Alistair McLeod STEWART

STEWART, Alistair McLeod, C.A.

Personal Data

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)
Winnipeg North (Manitoba)
Birth Date
October 2, 1905
Deceased Date
April 3, 1970
chartered accountant

Parliamentary Career

June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
  Winnipeg North (Manitoba)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
  Winnipeg North (Manitoba)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
  Winnipeg North (Manitoba)
June 10, 1957 - February 1, 1958
  Winnipeg North (Manitoba)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 227 of 228)

October 1, 1945

1. What were the gross and net annual wages, salaries, profits, interest, rents, received by individuals in Canada for the years 1926, 1931. 1936, and 1941?

2. How many people in Canada received

incomes, (a) under $569; (b) between $500-$1,000; (c) $1,000-$1.500; (d) $1.500-$2,000;(e) $2,000-$5,060: (f? $5.006-$10.000; (g)$10,000-$25,000; (h) $25,000-$50.000; (i) over

$50,000, during the years 1926, 1931, 1936, 1941, and what was the total income of each group?

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September 13, 1945

Mr. ALISTAIR STEWART (Winnipeg North):

Mr. Speaker, we have read in the speech from the throne about the intention of the government to bring the legislation respecting national status, naturalization and immigration into conformity with the definition of

The Address-Mr. Stewart

citizenship. Now I know as yet of no definition of citizenship, so I can say nothing about that ; but this I can and must say, that many of the administrative orders and regulations in the department of immigration are iniquitous in principle and vicious in their effect.

The other day the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) suggested that when we spoke we should have facts to support our arguments. I have these facts. He also suggested and implied that captious criticism would not be welcomed, especially criticism regarding the last six years. He forgot about the years prior to that when also he was Prime Minister of this country. He forgot, I think, about those years when thousands were out of work and hundreds of thousands were on relief. He forgot about those years when the young men of Canada were an unwanted generation, when neither industry, commerce nor the government had time for them, but who-these men who were the rejected and the despised in Canada-when war was declared, suddenly became its saviours. He may have forgotten that. I can assure him that these men and their families have not forgotten.

I should like to draw to the Prime Minister's attention another statement which he made. He made it in Winnipeg on the 24th of May of this year during the heat of the campaign-and I am firmly convinced that he said it in all sincerity, and that anything he does to implement the spirit of the statement will receive not only our applause but our complete cooperation. On that occasion the Prime Minister said:

Any man who lends his voice or pen to stir up racial or religious strife is an enemy of mankind.

I commend these words to certain of his followers. I suggest that they should treat them as a text, read them, mark them and inwardly digest them, and then act on them.

Even the blindest observer in Canada to-day surely sees the danger there is in the growing racial animosity which prevails; and there are many reasons for it. In the first place there is the stupid myth of race, which has no basis at all in science or in fact. I cannot concede the theory of a French race, an English race, a Jewish race, a Ukrainian race, because there is no fact at all behind that belief. This theory of race is a myth, and I say quite as definitely that those who spread racial animosity are enemies of mankind. They are essentially bigoted men and cowardly men at heart; the very essence of fascism when it started was to oppress the weak, and it is always the coward who is the first to do that very thing.

I suppose that if any member of this house were asked whether he had at any time stirred up racial animosity he would deny it immediately because humanity has a tendency to rationalize its most stupid emotions by regarding them as conclusions arrived at as the result of experience.

There is one small group in this country, a defenceless and economically very weak group, to whom I should like to call the attention of the house. I refer to the coloured people, Canadians who are of negro origin Many of the members of this house must know members of this group. When we pass across Canada in a train we see them occupying humble positions as porters; yet I submit that they occupy honourable positions, because any man who by his toil enhances our welfare or adds to our comfort, is occupying an honourable place in our society. Yet I know one of these men, a graduate of a university, cultured, kindly, essentially civilized, who is condemned apparently forever to one job only in life and that is to act as porter on a train. That man can contribute great things to Canada, but he is given no opportunity. I know of children of coloured people who are told not to go to university because they will get no economic benefit in after life from their education. They are condemned to one sphere. I know of coloured people, friends of mine, who have the greatest difficulty in getting housing accommodation. That is true of many people, but ten times more true of men or women who are coloured. I think I have the right to ask the protection of this house for these minorities.

I have the right on the basis of the following which is contained in the compendium of parliamentary rules and forms prepared by Doctor Beauchesne, at page 4, of which, there appears a quotation from Bourinot. It is the high privilege of ours-

-to protect a minority and restrain the improvidence or tyranny of a majority.

That is a sacred obligation of this house, but we find this discrimination in the highest places in the country, and in it are the seeds of tremendous danger to Canada.

Just a little over a year ago in Manitoba a group of us, Canadians, accused the board of governors of the university of permitting racial discrimination of the vilest type to exist in the faculty of medicine of the university. The charge was denied, at first loudly, and as time went on with lessening vehemence, because the facts were undeniable. Here is what happened. When the applicant for admission to the medical college sent in his name he was placed in one of four lists- the preferred list, the Anglo-Saxon, the

The Address-Mr. Stewart

French and the Icelandic. Then followed central Europeans, and these central Europeans came from northern Norway down to the southernmost boundaries of Europe. Then, as one would expect, there was a separate list for Jewish people, and then, as one would not expect, a separate list for women. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that there is as much discrimination against women in this country, in many ways, as there is against men because of ethnic origin or religious belief. Because we publicized this discrimination and challenged the board of governors with it the situation has been corrected. There is no statute yet on the books of the province of Manitoba to make sure it will stay corrected, but we have the vigilance of the people to ensure that.

Lest the members of this house think that this shame rests only upon Manitoba, I would say something to members who come from Montreal and Toronto, because in these two institutions of learning, McGill university and the university of Toronto, they *will find that this discrimination exists against people because of race, which is a scandal in a democratic country. I hope that as part of their responsibilities and duties they will realize that it is their task to try to eradicate the discrimination that exists. In the university of McGill, I am informed, Jewish students have to have an appreciably higher percentage of marks than other students before they can expect to pass. Here is one of the examples of anti-semitism in high places in this country.

But not only do we find it in institutions of learning where we should never expect to find it; we find it in certain of the orders of the government. The Minister of Reconstruction (Mr. Howe) is not here, but I am going to tell him this. A minister of the crown is responsible to this parliament for everything which happens within his jurisdiction. He may perhaps have no knowledge of what has happened and therefore we will temper our criticism, but in the application form for wartime housing there are many questions, two of which are: What is your religion? What is your nationality? What have these things to do with the right of -man who has fought for Canada to get a home in this country? I suggest to the Minister of Reconstruction that he take steps immediately to strike out these two vicious questions.

I should like now to deal with the department of immigration, and first of all I want to establish the policy which has been carried on in the past. We find it in the report for 1941:

Canada, in accordance with the generally accepted practice, places greater emphasis upon race than upon citizenship.

That is as regards people who come into the country-"greater emphasis upon race." In 1941 when these words were being written and read in this house we were encouraging Canadians to enlist in the services to go abroad and die in order to wipe out that stupid s-upersitition. Yet here we practise it. Immigration into Canada has been on the basis of race, and I am going to suggest to the minister if he makes any changes in the immigration law he will be well advised to start by first of all tearing up these orders and rules and starting anew. I suggest further that he has a great responsibility because he is dealing with the lives and happiness of people, and I think it is wrong that a responsibility such as this should come to the attention of the House of Commons only when we learn of the orders. I suggest that all legislation vitally affecting any principle of immigration should come before this House of Commons.

What are the facts? Again we come to the preferred and non-preferred groups. The most preferred obviously are British and those from the United States, and in the group called preferred are included French, Belgians, people of the Netherlands, Germans, Swiss, those from Scandinavian countries, Iceland and Finland. So we have established a category of citizens. Then we have the non-prefeTred. We have established two categories of citizens in Canada, the non-tpreferred being those who come from Poland, from the Ukraine, from Austria, from Czechoslovakia and from similar countries. But we have categories even below that, those who are lower than the non-preferred, who can get into this country only by special permit; those who come from Turkey, Romania, Greece, Italy; and the Jews. I think it is a matter of statistical record that immigrants from the countries I have named have been few in number, and therefore it appears to me as though the intent of this order were anti-semitic, designed to exclude Jewish people from Canada. That feeling is still further strengthened when it is remembered that under the second category a certain discretion was given the railway companies as to who were to be brought into Canada, but no discretion was given them in this matter. For instance, a Polish citizen could migrate to Canada if the railway company brought him here, but a Polish citizen who was of the Jewish faith could not come into this country without a specific order from the minister. There is discrimination again, Mr. Speaker, at its very worst.

The Address-Mr. Stewart

While I am speaking about the Jewish people I should like to say that a few years ago there were 17,000,000 of them in the world. In the last few years due to the barbaric devilment of fascism, 7,000,000 have died, and there have been few Christian voices raised in protest. In certain areas in Europe there are between 800,000 and 1,000,000 Jews left alive, but they are friendless, homeless and landless; no Christian nation in its charity will stretch out a hand to help them. Instead we have done our best to keep them out and to keep them down. For these people I ask some pity. I should like to see the Prime Minister translate that pity into action by making representations to the government at Westminster that the Balfour Declaration be lived up to in all its provisions; that Palestine be opened as a home for the Jewish people, because only there will they be free from the , persecution they have suffered at Christian hands; only there will they escape these wretched perversions of human nature.

It is not only the Jewish people who suffer in Canada. There is wicked discrimination against those of Ukrainian descent. We have several hundred thousand Canadians descended from men and women who came to this country from the Ukraine to establish homes and bring up families, who contributed great wealth to Canada, who have given their sons and daughter in Canada's wars, and who deserve well of Canada. Yet because of their name, because of their ethnology, they find it difficult indeed to compete with Anglo-Saxons, let us say. Just the other day a young boy whose parents are Ukrainian, and who had served five years in our air force, came to me. He wanted to pursue a certain line of work and asked if I could help him. I did what I could, but I am afraid I was unsuccessful, because the first question I was asked was as to his nationality. If I said he was a Canadian, the reply came, "\ou know what we mean. Where did his parents come from?" So I failed, I am afraid; but if so, the social consequences may be bitter indeed for that boy and his family, because already he has been asked by his friends, Why do you aspire to this vocation? Don't you realize that you have no chance? Don't you realize that you had better go to the railway shops at Weston or Transcona and work there as a labourer?"

There again are the seeds of disunity. Why talk about national unity when people have in their hearts the bitterness of knowing they are discriminated against? It is impossible to have unity on that basis. You find the same thing in connection with citizens of Polish descent. They are discriminated against

IMr. Stewart.]

because of their religion, perhaps, or again because of their name. We have in Canada people with Polish names that rank high in honour in the country of their origin; yet we in our insolence tell them that before they get work they must anglicize their names. These people need the protection of this parliament. We have Canadians of German descent, loyal, sound democrats who have fought for Canada. I know one boy who made thirty-two operational trips over Germany, who received an honourable discharge, yet again, because of his name, he is discriminated against.

We need in Canada, Mr. Speaker, a bill of rights to protect the minorities in this country, and I am going to suggest to the government that it give us such a bill. Within a few weeks we are going to debate in this house the charter of the united nations, and in the preamble we shall read these words:

We, the peoples of the united nations, determined to . . . reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women . . . and for these ends to practise

tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours . . . have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.

Here we make our declaration of faith to the world. I ask that this parliament make the same affirmation of faith to Canada. I ask that the government introduce a bill of rights and that this house place it upon the statute books of Canada, so that our children may grow together in dignity and in grace, with equality and justice, and above all in brotherhood.

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September 10, 1945

Mr. ALISTAIR STEWART (Winnipeg North):

I wish to direct a question to the Minister of Reconstruction. Is it the policy of the government, as a condition of sale for crown plants, that union agreements at present in effect be honoured so that employees will be rehired on the basis of seniority?

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June 14, 1945


I want to see the workers of Canada get a living wage and some security. We will not stop until we get that. That should be the policy of the government, because it is one of the promises which was held out to the workers. The \vorkers in the packing houses are asking for a forty-hour week and thirty per cent increase in pay, so that they would get the same wage for a forty-hour week as they are now getting for a forty-eight hour week. Wages in the packing houses are not high, and the conditions in some departments are dreadful. I do not know whether hon. members have been through the packing houses and have seen the conditions under which these men work, often wading through blood and dirt. Have they seen the workers in these shops travelling from sub-zero to almost tropical temperatures in different rooms, day after day? Here is an industry that seriously impairs the health of the worker. It is all very well thinking in terms of an hourly wage, but after all that is not the way to think of those engaged in these jobs. You must think of them in terms of an annual wage, and then ask how long such men will be able to carry on in the packing house industry. As a matter of fact, a man of fifty is pretty well through because the severity of the work in the packing plant is such that he cannot carry on after that age.

These men are asking for some improvement in conditions, some hope of security from the government, and they are not holding anybody up. I may tell the government now, and they know it as well as I do, that there is going to be a strike in this industry unless they get busy and bring down a policy which will suit the workers throughout the country. The workers do not want very much. They want union security and reduced hours of work, they want decent working conditions and incomes on which they and their

families can live in comfort. These are the minimum demands of those who have been producing to win the war, of those whose sons died to win the war. They are the minimum demands of the workers of Canada, and the workers are going to get them, or they and their brothers who are coming out of the services are going to know the reason why.

Topic:   HOUSING
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June 14, 1945

Mr. ALISTAIR STEWART (Winnipeg North) :

I believe the workers of this

country are puzzled, dismayed and discouraged at the lack of a positive labour policy on the part of the government. We can remember that up to June 11 they had a policy-jobs, work for all, security for all. Where is that policy now? The workers at Windsor are without protection, and surely the most elementary protection for the workers in a democracy is the right to join the union of their own choice, the protection of union security, the closed shop, and the check-off. Yet these are being denied to them, and apparently the government does nothing about it. Well, I believe either the government's promises are going to be ful-


Ford Motor Plant Strike

filled, or their bluff is going to be called, because the insecurity of labour is becoming more and more obvious.

All across this country to-day men are being laid off; plants all over Canada are reducing their staffs. I draw to the attention of the house the fact that when a man is laid off or when he is on strike it is a very serious matter for that individual. There are few scourges worse than unemployment. When a man is unemployed he has no income. It is true that to-day he gets this miserly pittance of unemployment insurance, but that is far from adequate to pay his rent, it is far from adequate to provide food, including the dairy products which are so necessary to keep his children in health; it is far from adequate to provide medical services if they are needed; it is far from adequate in these days of approaching winter to see that the house is kept properly warm and that the children do not suffer. Always under strikes or mass unemployment it is the children who suffer most. Therefore I suggest that there is much validity to our case and to the union case that when the worker is being transferred from war-time to peace-time employment, during the period of transition he should be given a minimum of $25 a week. He and his family cannot expect to live on less.

Under capitalism as we have known it the lot of the worker has been unemployment, then work for a little time, then unemployment again. There is no security. In our lifetime we have gone through two wars and two major depressions, and the mass of the people have always suffered the worst. There are young men coming back to this country whose only chance in the nineteen thirties was the chance in 1939 to fight and die for Canada, These boys are coming back expecting something better than when they went away. They want a Canada wherein there is work for them, and some sort of union security, but apparently the government is unwilling to provide that type of security. In Winnipeg we have the case of MacDonald Brothers Aircraft plant, which at the peak of employment had 4,500 men employed. The number is now down to 400. What has happened to those 4,100 people? Some, though only a few, have got other jobs; some have left the province; the great majority are unemployed.

I want again to emphasize the fact that unemployment is a personal tragedy for those who suffer from it, and therefore, it is the duty of the government and this house to do everything within their power to ease con-

ditions for these people and see that the pledges are kept that there shall be work for all in Canada.

We are told that there are a million new jobs in sight. Where are they, and at what rates of pay? I believe that the "million new jobs" is a mirage. It does not delude the workers of this country. It is true that there may be a million new jobs, but if there are, they are at twenty-five cents an hour, and we are not going to take them at that wage.

The trade unions of Canada are far in advance of the government with plans for reconversion. The trades and labour congress have already presented their recommendations to this government. They have asked:

(1) That all citizens -who have been engaged in essential civilian industry be immediately allowed "reconversion pay" during this period of dislocation on a basis of one month's pay for each year's service up to three years;

(2) To spread available employment, a maximum forty-hour work week be put into effect, with no reduction in wages;

(3) To create confidence and maintain buying power, that general reductions of Pay be prohibited;

(4) That restrictions be lifted from building materials and that the construction of homes be carried on with the same effort, ingenuity and dispatch as was displayed in the production of urgently needed war materials;

(5) That necessary public works be immediately commenced; and

(6) That the reconversion of all war plants suitable to peace-time production be speeded to the utmost.

There, Mr. Speaker, is a programme. The workers of Canada have a programme. Where, then, is that of the government? In Winnipeg we have signs of another strike, a national strike, in the packing house industry. I was at a conference of packing house workers a few days ago. These men appreciate the problems of industry and the problems of the national economy; they only hope that the government appreciates them in exactly the same way. The question of income tax was discussed by these workers. They had no objection to high rates of income tax provided they were sure that their fellow workers were getting jobs. They discussed rationing. They had no objection to rationing; they encouraged it in order to feed the starving people of Europe, though they disagreed in many respects with the way the government was handling it, but that is another matter. If the government are to be sure of getting the support of the working people of this country, they have to support-

Topic:   HOUSING
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