Hon. CHARLES STEWART (Minister of the Interior):
Mr. Speaker, it is quite correct .that last year parliament voted $25,000 for the specific purpose of moving a quantity of coal from Alberta to Ontario, which movement was to be of the nature of a test. A careful accounting of the transportation costs was to be kept by a nominee of the Alberta government. Arrangements were all completed, as I understood the matter both from Sir Henry Thornton and Premier Greenfield, and the government of Canada was to contribute $1 a ton if the rate should be $8; if it should be $9, the Alberta government was to contribute the other dollar, making $2 in all. However, just before the inception of the movement the railway company handled the 25,000 tons without calling upon either government to make good any loss that might accrue. Therefore that money has not been used for the purpose for which it was voted.
About six weeks ago, when it began to become apparent that the strike in the anthracite field might create a fuel shortage in the central portion of Canada, or what we call the fuel area, the fuel board took steps to ascertain the situation. We found at that time that seventy per cent of the quantity required for this area had been already moved into the country. Since that time I cannot say definitely what further quantity has come in. We took occasion to notify the railway companies that if they were required to do so we would be greatly obliged if they would mobilize their rolling stock at convenient points to hurriedly move large quantities of coal to central Canada both from the east and the west. So far no serious situation has developed, largely I think owing to the very mild weather that we have been experiencing; but should the situation become acute we are ready to lend every assistance we can, and I know that the railway companies are prepared to move the coal very rapidly if a market can be found for it. Of course, it will mean that the prices will be somewhat higher, but in view of the possibility of a shortage it will be necessary to take every precaution to meet any emergency. [DOT]