On motion of Hon. Arthur Meighen (Minister of the Interior) Bill 54, to amend the Railway Belt Act was read the second time, and the House went into Committee thereon, Mr. Boivin in the Chair.
On section 1-Issue of patent for land held by deceased settler.
Yes. We amended the Dominion Lands Act this year, so as to provide that where the patentee died before the issue of the patent the minister would have power to have the patent issued in the name of the deceased person, the intention being to avoid the necessity of seeking out the heirs entitled to the real estate of the deceased. It is particularly applicable to provinces where the heirs are entitled to the legal estate of the deceased, and where the administrator is not entitled to it, and where the department would not be justified in having patent issued to the administrator. The railway belt of British Columbia and the Peace River district is particularly the place where the need of this amendment is most felt, because by the law of British Columbia we cannot relieve ourselves of responsibility by issuing a patent to the administrator of a deceased patentee.
Section agreed to.
Bill reported, read the third time, and passed.
INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES INVESTIGATION ACT AMENDMENT.
On motion of Hon. T. W. Crothers (Minister of Labour) Bill No. 48, to amend the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act, 1907, was read the second time, and the House went into committee thereon, Mr. Boivin in the Chair.
The amendments do not propose any change in the principle of the Bill, but are suggested with a view to increased efficiency in the working out of the intentions of the Act. The amendments will explain themselves as we come to them. Tnere is no opposition to the Bill so far as I know; the working people are in favour of it.
On section 1-employee or employer not to cease to be such for lockout, strike, etc.:
In several cases it has been held by courts that as the Act provides for an investigation of disputes between employers and employees, immediately there is a strike that relationship no longer exists. If a number of men went on strike yesterday, for instance, and applied for a board to-day, under this decision of the courts they would not be entitled to a board because the relationship of master and servant, had ceased. This amendment aims at placing them in a position to apply for a board even after they have gone on a strike or lockout.
Under the old law they had to apply for the board before they could call a strike. The object of this amendment is to allow the men to apply for a board even after they have gone out on strike, and to extend the same privilege to the employer?
of the old Act has been somewhat altered to give us authority to appoint a Board of Conciliation even in cases affecting Government railways, for instance, under the Industrial Disputes Act, in a case of that kind proceedings would have to be taken under the Conciliation and 'Labour Act. These proceedings were very circuitous and unsatisfactory, and as the Industrial Disputes Act is very much .more direct. I thought it would be an advantage to have the Board of Conciliation appointed under the latter Act rather than take proceedings under the former. Referring to subsection 2, cases often arise where applications are made for a board by people who are not lawyers. The officers of a labour organization for example, would* send an application from Vancouver, we will say, and it would take it a week to reach Ottawa. Perhaps you will find, if you examine the application very carefully, that some of the provisions of the Act have not been strictly complied with. I take up these applications, and, if satisfied that in substance the requirements of the Act have been met, I establish .a board, although there may be some technical objections to them because it would require another week to send the forms back to Vancouver, and a third week to get them back here again. As my hon. friend from Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux) knows, working people during his administration, as well as during mine, have often objected to what they call delay in having these investigations made. They insist, and very properly so I think, that the inquiry should go forward just as soon as possible after the application is made. I have found that employers in many cases where an application is made -written out by workingmen who are not lawyers and perhaps do not strictly comply with the provisions of the statutes-go to a court and ask for an interim injunction. An interim injunction is granted ex parte for a week or ten days, and then the matter comes up and is further adjourned perhaps for three months. In that way the object of the Act is entirely defeated. Now I think it would be a great advantage if employers, or employees* either, were not permitted to go to court .at all to determine whether or not the application justified the establishing of a board, and that they should have no power to question the boards procedure. Lawyers
do not appear before these boards; they are supposed to hear the evidence and .act upon common sense principles, and settle the matter, if possible, in a manner satisfactory to both parties without so much regard to legal forms.
Hon. gentlemen will notice that in the section as it formerly stood it was declared that the finding of the minister should be final, but notwithstanding that courts have held that they have a right to inquire whether or not the facts warranted the establishment of a board. I am now proposing to make the Act so strong as to prevent any interference. It is a matter, I think, which may be safely left to the Minister of Labour as to whether the circumstances warrant the inquiry provided for by this Act, and personally I feel very strongly that it is a very proper provision. We have several examples of similar legislation. In substance the findings of the Board of Railway Commissioners are not to be reviewed by judges.
Only in certain cases. Speaking generally, the findings, of the Board of* Railway 'Commissioners are final, *and are not reviewed by any court. Furthermore, in my recollection, there has not been a change made by Order in Council during the last .six or seven years. In certain cases., as I already said, an appeal imay be .made to the Supreme Court on points of law, but, speaking generally, there is practically no appeal from the board's findings. The Workmen's Compensation Act in the province of Ontario contains a somewhat similar provision to* what is proposed here. There is no appeal from the decisions of the boards those decisions are final, the courts have nothing to. d*o with. them.. That was thoroughly threshed out when the recent Workmen's Compensation Act was before the legislature of Ontario, and I think the legislature was unanimous in reaching the conclusion that it was not .a case for any appeal, but that it was very important that decisions should be made promptly, and that the decision of the board should be final.