Yes, but the information would not be here in time even then. It would be available later just as well as to-morrow for reference. If the hon. gentleman makes these motions, I have no objection whatever to their passing and I will telegraph for the information and get it as soon as possible, but it would not be possible to have it here to-morrow.
The minister informed us, when last we were considering this Bill, that he would consider whether the Bill should be made to apply to express companies or not. What has been tbe result of his consideration in this respect ?
The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS (Hon. A. G. Blair).
I have been considering the matter carefully since the last sitting of the committee, and I have come to the conclusion that, considering the enormous magnitude of the Bill, it would be quite impracticable to encumber it with any further provisions if it is to be disposed of during the present session. My own view is that if it is desirable express companies should be taken under control of tbe railway commission, it would be necessary to have that dealt with by a separate Bill. I cannot think of incorporating it in the present Bill. It would complicate it, and would involve a great deal of labour in making alterations and amendments in other clauses.
Seeing that the minister has made a study of this matter, I would ask him whether the Inter-State Commerce Bill, and the several State Bills dealing with this matter, do not give jurisdiction over express companies ?
The board of trade of the city of Toronto and other boards of trade have represented to the minister that it is essential the rates charged by express companies should be subject to regulation by the railway commission. I agree thoroughly with that idea. If this Bill is as comprehensive as it is said to be, it should contain such a provision, and without such a provision it is an incomplete Bill and almost useless. The express companies handle a great deal more freight now than ever before, and their charges in some cases are said to be excessive. The commercial people of this country desire that express companies should be included in this Bill, and I cannot see any reason why the minister purposes not to do so. The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Grand Trunk Railway have three or four car loads of express matter on each train now, whereas formerly half a car was sufficient for the express business. Again, it is the railway companies that own these express companies. As a matter of fact, the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Grand Trunk Railway own their express business. I again ask that the express companies be brought within the purview of this Bill.
I think the minister would do well to reconsider his intention not to include the express companies in this Bill. A few weeks ago the fruit-growers waited upon the minister and complained that their fruit, which is largely shipped by express, was subject to the discriminations and irregularities which this Bill is supposed to overcome in respect to railways. Hundreds of car loads of fruit are shipped by express, and it seems to me a reasonable thing that the express rates should be regulated by the railway commission. Not only the fruitgrowers, but other shippers are very anxious to have some regulation of express companies, and I trust the minister will include them in this Bill.
Mr. MeCREARY. I do not know why these hon. gentlemen bring up such matters as these at the present time, unless it be their object to defeat this Bill. While the express charges are very high throughout Canada, yet I believe that if we are going to hamper this Bill with every detail of transportation that can be thought of, the result will be to prevent its passage during the present session. I believe the majority of the members of this House are in favour of Hon. Mr. BLAIR.
having this Bill passed at once, and having the railway problem solved so far as it is possible to solve it in this respect.
Mr. MeCREARY. We cannot expect to cure every ill by one Act. This is something like the Municipal Act, and it will require amendments probably for the next four or five sessions before it is made nearly perfect. The railway Bills in Minnesota and Dakota have taken ten or twelve years since their passage to reach their present condition, and they are not perfect yet. We cannot expect to have this Bill perfect all at once, and if we desire to pass it this session we should not encumber it with details in regard to express charges or telephone charges or telegraph charges, or anything else but construction, equipment, management, operation and rates on railways. We could deal with the express companies either in a separate Bill or after we have finished the main body of this Bill.
So far as my knowledge goes of the agitation which was the cause of the introduction of the amendment to the Railway Act by the Minister of Railways and Canals, the complaint was in regard to freight tolls, and not, as the hon. gentleman seems to think, in regard to the construction of railways. The great complaint throughout this country was that the railways were not held within reasonable bounds in respect to freight rates, and express rates as well. If we are going to have a Bill dealing with the tolls on railways, why not have it regulate rates by express as well as by slow freight ?
I resent what the hon. gentleman from the west says. I am very anxious to see a railway commission Bill carried through the House, and I will do my best to help to get it passed. I believe the country will support the minister in putting such a Bill through but the country expects that a Bill dealing with freight rates will deal with all freight rates, including those of express companies. Why should not the railways be regulated in regard to the rates they charge on express matter as well as in regard to other freight ? Goods are sent by express not only for speed, but often also because they are perishable. Carload after carload of perishable freight is sent by express from the fruit districts of Ontario, and the fruit-growers have said time after time that they can only grow fruit under the condition of having favourable freight charges. If the Minister of Agriculture (Hon. Mr. Fisher)-and I would like to see him in his place to-day-wishes to aid the farmers, the fruit-growers and the dairymen of this country, he will see that this Bill takes jurisdiction over express charges, I am anxious to see the Bill passed, and I suggest to the minister now that there is no reason why he should not put into this
clause the word express or introduce later a clause, providing that express companies shall be considered railway companies, to make them subject to the jurisdiction of the Bill.
I am afraid that the jaunty way in which my hon. friend would dispose of the question and the confident ease witli which he thinks this matter can be dealt with, show that he has a lot to learn as to the proper and effective method of legislating on this question. The assumption of my hon. friend that we are withdrawing express companies for the carriage of goods from the operation of this Bill is a mistaken one. All arrangements between railway companies and express companies are subject to the control of this proposed legislation, and I do not myself apprehend that there will be a great deal of difficulty in a general or broad way in covering all reasonable complaints with regard to the carriage, not of express freight, but of express packages-all goods which are taken up by express companies. But beyond that it would be absolutely necessary, I may tell my hon. friend, in order that proper legislation on that subject should be on the statute-book, that it should be dealt with by itself in a separate Bill. I have given a great deal of attention to this and other questions in connection with the proposed Bill, and have spent a good deal of labour upon it, and I want to say to the hon. gentleman that what he suggests cannot be done. It would simply destroy the Bill, and probably would not be effective at all. But what my hon. friend from Selkirk (Mr. McCreary) said a moment ago has much force in it. We cannot hope to exhaust all legislation for the carriage of merchandise by railways and other carriers in this Bill. I feel myself that we have undertaken as much as we can well and properly carry out during the present session. I do not want the Bill to be encumbered, if I can avoid it, with any new propositions. I want to deal with what we have here, and when we get this Bill in proper shape and working order, we shall have a footing on which to proceed to take up other cognate questions and deal with them in a much more effective manner than we could undertake to do in the present circumstances. Referring to what has been said by the hon. member for East Toronto (Mr. Kemp), I do recall that some delegations of fruit men waited upon me. but 1 do not know that they made any special reference to grievances which they suffered from the express companies. What they did impress on my mind was that, owing to the facility with which the railway companies were able to change their freight classifications, so as to transfer merchandise from one class to another, it was possible for them to do a good deal of injury to fruit and other perishable goods.
It was express freight, so far as my recollection serves me, that they had in mind, and as to which they impressed on me the need of improvement. We are covering express operations in a much larger degree, I believe, than the hon. gentleman imagines, because the word express company is not in the Bill. A railway company cannot, through an express company or other instrumentality, exact exorbitant charges. Its actions over its line are controlled by this board. I do not know how much more you could ask in a general way.
I do not think it could if. it were an express company any more than it could if it were not. I do not think, as legal entities, any of the railway companies are express companies. I suppose some of the individuals who constitute one company may constitute the other ; but for all legal purposes they are distinct corporate bodies. I believe that to be the case in regard to the Canadian Pacific Express Company, and I think it is likely to be the case with regard to the others. If my hon. friend desires, as I believe he does, to see this legislation go through, he will not urge that it should be encumbered with an attempt to deal with other questions than those included in it, and I would strongly counsel him to have patience with regard to these matters which he has in his mind, because in another session somebody will be able to take them up and deal' with them if we are not here to do it. We certainly have a very large contract on our hands to get through with ail these various clauses, and discuss all the complicated questions involved in the Bill, without increasing the number.