May 26, 1919 (13th Parliament, 2nd Session)


John Howard Sinclair

Laurier Liberal


This is a revolutionary proposal in a way, because it is removing the control of pilotage altogether to Ottawa. There must be a large number of pilotage commissions along the coasts of this country, and under the law they have-jurisdiction to determine the age, the qualifications and the skill of the pilots who are acting in their particular vicinity; to grant or withhold licenses to those pilots; to make regulations for their control, and other powers. The minister is proposing to sweep them all away and vest the control in an officer at Ottawa. I hesitate about approving the change, because I do not think it is wise to centralize this control. The local authorities know these pilots, they have been trained in the vicinity, and the commissioners are the best judges. Ottawa is too far away from the sea coast for an officer stationed there to possess the necessary local knowledge. A thousand miles makes a great difference in efficiency in matters of this kind. With all due respect to the minister and his department, I would: hesitate to take this authority out of the hands of the local commissioners and transfer it to some one in the department.
From what I have heard in this House and have gathered from the press, I do not think that the management of the pilots in the St. Lawrence river has been such a great success as the minister describes. I think it is open to a great deal of criticism. We are aware of the patronage that has existed in connection with the appointment of those pilots, and it is only a few days ago that we were called upon to vote a considerable sum of money to pay pensions to pilots on the St. Lawrence river who should never have been appointed. I do not know Ahether that system of appointment is still continuing or not, but I am aware of the fact that owners of ships coming up the St. Lawrence river will not employ some of the pilots appointed; they prefer pilots that they know are competent and they do not care as a rule to take any pilot that comes along. As a matter of fact, I do not think that the management of the pilotage business in the

St. Lawrence river commends itself so much to the people of Canada that they want to .place all the pilotage systems under the authority of the same officer. I am not -speaking for the different Boards of Trade in the country or the ship owners,, but I would be surprised if they have all agreed *to this proposal.
W6 are told that a Royal Commission investigated conditions. I do not know who these Royal Commissioners are, but I understand it was a Royal Commission consisting of two or three captains, officers of the Government. The trades people were not represented on the commission. It would be a very easy matter for two or three officers to travel around the country and get opinions favourable to their own theories. I would not place so much reliance on the report of those Royal Commissioners as I would on the report of the representative men selected from the business interests of the country. I would advise the minister to hesitate before he takes this revolutionary step oi wiping out all the pilotage authorities and centralizing the control at Ottawa.

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