June 26, 1950

LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

I do not know whether my hon. friend is familiar with Fort St. John. Carpenters and contractors in that area are not too plentiful. These were prefabricated

Supply-Trade and Commerce houses, as I recall them, purchased in the Calgary area, I believe, and shipped in over the highway and erected by Poole Construction Company at Fort St. John. Everything had to be moved in over the highway. The transportation costs were a very big factor. My hon. friend may be shocked at the disparity in price between the cost of erecting houses in Calgary and erecting the same houses in Fort St. John, but I am not because it is all a matter of transportation.

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
Sub-subtopic:   LOCOMOTIVES
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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

They were built in midwinter, I think.

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
Sub-subtopic:   LOCOMOTIVES
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

Yes.

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
Sub-subtopic:   LOCOMOTIVES
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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

Would it not be more economical to have these houses built under the direction of Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation whose business it is to build houses?

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
Sub-subtopic:   LOCOMOTIVES
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

There has been a trend that way. Practically all houses built today for the army are being built by the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Central Mortgage and Housing have their own problems. Sometimes they are not able to take on a rush job.

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
Sub-subtopic:   LOCOMOTIVES
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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

I want to ask the minister a question with regard to the operation of Canadian Commercial Corporation. I observe that they did about $221 million of business and had 84,600 contracts, which, if my arithmetic is sound, would mean that the average contract was somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000. That would mean presumably that a very large number of the contracts would be for very much larger amounts, so that it would seem that though they have a large number of contracts of quite trifling amounts, and that would entail a terrific amount of work. Is that necessary?

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
Sub-subtopic:   LOCOMOTIVES
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

I agree with my hon. friend that it entails a lot of work. But when you have an army base that army base has to be supplied with milk, bread and all the amenities. Someone has to buy it. It happens to be the job of the Canadian Commercial Corporation to do that work, and therefore there are a great many small contracts mixed with a good many large ones.

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
Sub-subtopic:   LOCOMOTIVES
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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

I am not going to pursue it. I have a feeling that if the minister examined it he would find that somehow it did not need the 84,000 contracts. I will not pursue it further. I want to ask one further question. Does the minister happen to have his report there? On the second page paragraph 3 reads:

Toward the end of the fiscal year the corporation assumed active administration of responsibilities

Supply-Trade and Commerce devolving upon the Minister of Trade and Commerce in respect of the security of classified information emanating from the Department of National Defence.

And so on. Will the minister explain the nature of that duty? If I understand it, it does not seem to be a natural duty for a commercial corporation to assume.

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
Sub-subtopic:   LOCOMOTIVES
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

It is the duty of the Canadian Commercial Corporation to choose its contractors; and the responsibility of making sure that these contractors and plants are approved for secret information was placed on the Canadian Commercial Corporation. Prior to the Canadian Commercial Corporation being asked to do that, the army decided that. The army simply said: "That is your responsibility; you are just as able to get the information as we are, and we will place that responsibility for secrecy on the corporation."

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
Sub-subtopic:   LOCOMOTIVES
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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

Would I be correct in assuming that it is done in the same way that any government department, let us say the film board, used to satisfy itself as to the soundness of its employees; in other words, it did not set up a staff of its own.

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

The corporation has a small security staff. The security of a plant involves technical matters that some officers of the government must have knowledge of, and that knowledge is placed in the hands of the Canadian Commercial Corporation.

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
Sub-subtopic:   LOCOMOTIVES
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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

I do not

know whether this is the proper place to ask the question, but the minister can tell me. I suppose the reason there is no item in the minister's estimate for the export credits insurance is that they are separate and carry on business on their own?

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

Just like any other crown company, they have capital of their own. Unless they get in trouble there is no reason for them to call on the government for any funds. As a matter of fact they do not usually.

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
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PC

James MacKerras Macdonnell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Macdonnell (Greenwood):

I am going to ask the minister why we need to put up, as we will this year, considering the interest on the money we have given to the export credits, $289,000 to insure people when I would have thought that they ought to pay the cost of what they are getting.

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
Sub-subtopic:   LOCOMOTIVES
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

This is simply an interim situation. Accounts which have become overdue are written off, which I think my hon. friend, who is familiar with this matter will say is prudent bookkeeping. They are written off so far as the balance sheet of the company is concerned, just as bad debts are written off in the accounts of any well-managed corporation. But there is a recovery item to be

considered. As a matter of fact many commercial debts in Argentina were written off when that statement was prepared. These debts have since been paid, and a statement of the company today, instead of showing a deficit, would show a substantial profit. But unfortunately the past overdue accounts have exceeded the profits that come from business that turns out well. But I will say this to my hon. friend. That corporation was established to assist the Canadian exporter in trading around the world. If the company breaks even and makes no profit I will say that it is a success. However, the corporation has already had a profit and built up a substantial reserve even out of profits. This is the first year that it has ever found it necessary to turn in an annual report showing its earning position in red figures.

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
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Item agreed to. Special- 448. To reimburse the Canadian wheat board for the estimated expenses to be incurred from August 1, 1949, to July 31, 1950, the administration of delivery quotas and permit regulations, etc., $125,000.


PC

John Alpheus Charlton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Charlton:

Is this a further cost of the wheat board?

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
Sub-subtopic:   LOCOMOTIVES
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

Yes, it is a cost of services that the government to date has assumed. The quotas for country elevators were installed as a means of making it possible to market all grains, including coarse grains as well as wheat. In the past it has been the custom for the government to pay the cost of that and certain other services that are not performed directly as part of the operation of marketing wheat but had wider implications which it was felt the government should assume. But I can say that the fact that the board is now marketing oats and barley and other coarse grains for government account has rather changed the position and provision was made in the last amendment to the wheat board act which will provide that these charges should be met from the revenue of the board.

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
Sub-subtopic:   LOCOMOTIVES
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PC

John Alpheus Charlton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Charlton:

Can the minister answer the question now regarding the amount of oats coming in from the Argentine? I understood one boatload has come in and another one is on the way. What are these oats to be sold for in this country?

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
Sub-subtopic:   LOCOMOTIVES
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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

Mr. Howe:

I have answered that several times. It is a private transaction. I understand a private grain merchant in Canada has bought one shipload of oats from the Argentine. The oats have not arrived in this country yet. I was told they were due here about the middle of July. I know of only one cargo. There may be other cargoes, but I do not attempt to keep track of every

private transaction that occurs in industry in this country. I have told my hon. friend all I know about this transaction.

Topic:   PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Subtopic:   USE OF DIESEL
Sub-subtopic:   LOCOMOTIVES
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June 26, 1950