April 10, 1922

CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Where were they shipped from?

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PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

Part of them were shipped from New Brunswick and the rest via the United States. I shall read a part of the letter I received from this shipper, who says that they have captured the Havana trade:

Last winter we tried to ship via St. John to Havana, and we gave the Canadian Government Merchant Marine a cargo ot potatoes and sent two or three of our best men to oversee the loading, but we could not induce the management of these boats at St. John to load our potatoes in any kind of shape, and handled same as so much junk which resulted in a loss for which we have now entered action against the Canadian Government Merchant Marine to recover, so we gave this up and went back to shipping through (Boston, and have been shipping through this port some ten to twelve thousand barrels each week during this season, up until one month ago, when the potato market in Havana dropped to $4.00 per barrel, then we were shut out, the potatoes costing us at that time $1.25 here, $3.00 freight to Havana left us a loss of 25c. per barrel.

Possibly a hundred shippers in New Brunswick send their potatoes to Cuba;

[Mr Caldwell.]

and at that time this firm, as the letter states, W& shipping from 10,000 to 12,000 barrels per week. When the House prorogued last year I went home in the full expectation that the government would establish this frost-proof warehouse at St. John before the following winter, but I learned during the summer that nothing had been done in the matter. I had several conferences with the shippers to ascertain what could be done, and failing any action on the part of the government, this firm, from whose letter I am quoting, and two other shippers in New Brunswick formed an export company, leased a warehouse at the port of St. John and fitted it up at their own expense, and shipped through it during the past winter. Now, that will not benefit the potato growers of New Brunswick. These shippers practically have a corner on the potato export business of New Brunswick. They pay the same price for potatoes as other shippers pay who ship through the port of Boston. No shippers, of course, can use the warehouse at St. John except the three who own it, and everyone who has any potatoes to ship must ship them through Boston and pay the excessive freight rate due to the long haul, instead of getting the advantage of the short haul to St. John.

Now, it is quite probable that some hon. member may say that there is now in St. John a frost-proof warehouse. Well, I know there is, and I mention the fact merely to anticipate anything that may be said in that respect. There is a warehouse, but as I have said, it does not benefit the potato growers of New Brunswick who have to ship through Boston. The average cost of producing potatoes last year was $2 per barrel and the growers are to-day getting 60 to 80 cents. The reason is, we cannot get our potatoes into Cuba without paying an excessive freight rate, or else an exorbitant profit to the company who have the shipping facilities in St. John. The Government should establish a warehouse at that port open to all shippers of New Brunswick. They might give the firm who own this warehouse an option of selling to the Government for the money they put into the business. I do not want to see this firm suffer, and I am not finding fault with them for establishing that warehouse and making a profit out of it. They need a big profit, because they were put to considerable cost in establishing and equipping this warehouse. If the Government

St. John Terminals

decided to establish a warehouse of their own at St. John this firm could be given the opportunity of selling out to them, and the shippers of New Brunswick would then be able to export to better advantage than they can to-day. They would save in freight rates and would be in a better position to grow potatoes at a profit. I do not wish to take up any further time, and as I shall have the right to close the debate I shall reserve until then anything more I have to say on the subject. But I trust I have made clear the necessity for a public warehouse at St. John.

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LIB

Pius Michaud

Liberal

Mr. PIUS MICHAUD (Restigouche and Madawaska) :

I endorse the resolution of my hon. friend from Carleton and Victoria (Mr. Caldwell). In New Brunswick to-day the farmers have thousands of dollars' worth of potatoes that they cannot ship. Formerly our potatoes had a good market in Winnipeg, Boston, and even in this city, but unfortunately, owing to the higher freight rates to which our products have been subjected, we have been unable to compete with the state of Maine and with other provinces of the Dominion. Our potatoes are of excellent quality by reason of the adaptability of the soil, and to-day we are to some extent specializing in this industry. But we have no facilities for shipping our potatoes, and it will be impossible for us to continue this line of farming unless something can be done to reduce the freight rates we have to pay. The state of Maine is to-day providing practically all of the New England states, except New York, with potatoes. They have a considerable advantage over us. As my hon. friend (Mr. Caldwell) says, our American friends can compete successfully against us because of the disadvantage with which we have to contend in the matter of shipping, and, in the past, in regard to the exchange. St. John is advantageously situated as a shipping point for our potatoes, because it is a seaport, and Cuba for the last few years has been a good market for us. We have been shipping potatoes practically all the year round, but since the establishment of the private warehouse in St. John we have been handicapped in competition with the shippers of Maine. I hope the Government will look into the matter at an early date and make it possible, even before the close of the present season, for us to export our potatoes to outside markets if we have not adequate markets in this country.

Mr. RICHARD B. HANSON (York-Sunbury) : I desire briefly to support the

resolution. It is quite in line with the promise of the Government to extend our marketing facilities, as outlined in the Speech from the Throne, and I would suggest to the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Robb) that this is a matter in respect of which he could do a very real service to the farmers of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. I include the Island farmers. It is true that the New Brunswick farmer in days gone by has been very seriously handicapped, for while we have had free trade with the United States in potatoes, whenever it suited them to do so they declared an embargo against our product and shut us out as effectively as they have now done under the Fordney tariff. The result was that our nearest market was closed to our potatoes in more ways than one. The Cuban market has been rather erratic in the past, and a very real difficulty has been experienced by shippers by reason of the fact that until within a comparatively recent period there has been no direct steamship communication from our own ports. But through the enterprise of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company round trips have been made this season by their ocean steamship service, and the very satisfactory accommodation to the potato trade has demonstrated beyond a doubt that their service out of St. John can more than compete with that provided by the United Fruit Company's boats out of the port of Boston.

I would not have the House think that our only crop in New Brunswick is potatoes, but our farmers have been actuated, I think, by the example of their neighbours in the State of Maine, who confine their efforts almost exclusively to the production of these tubers, and in the northern counties they have gone very extensively into potato production-rather unwisely, perhaps, because, I am of opinion that they would be much better off if they engaged in mixed farming, following the example of their brothers in the eastern part of the province in days gone by.

I was not aware that the frostproof warehouse established this year at St. John is a private enterprise. I was under the impression that shippers on payment of a toll could use that warehouse, and I believe that was done this past winter to some extent, although I speak subject to correction.

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PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

Three shippers.

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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON:

There was a community of shippers,-how many I am not aware.

St. John Terminals

In the opening of this trade, which has lain dormant for the reasons mentioned by the hon. member for Victoria and Carleton (Mr. Caldwell), the Government by the expenditure of a comparatively small sum of money could confer a very substantial benefit on the locality affected. I commend this particularly to my hon. friend, the Secretary of State, (Mr. Copp), who, I know, is just as much interested in this matter as we are, and I hope he and his colleagues will give it their very earnest and favourable consideration. It will be a step in the right direction to attempt to relieve what is now a really bad situation in the province, and the establishment of these terminal facilities would be a great help during the cold weather towards obtaining a new market for our surplus potatoes, which, as has been rightly said, have no superior on this continent.

Mr. 0. TURGEON (Gloucester) : I rise

to support the resolution of the hon. member for Victoria and Carleton (Mr. Caldwell) urging the Government to provide proper terminal facilities at the port of St. John to place the potato growers of New Brunswick in a position to command the West Indian and other markets. For the past two years I have on frequent occasions called the attention of Parliament to the hardship imposed upon our products from the East-products of the farm as well as of the forest-by reason of. the very high freight rates. In many cases these excessive freight charges have in effect put an embargo upon the products of New Brunswick,-our old markets have been closed to us, and we are left to find other outlets, which has been very difficult and in some cases impossible of accomplishment. Although the county which I have the honour to represent is the most distant from the port of St. John, still if. we had such terminal facilities as have been suggested the farmers there could take advantage of them as well as the farmers of southern New Brunswick. I hope that the Government will without delay concede the request of my hon. friend from Victoria and Carleton. I have no doubt that the hon. Minister of Public Works (Mr. King), who must still have some sympathy for his native province, will contribute his energy as well as his sympathy to that end, and that the Supplementary Estimates will contain an item sufficient to provide these facilities for next season's crop.

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PRO

William John Ward

Progressive

Mr. W. J. WARD (Dauphin):

Mr. Speaker, there is another phase of this ques-

tion which has not been touched upon, and in my judgment one which places a very great handicap upon the potato growers of western Canada at least. The constituency which I have the honour to represent has become quite a potato growing district, but the growers are at a decided disadvantage in that the railway companies do not permit potatoes to be unloaded at a given point other than the point of destination, and stored there until the market will absorb those potatoes. For example, last fall there were five thousand carloads of potatoes standing in the Chicago railway yard on which there were no bids, largely due to the fact that the railway companies do not allow through rates on potatoes diverted in transit. At Dauphin we have no warehousing for vegetables, and our local growers, who ship from fifteen to twenty carloads of potatoes a year, are compelled to load their product within a month and ship them direct through to Chicago, New York, or some other large centre, thus bringing about congestion, which naturally causes a very great slump in prices, such as took place on the Chicago market last fall. I think this question of diversion in transit should be taken up along with the warehousing question and have the serious consideration of the Railway Commission.

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CON

George Burpee Jones

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. G. B. JONES (Royal) :

I rise to support the resolution proposed by the hon. member for Victoria and Carleton. We lost our American market because of the American tariff put into effect last year, and therefore I think the Government should give our potato growers every assistance. Formerly we had a very good market in Quebec and Ontario, but the excessive freight rates from the maritime provinces have cut off that market, and last year our farmers had to feed their cows large quantities of potatoes left on their hands. The section I represent is largely devoted to dairying, and I think everyone knows that potato feed does not conduce to milk production. Consequently the farmers in the constituency of Royal have met with very severe losses. I hope the Government will see fit to do something to meet the situation, which has been so well put before the House by the hon. member for Victoria and Carleton and others who have spoken in support of his resolution.

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CON

John Babington Macaulay Baxter

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. J. B. M. BAXTER (St. John City):

There seems to be nothing to add to the arguments advanced by hon. members who have preceded me, hnd I am sure that you,

St. John Terminals

Sir, and the House will be pleased to see such a manifestation of unity from the province of New Brunswick. We are all one on a subject of this kind. I shall not attempt to add anything to what has been stated, except to suggest to the Government that whether it be in the

form of a potato warehouse or any other development of a Canadian port, it is work along the right lines.

The country is pretty well served with railways at the present time, but you have to have a spout, so to speak, through which the produce of the country can be sent on its journey overseas; and the equipment of our ports is the urgent problem of to-day. Advocated as it is from within the ranks of the party to my left, I trust that the efforts of the hon. member for Victoria and Carleton (Mr. Caldwell) may be successful in bringing about among his party a broadness of spirit which will recognize that there are claims for reasonable consideration on the part of the people of the East as well as on the part of the people of the centre of this Dominion. It may be wheat one day, but it can very well be potatoes the next; it may be railroad rates one day, but it can very well be equipment of our ports the next; and unless the House is prepared, unless the groups in this House are prepared, to give equal consideration to all these problems, it is scarcely possible to expect that any of them by itself will be successfully solved. I congratulate the hon. member on having brought this matter to the attention of the Government. They are pressed, it is true, with the urgent need of economy, but this expenditure would be so small and the service rendered so great that I trust the Prime Minister will see fit to have provision made for it in the Supplementary Estimates.

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LIB

Lewis Herbert Martell

Liberal

Mr. L. H. MARTELL (Hants):

I have much pleasure, Mr. Speaker, in concurring in the sentiments which have been expressed by the hon. member for Victoria and Carleton (Mr. Caldwell), and in supporting his resolution with regard to the providing of terminal facilities for the export of potatoes from New Brunswick at all seasons of the year. I have, however, one request to make, and it is that he be good enough, at least impliedly, to embrace within the four corners of his resolution an equal request that similar terminal facilities be provided for the city of Halifax, in order that the people of western Nova Scotia, particularly of the county of

Hants, may have an opportunity of exporting their potatoes.

The county of Hants, I need hardly remind you, Mr. Speaker, is one of the finest agricultural districts in the Dominion; we raise potatoes in that constituency which are the equal of those produced in any other part of Canada. We are not entirely confined to the growing of fruit; we regard the raising of potatoes as one of our basic industries. The hon. member for Victoria and Carleton advocates the interests of the potato growers of New Brunswick; I wish to reiterate his remarks and to make the same plea for the potato grower of the midland and western counties of Nova Scotia. I believe it is in the best interests of the farmers of the maritime provinces who are concerned in the growing of potatoes that ample terminal and shipping facilities be provided for the export of their product. If our people are going to be kept on the farm it is false economy for us to endeavour to save a mere pittance where the welfare of the farmer is concerned. In order to make our country more prosperous, in order to improve industry, it is essential that some money be spent, and while there is no doubt that Canada to-day is in dire financial straits, our condition is not such that we can afford to follow the policy of "let well enough alone." We should rather adopt a policy having for its object the development of industry, and if we expend a reasonable amount of money in the development of our industries, then, of necessity, better financial times will come.

I therefore have much pleasure in concurring in the resolution proposed by the hon. member for Victoria and Carleton. If there is one class of people that we want to help in this country, it is the farmers. I happen not to be of the farming class; I am a member of that much abused profession of law. But every possible effort must be made-and particularly is it the case in Nova Scotia-to keep our people on the farms, and we can do that only by encouraging them all we can and providing them with the best possible facilities for the export of their products.

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LIB

James Horace King (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Hon. J. H. KING (Kootenay, Minister of Public Works) :

Mr. Speaker, I see no reason why this House should not concur in this resolution. For the information of hon. members who are interested in the matter, I would say that officials of the Department of Public Works are now

St. John Terminals

making inquiries in the hope of finding that we have facilities at the port that may be utilized for this purpose, or, if possible, to bring about conditions at the port-

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Louder, please.

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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay) :

to bring

about a condition at the port that will provide this accommodation.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I tried to listen, but I am still without information as to the Government's attitude. Might I ask the minister if he would repeat those two sentences?

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The Government is going to do what is asked-agree to the adoption of the resolution.

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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay) :

Does the right hon. gentleman wish me to repeat?

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I understood the minister to say they were making inquiries whether there was room for the warehouse. Perhaps I am wrong.

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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay) :

I stated that we were inquiring into the present facilities at the port to see if we could not use those facilities, or some of them, in order to give this accommodation.

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PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. T. W. CALDWELL (Victoria and Carleton) :

While the resolution only asks that the Government should take this matter into consideration, because that was as far as I could go under the rules of the House, I would really like to have a stronger assurance from the Minister of Public Works (Mr. J. H. King) or from the Government that this matter will be taken up and that a warehouse will be actually established. A pious wish does not get you anywhere in exporting potatoes; I have learned that to my sorrow. If the Government will give me an assurance that they will-I do not know just how to put it without getting out of order; but while one may not as a private member propose a motion involving the expenditure of money, it is possible for him to urge quite strongly that the Government spend this money and build this warehouse.

I am grateful to the minister for having taken this matter up so promptly. I spoke to him some days ago about it and he very kindly consented to consult his officials at St. John and see what the possibilities were. I would like to warn the minister in one respect: I have no doubt that the very shippers who urged me so strongly

last year to get the Government to establish this warehouse and who have since established one of their own, will oppose this very strongly, because they certainly have the best thing in New Brunswick in the shape of a money-making organization. They have a corner on the exports at St. John in the way of potatoes; it is a crop we grow largely for export, and it is the largest export crop in the province. These people would object to the Government establishing a warehouse that would give to every shipper in New Brunswick a chance to ship through the port of St. John. It means a matter of $1.50 to $1.75 a barrel by way of profit to them if no one else can ship through St. John, because if the other shippers are compelled to ship through Boston, the St. John shippers only have to pay the price that any shipper pays who ships through the port of Boston. I hope I have made that clear. I could furnish a volume of communications which I have received from these shippers last year urging the building of this warehouse, as showing the necessity for it and the benefits that would thereby accrue to the farmers of New Brunswick. I would like the minister to give us some further assurance that the Government will not be too easily put off. I am not betraying any confidence, I think, when I say that I believe the report from St. John was that there was no room to provide further facilities at that port. I can hardly agree with that statement because I have been at the port of St. John a good deal and while the facilities for exporting grain and other produce are considerable-there are grain elevators provided by this Government, and rightly so-there is still plenty of room to establish a warehouse where we could unload both out of the cars into the warehouse and out of the warehouse into a boat. That of course is essential because we have to ship a large part of our potato crop in the winter. It is not harvested until the cold weather is upon us in the fall, and anyone who knows anything about the growing of potatoes knows that you must market them before the next summer; so the potatoes have to be marketed in the cold weather. If we had summer the year round we could ship our potatoes from St. John without the facilities asked for, but as it is, it is impossible to collect a load of potatoes at the docks and let them stand in cars on the track, and if that were possible you could not keep them from freezing in the cold weather. If the Government will

British Columbia Fisheries

give me the assurance that they will go ahead and establish a potato warehouse, I shall he pleased to withdraw the resolution.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

If the Government promises to do all my hon. friend requests in his resolution, will my hon. friend be content?

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PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

I am not satisfied

with this resolution as it stands, and the only reason I put it in this form was because I could not put it in any other. A pious wish does not provide facilities for exporting potatoes.

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April 10, 1922