The fixing of tolls, so far as relates to the Canadian Pacific Railway is subject, as the hon. gentleman (Hon. Mr. Haggart) knows, to some limitation in a part of Canada, according to the generally accepted interpretation of the act under which that company was chartered. We presume we cannot interfere with their rates until they are paying a dividend up to ten per cent. In the other parts of Canada the Canadian Pacific would be subject to this law as all other railways. We have not provided that the government railways shall come under the jurisdiction and control of the Commission any more than they have come under the control of the Railway Committee of the Privy Council. We leave the law exactly as we find it in that respect.
Then the government railways may do as they like about rates ?
The government railways have always been able to do that, in the sense which, I suppose, the hon. gentleman means. Of course, the government railways cannot do as they like ; they must do as the people or the government likes.
Then, in the matter of rates, how is the uniformity to be secured, if the government railways are not under control ?
We have always had uniformity on the government railways.
But not uniform with other lines.
It is not possible to secure absolute uniformity on all railways. In fact it is not possible to secure uniformity on any one very extensive railway, because its freight is carried over different parts of the system under varying conditions. You do not have uniformity on the Canadian Pacific, and never can have, though the Can-
adian Pacific were clearly subject to the operation of the law throughout its entire system.
Will the hon. minister tell us why the government railways should not be under the control of the commission just the same as other railways ?
I am willing to discuss that question when we reach the clause under which it arises. I would have precisely the same reason for continuing the law as parliament had for enacting it in that form and for continuing it when the law was revised in 1888. The reasons are cogent and, I think will be so regarded by the committee when the subject comes to be discussed in detail.
I would like to ask how this provision will affect a case in which a province, for a consideration, has made a bargain with certain railways for the control of their rates ? Would this Railway Commission supersede the legislation of the province ? What powers would the commission have in such a case, for instance, as the bargain made by the province of Manitoba last year with the Canadian Northern Railway with regard to the control of rates ? Would the commission have the power to override that legislation or vary it ?
I am afraid my hon. friend (Mr. McCreary) is asking me to express an opinion on a question which would require more thought than I could give it at this moment as I am standing on my feet. Probably it would be wiser to call for professional opinion to see what these agreements are, and ascertain the facts, before expressing any very decided view upon the question. I think perhaps 1 can afford my hon. friend some information which will be of use to him even in this connection. This board constituted by parliament would of course have to be advised as to any legal obstacles that may arise in respect of the exercise of its powers in any given case ; and if it should transpire that there were existing agreements such as my hon. friend points out, which would make it illegal for them to make regulations affecting tolls contrary to the terms of any such agreement, they would not exercise their power. They have the widest possible power to arrange and to apply their schedules to any portion of any railway, or any particular portion of any particular district, and not apply them to any other portion of that district. So I think any difficulties of that kind can be overcome easily, and it would not militate against the general efficiency of the Bill if a difficulty did arise such as my hon. friend has pointed out.
We provide for the greatest possible publicity in the matter of tariffs. I think it Hon. Mr. BLAIR.
will be found when sections of the Bill come to be investigated, that every reasonable means has been provided whereby the public can be made acquainted with the rates they will be called upon to pay for transportation, speaking generally, on any of the railroads of the country. Of course, we know there are two great divisions of railway tariffs, freight tariffs and passenger tariffs. We divide freight tariffs into three classes, the standard, the special, and what we call the competitive. As the law stands at present, the schedules of tariffs emanate from the companies. The law provides that a by-law of a railway company must be passed setting forth the tariff which it proposes to get authority to impose upon its traffic, and the Governor in Council may either approve of that by-law, in which case it goes into operation, or he may refuse approval, and withhold assent until such time as a by-law is submitted to him containing a tariff of tolls which he can approve. After all is said and done, the tariff which is thus settled and approved is a maximum tariff ; it is not a tariff do be imposed by the railway upon its traffic ordinarily, because in practice it is always in excess of the tariff rates which are charged. That system will cease to be in operation when this Bill becomes law. The companies will propose their tariff, the board may say : We
will not approve of that tariff, but we will approve of such and such a tariff, and they may prescribe what that tariff shall be. We have given it that power; and that tariff, as I have said, will be a standard; that is to say, the general tariff in operation upon such railway or portion of such railway as the board shall determine. Neither more nor less than the rate so fixed shall be charged, unless or except there has been submitted and approved one of the other two classes of tariffs, a special or a competitive. Conditions may exist, the carriage of certain classes of goods may be called for, such as coal, lumber or grain, in regard to which it is the custom of railways, and that custom will continue, to make special tariffs, and if these tariffs commend themselves to the board they will go into operation. Competitive freight tariffs deal with reduced charges for any class of the general freight classification between points which the board may deem it advisable that such competitive tariff shall apply, but shall not be subject to the clauses respecting the long and short haul. Special and competitive tariffs may be amended at any time, or may be supplemented at any time, by the railway companies, and tolls for these specified commodities or between any points
Hon. Mr. HAGGART.
By the commission ?
Under special conditions, cir-
cumstances or emergencies, that tariff may he changed, but it is not to continue in operation one moment longer than is necessary, and the board shall have power to disallow it. Nobody, I apprehend, wants to hamper the great railway interests of the country; we do not want to do that; and we know there are constantly ocassions arising when offers of particular merchandise are made with which railway companies have to deal at once, and will have no time to prepare and submit a tariff for the consideration and approval of the board. The companies are to have power to make such a tariff and to apply it in particular instances, immediately' advising the board of what they have done, when the board may approve or disallow such tariff.
What will occur supposing they disapprove of what has been done ?
The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND [DOT]CANALS. What has been done cannot be undone. We make this provision to avoid uncertainty on the part of shippers. It is also provided that they shall have three days' notice of any reduction of rates and ten days' notice of any increase of rates. I think, Mr. Speaker, I have stated fully the respects in which we have introduced changes regarding the control of rates. We now pass on to the other provisions in the Bill which are not of so much interest, and which are almost in all respects identical with the clauses of the General Railway Act.
It. BROCK (Centre Toronto). May I ask the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals, before he passes on, whether he is giving this commission control of the grant-lug of charters to railways, or whether its recommendation will be submitted to the Railway Committee to be acted upon by the Railway Committee, and also may I ask the hon. minister if this commission is to have control of canals as well ? I listened carefully to what the hon. minister has said, but I have not heard him say anything about canals. Canals may become the rivals of railways. Another very important means of carrying trade at the present time and which is growing all the time are tramways. Will the commission have control of freight and passenger tramways operated by electricity or otherwise, and are these powers included in the Bill ? Some of our railways are part rail and part canal, or part waterways and part steamship carriage; would this commission have the same control over all these means of carriage that you are giving it over railways, or are you reserving these for the control of another commission, or to that of the Privy Council ?
My hon. friend (Mr. Brock) has asked me several question and I will try to answer them in the order in which he has asked them. He has first asked whether any provision is being introduced in this Bill giving power to the board to control the granting of charters. I may say to him that we have made no such provision. Later on, before I resume my seat,
I intend to call the attention of the House to that question and to another, and cognate question, that might be discussed and considered while this Bill is going through. This provision and the other one that I shall mention later will be provisions of a very drastic character, and I did not feel like pressing upon my colleagues in council the inclusion of these two clauses in the present Bill; and yet they are railway questions of importance and I thought it would be very fitting at all events that the attention of the committee, when they were considering the Bill, should be brought to them, that they might become subjects of discussion ; and it might be that such an opinion would be evoked from the committee that clauses embodying the sense of the committee on these subjects could be included in the Bill. I have drafted a couple of clauses relating to these matters, and later on I will call the attention of the committee to them. The hon. member for Centre Toronto (Mr. Brock) asked me another question as to whether this legislation included tramways. I may say that we did not have it in mind to include control over tramways in preparing this Bill. There is another question which I am afraid has escaped me for the moment.
The question as to part rail and part water routes.
In regard to the question of the control of canals by the board, we have not suggested that. There does not seem to me very much analogy between the subject of railways and that of canals, not so much as to make it desirable that the commission should be invested with any duty in respect to canals.
May I ask the hon. minister whether it is the intention to bring the operations of express companies under the control of the commission ? For instance, in shipping carloads from the fruit districts, over a railway, would the commission be empowered to exercise control over the rates charged by the express companies ?
Yes, the hon. gentleman (Mr. Cowan) will find abundant power to regulate rates as respects express shipments of all kinds. If he thinks these provisions are wanting in any respect we will be very glad to hear from him on the subject.