March 19, 1923 (14th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Daniel Duncan McKenzie (Solicitor General of Canada)


Hon. D. D. McKENZIE (Solicitor General) :

This matter has been very ably discussed by the hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Church), the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Carroll) and the hon. member for South York (Mr. Maclean). The question is not at all new to this House. It has been said to-day that it is of a national character, and it certainly is. While speaking for myself, I cannot say that I have not a more or less selfish interest in the matter, as I come from a province where they sell coal. Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker I assure you that I am sufficiently broad and sufficient of a Canadian to have the widest possible national interest in this question, and without boasting in any way, I am sure my record in this
House will show that for the last fifteen, or twenty years I have always endeavoured to bring home to the Canadian people the necessity of being independent in regard to their fuel supply. It is impossible to accomplish that independence without using the fuel supply we have within our borders. It is only a question of bringing the fuel to the place where it is now most needed. It is a great satisfaction to be able to say that the quantity of coal which we possess both east and west is not a matter of speculation or doubt. There is in Nova Scotia to-day-and this is not mere miners' talk about prospective minerals-to be seen and handled enough coal to last for many generations yet to come and supply the whole country. Can you imagine a territory along the northern coast of the county of Inverness, from twenty-five to sixty miles along the coast, of a virgin solid block of coal not yet touched? This stretch of coal area for sixty miles has an average width of four miles, with seams 13 to 16 feet, one underlying the other. Those who are familiar with coal mining know that it is not only one seam of coal that is usually found in these places, but one underlying the other, and it is only a question of cutting through the upper one to get to the lower, or to all the seams that you may require. This coal area in Inverness is not regarded as the largest coal area. In Cape Breton there is the virgin territory of which I have spoken. There is an equally large coal area in the county of Cape Breton and other counties. So that we can speak with assurance of the quantity of coal we have in Nova Scotia. Our coal fields in Nova Scotia are not confined at all to Cape Breton. Coal fields exist in Pictou county and in Cumberland county as large as in Cape Breton. I am making these observations to encourage our friends in Ontario and Quebec, and to show them that we have the coal and'that we have the proper facilities for the bringing of that coal to the place where it is required. Let me say that from a national standpoint we have not been treated quite properly by the people of Ontario, the people of Quebec, and of other parts of Canada, in relation to our exports during and after the war. Our miners in the county of Cape Breton and in the whole of the province of Nova Scotia, but particularly the county of Cape Breton, are sturdy, loyal, fighting men. As soon as war broke out, they were immediately ready or got ready, left their work, threw down their tools, and as quickly as possible they were found in the trenches in France and Flanders. We were all glad to see them go, but nevertheless the result was

Canadas Coal Supply
that we could not produce the coal. In our province, every man is not permitted to take up the pick and go and cut coal. He must pass an examination, like any other professional man; he must be permitted by license to cut coal, and for that reason, when our miners went to the front, we were crippled as regards producing the quantity of coal required. Moreover, the ships which we had for the conveyance of coal from ports of the island of Cape Breton to Montreal and other ports, were commandeered. In that way, our miners and our means of conveyance were taken away, and we could not meet the contracts which we undertook to fill. The result was that the Americans got our markets at Montreal, Toronto and every other place in which we had a market, and people when they start dealing in a certain direction, are not very ready to break off dealing in that direction when the old source of supply again becomes open to them. The difficulty was that after the war was over, we lost connection with the ports and places which I mentioned. It also took some time to get our ships back, and in that way we were largely crippled in our coal industry. I am glad that our capitalists, our miners and the men generally engaged in that business have fought with that difficulty and are back again pretty much to the condition in which they found themselves before the war. The reason why I mentioned that we were not treated fairly in that regard was that because our miners left their vocations and went overseas for the protection of Canada and the Canadian people, and the reason for which our ships were taken from us was also of a national character. Therefore, stock should have been taken of this situation by our friends, and as rapidly as possible we should have been restored to normal conditions as they existed before the war.
We have the coal east and west; the market for it is in the great centre of this country, and we must provide the means of utilizing the resources which we have for the benefit of our own people. As regards the places where this coal is produced, supposing, for instance, Nova Scotia could provide the major part of this coal which now comes from the United States. The hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Church) informed us that over $56,000,000 goes out of this country every year for the purchase of coal. Let us suppose that at least 75 per cent of that money could be expended in Nova Scotia. It is only a matter of calculation to show the number of men that could be employed, and the advantage that would come to our people through keeping this money in Canada and utilizing the resources fMr. McKenzie. J
of our province. This would be good, not only for the workingmen, but for Nova Scotia which derives a revenue from the sale and production of coal.
I am glad that this question is once more going to a committee. If I were not as well acquainted as I am with the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Carroll) and the mover of the motion, the hon. member for North Toronto, I would be disposed to think that they are sidestepping this question and shelving it for a while. But I am sure that such is not the case, and I trust that no time will be lost in the committee submitting to this House and to the government whatever practical decisions they may reach upon this subject.

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