April 11, 1945

DEPARTMENT OF MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY

NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

I listened very attentively to the address of the Minister of Munitions and Supply, and the cardinal statement I took out of it, which I propose to discuss to-day, along with several other items mentioned in his speech, is the statement he is reported to have made at page 746 of Hansard of yesterday:

The latest figures at hand show a total of 675,000 men and women employed on the manufacture of war equipment as of January 1, 1945. There has been a substantial decrease since January 1, 1944, but, despite this, there is every indication that our greatest labour shortage will occur in the next six months.

Further on he makes this explanatory statement:

As I stated recently, on the basis of the information now available we anticipate a cutback of not more than 35 per cent in our munitions programme with the cessation of hostilities in Europe.

Previous ministers were asked-I asked them myself-whether they had any programme to provide employment for the men in the services of their departments on their return. The reply was to the effect that the incoming Minister of Reconstruction-I believe that is the title-would be the one to take care of such a matter. What I have observed during this session so far is the lack of any programme or any statement from those addressing the house as to what is to be done in reference to employment. The minister of munitions did make a statement in that regard and he mentioned a number of subsidiary programmes in regard to employment, and therefore I feel it my duty to speak on the subject.

A few days ago I attended quite a large meeting in Toronto. There were a number of returned soldiers with their womenfolk and their families and the gathering was addressed by a distinguished soldier. Apparently a few days before addressing the meeting he had attended a large gathering of the Canadian Legion or the Canadian Corps, or perhaps a gathering of both. That speaker was alarmed because, he said, the returned members in these organizations had fervently discussed

the problem of employment facing their organizations after the war and they could see no big programme to provide employment. I am sorry to say that is my own observation; I cannot see any big programme for the provision of employment after the war.

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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. BLACICMORE:

Mt. Chairman, may we ask for more order in the chamber. I cannot hear a word the hon. member is saying.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

I am sorry, but apparently there are a few members of the House of Commons who are not interested in the question of jobs and of employment after the war; and yet, next to the winning of the war, the one important matter for this house to consider is the subject of jobs and employment. This may not affect some of the ridings, but it greatly affects mine. I live in a riding of 70,000 people, all in the working class, 45,000 of them employed in industry, and if employment is not of interest to some hon. members, that is their funeral; it is not mine. Fortunately I feel that the working men of my riding will return me at the next election. If hon. members are not returned, I say it is their funeral, if they are not interested in the question of jobs. So many men cannot understand the problem, and yet that distinguished soldier, a man closely associated with the problem of relief in Toronto, said that, to him, the question of jobs was, next to the winning of the war, the major problem of the country. If I cannot present that clearly,. I am sorry for those members who have no time except to gabble and are not interested in employment after the war.

The minister has said that some 675,000 were engaged in the making of munitions. When the minister speaks again I should like him to elaborate on that and tell us whether that 675,000 applies only to munitions plants or to all the thousand and one component plants; because 675,000 men and women seems to me to be a number that does not include those either directly or indirectly associated with the subsidiary plants making munitions.

I should think they would number perhaps a million men and women There must be that number engaged either directly or part time in the making of munitions. If, as the minister said, munition making is cut back thirty-five per cent when the European war is over, it would mean a reduction of 236,000 in that

675,000. That would present an immediate problem, because work would have to be provided for those 236,000 men and women. It isa large number to find employment for. That is the matter I am interested ini, Mr. Chairman. My life has been associated with those-

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who work in industry and with their problems.

I hope it will always be the paramount problem with me.

In the course of his remarks the minister mentioned a number of different matters. I shall deal with them individually and each one briefly. I am sorry to take up the time of the committee at this late stage of the session, but knowing and believing the minister himself is chiefly interested in the work which comes under his new department I am sure he will welcome a few suggestions from me or from anybody else that will provide ways and means of creating employment.

The minister mentioned the problem of coal. It is a most important problem. I have advocated before, I advocate now, that when this war is over, Ontario-and I speak of that province because that is where I live -should be in a position to take not less than a million and a half tons of Nova Scotia coal yearly, and more if possible. It is the duty ' of the government of the day to provide much faster and cheaper conveyances than exist today to enable the Nova Scotia coal miners to deliver their coal rapidly in Ontario and at lower freight rates than now exist.

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SC
NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

If my hon. friend will just possess his soul in patience, I shall come to that. I was trying to get to it as rapidly as possible. I am thoroughly familiar with Canada from one end of it to the other, and I try to leave out no portion of it when I am dealing with these matters. I hope that after the war, methods will be devised whereby a million and a half tons of Alberta coal can be brought to Ontario. My deskmate, the hon. member for Royal, who always stands up for his beautiful province of New Brunswick, asks about New Brunswick coal. Yes, New Brunswick too; when I speak of Nova Scotia coal I am thinking of the maritimes generally; they are pretty well together. I have used a lot of Alberta coal and Nova Scotia coal too. The Alberta coal is simply wonderful. The time has come for this government to establish a national fuel policy under which coal can be brought from both east and west faster and at a reasonable rate to the great buying province of Ontario, and, of course, Quebec too. I will confine my remarks in that regard to my own province, because in Ontario we buy several million tons of coal yearly. I am firmly convinced that our national coal policy should be designed to enable and induce Canadians to use Canadian coal to the greatest extent. Why do I say that? Because the trains bringing Alberta, Nova Scotia, or New

Brunswick coal to Ontario would take back products made by the working men and women of Ontario. Let me give an example of what I mean. Last summer I was up in the riding of the hon. member for Yukon. He took me to a very large store in the city of Dawson. Standing beside the tool counter I observed that the tools on sale had been made in Davenport riding by the Gray Tool company, on Van Horne street, Toronto. This company make excellent tools of great variety. I am happy to say that during the war they have played a very important part in providing the tools required by the Minister of Munitions and Supply and companies throughout Canada.

I have been making a survey of the Yukon in the hope-I cannot speak of it to-day, but I will do so later-of encouraging and assisting in securing an additional market for the use of Norman wells oil or Fort McMurray oil when the latter starts producing it in any quantity. They are producing a substantial amount now at Norman wells, and I have seen many men and women working there. I feel it is my duty as a Canadian to do everything I can to provide a market to keep the people working up there. My one thought was that if we could deliver oil and gasoline to the Yukon buyers at a price comparable to what they are paying for it to-day in the Mackenzie valley it would mean a large expansion of production in the Yukon. I mentioned that to the merchant in whose store I was, and he said to me, "Why, Mr. MacNiool, it will be wonderful if we can do anything like that." I said, "What would it mean to you?" He said, "I am now buying about five tons of tools a year, and it would mean instead of five tons of tools I would be buying perhaps twenty-five tons of tools a year." That would mean a lot more jobs in the Gray Tool company and the tool companies in Galt, Stratford, Hamilton and Montreal and other towns and cities throughout the east, and so on, with all the different lines of goods that company sold.

I cannot see any other way to make jobs than that the producers of goods and equipment receive orders. The only way they can get the orders is for those who send in the orders to have a demand in their immediate vicinity for that business.

May I come back to the question of coal? If Ontario bought a million and a half tons of coal from Nova Scotia and a million and a half tons from Alberta, where in the latter province they have, I believe, one-fifth of the world's coal supply, it would mean return orders to factories in Ontario and elsewhere in compensation for buying the coal of those

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other areas. I cannot see how we can keep this country going unless we buy from one another. If we buy coal from the east and west they in turn will buy from us. This country must initiate national policies whereby Canadians will buy from Canadians everything that they can. This will create more employment. If the minister is returned after the election-if not we will have to supply a man to take his place from our side of the house- he will have to initiate programmes along those lines.

Some years ago I tried to set out how we could bring coal from Alberta to Ontario at a much lower rate. I have figured out the programme. If we had, I was going to say, what God might like to see us have, the Saskatchewan river in a position where it could again return to some of the glory of its early days as a transportation artery-and it could easily be done by the building of dams on the river -the coal could float down as far as Winnipeg and then be taken by special types of cars across the four hundred and fifty miles or more from Winnipeg to the minister's fine city, Fort William, where it could be loaded on boats and brought to Toronto. What I am suggesting to the minister is that if he has anything to do with it after the election he should try in every way possible to have coal brought from Nova Scotia and Alberta to the central provinces, the largest users of coal, more quickly and at lower cost; and if he remains the minister in charge I shall be glad to help him with what ideas I have in that regard.

The minister mentioned the matter of oil. If he has anything to do with coaching those who draw up the peace treaty, or if he is there himself, I hope he will make an effort to see that as part of what should come to us Canada obtains from Germany some of her wonderful hydrogenation plants by which, during the war, they have produced annually up to 250,000,000 or 300,000,000 barrels of oil from coal. Apparently they are away ahead of the rest of the world in that regard. If as part of our compensation the minister could obtain for Canada one, two, three or more of the German hydrogenation plants, one might be installed down in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick and one in Alberta, and the extra coal not shipped for use as fuel then could be turned into oil in both those provinces. It is well known that the Alberta oil fields, while very creditable, have not the capacity to supply this country with oil. But they have coal in both Alberta and Nova Scotia, and we were told in the reconstruction committee that in both cases the coal is suitable for the pro-

duction of oil. It might cost a little more, but we have to keep our own people employed. Anything is better than having men unemployed; work is better than relief. To-day it requires millions of dollars in exchange to bring coal into this country, and more millions of dollars to bring in oil. I would much rather see those millions of dollars spent on the erection of plants in Nova Scotia and Alberta for the production of oil to supply Canadian needs. In that way we would provide a great deal more employment. I agree with what a distinguished soldier said at a meeting I attended in Toronto last week-end, that the greatest word in the English language to-day, next to "win the war", is "jobs". Anything that will provide jobs should 'be looked into and assisted in every way possible.

In connection with oil I should like to say a word about the Norman wells; I am going to tell the minister what I would do if the * matter were under my control. I would do everything in my power to keep the Norman wells in operation. I went over that pipe line. It is small, of course; we all know it is not a commercial pipe line. But if we could get it for nothing there would be no capital cost, and perhaps even a four-inch pipe would do for the present to send oil across to Whitehorse and to supply the Yukon. I am not arguing for a moment that it is a commercial proposition, but it could become one if the demand were created. The engineers up there told me that when the demand arose a twelve-inch line would be ample for a very long time, and would provide a considerable surplus for shipment down the Pacific coast. So I hope the minister will consider the problem of keeping the Norman wells operating, and' at the same time look into the production of oil from coal in both the maritimes and Alberta, to supplement what we are now getting out of the wells which our engineers tell us will never be able to take care of the Canadian demand by themselves.

The minister also mentioned transportation, and I want to say a word about that. I hope whoever is minister after the war will make every effort to speed up transportation in Canada, and to cut down its cost. Look at the situation in the maritimes. There is that right, tight little island of Cape Breton, with perhaps some of the best coal mines in the world. I do not know their capacity; the hon. member for Cape Breton South knows all about that, but we are told there is a considerable quantity of coal there. Look at the trouble they have getting that coal to the mainland. When the coal trains arrive at the strait of Canso just see what happens; I have watched

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them. Surely the time is past when a condition like that should be permitted to exist in this country. There ought to be a causeway or bridge to enable those trains to get quickly to the mainland from where the coal is produced. How can we compete against the world even in our own country unless we speed up and reduce the cost of transportation? The same observations apply to the west. I have often heard the hon. member for Vancouver South and others from British Columbia talk about the freight rates in that province. The time has come when this country, either through a national commission or otherwise, must make a thorough study into freight rates, with a view to cutting down the cost of transportation in order that Canadians may be able to compete in their own markets. To-day British Columbia is almost ostracized as far as freight rates are concerned. Look at the cost of getting things into and out of that province. It is no wonder that the people out there are indignant against the east. I do not believe they should be indignant against the east, but perhaps they are right because we do not raise our voices often enough, in this house or elsewhere, to assist them in their battle to bring down transportation costs.

I am ready at all times to support any reasonable programme that will bring about the more rapid distribution of the products of the outlying provinces; and by that I do not mean anything more than that they are far distant from the great purchasing centres of Ontario and Quebec. I am always ready to assist any programme that will permit the people of this great, rich, patriotic and heroic province of Ontario to deal more extensively with our good friends in the maritimes and the west. I know of no better way to promote unity in our country than by having greater trade between all parts of it, and cheaper and faster transportation. If my hon. friend remains minister in the next government-I am not prophesying that he will, or anything like that -I hope he will "take the bull by the horns" and do whatever is required to increase the speed and cut down the cost of transportation between one part of Canada and another.

In that regard a moment ago I mentioned the Saskatchewan river. I have gone over that river from its mouth to its source. It is a long journey, about a thousand miles. I have surveyed all its main branches, and every possible reservoir site in the Rocky mountains of any size where reservoirs could be built. That is another programme that should be undertaken. The P.F.R.A. administration has a fine map showing where these reservoirs can be built. They should be 32283-49

built. Nothing is as priceless to our western provinces, particularly Saskatchewan, as water. More than any other province in Canada, Saskatchewan must have water. It has little of its own; the water comes from the Rocky mountains, and runs away in the spring. I suggest that if the minister is still in office after the war he should see to it that the waters of the Saskatchewan river are conserved in each of its source branches. There are perhaps thirty-five to forty excellent sites for giant reservoirs, with the foundations available, in my mind created by God Almighty. I am a great believer in God Almighty, and see His handiwork wherever I go. He has created that large reservoir space, capable of serving in many instances up to a half million acre-feet of water. I think hon. members have heard me describe what an acre-foot of water is. The mouths of many reservoirs are contracted to a size not much wider than the length of this room, or at most two or three times that length, and right up against solid rock. My opinion is that it is a crime to allow that vast water resource to run away. Coming back to Alberta, it is even a greater crime to allow to take place in the Rocky mountains what has been taking place, and what the Alberta government has been praying that we help them prevent, forest destruction. I carefully examined the Crowfoot glacier and the Bow river glacier. The engineer who was with me told me that those two glaciers have shrunk to a much smaller size than formerly. I have forgotten the exact amount, but even if I remembered I would hesitate to give it or to accept it. There was originally a vast thickness, and they have shrunk as the glaciers have melted away. Glaciers are the source of Saskatchewan river water. One of the reasons given was the frightful destruction, through fires and otherwise, of the forests surrounding the glaciers. Those forests are in the foothills and mountains of Alberta and British Columbia. To neglect forest conservation is another crime, and one which will affect the destiny of this country, particularly our western provinces. I am as sure as I stand here, after making a survey, and through travel and examination, that this country cannot endure or continue to prosper unless the economy of the western provinces is maintained. It cannot be maintained unless the water resources of western Canada are rehabilitated and restored. This can be done by erecting dams along the Saskatchewan river, and those dams should be erected. In eastern Canada we have spent about $750,-

009,000, perhaps a billion dollars, on works of

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one kind or another, including canals, harbours, deepening and dredging channels. It was our duty to do it and we did it. But in the west we have spent only a paltry $2,500,000 on the St. Andrew's locks. And that is another programme I suggest might well be considered by the minister who happens to sit in the next government. If my hon. friend is in office I know he will grasp the situation. Because of his engineering knowledge he will recognize the importance of the rehabilitation of the Saskatchewan river.

Do not make any mistake about it; it is a tragedy to think that a river with an average flow of 27,000 cubic feet of water per second, a maximum flow up to 100.000 cubic feet per second, and a minimum or low flow, near Prince Albert, of less than 500 cubic feet at lowest, should be neglected. It is a tragedy, and a menace and danger to the economy of the western provinces. In that process of restoration the government would be creating business and giving the people out there a chance to live, and a chance to have employment. While I love my own province of Ontario, and have deep affection for my own people, I always like to think I am big enough to speak a word for the people throughout the whole of the country. And while I know that Ontario has made a tremendous sacrifice in this war, yet I know that whole western areas were depressed such a long time that young men of military age enlisted en masse, to the point where there were no young men out there. They had come through a depression, a depression they should not have been forced to endure-ten years of it. And when war broke out they enlisted en masse, and have made a record for themselves over there in the skies and on the land of Europe and on the seas.

No matter what the experience of this country may be after the war, the western provinces should be given their chance to shine in the sun. In doing that they will provide a vast volume of business for every factory and every town in Ontario and Quebec. That means jobs-j-o-b-s. The}' will have to have jobs after the war. And they will have no trouble getting those jobs if we only see to it that the country is opened up as it should be.

I did mention Saskatchewan's need of a transportation route for heavy bulk freight such as coal and wheat. Is there any reason why there should not be a ten-million bushel elevator at Saskatoon? There should be one, too, at Riverhurst, one at Medicine Hat, and possibly one at Lethbridge. I could do it, if I had it to do. There is no reason why 500-ton barges loaded with wheat or coal should not

float down that river, just as they float down the Illinois and the Ohio rivers to-day as far as New Orleans. That is a distance a good deal farther than from Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Saskatoon or Riverhurst to Winnipeg. If that water transportation were used the freight trains could be used to handle other types of freight. Farmers of the west would receive more for their wheat, and they would buy more. They would provide a higher class of freight, and our railways would get more business. I strongly favour supporting our railway systems in any fashion we can.

The minister mentioned something about power. Well, we know that the old province of Ontario is the shining example of the use of power. In this province we find great manufacturing establishments which have developed largely as a result of our wonderful hydroelectric power system. Although I do not know the exact figure, I believe that system now produces a good deal more than 2,000,000 horse-power. Perhaps the figure is closer to

3,000,000.

How can people in the west compete? I do not believe competition will hurt us down here. It would provide more business for us. The more the western towns and cities grow, the more business is provided for the rest of Canada. And barges at those grain elevators to which I have referred would be loaded with wheat at Saskatoon and the other places I have mentioned, and this would result in great numbers of jobs and considerable business. That is what we must do-[DOT] make jobs. Our men and women must have jobs after the war.

I read lately that there has been some talk of the three western provinces forming a committee to carry out a suggestion

not one that I alone made, but perhaps I was the first to make it in the house, two or three years ago. That is a suggestion which would place the Saskatchewan river under the control of a board. In my view it is imperative that that be done. It would not allow Manitoba, Saskatchewan or Alberta individually to do wha-t it wants, with the river. That river belongs to all three provinces, and because of that I would support this movement in western Canada, one which I advocated myself two or three years ago, for the setting up of a board after the fashion of the Tennessee valley authority. It could be known as the Saskatchewan river authoritj^. I should1 like to see an engineer from the federal government act as chairman, to see that each province gets what it is entitled to, and much more than it can possibly get under present circumstances.

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The minister mentioned rubber. I spent five or six hours in that fine plant at Sarnia with which he had so much to do. I made a careful study of it, and inquired if it were possible for that plant to operate after the war in competition with Malaya rubber, and rubber from other places, provided that this country, which has invested $50,000,000 in the plant, would say, "There is the plant; you may operate it." How many are employed there now?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Reconstruction; Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I do not remember exactly.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

I know it is a very large number, somewhere in the neighbourhood of

4,000. If that plant were not kept in operation, that number of people would be out of employment. For that reason I would support any programme to keep the plant in operation. If the plant can produce rubber in competition with native rubber; if it can produce Canada's requirements, even if the government gets no return for the use of the plant the country will receive the benefit of the employment of four thousand men more or less, and it will be more, I presume.

I do not see why we should consider the capital cost of the plant. Anything that will provide four thousand jobs of steady employment for Canadians directly, and probably many more thousand jobs indirectly, would be a good investment, and I made up my mind that on the first occasion that offered I would suggest that the capital cost of setting up that plant at Sarnia for the production of rubber be forgotten, but let the government retain control. The cost of course was greater in war time. The sole thing to be taken into consideration should be the maintenance of the plant, which will provide steady employment at good wages and under proper conditions for the four thousand or more employees in that plant. That would be good business for Canada.

Something has been said about housing. I am not going to say much about that. But conditions to-day are a tragedy. I am besieged when at home from morning to night by the finest people, as all of the members are no matter where they come from, who come to me for help in finding a place where they can lay their heads and rest at night. The situation in Toronto is serious. I believe the minister is fairly familiar with it, and I would go so far as to say that perhaps he is doing everything that can be done to relieve the housing situation in Toronto. But certainly everything a grateful country can do should be done for the wives and families of the returning men and of those who have not yet come 32283-494

back, to provide them with a place where they can live. The provision of this necessary housing would mean many thousands more jobs, and if there is to be a shrinkage in production, as I presume there will be when the war with Germany is over, one of the main problems will be to find employment for those who are seeking work. Here is one means of providing employment.

The minister in his statement said something about air transport. My time has almost expired, but I want to say a word about that because I believe that after the war, air traffic will mean much to Canada and all other countries. At the outset let me say that I am not a supporter of the minister's programme of wiping out all other companies and giving the whole air business to Trans-Canada. I am in favour of supporting Trans-Canada to the limit. It is a fine company, with fine planes and a fine personnel. But last summer I travelled thousands of miles in the C.P.A. planes and I found them very comfortable and the personnel excellent. Everywhere I got off I discussed the problem of air traffic at the air fields, and I heard great disappointment expressed at the possibility of this great company's air service being done away with after the war. I would let them operate their planes after the war. I would go further and let the Hudson's Bay company operate planes if they want to; I do not know whether they want to or not. I would also extend the same facilities to T.T.C., which has made application to operate helicopters. I would allow them and everybody else who will operate air lines and conform with the regulations of the department in regard to safety and so forth to invest their money in air facilities and give employment to thousands of our people. It would open up that great north country. I forget just how much traffic the C.P.A. carried last year in that region, although I read the figures a little while ago. It is fine that such a company should make an investment of this kind in opening up that country. I do not know how it could be opened up fully except by air service. Having myself flown over all the far north, I am strongly in favour of any programme that will increase air traffic in this country-and that means a lot more jobs all along the line.

I do not want to take up any more time, but in conclusion I do want to press on the minister the absolute necessity of water conservation in the west. I might add a word about Ontario and Quebec. A great job remains to be done in these two provinces, one which I have long advocated, and that is the flood-proofing of the rivers. I had a

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letter from the Minister of Lands and Forests in the Quebec government and he gave me a list of a number of rivers that should be made flood-proof and on which water conservation should take place. He mentioned the Portneuf and a number of other small streams; the Chaudiere-but that is not a small stream; the Blondel; aux Chiens; Creek du Moulin; Cassault, Sault-a-la-Puce, and the L'Emoyne. Then there is the St. Francis and the Richelieu, in Quebec province, and in Ontario there are many rivers that should be made flood-proof-the Thames, for instance, and that in my judgment should be done promptly. I fear what might happen to the fine city of London, the fine town of Inger-soll, the splendid city of Chatham and the village of Thamesville if we do not act promptly to save them from disaster such as happened in Dayton, Ohio, through the flooding of the Miami river. There is a programme of flood-proofing and water conservation that will provide many thousands of jobs, and it will be a self-liquidating programme. The programme would include flood control, water conservation, reforestation, soil conservation and all that goes with it. While some of these things are not mentioned in the minister's statement, some of them were, and I can tell him that if he happens to be minister after the war-and the same applies no matter who the minister may be-he will receive my whole-hearted support if I am here in bringing into effect programmes that will provide jobs, not by the thousands, not by the tens of thousands but by the hundreds of thousands for the million soldiers we will have coming home, and for perhaps another million men and women who will be seeking jobs when they are laid off from the munitions plants.

This calls for a bold programme which should be planned immediately, a programme that will be self-liquidating so far as possible, like the irrigation plans I have suggested for Alberta and Saskatchewan. The latter is a programme that will provide thousands and thousands of jobs directly in the west and indirectly an equal number of jobs in the factories in the east right down to the town of Amherst in the riding of my good friend from Cumberland, who is always standing up for the maritimes. I can hardly say a word for any other part of Canada, but what my hon. friend asks: What about the maritimes? That is fine. I like a man to stand up for his own part of the country. Let me tell him that I saw in Lethbridge large quantities

of stuff that was made in the towns of Amherst and New Glasgow. That just illustrates how far the benefits will flow.

From Cape Breton in the east to Aklavilc in the Arctic and away up to the Yukon, all Canada from the east to the west and up north should be linked together. We should all buy one another's goods. If we do that Ihere would not be one unemployed man in this country, if we have the government's benediction all along the line.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. GILLIS:

I hesitate to make any

extended remarks at this stage, but the department now before the committee is perhaps one of the most important departments of government at this time. I consider that the Minister of Munitions and Supply, who is also Minister of Reconstruction, is going to be the man of the hour in the post-war period. That is why I wish to speak of the future of that department as related to the reconversion of industry.

I am sure we all appreciate the interest which the hon. member for Davenport takes in the maritimes. But the maritimes have been struggling along on sympathy for the last fifty years, and that sympathy has not been reflected very much in any economic betterment of the maritimes. I am going to suggest that in future, instead of just sympathizing with the maritimes we actually try to do something tangible that will be reflected in an improvement in the economy of that part of the country.

I am not going to discuss the fuel question. For the past five years in this house I have put on record my opinions as to what should be done. The government has seen fit to appoint a commission, which to-day is travelling Canada from coast to coast, examining the whole problem with the end in view of establishing a national fuel policy. I have some hope for this commission. I met them, and listened to their deliberations while in Sydney. I think they know their business, and I am reasonably sure that out of that commission will come some concrete suggestions for the organization of fuel in this country. When they bring down their report, based on the evidence they will receive-and they are getting the real evidence this time-I trust that, whichever party is governing this country, something definite and tangible will be done for the reorganization of the fuel industry because it needs reorganization. I will leave the matter there: it is being attended to.

My main concern with the minister's department is as to the future of what war industry there is in Nova Scotia. Most of the people

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in that province are considerably worried. For example, there is the Pietou shipyards. Although it is not a big industry it gives considerable employment, and to the best of my knowledge there is no programme for maintaining it after the war. I had the pleasure of visiting the town and I found that the matter is pretty well tangled up. I shall not go into it in detail; I think the minister has probably heard all the stories which I have heard. The Maritime Foundation company is operating it on a management fee basis. It is my information that they would stay there and continue that operation provided that they could buy the repair plant which is owned by the Ferguson Brothers. On the other hand, the Ferguson Brothers are prepared to take the shipyards over if they could also retain the repair plant. That is a matter of negotiation between the government and the companies; but before the minister concludes the discussion I should like him to say something definite as to the future of that industry in Nova Scotia in the post-war period.

There is also the gun plant at Trenton, Nova Scotia. It is a purely war set-up. The possibilities are that when there is no need for the commodity it is producing, the plant will close up. If it does, a considerable number of people now employed there will be out of work, and there will be no provision for returning service personnel there or in the Pietou area in the matter of employment. I should like the minister to give us some indication of the future of that particular industry.

Another one, in which I am more personally concerned, is the plate mill at Sydney. The minister and most hon. members will remember that in 1940 considerable discussion took place here concerning that plant. It was built in the last war-built and paid for by the Canadian government. The machinery at that time was moved somewhere else. In 1940 the government rehabilitated the mill and put it to work. It has done a good job. At the present time it is working, I believe, only one shift or half-time. There is considerable anxiety as to the future of that mill.

I wish to make a few remarks as to the matter of wages at the steel plant, because it ties in closely with the future of that plate mill. The steel-workers' union, local 1064, functioning at that steel plant in Sydney, have been trying for several months past to renegotiate or revise their wage agreement. Recently their representatives were in the city, and they left, I understand, without much assurance as to what could be done. The old wage agreement was in fact an order in council passed by this government. That order in council was No. 689. Most hon. members will

remember the complete tie-up of steel in most of Nova Scotia and Ontario. Arising out of that dispute was the order in council that fixed the wage agreement and revised bonus arrangements and so forth; and that has been in effect since. I am informed-and if I am not correctly informed I want the minister to put me right-that an order in council, No. 1952, was passed on March 23 of this year constituting an agreement in the matter of subsidies as applied to steel. My information is that the subsidies are being revised. As I am informed there is a proposal under that order of three dollars a ton as a subsidy on the basis of present operations and four dollars a ton if the plate mill at Sydney closes. Now that arouses considerable concern. What I should like to know is, why the increase of a dollar a ton in the subsidy if the plate mill closes down? I may be wrong in this. I am merely raising it because I w'ant the minister to answer concerning a matter which is causing anxiety, and if I am not correctly informed the minister can put the record straight. It would look as though there was a bonus of a dollar a ton to be paid for the closing down of the plate mill- which means unemployment, and the unemployment situation in that area at the present time is anything but good. There is actual unemployment there now. Returning service personnel are not able to get work in that area. I say "not able" advisedly, because just prior to coming into the house, and after having a lot of boys in and out of the office, I checked with selective service as to what the unemployment situation was like, and they told me there just is not any employment in any of that Cape Breton island area. It is a heavy industry section, with mining and steel plants. Service personnel coming back at this time are generally medically unfit for one reason or another; and while you may be only ten or fifteen per cent disabled from a medical point of view you are one hundred per cent disabled from an employment point of view if you wish to take employment in either of these industries. As a result, men coming back in that category are just unemployed. There is no provision for vocational training; it has not yet been started; there are no schools to send them to; things are at a complete standstill; and if the small bit of war industry which was established in that province during the war is to be done away with we are going to be much worse off than we were in 1939 when this war broke out. When the minister answers, having had a chance to check the facts, I suggest he should set the record straight as to the future of that plate mill in Sydney.

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There is another matter about which I should like to jog his memory. For three sessions of this parliament there functioned a reconstruction committee, which, under the capable chairmanship of the hon. member for Cariboo, did a good job. It is one of the best committees on which I have had the pleasure of serving while in this house. It was the duty of that committee to endeavour to get the post-war picture in the field of employment. That committee met and examined witnesses from every class of industry, and they made certain recommendations with respect to the future. The Minister of Munitions is also Minister of Reconstruction. That committee tabled in this house, on Monday, January 24, a report which will be found in No. 39 of the minutes of the reconstruction and reestablishment committee. The committee made certain definite recommendations. This was from the last report. My conception, as a member of that committee, when the report was tabled in the house, was that the minister who would be handling reconstruction in the post-war period would have at his disposal and would hand to his staff the several recommendations made by the committee together with the evidence taken, so that they might plan the future in the field of employment. I wish to call the attention of the minister definitely to a part of that committee's report with respect to the maritimes. It will be found on page four. The committee states:

Your committee has given a great deal of thought to the economic situation of the maritime provinces.

I can say that they did; they discussed the matter thoroughly.

We recommended that in cooperation with these provincial governments the federal government undertake a survey or study of conditions, with the object of advising and helping in the taking of any steps that will bring about an improvement in the economic life of the people of those provinces. This improvement can be brought about in part through a proper development of the fishing industry; through assistance to farming community, by the application of the provisions of the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act, by the installation of rural electrification, and the extension of cold storage facilities; through proper forest services and extended utilization of forest products; through the introduction of additional secondary industry, where the operation of such industry is economically sound, by reason of proper markets and of primary production within the maritime provinces or in the neighbouring lands, such as Newfoundland.

This inquiry should include the extent, if any, to which the maritimes have suffered because of lack of proper distribution of secondary industry in Canada and also the possibility of securing extended markets-both Canadian and international-for all maritme production. [Mr. Gillis.J

We are convinced that after the war-if prewar conditions are permitted to prevail-the Nova Scotia coal industry will not be able to exist without assistance in the marketing of the output of the mines. The coal industry situation would therefore be an important part of the proposed survey.

That has been taken care of.

After the war transportation will play an even more important part than previously in economic development.

This is the: part on which I wish to focus the committee's attention.

Therefore, in dealing with conditions in the maritime provinces, we strongly urge that the government give earnest consideration to certain proposed improvements in transportation facilities. These include:

(a) improvements designed to make communication between Prince Edward Island and the mainland constant, reliable and adequate;

(b) improvements of transportation across the straits of Canso by the construction of a causeway or in such manner as may be judged most satisfactory, considering the amount of traffic and the conditions of ice, tides and current;

(c) regrading, realigning and double-tracking of the Canadian National railway from Sydney to points in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Your committee has had a great deal of evidence and some discussion concerning transportation in Canada generally. There are some features of this problem upon which we are not yet ready to report. . . .

Such as matters affecting railways, bus companies, and so on. This matter of bridging the strait of Canso, realigning and doubletracking the main line is a very important part of any national fuel policy that may be set up in Canada. What I am concerned about is this. Though the reconstruction committee, after approximately three years' deliberation, and having discussed the matter from all angles and on many occasions submitted that report to the house, just about a month ago the Minister of Transport had occasion to visit Nova Scotia and in Halifax, either at a meeting or in a press interview, he was questioned on this particular project. The answers he gave at that time would lead everyone in that province to believe that so far as that project was concerned it was just a matter of determining its value as a project that would assist in the war effort. The minister said that the problem would be considered if it was still a problem, but that the maritime provinces, or the people of that area, would have to determine what they would be prepared to pay for the project, and so on.

My conception of his statement was that the report was forgotten; the government had no intention of doing anything about it; the war was over now and the problem was considered to have disappeared. I raise strenuous objection to that, and I should like the minister to clarify the situation when he gives his

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answers in the house. There is a great deal of interest and much anxiety in Nova Scotia with regard to the post-war period. We had no industry in the province to speak of when the war broke out and what has been established has been gradually siphoned off. The project that we were oinning our faith on in the eastern end, particularly for the purpose of relieving immediate post-war unemployment, was that project across the strait of Canso, in addition to some other little undertakings which the Department of Public Works would likely be carrying on, such as breakwaters and the repair of hafbours.

This strait of Canso causeway proposal, in addition to tying the island of Cape Breton to the rest of Canada, would greatly improve the transportation problem from that end and would assist the coal industry. It would be definitely a major project that could be started in that end of the country and would relieve the shock of immediate unemployment on demobilization. I would ask the minister to consider that matter and give an answer when he gets an opportunity.

There is something else I would mention for the minister's benefit. Just before coming into the house I had occasion to meet representatives of the Cape Breton labour council. That consists of delegates of miners from all the different local units. They meet regularly and probe employment possibilities, the extension of social legislation, compensation and matters of that kind. They have also been dealing with selective service in the matter of employment. They received the same answers that I got as far as selective service was concerned. There was no immediate possibilities that they could see of assuring anyone of employment in that end of the country. This labour group took it upon themselves to meet with the regional directors of selective service. Representatives from the office in Moncton were there, and from the local selective service offices in the community as well. The object of the meeting was to discuss ways and means whereby the situation might be improved.

They made one concrete recommendation which I believe, when discussing post-war problems with reference to the mining industry, the minister should know something about, and that is the question of retiring older miners. They proposed at the meeting that the government should examine the possibility of retiring men from the mining industry after they have reached the age of sixty. A lot of people will say that at sixty years of age one is still able to do a good job. That is true in many fields of endeavour but it is not true in coal mining. When you reach fifty-five or

sixty years of age in the coal mining industry, particularly if you have been shovelling coal, your back is pretty well broken. You have passed the peak of your maximum productivity. Everyone who knows the industry knows that is true. Let me give an example of what they do in New Zealand. In that country the pensionable age is sixty, but coal miners are pensioned at fifty-five. They are laid off that much sooner because they are broken down that much quicker in that heavy industry.

It was pointed out at the meeting to which I have referred that in that area there were approximately a thousand miners who had passed the age of sixty but were still obliged to work underground because there is no legislation of any kind to help them, or any other employment in which they can be placed. Because of that they must remain in the industry and try to eke out an existence. If the government considered the proposition of taking those thousand miners- and that figure is an approximate one; there may be more and there may be a few less- laying them off and giving them something to live on they would be providing room for a thousand younger men in that industry. Productivity under the ground would be increased in that way and production generally would be increased. It would create employment for the younger men and it would give the men who are worn out in the industry an opportunity of living perhaps a few years longer by getting above ground. That pension could work out something like the burnt-out allowance paid to war veterans. A man burns out much quicker loading coal in a coal mine than by fighting a war because the physical strain is a great deal greater. I can say that with some conviction because I have had some experience in both. The pension so established might work in this way-I am now giving my own opinions only-a man working underground might be given a pension of $40, $50 or $60 a month, or whatever figure was arrived at. After a few months' rest he might feel like doing some other kind of work. If he was able to find some other employment in a lighter industry he could then augment his pension.

Saskatchewan has established a pension for the totally incapacitated father. I am not stating this for political reasons but because it is a fact. It is not very much but it is a start. I understand that the pension or the allowance is only about $10 a month. But the wife also receives an allowance of an equal amount and there is an allowance of $12 for each child. The income is not adequate; it

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is low, but it is a start. What I am arguing now is the principle that has been established in that province with regard to men who are incapacitated. I consider that those men in the coal industry are incapacitated for the job they are on, but they are obliged to stay on it because there is no other means by which they can obtain a livelihood. I consider that those old men are really a drag on the industry. They have given their best days and have passed their maximum production peak. Money spent by the government in that way to take them out of that heavy industry would be well spent. If those men were retired and rested for a while, given a little sum of money to live on, the chances are they could be routed into some other form of employment and ultimately become gainfully employed at something else. At the same time younger men would get into the industry; production would rise, and probably enough could be collected in taxes on the additional earnings in the industry to offset what may be contributed1 as pension to the older people who are taken out of the industry.

I rose this afternoon merely to focus attention on the few points that I have made in regard to the maritime provinces because the session will be ending very soon. The Minister of Munitions and Supply and Minister of Reconstruction will be on the job for some considerable time. We do not know when the election will be called, but those who are working on planning the future, reconverting industry and preparing for demobilization must go on. We cannot slacken our efforts. The cabinet will be carrying on that work. I wish to leave those thoughts with the minister because definitely in Nova Scotia the points , which I have brought out require clarification if for no other purpose than to relieve the minds of the people there as to their future, which is very uncertain at the present time.

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LIB

Louis-Philippe Picard

Liberal

Mr. PICARD:

It is customary at this stage to state that we do not intend to speak very long. My intention is only to mention two or three of the different controls that the minister spoke about in his statement. One of them came to be better known to myself because last year one of the war expenditures committees looked into it carefully. I refer to rubber control. As they say, whenever a doctor wants to get a patient to swallow a bitter pill he usually first coats it with sugar. Therefore I will give the compliments first. I think our investigation of the rubber control proved that the investment of over $50,000,000, which may have been criticized in some quarters, was amply justified and was one of the most oppor-

tune decisions that the minister has made during the last few years. Had it not been for the construction of the plant at Sarnia, I believe that Canada would not be in the position in which it is to-day to keep its military rolling stock on wheels, and that it would not be possible for the country to keep as many of its civilian needs supplied by the motor vehicle industry.

I should like to refer to the recommendations made by that committee because if the reports of the war expenditures committee or any other committee are to be of any value they should not be buried and not considered. In the last-five years the war expenditures committee have made many reports. Some of them were very good, almost all of them were, in my opinion, fair and unbiased, but I think few have received considerable consideration on the part of the cabinet. Anyway, I feel it is my duty, since at the end of last session we did not have an opportunity to discuss the questions that were brought down in the report, to outline to the committee the recommendations of the war expenditures committee. We sat for about twenty-five days, heard about eighteen or twenty witnesses and covered all the activities of the Polymer Corporation Limited, the Fairmont Company Limited, the rubber controller, the motor vehicle controller and also witnesses from the research bureau, the Department of Agriculture on all the technical questions connected with the production of rubber, either natural or synthetic or from plants grown out of the country or in the country. I had not intended to speak on that; therefore, I have no notes, but I think a word should be said about the report that was brought down last year. I should like to read the recommendations of the report. Some of them are really important and should be taken into consideration by the cabinet. They are as follows:

As a result of the survey of the rubber situation in Canada, of the activities of Polymer Corporation Limited, of Fairmont Company Limited, of the rubber controller and the motor vehicle controller, your subcommittee makes the following recommendation:

(a) that a survey be immediately undertaken [DOT] of Canada's post-war needs in rubber and in motor vehicles.

We had in mind at that time that as part of the reconstruction work it might be useful for the rubber industry to know in advance the expected needs of the country and that they should keep their production schedules in such a state as to be able to meet it within the least possible delay or as quickly as possible after the end of the war.

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(b) That proper steps be taken at as early a date as possible, consistent with war conditions, for the conversion of tire producing facilities, at present devoted to special army specifications tires, to civilian needs. That plans be immediately considered to speed up, as soon as war conditions make it possible, the readjustment of the motor vehicle industry from a war-time to peace-time basis with special consideration to the urgent needs of Canadian industry for trucks and other similar conveyances in order to enable the public to reorganize their activities in constructive channels that will necessitate expanded motor transport and the replacement of badly worn out equipment.

Some of our discussions in the committee in this connection were to the effect that it was most important that as soon as it was materially possible the motor vehicle industry should build trucks instead of going into the production of passenger cars, because there is a great demand throughout the country for trucks that are essential to the needs of industry in general. Many trucks have been treated in such a way that companies are left with depleted transportation equipment with which to carry on their operations, and this is particularly so in certain parts of the country. The committee had in mind that it would be a good thing for the department to begin planning now the channels into which the activities of the motor vehicle industry should be directed. They should not be allowed to start publishing wonderful designs of new stream-lined cars, but instead should be required to engage for a certain period after the war in meeting the actual transportation problem and supplying the trucks so badly needed by industry.

The recommendations continue:

(c) That the methods used during war time to stabilize the labour output in the truck manufacturing be extended in the post-war period to all the automotive industry in order to avoid the alternate peak loads and low ebbs of labour experienced in that industry before the war and that proved so disturbing to economic conditions in areas where the motor industry is located.

Our committee was told that prior to the war, in connection with trucks as well as passenger cars at certain periods of the year new models were produced in vast quantities, requiring large numbers of men; that as soon as these models were on the market the number of men employed was reduced, so that there would be high peak loads and low ebbs in the employment of men in the motor vehicle industry, greatly disturbing the economic conditions of the areas where the motor industry is located. We were told that during the war the controllers were able to stabilize the situation to a certain extent; that the production of trucks had been aver-32283-50

aged over a period of twelve months, in order to employ about the same number of men continuously. As few as possible were employed, so that the remainder could work in other war industries or go into the army, but approximately the same number of men were kept employed all year. The committee was of the opinion that such controls should be continued after the war to regulate the production of trucks as well as passenger cars on a yearly basis, so that the labour market would not be disturbed periodically by peak demands at certain periods of the year and very low demands at others, resulting from the fact that new models perhaps would not sell as quickly as had been anticipated and the men would have to wait for the installation of the machine tools for the production of later models. The fourth recommendation was:

(d) That the research work pursued at the national research council and in the Department of Agriculture on synthetic rubber and on the possibility of producing rubber from Canadian plants be further encouraged by the inclusion in the next estimates of substantial amounts specially devoted to that work.

We thought, if I may speak for the committee, or certainly I thought the work that had been done by the national research council was such that larger sums of money should be devoted for that purpose. Whether or not these developments have reached the stage where local plants can be developed to produce Canadian rubber, these experiments are still well worth while carrying on. We have been spreading money around so lavishly that a few thousand dollars more for research in that field which, with the development of science, might free us from the need of obtaining natural rubber from other countries, would be well worth while. The fifth recommendation was:

(e) That in the post-war period the Sarnia plant remain with Polymer Corporation Limited, as a government-owned company.

Here we may be entering into a controversy, but personally I firmly believe that since this has been started as a government-owned project it would be folly to place it on the market, through one or other of the government organizations, and have it operated by a private company. I believe it should be carried on, as during the war, as a government-owned company. As I said, here we may be entering the field of legislation in connection with other than strictly business matters, and engaging in the controversy as to the relative merits of private and publicly owned companies; so that without going into any more detail I will just say that I was one of those who believed it was necessary that after the

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war such a company as had been entirely financed by the government should continue as a government project and should not be put into the hands, by purchase or otherwise, of private interests.

The last recommendation in our report was:

That as soon as is convenient after the war is over Polymer Corporation Limited readjust its relationship with the companies presently administering the different plants with a view to Polymer as a government-owned company operating and administering all these plants itself.

There again we come up against the discussion as to public ownership Versus private ownership. I believe the present system has worked to the advantage of the country' during the war, but I also believe that all these companies which have been administering the affairs of the Polymer corporation in connection with the production of rubber should be brought within the general scheme of the company, so that we might have one big unit operating the plant. I agree with those who think that if we had not gone to the private companies already operating such plants in the United States it would have been impossible to find the experts to run the plants in our own country. I believe we did the right thing at that time, but now that we have trained men in Canada to carry on this work I do not see why the country should not carry on the project itself, since the whole thing has been financed by the country. The rubber industry may come along and say this may provide competition for them. Some officials of the rubber companies have said that it might be a good thing to have such competition. During the war they have evolved processes for treating this rubber to the point where we are told that a certain proportion of natural rubber combined with synthetic rubber will produce better results. Scientific development and research are going on continually up to the point where, after the war, we may avoid paying to the rubber trust or combine which existed at one time the high prices which at times have been paid. Since this synthetic rubber will be produced, according to the figures shown to us, at a very low price, let us say something below twenty cent's, or around sixteen or seventeen cents a pound, it would be at a price which would correspond favourably with natural rubber prices, and might have the added result of stabilizing the market, and preventing ups and downs in that market.

That, Mr. Chairman, completes the recommendations made in our report last year with respect to rubber control. I am glad to see the minister refers to that matter, and says

. I .

that the company has carried on up to schedule. Although unfortunately it will not be possible to make as many passenger cars available to the public as they might wish, he points out, however, that conditions will be better.

If conditions are better, the public should realize it is because the government looked far enough ahead and organized the plant at Sarnia. For that reason more cars can now be equipped with tires than would have been possible otherwise. We would have been without tires for civilian needs, and our war machinery would have been seriously hampered, had it not been for that plant. I think that, generally, the public has a right to be satisfied.

The nigger in the woodpile in our report last year concerned motor vehicles control. I still have the same views I had last year, that this has been far from being as well administered as the rubber control, so far as the distribution of tires is concerned. We have not been able to get from the motor vehicles control any set of definite rules, with the exception of the statement that they would supply trucks to essential users. But, as in any good dictatorship, the decision as to "essential user" was left in the hands of the controller or his representative. But no such set of rules was produced or given to us by the motor vehicles controller as was produced by the other controllers, and especially that applying to rubber, where the nature of the operations of car owners would to a considerable extent determine the granting of a permit.

Perhaps I might quote from the same report from which I quoted a moment ago. It said this:

"Your subcommittee got a report on the distribution of permits to large categories of users but no report was available of the number of permits granted in each province or in each district of the wartime prices and trade board, as had been supplied for tires by the rubber controller. Your subcommittee is of opinion that a better picture of the permit distribution would have been available to the public had there been supplied to it a more elaborate detail of categories of users to whom permits were granted and a report as to the numbers supplied to each district of the wartime prices and trade board.

The subcommittee was told that there were no records existing-

-at the time. I have been told since that this procedure has been started since that time. We were told at the time that it was a very difficult process, and a very hard procedure to get these detailed reports.

The subcommittee was told that there were no records existing of distribution by provinces or districts nor was there a breakdown of items to determine how many had gone respectively to mining, oil, lumber, farming, etc. . . .

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Industries were grouped together, but that did not give the committee a satisfactory-answer to our request.

Repeatedly the subcommittee was told that the controllers office had work "not on distribution generally but on the essential features of each case". . . .

But if we carry on in this report we find out that we can find no specific rules, no rigid rules. At every moment we were told they were given to essential users.

At this point I would quote a few questions and answers from the committee's report:

Mr. Factor: It does, to this extent, that

there is no definition of essentiality. It is left entirely to the judgment of the controller under the procedure.

Mr. Berry: I think that is a fair appreciation of the situation.

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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

You mean the controller, or whoever his power is delegated to, decides and determines whether or not the application constitutes an essential application or an application for an essential user, and it is up to the controller or to his delegates to determine the essentiality?

Mr. Berry: Yes.

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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

It is not specially defined but is rather left open for determination by the controller or his representative?

Mr. Berry: That is it.

Mr. Birchard: Except that he must be an

essential user.

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LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Yes. but the word essential user is left for determination by the controller or his delegates.

That is what prompted at the time the last sentence of our report with respect to motor vehicles control, which stated:

From the evidence it is therefore very difficult for the subcommittee to arrive at any conclusion as to the operation of this phase of the controller's work, except as to hope that the decisions of the controller and his assistants were fair and unbiased and that complaints heard at times in the public were not justified.

That is as much as we could do, because we could not be given enough information or details to satisfy us that there was any rule. The complaint I have to that is that, even now, only a small number of trucks are produced, and a large number of people are wanting them. From day to day more and more old trucks are going out of use. Agriculture and industry are in need of transportation facilities, and some of them are hampered now to the extent that they are faced with a serious problem.

It is all very well to say that conditions are fairly good, and to attribute the condition to the fact that we have to import some of the trucks from the United States. Yet, the truest sentence in that section of the minister's statement respecting motor vehicles control is the one- where he states that current supply is far short of the demand.

That is quite true, and I suppose we cannot do anything about, the matter. But the trouble is with the distribution. I say there is a condition prevailing there which is far from good. For instance, some people in the fall of the year will ask for a truck to carry out their operations in the following spring. I have seen that happen in my own district, w'hen we are snowed in in the winter. Trucks will be brought in in the fall, and the garage operator will say that the truck is a 1928 model, possibly, that it has already run too many miles, and that it cannot be repaired.

Under those circumstances a man puts in his request, and files his form to get a new truck. He is told right away, "We cannot consider it now, because the roads are closed and you do not need it. We will look into it next spring." Then, next spring, instead of having these application forms considered at a given time, the man is forced to make out. a new application. He may not know that, and may be carrying on in the hope that the application he made in the preceding fall will finally be considered after the snow has disappeared. Then he is told, "You have not submitted an application"-and he has to start all over again. This takes a long time in the spring of the year, when the roads are closed. I am thinking particularly of the lumbering industry in Quebec. The timber controller should have something to say as to t.he essentiality of the passage of timber from one district to another.

In my province the lumber industry, generally, is beyond access in the winter. The men who are operating there, and wffio wish to bring down their wood and lumber in the spring of the year cannot do so because their trucks are not available, when the roads are open. Their application has not -been considered.

The case has been brought to my attention of a man who had a permit last year and was considered an essential user. Although he got his permit he could not find in that district a truck, but in February or March of this year he located in the city of Quebec a new truck and produced his permit. But the permit had expired. So that now he finds he has to start all over again. He -has a contract with the railways for ties, and last year he was admitted to be an essential user and was given a permit but could not get a truck. Now he finds out, when he has located a truck this year, that his permit has expired and that he is no more an essential user. The controller says that the essentiality has changed and that he cannot get a permit.

There are many other cases. There is the case of the man who is the only trucker in his village. He has a permit from the Quebec

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public service commission as a public trucker, the only one in the village. He has been asking for a permit since last August. His car is badly out of order and will not work at all, and he has waited and waited and cannot get a decision. This situation applies not only in the lumber industry but to the bringing of fuel wood into the city. Recently the minister warned the people to make provision for their next winter's supply of fuel wood, but it is hard to see at times how the fuel wood can be transported.

It is all very well to present statistics and say that so many thousand cords are to be cut and drawn, but where can you get the trucks to draw it? The people in a certain village have so many cords of wood, and no trucks, and that will happen again if the controller here does not understand the situation with respect to fuel wood better than he understands the lumber situation.

There is similar difficulty in the transport of milk. The city of Quebec is dependent for its milk supply upon the rural districts surrounding the city, as are all other big cities. Trucks engaging in that industry have been operating fairly well to the advantage of the large dairies who probably know better how to fill out their application forms, but there are many men who are not organized into companies and who gather milk in the rural districts and bring it into the city of Quebec. Their trucks were beyond hope of repair. They had' a hard time to get a hearing from the controller. The investigations took a long time, and finally their applications were turned down. I admit that the milk industry does not suffer so much as the lumber industry, because the big dairies in the city-whether they have an expert to frame their applications or not I do not know-have, I am informed, certain satisfaction. But in my district there are many cooperatives who applied last fall for trucks to bring in milk to the cities, and they have not been able to get them.

The same difficulty is found not only in the timber industry, as I have said and in the milk industry but among general truckers also. In many villages they are entirely dependent upon a new supply of trucks to bring into the city the products of the surrounding districts. We have villages that are from ten to twelve miles from a railway station, and in the winter they really have a hard time. They have to use sleighs to take the products to the station.

In the summer they get their products delivered fairly easily, but the great need is to have somebody in the motor vehicle con-

troller's office who understands the needs of their district. The whole question of motor vehicle control needs to be reconsidered and the machinery overhauled. I do not expect that it can be done in the short time that is left at our disposal before the election, but I would be remiss in my duty if I did1 not bring the situation to the attention of the minister and the committee. There is a deficiency somewhere in the departmental organization. First of all, the investigation takes too long. Primarily the application is made to Ottawa, but as the hon. member for Temis-couata said the other day, requests written in the French language have often been sent to Ottawa. That means they have to be translated, and afterwards they have to go before the revisers of permits, or whatever the title of that position may be, and it takes a long time. But I can say to the hon. member for Temiscouata that some of the requests that I have drafted in fairly good English have taken a long time too. But it is worse, as the hon. member for Temiscouata points out, when the poor devil gets a form in French, fills it in to the best of his ability, then has to go to the motor vehicles dealer and get a report on his truck and then send that to Ottawa, as he is supposed to do. The investigator first has the application translated; then he has to find out whether the truck is needed or not, so that it often takes two weeks or a month or maybe two months before the application reaches the desk of the man who has to make the decision. I do not like to bring in any element of the racial origin of people in that department, but it might have been fairer if there had been a few more people in that branch who could have understood the needs of the people of the province of Quebec, and then perhaps we would not have had to wait a long time for a decision. But even when the applications are made out in English they take half as long to be dealt with-too long a time altogether. If there were a few more people in that branch who understood the situation, the representations that are made could be dealt with more quickly and a decision could be given more quickly. But as things are at the present time the conditions in the lumber industry and in the milk and dairy industry in the province of Quebec with respect to getting satisfaction from the motor vehicles control branch are bad. I do not mean to say that they are worse than in the rest of the country, but I know they are bad in my province.

I might be answered that there is a war on and that it is impossible to have conditions perfect. That is true. The fact is that there are only a certain number of trucks and three

War Appropriation-Munitions and Supply

or four times that number of people who want to use them, and that makes control necessary. We have had control over tires but we get a just and equitable distribution of tires, with very few complaints, and when a complaint is made it is soon dealt with. But when it comes to the distribution of the available trucks, how is it that we do not get the same consideration and the same efficient service that we receive from the rubber controller.

At six o'clock the committee took recess.

After Recess

The committee resumed at eight o'clock.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
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LIB

Louis-Philippe Picard

Liberal

Mr. PICARD:

When the committee rose

at six o'clock I was about to speak on the subject of the control of building construction. I see in the statement of the minister at page 750 of Hansard that conditions have-

-made it imperative that we continue strict control of the licensing of construction projects. In determining the priorities for building permits, we have tried to take account of urgent housing needs.

To this I have absolutely no objection. It is a sane approach to the solution of the problem of distributing fairly the construction materials and the labour available for the construction industry, the building trades. But there, again, I have another objection to the method1 of applying the control, similar to the one I made this afternoon to the motor vehicle control. I think the application of the rules which have been set up in the department, if we take the statement of the minister as the exact meaning of his words, has been followed in a very queer way. I see here the expression "urgent housing needs". We have seen projects being built in the city of Quebec the need of which is hardly justified for housing or other purposes, while at the same time in many of the adjoining districts permits for purposes which were fair and just, which should have been granted because of the need for housing and for accommodation, have been rejected1, although they involved the use of much less in the way of needed materials than did some of the constructions which have been permitted in the city of Quebec.

May I be permitted to refer to one case? It always seems to me undesirable to stop being objective and to depict a problem or a question by some particular instance, but I think it is the only way to illustrate the argument. I have here a case where the conversion of a school was badly needed. A

permit was asked for in July, and was rejected. The intention was to convert a school building into a convent in order to have better teaching, with more teachers, and to accommodate the teachers in the building. Because there was not in the department anybody acquainted with conditions in Quebec, they kindly suggested that the nuns should find rooms in different houses in the community. Maybe the nuns would have liked it, but it was, I think, against the rules of their order. The letter received from Ottawa was to the effect that it would be much more economical if they could find rooms for the teachers in the village. The permit required was of the amount of only 84,500, for the purpose of converting a large school building which was not equipped for winter accommodation and was divided into two large halls, in each of which were held three different classes. The application was to divide the ground floor into four different rooms, in each of which a different grade could be taught, while the second floor would house the teachers. It took three months of correspondence before we could get one of the assistant commissioners to see the point. I will frankly admit that I probably did the wrong thing: I told them that they were so far away from any controller that they might go ahead with the project. In fact, the permit came on the day the nuns entered the building at the end of October. The school term could not have been started had they waited for the permit. Another queer thing was that at one time, when they needed a plumbing outjit, they asked for a permit for that purpose and got it. They could not get the permit to make alterations but they got a permit to install the plumbing. Finally, on October 21, it dawned on the department that they might ask the superintendent of education of Quebec whether it was advisable to grant the permit; and the answer, contrary to all the department had maintained, was that instead of reducing the housing accommodation it would provide better schooling and everybody in the village would be much better off, that the department would lose no essential war materials, and that the workers employed there were local farmers who did the work in their spare time. If I had not been bold enough to tell these people to go ahead with their construction the school term could not have begun in October, because the permit was not received until the end of that month. If at that time there bad been in the department an architect or an engineer who knew conditions there or who had been careful enough to inquire what the superintendent of education of Quebec had to

782 COMMONS

War Appropriation-Munitions and Supply

say on the matter, that delay would not have occurred and I would not have been forced to do something which was not strictly proper.

Here is another case. A large institution, accommodating 2,500 people, needed a barn to house 120 head of cattle and various farm products in the winter. A request was made in 1943. They wanted a steel structure, but they were told that that was impossible, so that early in the spring of 1944 they changed the plans. The only thing they then needed was reinforced concrete for the lower floor, the balance of the building to be in wood. Yet they never got the permit. The correspondence has been carried on, and it was insisted that they should get along with the accommodation they had at the time. I have copies of letters which have been sent to the department stating that part of their production last fall could not be housed; they had no convenient place in which to put their vegetables; they had to sell part of their cattle because proper accommodation could not be had, and the old bam was falling to pieces. Again, I say that if there had been in the department somebody who wanted to deal fairly with the situation, a condition like that would not exist.

At the same time the government of the province of Quebec applied to Ottawa for permission to erect a huge 'building to house the workmen's compensation administration. These people were located in other government buildings, but they wanted to spread out a little and have a nicer place. At first, I am told, Ottawa refused the permit. The Quebec government then bought an adjoining building, a former Church of England convent-one of the only two, I am told, in existence in Canada-and then a request was made for an addition or an extension to the existing building. As it then stood, the building was two floors high and probably sixty feet long. The extension has eight floors, is 175 feet long and, compared with the first building, is a huge structure. They needed steel and reinforced concrete. The place was not required for housing accommodation, and it did not improve in any way housing conditions in the city of Quebec. As I have said, the permit was refused at first to a certain party, but when presented to the department by another engineer it was finally approved as repairs and additions to the existing building.

These are just illustrations. To some they may seem of small account. Yet how can the people have confidence in the administration of a control when such examples are known to them? I am far from pleased to have to say this, but in all justice and equity,

and even if it is of no use because we are at the end of a session, I thought I should bring this matter before the committee.

I repeat that I dislike, and have never brought up in this house, the question of the racial origin of employees in departments, but if in each of the sections of the Department of Munitions and Supply there were a fair proportion of French-speaking employees they could avoid delays in the translation of correspondence, which at times takes weeks and months; and if there were a French Canadian employee connected with the head of the branch in any capacity who could look into these matters and give his opinion right away, these delays would be avoided.

That applies as well to construction control. There we might have had bilingual people who knew the local conditions better. The minister has found as his parliamentary assistant one of the brightest young men in the other racial group. Why could he not have tried the same experiment in the different branches of his department? In reply to. a question asked bv a member from the province of Quebec in 1940, as to why there were not more bilingual people from that province in the different departments, the statement was made that there was no accommodation for them. Since then, however, buildings have mushroomed in the city; there is a great deal more accommodation than at that time, and the number of French-speaking employees has not increased. Why does he not apply the same principle as in the case of his parliamentary assistant and look for able young assistants in the ranks of the other racial group? Let him apply that principle to his own department. As regards the higher-ups in the department, the only man who answered to the minister's requirements was a charming gentleman from Montreal who happens to be a friend of the minister, as he is a friend of mine. I refer to Mr. Wilfrid Gagnon. If the minister would only widen the scope of his friends in Quebec we might get a few more able young men in the department, and if the hon. gentleman comes in after the next election I hope he will act on this suggestion. Whether by that time the minister has succeeded in bringing Mr. Gagnon into, a higher sphere, as some rumours have it, or whether for another reason the services of Mr. Gagnon could no more be secured, I hope the minister might widen the scope of his acquaintances in Quebec so as t-o bring in his department some more bright men of French-Canadian origin.

Mr. GRAYDON; What does my hon. friend mean by the "'higher sphere"?

War Appropriation-Munitions and Supply

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
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LIB

Louis-Philippe Picard

Liberal

Mr. PICARD:

A higher sphere than the

department might be the cabinet. I do not know.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

Does my hon. friend suggest that Mr. Gagnon should join t'he cabinet?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
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LIB

Louis-Philippe Picard

Liberal

Mr. PICARD:

I am'not suggesting anything. I say that there are such rumours, and if the minister succeeds in lifting his friend to the higher sphere he will have to be replaced, in the posts he previously held.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

Is Mr. Gagnon a

Liberal?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
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LIB
NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

Then the hon. member

had better not count too much on that.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
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April 11, 1945