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Has the following clause in the original charter of the Grand Trunk Railway Company, passed in 1852, been repealed :-' The fare or charge for each third-class passenger by any train on the said railway shall not exceed one penny currency for each mile travel ; and that at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 But I take the answer to mean that the clause in the original charter of the Grand Trunk Railway has not been repealed, and that the company is bound to give the people along that portion of this line covered by its original charter a penny-a-mile rate for a third-class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.