July 1, 1938

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

No, not at all.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

If the leader of the opposition has received any information which would indicate that any members of the Department of Labour altered the files in any way, I wish he would give it to me here and now.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I will deal with the first question first. The Prime Minister read my statements with respect to the Minister of Transport. That represents my considered opinion with respect to a matter which was discussed with the right hon. the leader of the government, and it referred to a file which had to do with post office matters. We came to the conclusion that when you deal with public business you cannot escape the publication of it by merely putting "personal" on it. It also had to do with questions raised in connection with pensions. But the present letter, dealing with a political matter, marked "personal and confidential," is a privileged communication, and always has been in this house, unless the writer of the letter removes the privilege. That is his privilege, not somebody else's. I think the most striking case of this kind was that concerning a letter written by Hon. Vincent Massey to the present Conservative leader in the senate, Right Hon. Arthur Meighen. He marked that letter

"personal," and in view of the fact that he had become a political factor in the life of the country, Mr. Meighen desired that Mr. Massey should remove that privilege. He declined to do so, and after careful investigation Mr. Meighen was satisfied that he could not use or publish that letter unless he had the consent of the writer. That is his privilege, not somebody else's. So far as the other feature of it it is concerned, it is the considered opinion of the former minister that he did not leave that letter on that file.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is what he would

like to know.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

It was there in 1936

and 1937 but it was never produced in this house. The motion was made on the sixth and acceded to on the ninth. The return was made so hurriedly that it was signed by the Minister of Labour for the Secretary of State. The return had to do with correspondence between two dates, one in August and one in October. The former Minister of Labour has no detailed recollection of it; all he says is that to the best of his belief and knowledge that letter was not on the file when he left that office. That is his view.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

The only answer to that

is that the letter was there when the file was examined. I have said already that I had no knowledge that the letter was there until the file was requested. The file was requested by a member of this house who was particularly interested in the construction of those roads.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Apparently he had knowledge of the fact that the letter was there.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

We know differently.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Charles-Philippe Beaubien

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BEAUBIEN:

My right hon. friend

knows that if he looks through his files he will find a copy of that letter.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I have had my files

searched carefully, and I took the trouble myself to do it. There is no letter or copy of that letter- on my personal file. But in my opinion some such letter was received from Mr. Webb, for he was advised in four lines that Hon. Mr. Murphy, then Minister of the Interior, was going to western Canada and would investigate the whole question in connection with rust and drought. Those matters were mentioned separately. He did so, and the very hon. member who has just spoken was one of those who urged that the work should be done. The work was continued after October, but has not yet been completed.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Charles-Philippe Beaubien

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BEAUBIEN:

My right hon. friend

cannot deny that the work was started with the object of winning three seats and not to give work to those who needed it.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I say no such thingjust the opposite.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. MacNEIL:

I cannot allow this vote

to pass without a brief reference to the unfortunate disturbance that occurred in Vancouver on June 19. I have already stated my views with regard to that situation. I regard it as a terrible blot on the record of this administration. Since this matter was last discussed in the house several points have come into view which I should like to bring to the attention of the committee. We have had an opportunity to examine the sessional paper containing the correspondence and telegrams exchanged between the department and the departmental representative in Vancouver and the department of labour in Victoria. I cannot condemn too definitely the incompetence of the departmental representative in Vancouver, Mr. Mitchell. I have carefully read his communications to the minister, and in my opinion he made no attempt, while staying at the hotel Vancouver in Vancouver

Supply-Labour-Unemployment Relief

or the Empress hotel in Victoria, to do anything more than send clippings and quotations to the minister. There is no indication that he made any effort to effect a conciliation or to ease the continuation of the situation. On the contrary he definitely minimized the gravity of the situation and emphasized what he termed to be the subversive character of the leadership. He told the minister that the patience of the men would be worn down and they would disperse.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

I have already pointed out that Mr. Mitchell, whom I have found to be a most competent officer of the Department of Labour and who was a former member of this house, was sent to Vancouver to keep me advised of any developments in that situation and to serve as a medium of communication with the provincial government, if that should appear desirable. Mr. Mitchell carried out both of those orders. He was not authorized to deal directly with the single unemployed men, for the simple reason that the provincial government was dealing with the matter.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

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

Mr. MacNEIL:

The sessional papers disclose that Mr. Mitchell entered into frequent consultation with Mr. Pearson and with the mayor of Vancouver. Such influence as he may have had on the situation was exercised in the wrong direction. I have before me a copy of his telegram to the minister under date of June 17, from which I quote:

John Stanton, president, youth council, on return from Victoria to-day said, "Premier Pattullo and Hon. G. S. Pearson made it clear the government would do nothing for the unemployed in the post office."

Then follow what are apparently Mr. Mitchell's own words:

We hope to prevent the trip to Victoria on Sunday. Now I suppose they will go anyway but 1 don't believe they will get anywhere.

As an answer to his emphasis on the subversive leadership, I should like to quote from an editorial that appeared in the Vancouver Daily Province of June 24, reading as follows: The public knows, unquestionably, if Mr. Pearson does not, that the subversive element among the transient unemployed, though present, has been numerically small and that is the reason for public sympathy for the unemployed and public criticism of the governments at Victoria and Ottawa.

The public knows that the men who immured themselves for a month in two of Vancouver's public buildings were neither reds nor scalawags nor hoodlums, but of the fair average type of young Canadians

men who want work, and would be happy to get it. men who want to get on in the world but find themselves frustrated by the turn of events.

If these men have yielded to so-called subversive influences, they have, of course, made a mistake. But the mistake is entirely understandable-much more understandable than the

government's harsh and narrow and immutable policy. The subversive influences at least seemed to offer a hope. The governments to which the men had a right to turn in their distress offered nothing but insults and flouts and starvation.

There is one further point I desire to make. The photographs taken prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that inexcusable brutality was used to evict the men from the post office and that the officers and the police, acting as we understand on the orders of the federal government, as is indicated by the sessional papers, singled out the leaders of the men and used clubs and lengths of water hose upon them until they were insensible. These men are at present in the hospital in Vancouver. That is something that should not be condoned by this government. That day is rightly called "bloody Sunday" in Vancouver because of the inexcusable brutality used upon these men who are properly described by the words I have just quoted.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Norman McLeod Rogers (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. ROGERS:

There is one other point arising from an item which was passed previously by the committee. The leader of the opposition drew the attention of the committee to some direct charges that had been made against the superintendent of the employment office in Kingston, Ontario. I said I would bring these charges to the immediate attention of the superintendent of the employment services in the Ontario government.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

They were investigated.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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July 1, 1938