March 13, 1925

LIB

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

Liberal

Hon. Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

The government's policy with respect to the matter to which my hon. friend has just referred will be made known in due course. No announcement will be made until the government is in a position to make a definite statement.

RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES On the Orders of the Day:

Topic:   RURAL CREDITS-REPORT OF DR. TORY
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

In the Speech from the

Throne intimation was given that the government's policy in respect to land transportation would have to await the judgment of the Supreme court. Inasmuch as this judgment has been given, is the government prepared to say that they purpose bringing down legislation on the subject?

Topic:   RURAL CREDITS-REPORT OF DR. TORY
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Hon. Mr. GRAHAM:

The government

does purpose bringing down legislation, as announced by myself some days ago, dealing with the freight rate situation as it now exists.

Topic:   RURAL CREDITS-REPORT OF DR. TORY
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Could the minister give an intimation as to when the government will probably be ready to introduce the legislation.

Topic:   RURAL CREDITS-REPORT OF DR. TORY
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I am not in a position to say at what date, but we will do it as expeditiously as possible. The freight rate situation is not at all satisfactory to any person anywhere in Canada at the present time.

Topic:   RURAL CREDITS-REPORT OF DR. TORY
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   RURAL CREDITS-REPORT OF DR. TORY
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

And it behooves this parliament to deal with it. Under the finding of the Supreme court, it is the only body that has authority to deal with the question.

Topic:   RURAL CREDITS-REPORT OF DR. TORY
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TORONTO TERMINALS


Hon. GEORGE P. GRAHAM (Minister of Railways and Canals) moved the second reading of Bill No. 23, respecting the Toronto Terminals Railway Company. Motion agreed to, bill read the second time, and the House went into committee thereon, Mr. Gordon in the chair. Section 1 agreed to. Bill reported.


OCEAN SHIPPING RATES

AGREEMENT WITH SIR WILLIAM PETERSEN- MOTION FOR RATIFICATION DISCUSSED


The House resumed from March 12, the adjourned debate on the motion of Hon. T. A. Low (Minister of Trade and Commerce), to ratify and confirm a contract between His Majesty and Sir William Petersen providing for the establishment of a subsidized steamship line on the Atlantic and government control of ocean rates and the proposed amendment thereto of Mr. Clark.


PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. ROBERT FORKE (Brandon):

I desire to offer a few remarks upon the resolution and amendment which are now before the House. There are two important factors in the life of Canada, and in fact in almost every other country, but more especially in this country of wide distances and long hauls in the matter of transportation. The first question to which I refer is that of production, and the second, that of transportation and distribution. I do not intend at this time to take up any of the time of the House in dealing with the question of production. As regards distribution, however, I may say just in

Ocean Shipping Rates

Topic:   OCEAN SHIPPING RATES
Subtopic:   AGREEMENT WITH SIR WILLIAM PETERSEN- MOTION FOR RATIFICATION DISCUSSED
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LIB

William Daum Euler

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

What year was that?

Topic:   OCEAN SHIPPING RATES
Subtopic:   AGREEMENT WITH SIR WILLIAM PETERSEN- MOTION FOR RATIFICATION DISCUSSED
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PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

That was 1913. I am reading these extracts to show that there have existed in the past conditions very similar to those which we are considering at the present time, and that numerous demands have been made at various times that the problem should be dealt with. Apparently everybody so far has recognized the existence of the evil. In 1914 the hon. member for West York (Sir Henry Drayton) was sent to England to look into the matter, and after considerable investigation he appeared to be very much disappointed with the outlook. He came back, and nothing was done at that time. In 1918 the Dominions Royal Commission reported there there existed a combine of ship owners operating against the public interest and that a discrimination in rates was being practised against Great Britain in favour of foreign countries. Sir George Perley also wrote that rates "during past years" had been higher than were reasonable; and Sir Thomas White cabled to the High Commissioner for Canada that he was much concerned about freight rates and was anxious to have inquiries made in Great Britain to ascertain whether anything could be done in the way of co-operation.

We can see therefore that attempts have been made from time to time to deal with what apparently has been regarded as an evil by different governments and different members of those governments during a number of years past. Whatever may be the facts, everyone knows beyond question that rates have increased most enormously since this conference, or combine, or whatever you ehoose to call it, has come into existence.

In this connection let me say just a few words touching the Preston report. I do not think it is at all necessary that we should pay very much attention to that report; I do not see that we need take up the time of the House discussing it so far as the question of transportation and ocean rates is concerned. It seems to me that the fact has been fully acknowledged by different governments and by former members of this government that freight fates have been uniformly higher than they ought to be; that would appear to be established even apart from the evidence that has been submitted in the Preston report. Now, I have nothing to do with the personality of Mr. Preston, about whom I really do not know very much; and so far as I can see, that does not enter into the matter at all. If Mr. Preston is presenting the facts as they are, the facts will stand investigation independently of what we may think of Mr. Preston; and if they are not facts but only unfounded allegations they will fall to the ground. It is a very common practice in law, although I am not so sure of this, not having any knowledge of courts and lawyers, that when a lawyer has no case the best thing for him to do is to abuse opposing counsel in order to fill up the time and show at any rate that he has something to say. And while this abuse of Mr. Preston may be necessary under certain circumstances, to my mind at Jeast it has very little to do with the question under consideration; the facts which Mr. Preston has submitted are what we have to Consider at the present time. Are the statements made by Mr. Preston borne out by the facts as they are? That is what we have to consider now, that is the extent to which we must take his report into consideration. No doubt it may turn out that Mr. Preston has attempted to prove too much; and it seems to me on the face of the report that sometimes it might have been better if he had stated the case a little more mildly. Had he done so he would perhaps have re-

Ocean Shipping Rates

ceived a little more attention and been more readily believed1. At the same time, I am not disposed, as some members of this House are, to discount the report. It is possible that the statements contained in it may be proved to be not so very far astray after all.

We are met however by a straight denial on the part of the steamship companies of some of the facts stated in the report. We have Sir William Noble of the Cunard line making the statement that any action by this House to take into consideration some of the allegations made might well alienate the sympathy of the steamship companies. This is a serious state of affairs indeed, and I would call the attention of hon. members to the threat; the very fact that this House should attempt to investigate the proceedings of the combine will "alienate the sympathy" of the steamship companies from the people of the country! Well, I do not think for one moment that these steamship companies are in the business for their health or for the benefit of the people: they are in the business for what they can make out of it. I am not afraid therefore that we shall lose their sympathy or that any damage will accrue from any investigation we may make into the manner in which these companies carry on their business.

I want to say now a few words about the Canadian Government Merchant Marine, and before proceeding I would read a short extract from the Ottawa Journal. I read this paragraph to refresh my own memory and those of other hon. gentlemen:

If the King government thinks an Atlantic combine exists, let it use and subsidize its own ships to fight it. Canada to-day has a merchant marine of 57 fine ships. Two of them are of gross tonnage exceeding 7,000; twenty-three of tonnage over 5,000; one of tonnage over 4,000; fifteen of tonnage over 3,000; fifteen of tonnage over 2,000; and one of 1,766 tonnage.

Their total tonnage is, roughly, 220,000 or 125,000 tons more than the ships to be provided by Petersen. What a farce, therefore, to have this Canadian government tonnage with insufficient cargoes or rusting at docks, while proposing to bonus an outsider with millions for fewer and no better ships?

That does seem a rather serious charge to bring against the government under the conditions that now exist; but we want to get all the information we can regarding the Canadian Government Merchant Marine before passing judgment. I listened with a good deal of pleasure to the speech delivered the other day by the hon. member for Cariboo (Mr. McBride) in the course of which he discussed the question of shipping. Perhaps that hon. gentleman is more fully informed on this subject than any other hon. member who sits on this side. Unfortunately, however, I was unable to be present during the delivery

of another speech, that of the hon. member for Lunenburg (Mr. Duff) which the House heard yesterday afternoon, and as I have not been able to read his speech in Hansard I have not the benefit of his remarks on the subject. I consider the hon. member better informed on shipping matters than most of the hon. gentlemen that sit on his side, and for that reason I regret not being in possession of the facts he submitted. However, I have several statements in regard to the Canadian Government Merchant Marine which I should like to read.

Topic:   OCEAN SHIPPING RATES
Subtopic:   AGREEMENT WITH SIR WILLIAM PETERSEN- MOTION FOR RATIFICATION DISCUSSED
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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

Will the hon. member allow

me? He quoted from the Ottawa Journal a statement in regard to the tonnage of certain ships of the Canadian Government Merchant Marine. The Journal was not fair to the merchant marine, who have two ships of

10,000 tons, twenty-three of 8,500 tons, and, if I remember rightly, about twenty-five of 5,500 tons.

Topic:   OCEAN SHIPPING RATES
Subtopic:   AGREEMENT WITH SIR WILLIAM PETERSEN- MOTION FOR RATIFICATION DISCUSSED
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PRO

Thomas Wakem Caldwell

Progressive

Mr. CALDWELL:

But that is dead weight and not carrying capacity.

Topic:   OCEAN SHIPPING RATES
Subtopic:   AGREEMENT WITH SIR WILLIAM PETERSEN- MOTION FOR RATIFICATION DISCUSSED
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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

I have quoted the carrying

capacity; dead weight capacity is carrying capacity, is it not?

Topic:   OCEAN SHIPPING RATES
Subtopic:   AGREEMENT WITH SIR WILLIAM PETERSEN- MOTION FOR RATIFICATION DISCUSSED
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PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

I am not going to enter into any controversy on that point because I do not know much about it.

Topic:   OCEAN SHIPPING RATES
Subtopic:   AGREEMENT WITH SIR WILLIAM PETERSEN- MOTION FOR RATIFICATION DISCUSSED
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LIB

William Duff

Liberal

Mr. DUFF:

I simply wanted to point

out that the Journal was not fair to the merchant marine. I am accused of always knocking the Canadian Government Merchant Marine and I simply desired to show how fair I am in correcting the Journal's figures.

Topic:   OCEAN SHIPPING RATES
Subtopic:   AGREEMENT WITH SIR WILLIAM PETERSEN- MOTION FOR RATIFICATION DISCUSSED
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March 13, 1925