May 7, 1909

LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

If the hon. member for North Toronto were suffering the pains that I have been, he would have some reason for complaint.

Topic:   THE CIVIL SERVICE ACT.
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CON
LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

The matter stood over also in consequence of some objections th.- 1

Topic:   THE CIVIL SERVICE ACT.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

hon. member took to the form of the Bill -in which I concurred; as it requires a schedule of the classifications of the departments. The classifications of the departments have been ready for a long time; but the classifications of the Senate and the House of Commons are not yet ready, and until they are I cannot proceed with the Bill. I am waiting until they are completed.

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CON

GOVERNMENT HARBOURS AND PIERS


House again in committee on Bill (No. 89) to amend the Government Harbour and Piers Act.-Mr. Brodeur. On section 1, lease of wharf and breakwaters.


LIB

Louis-Philippe Brodeur (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Hon. L. P. BRODEUR (Minister of Marine and Fisheries).

Some objection was raised to the first part of this section. The section is divided into two parts. The first part provides for the leasing of wharfs to any provincial government, municipal * council, harbour commission, shipping company, railway company or other person. The second part deals with the rentals. From what I have seen of the discussion that took place, I do not know of any objection raised to this part of the measure. But there was objection to the first part. It is objected that no limit of time is fixed for these leases. I intend to meet this objection by an amendment providing that the leases shall be for terms not exceeding three years. It was objected also that there might be an injustice to other companies than the leasing company who desire to use the wharf. I may explain that the intention of the department is not to lease wharfs in cases where several shipping companies use the same wharf. But, where there is only one company mainly interested in the maintenance of the wharf, we provide for the leasing of the wharf to that company. In that way, a great deal of expenditure will be avoided, because lessee will make the necessary repairs. But to meet any objection I intend to pro-pose that no lease shall be given until tenders have been publicly called for. There will be assurance in this that no undue advantage will be taken. Another objection raised was as to possible injustice to private parties using the wharf-that undue charges will be made. I intend to propose an amendment that the lessee shall charge the same rates as are provide for in the general order in council. We have regulations for the management of breakwaters, levees and wharfs provided under orders in council passed in 1889, 1892 and 1908, and the tolls on these

5897 MAY 7, 1909 5898

leased wharfs will be the same as under these general regulations. Fear was expressed also that the lessee would take advantage of private parties by preventing others having access to the wharf. There may be something in that objection, hut I thought it could be met by ordering that the lessee shall not have the right to interfere with the public use of the wharf by any other company. In such cases, the wharfinger will have charge, and will decide how the wharf is to be used. On a previous occasion I explained the general object I have in view. The object is, where a wharf is used by only one company, to lease the wharf and force the company to take charge and make the ordinary repairs, thus relieving the government of a very great expense. For, of course, in many cases, we cannot make these repairs except at heavy cost, while those who lease and use the wharf, might be able to keep the work in good repair at comparatively little expense. In the second section of the Bill, provision is made for the regulation of rates. I mentioned on a former occasion the difficulties we find in collecting these wharfage rates. The charges are very small. On referring to the regulations I find that the charges include, for instance, one cent per barrel for apples, two cents for 100 pounds of bacon, and so on. The wharfinger experiences great difficulty in collecting these rates. But by commuting the rates with the company by a lease under which they would give us a certain amount of money for the use of the wharf, we shall get a revenue while avoiding the heavy aggregate expense of these minor repairs.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

The lessee, I presume, would charge the public the same rates that are laid down in the regulations?

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LIB

Louis-Philippe Brodeur (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BRODEUR.

Yes. But the wharfage will be charged in the transportation rates. As it is to-day, the company charges a certain amount for transportation, and the wharfinger is supposed to collect the government fees for wharfage. It can readily be understood that it was very difficult to collect these small sums of five, or ten or fifteen cents, and therefore I think the method proposed under this Bill will be a great advantage.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

The wharfinger will be nominated by the government?

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LIB
CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Who will pay the wharfinger after you have leased the wharf?

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LIB

Louis-Philippe Brodeur (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BRODEUR.

He is generally paid 25 per cent of the revenues of the wharf. We can pay him 25 per cent of the amount agreed upon with the lessee.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

I am afraid the policy outlined is liable to great difficulty in the carrying out. The minister is going to avoid giving the lease at too cheap a rate by putting the lease up to competition. But, according to another part of his remarks he will not lease where there is more than one company using the wharf. If there is only one company, there will be only one tenderer and a public call for tenders, while nominally a protection, will be, in reality, of no advantage. I understand that it is not the policy to make any lease or arrangement where more than, one company use the same wharf. But should a lease be granted under such conditions, I can understand that there would be constant cause for grievance. Suppose you have a wharf at which half a dozen companies are doing business; each of these concerns is quite willing to do business with the government, because the government is not a competitor with any of them and all are treated alike under the regulations. But will they find it equally pleasant to do business on a wharf where one company, and that a competitor, holds a lease, and, to a large extent has charge? I do not see that it is going to work out well. The principle of a public wharf is that it should be for the benefit of the public; and if you are going to make an arrangement by which one company or one set of persons have charge of a wharf and its revenues and everything else is to go to them, it is impossible to do that without producing a great deal of trouble and dissatisfaction. The minister urges that he does this because the wharfs can be kept in repair by these shipping companies at a much cheaper rate than the government can do it. That is an admission which the government ought to be in a position to minimize very much. If the government carries out this business on a business method, it ought to be able to repair wharfs nearly as cheaply as a company could. Then again there ought not to be any wharf built by the government that is not a public wharf where the people surrounding it have a right to go and come. You are putting them all under tutelage and supervision, and, to a certain extent, within the power of some one who owns the wharf by lease, or who rents it, and is the boss of it, with only the government wharfinger, who is to be a sort of referee, I suppose. The wharfinger would be a local man getting very little pay, who cannot be expected to be there and settle all grievances as they come un. to be on hand all the time, unless you pay him a pretty good salary. So you really have the company that rents it doing business with the people instead of having the people doing business with the government. I am

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afraid that in the end the minister will find that financially it will not be of much benefit, and that on the ground of trouble in its operation, it will be subject to disadvantages and cause grievances, and I believe in the end will cause a reversal of the policy.

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LIB

Louis-Philippe Brodeur (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BRODEUK.

I appreciate that there will be some difficulty in putting this project into execution. But my hon. friend who has been a Minister of Marine and Fisheries himself knows the difficulties of the present situation, he knows how difficult it is to collect wharfage rates on these wharfs. After having given a good deal of consideration to the matter I thought we plight adopt these two plans I am proposing here. Perhaps they will not be successful, but I think they are worth trying, because the situation which exists to-day is an extremely difficult one. When we appoint as wharfinger a man in the locality, and every person who receives goods at that wharf is called upon to pay a small sum of money, 5 cents, 10 cents and so on, the wharfinger finds it almost impossible to carry out his instructions. I may say that in some cases we have not been able to get a wharfinger. In some cases where a wharfinger has resigned, we cannot get anybody to take his place. In some eases they have accepted the position, and after a little experience in collecting those small sums, and after having trouble with almost every one in the locality who uses the wharf, they have become disgusted and have resigned. The result is that to-day we have no wharfinger on some of the wharfs to collect the wharfage rates. Consequently some legislation has become necessary in order to meet the situation. I thought at one time of providing for a commutation of rates, that is, making some agreement with these shipping companies by which we would charge them a certain sum of money for side wharfage and top wharfage. I may say that we have done so already, although it may not have been strictly legal, withj the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company in respect of three wharfs in the lower part of the St. Lawrence. We are now collecting on those three wharfs more than we are collecting in 25 or 30 other wharfs in the neighbourhood of the St. Lawrence, perhaps not quite so much. The result has been very satisfactory. The Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company pays $1,000 for these three wharfs. And we have no trouble with them-they are the only company who uses the wharfs-without any trouble to our officers, without any trouble to the wharfinger there, we receive a check. Out of that check we pay 25 per cent to the wharfinger, and 25 per cent also Mr. FOSTER.

on cargoes that are delivered there for some other companies. The plan works very satisfactorily, and we wish to take power to extend that plan and make similar arrangements with other shipping companies, My hon. friend comments on our decision to call for public tenders. Our intention was at one time to lease the wharfs only in places where there would be one company using them. The reason I ask for public tenders is that I do not wish the public to be taken by surprise, I want the public to know what we intend to do; and this notice will be 'given, not only to the shipping companies, but also to the general public. * This provision is not in the Bill at present, but I intend to move an amendment in the following words:

Substitute for subsection 1 of section 1 the following:-

lb. If the minister deems it desirable to lease to any provincial government, municipal council, harbour commission, shipping company, or railway company, any wharf, pier or breakwater under the control of, the minister, tenders by public advertisement for such lease shall be invited by the minister for a term not exeeding three years, and the Governor in Council may thereupon lease such wharf, pier or breakwater xipon such terms and conditions as are agreed on: provided that nothing in this section shall interfere with the public use of the wharf, pier or breakwater; and, provided further, that the lease of such wharf, pier or breakwater shall not charge wharfage tolls or dues in excess of the tolls and dues established under the authority of this Act by the regulations for the government of breakwaters, piers or wharfs in Canada, as approved from time to time by the Governor in Council.

We think that with the section amended in this way, we shall be able to "get some revenue out of these wharfs which we do not get to-day. It will give us an opportunity also of preventing large expenditures being made in repairs. My hon. friend says that the government should be able to make repairs as well as the shiping company. My hon. friend knows that when repairs of that kind are required we need to send an engineer to visit the works and report and all that causes expense. I admit that the wharfs will have to be inspected, but if the company is obliged to keep the wharf in ordinary repair the inspector will not have to visit so frequently.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Suppose when you lease one of these wharfs there is only one shipping company plying to it, but later on another company enters into business, then the lessee may say that the new company has no privileges there. The individual or company that goes into trade along a river or lake has naturally a right to look to the government wharf as being free to him as to every other person, but if you lease

that wharf it becomes to a certain extent a monopoly to the company in possession. The minister saw that he should omit the word ' person,' because in that case a wharf could be leased to a person who would simply farm out the taxes on every person who used that wharf, but the same principle exists even if you put it the other way. The present position is very bad and it might be made a good deal better if the department would put its foot down and make it understood that it was not doing things by favour, but that those wharfs cost public money and are a public privilege which the public should pay its small share for the enjoyment of.

It that rule were lived up to the people would get used to it and they would not be pulling the coat tails of the member to get the wharfage dues removed or lessened. The existing system has arisen from our bad methods of administration and I do not say it is any worse under the present minister than it was before. Of course we are in a more difficult position now because we have built a great many of these wharfs where they never should have been built and that has multiplied the expense. The minister has, no doubt, thought over the matter more than I have, but it seems to me it is pretty full of difficulties. Unless the minister is sure of his ground and has taken good advice, he might let the Bill stand over for consideration, although if the minister thinks otherwise I do not press that view. Has the minister thought whether or not it is possible to make the carrier pay these dues upon the goods that he sends out from the wharf or brings in to the wharf, so that the department will not be compelled to try and collect dues on 100 or 200 little parcels.

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LIB

Louis-Philippe Brodeur (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. BRODEUR.

Yes, the second section of the Bill provides for commutation in that respect.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROSTER.

Does it provide that the payment of these dues shall be made by the shinning company, and not by the consignor or consignee?

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LIB

May 7, 1909