Will the minister
Motion agreed to, and Bill read the first [DOT]time. At six o'clock the House took recess. After Recess. The House resumed at eight o'clock.
On motion of Hon. C. C. Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries) Bill No. 15, to amend the Montreal Harbour Advances Act, 1914, was read the second time and the House went into Committee thereon, the Deputy Speaker in the Chair. On section 1-C. 41 of 1914 amended so that advance of $9,000,000 may also be used to pay $300,000 of debentures maturing in 1918.
Will the minister
When this Bill was introduced, the member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux) asked me to advise him what the programme of the harbour commissioners of Montreal would be for the season of 1918. Following the rigid policy ol economy that the Union Government is putting in force, I am holding down as well as I can the expenditure on the port of Montreal for the coming season. The harbour commissioners, subject to my approval, propose to spend during the coming season a total of only $220,000. Their intention is to continue the Montreal harbour system of railways further down the harbour in order to supply the various industries there and new ones which we hope will be located. That is estimated to cost $150,000. Then there is an amount of $15,000 for roadways and railway tracks on wharves. The dredging that will be required in connection with this extension of harbour railways is estimated to cost $50,000. Then there is $5,000 for electric system, power and lighting, making a total expenditure for the coming season of
$220,000. In 1917 the Harbour Commissioners of Montreal spent a total of $705,000; in 1916, $1,237,918.31; in 1915, $1,922,581.69. The hon. gentleman will see, therefore, that the amount we propose to spend for the coming year is very small compared with the amounts spent in previous years. In addition to the $220,000 expenditure to which I have alluded, an amount of $300,000 will be available to retire the debentures that this Bill calls for.
The committee will be very much interested in the statement which has just been made by the Minister of Marine and Fisheries. No work is more familiar to my hon. friend than the work of the Montreal Harbour Commission. Indeed, if I should express regret it is that my hon. friend is not still at the head of that commission rather than in the bad company in which he now finds himself. But, to be serious, while we are speaking of improvements at the harbour of Montreal, may I ask my hon. friend if precautions are being taken in all ports of Canada where munitions are stored to avoid any such disaster as that which occurred at Halifax last December? I am informed by an authority whom my hon. friend knows well- the harbour master of Montreal-that during several months of the year the city of Montreal is exposed to the same danger as that which brought about the disaster which took place at Halifax.
I myself have seen the shells and other munitions there. It seems to me that any such danger can be obviated if proper precautions are taken. The people of Montreal and of other ports through which shells are being shipped look upon the minister to prevent in the future the recurrence of what has happened in the past.
I deeply sympathize and so does the Government, with those who suffered by the terrible disaster which overtook the city of Halifax on December . 6th last. So far as the port of Montreal is concerned, one of my first acts when I became minister was to call the Harbour Commissioners of Montreal to Ottawa and to give them the most explicit and clear instruction that for the coming year no high explosive should he stored or loaded in the centre of the port of Montreal, or in what might be more properly termed the congested area. I have arranged that during the coming year all high explosives will be loaded many miles east of congested portion of the Harbour, in what is known as opposite Pointe aux Trembles. That is another reason why we are extending the
railway tracks down there. A special shed is being built for that purpose, and every precaution is being taken to avoid accident. I am also having expert navigators draw up very carefully prepared rules for the guidance of munition ships entering the port of Montrea/1 or any other of the seaports on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. With the precautions that are being taken in the matter of loading high explosives and the providing of rigid rules for the guidance of munition vessels and all other ships entering seaports, we hope to avoid any such unfortunate disaster as that which took place at Halifax.
I observe that the first item of $150,000 covers the greater part of the proposed expenditure during next season. To what service will that item be specifically applied?
The Harbour Commissioners of Montreal have their own traffic department; that is to say, all the railways bring their loaded freight cars to a certain point and then the Harbour Commissioners' traffic department, with their own engines, pick up the cars and place them at the various sheds throughout the harbour, or take them further east, as may be required.
On their own rails?
Yes. Prior to the Harbour Commissioners doing that, the port of Montreal was very much congested, because the large railway companies very often used, the harbour terminals as their own railway terminals and thereby very seriously blocked the traffic. When I was a member of the Montreal Harbour Commission my colleagues and I organized what was known as a traffic department. We bought our own engines and had our own expert men to handle the traffic and I think they handled considerably over 100,000 ears during the first season. The Harbour Commissioners have now extended the railway quite a considerable distance ibelow the Vickers' shipbuilding yard, and this $150,000 is to continue it further east so as to serve the large industries that are located in that district.
Approximately how far
The railway at the present time goes down, if my memory serves me aright, about one mile below the Vickers' works, and it is the intention to extend it-I cannot give the exact mileage,
but I should say a couple, and possibly three miles.
Section agreed to. Bill reported.
The House in Committee of Supply, Mr. Boivin in the Chair. Civil Government-Department of Finance and Treasury Board, salaries and contingencies, $203,212.50.
Will the Acting Minister of Finance kindly explain the increases in the various departments?
Mr. A. K. MACLEAN:
There have been no additions to the staff of the department, so that the number of employees in this department is exactly the same as last year, and the increases in salaries are due to statutory increases. Hon. gentlemen will remember that at the last session of Parliament an Act was passed granting an increase of $100 to the second and upward divisions.
A flat increase?