April 13, 1945

PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFEXBAKER:

-and Mr. Ickes, as well, made reference to the matter and stated

I am merely epitomizing what he said-that as soon as the active warfare in Europe ended it was the intention of the United States government to increase the gasoline ration which has prevailed throughout the period of the war. I think that before this session ends, having regard to the. magnificent advances which are being made on the continent of Europe, and the belief, from General Eisenhower down, that aggressive offensive operations on a large scale there will soon come to an end, we should have a declaration from the minister setting out in some detail the intentions of the government in this regard.

There is another matter, that of the supply of rubber tires. Would the minister, having regard to the production which is taking place to-day through the Polymer corporation, and the number of rubber tires in stock and in storage in Canada, inform us whether, with the conclusion of active hostilities in Europe, there will be any increase in the allotment of rubber tires?

Coming to the question of motor cars, this has been a subject of very great criticism. Cars have been stored in various parts of the country to be awarded on priorities. Of the decision which created that condition of affairs I have no criticism, but I should like to know this. Numbers of men are returning from overseas, among them commercial travellers who require motor cars in order to earn their livelihood and carry out the responsibilities of their occupation. Is it the intention of the government to grant priority in making

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available motor cars to soldiers serving overseas as soon as they return to take up occupations wherein cars are needed for them to earn their livelihood, when the first motor cars which are ready for distribution are available?

There remains one other matter, and I want to refer at once to all the questions having to do with War Assets corporation. In itself a discussion of War Assets corporation would have resulted in many matters being brought before the minister which ought to have been put before him, but which-again-is not possible because of the shortness of the session. Let me, however, mention one thing particularly. Everywhere in this country to-day civic bodies, in the main towns and villages adjacent to airports which have been closed up, would like to make use of facilities which apparently will not again be required for the purpose for which they were constructed. The fact that the British commonwealth air training scheme is no longer operative on a great scale, and that large numbers of these schools have been closed down, has created a demand on the part of civic authorities for the right to an immediate priority to utilize these buildings. I have in mind-and I mention it only because it is an example-Davidson, Saskatchewan, where the airfield is closed down. The town, or in any event a local service organization, is desirous of getting the use of some of these buildings. In one town it is the desire to use these structures for the purpose of hospitalization; in another, for the training of men coming back from overseas, in order to fit them for an occupation. When you approach the War Assets corporation the answer which is generally given-at least this is my experience-is that as yet no decision has been arrived at as to what will be done in this regard.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I suggest that the answer usually given is that they have not been leclared surplus to requirements of the armed forces. Isn't that it?

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Yes. I was just going to point out, according to an answer I have here, that Mr. Carswell says that when this property is ready for disposal the municipality wanting buildings would enjoy a priority claim over a semi-public body in the matter of purchase. Now what I come to is this. Instead of tearing down these buildings which are adjacent to the various towns and villages, or making them available for sale to any municipality having a priority; instead of destroying these buildings by so

tearing them down-which probably would be the result, the depreciation thus caused being some sixty-five to seventy per cent-is the government giving consideration to allowing the municipality adjacent to where those buildings are located to use them for public purposes so long as they are not utilized for the purpose of profits? I make the suggestion to the minister because unless a decision is arrived at very shortly these buildings will rapidly depreciate when they are left in a state of disuse. I know that all over the country public bodies are desirous of contributing to public welfare by utilizing facilities that are now available. I bring these matters to the attention of the minister because every one of them requires clarification at this time.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

With regard to gasoline, the purpose of oil control is to divide up such gasoline as we can get our hands on as fairly as possible. We keep no pool of gasoline, and we are not accumulating gasoline. The tankers that we own, and those that we can lease, are bringing in all the crude oil we can get, and whenever we can get sufficient gasoline ahead to warrant an increase in the ration it will be increased. I think there is every right to hope that at the end of the European war it will be possible to increase the gasoline ration. When we think of the enormous consumption of gasoline, of bombers in raids over Germany, and in moving huge armies on the continent by motor transport, and visualize this demand dropping down to a small fraction of the present, I think we can be optimistic about additional gasoline being diverted into domestic channels. I saw a statement of Ralph Davies, the deputy oil controller of the United States, and I said at that time that the circumstances which would warrant Mr. Davies' forecast would warrant a similar forecast in Canada. We are not as well equipped to make a forecast as are our friends in the United States, because the United States is self-contained in oil and we are dependent on outside sources. We also depend more heavily on ocean transport for our supplies of crude oil than does the United States; however, I think the prospects for additional gasoline are encouraging. The timing depends upon the termination of the European war.

The supply of tires is purely a matter of fabrication. Through the Polymer corporation, we are able to keep up with the demands for rubber. We are just about in balance on buna-S rubber used for treads, and we have a surplus production of butyl rubber which is used for inner tubes. We are short of fabri-

War Appropriation-Munitions and Supply

eating capacity. Every capacity we have to fabricate tires is operating full out. We must first supply the needs of tires for military vehicles, and after that any surplus capacity is put into the production of passenger tires. I think it can reasonably be assumed that the demand for military vehicles and tires for military vehicles will decline with the end of the war in Europe, and there will be more capacity available for manufacturing domestic tires.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

What has been the poundage of tires produced for military vehicles and for domestic use by the Polymer corporation during the present year?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

The Polymer corporation does not make tires; it simply makes rubber. In April I believe the Polymer corporation ran about twenty per cent over rated capacity, and the rated capacity of the plant is about forty thousand tons of crude rubber per annum. It is operating about twenty per cent over capacity so that if you divided fifty thousand tons by twelve you would get just about the capacity for April. I am sorry I have not the April figures here; they are very interesting, and a source of satisfaction to everyone associated with the problem. Production has been stepping up each month, but I think it is now pretty well stabilized at about twenty per cent over the rated capacity. It is turning out a very excellent product, a product that is improving as the months go by, and as experiment leads us to a modification of the process it gives us better rubber.

So far as motor cars are concerned, we are working on a dwindling pool. The manufacture of motor cars was first cut in 1941 and stopped entirely in 1942. At that time, we had a pool of cars that we believed would carry us through until the manufacture of motor cars could be resumed. But at that time no one contemplated that the war would go on as long as it has. Our pool of motor cars is down to a very slender number.

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PC
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

It is under one thousand,

anyway.

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PC
LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

In the whole of Canada, which, as my hon. friend will appreciate, is just about as thin a prospect as one would expect to take care of very urgent situations such as physicians' cars. They are being allotted to take care of situations of that kind.

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NAT

Heber Harold Hatfield

National Government

Mr. HATFIELD:

How many light and

heavy trucks are available?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Let us have one question at a time. I am busy answering the questions of the hon. member for Lake Centre at the moment. The manufacture of passenger cars will be resumed after the war, as rapidly as arrangements can be made, but it will take considerable re-tooling to change over from truck tooling to tooling for passenger cars. I am sure the hon. member will appreciate that. After the war ends in Europe, there will be an interval in which there will be no production. What will be done with the first cars from the first production is something we do not need to forecast now; the time is some distance away, but it will be a matter for the new government to look after and decide whether rationing should not be continued in the future, so that when production of passenger cars is resumed they are rationed into channels that will be most helpful to the life of Canada.

The position with respect to trucks is somewhat different. Some months ago wre were able to start up two lines making domestic trucks. These lines are operating. The change-over from army trucks to domestic trucks is not nearly as difficult as the change-over to passenger cars. We are rationing the trucks as best we can; I think we are keeping essential transportation moving, as much as we can hope to do under present circumstances. Just as soon as the demand for war transportation eases off we can swing over very quickly to domestic truck production, and I believe the situation in that field can be remedied in a reasonably short time.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
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NAT

Heber Harold Hatfield

National Government

Mr. HATFIELD:

How many heavy trucks are being produced per month?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY
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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Canada does not manufacture heavy domestic trucks. All heavy trucks over three tons are imported. I think I gave the number for March of this year at the last sitting. I think there are about one thousand heavy trucks coming from our allotment from the United States. We keep a small supply in dealers' hands. We must do that to meet situations that are vital to our economy. Generally speaking, the trucks move quickly from the hands of the manufacturer into the hands of the user.

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NAT

Heber Harold Hatfield

National Government

Mr. HATFIELD:

Can the minister tell

us how many two-ton trucks are being manufactured per month in Canada for domestic use?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

It is hard to keep the figures in mind. I believe I gave the figures at the last sitting; if my hon. friend will read Hansard I think he will find them. The

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production is about forty-five per cent of the number manufactured in the years 1936 to 1939. .

In the matter of War Assets corporation, I think hon. gentlemen assume that, when a school is closed, the buildings immediately come into the hands of this corporation. 'That is not the fact. There is a storage problem involved, of fairly serious proportions. The air force have a great number of planes which they expect to use in due course, and those planes must be housed. Very often, after a school is closed, the buildings are utilized by the air force for storage purposes. When they finally come into the hands of War Assets corporation, the requirements of the province have first priority; the municipality comes second; then semi-public bodies, and finally the general public. It is the policy of War Assets corporation, a policy with which I think on reflection most hon. members will agree, not to give away property that it acquires. However, I have stated that as far as public bodies are concerned, we are prepared to sell buildings for which specific use can be named, at the price we would recover if the buildings were torn down and we attempted to salvage the material, which is a rather nominal price. It is not a matter of worrying about a large recovery; it is a matter of getting the buildings into good hands. The municipalities with which we have dealt to date have been quite satisfied with the terms we have offered them.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

What would be a fair percentage of the actual cost you would recover by having the buildings torn down?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

It would be a very small percentage, perhaps a few hundred dollars. That is all you could get for the building as scrap, and that is the price at which we turn it over. There is nothing in the price situation to stand between either a province or a municipality acquiring any buildings it needs for local services. The buildings will be sold rather than leased, for the very good reason stated by my hon. friend, that the matter of maintenance is important. The government does not wish to have dilapidated buildings put back on its hands. If a community needs a building, we ask that it be bought. We would prefer them to move it to another site owned by the province or municipality, away from the airport, because generally speaking the airports will be used in post-war aviation.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

Does the priority the minister mentioned for the province and the municipality apply also to personal property at the airports, equipment and the like? rMr. Howe.]

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Our experience so far is that before declaring buildings surplus the air force removes the equipment and uses it in other activities. They are building and extending hospitals, for instance, and usually the hospital equipment is suitable for installation in other buildings. Should there be any surplus equipment in which the province or municipality is interested, the same priority would apply.

While I am on my feet, in his opening remarks my hon, friend reminded me that yesterday I had an argument with the hon. member for Waterloo South, and perhaps I might give the facts of the transaction. I have a memorandum from Mr. W. D. Low, one of our senior officers, in regard to "Cushion Pack 36 Inches" which is the description of the store:

As requested, I have investigated the purchase of the above noted packing in connection with which Mr. Karl Homuth, M.P., made some charges in the House of Commons yesterday.

The facts are as follows:

On June 23, 1944, the Department of Munitions and Supply awarded an order to Forest Products (Canada) Corporation, 264 Hospital street, Montreal, for a quantity of "cushion pack 38 inches" at $340 per ton, sales tax included, for delivery to the Department of National Defence (Army), Longue Pointe Ordnance Depot, Montreal. This material is used for the packing of delicate instruments for shipment overseas.

The statement has been made that Forest Products (Canada) Corporation is purchasing this material from another company at a price of'nine cents a pound. Mr. Joseph Finestone, owner of Forest Products, emphatically denies that he obtains the material from Standard Felt Products Limited, Montreal, which is evidently the company to which Mr. Homuth referred.

After this order was awarded, investigations were carried out by- the Department of National Defence (Army) and the signals production branch, Department of Munitions and Supply, to determine whether a suitable product was obtainable elsewhere. The Standard Felt Products Limited submitted samples for test and the material was found to be entirely unsuitable. The tests were conducted by the standardization division, signals production branch, Department of Munitions and Supply, and by Major R. H. Hall of the inspection board of the United Kingdom and Canada. In spite of the attractive price at which the material was offered, it was not suitable because of inflammability, lack of resiliency and for reasons of water absorption.

Investigations are still being carried on in order to obtain additional sources of supply of material equal to that supplied by Forest Products (Canada) Corporation.

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April 13, 1945