April 6, 1927

LIB

Kenneth Alexander Blatchford

Liberal

Mr. BLATCHFORD:

I want to make a few corrections in view of the fact that I am a member of the company. It seems to me that the hon. member for West Calgary (Mr. Bennett) should retract the statement he made regarding the financial position of the company. The report of the Turgeon grain inquiry commission gives the facts in connection with the incorporation of the company.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

What page is the hon. gentleman referring to?

Topic:   VANCOUVER HARBOUR COMMISSION LOAN OF $4,000,000 FOR TERMINAL FACILITIES
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LIB

Kenneth Alexander Blatchford

Liberal

Mr. BLATCHFORD:

Page 25. According to the report of the commission, under date February 2, 1924, the company was incorporated under Dominion charter with a capital of $250,000, with myself as president. As to capital stock, $40,000 was issued, $20,000 being actually paid up. I feel somewhat embarrassed addressing the Chair for the first time and, in so doing, defending myself and my associates in this matter. But I am not ashamed to make that defence. It was suggested the other day that these gentlemen were political friends of the party. Let me cite their names and tell the committee who they are so that hon. members may judge for themselves. The first member of the company I may mention is Mr. S. G. Tobin, for twenty-five years a business man and farmer in the district of Edmonton, Alberta. He was a member of the Alberta legislature.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

And a member of this House last session.

Topic:   VANCOUVER HARBOUR COMMISSION LOAN OF $4,000,000 FOR TERMINAL FACILITIES
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LIB

Kenneth Alexander Blatchford

Liberal

Mr. BLATCHFORD:

He was a member r the Alberta legislature for twelve years and two years after becoming a director of the corporation he was elected to this House. You cannot blame him for that, can you? Another director of the company is Colonel James K. Cornwall, known as the apostle of the north. He has blazed trails into the north country for thirty years, and has done more to open up northern Alberta than any ten men on the prairies. He was a Conservative member of the legislature ten years ago, and today operates a line of steam boats and trading posts in the far north, the arctic.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

He was never a Conservative.

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LIB

Kenneth Alexander Blatchford

Liberal

Mr. BLATCHFORD:

Another member ot the organization is Senator P. E. Lessard, one of the oldest and best known and most respected business men in the west, a member of the Alberta legislature for years; he was made a senator long after this company was incorporated. So far as I am concerned, I

*was elected to the House of Commons this year, and the company was incorporated three years ago.

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UFA

Donald Ferdinand Kellner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. KELLNER:

Is Mr. Walker on the directorate?

Topic:   VANCOUVER HARBOUR COMMISSION LOAN OF $4,000,000 FOR TERMINAL FACILITIES
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LIB

Kenneth Alexander Blatchford

Liberal

Mr. BLATCHFORD:

He is not, and I

would ask the hon. member for Athabaska (Mr. Kellner) to withdraw that statement, because I see by Hansard that there was a mistake made in that connection when the hon. member was discussing the question.

The early history of the Woodward elevator is as follows: A man by the name of Mr. Woodward went to Vancouver and started to build an elevator. He failed financially and the elevator was considered a white elephant on Burrard inlet. The people of Vancouver insisted that the harbour commissioners complete the elevator and put it into operation to handle grain from Alberta, because they had handled 54,000,000 bushels of grain through elevator No. 1 that year and there was a blockade; the permit system was put into effect, embargoes were placed up and down the railway line, and grain could not be moved. We needed more elevators. They made overtures to different grain companies-including the Alberta Pacific, the company of which the hon. member for West Calgary (Mr. Bennett) is a director, and here is what the report says:

Woodward and Company, Limited, were unable to finance to its completion the building of the elevator, and work was stopped with the completion of a working house but without the provision of any storage accommodation. Later the building was looked over by James Richardson and Sons, the United Grain Growers' Grain Company, Limited, and the Alberta Pacific Elevator Company, with a view to taking over Woodward's lease.

They turned down the proposition. Then overtures were made to other people on the prairies who might be able to handle this matter. I was asked to form a company and take it over, which I did. The commissioners were to have the plant completed for operation, grain to be handled by a lighter system in sixty days. We then bought a boat from the United States government and equipped it with the most modern machinery for transferring and handling grain, with oil burning engines and all modern equipment, at a cost of over $80,000 capable of handling 20,000 bushels per hour, with a capacity of 100,000 bushels, and that boat is still lying idle on the Pacific coast. Then I was notified two years later-after making thirty trips to Vancouver in attempts to have the plans agreed upon-that the building would be ready on June 29, and that I could take possession

Vancouver Harbour Commission

on June 30. This I could not agree to; the shipping season was over and the plant was yet unfinished. That agreement originally provided that the plant would cost $660,000 with the storage capacity, the pier, and the belt conveyors to handle grain, and we were to pay a rental of 9 per cent. When the building was completed the cost was just $10,000 less than $1,000,000 which meant that our rent jumped from about $58,000 to about $90,000, and I refused to pay it. I told them I could not function under those conditions, so they gave me forty-eight hours in which to accept the proposition or they would cancel the agreement, which they did. Immediately they closed with the United Grain Growers', for $45,000 per year, the same people who had turned it down in the first place, and who had made overtures to me before the lease was cancelled. We were left with all the cost of incorporating the company, of defending our case before the royal grain commission, of equipping the lighter and many other incidentals, but when we asked for ou* money back there was strong objection. Not a nickel of the settlement money will be left after the bills are paid. We took the matter to our legal advisers, who advised us to enter suit and accordingly we sued for $250,000. The harbour commissioners consulted their solicitors, who advised them to settle; they went to an independent solicitor, Mr. Davis, who also advised them to settle; they brought the matter before the Minister of Justice, and he advised them to settle also. I want to make it clear that I have never lobbied nor have I ever spoken to a single member of this government or of this House in connection with this bill. I met the Minister of Marine and Fisheries once when I went to see his deputy; I asked him if he intended to pay or if they wanted to fight, and the Minister said he would refer it to the Minister of Justice and let me know, and this is the first I have heard of it. .

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CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

Will the hon. member say

whether he has the opinion of Mr. Davis under his hand?

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LIB

Kenneth Alexander Blatchford

Liberal

Mr. BLATCHFORD:

No, I have not his

opinion. It was asked for by the harbour board.

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CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

Can my friend state which

Mr. Davis it was, what his initials are?

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LIB

Kenneth Alexander Blatchford

Liberal

Mr. BLATCHFORD:

E. P. Davis.

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CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

And he advised a settlement?

Topic:   VANCOUVER HARBOUR COMMISSION LOAN OF $4,000,000 FOR TERMINAL FACILITIES
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LIB

Kenneth Alexander Blatchford

Liberal

Mr. BLATCHFORD:

Yes.

Topic:   VANCOUVER HARBOUR COMMISSION LOAN OF $4,000,000 FOR TERMINAL FACILITIES
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CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

Does the hon. member know whether that settlement will be paid out of the vote now before the House?

Topic:   VANCOUVER HARBOUR COMMISSION LOAN OF $4,000,000 FOR TERMINAL FACILITIES
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

That is the point.

Topic:   VANCOUVER HARBOUR COMMISSION LOAN OF $4,000,000 FOR TERMINAL FACILITIES
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LIB

Kenneth Alexander Blatchford

Liberal

Mr. BLATCHFORD:

I cannot answer

that. We have a claim against the harbour board which we intend to take to court unless a settlement is made.

Topic:   VANCOUVER HARBOUR COMMISSION LOAN OF $4,000,000 FOR TERMINAL FACILITIES
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CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

I understand that the hon.

member is presenting to the House reasons why the claim of his company should be settled?

Topic:   VANCOUVER HARBOUR COMMISSION LOAN OF $4,000,000 FOR TERMINAL FACILITIES
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LIB

Kenneth Alexander Blatchford

Liberal

Mr. BLATCHFORD:

No, I am not. I

am stating how the trouble came about, and I am answering the hon. member for West Calgary (Mr. Bennett) who was mistaken in his statements.

Topic:   VANCOUVER HARBOUR COMMISSION LOAN OF $4,000,000 FOR TERMINAL FACILITIES
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April 6, 1927