April 16, 1909

LIB

Louis-Philippe Brodeur (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BRODEUR.

This provision has been in the law for many years but unfortunately it has not been taken advantage of by the municipal councils. I am informed there are two municipal councils which have taken advantage of it. This law has been in existence since 1886.

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CON

William Wright

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WRIGHT.

I would draw the minister's attention to the fact that the Department of Public Works has only handed over a few of the wharfs to his deoartment. Consequently there has been no opportunity for the municipal councils to assume control of these wharfs. In the riding which I represent three wharfs have been built, two in rather an important place and in the important places the Department of Public Works has kept control of them. Nobody is in charge of them, and everybody is using them as he likes. One of the unimportant wharfs has been handed over to the minister's department, a wharfinger has been appointed and he is exercising his sweet will and charging the general public whatever he likes to go over this wharf. There should be some control in a matter of this kind.

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LIB

Louis-Philippe Brodeur (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BRODEUR.

Unfortunately, that legislation by which municipal councils can get possession of wharfs has been in existence for many years and no advantage has been taken of it except in two cases. It is probably because municipal councils are afraid of some burden being put upon them for keeping up these wharfs. If they took over these wharfs they would have to make some ordinary repairs to them. We propose to extend the provision to shipping and railway companies which would take advantage of it because they are more interested than the municipal councils. I do not know what effect it may have but it is in order to obtain a better administration of the wharfs than we have to-day that we are taking this step. As I said a few moments ago the main object is to get a commutation of rates so that we may charge the shipping companies who are using these wharfs a certain fixed sum of money instead of being obliged to collect the small wharf rates that are very difficult to collect. There are several wharfs which have been transferred to this department. It is proposed, after this legislation is passed, that all these wharfs shall be transferred and that active steps shall be taken to secure the good and proper administration of them.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

I would like to ask the minister how it happens that the policy of the department is to get rid of these wharfs by leasing them to private individuals, corporations and councils on the one hand while on the other he is buying up wharfs, as for instance, at Oshawa, Bowmanville, Whitby and other places After buying these wharfs with the object of getting friends of the government out of a hole they are going to turn around and lease them to somebody else. Another point is that in many places, especially along the rivers and inland lakes, the wharf occupies the only available site in the town. It is the intention of the gov' eminent to lease a wharf that costs a few

hundred or a few thousand dollars, to some individual and allow him to charge rates for traffic with the creation of which he had absolutely nothing to do? My hon. friend from Muskoka (Mr. Wright) has referred to the wharf at Bracebridge which occupies the only available point along the shore of the river. .

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LIB

Louis-Philippe Brodeur (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BRODEUR.

That is a private wharf.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

The government assisted in building it. It was promised by the former Postmaster General as an election bribe some years ago.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Order.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

Not at all; I want no order about it. He told the electors that if they returned a certain man they would assist them in the building of that wharf.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

He is a judge wf the land now and that makes it all the worse.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

I hope this will bring him to his senses. He is a little off colour on the Dreadnought business and this may remind him,' of his duty.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Order, order.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

I want the minister to look into this matter and, where wharfs are being let, to take particular pains to see that no monopoly shall be given to the man who occupies the wharf which is in the only possible place where a wharf can be located in the town.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I think there is the possibility of grave abuses growing up under this system. I can understand why there are not very many of these wharfs rented by municipalities as the governmnt could desire. One reason is because they do not want to assume the responsibility for the damages in the event of injury. A portion may be swept away or other damages may be done for which they may be liable, and that is one reason they do not want it. Another reason is that it must be kept safe for use. That implies responsibility, the extent of which may be unknown, and therefore they are reluctant to assume it. But what seems to me of more interest is this. The minister speaks always of these corporations and wants to commute the rates and receive so much iin a lump sum in return for the use of the wharf, and the lessees will have the right to fix the rates on every ton of freight that passes over the whaFf- The individual gets a lease of that wharf at a given lump sum per year and then will charge as much as he can to the public for the use of it. If the government do not keep control over the rates and have the power to reduce them from time to time injustice will be done the public.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

Another objection is the length of time for which a wharf may be rented. In the ease oif some towns, a wharf is of very little importance in early history, and might be leased for a very small figure, just as the water-power of the Cornwall canal was leased for 84 years; but as the town developed, the amount of freight passing over that wharf may increase very considerably and the lease be a very profitable speculation. Again, where one line sends large quantities over the wharf, it may be allowed a lower rate than the ordinary public who ship small quantities. Unless there be some safeguard in the Act itself to prevent the possibility of such abuses, the public may seriously suffer. Take for instance the case of the town of Thornbury, in connection with which I had something to do with getting the Act passed. They had to submit their schedule of rates to the inspection of the department. If it was reasonable, the department ratified it, but the municipality which had control could not make a charge until the rate was consented to by the government.

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LIB

Louis-Philippe Brodeur (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BRODEUR.

It will be provided that the rates must be approved by order in council. You must not mix up the two things, the leasing of wharfs and the commutation of rates. In the first instance, if there be several companies,the wharf will not be leased, as that will not be necessary, but it would be in the interest of the revenue that we should say to the companies : ' You will pay us each a certain amount for the use of the wharf.' We will then not be obliged, as we are to-day, to collect those small amounts which it is almost impossible to collect.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

Suppose a lumber company owns the wharf and the government commutes the rates, and the lumber company bring in their own lumber free over that wharf, the public may be obliged to pay 50 cents a 1,000 feet for any lumber they bring over it.

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LIB

Louis-Philippe Brodeur (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BRODEUR.

They will not be in that position because we will know exactly the business they are doing before we lease the wharf, and under the law we can only lease it for a term of three years.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

Who will keep the docks in repair, and what control will the government retain?

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LIB

Louis-Philippe Brodeur (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BRODEUR.

The company which leases the wharf will make the ordinary repairs.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES.

Will the government have an inspector to see that the docks are kept in proper repair.

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April 16, 1909