June 14, 1917

CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

What steamship is that?

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LIB

George William Kyte

Liberal

Mr. KYTE:

The Weymouth. Some years ago a considerable sum of money was spent by the Department of Public Works for the purpose of dredging out a bar across the mouth of the harbour at Fourchu. Owing to the removal of that bar there is now a considerable depth of water in the channel. Some years ago the Government made provision for the construction of a public wharf at that port. The public conveniences, therefore, required at such a port as Fourchu are fairly well provided, with the exception of the most important of all, >a steamship service. If the depth of water should be found inadequate to enable the steamers to approach the Government wharf, a small expenditure for dredging would provide the necessary depth of water. I am not exaggerating the importance of Fourchu when I say that it is one of the most important fishing communities in the island of Cape Breton and that the individual catch is larger than that of any other fishermen in the island of Cape Breton.

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

The hon. gentlemen thinks that the service might be performed by the Weymouth?

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LIB
CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

I will look into it.

Expenses in connection with the supervision of subsidised steamship services, $3,000.

Mr. MARCH.: The member for Rouville and the minister made certain statements yesterday regarding the Gaspe-Campbellton service which were warranted by the facts, but in justice to the Quebec and Oriental Railway Company, operating between Mata-pedia and New Carlisle, I think that I should set forth certain facts showing that, under the circumstances, they are doing the best that can be done to operate that railway.

If that, were not so, the people of that part of the country would lbe very much worse off than they really are, because, besides the steamer service, which is not altogether what it should be, the people have nothing but the railway. I want the minister to become familiar with the position the railway occupies. These are the facts to which I wish to direct his attention: For the

six months ending December 31, 1916, the Quebec Oriental railway spent on special repairs and renewals of way and structures $18,064.41, or roughly $3,000 per month. They also spent $5,000 additional on ordinary maintenance more than for the corresponding period in 1915, making a total additional expenditure on this account of over $23,000. That the line is being considerably improved is amply demonstrated by the fact that they are handling without delay an increased volume of traffic including many heavy 60 ton cars of coal. They are doing a better business at present than at any time in the history of the line, and if it had not been for the inflated prices of material and the scarcity and cost of certain classes of labour, caused by the war, they would be making considerable profit, which would have enabled them for the current year to carry out repairs on a more extensive scale than they are doing. There is one fact that should be mentioned, namely, in the operation of a daily service on the line during the winter under very adverse conditions along a coast line exposed to storms. They have managed to operate the 200 miles of railway from Mata-pedia to Gaspe during the whole winter without a single day's interruption, carrying the mails and proving a great advantage to the people, despite the .severe weather. This -has cost a good deal of money, and full credit should be given to the company for what they did. The general .manager of the railway who has given me these facts says that other lines similarly isitu-

ated had to resort to a tri-weekly or biweekly service in the winter. It is only fair to the company that I should make these facts known. The minister was a member of the Government when this railway was chartered, and it was proposed to be a branch of the Intercolonial. It fell into the hands of a private company and has had a very precarious existence since. The people hope that, after the war, *this railway will be merged into the Intercolonial and will become one of the best features of that system, giving access to a splendid territory for fisheries and lumber. The line is fairly well operated from Mata-pedia to Paspe'biac, and is in splendid condition from Paspebiao to Gaspe.

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

I am glad to

know the company are improving it.

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LIB
CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

I will certainly look into the matter. Of course, with the multiplicity of work, it is impossible for the minister to have .knowledge of all the details. What I said last night namely, that the matter had not been brought to my attention was true.

Trade commissioners and commercial agents, including expenses in connection with negotiation of treaties or in extension of commercial relations; miscellaneous advertising and printing, or other expenditure connected with the extension of Canadian trade, $160,000.

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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

The minister might give us some inkling of what was accomplished at the various international trade conferences of the Allies.

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

This vote is for the trade commissioners. Of course, they have nothing to do with international negotiations.

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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I know that, but I

thought I might ask on this item for a statement from the minister regarding the trade conference of the Allies, one at least of which he attended.

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

I intend on one item of the Estimates to make a general statement with reference to the work of the department, and I think it would toe better to embody the information that my hon. friend asks .for in that statement. It will cover a good many points, for there are many matters that I think should be placed before the House. For instance, there is the Dominions Royal Commission, which has finished its work and published its final report, copies of which, together with the evidence, I intend to have printed for the use of members. The report is a voluminous one, but to those members of the House who take an interest in Dominion-wide trade, the report and the statistical volumes which accompany it are documents of very great importance. In my general statement I shall also refer .to the work of the Advisory Council on Industrial and Scientific Research, and to the work of our trade commissioners in the different countries. I shall also make a short statement in reference to the Economic Conference, which is what I think my hon. friend refers to. I will give notice beforehand of the item on which I shall make this general statement.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Have any new trade agencies been opened since last year?

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

I do not know whether the two Russian -agencies were opened last year or not, but at least preparations were then being made tor them. One has now been opened at Petrograd, in the Bast, and another at Omsk, in the West. Mr. Just, our -agent at Petro-grad, is one of our best trade commissioners. Mr. Wilgress has been appointed to Omsk. He is a graduate of McGill University, where he had a distinguished career, and was highly recommended on economics and other subjects. Mr. Wilgress has passed through the course of training which all our new trade commissioners undergo in our offices in Canada for a year or a year and a half.

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LIB
CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

In Siberia; it is the central point in Western Russia. We have also opened a branch at Milan, in Italy, and recently sent there one of our sub-commissioners, a graduate of Toronto University, who had undergone -a course of training in this country for over a year and a half. Not much, perhaps, can be done during the period of the war either in Russia or Italy, but it is very important that these men should be at their seat of future work before peace comes, so that they may make themselves thoroughly acquainted with local conditions. I have made a point lately of insisting on these trade commissioners understanding the language of the country where they are going to work; that applies to our commissioners in Russia and Italy. The young man who has gone to Milan studied Italian while he was here, and had a fair colloquial knowledge of the language before he left, and probably will be able to perfect himself in the language before peace comes. There is also a subcommissioner being trained in our offices who is destined,"if everything goes well, to take up this work in Japan; he is studying Japanese. His father was living in Japan at the time of his birth; the young man has passed a few years of his childhood there, and has something of the Japanese atmosphere. It is a great advantage for a man to be able to enter into conversation with business men in the language of their country. It makes communication easier, and enables the commissioner to get at their habits of thought better than if everything had to be done through an interpreter.

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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I think it is a good idea to have these commissioners trained in the language of the country to which they are

sent, although it might be considered an intrusion on bi-lingualism. I get the bulletins regularly, and read them very carefully. They contain a lot of useful information for the public, particularly for the manufacturers and business 4 p.m. men interested. I have made a point during the past few years of having these bulletins reproduced in the newspapers, in order that they may reach as many people as possible. ,1 have met several of these trade commissioners, and I believe they are doing *a good work. Of course, their viewpoint will have to change, and their methods .also, on account of the war. I suppose that the war will disarrange a lot of business, -and it will rearrange a lot of business also, some to our advantage and some to our disadvantage. It ought to be impressed upon our manufacturers that it will be necessary for them to be ready to giapple with conditions that may exist -after the war. A great many of our industries, small -as well -as large, have been devoting almost their entire attention to the manufacture of munitions, at the request of the Munitions Board, Consequently, they have allowed their staple trade to slip away from *them-and, of course, the demand for their -staples has decreased. But when the war is over-and we hope it will be over very soon-these manufacturers ought to be in a position, not only to look after the .staple trade they had before, but also to secure trade that they have never had up to this time. The trade commissioners, I -assume, -are and will be very useful in this connection in keeping the department informed as to the new conditions and the requirements of markets which our manufacturers can reach. It is absolutely necessary not only that this information should be given to the department, but that it should be made known to the industrial centres and captains of industry -all over the Dominion. I presume that this is done. If I have a word of advice to the minister, it would be to increase efficiency in this respect and to see to it that all such information is placed before the manufacturers. The majority of the trade commissioners with whom I have discussed affairs, are hopeful of a -constantly increasing trade-of course, war has unhinged business for the present. But they have found this difficulty, that our manufacturers have not been ready to adapt their output to the requirements of the market. In Australia, let us suppose, the -people are in the habit of -purchasing certain patterns of goods in certain lines,

these goods being made elsewhere than in Canada. Some years ago, at any rate, our trade commissioners found it difficult to induce the Canadian manufacturers to change the style of their (output to -meet tlhe demand of the market in such a case. If our industries are to meet the new situation and to secure trade that they have not yet had our producers must accommodate themselves even to the whims of their customers. I have found that in some countries-and I suppose the minister is aware of this condition-goods of Canadian m

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

The remarks of the hon. member (Mr. Graham) are very pertinent to the subject in hand and to the circumstances of the time. In the present dearth of ships and all the confusion resulting from a state of war, it may seem of little use to have trade commissioners in -some of the countries in which our commissioners now carry on their work. But I find that there is a very fruitful field to which I am directing their attention and to which they are giving a large part of their time. In other countries, as in our own, great changes are taking place. It is

gratifying to know that our manufacturers, large and small, are more and more getting the idea that more things can be made in Canada, and made profitably, and marketed outside of the country as well as within our own borders. There are numerous new industries springing up in Canada to make things which we have not made before. The pressure and discipline of war work have given an impetus to the making of things along new lines. The organization of plant, the extreme nicety of the work that is to be done, has been a drilling and disciplining of our mechanics and our employers as well, and has taught them that they need not despair of being able to produce alongside the manufacturers of any other country. When the workman has a piece of work which he has to get down to the thousandth part of an inch, or perhaps the two-thousandth part of an inch, the completing of that, work is an invaluable training.

There are two things that it is of great importance for the manufacturers and artisans of the country to realize: One is that time is always of the essence of the contract, that when a contract is made it should be filled on time; and the other is the necessity of accuracy of make. Many people think: Oh, if this will do the job, no matr ter whether it is accurately fashioned or not, it will serve. It is an invaluable training and an invaluable aid to our workmen to have instilled into their minds every day the idea of accuracy and of finish, of making an article absolutely according to specification. In this respect changes are taking place in our own country and in other countries, and an important part of the work of our trade commissioners to-day is to watch and follow up these changes and to bring information of them to our own people, with warnings and advice as to changes and means of taking advantage of them. I would not have my hern, friend forget that in addition to our trade commissioners appointed from Canada we also have, under a system recently adopted, the benefit of the services of the Intelligence Department and the Commercial Department of the British embassies in all countries where it is of advantage to us to secure information of this kind. It has been peculiarly satisfactory to see the hearty and enthusiastic way in which these branches of the British Embassies in different parts of the world have taken up this work with regard to Canada. They have given the most valuable information, and have given it with a freedom and a fullness that are all that could be desired. Thus

we must always add a plus to our Canadian trade commissioners when we think of the extension of foreign trade-we must add to our own service the Intelligence Department and the Commercial Department of each British Embassy.

Trade Commissioners, bounties on lead and crude petroleum, to cover expenses in administration of the Act, $5,000.

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

This is the usual vote. Under the provisions of the Lead Bounties Act no bounties are now being paid on this product as the price of lead is far above the figure at which bounties are to be paid. There is, however, some expense of administration, I think about $500. The other part of the vote is for the supervision of the petroleum bounties, which work still goes on and is confined chiefly to Ontario, under the provisions of the Act.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

The minister will, perhaps, recall representations that were made to him in regard to a bounty on oil produced in Alberta. In the interview that I had with the minister, he explained why a bounty is paid on oil produced in Ontario, but not on oil produced in Alberta. It would be desirable for the minister to explain to the committee the reasons for that distinction, because I feel that, however sound the explanation may be as justifying a method of administration, the policy under which different courses are followed in relation to the two provinces is not susceptible of the same measure of justification. I shall compare the conditions surrounding the production of oil in Ontario and in Alberta. I do not desire to discuss the question of oil bounties on its merits; I am discussing merely the right of the production of one part of the country to share in the same considerations as the production of another part of the country. The idea of the bounty was, I assume, to put the producer of oil in Canada on an equality in supplying the home market with his competitor in the United States, who may be supposed to have some advantages in the matter of cheap production. The production of oil in Alberta, on behalf of which the claim for bounty is made, occurs under circumstances and conditions stupendously more expensive than in Ontario, and if there is any warrant or justification for the payment of a bounty upon oil produced in Ontario, that justification is tremendously stronger in the case of oil produced in Alberta. I understand that in Ontario oil is produced from wells of a depth of less than a thousand feet. In Alberta the wells are three thousand feet deep and

cost about three times as much to bore. In addition to that, owing to the broken nature of the formation in which the oil is found, at the foot of the Rocky mountains, there is much greater uncertainty as to striking oil in any particular location, and the rock through which the well must be drilled is of a very difficult character. In the locality southwest of Calgary, where oil is produced, there is no such certainty of striking oil in any given spot as I understand there is in the oil fields in Ontario.

There is, on the contrary, the very greatest uncertainty, so that the production of oil in this locality involvee vastly greater expenditure and greater risk of no return, and, therefore, I maintain that, where oil is struck, it is entitled to share on an equality with the oil produced in Ontario, and that, if the law as it stands- does not provide for that equality of treatment, it is for Parliament to amend the law so as to give equality of treatment to the production in the two different parts of the country. All the more so because in Alberta the production is in an experimental stage, whereas in Ontario it has been demonstrated for a period of thirty or forty years. I do not wish to make any special plea, or any plea at all, for the Alberta production except for equality of treatment under equal conditions. The fact that the conditions aTe so greatly to the disadvantage of Alberta substantially strengthens their claim on the ground of justice and desirability of further promoting the exploitation of the possibilities of oil production in that country. It is, as no doubt the minister will be good enough to explain, a mere matter of difference in the quality of the oil produced. It is true the quality of the oil produced in Alberta is higher than that produced in Ontario, but the fact that the law excludes from bounty that quality which is produced in Alberta is merely an incident, and was not, I submit, any part of the original intent of the law. It simply occurs by reason of the phrasing of the provision, and not by reason of any intent to cut out the enterprise of any section of the country from sharing in the same consideration as that which the produtcion of Ontario shares.

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June 14, 1917