James Murdock (Minister of Labour)
Hon. JAMES MURDOCK (Minister of Labour):
Mr. Speaker, I am now going to undertake my maiden budget speech. I would not have undertaken to interject a number of thoughts into this debate except for the fact that there appear to have been very many things said on the opposite side of the House, very many matters referred to, that should be put right-matters upon which hon. members should at least have the viewpoint of others; and when I say others I do not mean particularly my own views. I shall deal with a number of subjects that have been under discussion in this House-unemployment, the tariff, and very many other questions that hon. gentlemen opposite have interested themselves in.
I want to commence-and I regret that the hon. member for East Calgary (Mr. Irvine) is not in his seat-by referring to certain matters that that hon. gentleman has brought before the House. During the debate here on Wednesday last the hon. gentleman referred to me. He was dealing with the question of the Civil Service Commission having exclusive jurisdiction over the fixing of the salaries of civil servants and he said: "Has the government made no effort at all to remove any such discrimination if such discrimination exists?" He had at the previous sitting of the House, as well as at the particular sitting in question, indicated that there was discrimination between the salaries of male and female employees in the civil service, and that the government should of its own motion remove that discrimination. I had stated that the government had no authority other than was given in the Civil Service Act, section 45B, which provides that the Civil Service Commission shall fix the rates of pay of civil servants, such rates to become effective on approval by the Governor in Council. And so my hon. friend at the last sitting of the House said: "Has the government made no effort at all to remove any such discrimination if discrimination exists?" I would respectfully refer my hon. friend to a perusal of the files of parliament last year wherein he will find that in the case of the postal workers the recommendation of the Civil Service Commission was sent back to that body three times by the Governor in Council without any result; and finally the recommendation of the commission was approved by the Governor in Council because evidently it was impossible to persuade the commission that any changes were advisable or necessary.
Then the same hon. gentleman, at a former sitting of the House, drew the attention of the government to a specific instance of distress and lack of employment on the part of a newly arrived immigrant into Canada. He cited a specific instance and read into the record a letter which will be found at page 1459 of Hansard1. This letter referred to an individual immigrant who had come to Canada and who, according to the letter of that particular immigrant, had suffered great hardship and distress since his arrival. At the time I asked the hon. gentleman if he would give me the name of the immigrant in question and he very kindly sent the name to me across the floor. I at once took the matter up with the Deputy Minister of Immigration and, again without making public the name of the individual in this House, I want to read the reply of the deputy minister as it affects this particular individual in whom my hon. friend from East Calgary manifested such marked interest. The letter from the Deputy Minister of Immigration is dated March 24, and states:
I have received your message, covering a letter read by one of the members of parliament in reference to an immigrant at Calgary, and, as the name was given to you in confidence, it is not mentioned in this memorandum. There is no question that the record is a proof that we should not have allowed this family entry into Canada. It is a pity that, with all we have endeavoured to do for this man, he has in no way attempted
The Budget-Mr. Murdock.
to meet the conditions here. The family arrived in August of last year. It consisted of the father, mother and three children, aged 4 years, 2 years and 2 months. The father was 24 years and the mother 23. They were immediately placed in a vacant Land Settlement Board property near Condor, Alta. Work was obtained for the father with Mr. H. Meeres, a farmer of that district. The family had only $1.40 on landing and Mr. Meeres at once spent $50.50 towards getting furniture and supplies for them. They were only there two weeks when they became discontented and wrote in f-o the Land Settlement oince that they wished to 'reave. The supervisor called on them on September 3th; talked the matter over with the family and they [DOT]decided to remain.
On October 0th the Land Settlement office was ad-vised that, despite all the advances made by Mr. Meeres, the head of the family had left his employment and had gone to work for another farmer. The Hatter he also left without giving any notice.
The man being out of work, our Land Settlement office took up for a second time the question of employment for him and secured work with a farmer named Bice at Condor, Alta. Mr. Bice undertook to give this man work not only during threshing and during the subsequent fall work but also undertook to give him employment during the winter months cutting posts, but Bice informed the supervisor on October 19th that the family was practically useless to him.
Another position was then found with a farmer at Blackfalds, where the family proceeded on November 4th. This farmer provided them with a cottage in which to reside. On November 13th the Land Settlement Supervisor visited them but the immigrant refused to accept work, stating that his wife would not go out to farm and that she wished to be deported.
The family were then taken to Red Deer, where work was procured for the father at Greencourt with a lumber company who offered to give him steady winter employment. Nothing further was heard by the Land Settlement office of either the man or family until the immigrant turned up in Calgary on December 20th. Two days later he called at the Land Settlement office and was informed that work could be obtained for him, although it would take a few days. The immigrant advised the officials that he did not wish to go out into the country until after Christmas. He called again on January 2nd and informed the Land Settlement officers that he had himself located a position and did not desire to go to the country.
According to letters, appearing in the press, this immigrant still wishes to be deported, although he has secured a permanent job with the Consumers' Milk Company at $75 per month.
The facts in connection with this case show that the immigrant has been placed in no less than seven different positions by the Land Settlement branch, none of which he retained for any length of time and in several instances leaving his employers in bad circumstances in so far as farm labour is concerned. Although in a permanent position at Calgary at $75 per month, he is still writing to the papers and wishing to be deported.
And those, Mr. Speaker, appear to be the facts of the case in regard to which we heard so much a short time ago, and on account of which this government was so wrongly condemned, in so far as its immigration policy was concerned. Again I am sorry my hon. friend is not in the House, because I have something that should be of special interest to him, considering that he is one of the representatives from Calgary. I notice that the hon. gentleman representing West Calgary (Mr. Shaw) is here and I am sure he will bring
this matter to the attention of our hon. friend. I have here a clipping from the Calgary Herald dated April 3, 1925, and of course I would expect, if my hon. friend from East Calgary (Mr. Irvine) were in the House, that he might raise objection to the accuracy of anything emanating from the Calgary Herald. He might intimate that it was not altogether sound and fair in so far as these matters are concerned. Be that as it may, this article in the Calgary Herald of April 3 is captioned in large headlines and reads:
Refusing to accept jobs, two hundred men ordered out of labour bureau.
Majority of them alleged to be persistent idlers, and when Superintendent Carnill fails to persuade even one to take farm work, he closes door on them. Civic authorities checking up situation and police are making an investigation. Farm hands may have to be imported.
I notice in this article, which is of considerable length, a statement which is alleged to have been made by the acting mayor, Dr. T. W. Crawford and Commissioner A. G. Graves, in which they are supposed to have said:
"These men have been hanging around the city the best part of the winter", said the acting mayor, "and it will be necessary for the civic authorities to take some action to see that they either go to work or move on. You can say that we are going to take some action to get these loafers out of the city but we haven't definitely decided what that will be."
I would not, Mr. Speaker, for one moment suggest that this is even a fair sample of those citizens of Calgary who have been out of work during the past winter. I only call these particular circumstances to the attention of the House because my hon. friend from East Calgary laid so much stress upon the case of the individual in regard to whom I read a letter from the Deputy Minister of Immigration a short time ago, and I am sure my hon. friend from East Calgary would not undertake to justify actions or an attitude such as is indicated by the letter from the Deputy Minister of Immigration, or such as is indicated in this newspaper clipping which I have just read.
iMir. IRVINE: I understood my hon. friend to say that this man to whom he refers was really an unfit citizen. My point then was that the government should not have brought him here; and I understood that under the government's supervision he was collected and brought to this country.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE ACTING MINISTER OF FINANCE