The member who has just taken his seat has referred to his knowledge of the coal industry. If there is anyone in the house that doubts his statement just ask the member from Gloucester (Mr. Robi-haud), because not too long ago he arrived in the town of Glace Bay and advertised himself in the Cape Breton Post as the official coal critic for the official opposition. Later that same day, while visiting one of the mines in that area, in a discussion with the newspaper people who were covering his visit he candidly admitted that this was his first visit to a coal mine of that type. Following that admission he expressed no surprise at the cost of production. Here we have a
man who claims knowledge of the coal industry, and who arrives in a coal mining town advertising himself as the official critic for the official opposition in respect of coal, and then admits that it was his first visit to a coal mine.
The hon. member has taken it upon himself to read many quotations. In fact, his speech was made up mostly of quotations from what somebody else had said about coal in the past. He went so far as to give the members from Cape Breton a pat on the back for what they had been trying to do and I thank him for that gesture. But I would remind him that, while he was on his feet, at no time did he take any exception to the fact that New Brunswick is about to burn oil in the thermal plant. He did not take his government to task for that fact. The miners in New Brunswick are riding on the backs of the Cape Breton miners who came up here to Ottawa to make representations on behalf of the Cape Breton coal miners. The miners of New Brunswick had every advantage of it. The miners of Cape Breton, through their representation, are helping to carry on the coal industry in New Brunswick. Further than that, Mr. Speaker-
Topic: COAL-REQUEST FOR ACTION ON CLOSING OF MINES
This man who rises in his place and asks questions about the mines, and concerning the coal problem has yet to show his face at any one coal conference and add anything to any coal conference. This is the man who professes interest in the matter. He has never shown his face at one coal conference.
Topic: COAL-REQUEST FOR ACTION ON CLOSING OF MINES
I will consider it to be a question of privilege for the benefit of the hon. member. He has yet to attend any coal conference since this government came into office. I have never missed one, and I have never seen him in attendance. If he wishes to do so, he can take that as a question of privilege. I will not withdraw my statement, because I will not withdraw from the truth.
He has made reference to what has gone on in the coal industry. From 1946 to 1956 34 coal mines closed in Nova Scotia. I should like to see where on the record he has raised any objection about his administration. Let me tell you something else about
his administration, Mr. Speaker. The former prime minister went into his own province and told the people of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to leave the coal in the ground for the benefit of future generations for the manufacture of synthetic articles. He said that in New Brunswick. I do not care what was said by the hon. member who represents Bonavista-Twillingate. I said "represents"; he does not come from Bonavista-Twillingate. I do not care what he said. He has been called upon by the public press to apologize for denying that statement and he has not agreed to withdraw it. He has been asked in the interests of journalism in this country to withdraw the denial because it is evident that the former prime minister told the people of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to leave the coal in the ground. That is another question of privilege for him if he thinks he can get away with one.
He referred to the coal industry in the years from 1946 to 1956 and what his government did about the use of coal, without one coal conference and without one objection at all from those supporting the government of the day. Let me tell you this, Mr. Speaker. In 1957 through the action of this government the trend that was in progress between 1946 and 1956 was brought to a halt; and it was brought to a halt by the actions of this government. It is granted that there have been a few closures of mines in Nova Scotia, primarily because of disaster and to prevent future disasters. I refer now specifically to No. 25 colliery in my area. It was obliged to close. Otherwise more men would have lost their lives through drowning, as had happened there previously. This mine absolutely was forced to close.
He referred to the action of this government. He referred to the fact that the government announced closures. Let me for a moment come to his aid in putting across his knowledge of coal mines. I will read him a quotation from a former Liberal candidate- and I say former Liberal candidate advisedly -in the last provincial election in Nova Scotia. The quotation is that of James P. MacNeil of New Waterford. As I say, he was a candidate for the Liberal party in the last election. When this propaganda or publicity came out on the part of the government announcing closures, here is what the Liberal candidate in the last provincial election had to say about it:
Mayor James P. MacNeil of New Waterford, a miner employed In No. 16 colliery charged that the dates for closing of the mines were set by Dosco and not "by an agreement between Dosco and the government."
That is a direct quotation from one of the Liberal adherents in Nova Scotia. That is
the truth. It is too bad that the rest of hon. members opposite cannot get up and tell it. As I said when I rose in my place, here is a man who claims to be a coal authority. He criticizes this government for the action it has taken in preventing further closures in Cape Breton. As the indication was that January 14 was the deadline, that matter has been taken care of by this government. The unions got what they asked for at this stage. They got that date shifted back to May 31. It is my hope, and that of every other Cape Breton member, that we can bring about further delay.
The hon. member for Gloucester referred to the Rand commission report. He has indicated that he did not think it was the solution to the problem. I might say that when the last coal conference was held expressions of opinion were voiced of the Rand report. There was not one representative from Cape Breton who took objection to those representations made about the Rand report. It is only in the last couple of weeks that there has been any advocacy of adopting the Rand report. I have to agree that I did not see anything in this Rand report that was beneficial to the miners of Cape Breton, except the one problem they went into, namely the delaying of closures over a period from five to ten years. This is something with which I fully agree and I would advocate the adoption of such a plan.
Let me tell you this, Mr. Speaker, and let us get this straight. This government has offered to go further with Dosco but Dosco will not or would not accept this offer from the government. They have made up their minds. Why did not the hon. member for Gloucester get to his feet and criticize this company? Why did he not do that? He did not do it because he had no knowledge of what the situation was. Why did he not get to his feet and criticize the fact that they are closing No. 4 colliery in Glace Bay? The reason why he did not do that is that he does not know the score. He does not know what is going on in connection with coal.
The fact remains that No. 4 colliery in Glace Bay is not an uneconomical colliery. It is among the top ones, as far as economics is concerned. The company has promoted the idea that it is an uneconomical mine they are closing. That is not so. Caledonia mine in Glace Bay is an economic colliery by their own admission. What happens when you catch the company on this score is that they immediately revert to the argument that it is the quality of the coal. It is the same quality of coal that has been sold from this colliery for 60 years. Caledonia coal can be sold for 57 cents a ton less than other types. There are those companies that desire a lower quality
of coal if conditions are right. That only means one thing, namely, price. Caledonia coal could be set up as a separate commodity and sold at 57 cents a ton less than the price which is an economic proposition, 57 cents a ton below the average cost.
There has been no denial at the conference by the company of this argument. Yet the executive officers see fit to feed their propaganda against me for repeating this. They did not stand behind me on that program. Neither did they stand behind me on the other argument concerning coal. They caught Mr. Albert Fairley thoroughly off base, out in left field, but they never stood behind me on that one. Yet they see fit to criticize the actions I have taken on behalf of the miners. All I can say is this. I will stand up in any public assembly and I will fire back what the absolute truth is on this situation. The miners in Caledonia are not getting the support they deserve. The hon. member for Gloucester- the coal critic of the official opposition; the man with particular knowledge of coal; the man who never attended any coal conference -gets to his feet, and what does he say? He rambles on about what somebody else said with regard to coal. He skips what his own prime minister had said about coal. He forgot that he said they should leave it in the ground. He has nothing to say about the criticism I offered to the great champion of labour from Essex East, who did not see fit to answer the correspondence I sent out on coal, but who rises in his place and tries to put himself up on a pedestal as far as the miners of Cape Breton are concerned. He did not himself have enough interest to answer a letter concerning a coal problem, and I think that if he had got together with his colleagues in the house they could have taken action that would have been beneficial to the coal miners.
With reference to the hon. member for Gloucester I am going to make a remark here which, in all fairness, I will give him an opportunity of denying. I understand that he himself has looked for an oil agency in New Brunswick, if not for himself, for somebody in his family. He is perfectly at liberty to deny that.
Topic: COAL-REQUEST FOR ACTION ON CLOSING OF MINES