February 8, 1937


Motion agreed to.


SEIZURE OF TOBACCO AND AUTOMOBILE IN MONTCALM COUNTY, QUE.

LIB

Charles-Édouard Ferland

Liberal

Mr. FERLAND:

For a copy of all correspondence, telegrams, documents, judicial proceedings, judgment, statement of confiscation and deed of sale in connection with a seizure of tobacco and of an automobile, and legal proceedings against one Martin, of St-Alexis, in tile county of Montcalm, the judgment of the magistrate's court at St-Jerome, September 17, 1931, the execution of said judgment and sale of said automobile.

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DISMISSAL OF G. R. J. WILSON

LIB

George Ernest Wood

Liberal

Mr. WOOD:

For a copy of all correspondence, letters, memoranda, evidence and other documents in possession of the Department of Transport, relating to the discharge from the civil service of Mr. G. K. J. Wilson, in charge of the Welland canal feeder at Dunnville, in 1931.

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NORMANDIN, QUE., EXPERIMENTAL STATION

LIB

Joseph-Théophile-Adélard Fontaine

Liberal

Mr. FONTAINE:

For a copy of all telegrams, correspondence and other documents exchanged since January 1, 1934, between the honourable the Minister of Agriculture or any officer of his department and any person, association or organization with regard to the choice of a breed of thoroughbred cattle for the experimental station at Normandin, province of Quebec.

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PRAIRIE FARM REHABILITATION ACT


Hon. J. G. GARDINER (Minister of Agriculture) moved that the house go into committee at the next sitting to consider the following proposed resolution: That it is expedient to introduce a measure to amend the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act so as to constitute committees instead of one advisory committee, and to appropriate the necessary moneys for the continuance and extension of the work under the act for the fiscal years 1937-38 and 1939-40. He said: In moving that this resolution go to the committee of the whole I should like to make a brief explanation. Dealing with the matter of committees I may remind the house that in the act passed in 1935 provision was made for the setting up of an advisory committee. The membership of that committee was indicated, not in its personnel but in regard to the organizations which were to be represented on it. We have had certain experiences during the last two years in connection with the carrying on of the work in the different provinces which indicate that it would be desirable to have authority to appoint more than one advisory committee. This particular committee which is provided for in the act as it stands will not necessarily be done away with. It was provided in another section of the act that an amount limited to a million dollars a year could be expended in the years 1936-37, 1937-38 and 1938-39. By the amendment we are removing that limitation. I may say that I will be prepared, either in committee on the resolution or in committee after the second reading of the bill itself, to give complete information with regard to expenditures. At this stage I would only wish to add that the total amount spent up to date in the two years is a little over 8800,000. It is not thought wise to leave the limitation in the bill as at present because of the fact that many undertakings have to be refused consideration on the ground that there may not be sufficient money available, and we think the government can give consideration to the facts in each case to better advantage if that limitation is not there.


CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

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

Mr. Speaker, I think it has been the practice of this house, in any event under the present administration, not to make an appropriation in the form this resolution would indicate. The appropriation should be made in the estimates. In addition to that the minister will perhaps observe that he has left out the year 1938-39; the resolution refers only to 1937-38 and 1939-40. Presumably

63S COMMONS

Harbours and Piers Act-Mr. Howe

that is not intentional; it must be accidental; the year intended must be 1938-39.

Originally the appropriation was made in the statute itself, amounting to a million dollars a year. The proposal now before the house to do away with any such limitation necessarily must imply, I would submit, on the statement of policy made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) last year, that the appropriation should be contained in the appropriation bill, so there will be no blank cheque for an unnamed sum to be used for this purpose.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

I should like to say that as pointed out by the leader of the opposition, there is a misprint in the resolution; it should be "to" instead1 of "and" between the two dates, so that the resolution would read, "for the fiscal years 1937-38 to 1939-40 inclusive."

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LIB

Walter Edward Foster (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

Is it the pleasure of the house to adopt the motion?

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Mr. Speaker, if this is for the purpose of giving notice that at the next sitting the house will consider this resolution, and if that is all, I desire to say that I think it was wholly out of order for me to discuss the matter. In any event the statement should be made that the assent of his excellency has been obtained and that the bill is submitted to the house under those circumstances, under the provisions of the statute.

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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

His Excellency the Governor General, having been made acquainted with the subject matter of this resolution, recommends it to the favourable consideration of the house.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

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HARBOURS AND PIERS ACT


Hon. C. D. HOWE (Minister of Transport) moved the second reading of Bill No. 9, to amend the Government Harbours and Piers Act. He said: Mr. Speaker, as I stated during the discussion of the resolution, the proposed amendments to the Government Harbours and Piers Act are desired primarily to meet changes in wharf and transportation requirements that have taken place since the act was last amended, but particularly on account of the provisions of the Consolidated Audit and Revenue Act, which requires that all the revenue of Canada shall be paid into the consolidated revenue fund. The act involves no change in practice as far as the department is concerned. The change contemplated under this amendment is exactly the practice which has been followed for many years, but conditions have changed over the years, and these are minor amendments which are designed to bring the act up to date.


CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. C. G. MacNEIL (Vancouver North):

Before second reading is given, Mr. Speaker, I wish to express my opposition to this bill in its present form, because it proposes to perpetuate a form of taxation which in its application to the smaller communities is unjust and shows unfair discrimination. I would not take up the time of the house but for the fact that I have brought the matter before the minister and the officials of his department on several- occasions, and to my dismay they have expressed renewed determination to continue this system of collecting tolls and duties, leaving without redress the smaller communities, who have suffered in some degree because of the- methods employed in the past.

I wish to make it clear that I am dealing solely with the smaller communities, whose only contact with outside civilization or with the industrial centres on which they must depend for supplies and to which they must ship their produce is over the government wharf. In the tolls that have been charged under this act the people in these communities have been penalized in their endeavour to face pioneer conditions, encouraged as they have been to leave the cities and face the inconvenience of life as found at some points along the coast. My plea is for the residents of these smaller communities. They are taxed, as all citizens are, for highways, but they have no access to our highway system. They are taxed for various public works, but it is seldom that the}' have an opportunity to enjoy the facilities provided in this regard by this dominion. Citizens who reside on the inland waters and canals of the country, for instance, and who use the wharves there located, are not taxed to the same degree, even though they have access to our highway and railway systems. They are not required to pay an additional toll for the privilege of importing necessary commodities or exporting their produce.

To show the impracticability of the present system of taxation under this bill I would refer to the returns requested by me last session. They indicate that during the fiscal year 1984-35 the total revenue secured from the collection of top wharfage was $92,096.71. For the fiscal year 1935-36 the total revenue secured from that source was $87,951.29. Out of the total revenue the commission paid to wharfingers in 1934-35 amounted to $24,862.91 and in the subsequent fiscal year to $26,034.91. That is, in 1935-36 from the imposition of top wharfage tolls the net amount was $41,916.38.

Harbours and Piers Act-Mr. MacNeil

May I point out that out of about 900 government wharves within the jurisdiction of the act, during the fiscal year 1934-35 these tolls were collected on only some 216. During the fiscal year 1935-36 they were collected on only 220. I find upon inquiry that, for reasons which I have not been able to discover, there is frequently some delay in reporting to the Department of Transport, wharves constructed at public expense by the Department of Public Works; consequently not all these wharves are listed for the appointment of wharfingers or for the imposition of tolls. Only a small number of wharfingers are appointed and tolls imposed at such wharves listed with the Department of Transport, and I believe only a comparatively small number are so listed.

There is a reason for this, and I should like to direct the attention of the government to the matter at this time, because of the unfair discrimination. It is becoming increasingly difficult to secure wharfingers. The reason is obvious. The imposition of taxation in this form is extremely inconvenient to the residents in a small community. I believe the wharfinger is allowed fifty percent of the first $200 in tolls collected, and fifteen per cent of the tolls collected thereafter. He receives no other remuneration, and is not required to perform any definite service to the public. He is not required even to take a line when a steamer docks. So far as I can learn he is not required to afford proper protection to the commodities which pass under his charge. To illustrate the discrimination I shall refer hon. members to a specific instance which came to my notice, namely that of the appointment of a wharfinger last season at Robert's Creek, British Columbia. I brought this matter to the attention of the minister at the time, pointing out that most unfair discrimination had resulted. Robert's Creek is situated only a few miles north of another wharf at Gibsons Landing. No wharfinger has been appointed at Gibsons Landing and no tolls have been collected in that community. After all, as it stands the power of appointment within the act is permissive. Immediately upon the appointment of the wharfinger the collection of tolls become mandatory. The appointee was selected for no other reason, I believe, than that he had been a faithful follower of the Liberal party, and his appointment caused grave discontent in the community. As a matter of fact at one time I thought there would be a repetition of the Boston tea party.

As the situation developed the people of the community felt that their only recourse was to make it so extremely inconvenient

for the wharfinger that he might have to discontinue his duties. That was a most unfortunate situation, and one which I believe is not at all in the public interest. The two communities are connected by a road, and one can readily understand the feeling of the residents affected by the toll. Small storekeepers in that community, as compared with the storekeepers in the south, were penalized unfairly and discriminated against with consequent diversion of business. The residents of the community, many of whom are on relief, are required to pay the toll on every small shipment of assorted groceries. Although the amount charged may be exceedingly small, it amounts to no little inconvenience and hardship to people in straitened circumstances who are now suffering very definite distress. The dairy ranchers in the community who import or ship produce are unfairly penalized. True, supplies for fishing vessels and gear are exempt, nevertheless the supplies required by families of fishermen resident in the community are subject to the imposition of these tolls.

Under the act power is given to impose the collection of side wharfage tolls. That is, it is presumed that every steamship docking at a government wharf is required to pay a toll amounting to about 50 cents. However, steamship companies enjoy the privilege of a commutation rate, and on making inquiry at the department I find that the Union Steamship Company, plying between these points on the Pacific coast, and enjoying a subvention of $18,000 annually, does not pay side wharfage tolls at Robert's Creek. Consequently we have the situation under which the residents pay top wharfage tolls and the steamship company, already generously subsidized from the federal treasury, does not pay side wharfage. Upon inquiry I find they pay tolls only at two wharves in that district, *namely at Irvines Landing and Gibsons Landing, and even at these points they enjoy a commutation rate of something like $5 per month.

I have in mind another wharf considerably north of the points in question, where every hour of every working day one can hear the rumble of the wheels of trucks connected with an industry transshipping logs for the export trade. No attempt is made at that point to levy tolls on an industry far more capable of paying them than are the residents in the community I have mentioned.

I consider the situation unbusinesslike and unfair. No stipulated remuneration is indicated, and the wharfingers have no definite responsibility to render a service to the public.

640 COMMONS

Harbours and Piers Act-Mr. Bennett

The residents in the community in question pay not only top wharfage toll, but also side wharfage, whether or not it is collected. That toll is incorporated in the freight and express charges levied upon goods carried by the steamship company. They also pay their portion of any tolls which may be collected on goods going in or out of the port of Vancouver. As a matter of fact, when these tolls are added to the prices paid in the small communities I believe it is not unfair to say that tolls are collected three or four times over, and that they constitute an additional imposition and penalty upon people who can ill afford to bear that burden. I repeat that in comparison with other citizens of the dominion these people are discriminated against.

Before the bill reaches the committee stage I would urge upon the minister that he give some assurance of an amendment which would exempt from the imposition and collection of tolls these smaller communities entirely dependent upon traffic which passes over the government wharves serving them. In a measure larger than 'heretofore I suggest that for the construction and maintenance of wharves the government should rely for _ reimbursement upon the collection of side wharfage tolls. No steps should be taken to collect more than side wharfage tolls, because after all they are passed on to the consumers resident in the district. I see no reason why the poorer sections should pay tolls twice over.

May I point out further that it is not within the range of practicability to appoint wharfingers at all these wharves. Public sentiment is definitely against such appointments. As I have pointed out, their appointment occasions grave inconvenience, and only too frequently the situation becomes so unpleasant that the official appointed is compelled to resign. Frequently those offered this unpleasant work refuse to accept it at the remuneration stipulated. The wharfingers collect commissions in very small amounts from small assortments of groceries and other small shipments. It would be a better policy if the government attempted to collect side wharfage tolls, which could be accomplished more easily and in a more businesslike way. The collections could be made at a lesser expense at the head office of the steamship companies serving the communities.

I strongly commend the matter to the consideration of the government, in order that we may not by the second reading of this bill perpetuate an unsound, unfair and unjust principle of taxation which in its application results in grave discrimination.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

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

Mr. Speaker, this bill embodies an amendiment to a statute, and it cannot be said to express any particular principle, apart from the one to which the hon. gentleman who has just taken his seat (Mr. MacNeil) has referred1. However, there is another matter of some importance which I think may be discussed in committee. I refer 'to the question of appointments. The old statute provided that these were to be made by the governor in council; the new bill provides that they are to be made by the minister, but that the salary is still to be fixed by the governor in council. To this extent there is a complete change in the principle embodied in the old statute. I do not desire to take up the time of the house in dealing with the matter at this time, other than to say that the adoption of the motion for second reading must not be taken as agreement to every point in the bill. Our rights, such as they are, to discuss the matters involved in the various sections when the house is in committee we reserve at this time in order that the bill may be expedited in its passage.

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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. A. W. NEILL (Comox-Alberni):

Mr. Speaker, I assume that when the minister closes the debate he will deal with the remarks of the hon. member for Vancouver North (Mr. MacNeil). I think the hon. member has a misconception of the situation. He refers to the imposition of wharfage charges on these government wharves as taxation. I consider such charges to be payment for services rendered. The hon. member referred to the imposition of this taxation upon the people in these small places, but he went on to say that out of 900 wharves owned by the government, these charges were made at only 220. He stated that the wharfinger gets 70 per cent of the fees, but I believe he gets only 50 per cent up to $200, and 15 per cent after that. The hon. member said that the wharfinger rendered no services for these fees, but I think he does render a distinct service.

The wharfinger checks the freight into a shed which is kept under lock and key. When the countryman or fisherman comes along and asks for his goods, there is a guarantee that they are there, that they have not been stolen or tampered with in any way. The wharfinger checks the unloading and hands out the freight upon the production of the bill of lading. The fisherman is assured that he gets the stuff for which he has paid. If this freight were left on an open wharf with no one to take care of it, the first person who came along might take something be-

Harbours and Piers Act-Mr. Neill

longing to someone else. The freight might get wet or the crows might destroy part of it. If I were living in one of these small communities I would infinitely prefer to pay the ridiculously small charge made in order to have guaranteed protection for my goods. The steamer arrives at many of these points at very uncertain intervals, and if there was no wharfinger it would mean the people would have to remain five or six hours waiting for the boat in order to take delivery themselves. I think the services rendered are worth far more than the charge made.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Many of the wharves

have no shed.

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February 8, 1937