That is, the minister is going to lease the wharf, but is not going to give the privileges of it to the lessee. 1 supposed that the idea was to lease the wharf, provided that everybody who used it should pay a certain maximum rate which the lessee would collect.
That is not the intention in all cases. In some cases we might provide that the lessee would have the exclusive use of the wharf and collect all the tolls, in which case we would not require a wharfinger. But I think it is good policy to have someone to look after the property of the government.
I cannot agree with that idea. That would be selling a privilege to a man who was going to ship over that wharf, it would not be leasing the wharf to him. If you are going to lease a wharf, lease it for so much money, restricting the lessee to a maximum rate and letting him make all he can out of it. You propose to sell to the man who is going to carry goods to and from that wharf the privilege of using it, and you are also going to pay a wharfinger. How much better able will you be to collect the rates under that condition than you are under the present condition? I think it would be better to lease the wharf to one person for a certain specified sum, and let him make all he can out of it, provided he could not charge more than a reasonable rate governed by the nearest board of trade in the locality where the wharf is situated. That seems to me to be the only way in which you can lease a wharf. If you did that, you would have to give to any carrier the same right and privilege that you granted to any other.
I would like to ask the minister whether it is intended to make a scale of tolls applicable to all government wharfs throughout the Dominion, or whether there will be some free wharfs and some others on which tolls will be exacted?
The policy of the government is to be applied to all the wharfs. I was simply explaining that in some cases it has been impossible, so far, to collect anything, and we expect by this change of policy to collect something.
Then, there will be absolutely no exception ? The reason I mention this is because in the riding of New Westminster during the last five years there have been built, for the first time in the history of our union with Canada, a number of government wharfs. Previous to that time we were under the necessity of contributing our proportion of the cost of building wharfs and maintaining them in other parts of the Dominion, and these were free to the users. No sooner were our wharfs constructed, however, than application was made to municipal councils in the riding to take them over and maintain them. The councils objected to that proposition on the ground that their people were being taxed for the maintenance of wharfs all over Canada. To my mind there is no more objection to the users of those w'harfs helping to pay for their maintenance and support than there is to helping to pay for railways, canals, or other public services, provided that there is no discrimination between one part of the Dominion and another. But in New Westminster district there will be great objection to paying wharfage tolls to lessees, if we are to continue to pay for and keep up other wharfs over which the traffic is free. If a scale of tolls is established, that scale should be uniform all over the Dominion. There should not be one scale of tolls east of the Rocky Mountains and another and higher scale west of the Rocky Mountains, such as the government has sanctioned in the matter of railway rates, on the ground that we have more money and are better able to pay. We do not regard that argument as just or fair; in fact, we have a solemn agreement with the Dominion of Canada that we shall be as well treated as the people of other provinces, and I think we should enter a protest against any proposition that would cause us to pay higher tolls for the use of our wharfs than is 'paid for the use of the government wharfs anywhere else in Canada.
I am surprised at the statements the hon. gentleman has made. There is nothing in the law or regulations making a difference between the rates on one side of the Rocky Mountains and those on the other side. The rate3 are the same all over the country. They have always been uniform, and they will be kept uniform.
If the minister will permit me to interrupt him, that is not the statement I made. What I said was that in other matters there had been this discrimination-in the matter of railway tolls, for instance. We would object to pay on any higher scale than applied in other provinces.
TAYLOR I suggest that this Bill might stand over till next year until the minister takes Charge of all the goem-ment wharfs in the country. I understand that some of them are now under the Department of Public Works and that we collect no tolls on them, and some of them are under the Department of Marine and Fisheries. I think the minister should have some official to visit all the wharfs in the country, take stock of them, and bring in a report, and then adopt a comprehensive business plan of dealing with all the wharfs, with a uniform scale of charges.
I want to get this legislation passed in order to have all the wharfs now under the Department of Public Works transferred to my department, and then we shall be in a position to carry out the suggestion of my hon. friend. I am beginning with this legislation, which I think will prove to be somewhat successful. My hopes may not be realized, but as soon as it is passed, the intention of the Minister of Public Works is to transfer to my department all the wharfs which are under the control of his department, and then we will try to put in execution the policy now adopted. But if we have the wharfs transferred without having this legislation, the situation will not be very much improved.
This legislation will not transfer the wharfs. I think we should have a report from some officer showing what wharfs the country owns. Then -we can form some estimate of what the revenue will be. For instance, who owns the wharf at Hull, and what revenue is derived from it? Is it under the Department of Public Works or under the Marine Department?
That is what we ought to know. Here is a wharf costing $100,000 or more, right under the minister's eyes, and he does not know whether it belongs to his department or to the Department of Public Works, nor does he know what revenue it yields-or, rather, according to him, no revenue is received. I understand that there is a wharf at Canning, N.S. Which department does it belong to, and what is the revenue?
That shows the necessity of doing business on business principles. Would any man, owning a lot of wharfs all over the country, go on without an inventory of the property and a statement of what it was bringing in? Before the minister asks for legislation, he should have the wharfs transferred to his department, then have a proper inventory made of the properties, what each cost, what revenue it is yielding and what revenue ought to be got from it. Then he can ask for legislation to authorize him either to lease to a company or to manage the property under uniform charges.