April 1, 1902 (9th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Arthur Samuel Kendall



Taking the duty off will not help it, because coal from England or from the United States cannot get into that territory. I defy refutation of that statement. Then what is to be done about it ? A condition like this is not entirely new in the history of the world. To-day I pointed out that in British Columbia, when the government was making its arrangement with the Canadian Pacific Railway, as one of the concessions required in return for the sum of $3,800,000 given to that railroad, the government took over some 50,000 acres of coal land and stipulated that when the coal was mined it should be put on board the cars at a price not exceeding $2 a ton, and should be carried to the North-west at rates to be decided upon by the government. I referred to that this afternoon in connection with what was in my mind with regard to the Nova Scotia situation. What is to be done ? The government, as I have shown, has to a certain extent dealt with a similar situation in the North-west. A few years ago In New Zealand, tlie premier of that colony was confronted with a similar condition. Manufae-turers came to him and said : The coal producers of New Zealand are charging a price for coal that absorbs the profits of our business; we have some thousands of people employed; the situation must be met; we have got to get coal cheaper or the government of New Zealand must take upon itself to support the thousands of operatives whom we must throw out of employment. Mr. Seddon was the premier of New Zealand at that time.
I do not suppose that he acted in a hurry There is no doubt he thought the matter over and talked it over. When the crisis came he went to his telephone and called up the leading coal operators and said in effect-I am not going to have 6,000 or 8,000 operatives of factories thrown on the hands of the government for support while you destroy the business of the manufacturers for the benefit of your coal trade; your coal trade is making too much money; you have got the opportunity.and you are taking advantage of it: the industries of the country 62
are suffering; we have a government meeting to-morrow at twelve o'clock and I give you until twelve o'clock to-morrow to say whether or not you will supply the manufacturers of this part of New Zealand with coal at such a figure, and if you will not do so, the government will telegraph to England to get out mining machinery and will mine the coal itself.
. Now, Sir, there is the situation that I believe the government of Canada has to face. Recollect that the coal companies are within their rights; they can charge us nearly what they like. There is plenty more coal to be developed there but if small operators go there to develop coal mines the large operators will absorb them or put them out of business. Let a Montreal or a Quebec coal dealer undertake to bring coal to any considerable extent from England or Wales, and what would be done ? The coal companies in Cape Breton and Nova Scotia will at once lower the price of coal and teach these men a lesson that they will not want to read again. They Pan undersell them to almost any extent they wish.
I say, Sir, that the time has come, or the the time has pretty nearly come when that situation which interests some three millions of people from Montreal to the sea board, must be met, and particularly so as the government of this country is a large purchaser of coal, and will be a larger purchaser in the future than at present. Now Mr. Speaker I shall make a statement to the House on the strength of two of the best mining engineers of Nova Scotia, one ot whom has mined millions of tons of coal I say on the strength of the statement of these engineers: That to-day, whereas in Cape Breton you are paying $2.70, $2.80 and $2.90 per ton for coal ; the government could mine that coal and put it on its cars tor $1 per ton. I say, that in Pictou on the ""Y'J land, where you pay anywhere from $3.00 to $3.25 per ton ; on the statement of two of the best mining engineers of Nova Scotia, men of large experience-I could give the names in confidence to the hon leader of the opposition but I do not wish to make them public-on the strength of the experience of these men, I say that this government could in Cumberland and in Pictou put coal on board the cars at $1 25 per ton, for which it is now paying $3 apd $3.50 per ton. That would mean a saving of $600,000 or $700,000 a year on the purchases of coal by this government. Is that a small item ? When we were confronted with deficits on the Intercolonial Railway, and when the tax payers of Canada are told by the hon. gentlemen opposite and perhaps by the hon. gentlemen on this side of the House : That the Intercolonial Railway should be made to pay ; and when with honest efforts to make it pay the result has been that we have during the last few years an average deficit of $114,000 a

year-although I am happy to say that notwithstanding the high price of coal during this current year there is a possibility that the Intercolonial Railway will come out on the 30th of June next without very much of a deficit-I say that when this very large sum can be saved to the people of Canada on the purchase of coal alone, is it not a matter for us to consider ? It would be not only a saving of $600,000 or $700,000 a year to the government, but on the basis of the present purchases of coal it would mean a saving of anywhere from $1,000,000 to $1,500,000 to the factories, the other railways, and the householders from Montreal east who purchased this coal. Of course in the near future, with the larger purchases of coal, that saving would be greatly increased.
Now Sir, there is one weak point in what I have stated, I would not advise the government to go into the mining of coal unless the miners of Nova Scotia were willing to make a compact with the government. I wish to tell the hon. gentlemen opposite who are not acquainted with the men who operate the mines in Nova Scotia, something about these Nova Scotia miners so that there may be no misgivings on this point. It is admitted by persons who have travelled over the collieries of Europe and of America, that the Nova Scotia miners are probably the best class of any miners in the world. What is the history of coal mining in that province ? Labour there has been organized and highly organized. The mining labour there does not consist of numbers of unorganized men. They are a strong organized body, probably the best organized body of labourers in Canada. They are not like the shifting mining populations of the western states. They are a class of men who are citizens, who own property and have a stake in the country, who are zealous to maintain their churches and schools. And just here let me interject the remark that with all the development that has taken place there, I am a little apprehensive. I would prefer not to see too rapid a development. The danger of a too rapid development is that we may have to draft into our mining population large hordes of men from outside, who will not assimilate with our people, whose aspirations and whose civilization are not the same. Therefore, I am a little apprehensive on this point, and the mining population are a little apprehensive. They are also beginning to see that the ambitions of the capitalists are factors which they may have to fight in the future as they have never had to do in the past, and they want to be left in a position to meet that situa-
Mon. .
I say the miners of Nova Scotia will not be content to have their normal aspirations as citizens crushed out. I do not know' whether the miners will agree with this or

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