May 11, 1920

L LIB

Joseph Archambault

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ARCHAMBAULT:

I had the same answer from my right hon. friend two years ago.

Topic:   EXPLOSIVE WORKS AT BELOEIL.
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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

Two years is so long a period that I have forgotten.

Topic:   EXPLOSIVE WORKS AT BELOEIL.
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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

The very circumstance,

that this matter originated two years ago" is sufficient evidence that the question =is one that ought not to be submitted on the Orders of the Day.

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REPORTED MIGRATION OF MENNON-ITES FROM CANADA.

UNION

James Alexander Calder (Minister of Immigration and Colonization)

Unionist

Hon. J. A. CALDER (Minister of Immigration and Colonization):

The hon. member for South Renfrew (Mr. Pedlow) a day or so ago made inquiry as to wThether or not the Government had any official information respecting the migration of a large number of Mennonites from Manitoba and Alberta to the United (States, and if so, if the Government- was taking any steps to induce the people to remain in Canada?

In reply I beg to state that the Government has no official information of any such movement. During the course of the past two or three years the press has on several occasions contained announcements of the possibility of the emigration from Canada of a large number of Mennonites because the (Governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta,-under the administration of their 'School laws, were insisting that the children of these people should be required to acquire a proper and efficient common school education.

If the contemplated movement referred to iby the hon. gentleman is due to the fact that there are large numbers of Mennonites who will not observe the school laws of these provinces the Government considers that it would be most unwise to interfere in the matter in any way.

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INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES INVESTIGATION ACT, 1907. AMENDMENT.


Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Minister of the Interior) moved the third reading of Bill No. 57 to amend the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act, 1907.


LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING:

I was not aware frota the order of business given to the House last night that the third reading of this measure was to be moved this afternoon. However, I think it would be inadvisable to allow the Bill to pass its third reading without once again referring to features of the measure which seem to afford reasons why it should not pass in its present form. There has been a great deal of discussion on this Bill in committee and it is therefore unnecessary again to review in detail the different points that have already been mentioned. It will be sufficient to draw the attention of the House to significant features of these amendments.

The first amendment changes the method of making application for boards of conciliation and investigation. As I pointed out in committee the change in this regard

has not, so far as the Government has shown, been requested in any general way. The minister has intimated that members of the executive of the Trades and Labour Congress have asked for the change, but he has brought before the House no evidence in corroboration of his statement. He has not presented to the House any communications from the Trades and Labour Congress, and if he has them in his possession 1 would ask him to read them to the House before the Bill is passed. In the absence of any request for a change in the method of proceeding under the existing Act, I think it is obviously desirable that a method which has stood without criticism ior thirteen or more years should be permitted to stand, and that the effectiveness of the Act should not be jeopardized by an amendment of the kind suggested which can do no good and may lead to a great deal of harm.

Then another amendment changes the allowance to witnesses from what in the Act at the present time makes it accord with the allowance to witnesses in the courts of the different provinces and establishes instead a minimum of $4 a day. The effect of that amendment, as was pointed out in committee, will simply be to encourage large numbers of witnesses to be called before these boards, and will greatly increase the cost of administration. When this objection was pointed out to the minister, he made the somewhat popular reply that the Minister of Labour was anxious that workingmen should not be taken away from their work as witnesses and paid meagre witness fees. I might point out that many of these boards hold their proceedings after the day's work is over, and that the attendance of witnesses may be for only ten or fifteen minutes. If the law is not left as it is, it is certainly going vastly to increase the number of witnesses called and correspondingly increase the expenses of administration.

In considering the amount to be paid witnesses under the proposed amendment, we must also consider the effect of the previous amendment, which the Government has introduced, and which permits any two individuals connected with an industry to which the Act applies to go around with a memorial and upon securing signatures of a majority of the employees to become entitled to have a board of investigation granted. I believe that the two amendments taken together are going to have the effect of leading to a considerable

interference with many of these large industries which are among the most important to the country, and that they will prove prejudicial to capital and labour alike.

A further amendment gives to the Minister of Labour the power, before a strike or lockout has taken place, of his own initiative, and without request from any of the parties, to appoint a board of investigation under the Act. That, I believe, is going to work prejudicially to the Government, and to the parties whose interest it was intended to serve. The Act is intended as a means of investigating existing disputes, and provision is made whereby any of the parties interested may make application to the Government in a regular way for the appointment of a board. In the past that provision has worked very well. Interested parties have been able to get a board when it was needed. More than that, where a dispute in any case has assumed the proportions of a strike without a board having investigated its merits, the law, as amended two years ago, gives the right to the minister to step in at that stage and appoint a board on his own initiative. But here is an entirely new departure in the nature of interference by the Government of its own will with private business, and that I think is a principle which the House should not endorse.

These are the essential features of the outstanding amendments made by this Bill to the existing legislation. All of them are doubtful, some of them are thoroughly bad. Other amendments were asked for by labour and by the public for the protection of public interests, namely, that public services and industries in the nature of public utilities operated by municipalities or provincial governments should be brought under this law. The minister says that the Department of Justice has given some ruling in regard to the application of the Act to municipal enterprises, and in virtue of that ruling he does not propose to alter the measure one way or the other; he proposes to leave' these important matters in a condition of doubt. My view is that if instead of bringing in amendments altogether doubtful in their effect, the Minister of Labour had introduced amendments that are desired and have been requested for the protection of communities and of employees in these large public utilities, he would be rendering a service that would be worth while. There are these objections, it seems to me, to the amendments proposed to the Act, and, as already pointed

out, they cover pretty much all that the amendments pertain to.

Let me say that I think the discussion on these amendments has shown the necessity of having the Minister of Labour in this House. I wish to pass no reflection whatever on my hon. friend (Mr. Meighen) who has been piloting the Bill through the House. He has handled the measure with that skill which all are prepared to concede he possesses in very large measure. But I am sure he will be the first to admit that he has repeatedly felt the difficulty of appreciating the amendments which he was asking the House to accept. These industrial matters affect all classes, and if there is one place above another where a Minister of Labour should be it is in the House of Commons, where from day to day he can answer urgent questions on existing industrial situations.

It is a serious reflection upon the Government's appreciation of what is owing the public that as regards the two departments of government which have the most to do with questions of greatest concern to-day, namely, matters pertaining to labour and capital, and matters affecting returned soldiers, the ministers of those departments should be in the Senate where it is not possible for members of this House of Commons to ask them questions or to get the benefit of their views.

May I point out in this connection, Mr. Speaker, that the action of the Government in keeping the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment in the Senate amounts really to a form of closure so far as concerns the securing of information on vital questions or the discussion of them. We are by the rules of Parliament precluded from making any reference to what has taken place in the Senate. When those amendments to the Industrial Disputes Act were introduced in the Senate the Minister of Labour made certain representations concerning them. I have read the debate in the Senate. May I say that my hon. friend who has been piloting t'he Bill through this House gave us, in regard to this particular matter of witnesses' fees reasons for adopting the amendment, entirely different from those given by the Minister of Labour in the Senate. There the proposal originally was that the minimum should be $2 a day. In the discussion yesterday my hon. friend who sits to my right (Mr. Lemieux), an ex-Minister of Labour and the member for West Elgin (Mr. Crothers) also an ex-Minister of Labour, and the immediate pre-

decessor of the present minister and myself-three of us who have had to do with the administration of this Act, were all united as to the folly of making the suggested change, and yet there was no opportunity for the present Minister of Labour (Mr. Robertson) to give his views to the House, and under the rules we were precluded from referring to the debate in the Senate.

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UNION

John Hampden Burnham

Unionist

Mr. J. H. BURNHAM (West Peterborough) :

I want to ask the leader of the Opposition in view of what he has said, if, after all, he does not think it is desirable when a person or persons has or have a complaint to make that he or they should be in the position of an ordinary litigant, who upon issuing a writ is able to cite the defendant to appear before the court and have the whole case dealt with on its merits. In that way not only private interests but public interests are protected. Does the hon. gentleman not think that some such course as that should be taken?

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I should like to answer my hon. friend's question, but I am sorry to say that I do not quite see the point of it; I do not see that it has any bearing upon what I have just been, saying with regard to the importance of having the Minister of Labour in this House. I ishould be glad to have my hon. friend repeat his question if he cares to do so.

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UNION

John Hampden Burnham

Unionist

Mr. BURNHAM:

The hon. gentleman

has just said that he thinks it is unfair.

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L LIB
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

My hon.

friend (Mr. Burnham) is referring to remarks which I made some little time ago, whereas I have in mind what I have just been saying.

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UNION
LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Perhaps a

little later I can go over the ground again, if my hon. friend wishes it. In the meantime, perhaps he will permit me to finish any remarks on this point of having the Minister of Labour in the House of Commons.

It is very opportune, Mr. Speaker, that reference should be made to this matter on this particular measure, because there is no doubt that the House has been detained longer in dealing with this measure than it would have been had the Minister of Labour been here to explain the features of his own Bill. We had to have two or three adjournments in order to find

out what the minister really meant. Lest it might be said by my hon. friend (Mr. Meighen) that these adjournments were unnecessary, I should like to direct the attention of the House to the circumstance that I pointed out to the minister (Mr. Meighen) that one of the amendments which he brought in did away altogether with a very important amendment to this law which was passed in 1910. I asked him if he -were aware that that was the effect of his amendment, and he replied that he was not, and he adjourned the House to ask the Minister of Labour about it. Yesterday he came and frankly admitted that the amendment as brought in had that effect; that it was never intended as it dropped a very important amendment to the Act made in 1910 at the instance of the railway employees and railway companies. That, I think, is quite sufficient to show the unwisdom of having legislation promoted in this House by ministers who know nothing whatever in a detailed way about the legislation which they are promoting. But I come back to what is fundamental under the British system as respects a ministry and that is that it should be where at all times and on all occasions it can be questioned upon important matters of public concern. As I have said, the matters of greatest concern to the future prosperity and present contentment of our country, are those which relate to industry and to the well-being of returned soldiers.

The course of this legislation helps us to appreciate, I think, just why this session has lasted so long and why so little has been accomplished during the time we have been here. 'If any one looks over the legislation which the Government have introduced, he will find that almost the whole of it amounts to bringing into this *House Bills which have previously been brought in and passed, brought in again and amended, and then brought in once more for further amendment. I have not at the moment a list of the Bills which have been before the House; if I had I could show that with the exception of half a dozen measures, they are mostly in the nature simply either of a consolidation of former legislation or of a chopping up of existing laws into different Acts and the assignment of parts to one minister and parts to another, and the bringing in of little amendments, some of which may be necessary, but many of which, like the amendments' to which I have directed attention, are mischievous and bad. Now,

that is the reason why we have been taking up so much time during this session to so little account. There has been very little legislation of what one could call an original or constructive nature. The Government have brought forward practically nothing of that kind; if they think they have, I should like the minister to cite instances. Take the Grand Trunk Bill. At the last session that measure was introduced. We complained that it was being rushed through; that errors would creep in; that it would have to be amended on a subsequent occasion. This session the Government brings down a measure to correct errors in the' hasty legislation put through last session, and two or three days are occupied in the consideration of that measure. Take the Opium and Drug Bill. What was that measure but a measure that the Minister of Health (Hon. Mr. Rowell) had amended a year or two ago and which he brought back this session for further amendments-amendments so extensive that the whole Bill had to he reprinted? I might mention other legislation, but the facts are familiar to every hon. member. I submit that instead of tinkering and tampering with existing legislation to no effect, the time of this Parliament should be taken up, at this time of all times in the country's history, with constructive legislation along lines that are in accordance with the country's needs.

Topic:   INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES INVESTIGATION ACT, 1907. AMENDMENT.
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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Mr. Speaker-

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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

I must point out that

the minister, in moving the motion for the third reading, has exhausted his right to speak.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Except in reply.

Mr. SPEAKER * There is no reply on the third reading

Topic:   INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES INVESTIGATION ACT, 1907. AMENDMENT.
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L LIB
UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

Is it the pleasure of

the House to adopt the motion for the third reading of the Bill?

Topic:   INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES INVESTIGATION ACT, 1907. AMENDMENT.
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May 11, 1920