Mr. B. R. HEPBURN (Prince Edward):
I have listened with a good deal of interest to the remarks of my hon. friend the member for East Lambton (Mr. Armstrong), and I believe he is perfectly sincere in his desire to have this Bill pass. Having been, however, in the steamboat business for a number of years, but fortunately now 17
being out of it, I can see that if this Bill is passed, it will cause all sorts of complications. If the hon. member for East Lamb-ton was thoroughly familiar with the port of Montreal, for example, and the thousands of small ships owned by different individuals that trade between the port of Montreal and the ports of the lower St. Lawrence in the different parts of Quebec, he would see it would be almost impossible to put such boats under the jurisdiction of the Railway Commission. If we attempted to do that, we would put the small boat owners absolutely out of business. A great many of the men owning boats that operate on the lower St. Lawrence are uneducated, not being able to read or write, and they have trouble enough now endeavouring to make a small living out of the operation of their boats, because of the slowness of time in the carrying of freight between ports and the giving to the people of a service probably once every week or once every two weeks, as the case may be.
The manner in which freight rates are arrived at with regard to package freight for carriage on the Great Lakes is that the steamboat owners take the freight and work on a differential basis. The differential between Montreal and Port Arthur, for example, runs from two cents for fifth-class freight to either eight or ten cents for first-class freight. Let us suppose that I am operating a line of steamers from Montreal to Port Arthur to connect with the railroads there, and that I am running a boat a day and giving quicker service from Montreal to Winnipeg than do the railroads, is there any reason why I should not be allowed to charge the shippers, as much money as the railroads do? I cannot see any reason why I should not, and I am satisfied that the Railway Commission could not see any either. The Canadian steamship owners are giving a daily service out of Montreal and are operating at a less cost than the railways, on a first-class rate of ten cents per 100 lb., and a fifth-class rate of two cents per hundred. The hon. member for Centre Toronto (Mr. Bristol) has given reasons why the control of the grain carriers between Port Arthur and Liverpool via Montreal should be in the hands of the steamboat owners in order to enable them to meet competition via New York. If you attempt to put grain rates under the jurisdiction of the Railway Commission, you will practically ruin the Canadian shipping industry and drive all business via Buffalo and New York.
The same thing applies to the smaller boats in the province of Ontario. I live in a
county in which the carriage of freight is practically dependent on the steamboat men. We have only one railroad there and only one line through the county. I know a number of men operating small boats on the Bay of Quinte and endeavouring to make a living. If you put them under the jurisdiction of the Railway Commission it will mean the introduction of men skilled in the formation of tariffs and so on, the elimination of the existing boat service, and bring about all kinds of trouble.
Topic: FIRST CANADIAN CONTINGENT- SUPPLY OF CARTRIDGES.
Subtopic: INLAND NAVIGATION RATES BILL.