January 25, 1926 (15th Parliament, 1st Session)


Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. L. CHURCH (Toronto Northwest):

Mr. Speaker, for the past five sessions the situation in Nova Scotia as between the coal miners and the mine owners has been brought to the attention of parliament, in the debates with regard to a national coal supply which took place on motions I put on the order paper. It is not a new condition of affairs by any. means. We know the cause and the effect, and all we need to do is to apply the remedy. For the past five sessions the condition of the unfortunate workers in the mines of Nova Scotia, particularly in the mines at Cape Breton, has been brought up by me in parliament, and all that is necessary is to apply the remedy. The remedy is a national coal supply, one that will place an embargo on American coal and will utilize our resources in Nova Scotia and in Alberta in order to meet the Canadian demand. I do not know any province of Canada that is suffering more to-day than the province of Nova Scotia. If you wish to see monuments of the folly of a free trade policy in this country just look around you and see what free trade has done in the matter of our coal resources in the east and in the west.
It has been said by some members of the government to-night that this resolution raises the question of the British North America Act under which the treatment of this situation is a provincial affair. We have heard that argument before; it always acta as a hindrance to the settlement of any practical problem. When the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Woods-worth) introduced the question of unemployment last year we heard the same objection: this parliament had no concern with the matter of unemployment and distress in the mines, it was a question for the province to deal with. I maintain that it is not a provincial matter; it is a question for the Dominion government to deal with. During the session before last, when the very same question w'as brought forward, the hon. member for Cape Breton North and Victoria, Mr. Kelly, w'as put up to move the adjournment
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of the debate on my coal resolution. At that time the opportunity was taken to bring to the attention of parliament the necessity of a national coal policy and the conditions of the workers in the mines, as well as the status of the mine owners and the state of chaos in the coal industry which had resulted from the policy hitherto pursued. One would have thought that the Liberal members from Nova Scotia would have gladly supported a motion calling for the application of a national policy with respect to coal throughout the country. We spend annually in this country 156 million dollars on coal from Pennsylvania, a large part of which expenditure should go to Nova Scotia. If this money were spent on Canadian coal the mine owners of Nova Scotia would obtain better rates, the coal miners would secure steady work under improved conditions, and we should not see that condition of distress which exists in Nova Scotia to-day. We pointed out these facts in the debate on the resolution already referred to, but the government succeeded in getting the question shelved.
The situation has become greatly aggravated with the passage of time. The sum of nearly six hundred million dollars has been spent on the National Transcontinental railway. Speaking in support of this project in the city of Halifax. Mr. Fielding, the former Liberal Minister of Finance, told the people of the Maritime provinces that if they voted for subsidies for that railway it would solve their coal problem and enable Maritime province coal to be transported to the central portions of Canada. Coming down from Toronto to-day I saw on the Canadian National railway between Belleville and Shan-nonville 156 cars of American coal. This
coal might just as well have been obtained in the Maritime provinces. The people of Ontario do not want a pound of American coal. They want Canadian coal, either from Alberta or from Nova Scotia or Wales. We are willing to pay for it, but we cannot get it. Canadian coal is of far better quality than the inferior slack imported from Pennsylvania.
On a former occasion when this matter was brought up in the House a committee was appointed to consider the question in all its varied aspects. The committee made a report to parliament containing various recommendations, but those recommendations were never acted upon. The people of Ontario sympathize very deeply with the plight of the people in the splendid province of Nova Scotia. If there is one province which more than any other is anxious to see Nova Scotia

reap the benefits which it should reap from confederation, it is Ontario; and if there ever
was a time when Canada should put in force and enjoy all the benefits of a national coal policy, it is now. Why should the Canadian National fritter away money on radios, golf courses, and various frills and fads? The people are tired of such expenditures. My suggestion to Sir Henry Thornton is that instead of wasting time and money in these directions he should devote himself to the question of solving the problem of how to supply people in central Canada with coal from the Maritime provinces and Alberta. The National Railways are able to quote cheap passenger rates to the people of St. Louis and Chicago, but you get no such rates when it comes to travelling from Toronto to Halifax or from Toronto to Winnipeg. There is no equality of treatment in such a railway policy as that. Where is the railway commission that it does not bring Sir Henry Thornton to time and compel the granting of fair, just and equitable rates for the transportation of coal from Cape Breton and from western Canada to central points in the Dominion?
Let me repeat my position: I would adopt as the solution of this problem a national coal policy, and in the next place I would impose an embargo on coal from the United States. In the third place I would grant such subsidies or bonuses in the interest of the coal mines of Nova Scotia as the situation calls for. Why cannot Sir Henry Thornton and the Canadian National Railways and the railway commission of their own volition solve the coal problem and look into the condition of the workers in the Cape Breton mines? The federal government has absolute power because a national emergency exists and certainly parliament has power over the National railways. During the summer months the vessels of the Canadian Government Merchant Marine could have been employed in transporting coal at reasonable rates instead of being tied up and allowed to rust at tlieir docks. As the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Mullins) asked, why could not these vessels have been used in moving Nova Scotia coal? Then the mines could have been kept open and tlhe workers given ample employment. The existing emergency is not a local one; it is a national one, and that being the ease the federal government is fully empowered to act in the matter. I contend that a national emergency has been made out by those who have spoken in support of this resolution to-day, and the government should act without delay. The people of Ontario are

Nova Scotia Miners
clamouring for Nova Scotia coal. There is a scarcity of fuel, and it is no exaggeration to say that in the large centres of population the people are lined up outside the offices of the coal dealers waiting to get their orders filled. I say that I am in favour of a national coal supply by which every pound of coal used in Canada would be mined and coked under the British flag, whether from Wales, Nova Scotia or Alberta. Such a policy would open up the Nova Scotia mines, give more work, better labour conditions and better pay, and a double night shift would be necessary to take care of the increase of work. The Canadian railways and merchant marine should be utilized to aid in a proper solution of this problem.
I may say that we had a similar state of affairs in Ontario to that which exists in Nova Scotia, as set out in the resolution. In the old days when the question of white coal was brought up Sir Adam Beck endeavoured to solve the question and met with reverses. The solution of the problem is in the principle of protection, which alone can establish the foundation of economic unity among the provinces of Canada. I represent a constituency and come from a city that is not exclusively concerned with Toronto or the interests of Ontario. I am and have been since the late Sir James Whitney and the late Sir Adam Beck started us on our way, a hydro Conservative. Hydro Conservatives fought for public rights and believe in public ownership. Hydro Conservatives helped the late Sir James Whitney and the late Sir Adam Beck to extend the principles of the National Policy so as to serve not the classes but all the masses with the wealth of Niagara water-powers and other water-powers. The hydro Conservatives of Ontario refused to leave Niagara water-powers and other water-powers at the mercy of the theories cropping from the out-of-date free trade writings of the late Adam Smith. We prefer the protectionist principles of the late Adam Beck. Adam Beck was the greatest protectionist leader in Canadian history. Adam Beck's hydro policy is a protectionist policy. If you want to see a monument to the wisdom of protection, look around you at what protection has done with the water-powers of Ontario.
The late Sir James Whitney and the late Sir Adam Beck introduced into Ontario the white coal proposition. They believed in public ownership and I recommend this policy to the people of the Maritime provinces to solve this problem. If you want to see a monument to the folly of free trade, look around you and see what free trade has
done to the coal resources and other resources
of Nova Scotia.
I urge the protectionist policy for the coal interests of the Maritime provinces. I sympathize with the people of those provinces, because contracts and subsides secured for the National Transcontinental railway have been considered as scraps of paper by Sir Henry Thornton and the National Railways and the railway commission. If Sir Henry Thornton would rise to the occasion and buy his coal and operate his railway with coal from Cape Breton instead of getting his coal from the American coal barons, Canada would greatly benefit. If he is the great business man he is supposed to be he could help solve this problem by giving better freight rates and assist in bringing about a national coal supply. When I bring my bill to-morrow before the House I will show hon. members how it can be done. Sir Henry Thornton is quoting favourable passenger rates to Chicago and as far west as Nebraska, and the people of Toronto are paying double those rates for travelling one-third of the distance. The same condition exists with respect to freight rates. The National railway is being Americanized.
I say there is unjust, unfair and undue discrimination regarding coal rates.
Coal is not a luxury, it is a necessity. The people of central Canada need it in order to live, so I say that coal should be carried on the same basis as grain. Why should our grain be shipped at cheap rates through United States channels in order to build up grain elevators in United States cities? These American concerns have their headquarters in Winnipeg, in Buffalo and in New York. Here we have the spectacle of the head of the National Railways sidetracking Nova Scotia to build up an all-American coal supply. During the months of February, March, June, July and August thousands of empty freight cars are standing at the head of the lakes and elsewhere throughout the length and breadth of the National Railway system from the head of the lakes to the Maritime provinces. These cars should be loaded with coal from the mines of Cape Breton and Alberta and sent through the country. There is no use talking about distress. It is of no avail when a man wants a loaf of bread to give him a stone. We should find the relief and apply a remedy-not a temporary remedy by giving out doles as they are doing in England, but a remedy that would solve the coal question for all time to come. What did Stanley Baldwin do with the mines in England and Wales and the northern part of England? He introduced a subsidy and bonus plan, on account of the distress in England and the
Nova Scotia Miners

unfortunate condition the coal industry got into, not only in England but all over the world. The mover of this resolution has shown that a national emergency exists, and it has been created by the policy which has been adopted in this country of depending on an alien coal supply. There is no use raising a discussion as to who owns the mines. The remedy I propose is a subsidy for the National Railways and the utilization of the merchant marine, which has been very largely scrapped.
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are provinces with great natural resources. We should endeavour to develop these resources, get away from the teachings of Adam Smith, and apply t'he teachings of the National Policy. For almost fifty years the public resources of Nova Scotia were administered according to the teachings of Adam Smith, as these teachings were interpreted by corporationist Liberals in Halifax with headquarters in Montreal. These free trade Liberals tried to make Nova Scotia rich by the free trade principle of encouraging private ownership to grab all water power and coal deposits and every other public resource in sight.
Our job to-day is not to speculate as to the causes of the present state and condition of Nova Scotia or any other province. We should labour to deliver every Canadian province from the effect of past mistakes and to try to avoid a duplication of these mistakes in our own time. This parliament should never rest until Nova Scotia gets a share and a big share of the $186,000,000 that Canada sends to the United States for American coal every year. The Cornwall canal is 45 miles long, and has only to be deepened from its present depth of 14 feet to a depth of 26 feet when ships loaded with Nova Scotia coal can steam from Sydney to Toronto and through the Welland canal to the upper lakes without breaking bulk.
The natural market for many of the products of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is the British islands, of course there are con-tinentalists who believe that Canadians can get rich trading with their competitors on this continent rather than selling products to their customers in the British Empire. The products of the field and fisheries of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia should be properly developed and marketed in the markets of the world. I urge that an emergency has been made out. The House voted thousands of dollars for miners in other parts of the world, voted money to relieve distress in Japan and distress caused by earthquakes and other disasters in different parts of the world. Surely the government can vote some money
[Mr. Church.1
to relieve the situation disclosed by the mover of the resolution, and appoint somebody to administer the fund. The House admitted the principle of the resolution when they voted money for relief in other cases.
Let the government solve this problem by bringing down a national coal railway bill, and let us stir up Sir Henry Thornton to take action. Let us follow Stanley Baldwin and apply his principle of the subsidy to the province of Nova Scotia. In that way some relief will be afforded and the Maritime provinces will come into their own.

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