May 3, 1910

LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

As was explained on a previous occasion the object of this Bill is to bring the Government Railways Act into harmony with the General Railway Act in regard to limiting the liability of the railway for damages to $5,000, provided that modern protection appliances have-been used by the railway and its employees.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

That is, in case of lire?

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

Yes.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. HAGGART.

Why not extend to individuals in the case of the government railways the same right you give them in the case of other railways, the right to sue? The aggrieved person must seek a fiat, and the granting of that fiat is a matter wholly in the hands of the government.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

That is a large question. We have encroached a little on the prerogatives of the King in allowing claimants for damages for cattle killed, and so on, to sue in the local courts up to $200. That is a departure from what has always existed. The Act has been changed materially for the benefit of those living along the line of railway. Heretofore the Government Railways Act did not allow as much latitude in the claiming of damages as the general Railway Act did. During the present session the Act has been changed so that the government railway will come under practically the same Act as that which governs an ordinary railway. We have accepted all the liabilities of the ordinary railway and this provision is the one that exists under the general Railway Act with respect to the $5,000 liability.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I think there is a great deal in what my hon. friend from Lanark (Mr. J. Haggart) says. The Crown still maintains the power to refuse a fiat.

I _am very much of the opinion that when the government carries on the business of transportation, or any other similar business it should not only subject itself to the actions for negligence to which an ordinary corporation would be subjected, but it ought to give to all persons dealing with it the same rights of action in the courts that such parties would have against a corporation. This is only a half measure that the government presents, as my hon. friend from Lanark very well pointed out.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. A. CURRIE.

Yesterday I brought to the attention of the House a copy of the rules. I suppose the minister has read my remarks in ' Hansard '. The Railway Commission has approved of a ' uniform code of rules for Canadian railways '. This book is issued to every trainman, and he has to sign a receipt of acceptance in which receipt he acknowledges that he accepts the conditions amongst which I find this:

' Employees in accepting employment assume these risks.' I would like to ask the minister if that is approved by the government, and if it is the intention to deprive workmen on the railways of their rights under the ordinary statute law in case they are injured.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

These are rules issued by the Board of Railway Commissioners after a good deal of study with the labour organizations and the railways. As a matter of fact I think the courts have held that an employee cannot contract himself out of his rights under the statute, and I do not think that the signing of that, would alter the statute in any way.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. A. CURRIE.

Then why does the commission put such an absurd rule as that in if that is the case? I understand that these rules have virtually the force of law once they are approved by the commission. A protest has been made by the railway train men against the inclusion of this clause in their rules, but in spite of that the commission has inserted it. I call the attention of the Minister of Railways to this fact, and I hope that he will inform the commission that it has no right to legislate in a code-book of this kind contrary to the statute law of the country.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

I never thought that any rule of the Railway Commission made could override the statute. That question has been raised and it has been decided by the courts. The question does not arise in the acceptance of employment per se, but it has arisen in connection with employees being members of a provident fund when, by accepting the benefits to be derived from the provident fund, they have waived their other claims to sue for damages, but the courts, I think, have held that they could not do that.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

I think the object of the commission was this: The men have to run some risks, and the commission, properly, wants them to realize the risks that they will have to run. I think the intention of the commission is that men, on taking employment, shall look before they leap and see what they are signing, because some of the risks they have to assume are greater than those which they would assume according to the law.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES.

There is a matter that I would like to bring to the attention of the Minister of Railways. It is probably hardly germane to the discussion of this question, but as it is near the end of the session, I will ask the indulgence of the committee for a few moments in order that I may bring it up. Recently, employees of the Intercolonial railway have been called upon to take the oath of allegiance. In the first place, I would like to ask the minister why this has been deemed necessary in view of the fact that since confederation down to the present time they have not been called upon to do , so. In the second place, since it has been deemed necessary to call upon them to take this oath. I would like to call his attention to its wording, which is as follows:

I solemnly and sincerely swear that I will faithfully and honestly fulfil the duties which

devolve upon me as and that

I will not ask, or receive any sum of money, services, recompense, or matter, or thing whatsover, directly or indirectly, in return for what I have done or may do in the discharge of any of the duties of my said office, except my salary or what may be allowed me by law or by an order of the Governor in Council.

From this wording there is a question as to whether the employees of the Intercolonial railway would be precluded from asking for an increase of pay. There has been grave concern among the employees, who fear that it does preclude them. I would like to have the opinion of the minister upon this point.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

I am sure that if the employees think that it does preclude them from asking for an increase of their wages they do not act as if they did, because, like the rest of us, they are looking to the main chance. I had that declaration brought to my attention a few weeks ago. Perhaps I do not feel like the ordinary individual, but when I became a member of parliament, I did not think that I was humiliated at all by having to take the

877G

oath. A civil servant does not think he is humiliated by having to take the oath.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RHODES.

I do not think it is a question of humiliation at all. A civil servant contracts to accept office at a given scale of pay. He knows he must comply with the regulations and that he will be classified according to his examination. But the employee of the government railway is in much the same position as the employee of any other railway privately owned, and as the cost of living increases he feels that he should have an increase in his wages. In view of the fact that each employee has been called upon to take this oath there is a question as to whether he -would not be precluded from applying for an increase of pay. It would cripple the unions if that interpretation were placed upon the oath. I do not think they object to take the oath, although it is an innovation. But if there is to be an oath it would seem to be wise to have the wording changed so as to make it clear.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

I am not very familiar with the object of the introduction of the oath, but I think it was owing to a desire that the employees on the Intercolonial railway should feel that they are civil servants just as others are civil servants. They are promoted now absolutely on their merit according to the rules of their unions where they belong to unions. If the effect is what they think it is, the oath ought to be changed, but I can assure my hon. friend that within the last two weeks I could give him absolute prgof that they do not think it precludes them from asking for an increase of pay.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE.

The hon. Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Graham) made a statement a moment ago about the standing of employees on the Intercolonial railway as to whether or not they have the right to contract themselves out of an action for damages. The minister stated that he understood the common law to be that they could not contract away their right of action.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

That was in regard to the Railway Commission's orders that do not apply to the Intercolonial railway.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE.

Not at all. The minister stated that he understood that a railway employee could not contract in such a way as to deprive himself of the right of action for damages. That is sufficiently important to have no misunderstanding about it. I do not agree with the minister's understanding of that point. In so far as damages to the individual himself are concerned, of course, he can contract his right away in every province of the Dominion except the province of Quebec. As to any redress that the family or children of a Mr. GRAHAM.

workman would have they -would have all the rights in Canada generally that we have under what is known as Lord Campbell's Act. His widow or his children cannot succeed under Lord Campbell's Act unless he could have succeeded himself had he lived after the Act. That is clearly the law under Lord Campbell's Act, and it is quite competent for an employee of the Intercolonial railway in any other province of Canada outside of Quebec to contract away the right his family may have to damages. But there is no statute in the province of Quebec under which it is possible for the individual to contract away the rights that his family would have to bring an action. I make this statement so that the Minister of Railways shall have no misapprehension as to the general state of the law in Canada outside of the province of Quebec.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink
CON

John Allister Currie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. A. CURRIE.

I am very glad to see an hon.. member of the House giving a little light on this question. Not being a lawyer, modesty compels me to refrain from expressing the same view, but I am very pleased that my hon. friend from the east (Mr. McKenzie) has thrown a little light on it, and shown that when a man signs for this book and accepts everything in this book he virtually contracts himself out of any dangers for injuries by this last clause in the general instructions. I would therefore ask the Minister of Railways to bring to the notice of the commission that they have no right under any statute to insert any such regulation in this book.

Bill reported, read the third time and passed.

Topic:   WAYS AND MEANS-TRADE RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS ACT AMENDMENT.
Permalink

TELEGRAPHS ACT AMENDMENT.

May 3, 1910