Ernest BERTRAND

BERTRAND, The Hon. Ernest, P.C., K.C., B.A., LL.B.

Personal Data

Party
Liberal
Constituency
Laurier (Quebec)
Birth Date
December 15, 1888
Deceased Date
October 11, 1958
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Bertrand
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=f3955f7a-c308-4e57-9713-094d9a11debf&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
lawyer

Parliamentary Career

October 14, 1935 - January 25, 1940
LIB
  Laurier (Quebec)
March 26, 1940 - April 16, 1945
LIB
  Laurier (Quebec)
  • Minister of Fisheries (October 7, 1942 - August 28, 1945)
June 11, 1945 - April 30, 1949
LIB
  Laurier (Quebec)
  • Minister of Fisheries (October 7, 1942 - August 28, 1945)
  • Postmaster General (August 29, 1945 - November 14, 1948)
  • Minister of Fisheries (August 14, 1947 - September 1, 1947)
  • Postmaster General (November 15, 1948 - August 23, 1949)
June 27, 1949 - June 13, 1953
LIB
  Laurier (Quebec)
  • Postmaster General (November 15, 1948 - August 23, 1949)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 262 of 262)


April 21, 1936

Mr. BERTRAND (Laurier):

Furthermore, section 37 of the bill declares that the corporations and the board are hereby declared to be amalgamated, so that the principle of the bill is to amalgamate a certain number of commissions, and we are simply asking that there be three commissions instead of seven.

Topic:   NATIONAL HARBOURS BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION AND CONTROL OF PUBLIC HARBOURS
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March 24, 1936

Mr. ERNEST BERTRAND (Laurier):

As one of the members from Montreal I feel it my duty to take part in this debate. The St. Lawrence route, with Montreal harbour as its complement, is the main artery of Canada's trade, for without the St. Lawrence route and the harbour of Montreal, Canada would be in complete dependence upon the United States. We would not be able to develop our commercial life and the two provinces of Ontario and Quebec would have no outlet to the sea, while the railways to the maritime ports would not be of great commercial value so far as the wheat trade is concerned. Any law that touches Montreal harbour or the St. Lawrence waterway is something that touches the heart of any member of parliament from Montreal, and if I did not take part in this debate I would have to answer some questions which would be put by the business men of that city.

The Montreal harbour commission has been in existence for seventy-six years. It has always been an independent commission and the people of Montreal are very proud of its achievements, whether it consisted of three members or nine members or more. According to Sir Alexander Gibb there is to-day in the port of Montreal an asset amounting to over $53,000,000, and more money has been spent. In my opinion any mistakes that may have been made in the past could have been corrected if we had left the seven different commissions as they stand to-day.

I do not want to place this question on a low plane; there is no question of jealousy as

National Harbours Board-Mr. Bertrand

far as Montreal is concerned. We in Montreal know that Vancouver must be developed and we know that the maritimes must also be developed, and we would be very glad if on the St. Lawrence route there were many other ports like Quebec, Three Rivers, Sorel and Chicoutimi. We also know, however, that Montreal is the key position in relation to Canada's trade; it is the head of the oceanic trade, and whether there is a deep waterway or not Montreal will always be the main port in Canada. Mistakes have been made in the past; there has been competition in wharfage dues which should not have existed; work has been done that was not yet needed, for instance, in connection with cold storage and the electrification of the harbour railway. There have also been developments which should have been made in the lower instead of in the upper harbour. But there are no mistakes that could not be corrected in the future if each port were allowed to remain under the administration of a commission of three men.

It might be hard for a new member to have to take exception to a law like this, but I live in Montreal; I practise as a barrister in that city and I have to do with a great many people there. I feel that this law is creating great anxiety among our people. According to this bill the administration is to be left to three men, one, I suppose, to be chosen from the maritimes, another from British Columbia and the third from Quebec. To me this is a question of good business more than a question of a new system, and I do not know whether the government could find three men in Canada who are absolutely conversant with the problems of the ports in all parts of the country. You might easily find one in British Columbia, one in Halifax or a few in Montreal, conversant with the problems of their own ports, but to find three men absolutely conversant with all the problems of all the ports would be a very difficult task.

This law gives wide authority to the manager of the port, so much so that in my opinion he replaces the commission of to-day. Well, if the manager is practically to replace the commission of to-day, why should we have another commission of three men which will form another barrier between the administration of the port and the minister? I quite understand that this bill is the result of the report of Sir Alexander Gibb, but in reading that report I find many contradictions. The conclusion is that we should have a central commission; yet Sir Alexander Gibb admits that in France, for example, they had centralization at one time and under a law passed in 1920 they went back to independent commissions for their principal harbours, especially for Havre and Bordeaux. They have given their commissions so much latitude that they have the right to pass bylaws; within eight days they must send copies of the bylaws to the government, and if the government does not object, the bylaws become the law of the land. At page 15 of the report Sir Alexander Gibb says:

There is strong evidence that the commissions of Montreal and Vancouver played an important part in this progress. They provided a type of administration at least the equal of any that was to be found elsewhere on the north American continent; and notwithstanding mistakes, which no system can prevent, the developments under the two harbour commissions have generally been sound and economically justified. I am not sure that quite the same can be said of all the other harbour commissions, although their establishment at Halifax and Saint John, I am informed, preceded a notable change in the previous despondent outlook in the two maritime ports.

Well, Mr. Speaker, if the port of Montreal has been generally well administered, why not leave that port outside the scope of this central commission, as I understand the port of New Westminster has been left out?

At page 29 of the report Sir Alexander Gibb states that the British Indian ports are a success; yet they are administered by independent commissions. This, he says, is due to the fortunate selection of chairmen and commissioners. If it is only a question of choosing the right men, why not choose such men both in Montreal and Vancouver?

Then at page 31, paragraph S3, Sir Alexander Gibb says:

Considerable latitude should be allowed to the port managers so long as their activities are directed to carrying out the policy laid down by the central authority. It is essential to avoid emasculating the local administration, since no centralized control can replace an efficient and active local administration, or the special knowledge and initiative of the local business community, both of which are vital to a port's prosperity.

It seems to me that after such assertions of fact it is difficult to come to the conclusion that we need a central commission, at least for the port of Montreal. At page 73 of the report I find that the trade at Montreal compares very favourably with that of harbours such as Singapore, Glasgow, Hamburg, Bristol, Sydney and Melbourne, all or most of which are managed by independent commissions.

The only question in Montreal is that of deepening the St. Lawrence route between

1418 COMMONS

National Harbours Board-Mr. Bertrand

Montreal and Quebec, and I Should have liked the minister to give the assurance that within a few years we would have a channel thirty-five feet deep by 600 feet in width and

1,000 feet on curves. It is known that in Montreal the members of the shipping federation have been paying very high insurance rates; I was told that last year we paid 83,000,000 more than would have been paid on boats of the same tonnage going to Boston. It would take about $30,000,000 to deepen the channel, and the work could be completed in three years if it were started at the opening of navigation and continued without a halt. It is common knowledge that the dredges belonging to the government do not work as late in the season as they should, and that therefore the capital cost is a great deal more than it should be. The Welland canal, which cost $150,000,000, was built in a period of ten years. Why not spend on the channel at least $30,000,000 within three or four years, and charge it to capital expenditure or issue bonds, if necessary, so that we shall not hear of shipping men having to portage some of their goods between Quebec and Montreal?

Briefly, I do not think anyone can take care of the interests of Montreal harbour as well as can the business men of Montreal, or that anyone can take care of the interests of Vancouver harbour as well as can the business men of Vancouver. Montreal harbour has always been a business proposition conducted by business men, and I do not see why to-day we should depart from that practice and adopt another system which, I feel sure, will meet with many difficulties in the coming year.

Topic:   NATIONAL HARBOURS BOARD
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR ADMINISTRATION AND CONTROL OF PUBLIC HARBOURS
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