Robert Ross (Roy) KNIGHT

KNIGHT, Robert Ross (Roy)

Personal Data

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)
Saskatoon (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
December 12, 1891
Deceased Date
September 11, 1971
farmer, teacher

Parliamentary Career

June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
  Saskatoon City (Saskatchewan)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
  Saskatoon (Saskatchewan)
August 10, 1953 - April 12, 1957
  Saskatoon (Saskatchewan)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 352 of 354)

October 15, 1945

Mr. R. R. KNIGHT (Saskatoon City):

I rise to support the resolution:

That, in the opinion of this house, the government should take into immediate consideration the advisability of encouraging the fullest possible use of the harbour and port facilities at Churchill, Manitoba, or the transferring of the management and control of the said port to a joint Board appointed by the governments of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

I should like to point out to the senior hon. member for Halifax (Mr. Isnor) who has just spoken, that this resolution is divided into two parts, and that his assumption is not necessarily correct that the hon. member for Churchill (Mr. Moore) wants to put the second part of the resolution first, namely, to put the cart before the horse. The resolution states:

That . . . the government should take into' immediate consideration the advisability of encouraging the fullest possible use of the harbour and port facilities at Churchill, Manitoba, or . . .

You see, sir, the people in that part of the country have had a good many disappointments in regard to the port of Churchill, and they find it is better to have that "or" in the resolution. In other words, if the government is not prepared to do something about it, we have people out there who are prepared to do something about it in their stead.

Geographically speaking, this debate seems to have moved considerably east. The senior hon. member for Halifax suggests that vast sums of money are now being asked for. We are not asking for vast sums of money; we are asking for a sympathetic consideration from this government to handle our own business. The building of the railroad and the opening of the port are fait accompli. What we want is sympathetic encouragement from the government, and I am proud to be able to say that I believe we are going to get it.

The senior hon. member for Halifax said that only 24-5 ships arrived the year round. If that is true then there are certain other reasons for it and they are not all geographical. I would draw the attention of the hon. member to the fact that the hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Jutras) pointed out

FMr. Castleden.]

that the route had not been used at all, or practically not at all, in the last four years. That, of course, is perfectly understandable, seeing that the British government, I am led to believe, requested that the port should not be used because they did not have the ships available to convoy commercial ships. Therefore those years cannot be counted in any calculation of that kind.

The senior hon. member for Halifax said that since the hon. member who spoke before him had praised Churchill he should be allowed to praise Halifax. By the same reasoning if the hon. member who spoke before me had the privilege of running down Churchill, I, too, have the privilege of saying a word to the detriment of Halifax. So far as westerners are concerned I would say this to him: the long rail haul to the Atlantic prohibitively raises the cost of production on all bulk commodities to such an extent that we cannot get very much benefit from using Halifax as a harbour. Another thing that was very well recognized by the United States government during the late war is that the port of Halifax is somewhat vulnerable during war time. It has a disadvantage there that Churchill has not. If shipping into Churchill were properly organized it could be more easily defended. _

The argument of the hon. member breaks down when he compares Halifax with Churchill. Even speaking on the advantages of Halifax his argument is a very shortsighted one, because we believe that if our hopes are fulfilled in the years to come a healthy shipping trade will spring up between Churchill and Halifax.

I shall not speak, and the clock so reminds me, at any great length on this subject, because I had something to say on this subject when I made my maiden speech some time ago. Those remarks are recorded at page 199 of Hansard.

It is fitting that the resolution concerning the Hudson Bay route should be introduced by the hon. member for Churchill, because his port is the one that is under discussion. As the member for Saskatoon City, I could not allow the opportunity to go by without raising my voice in behalf of the development of this route, a development which is so vital to the people of my constituency and to the people of the northern and, indeed, of all parts of Saskatchewan. It is not purely a provincial project; it is one that on many counts should be classed as a national problem. Saskatoon is a city which is the centre of a large tract of fine wheat growing country. It has wholesale houses and supply houses for innumerable towns and villages, country stores and post offices. It is a distributing point for farm

Port oj Churchill

machinery. It has two great flour mills which process a considerable part of the grain grown in that country for the export trade. It is the natural trading centre for that part of Saskatchewan, and it is in a position to benefit enormously in the way of trade by a lively increase in traffic over the Hudson bay route.

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October 15, 1945


I was speaking of industry. That is not a good national situation, and it is one which the development and encouragement of a new route would help to overcome. What I have said may give rise to the idea that some opposition may be raised in central Canada against government encouragement of the Hudson bay route, but I contend that such opposition would be purely selfish and in the long run short-sighted. For fifty years a golden stream of western wheat has flowed down through central Canada. This left a good deal of sediment in its path. It has turned into a stream of gold. When hon. members consider the Icing haul, the discriminatory freight rates, the protective tariff that has been in existence in this country so long, I think they will agree with me that the western wheat lands have contributed their share and more to the upbuilding of this nation.

And now we want from the east and central Canada and Halifax, not large sums of money but a little sympathy and support in the upbuilding of the west; for, as Sir Ashley Cooper, governor of the Hudson's Bay company, said a day or two ago to a western audience:

Your imports will be governed largely by eastern Canada. The question of trade between western Canada and Britain is not so much a

IMr. Knight.]

matter for Canada and Britain to deal with but one to be settled between eastern and western Canada. Great Britain will take all the products of western Canada she can pay for.

But the amount she can pay for will depend a good deal on the amount we in Canada are willing to import from her. I suggest that some of these imports could be profitably brought to the port of Churchill through Hudson bay. There was a good deal of opposition to the building of this road and the equipment of the port. For years the whole thing was a political football, but now we have fait accompli, a transportation system which by 1932 had proved that it would work.

Surely that selfish and petty opposition should now disappear. Surely we have reached the stage when we are prepared to put the public good before the private purse. It is queer, though, how men who will send their sons even cheerfully to war, and with some degree of resignation contemplate the fact that they will not return, will oppose tooth and nail any public scheme which will affect their own pockets.

At six o'clock the house took recess.

After Recess

The house resumed at eight o'clock.

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October 15, 1945


The headquarters of the federated cooperatives which I have just mentioned are also at Saskatoon. It is a business whose expansion has been phenomenal. The

wheat producers are operating a tremendous business there this year. I do not know whether hon. members are aware of it, but the wheat pool is making an attempt to start an industry there. They have started a project to build factories which are to produce grain alcohol and to extract oil from flax and to make paint and plastics.

The ground has been broken this year by the provincial government for the building of a medical school in connection with the university. Saskatchewan has never'had a medical college, but it will have one soon, and the same provincial government has done a great deal to promote and encourage home industries of which we are greatly in need. A great airport with a rutiway a mile and a half in length is at this moment being constructed and we are to have a great air centre in a world air route. Now, to connect all this up with the port of Churchill, I must relate that the distance from Saskatoon, all rail, to Churchill, is 814 miles, and from Saskatoon all rail to Montreal is 1,828 miles. Hon. gentlemen across the way can compute for themselves how much more it would fake to get to Halifax. By rail and water, the distance to Montreal is 2,133 miles. Therefore it will be seen from the point of view of distance why we are. so much in favour of Churchill.

As to the water distance-and again I did not wish to correct hon. gentlemen who spoke previously-it has been said that there is a great deal of difference between water distances. As a matter of fact, the water distances from Churchill to Montreal and from Churchill to Liverpool are practically the same. There are of course optional routes, but the average distance is practically the same. There is not a hundred miles in the difference either way. [DOT]

It would be just as reasonable for us in. the west-I think hon. gentlemen from the east should listen to this-to expect people in Toronto and Hamilton and points between Toronto and Hamilton and further west to ship their stuff out west by railway, take it through Churchill and ship ft to Liverpool by that route as it is to expect us to use the St. Lawrence waterway down from our home. That is literally true from the point of view of distance.

I have said that this is a matter of national and not of local concern. Canada has ports and, whether it be wise or not, she has a great mileage of railways per capita. She has a vast system of transportation, and what we need in this country, and particularly in the west, is more people. The people we have

Port of Churchill

now are divided too unevenly and the resuh is that we have an unbalanced economy. That is not altogether due to geographical conditions. In Saskatchewan, owing to the increased mechanization of farming, and owing to increased modern improvements in farm machinery, only a fraction of the people are now needed to grow the wheat who grew it before. When I first threshed in that province thirty years ago twenty-six men ran the threshing outfit; now an old1 man and a boy of eleven will do more work in a day than all of us did, put together. ,

The average age of the Saskatchewan or the western farmer, hon. members may be surprised to know, is very high indeed. The young men marched off to the war, in spite of the fact that they were farmers' sons, and boys and girls came east to get war work. Let me ask hon. gentlemen from the east this question: Have they ever considered what it would be like to have their sons and daughters going 2,000 miles to get a job? I wonder how those who come from Quebec would like that? It is an honest fact that if a boy wants a job in industry he has to go at an early age 2,000 miles from his own home and his family influences.

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October 10, 1945


For a copy of all reports made to the dominion government by the United States government of a survey made during the recent war by the United States government of the weather conditions of the waters and of the air over the waters of what is generally known as the Hudson's bay route.

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October 1, 1945


What action has been taken by the government in answer to requests that treatment of discharged Canadian overseas fire fighters should be identical with that given to discharged members of the armed forces?

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