March 15, 1926 (15th Parliament, 1st Session)


James Malcolm


Mr. JAMES MALCOLM (North Bruce):

I am not going to take up the time of the House at any length, but I want to make an observation on this interesting question of

Fuel Supply
fuel and how best we can use our own coal and cease using foreign coal. Hon. members have asserted that we are more and more becoming the victims of the American coal barons. Statistics do not prove that to be correct. There has been a general improvement in the use of Canadian coal for the past four years. In the year 1920, we imported into Canada 4,912,000 tons of anthracite. In the year 1924, when there was no strike, we had substituted other fuels for coal and imported only 3,908,000 tons, an improvement of a million tons with respect to anthracite. In the year 1920 we imported 15,900,000 tons of bituminous coal, whereas in 1924 our importations dropped to 12,578,000, an improvement of over 2,000,000 tons reduction with respect to bituminous coal.
Certain hon. members who have spoken in this House in the past have tried to point out that there was a fuel problem in Ontario this winter. I contend that there was absolutely no fuel problem; there was all the fuel that was necessary for the province of Ontario at all times, that is, provided the people were satisfied to use substitutes for anthracite. Let me say that I consider the American anthracite strike was a blessing to this Dominion, for it taught our people the absolute necessity of not being dependent on anthracite coal, and the possibility, referred to by hon. members here to-night, of burning substitutes such as coke. Now as a citizen of Canada and as a householder I am prepared to say that four years ago I personally became converted to the use of coke, and intend to bum it in future in my own household. For no matter what some people who always use anthracite say, we can make good coke in this country from Canadian coal. What we need in the central part of Canada, so far as domestic fuel is concerned is a little education to teach our people that they can successfully use Canadian coke made from Canadian coal. The people of the city of Toronto to-day again are being offered American anthracite coal, and they are buying it again, simply for the reason that during the past twenty-five years they have been educated to bum that type of coal. Cne of the things I should like to see the government undertake is an educative programme, to teach our people that coke made from Nova Scotia coal is a better domestic fuel than anthracite from American mines.
I quite agree with the remarks of the hon. member who has just taken his seat, that if there is one thing that is necessary it is that our people should have some protection on grades of coal which is shipped into Canada 14011-101 i
from the United States. We receive anthracite coal at times of strike that is from 25 to 30 per cent slate, consisting largely of dust that is unburnable. It is nothing more or less than the clean-up of the American coal heaps. I do not think the government should allow that condition to obtain any longer. I believe there should be a direct inspection of the grade of American coal at all times, and that in the meantime only the better grade of soal should be allowed to enter Canada. I would even go further. I am of opinion that the amount of anthracite coal imported into Canada from the United States at the present time, totalling probably four million tons, could very well be left in that country provided we could take immediate action for the establishment of coking plants to use our Nova Scotia coal. Not only that, but we have some of the best coking coals at the foothills of the Rocky mountains that there are in this continent, and coal from western Alberta can be coked successfully and sold for domestic use in the prairie provinces in the event of the people there not wanting to burn lignite coals.
There is one other question. The world is entirely over produced in coal to-day. Over production due to the war time trade is the great problem in the United States. Over production in Alberta is admitted by the representatives of that province in this House to be one of their problems. If we are going to successfully operate the coal mines in this country to the maximum production, it will certainly be necessary to have some control of the number of mines that are operated. If Ontario is able to take two or three million tons of Alberta coal, the mining of that quantity is only going to mean a scramble to open new mines to the detriment of those already in existence. That is one of the questions that a committee appointed by this House should very carefully study. I have been in conversation with hon. members opposite who have spoken on the question, and I am quite in accord with some things they have told me-I refer to men from the Maritime provinces. 1 am told that there are mines there that are not efficiently operated or possibly cannot be efficiently operated. Why cannot we have a complete analyses of the whole question of coal mining in Nova Scotia and Alberta? Why cannot efficient mines be operated to their full capacity? I believe that the people in Ontario and Quebec, if they feel that Nova Scotia and Alberta as provinces are giving them the most efficient mining possible, will be willing to pay a little additional for fuel from those provinces. They
Fuel Supply

will not hesitate to pay an extra dollar or two per ton for coke made within our own country; they will gladly co-operate in doing so. But, Mr. Speaker, there is a feeling throughout the province of Ontario among coal users, that Alberta coal costs too much at the pits' mouth, and that Nova Scotia coal-due to expensive methods of mining, due to the great depth and the amount of water that has to be pumped-costs too much at the mines' mouth, and that the users in Ontario are being asked to absorb a cost that is altogether out of line with the cost of coal in the United States. In this connection let me give you just one or two figures that were compiled by the Fuel Board. Pocahontas coal is a high grade bituminous coal which is sold in the United States for domestic purposes. Pocahontas coal can be laid down in Toronto for S9.75, whilst coal from Alberta costs S4 at the mines, and $7 a ton for freight to Toronto, making $11 in all. The people of Ontario feel that if they could get Alberta coal for anything like the same price, heat value considered, or within a dollar or two, they would be quite satisfied to use the domestic fuel; but until the mines of Alberta and Nova Scotia have been brought to a greater state of efficiency, we should not ask the Ontario user to pay an additional $2 or $3 a ton for his coal.
In supporting the motion 'before the committee I am going to say that I think it is important for tiwo or three re*asons. With regard to the movement of western coal, I agree with the hon. member who has just taken his seat, and with the hon. member for East Lambton (Mr. Armstrong) that Alberta coal can be transported more cheaply than the National railways are prepared to admit. I am afraid that railway men dio not know a very great deal about 'their own business. In arriving at the cost of transportation they have a system of figuring up how many tons of freight they carry a given number of miles. They estimate that so many billion tons of freight are moved for so many miles, they take the total cost of their own system, they divide these billions of tons into billions of dollars, and then they give as the result a cost so much per ton mile to move that freight. I contend that system is not a correct system. I maintain that the National railways and the Canadian Pacific railway have a definite fixed overhead, and like any manufacturing business that can throw an additional twenty-five per cent volume into its operations, it automatically lowers the overhead and reduces the cost. If the Canadian National railways and the Canadian Pacific couldl haul five million tons of coal from
Alberta over their systems, they would thereby reduce their overhead, and1 could carry coal for less money. I think coal can be carried from Alberta to Fort William at the head of the lakes for S3 to $4 per ton; and with the steamship equipment which we have it can be moved to Goderich, Kincardine, Sarnia, and other ports on the Georgian Bay for $1 a ton. From these points there radiate lines of the National railways over which the tonnage would go at reasonable freight rates to serve the whole western part of Ontario. Therefore I think there are two things which the committee should certainly look into. First, the committee should consider whether or not the mining business in Alberta can be So arranged thalt the greatest efficiency will obtain in the production of coal, and that there will not be too much overlapping by the opening of new mines; and secondly, the question whether or not ithe Canadian National railways can transport Alberta coal to the head of the lakes, and thence by boat to central Ontario ports, for less than seven dollars a ton.
I would suggest that in the public interest we should start a publicity campaign in Ontario and Quebec to teach our people that our own coal coked is a better domestic fuel than anthracite.

Subtopic:   IS, 1926
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