Mr. JAMES DOUGLAS (East Assiniboia).
I am sorry to take the time of the House, but, representing, as I do, a constituency that is very much interested in this question, I think it would not be right if I should allow this opportunity to pass without saying something in the interest of those who sent me here. I regret very much that this question has come up in this Unexpected way, so that I, with other members, have not papers at hand to substantiate many of the points made. It is contended by the members from British Columbia that the lumber combine is confined to the Northwest Territories. I am aware of the fact that there is, and has been for years past, a combine in the retail trade, and that combine has been of such a nature that it has interfered with the interests of manufacturers in that country east of Winnipeg. The Lake of the Woods lumber manufacturing companies have suffered in consequence of this combine. I know also that when men have been eight or ten years in the retail business they begin to talk about retiring, having made an ample sum to justify them in doing so. With a proportion of 331 per cent on then- business, they soon make a competency, and are able to retire. This question of the price of lumber is a very serious matter in connection with the settlement of a new country. As to the statement that there is no combine in British Columbia. I can make this statement on the other side : I received a document-I
have not it in my possession here to read it to the House-sent from the Lumber Manufacturing Association at Vancouver and addressed to those engaged in the lumber 1 business in the little town close to our own
home, where there are four lumber yards. The secretary of this association gives lists of lumber and states that for the month there would be no change in the prices, but that in certain grades of shingles prices are to change. So, here you have the secretary of an association with headquarters in Vancouver dictating the prices that shall be paid to the men engaged in the retail business along the new line, at least to Tantallon and Pheasant Hill. People are coming into that country to make their homes. Their first efforts must be devoted to providing . shelter. These people find it exceedingly difficult to pay the advance in prices that were charged last year. It has been said that the advance was $4 or $5 a thousand. But I am prepared to say that this advance went as high as $9 per thousand-from $3 to $9-last year. And I am sure that the government and members of this House will agree with me that that is a very serious matter in the case of settlers who are taking up their new homesteads and who are seeking shelter before the coming winter. If the manufacturers in British Columbia are suffering, and the introduction of American lumber is causing them to suffer, then, I can only say that the high prices that the British Columbia people have been charging have induced the. Americans to send lumber into the market. I do not know that the Northwest Territories are exacting any high rates or exorbitant prices for anything we send from the Territories into British Columbia.
I want simply to substantiate what has been said by other members from the Northwest Territories, that it would be a very great wrong to the incoming settlers to that country if any duty was re-imposed upon lumber. When they pay $22 a thous-sand for common lumber such as is used in sheeting frame houses, they certainly are paying a big price, and when they are called upon, as I know they are, having built somewhat extensively within the past four or five years, to pay all the way up to $60 a thousand for lumber for finishing purposes, certainly they are paying well for all they receive at the hands of the manufacturers. The real difficulty with the manufacturers in the Lake of the Woods district or east of Winnipeg is due, I believe, largely to the combine among the retailers operating throughout Manitoba and the Territories-and the British Columbia people are not entirely free in this matter-when they combine to regulate the retail prices of their lumber throughout Manitoba and the Territories. I am sorry indeed that I have not my papers and figures here to submit to the House, but some opportunity may be given before the session closes to have this matter fully threshed out, and I hope the government will very carefully consider the matter before they venture to impose a duty on lumber, in view of the increasing settlement that is taking place every year.
Topic: FOSTER LUMBER CO.