Mr. Speaker, this bill opens up the whole subject of transportation. Many hon. members have referred to steamships as if they were the only means of transportation, but surely they must realize that in times past different governments in this country have frequently given bonuses for the development of transportation facilities so that freight carrying charges might be reduced. We have in times past built docks, done very considerable dredging, and spent a tremendous amount of money on aids to navigation for the sole purpose of eliminating some of the costs of transportation for the benefit of the producer of the commodities transported. The benefit goes back to the farmer and the producer of the products of the forest and of the mine. I have sometimes thought that the assistance given to navigation facilities was not warranted because it meant competition for our railways. In the past large sums of money have been granted to the railways with a view to bringing about cheaper transportation rates, but much more public money has been expended on water transportation than rail transportation. I have sometimes wondered if the large expenditures that have been made on the Welland canal, for instance, did not warrant tolls being charged on the ships passing through, but I realize that that would add to the transportation costs. Many hon. members have presented that phase of the situation in the debate on this bill. They must realize, however, that these vast amounts of public money have been spent in order to lower transportation costs and thereby allow a profit to the producer of the commodities which are shipped.
It is also true that an enormous amount of private money has been invested in shipping facilities such as boats, elevators, and so forth. I wonder if the farmer from western Canada realizes that if it were not for that large amount of private money invested he would
be in a much worse position than he is in today. If Canadian capital had not been invested in this country. American shipping would have taken the business and would have tended to create a monopoly; and so I say that the investment of Canadian capital in transportation facilities has increased competition and in that way kept down freight rates. It is also true that numbers of men in eastern Canada are employed on our ships and on harbour work, aids to navigation, and so forth. I do not think that the western farmer will stand in his place and begrudge the sailor or navigator his honest means of livelihood. When we accuse Canadian shipping interests of entering into a monopoly we must remember that we might be faced with a similar monopoly in a foreign country. I do not think any hon. member in the chamber would say that he would trust American interests more than Canadian interests. Therefore I think it wise that these amendments to the shipping act should be passed. If there is a combine we have our Combines Investigation Act with which to effect a remedy, but I do not see how there could possibly be a combine in connection with transportation facilities of this country. Not only have we our own Canadian steamships, operated by many different companies seeking to get business through a competitive system, but we have competition from the railway companies. We have shipping carried through the Panama canal; we have the Hudson Ray route, to which reference has been made. Apart from that, as hon. members have said, the man who has a commodity to sell will find the cheapest channel through which it may pass to reach its port of destination.
If this bill becomes law there will be competition with American ports for a great part of our wheat which is not shipped to the United Kingdom. I do not wish to comment at length, but in my view it is high time that a bill of this kind was put through in order to give our Canadian shippers and those employed in lake shipping an opportunity equal to that enjoyed in the United States. Hon. members will realize that at no time has the United States allowed coastal trade from one American port to another American port by Canadian ships. Why should we not take the same step. I am perfectly convinced that there is sufficient competition to keep down transportation costs. Were I not so convinced I should be inclined to oppose the measure. But, as I have said, transportation is not limited to Canadian steamships. The railways are in competition. It is not limited only to great lakes ports; there is competition from
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the ports in the far west and those of the Hudson bay. Further than that, Canadian shipping is in competition with American ports for that portion of the wheat which may be shipped to points outside the United Kinsr-dom.
On the grounds I have stated I have no hesitation in supporting the bill. I am convinced that it will be in the best interests of all concerned, and that it should be passed without delay.
Mr. Speaker, in closing the debate I shall not speak at length, as I have only a few observations to make. First, I should like to answer the objection raised 'by the hon. members for Willow Bunch (Mr. Donnelly), Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill) and North Battleford (Mr. McIntosh) to the effect that this bill should not have been introduced at the last minute of the session. That was the expression used by the hon. member for Willow Bunch. Is it necessary to repeat what I said earlier in the debate. These amendments have been before the Senate for over two months; they were embodied in the complete revision of the shipping act. These particular amendments now before us were discussed before the banking and commerce committee of the Senate. Surely the hon. members in this house are familiar with these amendments and their purport.
The second objection of my hon. friends is that the measure should not have originated in the upper house. Why? My answer to that is that hon. members who have read the proceedings of the Senate in regard to this bill, and more particularly the inquiry before the Senate committee, will have to admit that wonderful work was done. Every phase of the matter was thoroughly studied and this work done by the Senate is of considerable assistance to this house. When the hon. member for Willow Bunch suggests that the measure was brought in at this late hour of the session, because we were afraid of the opposition and that we anticipated no objection, on account of the fact that the opposition is tired, I say he is greatly mistaken. This government is not afraid to bring any measure before the house at any time in the session, because this government would submit to this house only measures of public interest and on all such occasions hon. members opposite will have full opportunity for discussion. If this measure was brought down late in the session it is due to the well known fact that the complete revision of the shipping act was abandoned only a few days ago in the Senate. This remedial measure was
introduced at this session because its urgency had been clearly demonstrated to the Senate. I think hon. members opposite will admit that they have had ample time for the discussion of this proposed legislation. Many of them have addressed the house. Some have thrown some light on the subject; others have not. As a whole however we had a fair discussion of the bill and I do not think it is fair to criticize on this point.
Now, Mr. Speaker, if I understand correctly all that was said on this measure, nobody denies that Canadian ship owners, Canadian shipbuilders, Canadian elevator owners and Canadian mariners are entitled to fair protection from the administration. They are important groups of citizens, and it is the feeling of this government that they are entitled to fair protection. That being so, and since the American law prohibits the shipping of goods from an American port to another American port either directly or indirectly in a Canadian bottom, it is only fair that our Canadians should receive the same protection. Unless very serious grounds can be urged against it, I submit it is the duty of this government to accord such protection.
The main objection to the bill on the part of my hon. friends opposite is that it will increase freight rates on the great lakes. But my hon. friends did not bring any reasonable proof of their contention in that regard. I do not know on what they rely. In the testimony of those called before the Senate committee to oppose the bill there is nothing that would justify the contention that rates would be increased as a result of this legislation. Some of my hon. friends say: You are asking the farmers to pay more. My hon. friend from Willow Bunch made that statement. The hon. member for Weyburn (Mr. Young) said: You have no right to take one cent more per bushel from the farmers to help the Canadian ship owners. Where do you find any proof of anything of the kind before the Senate committee? Mr. Bredt is practically the only one, apart from Mr. Smith, who was heard in opposition to the proposed legislation, and he could not affirm, as was done in this house by our friends opposite, that the effect of this bill would be to increase the rates. Mr. Bredt was very frank; he was representing the Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba pool organizations. At page 46 he said:
It _ is very difficult, of course, to state definitely that it would mean an increase in rates.
You have there the statement of a man who had some responsibility and wanted to be on the safe side. He said he could not
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affirm positively that it would mean an increase in rate. He repeated the same thing two or three times. At page 51 Mr. Ballantyne put this question to Mr. Bredt:
Mr. Bredt, if this act went through do you claim it would increase freight rates?
A. There is the danger as we see it. We may be wrong.
Did any member opposite in this house say to-day: "We may be wrong''?
Before you get to that point, Mr. Enderby says that that very same competition which resulted in reducing the rates would exist just the same after the passing of this legislation as before. I cannot see why it would not. What do you say to that?
Mr. Bredt: Frankly, we are afraid that that would not be so.
There was a fair statement by a man sent by the western growers to oppose the bill. In view of the proof given before the committee by many people from the west who know the business, who proved positively that there would be no increase in the rates, I say that in the position they take my hon. friends hawe not a leg to stand on.
I think it was the hon. member for Lisgar (Mr. Brown) who asked this government if we had considered the injurious effect of this legislation upon the port of Montreal. He did not, I believe, definitely so state, but that was the effect of his question. The hon. member for Willow Bunch said he was sure this bill would be detrimental to the port of Montreal. Well, Mr. Speaker, those were only assertions, without proof. I would like to draw the attention of my hon. friends to the memorandum which was filed with the committee of the Senate by Mr. Campbell, representing the Toronto Elevators, Limited, Sarnia Elevator Company, Limited, Midland Simcoe Elevator Company, Limited, The Great Lakes Elevator Company, Limited, Collingwood Terminals, Limited, and Goderich Elevator and Transit Company, Limited. What was the memorandum of those organizations on this question? The main proposition put forward by these companies is as follows:
1. The proposed provisions will have the effect of diverting a larger volume of grain through an all-Canadian grain route which has been established by the expenditure of large sums of money by the government of Canada and private interests.
This is the opinion of a large number of citizens interested in these elevators, that instead of injuring the port of Montreal or our Canadian ports it will direct a larger volume of business through them. The same memorandum-I am giving only the headings -says:
2. The proposed amendment will eliminate the existing unfair competition from American vessels.
Is it true or is it not that our Canadian shipping is suffering unfair competition from American bottoms? If it is true, is it not our duty to give some protection to our own people? Then the memorandum goes on:
3. The transportation and handling of Canadian grain is principally dependent on Canadian vessels and elevators both rendering public service entitled to the support and assistance usually afforded public services.
4. These provisions will have the effect which was intended by previous legislation, the language of which was insufficient to effect its intent.
To-day our law protects Canadian ship owners from direct shipping from one Canadian port to another by United States vessels, and we are asking now that they be protected against indirect shipping in the same way.
This afternoon I heard some hon. gentleman refer to labour. I remember that two years ago I received a delegation composed of sailors and others citizens who came here to urge the adoption of this very legislation. They represented to me that very often during the navigation season they had many empty and idle Canadian ships in their ports while the sailors were walking about watching United States ships passing in front of the ports, manned by United States sailors but loaded with Canadian grain which had been taken on at a Canadian port and was to be delivered in another Canadian port. I think it was proved very clearly, as the hon. member for East Simcoe (Mr. Simpson) stated this afternoon, that a great many Canadian sailors are actually idle and unemployed and a great many Canadian ships are anchored in our ports while many Canadian elevators are capable of handling much larger quantities of wheat than they are getting to-day. If this is all true, I do not see why we should not give our Canadian sailors and ship owners an opportunity to get larger business.
I am greatly indebted to my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce (Mr. Stevens) for the generous support he has given me in this instance, because I frankly admit
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that I am not an expert in these matters. My colleague stated very clearly that if we had thought for a moment that this legislation would injure the grain growers of the west in any shape or form it would not have been brought before the house. It is because we are convinced that the farmers of the west are fully protected that we believe this protection should be given the other classes in our community.
My hon. friend from Bellechasse (Mr. Boulanger) said he approved of the principle of this bill in so far as it affords protection to Canadian ships, but that he could not vote for it because it would protect British ships as well as Canadian ships. I want to tell my hon. friend that the competition with , which Canadian ships are faced at the present time, and which they have faced for several years, does noit come from British ships or from vessels belonging to nations to which we accord most favoured treatment. British ships, as a rule, do not cross the ocean to compete with our Canadian bottoms. That competition comes from other sources, and I think we are protecting Canadian ship owners and the people of Canada as a whole against those who would injure our best interests. I hope that my hon. friends will permit the second reading of this bill so that we may get into committee as soon as possible.
I did not hear all my hon. friend's remarks, and before he takes his seat I should like to ask if he made any explanation with regard to the powers that are to be delegated by the minister to some of his officials.