindness and consideration that they have shown me in the last few weeks.
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: INSTRUCTION TO COMMITTEE OF WAYS AND MEANS RESPECTINO CANADA-UNITED KINGDOM TRADE AGREEMENT