May 18, 1933 (17th Parliament, 4th Session)


Armand Renaud La Vergne (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

The Chairman:

You say there is nothing that savours of a combine in that circumstance?
Hon. Mr. Dandurand: Was there any agreement ?
Mr. Enderby: There was an agreement between the Canadian vessel owners to endeavour to get the rate up to where they could get their living expenses out of it.
Hon. Mr. McRae: That accounts for the
Mr. Enderby: Yes. Even at six and a half cents there is no money in the rate for any Canadian steamship company, or any American steamship company. When steamers have to lay around at the discharge port for four, five, ten or fifteen days, there is no money in a six and a half cent rate.
So I think that establishes quite clearly the intent of the owners of the Canadian steamship lines. Immediately you eliminate one competitive factor you make it easier for the combine, or for the agreement to increase rates, to operate. I't does not matter whether that factor is some interference with the western rate on grain or whether it is the elimination of American vessels in connection with the hauling of any portion of it. May I say that some of the gentlemen who took part in the committee investigation were men who had at least some part in the combine formed in 1923. Therefore I do not think there is any question about the fact that there has been an attempt on the part of the owners of the Canadian steamship lines to eliminate competition in connection with the movement of some portion of the grain which has to be moved from the head of the lakes to Buffalo, in order that they may secure a higher rate. Until the time comes when we have a knowledge of the cost and conditions
Canada Shipping Act-Mr. Kennedy
of the steamship business, and a commission set up that could gain that knowledge, I do not think it will be fair simply to give this additional right to Canadian steamship lines when it is perfectly clear that the money must come from the farmers of western Canada who to-day are selling grain at very little over sixty per cent of the cost of production.
We might as well recognize that a little while ago wheat was at its lowest price for 250 years, and to-day it is a long way from being up to a reasonable price. There has been a tendency in past debates in connection with matters affecting the shipment of grain on the great lakes to suggest that we were playing into the hands of the Americans, and also that the port of Buffalo was not of any real value to the producers of western grain. I think the best thing that has been written in connection with the transportation of grain from western Canada to the markets of the world was written by one of the board of grain commissioners, Doctor MacGibbon. Members who have known Doctor MacGibbon and his record know that he is a very careful and thorough student. He pointed out, in his book published in 1932, the significance of the port of Buffalo in the Canadian grain trade. That port has been necessary for Canadian grain shipments because of peculiar natural conditions. One factor that tended to raise grain rates in 1923, and which the people who were accused of forming a combine and charging exorbitant rates gave as a reason why they were compelled to charge those rates, was congestion in the ports, which prevented them from delivering the grain and getting back for return cargoes. There never are any more than enough elevators, ships, canal space and loading and unloading facilities to take care of the rush in the fall due to a big crop in western Canada. If you eliminate Buffalo or handicap it in any way you bring about in some seasons at least a condition of congestion that will hurt the western farmers. The sale of wheat in the worlds market is highly competitive. It has been pointed out time and time again that Canada is in a rather difficult position; the wheat fields are far from the seaboard, and in the late fall the great lakes freeze up. Therefore in the fall the great effort is to get the grain off the prairies and down as far as possible along the great lakes so that it is in a strategic position for delivery to Europe and elsewhere during the winter. Hauling wheat by rail from western Canada to the east is not economical, the natural route from western Canada to the east for grain is the great lakes. Doctor MacGibbon
in his book says that in the fall it is absolutely necessary, in some seasons at least, to have all the ships that can be massed to handle the crop in order to prevent congestion at the head of the lakes. At page 246 of his book we have the following:
When a new Canadian crop is ready for shipment, especially if it be a large one, the Canadian lake freighters as well as the American lake freighters not engaged in the ore trade, are fully employed in moving the crop from the head of the lake. Indeed it becomes necessary to use to the limit all the ports available, in order that the elevators at the head of navigation may be kept clear, and as much as possible of the crop be shipped east from Port Arthur and Fort William before the close of navigation. Traffic conditions in the great lakes, in the fall season, therefore, tend to cause grain to flow through the port of Buffalo.

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