June 7, 1929

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. R. B. BENNETT (Leader of the Opposition):

The real difficulty to which

attention was directed, namely, the use by the grain trade of a ticket that had not been approved by the Board of Grain Commissioners for Canada, for which undoubtedly the government must accept full responsibility, has I understand been settled to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.

So far as we may be interested, we are only desirous that the great agricultural producing sections of the country should feel that they are deriving the full return for their labours from the sale of their product. As I understand that this committee composed of representatives of all parties, has striven for weeks to arrive at conclusions that would be satisfactory so far as it may be possible to all parties concerned, and that these conclusions are now embodied in the legislation which is submitted to the house, we regard it as our duty to say to you, sir, and to the house that regarding the legislation as being acceptable to all interests after it has been fully considered and canvassed in the committee, we shall do our utmost to expedite its progress through the house.

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Motion agreed to, bill read the second time, and the house went into committee thereon, Mr. Johnston in the chair. Sections 1 and 2 agreed to. On section 3-Salaries of commissioners.


PRO

Milton Neil Campbell

Progressive

Mr. CAMPBELL:

I question the wisdom

of raising the salaries of these commissioners as proposed in this section. If we were absolutely certain that we were going to get the very best men there would be no objection, but we have no such guarantee. The minister has stated that the experienced grain men have been secured either by the grain trade or by the pool, and that h is necessary to provide a large salary in order to get proper men. I do not altogether agree with that view. As a matter of fact it is not experienced grain men you need as commissioners; that is the class I would very carefully steer away from. I believe that when you pay a man a very high salary you elevate him so far above the ordinary farmer that he is inclined to lose sympathy with him. I simply register my protest; I do not offer any opposition.

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Section agreed to. Sections 4 and 5 agreed to. :i3ss Canada Grain Act



On section 6-Head office.


CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Mr. Chairman, I wish to point out that the city of Fort William which I have the honour to represent is vitally interested in this proposed change. The same question came up in 1925 when the grain act was amended. Then it was proposed to move the headquarters of the board to Winnipeg, but I put forward the arguments that I intend to submit to-day, and the committee was fair-minded enough at that time to acknowledge the justice of my case. I was supported not only by my own party but by members from the prairie provinces on both sides of the house and by two or three members of the government. As a consequence the headquarters of the Board of Grain Commissioners remained in Fort William. I trust that to-day my hon. friends in all parts of the house will regard the proposal as the House of Commons did in 1925.

May I point out to hon. members, particularly those from the prairie provinces, that the headquarters of the Board of Grain Commissioners was established at Fort William by act of parliament in 1912. At that time Sir George Foster, as Minister of Trade and Commerce, asked the people of Fort William to provide a building to house a sample market and the grain commission. I have under my hand the correspondence dealing with the whole matter. I do not wish to take up the time of the committee by reading the various letters, but I may state that the file contains a communication from Sir George Foster asking the people of Fort William to provide the necessary accommodation. It will be recalled by hon. members that the people of Fort William were badly hit by the crash in real estate prices which took place in 1912. But notwithstanding this misfortune they responded promptly to the minister's request and put up $500,000 of their good hard-earned money to erect a suitable building. For a period of about ten or eleven years that money earned' no dividend. I may be permitted to mention a personal incident as an illustration of how the investment depreciated. My father subscribed about $15,000 or $20,000. In 1914 when his estate was being wound up his shares were sold' at fifty cents on the dollar. I put in a little money myself and have the stock yet, but I merely refer to it to show that all the business and (professional men in the city of Fort William provided money for the building. The building w^as laid out for a sample market, but no sample market was ever placed in it. As a result for about ten years there wTas not sufficient revenue to pay any dividend on the

capital investment, and it is only within the last seven years that dividends ranging from two and a half to five per cent have been paid on that $500,000. Five per cent is the highest return the contributors have ever received. Now, it is proposed by this section to allow the Board of Grain Commissioners to locate the head office of the board at such place as the board may desire. The removal of the board's headquarters from Fort William would probably depreciate the value of the $500,000 investment to about fifty cents on the dollar.

I would point out to the committee that there is a moral obligation on the government in this case. True, the present government was not responsible for the location of the headquarters of the grain commission at Fort W'illiam, but, as I have pointed out, the necessary accommodation for the commission and for a sample market was provided on the request of Sir George Foster when acting as Minister of Trade and Commerce in a Conservative administration. Therefore I submit the obligation is a continuing one on the government of Canada.

If it could be shown that the farmers of the prairie provinces were suffering because the head office of the board is located at Fort William, the people of Fort William, being broadminded, would say: Well, we will just

have to take our loss. But no national interest is involved. Ever since I came into this house in 1917 there have been attempts made at various times to change the location of the headquarters of this board. I have lived all my life at the head of the lakes, where eighty-five per cent of the grain of the west is handled. I know something about the grain trade, and I have never yet heard it urged that any greater efficiency in the handling of the grain crop of the farmers of the west would result by the moving the headquarters of the board to any other point. If there has been any inefficiency on the part of the board, it has not been because of its being located at Fort William. I submit therefore that there is no national need to justify the proposed change, and I doubt very much that any assistance would be given to the farmers in any manner, shape or form in the better handling of their grain by changing the location of the board head office. Since 1925 one of the commissioners has been at Winnipeg, anyway, and now I notice under this bill it is proposed to appoint four assistant commissioners to occupy offices in different sections of the country.

I have no quarrel with any other portion of this bill. I associate myself wholeheartedly with my leader when he says that our only desire is to see that the farmers of the west

Canada Grain Act

get the best return they can from their grain.

I am convinced that with the appointment of these four assistant commissioners to act with the three commissioners, the farmers of the west will get that efficient administration of the grain act which they may have failed to get in the past. The board must have some pla-ce in which to keep their records, and that is about all their headquarters amount to, because this should be a travelling board. I think the farmers will agree that this board should be, as my hon. friend from Bow River (Mr. Garland') once expressed it, an itinerant board1. In fact to my mind there is no reason why the board should not have a private car just as the Board of Railway Commissioners has.

May I point out in this connection that the railway commission is located at Ottawa, which is a long distance from the centre of the Dominion. Most of its business is done in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal, Toronto, Halifax and in -other cities of this country. But there has been no complaint of inefficiency on the part of the Board of Railway Commissioners because its headquarters is at Ottawa, a point much further east than Fort William. I submit that the Board of Grain Commissioners in being located at Fort William is much closer to the centre of Canada than the Board of Railway Commissioners located in Ottawa.

I notice that in his statement Mr. Boyd did not give any reason why the headquarters of the board should be moved to Winnipeg, but he did say it is an eight hundred mile trip. It is if you count the distance both ways. He said the trip meant a day lost; it is only a night lost. A train leaves Fort William at night and gets into Winnipeg about nine o'clock in the morning; a train leaves Winnipeg at night and gets into Fort William about the same time next morning.

Most of the cases that come before the grain commissioners are not decided in an hour or a day; they have to be discussed just as have cases that come before any other court. Therefore I think the headquarters of the board might very well remain at Fort William. The board has to travel east and west to -hold sit. tings at various points. Mr. Boyd suggests Winnipeg, but Winnipeg is merely an inspection and trading point for the wheat. I do not need to mention that fact to hon. members who are farmers, but there are other members who are not so familiar with it. Fort William, on the other hand-and I include Port Arthur, of course-is the point at which the wheat is weighed, cleaned, stored, transhipped and1 inspected on to the boats. There are disputes every now and then arising

at that point, and very important disputes in connection with shortages of cargoes going on the boats-much more important than many of the minor differences that occur in the west.

The point has been made in the past that the board, being situated at Winnipeg, might be under the influence of the larger percentage of the trade. I do not care to give credence to that statement, because if the board is properly constituted it should not be subject to such influence. I allude to the fact, however, for the reason that it has been mentioned to me by some people, including some members from the prairie provinces.

The head of the lakes as has been pointed out by the minister, is the largest grain centre in the world; there they have 85,000,000 bushels elevator capacity, and there are thirty-three elevators. To give some idea of the work that is being carried on at the head of the lakes, I may mention two or three figures with regard to the weighing staff and the weighing of grain, an important function which has to be supervised by the Board of Grain Commissioners. The weighing staff in Canada comprises in all 247 members, of whom 139, or more than half, are at Fort William. There are in Canada ten terminal elevators, of which five are at the head of the lakes, four being scattered through the interior and one at Vancouver; and the five at the head of the lakes have twice the capacity of the other five. Then in regard to the income of the board. The income of the Board of Grain Commissioners, according to their last report, was $1,956,000, and of that sum over $1,000,000 was taken in' at Fort William and Port Arthur.

I am not going to to detain the committee much longer because I have no wish to rehash all the arguments I have advanced in the past, but I wish to say that I can see no reason for the change. And I make that statement as sincerely as I have said anything in this house. I hope hon. members will bear in mind that there is a fair deal coming to the people of Fort William, just as there is to the farmers of this country; and it certainly is not a fair deal to have the government of Canada ask the people of that city to put up a $500,000 building-and it has been put up-and then tear up the agreement as a mere scrap of paper; because that is pretty much what it would amount to now if this board were to move its headquarters. I appeal to the committee to look at the matter in a fairminded way; I appeal to them to consider the importance of equitable treatment to all sections of the country. Moreover, I would point this out: I have

Canada Grain Act

been a member of this house for about thirteen sessions, and in all that time, so far as I can recollect, I have never taken a narrow sectional point of view in regard to any question. Take, for example, the Hudson Bay railway; speeches have been made in this house against that railway, but I have never made any of them-and this notwithstanding the fact that no city will be harder hit than Fort William and Port Arthur if that railway becomes a success, 'because whatever wheat is shipped by that railway will be so much less passing through the head of the lakes.

I do not intend to discuss the matter further except to urge upon the members of this committee the desirability of leaving the act as it stands in this regard. And with this object in view I wish to move this amendment:

That section 6 of the bill be amended by striking out in line 26 the words, "such place as the board may decide", and inserting the words, "the city of Fort William or Port Arthur".

The section would then read:

The head office of the board shall be located at the city of Fort William or Port Arthur, and the board may from time to time establish offices of the board at other places.

This would be practically the same as the present provision in the grain act, except as changed by the committee this year. In the previous act it was left to the governor in council, on recommendation of the board, to establish offices in other places, and my amendment leaves that provision untouched but for the stipulation that the head office shall be at Fort William or Port Arthur.

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CON

James J. Donnelly

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DONNELLY:

The hon. member says that either Fort William or Port Arthur is the logical centre for the board. What reason has he to think that the new board when it comes in will transfer operations from Fort William to some other centre?

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

If, as implied in the hon. member's question, there is no intention to remove the head office of the board, why change the act? While there is a stipulation in the act as to the location of the head office, that location cannot be changed1; it is statutory. And that was the understanding when the agreement was arrived at between the people of Fort William and the government. More than that, Mr. Boyd has made a statement to the effect that the head office had better be at Winnipeg, and Mr. Snow lives in that city. So that two of the three members are there, and there is likelihood that they might find it more convenient to

fMr. Manion.]

live at Winnipeg. I am not sure that this has not something to do with the suggestion as to the desirability of having the head office at Winnipeg; and of course most of us want to live in a large and central city. I do not want to be offensive to the hon. member or even to members of the board, but that is my impression.

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LIB

James Malcolm (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. MALCOLM:

Many of the remarks of my hon. friend1 are quite correct. Fort William has proved in the past a very good centre for the location of the board and the committee felt that probably there was not so much of a desire to move the board from that point to Winnipeg. The opinion prevailed, however, that Parliament should not dictate to the board in deciding where its headquarters should1 be. Let me assure my hon. friend that his arguments with reference to the loss of personnel in the city of Fort William are not well founded. The recommendations which the committee have made to parliament in this connection will undoubtedly result in an increased' personnel of grain handlers at Fort William and will add to the population of that city.

There is a good deal in what the hon. gentleman has said as to the necessity of having the board travel. That is precisely what the committee thought; the 'board should be a mobile 'body. No better suggestion could be made than that this Board of Grain Commissioners should have a private car on which to keep necessary records when they are expected to travel, even to Halifax and to Vancouver. The board should visit every port in Canada; the board should inspect terminal elevators; the board should inspect all handling facilities in the country; and, recommended by as many members of the committee, should also make a yearly trip to Europe to see what reception our grain is receiving on the European market. I appreciate the force of what my hon. friend has said: A large portion of the records will always be kept at Fort William. It would not be convenient to move them to any other place, and I believe that even if the board did decide to set up its office in Winnipeg or Calgary, Fort William would lose very little [DOT] by reason of the powers we are conferring upon the board under this legislation. May I read the section to my hon. friend:

The head office of the board shall be located at such place as the board may decide, and the board may from time to time establish offices of the board at other places.

I think the committee will agree that, after giving the matter careful consideration, the special committee have introduced legislation

Canada Grain Act

which will not impair the interests of the city which my hon. friend represents. After all, this legislation has 'been introduced on the recommendation of the committee on agriculture of this parliament. The administration of the act is under a board, and while it is true that the personnel of that board is appointed by the government which happens to be in power, it must also be remembered that the committee on agriculture, who consider this act from time to time and make recommendations to the house in relation thereto, are a non-partisan committee. The members on the government side can take no more credit for the changes proposed in the act than can the members on the other side. These are parliamentary recommendations and in my opinion it is well that this is so; because after all this is not a party question. This is one of the largest questions in the Dominion, and if the committee of the whole consider that the Board of Grain Commissioners should be free to set up offices where they choose, I do not think the remarks of my hon. friend from Fort William should be taken too seriously but that the larger issue should be considered as recommended by the committee.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I just wish to say a further word, and I shall not delay the house very long; apparently the remarks I made are not going to have very much effect. The minister mentioned that due to the enlarged functions which are given to the board there will be an increased personnel at Fort William anyway, but whether the board remains at Fort William or whether it is moved to Winnipeg that personnel will be increased if necessary; in other words, that is not to be taken as compensation to Fort William for the loss of this board.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Just what

loss will there be? The board never resided there; Mr. Boyd lived at Montreal, Mr. Snow lived at Winnipeg and Mr. Robinson was kept busy attending farmers' meetings. Now there will be a commission at Fort Wiiliam permanently.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

The loss will be in connection with this building which the people of Fort William built at the request of the government of Canada.

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River); The building will be there just the same.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Yes, perhaps empty.

Mr. MALCOLM; The inspection staff offices will be there.

3391

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I will admit that my

friend the minister cannot move them all away from Fort William, but he is going to move quite a few of them. The minister said the records would remain largely at Fort William anyway.

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LIB

James Malcolm (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. MALCOLM:

No, I said I agreed with my hon. friend that it might be advisable to keep many of the records at Fort William, and I think that will be the case, but all the committee is doing is leaving it to the decision of the board as to whether they desire to retain their offices at Fort William. They may desire to set up offices in Calgary and be there part of the time, or they may desire to set up offices in Vancouver and spend part of their time there.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Yes, it is quite true that

the farmers say the board should be a good deal more of a travelling board than it has been in the past, but in view of the fact that the minister said in his previous remarks that these records would be left at Fort William because it would not be convenient to change them, and since a large personnel also will remain there, why change the headquarters of the board?

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LIB
CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

No, but it is being left to the discretion of the Board of Grain Commissioners; one commissioner lives in Winnipeg and another has put himself on record as thinking the board should be located in Winnipeg. Fort William would not have a Chinaman's chance against that sort of thing. I do not intend to fight this matter much further, because while I think I will get a good deal of support from my own party I cannot fight, two-thirds of the house.

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River); I think you could.

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CON

Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Not very successfully. I

remember that the last time I took up this matter the hon. member for Bow River was with me.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Yes, and

look at the results; much of the dissatisfaction now prevailing is due to the location of the board.

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June 7, 1929