September 24, 1903


House again committee on Bill (No. 2351 to provide for the construction of a National Transcontinental Railway.-The Prime Minister. On section 2, The said agreement bearing date the 29Li day of July. 1903, a copy of which forms the schedule to this Act, is hereby ratified and confirmed and declared to be legally binding upon His Majesty and the said Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company, and His Majesty and the said company are hereby authorized and empowered to do whatever is necessary in order to give full effect to the said agreement.


IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

I desire to propose a short amendment as an addition to the Bill before it becomes law. The other day in this House, I asked a question to this effect:

Has the following clause in the original charter of the Grand Trunk Railway Company, passed in 1852, been repealed :-' The fare or charge for each third-class passenger by any train on the said railway shall not exceed one penny currency for each mile travel ; and that at least one train per day having third-class carriages shall run every day throughout the length of the line ' ?

This was answered by the Minister of-Finanee (Hon. W. S. Fielding) as follows :

The question of (the hon. gentleman is a legal question, involving the consideration of many years of legislation concerning the Grand Trunk Railway, and we do not think we are in a position to give any definite answer. We' think it would not be wise for us to express any opinion on a matter of that character at present.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I think it is the duty of the government and the Department of Justice to answer a question of this character, and give the information asked for. They are there to advise the people and this House as to the actual condition of affairs from a legal point of view. But I take the answer to mean that the clause in the original charter of the Grand Trunk Railway has not been repealed, and that the company is bound to give the people along that portion of this line covered by its original charter a penny-a-mile rate for a third-class passenger service. The company has not fulfilled that obligation. I believe that the condition of the law in England, and this country is that, when a duty is imposed by statute on a company, they cannot plead any defence, but the court is compelled forthwith to insist on the fulfilment of the obligation. Therefore, I believe it would require only an intimation from the Minister of Railways, to the Grand Trunk Railway Company that they must fulfil that obligation and they would be compelled to afford this service. And I still further hold that even an ordinary citizen can move in the way of an injunction ; and it may be necessary for some ordinary citizen to do so, if the government is remiss in~the duty it owes to the people of compelling the company to give a two-cent rate over that portion of its line covered by the original charter. I believe this parliament and this government should not sanction an agreement with the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company, which company undertakes that the Grand Trunk Company proper shall become the absolute owners and controllers of the road-I say that such agreement should

not come into effect until such time as the Grand Trunk has fulfilled its original obligation. My amendment is as follows :

That the following clause he added to section 35 :-Notwithstanding anything in .this Act the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada shall not .acquire and take the shares set out in clause 27 of the agreement hereto attached until such time as the company has fulfilled the following clause of Its original charter, passed in 1852 :-' The fare or charge for each third-class passenger by any train on the said railway shall not exceed one penny currency for each mile travel ; and that at least one train per day having third-class carriages shall run every day throughout the length of the line ?

I think that is a very reasonable amendment to be made at this stage of the discussion-to impose upon the Grand Trunk Railway, which is in some way a party to this contract, that it shall not assume control, that it shall not be given these immense subsidies that are to be given to this transcontinental line, until it fulfils the obligation to the people of Canada that it undertook fifty years ago, when it was chartered, namely, to give a two-cent parliamentary rate. It is called a two-cent parliamentary rate, third-class travel. It was the law in England at the time this charter to the Grand Trunk was given, and all the railways in England have given it. It has been the feature of passenger travel in England. Therefore, parliament, in the original inception of the road, insisted on penny-a-mile travel. Why has not this been insisted upon in this case ? I do not know, but from all the investigations I have made and from the advice of eminent counsel I have taken in the matter, I am sure that the clause has not been repealed, as the acting Minister of Railways and Canals would suggest. It is still there to-day, and all that it requires is a government acting in the interest of the people to compel the performance of that original undertaking. There was a meeting of the Farmers' Association in Toronto the other night. We all profess to be the farmer's friend, and there is an election coming on, and the farmer's friend will be out again weeping for the farmers. Well, if they want to show their sympathy for the farmers, now is the time to do it.

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LIB

Duncan Cameron Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER.

We want to give the hon. gentleman a chance to weep.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

The hon. gentleman himself belongs to the weeping fraternity, and the politicians are getting ready to go out, because I hear there is an election impending. But the time to weep for the farmers is now, for those who want to show their sympathy with the farmers. This Farmers' Association is a non-partisan organization for the protection of the interests of the agricultural classes. It officers are : C. A. Mallory, President ; W. L. Smith, Secretary-Treasurer; L. E. Annis,

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

Scarboro, C. A. Mallory, Cobourg; J. F. Beam, Black Creek ; J. L. Wilson, Alexandria ; W. K. McLeod, Yanneck. The purposes of the association are

That while deeming it inadvisable to establish a political party, we believe it is for the welfare of the country that there should be an organization ready to bring its influence to bear to secure and promote the interests of the farmer in matters of legislation and otherwise.

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LIB

Duncan Cameron Fraser

Liberal

Mr. FRASER.

Would the hon. gentleman read the resolution they passed at the same time in relation to the tariff ?

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

When the tariff is under discussion I will be very glad to do it and to give my views concerning it. Will the hon. gentleman tell us what he thinks about the farmers and the duty on salt ? Now at this meeting, the farmers declared themselves unreservedly in favour of a two-cent passenger rate in this country. They thought the time had come when such a measure should be passed. They passed other resolutions dealing with the question, but I do not propose to discuss them at the present time. Now, Mr. Chairman, the farmers of this country think it is high time they should have a two-cent passenger rate. They have it in a great many states of the Union, and they can have it to-day in Canada, for they have got the railways in their power, if parliament insists on compliance with this original charter. Let me tell you how it works out. This great reform may be worked out in two ways : It may be worked out as I propose by a clause in the Railway Committee Bill, fixing the maximum passenger rate, or it may be worked out by imposing a certain penalty on a particular company. Here is the opportunity to impose a penalty on a particular company in a limited direction. But that is not sufficient as I have already told the House before. The people of New York State got a two-cent passenger rate because certain legislation was imposed on the New York Central over a limited portion of its line. But it works this way- that if the New York Central is forced to give a two-cent rate, then every other competing road must give a two-cent rate. Now if the Grand Trunk proper is compelled by its original charter to give a two-cent rate from Montreal to Toronto, then the Canadian Pacific Railway, which, is in competition with the Grand Trunk must give it, and then under the law that there must be no discrimination against localities, they must give it all over their system, which is the effect of these regulations. You may compel the company to do it only on a very limited area of territory, but if you enforce it there, every other road in competition must do the same thing. Once a road reduces its rate over a small portion of its line, it is bound, under the law of equal treatment and no discrimination against localities, to give it over every

other portion of its system. Here is an opportunity that will never present itself again, to give the people over Ontario and practically over the whole west a two-cent passenger rate.

I want to point out that the Grand Trunk admits by what it is doing to-day that this is an obligation binding on it, for as a matter of fact they are giving what they call a second-class rate on travel between Montreal and Toronto and intermediate points, for about two cents and a half a mile. There is a second-class rate on the Grand; Trunk between Toronto and west of Toronto, except in case of tickets that originate east of Toronto. Rut the Grand Trunk today, while it professes to give a cheaper rate, and professes to be in a measure complying with this original clause, is not giving the people the penny-a-miie rate that is called for. When the opporJ tunity presents itself as it does here today, I trust the government will take advantage of it to compel the performance of this original obligation. I am willing to help the government in every way I can, and to modify this clause in every way possible in order to secure the performance of this obligation. The government and parliament can very well say to the Grand Trunk : We are imposing nothing on you but what you originally undertook to perform, and you cannot blame us, when a great measure like a transcontinental railway charter is going through parliament, if in the interests of the people, we insist on the fulfilment of that original obligation. There is no hostility in it to the Grand Trunk Company, it is simply an insistence on the performance of an obligation undertaken a good many years ago, and which has up to the present time not been fully carried out. X trust that the government, in view of the facts I have presented here to-day, will put in the agreement some such clause as will compel the performance of that undertaking. It is in no sense a measure of hostility, it is only taking a parliamentary advantage to do something that the people are entitled to, and something the people demand. I now submit this proposition for discussion, and later on I may divide the House upon it. But I hope I will not have to do that, and that the government will see the justice of the contention 1 make here to-day, and that they will insist on the performance of this clause in the original contract.

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE (Hon. Chs. Fitzpatrick).

In the remarks which my hon. friend from York (Mr. Maclean) has addressed to the Committee, he has confounded two separate and district things one. a two-cent rate applicable to a particular railway, and the other a general two-cent rate per mile applicable, I presume all over Canada and to all railways such as suggested by that resolution passed at the farmers' meeting. Now, I have not at my 383

disposal the time necessary to gather such information as would, enable me to add anything to the discussion that took place on that subject. These vague statements as to what ought to be done and what ought not to be done are not very useful to the House in enabling us to come to a satisfactory conclusion. In addition to these statements, we require some statistics and positive information that would enable us to act intelligently in the matter. My hon. friend will bear in mind that our relations towards the Canadian Pacific Railway are so fixed by Statute that it would be impossible to make such a provision as he contends for applicable to that system.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

As I pointed out, if this provision is enforced against the Grand Trunk, the law of competition will force the Canadian Pacific Railway to come into line.

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

I am now coming to the other question the hon. gentleman has referred to with regard to the Grand Trunk. I have gone over the statutes passed with reference to this road since 1852, gone over them as carefully as I could with the limited time at my disposal during the progress of the session, and I may say that so far as I have been able to gather I find that the provision of section 3, chapter 37 of the Statutes of 1852, if not repealed by implication-and I think that is arguable, I do not express an opinion one way or the other as to whether that provision is repealed by implication-but I think that is a fairly debateable point, is only applicable to the Grand Trunk Railway on that portion of its line between Montreal and Toronto.

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IND
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Tlie MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

Now under that section the company has a right to charge three and a third cents a mile for each first-class passenger, they have a right to charge txvo and a half cents a mile for each scond-elass passenger, and they have a right to charge one and two-third cents a mile for each third-class passenger. As a matter of fact, the company to-day charge on that line between these two points, three cents a mile for a first-class passenger, which is less than the tariff authorizes them to charge ; two cents a mile for a second-class passenger, which is also less than the tariff authorizes-

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

But it is not a parliamentary rate.

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

Less than the tariff authorized. My hon. friend says that they charge an illegal rate for a third-class passenger service. I am not sure as to what goes on in respect to the line between Toronto and Montreal, but my information gathered in conversation with members of this House is to the effect that there has never been a third-

[DOT] 12228

class service maintained between those two points.

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LIB
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The MINISTER OF .JUSTICE.

The people of Ontario who use that line chiefly are in a position to indulge in a superior class of accommodation and they will only use, generally, a first-class car, and at the very least, second-class, and if they get that for less than the tariff there is no general outcry in regard to a decrease in the rate. I do not think this would be good legislation. I am quite certain that it would be very improper legislation when dealing with a Bill affecting the Grand Trunk Pacific to attempt to legislate in such a way as to alter the charge made by the Grand Trunk Railway in respect to its line between 'Toronto and Montreal.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

I am not attempting to alter the charge., 1 am only seeking to compel the performance of an undertaking embodied in a statute of this parliament and not repealed, which statute gives the people of Canada every day in the year the right to a two-cent-a-mile rate but which they have not got to-day over one of the most profitable railways in Canada, or in America. The Grand Trunk Railway line between Toronto and Montreal is congested with passenger traffic. They cannot handle the people. Trains are delayed because there are so many passengers to carry. The people are demanding cheaper travel and they have not a two-cent-a-mile rate on the Grand Trunk Railway.

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

There is no discussion about the second-class rate. It is two cents a mile.

Sir. S1ACLEAN. I beg the hon. gentleman's pardon, it is not. The second-class rate is over two and a half cents a mile.

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

No.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

I have the rates here. The people are entitled by law to a rate of two cents a mile. I say impose this rate on this one section, because, by reason of that being applied to one section, the law of competition which hon. gentleman opposite are always upholding will give tiie people all over the country a two-cent-a-mile passenger traffic. That is the way things are accomplished and the reduction in rates may be accomplished in this way. If I do not get it here I will go to the courts and I will do the work that we are paying the government and the hon. Minister of Justice to do. I will go there as an ordinary citizen andi ask for an injunction compelling the Grand Trunk Railway to give me a third-class rate between Toronto and Montreal. I think I make a reasonable proposition and I make it at a time and under conditions which hon. gentlemen opposite have Hon. Mr. FITZPATRICK.

time and again declared to be opportune. When the country is giving a great privilege, a great franchise, to a great corporation get some concession in return for the people. That is the principle which was laid down in connection with the Crow's Nest Pass. Hon. gentlemen opposite said : We are giving a subsidy which is more than the Canadian Pacific Railway asked for from the previous government but in return we are getting cheaper rates for the people. The government did secure cheaper rates in that way and they laid down that doctrine. I remember that at the time the Globe said : Here is something new that has come to Canada, something that never was seen or heard of before, namely, that when a franchise was given concessions are obtained for tbe people.

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September 24, 1903