On to Ottawa Trek
As a delaying tactic the federal government sent two federal cabinet ministers to Regina to meet with the Trekkers. The cabinet ministers proposed that the Trekkers send a delegation
to Ottawa to meet with Prime Minister Bennett. A full meeting of the Trekkers considered the issue, The men were under no illusions; they knew that Ottawa wanted more time to prepare
to forcibly crush the Trek.
But they also realized that a refusal to meet with Bennett would be used as a propaganda weapon against them by the prime minister. So 3,000 Trekkers heatedly debated for two hours
before they reached unanimous agreement to send a delegation to Ottawa, provided the federal government pay their expenses and provide the Trekkers with three restaurant meals a day
and lodging in the meantime. The Trekkers' decision was presented to the two cabinet ministers at the Hotel Regina with a crowd of thousands of Regina citizens to back them up.
The trekkers delegation of eight under the leadership of Evans included "Doc" Savage, Pete Neilson, "Red" Walsh, Jack Cosgrove, "Paddy" O'Neil, Mike McCaulay
and Tony Martin. It met with Bennett on June 22. The meeting was one of the most dramatic in the drama-filled labour struggles of the 1930's.
Bennett, accompanied by some of his cabinet ministers, did most of the talking for the government. The meeting lasted over an hour. The Trekkers were not offered seats, they had to
stand the whole time. Bennett wanted to know where they were born, hoping no doubt to find a "foreigner" in their ranks. Evans presented the case for the Trekkers, being constantly
interrupted by the prime minister.
The Trekkers noted that behind Bennett and his cabinet was a curtain that did not quite reach to the floor, revealing the boots of an RCMP guard. Apparently the Prime Minister feared
trouble, which was the last thing on the minds of the well-disciplined Trekkers.
The reply of Bennett and his ministers to the Trekkers was that there had been absolute contentment and happiness in the camps until "you agitators came in and agitated the people
to leave the camps." Asked if his government would recognize camp committees elected by the inmates to take up grievances with the camp authorities, Bennett replied: "You are
not going to have any Soviet committees." Continuing he said " You have no anxiety for work, you have not tried to get work."
Now it was Bennett's turn to be interrupted by angry Trekkers. Losing his temper Bennett called Evans, who had served time in prison for leading a strike of coal miners in the Drumheller
Valley in Alberta, a "thief". Evans with equal anger retorted "You're a liar.' a comment that made newspaper headlines across Canada.
The meeting ended with no agreements and nothing accomplished. The interview was just one more incident in a steadily mounting confrontation between the strikers and the government.
Read the summaries for each section