WHAT AILS THE MARITIMES?
Of recent years there has been unmistakable indication that the people of the Maritime Provinces are genuinely disturbed about their status in the Canadian Confederation. As a result, “What Ails the Maritimes?” has been a frequent question on the lips of other Canadians. The desire of a Maritimer to answer that question inspired this article.
WILLIAM BOYD MACODRUM
IS CANADA playing fair with the Maritime Provinces? During the course of the 1925 Federal election campaign, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada, visited Nova Scotia. While there he asked: “What are Maritime Rights?” Recently the Government of which he is the head answered his query by the appointment of a $25,000 Royal Commission to investigate the grievances of the Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. What exactly are Maritime Rights? The term itself is a misnomer. It was born of the exigencies of politics.
It has become a party slogan. It belongs to the same species as “Canada for Canadians” and “The Full Dinner Pail.” Its meaning has been lost in the pother of partisan bickering. It implies a belligerent, chip-on-the-shoulder attitude, strangely repugnant to Bluenose type. Many leaders of Maritime life disown it.
Yet, for all that, there is a feeling, deep-seated and resentful, that the rest of Canada has not played the game squarely with the Maritimes.
The people down by the Atlantic Coast are taking this matter very seriously. The Liberal debacle of last fall was not a Conservative victory.
It was a protest against the indifference of Canadian legislators to the industrial and economic needs of these provinces. Conservative candidates appeared before the electors and said: “We will support Arthur Meighen just so long as he will help the Maritimes out of their difficulties.” The people took a chance and elected twenty-three of the men who took this position. And, on March 30, for the first time since the commencement of this agitation, a local assembly was able to sink politics and unite on a statement of the Maritime claims, moved by the Prime Minister, seconded by the Leader of the Opposition and, carried unanimously.
Is there any justification for such demands? Are the Maritimes entitled to lower freight rates, profitable use of their ocean ports, more favorable tariffs and increased Federal subsidies? Any answer to those questions, of necessity, must involve consideration of the conditions which led up to the Confederation agreement with all it entailed.
THE period of time centering about 1860 was the Golden Age of the Maritime Provinces. Their ships were found on every sea. Their farms were prolific. Every little village had its grist, its woollen and its lumber mill. Sheep were nearly as numerous as to-day. Field crops were large. The Tantramar marshes fed thousands of beef cattle. In hundreds of fishing hamlets all around the coast—hamlets which at present resemble the ghost towns of a worn-out mining region—fish lay
curing in the sun. Relative to Upper Canada, their population was far greater than it is now. The future was promising. There was nothing in sight to impede progress. The people of these provinces were already considering local political union when in their midst appeared the emissaries of Ontario and Quebec. These delegates came with a definite mission. They had a vision of a union of British North America and they wanted the Maritimes to make that vision a reality. Without the aid of the Atlantic region this would be impossible. Our eastern folk were chary about the proposal. They would have to sacrifice a great deal. Upper and Lower Canada had nothing at all to surrender. They stood only to win. On the other hand the people of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island knew they would forfeit their natural New England outlet. They
knew they would open up their country to the manufactures of Central Canada. The Fathers of Confederation recognized those fears and they did their very best to allay them. So, George E. Cartier came to Halifax and this is the promise he made in the year 1864: “I have heard since I have been in Halifax, the objection thrown out that you will be absorbed . Have you any objections to being absorbed in commerce? Halifax, through the Intercolonial Railway, will be the recipient of trade which now benefits Portland, Boston and New York . . .”—(Halifax shipped
302 bushels of wheat in 1924). “If you are unwilling to do all in your power to bring to a satisfactory consummation this great question, you will force us to send all this trade which you ought to have, through American channels . It is as evident
as the sun shines at noon that when the Intercolonial is built—and, it must necessarily be built if the Confederation takes place—the con sequences will be that between Halifax and Liverpool there will be steamers almost daily ... In fact it will be a ferry between Halifax and Liverpool.” True enough the Intercolonial has been built. But it has not been maintained for the purpose for which it was built. Surely if the promise of construction was necessary to Confederation, maintenance is equally necessary. Nor were the pledges confined to the words of eminent statesmen, binding though such may be. They were written into the British North America Act, itself. This is all the more remarkable when we remember that this Act is not concerned with industry and commerce. Says Professor Henry F. Munro, head of the Department of Political Science at Dalhousie University: “It is merely a scheme or framework of government, not a statement of political or economic principles.” Yet, the British North America Act distinctly and unreservedly reads : “Inasmuch as the provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have joined in a declaration that construction of the Intercolonial railways is essential to the consolidation of the union of British
North America, and to the assent thereto of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and have consequently agreed that provision should be made for its immediate construction by the government of Canada: “Therefore, in order to give effect to that agreement, it shall be the duty of the government and parliament of Canada to provide for the commencement, within six months after the union, of a railway connecting the river St. Lawrence with the city of Halifax in Nova Scotia, and for the construction thereof without intermission, and for the completion thereof with all practicable speed.” That is the letter of the Confederation pact. Men who penned those words had more in mind than two streaks of steel running through 500 miles of wilderness between Quebec and Moncton. As long as Canada allows railway lines to Maritime ports to become rusty from lack of use and the ties to rot on the earth, then Canada is not Dlaying fair, either with these provinces, or with those who laid the foundations for a growing northland nation.
What Are Maritime Rights?
WHAT is the result? What has Confederation done for the Maritimes? “Confederation is by no means a success,” says Premier Baxter, of New Brunswick, and Maritime opinion unanimously agrees with him. Prince Edward Island has lost six per cent, of her population. Nova Scotia has increased only 35.8 per cent, and New Brunswick only 35.8. On the other hand the percentage increases of Quebec and Ontario have been over 100 and of all Canada over 136.
Is it any wonder that the Maritimes are astir? They have remained quiescent far too long. They demand the same treatment that the central or western provinces receive. A Nova Scotian finds it exceedingly difficult to understand why Alberta, with only 66,000 more population, should obtain a Dominion subsidy higher than that of Nova Scotia by over a million dollars.
The Maritime people are not more selfish than Canadians in other parts of the Dominion. They are very reasonable. Consider, for instance, these opinions:
H. P. Duchemin, editor of the Sydney Post, an influential, Conser vative newspaper in eastern Nova Scotia, says:
“I have never been in sympathy with the Maritime Rights agitation . It has always appeared to me that this presentation of the case for the consideration of Maritime interests has been entirely too querulous and undignified and in some respects unwarranted. There are, however, certain lines of public policy which might very well be pursued with a view to the advancement of Maritime interests.”
Another expression -comes from J. Y. Mersereau, ex-Mayor of Chatham, New Brunswick, proprietor of the World, the family journal of the “North Shore,” a paper also strongly Conservative in its leanings: “I have never liked the expression Maritime Rights and never use it.” Still another journalist, M. A. MacLeod, editor of the Maritime Farmer (Independent), which covers the three Atlantic Provinces: “I do not think there are Maritime Rights. There are some national problems with a definite Maritime application. If we forget politics and get to work we shall soon solve them.” The comment of D. W. Morrison, war-veteran and Labor Mayor of Glace Bay, is interesting also: “Maritime Rights, to my mind, do not differ to any great extent from the rights of the Western Provinces of Canada. The people of these Western Provinces, however, instead of playing the old political game as has been'played in the Maritimes, elected to their parliaments, representatives pledged to their interests . . . ”
What, then, are the lines of public policy such as Mr. Duchemin has referred to, those applications of the national mind which Mr. MacLeod has suggested?
The Transportation Question
CHIPPING must be developed, inward and outward, ^ via Canadian harbors.
It is about time to stop flaunting such advertisements as “Portland, Maine, the natural winter port of Canada.”
before Maritime eyes. Is it any wonder that Premier Gardiner, of Saskatchewan, viewing the spectacle of the stream of grain pouring over the border, like water over a mill-race, protests in the firm language of the west:
“Why has our hope not been realized? We are not yet convinced that the thing cannot be done. It has never been tried. Because it has not been tried there is rankling in our minds a feeling that the selfishness of those living along the great waterways from the city of Fort William to the city of Montreal has been placed upon a pedestal, while the national good has been sacrificed to the god of personal greed.”
This year Saint John receives a Federal expenditure of $225,000 for harbor improvements, less than half of that which goes to Port Arthur and Fort William. And the sad part is that the quantity of wheat shipped from these cities and sent to Europe via United States channels is far larger than the quantity shipped to Europe by Canadian ports. The Maritime people do not begrudge expenditures to any section of Canada. They only ask for proportional expenditures in their own country— surely no unfair demand.
Halifax is 841 miles from Montreal Norfolk, Va., is 860 miles from the Canadian metropolis. Yet Norfolk has a flourishing Canadian wheat export trade. Halifax elevators remain little better than pigeon roosts Is there anything absurd or unjust about Halifax desiring a share of the grain trade? Should not Canadian shippers prefer Saint John, New Brunswick, to Baltimore, Maryland?' Why not use the Canadian National Railways in building up Canada instead of the United States of America? That would be in keeping with the vision of 1867.
Twenty-two years ago, Canada built a transcontinental railway ostensibly to make this vision a reality. The road was built with a definite political and economic aim So its proponents said in parliament. The pledge was made that “after years of deception, humbugging and trickery about the lines of the Maritime Provinces, faith should be kept with these people,” or as Mr Fielding said very clearly: “We want
it for commercial reasons.” In 1903 the government went one better. National aid was being provided for the Grand Trunk Pacific. It was distinctly stated in the preamble to the act that the purpose was: “To promote internal and foreign trade to Canada and to develop commerce through Canadian ports.” Section 42 is specific: “All freight originating on the line of railway or its branches, not specifically routed otherwise by the shipper, shall when destined for points in Canada be carried entirely through Canadian territory . . export traffic not specifically routed otherwise shall be carried to Canadian ports.” Section 43 makes it incumbent upon the company to canvass for such Canadian commerce. To-day it is tbe Canadian ports that must do the canvassing for Canadian business. That ought not to be. If there is any struggle for shipments, the Americans should be tbe ones to struggle. Shipments should naturally come to Quebec, Halifax and Saint John instead of Portland, Boston and New York.
You can ship grain from Fort William to Rotterdam, unload, reload and ship it back to Sydney cheaoer than you can ship it direct by tbe railroad from Fort William to Sydney.
Is that the way to promote the national Canada for which Sir. John A. Macdonald and Sir George E. Cartier lived?
Freight Rates Need Adjustment
A GENERAL downward revision and intelligent readjustment of local freight rates are vital to Maritime progress. These are now so high that they are greatly prejudicing small business and interprovincial trade in Eastern Canada. This is another line of public policy which should be pursued in the interests of a united Canada.
Canadian freight rates are a hopeless puzzle.
While the city of Montreal has the advantage of one rate over a distance of '1,000 miles westward, the 956 miles from Sydney to Montreal are divided into ten zones having seven distinct rates. Tbe Montreal shipper gets an advantage over 1,000 miles that the Sydney shipper can get only to Point Tupper, 102 miles away. Similarly the exporter in Hamilton, Ontario, can ship his goods 841 miles to Halifax for two cents a hundred pounds, while for the same privilege the Sydney shipper is charged 25cents for a distance of 289 miles.
The Maritime shipper does not quarrel with Montreal or Hamilton’s demand for special rates. So is he not entitled to the same rates? Surely no just tribunal would deny him that? But from a study of the freight tariff sheets it would appear as if tbe Maritimes were being deliberately discriminated against. Thus, tbe Guelph potato grower can ship his produce 760 miles to Boston for 47 cents a hundred pounds, while the Charlottetown shipper, some ten miles closer must pay 50 cents for the same quantity. Why cannot the Atlantic farmers receive the same treatment that other Canadian farmers obtain?
Alberta has lately been attempting to get her coal to tbe Toronto consumer. The Canadian National provides a nice, obliging test rate of $7 a ton over 2,075 miles. Should not the Nova Scotia operator get a similar rate on his coal west?
Even American operators procure cheaper transportation than good Canadian Bluenoses down by the sea. Buffalo and Black Rock can ship coal for 1,049 miles to Ccchrane at $4.10 a ton. Sydney must pay $4.50 a ton to ship 956 miles to Montreal. In Canada, at least, Cape Breton should receive as fair a deal as Buffalo.
The rates for our fishery products are even more unfavorable. The same discrimination is even more apparent. Prince Rupert pays $3.93 per hundred pounds to express fish 3,596 miles to Chicago. Halifax, only 1,669 miles distant from Chicago, must pay $5.37 to send the same quantity of Nova Scotia fish. This discrimination exists against the Atlantic seaboard on shipments to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Phi’adelphia, while in the case of near-by Boston the percentage against the Maritimes as compared with the Pacific coast rate is 325 per cent.
Is it any wonder that rumblings of secession have been heard in the Maritime Provinces?
Maritime coal, fish, apples and lamb are equal to any the world can offer, but it is almost impossible to make progress in the face of such discriminatory charges.
The Tariff, Canals and Mails
MARITIME industry should participate in the advantages of the National Policy. At present, protection is of no benefit to tbe Maritimes Our commercial depression is due, in no small degree, to tariff changes made in recent budgets.
The Maritimes believe that some compensation should be made them for their outlay of tax money in other sections of Canada. Canada has spent $280,000,000 on canals. The Maritimes received only $650,000 for a drain in Cape Breton. For every dollar of railway expenditure that was spent in Nova Scotia, Ontario secured $1,400. Physical limitations prevent us from extending our borders as tbe other provinces were enabled to do. Are we not entitled to a per capita outlay, equivalent to that of any other portion of Canada?
We are out oí the current of immigration. Enterprising railway and land agents lure immigrants away from our very doors. Had we but received our fair allotment of immigration expenditure there would not be so many gaps to fill in Maritime population to-day.
The Maritime Provinces should have a direct mail and passenger service to Great Britain during the summer months. At present mail and passengers for local peints are carried up the St. Lawrence, landed at Rimouski and transported back for distribution in the Maritimes. This means that important distributing points as Saint John, Fredericton, Charlottetown, Sydney, Moncton, New Glasgow and Halifax are from twenty-four to fortyeight hours farther from Europe than they would be were there a modern mail and passenger service.
These are some of the grievances against which the Maritimes are making a complaint. Their citizens ask that unfair and hampering discriminations against their shipping be removed and that they be provided with the same weapons for trade and commerce as other areas in Canada.
F. MacLure Silanders, Commissioner of the Saint John Board of Trade, puts the case clearly when he says:
“In a nutshell, the Maritime complaint resolves itself into the fact that these three Provinces have been a part of the Dominion in name only and have had no chance to participate in the general progress and prosperity of the Dominion. Our transportation rates have placed us at a hopeless disadvantage; our industries have been strangled, not by foreign competition, but by the competition of our own fellow-countrymen in Central Canada. As a matter of fact, almost all of the Maritime consumption of industrial products now emanates from the tariff-protected factories of Ontario and Quebec.
“There is not one of the Maritime handicaps which fair play cannot equitably adjust.”
BUT is there nothing the Maritimes can do to help themselves?
There is. Some Maritime industries have accomplished miracles with odds set heavily against them. The Moirs, the Boutiliers, the Hamiltons, the Comings, the Ganongs, the Marvens, theMacLeans, the Simms, the Stanfields and many others are known throughout the length and breadth of Canada by the goods they produce. But like everyone else in these provinces they are severely handicapped by unfair freight rates and hampering tariff conditions.
But, their very success points a moral which is noted by H. S. Hamilton, manager of G. J. Hamilton and Sons, biscuit and confectionery manufacturers, of Pictou. Mr. Hamilton says:
“The prosperity of the Maritime Provinces depends on the people of the Maritime Provinces only, and anything the government can do will not change them. They will have to perform the operation themselves.”
For instance, if instead of spending their time in political manoeuvring at Ottawa, William Duff, of Lunenburg, and Col. Thomas Cantley, of Pictou, got together on a cohimon platform, the Maritime case could clearly and impartially be set before the Federal Parliament. Nor would justice be long withheld. Little Prince Edward Island has shown the way to her bigger sister provinces in this respect. Let every member from the Maritimes be broad enough and unselfish enough to forget senseless jockeying for political advantage.
Again, with some notable exceptions, our people are very much lacking in initiative. They will not go forth and work with what tools they have, blunt though these may be. Wooden vessels are not being built and the Maritime ship-builders cannot, or will not, build steel ones. They are gloomy and pessimistic. The visitor who remarks, “What a fine day!” gets the answer, “Yes, but it’s going to rain to-morrow.” This outlook will not retain immigrants. It scares them away to regions where if the pastures are not so green, the company is more inspiring.
Furthermore, the Maritime merchant should get out of the old rut. The old proverb about the maker of a superior mouse trap having a path beaten to his hut in the wilderness does not hold for modern business. Advertising is the keynote of success. How many of the 900 Maritime manufacturers go after worth while publicity, even in the columns of the local press? No wonder American oysters are sold, in pretty glass jars, on the shelves of our shops.
Again, the Maritime Provinces should better their facilities for tourist traffic. Many centres lack hotels: Though
operating ten in other sections of Canada, the Canadian National has, as yet, no hotel in the Maritime Provinces. Sydney, centre of an industrial population of over 100,000, and of a region of unsurpassed beauty and inteiest has no suitable hostelry. Governments may do a great deal to help, but the main work in attracting tourists must be done by the people themselves.
Another suggestion: Maritime folk
should travel more extensively to other parts of Canada. Canadians do not know each other well enough and inter-provincial visiting should be encouraged as a means for promoting a true, national outlook.
Above all, the Maritime Provinces should develop confidence in themselves and in the wares they offer for sale. We should buy more from, and sell more to, each other. Unless we get to work and help ourselves, any aid or sympathy we receive will be wasted. Our men have not been on the job. Our Federal iepresentatives have been asleep at the switch, or they would never have allowed discriminations against us to creep into the Canadian structure. If we show we are really in earnest these unfortunate conditions cannot last much longer. The citizens of Canada are far too just to allow the existence of anomalies and impediments like that.
Despite serious hindrances we have had many a striking success. Our backs have not been broken beneath the load, but we cannot go on bearing the heavy end of Confederation forever. All we ask is that the other provinces of Canada lift their share of the load. Geography can and must be overcome. Let Canadians, whether in the east, or west, or on the rolling prairie, yoke themselves in harness and pull long and heavily for a national Canada. We are certain that when the misunderstandings have been removed, all the Dominion will play square with us.
Editor’s Note: With reference to Mr. Macodrum’s statements regarding fieight rates, Lome McDonald, assistant freight manager, Canadian National Railways, offers the following explanations:
Montreal rate westward. This rate is not given to Montreal alone but is a blanket rate shared by all Ontario territory including the Superior division. From all these points the fifth-class rate to Winnipeg is the same, namely, $1.14 per hundred lbs. While it is true that there are ten “zones” of similar blanket rates westward from Sydney, the fact that the rate from Sydney to Winnipeg, 792 miles farther than from Montreal to Winnipeg, is only $1.32 or a difference of only 18 cents, would indicate that Sydney has not much to complain of.
Hamilton-Halifax, Sydney-Halifax shipments. The writer has not indicated what class of goods he has in mind in making this statement. The commodity, common to both towns, which bears the minimum shipping rate is bar-iron. On this the rate would be: Hamilton-Halifax 30 cents a hundred, Sydney-Halifax 10 cents a hundred.
Alberta-Toronto rate. By virtue of an agreement between the provinces of Alberta and Ontario, a fixed quantity of coal from Alberta was moved at this rate. It was moved at the C.N.R.’s convenience, and the two provinces named agreed to make up the difference between the seven dollars paid by the mine-owner and the actual cost of transportation. This whole question, however, is at the present time in the hands of the Railway Commission, and doubtless there will be considered at the same time the matter of a relative rate from the Maritime Provinces to Ontario points.
Buffalo and Black Rock to Cochrane. The distance from these towns to Cochrane is given as 1,049 miles. This would be true were shipment made by way of Hervey Junction and through La Tuque, Doucet and Amos. As a matter of fact this routing would only be used in case of emergency. The usual route followed in shipments from the Niagara frontiei is via North Bay and the T.&N.O. Railway, a distance of 570 miles.
Halil ax-Chicagc. The express rate from Prince Rupert to Chicago as given is correct—per hundred Dounds. As there is no movement of fish from Halifax to Chicago by express, no special rate has been made. Fish is transported on this route by manifest freight, the rate for which are: Fresh fish, 92 cents a hundred pounds; dried fish, 70Yt cents a hundred pounds. The manifest freight rate from Prince Rupert to Chicago is: Fresh fish, $1.871^ a hundred pounds: dried fish, $1.37Y a hundred pounds.
The whole question of the equalization of freight rates within Canada is now being investigated by the Poard of Railway Commissioners.