Mr. Chairman, before the
committee rose at six o'clock a suggestion was made to the minister that it be made a condition of subsidies granted to ocean going steamers that they hire Canadian sailors. This suggestion seemed to receive support from many hon. members. It is a policy which would be most advantageous to the maritime sections of Canada. Since I entered the house I have heard it said many times by members of every shade of opinion that the greatest problem facing this country is unemployment. I represent Queens-Lunenburg, a typical maritime constituency. While central Canada has a problem of unemployment in its cities, our problem is one of finding employment for our seamen. Most of our men have followed the sea since their childhood, and it seems to me that when we are considering unemployment we should consider the sailors who go down to the sea in ships. This matter has received
the attention of the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada. That organization held its fifty-first annual convention in the city of Halifax from September 16 to September 20, 1935, and at that time maritime labour received the endorsation of the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada. The following is from the report:
The Nova Scotia seamen's union won the support of labour throughout Canada with their resolution calling upon the dominion government to prohibit non-Canadian labour from being employed on governmentized ships in the marine trade. A trades and labour council resolution, of similar intent, but having to do with Dominion Coal boats, went back to the committee after the mine workers delegates stated that, so far as they knew, the Dominion Coal boats did not come under the freight subventions on coal.
The next day they passed the following resolution:
Resolution No. 37
The Halifax District Trades and Labour Council; the committee reported having amended this resolution by deleting all the words in the preamble following the word "seaman" which made specific reference to the employment of British seamen and chartering ships of British registry and recommended concurrence in the resolution reading as follows:-
Whereas the dominion government has been subsidizing the coal industry as carried on by the Dominion Coal Company, Limited; and whereas, these subventions have resulted in the sales of over 1.000,000 tons of additional through the St. Lawrence districts and west of Montreal, thus enhancing employment for the miners and datal men in and about the mines; and whereas, these subventions do not accrue to the benefit of the seamen. Therefore, be it resolved, that the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada bring this injustice strongly to the attention of the government with a view of having any further subsidies to aid in the promotion of the coal business made contingent upon the Dominion Coal Company, Limited, employing Canadian ships manned by Canadian seamen and paid the fair maritime wages obtained in Canada for such class of work for the said transportation of coal from the mines under their control to any points in Canada or Newfoundland.
When every industry in Canada is seeking protection of one kind or another, the seamen should come under the protective policy of the dominion. When the government grants a contract for supplying goods the contract contains the condition that Canadian goods shall be first and British goods second. Why should not the seamen of Canada be treated in the same way. While we support Canadian industry and Canadian manufacture by insisting that Canadian goods shall come first -I subscribe to this stipulation-we should also see that above all, Canadians should come first, in the coasting trade and, as far as possible, in the ocean going trade. It would be greatly to our interest if the minister could
give us an assurance of this kind, but the road does not seem to be perfectly clear. In 1931, by the statute of Westminster, for the first time Canada obtained control over her men and ships upon the sea. That statute provided for the exclusion of the dominion from the provisions of sections 735 and 736 of the Merchant Shipping Act, and thus for the first time Canada obtained control over her shipping. However, concurrently with the passing of that statute Canada signed the British commonwealth merchant shipping agreement. This agreement was signed at London on December 10, 1931, the day before the passing of the statute of Westminster. I should like to quote part IV, which reads:
Each part of the British commonwealth agrees to grant access to its ports to all ships registered in the British commonwealth on equal terms and undertakes that no laws or regulations relating to seagoing ships at any time in force in that part shall apply more favourably to ships registered in that part, or to the ships of any foreign country, than they apply to any ship registered in any other part of the commonwealth.
While each part of the British commonwealth may regulate its own coasting trade, it is agreed that any laws or regulations from time to time in force for that purpose shall treat all ships registered in the British commonwealth in exactly the same manner as ships registered in that part, and not less favourably in any respect than ships of any foreign country.
Nothing in the present agreement shall be
(i) to derogate from the right of every part of the commonwealth to impose customs tariff duties on ships built outside that part; or
(ii) to restrict the right of the government of each part of the commonwealth to give financial assistance to ships registered in that part or its right to regulate the sea fisheries of that part.
* It is clear that under the statute of Westminster-and I am speaking as a layman, because I cannot argue this highly technical legal matter-we for the first time got control of our ships on the seas. But in the British commonwealth merchant shipping agreement, made concurrently with the statute of Westminster, we reverted to the status quo, and we have reciprocity in men and ships with the British empire.
Now the British are eminently efficient on the sea. Britain is' a country with a maritime tradition, with years of service and achievement behind it as regards seagoing vessels; and if there is one game the British know it is the game of the mercantile marine and shipping. Therefore, when this or any other
government in this young country asks us t.o compete, absolutely without any protection, with the greatest shipping country in the world, we are doing something that will not help Canada to become a great shipping nation in the near future, or relieve unemployment which is of national concern.
The United States is also a great shipping country; it protects its ocean-going ships. Subsidized ocean vessels must have, for the first two years, one-quarter of their crews American citizens; for the third year one-t/hird must be American citizens; and for the rest of the time one-half of [DOT]the crew must be Americans. I submit, speaking in the interests of maritime Canada and especially of Nova Scotia, that something should be done to relieve unemployment among our men, men with captains' certificates and with long experience on the sea, who are on the beach with nothing to do. I receive numerous applications for positions on government boats; I am flooded with applications from men who have no employment. We have no great farms such as there are in central Canada, nor have we large manufacturing industries; and as a maritime people what can we do if our men are denied the opportunity to go on the sea? Our people must go on the sea, and they are efficient and can serve the country well.
I say to the Minister of Trade and Commerce and to the members of the government that parliament and government should do something to relieve unemployment among our seafaring men. Apparently we are bound by this agreement, and the minister's hands are tied with, respect to the condition in connection with government contracts. I was surprised to hear him say that something had been done in British Columbia, and it occurs to me that perhaps there may be a way out of the difficulty. Provision is made for our giving subsidies, and if that gives us the privilege of stipulating, as a condition of any subsidy, that there shall be a larger number of Canadian seamen on the ships, then that should be done as quickly as possible. If a commission is appointed to look into the matter of unemployment, it will be my privilege to appear before that commission and point out that the people in distant parts of the country deserve some consideration and that the much talked of policy of "Canada First" should find its application in this regard.
Topic: DEPARTMENT OP TRADE AND COMMERCE