January 22, 1957 (22nd Parliament, 5th Session)

LIB

John Decore

Liberal

Mr. Decore:

Mr. Speaker, just before six o'clock I was endeavouring to point out to the house the great difference in freight rates from Quebec and Ontario to Vancouver as compared with the rates to Calgary and Edmonton. In many cases the freight rate on certain commodities is more than double between Edmonton or Calgary and Montreal as compared with the Montreal-Vancouver rate. We do not begrudge this advantage being given to Vancouver, but it is quite clear that agreed charges, to which I have made reference, are simply a new type of discrimination by the railway companies, especially against Alberta and western Canada. This affects the movement of materials, goods and manufactures, and it certainly has hampered the development of industry in that area and its competition with eastern Canada, more especially any effort it might make to obtain access to the large British Columbia market.
The fact is that these rates have tended to discourage a number of firms opening up new plants in that part of the west. As an example I can cite the case of a certain company in Vancouver manufacturing steel drums and tanks for the Alberta oil industry. This company bought a plant site in Edmonton on the strength of the reduction in the cost of steel plate brought about by the application of the one and one-third rule to which I made reference. However, the application of the agreed charge method of rate-making caused this project to be abandoned.
There has been a recent increase in freight rates, but this increase does not affect the
The Address-Mr. Decore agreed charges though it does affect Alberta and western Saskatchewan. Those parts of the country will have to bear the brunt of the new hoist in freight rates. As one observer has pointed out, agreed charges discriminate by wiping out competition, yet they were introduced to meet competition. It is felt that agreed charges should depend on actual and not potential competition. I submit that the cost of railway transportation should be such as to enable all parts of Canada to develop industrially. At the present time Alberta is being penalized, especially as far as the establishment of secondary industries is concerned.
The house will probably remember that the Turgeon commission made a recommendation, which was implemented by statute, that the railways be granted $7 million to reduce the cost of the long haul by way of the great lakes. This bridge subsidy now appears to be merely a lump payment to the railroads and has no effect upon Alberta and Saskatchewan. People will point to the Crowsnest pass rates and argue that those were to benefit the Alberta farmers. The Crowsnest pass rates are not affected by freight rate increases, but the whole purpose of those rates was to hold down the cost of transportation in order to help Canadian wheat compete in world markets. Those rates benefit the whole Canadian economy by their effect on the balance of trade, not just the grain farmer in western Canada.
Having said that in connection with freight rates and what I consider to be an injustice to the province of Alberta, I should like now to deal with another matter. There exists in Canada today certain abusive practices which I feel should be looked into, and I refer to the sending of parcels of food and clothing to people behind the iron curtain in the U.S.S.R. Hon. members will realize that after the second world war many people from behind the iron curtain entered Canada as political refugees, leaving behind them mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters or close friends. They were happy to come to this land of freedom and opportunity, and realizing the condition and plight of their relatives and friends behind the iron curtain in the U.S.S.R. they were anxious to give them some assistance by way of food and clothing.
During the last number of months certain so-called legal agencies have been established across Canada with the primary purpose of sending such parcels of food and clothing from Canada to the U.S.S.R. What I want to do is point out just what it costs to send these parcels to the Soviet union through

The Address-Mr. E. G. McCullough these so-called legal agencies. I have information that if merchandise to the value of $12 is sent from Canada the following costs
are incurred:
Merchandise cost $12.00
U.S.S.R. fee, 10 per cent 1.20
U.S.S.R. customs duty 7.40
U.S.S.R. inspection fee 1.51
U.S.S.R. invoice fee 66

Fee 1 per cent 23
Service charge 7.50
Fumigation 1.00
Parcel post 5.00

Guarantee fee 1.79
Notification fee 18
Total $38.47
The practice is to deduct the cost of the parcel in order to show that it is a gift of these agencies. On examining these figures we find that from this parcel the needy person will receive goods to the value of $12, the U.S.S.R. will receive $10.77, the agency in Canada will receive $12.70 and the post office will get $3, not $5 as charged.
I am one who takes exception to this type of benevolence. I am not opposed to the sending of these gifts to needy people behind the iron curtain, but I feel that in the first instance the U.S.S.R. should not charge the customs duties and other charges which they impose. If they do, why should these charges and duties be collected on Canadian soil? It is clear from the figures I have just quoted that the misery of the people in the Soviet union, brought about by communist policies, is being exploited by these so-called agencies in Canada, not only to fatten themselves but at the same time to finance the resources of the U.S.S.R.
I feel, Mr. Speaker, this is a matter the government should look into. As I pointed out, I am not opposed to the sending of these parcels to these unfortunate people in the U.S.S.R., but I am opposed to the Canadian people being exploited and, at the same time, directly assisting the government of the Soviet union.

Topic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
Full View