March 12, 1941

LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Would the hon. member give us the comparative British thermal units for each kind of coal?

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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LIB

Ralph Maybank

Liberal

Mr. MAYBANK:

I will do that. The minister was just a little quick on the trigger

that time. I did not suggest that the difference between these two coals was to be reckoned by the difference between $3.50 and $8.75. Other things being equal, it is clear which of the two is the more economical. Everyone knows that when you are going to buy coals you find out their heating values as expressed in the phrase just used by the minister. I think it is generally agreed that as far as thermal units are concerned, almost twice as much of the lignite coal is required as compared with the other type of coal. I may be a little generous in that statement because the quantity is hardly two for one. I think the B.T.U.S, run 74 and 140. Therefore the price is actually not $3.05, but twice that amount, or $6.10. That is what you must pay to get the proper calorific results at the place where you want to do your burning. You do not need to go any further than that to find out where there is a saving. Engineers have arrived at a great many findings with respect to this matter, and I may be able to give some to the committee. Anyone could figure out a saving of around $60,000 or $75,000 on the amount of coal that these people say they are going to burn. In the light of that, it seems to become necessary to lay out the information for Mr. Crabtree as to the cost of one kind of equipment as compared with the cost of the other.

I know full well that no matter what I may say, no matter what any person from Saskatchewan may say or no matter what industrialists in western Canada may say, the Allied War Supplies Corporation are going to put in equipment to use the other kind of coal. I am under no illusion as to what power there may be in the human voice, either mine or that of anyone else. I know full well that there will be no power in anything I may say. I know full well that the least economical job will be done. The decision was arrived at when the minister was away. I do not say it was arrived at because he was away; I say it was arrived at when he was away. When he took up this question, as he stated, he was beaten before he started because these people had reached their decision.

Hon. members know that if they want to burn a lot of coal, the wise thing to do is to decide what is the most economical coal to use and then get the equipment to burn it. Everyone knows that; one does not need engineers to figure that out. These people, however, chose the equipment and then said they could not burn lignite coal. That was the first statement. I am sure the minister will confirm what I am saying, and many other people will also confirm it. As I say, the first statement they made was that they could not burn lignite coal, and they gave

War Appropriation Bill

a number of reasons, although none of them has been introduced into this question so far. In recent times, when pressed for a statement, they have said they are going to burn a great deal of lignite coal, as much lignite coal as experience shows it will be possible to burn. The experience with the type of equipment that they have shows that not an ounce of lignite coal can be satisfactorily introduced into the furnaces. They know that, and they knew it last January when they dealt with this matter.

That is why I referred last evening to this organization which is not responsible to this parliament. It is just playing horse with the members of the government and the members of this parliament. As I have said, they first made their decision and then, after pressure had been applied, they said they would do something which at first they had stated was not possible. The same engineers said it was not possible; they could not think of it; then they said they would do it, although it would depend upon experience. That was done in an effort to shut up any argument against them; they had to do something to stop any talk that might come up.

I have no interest in this matter, such as some people might have. This is not something that impinges upon my constituency. It does not affect labour in my constituency one way or the other, as might other matters which would have to do with railroad labour. That question does not come into the picture, at least to any extent. With the greater bulk of coal which would be necessary, it is possible that more switching would have to be done, but that would be just a bagatelle. The situation, however, would be altogether different with hon. members from Saskatchewan where the people would be more directly affected.

There is not an industrialist in western Canada who would not be interested in the most economical type of fuel to use. When an industrialist is interested in this matter, doubtless those concerned with the burning of lignite coal speak to him. Many of these men have come and told me what they have done in their industries in order to carry on economically, and then they say, "Look at what the government is doing in this matter."

I am put on the defensive immediately. I realize that it is not the government, although technically I suppose it is. In a sense the government is not doing it, but large powers have been granted to this corporation. Apparently what they do is not subject to review. That is how the matter originated with me. There is no doubt that any industrialist who was trying to run his plant

economically, and who was placed in the same position in which we were in January, would make a decision in favour of lignite coal.

I should like to have definite information as to costs of equipment. We would then be in a position to know what the saving would be. The information now before the committee is not complete enough. The question as to the possible value of the equipment after the war may be raised. The minister said that Mr. Crabtree indicated that there was not as much salvage value in one kind of equipment as in the other. I suggest to the committee that they place this problem m front of a group of first-class engineers who have had experience in the use of lignite coal. They will say that by the use of lignite coal, there will be saved in one year a great deal more money than the whole additional cost of the comparatively more expensive equipment. I lay that down as a challenge at the present time, that if engineers of that sort, completely neutral, are approached and inquiry of them is made, they will say exactly what I have said, that in one year there will be saved more and much more than the additional cost of the equipment. If that is so, the question of salvage no longer matters. If the machine is paid for as a result of the first year's savings, the salvage question may be thrown out of the window.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

In the figures the hon.

member is giving and probably about to give, is the whole cost of the equipment depreciated -obliterated?

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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LIB

Ralph Maybank

Liberal

Mr. MAYBANK:

I get the point. I thought I was making that clear. Suppose you have two machines, one costing $10 and the other $20, for roasting peanuts. If, by buying the $20 machine, you can roast your peanuts so cheaply that you can make much more money than by using the $10 machine, you do not need to worry very much about the salvage question when your job is completed. That is exactly the picture of the lignite coal equipment. There is nothing to the salvage question; you do not need to consider it. There is, I am convinced, a greater saving. I see the Minister of Munitions and Supply smiling. All right. I would, however, point out to him that his statement last evening was just the vague one that Allied War Supplies take a different view. There is nothing in that statement of the minister except that we have a bunch of very good men and that we must leave the decision to them. The government should not abdicate. These people- Allied War Supplies-really usurped power long ago.

The first thing I want to know is this: What are the differences in cost? First, let

War Appropriation Bill

me point out to the committee that the minister himself stated that lignite coal requires a different kind of equipment. That sentence, taken with some other sentences in the statement, indicates clearly that the right equipment is not being put in; and if they are not putting in the right equipment, they are not going to keep their promise to burn a large percentage of lignite coal, as the minister said last night they would. On the other hand, if the equipment installed there is good for burning lignite coal, there is no argument at all for not using it.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

One hundred per cent.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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LIB

Ralph Maybank

Liberal

Mr. MAYBANK:

There is no reason why they cannot burn lignite 100 per cent, if they can burn it 80 per cent. The minister cannot have it both ways. He cannot say in one breath that the equipment is not suitable, and then say in the next breath that they will burn SO per cent lignite. It does not take a logician to see that there is something wrong with that. I should like to have a definite answer to my question as to what the additional costs are, and furthermore I should like to know when these officials made their decision.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

This would seem to be a

matter that might very well be referred to the parliamentary committee which has just been set up on economy in expenditures. It has power to call witnesses and will have all the machinery necessary to go into this subject thoroughly. If the committee cares to bring down a report to parliament that there has been wasteful expenditure in connection with this installation, I shall be prepared to accept the rebuke and take the responsibility.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

May I say a word in

support of the point of view put forward by the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. Maybank). I would suggest that if the committee is to make some inquiry into the question, they inquire from the city of Regina regarding its experiences with the burning of lignite coal by special equipment. I was a member of the city council for a number of years and I know that all of us were a little diffident about introducing the new equipment for burning lignite coal, but in the Regina school of which I was principal for some time, the fuel costs when burning lignite coal were cut from $3,000-that was when oil was used- to around $800 in the same kind of winter. Lignite has been successfully used in the city of Regina.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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NAT

Karl Kenneth Homuth

National Government

Mr. HOMUTH:

How about the delay if this question has to go before the committee?

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

I said, if it were put

before the committee, but I do not think that is necessary. The hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre can probably give the minister the information himself.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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LIB

Ralph Maybank

Liberal

Mr. MAYBANK:

I wish to make this

further remark with reference to what the minister has said. It is all right to refer this question to a committee, but while that is being done, these gentlemen who made their decision a long time ago will simply go right ahead using what they are using now. Therefore I say that if there is any chance of effecting a saving, it should be done at once. I do not see why a matter of this kind should be taken out of the public eye and referred to a committee. It is, of course, a proper subject for a committee to discuss further, but do not let us understand by that that nothing is to be done here about it. I want to point out that the minister has not yet pledged his own independent belief that the right course is being taken. No. This company is being put up for the parliament of Canada to-day. That is what is happening.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. NICHOLSON:

I would ask the

minister if it is too late at this stage to make the necessary change in the equipment. The hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre has made what appears to me to be a very good case, and I should like to know from the minister whether the proper type of equipment for burning lignite could not now be installed.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Such inquiries as I have

made indicate that orders for the equipment have been given, but how far the manufacturer is advanced with them I cannot say. My hon. friend says that the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre has made a case. May I suggest to him that the engineering reports obtained by those responsible seem to lead to a different conclusion. I hardly think a case has been made just by hearing one side. I saw the other side of the story as presented to me by officials of Allied War Supplies; it seemed to me they had a very strong case for doing what they did, and they did it with both sides of the case before them. It is not as if they did not know about lignite coal or had not a good deal of information about its use in western Canada, My hon. friend indicated that an engineer familiar with conditions in Winnipeg had been engaged in the case, because I think he told me or the house that the engineer had operated in Winnipeg at some previous time. If, however, the committee on economy is for any purpose whatever,

War Appropriation Bill

and can be helpful in the war situation, this is the type of case in which it can be helpful. It seems to me a proper case.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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LIB

Ralph Maybank

Liberal

Mr. MAYBANK:

How can they be helpful?

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

They can advise whether a wrong decision has been made, after hearing all the expert evidence that can be produced before them, and being able to weigh that expert evidence. We in this house are speaking as laymen. I am not a heating engineer.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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LIB

Ralph Maybank

Liberal

Mr. MAYBANK:

There is no advantage in locking the door when the stable has gone.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

According to the hon. member's own statement, the stable has been gone for some time.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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LIB

Ralph Maybank

Liberal

Mr. MAYBANK:

Perhaps I should put that in completely Irish fashion and say there is no use in bridling the horse after the stable is gone, but of course hon. members understand what I meant. There is no use in locking the stable door after the horse has run away, and that is practically what we would be doing by merely referring the matter to a board to look into it after the fact. It is possible to get a complete examination now by neutrals. It is said that this organization has expert opinion. One of their experts is a man who was engaged recently in handling a particular type of equipment. I am not trying to suggest dishonesty.

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Did he get a commission on this?

Topic:   WAR APPROPRIATION BILL
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR GRANTING TO HIS MAJESTY AID FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE AND SECURITY
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March 12, 1941