Mr. DORION (Translation):
Mr. Chairman, previous to passing the two sections 338 and 339, I wish to make a few comments. At page 47, French version, of a report tabled in the house, Sir Alexander Gibb expresses himself as follows:
The existence of good pilots is of profound importance to Canada, and particularly on the St. Lawrence route, which has only with difficulty been established as one of the great highways of shipping. The Department of Marine has devoted a great amount of thought to the lighting and buoying arrangements and other aids to navigation-and with outstanding success. It is essential, therefore, that the pilotage also should be closely controlled by government.
From the evidence I obtained, it is clear that the standard of St. Lawrence pilots is, on the whole, high; and the administration of this branch of the Department of Marine has a reputation for strictness.
Under the former act ships coming from the province of Ontario and having to go down the St. Lawrence river from Montreal to Quebec and from Quebec to Father Point were obliged to provide themselves with pilots. According to the new act under consideration, pilotage service will not be required between Quebec and Father Point. I contend, sir, that the pilotage between Quebec and Father Point is as dangerous and difficult as that between Montreal and Quebec, in connection with coastal navigation.
Navigation between Quebec and Father Point can only be guided by compass, or by beams of light cast from lighthouses located along the coast. Often, if not generally, fog prevails in the lower St. Lawrence river, so that navigation is very difficult. If navigators, without any previous experience, are permitted to navigate the lower St. Lawrence river without a pilot's licence, navigation in those waters will become difficult. I fear, especially, that when this bill has been sanctioned, such as it is drafted, we shall have acicdents. Moreover, the past has shown that many accidents which happen in the lower St. Lawrence river, could be traced to the fact that certain vessels were not provided with men possessing the required qualifications to pilot them.
Pilots are required to possess particularly those from the lower St. Lawrence river between Quebec and Father Point, special qualifications and the navigation regulations in connection with the pilotage of those waters are entirely different from those required from persons who navigate on the Great Lakes or between Quebec and Montreal.
I again state, that special qualifications are required for pilots of the Quebec district.
They must be acquainted with the rules governing ocean navigation and a more thorough knowledge of navigation is expected from them than from those who navigate the Great Lakes. Therefore, if this bill is passed in its present form, we shall have navigators without any knowledge of the lower St. Lawrence river, not having passed any test required from pilots, and such persons will be placed in charge of vessels who will have to meet, to pass or be passed by other vessels in charge of experienced seamen who were obliged to pass difficult tests.
I submit, sir, that the Quebec section should be placed on same footing as that of the Montreal section. Namely, vessels which navigate along the coast between Quebec and Father Point should be placed on the same footing as those navigating between Montreal and Quebec. I am not a sailor myself, however, from what I have heard, I gather that navigation is more difficult between Quebec and Father Point than between Quebec and Montreal. Between the latter two places, the channel is very narrow, but it is lighted day and night, it is so to speak buoyed throughout, while the Channel between Quebec and Father Point does not possess the same advantages. Moreover, between Quebec and Father Point, it very often happens that vessels are obliged to anchor and wait for the high tide. If navigators who have no experience of the lower St. Lawrence river are permitted to meet and pass vessels provided with pilots, it is clear that accidents will happen. For the good name of that part of the St. Lawrence river, we should place the section between Quebec and Father Point on the same footing as that between Quebec and Montreal and we should therefore add the word "Quebec" after the word "Montreal" in sections 338 and 339, in order that seamen who may have to navigate the lower St. Lawrence river will have no fear of meeting vessels in charge of persons who have had no experience of these waters.
Topic: CANADA SHIPPING ACT