August 12, 1944

LIB
NAT
LIB
NAT

Harry Rutherford Jackman

National Government

Mr. JACKMAN:

I do not recall seeing it. It may be in the report of the Department of Transport.

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LIB

Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. MICHAUD:

It is mentioned in the annual report of the Department of Transport, but not in detail.

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NAT

Harry Rutherford Jackman

National Government

Mr. JACKMAN:

I believe that this committee should have the detailed report, more particularly that the railway committee should have a complete break-down of the operating expenses and revenues of the Hudson Bay Railway, the same as in connection with the Canadian National Railways, the Canadian National (West Indies) Steamships and the Trans-Canada Air Lines. I do not see any reason why the Department of Transport should not agree to the figures being presented to the railway committee each year so that we may understand the nature of this company.

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LIB

Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. MICHAUD:

I shall ask the railway to try to comply with the request.

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NAT

Harry Rutherford Jackman

National Government

Mr. JACKMAN:

You are the railway; ask yourself and agree to it.

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Item agreed to. Railway service- 386. To provide for the construction of an icebreaker-railway car-'highway vehicle- passenger ferry vessel for the Prince Edward Island car ferry service estimated to cost $4,500,000. Amount required for 1944-45-capital, $2,400,000.


LIB

James Lester Douglas

Liberal

Mr. DOUGLAS:

What progress has been made in the construction of the new car ferry and what is the approximate date on which it will be ready-for service? Since the icebreaker Charlottetown was lost in 1941 our people have been very patient in not pressing the department unduly for a new boat because they knew that all the shipyards were busily engaged in building ships of war. The present car ferry had a bad accident in March of last year at a time when a great many cars of certified seed potatoes were waiting to be transported to western Ontario and the United States where the seed was required for early planting. Every hon. member of the committee realizes that our transportation problem dates back seventy-five years. While we have made a good deal of progress in that time, I am sure the department will agree with me that we are now entitled to the best boat that money and material can build.

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NAT

Percy Chapman Black

National Government

Mr. BLACK (Cumberland):

I should like to follow the statement of the hon. member for Queens with respect to the construction of this new boat. We had a considerable discussion on it earlier in the session and in previous sessions. Is the minister prepared to reassure the committee that the boat will be completed and ready for service for the winter season of 1945-46? We in the maritime provinces recognize that Prince Edward Island has not had adequate transportation services since it came into confederation. Improvements have been made at different times, but an unnecessary calamity overtook that province in the loss of the steamship Charlottetown. Many people believe that there has been undue delay in securing a new boat. We are pleased to learn that a contract has been let for a new boat. Most of the people in the maritime provinces regretted to learn that this boat was being built to burn oil, which is in decreasing world supply. We shall need a market for the output of the coal mines of the maritime provinces in the years following the war and there was great disappointment that this boat was built to burn oil instead of coal. Is any recompense being provided for producers of potatoes and other farm products in Prince Edward Island who were unable to ship their products last winter because of the lack of shipping facilities and who had for that reason to take a reduced price? I understand that a claim has been entered for recompense for the loss they have sustained because they were unable to ship their potatoes at that time. I should like a confirmation from the minister as to whether this new ferry is a two-way boat, that is, with propellers in both ends so that it will not have to turn at the Borden port and at the Cape Tormentine port. That is the class of boats that were built to operate as ferries in Nova Scotia when I was minister and was able to authorize the construction of such boats for that purpose in Nova Scotia.

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LIB

Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. MICHAUD:

In reply to the hon. member for Queens and the hon. member for Cumberland I am pleased to state that the contract for the building of a most up-to-date modern car ferry to run between Cape Tormentine in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island was signed on the last day of March, 1944. The contractor proceeded immediately to get together the material which would enter into the construction of the ferry. I was informed by the contractor a couple of weeks ago that the work was proceeding according to schedule; that he has been successful in getting the steel plates in sufficient quantity

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and at the proper time to get the hull together in schedule time. I am pleased to say that the engines which will go into this complicated construction will be manufactured in Canada. The subcontractors for the engines have reported that their manufacture is progressing on schedule. So far nothing has been brought'to our attention that would delay the completion of the ship by the end of October, 1945, according to the contract.

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NAT

Percy Chapman Black

National Government

Mr. BLACK (Cumberland):

Did the minister reconsider the type of power plant to be used in this ferry? I understood that some assurance was given by him or by his department that this matter would be reconsidered, with a view to utilizing coal, our native fuel.

Mr. MICHAUD*: Great attention was given this question, but the marine architects who were engaged1 to design that boat have not recommended the installation of coal-burning engines. Therefore the boat will be equipped with diesel engines.

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NAT

Percy Chapman Black

National Government

Mr. BLACK (Cumberland):

Were any

other architects consulted as to utilizing coal and the ordinary steam power plant that is used in other boats of this type?

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LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Munitions and Supply)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

Is my hon. friend aware that Prince Edward Island is quite likely to become a great producer of oil? '

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NAT

Percy Chapman Black

National Government

Mr. BLACK (Cumberland):

I hope that may be so, and I am told there are possibilities that my county of Cumberland may become a great oil producer also. But it is recognized that there, is a world shortage of oil at the present time. We had evidence before the committee on reconstruction and reestablishment that the supply of oil in sight will be sufficient for only fourteen years at the present rate of consumption. Therefore, with *coal supplies sufficient for hundreds of years right at hand, it seems only an ordinary business precaution to give the preference to coal rather than oil, even if the hope of the Minister of Munitions and Supply should be realized, as I hope it will be, and a great oil reservoir should be found on Prince Edward Island.

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

I am going to say something about this item, although I would not have done so if I had thought the minister could get through his estimates in toto to-night. I have made several trips to study this matter of transportation between the mainland and the island, and I should like to satisfy myself that this new ship is of the proper design. I must admit that from its picture it is a fine looking ship. I would remind the minister that between St. Ignace

and Mackinaw, the strait between lake Michigan and lake Huron, a strait a little over nine miles wide, in the winter time gets badly clogged with very heavy ice. I believe that strait is approximately the same width as Northumberland strait. I should like to know if the department saw to it that the designers of this new ship of ours consulted those who were conversant with similar conditions, and with the designers of the six boats that cross from St. Ignace to Mackinaw. One of these boats, I believe it is the Sainte Marie, appears to load and unload at both ends. The ship is so designed that the main deck front end can be lifted up to allow the railway cars to roll oft". I do not know whether this new ship is of the same design. Perhaps in the opinion of the architect or engineers who designed the new ship, their design is the only type that can safely navigate this strait. If that is the case, their judgment should be accepted. But if a ship could be designed to load and unload at both ends it seems to me it would be able to take on and discharge its cargo much more rapidly than the new ship may be able to do. I am not going to criticize the new boat in any way, for it seems to be very smart. It is a big ship, with tremendous power; it has nearly three times the power of any of the fine ships that cross from St. Ignace to Mackinaw, but its internal design must be totally different from that of those ships which cross the difficult nine-mile Mackinaw strait in .the winter time, where ice piles up so high that two or three ships have propellers fore and aft to cut through ice.

Every ship in service on Mackinac strait, even the smallest one, will carry more automobiles than this new ship will carry. According to the figures submitted by the department, the new ship will carry only sixty motorcars. I hope the time will come when motor traffic to and from the island will amount to many more than sixty automobiles per trip. In contrast, the smallest ship crossing the strait of Mackinac carries seventy-two automobiles, while one of the largest carries one hundred and eleven almost twice as many as this new ship is designed to carry. Then this new ferry is designed to carry only nineteen railway cars. That may be sufficient; I do not know whether a train going to Prince Edward Island would consist of more than nineteen cars, but I hope the time will come when trains going to and from that island will have twice that many cars. These ships crossing from St. Ignace to Mackinaw carry as many as twenty-four railway cars.

All I am going to say is that the island is entitled to the best this country can give it,

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and I know we have a sympathetic minister.

We have not always had ministers who were as sympathetic to the island, but the present minister is, and I hope he will look into the particular matters I have drawn to his attention. There is no reason why the capacity of a brand new ship should be so much smaller than the capacity of the smallest ship on the Mackinac strait route. This new ferry is to be 372 feet 6 inches over all, while the smallest ship crossing the strait of Mackinac is about 250 feet long, but has greater automobile and car capacity. Why is that? Does the strait of Northumberland require a ship so strongly built, or with a much greater capacity for passengers? I note that the passenger capacity is larger, and I am glad of that because this is a glorious island.

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LIB

Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. MICHAUD:

What is the draught of the Mackinac ships?

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NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

The smallest one is twelve feet aft, and the largest one is twenty feet aft. I have looked into the matter very

carefully because, like other hon. members, I have long felt that the island has not had what the fathers of confederation promised it. I realize that the minister is sympathetic, and as long as he is in power he will, I hope, see that they get more than they have been getting.

As I said a moment ago, the largest boat, ChieJ Wawatam, is 4,500 horse-power, and the horse-power of the new Canadian ship is 12,000. That is a very heavy horse-power, and the speed of sixteen and a half knots is good. That is a smart speed at which to cross the strait. May I congratulate whoever is responsible for that speed, because the old Prince Edward Island had a knotage of only 124. The islanders-they like to be called the islanders -are entitled to the fastest and most up-to-date transportation which can be secured between the island and the mainland.

I know if the minister examines the docks at Borden and Tormentine he will say, the same as I did, after careful examination, "These docks are not what this great country of Canada should provide for this magnificent and beautiful island, for its traffic to and from the mainland." If I were designing a dock-[DOT] and of course I am not a dock architect, although I have seen many docks in Europe and on the North American continent-I would certainly see to it that boats could go into and out of the dock much more rapidly than they can to-day. If conditions would permit ib-and I do not say they will permit it-I would have ships that would load at one end and drive straight off the other end if desirable.

I should like inquiries to be made about that. This might not be suitable at that point, but if it is we should certainly have it that way.

The minister, being sympathetic to the island and its rights, should not hesitate to pay the cost to have adequate and proper docks built at Tormentine and Borden, so as to increase speed in loading and unloading. He ought not to hesitate during his term of office to see to it that the islanders get what they have been asking for for such a long time, and that is fast traffic, fast loading and fast unloading. All this will help commerce. At the present time it is almost too much for the ordinary tourist to take a big car over there. I have been over several times with my car, and I have never crossed on boats crossing that strait without becoming furious before I got off at either end of the crossing. I do considerable travelling, and a lot of driving; I have driven several hundred thousand miles, and I become furious when I have to go along on an upper deck and drive my motorcar around a narrow passage.

While there is still time-and I believe there is time-we should see to it that this fine new ship, with its beautiful design, is built with regard for speed of loading and unloading at each side of the strait. This should be considered, even if it will cost more money, because it would give the islanders a fair deal. Let us not worry about a few extra dollars, because this is not an investment for only one year. It is for many years. The docks can be vastly improved for greater speed in loading and unloading. I suggest that the designer, or whoever is responsible, should visit many other places to see how quickly loading and unloading can be carried out. For instance, he could go to Toledo, to discuss the matter with the Toledo Shipbuilding company, which perhaps has had much experience in building such ships for such purposes.

I am glad that a Canadian company is building this ship, and that Canadian workmen are doing the work. There is no reason why we cannot build as good ships here as are built anywhere else, and there is no reason why our workmen cannot do as good work as other workmen are doing-and I know they can do it. Therefore I am very happy indeed that the ship has been built in Canada by Canadian workmen, and designed by a Canadian designer.

If it is at all possible the minister should look into this matter to have some alterations in design if practicable, so that the number of cars crossing that channel may be greater than called for in the design. Sixty is not enough. I am referring, of course, to motorcars. The

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number of freight cars to go aboard the ship when crossing the channel should be more than nineteen.. That is not enough, either.

A large amount of money is being spent- not too much, but certainly a large amount. But I would say that even more should be spent, if required, to give the island people a square deal.

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NAT

Percy Chapman Black

National Government

Mr. BLACK (Cumberland):

Mr. Chairman, before the minister answers I have a question to ask. It is represented to me that a ferry boat was put into service on lake Ontario, since the beginning of the war, and that it is a boat of dimensions perhaps larger than those of the new ferry serving Prince Edward Island. That boat is powered with coal-not Canadian coal, but coal brought in from the United States.

The ferry boat now under discussion is being designed to use oil which, in all probability, will also be imported, despite the fact that in the post-war years the coal mines of Nova Scotia will be more anxious than ever to secure a market for their product. Has the minister any information with respect to that new ferry boat? If not, will he make inquiries and advise the committee at a later sitting?

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August 12, 1944