October 24, 1949

LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

I am afraid I cannot give mj' hon. friend any definite assurance as to when it will be. It certainly will not be in the immediate future because until the picture of the effects of devaluation is clearer than it is at the moment, any policy announced now would be simply premature.

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PC
LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Legislation was announced in the speech from the throne and it is my intention to bring down legislation during the session.

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PC
LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Will my hon. friend allow me to make the statement? I am trying to reply to the hon. member for Halifax on the general position. After I have completed it, if my hon. friend wants to ask any questions, he may.

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PC

Percy Chapman Black

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Black (Cumberland):

I want to point out that it is urgent to a great many people that a policy be declared.

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Let me tell my hon. friend that no one realizes more than I how urgent it is. The statement which he has made to the effect that it is urgent certainly does not add anything to the debate, as I see it. I am fully conscious of the seriousness of the problem. I said so a moment ago and I repeat 45781-70J

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now that to move into this position too quickly when one does not know what the effects of devaluation are likely to be might be far more serious now than in two or three months. I am sorry to say that perhaps more ships will have to be laid up, but the condition is not one peculiar to this country. To a large extent it is world-wide, and I do not think the government should be pushed into making an immediate decision when the problem is one that requires more than ordinary consideration.

My hon. friend suggested one or two remedies, one being something like vote 488 of the estimates. I am glad to tell him that that is a matter that will receive consideration. I am unable to see whether it would be of assistance at the moment. The rates he has referred to are fixed by world markets and I am not in position to state whether a subsidy paid to the shipper would be an answer to the problem. I think there is an answer, but I doubt if it lies along that line.

The hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra asked what the Norwegian costs were. They are $506.68 per day, and apparently the Swedish costs are the same. There are 4,800 United States ships of 100 gross tons or over, making a total of 26,900,000 gross tons. I assume that of that 4,800 ships the 2,050 that I mentioned a moment ago have been laid up.

The hon. member also brought up the question of merchant seamen which was discussed the other evening by the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra and the hon. member for Vancouver East. Perhaps the best way to handle that briefly is to say that the officers of the Department of Transport and of the Department of Veterans Affairs are governed by the terms of order in council P.C. 5983. They are putting into effect the conditions laid down in that order in council which was passed following a recommendation by the veterans affairs committee that merchant seamen under the age of 30 years who were receiving certain benefits and certain bonuses should be entitled to vocational training other than what was available prior to the passing of the order in council. Up to that time the only vocational training they were receiving had to do with their own calling and they were then entitled to vocational training of any kind such as that given to veterans of the armed services. As I said a moment ago, those two conditions, the one of age and the time limit of June 30, were fixed by the order in council and the officers of the departments are simply putting that order into effect. In order to change that an order in council amending those regulations would be necessary, and of course that would have to

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be a matter of government policy. In all fairness to the house I think I should tell the hon. member for Halifax, and the other two hon. members who raised the question on Friday evening, that I shall be glad to bring then-representations to the attention of my colleague. I do not know what should be done. At the time that it was approved by the veterans affairs committee it was felt that the age of thirty was a fair one. Now there seems to be some injustice.

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LIB

Gordon Benjamin Isnor

Liberal

Mr. Isnor:

Would the minister be good enough to have his officials consult with the Department of Veterans Affairs?

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Yes. I should have included that in my undertaking because it was my intention that that should be done.

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LIB
LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

The hon. member for Vancouver East raised a question about one individual who had been prejudiced by the fact that he could not apply within the six months' period. He referred to a letter which I had written. I presume again I was bound by the terms of the order in council; but, as I have stated I shall be glad, in conjunction with my colleague, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, to look into the terms of the order in council.

I should like to deal quickly, but without disrespect when 1 say "quickly", with the representations made by the hon. member for Northumberland. He presented the case very fairly as to the operations of the car ferry between Cobourg in his constituency, and Rochester, New York. The difficulty with that service, as well as with some other services operated by the Canadian National Railways, is that it is not a paying proposition. Unfortunately there is more than one service of that kind, and more than one which will have to be regarded from the standpoint of the profit of the enterprise.

In this particular case it is a joint enterprise operated by the C.N.R. and the Baltimore and Ohio Railway, and in 1948 the operating results were such that the Canadian National Railways had to sell a substantial amount of its Canadian government bonds-I believe $80,000 worth-in order to pay the deficit. I realize that services of this character are of extreme importance to a community. The community has grown to rely upon them. Tourist traffic uses them, and it is a great pity that they should be cut off overnight, as it were, but I am afraid that I must put before the hon. member the position of the Canadian National Railways when it is face to face with keen highway competition.

The hon. member spoke about the terrible service on the other side and the hundred stairs he had to climb. Of course that is so, and I am glad he brought it up because the service is bad not only there but elsewhere, particularly in connection with the operation of ships. People do not travel by ship today as they did in days gone by; they travel by highway. They want to move quickly, and that is why the position is such as he pointed out. That is why it is difficult to operate at a profit. When operations have shown a loss over a period of years, surely the railway must give consideration to alternatives, and when the operation is a joint one then I suppose it must consult the other joint owner, which in this case is a United States corporation.

The hon. member made some most thoughtful and helpful suggestions. I thank him for having brought them to my attention and to the attention of the house. I can assure him that I will bring them to the attention of the officers of the Canadian National Railways. He has suggested that the whole matter be referred to the Board of Transport Commissioners for Canada. I am unable to tell him at this time whether or not I would be prepared to do that. First of all I would have to be convinced that the board has jurisdiction in a matter of this kind. I am not so sure that it has, but if he will allow me to give it consideration in that respect perhaps I can tell him at a later date whether or not that is possible. I am sure he will understand it is impossible for me to do so at this juncture.

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LIB

Frederick Greystock Robertson

Liberal

Mr. Robertson:

I should like to point out one matter. The minister spoke about the sale of bonds. I believe those bonds were acquired out of operational profits of the Ontario car ferry in past years. Therefore I do not think it is too serious if they had to sell them.

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PC

Gordon Francis Higgins

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Higgins:

Mr. Chairman, I must say that I listened with a great deal of interest tonight to the hon. member for Halifax discussing the subject of merchant shipping. I was pleased to learn from the minister that the matter has been under active consideration by the government. I think it would be a great pity if any of our ships were allowed to lie up in mothballs as they have been recently in Halifax and in other seaports of the country.

I want to direct the attention of the committee to another matter this evening, the growing necessity for the establishment in Canada of a Canadian coastguard. It appears to me as a new member that this is a matter which has been given little, if any, consideration by the government. From the information I have obtained since I entered the

house, and indeed since I came to Ottawa, it would appear that it has had very little if any attention. At page 987 of Hansard for 1948 there is an answer made by the Minister of Transport in reply to a question asked by the then member for Skeena, Mr. Archibald. The present minister stated at that time, speaking of a coastguard:

The matter is one which has been given consideration not only by the Department of Transport but also by the government as a whole, and while the establishment of a coastguard deserves a great deal of sympathetic consideration, on the other hand when one considers the tremendous cost which would follow the extensive establishment of coastguards on all the coasts of Canada he cannot help but come to the conclusion that the cost would be entirely out of proportion to the matter to which my hon. friend referred.

To me at least, Mr. Chairman, that answer appears to have very little to commend it. To consider the question of cost when the matter of saving lives is at stake is not a very good answer for the government of the great Dominion of Canada to make, and particularly, I say to the minister, when so much money is being spent for other services that are not nearly so vital as the establishment of a coastguard. The minister also said at that time:

I should bring to the hon. member's attention however, the fact that at the present time the existing facilities for such service are marine service steamers, fishery patrol vessels. Royal Canadian Mounted Police vessels and also the search and rescue squads of the R.C.A.F., which are devoted almost exclusively to air rescue, but which oftentimes have come to the assistance of marine casualties.

Again I say, Mr. Chairman, that this is no answer. In my humble opinion it is not sufficient to have a number of services such as those outlined by the minister. What is vitally needed is one service whose sole responsibility it will be.

The need of a coastguard, I feel certain, is apparent not only to hon. members whose constituencies border the sea but to hon. members whose constituencies are on the great lakes and in fact, I am sure, to all hon. members. I feel certain that those living inland, whose livelihood is not dependent in any way upon the sea or the great lakes, nevertheless have great interest in the safety of our seamen both on the lakes and on the greater waters of the Pacific and the Atlantic. The present system of spreading the marine services among half a dozen departments is stupid, inefficient, costly and illogical. A coastguard properly constituted could very well handle a number of the duties now distributed among different departments under different administrations. These duties would include policing and revenue protection, rescue services, hydrographic surveys and the maintenance of navigational aids.

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Several of these services now are being looked after by the marine section of the mounted police. I entirely agree that this is a great force, but it was not designed nor equipped for coastguard work. The marine section is primarily a police force and operates as such. The extraordinary arrangement of using policemen for sea duty, I have been told, has led to use of the expression, "Spurs on the quarterdeck". Do not think I am criticizing this great force in any way, Mr. Chairman. I am not. They have shown themselves to be first-class sailors. They have performed many missions which were really the work of a coastguard rather than police work. My criticism is directed not against the section but against the system. The sort of men in the marine section is shown by the fact that in the last great war 87 per cent of the personnel joined the armed services, most of them serving with the navy, where they played a great part in those frantic days when Canada's navy was expanding from practically nothing to the tremendous striking force it became by the end of the war. These men helped in setting up port defences, examination stations, seagoing patrols and many other routines which had to be established quickly. They were of the greatest value in training new recruits, since they possessed the type of knowledge most necessary, including engineering, administration and seamanship. Sixty-six Canadian warships were commanded by men of the section, while 28 warships had men from the section in charge of their engine rooms. It is a record of which they may well be proud; and it proves that Canada can find competent seamen for a properly constituted coastguard service, men who can do a more useful job for our country than is possible at the present time, with the marine services divided among so many different departments.

Hon. members are aware of the great services performed by the United States coastguard. They must be aware also of how often Canada is compelled to call upon that coastguard service, because we have none of our own. It should be humiliating to all hon. members and indeed to all Canadians that in this day and age, when Canada is setting herself up as a world power, we must rely upon the assistance of our great neighbour to the south, no matter how willingly that assistance may be given.

This is no new question I am bringing up. In my discussion and reading since coming to Ottawa I find that it has been urged on innumerable occasions. The Bovey commission reported some considerable time ago, in

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view of the representations made and evidence submitted-

__that an Independent committee be set up by the

government to study the proposal for a Canadian coastguard, and if formation of a Canadian coastguard is recommended, to outline its functions and organization.

However, this recommendation came to nothing; and, as was commented by the Halifax Chronicle-Herald of July 12, 1946, "Trying to sell OttaWa a coastguard idea is like ploughing the sand". The provincial government of British Columbia has gone on record in favour of a coastguard service, as has the British Columbia command of the Canadian Legion. The Annapolis Royal board of trade and the Annapolis valley boards of trade have also endorsed the proposal. The Nova Scotia command of the Canadian Legion submitted that the establishment of a coastguard would be in line with the rehabilitation policy of the dominion government-[DOT]

-in that it would provide employment for ex-naval personnel, many of whom would be particularly well qualified for work of this nature.

On January 15, 1949, the Vancouver merchants' exchange submitted a brief on behalf of the Vancouver Merchants' Exchange Limited, the fishing vessel owners' association, the Canadian merchant service guild, the ship owners' association (deep sea) of British Columbia, the British Columbia tow boat owners' association, the Vancouver board of trade, the salmon canners' operating committee, Lloyd's agency, the Board of Marine Underwriters of San Francisco Incor-ported, the Vancouver chamber of shipping, the coastwise operators' association of British Columbia, and the naval officers' association of British Columbia. This brief set out the geographical nature of the coast of British Columbia and the urgent necessity for the setting up of a coastguard. It is much too long to quote today, but I can assure hon. members that it was a very well reasoned argument. Apparently, however, it proved of no avail.

Then in March of the present year the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada added its voice to all the others in requesting the establishment of a Canadian coastguard service for both coasts and the great lakes. According to the Vancouver Sun of August 17, 1949, the fishermen's union of Vancouver made a demand upon the government for a coastguard service; and in another item appearing in the same newspaper in April, 1949, it is stated that representatives of thirteen coastal organizations met with Mr. J. C. Lessard, deputy minister of transport, and Mr. Jack V. Clyne, chairman of the

maritime commission, to discuss the possibility of a coastguard for British Columbia.

Another strong and informed voice has joined the rising demand for a Canadian coastguard service. The dominion council of the naval officers' association of Canada, representing thousands of former naval officers from coast to coast, has unanimously endorsed such an undertaking. The action of the dominion council was taken last summer, during the annual meeting in Halifax. The council unanimously approved a resolution presented by the Halifax branch-

-urgently and strongly recommending the immediate formation of a Canadian coastguard service.

The resolution's preamble points out that the expansion of our naval and merchant service activities during world war II gave this nation a new sense of sea power and its attendant responsibilities, and that our responsibilities have increased with the addition of another seafaring province, Newfoundland. It holds that:

The present distribution of marine responsibilities among several government departments would seem to be less efficient than a unified co-ordinated service.

And that:

It is not in accord with national dignity to be repeatedly obligated to the United States coastguard.

The preamble also notes that a Canadian coastguard service would:

Provide a corps of trained and disciplined men under service regulations which would supplement the Royal Canadian Navy in the event of war.

A series of suggestions accompanied the resolution. They include the idea that a Canadian coastguard would carry out the duties of the following departments or agencies: R.C.M.P. marine division, which is held to be the logical nucleus around which to build a coastguard; fisheries patrol; Department of Transport marine and meteorological service, excluding certain port duties such as steamship inspection and examination of masters and mates; lifesaving and sea rescue duties; hydrographic survey duties.

The resolution stated:

It is considered desirable to absorb personnel of departments taken over, but It is strongly suggested that the qualifications for further enlistment of officers and men in the proposed coastguard service be fully as exacting as those of the Royal Canadian Navy.

And finally, the resolution stated:

In view of the record and experience of the United States coastguard service, we consider that it might well be used as a working model.

Here then, Mr. Chairman, is a considered opinion approved unanimously by a council representing thousands of former officers with

wartime sea-going experience. Their number includes, too, many men who are at present actively associated with marine affairs in civil life. This resolution is one embodying much that has been discussed by branches of the association on both coasts. It is an opinion which should carry weight. I am quoting the demands of these organizations so that hon. members may understand that this is no isolated appeal but indeed one that comes from all sections of Canada, and should be heeded.

Coming to my own province of Newfoundland, I can speak from knowledge. I have no hesitation in saying that the establishment of a coastguard service in Newfoundland would be a godsend. The island of Newfoundland, not taking Labrador into consideration, has six thousand miles of coast line. As hon. members are probably aware, in a great measure we must depend on the sea for our highroad. If that highroad of ours has to be traversed, as it must, by small boats and in all kinds of weather-and the weather in Newfoundland varies as it does up here, of course-one can readily imagine the great value of a service such as the one I have suggested this evening, and what a great boon it would be to the residents of Newfoundland to know that they had a coastguard service of their own.

At the present time we are fortunate in having, as we have had for some time past, the assistance of the United States coastguard. They have given us wonderful help. There is no question about it, we owe a great deal to them and to their ships and planes. I understand that quite recently a branch of the search and rescue division has been set up in Newfoundland by the federal government. It consists of five officers, three noncommissioned officers and nine airmen. They are to have one Canso aircraft and one Norseman aircraft. In the newspaper article from Newfoundland that I read it is stated the force will co-operate closely with the United States Air Force rescue force and the United States coastguard. We are not

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ungrateful to our good neighbours to the south, the United States; but as a citizen of a province of this great dominion I feel that we should not have to depend on the services supplied by our neighbours for this work, no matter how willingly those services are provided.

In addition to assistance which we have received from the United States coastguard on numerous occasions when our ships get into difficulties, it means that one of our regular coastal boats must be taken off service or at times a ship belonging to a private firm has to be hired by the provincial government to render aid. As happened only within the last two weeks, a ship going about her lawful occasions and owned by a private firm had to be chartered by the provincial government to go to the assistance of two schooners which were in difficulties on our northern coast.

With Newfoundland the fishing country that it basically is, with a natural ancillary to that fishing industry being the operation of small boats, with the stormy weather-

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?

Some hon. Members:

Eleven o'clock.

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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

Before I call it eleven o'clock, may I ask if the committee would be prepared to pass item 453?

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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

No. The hon. member for St. John's East is not through.

Item stands.

Progress reported.

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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

LIB

Alphonse Fournier (Minister of Public Works; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Fournier (Hull):

Tomorrow we shall resume debate on the budget.

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At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order. [The following item was passed in committee of supply]:


DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

October 24, 1949