July 18, 1917

CON
LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

In clause 302, with which we are dealing, there is a provision that the time tables and instructions shall be printed in both languages. What more do we want?

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Joseph Elijah Armstrong

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. E. ARMSTRONG:

The hon. member for Rimouski (Mr. Boulay) has moved an amendment to clause 302 to the effect that both languages shall be spoken by the crews on the railroads running through the province of Quebec.

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT:

Is there any serious

trouble under the present system? We have had it for a long while.

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON

Eugène Paquet

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PAQUET (translation):

Mr. Chairman, I approve entirely of the amendment moved by my hon. friend from Rimouski (Mr. Boulay). I have myself witnessed of late unfortunate occurrences due to the fact that the railway employees could not understand what the passengers meant. Now the hon. member for Lambton (Mr. Armstrong) has just made a statement; but I think we could request the hon Minister of Railways and Canals to do his best to have that amendment inserted in the Act, for the greater 'convenience of the travelling public in the province of Quebec.

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT AMENDMENT.
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CON
LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL:

To appreciate this question properly, our friends from Ontario should think for a moment of the condition passengers w.ould be in if a Frenchman who could not understand English was in charge of a train running through Ontario. That would not be in the interests of the passengers or of the country. In the province of Quebec, although a large number of our people speak the English language, unfortunately a great many do not, especially those' from the rural parts of the province, and the district of Quebec in particular. The result is that a conductor in charge of a train may have a car full of people with whom he is unable to communicate. Having regard to the fact

that railroad companies operating in the province of Quebec .already print their time tables, hills of lading, posters, and so on _ in both languages to facilitate the transaction of business, I see no reason why the train crews should not 'be required to speak both French and English. It is very awkward for people who are stranded at a railway station and are unable to make themselves understood.

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB
LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MABOIL:

'The ticket sellers, of

course, are .able to speak both languages, and the conductors as well; that is elementary. I do not want to be harsh; a certain length of time should be allowed the railway companies in which to make this change. My experience is that a large number of the old conductors who have been employed on the roads in the province of Quebec for (the last thirty or forty years can speak both languages, but men are being brought in more and more from western Canada who are unable to speak French, .and that is a great inconvenience to the travelling public and the public generally.

If the matter were property placed before the Canadian labour unions and if they understood it, I certainly think thej would not object to the encouragement of the learning of both languages, especially in the province of Quebec, because it is evident that it is to a man's own interest if he wants to do any business that he should be able to speak both languages. I think it should be encouraged on the railways, because after all the railways deal with the public. The Minister of Railways might give the companies fair warning that m a year or a year and a half the ticket seller and the conductor at least-those who come in direct contact with the public- should understand the two languages.

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Edmond Proulx

Liberal

Mr. PROULX:

I am strongly in favour

of the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Rimouski (Mr. Boulay).

Mr. J. E. ARMSTRONG; I do not want it understood that I am opposed to the crews being able to speak the French language. I should think it would he a very great advantage if they could do so. I merely called the attention of the committee to the position in which the railroads are placed at the present time, especially on the main lines in and out of important cities in Quebec. To pass this amendment would be to say that nobody but French Canadians should be employed

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT AMENDMENT.
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S514 COMMONS


on railroads in the province of Quebec. The result would, be that the railway unions, [DOT] the large majority of whose membership are English-speaking, would be sure to retaliate and prevent French Canadians from being employed outside the province of Quebec. Mr. MARCH,: There are a large number of English-speaking Canadians in the province of Quebec who can speak both languages. It is a great mistake to imagine that only the French Canadians speak both languages. '


CON

Joseph Elijah Armstrong

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. E. ARMSTRONG:

I am quite well aware of that fact. What I called the attention of the committee to is the fact that the representatives of the railway unions are strongly opposed to an amendment of this nature being placed in the Bill.

Topic:   S514 COMMONS
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CON

William Wright

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WRIGHT:

When the matter was up before I suggested that it might very well be left in the hands of the Railway Commission, and if they had not the power to deal with it, such power might be conferred upon them. We can very well see it might be a great hardship to put a clause of this kind in as an ironclad rule. Take, for instance, a train leaving Halifax for Vancouver; because it ran through a portion of Quebec for an hour or two, would it be right to compel the crew to be able to speak the French language? Might it not be a very great hardship indeed, and interfere with the running arrangements of such trains? On the local trains running between cities in Quebec it would be no great hardship to a railway if it had to have men who could speak both French and English, and I can understand that such an order might very well be made. At the same time I think it should be left in the hands of the Railway Commission.

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I wish to thank my hon. friend from Muskoka (Mr. Wright) for the very sensible remarks he has made, and I think it would be well if my hon. friend from Rimouski were to accept his suggestion. If a provision were placed in the Act whereby the Railway Commission might regulate this matter, we would come to a satisfactory conclusion, because the province of Quebec is represented on the commission and I am sure the interests of the province would be well looked after.

I may assure the committee this question is not brought forward with the idea of raising a vexed question. There is a real grievance in some cases. I quite agree with my hon. friend that we cannot expect a bilingual crew on a train leaving Halifax

or St. John for Vancouver, yet one must recollect that on a long-haul train partial changes of crews are made. A conductor might take the train from Halifax to Montreal, and be relieved there, so it would simply be a matter of arrangement. It might be arranged that when a train reaches the boundary line between New Brunswick and Quebec a conductor speaking both languages would be put in charge. Certain grievances on this subject have been made public. Two cases were given a little more publicity than the others. One concerned some young boys coming home from college, and the other was a case of gross misconduct on the part of a conductor on the Canadian Northern Railway. In the first instance, some students were going from Rigaud to Montreal. They were threatened with arrest by the conductor of the train because they could not understand him, and he insisted that they should understand him. The doors of the car were locked, and had it not been for the intervention of a gentleman whose name was mentioned, those boys would have been arrested when they reached Montreal, because, according to the conductor, they had refused to pay their fares. The case which happened on the Canadian Northern was on a new line in a new district. The conductor was ignorant of the language of the passengers, and on the occasion referred to he handled very roughly one of the passengers who did not understand him. When the remonstrance was made to the company in Toronto they took the matter up and the answer was very satisfactory. Apologies were made, and the company promised that such conduct would not be renewed. These are only two instances which occur to my mind at the present time as tending to show there certainly are grievances.

But as the hon. member for Muskoka (Mr. Wright) stated, the local conditions could be looked after if the power was given to .the Railway Board to deal with such conditions. I would be agreeable to accepting that suggestion, and I would suggest to my hon. friend from Rimouski that he amend his motion accordingly. It is well that this grievance be met before the committee, because certainly there has been some wild talk of late about it on the various trains.

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CON

Robert Francis Green

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GREEN:

I am not in favour of the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Rimouski (Mr. Boulay), nor am I in favour of the suggestion made by the hon. member for Muskoka (Mr. Wright). This is a matter that should be left as it is. I

see no reason for making it the law that the people in charge of the trains should speak both languages. I quite agree that it would be an advantage, and that it is just and right that where necessary the train officials should speak both languages. But surely that is a matter that should be left to the railway company who are handling the business of the road. If it is necessary to their business to have men speaking two languages, whether they be French and English or other language that may be necessary in some particular portions of Canada, surely we can leave it to the railway companies to see that the public is being served. I do not think it would be right for this House to put upon the statute books a law making it necessary for the Tailway companies in all cases, either in Quebec or any other province, to have men in their service who could speak both languages.

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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARGIL:

I approve of the suggestion made by the hon. member for Muskoka (Mr. Wright), and supported by the hon. member for Rouville (Mr. Lemieux). I think the Railway Board would have no hesitation in declaring that local trains should be in charge of a conductor, and that the tickets should be sold by a ticket seller, who could understand the passengers. I am prepared to leave it to the board to say how trains running beyond the limits of the province of Quebec should be manned. -

Topic:   S514 COMMONS
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CON

Francis Cochrane (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE:

There is a certain

degree of unfairness in insisting upon this. Many trains leaving Montreal get out of the province of Quebec long before the time comes for changing the conductors and other officials. There are three or four trains a day going out of Montreal on the Canadian Pacific and Grand Trunk, and there will be on the Canadian Northern, in regard to which the conditions are as I have described them. It is not as it is with the Intercolonial. For the Intercolonial, I would accept the proposal Tight off as far as running in the province of Quebec is concerned, because we run several hundred miles through that province. But, it is a different proposition in regard to the trains running out of Montreal. Unless there is a wide latitude given to the Railway Commission, I would not want to agree to the amendment. On Intercolonial trains running through the province of Quebec, it is all right, but on trains running between Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa it would be very objectionable.

Topic:   S514 COMMONS
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LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MARCIL:

I understand the minister to agree that with reference to local trains in the province of Quebec the amendment might apply but that the question with reference to trains running outside of the province should be dealt with by the Railway Commission.

Topic:   S514 COMMONS
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CON

July 18, 1917