Mr. MACKENZIE KING:
I am not assuming any credit whatever; I am merely endeavouring to state to the House the facts. The parties responsible for the agreement were the company and those who were acting on behalf of the employees. The agreement was entered into between the employees and the company, and the language used in the agreement was come to between them, and was not suggested either by Sir Frederick Borden or by myself. But we were present during the negotiations, and the company insisted on retaining the expression "as soon as possible." The men said, "We have no objection to your using that expression, but we would like to have some definite meaning attached to it. Do you interpret "as soon as possible"to mean one month, two months, three months, or a longer period?" If my hon. friend will take the trouble to peruse tjie somewhat lengthy communication I read to the House a few nights ago he will find the whole course of the negotiations described explicitly and in detail, and he will discover there that after very considerable difficulty Sir Frederick Borden and I succeeded in getting Mr. Hays to agree that "as soon as possible" would mean three months. We had previously ascertained from the men that if Mr. Hays would give that interprets-
tion it would be satisfactory to them, and that it would also be satisfactory to them to accept the agreement as drawn. We had not any say in the wording one way or the other; the agreement was drawn between the parties, and it was perfectly agreeable to both sides that the words "as soon as possible" should remain in the agreement so long as Sir Frederick Borden and myself, as ministers of the Crown, were .prepared publicly to state, should the question ever be raised, that those words meant a period of ninety days. And that is what I am stating now.
As I say, it was with the greatest difficulty that we succeeded in getting the company to declare that definite limitation of time. It was made finally. by the vice-president of the company, Mr. Wainwright, coming to Ottawa and stating that he had the authority of the president .to give the words that definite meaning. As soon as Mr. Wainwright gave other ministers of the Government and myself that assurance, I sent a confirmatory wire to the men, in accordance with an understanding that we had prior to Mr. Wainwright's coming to Ottawa. But befoie I read that telegram, let me explain further to my hon. friend \Mr. Morphy), so that he will not be in any doubt as to what actually transpired. The strike was on, and every hour counted. I had told Mr. Hays before I left Montreal that unless he gave to those words " as soon as possible " a definite meaning, and was prepared to settle the strike on the basis of the agreement, I would return to Ottawa, lay the matter before my colleagues and get their permission to make a public statement to the effect, that the parties had arrived at an agreement, all the terms of which were satisfactory to them, but that the strike was not ended for the sole reason that he was unwilling to give to the phrase "as soon as possible " any definite meaning; and that therefore responsibility for continuance of the strike must rest entirely on him. When the company knew that was the position, that the responsibility for the continuance of the strike was about ip be put on the president and general manager for his arbitrary action, Mr. Hays sent his vice-president, Mr. Wainwright, to Ottawa with authority to give those words the meaning of ninety days. As soon as that was done I sent to the men the following telegram:
Subtopic: BILL TO CONFIRM AGREEMENT WITH THE COMPANY.