April 28, 1947

PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BROOKS:

I am quite sincere. This is a serious matter to my own province and to show how serious it is, I have here a newspaper item in the Saint John Telegraph-Journal of Saturday of this week, the heading being "Timber controls threaten our lumber industry." In other words, the timber controls threaten the industry in the province of New Brunswick.

I am sorry the minister himself is not here tonight, because I should like him to tell me just why there is this discrimination, and it is rank and unfair discrimination, that we are getting in New Brunswick and' other maritime provinces today in respect of lumber. The minister is a very busy man and I -am not reflecting on his not being here, because he is here on all occasions when it is possible for him to attend, and if he is away tonight I am satisfied it is for a good reason. However I wish he were here tonight to answer that question why there is this discrimination.

The hon. member for Queens-Lunenburg pointed out just why the lumber industry and why the controls have a great effect on our maritime industry. He said we mostly export our lumber, and that is a fact. Some years ago, I believe it was under the empire trade agreements, we exported our lumber for the most part to Great Britain. We developed a splendid market there, and anyone who has been in the port of Halifax or Saint John or in any of the other ports in the maritime provinces and seen in the past ten -or twelve years ships loading for the British market will realize what a splendid industry it is. But what are these controls doing as far as our industry is concerned?

It was pointed out that we have a small quota, and today we see the hand, not of the British Columbia politician, but at least of the lumber industry of that province. The quota

for export lumber is controlled) mostly by British Columbia and we in the maritime provinces have a very small quota. We are allowed to ship lumber to the United States, but for every carload of lumber that is shipped across the border in to the United States we must sell two carloads in Canada. There is a price ceiling on our lumber, and I am told on good authority-other members from -the maritime provinces can correct me if I am wrong-that the price ceiling on lumber produced in the maritimes is $8 less than cost of production. When, therefore, a lumber exporter sends his one car of lumber to the United States or his quota to Great Britain he has to make enough on that exported lumber to pay his loss on lumber sold on the domestic market.

What is the effect of this? Well, the effect is this. We are asking high prices from countries to which we export and we are asking a high price in the British market. We are taking advantage today of the people in Great Britain in their great famine for lumber. We are taking advantage of them in making them pay for the loss we sustain in this country in selling lumber -below cost of production. There is no question about that, and we in New Brunswick and in the other maritime provinces feel that this will have a detrimental effect on future trade, this great business which has been worked up over a long period of years. What are the people of Great Britain going to say in years to come when they can get lumber in other parts of the world instead of from Canada and the maritime provinces? They will say, "In the time of our greatest need, when you should have sold us lumber cheaper than you did, you took advantage of our stress and sold it at prices much higher than you were selling in your own country". The result will be, I am sure, that when Russia gets back on her feet, when great exporting countries get back, when Finland is exporting to Great Britain and when Sweden is again shipping lumber, we shall lose that splendid market in Great Britain in consequence of what they regard as the unfair treatment which we gave them in the time of their greatest need.

You speak about black markets. I am satisfied that there is a black market in lumber in the maritime provinces. As I said, the price of lumber is $8 below the cost of production. The natural result of that is that the producer is going to hold the lumber and sell it at the highest price, if it is at all possible. It is being done, and it is being done in a widespread manner. You talk about a black market in nails. There is a black market in lumber, I think, not only in the maritime provinces but here in Ontario. The reason

Emergency Powers

is that we are selling lumber in this country-today at below cost of production. In discussing this lumber situation, and particularly our loss of foreign markets and foreign customers, the Telegraph-Journal had this to say on April 26:

This is unfair to our foreign customers.

It is doubly unfair to our producers. On one hand, they are strong-armed into selling in Canada at a loss-a thing which is almost incomprehensible and is certainly not in accord with sound business practice or sound government administration. On the other hand, they see their foreign markets being shattered by a shortsighted and ruthless policy.

They know how stiff competition is under ordinary conditions. Here in New Brunswick, for instance, they have seen lack of markets knock the bottom out of prices, throw thousands of workers out of jobs, and drive wages in the woods and mills down to a shocking and pitiful level.

That statement, Mr. Chairman, is correct; and I am sure it is a well-considered statement. I should also like to quote from the Telegraph-Journal of February 15, and that is some months ago. This was not only the feeling a few days ago when this regulation was changed, but for many months the people in the maritime provinces have felt that these controls and regulations were most unfair to our lumber industry, which is the most, important one we have in our province. On February 15 of this year, the Telegraph-Journal had this to say:

Our timber trade with Great Britain is traditional. More than that, it is essential to our prosperity. Our position, if we lost it. would be utterly hopeless. Yet today men who are ignorant of the timber trade are in the driver's seat and . . . are -whipping this vital industry toward destruction. This we can't afford to tolerate.

The same article goes on to refer to other commodities that we are selling to Great Britain. Take wheat, for instance. We are not selling wheat to Great Britain at a much higher price than we are selling it in. this country. We realized that the people of Great Britain needed wheat and needed it badly. The policy we adopted was this, that we sell wheat to Great Britain as cheaply as we possibly can in order to help those people who so much need our help. Why dlo we have one policy for lumber, as to which there is also a famine in Great Britain, and another policy for wheat?

There were many other things that I had intended to say, Mr. Chairman, but I see that it is nearly eleven o'clock and I shall take only a few more minutes of the committee's time. I thought possibly the hon. member for Lunenburg might have mentioned the situation with regard to birch woods in the maritime provinces. We have in the maritime 83166-161i

provinces almost a billion feet of birch wood lumber which today we are not able to cut and export. Why? Because our quota will not allow us to do that. What is happening to this -birch wood lumber? There is a disease known as dieback disease, which is gradually wiping out all these birch wood forests. In five years' time, we are told, all this splendid birch wood will be ruined and will not be fit to export unless a special quota is given to the maritime provinces and we are allowed to cut and export this birch wood. Because of controls and the quota, what is happening? We are not allowed to cut it. It is going to waste. Yet it is worth millions of dollars to us. It gives employment to thousands of our men. In spite of the fact that Mr. MacQuarrie, minister of lands and mines of Nova Scotia, has made special representations to this government, no extra quota has been given, and this great loss has been inflicted on the people of Nova Scotia and the people of New Brunswick.

Mr. Chairman, I will take no more of the time of the committee, but I hope that the minister will reconsider the treatment which he has given to the maritime provinces and will endeavour to correct what we consider to be very great wrongs.

Progress reported.

Topic:   EMERGENCY POWERS
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF CERTAIN ORDERS AND REGULATIONS
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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE:

Mr. Speaker, with the unanimous consent of the house, in order that the budget may be presented at eight o'clock tomorrow evening, I would move:

That the order of the house to resolve itself into committee of ways and means be proceeded with at eight o'clock on Tuesday, April 29, and that the provision of standing order 15 dealing with private and public bills be suspended in relation thereto.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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Motion agreed to. At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. Tuesday, April 29, 1947


April 28, 1947