April 11, 1916

IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. E. MACLEAN:

Without making any comment on the particular question raised by the introduction of this new legislation, I wish to say that in my judgment the legislation is of the right kind. It is aimed at the unnecessary duplication of railways in this country, which is more or less the cause of the present condition of some of the railways in -Canada. It is high time that the control and* regulation of these railways should be in the hands of some responsible body, thoroughly cognizant of the -situation, who will hereafter -prevent the unnecessary duplication of lines, by reason of which there has been not only a great waste of capital for the loss of which the country has now to stand^ more or less, but there is ahead of us an unnecessary duplication of service. There are railroad trains being run alongside one another and in competition that trill, if maintained, entail a great waste of public money, and prevent any improvement in the railroads of this country. The paramount question before the people of Canada in connection with railways is how to give a Better service so as to bring about 'better rates. The only way to d'o that is to consolidate the railway system, and if we cannot get rid of the unnecessary duplication of roads, we can at least get rid of the unnecessary duplication of service which is now being carried out. This legislation is in the right direction. I am quite willing to trust the administration of it to the Railway Commission.

I only Tegret that the Bill which the Government had in hand for the revision of the Railway Act has not been presented even if we are at war, I would like to have seen that Bill taken up a year ago by this House. Last session I appealed to the House to take some of the main clauses of the Bill and put them through. In my own riding, and in other parte of Ontario, there is great need for another clause in the Railway Act which will provide that in the event of the construction of bridges hereafter, if the railway bridge is at a place where the public have use for a bridge, the Board may have power to order a joint structure and distribute the cost between the municipality and the railway. The city of Toronto to-

day has two or three problems of that kind with regard to the construction of expensive bridges required both by the public and by railway companiese. I hope that the Government will see its way clear, even if we have a war on, to deal with this new Bill. Let me give another instance in which there is provision made in this Bill for the public advantage, but which is still in suspension. I refer to the provision compelling railway companies to give a suburban service in the large cities. To-day they give a suburban service out o.f Montreal but we cannot get it in Toronto. We have tried to get it, but for some reason- I do not know what-we have not succeeded. We have appealed to the Railway Commission year after year and asked them to compel the railway companies to give such a service but so far we have not been able to secure the issue of such an order. There is a provision in this new Bill which would deal with that matter but unfortunately the Bill is not brought forward. The war is given as a reason but I do not think it is a sufficient reason and I hope the Acting Minister of Railways and Canals *will see his way to take up this matter without loss of time. I would like to see him do so this year, but certainly if not this year, I hope this revision of the Railway Act will be taken up at the forthcoming session and that many new clauses will be put on the statute book. In the meantime, I am perfectly certain that this Bill will do something in the way of curing or preventing unnecessary duplication of service. Unnecessary duplication has caused a great deal of trouble, it has not improved the railways, it has caused a great deal of irritation and the necessity of dealing with the problem, and of getting rid of it, will be before us sooner or later.

Topic:   POWERS OF THE RAILWAY COMMISSION.
Subtopic:   RAILWAY ACT AMENDMENTS.
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CON

Joseph Elijah Armstrong

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. E. ARMSTRONG:

I am in hearty sympathy with the amendment that is now before the committee. I am satisfied that the Bill will do a great deal to reduce duplication of railways in Canada. If we had had this amendment to the Railway Act years ago it would have saved the country millions of dollars. Not only will it prevent the duplication of railways, but it will prevent the duplication of terminals which we have at many places in Canada and in connection with which a large amount of money has been expended uselessly and unwisely. In addition, it will assist materially in the placing of our railway finances on a better footing than

Topic:   POWERS OF THE RAILWAY COMMISSION.
Subtopic:   RAILWAY ACT AMENDMENTS.
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II, 1916


they* are at the present time. I am satisfied that railway bond holders and those who are interested in the guarantees that are disposed of toy our railways will be pleased to have this measure embodied in the Railway Act.


LIB

Frederick Forsyth Pardee

Liberal

Mr. PARDEE:

If this Act is going into

force, might I ask the hon. acting Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Reid) if it would not be better to have a company desiring incorporation apply directly to the Secretary of State in the ordinary way and then submit its plans to the Board of Railway Commissioners?

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN:

That would be a good law; I would not object to that. ,

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LIB

Frederick Forsyth Pardee

Liberal

Mr. PARDEE:

This comes to the same

thing if you have perfect confidence in the Railway Commission. Then a company could get a charter in the ordinary way from the Secretary of State, submit its plans and have them passed afterwards.

Mr. REID I would not like to take up such a large question as that to-day. I think the suggestion is one 'that should be well considered. But the Ra'iway Act is to be amended. The Bill is all ready to bring before the House at some future time. We have not taken it up on account of war conditions. When the Bill comes forward 1 would suggest to my hon. friend (Mr. Pardee) that he take up that question. This amendment merely makes the present Railway Act a little more workable or a little more satisfactory to the House and the country and therefore I would ask the hon. member to allow the other matter 'fo stand until the Railway Act Amendment Bill is introduced.

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LIB

John Gillanders Turriff

Liberal

Mr. TURRIFF:

What will be the function of Parliament in connection with railway charters? After the Railway Committee and the House have spent a lot of time over a Bill to incorporate a railway company, we are giving power to the Board of Railway Commissioners-and I do think it well to do it-to override everything that may be done by the Railway Committee or toy the House. This is an amendment that I am glad to support because I think it is a move in the right direction, but to carry it out to its logical conclusion, we certainly ought to allow the railway companies to go to the Secretary of State, instead of coming to Parliament, because Parliament, in so far as I can understand :it, will have nothing to do in connection

with the matter. The Bill gives power to the Railway Commissioners to override the action of Parliament.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

There is every argument in favour of making the change suggested by the two hon. gentlemen who have just spoken. This is the law in a number of the states of the United States, if not in all. I know that the railway companies there apply to the Secretary of State, plans are approved of by a board of railway commissioners and on being approved the company get their charter from the Secretary of State and they can immediately go to work without waiting for the session of the legislature.

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IND
LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

Yes. The great objection I see to this Bill is that it provides for the approval of the location and the plans by the Board of Railway Commissioners after the charter has been obtained. I think it ought to be that the company should not come to Parliament until after the plans have been approved. Any company desiring to obtain a charter should be required to do what this Bill provides for, that is apply to the Board of Railway Commissioners to have their location and plans approved. That being done, the company would then apply to Parliament and there would be no difficulty about getting the charter, provided Parliament thought it would be proper to grant a charter. But, if this Bill passes, the company will apply for a charter, when the Bill has its second reading it will go to the Railway Committee, there it will be fought out at great length and it will take a great deal of the time of the members of this House. After the Bill has gone through all the processes necessary to its being passed into law, gone to the Senate, there passed and received the Royal Assent, the Board of Railway Commissioners has power to render the whole proceedings nugatory either by annulling the whole charter or any portion of it. It seems to me that it would be far better -and there would be no difficulty in it- to have the company submit its plans and proposed charter to the Board of Railway Commissioners and secure its approval before coming to Parliament.

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

We should have to consider the suggestion of my hon. friend very carefully indeed before making such a drastic change in our present procedure, which has

been in existence for so many years. As the hon. member knows, a Railway Bill not only has to pass the House of Commons and the Senate, but its plans and charter must be approved by the Minister of Railways and by the Board of Railway Commissioners before construction can commence. The proposed amendment makes very little change. The Board of Railway Commissioners have to go into the matter very thoroughly, and decide whether the location and the construction would be in the public interest. We all have great confidence in the Board of Railway Commissioners, and I would ask the House to give this amendment a trial. The Railway Act will have to be revised in a session or two, and we could then consider the suggestion of my hon. friend from St. John, that it might be better to take away from Parliament altogether the granting of railway charters, and have the companies, after getting their plans approved by the Board of Railway Commissioners, apply to the Secretary of State for a charter under the Companies Act. The revision of the Railway Act has been delayed owing to circumstances over which we have had no control, and until it comes up, as it must do within the next sessio.n or two, I would ask that this amendment ibe given a trial. We shall then be in a better position to decide between it and the suggestion of my hon. friend from St. John.

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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

While approving generally of the plan to have the Board of Railway Commissioners' approval of the lines, I hesitate to go as far as subsection 3 of section 157, which reads:

The hoard may approve such map and location, or any portion thereof, or may make or require such changes and alterations therein as it deems expedient; but if the hoard deems that the construction of a railway upon the proposed location or upon any portion thereof is not in the public interest it shall refuse approval of the whole or of such portion; and in any case where the board deems it in the public interest it may, as to any portion of the proposed railway, make any order, or require the taking of any proceedings, provided for by subsection seven and eight of this section.

It is taking a long step to make the Board of Railway Commissioners supreme over Parliament; it is>

tantamount to sayipg that the Railway Committee and this House will put through a Bill of which they have no knowledge. The legislation is dangerous to that extent, and affords an argument to the hon. member for St. John when he says that the final word as to the granting of a

charter ought to be said by Parliament. Under the present procedure, before a charter is granted, a railway Bill comes before the Railway Committee, and we must assume that the Minister of Railways in that committee, and the chairman and members of it, have some knowledge of what they are discussing. The Bill then goes through the Committee of the Whole House, clause by clause, is given its third reading, and then goes through the same stages in 4 p.m. the Senate. We are now proposing that the Board of Railway Commissioners shall have power to nullify every bit of that legislation. A charter given to a railway company is not a permit, but an Act of Parliament, which is placed on the statute book; and this amendment is simply saying to the Board of Railway Commissioners: " We are vesting

power in you to override the statute we have passed."

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IND
LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

Though it may be in the public interest to leave details to a board of that character, it is not in the public interest to allow the board to decide what shall be our policy with regard to the construction of a line of railway, and that is what is wrong with this clause. It gives the board more power than the minister ever had, and the minister is a member of the Government, and of the Railway Committee, which is guided by him to a large extent, more particularly oh matters of policy. The minister's powers have been limited to the location of the line, but this clause goes further and says that the board may refuse to allow the road to be built at all if it does not approve of the whole or of any portion. In other words, it is giving them power to say that Parliament did not know what it was talking about when it' granted charters. If these charters were perpetual, and Parliament had no power of revising them, there might be some reason for this clause; but under the Railway Act charters last only two years, at the end of which time, if construction has not begun, the company has to come to Parliament for an extension. It is a serious thing to empower a board to over-ride an Act of Parliament which has been deliberately passed by both Houses, and has undergone the careful scrutiny of a body such as the Railway Committee is. My view is that details as to the construction of a railway should be left to the Board of Railway Commissioners,

but the policy should be left where it is to-day-in the hands of Parliament.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN:

The Acting Minister of Railways should be complimented for the introduction of this Bill, which I think is legislation along the right line. I agree with the hon. member fof South Renfrew (Mr. Graham) that it is not well to delegate all the powers of Parliament to the Board of Railway Commissioners. But we have had a good many years' experience of that board. They have had delegated to them powers that hitherto were held only by the Parliament of Canada, and I do not think there has been any complaint either in the House or in the country against the abuse of those powers. I think, therefore, we can safely trust the Board of Railway Commissioners.

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LIB
CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN:

There is a great deal in what my hon. friend says. I am one of those who believe that the people's representatives in Parliament should have a thorough knowledge of what railways are being constructed in Canada, and have considerable say as to how and where they should be con. structed.

I think the powers that have been delegated to the Board of Railway Commissioners are powers that, prior to the delegating of them to the board, caused a great deal of contention both in this House and in the Railway Committee. While it may be said that a good deal of time is lost in the Railway Committee, I think, on the whole, it has done good service to the people of Canada. Take, for instance, this Bi1! that has been introduced. Had it not been for the difference of opinion in the Railway Committee during this session, this Bill would not have been forthcoming at all. Certain members of the committee held one view and certain other members differed from them; the matter was threshed out in the committee for some time, and the result was the introduction of this Bill. I think we should use this House for the introduction of railway charters, the Railway Committee for determining certain points, and the Board of Railway Commissioners for threshing out certain other points, and thus, by working in close co-operation, we would get the best possible legislation in regard to railway matters. I feel sure that this is a better method of working than to act separately and to give any of the governing bodies too much power. This is

legislation that should be passed. It was pretty thoroughly threshed out two years ago in the joint committee of the Senate and of this House, and had the war not broken out the general revision of the Railway Act would likely have been passed at the last session of Parliament.

As regards the revision of the Railway Act of Canada, we can afford to be a little careful and to wait. I have no doubt that, when the war is over many clauses that were thought to be the best possible clauses to be introduced in the revision of the Railway Act will be reconsidered by the committee and by this House, because of the results of the war. Therefore, as the Railway Act is a very wide one, and -Seeing that we have waited so long, I think we can afford to wait a little longer, keeping in view the condition of things when the war is over.

I am in favour of this legislation, and I wish to offer my congratulations to the Acting Minister of Railways on the introduction of this Bill, which I think Will be in the public interest.

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LIB
CON

April 11, 1916