March 25, 1968

?

Mr, Hellyer:

If my hon. friend would agree to vote for the next tax measure, perhaps this would reinforce his suggestion that we should provide additional services.

Having regard to the question of navigation on the St. Lawrence, I think if my friend will refer back to an earlier discussion in the house he will discover that I indicated it was the policy of the government to keep the river open from the beginning of freeze-up. There is no policy to wait; rather the directive is to open the channel at the earliest possible date and keep it open in so far as is possible during the winter, to allow the ice to flow out to sea. It was also pointed out that it is better from a mechanical standpoint not to start this until an ice cover forms. If you break up the ice too soon, a lot of needle ice forms. This is likely to increase jamming, making it more difficult to keep the channel Open. I have looked at this situation and cannot find any discrepancies in the information given me by my departmental officials. If hon. members have some information which I do not have, then I would be pleased to look at it. If I find the information to be sound I will ask for another investigation. In the meantime I cannot see that an investigation involving a further expenditure of public funds is warranted. I cannot do this just on the basis of hearsay.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
CCF

Thomas Speakman Barnett

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

Mr. Barnett:

Mr. Chairman, there is one other matter about which I should like to

IMr. Hellyer.]

question the minister. He will recall that from time to time I have raised questions regarding action flowing from the report on small vessels harbour administration presented to the department by Dr. Tom How. On the most recent occasion when I asked the minister about this report he indicated he would consider the idea of making at least part of that report public. I am sure the minister is as aware as I am of the great desire on the part of commercial fishermen and others on the west coast that there be some early conclusion to the present unsatisfactory state of affairs as far as administration of small vessels harbours is concerned, with particular reference to the present method of levying side wharfage charges.

The minister is probably aware that there exists what one might almost describe as a state of incipient revolution on the part of commercial fishermen and others in this connection. This is certainly true in areas of my constituency, and from what I read in the press it is true in the large centres of the neighbouring constituency of Coast-Capilano. I would be very surprised if the minister has not heard something about this from his colleague, the hon. member for Coast-Capilano. While there is a great deal of unhappiness about this, there is also a genuine desire not only on the part of vessel owners but also on the part of local administrative bodies, such as town councils, to assist in finding a constructive solution to what is readily agreed to be an unsatisfactory situation at this time.

[DOT] (9:10 p.m.)

I think it would be useful if the minister could expand somewhat on the statements he has made very briefly in reply to questions raised on orders of the day. If he could give us some indication as to what the department has in mind, or at least in what general direction it is thinking of moving, I think this would serve to give some hope to those who are faced with an unhappy situation in the coming year that perhaps things will get better in the near future. What can the minister tell us at this point about the progress that is being made, and in particular what information on this whole question can he make public now, because until now he has not been prepared to do so?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

Paul Theodore Hellyer (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Hellyer:

As my hon. friend knows, this is a very complex subject on which there is a very thorough report. There are a number of recommendations involving substantial expenditures. I know from my hon. friend's action earlier that he does not wish to propose any

March 25, 1968

additional expenditures at this time. Therefore he will realize that any further works, regardless of how desirable they may be, will have to be postponed, at least temporarily.

I have given some consideration to publishing part of the report, and I still have this under consideration. However, it is the feeling of some of my officials at least that it would require a very large amount of work, and that the results would not justify the expenditure involved. However, at the moment this is not a closed matter. It is being considered interdepartmentally, and I hope to receive some recommendations within a few months on which a policy could be based, assuming that revenues were available at some future time in order to implement policy changes which might be adopted by the government.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
CCF

Thomas Speakman Barnett

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

Mr. Barneil:

The minister keeps harping on revenues being available. I think perhaps in return I should remind him that while there are situations when additional revenues are required, there are also situations when better use could be made of existing revenue. I do not have detailed figures before me, but I think if he looks back he will find that either my colleague, the hon. member for Skeena, or I took pains to put on the record the situation about revenues from mortgage charges accruing at the present time. If my memory serves me correctly, under the present system something like 80 per cent or 90 per cent of the total revenue collected is spent in the cost of collecting it. I suggest to the minister that this is not a very effective or efficient way of collecting revenue, and that it has been argued in this connection that it would be far better to have a system whereby the revenue collected could be put to some more useful purpose than simply to allow it to go into the pocket of the man who collects it.

Not only ministers of the crown are concerned about the effective use of collected money. I am being constantly surprised by the great concern of a great many ordinary citizens about matters of this kind. One of the key points worrying a lot of people is the very wasteful and inefficient method of carrying on this particular aspect of government service at the present time. I am hopeful that, while it may require some extra revenues, a more efficient arrangement would largely offset the revenues expended if the moneys paid by the users of the facility were put to some useful service. If the stated policy of his predecessor is the correct one, and if this is the policy base on which the present minister is planning to go forward-and he

S up p ly-Transport

has given no indication of any alteration of this basic approach from that which was announced by his predecessor, particularly when the transportation bill was before us- then I suggest that not all of what is involved will require an additional vote of money, but rather a more effective use of revenues which may accrue from the operations themselves.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

Paul Theodore Hellyer (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Hellyer:

Mr. Chairman, I found this suggestion of my hon. friend sufficiently attractive to have passed it along for consideration. I think it is worth looking at.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
IND

Gilles Grégoire

Independent

Mr. Gregoire:

Mr. Chairman, I notice that the Minister of Transport (Mr. Hellyer) has replied to several questions that were put to him. Perhaps he could tell me whether he intends to reveal the policy of his department with regard to winter navigation?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

Paul Theodore Hellyer (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Hellyer:

Mr. Chairman, I answered that question a moment ago. I pointed out to my hon. friend that if he would go back to Hansard he would find that I said it was the policy of the department to keep the channel open from the very beginning of the freeze up.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
IND

Gilles Grégoire

Independent

Mr. Gregoire:

Mr. Chairman, I should like to ask the hon. Minister of Transport, since his department's policy is to keep the channel open during the winter months, whether he also intends to make the ice-breakers available to shipping, namely whether the icebreakers will be there to help the ships that need them. Will the ice-breakers be on the spot to make sure that there is always an open channel? Will they also be given the responsibility of helping navigation?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

Paul Theodore Hellyer (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Hellyer:

As I have explained to my hon. friend on numerous occasions, when the channel is kept open it is made available for ships to use which have the proper reinforcement and which are strong enough to operate under ice conditions. Of course they still run some risk because under extreme conditions, such as those we sometimes encountered last winter, it is just impossible to keep the channel open by any means whatever.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
IND

Gilles Grégoire

Independent

Mr. Gregoire:

Mr. Chairman, I should like to direct another question to the hon. minister.

March 25, 1968

Supply*-Transport

Could he also tell us whether the buoys and other signaling devices in the channel will be maintained? If the channel is to be kept open to shipping, at least up to Montreal, will the hon. minister maintain the buoys system all along the channel up to Montreal?

Before the hon. minister rises to give me an answer, I should like to ask him whether his department sent this year and intends to send next year a notice to all ships venturing into the harbour entrance to the effect that they are proceeding at their own risk and that the ice-breakers will not be there to help them or, on the contrary, whether the department and the icebreakers will do their best in order to facilitate navigation? We know that, in past years, notice was given to the effect that the channel was closed and that those who ventured there did so at their own risk. The notice also mentioned that icebreakers were not there to help navigation.

Will the situation change in the years to come, now that the channel will be open and since it is the policy of the department beginning this year?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

Paul Theodore Hellyer (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Hellyer:

Mr. Chairman, I will take this question as notice and perhaps reply to it when my main estimates are being considered. I think there is a certain amount of risk involved in winter navigation on the river, and there always will be, regardless of the fact that icebreakers are available to the channel, which make it possible for ships to operate when conditions permit. It must be taken into account that this river is subject to extreme conditions from time to time, when there is no guarantee that, even with the best use of existing icebreaking facilities, they would be adequate to meet the needs of shipping at all times. There are some limitations imposed under extreme conditions such as those we had this year.

[DOT] (9:20 p.m.)

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
IND

Gilles Grégoire

Independent

Mr. Gregoire:

Mr. Chairman, I do not intend to delay the debate, because, I realize that the minister has set his heart on it; I merely want to obtain additional information on my previous question.

The minister tells me that when he will take the matter under consideration, he will study the possibility of the altering the old notice given in remote posts on the St. Lawrence, to the boats venturing in the St. Lawrence and stating that they were doing so at

IMr. Gregoire.]

their own risk. I admit that there was a certain risk, because it was colder than in the summer.

But the notice appearing in the light-houses and wireless beacons at the entrance of the St. Lawrence mentioned that the icebreakers were not there to help ships, but only to prevent floods and that ships could not rely on the assistance of ice-breakers.

Does that part of the notice which, according to the maritime insurance companies, was responsible for increasing drastically the cost of maritime insurances, will be changed to say that ice-breakers will help ships which enter the St. Lawrence, that is to say that they still will venture at their own risks, but at least they will get help from ice-breakers.

The difference between what I am asking the minister and the previous situation is clear. Would the minister give me an answer in this respect?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

Herman Maxwell Batten (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Shall vote 5c carry?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
IND

Gilles Grégoire

Independent

Mr. Gregoire:

Mr. Chairman, I would have another question about a different subject-

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
PC
IND

Gilles Grégoire

Independent

Mr. Gregoire:

-I know that it is during consideration of the estimates of the Department of Transport, that one must deal with those problems.

As regards pleasure craft, Mr. Chairman, I may have a few things to point out to the minister, for I am especially interested in that problem.

Here is the first. I once had the opportunity of travelling by water from Ottawa to Chicoutimi. It is a very nice trip; the St. Lawrence is magnificent and, the Saguenay tremendous: it is one of the most beautiful rivers in the world, and I strongly recommend the trip to those who have never sailed up the Saguenay. It is a most tremendous place! The Ottawa river, from Ottawa to Montreal, is also tremendous-except for the St. Lawrence seaway locks, about which I would like to say a few words later on.

But from Montreal to Quebec city, it is all very smooth sailing. It is true that when the wind drives billows on Lake St. Pierre, it is a bit rough, but just the same, a good pilot will take you through.

However, when you get beyond the island of Orleans, sometimes up to Tadoussac, the river is quite agitated and things are a little

March 25, 1968

hard for pleasure craft. At any rate, those who take the risk consider themselves pretty good sailors and feel they have a rather good craft. Indeed, I took the risk myself, Mr. Chairman.

However, there are some things which could be improved. For example, boats leaving Quebec for Chicoutimi, before entering the Saguenay, have to make a detour towards what is known as the "spinning top". I see the hon. member for Saguenay (Mr. Blouin) knows what I am talking about. It is a lighthouse five miles off-shore, at Tadoussac, warning boats to keep away from the coast because of rocks and sandbanks over a distance of about 3 or 4 miles, which force them to make a detour some 5 miles off the coast.

From Quebec and even from Montreal up to around La Malbaie and even further, up to Cap-a-l'Aigle, there are signposts, luminous buoys and lighthouses which show the way very clearly. But approximately ten miles before reaching the mouth of the Saguenay river, ten miles before reaching the "top", there are no longer any buoys, beacons or signals. Now, if it is the least bit foggy and it is necessary to bear off from the shore, then I know of many captains of small pleasure-boats who, like myself, had to look for a long time-if the visibility is not more than three or four miles-for that famous "top", even though it stands out very high over the water. It can become dangerous, and the boat can be driven off its course, precisely because one has to steer clear of the shore.

Could the minister take this matter under consideration and have the required study conducted in order to add two or three light buoys perhaps which would show us the way to that large beacon located at the entrance of the Saguenay river? I can tell him that many skippers or owners of pleasure craft find it difficult in foggy or rainy weather or in a storm to find that famous light house which is linked to the bottom of the sea, strongly anchored and in fact, which stays there permanently.

The minister might consider that request to add two or three light buoys to help the pleasure craft which want to reach the Saguenay.

Still about pleasure craft, I know that sailing them has become one of the most popular sports or hobbies, and is attracting more and more people. We have become aware lately-I spoke earlier of the journey between Ottawa and Montreal or Quebec city-that there is something which is lagging and

Supply-Transport

which renders the pleasure navigation very unpleasant. When we leave the Ottawa river come into Lake St. Louis to enter the St. Lawrence, we have to cross two locks in the St. Lawrence seaway.

I did that journey many times. The lock staff is very nice and give assistance to pleasure boats. Of course, when there are 75, 80 or 100 pleasure boats in a lock, and 15 million gallons of water are turned out of the lock to enable the boats to get at a lower or higher level, the water eddies heavily. But, the personnel at the lock-gate is very kind and co-operate fully with those pleasure-boats. It happens however that the pleasure-boats are not the only ones to use the seaway. There are also-and it was mainly for them that it was built-ships from the Great Lakes, from Toronto going to Montreal, to Quebec, to the open sea or still further. It is obvious that those ships, without having priority, will go through before a simple pleasure-boat, as the personnel at the lock-gates will wait until there are many pleasure-boats to let them go through. That means that going through those two lock-gates may take sometimes six or eight hours. On the other hand when a whole party of pleasure-boats comes in at the same time, then they have precedence if their coming was made known beforehand, and the crossing will be a matter of a couple of hours.

But, there would be a way to cope with that. Before the building of the St. Lawrence seaway, there was the Lachine canal that enabled boats to go from Lake St. Louis to the St. Lawrence river. The Lachine canal is still there. It may not be able to absorb the shipping from the great lakes, but it could be used for the pleasure boats. It would be an attraction for the city of Montreal to see all those small pleasure boats use the Lachine canal to pass from the Ottawa river to the St. Lawrence river.

[DOT] (9:30 p.m.)

I wonder if the minister could not take this problem into consideration. I am not asking him to give me an answer tonight because he probably does not have all the data at hand, but he could have an investigation made which might prove advisable to keep the Lachine canal in use for the pleasure boats which will become increasingly numerous. It is a holiday activity which will develop as rapidly as all the others. Might it not be timely to make the necessary survey before the Lachine canal is completely blocked and we then have to get it back in working order

March 25, 1968

Supply-Transport

for the owners of pleasure boats who might want to use it?

I therefore hope that the hon. minister will be willing to take this into consideration, because it might prove useful to a large part of the population. Some come from Ontario, from the great lakes, there are some from Quebec that go to Ontario and it would encourage the movement of small boats.

I therefore ask the hon. minister to take the matter into consideration, to have a study made of it and perhaps, when his next estimates come up, he can give me an answer on the problem I have just brought up.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

Ralph Bronson Cowan

Liberal

Mr. Cowan:

Mr. Chairman, we are engaged on a study of the supplementary estimates of the Department of Transport. I do not expect to be here tomorrow and I am not sure whether we will reach vote 75c tonight. Therefore I should like to ask some questions on that vote, which deals with a payment to the National Harbours Board to be applied in payment of the deficit expected to be incurred in the calendar year 1967 in the operation of the Jacques Cartier bridge, Montreal harbour. Tomorrow night I am speaking in Toronto on the subject of civic financing, when I shall be comparing the civic financing of Toronto and the civic financing of Montreal.

I have in my hand the report of the Auditor General to the House of Commons for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1967. At page 178 you will find this paragraph-

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

Herman Maxwell Batten (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

Order. Is the hon. member now referring to vote 75c?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB
LIB

Herman Maxwell Batten (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

In order for the hon. member to proceed with a discussion of that vote it would be necessary to stand vote 5c by unanimous consent and then get unanimous consent of the committee to proceed to vote 75c.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink

March 25, 1968