Mr. ROBINSON (Simcoe East):
I can assure the hon. member that I have read as much of it as he has.
There is another trend in criticism of the budget to which I should like to refer. I have detected a tendency on the part of critics of the budget to consider it as a thing unto itself rather than as merely one link in our progressing economy. Less than a year ago we concluded the most disastrous war in history. In that war, to the everlasting credit of the people of Canada, we pulled our full share, or more than our full share if considered
The Budget-Mr. Robinson (Simcoe)
on a per capita basis. Following that war, and again to the everlasting credit of the Canadian people who submitted to every restriction and accepted every sacrifice, we find ourselves in Canada in a favoured and enviable position.
No one on the treasury benches in front of me has attempted to take unto himself any credit for this fortunate result. That credit has been and will be left to the people of Canada, where it belongs. But, from my secluded seat under the somewhat improved lights, I want to say it is high time that some of the gentlemen in front of me who directed and planned this great effort of the Canadian people should be given some small measure of approbation, rather than constant criticism. Further, not only did they plan and direct our war effort, but similarly they laid the foundation, well in advance, for our transition to a peace-time economy.
The present budget is, in my opinion, not a thing unto itself. It is in its essence merely one link in a far-reaching plan of transition for Canada, tempered by the exigencies of a devastated world where we must in all humanity go to the help of people less fortunate than ourselves-starving peoples, homeless peoples, naked peoples.
In this light I cannot agree with those critics of the budget who complain, for instance, that the income tax exemptions are not sufficiently high. I think every hon. member would like to see the tax exemptions greatly increased; but at the same time I should like to think there is no hon. member who would espouse such a proposal to the detriment of the national economy.
I have indicated previously that I consider the present budget merely a part of a continuing phase of our Canadian economy. I have no doubt that the minister has already fitted this budget to its proper place in this phase of transition, and is now looking to the future. I should like to commend to him at this time one aspect of the Canadian picture which I hope will have his serious consideration, and which I trust will fit easily and naturally into the Canadian economy. In this I refer to shipping and shipbuilding, and I hope I may be pardoned if I make somewhat extended remarks in reference to my own riding. In the riding from which I come we are proud, and I think justifiably, of our position in the shipping and ship-building industry. We are similarly proud of other things-our productive farms, our factories in Orillia, Midland and Penetanguishene, which helped so much, as the Minister of Reconstruction and Supply (Mr. Howe) well knows, to create the goods necessary to the winning
of the war. We are proud of our historic past and our scenic beauties, our lakes and islands and beaches, which attract so many visitors to the province of Ontario.
Allow me, at this time, to point out with pride to the fact that the northern part of my constituency is dotted with villages inhabited by worthy French-Canadian families who contribute to the prosperity of the district.
I hope my constituents and hon. members will forgive me if I do not dwell at too great length on the beauties of my riding, but rather confine myself to the subject I mentioned earlier. Shipbuilding in my riding is centred in the town of Midland on Georgian bay. Our experience in this industry goes back many years, in so far as the building of wooden ships is concerned. In fact, I think even today there may be on the great lakes hulls built half a century or more ago by Ganton Dobson. We commenced the construction of steel vessels during the first great war, and launched at the Midland shipyards a series of vessels such as the War Fiend and certain sister ships with similar ferocious names. Following that war, the yard constructed a number of cargo ships, such as the Ashcroft, the Stada-cona, the Gleneagles and the Lemoyne. I con-not allow this occasion to pass without paying a well deserved tribute to the Lemoyne. Launched at Midland in the middle twenties, she was then and still is the queen of the great lakes. Built to carry huge cargoes of grain, being 633 feet in over-all length and the only ship on the lakes with 70-foot breadth, she has been unapproachable as a record carrier of wheat. Some of her records are as follows: wheat, 1929, 571.885 bushels; corn, 1938, 534,000 bushels; rye, 1927, 538,817 bushels'; soft coal, 1944, 18,116 net tons.
During the thirties the yard which produced such magnificent vessels was unfortunately closed, and it was only with the coming of war that we returned to something of our old position in the shipbuilding field. Then the big yard came to life again and we saw on its ways corvettes, mine-sweepers and powerful oceangoing tugs. Also, our smaller yards, which had previously been engaged in the construction of small pleasure craft, expanded rapidly to turn out Fairmiles and wooden mine-sweepers. I assure you, Mr. Speaker, we felt very close to one important phase of the war effort. We saw these vessels in course of construction. We saw young Canadian officers come to Midland, commission their ships and sail away with their first command. We took into our homes young English boys, made old by fatigue and strain, whose ships had sunk beneath them
The Budget-Mr. Robinson (Simcoe)
and who only remained with us until a new one was launched and they could return with it to duty on the high seas. Yes; we felt very close to the war effort and I think we did a job. Here is the record:
Hunters Boat Works at Orillia produced seven Fairmiles.
Grew Boat Works at Penetanguishene constructed eight Fairmiles and two wooden
Port Carling Boat Works at Honey Harbour launched ten Fairmiles and two wooden minesweepers.
Midland Boat Works at Midland produced eight Fairmiles and two wooden minesweepers.
Midland Shipyards Limited delivered five Western Isle trawlers, eleven ocean-going tugs and eleven corvettes.
I should like to give the names of these corvettes, although they are already well known in Canadian naval annals. They are the Midland, Brantford, Strathroy, Thorlock, LaMaria, Willowers, Lindsay, Cobourg, Whitby, Parry Sound and West York.
I wish now to turn for a moment from shipbuilding to shipping and to indicate our intense interest in the grain trade, which is the backbone of Canadian lake shipping. We have at Midland and Port McNicol five modern elevators with a combined capacity of 20.750.000 bushels. The individual units can handle grain at rates ranging from 12,000 bushels an hour to 40,000 bushels an hour. Our elevators play a large part in the annual grain movement. To illustrate, I have before me some figures for 1945 on the destination of the major grains and soy beans at ports in Canada and the United States, which customarily receive grain in large volumes. These are as follows:
Grain received at ports in United
Grain received at ports in Canada 331.168,647
Grain received at all Georgian bay
Grain received at Midland and
Port McXicoll 131,297,923
In other words, out of a total of some 331,000.000 bushels of grain received at Canadian ports in 1945, two ports in my riding received some 131,000,000 bushels.
These immense cargoes were carried in our great lakes fleet, of which Canadians can be justly proud. This fleet consists of 226 vessels with an aggregate gross tonnage of 611,795 tons. Even at the risk of boring the house with figures, I should like to give a picture of the make-up and disposition of
that fleet among the various trades. According to the annual report of the Lake Carriers' Association, at the close of the great lakes navigation season in 1945, commercially employed vessels of Canadian registry were as follows: First, we had bulk freighters in the iron ore trade, including nineteen steamers in ore, coal and grain trades, and nineteen steamers in grain and coal trades. Second, classified as bulk freight, self-unloading vessels, we had nine steamers, self-unloading conveyors in the coal trade, and two steamers, self-unloading conveyors, in the cement and coal trade. Third, classified as bulk freight vessels in mixed trades, we had five steamers of the upper lakes fleet in coal and grain trades, eighty steamers in the lower lakes fleet in coal, grain and paper, and twelve other ships in various trades, including paper. Then we had twelve barges in coal, grain and pulpwood. Of package freighters we had twenty. Of oil tankers we had thirty-four. The remainder of the fleet was made up of car ferries, three, and passenger vessels, eleven: a total of 226.
I think this presents an impressive picture of Canadian lake shipping, but there is another side of the picture which should be told. Some of our ships are very old. To quote a few at random: James B. Bade, of the vintage of 1894: Algorail, 1901; Laketon, 1903; Bayton, 1904; Westmount, 1917; Matthewston, 1922, and Royalton, 1924. In other words, the average age of our fleet, and especially our upper lakes fleet, is high, and this means, at the least, increased cost of operation and, at the worst, actual obsolescence in some cases.
Although my remarks have been directed primarily at the role of my own riding in shipbuilding and shipping, I hope that two general points will have emerged. First, I think it is clear that we have in Canada shipyards which are ready, willing and competent to build ships of all kinds. Second, we have in Canada a great lakes fleet of which we can be very proud but which is in need of new blood. The inference seems to me to be obvious, and I commend to the minister and to the government that in any deliberations as to our future economy these two points be kept well to the forefront. Let us see to it that these related industries, shipping and shipbuilding, play an increasingly important part in the national scene.
Topic: THE BUDGET
Subtopic: DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE