Yes, but the changes made on that occasion were by arrangement with the promoter. This change is one, 1 understand, which he does not desire to have made. However, if my hon. friend from Assiniboia (Mr. Turriff) is willing, we might leave it over until the next private Bills night.
Topic: WAYS AND MEANS-GRANTS TO VETERANS.
Subtopic: PRIVATE BILLS.
Sub-subtopic: ALBERTA ELECTRIC RAILWAY COMPANY.
Yesterday notice of motion was given by the hon. member for
Nanaimo (Mr. Smith), who is not here at present, to change the name of this company. In his absence, I would move that the section be amended so as to change the name of the company to ' The British Columbia and Central Canada Railway Company.'
Topic: WAYS AND MEANS-GRANTS TO VETERANS.
Subtopic: BRITISH COLUMBIA AND CENTRAL CANADA RAILWAY COMPANY.
Mr. Speaker, before this resolution is disposed of, I wish to offer a few observations. 1 have not gone into the subject with sufficient care and analysis to enable me to say whether the tribunal that is proposed to do this work is the best that could be devised, but at least it seems to me to be the best in sight and $iere would apparently be an appropriateness in assigning the duty to that tribunal because of the nature of their work and functions. Their chief duties are to look into the operations of railways, to deal with their tariffs and with disputes between railway companies and the people. The whole nature of their business is calculated to make them experienced in that line. For instance, in determining what is or is not a proper railway charge for freight or passengers, they are necessarily obliged to know how much money is invested in the railway, how much capital has been put into it by the company, and by borrowing or other means, possibly government subventions. I take it that one of their most important duties would be to allow the company to make such freight and passenger charges as would give them a fair remuneration for all the money that they put into that railway and all assistance that they acquire for that railway from certain sources. In my judgment it should not be from all sources, but I say that the Railway Commission would be bound to. look into that carefully before they could intelligently determine the traffic charges that might be imposed. Therefore, if there is any tribunal in the country who ought to be able to analyse the subject it would be the Railway Commission. I am not going to say much about the capitalization of railways at the initial stages because parliament exercises its judgment with Tegard to the capital of a railway which is being incorporated, but we seem to do that in a very perfunctory way. I have often thought that we fix the capital at an arbitrary
amount without intelligent inquiry as to why it should be fixed at that sum. We say it shall be about $10,000 a mile, but if we were asked why it should be $10,000 a mile, I venture to say that not one o) the 170 members of the Railway Committee could say why. Therefore, we have arbitrarily fixed that rate and we do not permit them to go beyond that. A few years ago we gave bonding powers to railways of $15,000 a mile. It was afterwards raised to $20,000, since then it has been raised to $25,000 a mile, and this session of parliament we have given bonding powers of $30,000 a mile, and sometimes more, upon the plea that the_ country through which they must build is expensive to build in, or that the right of way is very dear. But we give very little attention to the bonding powers and do noi exercise much care as to whether they are too high or too low. Therefore, as the min ister says, parliament has in its own hands, the right to say what the bonding power shall he and we have no right to delegate it to the commission, but I do think that the perfunctory way in which we settle this question is an evidence that we do not go into it very carefully, and it would noi be amiss if there, was some other authority that would go into it much more carefully and intelligently.
This motion merely says that the capitalization of railways shall be under the Railway Commission. I think that is the best body to have it under and therefore I have no serious objection to the motion. I think there is not a member of this House who will not admit that the capitalization of railways as at present practised is a growing evil and productive of great injustice in many cases to the users of these railways as well as to many investors in railway stocks, because when new capital is issued it is usually gobbled up by the large stockholders who are often directors and have, therefore, power to allot the stock to themselves and deprive the small investor of the benefit to which he is properly entitled. Take the issue of Canadian Pacific railway stock last spring, Canadian Pacific railway is to-day selling at $214, hut the stockholder*who got that stock at $125 receives $100 to put in his pocket as a bonus. That in ,my judgment is not fair. It is well known that the railway companies in Canada are paying large interest on the money invested in them.
We give them a great deal of assistance to build these railways. The government give them many subventions, subsidies, guarantees of their bonds and help them in many ways. Why do they do it? -for the benefit of the country which needs a better system of transportation, for enabling these railway companies to carry the produce of the country at a moderate rate, Mr. SPROULE.
and so as to indemnify the companies against loss on their investment. As a general thing, is money invested in railways lost? Take the history of the railway charters of Canada for the last quarter of a century or more-if you like for the last thirty or thirty-five years-and how many of these companies have lost money? Take Mackenzie & Mann: when I came into this House thirty-two or thirty-three years ago they were ordinary contractors whose financial means were very limited-I have been told, very small. Then, they commenced to build railways. What are they to-day? I suppose it would be very difficult to state approximately what they are worth, but I think it will be admitted that they are worth many millions of dollars, that they are probably worth $40,000,000, or $60,000,000 or $70,000,000. Could they possibly have made that amount by getting a fair return for their labour? No one will assert that they could. Then, how did they make it-by the assistance that parliament and the municipalities gave them, in the way of subsidies, grants of land, guarantees of stock and bonds and in a hundred other ways that the country can help them in order to ensure them a fair return on their money. If these companies were not getting a fair return for their money I could understand why we should give them the privilege of selling stock and allotting that stock to themselves below its ordinary market value. We gave them this assistance in order to make it practically impossible for them to lose money. We put it within their means to get a return of 10 or 20 and of even 40 or 50 per cent on the money they actually invest in the railway and that being the case there is no justifiable reason in the world why we should allow them to turn around and increase the stock of their railway not for the purpose of putting it into the betterment of the road or of extending the road a number of miles in one direction or the other, but for the purpose of putting it into their own pockets. There is no reason why we should grant them this assistance for the purpose of improving or extending the road, and not compel them to put that stock up for sale so that it will realize its full value in the markets of the country. For instance, if they wanted one hundred thousand dollars and they issued stock in the railway, if that stock were selling like the Canadian Pacific railway is to-day at 214, they would only require to issue less than $50,000 worth, because it would bring them $100,000. If that $100,000 were put into the road the users of the road would only require to pay interest upon that amount, but when they allot that stock to them selves and it is put in at fifty cents on the dollar there is only $50,000 put into the road, and yet the users of the road will be compelled to pay interest on $100,000.
That is an injustice which should be remedied in some way. That is one of the greatest evils that the country has to contend with to-day and parliament should address itself to the subject so as to find a remedy.
The Minister of Railways and Canals said that we cannot do what the United States have done because we do not charter railways in the same way as they do. He said that they take out letters of incorporation, practically they simply make their plan and file it. I do not know what control Congress has over stock issues, but in the United States they have found by experience that it is not safe to leave this matter in the hands of the companies. They have taken the right to control issues and properlv so. But what difference is there between a railway corporation that gets a charter from us in the ordinary way and one that gets its charter from the United States in the way they grant charters there?-none so far as I can see. We give them the right to sell so much stock, and if that is not enough we give them the right to enlarge their stock as much as they like practically. There is no restraint upon them. Therefore that argument does not hold good. Then the minister said: You are talking about railways in the state of New York, but those are state concerns. He also said that interstate railways would be difficult things to contend with. I have no doubt that they would be, but I think the government of that country will endeavour to overcome that as well and take control of the capitalization of those roads. They have greater difficulties to contend with than we have because of the limited area in which these charter rights are operating. If these railways were under one control fom the Atlantic to the Pacific the question would be much easier to deal with than it is. The very fact that the states are taking up this question and dealing with these companies that are operating in a limited area, and that Congress is extending this control to the interstate railways is the best evidence that the problem that they have to contend with is much harder than the one _we have here, and it is no argument against our doing what is proposed by this motion.
I am heartily in accord with the principle of controlling the stock issues of railways. I think it will have to be done earlier or later and the earlier a remedy is found for these things the easier it will be to find the remedy. As time goes on, as greater interests become involved, as vested rights become stronger and stronger, and corporations become more and more powerful, it is always harder to find a remedy and more difficult to put it in operation. Therefore, the earlier we tackle it the better it will be for ourselves and the country as well.
The country has for a long time been under the impression that this is a pernicious system and members are often asked why parliament does not take it up. That question has been put to me a hundred times. I often say that this is one of the things that it is so hard to find a suitable remedy for that parliament is reluctant to undertake it. But the answer comes: What is the duty of parliament? Is it not to grapple with these problems that affect the interests of the people? Should parliament refrain from doing it because it seems a hard task? Not at all, in my judgment. The harder the task is the more we should apply ourselves to it, and the harder we should endeavour to find a remedy. It is no excuse to say that because the task is a difficult one we should not make an effort to find a remedy. I think we ought to do so, and because there is no better remedy in sight I am disposed to support the proposal contained in this resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I have no sympathy with this resolution. It seems to me that it has been moved by the hon. member for South York (Mr. Maclean) to suit his own purposes. I bave the best_ opinion of the Canadian Pacific railway.' We have reason as Canadians to be proud of the railway. That stock within my recollection sold for 38 cents on the dollar, and the member for York would not dare to and did not buy thirty-eight cents worth of it, but he comes forward to-day and finds fault with the Canadian Pacific railway. Well, Canada and the British Empire have reason to be proud of the Canadian Pacific railway. No railway has attained the same high position it has, and I venture to predict that if the Canadian Pacific railway would buy that man he would not open his mouth on it.
It is well known he has brought this question up time and time again and what object he has in view, I do not know, but of course it is well known that the hon. gentleman has no love for anything that is good for the country. The hon. gentleman is one of those extraordinary men who finds fault with everything that is good in this country. The Canadian Pacific railway has made its mark in Canada; it has been conducted by wise and honest management and no man in Canada has a right to dare to get up and
say anything against that company. The men who have brought the Canadian Pacific railway to its present success, are worthy men, and if they had been men of a different class we would not have such a splendid railway as we have to-day. The Canadian Pacific .railway has been conducted by wise, honourable, respectable, responsible gentlemen. The hon. gentleman from York does not bear the. best reputation in this world for being honest or straightforward.