May 6, 1926

OFFICIAL REPORT

FIRST SESSION-FIFTEENTH PARLIAMENT 16-17 GEORGE V, 1926 VOLUME IV, 1926 COMPRISING THE PERIOD FROM THE SIXTH DAY OF MAY TO THE EIGHTH DAY OF JUNE, 1926, INCLUSIVE BEING VOLUME CLXXIII FOR THE PERIOD 1875-1926 INDEX ISSUED IN A SEPARATE VOLUME OTTAWA F. A. ACLAND PRINTER TO THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY 1926 CANADA


House of Commons Debates



Thursday, May 6, 1926


MARINE AND FISHERIES COMMITTEE


Mr. ALFRED STORK (Skeena) presented the first report of the select standing committee on Marine and Fisheries as follows: Your committee recommends that it be authorized to have its proceedings and such evidence as may be taken printed from day to day or as may be required for use of the members of the committee and of the House and that rule 74 in relation thereto be suspended.


LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The motion for the

adoption of this report must be preceded by notice.

Topic:   MARINE AND FISHERIES COMMITTEE
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FUEL SUPPLY

COMMITTEE OF INVESTIGATION-PERSONNEL

LIB

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

Liberal

Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister) moved:

That the special committee appointed on Monday, March 15 to investigate our present sources of supply of anthracite and bituminous coal, the dependability of such sources, and other matters in relation thereto be composed of the following members namely: Messieurs Armstrong (Lambton), Bury, Campbell, Flemming, Garland (Bow River), Gershaw, Howden, Lapierre, MacDonald (Cape Breton South), McLean (Melfort), Neill and Nicholson with power to send for persons, papers and records and to report from time to time.

Topic:   FUEL SUPPLY
Subtopic:   COMMITTEE OF INVESTIGATION-PERSONNEL
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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (Toronto Northwest):

May I point out to the government that a committee similar to that now proposed was appointed in the session of 1923 with precisely the same powers and for the performance of the same functions. That committee went into the subject exhaustively, taking evidence covering practically several hundred pages; before it appeared the head officials of both railways in Canada. Now, I do not believe that the appointment of any special committee at this date, entering as we are upon the fifth month of the session, will get us anywhere on the coal question. The facts are all well known, and the government is perfectly aware that the matter is solely a question of transportation. The committee appointed in 1923 made recommendations looking to a national fuel supply and although the government accepted those recommendations, they failed to put them into effect.

In view of the strike in England and Wales to-day there will be a fuel famine during the coming fall and winter such as has never been experienced before. The onus for a proper fuel supply in this country rests not upon any committee or commission, but entirely upon the government of the day. The best part of the Canadian merchant marine, the vessels that could sail the lakes, this government has sold, and now the country expects that the national railways shall be mobilized to solve this problem. When the matter was discussed 'by the previous committee it was admitted that the $7 rate would be satisfactory and take care of all overhead. Why has not the Prime Minister accepted that rate? He has referred this important matter to the decision of the railway commission, so that we shall receive no report upon it before August next when it wil be too late to get a supply of fuel. The Montreal Board of Trade, I may point out, realizing the gravity of the present strike situation in Great Britain, predicts a coal famine and economic newspapers and banking journals declare that there is likelihood of another strike taking place in the United States before the summer comes. Now, why refer this question to a committee? What object can be served by such a reference? The object of the committee as stated in the Prime Minister's motion is to investigate our present sources of supply of anthracite and bituminous coal and the dependability of such sources. It seems to me that if the committee were to investigate the dependability of the present government to solve this problem it might be more to the point. The government, in my opinion, are depending altogether too much upon Sir Henry Thornton and appear to be absolutely incapable of taking the initiative themselves. All the evidence that was given before the special committee appointed a couple of years ago, evidence contained in several hundred pages, shows quite clearly that this is purely and simply a transportation question. Sir Henry Thornton's officials and his experts who were examined before that committee were quite agreeable to the $7 rate but the government have refused to act upon the recommendations of that committee. I repeat, they are allowing Sir Henry Thornton to usurp

Fuel Supply

their powers and to exercise the functions which they should discharge themselves. Had I received anything like reasonable support when I discussed this question before something might have been done.

Now there is no necessity whatever for a committee to inquire into the sources of supply in Canada, for we all know what they are. The government do not need any advice at all upon that subject. I would urge the deputy leader of the House from Brandon (Mr. Forke) and the vice-regent from Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woodsworth) to try if possible to get the government moving in this matter and to shoulder the responsibility that properly belongs to them. There is no reason why the country should suffer because of inaction on the part of the government. The matter has now been made a football for long enough. One commission, the railway commission, failed to act on its own volition until instructed by parliament, and their report will not be in until midsummer and will be of little or no value to end or solve the question. The appointment of a committee only gives the government a chance to shelve its responsibility with regard to a situation that will become very acute next winter. The resolution just mentions sources of supply and says nothing at all about Alberta, the Mari-times or transportation.

As I said on March 15 last, in the debate of 1924, a vote was taken and my resolution for a national coal supply was adopted.

Where are we going to be next fall if the coal strike in England continues for six months or a year; are we going to be frozen? On the government of the day. Mr. Speaker, as long as they are the government, is the responsibility for finding a solution of this question. I do urge on the government that this industry is in such a critical condition to-day in the Maritimes and in the west that we should adopt the principle of subventions, bonuses and subsidies, a good protectionist doctrine, and put the industry on its feet. While I have the utmost regard for the mover of the resolution. I fear its adoption would mean further delay, and the only tangible result would be the presentation and filing of another report to supplement these two reports that I hold in my hand. Sir Henry Thornton agreed to a seven dollar rate, but later he said conditions had changed and he withdrew that rate. To hear him making his pronouncements on railway matters, you would think he was superior to the railway commission and even to parliament. Again. Mr. Speaker, I urge the government to take immediate action so that this very serious

situation may be dealt with in time to save the people of Canada, particularly those residing in the central provinces, from all the misery and discomfort that must inevitably follow another shortage of fuel next winter.

Topic:   FUEL SUPPLY
Subtopic:   COMMITTEE OF INVESTIGATION-PERSONNEL
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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Hon. CHARLES STEWART (Minister of the Interior):

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend

from Toronto Northwest (Mr. Church) always seeks an opportunity to make a speech when the question of coal comes before this House.

Topic:   FUEL SUPPLY
Subtopic:   COMMITTEE OF INVESTIGATION-PERSONNEL
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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

He needs to.

Topic:   FUEL SUPPLY
Subtopic:   COMMITTEE OF INVESTIGATION-PERSONNEL
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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

Does he?

I have not noticed recently anything serious in the coal situation, with all respect to my hon. friend from West York (Sir Henry Drayton). What is proposed to be investigated by this committee is not the situation that was dealt with by the committee of which my hon. friend from Toronto Northwest has just spoken. There is no need to investigate sources of supply; we all know where these are available. But some members of this House, particularly those from the province of Ontario are interested in securing coal from the west, and naturally hon. members from Alberta desire to supply the fuel necessities of Ontario from the coal mines of their province. To bring this about, it was advocated by some of our Ontario members that transportation could be reversed on the Great Lakes; in other words, that the coal be brought down to Fort William, and there transhipped to bottoms which would carry the coal to the lake ports from which in turn it could be distributed to the southeastern portion of this province. That phase of the subject was- not investigated thoroughly by the previous committee. I do not see any advantage in investigating the whole problem of coal transportation, because that has been already very fully gone into and the results, as my hon. friend stated, are contained in the volume he held in his hand. But it is felt by some members who are interested in this matter that they can prove the practicability of cheapening transportation costs on Alberta coal by transhipping it at Fort William as I have already mentioned. The work of this committee will not interfere in the slightest degree with the movement of coal to supply next winter's requirements of the central' provinces. We are well aware of what the strike in Great Britain may mean to our fuel situation, but we are chiefly interested in supplying the central provinces with our own coal, and the government is quite aliva-to the whole problem.

Fuel Supply

Topic:   FUEL SUPPLY
Subtopic:   COMMITTEE OF INVESTIGATION-PERSONNEL
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CON

Arthur Edward Ross

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. E. ROSS (Kingston City):

Mr. Speaker, I can hardly agree with the minister that this question was not discussed by the former committee; 1 cannot recall any phase of the coal situation that was not taken into account by that committee, and I think he will find from the reports that this and all other features of the coal problem were considered. The minister does not in this parliament, nor did he in the former parliament, seem to be seized with the seriousness of the situation. Let me draw your attention to these facts, Mr. Speaker. On January 22 last the member for West Calgary (Mr. Bennett) brought to the attention of the minister what he considered to be a very serious situation, and on January 25 the member for Bow River (Mr. Garland) also called the attention of the minister to a similar condition. On that occasion the minister replied:

There may be a serious emergency so far as the miners of Alberta are concerned, but at the moment there is no emergency at this end.

At that very time the situation was serious in eastern Ontario. Only two months before that the minister must have been aware of the emergent conditions, because he is reported in a Canadian Press despatch from Ottawa, dated December 28, under the heading, "Hon. Charles Stewart warns the public of possible acute situation," as follows:

Hon. Charles Stewart in an interview here strongly recommends householders "to immediately protect themselves by laying in supplies of whatever fuel they can obtain at present prices."

And so on. So at that time there was a serious fuel situation according to the minister; but on January 25 he stated there was no emergency at this end, although at that time there was an alarming situation. The minister seems to be imbued with the same spirit to-day in dealing with this subject: he is going to wait until this committee reports, just as he did before-

Topic:   FUEL SUPPLY
Subtopic:   COMMITTEE OF INVESTIGATION-PERSONNEL
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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

May I interject? I never said anything of the kind.

Topic:   FUEL SUPPLY
Subtopic:   COMMITTEE OF INVESTIGATION-PERSONNEL
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CON

Arthur Edward Ross

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROSS (Kingston):

Mr. Speaker, the

situation is so serious to-day that the government should assume full responsibility. This government has achieved an unenviable reputation for appointing committees and commissions of one kind and another which have never accomplished anything. We had a pulp-wood commission appointed by the leader of this government, and what did they do? They went gypsying in a modern way, enjoying a trip in excellent cars, Pullmans and so on, until the Finance minister had to send out a message calling them home, removing them

14011-200^

from the job and the payroll. 1 cannot see that anything will be accomplished by this committee; the matter is so serious to-day that the government should set themselves to its settlement, and deal with it and take the responsibility.

Mr. MIACKEiNZIE KING: Mr. Speaker-

Topic:   FUEL SUPPLY
Subtopic:   COMMITTEE OF INVESTIGATION-PERSONNEL
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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Is this to close the debate?

Topic:   FUEL SUPPLY
Subtopic:   COMMITTEE OF INVESTIGATION-PERSONNEL
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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:

No, it is not.

Topic:   FUEL SUPPLY
Subtopic:   COMMITTEE OF INVESTIGATION-PERSONNEL
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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

If the mover

speaks the debate is closed, but if it is quite clear that such will not be the case, it is all right.

Topic:   FUEL SUPPLY
Subtopic:   COMMITTEE OF INVESTIGATION-PERSONNEL
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May 6, 1926