The POSTMASTER GENERAL.
I have given my explanation.
I have given my explanation.
Did the hon. minister find that his department was unable to cope with the strike and the labour trouble? in British Columbia, and for that reason he was compelled to appoint this commission? While I am on myr feet, I wotilcl ask the hon. gentleman to answer the question where the request came from for the appointment of this commissison to investigate the labour troubles in British Columbia ?
The hon. member for Vancouver (Mr. Smith) and the hon. member for Burrard (Mr. Macpherson) discusssed the subject with me and favoured the appointment of commissioners. Sc did Senator Templeman, a member of the government And they doubtless voiced the opinion of British Columbia to a considerable extent. I think my hon. friend from Yale and Cariboo (Mr. Gallilier) also pressed it upon the consideration of the government, and, in fact, my recollection is that all the members from British Colum-
bia supporting the government expressed the same opinion.
Mr. HUGHES (Victoria).
And did not all the members opposing the government do the same ?
The rOSTMASTER GENERAL. I have no doubt my hon. friend from Victoria (Mr. Hughes)-speaking now in all seriousness- if he has followed the reports in the press of the doings of this commission-will approve of the work that has been done, and will regard the commission as a very good thing for the province of British Columbia.
The Postmaster General did not answer the question put to him as to whether this commission was asked for by anybody. What strikes me is this : The Department of Labour costs us about $40,000 a year, and the amount of this vote is about one-third of that amount. Mr. King, I think, about doubled his salary for a considerable amount of time by this commission.
His salary, I believe, is $2,500. And on this commission he gets $5 a day and all expenses besides. I think that about amounts to doubling his salary.
Is that a fair statement?
I think it is. If it was necessary to take evidence to place before the House and the country in reference to the industrial position in British Columbia, it might have been done with far less expenditure. In fact, I do not see why Mr. King, if he is competent to till the position of Deputy Minister of Labour, could not have proceeded there. Commisssions of that kind have been issued and have taken evidence without so much expense to the country.
Mr. HUGHES (Victoria).
What instructions did the hon. minister give to the commissioners ? Did he direct what questions to ask ?
J may say to my hon. friend from Peel (Mr. Blain), also to my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier (Mr Monk) and my hon. friend from Victoria (Mr. Hughes), who have spoken, that, living as I do in British Columbia and in the mining districts where a number of these strikes have occurrred. in the coal mines, the gold mines and others, I may be permitted to say something on the necessity for such a commission as this. If these hon. gentlemen lived there as I do, and understood the conditions as I do, I do not think they would for a moment cavil at the government having appointed this commission rather than attempt to carry out the work by any single officer. This commission was given a very wide scope as to the taking of evidence and inquiry generally ; and, if
I may anticipate what the report of the commimssioners will be, I think members of the House will regard the appointment of the commission as in the interest of public peace generally and in the interest of trade generally, and will be thankful to the go\-ernment for appointing that commission to bring out these facts. I do not think that there is any way in which the work could have been so successfully done as by the means adopted by the government.
With regard to the strike in Rossland, some two years ago, I was in Nelson, not far from there, at the time Mr. King came out, and I may say that Mr. King did everything possible to bring about an understanding between the different parties. He met with some difficulty at the hands of the unions, and in fact was at first refused the privilege of interviewing the men generally upon the question. When it was afterwards suggested that they should discuss the matter and come to an arrangement, I am informed that the unions would not agree to be bound by any decision that was come to ; that while they were willing to submit the difficulty to investigation, they would not bind themselves to accept a verdict. Therefore, no fault could be found with Mr. King, because he did his duty as far as he was permitted to do it. A similar result might have occurred in the present case had that course been adopted. But as I say, the commission that has just sat were in a position to get at the root of the whole evil. I trust they have done so, and from the personnel of the men who compose that board of commissioners, I am satisfied they did do so. I think when their report is brought down a state of facts will be disclosed which will show that it was necessary to inquire into the power, if any, exercised by the western federation of miners or other organizations of the United States, over our unions in Canada. That certainly is a matter about which the people of Canada should have something to say, and in relation to which they should be in possession of the facts. If such power is detrimental to the interests of trade and the relations that should subsist between employer and employee in this country, the sooner the western federation of miners are cut off from exercising any control over our unions in Canada, the better for all concerned in Canada.
My hon. friend seems to find fault with us, and says that we are cavilling at the committee.
Not at all. I did not mean that. I think it is perfectly proper for members of the opposition to make themselves familiar with the reasons for the actions of the government, and they can only do so by questioning the minister.
We are not as well posted as the ministers, and we have to ask
for information in this way. But the hon. gentleman has gone too far when 'lie says that no fault was found with Mr. King, because fault was found with him.
By whom was the fault found ?
The minister has said by the union.
Some of the men, I do not know whether it was the union.
The minister has referred to the committee not sitting in Ross-land. That may have been a proper move for the commission to take. Rossland is certainly one of the most troublesome points in British Columbia as regards labour troubles.
All is quiet there now.
Here is a commission appointed for which the country has to pay, supposed to be composed of good sensible and competent men, and surely those interested in a matter of so much importance would find no fault in the commission sitting in Rossland to investigate the difficulties there because if they had gone to Rossland they would probably be in a better position to get evidence affecting the strikes in the past, and be able possibly to prevent them occurring in the future. However, I do not want to anticipate. I am willing to wait until the report is brought down, when we will have an opportunity of criticising the department and condemning it, if it deserves condemnation.
Amount required to meet expenses in connection with the commission to inquire into the Martineau defalcations. $1,100.