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> Issue 45 > Page 56 - From George MacEachern's Autobiography

Page 56 - From George MacEachern's Autobiography

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1987/6/1 (146 reads)

raise in relief. The motion was seconded and put and carried. Then the fat was in the fire. Dan Mac- Kay, the chairman--I don't know why he kept quiet-- I guess he thought that the people wouldn't agree to such a motion. He got all excited then and "Good God, did they know what they were voting for?" Well, you go down with guns and you'll meet people with guns. Then came a great debate on par? liamentary procedure for rescinding a motion. I was really surprised what they knew about it. I certainly didn't know anything about parliamentary procedure, but it was an interesting night. These people were going to go home and get the guns! Pro? bably some of them would be kept home. Once they got home the wife might step into the action. The union also led delegation after delegation, of? ten supported by hundreds of demonstrators, to the City Hall, demanding more and better relief. One night, after an unemployed demonstration--it was quite a large number--! didn't go back to the hall immediately but I went over and stood in the dark by St. Andrew's Church to see what would happen. Sure enough, out come the Mounties with their base? ball bats from in back of the City Hall. It would seem at least that the square between Pitt and Prince on Bentinck would be filled with people. All that could get into City Hall would be there. At last they limited the number to go up for fear the floor would collapse. We'd have hundreds to a demonstration and of course they'd be shouting. There could have been on any of these nights a real riot. During my term as chairman of the unemployed union the aldermen were canvassed to support a raise in relief. Alderman Seymour Hines of Ward 4, where I lived, agreed to spon??or the mo.tion and his part? ner in the ward would second it. Although all the aldermen were supposed to be canvassed I doubt if this was done. The next regular meeting of the council saw the front row seats in the chamber filled with steel plant officials. They didn't speak, they didn't have to. The city council got the message. READY TO SERVE ALL OF CAPE BRETON Glace Bay Book Corner 68 Main Street at Senator's Corner 849-0940 OPEN 10 A. M. till 5 P. M. (FRIDAYS till 9 P. M.) MAIL ORDERS ACCEPTED "From the Latest to the Classics • We'll Find Any Book You Want' 68 MAIN ST., GLACE BAY, N. S. BlA 4X9 Alderman Hines moved the motion, which was sec? onded. Alderman Dan MacDonald charged that the un? employed wanted "quail on toast and a noggin of ale," Another alderman declared that, if a vote of the ratepayers was taken, there would be no relief. When the vote was taken the motion was defeated. I think there were only two, the mover and the sec? onder who supported it. We called a mass meeting in the unemployed hall. Only a few of the aldermen attended. Alderman Hines spoke first, saying that he was as disappointed as we were. The next speaker, who had agreed, when canvassed, to support the motion started to make excuses but the meeting was in no mood for that. He broke down and started to cry. All he could say was that, although he was in fa? vor of a raise in relief, he lost courage and voted against it, I was chairman of the meeting but keeping order at that stage was more than I could do, MacDonald of the "quail on toast" crack managed to slip out the door. Another was not so lucky and left the sleeve of his jacket in the hands of a couple of enraged unemployed. The meeting continued with some pretty militant speeches. The next morning the city po? lice picked up some of those who had spoken, osten? sibly for poll taxes. They were taken to the city hall but the matter of taxes was not pressed. In? stead they were warned against "stirring up troub? le." Having been chairman, I couldn't understand why I wasn't picked up. I had started getting an occasional shift on the steel plant and was schedulted for two shifts when the St, F, X. Extension Department held a meeting in a hall owned by the Steel Company on Inglis Street in Sydney, I went to the meeting, which was being addressed by a young priest. He was promot? ing the idea of "self-help," in this case growing potatoes on a piece of city-owned land. To me the main purpose was to take the pressure off the gov? ernments and keep workers from the unemployed un? ion and I told the meeting so. The following day I reported for a scheduled shift and was told that I was not to work until I saw the mechanical superin? tendent. As he wasn't to be found I went home. The next day when I reported, the stipulation that I had to see Beaton had been dropped and I heard no more of it. I guess it would have been too embar- Museum of Cape Breton Heritage Northeast Margaree on Cabot Trail Inverness Co., Cape Breton, N. S. 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