June 17, 1943

CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

Does the minister think we in this country are quite safe in relying on petroleum as a basis for synthetic rubber?

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LIB
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

As a matter of fact I have before me an extract from the report of the Petroleum Industry War Council to the United States government, which was made quite lately, and perhaps I may put a few items before the minister. Here are some figures on the oil supply:

Maximum Minimum Surplus (S)Year efficient essential orcapacity demands deficit (D)1943.... ... 4,421,500 4,100,000 S 321,5001944.... ,.. 4,212,000 4,400,000 D 188,0001945..., ... 4,022,500 4,400,000 D 387,500

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

That is the production in the United States?

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

Yes. The report on petroleum production for the week ended May 22 this year is given as follows:

Oil production in the United States had decreased in the amount of 17,285 barrels, or a total output of 3,996,700 barrels per day.

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Each of the production figures I have given relates, of course, to per diem production. Canada, I believe, imports around eighty per cent of our requirements.

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LIB
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

About eighty-five per cent of our requirements. If it is the fact that the United States is facing growing deficits in the production of petroleum in that country, even although we are increasing our own output, with our tremendous usage of oil in this country, and the difficulties of transportation, obtaining tankers and so on, we seem to be skating on pretty thin ice from that standpoint. -

While I am on my feet there is another question which I should like to put to the minister. Are we sufficiently well informed to be able to decide that petroleum is so much better than alcohol? What do we know about it? How long an experience have we had in this matter? I have before me a question and an answer given before the Gillette committee in the United States on January 6, 1943. The counsel for the committee, Mr. Hadlick, put this question to Mr. Brown, who is assistant deputy petroleum administrator, office of petroleum administrator for war, and formerly director in charge of research and development activities, and patent activities of the Standard Oil company of Indiana:

You perhaps are not familiar with it, but there was considerable testimony, as the chairman will recall, as to the allocation of the funds in January of 1942 to the petroleum companies, and at that time no consideration was given to the method of producing butadiene from alcohol, which was considered in the chemical knowledge of the day as a practical, feasible method of making it, and we are interested particularly in having you confirm that at that time, aside from the small amount that Phillips was making-

That is the Phillips Petroleum company.

-and the Shell process, the petroleum companies did not have a process-in other words, the money was allocated to go out and find the process.

Mr. Brown's reply is very interesting. He said this:

I would not care to go on record to that extent, although I will agree readily enough that the process of producing butadiene from alcohol had been operated in other countries on a large scale, and very successfully, and at the same time that the processes which eventually were selected by which butadiene would be made from petroleum were not ones which had been commercially operated, so far as I know, prior to Pearl Harbor, with the exception mentioned.

I know the minister is depending on his advisers, and that advisers must rely on the information which they are able to secure. But

'Mr. Coldwell.]

before we rule out the possibility of using alcohol as a base, a much more thorough inquiry should be made.

In answer to the hon. member for Saskatoon, the minister referred to the freight charges to Fort William and on to Toronto and back to Sarnia-or back to Windsor, because there are distilleries at Toronto and Windsor. Our contention would be, of course, that if the alcohol process is feasible and the use of grain is economical, distilleries to distil industrial alcohol should be located on the prairies. There would then be no freight rate except in so far as it is necessary to take the alcohol to the place at which it is used as a base for rubber, and that too might be adjacent to the distilleries. I think a far more careful inquiry should be made into this whole matter than we are able to make in the house in committee. I am satisfied that the minister is giving us the benefit of the advice he is getting, but as a member of this house I am not satisfied that that advice is what would ultimately be given after careful inquiry into all phases of this very important matter. It is important from the point of view of the prairies from which some of us come, and that is why we are so persistent in asking that more consideration should be given to this alcohol process.

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Of course Canada obtains in peace time a very large part of its imports of petroleum from other than the United States, and the United States also imports largely in peace time. The reason that our two countries have been driven to depending almost wholly on United States production at the moment is the difficulty of the submarine menace and the desire to reduce to the minimum the demands on tanker capacity. The world position in petroleum, assuming normal transportation, is quite satisfactory. My hon. friend will remember that before the war there was surplus petroleum and distress petroleum all over the world, and I believe that that condition will return.

Regarding the information on which we based our plan to make butadiene from a petroleum base, of course we examined the information which, was available from time to time, but the encouraging factor to me is that various other inquiries made subsequently, both by Canadian and United States committees of scientists, have confirmed the wisdom of the decision we made based on the data we had at the time.

I think a discussion of this is futile at the moment. Whether we are light or -wrong, a decision has been made, anil a plant- is nearly

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built and ready to operate. After that plant has been in operation for some months, we shall know exactly the cost position of butadiene from petroleum, and of rubber from the present process. We shall then have a base from which to examine the wheat situation, and if a cheaper way of making butadiene is developed immediately afterwards, or at any subsequent time, we shall want the cheapest butadiene we can obtain, and plants will be built in due course and the butadiene supplied at the lower cost.

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LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. McIVOR:

I am not going to speak about alcohol, how it may be made, or where secured, or how disposed of. But I have been listening closely to this debate and I have my own practical suggestions to make. I heard the discussion on aluminum, and the reasons why this subject was brought to the front are, perhaps, three: one, to show that too much was paid for the aluminum; two, that some people were making too big a profit from it; three, to add, perhaps, another industrial organization to the number now controlled by the government. My answers to these points are very simple. I do not know a great deal about aircraft, but when I see men sitting and waiting for aluminum I am disposed to tell the Minister of Munitions and Supply to get aluminum if it is possible to get it. What has emerged from this discussion is that the minister has aluminum, and that he is paying, not seventeen cents but fifteen cents a pound, which according to the statements produced in the committee is the lowest price paid anywhere in the world. I think therefore that the minister is to be commended. In the next place, if it be true that the Aluminum company is making a lot of money, presumably the shares would soar sky high. Instead of that, prices have gone the other way. Further, I do not think we should ask the Minister of Munitions and Supply to keep a tab on all those who are making money out of the manufacture of munitions. The eagle eye of the Minister of National Revenue will look after them; and I take this opportunity of paying my tribute to his deputy minister, Mr. Fraser Elliott, who will get revenue from anybody who ought to pay. Therefore why lay this burden on the Minister of Munitions and Supply?

As regards public ownership, I know of no minister in Canada, either in this or in any previous government, who has ever put so many industries under government control as the present minister has done. I am afraid that if he extended his control to the Aluminum company and a few other industrial

concerns the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation would not have very much to fight on.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

That would be fine.

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LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. McIVOR:

I agree with the minister in the statement he made yesterday that he wanted to get, to use his own words, the best brains of Canada. I know he has tried. I have suggested to him men from the head of the lakes who I thought and still think are clever men, but they did not get positions in the Department of Munitions and Supply, because he had other men who in his opinion had better brains and were more efficient. Of course I said, "Well, all right, we will just keep on trying."

Again, as to his relations with labour: if there is any minister who has done a great deal to prevent strikes it is the present minister. We know the times when workers have struck; we do not know the times when strikes have been avoided. It is analogous to the case of a man who takes a drink; we know the tames when he gets too much; we do not know the times when he is tempted to take too much but refrains.

I can see the Minister of Munitions and Supply sitting with a group of trade union men around' him, and if there was a grievance they would go back to work and there would be no strike. I know too that some credit is due the Minister of Labour, where a certain man was dismissed for union activities. The corporation said they had dismissed him for other reasons but he is back at iwork, and that industry is simply humming with management and union men working together to produce up to the hilt. I think we should state these facts.

Someone said that the small man should be taken care of. I would ask, where is there any industry in Canada, or where is there any work in Canada, where the small man has been so well taken care of as he had been in this department in connection with what is called the bits-and-pieces contracts. In Montreal, Toronto, Port Arthur, Winnipeg, et cetera, there were machine shops where the men were working very busily. They could not get a job, but this department has taken care of them, and the work done has been commendable.

The hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Reid) stated that when we are trying to produce steel we should carry on the manufacturing as close as possible to the source of production. I do not agree with him when he says that the best quality ore is to be found in British Columbia, because in my opinion the

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hematite ore that will soon be flowing through the lakes from Steep Rock will compare favourably with the 'best in Canada. I give the minister notice now that if we can prevent it we will not allow that ore to be carried down lake Superior in boats in the form of ore, but we will try to influence or perhaps to interest even members of the opposition, who are supposed' to be moneyed men, to invest their money in the big smelter concern at the head of the lakes. I believe that the steel produced at the head of the lakes would be much more easily shipped than the ore.

I know that the minister is capable of doing great things and in this discussion it was assumed that he could find oil and steel, fabrics and tools, and could break combines. I heard at one time that he was pretty well loaded-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. McIVOR:

-with work. I am glad to see that the opposition has a sense of humour. Very often, however, though the minister has done a great job and we are glad to see him in such fine humour, I have wondered that he could take as much as he did.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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LIB

Daniel (Dan) McIvor

Liberal

Mr. McIVOR:

It illustrates the old

proverb, when I see him sitting and listening patiently, as he does-a proverb which I came across the other day and which was new to me: "You can tell the calibre of a man from the size of the thing that gets his goat:"

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PC

Agar Rodney Adamson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. ADAMSON:

There is one question I want to ask the minister in regard to rubber. Some time ago a great deal of publicity was given the Russian manufacture of rubber from some of the dandelion families. I believe the names were guayule and crypto-stegia. This was supposed to have solved the rubber problem in Russia and it received a great deal of publicity. I remember reading an article in the New York Times. Is there anything in that, or has it been tried?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

I know very little about the rubber situation in Russia, and few people do. The Russians are not very communicative of their secret processes. However, the milkweed is used in the rubber process as a .polymerizer and Canada is growing a bit of milkweed experimentally for that purpose and possibly will increase the quantity. I would hesitate to suggest how many hundreds of square miles of milkweed would be

required tt>

produce a ton of artificial rubber; it would be a great many. However, it happens that the milkweed is useful in the rubber process. .

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

You want 700 acres planted in Peterborough?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Yes; we are arranging for the planting of 700 acres.

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NAT

Gordon Knapman Fraser

National Government

Mr. FRASER (Peterborough West):

Is

the department putting up a plant?

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June 17, 1943