The wreck of the steamer ' St. Denis ' on the shore of Vancouver Island has called forth many protests against the tendency toward overloading, and many demands for stringent laws such as are associated in Britain with
the name of the late Mr. Plimsoll. The Plim-soll line on a British vessel determines her summer load, her winter load, and her winter load in the North Atlantic, and no captain is allowed to clear if the iiae which designates his vessel's carrying capacity is submerged. On the Great Lakes there^ are frequent demands for load-line regulations, and it is notorious that many vessel owners take serious risks by overloading every season. Occasionally there is a disaster, and the matter after a brief discussion is forgotten. But there is a growing reaction against the indifference that risks and sometimes sacrifices lives for the gathering of profits.
According to the Victoria ' Times/ the captain of the * St. Denis/ a young and ambitious officer, was eager to take a record cargo from the Vancouver mines to Central America. In spite of protests from experienced officers and seamen more cargo was crammed into the vessel's hold than she sould carry with safety through the storms of the Pacific. In the shelter of the straits of Georgia or Puget Sound such a load could have been taken with comparative safety. But in the storms of the open sea the vessel was helpless. Just how she foundered will never be known. Her twenty-one men are lost, and only the wreckage on shore gives any indication of where the disaster occurred.
It is safe to conclude that with a proper load-liue regulation strictly enforced the vessel would have been prepared for all emergencies, and she and her crew would now he safe. It is onlv when disaster occurs that the evil of overloading can effectively be attacked. Scores of instances occur in which risks are taken and by fortunate accidents the trips are finished in safety. The profit and prestige of such achievements are temptations to repeat them. When the inevitable happens there is an outcry. This lamentable experience should not he wasted, hut should he held before the public until more efficient means are devised to prevent the sailing of unseaworthy
I take it for granted that these facts are correct, coming from papers of such standing as these. There are many more instances which should cause this House to put on the statute-books _ of this country an Act covering the loading of vessels, especially in the winter. It is now. 35 years since Plimsoll passed his Shipping Act It took him eight years to accomplish that. This Bill has now been before this House for five years. I trust that this parliament will not require eight years to pass a Bill.
Motion agreed to, and Bill read the first time.
business of the house.