May 12, 1914

LIB
CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER:

I did not imagine that my hon. friend was so interested in looking after the interests of the elevators, these big corporations, that we would raise this row because they were made to pay a fair license fee. That fee does not come from the farmer, and I think that the elevators are quite able to pay it; and so long as I have the administration of the Grain Act I propose that they shall pay something for the privileges that they enjoy. But so far as the fees charged the farmers are concerned, whether in the country elevators, the elevators in the West or the terminal elevators the farmers pay not one single tenth of a cent more than they paid before.

My hon. friend from Huntingdon (Mr. Robb) asks what will be the storage rates. I have already answered that the storage rates have not been settled. They will certainly not be greater than the rates at present in force in Fort William. Whether they shall be less or not will depend upon the opinion of the Grain Commission. I may say that while, as minister, I am responsible in the end, yet I have thrown absolutely their full share of the responsibility for these matters upon the Grain Commission. They are three men whom I believe to be good men and capable. They are in the business and all the time they are going, up and down the whole line of transport and amongst the people who are engaged in this business. I think they have the best opportunity of examination and of reaching conclusions, and I stand by the Grain Commission. I do not think there is a single thing yet in which I have been at cross purposes with them. I think they know better what ought to be carried out than I do. At the same time, I do not abdicate my position as being responsible and there is very little that the Grain Commission does that I do not discuss with them in one form or another.

Topic:   CANADA GRAIN ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

James Alexander Robb

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

The statement from the minister that the storage rates will not be greater than the rates at Fort William will not afford much encouragement to the grain grower or grain handler of the West. The storage rates at Fort William have been one of the grievances in the trade. For instance, they charge for winter storage one cent per month, whereas, if the grain Were on this side of the lakes it would be carried at one and one-half cent for the winter season.

If the internal elevators are to be of any considerable value for storage in the West, rates will have to be considerably reduced as compared with those at Fort William. Now, I agree largely with what the minister has said as to the value of these internal elevators in the West. One advantage will be that the crop can be handled more quickly than would be possible if the trains had to go down to Fort William and back. Another advantage will be that if these elevators are equipped with proper cleaning machinery, the grain can be cleaned in these elevatorsand the owner of the grain will

not have to pay freight on weeds and seeds that are of very small commercial value and that are not wanted in the East. I am not sure that it is good policy to give out the ideas concerning the western country that freight rates are going to be quite as bad as represented by my hon. friend from Humboldt. I noticed that the hon. minister was not in a position to correct that. I do not know where my hon. friend from Humbo'ldt gathered the idea he gave to the House. For instance, he gave a concrete case where they will have to pay a local freight from Swift Current to Moose-jaw and another from Moosejaw to Fort William. I think he has been misinformed in that.

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LIB

David Bradley Neely

Liberal

Mr. NEELY:

I did not say anyUiing

about what they had to pay; I asked if the minister had made any arrangement.

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LIB

James Alexander Robb

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

I gathered that the minister was going to take credit later on for fixing these rates. As a matter of fact, the rates had been in force for many years, and I suppose that these internal elevators will enjoy the same privileges as the millers in their elevators. Grain will be shipped on through rates to Fort William and will pay a stop-over of two cents per 100 pounds for cleaning. I think that is a reasonable charge and the farmers could hardly expect better. These are the rates going East; the rates going West are somewhat different, and they, perhaps, will have to be corrected.

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LIB
LIB
CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. G. E. FOSTER:

As to the point men-toned by my hon. friend, the feeling that the rates for storage at the terminal elevators at Fort William have been too high, we really are not in a position to under-

stand the inside workings o'f the elevator system under the established rates until we have had the experience of a full year of an elevator owned and operated by the Dominion. The Grain Commissioners, of course, are watching that matter very closely, as also is my department. At the end of the year we shall have means of estimating what are fair and reasonable charges for storage at the terminal elevators. I am not making any pronouncement at the present time. But the Grain Commissioners' report, when it comes down, will, I think, give an intimation of the views that the Grain Commission has formed in that regard. And, I may say-putting it negatively-those views are not of a tendency to increase the cost and charges at the terminal elevators. The whole matter, as my hon. friend will see, assumes an entirely different aspect as the basis for judgment concerning proper charges, when the operation of the Government elevator has proceeded for the space of one year.

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LIB
CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER:

I have not the information before me just at the present time.

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LIB
LIB
LIB

James Alexander Robb

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

One cent and a half is the maximum rate; if the grain is taken out within the winter period the rate is one-thirtieth of a cent a day.

Topic:   CANADA GRAIN ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

The Port Colborne elevator is the property of the Dominion Government. It was built by the Dominion Government at the cost of the Dominion; it has been in operation for a considerable number of years, and there ought to be adequate knowledge in the department by this time as to whether the charge at the Port Colborne elevator, which is on all-fours with the private elevators at Midland, is or is not below a reasonable figure. It is hard to make anybody understand that Government money employed at Port Colborne in the erection of an elevator should have less earning power than Government money employed in the construction of an elevator at Fort William. I think the minister has been rather slow, if I may say so, in making up his mind as to what the storage charges should be, especially when he is establishing a new policy, carrying out a new principle and making a very large expenditure of money. Without wishing to delay the committee, I take this

opportunity of emphasizing to the minister the views of the hon. member for Humboldt that the value of the interior elevators depends upon the charges made foT their use, both in respect of storage and of transportation to and from them. I am not pleased to hear the minister explain at such length and with such emphasis the additional benefits that will be conferred by reason of the elevators offering more than simple storage. It seems to me as if he were discounting a possibility of higher charges for the additional advantages that we all hope will come from the construction of these elevators. I have said before, and I am going to take the liberty of saying again, that in the face of a falling world's market of wheat; in the face of increase of production in new and competitive countries, if we are going to stay in the wheat business, we must cut our costs to the bone. This is not a matter concerning only the farmer of the West; it is a matter concerning everybody in Canada whose business is dependent directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, upon the success and expansion of wheat growing on the western prairies. If it is possible for the minister to cut the cost of storage; if it is possible for him to cut the expense connected with these interior storage elevators, it is his duty to do so, ini the interests not merely of the farmers but of the Dominion of Canada as [DOT]a whole, in order that there may be a further expansion of the wheat-growing industry on the prairies and in order that the wheat growers of the West may he able to compete in the markets of the world under the adverse conditions which are increasing from season to season. I say it is his business to cut those costs laibsolutely to the bone, and it is not going to meet the case to say that such and such charges prevail some place else; that there axe going to be special advantages in the use of these elevators and that the farmers ought, therefore, to pay ian extra special charge. If the purpose of the Government in making these expenditures and in providing these facilities is to be reached, there must be a cut of costs absolutely to the minimum.

In connection with the cost of use of these elevators, let me refer to the back-haul to whioh the minister himself has alluded. The elevators at Saskatoon and at Moose-jaw are situated about midway in the province of Saskatchewan from east to west. Very much more wheat is raised in Saskatchewan east of Moosejaw and east of Saska-

toon than west of Moosejaw and west of Saskatoon, therefore if the elevators at Saskatoon and Moosejaw aire to be used by the Wheat growers living to the east of them an additional haul to market-the backhaul of which the minister spoke-is involved. I am not dictating as to what can or what should be done, but it is perfectly clear that in respect of the wheat of eastern Saskatchewan, which has to pay a backhaul to get the benefit of these elevators, unless there is some special advantage in connection with the freight rates, these elevators are going to be of very little use to that part of the province of Saskatchewan which raises the largest proportion of the wheat of the province. This special advantage would mean a cut below the ordinary rate in respect of the wheat taking this back-haul. I do not know whether or not that is possible; I am not going to discuss that point. I merely point out that unless something of that kind is done, considerably more than half the wheat grown in the province of Saskatchewan cannot get the benefit of those elevator facilities at Saskatoon or Moosejaw excepting at a prohibitive cost.

I am sorry that the minister is not able to give us the charges that he proposes to impose for the use of these elevators. The hon. member for Huntingdon has said that there is a milling-in-transit rate on the railroads which would be available to the elevators. That is quite possible. I know that there is a milling-in-transit rate, but I also know that special charges might be be levied on grain for storage which is not levied in the case of grain for milling. There is always the posibility of an advance to the disadvantage of a new institution. I wish to emphasize the necessity, in the interests of the Government, in the interests of the reputation of the Dominion, in the interests of the country at large, and in the interests of the farmers, that this matter of cost should have the fullest attention of the minister and that the cost should be cut absolutely to the bone.

On section 2-S. 121 amended:

Topic:   CANADA GRAIN ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

James Alexander Robb

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

Will the minister explain the effect of putting 123 under the same classification as 122?

Topic:   CANADA GRAIN ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. G. E. FOSTER:

Putting 123 in clause 121 will bring public elevators in the East under the same supervision and control of the Grain Board as those in the West and as terminal elevators are under. A public

elevator, as my hon. friend knows, is one that receives for storage and transit grain which has been certificated at Fort William, and which passes through on its way to the ultimate market. It has been felt for a number of years, and the Grain Commission have been very insistent on this, that there should be more supervision and control over the grain after it leaves Fort William and until it reaches the seaboard. The purpose of the inclusion of section 123 in clause 121 is simply to give the same authority and supervision and control over the eastern public elevator as there is over the terminal elevator. The purpose is to endeavour to keep intact the quality of the grain as it is certificated at Fort William or Port Arthur until it reaches the ultimate market.

Topic:   CANADA GRAIN ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

James Alexander Robb

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

As I understand the section reads:

No person owning, managing, operating or otherwise interested in a terminal elevator shall huy or sell grain at any point in the eastern or western inspection division.

As I understand, if this clause is adopted owners of public elevators will come under this prohibition, they will be deprived of the privilege which they now have of buying grain in the western division. Is that right?

Topic:   CANADA GRAIN ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Section agreed to. On section 3-exception in case of terminal elevators:


CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. G. E. FOSTER:

Section 3 is simply the exception of terminal elevators from the car clause. It would be impossible to carry on the work of a terminal elevator at Fort William under the restriction of the car clause. The clause that will govern them will be No. 133.

At one o'clock the committee took recess.

The committee resumed at three o'clock.

On section 3-terminal elevators:

Topic:   CANADA GRAIN ACT AMENDMENT.
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May 12, 1914