We are not a bit jealous of St. John, but I see here you are having repair shops put there. You intend them to repair cars at St. John and not take them to Moncton? That is exactly what I asked in regard to Halifax.
This is the item to which my hon. friend from Sydney (Mr. Maddin) referred yesterday. He was evidently under the impression that we had not an item to provide for this. This is a diversion of some 84 miles. It is proposed to run the trains back from George river to Sydney mines. It will get rid of one of the worst grades we have on the line and also of a branch line. The expenditure last year was $2,500 but this year we intend to proceed more vigorously and are asking $100,000.
To increase accommodation and facilities along the line, $38,700.
Although the hour is rather late, I would ask the indulgence of the committee while I make some observations which I think may properly be made on this particular item. According to a statement made by the minister recently lie is giving some consideration to the providing of a remedy to the present system of prosecuting claims for damages against the Intercolonial railway by people living along the line-damages caused by fire, killing of cattle, &c. I understand that I cannot move an amendment at this moment, but what I wish to do is to make a suggestion for the avoiding of useless costs which are specially regrettable in claims for damages to small
amounts. I would sugggest the following amendment to the Government Railway Act, after art. 60:
60a. The action may be taken and decided before the court of the district or the county where damages occurred and having jurisdiction to the amount claimed.
The object of this suggested amendment is to relieve claimants from the necessity of paying law costs in excess of those allowed by the Exchequer Court. At present any one who has a claim of the character I have mentioned must either come to Ottawa himself or be represented by an attorney or by an agent, whose charges will, in most cases, exceed the amount of taxed costs allowed by the Exchequer Court, even should the claimant win his suit. The plaintiff has thus, under the present system, even when he wins his suit, to pay out in costs more than the' court allows him; and as claims of this kind are very numerous all along the line, it seems to me that the government ought to provide some remedy to the present system, and I trust the hon. minister will take my suggestion into his favourable consideration.
I am very pleased to have that suggestion from my hon. friend. The difficulty he points to is one concerning which I am endeavouring to get a satisfactory solution. What he suggests is part of what I have in mind, and the only thing to be decided is whether it can be satisfactorily worked out, as the matter is a little more difficult than it appears on the surface.
The only item left is the one we discussed yesterday with regard to Chatham. My hon. friend from York (Mr. Crocket) asked me about the right of way. We have not really purchased any property at all yet along the right of way. We had our man making certain valuations and have outside valuators going over his figures to see if they are approximately correct. If we cannot decide on a proper valuation, we will expropriate.
The reason I ask is that there have been some property transfers taking place in Chatham within a verv short time. I understand that one gentleman very prominent in politics there has purchased the old foundry property, anticipating that the government will require it. If the minister is not able to tell what location it is proposed to adopt, some people at Chatham seem to have ascertained the fact and have scooped some of the property the department will have to buy.
I have tried to make it clear, and emphasize the point again that we are going to buy these properties irrespective of any transfers that may have been made, and will buy them at their proper value. If the owners do not consent to a fair value, we shall expropriate. .
I think an effort has been made to get the several owners of the property to name a price. That is the first step. Some of them have declined to name a price.
t Mr. BARKER. I would remind the miu-*'ister of our experience in the Halifax roundhouse property. The government sent down people to value the property there, and these people would not inquire what had been paid for property within thirty days.
I mean more than judgment. Sitting here, your best judgment on a matter of that kind is not enough. I have found that, again and again, the valuators sent to look into the valuation of property, have declined to ask what a man had paid for the property, even if he had bought it within a month or so.