January 25, 1926

CON

William Walker Kennedy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. W. KENNEDY (Winnipeg South Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I cannot claim the

privilege of entering the lists in this discussion bearing the colours of a Maritime righter. I was going to say that because of the special question in issue this was to me a matter of some regret; but when I remember the traditional ability with which men from the Maritime provinces have represented the needs of their constituencies it would be presumption on my part to suggest that they need any additional help.

The matter now before the House is not one which should be tinged in any way by politics or discussions that savour of politics. Surely the need of men and women, honest Canadian citizens in distress, has an appeal higher than politics, and I believe it is on a higher plane than party politics or party discussion that it will be received in general by members from every comer of this House. Although not coming from the Maritimes, so that this matter has for me no special local significance, may I say that I shall always cherish the ambition that so long as it shall be my privilege to occupy a seat in this House, an appeal such as this coming from whatever corner of the country it may, will find in me a ready champion and a sincere friend.

What is the matter before the House? What is the subject at issue? The picture has been ably drawn by the mover and the seconder of this resolution. It is a picture of men, women and children, honest hardworking people in Nova Scotia, in acute distress who appeal to the representatives of Canada sitting in this House for relief, and for relief in what way? Is it relief in kind? Is it relief in money? Is it relief by doles? No; it is a happy change from that form of relief? It is the call of workingmen asking not for doles, but for work, that thereby they may earn the necessary money with which to buy food for their wives and families. That is an appeal which, I believe, will find a ready response from all corners of this House.

I have had no more opportunity to consider this matter than other hon. members. The hon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps) camplained that he was taken by surprise. I cannot help wondering what he would have told us had he been prepared.

The question after all, is not involved. It is simply this, that many thousands of men, women and children in the coal areas of Nova Scotia are in dire want and distress. There are some twenty thousand, I am told. The fact that they are in such need is vouched for and stressed by representatives from that province, and we can take their statements as being correct. They say these people want work; that they seek relief through work. To my mind the only thing for this House to consider is: First,, should they be given relief; second, is this House in a position to give them relief, and if so, shall we do it?

Do they need relief? This question need not be prolonged. Can they be given relief? It has been suggested by the mover and seconder of this resolution that certain concerns have been interviewed and they have stated that they will, at considerable inconvenience to themselves, order extra stores of coal which they do not presently need, upon the condition that the Canadian National Railways will reduce its rates from the coal fields to Montreal to an extent in parity with the rates obtaining from Alberta to the central provinces; that the result of this will be to furnish work to those miners and tide them over this difficulty. If that is all that stands in the way, will any hon. gentleman sitting either to the right or ,to the left of Mr. Speaker deny such relief? I sincerely hope not.

During this discussion there has been talk of the principles of the Liberal party, of the principles of the Conservative party, of the principles of the Progressive party; but as to what those principles are I do not intend to enter into any discussion except to say this:

Nova Scotia Miners

The present question is not one of principles or policies of any of the parties; it is the practical question of people in distress asking for relief and desirous of knowing whether we are able to give it?

Although I am a new member here, I suggest to hon. members that the rank and file of the common people of this country from east to west are more concerned with the immediate solution of problems such as this than with the policies ox platforms of any particular party, whatever party it may be. If *hon. members will approach this matter on that broad plane, forgetting all party differences, forgetting whatever of political kudos they may lose in this discussion in a party way, they will gain, many-fold in the hearts and minds of the common people of this Dominion. Let us give these people relief.

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LIB

James Horace King (Minister of Labour; Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Hon. J. H. KING (East Kootenay, Minister of Public Works):

When the hon. member for Cape Breton North-Victoria (Mr. Johnstone) introduced this motion to-day one would naturally have thought that the debate that would ensue would be confined strictly to the subject matter brought up for discussion. The hon. member drew to the attention of the House the condition at prese.it existing in Nova Scotia in and around the mines at Sydney, and that would seem to be fairly the extent to which the debate should have gone. We have wandered far afield however, and it seems to me that a good deal of extraneous discussion has taken place. For the time being I shall deal with the situation just as I see it and as in my opinion it affects the miners and the population generally of those places that are suffering reverses just now from unfair or unreasonable conditions in the Sydney district. My good friend from Fort William (Mr. Manion) did not hesitate to-day to advise the House of the great success of the present Premier of Nova Scotia in settling the strike in the mining region of Sydney last year within three weeks of his being returned to power. Well, if Premier Rhodes succeeded in such a marked degree in smoothing things out; if the conditions are as stated by the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. Kennedy) and by the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Cahan); and if all that is required to improve the state of affairs in Nova Scotia is the transportation of 6,000 tons of coal per month for two and a half months to the city of Montreal, recouping the Canadian National Railways for any losses they might incur in carrying the coal-why should not the legislature of Nova Scotia take some steps to deal with the question? Is it not primarily

the duty of the municipality or municipalities concerned? And if it is beyond the means of the municipality to take any effective action why should not the government of Nova Scotia make some effort to have this 15,000 tons of coal transported to the markets of Montreal? It would have been better, I think, if hon. gentlemen had discussed this question in relation to the amendment to the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne; they might have considered the subject in the ordinary course in that debate. But instead on this occasion, for a purpose which I am yet to understand, parliament has been thrown into a discussion which so far as I can see has been of no great profit either to the members of the House themselves or to the miners of Nova Scotia.

To-day the hon. member for Fort William declared that this government-if, as he said, there was a government-had no policy. May I ask the hon. gentleman to tell us what has been the policy of governments in Canada in this regard for a number of years? We have had a certain duty on coal affording a moderate protection for this Canadian product, and the only change in policy which has been introduced in years was the undertaking by this government last year to equalize the difference between the duties on slack and lump coal. The government at that time was severely criticized and we were told that in making the duty on slack coal equal to the duty on lump we were seriously interfering with industrial development in the central provinces of Canada. During the last election the leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen) on his tour through western Canada advocated policies that would appeal to the people in the districts in which he happened to be speaking. When in Alberta he told the people in the mining districts there that if returned to power he would place a duty on coal and would also take from the treasury whatever sum was necessary to transport Alberta coal into Ontario and the central provinces. Is that the policy of hon. gentlemen opposite? If it is, what will be the result? It will require a duty of $2 or $2.50 a ton to make it possible to carry that coal from Alberta to the central provinces and that sum will have to be added at once to the cost of manufacturing; and having added that extra cost to manufacturing you must increase the duties on manufactured products in Canada. When dealing with the matter in Alberta my right hon. friend seemed to be interested only in the particular community in which he chanced to be speaking at the time. If he had crossed the mountains into what is known as the Crowsnest.

Nova Scotia Miners

coal field, one of the oldest and best coal areas in that part of the Dominion, probably better developed than any other area outside Vancouver island, the leader of the opposition would hardly have advocated the same thing, for if he had preached that doctrine there the people of that district would have told him that his policy would close the collieries in the Crowsnest. And why? Because of the coal produced in the Crowsnest region almost ninety per cent goes to the United States. And the House will understand that under the Eordney tariff the moment any country increases the duty on coal coming from the United States the American duty automatically goes into effect against that country, the same rate being imposed.

Now under existing conditions, is this the time to discuss this question in relation to the miners of Sydney? I do not think it is. ^If the government of Nova Scotia should indicate to the government at Ottawa their inability to arrange for the transportation of

15,000 tons of coal from Sydney to Montreal I am satisfied that this government would be glad to take into consideration some means of assisting that province in its difficulty. But no such overtures have been made. Why not be fair in the matter? Why should weestablsh a very dangerous precedent and provide in the present situation for the Canadian National Railways to carry this coal from Sydney to Montreal at a loss? If we did so there is no reason why some other industry which is struggling, as we understand many are struggling to-day, should not come to the government and ask that the Canadian National Railways be directed to carry its particular products below cost or at cost. If that is to be the treatment meted out to the Canadian Naional Railways, if that is the desire of hon. members either from the Maritime provinces or from Ontario or Quebec or elsewhere, then the Lord help the Canadian National Railways. Some other solution must be found. I do not think the debate this afternoon should have gone very wide of the actual points at issue; I think it might well have been confined to the immediate relief required for that district. I believe this question could have been discussed in the minister's office with better results so far as the mining population is concerned than this discussion in the House will produce. However, it is not for me to say that the discussion should not have taken place. I will say this-and I think I say it fairly-that the discussion this afternoon has been entirely beyond the bounds of the motion. I do not see any great good to be

gained by prolonging this discussion which must eventually come up on the resolution of the right hon. leader of the opposition.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Leader of the Opposition):

The Minister of Public Works (Mr. King, Kootenay) has a very poor opinion of the discussion which has so far taken place. I am not sure whether or not his opinion applies to the entire debate, including his own address; but if there may have been cause for criticism on the ground that some of the remarks have been rather far from the real point at issue, that criticism will fall equally on the minister and all other members who have taken part. I think before proceeding to a very brief discussion of what is before the House I would be justified in making some comment on words which have fallen rather recklessly from the lips of the hon. member for North Winnipeg (Mr. Heaps).

1 was not in the House when he opened his address, and it was during my absence that the following words which I have since secured were spoken. Referring to an hon. member on this side of the chamber, he said:

I have not forgotten how in 1919 his own leader-

Referring to myself.

-sent troops into the city of Winnipeg. I have not forgotten how those troops shot down men, women and children on the streets of that city, and before he starts looking over to this side of the House and condemning others, he had better look to his own leader.

The hon. member has early entered into the service of the Liberal party, and appears to have all the necessary qualifications to distinguish himself in that company. He has a blindness to fact-I had almost said to truth-and a want of logic that will make him doubtless a boon companion of hon. gentlemen opposite. His utterance in this House that he has not forgotten how the leader of this party in 1919 sent troops into Winnipeg, which troops shot down men, women and children on the streets, is one which, for malignity and utter disregard of truth would, I think, be without precedent in the history of this House. In the first place, I say-and challenge contradiction from the records- that the government of that time, of which I was a member but not the leader, did not send one single troop from anywhere into Winnipeg. I say further that no request was made to send outside troops into Winnipeg, and that the government, as regards troops from outside in relation to that disturbance, took no action whatsoever. In this regard I was once contradicted. I challenge contradiction now. I have investigated the facts again-

Nova Scotia Miners

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

May I ask a question? Under whose authority did the troops act?

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

We are speaking first of sending troops in. That was the assertion of the colleague of my hon. friend. No troops whatever were sent into the province of Manitoba, neither cavalry, infantry nor any others.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

May I ask again, under whose authority did the troops act, and under whose authority did the mounted police act?

Mr. ME1GHEN: I will come to that in a moment, but I think it would be wise in the first place to set right the errors made by the colleague of my hon. friend. What the government had to do under the law of that day was to respond, if it deemed there was need, to any demand of the municipality for assistance from the militia. The government took no part whatsoever; the government of Canada, none at all. There were troops in Winnipeg at that time; there were some troops of the garrison battalion, the 10th, a very few who were iust enlisted or who had been enlisted and were not yet demobilized. There were also some few of the depot squadron of the Fort Garry Horse. But because of the disturbance at that time, there was a force of approximately 3,000 voluntarily enlisted citizens of that city.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

May I ask under whose direction that voluntary force was mobilized?

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

There was no mobilization. They enlisted voluntarily for the protection of their own city. Does my hon. friend object to people doing that if they deem it necessary?

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

May I ask my

right hon. friend if he will deny that they enlisted under the urgent solicitation of officers directly responsible to this government?

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I do not know on whose solicitation they enlisted; I do not think they reeded any. They enlisted because they felt that the need was there. I think I have now passed the point of discussion in so far as the assertion goes that troops were sent in by the government. They were not. Nor were any troops called out by the government. The troops were called out by the mayor of Winnipeg, and that only once. The situation was taken care of by the civil force, the mounted police. The troops to which I have referred were called out by the mayor

of that city, who deemed the disturbance of sufficient magnitude and the peril so imminent as to warrant his action, but the troops so called out never fired a shot and only stood in readiness to support the civil power should that power prove unequal to the occasion.

I do not stop to make any comment on the unfortunate occurrences of that time, but I will say that a situation which arises because of the most unusal occurrences of 1919 is wholly different from a situation arising solely because men are hungTy and starving for want of work. Civil power must in all cases be supported. Law and order must, under all circumstances be obeyed and sustained, and I will never find fault with any government, however much I may be opposed to it, which in order to preserve what is essential to the community-law and order-resorts if absolutely necessary to military support. Needless to say, all other remedies should first be exhausted and all other efforts made. Nothing should be left undone to avoid the necessity of calling upon military power, and that applies whether the initiative is in the hands of the provincial government, the federal government, or the municipality. That rule was scrupulously and thoroughly observed from first to last in the disturbances of 1919.

Now I want to say just a few words with respect to the purpose of the motion and the discussion. Most of us, I think, knew before the debate arose that a serious condition exists in two constituencies of the province of Nova Scotia, South Cape Breton and Cape Breton North-Victoria; that because of failure of coal orders there is no work, and has been none for a long time, for large numbers of men who, with their families and dependents, aggregate anywhere from ten to fifteen thousand people; that those people are now on the verge of starvation; indeed, that to save themselves and their families from that fate they have had to resort to force to secure food. It appears as well that the municipality has exhausted all its resources. There seems to be no question of responsibility undischarged by any municipality. It appears also that the province has come to the assistance of the miners to this degree at least, that it has guaranteed the bonds of the municipality, which bonds otherwise would be valueless, and is to that extent, I believe some eight thousand dollars, responsible to the bondholders; that these means of assistance only go to the extent of relief anyway, and that relief in the way of alms, of food, and of money, is not even a sound temporary solution of the question, and is very far from

Nova Scotia Miners

being anything in the way of a permanent remedy for the evil. It is clear that all that can be called an appropriate and a final remedy is the supplying of work, and so far as the debate has proceeded it would seem there is no hope of work being supplied' during the present season save on the basis of orders from the Canadian National Railways.

Mention has been made of an order said to have been given by the head of the Canadian National Railways for 120,000 tons, applicable to the south district, the Glace Bay district. This is the remedy asked for by those who appeal to us now, that this order be a -eality; and apparently, if given, this will solve the question so far as Glace Bay is concerned. As respects the north district, all that is asked or expected, at the present at least, and probably all for this season, is that steps be taken which will make it possible for the company known as the Besco to ship six thousand tons per month for two and a half months, and that those steps be limited to a provision of $3.25 per ton by way of freight charges for the 15,000 tons to be transported.

Now speaking of the first, the 120,000 ton order for South Cape Breton, I cannot say that I know all the circumstances, but so far as brought out yet, there has really been no order at all. An order under which the control of price is still in the hands of the purchaser amounts to no order whatever. If I give an order and say nothing as to price, but reserve to myself the right to fix it later, I do not give any order. That is an order that no business man and no company could act upon. Now whether or not an order should be given I do not know; whether or not it is in the interest of the company that it should be given I do not know; but it would appear there is not very much margin between the line of wisdom in giving the order and the line of folly. What I mean is this: Apparently there is not very much

difference between the price at which it would pay the company to give the order, and the price at which Besco is willing to sell. I want, though, before I refer to that matter further, to come to this other case in the north riding, where it is asked that the railway company fix a rate of $325 per ton for transport from North Cape Breton to Montreal. It appears that the coal can be transported in summer at $1.50 by water and $4.50 by rail, and the company claim, and claim wrongfully, according to many members of this House-

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (West Edmonton):

Is my hon. friend not quoting the water rate too high?

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I understand it is $1.50.

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (West Edmonton):

I

think it is 75 cents.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Antigonish-Guysbor-ough):

One dollar.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

We will say one dollar; it makes my argument so much the stronger. The company claim that at $3.25 for transport by rail they would be losing money. It is contended against that that such is not the case, and emphasis is placed on the fact that cars at this season of the year go down at least to St. John in large numbers filled, and come back empty; that many more, carrying not grain but other commodities, run into the province of Nova Scotia in all its parts filled, and come back empty, and that only four cars per day would be required to take care of the amount of coal which would aggregate six thousand tons per month. Well, which is right no one but a railway man can say. I do not argue that it is the duty of the government to take the management by the scruff of the neck and say to them: You must transport coal at such a rate per ton. I never argued that in office, nor will I argue it in opposition, but I do say this: that when the difference is small, when it amounts to only a small proportion of the amount large numbers of wage-earners would get as a reward of their toil, then it is certainly the duty of the government to see whether it is "nough or not.

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PRO
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

This government.

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PRO
CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

For the simple reason

that the question is undoubtedly beyond the compass of the provincial authorities. Do hon. members opposite suggest that in Nova Scotia, where you have some twenty thousand men engaged in the production of coal, the distress there due to non-production is of dimensions within the compass of the provincial government? It has never proven so in the last twenty years; it was not so in the time of the late government; it is not now. The way to relieve the situation is in some way to make up the margin between the cost of transport in winter time and the price demanded. That was done in years gone by.

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PRO

January 25, 1926