March 20, 1941

NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I should not like to put it on that ground. I do not think that they will, either. The difficulty is in the contour of the harbour bottom.

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:

Yes, and also the fluctuation in tides makes the dock structure much higher and much more difficult to keep stable. However, it has been the policy of all governments gradually to improve the facilities of the port of Saint John, and this government, as my hon. friend knows, finished some extensive improvements and had got to the point where it intended to rebuild the McLeod and Pettingill wharf. The wharf is useful to-day. It is getting near the end of its life, and it should be rebuilt to give more and better facilities than are now available. As I said, it was the intention of that government to undertake this work. Plans had been prepared, and I am not sure that tenders had not been called, when the war broke out. We were faced then with the difficulty that, while work was under way-and as I remember, it was a two-season job-half the dock would be out of commission, and it seemed obvious to us that we were going to need every foot of dockage we could get during this war; so that, so far as the war effort was concerned, we would be further ahead were we to postpone the rebuilding of that dock until half the wharf could be spared without interfering with the handling of freight in the harbour.

There is a proposal to build additional dockage in that port at the present time. But I might explain that we are not attempting at this time to build permanent facilities; we are trying to provide facilities which can be built in one summer season and put in use for next winter season.

The same policy is being adopted at Halifax as at Saint John; that is for the duration of the war the facilities we shall build will be temporary only, presumably to be replaced with permanent work as time goes by. The present proposal is to build a structure 900 feet long by 60 feet wide with a 30 foot draught on the deep water side and a shallow draught of approximately 12 feet on the south side for the accommodation of cargo lighters. Three standard railway tracks will be laid on the structure. The structure will be located on the west side of the harbour immediately

north of the Rodney wharf on the site of proposed* berth No. 4. It is also proposed to extend loading facilities at both Halifax and Saint John to meet war emergencies by introducing a system of lighters, so that in addition to loading alongside docks it will be possible to load at anchorages in the harbour.

We expect shortly to call for tenders for a considerable number of lighters and to provide docks so that the loading facilities of both harbours can be supplemented in this way; and provision is being made at this new berth for 900 feet of loading space suitable for loading these lighters. There may be other work proposed for the harbour of Saint John; I may point out that the harbour board is no longer under my jurisdiction, though I am sure that when the estimates of the Department of Transport are up my colleague will be glad to advise about that.

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):

My understanding, then, is that this is really only a temporary proposal.

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:

Yes, that is all.

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):

Is it

intended to build it of cribwork, and will tenders be called?

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:

Yes; I think tenders are being called at the present time.

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):

On plans prepared by the harbour commission?

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

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Well, I am rather disappointed. Of course, they have had the proposal under consideration for quite a while and I would not pretend to put my judgment against that of the members of the harbour commission and their engineers, who have no doubt given intensive study to the situation. It may be that this is the quickest way in which facilities can be obtained for the present nature of the freight being offered there. After all, this is only a stop-gap, and I was wondering whether a larger view could not be taken of the position in the city of Saint John. The building of a wharf of 900 feet, with a 30-foot draught, will of course provide space for good sized freighters. That means 30 feet at low water, I assume, which would mean 56 feet high water, where good sized freighters could lie afloat at all times; and with three lines of railway trackage on it, this work might be very useful in connection with loading the type of freighters that are coming there now. I understand that they are not of such large tonnage that they cannot be accommodated, but I would not frown at all on the system of lighters proposed. That, I think, will relieve pressure to a great degree.

War Appropriation Bill

I am rather disappointed, however, to find that this is only a temporary measure after all, and that there is nothing permanent about it. A crib structure at that point of the Rodney wharf, having regard to the nature of the bottom, which is more or less mountainous-it can hardly be so described, but it has sharp declivities, because I have seen pictures of the bottom-may be satisfactory for the time being, if this is all that they are going to do. But it will not meet the permanent situation at all.

The question of crib work as opposed to the other type of construction, cylinder construction, concrete construction was a matter that gave us great concern prior to 1935. We acted on the basis of the best engineering data available, including outside engineering data, and it was concluded that the cylinder type would be much better than a crib work structure. There is a school of thought in the department which believes that the crib work type would- be preferable for the city of Saint John. There is always a danger of sliding. I suppose that is present too in the other type but not nearly to so great an extent.

I am glad to know that the work is being provided for but I must express disappointment that it is only temporary.

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:

My hon. friend knows that to build a permanent structure would take not two seasons but probably three.

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):

It would take about two years.

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:

Sometimes it runs into the third season, and -what we need there is the provision of dock facilities immediately. This autumn all our harbour facilities in the east will be heavily taxed and we are not looking beyond immediate needs.

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

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

There are a few observations which I should like to address to the Minister of Finance at this time. The subject is, in my opinion, of sufficient importance to justify my taking the time of the house.

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

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

War Appropriation Bill

list except to say that no securities of the Canadian Pacific Railway were included in it. To the extent that Canadian Pacific Railway company shares or debentures are held in the United Kingdom they remain in the hands of private owners. There has therefore been no change in the situation as a result of the war.

The Canadian dollar securities which I have just mentioned have been sold in Canada through ordinary market channels under the supervision of a representative of the treasury of the United Kingdom, who has worked in close cooperation with the Bank of Canada and the foreign exchange control board.

My hon. friend refers to Sir Edward Peacock and to the mission on which he is engaged in the United States. There has been no suggestion that his mission will be extended to Canada, nor have I any expectation that it will be so extended.

I think that answers the outstanding questions that have been asked in the debate so far.

The minister takes, I think, a very optimistic stand regarding the question of repayment of the war debt. As I look back to confederation I do not think there is any ground for such optimism, for since that time our national debt has steadily increased, in practically every year, with a few exceptions around 1928. If, on the other hand, we include the total debt of Canada, municipal and provincial as well as federal, then we can say that the public debt has increased in every year.

I do not dispute that we shall be able to meet our obligations, but we shall do so largely by refunding, paying only the interest, so the debt will be continually increasing.

I remember before the war the former Minister of Finance told us that it was taking forty-six per cent of the revenue from taxation to pay interest charges alone on the national debt. Where shall we come to if we continue such a policy? The time will come when it will .take considerably more than forty-six per cent, unless we are continually going to pare down interest rates.

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

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

It does not take anything like that percentage now.

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

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

That statement was given to the house by Mr. Dunning. Of course interest rates have been reduced, but at the same time the amount of the debt has increased greatly. Would the minister be prepared to tell the committee that there is no danger of running into a depression after the war? If we do, it is likely to take more than forty-six per cent, even disregarding the fact that our debt is increasing.

We were told that the issue of war savings certificates is twice blessed-that statement

(Mr. Ilsley.]

was made by Doctor Clark-in that it provides revenue for the government now, and will provide revenue for the investor when the next depression hits us. Already he is looking forward to the next depression. In that regard I would ask, if we are going to have another depression, when we are in that depression and the people need the money they have invested in war savings certificates, where is the government going to obtain that money? Surely increasing taxation in order to pay off those certificates is not going to help us out of a depression. Therefore the only way the government would be able to pay them off would be by an expansion of credit.

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

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

Does my hon. friend realize how much we are raising by way of taxation at the present time? We are taxing at the rate of about $900,000,000 a year now, and that will be considerably more next year even without any increase in rates.

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

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

Yes, but the minister will admit that after this war the government will not have anything like the revenue it has at the present time.

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

James Lorimer Ilsley (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ILSLEY:

Well, I don't know.

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

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. QUELCH:

When the day of peace comes, most of these munitions factories will automatically cease operations, and it will not be any small problem under the present system to find ways and means of putting these industries to work. I will admit that if we changed the system and made our one objective production to satisfy the needs of the Canadian people, and issued money for that purpose, it would not be a major problem; but in the past that has not been the policy of this government. The main policy of this government has been foreign trade; they have been willing to sacrifice anything and everything to expand our trade. We all know how a nation maintains a large favourable balance of trade. That is done by reducing the prices of primary products to levels where they can compete with those of other countries. In other words, you have to reduce our farmer to the level of the lowest paid farmer in the world, making him compete with slave or peasant labour. If I remember rightly, since confederation we have had only about eleven balanced budgets. Not only have we not been able to pay our debts; we have not been able to pay our expenditures out of our current revenue. I am satisfied, as I believe the majority of the people are satisfied-and the statement already quoted from the remarks of the general manager of the bank of Montreal expresses the same fear-that we are heading towards a situation where our total debt charge one day will be greater than our revenue.

War Appropriation Bill

I have listened with interest to many of the speeches made during the course of this debate since the introduction of this resolution over a month ago. One of the things that has surprised me has been that, although we are discussing an appropriation bill, practically the entire discussion has centred on how we are going to spend the money, and there has been very little discussion as to how we are going to raise it. Of course I will admit that it is always easier to spend money than to provide it. Many hon. members have deplored the fact that in many industries our production has lagged. A great deal of criticism has been levelled against the aeroplane industry, and I believe the Minister of Munitions and Supply admitted that the production of aeroplanes was three months behind schedule. I was especially interested in the remarks of the hon. member for Northumberland, Ont. (Mr. Fraser) in this regard. He stated:

To my friends on the other side I say with respect-and with pity-that in the interests of Canada and the British empire it is too bad that we did not year by year, particularly in 1938 and 1939, get sufficient money in our estimates to be in a position to build up an aeroplane industry in this country.

The hon. member for Jasper-Edson already has referred to this statement, but I should like to make a few further observations regarding it. I think the hon. member for Northumberland, Ont., was ill-advised to address that statement to the opposition. I say that because from 1935 to 1939 the Liberal party had an overwhelming majority in this house. They had power to introduce any legislation they desired. I am well aware of the fact that the Prime Minister has tried to place the blame for the failure to build up our defences upon public opinion. He has stated that from 1935 to 1939 public opinion was not such that it would have supported greater expenditures for war purposes. I think the Prime Minister should have followed through on that point. Why was public opinion not prepared to support a greater expenditure for war purposes? For the very simple reason that year after year, from 1935 to 1939, we heard the former Minister of Finance continually tell the house that the only money available to this country was the money the government could tax from the pockets of the people. The former Minister of Labour, the late Mr. Rogers, went even further and stated that if we were to increase expenditures it would be necessary not only to increase taxation but to increase taxation upon people in the lower income brackets. In view of the fact that during the period in question we had in the neighbourhood of a million people on relief, with hundreds of thousands of others enduring a very low standard of living, it 14873-1091

seems only natural that they were not willing to have their incomes still further reduced in order to meet increased war expenditures.

It is interesting to note that as soon as war was declared the present Minister of Finance, who was then acting minister, told the house that the government would adopt a policy which would include a moderate monetary expansion. I do not want it to be said that I have misrepresented what the minister stated on that occasion, so I will quote his words:

All this is not to say that a small and carefully regulated amount of credit expansion may not be desirable in the early stages of the war in order to assist the increase of production and employment.

And again:

If at the beginning of the war there are unemployed resources, some credit expansion may give an impetus to their prompt utilization. If it is carefully controlled, the expansion of production may prevent any abnormal rise in prices, confidence may be maintained and the initial impetus may be carried on and accelerated by the insistent demand that exists for supplies.

The question I should like to ask the minister, and I think it is a question that should be answered now, is this. If it was sound to have monetary expansion in September of 1939 in order to bring about greater production and greater employment, why would it not have been just as sound in the years from 1935 to 1939? Then some of the unemployed could have been utilized to build up our defences, while the remainder were used to expand the production of consumer goods in order to satisfy the demand created by the money paid out in the defence programme. Many people are asking that question, and I wonder whether the minister would deal with it.

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

March 20, 1941