Hon. C. D. HOWE (Minister of Munitions and Supply):
Some two weeks ago I was asked to make a statement on the gasoline and oil situation. As our rationing year ends on March 31, I will do so at this time rather than wait until the work of my department is subject to review under the war appropriation bill.
I have stated before, and now state again that rationing of gasoline in Canada is based wholly upon stocks of gasoline in hand and our estimate of the forward position. Our stocks in hand at this time are less than fifty per cent of normal. The forward position must depend on the tempo of the war, and there is every indication that the situation will not improve until the European war is ended. Whereas rationing was imposed as a result of sinkings by enemy submarines, rationing is still necessary due to the vastly increased requirements for aviation gasoline and motor gasoline in the combat areas. A further factor in the situation arises from the fact that supplies of crude oil in the United States are diminishing with the result that we must go farther and farther afield to obtain crude oil for our refineries. The crude oil now being obtained yields larger proportions of asphalt and heavy fuel oil with correspondingly smaller proportions of gasoline and domestic fuel oil. While we have obtained the assistance of United States owned tankers to meet our transportation requirements, and while we have built and are now operating a number of Canadian tankers, we have been unable to improve the position of the motorist.
Use of heavier crudes does permit relaxation in the use of heavy or bunker fuel oils and asphalt. Restrictions on the use of asphalt have been removed entirely. As regards the use of heavy or bunker fuel oil, in all provinces except British Columbia all users who converted from heavy fuel oils to substitute fuels may now return to using heavy fuel oil, the only restriction being that the consumer must obtain a permit from the office of the oil controller, this for the purpose of record. British Columbia cannot be permitted relaxation for the reason that demands for heavy fuel oil from the west coast for the fleets of the united nations require the full production of west coast refineries.
The plan to be followed in rationing gasoline for the year commencing April 1, 1944, will be practically the same as that now being followed. Each motor car registered for use in each province may, upon application, receive a category "AA" gasoline licence and ration coupon book containing forty units, which at the present value of a unit, namely three gallons, amounts to 120 gallons of gasoline. This "AA" gasoline licence and ration coupon book may be obtained from the issuer of motor licences at the time a provincial motor licence is obtained.
The special categories remain basically the same as established for this year. Each individual who, by reason of the essentiality of his vocation, believes that he is entitled to a special gasoline allowance must make a new application, upon forms provided for that purpose, to the regional office of the oil controller for his district. The rationing officials of the oil control office will then determine his special allotment, if any.
During the past year many of our motorists have looked upon their "AA" allotment as one for pleasure driving. It was not our intention last year, and certainly it is not our intention this year to provide gasoline for pleasure driving. The category "AA" is an allotment for emergency requirements. While we do not intend to define pleasure driving, I wish to make it clear that the man who uses his category "AA" for week-ends and other non-essential driving can expect no more should an eihergency arise after his allotment is exhausted. By the same token, the motorist who receives a special category in addition to his "AA" book must consider the aggregate gallonage provided by the two categories as essential, and all that he can obtain throughout the year.
It is hoped that the few inequalities that occurred ithis year can be eliminated next year. With the information on record for nearly every car and information obtained through checks on highways and at summer resorts, this should be possible.
I cannot stress too strongly the need for conserving gasoline. Gasoline is an essential munition of war. It has been said "To that country which has the last barrel of petroleum will go the victory".
Subtopic: STATEMENT AS TO STOCKS IN HAND AND POLICY FOR COMING FISCAL YEAR