June 24, 1922

LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

I think I made an explanation on the main estimates. My recollection is it was recommended that the money be applied towards combatting the grasshopper plague and conducting an investigation into the prevention of rust. My hon. friend of course understands that these amounts are turned in to the Receiver General and are not specially earmarked.

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Item agreed to. Public Works-Chargeable to capital-Public buildings. Ottawa-New Departmental Huild-ings-Compensation to Architects for designs submitted, $18,0-00.


CON
PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay) :

In 1914 the

Government invited architects to compete in the preparation of plans for a new departmental building. The contest was Empire-wide and some sixty gentlemen competed. Under the terms of the arrangement a committee was appointed to select from among the plans submitted the six which they considered the best.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Perhaps the hon. gentleman will tell us why this eight-year old baby has been resuscitated?

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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay) :

There is no doubt that there was an undertaking on the part of the Government to pay the sum of $3,000 to each of the six selected by the committee.

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CON
PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay) :

It was one of the terms of the competition advertised by the department.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

It seems an extraordinary thing that this was not done before.

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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay) :

The competition was not completed; in fact, it is not completed yet. There was a suit in the courts with regard to this matter in which one of the parties was successful, not in getting the amount asked for, but in having his claim to $3,000 established.

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CON
PRO

Item agreed to. Harbours and Rivers Esquimau, 'B..C.-Dry dock, under construction $1,000,000 Port Arthur and Fort 'William Harbour improvements-Further amount required 85,000 Toronto Harbour-Improvements -Further amount required,. .. 100,000 1,185,000


PRO

George Gibson Coote

Progressive

Mr. COOTE:

Will the minister explain the first item in this vote and state very definitely whether he does recommend the completion of that work?

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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay) :

The late government entered into a contract in February, 1920, for the construction of a dry dock at Esquimalt. Ordinarily the item for the completion of the work would have been in the main estimates this year, but when the Government came into power there was a feeling that although further dry dock facilities were necessary on the Pacific coast, money conditions were such that it was doubtful whether the construction of two dry docks on the Pacific coast would be justifiable. The work has been held up at Esquimalt as well at Vancouver. We found on investigation, however, that some $1,200,000 had been expended at Bsquimalt; that the contractors had a large plant and equipment on the ground, and that if the Government cancelled the contract it would be liable for the payment of claims arising out of the cancellation. After careful investigation, in view of the fact that further dry dock accomodation there was needed; that large expenditure had already been made, and that further large expenditure would be involved if the contracts were cancelled and the works

Esquimalt Dry Dock

closed down, it was considered better business to go on and complete the work. So we are asking for $1,000,000 for the continuation of the work at Esquimalt.

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CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

When the main estimates were before the committee the Minister of Public Works suggested to me that when the supplementary estimates were being considered1 I would have an opportunity to refer to the conditions with respect to a dry dock in Vancouver. The need for a dry dock there was recognized by three successive governments, that of the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier, that of Sir Robert Borden, and later that of the right hon. gentleman who at present leads the Opposition (Mr. Meighen). In February, 1920, a contract between the Coughlin Shipbuilding Company and the government was authorized under the Dry Dock Subsidies Act, and in October, 1920, a contract was entered into under which, on consideration of the company expending $2,500,000 in the construction of a dry dock, the Dominion would subsidize the company to the extent of $112,000 per annum over a period of thirty-five years in accordance with the provisions of the Dry Dock Subsidies Act. Unfortunately, the contract called for a graving dock. After careful-investigation the Coughlin Company Came to the conclusion that a graving dock was not a proper dock to construct; so they joined with the Wallace Shipbuilding Company and agreed upon the construction of a floating dock.

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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Marcil):

I have no objection to the hon. member making reference to Vancouver, but the question before committee at present relates to the dry dock at Esquimalt, not at Vancouver.

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PRO

John Warwick King

Progressive

Mr. KING (Kootenay) :

I would like the hon. member to have an opportunity of proceeding, because when the main estimates were being considered there was a suggestion that he would later have an opportunity to make some reference to this matter.

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LIB

George Newcombe Gordon (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

1 am in the hands of the committee.

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CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

I shall not be long, Mr. Chairman, but I would like to place certain facts before the committee. As I have said, these two companies consolidated their interests; the old contract was surrendered, a new contract with the Government of Canada entered into, and these two com-

panies were given the subsidies which had previously been given to the Coughlin Shipbuilding Company: These companies have

now at their disposal a plant practically completed for this enterprise. The only thing that remains to be done is the construction of a floating dock. The Minister of Public works (Mr. King) advises me that this contract is in order; that the only reason why any question has been raised by the Government has to do with finances.

The minister has suggested that the Dominion might not be justified in constructing two dry docks on the Pacific coast. I want to point out that the Dominion is not constructing a dry dock at Vancouver; it is a matter of private enterprise, But I think there are certain facts that members of the House, particularly those who live in the prairie provinces and in eastern Canada, did not quite appreciate.

The facts are these: The total tonnage passing in and out of the two ports of Vancouver and Victoria for the year 1921 was almost equal to the total tonnage passing through the ports of Montreal, Quebec, Halifax and St. John. It has often been pointed out in this House that Vancouver is a port open the year round, whereas Montreal is closed five months of the year. The total tonnage passing through the port of Vancouver is greater than that of Montreal. Halifax and St. John are the ports through which the business of Montreal is done in the winter, and the two Pacific ports of Vancouver and Victoria do an almost equal volume of business with the four eastern ports. That is a fact which I think this committee should consider. If I may be permitted to suggest it, I think that if this House came to the conclusion that during one session of each Parliament the members should take a trip to all parts of Canada and see what is doing in their own country, it would eliminate a great deal of the talk that goes on here and we should do more business because we would know what we were discussing. I think it is a truism that to have seen a thing once is better than to have heard of it a hundred times.

May I point out in this connection that we have a serious unemployment problem on the Pacific coast. Had this project been proceeded with last year after the contract was concluded it would have resulted in the employment of one thousand men in that enterprise who are and have been unemployed.

Esquimalt Dry Dock

May I also point out that the port of Halifax and the port of St. John each have dry docks; Quebec has two dry docks, Montreal, two; Kingston, Toronto, Collingwood, Port Arthur, Prince Rupert, each has a dry dock; but the two great ports of Victoria and Vancouver have no dry dock except the one in Victoria, which is not capable of handling any of the business that is required to be handled at the present time. This dry dock which the Government proposes to proceed with and for which the estimate is proposed, will take at least five years to construct. The dry dock in [DOT]Vancouver which would be constructed by private enterprise if this contract was honoured could be completed within one year, and its existence would be more than justified within one year, because if it only repairs five or six ships, it will mean a tremendous sum of money for the port.

The situation is this: All the ships now coming into the port of Vancouver are forced to go for repairs to the port of Seattle, which, by the way, has five dry docks. It is true they only make minor repairs there, 'because the vessels wait until the return trip and have any major repairs done at Hong Kong. I have been assured by such men as Mr. Melville Dollar, of the Robert Dollar Company, one of the biggest shipping companies in the world, that vessels can now have their repairs done in Vancouver, such as can be done without a dry dock, as cheaply and as efficiently as they can be done on the Clyde, and just as cheaply and more efficiently than they can be done in Hong Kong. Surely under these circumstances this Parliament is not going to shirk its responsibility under a solemn contract which is admitted to be in perfect order.

May I point out also, and I am sure the Minister of Public Works will agree with me, that if this contract is proceeded with, the total cost for the first year cannot exceed the sum of $40,000. I am just as strong for economy as any member of this House, but where in the name of common sense does economy come in when an expenditure of $40,000 will mean the expenditure of millions of dollars by shipping companies outside of Canada within our own ports. Furthermore, these two great shipbuilding companies, the Coughlin and Wallace companies in which millions of dollars of our own Canadian money is invested, are slowly being Strangled, for it is out of the uestion for them to get contracts for new ships. We all recognize

that shipbuilding in Canada cannot be a thriving industry for five years to come anyway. It may be a thriving industry eventually, and we hope it will be, but these two shipbuilding companies could carry on with the repairs thait would be available from the great volume of shipping that is now passing through that port, and they could save to the people the millions of dollars of capital invested by carrying on a repair business for the next few years, if they are given the chance.

I have seen a newspaper report that the Minister of Public Works proposes to go to British Columbia and investigate this matter, but I can assure him and every member of this committee that there is no need for further investigation. Investigations have been carried on over a period of many years.

Just before I conclude, I should like to refer the Government, and particularly the Minister of Finance, with whom I thoroughly sympathize in his effort to economize, to the conclusions arrived at not only by every citizen of Vancouver, but by the leading Liberal newspaper in the province of British Columbia, the Vancouver Daily World. The editorial I refer to appears on the front page of its issue of May 29. I could refer to various other editorials in the same paper on the same subject, but I think this covers it pretty well. I shall just read a few sentences:

In view of these facts repudiation is impossible and unthinkable. Every consideration of national policy, of national honour and of national necessity-as well as every commercial necessity of the port of Vancouver-requires the carrying out of the contract and the keeping of public faith. On the issue of public honour, there is no room for evasion, repudiation or compromise. On the fact of commercial necessity there is no room for argument- the need of docking and repair facility is a recognized need of every active port. There is no answer to the justice of this claim and right.

I sincerely hope that there will be no delay in making the investigation which the Minister of Public Works stated last December he proposed to make. I think there has been plenty of opportunity and plenty of time to make the investigation already, and I hope that the very moment the session is concluded he will give this matter his first consideration and see that justice is done. I can quite appreciate the fact that he is not as closely in touch with this situation as we from the city of Vancouver, and possibly from other coastal ports, are.

Esquimalt Dry Dock

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June 24, 1922