June 20, 1938

CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. ANGUS MacINNIS (Vancouver East):

Mr. Speaker, this is an occasion on which we might derive satisfaction from saying to the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) and the government, "We told you so." However, there would be no satisfaction in making that statement, even though what we told the Minister of Labour has come to pass. Only a man who was totally oblivious to what has occurred under similar circumstances in the past five years could have assumed that the situation in Vancouver would be settled without trouble of the kind that occurred yesterday. From this corner we have continued to press the Minister of Labour to act. We have taken the position that a conciliatory attitude by the government would easily overcome the existing difficulties: It

was not a question of whether the action taken by the men was right or wrong. Similar action under one set of circumstances may be right, and under another, may be wrong. The point is that these men were justified in taking almost any action whatsoever because of the condition in which they found themselves.

Almost exactly three years ago we were faced with this same problem. Men left the

city of Vancouver by boarding freight trains with the intention of coming to Ottawa to lay their grievances before the government. On various occasions at that time we tried to bring the matter to the attention of the government by a motion similar to the one moved to-day. We were unsuccessful, the government taking the position that it was not a matter of urgent public importance. However, on July 1. 1935, a riot took place in the city of Regina. The following day we moved a motion similar to the one under consideration to-day and obtained an opportunity to state our case. I have before me Hansard for that date, from which I should like to quote very briefly. At page 4130 of Hansard for 1935 the following statement was made by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) who was then leader of the opposition:

It was easy for the Prime Minister to arrange for the house to be moved into supply to-day, and it would have been equally easy to have adopted the same course on the other occasions. I believe the Speaker was reflecting the attitude of mind of my right hon. friend at the time when he gave his decision that the matter was not of urgent public importance. Certainly those of us who supported the motion believed it was a matter of urgent public importance, and that unless some action were taken by the government of a conciliatory character it was almost inevitable that sooner or later something in the nature of a tragedy would be the outcome of the situation of these men moving in large numbers east, regardless of what their particular views on social questions may be.

I only wish that political parties could be as wise when they are governments as when they are in opposition. Here the Prime Minister was advocating the same course that this group and other members from British Columbia have been trying to impress upon the Minister of Labour and the government, that this was a situation that could be met by a conciliatory attitude on the part of the government, if only they would realize that the men had a just grievance. To-day, when I knew this matter was coming up, I looked up the debates of 1935. I find a wire that was sent to the present leader of the opposition,

prime minister of that day, signed by James G. Gardiner, who at that time I believe was premier of the province of Saskatchewan:

I have to-day wired Premier Bennett as follows: "Yesterday morning men indicated to your representative Mr. Burgess their willingness to disband the march and return to the points from which they came. They repeated this to Mr. Burgess and representatives of the police at 2.30. Your representatives refused to have provincial representation at that meeting. The men met us at five o'clock stating that since your representatives had refused to

Unemployment-Vancouver Situation

consider this the provincial government take responsibility for disbanding men to their original camps or homes and supply them with food in the interval. While we were considering this matter police raided public meeting to arrest leaders, precipitating a riot. Men at present in buildings at fair grounds completely surrounded by police who permit no one to enter and men to leave only in twos. Police intention to force these men to Lumsden camp or starving them into submission.

That is the very action this government is taking. The men went into the post office and the government were going to starve them into submission; but unfortunately for the government the people of Vancouver would not allow these men to starve. Then Mr. Gardiner went on:

This will end in a worse riot than last night. These men should be fed where they are and immediately disbanded and sent back to camps and homes as they request without any attempt to force them into Lumsden and this should be done within next two hours. This government has a responsibility toward its citizens to provide them with ordinary protection against this imported trouble. We would ask you to immediately withdraw orders issued affecting the liberty of individuals within this province and affecting the law and order of this province. You might assume that we are as much concerned about law and order in this country as you can be and deal with the elected representatives of this province regarding matters concerning our people instead of through an appointed political representative.

And this government is dealing through another political representative in the city of Vancouver.

We are asking you if you are going to feed these men within the next two hours and are asking you to instruct us within two hours what plans are to be made for their disbandment.

Now, these men having been driven out of the art gallery and post office, I am asking the government what provision is being made to feed them. Will the Minister of Labour tell this house if the government have a policy or a program to take care of these men in . the meantime? It must be remembered that they do not cease to be a menace to the city of Vancouver once they are removed from the post office. They are at large in the city; they are without means to support themselves. Consequently as human beings they have to find food and shelter wherever it can be found. I repeat that before this debate closes the Minister of Labour should give the house an undertaking that these men will be fed until some attempt has been made to provide them with work.

In an interview given the press this morning the Prime Minister said the governments- meaning the provincial government, the federal

government and the civic government-had been very patient; but as I see it I do not think there is any great credit due them for patience in this instance. There is no credit due the members of these governments because they are not at all in uncomfortable circumstances. They are well fed, possibly too well fed. They are well clothed. They have nice homes to go to. They have a certain amount of security, at least until the next election, so I do not see that they have been put to any very great discomfort. But here were men who for years have been deprived of all hope, of all opportunity to live as normal men should live.

The Minister of Justice regretted that there was any injury to the men in removing them from the post office. Let me say here that the physical injury to these men does not amount to anything. Physical injuries can be healed; nature will repair the hurt. The injury that has been done these men is cumulative, an injury to their mental and psychological make-up. It is an injury to the spirit, which will leave its scar on these men as long as they live. The longer we keep them in the position they are in to-day, the greater the injury to them and the greater our difficulties are going to be.

Again, the men in the art gallery offered to submit to peaceful arrest. According to the press when the men were informed by Chief Foster of the city of Vancouver, who I am told, and as stated by the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil), has acted with every consideration during the troublesome period, that the police were going to use tear gas to drive them out, they offered to submit to peaceful arrest so that they might be taken to the police station. But to do that the government would have had to feed them, and as the crime was not serious enough they would not do that.

What solution has the Minister of Labour for the difficulty confronting not only these men but the people of the city of Vancouver? Where do we go from here? Where are those men going to eat to-morrow? Where are they going to find shelter? Where are they going to find the things which are necessary to enable them to become ordinary, normal citizens of Vancouver and of this dominion? Unless the Minister of Labour has some answer to those questions, let me tell him and the house that we have not heard the last of the trouble which took place in Vancouver in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Mr. E. J. POOLE (Red Deer); Mr. Speaker,

I should like to add my word of protest to those which have already been spoken

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against the action taken by the government.

I think the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) made an admirable defence, and particularly when he really had a defenceless case.

He told us of the kindness of our police force. He told us what a great body of men they were, and said that the police asked the men to move. But he did not say that the police had bombs in their possession when they went to make the request. They took with them weapons of persuasion-and I am not referring to the tongue. They took clubs and bombs. A few days ago hon. members on this side of the house warned the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers) as to what would happen. We said this would be a second Regina.

And so we find force politics in Canada. We have no right to criticize the Hitlers and Mussolinis while we masquerade under the name of democracy, because we are not as honest. That is why. I suppose just before the next election these men will be employed, because then they would be of use to some political party in casting their ballots. Politics has become a game of strategy, a shuffle for political advantage, a philosophy of opportunism, and a scramble to protect vested interests. The sooner we get down to those fundamental truths, and the sooner we understand what is happening in this country, the sooner people will remove obstacles in the way of security.

What do these men want? What crimes have they committed? They are the casualties resulting from the failure of this and previous governments to deal with facts. Industry has abdicated, and now takes no responsibility for employees or unemployed. And every year as the industrial machine speeds up and export markets contract more men will seek the protection of governments that they may live. When the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) said there were two laws in this country, he was not stating an untruth. That has been proved on innumerable occasions. First, let us compare the treatment of the Home Owners Security Act passed in Alberta with that accorded the padlock law of Quebec, and we find another failure of the government, so far as democracy is concerned.

We speak of democracy, that ideal which we never attained. The seed of dissension is sown in the country through governments refusing to accept responsibility. The men are turned out of industry, because industry does not want them. Those men are thrown on the market and some must go begging.

Then one hon. member on the government side asks: What constructive suggestion do you make? They look towards us. Let them ask the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie) who said, "When we are elected we will manufacture 8500,000,000 of new money." That is the gentleman who now sits on the ministerial benches. Then, the Prime Minister, speaking in 1935, said, "We will issue credit in terms of public need."

Will hon. members of the house ever know the purpose of an economic system? Will they ever learn that we produce goods so that people may use them, and so that we may bring security to the human family? Do we realize that the greatest asset of a nation is the youth of that nation?

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LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Order. I think I must call the hon. member's attention to the fact that the motion before the house has to do with the situation in Vancouver.

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SC

Eric Joseph Poole

Social Credit

Mr. POOLE:

And I am dealing with it. This is quite relevant, I assure you, Mr. Speaker.

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LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I think the hon. member is getting away from* the subject.

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SC

Eric Joseph Poole

Social Credit

Mr. POOLE:

I am dealing with the Vancouver situation, and the position in which the men out there are placed, through the attitude taken by this government, and through the change in industrial relations.

In Canada there has developed a growing despair in the hearts of unemployed men. If the depression was two years old one might understand it, but the fact is it is a condition which has continued over eight long years. Still nothing is done. The question which occurred to me to-day was this: Why were not the men ejected from the public building in Vancouver prior to the Saskatchewan elections? Why wait until eleven days after the elections?

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An hon. MEMBER:

That does not hurt.

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SC

Eric Joseph Poole

Social Credit

Mr. POOLE:

It should hurt, if it does not. In answer to my colleague an hon. member stated a moment ago that the people have more money to-day and that there is greater prosperity. That is not so. The fact is that the standard of living in Canada has been reduced. The increase in taxation has resulted in a reduced standard of living especially among unemployed married people.

This struggle is not new; it is the age-long struggle of the masses for security. Years ago the argument was used that the population was too great for the amount of goods they could produce. The excuse in this enlightened

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Unemployment-Vancouver Situation

day, in the year 1938, is that the country now has so much wealth but the unemployed cannot have any part of it because they have no money. The only terms upon which they can exist is to have written across their shoulders with shame the fact that they are public charges. Right across this land in the last two years there have been attacks in the press, on many occasions, to discredit those men who, after all, are only the forerunners of thousands more who must follow. These men were seeking work. This government has the power to provide it. These men represent wealth; they have the ability to produce. But what do we find? The iron heel of a distorted democracy is the answer to their pleas. You tell me conditions have changed for the better in this country? I say, yes they have, as shown by a rise of 17 per cent in profits for industry, but they have not changed for the better for the masses of our people who are disinherited. The time has come in this country when every section of the house should forget politics and deal with this all important national problem of getting our youth back to work. The youth of the nation is the greatest asset we have. But I suppose if we mention that, the Minister of Finance (Mr. Dunning) will tell us: We have no money. Mr. Speaker, we do not need to borrow it. Money is not the all important thing. It can be manufactured. These men who were in the post office and are in gaol today could be released and put to work at good -wages within twenty-four hours, and they would be helping to build up this country and once again take their part in society as Canadians.

I was struck by the statement of the Minister of Justice when he spoke of patience and forbearance, and I added in my notes

patience, forbearance, with a club. I often wonder, Mr. Speaker, whether these riots that occur from time to time in this country are not the signposts to that greater evil, civil war, because conditions, bad as they are, are getting increasingly worse as time goes on. The same protest against poverty has already driven the nations of Europe into civil war, and we are sowing the seeds of a civil war in Canada for to-morrow.

As I listened to the prayers that were read from the Speaker's chair to-day in both English and French, and in particular that sentence: "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven," I wondered if our legislative activities here could ever be said to reflect what goes on in heaven. If the Lord were Prime Minister here, I am quite sure that he would not have ordered those men to be ejected, gassed and clubbed. I think the first thing he would do would be to see that they

received of the abundance which he has provided for the human family. That, Mr. Speaker, is the job of this government.

There always seems to be a disposition to bury this problem, to put these unemployed masses into some remote spot, so that there will be no more mental anguish for the government. The greater the numbers of the unemployed grow, the greater the governmental impotence to deal with this national question. We talk all around the problem, but we will not deal with the kernel of the problem.

When some people speak of the unemployed, they speak as though apologies should be made for them, as if they were less respectable because they are unemployed. But the men who were evicted from those government premises in Vancouver are just as respectable as any man in this house. They have just as much right to live, and just as much right to opportunity as any man in this house. They have just as much right to occupy that public building as anyone here, because it is public property, and I do not know of a better place they could go when they had no place to sleep. I am reminded once again of the saying of the Man of Galilee: "The foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." That has been the story of the human family, and possibly there was some justification in the days of scarcity.

I have asked these questions of the government on innumerable occasions: Are we short of anything in this country? Have we the natural resources? Have we the ability to produce more? If we have not enough, then the first thing to do is to place these men at work, and your poverty and riots are all over. But if we have enough, there is no logical reason why they cannot have sufficient for their needs. But unfortunately we are still genuflecting before the god of gold, placed high on a pedestal. Here you have the government of Canada, with a solution in their hands and the power to solve this problem. They masquerade as wise and just men, and at the same time abandon the unemployed to their fate. When the unemployed ask for bread, we turn out a squad of policemen with riot guns, bombs and so forth. As the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil) said a few moments ago, in a few months' time we shall perhaps be giving these men a new suit of clothes, the first they have had in eight years, a khaki suit perhaps, and saying to them: Go and fight for Canada. It reminds me of an unemployed man with a blanket on his back, who asked me if I had the price of a meal. I took him to supper

Unemployment-Vancouver Situation

with me and tried to find out his philosophy and his ideas. I discussed with him the defence estimates, which were then before the house, and he asked me if I thought there was going to be a war. I said, "Things look pretty bad, but I do not know." He said, "I do not know what I would fight for. All I have is a blanket, and if anyone wants that more than I do, he can have it." That was all of Canada that he had.

We can discuss unemployment for hours, but I do not think much good comes from any discussion from this side of the house. Governments seem to be set in their ways and to take the attitude: No matter

what should come from the other side of the house, it is not going to be accepted; nobody is going to tell us what to do. If there is ever written down in the pages of our future history a story of riots and civil war, and widespread poverty, let us keep in mind one thing, that it was the fault of mortal man. The immortal Man has provided everything, but man did not have the intestinal fortitude or the courage to use those things which God provided in such abundance. I have often thought it might be a good thing if we could organize the churches throughout this country to bring pressure to bear on this government or any government that fails to deal with this problem. Police action such as we have heard of in Vancouver, and the police action which took place at Regina, are stimulants to chaos. They stimulate the hatreds of the disinherited members of society, which will eventually lead to bloody conflict between the haves and the have-nots.

You gentlemen on the government benches have it in your power to make this country the best in the world. You have it in your power to bring about a security never before known. You have in your hands the destiny of what might well be the most glorious nation this world has ever known. You have it in your hands to give a lead to a confused world, and members on this side of the house, irrespective of their politics, are prepared to jump in any time and do all they can to help you solve this problem. But we shall not do it until such time as we break down the barricades which exist in politics, until we realize that if a man has a suggestion which is worth anything it should be accepted irrespective of the part of the house in which he may sit. In a national crisis of this kind, with thousands of our citizens facing poverty and insecurity, with thousands of children being born, almost as it were, on the bread line; with the hopes of thousands of our citizens blasted, with life just a disillusion, surely this is the time when all hon. members should

get together, discuss this problem, find a solution and apply it.

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IND

Martha Louise Black

Independent Conservative

Mrs. MARTHA LOUISE BLACK (Yukon):

Like the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil), I never see a young man walking the streets, begging, but I say, "There, but for the grace of God, goes my boy." I have felt keenly this sit-down strike in Vancouver; I have kept thoroughly posted regarding it from members of the government and from friends in Vancouver, and I have wondered just what would be the outcome. It is a matter of absolute indifference to me what promises the politicians made in 1930. It is a matter of absolute indifference to me what promises the politicians made in 1935. But it is not a matter of indifference to me what we in this house are going to do to-day for the good of our country. Law and order must prevail. There is no doubt at all about that. But we have been taught that we can temper justice with mercy. No matter what efforts or what suggestions the government put forth to help these unemployed, notwithstanding the crime that they have committed -for they did commit a crime when they occupied federal buildings-no matter what the government will propose in order to help them, I would certainly support that government to the best of my ability, in the house and out of it.

This is a time for us to consider not so much party as men. We have a very difficult, a very peculiar situation confronting us. Thousands are out of employment. It is not a question of whether they are taking part in a sit-down strike, or whether they belong to this party or that; the question is, What are we going to do to help make those men worthy citizens, not of British Columbia or of Saskatchewan or Ontario, but of Canada? If the time should come when the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie) needs men, he will take them from all over Canada, irrespective of provinces; he is not going to ask what is their place of birth, their home or their residence. Two-thirds of these young men have no homes. They have left their families; they have drifted, as other hon. members have said, from place to place, from the coast on the east to the coast on the west. They cannot go back to the widowed mother who is trying to take care of other children; they cannot possibly go back to * their homes, under other circumstances. We must do something for those men. There is no territory and no province in the matter of unemployment; it is a problem of vital interest to everyone.

I have felt the utmost pity for and sympathy with the Minister of Labour (Mr. Rogers).

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I believe that he has honestly tried to do his best. We do not always agree. I have not felt that invariably he has done what others might well have done. However, for eight years the governments-we, you and I, men and women all over this country-have been building roads to perdition for our young people. We have been helping them on this downward path. Now, I say, it is time we built a better road. It is time we gave these men work and ceased to plead that we have not the money; for if this building, which cost many millions of dollars, were burned down to-day, there would be plenty of millions available to rebuild it. On occasions of great stress and emergency the money is always to be found.

As I said before, it is a matter of perfect indifference to me what this or some other government promised. It is a matter of indifference to me what comments are made by newspapers on the other side of the line, how bitterly they criticize our Canada. It is impossible to pick up a paper published on the other side without reading of rape, murder, arson and kidnapping; but if we, a puny ten millions, have a paltry sit-down strike, others criticize us. Let them begin at home. Let us begin at home. From the bottom of my heart I as a mother plead with the government to try to find work for the unemployed, not merely in British Columbia or somewhere in the east, but throughout Canada, in the spirit in which we speak of 'her when we say:

The wholesome sea is at her gates,

Her gates both east and west.

Let us see to it that while we enforce justice, law and order, we also enforce help for the under-dog. No one can uphold those who disobey the law; but let us from now on give those men work, so that they will have no cause to disobey the law, and will become a source of pride to us and to our country.

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CON

David Spence

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DAVID SPENCE (Parkdale):

I regret very much to have to sit in the house and listen to so many bitter speeches and bitter attacks as have been made this afternoon. It is unfortunate that some hon. members do not refrain from making statements which may incite the people of Vancouver and cause more trouble to those who are out of employment and to those who are responsible for maintaining order and good government in that city.

This trouble did not come on hurriedly. It has been growing for some years. I am not, by a long shot, coming to the rescue of the government; nor do I exonerate my hon. friends to my left, who were probably as much to blame as anyone else for the situation two or three years ago. We then

had the camps-single men unemployment camps, I think they were called-which were established by the Hon. Donald Sutherland, the then Minister of Militia. Agitators got into those camps and created a lot of trouble. Hon. members to my left no doubt incited the men in those camps and made them more dissatisfied than they would otherwise have been; then my friends of the government succumbed, because their wish-bone was where their back-bone should have been; they had not any back-bone, and in deference to the wishes of the group to my left they closed the camps, and so brought about the conditions we have to-day.

I think all hon. members must recognize that the Hon. Donald Sutherland was a man of ability in carrying on the work of his department, a man with a big heart, whose only thought was to do something in the interest of young men who were unemployed. In those camps they were well fed, well clothed, and got plenty of exercise. The trouble began through agitation in the camps. That is what has brought about this trouble to-day. If the government had not shut down those camps, they would have had a place to put these unemployed men and keep them away from difficulty and trouble. I agree with the hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens) that the time when they took possession of the post office and the other building was the time when they should nave been removed immediately and put in the army or some other suitable place where they could be taken care of. That is what should be done with them to-day. I do not condone the action of the men in going into the post office building because they had no right to do so, but the government showed weakness in failing to deal with the matter five weeks ago. I regret very much what happened in Vancouver yesterday. I think it was most unfortunate.

The hon. member for Red Deer (Mr. Poole) suggested a few minutes ago that action to take care of the men could be financed without money. An idea came to me while he was speaking. It seems to me that a plan to take all the inmates out of the gaols and put them to work without cost to the country would be a good thing for the Conservative party to adopt as one of the planks of its platform at the coming convention, because any government that did that would have no difficulty in being elected. If you took everybody out of gaol and put them to work in the way my 'hon. friend suggested, you would be sure to be elected.

I hope the government will take action with respect to this grave situation in

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Vancouver. I realize the government's position, and I think they realize it themselves and are sorry that they did not act long ago. They should certainly have taken definite steps to deal with the situation in the last four or five weeks. However, both governments and business men get into difficulties once in a while, and while sometimes there is bitter criticism and harsh words are spoken, there is no doubt about it that the want of good judgment is responsible for a great deal of our troubles. Governments do not see a vision of the future any more than the business world does, and that is what we lack to-day both in business and in governments. Any one should have foreseen the difficulty. Any one should have known that the moment the camps were abandoned in British Columbia trouble would develop. The camps were established for a purpose, and they served that purpose well. Everything was getting along splendidly until there began to be agitation in the camps, and I must say that some of the speeches made by my good friends in this house helped to keep the men agitated in Vancouver, so that finally, under this spineless government, the men there became victims of the policy that closed down the camps.

Hon. NORMAN McL. ROGERS (Minister of Labour): On the whole, the discussion has proceeded, as the hon. member for Parkdale (Mr. Spence) has remarked, without harsh or bitter words. Certainly it is better so, and in what I propose to say in regard to the situation in Vancouver I shall not depart from this even tenor of debate.

The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth), who moved the motion, is not in his seat, but doubtless he will be here before six o'clock. I wish he were here because in his opening remarks he made some references to the situation which I do not think are borne out by the facts. He stated the men came back from the camps, could find no work, and in desperation occupied the post office. This was described as an attempt to bring their position to the attention of the provincial and federal governments. I believe the house will remember that these men who have been in Vancouver during the last few weeks were employed through the winter months in the forestry conservation camps. As a matter of fact, many of them had as much employment in these camps as a number of other people in this country have employment in seasonal industry; that is to say, they did not go to Vancouver in a destitute condition. In the second place it should also be understood, without imputing motives at all, that there was a definitely organized movement by these men, while they were still in these forestry camps, to return to Vancouver in order that by a mass demonstration they might bring about either a reopening of the forestry camps or the adoption of some special works projects which would be made available to them. I have made that statement previously in this house and I believe it is fully borne out by the facts as we know them. I simply place these factors of the situation before hon. members in order that we may understand first that these men came from winter employment to Vancouver; that they were not destitute when they arrived in Vancouver, and that their situation was not desperate enough to induce them to occupy the post office and the art gallery in the manner in which they did.

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Thomas Miller Bell

Mr. COLD WELL:

On the average, how much did they have coming to them in deferred payments?

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

As I have pointed out before, the deferred pay vouchers amounted to $4 a week, and the amount that would be coming to any individual man would depend upon the number of weeks he had been in the camps. The deferred pay vouchers expired on May 14. I believe I have given that information to the house already.

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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

And what was the maximum number of weeks in which they could work?

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

To my knowledge, the majority of the men worked about two months in the forestry conservation camps. They were paid thirty cents an hour, and they paid seventy-five cents a day for board while in the camps. On May 17 Mr. Pearson, minister of labour for British Columbia, made a public statement in these terms:

During the winter season of 1937-38 the provincial government in cooperation with the dominion government, have provided relief through our forest development plan to 1,800 single homeless men who were recent arrivals from other provinces and in the province before November 1, 1937.

We believe that during the summer months it is possible for these single men who are our own residents to find sufficient work to provide for themselves during the summer and in many cases also during the winter, but the added burden of the accumulation from other provinces makes it difficult for our own residents to get the work that is available.

The province of British Columbia does not intend to make provincial forest development projects available to those from outside the province next winter, nor to provide any other form of assistance for them.

We feel that it is desirable that the 1,800 men who have been supported in this province during the past winter in forest development projects should return to the province from which they came as rapidly as possible.

4038 COMMONS

Unemployment-Vancouver Situation

In order to make this possible the provincial government will assist those men to return to the province of previous residence, and it is requested that these men make application to 581 Homer street, Vancouver, for such assistance.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

They were not supported solely by the province.

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

The camps? No; the

dominion contributed.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

As a matter of fact we

made a contribution. I am referring to what the minister read just now.

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

We did contribute fifty

per cent of the cost of these forestry conservation camps, and we did so to meet a peculiar situation, namely, a flow of transients from the prairies to British Columbia during the winter months. Hon. members who are familiar with the climate of British Columbia can readily understand why the movement should be in that direction in the winter months. The farm employment plan which dealt with single, homeless men in the prairie provinces was not applicable in British Columbia, and, therefore, that province asked us as a dominion government to cooperate with them in providing these special forestry conservation projects for single, homeless men in the winter months. It was not an innovation to close these camps at the end of the winter season. That course had been followed in the previous year without any untoward incident. Actually the farm employment plan in the prairie provinces was terminated at the same time, and advance notice was given of the intention of the governments concerned to bring this plan to an end at the end of April of this year.

The statement has been made that the majority of the men concerned in the Vancouver incident were non-residents. The report of Mr. Pearson of May 17 states that there were 1,800 non-resident transients in the forestry conservation camps during the winter months. The actual number at the closing of the camps is known. As I remember, it was close to 1,500, and we know that over 800 of the deferred pay vouchers were cashed outside British Columbia. That would leave a total of somewhere in the neighbourhood of 700 non-residents who were in Vancouver at the time the post office was occupied originally.

Just a few days ago the youth council of the city of Vancouver made a survey of the men who were actually in occupation of the art gallery and the post office in order to determine how many were non-residents and how many were single, unemployed men properly resident in British Columbia. Fol-

lowing that survey, which was made public, Mr. Pearson made the following statement:

Statement of youth council confirmed views of government in regard to its stand on sit down strike in Vancouver. Strike started with sixteen hundred transients participating and now according to the youth council survey there are only one hundred of the originals. Thus fifteen hundred transients have left and have apparently found the means of livelihood.

Some members of this house may have seen the report of the survey being conducted by the youth council. It showed clearly that of those who took part in the demonstrations in the art gallery and the post office not more than 100 could be described as non-resident.

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CCF

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. DOUGLAS (Weyburn):

Is the minister basing his statement entirely on the survey that was made?

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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

That is the only information we have as to those who were in occupation of the art gallery and the post office. The government has no reason to believe that the facts are not as stated, nor do I have any reason to assume that the youth council would have any motive in stating the facts other than correctly.

Why is it that this house should now be discussing this matter upon the motion of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre that we should give our attention to a question of urgent public importance? What has altered the situation is the fact that on Sunday morning the men who were in occupation of the art gallery and post office were asked to vacate these buildings. Having refused to do so, they were evicted by the city police. At the post office the city police had the cooperation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. What is the proximate cause of the riot that occurred in Vancouver? The proximate cause surely is this, that these men who were asked to withdraw peaceably, and who were given thirty minutes to do so, declined to comply with that request, made in one case by the postmaster and in the other by the secretary of the board of trustees of the art gallery. Had they complied with that request; had they taken advantage of the time given, there would have been no riots; no injuries would have been suffered by policemen and men, and there would have been no destruction of private property. What did occur was the result of the fact that when asked to leave these buildings the men refused to do so.

Had those men complied with that request which was made after great patience and forbearance so far as the maintenance of law and order was concerned, would their position have been any different from that of other

Unemployment-Vancouver Situation

groups of unemployed in cities and towns right across this dominion? I put that directly to members of this house. Had these men accepted the advice given, they would have been in precisely the same position as other groups of unemployed in other towns and cities with respect to available employment. They would not have suffered discrimination.

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CCF

James Shaver Woodsworth

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. WOODSWORTH:

Does the minister think that would have helped very much?

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June 20, 1938