Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):
Mr. Speaker, the views of this group have been expressed already by those who spoke on our behalf when the bill was before the house on previous occasions, so I shall not take more than a few minutes now. As a matter of fact it is because of the reservations already indicated by the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Howe) that we see no objections to this bill going to the committee for study.
I found it most interesting to listen to those reservations made by the minister when he spoke on March 9. I think he made one or two very important and significant points. As others have pointed out during the course of this debate, he more or less indicated that he would not be prepared to let the bill go through its final stage unless an amendment was made to it in committee. The amendment the minister felt to be necessary would add a clause to provide that the bill would not come into force until a mutually satisfactory agreement between Trans-Canada Pipe Lines Limited and Consumers' Gas Company had been deposited with the board of transport commissioners.
I think that is a good idea. I suggest that when the committee is considering such a coming into force clause it should go a step further than was suggested by the Minister of Trade and Commerce. In my view the minister got down to the nub of this matter when he said, as reported at page 2818 of Hansard for March 9:
Obviously, bringing gas in from Buffalo through a pipe line involves considerable investment,-
I ask that these words of the minister be noted.
-and one wonders what is to become of that investment if the line goes out of use in a matter of three years.
Niagara Gas Transmission Limited
Indeed that is a question that concerns a good many of us. If it is to be understood that gas is to be brought in from the United States through this pipe line only until such time as gas is available to the Toronto area from western Canada, then the question arises as to the economics of the building of an expensive pipe line to be used for a very short period. The minister went on to say:
I believe ways can be worked out so that investment can be assumed by Trans-Canada Pipe Lines Limited; and I believe we should know, before this bill becomes law, that such an arrangement is being worked out to the mutual satisfaction of the Consumers' Gas Company and Trans-Canada Pipe Lines Limited.
The minister repeated his reference to a mutually satisfactory arrangement between those two entities, Consumers' Gas Company and Trans-Canada Pipe Lines Limited, but I suggest that in a matter like this there is a third party whose interests should also be satisfied in any such agreement. I refer to the people of Canada, perhaps in this instance more particularly the consumers at the receiving end. It may be all right for these two companies, so far as they are concerned, to work out a mutually satisfactory arrangement whereby the one buys out the other at an exorbitant price which is made the basis for extra cost to the consumer. That is a matter we should be concerned about. In my view that point, along with the others which have been discussed while we have had the second reading of the bill before us, should be considered carefully by the committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines.
I am glad to note the reservations which were made just a few moments ago by the Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys (Mr. Prudham) when he spoke with respect to this bill. It is because of those reservations, and because of the assurance we have been given that this bill will be studied very carefully in committee that we see no reason to object to it being given second reading at this time.
However, and with this I close, I stress the point that the interests to be protected are not just the interests of the two companies referred to by the Minister of Trade and Commerce. The interests to be protected include those of the people of Canada as a whole, particularly the interests of the consumers who will be using this gas, or the gas that will come later from western Canada.
Subtopic: NIAGARA GAS TRANSMISSION LIMITED