May 2, 1916

CON

Robert Rogers (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROGERS:

Did they not assist in .some way in the earlier days?

Mr. PUGSLEY; I do not think so.

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CON

Robert Rogers (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROGERS:

I know that in the case of S't. John the people contributed very largely some years ago to the development of their national port with a view of attracting the trade of the country to it. St. John is looked upon as our gre'at winter outlet, at all events for the western provinces, and it was the duty of the Government to undertake the construction, for example, for the harbour improvements at Courtenay bay. A contract was let'for something like $7,500,000, the works in connection with which are now in course of construction. The only regret we have is that this

work has not been carried on more rapidly. Take the port of iSt. John as an example. That port is in a very congested condition to-day. Two or three times more shipping is being handled there to-day than at any previous time in its history. We are behind in the development of our national ports. The same thing applies to Quebec. Quebec is a great port and one on whose development a very considerable sum has been spent. It is a port that properly should be developed and will continue to be developed, by the Government of the country. That principle has been recognized by both Governments in the past, and I am sure will be in the future, as the trade of our country grows. Then take the port of Montreal. What my hon. friend has said of that port is quite correct. But I do not know that ports developed in this manner really save very much money in the end to the Canadian people, as the charges incidental to the handling of freight through such a port as that are somewhat of a drawback to the general interest. The same thing applies in the case of Toronto, which is a great inland shipping port and a very large and growing city, the second largest in .Canada. There are at Toronto great possibilities for the development of an inland port. An estimate has been made by those interested in the city for the expenditure of something like $24,000,000, and the Government of Canada are contributing only $5,000,000 in connection with the portion of the work they have undertaken. Then at Port Arthur and Fort William, where we have probably the largest shipping port in the Dominion of Canada to-day, a great deal of money has been spent in the past and, of necessity, large sums will continue to be spent from year to year at that port because the industries are developing there. We have large elevators at Fort William and Port Arthur, and a great amount of dredging will be required from time to time to keep up with the development of the trade. Similar conditions exist in Vancouver. This is probably the second largest ocean port in Canada to-day, yet very little money had been spent there until a few years ago. It will be the duty of the Canadian people to contribute a considerable sum to the assistance of that particular port as a national port.

The development of our national ports is properly the duty of the Canadian Government and of the Canadian people, and must be carried on if Canada is to become the

great country we expect it to be. It is not a matter of assistance to particular localities, not a matter of Ideal conditions in Halifax, or in St. John, or in Quebec, or in Toronto, or in any other place; it is a matter for the common good of the whole people of the Dominion of Canada, who are interested in the development of the traffic of our country. It is for this purpose and to this end that large sums are being spent to keep pace with the development of trade at these ports through the construction of the different transcontinental railways we have already built. For example, we will have to assist to some extent in the development of a port at Prince Rupert, to meet the requirements of the terminus of the Grand Trunk Pacific at that point.

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CON

Robert Rogers (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROGERS:

A very fine natural harbour, a splendid harbour in that sense. All of these are works that are necessary in the public interest, and the only fault that could be found by the Canadian people generally and those interested in the traffic and in the development of our country, is that we are rather behind in the development of our national ports than in advance of the requirements. My hon. friend must bear in mind that it will be necessary, for some years to come, for this Parliament to be called upon, session after session, to vote large sums of money to provide the necessary assistance to develop those ports in order to keep pace with the growing traffic and growing conditions that are bound to follow in the course of the development of a young and growing country such as our Dominion of Canada.

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LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR:

My hon. friend has made an interesting speech, but he has not answered my question. I do not wish to be understood as opposing the development of our national ports. I feel as

11 p.m. much interested in that question as my hon. friend, and I should be very glad to support any policy towards, that end, and have always done so. What I wanted to know from my hon. friend was whether the Government has any policy on which they spend and propose to spend these large sums of money. Is it all done by rule of thumb, or are we to have any system about it? Are we going to develop one port and leave out the others, or are we going to insist on the port itself bearing some part of the expense of its development? I think we should. I think the system my hon. friend refers to

as being followed in the city of Toronto is a good one. He says the development of that port will cost $24,000,000, and that $5,000,000 of that money will be furnished by this Government. If that is the basis on which the expenditures are to be made I have no objection. That is about one dollar in five furnished by this Government. But is that the policy in Quebec and Halifax? We are told that Halifax as a city has not contributed anything towards the development of that port. The city of Montreal has contributed large sums towards the development of the harbour of Montreal, and the city of St. John has likewise contributed to the development of the harbour of St. John in a large measure. Has the Government any policy to cover the whole question? Will they formulate any policy such as we have in regard to the subsidizing of railways? When a railway oomes to the Government for a subsidy the Government tell the company that if it will build a railway costing $15,000 a mile the Government will contribute $3,200 a mile; if the company builds a railway costing $20,000 or $25,000 a mile, the Government will double that subsidy. We know then what our liability is, and I think we should have some system of that kind in regard-to the development of our national ports. Otherwise there will be no end to the money that will be asked for. These commissioners at the various ports will always want money, as my hon. friend says. There will be asked, year after year, millions and millions of dollars for the development of these ports. If the Government could devise some system by which part of the expense will be borne by the people in the cities at the ports, and the shipping trade will contribute a certain amount then we will be able to conduct the public business in some kind of a systematic way. The minister told us some interesting things about the development of the various ports which we all know, but he has not told us whether the Government have arrived at any system by which they are going to distribute this money in the future.

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CON

Robert Rogers (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROGERS:

I think my hon. friend

will appreciate the fact that it would be very difficult to have any fixed policy that would have the same application at the various ports in Canada. Take the port at Halifax. It is the terminus of the Intercolonial railway, and that railway undertakes the development of the port in which it has a direct interest. In the case of St.

John, th'e situation is rather different. The St. John people undertook, through their own enterprise in the early days, to spend a large sum in the development of that particular port; they feel that they have contributed their share, and now that there is necessity for the development of St. John as a national port for the common good of the people of Canada, it becomes the duty of the Canadian people to contribute largely in the development of that particular port. The same applies to the city of Quebec, although there the harbour commission has the matter in hand, and is spending large sums of money in the development of that port under conditions similar, at all events, to some extent, to those at the port of Montreal. Of course, in the case of the city of Toronto, that port is not so much a national port as are the ports of St. John, Halifax and Quebec, by reason of the fact that it is an inland port. Therefore, the Harbour Board of Toronto are undertaking perhaps a larger share of the expense of developing that port. When you go to Fort William, the conditions are different. The people of Fort William and Port Arthur are not so specially interested in the development of their ports by reason of the fact that it is required for the carrying of the grain of the country, and has to be developed by the central government of the country if we are to have the accommodation for the carrying of our grain. Vancouver is a great national port, and a harbour commission has been established there. I am in hopes that we will not have to, spend so much money there, and that the work will be undertaken by the harbour board and carried out by them within a very short period. They have started now, and they give promise of being a board capable of carrying out the development of that national port in a manner that will be very satisfactory to all and a credit to the city of Vancouver. So that my hon. friend can see that it would be impossible, or next to impossible, to have any set policy or fixed arrangement for all the ports. Conditions and circumstances vary at the different ports, which have to be dealt with upon their individual merits. I do not find that there is much criticism, or much jealously or complaint in regard to the treatment of the different ports of Canada. The people interested in them have studied and understand the development of the sister ports, and I have yet to. hear much complaint' as to favoritism, or as to larger sums being spent on the development 211

of one port than upon another. It has been the general policy of all governments to develop the ports as rapidly as possible in keeping with the public, interest and without any set plan or set policy. I do not think a fixed plan would be workable owing to the diversified conditions which prevail at the different national ports at the present time.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

I am very glad that my hon. friend from Guysborough (Mr. Sinclair) brought this question up. It is well to have it discussed, and I think it was desirable that the Minister should take the opportunity to make the statement he has made with regard to our national harbours. There is one matter which, I think, ought to be kept in mind; that is, that it is desirable in the interests of Canadian trade to keep the harbour charges, anchorage dues and other charges ordinarily imposed on shipping, to as low a figure as possible. When I was Minister of Public Works, I took occasion to send Mr. Coste, who had been a long time connected with the department, to Europe, to visit the most important harbours there, and I remember he spoke particularly of the port of Hamburg, which is practically a free port where there are no harbour dues, and where the trade had grown with wonderful rapidity, largely as the result of there being no harbour dues which are generally regarded as more or less a burden on shipping. When I was minister, I adopted what I thought was a very good plan, and I am glad to see that the present minister has followed it; that is, when the Government decides that a harbour has attained such proportions as may be regarded of a national character, any expenditures upon works of that character should be placed in the capital account. That was a very good change, and it will be found on page 56 that the expenditures for Halifax, St. John, Quebec, Toronto, Port Arthur and Fort William, Vancouver and Victoria are all chargeable to capital account.

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William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

Yes, Toronto is a national harbour. I think I was the first to put it in capital account, and I did so for the reason that there are large manufactories in Toronto and there is an enormous trade between that city and the prairies.

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CON
LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

The expense of improving them is such that the expenditures might fairly be charged to capital account, as distance from the expenditures on small harbours throughout the country where * wharves are built. In respect to these great harbours, I think that the expenditures should be charged to capital account, and I am very glad that the minister has. followed that principle.

With regard to St. John, the'people there, when they were making a great fight some years ago, the first fight that was ever made in Canada to divert the traffic from Portland in the state of Maine to a Canadian port, met with great disappointment and discouragement, and they had to put their hands in their pockets and spend close upon a million dollars in providing the requisite deep water accommodation in the hope that the Canadian trade would be diverted to St. John in the winter season. The experiment proved a great success. The winter port business 'has developed with enormous rapidity, hut in St. John we think that the harbour duee are somewhat of a burden on shipping, and we are hoping that the time will soon come when the Government of Canada will recognize that the port should be taken over and made a free port. We believe in St. John that this is the true way to develop our harbours and that when the Government recognizes that a harbour has attained proportions of a national character, and .that its development is of national importance, that harbour ought to be taken over by the Government and made free. That view has been presented over and over again in this Parliament during the past-15 years, and has been generally accepted. It was favoured by the commission which' was appointed under the late Government, and which made a very valuable report, and I am looking forward to the -day when that idea will be carried out. I am glad

to see that the Minister of Public Works the dues are sufficient to enable the har-

So far as Montreal is concerned, of course the shipping there is very large, and the dues are sufficient to enable the Harbour Commissioners to pay the interest, but, although they have a harbour commission at Quebec, and although the commissioners borrowed money, if I remember rightly, they have not been able to pay the interest, and the Government has practically, remitted the interest, and very properly so. That has been done for a number of years past, because if an attempt were made to exact the interest it would prove a very great burden on the shipping of the city of Quebec. As I have said, it is a very good rule to treat national harbours as being in the national interest, and they should be made, as far as possible, free to the general commerce of the country.

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LIB
CON

Robert Rogers (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROGERS:

The Harbour Commissioners get the dues, and the Harbour Commissioners at the various ports are under the direct control of the Government. Whatever property they own indirectly belongs to the Government and the rates they charge are fixed by the Government.

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May 2, 1916