June 2, 1950

SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

Mr. Chairman, first on behalf of the members of the Social Credit group I should like to commend the leader of the opposition on his excellent speech this morning in opening the discussion on the matter of freight rates. I was wondering whether I could recall any time since I came here in 1936 when any representative of an Ontario or Quebec constituency rose and had anything to say about the shameful, inadequate, inequitable freight rates which prevail from coast to coast in Canada. I am sorry to say I had not been able to recall any occasion until the leader of the opposition did it today. Therefore I look upon that speech as a fine augury of good things to conie.

Since coming to the house I myself have never failed in any one year to give at least one talk on the injustice which prevails in the Dominion of Canada in the matter of freight rates. For the Social Credit group I should like to say to the leader of the opposition that we propose to support his motion to reduce the appropriation for the board of transport commissioners.

I do not wish to say anything unkind about the board of transport commissioners, but I am very much afraid that they have very little excuse, very little explanation for the things that have been allowed to continue in this country over these many years.

On May 16, 1950 I made a speech dealing with the freight rate question, as reported at page 2537 of Hansard. Because it was sub judice I deemed it inadvisable to go very far into the subject, but I will continue that speech today.

My argument regarding freight rates is to be based on the freight rates as they obtained in Canada in the year 1938. Hon. members will then know that the abuses which I point out have been before the Board of Transport Commissioners for Canada long enough for any conscientious, open-minded group of people, desirous of seeing anything like justice in Canada, to have done something about this matter long ago.

There are five main general facts concerning the incidence of freight rates in Alberta with which I propose to deal. While these evils are observable in the other western provinces, they are not present to nearly as great an extent as they are in Alberta. We are at the apex of the costs going out, and we are at the apex of the costs coming in. They get us going and coming, and they all seem to think they have a perfect right to do anything they want to about Alberta. That is an astonishing thing, considering the fact that our province has never done anything that would justify anyone in supposing, so far as I know, that we do not propose to be an integral part of the Dominion of Canada, sharing the responsibilities of other Canadians and hoping to enjoy the privileges that are accorded to other Canadians.

In the first place, the ordinary consumers in Alberta are penalized for living in that province, so serious are the disadvantages of the freight rate structure as Alberta endures it.

Our primary producers in Alberta are inequitably handicapped by freight rates as compared with primary producers in other provinces of Canada. The freight rate structure in Alberta impedes ordinary economic development within the province more than it does that of any other province of Canada. Interprovincial trade between Alberta and British Columbia is hampered by inequitable freight rates, as is not the case in respect of interprovincial trade between any other two provinces of Canada, name whichever ones you desire to name. In effect a tariff wall has been erected around Alberta by freight rates, the object apparently being-designedly so, I fear-to keep Alberta products out of the markets of other provinces, and at the same time to open Alberta markets to the products of other provinces.

May I examine for a few minutes the statements which I have made in the light of facts that can be adduced?

First, as to the ordinary consumers of Alberta being penalized for living in Alberta, here are some figures which will startle anybody who gives them very much consideration. Flannelette blankets can be shipped from eastern Canada to Vancouver for $1.75 a

hundred. But if you take them off at Edmonton they will cost you $4,534 a hundred. Kalsomine can be shipped from eastern Canada to Vancouver for $1 a hundred; but take it off in Edmonton and you will pay I1.33J a hundred. Lard and cooking oil cost $1 from eastern Canada to Vancouver, but $1.98 to Edmonton; paints and varnishes, $1.25 to Vancouver and $1.98 to Edmonton; shoes, $2 to Vancouver and $3.03 to Edmonton; soap, $1 to Vancouver and $1.98 to Edmonton; wrought iron pipe, $0.70 to Vancouver, $1.98 to Edmonton.

If you were talking to the board of transport commissioners, or to either of the railway companies in Canada, Mr. Chairman, of course they would explain the discrepancy in these freight rates by this reason, that reason and the other reason, and four or five others; but the important fact is that it costs Alberta people the extra amount of money which I have indicated on most commodities because they live in Alberta. Attribute the discrepancy to discrimination, to any cause you desire; the simple fact is that there is injury done to the economy of Alberta, which is an injury to the Dominion of Canada as a whole. And any group of men, board of transport commissioners or managers of the Canadian Pacific Railway or the Canadian National Railways, who cannot see that, need to have something done to their mechanism upstairs. I think there is no doubt about this general statement.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
?

An hon. Member:

Carried.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

Yes, I know; you will

want it carried even more before we get much further. A lot of this should have been dealt with long ago. It has got worse all the time, until it is generally putrid now.

This statement, "The reduction for class rates is on a higher percentage in eastern Canada than in Alberta, or on movements from eastern Canada to Alberta", I take from a [DOT] document which I propose to refer to occasionally in the course of my remarks. This document was prepared by the Edmonton chamber of commerce as a submission to the royal commission on dominion-provincial relations in 1938, and dated February 10, 1938. The Edmonton chamber of commerce assert that they had at their disposal some of the most competent experts available in the matter of freight rates, and therefore they are completely confident that everything they say is not only accurate, but moderate and representative. I quoted from page 28 of the submission.

May I turn to the second statement which I make, that our primary producers are inequitably handicapped by freight rates in

Supply-Transport

Alberta. Barbed wire, of which we use so much in Alberta, can be shipped from Montreal to Vancouver for 75 cents per 100 pounds, but to Edmonton it costs $1.98; wire fencing, $1.25 to Vancouver and $1.98 to Edmonton-all these figures are from Montreal; building paper and roofing, $1.25 to Vancouver and $1.98 to Edmonton; iron and steel bars 65 cents to Vancouver and $1.79 to Edmonton; nails, $1.50 to Vancouver and $1.98 to Edmonton; structural steel, bolts and nuts, $1 to Vancouver and $1.98 to Edmonton. This gets rather tedious after a while, does it not? Many other hardware items show similar discrimination in the matter of freight rates. Then twine, which we use in all our harvesting operations, $1.30 to Vancouver- where they do not need it-and $2,334 to Edmonton, where they do need it; window glass, $1 to Vancouver, and $1.98 to Edmonton; agricultural implements, which we use so generally in Alberta, $1.25 to Vancouver and $1.79 to Edmonton; galvanized or plain steel sheets, 60 cents to Vancouver and $1.44 to Edmonton. These figures can be found in the submission from which I am quoting, page 31.

All that is necessary is a very casual look at the list to satisfy any fair-minded person that something is most radically wrong in the building up of the freight rate structure in Canada, so far as Alberta is concerned. I am not arguing that any particular discrimination has been shown in favour of British Columbia. I believe that British Columbia is paying quite as much for freight rates as she needs to pay. But imagine what the feeling of British Columbians would be if they lived in Alberta and faced the figures I have just placed on record. As a matter of fact-

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB
SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

Yes, a hundred of them, one at a time. Speak as loudly as you can so I may hear them.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

George Matheson Murray

Liberal

Mr. Murray (Cariboo):

Why not quote the rates, not to Edmonton but to Dawson Creek, or to points up in the Peace river country?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

Some of these days I will come in with a speech prepared to give those freight rates. But I did not come here today with the whole freight rate structure at my disposal.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

George Matheson Murray

Liberal

Mr. Murray (Cariboo):

The hon. member's reference to British Columbia being given preference-

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

I did not say that British Columbia was being given preference.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

George Matheson Murray

Liberal

Mr. Murray (Cariboo):

The most important farming area in British Columbia is the Peace river country contiguous to Dawson Creek.

Supply-Transport

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

And I have just finished making a statement that should have warned the hon. member not to make the statement he has just made. Apparently he could not hear what I said. I suggest he listen to what I say from now on.

It is pointed out that many commodities might be shipped from Montreal to Vancouver, and then back to Edmonton-all those hundreds of miles extra-and then shipped out a distance of forty miles to a town called Holden, and sold more cheaply than if they were shipped directly to Holden from Montreal. What does that mean? It means that Alberta distributors are being deprived of the privilege of distributing goods to the people of Alberta. But apparently the freight rates were designed for that very purpose. And if they were not designed for that purpose it will take plenty of explaining on the part of the men who drafted those freight rates to clear themselves.

We come now to the third point: the freight rate structure in Alberta impedes ordinary economic development within the province more than does the freight rates structure in any other province in Canada. I shall quote a general statement from the Edmonton submission in this connection and leave the burden of proof upon them. These are their words as they appear at page 28:

Moreover, certain goods moving to or from points in other provinces enjoy a commodity rate that is not available on movements of the same goods to or from Edmonton and other Alberta points, which latter movements carry class rates.

I am sure that statement could be supported with figures just as striking as the ones I used in connection with the other point I made. But we will not take time to give too many figures, because it would weary the house.

The fourth point is this: interprovincial trade between Alberta and British Columbia is hampered toy inequitable freight rates in a way that in my judgment constitutes a scandal. If any province has any rights at all, economically, those rights ought to include the privilege of trading with the province next door in an unimpeded manner. But that is not so in respect of British Columbia and Alberta. Why? I am not going to go into that matter. It has been suggested, though, that long ago certain men in eastern Canada realized the tremendous productive potential of Alberta and British Columbia, and intended to see to it that never should those provinces reach the degree of industrial development of which they were capable, considering their resources; and the freight rates were simply one of the means whereby a guarantee was provided that such development would not take place. If that is so, and

if that was behind the freight rates, then I submit an outrage was committed against Canada. There was a betrayal of trust on the part of the men who had anything to do with planning those rates. There is an equal betrayal of trust on the part of the men who suffered those inequities to endure. I propose to quote again from the submission by the Edmonton chamber of commerce. At page 28 I find this:

Again, basic freight rates on movements between Alberta and British Columbia are much higher than on interprovincial movements in any other part of Canada.

I am going to leave once more the Edmonton chamber of commerce to support its case, and I am sure it can do so. Then again from page 28 I quote:

Similarly, movements from Vancouver to Winnipeg and eastern Canada are subject to a higher relative reduction for class rates than are movements from Vancouver to Alberta.

I now come to what is perhaps the most pernicious aspect of all, and that is that in effect a tariff wall has been erected against Alberta, through freight rates. Certain freight rates protect certain Ontario producers against competition from Alberta processed goods in any western Canadian market, and in the Ontario market. For example, live cattle carry a freight rate from Edmonton to eastern Canada of $1.14 per hundredweight. But fresh meat, the steer that has been killed and processed, thus giving Alberta people a little work to do, costs $1.88 per hundred as compared with $1.14, or 68 per cent more. Imagine any railroad charging, for a steer dead and dressed, something that requires no care or feeding or anything of that sort, 68 per cent more for shipment from Edmonton to Montreal than is charged to ship the same steer alive! Just contemplate that calmly and consider what it has done to the development of secondary industry in Alberta. Obviously the object has been to keep Alberta a primary producer or a hewer of wood and a drawer of water for the other areas of Canada, and permit those other areas to draw off the cream from the production of Alberta. The same inequity in freight rates exists in respect to live cattle and dressed beef shipped from Alberta to Vancouver. Whichever way the beef is going they have arranged matters so that Alberta loses much of the advantage of the livestock she produces.

No wonder the leader of the opposition had such scathing things to say about the board of transport commissioners; I am not sure that I should not say a few myself. Here are some more astonishing things. Certain freight rates expose the Alberta manufacturer to competition from Ontario goods in the Alberta market. In other words, certain

goods can be manufactured in Ontario and shipped many thousands of miles to be laid down in Alberta at prices permitting them to compete with advantage with Alberta products made right on the ground.

Here are some examples. Alberta butter is prevented from entering the Ontario market in the following way: To ship 400 boxes of Alberta butter from Edmonton to Toronto costs $764.82, exclusive of icing charges, while the same weight of Ontario condensed milk or other products shipped from Aylmer to Edmonton, a slightly greater distance, costs only $467.46. It costs just slightly over half as much to ship from Ontario to Alberta as it does to ship from Alberta to Ontario. If that is not erecting a tariff wall against Alberta, I do not know what it is.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB
SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

We may get lots of advantages, but until you live there and know more about it you cannot realize that these advantages are simply green pastures on the other side of the fence.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB
SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

A figment of imagination. Some people think that we in Alberta are living in a sort of paradise, and perhaps that is so compared with people in eastern Canada. Here are some more examples.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB
SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

Vegetable oils, used in the preparation of shortening, can be shipped from Montreal to Edmonton for 90 cents per hundred pounds to compete with Alberta lard, but it cost $1.60 per hundred pounds to ship Alberta lard from Edmonton to Montreal. Ninety cents going one way and $1.60 going the other way.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. Blackmore:

I think it would be well not to deal with this matter with too much levity because there has been too much levity connected with it already.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
Permalink
LIB

June 2, 1950