I should like to make a few remarks with respect to the interests affected by this Bill. It has been before the Railway Committee on several occasions and members of that committee are more familiar with it than other members of the House. A great principle is involved in this Bill, a principle that must be settled by the members of this House. The Bill affects the province of Ontario only, notwithstanding the argument advanced that, as the people of Canada control 40 per cent of the common stock of the Canadian Northern Railway, all parts of the Dominion have consequently a deep interest in the measure. I repeat that the effects of the Bill will be felt in Ontario only, and that the objections which have been raised by the people of that province are entitled to some consideration. The Government of the province of Ontario protested against the extension of these charters of the Canadian Northern Railway, and their action was unanimously confirmed by the Legislature of the province in the following motion, which was moved by the Provincial Secretary and seconded by the Minister of Public Works:
Resolved, that this House approves of the recent action of the Government in opposing before the Railway Committee of the Parliament of Canada the proposed extension of certain railway charters hitherto granted by said Parliament of Canada and which would interfere with projected hydro-electric railway lines in the Niagara peninsula. And this House reaffirms its objection to the granting of charters by the Government of Canada to local electric railways within this province, and the removal of such railways from the jurisdiction of this legislature by declaring them to be for the general advantage of Canada.
In addition to this protest by the legislature representatives of over 300 municipalities assembled in Toronto protested against these extensions on the ground that they were likely to interfere with pxojects on foot in that province for the construction of electric railways by municipalities. Protests were also received from councils, boards of trades and other bodies in the province. The Hydro-Electric Commission of Ontario was organized less than two years, but the amount of work it has accomplished is something marvellous. It has been a very active body. At the last municipal- elections -in 30 municipalities where surveys had been made by-laws to provide for the construction of such railways were submitted, notwithstanding many protests against such projects being submitted to the municipalities during war time, when the resources of the country might possibly be required to their fullest extent. Notwithstanding these objections the by-laws were maintained in 24 out of 30 municipalities in which they were submitted. This goes to show that public sentiment in the province of Ontario is very strongly behind this project to build electric railways and distribute power through the province. This strong public sentiment is entitled to some consideration when protest is entered against the renewal of charters, which like these have been renewed time and again. Western Ontario is practically covered with charters for i ail-ways, where there is no evidence of railway construction being intended. These renewals are almost invariably passed by the Railway Committee without serious objection. A plausible story is generally advanced that some day when conditions will warrant it a railway will be built through the particular district. The charters do not even specify the exact location of the proposed roads, they simply say from or near a certain point to some other point. This thing has gone on year after year. I have been surprised, as a member of the Railway Committee, to see how little objection has been raised to their passing, and I am satisfied that we have pursued a very reckless policy in the granting any renewal of these charters. The time has undoubtedly come when'we must revise our policy in regard to the granting of railway charters. The Canadian Northern railway came to this Parliament only two years ago and represented that it was absolutely necessary that the Government should do something to prevent the railway going into the hands of receivers, and the Government has had to guarantee the bonds of the company and to assume its liabilities to a certain extent. Then we know the deplorable condition of another great transcontinental railway, the Grand Trunk Pacific. Notwithstanding the glowing prospects that were held up to the people of Canada when-that line was undertaken, we have cause to hesitate and consider whither we are drifting, when we. are asked to extend char-
ters such as are daily coining before the House of Commons.
I said that there was an important principle involved in the extension of these two charters and I maintain that to be the case. I remember, when I was a member of the Legislature, 14 years ago, the strong protests that were made against the indiscriminate handing over of power rights at Niagara Falls to corporations with little regard for the interests of the people. At that time electrical development had not reached the stage that it has to-day. It was a much newer thing and the people did not realise the enormous value of it, particularly in the Niagara district. There may have been some excuse at that time for doing some of the things that were done, but they were done in face of the protests that were made and in spite of the prediction that this would prove to be one of the most valuable assets that the people of Canada possessed. When you-think of the enormous power that can be developed there and the value of that power, and when you realise that previous to 1905 the former Ontario Government handed over to corporations, and with little attention to safeguarding the interests of the people, 430,000 horse-power, you can come to but one conclusion and that is that the interests and rights of the people received little consideration in the transaction. In the dying days of that Government, an attempt was made to hand over 125,000 additional horse-power to private corporations. Not only that, but they entered into an agreement with these corporations that the province of Ontario would not undertake to develop power in competition with them. When the change of Government took place that was the condition of affairs; 550,000 horse-power had been disposed of in a short time by the former Government of the province of Ontario. When the new Conservative Government came into power they immediately took steps to see that the last allotment of 125,000 horse-power was not granted to the corporations, they took the ground that it was an illegal act, they were sustained in that and the grant was cancelled. They also appointed the HydroElectric Commission. But, previous to that time, the body created to deal with this matter was known as the Municipal Commission which had been appointed by the late -Government. It had no power to do anything beyond finding out a good many things, and amongst the things it found out -was that-many municipalities in Ontario were anxious to proceed with
the development of electrical power and to get it as near cost as possible. The Government of the province, instead of undertaking the development of power themselves, which they were prohibited from doing under the agreement that had been entered into, gave these companies to understand that if they did not supply power at a reasonable cost to the people steps would be taken to see that the people got it at first cost. As a consequence, offers were received from some development companies, from one in particular, -to supply power at as low us $9.25 per hoTse pewer. It was agreed that after 25,000 ho-rse power had been -used the people should receive it at $9 per horse power. A contract was entered into with this particular company to supply power, and from that day down to the present time, municipality after municipality has been making application for the hydro-electric service, and in 1915, 110 municipalities were -using 122,000 horse power. It is predicted that during the present year 130 municipalities will require 160,000 horse power. These are some of the steps .which have been taken with regard to the development of power for the people and by the people.
The cost of power in Ontario has been more than cut in two as a result of the action of the Ontario Government increasing the Hydro-Electric Commission, and they have had power furnished to the people at the cost which I have stated at the Falls, the people paying for the transmission of the power. This has proven to be such a great success, and is so popular in Ontario, that you will not hear one single protest against the hydro-electric development of power for municipalities throughout the province. This power has almost been entirely supplied to cities, tow-ns and villages; not altogether because a great many of the farmers in those districts where they have low tension lines aie to-day availing themselves of the power that is being supplied along those lines with the -result that it has become so popular that people have come from all parts of the province -to see what advantage it was to the farmer to have electrical power placed -at his disposal to enable him to conduct his business. With the scarcity of labour and the difficulties that the farmer has -to contend with, you can but faintly realise what it means to him to have this power until you come to spe how the business of the farm is conducted in these days.
I 'believe that in the constituency I represent there are more than twice as many farmers using hydro-electric power on the farm to-day than in any other constituency in Canada. Notwithstanding that the cost is higher to-day than it would be under more favourable conditions, there is not one of these farmers who would think of getting along without this hydro-electric power. When you see the farmer filling his silo, operating his thresher, cutting his feed, grinding his grain, sawing his wood, milking his cows, lighting his ham and his house, heating his house, and cooking with electricity, you begin to realise the possibilities there are in store for the farmers of this country when they have placed at their disposal this great asset of which we have .such a bountiful supply in Ontario,
The corporations do not like the idea of this continuing; they do not like the idea of people becoming their own carriers and distributors of power. But I want to say that I believe the use of electricity on the farms of Canada is only in its infancy and that theTe are greater possibilities in that respect than in almost any other. We find volumes being written as to why the farmers do not remain on the farm; we find advice being generously handed out to>
the farmers' sons advising them to stay on the farm1; we find the newspapers loaded up with articles of that kind, and yet the movement goes 1 on from the farm to the city, until to-day, with an agricultural area affording opportunities such as no other people possess in the whole world, we find that half of .our people are living in the towns and cities and only half of them left to cultivate the broad acres of Canada. We find the people of the cities and towns groaning under the high cost of living; we find governments appointing commissions to find out this, that, and the other thing. A commission has been appointed to inquire into the high cost of living, and then there is the Economic Commission, sitting right here in the city of Ottawa, the object of which is to investigate such questions as increased agricultural production, agricultural education, transportation, cooperation, farm credits, and the placing of soldiers on the land after the war. These are some of the questions that the minds of the people are centered upon to-day, and which we are trying to solve. The agriculturalists of this country have been urged
to increase the production of the farms, particularly at this time when the country is at war. And yet, when the three hundred odd municipalities of the province of Ontario protest against the extension of these charters on the ground that they will interfere with all the good hoped to be accomplished and enumerated in the instructions to this commission sitting in the city of Ottawa, and which I have just read, we find very little attention paid to their protest. Js not cheaper transportation the secret of the whole thing? Is it not a fact that the high cost of transportation is the curse under which the people of this country are groaning tojday? The railways of this country have been given bonuses, land grants, cash subsidies, guarantees, and assistance in other directions, to an extent never equalled by any other country on the face of the earth. In many places there are two or three railways in operation where one could do the work much better. It is absolutely impossible to have cheap rates until we have a more sane and businesslike policy in this respect. The time has arrived when old notions and prejudices will have to be swept to one side and our whole system of railway building thrown into the melting pot, and a new system evolved.
What happened when the Hydro Commission were appointed, in the province of Ontario? They did the work for the municipalities, and gave them the power at cost. The people immediately petitioned the Government to empower the commission to undertake the construction of Hydro-Electric railways in the province. A committee representing the different municipalities was appointed and mapped out districts in Ontario, particularly western Ontario, through which the roads should be built. These roads were not run indiscriminately here and there, but were laid out on a well-defined plan; they were to be built, first, only in districts where the conditions warranted it, and where everything seemed to indicate that they would prove to be a paying concern. Now, what will be the condition when these HydroElectric railways are constructed? For no matter what this Parliament does with regard to the Bills before us, these HydroElectric railways are going to he constructed, and are going to give cheap transportation to the people of Ontario, and distribute power amongst the farmers of the province. The distributing of power for a distance of five or six miles on either side of the electric railway will furnish cheap
power to the farmers. In this way only can cheap power be mac^e available to the farmers of Ontario, for it has been found that an expensive transmission line through a sparsely settled district makes the cost of power far too high. But it is hoped and expected that the difficulty will be overcome by the construction of HydroElectric railways in the province.
Why is there objection to the passing of these Bills? It is for the very reason that it is proposed to build Hydro-Electric railways through this same district, which is one of the most thickly settled parts of Canada, and where there are undoubtedly opfportunities for the railways proving a paying concern, particularly with regard to the district between Toronto, Hamilton, and Niagara Falls. The people residing between London and Toronto, on January last, voted upwards of $14,000,000 towards the construction of a road between these two points. The argument has been advanced in the Railway Committee that the granting of this extension would not interfere with the hydro scheme at all. But can you conceive, Mr. Chairman, of any good reason why two roads should be constructed where one will answer the purpose, and where one can be constructed at half the cost of two? The railways of Canada are receiving generous subsidies from the Parliament of Canada, but no subsidy, I believe, has been granted to the builders of the hydro-electric railways in the province of Ontario. The Canadian Northern railway has been very generously assisted by the people of Canada. That road has received from the Dominion Government a cash subsidy of $30,747,325, provincial subsidies of $6,821,000, and grants from municipalities to the amount of $765,000, making a total of $38,334,753. Guarantees have also been given that road by the various provinces and the Dominion aggregating $224,988,340.
Some people will say that this road has invested considerable money in a right of way between those two points, and that they are therefore entitled to some consideration, and that if it had not been for the money stringency caused by the war, they would have been able to go on with the building of the road. I grant that they are entitled to some consideration, but they are entitled to no more consideration than are the people of Ontario, if as much. This road has been generously assisted by the people of Canada in the past, and we may rest assured that the Hydro Commission will not do then an injustice, any more
than they have done an injustice to the municipalities whose plants they have taken over, and other things that were of little or no use to them afterwards. The plea put forward by the railway company that their money invested in rights of way will be lost, is absolutely without foundation. I am assured, and I feel certain, that every consideration will be given them in this matter.
With regard to the objections that were raised by a number of hon. gentlemen in the Railway Committee, I admit that the sympathy of members outside of the province of Ontario was not as strong as that of the representatives of the province, and that was only natural; but I would point out to these hon. gentlemen that an adverse vote on the measures before us will not have a good effect throughout the country. We are endeavouring to overcome the obstacles that have stood in our way in the past. If we aTe ever going to make such a country of Canada as we would like it to be, we must realize that the individual provinces are entitled to some consideration, and, when such a matter as this affecting one province alone comes up and the feeling is very strong that it ought to be a provincial matter, then people outside of that province ought to deal generously with it in regard to the matter. The influence of corporations in Canada has not in the past been in the interest of the people; many millionaires have been created through the concessions granted to corporations; but at such a time as this when our people are doing their utmost to bring to a successful issue the greatest war that has ever been waged in the interest of freedom and civilization, we must realize that we have reached the end of one era in the history of the world and that we are at the darwn of another, in which the interest of the people is to be paramount to that of corporations, when the people are going to have their way in all matters in spite of obstacles, and when they are going to see that corporations do not receive privileges which are denied to individuals.
I do not wish to take up any more time but the situation being such as it is, this being a purely provincial matter and one that ought to be dealt with by the province concerned, taking into consideration the fact that these Bills have been renewed four times already, that it is a continual cry of "renewal, renewal," and also taking into consideration the fact that this
railway company is on the verge of bankruptcy, I say that we ought to (hesitate before extending a charter that has been protested against by such public bodies as I have already mentioned. I therefore move:
That the Chairman do now leave the Chair and that the Committee rise.
Mr. Chairman, having made a few remarks in the Railway Committee on this Bill, and even in the face of Sir Adam Beck and the Hydro-Electric Commission having had the temerity to express my opinion there, I purpose making a few remarks to the committee. My hon. friend from South Oxford (Mr. Sutherland.) has endeavoured to persuade, at least those members who do not live in the province of Ontario, that what is known as the Hydro-Electric 'Commission is such a holy and sacred thing in that province that no man dare lay his hand upon it, and that it gives the most supreme satisfaction to every one. 'Coming, as I do, from a part of the province of Ontario where such has not been the case, I intend to rely, not upon any statements of my own, but upon the reports in the newspapers of that part of the country.
It has been proposed by this so-called Hydro-Electric Commission that a so-called radial Tailway should go into the county of Simcoe. I find this statement in the Barrie Gazette: .
Barrie's experience with the Hydro-Electric is not lllcely to create much enthusiasm for an electric railway with that concern holding- the controlling interest. If individuals choose to invest their money in such a speculative undertaking, they should be at liberty to do so, but the town should assuredly leave it alone, Sir Adam Beck to the contrary, notwithstanding.
The reason that the Hydro-Electric Commission is viewed with alarm in that part of the country is because not many miles from the town of Orillia, this Commission, which never makes a mistake,
. 4 p.m. has erected a monument of folly in a power plant which has cost the province $240,000, the receipts from which do ..not pay even the interest on the money invested. What do these gentlemen who are shouting " Hydro " all the time say to that ?
I will fell you what they say if you are asking them. They say: The Hydro-Electric Commission is not a sectional affair; it is a provincial affair. What may not pay in one part pays in another, and the whole thing pays.
If my hon. friend will allow me, I will give another instance as to what they say about the Hydro-Electric Commission. What they say is exactly what the Barrie Gazette says: that so long as those matters are entrusted to the Hydro of which Sir Ada miBeck is the president, the public, fooled by other experiences, should be very chary about going into such affairs. I do not blame Sir Adam Beck alone for it, because there are two other members on the commission.
The town of Orillia, some years ago, erected a power plant on the Severn river, and to-day it is supplying power at $13 per horse-power, and with the improvements that are contemplated it will be supplying power in time at $11 per horse-power. On the same river Sir Adam Beck and the Hydro-Electric Commission have a power plant from which they are supplying power to that part of the community, and to the town of Barrie, twenty odd miles from Orillia. While the well-conducted anc} careful investment on the part of the town of Orillia permits power to be supplied to the people at $13 a horse-power, this wise Hydro-Electric concern is charging the citizens of Barrie $23 a horse-power. What do my hon. friends say to that? Is it any wonder that the Ontario Government is being besieged to-day to correct the error made by the Hydjo-Electric Commission; that it is being called upon to reduce the rate to the people of Barrie to the same as that which the people of Orillia pay? This Hydro-Electric Commission, it is alleged,. always keeps faith with the people, and makes bargains which it never breaks. Let me read a sample from a Goderich newspaper : (
When challenged on the subject before the Hydro by-law was voted on in Goderich, Sir Adam Beck declared that the price of power supplied to Goderich would never, never, never be increased above the contract figure of $37 a horse-power. Goderich is now being charged $43 a horse-power. The contract, as The Signal declared at the time, is a fraud. It binds the town of Goderich effectually for thirty years; it leaves the Provincial Hydro-Electric Commission free to do as it pleases.
That is how this commission takes the upper hand of the people in many parts of the province of Ontario. I am quite willing to admit the right of every hon. member to vote as he pleases, but I am not going to be frightened, by Sir Adam Beck, because in my part of the country no one need be afraid that he will make any more mistakes. In Huron the same state of affairs
exists. What was done in Huron? I have a little knowledge of this matter because of what was done in my own town of Midland. The Hydro-Electric proposed terms. After they had discussed these terms the town tore down all its existing electrical apparatus, and, at a cost of about $15,000, provided a system to meet the Hydro, thinking in the innocence of their hearts that they would have their power furnished at $37. But they had not bound the Hydro in black and white, -and, after there was no backing out, after the $15,000 had been spent, this fair concern, this Hydro-Electric Commission, comes in and taxes them $43 a horsepower. I am not at all afraid of Sir Adam Beck coming into' East Simcoe to discuss hydro-electric matters. I am willing to mept him at any time or any place. I can point to that monument that the commission has erected at a cost of $340,000 inround figures, and T can show that the interest Pas not been paid, not by thousands of dollars, if reasonable allowance be made for expenses. How are these radial votes carried? The other day, I had the temerity to ask Sir Adam Beck what the temper of the people of western Ontario was, as shown by these votes. The House would be led to believe, listening to these gentlemen, that the people are unanimously in favour of these hydro railways. Why, in Sir Adam Beck's own city of London, the scheme was only carried by about 250 or 300 votes.
But a change of 250 or 300 votes would have altered the result. These gentlemen do not seem to realize that a change of one vote means two in the result; I should have thought that that was apparent to most people who have been in politics. Now, here is Sir Adam Beck, the apostle of the Hydro-Electric, standing in his own city of London and begging and praying them to back up his hydro railways; and yet, when it comes to a vote, you find that a change of 300 votes would have defeated the proposal. These gentlemen have been saying that there was a majority of 700, but I understand that it was nearer-500 or 600. Be that as it may, if this policy were as popular in that part of the country as we are told it is, surely there would have been an overwhelming majority of votes in its favour. And how are these majorities got? In the municipalities where the people believe every state-
ment Sir Adam Beck makes, he stands on the platform and tells the people that he has the assurance that the Dominion Government will give $3,200 a mile, and the local government will give a similar amount and are pledged to do so.
is right. The hon. member for South Ontario (Mr. Smith) was present at a meeting at which Sir Adam Beck made that statement, and my hon. friend from South Ontario challenged the statement and Sir Adam Beck side-stepped it, though afterwards he admitted it.