April 15, 1918

?

An hon. MEMBER:

They will require

more protection.

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UNION

Robert Hamilton Butts

Unionist

Mr. BUTTS:

They will require more

protection from their own follies. Labour is another great problem there, and it is certainly hard to understand how, under present circumstances, we can supply an adequate quantity of labour. We do not wish to see an inferior class of people brought into the country. We want the country to remain the white man's country. We do not want to see coolie or Chinese labour brought in. We wish to see the standard of our population maintained as high as it is at present and, if possible, improved. The only solution I can see for the difficulty is to encourage production by having cheap mining machinery, as suggested by my hon. friend from Pictou (Mr. McGregor). Cheap mining machinery is something over which, as has been stated, the Government has no control, as at the present time there is no duty upon it. I wish to refer to some of the very peculiar statements that have been made. Great Britain, before free trade, was starving. The miners of Nova Scotia, before protection, were not very far from the mark. I wonder if my hon. friend can explain the paradox. It is a strange thing that but a short time ago an auditor was sent down to some of our mines in Cape Breton -I speak now for the consuming public generally. This auditor, on his return, stated that the Acadia 'Coal Company, for instance, was selling coal at the rate of $6.35 a ton net, run of mine. He made the further statement that the company was losing $1.50 a ton at that price. It may be very generous on the part of the Acadia Coal Company to supply the community at large with coal at a loss of $1.50 a ton, but such generosity, if it exists, is something that I should like to see ex-

plained. I should like, at the same time, any person to explain to me how it ,is that the cost of production of coal in any mine in Nova Scotia ever came to even $4 a ton. I have been buying coal now for a very considerable length of time, and I have yet to put in my cellar the first ton of coal that ever cost me $4.50. At present I can put coal in my cellar at $3.60 a ton, and the coal company is not selling at a loss. Yet this auditor tells us that he has set a price for them of $6.35 per ton of 2,000 pounds. It is not very long ago since the Dominion Coal Company was able to put over their wharves at Sydney, after transporting it by rail for 17 miles from their mine, coal at $1.12 a ton. The only way the problem can be explained is that the companies down theTe took this auditor out for a walk.

I think perhaps the only real suggestion I have heard in the course of this debate, with reference to the coal product of eastern Canada, came from my hon. friend from Pictou (Mr. McGregor) who suggested that this Government get in touch with the Nova Scotia government and see if some changes could not be made in the mining laws of that province to change the leases and facilitate the mining of coal, and perhaps remove a great many of the obstructions the coal cfompanies have had to contend with up to the present time. There is considerable talk in the newspapers from time to time about a merger between the Dominion Iron and Steel Company and the Nova Scotia Coal and Steel Company. I do hot know whether it is likely to come to anything or not, nor do I care just now to say whether on general grounds it would be a good thing or not, but I do say that it would at least be a cure for the interlacing of leases, and in that way might materially increase the production of coal. Possibly the conscripting of labour might be looked into when we are considering what can be done to increase the production of coal in this country. There is room for a great many more mine hands and coal workers. The occupation, of course, requires a very considerable amount of skill, particularly the underground work, and it occurred to me, when our western friends were talking about their miners working only one-half or one-third or one-quarter time, that perhaps the best remedy might be for them to send down to eastern Canada a lot of their very best miners, and we will give them employment the year round.

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UNION

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Unionist

Sir GEORGE FOSTER (Minister of Trade and Commerce):

I am not going to make any extended remarks, but it seems

necessary to say a word or two in this debate. The speakers have travelled over wide ground, and I am not going to follow them, especially along the lines of a free trade or protectionist discussion. We never would know the particular virtue in my hon. friend from Red Deer (Mr. Michael Clark) unless in the course of his speech he drew a little from the fountain head and source of the economic instruction which he got in Old England before he came to ..this country. We would lose a great deal of his fire and vigour and peculiar force if he did not drink of that fountain and give us the results of the stimulation gained therefrom. After all, my hon. friend from Red Deer must on'e in a while settle back and think something like this: Is it possible that all the rest of the world opposed to me is wrong and that I, with those who agree with me, am the only one who is right? He has had a long period in which to indoctrinate the gentlemen on the other side of the House, and with all his vigour he has attempted also to indoctrinate the gentlemen on this side; but I think it will be a long, long while before, he gets every one to agree with him that his particular brand of economics is the only true and genuine one. However, I am not going to carry on the discussion along the lines of free trade or protection, because that is not particularly the thing for us to consider at this time. We have come up against a set of circumstances in our country into which very many different factors enter, and we cannot ;see the whole question properly unless we take a pretty broad view of all the facts. To simply take one and follow it up and found an argument on that will lead us, I think, to a mistaken conclusion. It is very difficult indeed for us to get an all-round view and come to the proper conclusion to be drawn from such a view, but I am just going to mention two or three things that occurred to me during the. debate.

Some one raised the question as to what the fuel controller was appointed for, and came to the conclusion that his chief duty was to stimulate and increase the production of coal. Now I do not think that was the object in view in appointing the fuel controller. We are peculiarly situated here. Bring out all the coal we possibly can from west, middle and east, but such are the circumstances of this country as regards distance and transport that unless we have a large importation of coal from the United States we shall have difficulties before the season is over.

In that country, to which we look for a surplus of coal to make up our deficit of fifteen or sixteen million tons, there are also peculiar conditions. My hon. friend from Montreal thinks the -whole thing would be solved by -taking the duty off coal and letting it come .into Montreal and other parts of Canada free. So far as preventing a shortage of coal in this country is -concerned, that would not affect the present situation one single bit because the trouble in the United States is to -get the supply of coal that we require to keep up the motive-power of our industries and the warmth of our dwellings. So whether there

was a duty ox not, it would not help to provide that amount in the United States which we require. The fuel controller was primarily appointed to -see by all possible fair means that we so put our case before the United States authorities that we -would receive an allotment of some 16,000,000 tons of coal a year for every year this war is on. That was his primary duty; that duty he set himself to perform, and that duty both last year and this he has absolutely well and perfectly performed. I would like the House to remember that. Unless we had succeeded in putting our case in such a way, and arranging matters in such a way, that the United States might use that allocation, we would have been in very great trouble and at very great disadvantage. We have certainly been saved from that position, first, by the eminently fair and sympathetic way in which the United States authorities have met us, and, secondly, by the way in which-and I think the perfectly good and reasonable way in which

Mr. Magrath, the fuel controller, approached the United States authorities, and put Canada's case before them. As to that part of his duty, I do not think any hon. member in this House who has any spirit of fairness at all-and we all have that-will find any fault with the fuel controller. Outside of that, the duty of the fuel controller was, as far as possible, to see th-at the distribution of this imported coal went to the districts that needed it, in such equitable and fair proportions as would give to each district its due, without congesting any, or starving others. In that respect., I think the fuel controller's exertions have been rewarded with success. Remember it was not the duty of the fuel controller to pick up a ton of coal somewhere in the United States -and land it in the cellar of the man in Canada who wanted to bum it. He was to provide the coal, so that it could toe available for the transport man, and the merchant to bring -away, so

that the importer and the dealer rvonld have his supply of coal. It was not Mr. Magrath's duty at all to provide for the transport of that coal, and I think he has been somewhat unfairly criticised, because different transport conditions prevailed last year from those which had heretofore prevailed, and caused a great proportion of the disadvantage and confusion, and of the shortage, and in some cases the privation, which occurred in the supply of coal in this country; but in so far as the supply of coal itself was concerned, Mr. Magrath obtained last year for Canada within a few tons as much as she had the preceding year. Some people have expressed their anxiety lest this year we should be in privation and have trouble again. If things go on

ordinarily well-the word "ordinarily" being taken in conjunction with these present disturbed conditions in both countries -and if there is not greater trouble in transport and other things than last year, Canada will get her allotment from the United States for the year 1918-19, and the fuel controller will see to it, as he did last year, that that coal is equitably, rationably and reasonably distributed "where it is wanted. Then, outside of the duty of making provision for the imported coal, and the distribution of it, it is also the duty of the fuel controller to control as far ias he reasonably can the prices, and he is given authority by Order in Council to fix the prices, and. the principle upon which prices are fixed is exactly the principle upon which prices are fixed in the United States. As far as is possible, the fuel controller there, as here, gete at the cost of production in the several mines, and different mines have different coste of production. In the United States, as in this country, different prices are put upon the coal as it is produced from different mines, because of these generic differences in the mines themselves. The principle is this: You find the cost of production and then allow reasonable amount for the profit of the distributor, seeing that distributors do not multiply the profits, one from the other, and the profit of the producer. The fuel controller of this country is carrying out the same principle, and he is fixing his prices upon the very same principle as that adopted in the United States. If mines differ, and if there be faults in human agencies, as there will'be, it may very well happen that a fuel controller, attempting to fix the prices in the different sections and mines of this country, having to depend, in [DOT]the first place, upon the calculation of cost, and adding the prices Or profits that are tSir George Foster.]

reasonably allowable, may make mistakes. If he does, he has a chance to revise, but in the majority of instances it will be fair to assume that if his calculations of cost are correct, then, as a matter of course, the prices that are fixed, with the reasonable profits added to the cost, will be what may be called reasonable and equitable .prices. With reference to production, not only has the fuel controller these principal objects in mind, tout he is doing every thing that one man can possibly do to speed up production. But his powers of speeding up production are not as large as they possibly might be, and it may very well happen that one fuel controller is not able to handle the wdiole business that I have been talking about, and at the same time effect what my hon. friend from Cape Breton (Mr. McGregor) describes as a "speed-up." I cannot speak from an intimate knowledge of the whole mining industry, and my statements are merely impressions, but from what I have learned during the last two years, I think there is need for more co-ordination and for some general principle of directive power to be brought to bear upon the coalmining industry in this country, to make sure that coal mining is carried on in a scientific way, with a due regard to economy of production, and to scientific methods of production. There are also, I am led to believe-and I think it may be true-certain anomalies iin the relation of certain coalmining companies to other coal-mining companies, and if what has been stated here as to the matter of salaries is correct, it may very well be that there is some anomaly in that respect, and we ought to have some overhand directive power to correct it, if it is necessary to do that. I think that a fair method of co-operation between the provincial authorities in Nova Scotia, which have so much to do with mines and have such an interest in them, and the Dominion authorities might very well be aimed at, in order to get at the best result. We have on the 17th of this montlh a conference of all the operators of labour connected with the industry, and of transport people connected with the carrying and distribution of coal here in the city of Ottawa. That has been called for the purpose of taking the whole question into consideration and arriving at some method by which better results than we have had hitherto may be obtained for this year and succeeding years. But we must remember that we have difficulties iin labour, difficulties in transport and difficulties in distribution in this country. It is impossible for us to forget it when

we are taking this whole question into consideration. In reference to what the Government should do, or may do, we all know that there is a good deal said that is very general in its character.

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UNION

John Carey Douglas

Unionist

Mr. J. C. DOUGLAS:

I would like to ask the right hon. gentleman if he can inform the House as to what the estimated increase in production is in the United States for 1918 as compared with 1917?

.Sir GEORGE FOSTER: I could give my hon. friend only a general idea. In the United States, from circumstances that have arisen there, they require at least one hundred million tons more to be produced this year than last year. Sc far as it goes from month to month, there is sometimes' a decrease and sometimes an increase compared with the same months of last year. I noticed just to-day that in the month of [DOT] March there was a considerable increase in anthracite coal as compared with March of last year. My impression is, however, that, on the whole, they will have an increased production in the United States this year, if things go as smoothly as they hope in labour and in transport matters, of fifty million tons, and they are trying to eliminate waste and restrict use so as to make a saving of another fifty million tons. But the thing changes so very rapidly from week to week and month to month that it is pretty difficult to get at anything more than a merely approximate estimate. I do not know whether I have satisfactorily answered my hon. friend, tout Is have made a dash at it.

I was speaking about the ideas that are put forward as to what the Government should do. It is such an easy thing to say that what the Government ought to do is to see that there is the greatest possible development of electrical energy, that there is the greatest possible production of gas-I mean gas for motive power purposes-that there is the greatest possible need for production of coal and for saving and the like of that. The hon. member for Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux) is anxious that the people should be taught to gather wood and burn that. Excellent advice, but the Government is not able to do all these things.

Some arguments fell from hon. gentlemen this afternoon from which is deducible the idea that we should go to work and open coal mines and run them, open gas wells and run them and develop electrical poweT and things of that sort. When the Mines Branch was under discussion there seemed

to be a drift on the part of some hon. members towards the view that the Mines Branch was to be a general operating, working and developing piece of machinery which would have money at its disposal to develop whatever mines were necessary after the deposits had been found, and that it would become a great working force. Well, I think there is some point at which we must make a stand in that respect. There are some things that Governments can do and some things that they cannot do. In this time of war jvhat this Government cannot do is to put money into the development of iron properties, or platinum properties or any other great properties and, with their own work and their own capital, develop them and sell the proceeds. It seems- to me that what the Mines Department is for is to search out diligently and find the deposits of value, explain and elucidate these, their qualities and extent, make them known generally, and then allow capital to go to work and develop them. That is the aim of the departments as they are run in Ottawa and I think in every country.

Now, the Government proposes to go a little farther than that in the matter of coal. We have heard discussed to-day the quality of the low grade lignite in Saskatchewan which, if it is amenable to the process of successful briquetting will solve the question in so far as briquetting goes for the whole of the lignite coal of Saskatchewan and Alberta. The Government proposes, in co-operation with Manitoba and Saskatchewan, to put in an experimental unit or two for producing briquettes at or near Estevan. From the investigation which was made by the Department of Mines, by the Advisory Council of Scientific Research, and after careful study by other forces and elements in the country, the conclusion has been arrived at that it is as nearly certain as it can be that there is a process by which that coal can be put into a condition where it will rival anthracite and do the work that anthracite now does. The Government in a case like that thinke that it ie justified in taking that up and, as an experiment, trying to put it upon a commercial foundation and proving its practicability. I think it will then be a matter for consideration whether it will cany it on ae a government industry, whether the local governments will carry it on as a local government industry, or whether, having demonstrated the feasibility of the procese .and opened up the field to capital, municipal, corporation or otherwise, it will be

left for the usual channels of business to develop it and carry it on.

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PRO

John Archibald Maharg

Progressive

Mr. MAHARG:

Do you propose doing

that in the near future so that we will be able to reap some benefit by next winter?

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UNION

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Unionist

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

Yes, I suppose that it will take a year to instal the whole of the equipment and get it into working order but it is the intention of the Government to organize it at once and go on with the experiment. What has been proven by laboratory work, and -what is a little more extensive than ordinary laboratory work, is that you can take this lignite at Estevan, carbonize it, put it into the shape of briquettes with a suitable binder and you can do it at a cost of somewhere between $6 and $7 per ton of briquettes. The value, as compared with anthracite, I think, is about equal. If you can do that at a cost of $7 at Estevan, you can put it into Regina at a cost which will certainly be less than that at which you can put anthracite there. Free trader or protectionist, I do not care a hang which, every man will hold up his hand for that as being good business. If you can do that out of comparatively worthless coal near your own doors and save to these three provinces $7,000,000 or $8,000,000 instead of having that money go out of your country, if you do that by developing the lignites in your own country, give the people a better coal, do away with those long hauls which are so uneconomical, and if you can get the stuff you want with a shorter haul, surely it is good business to do it. That is what the Government proposes to do in that respect. If the Government does that, and does nothing more, and if it proves to 'be a commercial success, it will have given a great boon to that country for all time to come. It will put the people out there in the position where they can have that kind of coal which is not only tidy and neat, but which is pleasing to the eye and grateful to the (body for the warmth which it gives. It will give them these advantages from the coal right in their own district, which is inexhaustible in quantity.

I do not want to prolong my remarks. I felt that it was necessary to say something with reference to the matter, particularly with reference to this last question, which is a practical thing. My own idea is that there was a great deal of wisdom in the remarks that were made 'by my hon. friend from Cape Breton, and that there is a possible way in which, gradually but surely, we may bring the coal mining industry in ' this country where it will serve our own

[Sir George Foster.!

wants and make us independent of any contretemps, any situations which might possibly arise in future as between us and other countries of supply. In a way it is a fair thing for Canada to think that the coail measures in the United States are not inexhaustible. Canada has coal measures, which, of their kind, are practically inexhaustible, and in the years of the future she will have to depend more upon herself; and it is well that this country should begin as quickly as possible to put her producing machinery in order to co-ordinate the use of coal and get along towards the point where she will supply herself.

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L LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp

Laurier Liberal

Mr. A. B. COPP (Westmorland):

I

merely wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Commerce a question. I followed him very closely in his explanation of the duties of the food controller up to the point ' where he had arranged with the United States authorities to set aside fifteen or sixteen million tons per year for the use of Canada. The controller's next step was to distribute that quantity of coal, and I would ask the minister how far the distribution goes, whether it is to the provinces, towns, or localities, and how closely the controller follows that distribution.

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UNION

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Unionist

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

He follows distribution in this way: He does not either create or call into being coal carriers or coal distributors

they are in our towns and cities and outlying places. The system of gathering information tells him about the needs of each one of these communities -what they had last year, and what they have for this year-and he sees as far as he possibly can that each one of these sections gets its reasonable quota as compared with the preceding year. That is the' way the system operates: It follows along in a natural channel, but it also is guided by the controller in the distribution to these centres of supply.

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L LIB

Arthur Bliss Copp

Laurier Liberal

Mr. OOPP:

And the dealers will look after getting their orders filled, and getting the coal to their locality?

-Sir GEORGE FOSTER: Yes. And the

controller holds a supervising power over the dealer from the time the coal gets into this country until it reaches the consumer. He holds the power of preventing unreasonable charges, and there is also this power that he has: If it so happens that in a district one part of that community may be in the way of filling its cellars while another part of the same community has but little or none, the controller has the power to say how much shall go, or the maxi-

mum quantity beyond which it shall not go; and if there is hoarding, and it comes to his knowledge that one person is suffering and has nothing and the other person has his bin full, he has power to take out from that bin and distribute a portion of the coal to the suffering one. Those are his general supervising powers.

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UNI L

John Flaws Reid

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. J. F. REID ((Mackenzie, Sask.):

I

intended to submit a question but I am very glad indeed that the Minister of Trade and Commerce, by his statement, has relieved me from the necessity of doing so. It was with reference to an item that appeared ill the Saskatoon Star of April the 10th, stating that the Dominion Govern-men, in unison with the Governments of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, were establishing a plan which the minister has just told us they have already entered into. I wish to congratulate the Government on that policy which will .be received by the people of the West with a great deal of cordiality, because we have in Saskatchewan,, as the minister said, an unlimited amount of lignite coal which should be capable of being utilized to the very greatest advantage.

I understand the fuel controller has sent orders to the coal dealers in the West not to sell to any one person more than one-thirtieth of the annual supply of coal which he requires. If such is the case it will work very great hardship in the West.

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UNION

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Unionist

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

With my hon. friend's permission I will say that I do not think there is any such regulation as that, or that any regulation is set down in that way at all, but, I think, there is general supervising power. There is another thing, if my hon. friend will excuse me for a moment: A fuel controller cannot sit at Ottawa, or any other one place, and stretch his hand over the whole of this country and look after every supply centre. He is working in conjunction and with the cooperation of the provinces, and so each province is asked to, and has consented, to appoint a fuel supervisor, and each municipality has been asked to appoint a fuel commissioner. These all work together from the place of demand in each municipality, city, town or province, as to the amount which is to be allowed, as to what may be given for one section and jnay not he given for another; and it will depend very largely upon the recommendation and thought of the one who is nearest to the centre of demand. That probably explains

50i

part of the question my hon. friend has asked.

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UNI L

John Flaws Reid

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. J. F. REID:

I am very glad to have this information. It was very plainly stated by the hon. member for Maple Creek (Mr. Maharg) that in the West during the summer months it is absolutely necessary for us to stock up with our supply of coal for the year, because at that season the freight and box cars are standing idle, and we may as well have the use of them as far as possible in bringing in coal. If transportation is interfered with and the settlers are crying out for coal in the fall when the cars should be carrying our wheat to the East, it will be a very serious thing.

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UNION

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Unionist

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

My hon. friend need not have any fear about that, because the fuel controller is just as anxious that coal shall be got in early during the summer months as any person out there could very well be.

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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

I feel it my duty to remind) hon. members that the House has not got into committee.

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UNI L

John Flaws Reid

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. J. F. REID:

I hope you will pardon me, Mr. Speaker. I am a new member of the House, and I shall be glad to be corrected at any time if I fall into error.

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UNION

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Unionist

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

It was I whom Mr. Speaker was correcting, and I deserved it too.

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UNI L

John Flaws Reid

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. J. F. REID:

I want to make a reference to the statement of the hon. member for Cape Breton (Mr. Butts), who said we did not want Chinese or coolie labour. I do not think, Mr. Speaker, that this is an opportune time to make that statement, because I understand that at the present time we have over in France some 80,000 or more Chinese labourers, and it seems to me that it does not matter very much whether they are building railroads to aid us in bringing this great war to a successful conclusion, or mining coal for us in this country. And I am afraid, Mr. Speaker, that if this war continues, Canada will be very glad to have coolie labour to do our work while our boys go to France to fight our battles. I do not think that I have anything more to say, and I am very glad indeed to hear the statement made by the Minister of Trade and Commerce in regard to the briquetting plant.

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Motion agreed to.


UNION

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Unionist

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

I am not sure whether there was any hard and fast arrangement that w* should take up any

7 tS

thing more to-night. We have spent a goodly portion of the day on this burning question, and perhaps my hon. friends opposite are satisfied to adjourn now.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

The only arrangement was that which I made with the right hon. gentleman the leader of the House at the beginning of this evening's sitting, which was that., for the time being, I should drop motion No. 5, but that I should proceed with No. 7. If we do not go any further this evening, I am afraid that the Government will be taking Mondays. If my hon. friend will say that we will have Monday next week as Private Members' day, I shall not proceed to-night.

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April 15, 1918