May 19, 1905

CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

I desire to call the attention of the Minister of Railways to a matter which came up on Wednesday. In reply to a question from me regarding the report of the Railway Commission, that lion, minister said :

I would say to my hon. friend that the report has not been laid before the House and the department is not in a position to lay such a report on the table, but as soon as I am in a position to do so I will submit It to the House.

Further on, when I called attention to the fact that a promise had been made, and that it was difficult to understand why the hon. minister did not carry out his promise, he said :

I think my hon. friend must be under some misapprehension as to any assurance that I gave him in respect to the placing of such a report upon the table of the House. I said that I would exercise due diligence in endeavouring to get that report and that I had been assured by the railway commissioners that such a report would be prepared. I have not received such a complete report. I was mixing up the two commissions. You are asking in respect to the Railway Commission ?

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CON
LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON.

I have not received that complete report yet, but I am expecting it.

As the hon. minister seemed to be under the impression that no definite promise had been made, il took occasion on Wednesday, to show that such a promise had been made at least two months previous. On the 3rd March the hon. minister then said :

I had a conference with the chairman of the Railway Commission, and he stated that the secretary of the commission was now preparing such a report. As soon as it is placed in my hands I will lay it on the table of the House.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

Can the hon. minister state any definite time when it will be ready ?

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON.

I did not ask the exact date. Only to-day the chairman assured me that It was being prepared, but I did not ask whether it would be ready in a day or two. I assumed it would be ready in the near future.

Again speaking definitely on the 17th March, exactly two months ago, he said :

A report has been promised, and I hope to have it within a few days.

Not only on the two occasions I have referred to, but also on the 22nd February we were definitely given to understand that a report would be brought down without delay. In view of all these promises, it was rather extraordinary that two days ago the minister said he never did make any definite promise and was not in a position to make one. In fact the matter seemed to have slipped from his mind altogether. Not only is that the unfortunate position of things, but we have not yet had the amendment to the statute which the First Minister promised us on the 22nd February nor can we get any definite information about it. It is very unfortunate that this omission should have occurred in the Railway Act, but apart altogether from that Act, we would have expected the Railway Commission to have had a specific report ready before parliament met. Not only should we have from this Railway Commission a general report on that branch of the service which is costing the people so much money, but we should have a special

report from the late chairman of the commission (Mr. Blair) who made a special toui-in the United States in order to acquire some expert knowledge of the working of commissions of this kind. The report of the Railway Commission itself as to all its doings and all its expenditure should have been in the hands of the Minister of Railways before parliament assembled and that report should have been embodied in the report of the minister. Yet we have the unfortunate condition of things that the minister was bound to admit two days ago that he knows practically nothing about the matter yet, that he has taken no definite action to procure definite information which the House required and as far as he is concerned it had practically slipped from his mind. Now having called the attention of the minister to it in this way I trust that some effort will be made to have this report laid upon the table of the House at once so that we may know what this commission is doing, particularly as it is a new departure, and we should be able to judge whether it is carrying out the expectations which those who framed the Act had in view at the time the Railway Act, 1903, was introduced.

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Hon. H. R. EMMERSON (Minister of Railways and Canals).

On Wednesday I stated that I codld not give any definite assurance as to the time when the report from the Railway Commission could be expected. I had at that time in mind the fact that I had on a former occasion expressed to the House my hope that I would soon be in a position to lay on the table of the House the report of that board for the reason that I had been told by the chairman that such a report was in course of preparation. I have not yet received that report although I have looked for it on more than one occasion. I have however some assurance and hope that I will be able to place it on the table by Monday next at the latest. I of course am dependent upon the Railway Commissioners in the matter. It is not something under the control of the Department of Railways and Canals ; I cannot force the commission to make a report, as it does not emanate from my department, and therefore I cannot be held responsible for its non-production, but I shall hope that it may be forthcoming at least by Monday next.

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L-C

Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. A. B. INGRAM.

On March 3rd this question was first asked, something over two and a half months ago, and now the minister admits that he cannot force the commissioners to submit a report to him. That is one very good, strong reason why an amendment to the Railway Act should have been introduced compelling the Railway Commission to make a report to this House. The people of this country are expending large sums of money for the purpose of having a Railway Commission, and that parliament is to be deprived of all control over that Itail-Mr. LENNOX.

way Commission is something I cannot understand, and I think in view of the statement made by the First Minister the government are a little lax in introducing their amendment to the Railway Bill. In this particular instance, I think parliament is entitled to a report and that steps should be taken at the earliest possible moment to have the Act amended in that direction.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

I would like to call the attention of the Minister of Railways to his words on February 22. He says now that he has no control over these gentlemen, but on page 1532 of the Revised ' Hansard ' he says:

I am only endeavouring to point out wliat I consider to be the law. I am quite free to admit that there should be a report from the commission. I am quite in accord with what has been stated in that regard, and I think that the commissioners should make a report from time to time to the Governor in Council through the Department of Railways and Canals, for as my hon. friend from Simooe (Mr. Lennox) says, if this commission is not in any way connected with the government through the Department of Railways and Canals, he cannot see any other department by which it would be thus connected. I quite agree with him that the natural avenue and channel between that board and the government is through the Department of Railways and Canals, but it does not seem to me that the Act makes proper provision for that.

The minister on that occasion admitted that there should be a provision for a report and that immediate steps should be taken to force the commission If they would not act, and that such a provision should be introduced at once if it was not already in the Railway Act. We have had no intimation that any step has been taken towards a remedy of that very peculiar omission which occurs in the Railway Act.

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON.

I quite adhere to my expressions of a former date in connection with a report from that commission. I might state to my hon. friend (Mr. Lennox) that he need not become suddenly impatient. There seems to be some weeks, at least some days before us, before the close of this session, and we must remember that there are quite a number of amendments under consideration ; a Bill is now on the order paper making amendments to the Railway Act, and before that Bill goes through and is considered by the committee I think that it will be my duty and privilege to submit to the House some amendments and among these there may be found one that will cure the defect in the Act in connection with the report. We have been pretty well occupied during this session with work ; at least there have been Bills that have received a little consideration, and I would not wish to interfere in any way with the progress of matters of that kind with any legislation affecting railways, but the Railway Department will have its turn in connection with legislation

and I hope my hon. friend will not be too impatieHt.

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CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. E. A. LANCASTER.

I do not think it is quite fair for the hon. Minister of Railways to suggest that the hon. member for South Simcoe (Mr. Lennox) is impatient in this matter. We have been here four or five months waiting for legislation from the government and have had only one piece of legislation which my hon. friend properly says has taken up a good deal of time. But that is not the fault of the opposition but the fault of the legislation which the government has introduced. It is legislation which is very controversial and very peculiar. This Railway Commission was appointed two years ago and for two years the Dominion of Canada has had that commission, but the people have had not a tittle of official evidence or information as to what that commission is doing, not one particle of information have the people of Canada as to whether that commission is doing anything like what was expected when it was appointed. I have a good deal of respect for the commission as a whole and for the individual members of it, but this is an instance where all public servants will do as they like if there is not some restraining or guiding hand in the shape of legislation or rules to govern them to which they must submit. Instead of lecturing the House and the hon. member who spoke in the interests of the people, I think the Minister of Railways or some member of the government should apologize to the House and the country for their laxity in this matter. It is not a matter that should be treated with levity. We have a large expenditure connected with this Railway Commission, and they were appointed to do work that is most important to the country. We do not know nor do the people of the country know at all except in cases where they have hunted up information for themselves,-sometimes at a good deal of expense, and always with a good deal of trouble,-what that commission is doing. They are not responsible apparently to the Minister of Railways or to the government in the matter of making a report. I do not see why there was not legislation introduced last session in this connection for this matter was known last session. On February 22 of this year as has been said, attention was drawn to it and the hon. member for South Simcoe then brought the matter up. The Prime Minister on that occasion said :

I shall at once call the attention of the Minister of Justice to this. If the commission is not under obligation to make such a report it is due to parliament that it should be at once put under such an obligation.

That was on the 22nd of February of this year, and here we are practically three months later and nothing has been done. Now ' at once ' might mean, I should think less than three months' time. Parliament

is in session and I do think we ought to have a little more speed in this matter. To-day we were promised in a very cursory, almost off-handed way by the minister. that there will be some other measure in regard to the amendment of the Railway Act which is supposed to be dealt with this session and which is now on the order paper. It is certainly as important as any legislation that has been introduced by the government, or promised by the government. I do not think that the manner in which the Minister of Railways treats this House would inspire the public with much hope that the government are going to do any better in the future than they have been doing the last few years ; and if not, I think the censure of the people should be visited upon this government. I would urge upon the government, so far as I have any influence, at least I would request the government as representing my constituency in this House, to take immediate action. I do not wish to allow this occasion to go by without putting on record my protest and the protest of my constituents against the dilatoriness with which the government has treated this matter, the want of care, the lack of appreciation of the importance of the matter, which I think the government has evinced. This' matter is one which demands a remedy at once, and we ought to have better assurance than we have yet had from the Minister of Railways that it will be attended to, and that the Railway Commission will be charged with the duty of making this report, either quarterly, half yearly or yearly, at all events at some set time, when these reports will become public documents and open to inspection by the public, so that the people can learn what is going on with regard to this matter, and all those other numerous matters that the commission has to deal with. The House desires to learn how the commission is working, and whether any other amendments are required in order to make it fulfil the intention of its appointment.

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LIB

David Alexander Gordon

Liberal

Mr. D. A. GORDON.

I desire to call the attention of the Minister of Railways to a condition of affairs that I think requires his attention and the attention of the commission. I refer to rates that are charged by American roads entering Canada and passing through this country What we ask is that the same rates, the same conditions and the same privileges be demanded of them as they are obliged to grant to the people of the United States. I think this proposition is reasonable and fair, and I know it is one of great moment to the people of Ontario. The American roads entering Canada name what rates they like on commodities originating in the states for people in Canada, but when they enter Canadian territory they do not give proportionate rates. We ask that this matter be taken into consideration, and if the facts

justify it, that the matter be laid before the commission to be dealt with 'by them. Let me say a word with reference to the commission and its acts during the past year. If there is any one who is not familiar with the decisions that have been rendered by that commission I think he has himself to blame. I do not think there is a farmer in Canada to-day but knows of the sweeping decisions that have been made with regard to rates on cattle and rates on graiD. The decisions given in favour of manufacturers in regard to rates, so far as those decisions are obligatory, have been of such importance that to-day the commission is swamped with appeals ; no less than 1,450 complaints have been placed before the commission since it was appointed, and tne great bulk of them I think have been disposed of. The position of American roads running through Canada has been so well discussed that it is not necessary for me to refer to it at any length now. I hope, however, that the tariffs, the minimums, and also the classifications affecting shippers, will be looked into, and that they will be made applicable to conditions existing in this country, and we firmly believe that a solution will be found to the present difficulties aud complaints that require to be remedied.

_Mr. EMM EH SON. In reply to my hon. friend, I may say that the question he has raised is one of very great importance so much so, indeed that it demands earnest and prompt consideration. The particular point to which he has invited attention has re^ei"le<^ 011 than one occasion

within recent weeks. I think there was some discussion with respect to it in this House. I can give my hon. friend assurance that the Department of Railways has had the matter under consideration, and has invited the consideration of the government to action in the direction which he has indicated. I trust that before the session closes, in connection with the amendments that are to be introduced to the Railway Act, there will be found a remedy for the grievance which he alleges to exist. I may say that^my own view was that there was a provision in certain sections of the Act, notably section 273; but if it is found S0JCar enouSb>

1 think it is the desire -ot this House to make a remedy complete and beyond question.

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THESSALON, ONT., POSTMASTER.

CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. C. BOYCE.

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LIB

David Alexander Gordon

Liberal

Mr. GORDON.

the postmaster on account of salary up to the 19th of May, 1904, be ineludetKin the papers laid on the table of the House for the information of the House.

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Motion agreed to, House went into Committee of Supply.


LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Hon. W. S. FIELDING (Minister of Finance).

We will take up the supplementary estimates for the current year, these being balances that are required to wind up the affairs of the current year.

Civil government-'Post Office Department- further amount required for contingencies, $1,000.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAGGART.

Has the hon. Postmaster General (Sir William Mulock) any account of that ?

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Hon. S@

I do not know anything about the item. I have no doubt that $1,000 is a small item in the department.

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CON

George Taylor (Chief Opposition Whip; Whip of the Conservative Party (1867-1942))

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TAYLOR.

I would like to inquire

if any portion of this sum is required to pay the salary of this postmaster ? Just for the information of the hon. Postmaster General I will read a portion of a letter that has been sent to me. It is as follows :

Now, Mr. Taylor, I beg your kind indulgence . for a few moments while I call your attention to the way in which the deputy returning officer and his poll clerk conducted the election proceedings at polling division No. 3, Kitley, where I was agent in your behalf. The deputy returning officer was George Milton Leverette, the village postmaster, and his polling clerk was Benjamin Franklin Stewart, a carriage maker. From the opening to the closing of the poll the deputy returning officer ran things with a high hand. Everything was trampled under foot. Oaths of office, the statutes and myself, not physically but officially, were trampled under foot and completely ignored. Never did I see such brazen defiance of law and right. It was plainly manifest that 'he Grit machine was doing business at the old stand as brisk as ever and had established a local branch at Frank-ville under management of the deputy returning officer and his poll clerk. To enumerate some of the violations of the law committed by these two election officials, I wish to say that the deputy returning officer in defiance of a protest from me placed the ballot box on the floor to the right of his chair ; when so placed it was behind the table and entirely out of the view of those present. I read the law to him, but he emphatically told me it was on the floor and was going to stay there and I might help myself if I could. All that was left for me to do was to seat myself on a chair beside it, which I did. Another thing, he said he did not have the required statutory dates to be inserted in the oath to voters, but I really did not believe him. Fortunately, however, I supplied this want by having them myself under certificate of the township clerk, otherwise I do not believe I should have been able to have sworn a voter at all that day. Again, he allowed his poll clerk to act as agent for your opponent, Gibson, in the absence of duly appointed agents.

I protested, but was powerless. The poll clerk told a voter, one Frank Livingston, whom I

challenged, that I .vas doing dirty work, and was only tryiag to bluff him out of his good vote. Through these encouraging words of the poll clerk the voter took the oath and voted. To-day he stands a perjured man. Something more yet. The deputy returning officer put some private mark or number on the stub of the ballots besides the number he was entitled by law to put on the counterfoil. Here again,

I protested, but was told that he was doing so and would continue to do so and 1 might help myself if I could. I asked to see that private mark or number, but was refused. Now, Mr. Taylor, if I could afford the expense I would go to Gananoque to see you personally about these matters. -Something should be done. An example should be made of these two election officials because if not they will be bolder than ever the next time. The matter, however, will be left entirely in your hands. Many Conservatives here say that the matter should be attended to and that prosecutions should follow. As for the deputy returning officer, you can do what you like with him. You can bring his case up on the floor of the House next session or deal with him otherwise as you think best.

I would like to inquire of the hon. Postmaster General if any portion of this sum is to pay that man's salary. I draw these facts to the hon. minister's attention. There is his officer, a postmaster, drawing probably $1,000 a year salary, and yet he goes and acts as a partisan, ignores the law and conducts an election in the manner here described.

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LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

No portion of this item will go to pay the salary of any postmaster. There is in the estimates always an item for salaries. If my hon. friend (Mr. Taylor) will turn to the estimates he will find that that is so. Having made an explanation and as this matter is not connected with this item I have nothing further to say, but if it is proposed to continue the discussion perhaps there may be some further question that would occur to my hon. friend.

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May 19, 1905