March 19, 1920

BANKING AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE.


Mr. W. F. COCKSHUTT (Brantford) presented the first report of the Select Standing Committee on Banking and Commerce.


OTTAWA BRANCH OF ROYAL MINT-INCREASE IN COST OF MAINTENANCE.


"Sir HENRY DRAYTON (Minister of Finance) gave notice that on Monday next he would move the House into Committee of the Whole to consider a resolution standing on the Order Paper to amend the Ottawa Mint Act by providing that the yearly payment for defraying the salaries, contingencies, retiring and other allowances and expenses connected with the maintenance of the Ottawa Branch of the Royal Mint and the refinery forming part thereof, be increased from one hundred and ten thousand dollars to two hundred thousand dollars.


LOADINGS OUT OF ELEVATORS AT FORT WILLIAM.


On the Orders of the Day:


L LIB

James Alexander Robb (Chief Government Whip)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. J. A. ROBB (Chateauguay-Hunting-don):

I desire to draw the attention of the Minister of Railways to a matter of urgent public importance. I hold in my hand a letter from a grain shipping firm in Winnipeg dated March 13, wherein there is a statement made to which I would like to know if it is a fact that there has been no coarse grain shipped out of Fort William for domestic purposes since January 5.

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UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Public Works; Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Hon. J. D. REID (Minister of Railways):

The hon. gentleman very kindly advised me that he intended to bring this matter before the House to-day and thus gave me the opportunity of getting information with respect to it. As I was coming into the House I received a letter addressed to Major Bell, deputy minister, and having instructed him to get infofmation on this subject, I take it for granted that it contains that information. I shall be glad to read the letter in order that it may go on Hansard. It is from the Chief Commissioner of the Board of Railway Commissioners, and reads as follows:

Ottawa March 19, 1920.

Dear Major Bell,-In reply to yours of yesterday re the shipment of oats from the" head of the lakes. I beg- to state that the whole story of what the hoard has done since the close of navigation would be a rather lengthy one.

Early in the season we attempted to regulate loadings out of elevators in an equitable manner to all parties concerned, and, on the 26th of December, we reoeived a telegram from Mr. Stewart, Chairman of the Wheat Board, copy of which is as follows:

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"The Canadian Pacific Railway Company through Mr. Grant Hall have assured us an all rail movement of grain from Fort William east of a minimum of one hundred and twenty-five cars per day. We would like this apportioned as follows, twenty cars for coarse grains domestic and export, forty ears for domestic wheat, sixty-five cars for export wheat to Atlantic seaboard ports including Portland and St. John. Canadian National road through Mr. Hays have assured us of minimum movement of fifty cars per day which we would like apportioned as follows, fifteen cars for ' coarse grains domestic and export, ten cars for domestic wheat, twenty-five cars for export wheat to Atlantic seaboard ports including Portland and Halifax. Undoubtedly roads can improve this movement and haul more, domestic wheat and export and domestic coarse grains than the total of eighty-five cars per day and until further advised we would like these interests benefit to the full extent of the increased movement but the sixty-five cars on Canadian Pacific and twenty-five cars on Canadian National for export wheat are irreducible daily average minimums and should take precedence over other grains. Will you be kind enough to confirm this to the railway companies accordingly."

Some discussion took place with the railways and with Mr. Stewart about issuing an order, but all parties agreed that, in so far as it was possible, 175 cars per day would be shipped out. The Wheat Board asked for a priority order for the 85 cars per day for export wheat. ThiB we declined to grant until satisfactory evidence was furnished as to dates of sailings, tonnage, etc., and, as this data has never been furnished the board, we have, therefore, refused to give a priority order; but there was a general understanding, as we understood it, between the railways, the Wheat Board, the Lake Shippers' Association, and ourselves that the percentage of different grains, both export and domestic, as set forth in Mr. Stewart's telegram would be adhered to as closely as possible. Unfortunately, the weather conditions during January and February made it impossible for the railways to furnish 175 cars per day for this particular movement, and it very soon became apparent that some interests would not ibe able to receive the amount of grain required.

In the course of a few weeks, this board became convinced that course grains were not receiving their due percentage of shipments, and, therefore, in order to see that our intentions were carried into effect, on the 30th day of January last, this board issued an order the operating portion of which is as follows:-

"That on Monday, the 2nd day of February, 1920, and- on each succeeding Monday until otherwise ordered by the board, the Canadian Pacific Railway Company provide at least one hundred and twenty-five (125) cars and the Canadian National railways at least fifty (50) cars at the elevators at Fort William and Port Arthur, in the Province of Ontario, for the receipt, handling, and carriage of grain, other than wheat, also flaxseed, for domestic use in Canada; the said cars to be allocated in proportion to the cars ordered for which the necessary documents have been surrendered."

During the next three Mondays, including February the 16th, 545 cars of domestic coarse grains, mostly oats, were shipped out, and, on

account of severe weather conditions, we .then concluded that coarse grains were receiving more than their fair percentage, the result being that, on the 19th of February, this order was 'suspended. Since that date up to the 13th. instant, 211 cars of domestic coarse grains have 'been shipped, more than 90% of which would be oats. In addition to the above statement, according to information furnished us by the Lake Shippers' Association on the 16th instant, for the fortnight ending March 13, 420 cars of coarse grain have -been shipped from western points direct to the east. During the same period, the Lake Shippers' Association inform us that a total of 153 cars of domestic grains of all kinds have been furnished the local mills, and 819 cars of export wheat.

This board receives daily from the Lake Shippers' Association, the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, and the Canadian National Railway Company statements of the number of cars loaded and handled, and at the present time we are subdividing the coarse grains under different headings, so that we are in a position -to know exactly how much of each kind of grain is moving out daily, and, early in this present week, we came to the conclusion that coarse grains were not receiving their fair proportion. Telegraphic correspondence was entered into with the Lake Shippers' Association on Monday, and, after the exchange of a number of telegrams, yesterday morning the following order was issued by wire:-*

"Your telegram yesterday received re coarse grain movement from head of lakes. This board requires that beginning to-morrow and until further orders twenty per cent of all cars loaded from all elevators at head of lakes be assigned to coarse grains for domestic consumption which is practically the percentage set forth in Mr. Stewart's telegram to me of December twenty-sixth last. Please confirm."

Yesterday afternoon confirmation was received as follows:-

"Your wire that twenty per cent on all cars from all elevators at head of lakes be assigned to coarse grains for domestic consumption until further orders is received and instructions have been given accordingly to our Fort William office."

If the daily returns require a change in these directions, the board will not hesitate to take whatever action may be necessary.

I think, however, I should point out to you the very serious conditions under which grain has been handled during the past two months, and I am satisfied that the railway companies have handled every car which it was humanly possible to get over their roads. Their first great difficulty has been weather conditions, not only around the head of the lakes but at the terminals, where hundreds of cars have been frozen in from Halifax to Portland, Me., and probably never in the history of railroading in this country have as many cars been held up at ocean terminals owing to weather conditions as have been in that condition since the first day of February. Added to this have been the most abnormal weather conditions from the operating standpoint, but probably even beyond both these difficulties has been the shortage of cars, due very largely to the fact that there are about 20,000 more Canadian cars on American lines than there are American cars on Canadian lines, and without cars it is impossible to handle freight.

I again wish to emphasize the splendid manner in which the railway companies have

worked with this board in order to produce the maximum of result and have ever been ready to carry out any wish which we have expressed.

Sincerely yours,

F. B. Carvell

Chief Commissioner. Major G. A. Bell, C.M.G..

Deputy Minister,

Dept, of Railways and Canals,

Ottawa.

I hope this answer covers what the hon. gentleman asked me.

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SPIRIT RIVER WHEAT SHIPMENTS.


On the Orders of the Day. Mr. WILLIAM H. WHITE (Victoria, Alta.): Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of the Minister of Railways (Mr. Reid) a somewhat similar matter to that brought up by the hon. member for Huntingdon (Mr. Robb). I am sorry that I have not been able to give the Minister notice of this matter, but, as a matter of fact, I only got the information a few minutes ago. The subject is referred to in a local paper under the heading, " Wheat rotting at Spirit River for lack of transportation," and it is also dealt with in a letter addressed home by the Board of Trade at that point, stating that since the beginning of the year they had made appeals to the Department of Railways as well as to the Board of Railway Commissioners for assistance in getting out the giain-


UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Public Works; Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Hon. Mr. REID:

On what railway is Spiiit River might I ask?

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L LIB

William Henry White

Laurier Liberal

Mr. W. H. WHITE:

It is on the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway. I might point out further that it is very necessary that this grain should be moved before the frost gets out of the ground in the spring, as there is only one line of railway running through the district and the settlers have to haul their grain in many cases fifty or sixty miles, and if they do not get it out this spring they will have to hold it over for another year. Many of the settlers have no storage facilities, and the chances are that they will lose their grain unless they get immediate help in the way of railway facilities. I might also point out that a great many soldiers have recently settled in the district, and, naturally they are depending on the returns from their first crop. Any assistance should be given at once or it will be of no avail.

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UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Public Works; Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Mr. J. D. REID:

Mr. Speaker, I am thoroughly seized of the facts of the situation which the hon. member has mentioned. The member for Edmonton (Mr. Griesbach)

has been bringing the matter to my attention every day-I had almost said he was worrying me-at any rate he has " put it up " to me to do something. In addition to the action taken by him, I have had telegrams from almost every settlement in that particular section. As the hon. member knows, we have a railway organization in the City of Montreal which formerly functioned as the Canadian Railway War Board, but is now known as the Railway Association of Canada. Whenever I receive notice of any transportation difficulties I immediately notify this organization, and it at once takes charge of the situation. In this particular case I took action some weeks ago, and the Railway Association in turn communicated with the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, and I am informed by Mr. Grant Hall, the General Manager of that company, that every effort is being put forward to remedy the trouble complained of, that duty having been assigned to his company,-although of course the Canadian National Railway would go to the assistance of the Canadian Pacific Railway if required. I might just read a telegram, that I received this morning dealing with the subject. It is from Montreal, and states:-

Exchanged wired re situation on E.D. & B.C. Railway. General Manager that line states difficulty due to snow blockade which tied up portions of line for three to four weeks. With arrangements now made for additional power and cars from connecting lines and with improved weather conditions now being experienced situation rapidly returning to normal and line in better position to move traffic than any time in its history. Congestion of traffic will be relieved by extra power now available. Conditions improving daily. , *

(Signed) Railway Association of Canada.

Had I known that the hon. member (Mr. White) was going to bring this matter up I could have read him a dozen telegrams to show the people of the Spirit River district that we have been giving their difficulties every attention, and that the railways outside of the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway have been doing their part to relieve the situation.

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ESTIMATES FOR 1920-21.


On the Orders of the Day.


LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING:

May I ask my right hon. friend, the Acting Prime Minister, when the House may expect the estimates to be brought down?

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CON

HOUSE OF COMMONS OFFICIALS- ORGANIZATION.


On the Orders of the Day:


L LIB

Emmanuel Berchmans Devlin

Laurier Liberal

Mr. E. B. DEVLIN (Wright):

I wish to direct attention to the fact that according to the minutes of the Proceedings of the Senate of Canada, of March 11, 1920, His Honour the Speaker of the Seriate has placed upon the Table of the Senate the organization of the staff of the Senate. I understand that the Civil Service Commission has held up the classification of the staff of the House of Commons awaiting the action of this House in passing upon that plan of organization. May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, when it is your intention to place before the members of this House the plan of organization of the staff of the House?

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March 19, 1920