June 7, 1920

L LIB
UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

You need ta go and study your geography. There is no coal along the Georgian Bay canal.

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L LIB

Emmanuel Berchmans Devlin

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEVLIN:

I am not saying that there is coal along the Georgian Bay canal. What I do say is that it would have helped to solve the problem by providing cheaper transportation from the Great Lakes because it would lessen the rail haul. Otherwise, Mr. Speaker, I am glad-

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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

I would remind hon. members that the debate before the House is the principle involved in a Bill which has for its object the ratification o/f certain Orders in Council in reference to the appointment of a director of coal operations. I am sure the House will agree that the Chair has not endeavoured to restrict the debate in any degree, but I think it would be rather unfortunate if we allowed it to be further widened to take in the Georgian Bay canal, and perhaps the hon. member will fry to speak to the Bill before the House.

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L LIB

Emmanuel Berchmans Devlin

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DEVLIN:

I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that I had no intention of discussing the Georgian Bay canal. 1 was simply giving expression to a thought that arose while listening to my hon. friend (Mr. Currie). I rose to say that I believed that the officials who have had to deal with the coal situation 'have done their very best to have Canada supplied with as much coal from the outside as was possible. I conceive that this is a question on which we can find common ground, for coal enters into the necessities of life, and I would1 like to support my hon. friend the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Meighen) in all his endeavours to get the West supplied with coal. Personally I would like to see our western coal come farther east and our Nova Scotia coal go farther west so as to make the commodity as cheap as possible for our people.

In looking over the coal statistics I was somewhat surprised to find that we have 111,169 square miles of coal areas, comprising 8,845,900,000 tons of semi-anthracite coal,

313.573.000. 000 tons of bituminous coal, 932,-

053,000,000 tons of sub-bituminous coal, and

111.286.000. 000 tons of lignite. In other words, we have within Canada all the coal necessary to prevent a shortage of fuel among our people, and the point to he emphasized is that it is one of our natural resources that should be developed to the fullest extent. Therefore, while supporting my -hon. friend (Mr. Meighen) in his endeavours to get coal to the West, I do hope that the Government in its plans for the immediate future will see to the development of our coal resources to their fullest extent, in order that Canada may be independent of the United States in the matter of fuel.

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UNION

John Hampden Burnham

Unionist

Mr. J. H. BURNHAM (West Peterborough):

Mr. Speaker, a couple of months ago I brought this question before the House by way of resolution, and on investigating the matter I was immensely surprised to find that, notwithstanding the fact that Ontario was in a most perilous position in regard to its coal supply, nobody had seen fit to investigate the cost of bringing coal into Ontario either from the West or from the East.

When I made some inquiries at headquarters I found that they knew nothing about it. Then I proceeded to carry my examination further, and at last I found out from the Canadian Pacific Railway Company that so far as they were concerned it would cost about $12 a ton to bring a car, say, from Calgary to Toronto. However, they said they could not say that if a very large business was developed it would not cost less. In any event, this fuel question has to be solved for Ontario. As stated-by the hon. member who has just spoken we have immense supplies of coal, both east and west, yet here we are in Ontario on the very brink of perishing from lack of coal. The matter is extremely serious for Ontario. The people feel very keenly indeed about it; they are continually asking us why we do not do something with regard to it. We have the coal, but apparently we have not the brains to get it here.

Some time ago, in a resolution which I introduced with regard to the cost' of the necessaries of life, I used the word "desperate." That did not please the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Meighen) and he moved an amendment to the resolution. I accepted the amendment and the resolution wals car-

ried, and we were to wait for revelations with regard to it. Now, in that resolution the fuel question was involved, and I think, with, all due respect to the minister and his great administrative powers, that he ought to take up this question of the solution of the difficulty for Ontario, because Ontario- we cannot Tepeat it too often

is in a most serious position. Wood is altogether out of the question. In fact I was so discouraged with regard to coal that I began to turn to the alcohol question to see what could be done about that. No doubt in a few years we shall have alcohol as a fuel. The people of Ontario have been groping in the dark, as it were, to find out some means of furnishing themselves with heat and motive power throughout the year, chiefly in the winter, but they have not got anywhere. It would not be too much to say that some special legislation will have to be enacted or some special effort made to provide the people with fuel, because they have to have it. It is absurd, when you think of the vast stores of coal that we have in Canada, that we cannot do better than we have been doing. Lately the Research Council has found out that briquettes, which are about fifty per cent coal, and twenty-Ave per cent- petroleum and so on, furnish something of higher efficiency than even anthracite coal. If so, why can they not have that industry developed? I have had letters from a great many people in the West, from coal users and -coal companies, asking why it is that these things cannot be 'looked into and the development of the coal industry proceeded *with. If the West concludes that it is possible, and the East wants it, it is about time that we proceeded to get it. Certainly something will have to be done.

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UNION
UNION

Robert James Manion

Unionist

Mr. E. J. MANION (Fort William and Eainy Kiver):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to say a word on behalf of the people from my section of Ontario to support the remarks of other hon. gentlemen from different parts of that province who 'have spoken on the coal situation.

During the past few weeks I have received a number of communications dealing with this question. It certainly is evident that the people of the western end of Ontario are going to find themselves in a serious condition this winter with regard to coal if some solution of this problem is not arrived at. I know that the Government have been dealing ivith the matter because I took it up unofficially with some of its members, who told me that they were looking into it. I feel quite sure that it has not been neglected, but I would like to impress upon the other members of the Government the very great importance of this question. It seems almost a tragedy that a country such as this, as the hon. member for Wright (Mr. Devlin) has pointed out possessing the second greatest deposits of coal in the world-taking second place only to the United States-should be dependent on outside countries for our coal. Ontario, being in the centre of the country, has to get coal either from the Pennsylvania fields, or from the far West, near the home of my hon. friend from Regina (Mr. Cowan), or from the Nova Scotia coal fields. It seems to me that it would be a very popular act and a very wise one if some scheme could be worked out whereby

coal could be brought to the eastern parts of Ontario from the Nova Scotia fields, and to the western parts, my own parts of Ontario, from the western fields. This question is linked up with the development of the natural resources of the country, a matter which I brought up in this House on three or four different occasions,-the development of our iron, coal and oil supplies. As the hon. member for Regina has pointed out, it would1 help relieve the deficit on operation of our National railways if we could devise some means of utilizing our cqal deposits. I simply desire to impress upon the House and upon the Government the gravity of the situation which faces Ontario in particular in regard to the securing of coal for the coming winter.

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L LIB

James Alexander Robb (Chief Government Whip)

Laurier Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, before the Minister of the Interior (Hon. Mr. Meighen) answers the inquiries that have been made, I should like to direct his attention to certain facts that were brought out during the last session in an investigation that was made in the Senate. The minister will remember that an old gentleman from California claimed to have secured very large areas of excellent coal fields in Alberta. For reasons which the minister will understand, the lease was cancelled and was subsequently taken up by one or two others, and I understand that afterwards that lease also was cancelled. I gathered from conversation with this man from California, who showed me all his plans-I knew nothing about them more than what he told me-that he was quite willing to surrender to the nation any rights that he had, provided he was refunded the amount he had spent in exploring these coal areas. If his statement is correct, there are in Alberta millions of tons of excellent coal that might be used to the advantage of the nation. I do not know whether the minister is in a position to make any statement in regard to the matter at this time; I am not pressing him to do so. But if he is in a position to" make a statement, I think it would be well that the country should know just what rights Canada has in connection with that large coal area in Alberta, and whether it can be developed for the benefit of the Canadian people.

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UNION

Matthew Robert Blake

Unionist

Mr. M. R. BLAKE (Winnipeg North):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a few words in regard to the coal situation, as it is a matter in which every one in Canada is deeply interested. Hon. members who

have spoken in regard, to the quantity oif coal that exists in the western provinces, and in particular, Alberta, may not be aware that much of this coal will not stand long shipping, nor long exposure, without crumbling into dust. This coal may be stored in good cool cellars and when it will give reasonable satisfaction, but much of it is of inferior quality. Some of the coal in southern Manitoba-and there is only ia small (Coal area in the southwestern portion of the province-contains 35 per cent otf moisture. Further West the percentage of moisture is less, and the quality of the coal rises 'accordingly. I understand that a briquette-making plant is now in operation in sonthern Saskatchewan, which plant by compressing the soft coal derived from some of the .soft coal mines, produces a coal of a higher heat value than the best anthracite coal.

I am informed that the coal in the Smoky river area which caused a great deal of discussion in the House last year, has a higher heating value and is equal to any anthracite coal, and the Government would he well advised to see that those coal areas are transferred to the Canadian National railways, as they would then become a national asset. This is the only really valuable coal field accessible to the National xailways which has not yet been given to some private enterprise. By constructing a railroad about 65 miles long, *conneetion could be made between the 'Canadian National railways and the Smoky river area, and as the coal starts in at the side of a hill, this would be probably one of the cheapest mining propositions that we have in this country at present. I hope the Government will use every endeavour to get the briquetting plant under way and .enlarge it to the extent found necessary, thus solving our hard coal problem.

If, as the hon. member for Regina (Mr. Cowan) has said, a branch line of about 60 miles long will open up an anthracite area in the vicinity of Calgary, that matter should be given attention. The trouble is that most of the soft coal of Alberta will not stand shipping; it cannot be shipped for weeks and left in cars, say at the head of the Lakes, and then shipped by boat, without going to pieces and .crumbling into dust.

The Minister of Railways (Mr. J. T>. Reid) might also give attention to the matter of having a more reasonable rate of freight on coal from Alberta to Winnipeg and the rest of the West during the sum-

'mer season when railway cars are lying idle on sidings. The big rush from the West is when the grain crop is coining out and we have to depend on anthracite coal to a large extent, because the railways carry wheat to the head of the Lakes and carry back coal. The railways have had a gold mine in hauling wheat east and hauling back coal from the head of the Lakes. If it be possible for a railway to pay by hauling goods one way and empty cars back, there are plenty -of empty cars in the summer time and the railroads would be well employed if they would make a bid for -bringing coal East in the summer season. If the Canadian National railways were to do this, the deficit on out railways might he greatly reduced. These are three matters that might well be taken into consideration by the Government with great benefit to the nation at large.

Mr. JAMES R. WILSON (Saskatoon): Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a few observations in regard to this matter. I do not think there is anything that the people of both East and West are to-day more interested in than the development of our coal resources. The object of developing our coal resources is two-fold: First, to keep our money at home, purchasing our own materials and supplying our men with work, and second to create traffic for our railways which at the present time, show a balance on the wrong side owing to lack of traffic.

As the hon. member for Winnipeg North (Mr. Blake) has stated, there is in Western Canada a great deal of coal that will not stand storing during the summer season. Some hon. members have suggested it will, but that is not possible because spontaneous combustion might occur. But we have hard coal, and I regret to say that up to the present time only one deposit of hard coal, known as Banff coal, has been worked, and this has been worked by the Canadian Pacific only to a very limited extent. Our experience in the West has been that while we could get a supply of this Banff coal, we did not look for Pennsylvania coal. But during the past four or five years it has been impossible to secure a supply of this Banff coal, because the Canadian Pacific Company have been producing from that particular mine only sufficient to supply their needs. There are two other known deposits, one of which has been referred to as the Smoky River deposit, and the other is the Sheep Creek deposit. The Smoky River deposit is located about 70 or 75 miles from the line of the Canadian National railways, and it is estimated that it would

cost about $1,500,000 or $2,000,000 to connect that mine with the railway. I understand that that deposit belongs to the Government, as last year the mining right was cancelled. The other deposit, which is owned by Messrs. P. Burns and Company, is located to the southwest of Calgary in the foothills of the Rocky mountains and is about 60 miles from a railway. Mr. Burns has. been making every effort to construct a branch line of railway to his mine, a distance of about 60 miles at the nearest point. I think he has gone even so far as to apply for a charter, but he has found it difficult to finance the construction of that railway.

I wish merely to bring these matters to the attention of the Government. By tapping one of these fields of hard coal the Minister of Railways or the Government could do a great deal towards putting the Canadian National railways on a paying basis, especially if it were possible to fix a rate whereby that coal could be transported to the Prairie Provinces and to Ontario so that it mijht displace Pennsylvania coal.

As regards coal nines in Western Canada, the coal of which is of a semi-bituminous nature and which will store, the operators are most anxious to mine this coal and the dealers are anxious to store it. They have been asking that, during the summer months, June, July and possibly early in August when there is very little traffic originating on the prairies, the railway companies should make the concession of reducing the freight rates say $1 a ton in order, in a measure, to offset the cost of carrying this coal in storage until it is required. I understand the matter came before the Railway Commission and this concession was refused. If the Government could do anything along this line, the storing of coal during the summer months would be encouraged.

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UNION

Samuel Hughes

Unionist

Sir SAM HUGHES:

For a number of years I have given considerable attention to the development of the coal industry in the West, and I have long since arrived at the conclusion that we can bring coal from the Rocky Mountains and land it at Liverpool and compete with English coal, especially. at present prices. My policy would be to have a line, one already constructed or to be eredted, controlled by the Government, from Crow's Nest Pass, another from the Kicking Horse Pass, another from the Brazeau coal deposits, another from the Yellowhead Pass, and another from the Smoky River district, traversing the country to the East. The

coal industry is a most important one; it is of vital importance to our people. Last winter, in two towns that I happened to be in in the West the people were cutting green poplar bushes to keep themselves in heat till they could get coal delivered to them, and When the coal was delivered they could only get a carload at a time to the large towns. From the eastern part of the Northwest region one of the three great transcontinental roads might be utilized. It should be chosen for practically a coal road. It should have a low grade, very powerful engines, and the cars should be constructed with roller bearings and should haul from 60 to 80 tons each. It would be quite feasible for one of these engines to haul across the continent from

6,000 to 7,000 tons olf coal, which could be brought to Ontario and the far East. Similar plans should be made to develop the coal areas in the East, and it should be done on a systematic basis. I have had a good deal of experience of the coal mines in 'the West. The only anthracite coal I came across in the West was at Anthracite, referred to by my hon. friend from Saskatoon. The otheT kind of coal is termed semi-antbraciite. Pat Burns' coal, which I have had analyzed, is semi-anthracite, so is the Crow's Nest coal, the Brazeau coal, and the Yellowhead Pass coal. So far as my experience of the coal from the Grande Prairie and Smoky River districts is concerned, it alsoi is semi-anthracite, but of a very high grade. It would answer all the purposes of bituminous coal and would certainly make a very good heading coal, because we know that people all over the British Isles use soft coal for fuel, and we can do it here just as well. I give that just as an outline of a proper Government policy with regard to coal. First, it would develop the coal industry foT the people in the great Northwest and keep the people there supiplied with coal; secondly, it would enable us to get the coal down East and distribute it through Ontario, and Quebec. The Maritime Provinces could be trusted to look sifter themselves, and to ship their coal as far West as they could. I would not have this run as a Government controlled institution entirely. I would have it controlled by /the Government, but I would also give the owners of private mines the opportunity to have their coal hauled over the Government roads at the same rates, in order to bring about competition and keep down the prices, even from the Government. I would suggest that the utmost freedom 'be given to private owners

to ship their coal oiver these lines at the same rate as the Government coal. I will not say any more on this matter at the present Itiime. I have given my views in public on more than one occasion. I am satisfied that the day is not far distant when the Government iwill see the necessity of initiating some such policy to develop the industries of the grea/t Northwest.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I am afraid the debate has travelled beyond the limits that I had come prepared to expect. There have been some phases of it, however, that have pertained directly to the Bill and I propose to refer to these first. The Bill provides merely for the retention of the powers of Mr. Armstrong until the end of the next session of the House. I can well recall that troubles in this coal district back over three or four years were about the most frequent and regular of the many difficulties that the Government of the day were confronted with from time to time. Just when things would seem to be going right for a few brief days, the news would come of another strike in district No. 18.

I do not know definitely what the hon. member for Simcoe (Mr. Currie) has in mind in reference to the Government paying men for being idle. There was never anything of that kind done even in the darkest days. I think he must have in mind an occasion some years ago, which can be more fully explained in committee by the hon. member for Elgin (Hon. Mr. Crothers), who at that time was Minister of Labour, when the situation in district No. 18 was pretty near the limits of tragedy, when homes in the West were without coal, a strike was on, and winter was approaching and indeed was upon them. There was a danger so immediate that anything we are confronted with today is small in comparison with it. The Minister of Labour of that day, the Hon. Mr. Crothers, went to. the district, and after very difficult negotiations he made some arrangement by which the amount in dispute between the men and the operators, or a part of the amount, the extra wages that were claimed for the time they had worked, were for the time being advanced by the Government. The operators, including the Canadian Pacific, which I think was one of the largest, undertook to recompense the Government as time went on at a certain rate per man per day, or on some such basis, and the ultimate result was that the treasury came out nearly square, the money being refunded. I do nolt know what else can he

referred to. Certainly we have never at any time put a premium on idleness, nor have we felt it was our duty in any way to put a bounty in the hands of the coal operators of this district. We have simply sought, and sought with very great success, considering what had to be gone through, by the interposition of Mr. Armstrong to bring together the operators and the men, to keep the mines going and the men working, in order thaJt there might 'be the maximum production of coal. That has been the one aim, and that aim we have for the most part reached. The other phases of the discussion have no direct connection with the merits of the Bill, but, nevertheless, are of paramount importance to the country.

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UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

There was no agreement to give the men any'money in case of idleness?

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

No. It is argued that ive in Ontario and Quebec to-day are in a serious condition as respects the coal supply in the immediate future. That has been true to too great a degree, but I do not know that the circumstances to-day are of such immediate and dire peril as might ibe inferred from the remarks of some hon. gentlemen. We are not likely to freeze for want of coal in the first half of the month of June, not, at all events, in Ontario and Quebec. Nevertheless, bituminous coal is a vital necessity to the industries of this country even in summertime. A committee of the Government has had 'the matter in hand. I am not a member of the committee myself, but the minister whom I represent in this discussion, the Hon. Mr. Robertson, is a member. The Minister of Railways is also a member of that committee, and from him particulars as to the work of thalt committee may be given in committee. I may say though, after .speaking iwith the Minister of Labour only lately, that he stated the situation had of recent days been much relieved, and that very considerable shipments of coal had been made and were forthcoming. His own mind seemed to be much more at ease than it had for some weeks on this subject.

References have been made to the duty of the Government to adopt some policy- the outlines of policies that have been given, I am afraid, are rather vague-that will make available for the people of Ontario and Quebec, the coal of Western Canada and of Eastern Canada. It has been urged that we might finance the operators of Alberta in order that there might be

storage of coal from idle seasons that would carry us through the busy seasons. It is also urged that we might bring pressure on the railways to reduce the Tates and thereby make the coal available to the more populated centres of Ontario. Referring to the latter phase first, I do not pretend to be in any way an expert on railway rates; but I am confident that this opinion is sound: that theTe is not very much room for reduction by any amount however small in railway rates in regard to any staple article at the present time. I do not think it is more than the truth to say that there are articles of transport-and coal may be one of them-the more of which the railways carry the less money they make; or rather, I should say, the more money they lose, and that applies to the Canadian National Railways just as much as, if not more than, it applies to the Canadian Pacific Railway. It is in the interest of the railway company just as directly as it is in our interest that they do not have cars travelling empty, and their efforts are designed to see that that condition does not occur, if by any reduction of rates, or by any other means they can profitably have the cars when travelling filled to capacity. The fact of the matter is that it costs more money to bring coal from those fields here than it cost to bring it from other sources. That is the great economic fact. It, of course, does not cost so much more now as it did when coal was much lower in price.

The next fact, which is an important one-indeed, the first statement means nothing except as the second is borne in mind-is that the coal that is nearest at hand is of a quality that cannot be transported, and that which is further away is subject more and more to the freight obstacle which I have defined. Now, those two circumstances together, the quality of the coal and the great distance, have made the economic transport to date impossible, and except by mere payments out of the treasury the Government cannot overcome this basic economic fact. There is coal of semi-anthracite and high bituminous quality in Alberta in almost unlimited quantity, at any rate, unlimited so far as is concerned the needs of Canada for some centuries to come. But to have the coal there and to have it here are two very different things. It is just because it is there and not here that the great difficulty arises; and the size of the market, the volume of consumption within the railway area is so small

that the scale of production is kept down and consequently prices are kept up. The contracted market is the great factor in keeping down the scale of production and therefore keeping narrow the area of consumption. If we had ten times the number of people in Western Canada than we have, then western coal would economically reach much further east than it does to-day, because production would be on such a scale that, being cheaper, the coal could go further and further from the point of origin.

As- to financing the operators, I really do not know that there is anything I could say upon that subject, but I would be rather inclined to think that the trouble v. as not a matter of finance. I know that the Canadian Pacific Railway are large optrators in Alberta and they do not need veiy much help in the way of financing. I am sure that if there is any way by which they can keep mines going the year round and thereby have on hand through the slack season a supply for the busy season they are quite able to finance the operations. Probably there may be others to whom help may be necessary, but so far us I know there has been no application in that respect. Consequently it seems to me likely that this is not one of the fundamental difficulties. The difficulty is rather *a question of cheap production and cheap transport. It is true, as the hon. member for Huntingdon (Mr. Rofob) says, that there is an immense deposit of semi-anthracite coal in the Smoky River region. I cannot recall the number of millions of tons, but it is very high, and it is sufficient to supply all imaginable needs for very many years. But the coal is in the Smoky River district and there are not very many people near the Smoky river, nor, indeed, within many hundred miles of the Smoky river, while there are all kinds of coal mines with large sums of capital invested in them everywhere outside of that district. It is therefore quite easy for the imagination to run riot in relation to a very valuable deposit situate in the Smoky river. Mr. Hoppe and another gentleman, whose name I do not remember, obtained a lease in the regular way some time in the year 1915 or 1916. The terms of the lease were not lived up to by Mr. Hoppe and his partner and it was cancelled by the Department of the Interior in the year 1918, I think, while 1 was in charge of the department. The cancellation, >as should always be the case, came within the purview of the minister, but the granting of leases is made under the regulations, and there is no specific

reference to the minister in any single instance unless special circumstances make that course necessary. These lands, under the regulations, were subsequently granted, without reference to the minister, to a Mr. Barnard .and, I think, Colonel Shillington, although I think the lease was in the name of Mr. Barnard alone. An investigation took place in the Senate following an appeal by the lessees asking for a charter to build a railway into the Smoky River district, and that investigation showed, Or at all events it indicated pretty clearly to me, that those associated with Mr. Barnard had obtained certain advantages to which they had no right in the way of advance information and as a result had obtained the lease. It was clear from the evidence -and I believe the committee so reported- that Mr. Barnard himself had no knowledge of this advance information one way or the other and that his conduct in relation to the lease was honourable in every way. However, by reason of that investigation I felt it. my duty by special Order in Council to cancel that lease also. It was cancelled and that coal area reverted to the Crown and all the acreage included in that lease, and many other acres-I do not recall the number-surrounding that particular area have since that time been specially reserved, not having been opened up for entry. What I have in contemplation is the reservation of that area until it can be economically used by the Canadian National railways. All that one can say yet is that it has been reserved and especially set aside and that no one now can enter upon it. The Smoky river is situate south of Grand Prairie and north of Park Gate, Grand Prairie being on the McArthur line running into the Peace River district and Park Gate being at the junction of the Grand Trunk Pacific and the Canadian National railways. The Smoky River deposit is situated about half way between these two points-Grand Prairie and Park Gate. I think that ultimately there will be a road necessary to join these two points bringing the agricultural products of the Peace river down to the Smoky River district, joining the Canadian National railway at Park Gate and thence to the Pacific seaboard. There are many who say that this is the natural outlet for the 'products of that territory both mineral and agricultural. But as yet we have not been able to see our way to authorize an investment to enable the Canadian National Railways to build that line. It will necessarily he a most expensive piece of construction and I do not [Mr. Meighen.I

know if at the present time the coal freight traffic alone will be sufficient to warrant the tremendous capital investment necessary. Whether the joint agricultural and coal traffic will warrant it, it will take some one better informed than I am to pronounce upon it. But as yet we have not seen our way to authorize the immediate construction of that line of railway.

I think the hon. member for Huntingdon (Mr. Robb) had a question in his mind as to whether the original lessees of the deposit were fairly treated. The lease was cancelled for the reason that they were in default. They did not comply with the terms of the lease in that they did not pay the rental when it was due and consequently the right of cancellation was in the department. The department in no way went beyond its right in cancelling the lease. It is true that information reached the department that the holders of the

5 p.m. lease were assuming an attitude antagonistic to this country in its war effort and on that account a more strict adherence to the terms of the lease might have been justified but it is sufficient for our purpose to know that the cancellation of the lease was strictly within the powers of the department and that it followed a failure on the part of the lessees to pay the rental for a considerable length of time.

As to the second lease, it was cancelled for the reason that I have given. The lessees contended, and are contending today vigorously, that the cancellation was illegal, but we cannot accept their legal claim on that ground. I think I have said all that is necessary with regard to the Smoky River lease and the prospects of obtaining coal from that source.

It has been alleged that sufficient progress is not being made in the utilization of the lignite deposits of (Saskatchewan and Alberta. Hon. members have stated that the lignite in these deposits must first be carbonized and briquetted before they can be made available for use. I may say that they are not quite accurate in their statements as to the composition of the briquettes. The commission that was formed by my predecessor as Minister of Mines to go into the question of briquetting the lignite and to develop a commercial process if possible, have gone so far as to be assured that the carbonization-that is to say, to give a brief definition, the elimination of the volatile matter, is a practical fact and in their opinion can be carried out on a commercial basis. They have gone far enough

to discover the binders which are required to hold the carbonized lignite together. They have discovered three' such elements, and the binder which they suggest is a consolidation of the whole three. Twice as much of this article is required for the briquetting of western lignite as is required for the briquetting of German lignite. That is the impediment in the way of the commercialization of the briquetting system but it is not deemed to be an insuperable impediment. It transpired that further difficulties were in the way. The commission was capitalized jointly by the Dominion Government and the Governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Dominion Government furnishing one half of the capital, or $200,000, and the Governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan each one quarter, or $100,000 each. On the basis of construction costs that obtained in 1917 when the commission was appointed that would have been sufficient to have enabled them to construct their plant. Costs have advanced fifty per cent and a little more; consequently they will require $600,000. They have sent a memorandum to me accordingly and I am in communication with the Governments of Saskatchewan and Alberta with a view to their co-operation with us in the same proportion as before in order to provide the necessary additional funds. It is the purpose of the commission, and indeed they have already, I believe, called for tenders, to erect a plant to try out on a large scale the briquetting process in the Estevan district in the province of Saskatchewan. Very considerable progress has indeed been made. It is altogether outside of the mark to say that this subject has in any degree been wanting attention at the hands of the department. It has received the most assiduous attention and of such a nature that very material progress has been made. It is one thing to say " Get a thing done" but it is another thing to be sure that the steps you are taking are scientifically accurate and commercially sound. We believe the progress we have made along the line of the utilization of the western output of lignite coal has been most encouraging. I believe I have covered, at least in as much detail as I have at my command, the various points raised by the hon. gentleman.

I should have made reference to the hon. member for Regina (iMr. Cowan) and the inquiry he has made as to certain deposits of coal operated by Mr. Burns in the foothills of the Rockies. I have no recent information on this subject and what I say is the outcome of an incident that occurred

many months ago but I am pretty sure it is right. I believe Mr. Burns' deposits are not deposits that he obained under the leasing regulations of the present Government. Hon. gentlemen are aware that in 1914 the coal disposition policy of the country was changed. From that date on we no longer gave grants of mineral rights; we gave leases only, and leases upon terms of development and rental and royalty-not always royalty, but usually so. I believe Mr. Burns' deposits at the point referred to were secured under the former practice, and consequently there is no contractual obligation on his part with the Government in regard to development. I do not want hon. members to get the idea that Mr. Burns is withholding development, for I have no reason to think he is. On the contrary, I am inclined to believe the hon. member for Saskatoon is right and that Mr. Burns is doing everything in his power to secure an income on bis investment. But so far as we are concerned I do not think his holdings are leasehold, and consequently we would have no jurisdiction to compel him tO' develop them.

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UNION
UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I am informed by the

Minister of Railways that he has not asked for any. T would not be so bold as to say that he would not accept it.

Motion agreed to and Bill read the second time.

On motion of Hon. Mr. Meighen the House then went into 'Committee of the Whole to consider the Bill.-Mr. Boivin in the Chair.

On section 1-Ratification of Orders in Council respecting Director of Coal Operations, etc.

Topic:   DIRECTOR OF COAL OPERATIONS.
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

It is gratifying to see the evidence otf a dawning consciousness on the part of the Government as to what is owing to Parliament in respect to many matters that heretofore have been carried out by Orders in Council. As I read this section, it is simply to have Parliament authorize the continuance in office of the officer referred to, the Director of Coal Operations, instead of having that authority continued by Order in Council. So far, so good. There is, however, one line in this section which I think might be improved. The section as it stands now reads:

These Orders in Council are hereby ratified and confirmed and continued in force and effect until the end of the next session of Parliament:

I doubt the wisdom of apparently denying Parliament the right to make any change between now and the end of the next session.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

It does not.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

It does not

actually, but I should think the section might so be worded as to toe more in keeping with what is owing to Parliament. For instance, it might be changed to read:

unless further amended or repealed by Parliament shall continue in force and effect until the end of the next session.

Topic:   DIRECTOR OF COAL OPERATIONS.
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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That goes without saying. Parliament is always supreme. If nothing is done in the meantime these powers, duties, and rights cease at the end of the next session. Of course, Parliament this session can amend this legislation, but it would be surplusage to say so.

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June 7, 1920