Mr. W. F. MACLEAN (South York):
Mr. Speaker, as a protectionist I have been very much impressed by the statement made by the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Meighen) this afternoon that he and his friends would do what they could to support the government in applying a remedy to this situation. Let me suggest to the House what may prove to be a practical solution. Public ownership as applied in the province of Ontario to the distribution of power and light is of its kind one of the most marvellous enterprises I know of on the American continent. It is a great financial success, and to-day I am glad to say it has excited the envy of private enterprises competing against it.
Now, to my mind what Nova Scotia ought to do as a way out of this trouble is to handle the problem by way of public ownership- pool the leading mines, devote them to the production of electric energy near the pitheads and distribute that energy all over 9 p.m. the province for power and light, and ship the balance of the product of those mines to Quebec and Ontario for fuel. In this way the coal industry of Nova Scotia would be put on its feet, it would supply power and light for the province, and it would also supply fuel for Ontario and Quebec.
Now then, if the steel industry of Nova Scotia had the assurance of coal at cost, or very nearly at cost, produced from the pick of the mines that had been pooled, that of itself would be an encouragement to that industry. Then if the company had to be reorganized, capital would be forthcoming for the reconstruction of the steel industry. That is what we want to see. If they can have, as they have, a great steel industry in the United States, I say we can have a great steel
Dominion Iron and Steel
industry in this country. Evidence came out this afternoon that to-day the Americans are the greatest producers of steel at the cheapest price, and they sell it all over the world. They are the most protectionist country on the face of the globe.
Now, Mr. Speaker, by adopting this western principle of pooling the best of the coal mines in Nova Scotia we would get coal almost at cost; the coal industry would flourish, and it would enable us to insist that the men who work the mines get decent pay and decent houses to live in. That is another progressive idea, but it is worth while considering. This summer if we are to have a commission investigate the industries of the Maritime provinces, I should like to see it take up the coal and steel industries on the lines I have suggested. I am, of course, only stating it crudely to-night, but I am confident that in my suggestion there is contained the key to the solution of some of these Maritime grievances, for it will enable the miners to be paid good wages, and by the establishment of coking plants in Ontario and Quebec we can handle the coal of Nova Scotia, supply the fuel wants of the central provinces and get the advantage of all the by-products incident to the coking process. That will open a new vista for the people in the Maritime provinces. I am not going to take up any more time, but I just throw that out as a supplementary proposal. I think the government have 'been impressed by the debate this afternoon and will listen to the various suggestions that have been made, and I believe they will see that it is their duty to do something in the way of coming to the relief of Nova Scotia if this crisis of which we are told to-day really does impend, because it would mean a great injury to a great industry that we have in this country. If we want to go into the steel business, we must go into it in much the same way as the United States have done. We must encourage it, and perhaps the best way to encourage it was suggested here tonight, and as the Prime Minister says, probably the provinces ought to do something too. But probably the best relief would be by the bounty system. I know nothing that is better calculated to encourage an industry in a country than the bounty system, backed by the province and the Dominion. But some duty is on the government, so far as I can see, after hearing the debate here this afternoon, and is incumbent also, I think, on the province and on this House and the
people of Canada, and especially the people of Quebec and Ontario, to take their coal from the Maritime provinces instead of sending their money to the coal mines of the United States.
Topic: COMMITTEE OF WAYS AND MEANS
Subtopic: DOMINION IRON AND STEEL CORPORATION