August 12, 1946

LIB

William Ross Macdonald (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

Order. Is that in the Canada Shipping Act?

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CCF

Harry Grenfell Archibald

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

Mr. ARCHIBALD:

I will let it go at that. The navigation laws of the United States, in contrast to the Canada Shipping Act, carry a definite eight-hour day to be worked on ships.

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LIB

William Ross Macdonald (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

I am under the

impression that, in reply to the non. member for Vancouver East, the minister stated that this question could be discussed under another item, the director of merchant seamen.

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

That is what I said in reply to the hon. gentlemen; but on the question of wages and hours, that is a matter which certainly does not concern this department but the Department of Labour, and seamen went on strike for this reason. We have in the Department of Transport an eight-hour day on our ships and that should be an answer to my hon. friend. So far as transport is concerned, we have instituted an eight-hour day, and therefore I do not know what my hon. friend is referring to.

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CCF

Harry Grenfell Archibald

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

Mr. ARCHIBALD:

A comparable act in the United States carries the definite provision in it that men shall work an eight-hour day, and there is no commitment with regard to hours of work in the Canada Shipping Act. Before I proceed, I would ask whether this comes under the Department of Transport.

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

I submit with deference that it does not.

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CCF

Harry Grenfell Archibald

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

Mr. ARCHIBALD:

Well, we will let that point go.

I now come to manning scale, number of men on boats who carry lifeboat tickets, and so on. Is that under the jurisdiction of this department? I should like to deal with the question of manning scale, that is, the number of men required on a boat, depending upon size and the type of trade dealt in. There is no manning scale called for in the Canada Shipping Act, nor is there any regulation as to the number of qualified seamen who should be carried, nor how the seaman is qualified. In this connection, the navigation laws of the United States again are far more clear, as will be seen by reference to pages 197 and 198 of that act, headed, "requirements, qualifications and regulations as to crews", and directions as to what is required are given. There is also a section, section 13, on the same pages, headed, "certificates of service of seamen". They even make it more clear because there is a section dealing with undermanning, page 192, section 4516 of the navigation laws of the United States. On the British Columbia coast some of the crew might have lifeboat tickets.

Men can. be in the stokehold or in the steward's department and not necessarily on deck. Without manning laws, the companies can always beat down the demands of the seamen by hiring green crews without any qualifications whatever, and thus keep the seamen forever in an underpaid and overworked condition.

It is needless to point out the danger to life and limb of passengers on the coastal vessels. Granted that the skippers and mates are wonderful seamen-and their accident rate proves this-there are times, nevertheless, when in spite of these men and modem mechanical devices, qualified men are necessary when these other factors fail. Some day there will be serious loss of life on the coast and it could be that government regulations or lack of them may be the cause.

We were discussing to-day and the other evening the situation at Ripple Rock. There will be loss of life there, and yet these same boats, traversing those waters at all times, have no manning scale. There is no certificate of seamen, as it were. I have worked on these boats, and I know that when it comes to manning lifeboats it is more like battle stations than anything else because everybody gets in everybody else's way and some get hurt in the process, even in the experimental stages. The seamen would like to know the government's position in regard to the hiring of men of other nationalities on boats which are really Canadian, but which register in other countries so as to evade Canadian laws, and hire crews where cheap labour is available, even when Canadian seamen are on the beach.

The Canadian Pacific Railway Company in the past have been notable for trickery in this respect. One skipper on a Canadian Pacific boat on one occasion stated that Chinese were superior to white men. This problem will arise in the immediate future. Will the government, then, take the attitude of allowing the situation to be repeated, especially in face of the fact that Canadian merchant seamen sacrificed so much during the war?

Another point that I would bring up if it is under the jurisdiction of the department is the continuous discharge book when seamen are signing articles on any ship. These discharge books contain the record of the seamen's employment and ability, and the book must be produced for the shipmaster's inspection before the seaman can obtain employment.

May I say to the minister that a boat is a very small place, so that hatreds and bitter feelings can flare up, under-conditions of confinement in that narrow compass, which would

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not necessarily occur on land. One small mistake on the part of the seaman, written into his continuous discharge book by the skipper, can follow him the rest of his days and prevent him from obtaining employment and interfere with his way of life. The seamen would like to have that continuous discharge book done away with, and a single unattached certificate of discharge be recognized as sufficient for purposes of employment.

Lastly, if the manning pools come under the jurisdiction of the minister, I should like to say a few words, though at the moment I do not know whether the manning pools are still in operation, but the seamen on the coast claim that through their unions they would like in the future to have the authority to put their own men on the boats. If this were started, no matter what crisis occurred in the future this machinery would be in operation and would work efficiently in the interests of the state.

To sum up, I would say, though many members will not agree with the various points I have brought up, that the seamen are of the opinion that the Canada Shipping Act is antiquated in relationship to the living standards of other Canadian workers and is now definitely a detriment to the welfare of the Canadian seamen.

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LIB

Hugues Lapointe (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

I intended speaking for a minute or two after the hon. member for Gaspe had finished. I was pleased to see that he was talking about the building of a railroad in his riding. I wish to take a few minutes of the time of the committee first to support his demand; second, to give him a friendly word of warning and, third, to draw the attention of the committee to a practically similar situation which exists in my own riding and of which I believe the Department of Transport is aware. I say that I give him my support because I am fairly well acquainted with the situation which exists in that section to which my hon. friend referred. I am fairly well acquainted with it because I lived near there at one time, and I have travelled there considerably. I believe that if hon. members were acquainted with the situation there, they would admit that the transportation and communication facilities are not in keeping with modern times.

However, I wish to give him a friendly word of warning. He should not insist too much for the Canadian National Railways to take over the already existing part of the railroad in that section, otherwise the people may find themselves in the same situation as they did in a part of my riding. That is, after the Canadian National Railways have taken it

over and have operated it for a short time they may come to the conclusion that it is not a financially sound proposition, and then they may ask the board of railway commisioners to stop the operation of the railroad and, a little later, to take away the rails.

This brings me to my particular problem of which, as I said before, the Minister of Transport is aware. He has sympathetically listened to my representations and to the representations of the people from that section. To make the matter a little clearer, I should explain that in the riding of Lotbiniere there are forty-six rural municipalities. Out of the forty-six there are fourteen which have railroad facilities. The other thirty-two have no railroads whatsoever. I am not talking about a part of the country which has been recently developed, but of a part which is the oldest and which contains the oldest municipalities in Quebec. I am talking about a part of the country where some of the municipalities are not over thirty and thirty-five miles away from the city of Quebec, which is the main centre of that particular region, and yet to-day these people have to travel from three to five to ten to fifteen and to eighteen miles to take a train to get into Quebec.

Quite a few years ago there used to be a railroad which had been built in 1896 with government subsidies for the purpose of bringing a line to the shores of the St. Lawrence, and which would permit the localities of that region along the shore to get some transport facilities. In 1931 the Canadian National Railways arbitrarily decided, as I said before, that it was not a good financial proposition and they discontinued operating the railroad. At that time the Railroad Act did not oblige the railway company to go before the commissioners and ask for permission to discontinue the operation of a railroad. The companies could do so by themselves. Therefore the Canadian National Railways proceeded to discontinue the operation of the railway. Representations were then made by the people of that particular locality, which is St. Jean Deschaillons, and by all the surrounding localities within the radius which was served by that station. Nothing happened as could be expected at that particular time.

In 1936, after the Railroad Act had been changed, the people went before the railway commissioners and asked that the railroad be reestablished. The railway commission decided that, since there was no legislation in 1931 to permit them to decide whether the Canadian National Railways was right in taking away that railroad, they had no jurisdiction. In 1941 the company decided that they were going to take away the rails. Again representations

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were made; again we went before the railway commissioners. At this time they decided that, since they had given a decision in 1936 in the way in which I have just indicated, they had no more jurisdiction. There is no question of discussing the value of the judgment of the railway commissioners. I have no doubt that it was legally sound and according to the law of the land, but I say that in the middle of the winter as we have it here, with weather twenty below zero, it is difficult to be satisfied to go fifteen miles in a sleigh or in a snowmobile and to tell ourselves, well, maybe we are doing this in a sleigh or a snowmobile, but we have a sound judgment from the railway commissioners.

I know the minister understands the situation. The people of that locality' and I have made representations to him, and he has done everything within his power with the Canadian National Railways to try to solve this problem. I can only ask if he will again give as much consideration as he has given before and try to impress the authorities of that railway with the plight of the people living in that region.

I know the main obstacle brought up by the company was the building of a bridge which would involve the expenditure of a considerable amount of money. This bridge had been burnt shortly after the operation of the rail-Toad was discontinued. But I believe there is a solution to that problem whereby the railroad can be reestablished without the building of the bridge, and which would be satisfactory to the people concerned. I believe that the authorities of the Canadian National Railways are aware of the solution and that representations have been made to them in that regard. I feel quite sure that the minister will again be as kind and sympathetic to the representations which I have made on behalf of these people as he was previously. I want him to understand that I am not doing this from any personal consideration. It is not a problem which has been created by myself or during my time. I inherited the situation and more *o less had to adopt the baby after I found it on my doorstep. I am convinced that the representations of these people are justified, and I again ask him to make representations to the authorities of the railway. When he does that, which I am sure he will do, I wonder whether he would also impress them with the fact that the remaining end of the railway ha3 not been maintained for some time. According to the information I have received, the yearly maintenance on that part which still remains has not been done this year. We do not want the railway authorities to again .have the opportunity of going before the board of transport commissioners, saying that the railway is in such a condition, as a result of nonmaintenance, that the expenditure involved to repair it would be so great that they are sorry but they have to ask that the remainder of the line be abandoned also. If this should happen, the board will, I am sure, understand that this is a public utility which serves the whole community, and will decide accordingly.

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

If I may have just a brief word to reply to the representations of the hon. member for Gaspe as well as those of the hon. member for Lotbiniere-

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LIB

James Ralph Kirk

Liberal

Mr. KIRK:

At the same time would the minister deal with the famous Guysborough railway, which I have discussed with him on several occasions? Perhaps the same explanation will cover it.

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

The hon. member for Gaspe made a strong plea for the acquisition by the Canadian National Railways of the Canada and Gulf Terminal railway. I must tell him, as I told the committee of the whole during the discussion of the proposed branch line from Barraute to Kiask Falls, that the policy of the Canadian National Railways as a rule is directed toward three points when it considers the building of a branch line or the acquisition of a railway. The first of these is the natural resources existing in the country where the line is to be purchased or built; the next is the cost of the construction or purchase, and the last is the possible traffic to be derived therefrom. These are three important matters which must be kept in mind at all times. If the railways of this country, particularly the Canadian National Railways, with which I deal now, are to operate profitably- and I am sure that is one of the things the house wants them to do-then they must look at those factors first of all. In 1943 the Canadian National Railways set up a committee to deal with the subject matter discussed by my hon. friend, and I have a list of their conclusions. I do not want to burden the committee by reading all of them, but I think hon. members should note at least one. Here is what the survey says:

There appears to be little prospect of any future development in che country-

I refer now to the country being served by the Canada and Gulf Terminal railway.

-which would improve the earning capacity of the road. From experience which the Canadian National has had with other lines that have depended solely on the movement of forest products, the earning capacity will gradually disappear, and abandonment of the line will have to take place.

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Then conclusion No. 6 is very much in point. It says:

Having regard to' the cost of operation by the Canadian National and rate reductions which would follow acquisition, the earnings valuation to the C.N.R. turns out to be less than nothing, based on the average of the ten-year period from 1933 to 1943 inclusive. In fact, if the line were given to the Canadian National, the system would be worsened by $33,000 per year.

I hope I have not hurt the feelings of the hon. gentleman by quoting this, but he may get some satisfaction when he realizes that this report was made in 1943, and he has made such a good case that I can assure him I shall ask the Canadian National Railways to review the position since the making of this report.

Dealing next with the representations made by the hon. member for Lotbiniere in connection with the St.-Jean Deschaillons railway, the position there is somewhat more difficult than that raised by the hon. member for Gaspe. It is more difficult because the circumstances surrounding the abandonment of that line were brought before the board of transport commissioners. According to the Railway Act, when a railway wishes to abandon a line it must get the approval of the board of transport commissioners. As my hon. friend said, the Canadian National did not do that at the time for the simple reason that this section in the act was not mandatory, so that of its own volition the Canadian National decided to abandon the line. At a later date, however, the matter was brought before the board of transport commissioners, who heard large numbers of witnesses from the area represented by my hon. friend; and having regard to all the circumstances they came to the conclusion that a portion of the line should be abandoned.

I say to my hon. friend that he and his constituents are not alone in that predicament. In my own constituency of Stormont the board of transport commissioners granted an application of a railway company for reduction in train service in an area which, with all respect to my hon. friend, was far more populated than the area in which he lives. As a matter of fact it is at the door of the capital city of Ottawa, and the train in question was the New York Central train which operates between the city of Ottawa and the city of Cornwall. I believe it was in 1938 or 1939 that, having regard to the fact that farmers and townsfolk were finding it more convenient to use their motor cars instead of using the train, the board of transport commissioners, having in mind also the financial position of the New York Central in regard to that service, decided in favour of the abandonment of two of those trains. If the

board also decided in favour of the abandonment of a portion of the St.-Jean Deschaillons line, I presume that decision was based on somewhat the same grounds. I can assure my hon. friend, however, that I shall ask the Canadian National Railways again to explore the position.

The hon. member for Antigonish-Guys-borough raised a question in reference to the Guysborough railway. That is a matter, I think, which affects the Canso project, in that a relocation of the lines would have to be considered if a causeway or bridge were decided upon. I am not sufficiently conversant with the position at the moment to speak from memory, though my recollection is that the Canadian National Railways have in view some changes in that locality, dependent upon the Canso project. I would not want to go any farther at the moment without having before me the particular details, but I can assure my hon. friend that the representations he has made will be carefully considered.

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PC

Thomas Ashmore Kidd

Progressive Conservative

Mr. KIDD:

I want to congratulate the hon. member for Gaspe and the hon. member for Lotbiniere on their presentations to the minister, and I hope he will be just as favourable in dealing with my case. I want to say a word about a new station at Kingston. I think the minister is fully aware of the conditions which prevail there. I wish to say to him and to his executive officers that not much progress has been made in the Kingston area since last fall, and I want to ask whether anything further has been done. Has the executive made any appropriation for that new station? Having in mind the locality *from which the minister comes, I know he is familiar with the situation in my city. These fast trains are still going through from Montreal to Toronto and on to Chicago, three and four times a day, in one or sometimes two sections. I am sure they pay for themselves; I believe the company gets good dividends from the Kingston area, but conditions there are not as they should be.

As strongly as I can I want to remind the minister that before the war we were promised a new station, after making three concessions to the railway board at that time. I need not repeat what those concessions were; they are on file and I am sure the minister is familiar with them. A person getting off a train at that station at any time from November to April, in the snow and rain, has an uncomfortable time of it, particularly if he gets off at the far end of the train. There is no shelter there, and particularly when trains are late the people have to wait under conditions which are not pleasant. This is particularly true when the trains are travelling in more than

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one section, and when people are meeting friends. It is not known what section the friends will alight from. One may go to meet one section and be told to wait for the next one, or the first section might be filled up and there would not be sufficient room.

I hope the minister will be considerate and deal as favourably with Kingston as he has with other areas.

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

Notwithstanding that the hon. member sits on the opposite side of the house, I can say that I agree with everything he has said about the situation at Kingston, because I know it very well. It is just alongside my own city. I visited it since the hon. member spoke about it last year, and I know that the conditions are just as he describes them. In fact I told many of my own constituents who have asked when we are going to get a new station in Cornwall, that the position is such that I was afraid their request would have to wait until the condition at Kingston was rectified.

With reference to the building of stations generally, I do not think the Canadian National Railways will construot any stations in the immediate future, because of the shortage of materials and because of the housing situation. I believe that was made fairly clear by the president of the railways when he gave evidence before the railways and shipping committee. At that time he did say something about the situation at Kingston.

I am sure the Canadian National Railways have had it in mind, but in view of the present condition I do not think it is possible for the immediate future.

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IND

Antoine-Philéas Côté

Independent Liberal

Mr. COTE (Matapedia-Matane):

I do not wish to add to what has been said by my colleague the hon. member for Gaspe, who referred to the conditions on the Gaspe peninsula, and the railway there. My good friend the Minister of Transport pointed out three questions, and said that the Department of Transport and the Canadian National Railways would be interested in any undertaking of the sort suggested, if natural resources were involved.

In respect of this first, question, I would refer the minister to the proceedings of the special committee on reconstruction and reestablishment which sat in 1944. I would refer hon. members to No. 11 in those proceedings, and particularly to page 391. This refers to the Gaspe peninsula, that part of the country we all cherish, the part which was first discovered, and which is the last to be served and helped. We will try to have it rediscovered.

In paragraph 5 on this page I find the following:

5. Mines-petroleum. Minerals are to be

found, throughout the whole peninsula.

That is for the benefit of not only Gaspe, Matane, Matapedia and Bonaventure, but for the whole of the Dominion of Canada. Among those minerals is gold, something that is useful at times. The paragraph states:

They include gold, silver, lead, zinc and chrome iron. " Powerful companies such as ISoranda Alines Federal Zinc and Lead, National omelt-ing of London, Eng., British Metal, Mining Corporation, own mineralized areas and await means of access and outlet, in a word, proper transportation facilities . . . Gaspe is composed of sedimentary, very plicated strata -

What that means, I do not know.

-that are very indicative of the presence of petroleum. The American association ot geologists published in 1940, following a serious investigation, a book on the petroliferous resources of the various regions of America. The work is captioned "possible future oil provinces of the United States and Canada. Gaspe occupies a very good standing in the list of P9tentia.li-ties. Generally speaking, geologists believe that Gaspe, by reason of its twenty thousand feet or more of sedimentary rocks, is one of the best regions in Canada, and perhaps in America, from the standpoint of oil-bear,ng possibilities. Powerful companies, such as Imperial Oil, nave acquired rights to more or less extensive territories They have awaited the results of borings carried out by one of the companies Continental Petroleums Limited. The results of these borings may now be considered ve y favourable. But the companies are awaiting proper transportation facilities before launch inor nnprations.

The minister has referred to the cost of construction. I shall not answer him on that point, but I will say, as did the hon. member for Gaspe, that if this railroad were continued to Ste Anne des Monts on the same basis as the Canada Gulf and Terminal railway was continued from Mont Job, it would not be satisfactory. One has only to look a,t the record of this railway to see that it is the greatest scandal in the whole transportation

system of the country.

I must say, however, that I can see no reason why the Canadian National Railways could not build this line from Matane to Ste. Anne des Monts, and from Ste. Anne des Monts to run up the Gaspe peninsula, thereby creating an opening for that railway system in the Matapedia valley.

When this stretch of railway was built, a stretch running thirty-six miles, it was built at a cost of 8800,000. It was given a grant of certain timber and bush limits which were sold to the Hammermill company at $1,100,000.

I am answering the minister's third point when I say that the company lately reduced its rates for carload traffic to the level of the

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Canadian National Railways. I thought it was a good decision, because it was an indication of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. The figures appearing in their books set out the costs, which were amply revealed by the Hammermill corporation. According to one of the greatest experts in this country and this is the third point which I wish the minister would take into consideration seriously-the railway made $218,000 in profits. Their investments, presumably in government bonds, increased from $70,000 to $135,000, or an increase of $65,000. Their cash position rose from $12,700 to $25,500, or an increase of about $12,000. Their accrued depreciation increased from $375,000 to $426,000, or another increase of about $50,000. Their profit and loss, debit, decreased from $1,339,000 to $1,305,000. On top of that, the company was able to pay in 1943 and 1944-an interest of $57,000 on bonds outstanding.

The reconstruction committee has found that part of the country to be of national importance, but it cannot be developed with the present condition of transportation facilities. It is an imperative duty of the government to see that this wealth is brought out of the Gaspe peninsula. I do not care whether that is done by the Canadian National Railways or by a private corporation as long as it is supervised by the government and is done in the immediate future. With present conditions of transportation, there is no possibility whatsoever of getting out the wealth that is in the Gaspe peninsula. I am not a cost expert on transportation, and such things are up to the government and their officials, but one thing must be done. No government can last any time if it does not deal with the population living in that district. Millions of dollars have been spent on Churchill and the railroad is to be built up in northern Ontario and Quebec. I am all for that, but I want to know why it is that from 1534 to 1946 nothing has been done to help bring the wealth of the Gaspe to British Columbia.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. CRUICKSHANK:

I want to say a word about our merchant marine, but I shall defer doing so until to-morrow. In so far as railroads are concerned, British Columbia is going to ask that it receive the same consideration as any other province. We intend to have our share of anything that is done in connection with the railroads of Canada.

(Translation):

I wish to say a few words about the railways.

If the C.N.R. is to take over the Gaspe line, why would it not assume the operation of the Peace river line?

(Text):

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

That makes my task very much easier.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FULTON:

Under this general item, I wish to say something about highway transportation and federal assistance to the Trans-Canada highway. My precedent for bringing up this matter under the estimates of the Department of Transport is the fact that in 1912 and again in 1913 a bill was sponsored by the then Minister of Railways and Canals to provide for federal assistance to the provinces for a programme of road construction. I realize that there is no other precedent, but that precedent was accepted at that time on all sides of the house. Inasmuch as roads are definitely one means of transport in the country, I think this would be an appropriate time to discuss this matter.

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

The Department of Transport has nothing to do with the Trans-Canada highway. I am informed by my officials that in 1917 grants were made to the provinces to assist in its construction.

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PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. FULTON:

It was recommended in 1912 or 1913. I am simply suggesting that this would be an appropriate time to make a short statement.

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

I could not enlighten my hon. friend at all because it is not a matter that comes under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transport, nor could I reply to his statement.

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August 12, 1946