March 18, 1941

NAT

Gordon Graydon

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

I would not want to cause any inconvenience or expense, because the matter is not sufficiently important.

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

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I should be interested in the result of the examination if I could get it.

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

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

In the course of the wonderful speech made on Saturday night last by that very great man who is now President of the United States-one of the greatest men, in my judgment, of all time-he mentioned on several occasions the matter of ships; and last evening I told the Minister of Munitions and Supply that to-day I should like to ask him a little further about ships to be produced in Canada. I thought that perhaps in the course of his reply he would be able to give Canadians the reassurance that everything possible is being done in this country to produce sufficient ships to take care of our responsibilities in that direction in connection with the prosecution of the war.

I read carefully what the minister said the other day in his brief observations on what I said in the course of a short speech on the building of ships; and if I understood him correctly, he said it was his intention to initiate and support the building of ocean-going cargo ships, presumably of five, six, seven, eight and ten thousand tons, on both coasts. With that I am in hearty accord. I believe that is where these big ships should be built, because they could not be taken down through our St. Lawrence locks, which, I believe, will accommodate only ships of 245 feet.

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

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

That is right.

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

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

The minister also said that in his opinion corvettes and minesweepers could be most satisfactorily built on the great lakes. With that statement also I am in hearty accord. But he added, as I remember, that the difficulties were, the supply of steel and the obtaining of men qualified to superintend the construction of ships.

Could the minister not do somewhat more than has been done? I do not know-perhaps he will tell us-what has been done in the way of producing a great deal more iron in Canada. I believe in 1939 we did import somewhat less than 1,700,000 tons from Bell island, Newfoundland, to keep the blast furnaces at Sydney in operation. I understand that we are now producing in Ontario over half a million tons of iron a year from the Helen mountain deposit in Algoma. Those later deposits, which I have examined thoroughly, are a magnetite ore. Now the same company which operates the magnetite ore deposits in Algoma is-I am told, although I am not sure of this-considering reopening or going on with the production of more or less similar ore deposits at Moose mountain, in the Sudbury area. I do not know whether the company has asked any support from the government; but is there anything the department could do to expedite the production of the Moose mountain ores? Because if they could produce another half million tons at that point, it would mean that a million tons would be produced in Ontario and thus another half a million less would have to be imported from the United States. It is not that I have any objection to importing from the United States, but I am more in favour of producing in Canada if we can.

I should like to know whether the department could do anything to expedite production on another body of ore, with which the minister is familiar, at Steep Rock, which, if not in his own area, is in northwestern Ontario: it is a very large deposit of haematite ore, similar to that found in Wisconsin and in Minnesota, and therefore of a high

War Appropriation Bill

grade. All of us have been reading during the past two or three years of the progress of development at Steep Rook. I know something of the difficulties, of the necessity of eliminating the water hazard, but can we do anything to expedite production there? It is a particularly high-class grade of haematite ore. I have examined a sample of it, and was much pleased with the sample I saw. In that regard the department might help materially in producing steel for the construction of ships in Ontario. Where the steel for the production of ships on the two coasts comes from is another matter. Perhaps some of it could be produced on the east coast.

Yesterday we were all alarmed, though perhaps we should not be, at what we read in the newspapers about the sinking of British shipping since the war broke out. The amount is less than 5,000,000 tons. The same article indicated that, notwithstanding that great loss, as a result of the purchases of ships, the building of ships in their own yards and the use of ships from other nations, our allies, besides captures, the total British tonnage is only three per cent less than when war broke out. But in view of the avowed intention of the Germans to send into the Atlantic ocean a large number of submarines, I have been wondering what the minister could do to speed up production at the present time of submarine chasers, corvettes and so on, all of which can do effective work in keeping down the submarine menace. Such ships can go through the St. Lawrence canals, and these small ships could be built on the great lakes.

I would ask the minister to tell the committee and, through the committee, the country, what he has in mind in that regard. Will he tell us what he can do and thereby reassure the country and, through this country, our brave friends in the old land that we shall do everything we possibly can in this house, that his department will do everything it can -all of which I know both parliament and the country will back up to the limit-in the >vay of production, first, in steel if necessary, and secondly, in any event, in the production of ships from steel that we make here or that we can purchase. A statement to this effect would reassure everyone that all that this great country can do will be done to see to it that the submarine menace now threatening is kept down. I shall be glad to hear what the minister can tell us.

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

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

First, regarding the steel

situation as it affects the building of ships, the situation is in very satisfactory shape or is becoming so. Some ten or twelve months ago, perhaps longer, we undertook to step up the steel plate capacity of Canada. At

[Mr. MacNicol.l

that time the only firm manufacturing steel plate was a firm in Hamilton, the Dominion Steel Foundries, I believe.

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

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Was there not a plant available in New Glasgow?

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

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

No.

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

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I am told by Colonel Cantley that the plant in New Glasgow is available but is quite idle.

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

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

If it is capable of running I am surprised that some one has not operated it. There was a plant, I believe, at Sydney, installed during the last war. Since then parts of the equipment have been taken for other purposes and it was determined that an expenditure of $4,000,000 would have been required to put the mill into operation. The difficulty there is the shortage of primary steel. Contracts had been made for the export to England of all surplus ingot capacity of that industry. We have opened up the question with Great Britain to see whether they would take steel plates produced by the mill, but the British steel controller said that it would be more useful for their purpose to obtain ingots, rather than ingots converted into plate, and as they had contracted for the output before the war we did not feel that we could interfere with that contract against their wishes. However, since the beginning of the war we have stepped up our steel plate production. Under the first ship contracts, steel plate was largely purchased in the United States. Within the next thirty days the Steel Company of Canada are putting into production one of the largest and most modern steel plate mills on the continent, and it is anticipated that the total ship requirements for anything that we can do in Canada would not reach more than forty or fifty per cent of the capacity of that one mill. So that we are amply provided for so far as steel plate capacity is concerned.

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

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

Is the new plant in

Hamilton going to roll 40, 50, 60, 70, 78 and so on, or is there a limit?

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

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

It is one of the widest of plate mills. It is at least 72 inch though it may be 90 inch; I am not sure. However, it is one of the widest plate mills installed anywhere, and of course a mill of that type has no difficulty rolling narrower sizes. We are in quite a satisfactory position as regards steel plate.

As far as the steel situation generally goes, it has been increased by about 500,000 tons since the outbreak of the war. We had a theoretical steel capacity at the outbreak of the war of about 2.200,000 tons, and 'within the next month or two we shall be producing at the rate of about 2,700,000 tons. We still

War Appropriation Bill

require to import about 1,000,000 tons of steel from the United States, and that is the normal position when Canada is busy. Of course, except in peak periods, our steel industry is not working to anything like capacity. It is a matter of judgment whether at a time like this we should go all-out to make ourselves self-contained in steel for war requirements. It is my judgment that that is not justified, particularly as we have obtained every assurance that the usual source of supply will be available to us at least up to the amount that we nominally take, and it is the opinion of the steel controller and of those who have studied the matter that we are amply protected for our war-time steel requirements.

Iron ore is not a serious problem. Of course, Sydney has its own iron deposits, ample for all purposes. The Algoma Steel company has the Helen mine, which provides part of its requirements directly, and from which they are able to trade ore for ore to obtain the rest of their requirements. As my hon. friend knows, no single mine can produce all the ore that a steel company requires. Various grades of ore are necessary, and I believe that the Algoma plant uses some ten different grades of ore which are mixed to manufacture the various grades of steel which the plant produces. The Steel Company of Canada owns iron mines in the United States and purchases its requirements from a great number of sources. There is no shortage of ore in sight there. The only possible shortage of ore would be due to a lack of lake tonnage, and that I think is scarcely likely to occur this season.

As far as Steep Rock is concerned it is difficult to associate that with a war project. It is the estimate of those responsible that it will take at least two years to complete the development of that ore. The Moose Mountain mine near Sudbury is a deposit somewhat lower in grade than the Helen mine, and there again it is doubtful whether the development of that mine would make any great contribution to the Canadian war situation.

Hon. members will appreciate that we lost no time in undertaking a shipbuilding programme in Canada. The first order placed when the defence purchasing board was formed was for railway rolling stock, and the second was a very large order for corvettes. We have been using yards that were in existence at the beginning of the war to their full capacity, and those yards are working at full capacity to-day. We have arranged for the building of corvettes in two new yards on the great lakes, that is yards that have not been in operation for many years, but both are locations where ships had been built in the last war and where skilled labour was available, one at Toronto and one at Midland.

We carried out a very large programme of building of corvettes, and that was followed by a large programme of mine-sweepers. The last of the corvette ships that we have on order have recently been placed. We still have a number of mine-sweepers to place.

The demand for cargo ships has arisen within the last three months, as far as our communications indicate. The fact that everyone believes now that we should have been full-out in merchant ships arises of course from the recent losses, from a situation that has developed very recently. After the fall of Dunkirk the great demand was for guns. We responded to that demand; I think to the full productive capacity of Canada. About one-third of all our contracts in Canada are for the production of guns. Had the emphasis at that time been on ships, our effort would have been directed towards a somewhat more rapid development of additional capacity in existing yards, and possibly to the opening up of new yards.

Mr. ROWE [DOT] What percentage of the present shipbuilding capacity are we utilizing at the present time?

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

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

One hundred per cent of all the capacity we can get, and we are building more capacity all the time by getting more trained men. We have kept it up to one hundred per cent of what the yards can do. There is no yard in Canada capable of building steel ships that has not had all the work it can do since we started operations.

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

William Earl Rowe

National Government

Mr. ROWE:

In three shifts?

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

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Well, with all the labour that they can use. They have plenty of work to do; whether they can work one, two or three shifts depends on the number of experienced men that can be made available. I assume every yard is trjnng to turn out as much work as it can.

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

William Earl Rowe

National Government

Mr. ROWE:

I think I could name a couple of yards that could increase.

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

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Well, let us have your story.

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

William Earl Rowe

National Government

Mr. ROWE:

I am not going to interrupt, only to say that I believe the shipbuilding yards of Collingwood and Midland could increase their present capacity. I think they are running only one shift, eight hours a day. There have been I understand many men unemployed still in those districts that could be used for that purpose. It seems to me that in many districts three shifts would be justified, that those plants should be running nearer to full capacity instead of only one shift a day. I think they should be running also on Sundays.

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

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

All I can say is that the

Collingwood yard has had all the work it can

War Appropriation Bill

possibly do last season and this season. I know they have had applications with us for boiler makers, we have been scouring the country to get boiler makers for Collingwood and Port Arthur. It is probable that there is a surplus of unskilled labour, but if there is a man idle in this country to-day who is skilled in the building of ships I should like very much to have his name and address, because he can be given a job immediately. I cannot say why the Collingwood yard has not been running three shifts, but I assume it is only because it has not been possible to obtain more skilled men. I know that the staff at Collingwood has been growing steadily, as has the staff at Port Arthur; each week the number of men at work is larger than for the preceding week. It is just a question of being able to train and develop additional men. That is the history of the whole shipbuilding enterprise in Canada. We started from very small beginnings, and each week have had a larger number of men engaged in the industry.

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

William Earl Rowe

National Government

Mr. ROWE:

In other words, it is running at the full capacity of labour?

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

March 18, 1941