November 7, 1941

LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I cannot say. I shall be glad to place a statement on Hansard showing the increase on all by-products.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

Before the minister proceeds, may I ask a question? The minister spoke about control over the sale of gasoline. Here is what I went through one afternoon, which I do not think should be described by the word "control." My gasoline was running low', and I drove to the first gas station I came to on St. Clair avenue in Toronto. The attendant said, "Sorry, we are out of gas." I said, "Have you no gas in your tanks?" "Oh, yes, lots of gas in the tanks, but we have sold our quota for to-da3'." I drove to the next gasoline station and was told the same thing. I drove to a third and was told the same. I asked the same question in each case, and the answer w'as, "Yes, we have lots of gasoline but we have sold our quota for the day." I drove to another station and before I had time to ask the young man said, "Shall I fill her up?" I said, "Yes, fill her up."

That is not gasoline control. Had I been on a serious errand of life or death and run out of gasoline and they had told me, "Yes, we have lots of gas but have filled our quota for the day and cannot give you any more," what would have been my position? That is not control. I should like the minister to tell us whether the rationing system has been properly surveyed. For instance, all this week my car is standing in the garage, I am not using any gasoline. When I go away for a month my car is in the garage. But *when I come back, not having used any gasoline for some time, I am told, "Yes, the tanks are full, but we cannot sell you any." That kind of control is a farce. Surely there is some sensible way of rationing gasoline.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

My hon. friend says it is not control, but it is one kind of control. It is control of consumption. If we cut the sale of gasoline by twenty per cent we have saved that twenty per cent. I admit at once it is a crude way, but it is a quick way; it was adopted by the United States on the eastern seaboard and was adopted* in Canada to consolidate our gains. We wanted a reduction in gasoline consumption; we achieved it in that way; it has worked from the government point of view, but perhaps not so well from the point of view of the public.

14S73-265

Now we are working towards a rationing system for gasoline. In due course it will be necessary' to have a coupon book in order to obtain gasoline. Why have we not done it before? It is a very complex problem. First you have to determine the classification of users; then you have to decide the relative amounts that should be given to this and that user. It is not easy; it took England eighteen months to put her rationing system in operation.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

It is

operating there now.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Yes, definitely, but it was a difficult problem. It was not working well when I was there; they were still making adjustments. In Canada, which is more highly mechanized, more dependent upon internal combustion engines, it is much more difficult. The mere printing of the coupon books is no small task. That work, however, is well under way. It is the only fair method. Each man is given so much gas per month, according to his needs; if he wishes to use it all in a week, that is his affair.

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NAT

Douglas Gooderham Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

Could the rationing not be done through the provincial governments in connection with the licensing

system?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

As a matter of fact that is what we have in mind, we hope to have the two issued concuiTently. The purpose of the control is to save gasoline and nothing else. It has been the purpose of the oil controller to bring into Canada every gallon of petroleum products he can bring in. I notice editorials are beginning to appear stating that the real reason behind this control is the saving of United States exchange. It is true that petroleum products do constitute the greatest single drain on our United States exchange. But the purpose of oil conservation has not been to save United States exchange. We have been conserving gasoline because if we give it to the pleasure driver we go short in the war effort.

The United States furnished a large number of tankers to the British government and Canada furnished its share, a fair number of our Norwegian flag tankers. The United States is getting a number of its tankers back; we are not getting any of ours back. At the moment the situation in Canada is no better, because we have no more new tanker space; our stocks to-day are lower than they have ever been since the war started.

But we have the Montreal pipeline coming into operation, which will help somewhat, and we know that as soon as the situation in the United States is squared away they will give

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RE7ISED EDITION COMMONS


The War-Oil Situation us some help. We hope the situation this winter will be better. We are going to put in a flexible system of rationing, and we are going to make the rations just as liberal as our supplies of gasoline will permit. At the beginning of each month, or perhaps earlier, the oil controller will announce how many gallons of gasoline a coupon will entitle a person to obtain, and we hope it will entitle a driver to as many gallons as he will want to use. If it does not it will be because the gasoline is not available; but we shall be in a better position to deal with another shortage if one should occur. And it is very likely to occur. The submarines are out again; winter is coming on, and the prospects are not too bright. If there are sinkings in anything like the proportion of last winter, there will be another shortage in the spring. Through a system of rationing, we shall be able to distribute the gasoline not required by the war effort, to the citizens of Canada for non-war purposes as equitably as possible. There is everything to be said for a rationing system. The public are, I think, more or less demanding it, and we believe that it is the fairest and best system to adopt. The reason why it is not in effect to-day is that it has not been found possible to organize its administration so quickly.


NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I am glad to hear the minister say that at last the government are becoming realistic in connection with the matter of rationing in the present gasoline situation. An ordinary member of parliament cannot visualize the difficulty of putting into effect a system of this kind, but such a system is in operation in England and it is just too bad for anyone who does not take care of his position over there. As far as I know anything about public opinion, I believe the public of Canada will welcome any decent system of rationing if it is in the interests of the war effort of this country. I do not believe there is any sacrifice the loyal people of Canada are not prepared to make, and surely this is one of the least that could be asked.

Under the system of moral suasion and appeals to save gasoline I do not think our people have taken the matter very much to heart. I heard of the case of a gentleman in the city of Toronto who put up his cars and walked. Yet one day he was confronted with the spectacle of hundreds of cars coming away from the Woodbine race track, each one with a V for victory on the windshield. That is the sort of thing that makes one sick to contemplate, the thoughtlessness of people.

(Mr. Howe.]

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Nevertheless the saving was very considerable.

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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I agree that there was a saving, but it was brought about by the conscientious people of this country rather than by those who were thoughtless, and I am not going to characterize them in any other way.

I should like to throw out this suggestion to the minister for his consideration when he comes to deal with this question of rationing. I suggest that those who are careful to keep their consumption of gasoline as far as possible under the limit might be given credit for being so careful, so that, if an emergency should arise during a succeeding month, they might be able to take advantage of what they had saved previously. What I mean is that a credit created by a non-user in this way might be stored up, to be used by that person in case of an emergency, so that the gasoline represented by the coupons not used would not be wiped off the slate at the end of the month. It may not be possible to adopt that suggestion, though I do not see why it should not; but I commend it to the minister and his advisers when they come to consider this rationing system.

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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. CASTLEDEN:

What was the basis of the allotment when the supply to distributors was reduced this fall?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I do not remember the exact figure; it was either fifteen or twenty per cent, based on the records of the previous year.

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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. CASTLEDEN:

For any particular month?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Month by month; that is, each month was compared with the same month of the previous year.

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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. CASTLEDEN:

It was not based on the July consumption, for instance?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

No; I think July was based on July, August on August and September on September.

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CCF

George Hugh Castleden

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. CASTLEDEN:

Of the previous year?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Yes. I spoke of two increases, each of one cent, in the price of gasoline. So far as the prairie provinces were concerned, there was only ene increase, for the reason that the cost there was largely local cost. The only lift in price to the refineries there was the 27 cents a barrel which brought about the first increase of one cent a gallon.

Questions

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November 7, 1941