They are, but they cultivate the market and make what is wranted. That is the objection made against the English manufacturer. It is said that he makes the thing you ought to want whether you want it or not, while the American or the German will make what you want, and if you want it bad he will make it bad. We have not been educated in Canada up to adapting ourselves to the markets.
Before the discussion ceases with regard to this item, I would like to urge that it is extremely desirable that our commercial connections with the British possessions in the West Indies should be preserved ; and even if assistance to the steamship service, looking at the present, does not seem to be a paying proposition, regarding it from a commercial standpoint, I would be very reluctant indeed to cease any subsidy or take any step which might to a still greater extent divert the commercial interests of the British West India Islands to the United States. At the present time I think the United States have a very great advantage, with regard to some of the islands at least, by reason of the better steamship communication they possess from the port of New York and possibly from other ports. There are those in this country who look forward to the possibility that some time in the future this country may have more than a commercial alliance with the British West Indies, that some time in the future those islands, or some of them, may be brought within this Canadian confederation. Whether that be a dream or not, it certainly is extremely desirable that we should not take any retrograde step, nor withdraw from any policy which was designed to preserve commerce, so far as it can be preserved, between the British West India Islands and Canada.
With respect to the maritime ports, I fully appreciate the point of view which has been put forward by my hon. friend from Sr. Antoine division of Montreal (Mr. Ames). At the same time, so far as the maritime ports are concerned, there is this to remember, that, in the first piace, during the winter months the maritime ports are the only ports by which that service can be kept up, and, so far as the summer months are concerned, one would suppose that if the Intercolonial Railway is ever to fulfil any of the functions which it certainly is expected to fulfil under the scheme of the government brought down to parliament last session and the session before, it ought to fulfil the purpose of making the necessary connection between the city of Montreal and points
west of that city and the steamship service 'between Halifax and the West India Islands. If the Intercolonial Railway cannot fulfil that object, it seems to me its usefulness has, to a very great extent, departed. A steamship service from Halifax and St. John to the West India Islands is, I think, desirable. It may be desirable at some time in the future to establish, possibly upon a more commercial basis, as the member for Montreal (Mr. Ames) has suggested, a steamship service from Montreal. Perhaps that should be done in the immediate future, but the maritime provinces of 'Canada have had in the past a very large trade with the British West India Islands ; they have a very considerable trade at the present, and I believe that with the expected development ol the fishing industry of the maritime provinces that trade ought to Increase rather than diminish in the future. I am speaking iu the presence of the members for Halifax, one of whom at least, the junior member for Halifax (Mr. Carney), has had a great deal of experience in this trade in the past, although he is not engaged in it at present, and his opinion on the subject would, of course, be very valuable.
I would desire that the service between the maritime ports and other ports of Canada and the West India Islands should be as expeditious as possible. But there are a great many islands to be visited ; there are a great many points from which traffic, both passenger and freight, must be gathered up ; and I do not suppose that vre can at the present time have both an express service and what my hon. friend from Montreal has very aptly called an accommodation service. If we make that so-called accommodation service the very best that the resources of the country will reasonably permit, and that the traffic at present would reasonably require, we may perhaps in the future reach a development in traffic betwmen Canada and the West India Islands which will enable us to have not only what might be called a freight service, but an express service as well. I do most heartily concur in the view that has been put forward by my hon. friend from Toronto, that parliament should be exactly advised What we are receiving in return for these enormous subsidies. We have asked for that information, perhaps not so directly as it has been asked for to-day, but in a more piecemeal fashion, in the debates on the estimates in the past. I would think it only businesslike on the part of the Department of Trade and Commerce when it comes to parliament for these subsidies, to be prepared, without any request from this side of the House, to state the exact results which the country is obtaining from every subsidy which this House votes for such purposes. That is the method which any business corporation would follow in dealing with such information when asking their shareholders for an appropriation of money. My hon. friend from North Toronto says
that the departments frequently get into a rut with regard to matters of this kind. There is danger not only of the department, but of the government and the House, getting into a rut unless we have information of this kind whenever these estimates are voted. We must not get into the habit of voting them as a matter of course, because they were voted last year and the year before and the year before that.
I would like to know, with reference to any of these subsidies for promoting business between Canada and any other country, what the net results have been-the volume of trade, to what extent any increase in the volume of trade can be attributed to the service furnished by us, or to what extent any diminution in the volume of trade is due to the fact that the service has not been up to the standard required, in what way we are affected as to that commerce by the competition of foreign countries and in what way the competition of foreign countries has been made formidable by better steamship services or better means of communication than ours. All these, it seems to me. are proper matters to be considered and debated by parliament. They are matters which any business man would take into consideration. I hope we shall get a little more out of the usual rut in these matters, and that the department will come down with information which may stimulate some debate and lead to some useful suggestions and perhaps to a better system in the end.
In speaking about this matter before, what I suggested, and what I would suggest again, is that a report be prepared. Piecemeal information of the kind we get while the estimates are being voted is not so satisfactory. You cannot sit down and size the whole business up, and make up your conclusions with regard to it. If the department would make a report on the steamship subsidy services by itself, it could easily be used, and the members could thoroughly study and digest it.
I would like to remind the premier that during the session a delegation from my province waited on the Minister of Trade and Commerce to see if it were not possible to extend to the province of Prince Edward Island a service somewhat similar to the one that obtains with the province of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The province of Prince Edward Island labours under a great many disadvantages. In this respect I suppose it labours under more disadvantages than any other province of Canada. Before it can
have a share in the cheap freights which follow these subsibized boats, its produce has to be shipped over the Prince Edward Island Railway, over the straits, and then from Pictou to Halifax-three short hauls over a railway on which the rates are exorbitant. I do not know that there is any district in Canada of the size of Prince Edward Island which does more business with the West Indies than that province-in fish, in horses, and many other products which the West India market require : and if the object is to develop trade with the West Indies, surely you are not going to leave that province out of your reckoning. The scheme proposed by the hon. member from Montreal, of a steamer from Montreal calling at Prince Edward Island, would be of some service ; but I am afraid, from what I learn, that it is not likely to eventuate for some time ; and if any of those boats at present running from Halifax and St. John to the West Indies could not conveniently call at a port of Prince Edward Island. I would suggest that a steamer might be subsidized for two or three trips a year from the province. If that were done, I think the amount of money it would require would be amply repaid by increased trade between that province and the West Indies. There are some trips made by steamers at present, tout they are handicapped by the fact that a steamer running from Halifax has a subsidy, while a steamer running from Charlottetown has none. Then, these boats have many ports of call. Why not lessen the number of ports of call in the West India Islands and increase the number of starting points in Canada ? I brought this matter to the attention of the committee on a former occasion. The Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) very kindly promised that, if a line were established between Montreal and the West Indies, the province of Prince Edward Island should be made a port of call. I feel grateful for the promise. Now that the Minister of Finance seems overburdened with funds let him subsidize a steamer that will make three or four trips during the summer between Prince Edward Island and tbe West Indies.
I understand that in the application to which my hon. friend (Mr. A. Martin) referred, while a desire is expressed for an extension of communication, generally, there is a special wish to have communication with the Island of Cuba. We hope to have made an arrangement with a line of steamers to cover the route from Montreal to Cuba, calling at Prince Edward Island. To that extent, I hope the hon. gentleman's wish will be met. As to the other boats calling at Charlottetown, he will see at once that a vessel starting from St. John or Halifax, for the West Indies could hardly call at Charlottetown.
The hon. gentleman is the first to make the suggestion. But though one can make a suggestion on this point, it takes a number to make an arrangement. For. instance, there is the contractor, who is to furnish the steamer and pay the bills ;-he wishes to have something to say in the matter. We have had nothing to indicate as yet, that a commercial enterprise could be successful on the basis of starting from Charlottetown, calling at St. John and Halifax and going in to the West Indies.
1 Air. FIELDING. The hon. gentlemai is so anxious to be a martyr that he forgets the good things his province already enjoys. They have several steamers run. ning between the island and the mainland to bring them into touch with the other lines. Of course, it would be very nice to have lines of steamers running from every port in the Dominion. That of course, is impossible, all you can do is to take the main ports. The hon. gentleman says that they have some lines running between Prince Edward Island and the AVest In dies that receive no subsidy. I suppose that what be means is that sometimes a steamer makes a special voyage over the route, but there is no regular line.
I thought the hon. gentleman suggested that we were subsidizing steamers to compete with existing lines. Of course, the sending out of a special steamer may happen anywhere. But such a trip is undertaken at the will of the owner, and having no fixed time is not much accommodation to the public. We realize the position of Prince Edward Island, and if there were reasons to believe that a subsidized line from that province to the West Indies could promote business, there is every inclination on our part to consider it.
In this large sum of money-over $1,000,000-for steamship subsidies, the province of Prince Edward Island shares to a very small extent indeed. As to the minister's suggestion that you cannot subsidize a vessel from Prince Edward Island to the West Indies, I would remind the minister that he is doing that very thing in another case-giving a subsidy for two or three trips from Princq Edward Island to Great Britain. This is not a regular line. I feel sure that if he would do the same thing to improve communication between Prince Edward Island and the West Indies, it would increase the trade of Prince Edward Island considerably. Years ago the trade between Prince Edward Island and the AVest Indies was a very large and lucrative one. And the Minister of Finance himself has pointed out , that our trade with the West Indies has
not increased as it ought to have done. That is a question for the government to deal with. We are paying a subsidy of $140,000 to develop trade between here and South Africa. Our whole trade with that country is only about $2,000,000. The West Indies are much nearer to us and we already have a good trade with them which our neighbours to the south are taking away from us. Now, in this ' growing time ' of which we boast; now that Canada's prosperity is advancing by leaps and bounds, will the government, by penuriousness, allow tills important trade to be lost ?
A good deal might be done to develop a trade in horses from Prince Edward Island to the West Indies. In those islands light horses are in demand. Under present arrangements they must be shipped either by rail or steamer-usually by rail-to Halifax. If special rates coutd be given to shippers by the Halifax line it would be a great advantage. Let those rates continue until a regular line from Montreal is established. The freight on the short hauls from Prince Edward Island to Halifax is excessive, so much so that the men who ship from Prince Edward Island by way of Halifax are not in as favourable a position as those who ship from Mom tieal, or even from Hamilton, Ontario.