government .shipbuilding programme
-STATEMENT BY HON. MR. RALLANTYNE MINISTER OF MARINE
The House again in 'Committee of Supply, Mr. Boivin in the Chair.
Public Works-Marine Department-Government Shipbuilding Programme:-Amount required for the construction of vessel® in accordance with Government's programme-$30 000 -000. . (ii
Hon. CHARLES C. BALLANTYNE (Minister of Marine): Mr. Chairman, before we take up this, item in a general way, I think it would toe fitting for me to give to this House all the details that I possess in regard to the Government shipbuilding programme. A year ago I had the honour of introducing the Government's merchant marine shipbuilding policy. A great many changes have taken place since the armistice has been signed, and it seems to me to be an opportune time to furnish to this House all the information that I have on the subject for which the vote is now asked.
I think it would be well for us to look for a moment at the shipping conditions of the world, and particularly as they existed in Canada when the Government deemed it wise to embark on its shipbuilding policy. Up to about February or March, 1918, the Imperial Munitions Board were occupying all the vacant steel shipyards in Canada building ships for England. I believe that the Government of Great Britain is to be congratulated for its energy and foresight in not only having ships built to the fullest capacity of the immense shipyards of the United Kingdom, tout also for utilizing all the available yards in Canada.
But, Sir, when I became Minister of Marine I could not see what particular value the steel ships that were being built in Canada for England could be to our own country, and after considering the matter from every point of view I thought the time had come when Canada should have her own merchant marine. Therefore I had the honour and privilege of recommending to my colleagues in the Government that we should utilize our own yards to build up a national merchant marine, and, much as we admire the old country jand desire at all times to render her every assistance possible, more particularly when she is engaged in war, I con-
sider that we were doing not only our full duty to Canada, but also to the Empire when we took that course.
It will be remembered that there was an immense total loss of shipping at that time, about 15,000,000 gross tons, the war being at a very serious and critical stage, and the success of Great Britain and her Allies depending very largely on the extent of their merchant marine. So pressing was the need for tonnage that all Canadian ships under Canadian register and all ships plying in Canadian waters under British register were commandeered by the British Ministry of Shipping, a fact which left Canada devoid of a merchant marine.
At that time, Mr. Chairman, all of our Allies, with the exception of our neighbour to the south, were coming to me constantly to know if I would allow them to build ships in our yards1-I refer particularly to France and to Italy, and also to Norway, one of the neutral powers. I had to reply to the overtures made to me that the policy of the Canadian Government was to utilize to the fullest extent our own steel shipyards, and that therefore we could not look with favour upon building ships for them. It was not so much a matter of price. Many of our Allies' were willing to pay from $20 to $25 per ton more than this Government was paying for the ships it was having built under contract.