I cannot quite follow this point. My hon. friend says that Sir William Petersen has made a great contract, and is going to make a lot of money. On the other hand, I understood him to say that if any of these ships in the combine attempted to reduce rates, they would be ruined.
be ruined. First of all, I do not believe there is a combine in the sense that it is a combine to restrain trade. I have too high an opinion of the Canadian Pacific and of these other
lines to believe they are doing anything more than trying to get a fair rate which will keep them going. There may be mistakes made, just as there have been in the fixing of rates on our transportation lines in this country; there is a little one, for instance, on the Crows-nest. pass; but I do not believe for one moment that the men who are running that North Atlantic conference, the best brains in England, the people who have made Great Britain, and who provided the ships to win the war- I do not believe that body of men are pirates or that they are desirous of charging a rate that will be ruinous to the people of Canada; they would be crazy to do it. They must try to give transportation at reasonable rates in order to get the products of this country as cargo for their ships, and if the people do not, get a reasonable rate they will not ship their goods.
Coming back to the Petersen contract, I say that these modem ships, which are good, will certainly be able to carry just as cheaply as the ships of the Atlantic conference. All right. Now you say that the Atlantic conference is making money. So they are, I hope; they would not go on if they did not, but Sir William Petersen can cut his rate down to the amount they have made and charge that much less rate, and still have at the end of ten years his ships and $430,000 of annual profits for ten years. That is what he would have, and1 he need not be liable for one cent if his contract is a failure. In that case he can bid you good-bye. But if his contract is a success he takes the money. In the old' contract in 1899 he had to put up some money as a guarantee.
I come now to the next stage. Sir William Petersen gets his contract, and the government are going to fix the rates. Now the government of this country have no more knowledge, in my humble judgment, than I have of fixing what ought to be the rates for transporting the trade of this country across the ocean in ships of this kind. Therefore they will have to select, as they did in connection with the railways, one, two or three men to say what shall be the rates that this new company which will be formed shall charge, and a company, of course, will be formed because Sir William Petersen will never leave himself open to liability; it would be foolish for him to do so; he does not have to. So whatever rates this company has to charge will have to be fixed by gentlemen to be selected by the government. I do not know who around Montreal has brains enough -they may be there-to fix ocean rates the world over, or between here and Great Britain, taking insurance, transportation and
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all other factors into account; but no doubt you can get the men if you pay for it, and that is an added charge to what this thing is going to cost.
Now when you have the rates fixed, it is perfectly obvious as has been said already that the ten ships are a mere bagatelle compared with the shipping that is engaged in carrying our trade across the ocean. What they can carry is a joke relatively to what has to be carried. Now who is going to get the benefit of the joke? Which of you gentlemen sitting to my left belonging to the Progressive party are going to have the good fortune to get your goods on these ships at a lower rate? How is it going to be decided? Is it going to be done by lot, or how? Is the space going to be given to particular friends, or to the Conservatives, and is it going to be done by advertising or how? Everybody in Canada will want to ship by those boats if they are from one to three per cent cheaper than the others; yet these ten ships cannot commence to handle our trade. My advice to the Progressive party is that they should see they get the first chance. I do not see much chance for the manufacturers of this country getting any space on these ships.
I have not expressed the view that any ships should be put on. I am only criticising the particular contract before us. I have not found the slightest fault with the government for endeavouring, so to speak, to beat the lion in his den and destroy him, if there is a lion; and that, no doubt, would come out upon investigation. We can have the three gentlemen from New York representing this combine come down here, and they will tell us that the one thing in the world they love to do is to give Canadians the cheapest freights in the world; and I hope they will from now on. But what I do say is that this particular contract, in my humble opinion, and with all respect, is a gold brick so far as we are concerned. It is an extremely valuable contract for Sir William Petersen if he builds the right kind of ships, and he has no liability. Secondly, it gives such a small percentage of the people of this country a chance to get their goods on these ships at a reduced rate, whatever that rate may be; and I hope the government will be clever enough in appointing people and get a reduced rate.
But that is not all that Sir William Petereea makes. I have had a slight experience in
shipping, and I will give you a little suggestion. In case Sir William Petersen gets the contract, he may as well get all there is out of it. If the Petersen line operates, the government should get a rakeoff on all the activities, including commission on supplies, repairs, particularly the charges on which there is five per cent-viz: on charters, time charters, freights and all the other known perquisites that fall into the willing handis of a shipping agent who puts up nothing but his brains. Most of these transportation companies have a special company, and one set of friends will furnish the supplies, and make something out of that, and another the repairs, and so on. Sir William Petersen is a very experienced man in transportation, and no doubt he will have his supply company and get his share on supplies and repairs, and we have the evidence now that the engines that will be used in these boats can only be repaired in London, and that is pretty close to home.
I am not going into any further detail in this matter. I say that the question is a very vital and important one, and this contract cannot commence to solve the problem. The people who want space on these ships will have to fight each -other for it, and I do not know what will happen to them. On the other hand, the gentleman who happens to have the ships, the owner of that stock, has no loss; he makes a large amount of money, and I should think he would be very happy in the proposition. But the contract is not going to solve the problem of ocean transportation for the people of this country. I cannot say at the present moment that I am able to give any solution of real value, but I would say that this government ought to be fairly well posted during the last two or three yeans as to how the conference does its work. You have government owned ships which are much larger than those which are to be put into operation. Government owned ships which have belonged to the North Atlantic Steamship conference for a number of years. Surely it would be possible to have the officers of the mercantile marine called and examined as to whether there is or is not a combine on the three things which I have mentioned-wheat, flour and cattle. It is surely very easy to get at that information, and it ought to be equally easy to get at the rates charged.
The carrying of live stock is a very important matter to shipping companies. I do not know whether the Petersen company are to provide any special facilities for the transportation or not. In my humble judgment the farmers of this country are absolutely
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protected at the present time. To-day the Liners axe having much difficulty to get cargoes; when they cannot obtain sufficient other cargoes they put in grain to fill up the space. Both liners and tramps operate from the port of Montreal to ports of the United Kingdom. Last year 153,000,000 bushels of grain were shipped from that port and more of that grain was carried by tramps than by liners.
I cannot see that this contract is going to help our people to get lower transportation rates. It may help a few but at the expense of the Canadian tax payers. Doubtless the matter should be investigated, and if you appoint a committee to go into it it ought to be possible to secure the attendance of some distinguished people and to secure the facts and no doubt some good may result from the investigation, but not from this proposed contract.
I want to take this opportunity of making a few remarks in support of the live stock industry, and to point out how that industry is affected by high transportation costs. The Preston report deals with the cattle industry, and it makes this comment:
The tragedy of the cattle industry must be largely laid to the determination of the North Atlantic steamship combine to keep the ocean rate at an exceptionally high figure.
In regard to the question of prices the report says:
In January, 1923, the White Star S.S. line quoted a rate of $15 per head, since which time it has ranged largely from $20 to $25. It is claimed by the steamship companies that the $15 rate was a " distress rate." Shortly afterwards, however, the rate was fixed for the season at $20.
This proves that even the cattle rate is in the hands of the conference. I do not rise for the purpose of censuring the government for taking the action proposed here in order to secure cheaper transportation rates. I would rather feel like censuring them for not taking action sooner. I have on frequent occasions deplored the fact that the government have not undertaken to give us better transportation rates as I think perhaps they could have done. Resolutions have been passed by different live stock organizations throughout this country, in addition to the protests made on the floor of this House, at the failure of the government to take action. As far back as 1921 the following resolution was passed at the ninth annual convention of the Western Canada Live Stock Union:
Be it resolved that this Western Canada Live Stock Union in convention assembled, while appreciating the voluntary reduction in freight rates on live stock by railways, urge upon the federal government the imperative need of a reduction of the cost of transportation on live stock to pre-war levels consistent with ithe drop in prices for live stock which the producer has been compelled to accept, and suggest for their immediate and serious consideration the utilization of the merchant marine service reported to be now lying idle in port as one means of alleviating this condition.
I had the privilege of attending the convention of the Western Live Stock Union at Calgary this year when a similar resolution was passed unanimously. I also attended the meetings of the Stock Breeders of Manitoba and a similar resolution was passed there also. So I say, that the demand is becoming insistent on the part of the live stock breeders of Canada for the government to take some action along this line. It has been claimed that the live stock industry is in a deplorable condition and that contention is true. I have some figures here that will prove how the industry has gone back and deteriorated in the last five years. The following table shows the extent to which our shipments to Great Britain and the United States have declined:
Year No. of head
1923 (approximately) 210,000
There was a little increase in the shipments of 1924 due to the fact, I am sure, that the farmers becoming disgusted and discouraged with the disappointing results from this industry had sold off much of their breeding stock.
Now, I maintain that agriculture has never had the support and attention that its relative importance to the nation has demanded. The live stock industry is the most important factor in permanent agriculture. Britain recognizing this fact has always paid careful attention to its live stock, and still remains the pure bred nursery of the world. We read in the agricultural papers of Royalty itself being seen often in the show rings leading a prize beast bred on their own farm. The Breeders Gazette has taken exception very often to the fact that men in authority in America have not paid much attention to the live stock industry. This year we find that President Coolidge made the first trip of any United States president to the International Fair at Chicago. The time has come now when we would like to see the Prime Minister of this country attending many of our agricultural fairs, and I am sure we would be delighted to see him leading round the ring some prize animal. We can produce the cattle that Great Britain requires. She wants nothing but good stuff,
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.and we can deliver the goods. In substantiation of this statement I should like to say that at the International Fair at Chicago Canadian breeding cattle won thirty-four prizes. Among that number I believe were 9 firsts, and 3 grand championships. We won no less than nine prizes in the fat cattle class. There is a most wonderful market in the Old Land .when we consider last year that it bought $160,000,000 worth of cattle from Ireland, whereas we succeeded in selling the Motherland only a little over $8,000,000 worth. Therefore it behooves this parliament and this government to take action immediately to try and save this great industry.
When the cattle embargo was finally removed we expected a great trade to develop and we had an assurance-in fact I believe it was advertised-that the White Star line would charge a rate of $15 per head for cattle shipped to the Old Country. Previous to the war, if I remember correctly our cattle were transported to the Old Country for $7.50 per head. We were much surprised when, instead of $15, the rate was advanced to $22.50 at which figure it now prevails although it is quoted at $20. While the farmers, ranchers, and business men of Canada have done everything possible to foster trade and build up this great industry, the shipping barons of Montreal and New York have planned deliberately a combination, charging excessive freight rates, thus hampering and almost strangling our promised trade in export cattle. We have in Canada a national railway, and a government merchant marine. We have the cattle suited to the British market, and in Britain we have a market. We have everything, indeed, to build up a great trade. Yet we are the victims of a combination of commercial blood suckers that are bleeding the farmers and live stock men white. The efforts of the government to relieve the situation is being watched with concern by the live stock breeders of Canada, and it is to be hoped that those efforts will meet with success. One very important phase of this agreement is that it takes no cognizance of the possible trade that will develop in the Orient; it seeks only to regulate the Atlantic rates. It was my privilege while attending the convention at Calgary this year to listen to an address delivered by Mr. Craig, Deputy Minister of Agriculture for Alberta, who spoke of the steps taken to develop trade with Japan. The government of Alberta has sent special commissioners over theTe, and I believe that the Canadian government also has trade agents in the Orient who also assist in that great work. The important fact was brought out by Mr. Craig
that there is a market in Japan for our cattle. He told us the first shipment from Vancouver to Yokohama cost him $75 per head. He succeeded in getting a reduced transportation rate of $50 per head, and, by the way the ship that took the cattle over at $50 a head was one of the Canadian Government Merchant Marine. I asked him if they got good service, and he said everything was first-class and that the cattle arrived in good shape. The rate has been reduced to $37.50 a head, and everything points to a development of a great trade with the Orient. We now have even Japanese importers coming to Canada. I think one came two weeks ago and bought 250 head of cattle for export to Japan. I read in the papers a statement that another importer had purchased over 500 head for shipment to Japan. Therefore I believe there is a great possibility of building up a trade among the seething millions of the Orient. I was told, and I know it is a fact that the Japanese are a proud nation. They have found out by experience that they can increase the stature of their soldiers by feeding them on a meat diet, and no doubt they intend to eat more meat as well as flour in Japan.
A lucrative and prosperous live stock industry in this country will solve many of our problems. It will solve the problem of immigration which has been mentioned frequently to-night. If hon. members will forgive a personal reference, I will show them how that will increase employment and will increase the immigration to this country. A few years ago, as my father before me, I was a wheat miner, as we are termed. We did not keep any live stock on the farm outside of a cow or two which furnished us with milk and butter. Realizing that our farm must be built up on a system of mixed farming, we got a herd of cattle. Formerly I used to do the chores myself in the winter time, but since I made the change I employ two men all the year round, besides employing others in the busy season. The cattle industry will increase employment in this country, and a great industry can be established. I intended to deal with the possibility of utilizing the merchant marine to take care of this trade, but I fear I would weary the House if I took up more time. I just mention the fact that in going over the tonnage of the ships appearing in Hansard yesterday I find thirty-six of 8,000 tons register. These are almost as large as the Petersen ships. It seems to me the government might undertake to sell or lease these vessels to Sir William Petersen to engage in this trade,
rather than have him build new ships, because in that event our ships might be scrapped or tied up, and left lying idle in the harbour. I desire to state again that the people in western Canada and indeed in the whole of Canada are looking forward with great concern to this project, and we hope that the government will be successful in giving us relief from present excessive rates. I will withhold my support of this proposed legislation, Mr. Speaker, and adopt a policy of "wait and see."
Is it the desire of the minister to proceed very far to-night? As a matter of fact two or three members on this side of the House expected to be present when these particular estimates were under discussion, and if it is proposed to continue for any length of time I would like to communicate with these hon. members.
I am quite aware there is no hard and fast rule, but there is a sort of understanding that, except for special reasons, the House will rise at eleven o'clock. One of our clocks shows twelve minutes to eleven, and another shows six minutes to eleven. It hardly seems worth while to proceed to eleven o'clock, but if we are going to sit till half past eleven or twelve I should like to get in touch with the members referred to.