John Leroy SKOBERG

SKOBERG, John Leroy

Personal Data

Party
New Democratic Party
Constituency
Moose Jaw (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
February 2, 1926
Deceased Date
August 12, 2012
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Skoberg
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=c3dee5fe-7684-4bc1-9f50-3f66f0bf8721&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
locomotive engineer

Parliamentary Career

June 25, 1968 - September 1, 1972
NDP
  Moose Jaw (Saskatchewan)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 190)


April 5, 1973

Mr. Skoberg:

I move that the committee call as witnesses those contractors available that were engaged in the construction of Great Slave Lake Railway and were subject to the invoking of clause 16 of their contracts by Canadian National Railways.

Considerable discussion ensued related to the wording of the motion, the need to appear, etc. In this regard Mr. Allmand noted:

We should not entertain these grievances under this particular motion because these contractors, whoever they may be, whether individuals or corporations, might have made a claim through the courts, which is the usual way when one is not satisfied under a contract. The usual procedure is to make a claim in court. I do not know at this particular time whether any claims have been made in court; whether there are judgments on these particular claims or whether there have been settlements made out of court. Maybe they did not make claims before the court; maybe for some reasons they were prevented.

Mr. Horner spoke to Mr. Allmand's recommendation to turn down the recommendation, as follows:

Secondly, I would like to suggest that the whole difficulty arises out of something that was not the contractors' fault. It was not the railway's fault either. It was practically an act of God: the weather conditions were the biggest trouble. Surely, contractors or the Canadian National Railways should not be held responsible. We should hear the problems that the weather conditions brought about, without forcing these people who, as I understand their case, are nearly bankrupt anyway. I sincerely want each member of this committee to look at this problem. If they tendered low and lost their shirt, then you and I can justifiably say, well, the next time they will tender wisely. But in this case it was not a case of tendering low; it was an act of God-building a railroad in severe conditions through what we might call a hinterland, an area which is not settled, an area which nobody really knew the conditions, and then, on top of all that, adverse weather conditions during the construction of the railway.

He went on to state:

Mr. Chairman, it is only fair and just that we at least hear their case. If we decide that it was not because of weather, but through faulty construction or faulty management of their contracts, then I do not think we should be held responsible for bailing them out, nor should the government, no matter which government. If we find that it was because of adverse management direction under clause 16 of the contract, or because of adverse weather conditions, perhaps we could give them a sympathetic hearing at least, and maybe a sympathetic answer. With regard to Mr. Allmand's third point, Mr. Chairman, that this whole question may go before the courts, I urge this committee to give serious consideration to that problem. If these contractors are in as severe a position as they say, they are facing bankruptcy. They cannot afford to go to court.

Some hon. members of the committee went on to speak about this, and Mr. Nesbitt said:

-it is quite evident that the House leader, Mr. MacDonald, has been apprised of the matter and has made certain commitments in the House. There seems little doubt that this matter would be heard and witnesses called to hear both sides of the story. It is my understanding that the minister might have some reservations in setting an unfortunate precedent where every person who had a 25-cent claim against the railway or the government might want a hearing, or that it would open the flood-gate in the future, but I do not think that could happen and I think this committee could, perhaps, make that quite clear. This would not set a precedent as there are very unusual circumstances in this case. There are many millions of dollars involved. It has been apparent that the cause of the thing was not necessarily the fault of the railway at all, but was caused by unforeseen acts of God, as I believe the term is, although I do not know why the Almighty should be blamed for some of these unfortunate things. However, that is in fact what they are, and there certainly have been commitments made that the committee would hear the whole matter.

To sum up briefly-

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   TRANSPORT
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September 1, 1972

Mr. Skoberg:

On a point of order, Mr. Chairman-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WEST COAST PORTS OPERATIONS BILL
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September 1, 1972

Mr. John L. Skoberg (Moose Jaw):

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Transport. In view of foreign flag vessels using foreign crews in our coastal waters, which results in the loss of many jobs for Canadians, can the Minister of Transport now advise the House when he will implement the recommendations of the Darling report on coastal shipping concerning this issue?

Topic:   SHIPPING
Subtopic:   INQUIRY AS TO IMPLEMENTATION OF DARLING REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS
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September 1, 1972

Mr. Skoberg:

Mr. Chairman, in view of the type of discussion that went on last night and this morning, perhaps I should explain a little more what this amendment is all about. I wish to ask the minister to clarify the actions which the government has taken and also what action the Canadian Grains Council has taken with regard to settling some of these long-term disputes at the ports between management and labour.

It was interesting to listen to the labour spokesman for the official opposition, the hon. member for Hamilton West, dealing with the strike which exists in British Columbia today. Surely, this committee is concerned with the long-term effects of all strike. Surely we can make suggestions and amendments to take care of the long time, situation that exists. All this amendment does is set a deadline as to when this government should take action

West Coast Ports Operations Bill

or initiate an inquiry. This type of action should be supported by every member of this House in order to clarify some of the problems that exist.

I wish to refer to three areas where the longshoremen have come up with separate agreements and separate contracts to look after situations on the west coast. I refer to the Burlington Northern, the National Harbours Board and Roberts Bank. They are working in Roberts Bank today. If grain were taken out of the general cargo classification, there is no question but that grain would be moving through that terminal.

There are many areas of dispute about which management, particularly the elevator operators at the port of Vancouver, have no concern. If the hon. member for Crowfoot is going to make an accusation about who wanted to unload the cargo, I suggest that he do a little more homework. The people from the hiring and despatch hall are not the ones who say what cargo will be loaded and from where. It is disgraceful for a member of this House to attack unions without looking at the entire picture.

A grain group was set up by the minister in charge of the Canadian Wheat Board. Surely, this group should have looked at the overall problem. It is the responsibility of the Minister of Labour or the minister in charge of the wheat board to tell this House whether they are, in fact, looking at a long-term solution. The minister of Labour is not listening. Maybe I had better wait a minute. Can the minister inform this House whether the whole area of taking grain out of general cargoes, as was the case when other commodities were taken out of master agreements, has been considered in the light of the discussions we had last evening and this morning?

All the amendment does is ask the government to initiate an inquiry. It does not direct how the inquiry should be undertaken. We cannot expect the people engaged in this industry to worry about public sentiment and so on. They have to know where they stand. We cannot be expected to pass legislation which compels people to return to work when there is more than one side to the picture. The press invariably gives attention to the union and not the employer or the government. The government may have an answer as to why an inquiry should not be instituted and why grain should not be taken out of general cargo. I would appreciate some response from the minister. Perhaps the government has already done this. If so, I will withdraw my motion.

I cannot understand why anyone in this House would not support an amendment such as this. I was amazed to hear the hon. member for Crowfoot say today that he cannot support the amendment when last night he said he would support it. It seems strange that we cannot resolve some of the differences that have been in question for years and years with no foreseeable solution.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WEST COAST PORTS OPERATIONS BILL
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September 1, 1972

Mr. Skoberg:

Mr. Chairman, this matter must be clarified in the House if we are to act responsibly. We hear this government talk about industrial peace. As far as I can see, we do not know whether the old agreement will be in effect until the new agreement is signed. By not proclaiming this section of the bill what we are saying to those people is that they should go on strike, because they will have to go on strike before this government sees any necessity to proclaim Part II of the bill. Through you, Mr. Chairman, I sincerely urge the minister to give some protection to the working people of Canada, as well as to the employers if they need it, so far as lockouts may be concerned.

If we do not give some protection to those people out there we will deliberately frustrate the intent of the labour bill we discussed earlier this year. We talked about the preamble in that bill and what we were going to do for the people, but we know now that they will be working without a contract until the declaration of a strike. Surely, this parliament could include a clause which would ensure that the old agreement will be in effect. Surely, we could do that much if we expect any consideration whatsoever. If we do not do that I feel confident that these people on the west coast will say to hell with this government and any legislation it may pass. This is the type of thing that brings about industrial conflict and confrontation, and that is not what we want in Canada.

What is wrong with a simple amendment introduced by the government that will leave the old agreement in effect? Who are we trying to protect? I cannot understand a situation in which we cannot do anything that will protect all the parties at the same time. I am bothered when it is suggested that this clause will not be proclaimed until something happens. There is the suggestion that this may occur, but I suggest that the Alberta Wheat Pool and the UGG agreed to the amount of money involved in the conciliation board report. They are now backtracking because these companies thought they could get off the hook by letting the government bring in legislation. I do not think this House should be blackmailed into a position along those lines. That is not why we were called back here.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   WEST COAST PORTS OPERATIONS BILL
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