Winfield Chester Scott MCLURE

MCLURE, Winfield Chester Scott

Personal Data

Party
Progressive Conservative
Constituency
Queen's (Prince Edward Island)
Birth Date
March 16, 1875
Deceased Date
June 18, 1955
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chester_McLure
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=c638ba68-559c-40ce-ac85-82aa844a881c&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
broker, teacher, trader

Parliamentary Career

July 28, 1930 - August 14, 1935
CON
  Queen's (Prince Edward Island)
June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
PC
  Queen's (Prince Edward Island)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
PC
  Queen's (Prince Edward Island)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 2 of 303)


May 13, 1953

Mr. McLure:

Mr. Chairman, I regret that I was not in the committee when the post office estimates were first called, to have the opportunity of hearing the opening remarks of the Postmaster General. However, I shall read them in Hansard, as I know they will indicate an enthusiasm for his new position.

I always have taken a great interest in post office affairs. I can remember looking over the estimates and noting where this department showed a surplus of $6 million, $8 million some years, $9 million and as high as $13 million. I used to think that this was a wonderful department of the government when it could pay all its expenses and still show these enormous surpluses. All of a sudden, without any warning, they faded away; not only that, there is a deficit. I am not condemning the Postmaster General, but it would be most interesting to have a committee of this House of Commons find out how that money disappeared so quickly. Surely there must have been some easy sliding in connection with it. Otherwise how could a surplus of $11 million disappear and the following year have a deficit of many millions of dollars?

As I say, I am not placing any blame on the Postmaster General, but it would be most interesting to find out those facts. Were there fewer postage stamps sold? We know it is pretty hard to tell the cost of a four cent postage stamp. I suppose it would be a very small fraction of a cent. Anyway, I would like to see this brought before the house so we might learn how it is that the Post Office Department does not show a revenue. It is said, of course, that there is a revenue; but at the same time we are asked to vote $110,881,988. If the old method of accounting had been followed in this department we would have some idea of the revenue it produced. Instead of that, however, we are confronted with this vote of more than $110 million, and I am sure hon. members would be interested to learn what the earning capacity of the Post Office Department actually is.

I was surprised to hear the hon. member for Wellington South suggest a few moments ago that there should be a five-day week for mail carriers, or couriers; I am not sure which term he used. He had better not suggest that to the people in the community in which I live. They would not want to go back to a five-day week service. In fact, they are asking for something more than a six-day week. Some communities are asking for double delivery, if the mail routes are not too long

Then there is another matter I would bring to the attention of the minister, one which I

have discussed on several other occasions. We hear a good deal of talk about urban mail carriers. These men are on contract and are civil servants. They know what their salary is to be from year to year, as their increases are granted under the act. I suggest, however, that we cannot begin to compare the urban mail carriers with the rural mail couriers, because two different types of employment are involved, and there are twc kinds of work to be done.

The city mail carriers know what their work is each day. They know the ground they will have to cover. They are by no means overpaid, because their work is strenuous, day in and day out. In my city we have an excellent staff of mail carriers. But when we consider the rural mail couriers we find that they work on contract. The courier has to fulfil his contract, and must deliver the mail six days a week. At the end of four years, when his contract is up for renewal, he is no longer anything more than a private individual, because he must go to work again to find out whether he can continue in his job. Someone comes along and underbids him to the tune of $5 a month, or $5 a year, or even less than that; $2.50 a year. He loses his job.

I was greatly disappointed in what was done recently by a committee set up to investigate the problems of the rural mail couriers. If one reads the report of the committee he finds that it does not give the Postmaster General anything to work on by way of suggestions as to what should be done for these men. However, when Bill 197 was passed there was one thing it did do; it gave him almost absolute power, and put a great deal of patronage into his hands, something no one in the public service should have.

Be that as it may, we must take things as they come. I have considered carefully the salaries of rural mail couriers in my constituency. While I have not complete information from all of them so far as expenses incurred are concerned, I And that on the average they make as wages for themselves from $1.25 to $3.69 a day. Very few of them can say they get a wage amounting to this latter sum. There is no difficulty in figuring out these amounts. For instance, I have before me the information concerning one man who is on a contract at $2,000. His expenses for the year amounted to $933. One needs only to divide the balance by 310 days of labour to find out at once that this mail courier does not have a very large daily

Supply-Post Office

wage. The same man could work an eight-hour day on the highway and get three times as much pay.

I shall not say much more about the mail couriers, because it is now up to the Postmaster General to take action. He has authority to deal with the contracts that come before him. I know that two or three couriers from my constituency have written to him, and I am waiting to see how he will deal with them. I have in mind particularly one man who has been in the service for seven or eight years, and for five years before that had given war service. I find now, however, that there are four or five tenders in competition with this man. Some of the tenderers are no good at all, but that will have to be investigated by the Postmaster General. But because the other tenders are just a little lower than the amount this man is asking, his contract is held up. As I say, I am not going to interfere at all, but I am going to watch carefully how cases like that are handled. And if I do not like it, the department will hear about it later on.

I should like to say a word about our post office at Charlottetown, and I am not referring particularly to the post office building. We have there an excellent staff. I have said before that we are not recognized as a postal zone, notwithstanding the fact that we are a province of Canada. According to the agreement on which we went into union we should be recognized as such, and our post office should be a separate unit by itself. As I said here a year ago, we have no right to be tacked on to the province of New Brunswick, and I am going to repeat what I said before.

Suppose some country post office in my constituency wants some little matter adjusted. They come into the city post office at Charlottetown, where the men are quite able to adjust the matter. It may be only the moving of a box out in one of the communities, but they have no authority to move it and what do they do? They have to get in touch with New Brunswick and after that with the superior officer in Moncton, and about a week after that again they get in touch with Ottawa. What confusion. Why in the Sam Hill don't they make this a postal zone of their own? We are a province, and I am going to demand that again.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Full View Permalink

May 13, 1953

Mr. McLure:

Mr. Chairman, I am not going to take up some other items I would like to mention, because I do not want anyone to think I am trying to hold up these estimates. I do say again that I was rather disappointed in the committee of the house that was set up to study the problems of the rural mail couriers. There are no two ways about it, that committee were either in a hurry or they missed out on what was to be considered. Most of the problems considered were all right and I have no objection to them, but I do think a few of the rural mail couriers themselves from different localities should have been brought in. Then the committee and the Postmaster General would soon have found out what they desired and what they really wanted.

I have often said on the floor of the house here when these estimates were up that discrimination as between contracts-and I

am speaking particularly of my own constituency-is something that one can hardly realize until he figures it out. You will find, as I said before, one man driving 20 miles and receiving a certain amount. There will be another man driving 40 miles who will receive $500 less than the man driving 20 miles. I have made calculations for every mail route in my constituency, and I have placed most of those figures on the record. I am not going to repeat that at this late date.

I want to close by saying this to the Postmaster General. I hope he will make a visit to our province in the near future-I am not making any prognostications about the election-to see what is going on there in the Post Office Department. I should like him to look over our post office and our staff, and I know he will find certain things which, in his wisdom, he will correct. Then I would not have to come here and talk in this manner on the floor of the house.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Full View Permalink

May 13, 1953

Mr. McLure:

But they cannot get anybody to do the job at three times what they are paying him, and he is still there. They cannot get rid of him as long as he is fulfilling his end of the contract. He goes to work at eight o'clock in the morning, he has no meal hours, no time off, no rest period and he works until eight o'clock at night. A short time ago the department, out of sympathy or something, granted him the privilege of taking half an hour off, and he can go home at half past seven. That was a wonderful thing, Mr. Chairman.

That is not the sad part of it. He was making a fairly good living under his contract, but he is just getting by now. What did the department do? They put in metering machines. That is all right. It is a great thing for the merchants and others who are putting out a lot of mail. But what did the department do? They refused to give this man his commission on the stamps the metering machine was using.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Full View Permalink

May 13, 1953

Mr. McLure:

May I interrupt for a

moment? Will the minister look at this contract and read it some day? You will find that you are absolutely wrong. He has a contract with the Post Office Department. It may be to sell stamps, but that does not make

Supply-Post Office

any difference. The contract specifies that he is to get a 2 per cent commission on all stamps sold in that zone, not that he sells.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Full View Permalink

May 13, 1953

Mr. McLure:

Someone might say, as a member of the department and a previous Postmaster General said before, that they could fire this man at any time. I said, "Try". "We have a contract", he said; and I said, "Yes, but I defy you or the Postmaster General or the department to show that contract." "Oh," he says, "we know where it is." I said, "I know where one of them is, a duplicate." The department has not that contract, but it reads that as long as he is giving service to the public he is entitled to 2 per cent on all postage stamps used in the city of Charlottetown.

I just bring these conditions to the attention of the new Postmaster General. Surely he will have enough sympathy to say to himself, "Well, here is a man who has given 53 years of actual service since he signed the contract, and 79 years of real service in terms of an 8-hour day. Let us not be so rude as to take away more than 50 per cent of his earnings by these metering machines."

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT
Full View Permalink