May 12, 1921

CON

Henry Lumley Drayton (Secretary of State of Canada; Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Does my hon. friend know that at these figures the credit of Canada stood higher than that of any other country in the world in the New York market?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

All I have to say is that the comparison is sufficient to bring out the negligent manner in which the business of this country is handled. Here we have a Canadian Government bond at ' 7 per cent, selling for $91.25, while the 6 per cent bond of the little province down by the sea sells at $102.02. That is my answer to the Minister of Finance, and I do not think there is any explanation that he can give that will restore his standing as a financier, and that will put the credit of this country, at all events in connection with this transaction, upon the high footing which it should have, and which we should always endeavour to maintain.

As I said before, I say again now, that the business of the country is badly handled; there are shortcomings and shortsightedness on every hand in the management of the country's business, but the most glaring piece of negligence and of want of judgment is in doing business in the name of this defunct and bankrupt concern. The people of Canada have too high a reputation and credit in the world to hide under the cover of a bankrupt institution of this kind. Does the Minister of Finance think that we do not suffer when we do business in the name of a concern that has no reputation in the financial world? For my part I cannot see the necessity or the wisdom or desirability of continuing to do business in this way, when we have our own name and our own reputation as a country to go upon, and when we have all the responsibilities in connection with this concern. Why not come out from under cover like a man and do business straightforwardly in the name of the Government, for the Government, and with the Government's money, depending on the people's credit and giving the advantage to the people of this country? I do sincerely trust that never again will any Senator or any member of this or any other House be obliged, when he has to tell

the truth, to record a transaction of that kind in connection with the financial business of this country. I think that in connection with the Budget and the handling of the business affairs of this country, it is the duty of an Opposition member like myself, particularly when I have the record from the mouths of the Government themselves, to point out to this House and to the country the nature and character of these transactions, to warn the Government and the country, and to express the hope that the Government will profit by being told what they should be told, how badly they compare with other institutions of much less strength than themselves in the same country, and under the same flag.

I pass from this borrowing episode to say a word or two, now that railway matters have been brought up, upon our connection with the Canadian Northern. I do not hold the Minister of Finance individually responsible for the transactions as a result ol which we became burdened with the Cana dian Northern Railway, but I do hold the Government of which he is a member, and himself as a member of that Government, responsible for the ill-advised, arbitrary and injudicious manner in which they have plunged this country into an abyss of debt in connection with this railway. I tell him and hon. gentlemen opposite who were here at that time, and who know all about it, that we on this side of the House protested with all our vigour and brought forward all the arguments that could be adduced against taking over this road and burdening the country with that debt; but we were laughed at. Hon. gentlemen on the benches opposite thought it was great sport to see us voted down by the force of numbers on the other side, and with glee, as if they were doing something grand for the Canadian people, they grasped to their hearts this awful holocaust which was forced upon them by Mackenzie and Mann, and their associates. The people of Canada have got this railway now and there is not such a laugh over it as there was at the time it was taken over, whetn hon. gentlemen opposite were in such a gleeful mood over the fact that they were voting down the Liberals. This nightmare is now upon the shoulders of the people of this country. They told us at the time that the road re- quired a complement, that the Canadian Northern was not paying, that the Grand Trunk Pacific was not paying, that the Transcontinental was not paying, and that they could not pay until they found an abundant avenue of strength and wealth

in the shape of the Grand Trunk Railway, which they were going to splice on to these other roads. In the expiring days of a second session in the year 1919 this road was also forced upon us. We thought that probably we were mistaken and that possibly some profit might accrue from the taking over of these roads. But what do we find to-day? Instead of a profit, the loss is greater on the other roads, and we have a deficit of $25,000,000 in connection with this bonanza which was going to put us on our feet. Is that good business? Is it any credit to the Government or those supporting the Government? The Government, heedless of reason or argument, forced the thing upon the House and upon the country and now the Canadian people must make the best of a bad situation. . [DOT]

We have poured out money like water in Canada to open up avenues at Montreal, Quebec, Halifax, St. John, and elsewhere to provide eastern outlets to the Atlantic for the wealth of the country, so that we might increase our own business. I do not begrude the money that has been spent in that way. We have deeped the river St. Lawrence, provided facilities at Halifax, Montreal, and St. John, and altogether we have spent large sums of money for the purpose of doing business on our own ground. Sane people would urge that we direct the traffic of the country to these avenues, via the river St. Lawrence in the summer, and, when that river is closed, through the other ports that have been equipped for the purpose. According to the first figures given, we have spent $35,000,000 to fix up the terminals at Halifax, and probably double that expenditure at the harbour of St. John, on which we have expended large sums from time to time. All this money, Mr. Speaker, we are practically throwing to the winds, and we are buying an outlet for our Canadian produce at Portland in a foreign country. Is there anything more unsound than that? What are we going to do with that terminal? No one on the other side has yet admitted that we are going to do business at Portland. Hon. gentlemen try to escape responsibility in the matter, but if they are not going to do business at Portland, what are the terminals for? Why are we about to pay money for this outlet if it is not to be utilized? Are we going to close it and let the money go to waste? The idea of buying a road to Portland is entirely opposed to every sound business principle from the standpoint of true Canadianism,

and I charge the Government with having wasted the money of this country. After having expended large sums on the river St. Lawrence, and at Halifax, St. John, and elsewhere, these expenditures will have been utterly futile if we are to switch our business off to some foreign port.

I submit, Mr. Speaker, that our railway business is poorly managed; we are losing money every day and the prospects are becoming increasingly worse. I am advised that, so far as western traffic is concerned, our railways are a laughing stock and a discredit to the Government and those responsible for their management. I was informed to-day by a responsible western man that nobody bothers with the Canadian National Railways, because they do not handle business properly and cannot be relied upon. People cannot afford to do business with them and consequently traffic is passing into the hands of the Canadian Pacific Railway, who manage their affairs properly and in an up-to-date manner. This, Sir, is not gossip; it came to me just this afternoon from a responsible public man of the West who declared that, as a good business man, he had to give up doing business with the Canadian National Railways because he could not wait for them, and they had no system in their management. He was obliged to go where he could get business properly handled. This seems to me to be conclusive evidence that government-owned railways are not capable of competing with privately-owned roads; and if we want proper enterprise in this country, if we want to have our business well attended to, We must have proper regulations and restrictions in our management of the railways, and must see that no advantage is taken of the people. Private enterprise and private ambition and foresight are, after all, the best guarantees of proper management. There is nothing about the western government management but slipshod indifference; we have only half dead, half alive men who have neither the ambition nor the desire to secure business and promote the welfare of the concern for which they are responsible. They have not the some enterprise, initiative and interest in the business as private owners and managers would have, ahd consequently they fail to get the prize whan it is in sight.

That is all I intended to say in regard to the borrowing of the Government, and the' way in which they are handling the railway business. There is a great desire on the part of the Government to draw us into an open fight in connection with the

tariff, questions of policy, and that sort of thing. Let me assure the Minister of Finance, that there are greater things before the minds of the Canadian people today than the question as to whether the tariff is high or low. When the people consider the fact that the country is being ruined by mismanagement on the part of the Government, when they come to talk about the building of ships, and the continuance of the insane policy of literally throwing money into the sea, their nerves are strung more highly, and their passions are more strongly roused, than they can be by any question as to whether we have an old tariff or a new. We have not had in Canada any great upheaval in connection with the tariff since the year 1878. There have been changes up and down, but whichever Government has been in power, there has been no startling upheaval one way or the other; and I suppose that, whichever party comes into power after the next election, the necessities of the people and the vested rights of interest, will have to be considered carefully, judiciously and wisely, as they have been in the past. I say, Sir, that the people of this country are not so much concerned about the battle of the tariff as the Minister of Finance and his Government may think. But they are greatly concerned about other things.

We were told last night that the superintendent of shipping for the Canadian Pacific Railway, Mr. Bosworth, delivered an address at Vancouver the other day, in the course of which he said that they can buy first-class ships, built last year, at the rate of $50 per ton. Now I take it for granted that the 'superintendent of shipping for the Canadian Pacific Railway knows what he is talking about. He is a business man, he is in the public eye, the glare of public opinion is upon him as well as upon every other high official in the service of that institution-I take it that he would not assume the responsibility of saying that he could buy ships at $50 a ton if that were not the case. However, the statement was made in this chamber last night and nobody seems to have taken exception to it. If that is the case, Mr. Speaker, what is happening here? Under the force of closure this session the Minister of Marine, and the Government behind him, forced through the House a vote of $20,000,000 to be used in the building of ships at the price of $191.98 a dead weight ton. Those are the figures that the minister gave us in the early stages of the session. I ask again, what is happening? That practically seventy-five per cent of that money is being

lost when it is converted into ships. That is, you build a ship that is costing you practically $200 a ton and when you put it into the market, according to the statement of the authority that I have referred to, you only get $50 a ton for that ship. And here we are voting millions for the purpose of continuing such a policy. We have voted $20,000,000 to build ships at a price of practically $200 a ton for which we would only get $50 a ton if we came to sell them. Those are the things which come home to the minds, the hearts, and the purses of the people of this country, and about which they are more concerned than whether the duty will be twenty-five or thirty per cent on a pair of boots. Those are the things that impress the people of this country. Upon such issues we invite battle and will meet the Government, and we are not to be side-tracked into a fight purely on tariff lines. Our hon. friends opposite can battle among themselves to ' their hearts content; we will fight them on the tariff and on bigger things as well, and we will give the people of Canada an opportunity of passing judgment upon this Administration and the hon. gentlemen who support it. No wonder the Government is desirous of fighting simply on the tariff issue. It wants to draft its own indictment. It wants to select its own judge to preside at the trial, and to draw and empanel its own jury, so that the whole thing will be in its own hands. Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, that the jury are now ready "to come in" as they say in the courts. In this case their verdict is "guilty" and as one says, so say they all. Now we are not going to allow the Minister of Finance to draw his own indictment- it would be defective, and bad, and should be set aside. We are not going to give him his own judge or his own jury; he must squarely face the issue before the people of this country and give a real account of "the deeds done in the body" whether they be good or whether they be evil-and evil they continuously are in this case.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB
L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

I would be glad to give them a ticket of leave myself. Now those are some of the things that should be discussed by the people of this country. Let me say this further on the question of the tariff, and I want the Minister of Finance to listen to me seriously. The real authors of what is regarded as the National Policy in this country were the late Sir John A.

Macdonald and the late Sir Charles Tup-per, and their speeches are still on record with respect to that policy. What did Sir John A. Macdonald say about protection? He said: It is not our idea that goods will be dearer. Our idea will be that the goods will be manufactured in our own country, and that local competition between the manufacturers in this country will keep prices at a proper level. That was the idea of Sir John A. Macdonald in connection with the so-called policy of protection. He was not a protectionist; he adopted protection for the purpose, as he thought, of forcing America into reciprocity. That was his idea, although later on he gave a little more adhesion to the principle of protection. If what was in the mind of that great statesman had panned out it would not be so bad. If the price of shoes would be just as low in Canada as in the United States, and the only ef-' feet on the tariff was to keep out the American shoe, and by competition keep down the price in this country it would not be so bad. But that is not what is happening; and I want to bring it home to the minister-and I say it on my responsibility as a member of this House-that there is no honest competition in trade in this country at all. There are combines in everything-combines in shoes, combines in rubber boots, combines in every single earthly thing you can think of from the food on the table to what you wear on your person; and no grocer in Canada to-day is permitted to sell a

9 p.m. pound of tea, a pound of candy, or a pound of butter except in accordance with the price of the combines.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
CON

Henry Lumley Drayton (Secretary of State of Canada; Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

I wonder if my hon. friend is aware that the Government of Ontario-in whose hands the administration of the law is-entered an indictment against a so-called grocers' combine in Ontario and that judgment in the case is reserved? I wonder too if my hon. friend could tell me whether the Government of Nova Scotia has taken similar proceedings against the combine he has been speaking about in the steel industry?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

I am not talking about any particular combine.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION
L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

The cackling of geese saved Rome, but I do not know whether the cackling of my hon. friends opposite will save the present Government. All I

have to say is this: I do not look to the municipal councils, or to the local governments, for the administration of the law governing matters of this kind. We have a federal law dealing with trusts and combines-but perhaps my hon. friends opposite repealed that law. [DOT]

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

Of course, they did.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

Well, worse and worse and more of it. We have a law dealing with combines which was passed during the reign of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. It was a good law, but I am sorry to find that it has been repealed. During the war we were told that anybody could lay information before a magistrate in the town of North Sydney against this steel trust to which reference has been made. Could anything be more absurd than to imagine that any man is going to bear the burden of carrying through the various courts a ease against a combine, with the support of all the other combines in the land behind it, and nothing on the other side but an ordinary man who found that he was charged too much for a pair of boots, a keg of nails, or something else he bought from that combine? The best legal talent of the land would be arrayed against him, and counsel's fees would be running up into so many hundreds of thousands of dollars that the poor man would be frightened out of his boots and would get in a hole as quick as he Could, thankful that he had saved his life.

I thank my good friend from York, Mr. Maclean-pardon me for mentioning his name, but I wish to show him my appreciation-for standing up in this House and stating that there should be a public prosecutor to deal with these cases. I agree with him. Until that is done and the Government have a secret service from one end of the country to the other, and the combines realize that there is power behind the prosecutor, we will have the governing of prices just to suit these combines and trusts. What can be more ridiculous, Mr. Speaker, than that in my home town a grocer cannot sell a pound of tea or butter or a keg of nails except according to schedule prices? And those prices are the same all over the country. If that grocer undertakes to sell a little cheaper he is immediately advised: "Nobody will sell to you. You can sell what you have on hand, but that is the end of you."

Unfortunately, there is no machinery to look after conditions of this kind. We

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink

REVISED EDITION. COMMONS


had the late lamented Board of Commerce. Perhaps it was not as successful as it might have been, but that was because it had no sympathy or support from this Government. It was like a baby which the mother refuses to feed and keep clean; that baby would soon die. That is what happened to this baby of the Government. They would not countenance it at all; it was a sort of illegitimate child that nobody would acknowledge. What is the result? The "combinster," the profiteer, the darling of this Government, has full sway again now that this infant which he feared might grow up and usurp his power is dead. And the Government says to its darling: "Don't be concerned; we knew it would die. Now be happy and contented, for we have carried out our promise to you. We were always behind you, and we will continue to be behind you, and you will have things absolutely your own way, except of course that, for appearance sake, we must ask the attorneys general in some of the provinces to do something, but we know there is nothing they can do." I bring this charge home to the Government that we have combines in this country. And I assert that the central Government is the proper authority to look after them, and if it has not the power it should obtain the necessary power from this Parliament, and so assure the people that these combines cannot continue to oppress them with impunuty. We heard a splendid speech from the hon. member for Dundas (Mr. Casselman) the Other night in which he claimed all the virtues for this Government-that there was nothing wrong with it and that it was entirely clear of scandal. While he was speaking I was thinking of certain procedure that we come across in the courts once in a while, when a particular class of people are being tried and the clerk of the court asks for their record. I remember one fellow who was asked, "What sort of record have you?" And he said, "Well, I don't take snuff, but you can charge me with everything else." That is about the situation of this Government. I do not know that they are very great "snuffers," but if there is any other crime in the calendar that they are not guilty of I know nothing about it. The member for Dundas claimed that there was nothing to be said against this Government. Well, the Minister of Finance was not in the House at the time, but it was while the right hon. gentleman, now member for King's, N.S. (Sir Robert Borden) was leading his Gov- ernment that two men were read out of the House for grafting in connection with war supplies. Possibly my hon. friend never heard of it, but there are scores of members on both sides of the House who are aware that for stealing public money in connection with the purchase of remounts and of medicine for our soldiers two members from among hon. gentlemen of the other side were driven out of the House by the then Prime Minister. Yet we have members who will stand up and say1 that there is no scandal against this Government or anybody belonging to it. There is nothing that could be mentioned in connection with war supplies, such as binoculars, boots and shoes, medicine, horses, guns and munitions that were not directly or indirectly the subject of scandal by hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House; but the good innocent peace-loving gentleman from Dundas in the simplicity of his heart says that the Government is absolutely immaculate and there is nothing wrong with it. I will do him the credit for saying that the scandals I have referred to happened in 1914, 1915 and 1916 when possibly he was not a member. I have an idea that he came into this House in 1917, and therefore possibly he is innocent of any knowledge of those scandals. But he will not sin any more, I am sure, in claiming all the virtues, at all events for his friends of the old days. Now, I think the Administration should give the people a chance to live, and see to it that combines shall be powerless to take advantage of them. I am sorry that we have only one minister present, and that therefore I cannot very well submit to him questions that do not appertain to his department, but I wish to put my case on record so that possibly the day may come when some notice will be taken of these matters. It is put up to us, Mr. Speaker, that we do not look after our part of the country, that we are not so solicitous about getting contracts from the Government for rails and coal for our national railways as we should be, and that as a result our people are suffering from the negligence of the Government or of their representatives. I submit that there should be a fair share of national feeling in this country, and that even if our coal is to-day slightly dearer than the product of a foreign country, other things being taken into consideration, we should give our own product the preference. I do not knew that I can better express the idea I have in mind than by reading a letter-not an imaginary one this time, but a communication which I addressed to the president of the Canadian National Railways on August 9, 1919. This letter will be found among the records of the president of the road, and that which I shall read is an exact copy. He was then refusing to buy our coal and our steel, being on the lookout all the while for lower prices. I do not blame him; he was trying to do business the best way he could, but I wanted to convince him that something more than . hard and fast business was to be taken into consideration; that regard should be had to our national undertakings and to the welfare of the men who abandoned their work in order that they might defend our country in the trenches at the front. The letter was as follows: % I have your recent letter and that of your assistant, Mr. Vaughan, and note the reasons given why further or increased orders cannot, in your judgment, be given to the coal mines of the counties of Cape Breton and Inverness. The reasons to me are not sufficient or satisfactory in view of the conditions which have brought about the present situation in the counties of Cape Breton and Inverness. You will at once realize the soundness of the principle that the nation should together share the burdens, responsibilities and consequential effects and results of the recent war. That being admitted, the rest of Canada should share with the county of Cape Breton and county of Inverness the natural results of the frightful war that so recently and so successfully to the Allies has been brought to a close. Present conditions in the counties of Cape Breton and Inverness are attributable entirely to war conditions, war demands and war necessities. In the first place, when war was declared thousands of the loyal and sturdy miners in the counties of Cape Breton and Inverness threw down their tools and 'in the shortest possible time found their way to the- trenches in France and Flanders where they valiantly fought till the very last shot was fired and the glorious victory won. By reason of those qualified, trained and efficient miners being withdrawn from the production of coal, the output fell most materially and the companies operating the Cape Breton county and Inverness county mines could not fill the contracts into which they had entered before war was declared. Consequently they lost these customers who had to look elsewhere, across the border in many cases, for their coal supplies. In the second place, the fleet of steamers which was in the service of the companies operating in the county of Cape Breton conveying coal to the ports of Montreal, Quebec and other ports on the St. Lawrence River and other parts of the world was commandeered by the King's authority for purposes of war, thus rendering the coal companies above mentioned absolutely helpless in carrying out their engagements for the supplying of coal where their largest contracts were made,* and where for many years the major part of their output was sold. This again caused a most serious loss of custom and rendered It necessary for those who in the past purchased Cape Breton coal to look elsewhere 209* and in most cases to the American coal mines for their necessary supplies. In that way the Cape Breton mines have lost their hold on the Canadian market. And now that these brave soldiers who had gone to the front are back and willing to work, although many of them will never be back, having sacrificed their lives in the interest of their country,-those who have returned are anxious and willing to work but there is no market for the coal; consequently the men cannot get work and they and their families are suffering privations and becoming the victims of conditions that men of their standing should not suffer nor fear. I must with all respect, and yet wi-th insistency, impress upon you the necessity of coming to the assistance of these men by purchasing the article which they produce, whether or not it may be more expensive than the same article imported from a foreign country. As I stated above, this is not only a national question but it is also an Imperial one, as the conditions which now exist in the counties of Cape Breton and Inverness were brought about as above stated, not only in the interest of our own nation, but in the interest of the Empire and the Allies at large^ When you will look at your letter to me, I think you will realize that in the light of the foregoing facts the reasons you give for not buying more of our coal do not measure up to the gravity of the situation involved. I am sending a copy of this letter to the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Sir Robert L. Borden, G.C.M.G., and I trust that he will be of assistance to you in bringing about better conditions among the deserving and worthy miners in the counties of Cape Breton and Inverness. Yours sincerely, (Sgd) D. D. McKenzie.


CON

Henry Lumley Drayton (Secretary of State of Canada; Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

May I ask my hon. friend a question? I take it from the correspondence that the price of local coal was higher than that of the imported product. Am I right?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

It was contended that American coal was cheaper.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
CON

Henry Lumley Drayton (Secretary of State of Canada; Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Does the hon. gentleman think that the American coal should not he allowed in; or does he think that the higher price ought to he paid for the Canadian coal?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

I say that before the war we were not beholden to anybody; we had the market and we Were able to supply it. But our ships were taken from us and our men volunteered for service overseas; therefore it now devolves upon the nation to do all it can to help these people to get on their feet again until they get their ships back and regain control of the markets, even if the coal cost the nation more than a similar product from across the line. That is what I say, a#id that is what I contended for then.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
CON

Henry Lumley Drayton (Secretary of State of Canada; Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

If the hon. gentleman will permit me-he has asked

me to take the matter up with the Cabinet. I intend to do it, and of course I want to understand his case. I understand his case to be that as a result of the war the coal mine operators of Nova Scotia have lost their markets and that those markets are now occupied by the output of American collieries. What I want to find out from my hon. friend is this: does he desire that the markets should be conserved for the Canadian coal, or does he desire that we should pay a premium price to the Canadian coal mine operators? If the latter, how much does he say that premium price should be?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

During the war, Mr. Speaker, we had a system of fuel control under which it was not open to the mine operator to sell his coal at whatever price he pleased. The fuel controller went fully into the figures; he ascertained what it was costing to produce the coal, and he fixed a price and said: You must sell your coal to the national railways at this figure. Now, it was quite possible that the Government could get coal at a price even lower than that fixed by the fuel controller, but we contended that in order to maintain our men, in order to enable the returned soldier to work who was willing to do so-who was only looking for an opportunity to swing his pick as he did before he went overseas-we contended that the people in Ontario, Manitoba and the other parts of Can' ada should be willing to suffer a slight disadvantage in the price of coal. That is what we are after, and if it is necessary to give a little higher price, I say: give a little higher price; let the officers and the experts of the Government in connection with coal fix what that price should be within fair lmits, and let the preference be given to Canadian coal and steel as against the coal and steel of foreigners who have a bigger market, bigger capital and bigger production than we have. I am bound to mention that not only were the ships of those Canadian companies taken away, but they were kept for a year or eighteen months after the war was over. Just when the war was over, they were sent off to Australia and they were kept away from us, because they had been hired out to other companies at a low rate, and at that time the charterers coufd get higher rates elsewhere and they sent them off. Our companies were obliged to bring suits in the Supreme Court _

in England in order to get an order to compel those other companies to give us back our ships, and after the cases were tried, we got our ships. During all this time, however, we were absolutely helpless; we could not get a pound of coal up the St. Lawrence while American coal poured in in every direction, capturing our market. The result was that we had to start all over again as if we were beginning to mine coal for the first time in our lives, having to make new connections because our old customers had gone. We are now making splendid progress, and with some sympathetic support from the Government and the Government railways in connection with steel rails and coal, we shall be able to get on our feet again. When we are on our feet and in a position to hold our own, we should be able to fight our battle without looking for any particular favour from the Government or any one else, except that I always take the stand, that from the national standpoint in the purchase of such national commodities as steel and coal, which are the very backbone and basic foundation of the wealth of any nation, and particularly ol our nation, the national Government ana the national industries should give preference to the national product as against that of another country. I take that position and I think it can be very well maintained. Although our coal may be a few cents higher in price, when you consider that our railroads will be carrying our own goods, and that directly and indirectly it is to the advantage of our own people that the Government and the Government railways should use our own coal, it will pay the Government to give the preference to the product of their own country. If they buy coal from the American, he gets his money, he puts it in his pocket, and he goes out of the country. Further than that he has no truck nor trade with my hon. friend. But if they buy coal from a Canadian, he gets the money and it goes from one hand to another, building up the trade and industry of the country and supporting the families of the Canadian people. That is the true national policy. I do not know whether some people would agree with it or not; but I break away from every tie when I bave thousands of sturdy; strong men who threw down their picks and went to the war, and who on their return, find their families requiring their support while their pay from the war is stopped. I would like to see anyone who would stop me from trying" to help them.

That is the position in which I am now in connection with those men.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
CON

Henry Lumley Drayton (Secretary of State of Canada; Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

I had rather thought that my hon. friend was accusing me of being a friend of the big interests. He seems now to be scolding me because I am an enemy of the big interests. In which capacity does he wish me to take up this question of coal and steel?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink

May 12, 1921