June 9, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)

LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

and the great number of lay days. They think that is a serious objection to carrying on successfully the business. It does appear to me that one of the difficulties with regard to this service is that the contractor, instead of fitting his steamers in size and accommodation to the business, is rather trying to make the business conform in size to the equipment of his steamers. The memorial which the board of trade sent to the government requested that the government, in asking for tenders, should ask for an improved service, with modern steamers, with greater capacity, from 3,500 to 4,000 tons, with a maximum speed of 13 knots an hour, with fan ventilation and ample cold storage for carrying perishable cargoes. We know that to do a successful business with a tropical country like the West Indies, steamers should be equipped with proper cold storage and fan ventilation facilities, not only on account of those products and commodities which we export, but also on account of those commodities which we import from the West Indies, especially fruits and things of that kind. We could only expect to do a successful business by having vessels properly arranged for that business. From the standpoint of the members of the board of trade in St. John, they complain very bitterly of the number of lay days at Halifax, and they state that in consequence of the large number of lay days, perishable goods on these steamers were injured very materially, and to that fact it is due to a large extent that we are not doing that extensive flour export business from St. John which would otherwise be done. That business is going to New York, whereas, with an efficient and proper service, the export of goods from the port of St. John would be very materially increased indeed. As a matter of fact, that business has increased in the port of St. John during the last three years from 17 to 24 per cent, and it is increasing all the time. The complaints that our people make there is largely on account of the unnecessary delays which this steamer makes in the maritime ports, instead of going rapidly to the port of destination. I hope that the government will not entertain any idea of throwing the port of St. John out of this business. I think it would be a mistake in so far as the business of this country is concerned. Not merely the commercial business of handling which accrues to the port of St. John would be increased, but if a proper service were inaugurated, the exports from that port coming from the west as well as from the immediate vicinity, would be very much increased. Now the contractor makes arrangements in order to increase the exports by his line from the port of Halifax, to pay the excess of freight on goods coming from the north shore of the province of New Brunswick to Halifax, which goods, on account of the

shorter haul and less freight, would nature lly find their port of export at St. John. The contractor ihimself pays the difference, and gets that business carried over the line to the port of Halifax ; whereas, under ordinary circumstances, that business would tind its way to the port of St. John and thereby increase the total export business from that port. However, if the hon. minister is not in a position to state to-day what the mind of the government is with regal'd to that matter, since I am very much interested in it as representing the city of St. John, I would ask that this matter stand over, and not be considered until the government has made up its mind with regard to what policy they will pursue. I think that is not asking too much.

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