May 9, 1919

CASE OF ESDRAS BERUBE.


On the Orders of the Day:


L LIB

Charles Arthur Gauvreau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. GAUVREAU:

Now that the hon. Solicitor General (Mr. Guthrie) is in his seat, may I be permitted to ask that he will recommend to the clemency of His Excellency the Governor General the case of a young farmer of Temiscouata, Esdras Berube-who was shot and wounded and spent two months-

Topic:   CASE OF ESDRAS BERUBE.
Permalink
UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

This is a request which should be conveyed in the ordinary course by letter. It is not a matter of policy and should not be brought up on the Orders of the Day.

Topic:   CASE OF ESDRAS BERUBE.
Permalink
L LIB

Charles Arthur Gauvreau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. GAUVREAU:

It is such a bad case that I shall insist on putting my question if allowed.

Mr. iSPEAKER: The hon. gentleman's request must take the course I suggest.

Topic:   CASE OF ESDRAS BERUBE.
Permalink
L LIB

SUPPLY.


The House again in Committee of Supply -Mr. Boivin in the Chair. Government shipbuilding programme-amount required for the construction of vessels in ac, cordance with the Government programme, $30,000,000.


L LIB

Charles Murphy

Laurier Liberal

Mr. MURPHY:

In the discussion yesterday, the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries (Mr. Ballantyne) was good enough to give the Committee certain information with regard to the carrying out of the obligations assumed by the Dominion Steel Company in connection with the contract that was referred to. May I now inquire if the hon. gentleman will tell the Committee how much money was expended by the Steel Company in fulfilling their obligations under the contract up to the most recent date in regard to which the hon. gentleman has information?

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE (Minister of Marine):

I am sorry I cannot give my hon. friend (Mr. Murphy) the information that he has asked for. The buildings are only partially up and I have asked the Dominion Steel Corporation to let me know how much money they have expended. For the moment I have not the information, but it cannot be a very large sum.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

il would like to know

positively from the hon. gentleman if, in any of the pourparlers which he has had of late with the representatives of the company, these gentlemen have agreed to have the terms of the contract altered if need be.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

I thought I made

that quite clear yesterday in answer to the hon. member (Mr. Lemieux). Last week the President and the Vice-president of the company met me in a very broad and generous spirit. If we do not modify the contract in conformity with the present price of steel in the United States the Government are at liberty to cancel it. The matter is not yet settled, the negotiations are still going on, but when they are finished I will be glad to give the particulars to the House.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

In so far as this mill is concerned, I would certainly urge upon

the minister the desirability of seeing that it is erected and put into operation. I think every Canadian will say that we should have a plate-producing mill in Canada somewhere, and if we are to have it at all I 'think we should have it in connection with one of the big institutions of that class. The biggest steel-producing plant in Canada to-day is the Dominion Steel Corporation. There may be bigger ones later on, but at the present moment that is the largest in Canada producing steel of the very best class, as has been shown by what they were supplying during the war and what they have been doing in rail production. I think the Dominion Steel Company have produced as good a rail as is produced anywhere on the American continent. It was well understood last year, and I think it is still understood, that the Government were to build that plate mill and that arrangements had been completed for that purpose. The mere fact that a difference has arisen in price one way or the other is not a sufficient reason to disturb the policy agreed upon by the Government, considering that the production of steel plates within our own borders is such an important matter to the whole country. These plates are to be produced at tide water. The mill willlje within a stone's throw of tide water of Sydney harbour, from where both coasts and inland by rail can be supplied. The ships are to be built in Halifax, and by steamers from the shores of Sydney harbour to Halifax the transportation of these plates is not a difficult proposition. It would be better, one would think, if both were going on at the same place, and the natural place for shipbuilding would be Sydney harbour, but the Government have decided otherwise, and they having so decided, I have no criticism to offer. But I certainly think it would be a retrograde movement to abandon the idea of producing these plates, and I trust the minister will determinedly carry forward the policy upon which he launched in connection with the erection of a mill. I am glad to find that Mr. Workman, president of the company, has met him in a conciliatory and businesslike spirit on that point, and I hope that nothing will interfere with an advanced programme in connection with shipbuilding and the furnishing of facilities for producing plate within our own country.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
L LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Laurier Liberal

Mr. J. H. SINCLAIR:

Would the minister be good enough to state what he estimates the price of the plates will be to the Government at Sydney under the contract?

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

I am very glad indeed to hear from the leader of the Opposition the words of commendation that he has been good enough to utter in regard to the contract made between the Government and the Dominion Steel Corporation to manufacture two hundred and fifty thousand tons of ship's plate. The best price for the Government that could be agreed upon over a year ago' was $4.15 per hundred pounds, based upon the price at which steel billets were selling at that time, viz: $25.50 per ton. Hon. members no doubt are aware that ship's plates are made from steel billets, and in talking with the president of the company I learned that steel billets would not in any event decline in price more than $10 a ton. When the Government entered into that contract with the steel corporation it was as a war project; as I stated in the House yesterday you could not get steel from the United States; and notwithstanding the fact that we had placed an eighty thousand ton contract there, we were only able to obtain six thousand tons. Other countries at war, such as Britain and France were depending on the United States for stqgl, and Japan was also getting steel from that country. The United States, having a huge mercantile marine programme themselves to carry out, naturally were going to serve their own necessities first before they supplied the needs of others; therefore, to make shipbuilding a self-contained industry in Canada, and to enable this country to get ships during the period of the war, it seemed to the Government that there was no other course open but to enter into the best contract we could to have the steel plates made here. It is greatly to the credit of the steel corporation that they were able to place before the Government a more favourable proposal than we could get from' the United States. Another thing in its favour, and which is gratifying from a patriotic point of view, is that the ore used by the steel company to make the pig iron originates in British territ'ory, and comes from Newfoundland, so that all the materials used in production are obtained on British soil. But after the armistice had been signed, the price of ship's plates being 2| cents in the States, against possibly a minimum price of $3.75 under the Dominion Steel Company's contract and the Government 'being obligated to take no less than fifty thousand tons per year for a period of five years, making two hundred and fifty thousand tons in all, it seemed to my colleagues and

to me that we could not very well afford to pay that price. The arrangement looked very favourable a year ago when plates were selling at from four to ten cents a pound, but it does not look so favourable now.

I quite agree with the leader of the Opposition that to make Canada's shipbuilding programme permanent, the industry must be on a self-contained basis in this country, and that we ought to make our own ship's plates. I am quite satisfied that the Dominion Steel Corporation could carry out the contract, and I am also well satisfied that Sydney is a very good point at which to make these plates. No definite conclusion has yet been arrived at, but the company fairly stated that if they had completed their plant and installed the machinery necessary it would have been at a capital cost of 15,000,000. Therefore, if they are to meet the American price it would take them many years before they could do so, and possibly they might never be able to write off the initial cost ol the plant, or a portion of it. If the Steel Company would give us a more favourable price, the Government would be more inclined to go on with the proposition than it is to cancel it. If, however, the company cannot see their way clear to modify the price, I think it is in the best interests of the country to cancel the contract.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
L LIB

William Duff

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

The minister has told us

that the Government has only received delivery so far of six thousaiid tons out of the eighty thousand tons contracted for. I understood him to say yesterday that the contract with the United States was based on a price of 31 or 31 cents per pound?

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

3J cents.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink
L LIB
UNION

Charles Colquhoun Ballantyne (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Unionist

Mr. BALLANTYNE:

Replying to the hon. member yesterday, I had the privilege of informing him, in regard to the forty-five ships under contract for the Dominion Government, that the prices were based, not on the contract made with the Dominion Iron & Steel Company, but on the agreement made with ithe United States at 3J cents per pound. I also stated yesterday that the Steel Corporation had not imported any of the required machinery at all. All they have done so far has been to partially erect the building; it contains no plant in the way of machinery, engines, and boilers.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Permalink

May 9, 1919