April 3, 1916

LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

If that be so I would suggest to my hon. friend that he should drop his motion and then the discussion may proceed on the first clause of the Bill.

[DOT]3454

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CON

Donald Sutherland

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SUTHERLAND:

I did not intend to .-get the House into a tangle from which -we would not be able to extricate our-'selvies; but, if it would, meet the convenience of the House, I would move that the committee rise.

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CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

The CHAIRMAN:

I do not understand that there is any such motion. I understood the hon. gentleman to say that his motion was that the Chairman do leave the Chair. If he makes that motion, I have already ruled that there can be no ddbate on the motion, that it must be put forthwith. Am I to understand that the hon. gentleman adheres to his motion?

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CON
CON

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

The CHAIRMAN:

The motion is that the Chairman do leave the Chair.

Motion negatived: yeas, 22; nays,

Mr. A. Q- MACDONELL (South Toronto): I understand that the - Bill is now before the Chair. I desire to say something on it, particularly because, when these two Bills were last before the Railway Committee, I was unable to be present, and had no opportunity of expressing my views at that time. I wish, before discussing the Bill, to make a few remarks with reference to the hon. member for East Simcoe (Mr. W. H. Bennett). He seemed to work himself up into a state of great agitation about the merits of The Bill and the demerits of the opposition to it. He concluded by saying that he has no interest in the Canadian Northern railway. I, of course, acquit him of having any such interest. I would like to correct my hon. friend from Simcoe with regard to some of the statements of fact that he has made and in particular, I would dike to have an opportunity of checking up some of the figures which he has given regarding the price of power at Barrie and Goderich. I find that when this matter was before the committee above one hundred protests came in from different parts of Ontario and amongst others the following from St. Catharines, which city is said to favour these Bills.

St. Catharines, Ont., March 15. Chairman, Railway Committee,

House of Commons,

Ottawa.

Niagara district Hydro-radial Union representing all municipalities in counties of Lincoln, Welland and Haldimand reaffirms its abjection to extending or renewing certain electric railway charters which would seriously inter-

fere with projected hydro-radial lines in Niagara peninsula.

(Sgd.) W. B. Burgoyne,

President.

Another one was received to the following effect:

St. Catharines, Ont., March 15. Chairman, Railway Committee,

House of Commons,

Ottawa.

Louth township council opposing Bills extending and renewing electric railway charters that will seriously interfere with projected hydro-electric railway through this municipality.

(Sgd.) C. H. Claus,

Reeve.

This is a township, I understand, adjoining the city of St. Catharines. I have also a further telegram, which was referred to in the remarks of my hon. friend from Lambton (Mr. Armstrong) signed by Mr. Stewart, reeve of Granton township, which township I believe also adjoins St. Catherines, to the same effect, and which reads as follows:

Granton township council reiterates its opposition to the extension or renewal of electric railway charters in this district as they would seriously interfere with projected hydro-electric radial lines through this municipality.

I do not wisih to burden the House by reading the almost numberless protests received on 'behalf of almost all the municipalities in the central and western parts of Ontario .against doing what this House is ajsked to do to-day. I desire to be as fair ,as I can about this matter, the position is this: The Canadian Northern have in their strong box the two charters which are referred to in Bills Nos. 8 and 24. These ,are old charters that have been carried over, the first for 17 years and the second for 13 years. They have had four or five renewals each. As to the bulding of the old kind of railway I have no objection. Sir Adam Beck has no objection and no objection has been taken by the Railway Committee against the building of railways in accordance with the old idea. I want to tell hon. gentlemen who are not from the province of Ontario that in all likelihood they may be in time going through the very same experience in their own provinces that we are going through now. The people are tired of corporation owned railways, and corporation owned electrical power, heating, lighting and such like publio utilities. They have decided that they will as far as possible own and operate these utilities themselves. The Hydro-Electric Railway Association has been born of the

Hydro-Electric Power Commission. The Hydro-Electric Commission has for some years .past undertaken not the generation but the distribution to the people of Ontario of energy for light, heat and power at cost. The opposition that is made to these Bills is no man's, no company's opposition; it is the opposition of the people of Ontario because they want to operate theise railways that it is now hoped to have operated by companies. With that in the past we have had no quarrel. We have no complaint to make about subsidies having been, granted to railways in the past, because in their day and generation they have done important work, but a new era has come in so far as street and Hydro-Electric railways are concerned- The province of Ontario will shortly be covered by a network of these radial railways. Let me explain what they are. The Hydro-Electric Power Commission first of all gets a request from a municipality to build a railway. Sixty per cent of the municipalities of Western Ontario have requested the Hydro-Electric Commission to build their radial railways. In many cases these railways have been surveyed and the plant and a'll necessary material in connection with their construction are now 'being procured. The money is raised in this way: The Hydro-Electric Power Commission issues its bonds, which are guaranteed by the Ontario Government, and they are sold to the best advantage. Sir Adam Beck said .before the Railway Committee the other day, he has made the public statement throughout the country on many occasions, and I never knew a public or private statement to be made by Sir Adam Beck that was not absolutely true, that he had offers of money at 4i peT cent for three or five-year bonds. They are shortterm bonds, but the money can be got for the handling of these great enterprises. The municipalities through which these lines are constructed get a certain railway mileage constructed at a certain cost connecting a particular system or radial railways and the debentures of the municiplities are given to the Hydro-Electric Commission to hold in trust so that in case there might come a rainy day when these roads would not pay, they would be there to answer to a deficit. The Hydro-Radial Association, under the Hydro-Radial Act of the Ontario Legislature, will operate these roads, and the present scheme of operation is on the basis of providing a sinking fund and paying all the interest and carrying charges,

so that the public will be getting their railway service at net cost. It is desired that the middleman, or the corporation, shall be eliminated in Ontario as far as the street or radial railway service is concerned. The hon. member for Oxford (Mr. Sutherland) called attention to a unanimous resolution passed by the Legislature of Ontario protesting against the renewal of these charters.

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

When was that passed?

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?

Archibald Hayes Macdonell

Mr. MACDOKELL:

On the 8th of

Miarch.

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

Read the resolution.

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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL:

I have not a copy of the resolution here, but it was read by my hon. friend from Lambton (Mr. Armstrong) on Friday and it is on Hansard. In addition, the representative of The Attorney General of the province of Ontario was at the Railway Committee and he said that the Government of ' Ontario had instructed him to appear there and oppose these charters. If he did so it was not because he desired to make an indiscriminate protest against such railways as this, but because the Canadian Northern, having had ample time to build, had failed to do so and the Hydro-Electric Commission were now in a position to proceed. There is a particularly well-founded reason in the objection that is made in reference to these particular roads. In all the years they have had these charter rights to build, this company have made no attempt to build a main line from Toronto to the international boundary at Niagara Falls or thereabouts. They have made no attempt to build even from Toronto to Hamilton. At the last municipal elections in Toronto, by way of further backing up the Hydro-Electric railway from Toronto to the International border, the people voted about $5,000,000 as a contribution towards securing the right of way for such a road between Toronto and Hamilton. That right of way, 100 feet in width, has been very largely bought, and it is intended to build upon it not only the power transmission lines, but also the hydro-electric railway. It is felt that it is simply a waste of money to duplicate that line. There is practically only one way for a railroad to go from Toronto to Hamilton, and that is as the crow flies. The road runs close to lake Ontario all the way, and if these two roads were built, they would be within a stone's

throw of each other all the way from Toronto to Hamilton. The Hydro-Electric intend to build that road. They have already acquired some of the right of way. Are the Canadian Northern, then, really sincere in their desire to build their road? They may build it, it is true, but it will be simply a matter of construction. The cost will have to be taken care of in some way, either by the people of Ontario or by the people of Canada. Why should we not allow Ontario to do what it wants to do? We have every reason to have confidence in the HydroElectric Commission, because the predictions made by Sir Adam Beck have all been more than amply fulfilled, notwithstanding the statements made by the hon. member for Simcoe (Mr. Bennett). Roughly speaking the cost of private lighting in districts served by the Hyd :o-Electric has been reduced by more than one-half, and street lighting, shop lighting and factory power by two-thirds. These facts speak for themselves. If hydro power were not cheap, would people buy it, and urge the extension of the system, as they are doing now? A short recapitulation I have here shows that the Hydro-Electric Power Commission commenced business in 1910, supplying eight municipalities, and the horse-power supplied was 750; in 1911, twenty-two municipalities, 13,500 horsepower; 1912, thirty-three municipalities,

30.000 horse-power; 1913, forty-eight municipalities, 47,500 horse-power; 1914, eighty-two municipalities, 82,500 horse-power; 1915 one hundred and ten municipalities, 128,000 horse-power; and in 1916, 1130 municipalities are using or will use 150,000 horse-power.

The commission say that at that rate of increase they will require 40,000 horse-power per annum to meet the increased demand of the municipalities. They say in their report:

We have no fewer than 130 municipalities asking for power, and at a low estimate we shall want 160,000 horse-power in December of the present year. ,

And they go on to say that in the future they will be able to use the entire power supply of Niagara Falls, which is some

900.000 horse-power. This enormous public-owned corporation gets not one dollar of profit; the profit all goes back in cheap rates. It is only natural that, distributing power in wholesale quantities as they do, they can do it very much cheaper than the smaller companies throughout the country. The Hydro-Electric Power Commission- can use its power -for light, heat, -and the run-

[Mr. Macdonell.l

ning of a radial -system at a trifling cost. This is possible because the radial will use the -same right of way as the power line, and it can be supplied with just as much power as it needs. It does seem to me that we are in a new era with regard to the use of electrical power. It is only natural that a rural district should' much prefer an electrically operated road to a steam road; it is- not only cheaper and -quicker, -but has many other advantages. So far as possible, these hydro radials will use the same machinery, the same distributing plaint, the same right of way, and everything else that they can possibly use in common with the Hydro-Electric Power Commission. Two or three weeks ago, when the Hydro-Electric Power Commission met in Toronto, no les|s than 378 -municipalities in Ontario had asked for hydro-radial surveys to be made, and over $100,000 has bem spent on these -surveys. That shows to what an extent these railways are desired by the people of this province. The Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario, and the municipalities of the province, are almost unanimous in their appeal to this Government to stop granting any more railway charters in districts where the Hydro-Radial has made surveys and intends to operate. The people want the public-owned railway, and not the private-owned road, and they are prepared to pay for these radials.

None of the municipalities that gave guarantees in the past with regard to eleetrical power distribution have been asked to give one dollar to the commission under their guarantee. The commission has so conducted its operations that it has kept well within the estimated expenditure. The expenditure includes both the sinking fund for the redemption of the debentures that were issued to cover the original cost, and -also operating and distribution expenses, and in no case have the municipalities been called on to make good their guarantees. We have this unique result: the municipalities have public-owned utilities for which they have not paid, except in' rates and dues; and those rates and dues are very much less than what they previously paid to the corporations.

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CON

George Eulas Foster (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

The municipality simply gives a guarantee?

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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL:

Yes. That guarantee is a debenture, which is locked up in the Hydro vaults. No one has access to it;

April 3, 1916

it is not used, hypothecated or pledged in any way, but remains there until by the effluxion of time, and by the payment of dues and rates, the municipality has retired the bond.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. H. BENNETT:

Assuming, for

the sake of argument, that the radial railway was not a success, would not the municipality be the first party called upon to redeem their pledge? If not, why go through the form of taking the debenture?

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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL:

Nobody imagines for a moment that this security is illusory. It is there for business purposes and, if any loss occurred, it would, of course, be drawn [DOT]upon, but as the years go by and the sinking fund nears completion, and the interest is being paid, the output becomes smaller, the interest becomes less, and the security is being redeemed. The people of Ontario have shown such enthusiasm in the matter that the Toronto civic by-law to which I referred was passed by a vote of four to one; there were about 20,000 votes for the by-law and about 5,000 against it. That shows that the people believe that this measure will be carried to a proper and successful conclusion.

The statement has been made that Sir Adam Beck stated that this Government would guarantee a subsidy of $3,200 a mile. I was in the Railway Committee at every meeting except the one at which the vote was taken, when I was unavoidably absent, but I heard Sir Adam Beck state definitely that he had no pledge from the Government. My hon. friend from Pictou (Mr. Macdonald) this afternoon asked if any legislation had been passed to guarantee that subsidy. There has been no such legislation arid Sir Adam Beck made no attempt to deceive the Railway Committee or any one else. Application was made to this Government for that aid, and the matter, I understand, is being considered, and there is no reason for any one to say that it will not be reasonably and fairly considered.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. H. BENNETT:

I did not say

that Sir Adam Bock made the statement to the committee; of course, he did not. He made the statement at public meetings throughout the country when the commission were endeavouring to get the people to vote " yea " on the strength of his statement that he had the pledge of the subsidy of $3,200 a mile from the Dominion Government.

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CON
CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Pledge. My hon. friend from South Ontario (Mr. William Smith) made the statement.

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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL:

We get it by hearsay that Sir Adam Beck made the statement.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The hon. member for

South Ontario said so, and Sir Adam Beck at the meeting admitted to the hon. member for South Ontario that he had made that statement.

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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL:

now and taking up some little time. This is the place where the matter should be discussed because it is a national matter, which affects every' province in the Dominion. It is a question of home rulle for the provinces. What one province wants and asks for fairly and reasonably it should have. The Legislature of the province of Ontario, comprising 108 or more members of different shades of politics coming from various parts of the province, have unanimously passed this resolution, protesting against these Bills. Is their voice to be listened to? Certainly it should. What they want, they should get if it is reasonable. There is no reasonable argument against such a proposition. They simply ask that these Bills shall not be reported, because, if they are, the calculations of the province will be upset entirely; it will mean the duplication of their line from Toronto to the international boundary; it will mean the needless expense of millions or tens of millions of dollars. The hydro people will have either to take over the Canadian Northern railway at a greatly enhanced price or to build their own line, and in that case there will be duplication, although, from present appearances I think the hydro line will be built before the Canadian Northern railway line. These Bills have been renewed four or five times; they have been on the statute books inoperative and stale, for thirteen years in one case and for seventeen in the other, and all that is asked is that they be left on the statute books without any further renewal.

Something was said about public ownership and the cost and the impossibility of operating publicly-owned railways at cost. We in Canada are behind some of our neighbours in the states in not having as many radial railways as they have, but we have some publicly-owned lines. In the western and central paTt of Ontario, from which this strong feeling comes, we have in the Guelph street railway a sample of what can be done in publicly-owned and operated street railways. The Guelph street railway was municipalised some years ago, and it now pays a dividend of from 20 to 25 per cent. The railway recently built from London to Port Stanley was jeered at, just as these hydro-radial roads have been, but it was put in operation and in the first six months, before it really got down to business, it showed a net profit_ of $10,000. Therefore, there is no reason to predict that these publicly-owned and operated

railways will be carried on at a loss. There is no reason to doubt the accuracy of the Estimates, and the plans and undertakings made for the ultimate fulfilment of the intention and design of the Hydro-Electric . Commission. They have undertaken everything in a thorough and businesslike way and they can be trusted to' handle this matter in the public interest.

As I say, the Hydro-Electric Commission has reduced the cost of electric power from 100 to 300 per cent, and there is no reason to believe that the operation of this HydroRadial Railway Commission will be any less successful, or will be less a public benefit. I would ask the committee to bear in mind the often-expressed wish of the province of Ontario and the municipalities that are spending their tens of thousands of dollars for the introduction of this system, and to be fair, about it and even generous about it if necessary, and leave the people of Ontario to work out in their own time and by their own methods the successful operation of this hydro-radial system.

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CON

John Hampden Burnham

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. H. BURNHAM (Peterborough West):

It seems to me to be wholly unnecessary to dwell upon the success or otherwise of the Hydro. That matter has been before the public of Ontario, and the success of the system has been endorsed by both parties repeatedly and almost unanimously. Underlying this whole question, of course, is the principle of public ownership. That also has received almost universal public approval. At the present time, as I understand it, the argument is that the Canadian Northern Railway should have an extension of their charter for a certain line. If it were a matter of justice, of absolutely clear justice, whether they should have their charter extended or not, the question of public ownership and the rights of the province of Ontario in the future would not really come in. But such is not the case; it is merely a matter of ordinary, common business advantage. And when the Government of Canada chose to tie itself up, by guarantees or otherwise, to the Canadian Northern Railway, and now find themselves in a tangle over it, they are only trying to excuse one fault by another, and they can not really aggravate the situation by opposing the express wish of the province of Ontario as represented by its Government. I took occasion to ask the Government of Ontario-that is, to ask the Prime Minister -some little time ago if they intended to oppose this Bill. I wanted the fact brought out technically and properly. They said they were instructing and send-

ing their men to that end. If this committee feels that it has a right, for an ordinary business matter, not involving the principle of justice, to oppose the province of Ontario and do a serious injury to the whole principle of their hydro-electric scheme, the very darling of the people of Ontario, and as asserted, to cause very serious loss to the province of Ontario, this committee, and the Government of Canada will have done the province of Ontario a very serious wrong.

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April 3, 1916