December 12, 1910

LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

The agreement was signed on July 31. In that agreement the parties agreed to the following as the first clause:

The company will put back as soon as possible the men other than those who have been or may be found guilty of acts of violence or disorderly conduct; the understanding being that there is to be no coercion or intimidation used towards the new men.

As I have just pointed out, this agreement was signed by the company on one side and by the representatives of the men on the other. Then the question arose as to the meaning of the words ' as soon as possible.' For a time it was very difficult to get from the Grand Trunk Railway Company a definite interpretation of the meaning of those words, and during the course of negotiations Mr. Garretson, who was representing part of the men, said that if the company would satisfy Sir Frederick Borden and myself, who were there at the time, as to the meaning ot those words ' as soon as possible,' the assurance given by the company in that respect would be satisfactory to the men; in other words, it would not be necessary for the company to put' in the agreement exactly what it meant by those words, provided they gave some third party a definite statement as to the meaning. The reason of that will be apparent. The company naturally wished to take its time about the reinstatement of the men; the men on their side were anxious that the reinstatement should take place immediately, and that all the men should be reinstated immediately, and there is where the two parties were kept apart for a couple of days. After the settlement had been effected, with the exception of the interpretation to be given those words, Sir Frederick Borden and myself did receive from the company an assurance that those words would mean a time not exceeding three months. Now the Grand Trunk Rail-I way Company does not, as I understand at present, deny having given that assur-

ance. They say that they have fulfilled the terms of the agreement in that regard. The present difference is as to whether the men now out have been guilty of acts of violence or disorderly conduct.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

May I ask my hon. friend whv he did not have that very clause embodied in the agreement?

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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

The agreement was made, as I have just said, between the two parties, the Grand Trunk Railway Company and the men. The clause I have read was drafted by the parties themselves. Perhaps I could explain the position better if I were to indicate to the House how the government came to be drawn into the matter at all. In the first instance, when the strike took place, as Minister of Labour I did what I could by way of endeavour to bring the two parties to the point where both would agree to refer any differences they had to a binding arbitration. Neither side at the outset acceded to this. Subsequently the men did accede, but the company refused. Then the men's representatives undertook to negotiate with the company, with the president and other officers, to try and effect a settlement in a voluntary way. They were unable to effect that, and on July 27, I received the following telegram:

Messers. Garretson and Lee held a conference to-day with Mr. Hays without result-May I be permitted on behalf of the men on strike to request that as a minister of the Crown and representative of the people you come to Montreal and by further effort try and arrange an honourable settlement either by arbitration or negotiation.

(Signed) JAMES MURDOCK.

When I received that telegram on behalf of the men I felt that it was my duty to go down to Montreal and do what I could in the way of endeavouring to bring the parties together.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

Was that the first time in which the minister was brought into the arena?

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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

I have already mentioned that I had up to that time directed my efforts to trying to bring the parties to their own accord to agree to refer their differences to arbitration, and that w*as the first time I had taken an active intervention in the way of bringing them together. Fortunately, the Minister of Militia was in Montreal at the time. When I went to Montreal I had first to ascertain whether the company would be agreeable to my acting as a conciliator or mediator between the men and themselves. The men had asked me to do this, but I would have had no authority to do it had not the company been also agreeable to my intervening. I spoke to my colleague, Sir Frederick Borden, and asked him to see Mr. Hays and to

find out from Mr. Hays whether he would be agreeable to my intervening in this way. He did so, and later on we saw Mr. Hays and Mr. Fitzhugh, and they each expressed a willingness that whatever could be done through mediation should be done. Then, Sir Frederick Borden remaining in Montreal, the two of us did what we could to bring about a joint meeting between the parties. I think it was Thursday afternoon when we reached Montreal, and by Saturday we had arranged a joint meeting in the company's board room at which Mr. Hays and other officers of the company were present, together with Mr. Garretson and Mr. Lee, representing the men, one or two other representatives were also present. The conference was kept up between the two parties, not between Sir Frederick and myself and the parties to the dispute, but between Mr. Hays on the one side and Messrs. Garretson and Lee on 'the other. I may say that what was done on that occasion was to take the award given by the board of conciliation that had previously inquired into the matter, and to make that the basis of a new agreement to be reached between the parties. That conference lasted from three o'clock in the afternoon of Saturday until about seven in the evening, when it broke up, and was resumed again about nine o'clock and lasted until midnight. By that time the terms which were subsequently accepted as those of a binding agreement had been arrived at between the parties, the one thing that was then keeping the parties apart was the meaning to be given to those words * as s,oon as possible.' The company had wished to leave them just in that way. The men said: Give us an assurance of what you mean by ' as soon as possible ', give that assurance to the Minister of Militia and the Minister of Labour, and that will suffice us, and we will accept the agreement in the words in which it is already drafted. The assurance came to be given in that way, and when received I sent the following wire to Mr. Berry and Mr. Murdock. I had returned to Ottawa on the morning of Tuesday; it was in the afternoon I finally got the assurance, and I sent the following wire to Messrs. Murdock and Berry:

Mr. Hays has given Sir Frederick Borden and myself an undertaking that the men will within three months from this date be taken back into the service and within that time be placed in their former positions. We understand by the men, all men referred to in agreement signed by both parties. In accordance with our understanding with you, I shall expect to hear by wire immediately that the strike has been declared at an end. I will confirm this wire by letter over my own signature.

W. L. MACKENZIE KING, Minister of Labour.

The men had stated before I left Montreal that at any time the company gave this assurance they would be prepared to call the strike off. I asked them, if I were able to send them that assurance by wire, could I rely on the strike being called off as soon as they had received it. What was in my mind was this, that if Mr. Hays had not been willing to give that assurance I, on my patt, was going to give the public of this country the explanation of why that strike could not be settled, and let the country see that the only reason why it could not be settled was that it was impossible to get a definite meaning out of those words ' as soon as possible.' I came to Ottawa to lay the situation in that particular before my colleagues. Mr. Wain-wright, vice-president of the company, followed me to Ottawa, and on behalf of the president, or by authority of the president, gave that assurance. I then wired the men, and the strike was declared off.

The situation is that the company gave an assurance that within three months the men would be returned to work. The company now state that they have carried out that part of their agreement, and that the men who have not been reinstated have been guilty of some acts of violence or disorderly conduct. There were 3,450 men involved in the strike and some 3,200 have been returned to the company's service according to the figures given to me to-day at noon by representatives of the men. I understand that 270 or thereabouts are still out of the company's employ. When representations were made to the government that some of the men had not been reinstated, we immediately took up this matter with the company. I went to Montreal and saw Mr. Hays and the officers tin re. The Prime Minister had Mr. Hays come to Ottawa and confer with him here, we have had several interviews back and forth and we have also had a considerable amount of correspondence. Each case that has been represented to the government by the men of non-compliance by the company with this agreement, has been fully represented to the company and the government has expressed to the company in the strongest terms possible its wish and desire that the agreement should be carried out to the letter.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAGGART.

Have you a reply from the company in each individual case as to why they did not employ the men?

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LIB
L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

The minister made use of the expression just now, that the government required the company to comply with the agreement to the letter. What [DOT]does the minister mean by ' to the letter '?

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LIB
LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

Literally, I mean to carry out the agreement and not evade any feature of it at all. The various cases that have been represented to the government by the men, as I say, have been turned over to the company. Mr. Hays has taken the position that he is guided in his attitude by the reports from the superintendents. The superintendents had given a list of men who have been guilty of acts of violence or disorderly conduct. Mr. Hays said: I will take up each case myself

with other officers of the company, but I think the men should make known to me any complaints they have to me in the first instance. I acquainted the men with the position taken by Mr. Hays and I suggested that each man who had not been reinstated should write to the president of the company and ask that his case be considered. They followed that advice. Every man, I think, has written to the president. As near as I can gather each has received a letter to the effect that according to the records of the company he has been guilty of some act of disorderly conduct or violence, and that if he will go before the superintendent, the superintendent will give him a hearing and that he shall try to prove to the satisfaction of the superintendent that he has not been guilty of any such act. The men have followed that course, they have gone before the superintendents, and the superintendents have given them a hearing. Pending the result of the inquiry the government ha3 not felt that it was wise or expedient, in the interest of the men themselves, to take any further steps. There are two ways of doing everything-one by coercion, which might result in nothing, and certainly in this case, would result in nothing, and the other by conciliation, giving the company every opportunity to have these cases looked into and to take what the general public will regard as a fair and proper view of the situation. That is the position to-day. These superintendents are passing upon the cases of the men, but if, as a result of their action and investigation, the outcome is not satisfactory, of .course, the government will reserve to itself the right to take what further step may be deemed expedient and advisable. But, at the present time, in the interest of the men themselves, it would seem in every way desirable that the course which the company has suggested should be followed, and that we should wait and see what the outcome of this may be before deciding on on the next step.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

If I may be permitted an observation, Mr. Speaker, the minister has not stated whether any men have been restored to the service since the opening of the session. I understand that none have been restored.

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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

I am informed that some have ; how many I cannot say, but they are very few.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I might suggest to the minister that if any of the men were charged with acts of violence or disorderly conduct that question should have been fairly investigated before the three months were up, and the matter should not have been allowed to stand over until six months had expired. I do not agree with the minister that it is fair to the men that they should be called upon to prove a negative. I would think that the Grand Trunk Railway Company ought to restore the men unless it wras able to prove that they had been guilty of violence or disorderly conduct within the meaning of the agreement. It seems to me that the men are being placed in an unfair and unfortunate position when they are told that- they are to remain out of the service of the company, notwithstanding this agreement, unless they prove that they were not guilty of violence or disorderly conduct. It is rather a new rule that the party against whom a charge is made is obliged to prove himself innocent. The usual rule of English law and fair play is that any of these men would be regarded as innocent until the company had brought forward some evidence to show that he was guilty of the particular offence which would debar him from re-entering the service of the company under the terms of this agreement.

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LIB
LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

I cannot allow any discussion to crop up at this stage.

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CON

William Barton Northrup

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. NORTHRUP.

I listened very intently to the statement made by the minister, but I am not at all sure that I understand one part of it. I merely desire to ask a question for information. I understood the minister to say that the president of the Grand Trunk Railway Company did not profess himself to know personally of these cases of disorderly conduct on the part of the men, but that he had relied on the statements made to him by superintendents, that these men were not taken back into the employ of the railway because these superintendents had reported that the men had been guilty of disorderly conduct, and that now the men are compelled to go before the very superintendents who found them guilty and who, by their verdict of guilty deprived them of their employment, and prove that the superintendents were wrong when they made such a report. Did I correctly understand the minister?

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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

That is practically the same question as that put to me by my hon., friend the leader of the opposition. If I may be pardoned answering it in a broad

way I would say that the object that the government have in view is to get the men back if possible. The government have represented the position fully to the company. The government have had the choice of two courses of action; they could start an investigation of their own, or they could allow the company to proceed along the line which appears more likely to lead to a favourable result. To have done other than accept the company's suggestion as to the method of proceeding, would have been to block progress in the interest of the men themselves. I agree with the hon. leader of the opposition that the methods of the company are extraordinary. I think that they might have taken a more liberal way of dealing with the question. But, they manage a railway and understand it and I do not. From their point of view the method of proceeding was to go to the superintendents after having taken matters up with the president. The government thought it would be best to allow the company to follow their own method of proceeding and no investigation of its own has been undertaken up to the present time by the government other than the obtaining of such information as has beetr got by inquiry from the men themselves.

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CON

William Barton Northrup

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. NORTHRUP.

Then no man can be reinstated unless the superintendent advises, that he, the superintendent, previously reported.

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CON

John Dowsley Reid

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID (Grenville).

Did I understand the minister to say that the men taken back were to be reinstated in the positions they held prior to the strike?

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LIB

George Gerald King

Liberal

Mr. KING.

The understanding given by the company was, that they should get back to their former positions within three months.

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December 12, 1910