June 2, 1920

UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

Sixteen years. Perhaps it might be worth while to point out to hon. gentlemen that these boys have an excellent opportunity to grow up in the public service, and, indeed, many of them have reached the highest positions in the service. One of the highest officials of this House, a gentleman very much respected by all the members as (well as by his 'brother officers, started as a page 'boy; I refer to the Acting Deputy Serjeant-at-Arms. Another gentleman although comparatively young is to-day in receipt of a salary of $25,000 a year from a large industrial corporation, and he started as a page boy. The Minister of Justice informs me that another of our former page boys is now a bishop. It might perhaps be better to change the system and to engage men of mature years. I may say quite frankly that while the boys on the whole behave themselves remarkably well, etill they are young and have the characteristics of youth, and it is not always easy for the officials of the House to get the very best service from them. But after all this is purely a question of policy for the House to determine, and so far as I am concerned I 6ball be only too happy to carry into effect any change which the House in its wisdom may deem to be desirable.

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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

Mr. Chairman, I do not want to take the ground that we should not employ page boys; what I want is to give them a chance to go to bed earlier.

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L LIB

James Alexander Robb (Chief Government Whip)

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

What about the girls in the gallery?

Mr. MoMASTER: They are there by choice, and they are rewarded Iby listening to the eloquence of the hon. member for Huntingdon and other hon. gentlemen. I would draw the Speaker's attention to the fact that the argument that this is a time-honoured institution is not a very strong one, because 50 or 60 years ago the public looked upon child labour with a far more indulgent eye than it is regarded to-day. I am very glad to learn that the Inspector of Schools is satisfied that the boys' education does not suffer through the service which they render to this House, and I can quite understand that for a bright lad

work in this House may have a very considerable educational value. But the point I iwas endeavouring to make is one which I think will recommend itself to every hon. member,-that these (boys of 12, 13, 14 and 15 year of age should be in their beds by ten o'clock at night. It is true the younger boys get arsvay at half-past nine, which is quite proper, but very often a boy of 15, large perhaps for his age, requires just as much sleep as a boy of 12 or 13. I know the sight of these boys here late at night struck me as improper when I first became a member of this House. But we get used to these things and after a time they cease to have any effect upon us -"we first condole, then pity, then embrace." But I think the ground I take is sound, and that most members of this House, if these little fellows were their own sons, would not wish to see them out of their 'beds after ten o'clock at night.

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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

There is one way of finding out whether our system can be improved, and I intend to instruct the Serjeant-at-Arms to have all the page boys retire at ten o'clock each night until such time as the arrangement does not work satisfactorily to hon. members.

Resolution reported as amended, and read the first time.

On motion of Right Hon. Mr. Doherty for the second reading:

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Before the motion is put, Mr. Speaker, I should like to point out that last night the right hon. the Prime Minister made no reference whatever to the subject under consideration in stating the order of business for to-day. I do not wish to in any way delay concurrence, but if there be some hon. member not now present who might wish to ask questions on the resolution I think he should not he denied that privilege.

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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

He would be able to do so on the Estimates.

Motion agreed to and resolution read the second time.

CANADA SHIPPING ACT (Sick and Distressed Mariners) AMENDMENT.

On motion of Hon. N. W. Rowell that Bill No. 127 to amend the Canada Shipping Act (Sick and Distressed Mariners) be read a second time:

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UNION

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. H. H. STEVENS (Vancouver Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I regret to again have to bring to the attention of the minister in

For 1918-19 there was a loss, on account of the influenza epidemic, of $6,009. I am told that last year there was a surplus of $8,000, so that these figures are substantially correct down to the present time. In other words, we have a surplus under the present rate of taxation of about $300,000.

The minister stated to the House that I was inaccurate in the statement I made the other day referring to these figures, and pointed out that the cost of administration had not been deducted. Well, I find that the administrative staff consists of a gentleman named Doctor Godin-I do not know the gentleman-who has a stenographer and one clerk. These three officials, who administer the fund in Ottawa, have been transferred to the Health Department. It is not reasonable to assume that this small staff, which has successfully administered the fund up to the present time, should absord the whole of this $300,000 surplus. The point I am making is simply this, and I think the House ought to take cognizance of it: that the li cent tonnage tax has -been ample in every year except one or two odd years-certainly it has been ample over the whole period-to cover the administration of this fund from Confederation down to the present time. Therefore, Sir, I protest against this measure providing for an increase of funds as being absolutely unnecessary and uncalled for.

My second objection to it is that we are creating in a new department a new branch. You, -Mr. -Speaker, have seen as I have

that when a new branch is started almost the first thing done ie to increase the number of officials and extend the expenditures. 'What we are going to do is, without question, to increase the expeditures in connection with the administration of this fund; that, I say, is unnecessary and undesirable.

Now, I wish to turn to another phase of the question, and this, I think, is the most significant point of all; apparently it has not been within the knowledge of the minister. I want to ask the minister not to argue this point away, because it is an important one. I ask him to let this matter etand over for another year until he has had an opportunity of really acquainting himself with the business aspect of it, the shipping side of the question, not merely the administrative side, because I have shown that that is a very simple matter. Now, the other phase to which I wish to refer is this: the effect of this tax in the past as 1J cents has been to work against the interests of our shipping, and if it is increased to 2 cents the situation is aggravated. I go so far, Mr. 'Speaker, as to ask the Government to consider the advisability of entirely withdrawing the tax and handling the sick mariners on the same basis as they are handled in Great Britain. But I wish to direct the attention of the House to the effect of this tax on the cost of shipping. It not only means a direct charge of li cents- two cents, if the amount is now increased-but it means a retaliatory charge on the part of, say, the United States. In this connection I wish to place on Hansard very briefly a statement showing how that works out, because the matter is a very important one as affecting the cost of our shipping:

The United States law provides that upon satisfactory proof being given to the President by any Government of any foreign country, that no discriminating duties of tonnage or imposts are imposed or levied in the ports of such nation upon vessels wholly belonging to citizens of the United States, the President may issue a proclamation declaring that the foreign discriminating duties of tonnage and impost within the United States are suspended and discontinued, so far as respects the vessels of such foreign nation.

Now, this refers to a tax of 6 cents a ton imposed by the American Government against our shipping and against the shipping of other countries which impose similar charges. So that our shipping is compelled not only to pay li cents, or the proposed 2 cents, but also 6 cents when they go into American ports.

To cairy the point on a little further, I anticipate the reply from the minister that

this law is not applied to the whole of Canada by saying that I admit that. I want to give a list of the countries the shipping of which is now exempt upon entering American ports and to show that we too can be exempt if we remove this particular impost or tax, because it was the cause of the application of the 6 cents tonnage tax by the United (States against Canadian shipping. The countries exempt in United States ports are the following:

Certain ports in the Dutch West Indies; Copenhagen; province of Ontario; Colon and Panama; Greytown and Bhco de Toro; Nicaragua; Montserrat, Gaudeloupe and Granada in the West Indies; Spain; Germany.

Here we have the peculiar situation that ships from one province in Canada, namely, Ontario, can go into ports in the United States free from this 6 cents tax, while shipping from other provinces, including Quebec, British Columbia, and the Maritime Provinces, must pay a 6 cent tax when entering American ports, simply because of this impost of li cents on account of sick mariners' dues. I protest, therefore, against this tax in that it is increasing the cost of shipping to Canadian producers.

I object to the principle of this proposal because it includes certain provinces and excludes others. I see no reason in the world why it should apply to some of the provinces and not to others. Certainly if the Government insist upon the principle they should apply it alike to all the provinces in which there is any shipping. 1 have already referred to the method employed by the British Government. The British Government, instead of imposing this tax, gives to ship owners, under the terms and provisions of the Merchants Shipping Act, certain instructions which they must carry out. I will read one or two by way of illustration and to make clear my point to which I shall proceed in a moment. Clause 82 otf the Merchants Shipping Act states:

The master should pay the expenses of removal, subsistence, medical advice and medicine until the seaman returns to the ship, or until the officer endorses the agreement with a certificate that he is fit or unable to proceed on the voyage.

It further states:

The officer will request hospital authorities to inform him within twenty-four hours of the admittance into hospital of any seaman from a British ship.

And so forth. There are many other clauses, all of which show that the Board

of Trade of Great Britain care for their mariners just as we 'look after the interest of mariners in this country, hut they look after them at the expense of the owners of the ships from which the mariners are taken. There is this matter which has escaped the attention of the minister and the Government. All these years we have been collecting this tax from all ships, including British ships which come into our ports, although there is a law whereby British ships are compelled to take care of their own crews. Referring now exclusively to British shipping, I say that this country is taking care of sailors of British ships although those sailors are already provided for by the Merchants Shipping Act under the control of the Board of Trade of Great Britain. That is another argument against the tax and a positive argument against an increase in the tax. I do not wish to delay the House; but for the reasons I have stated, I am going to ask the minister again, or as he is not listening very attentively to what I am saying, I will ask the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden), who is in his seat, if lie will give this matter serious 'consideration. Th'is is a serious matter as regards shipping generally; the increase in taxation will effect shipping considerably. The point I desire to make above all others is this, that the fee at the present time is more than adequate, and the increase in the fee will simply go into increasing useless machinery for handling and administering the matter. This matter cannot be overlooked and allowed to pass without strong protest. I presume it is regarded as a small matter by hon. members who do not thoroughly understand it; but the matter is of importance to shipping and shippers, because after all the cost of our ports reflects itself upon the imports and exports and upon those who are handling them. I wish to summarize my objections under these headings: first, it will increase the cost to shipping without a vestage of justification; second, since 'Confederation there has been a steady and substantial surplus making absolutely unnecessary any increase in the fee; third, it will increase the staff in Ottawa and the cost of administration; fourth, it is unfair, because it does not apply to all provinces alike, nor to all shipping; fifth, it permits of a particularly favourable treatment of ships coming from one province of Canada to ports of the United States, whereas ships coming from other provinces are discriminated against to the

extent of six cents a ton. For that reason, I am going to ask the minister if he will stay this Bill for a time and give it further consideration. 'It will do no harm if he lets it rest for a year. I would suggest that he advise himself fully by consultation with the various boards of trade and shipping interests of the country as to its effect, and then if he still thinks it is necessary, he can let it go through the House and to a special committee in a manner similar to that an which we treat railway Bills and other Bills of importance to business concerns.

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Hon. N. W. ROWELL (President of the Council):

Mr. Speaker-

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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

Before the minister exercises his right of reply, I wish to' direct the attention of other hon. members to the circumstance that if he does so, the debate will be closed.

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

The matters raised by

my hon. friend were discussed at some length when the Resolution upon which this Bill is founded was in committee. On. that occasion my hon. friend1 brought these matters to the attention of the House, and I have since had an opportunity of looking into the principal points that he has raised by way of supplementing the investigation I made before. Let .me deal in order with the points raised by my hon. friend. In the first place he says that this Bill creates a new branch of the Department of Health. My hon. friend is quite incorrect in that;, no such object is in view, and under the legislation of last session the administration of this branch is now in the Department of Health. We do not contemplate adding a single person to the staff or adding a dollar to the cost of 'administration. When my hon. friend says that the result of the increased rate will go- into the cost of administration, he is wholly misinformed, and I want to say very frankly to my hon. friend that there is no justification for such a statement being made. For a considerable period the rate was two cents a ton; some few years ago it was reduced to one and one-half cents a ton in the (hope that the work could be carried on at that figure. What I stated to my hon. friend when the matter was before the committee on a previous occasion was quite correct. I said that the cost of administration did not appear in that account, nor the cost of the hospital buildings. At that time I thought that was the case and I have since found that it was. I do not think money contributed for that fund

should be used for other purposes, but if you charge up the cost of the building of the hospitals erected plus the cost of the administration, I am advised by the officials of the department that the amount to which my hon. friend has referred will be more than absorbed, because this covers a period of over fifty years. That being the case, this is a question not of increased cost of administration, but of increased cost of hospital treatment. We have to pay increased rates in hospitals throughout the country.

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UNION

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. STEVENS:

What are the additional charges which are not included in this report? What is the amount?

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

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UNION

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. STEVENS:

Does not my hon. friend know that the American Government imposed this tax of 6 cents against Canadian vessels because of this particular tax?

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

I believe my hon. friend is right that the American Government has imposed it. It is a matter which I am having the Department of Justice look into, and if the view which I entertain is con- [DOT] firmed that there is no just ground fox its imposition, then we will make representations to the American Government. But this is not a new thing. As a matter of fact I turned up the record, -and I find by memoranda on file in the department that as far back as 1891 ship-owners of Canada were opposing this tax on the very same grounds as my hon. friend has set out to-day. But what I point out is that it makes -absolutely no difference, so far as the operation of the American law is concerned, whether this tax is 11 cents or 2 cents. It is the fact of its existence at all that makes the United States impose their tax against our shipping. The whole question -is, shall we impose on the country part of the financial obligation for caring for these sick mariners? The policy in the past has been to ask ship-owners to provide for the care of their own sick. That is the policy embodied in the Bill. The Government has considered it, and it thinks the Bill should go through.

.Motion agreed to, Bill read the second time, and the House went into Committee thereon, Mr. Bodvin -in the Chair.

On section 383-duty on all vessels arriving at certain ports.

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UNI L

Sanford Johnston Crowe

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. CROWE:

Why is the province of Ontario exempted?

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

In this respect the Act is the same as it has been ever since 'Confederation. I have inquired with the view of ascertaining, so far as there appears to be any record, why Ontario has always been left out, and the reason that I have been given is that Ontario navigation is inland- lake navigation. This legislation so far has only been applied to ocean navigation.

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UNI L

Sanford Johnston Crowe

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. CROWE:

Does the minister think

that seamen on the lakes do not get sick as well as seamen on the ocean?

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

That is true. I am willing to say that there may be an argument made for their inclusion, yet I doubt whether it is wise for us to change the law which has been in force since Confederation. Another reason given is that vessels plying on the lakes are usually near the home port or town of these seamen, who may be returned home in case of illness. I quite agree that that would not cover all cases, but those are the grounds which for fifty years have apparently influenced the policy of all governments in not bringing Ontario under the legislation.

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UNI L

Sanford Johnston Crowe

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. CROWE:

You could use the same

argument as to vessels being near the home ports of the seamen in the ease of vessels plying up and down the coast, which have to pay this tax.

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UNION

Newton Wesley Rowell (Minister presiding over the Department of Health; President of the Privy Council)

Unionist

Mr. ROWELL:

There is one slight amendment I wish to make to this section. Subclause (4) says that "such duty shall be payable on each ship three times duiing each calendar year,' but it does not specify on what occasions the duty shall be paid. To make the matter more clear and to avoid confusion I beg tom ove to insert after the word "ship" in the first line of subclause (4) the following words: "each time she arrives in any such port, but in no case shall it be oftener than."

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June 2, 1920