Mr. W. F. MACLEAN:
That may, be.
Private ownership may have built .a lot of unnecessary lines, may have oaused any -amount of duplication; they may have come to grief owing to that fact. Public ownership would not have come to grief in the -same way. Any way, the bulk of the arguments are in favour of public ownership, and I stand here to-night, for myself,
for my province, for the people I represent, for the thinking men of this country and for the farmers, to say that they are in favour of public ownership of the railroads of this. country, and the sooner it comes the better it will be for the nation, for the people, .and for the welfare of all.
Mr. E. iM.. MACDONALD (Pictou): Mr. Speaker, I do. not .intend to follow my hon. friend along the lines on which he has just spoken so. ably .and at such length. I assume that he is to be congratulated and that he should be pardoned for having claimed for himself the honour and distinction of having had his views adopted by the Government. I would not pretend to enter upon all of the lines o;f discussion which my hon. friend has taken up, hut I may point out that there is a delightful absence all through his discussion of any such material and important matter as the question of what all these things are going to cost. My hon. friend has entirely eliminated, both from the consideration of the proposition before the House and everything he has mentioned in the course of his speech, any such thing as money. Money is a very important thing, it is a very essential thing. And now, when the credit of this country is at the lowest ebb it has ever been, with demands for commitments greater than at any time previously, we have submitted to us a proposition iby which the Government undertake to commit themselves and the country to .a liability which is totally unnecessary. This proposition involves the payment of at least $100,000,000 on the lines laid down by the Minister of Finance. I say that at this moment the one serious thing for the Canadian people to consider is whether or not this Government is doing right in paying out $100,000,000-or rather committing themselves to the payment of that amount-'when they do not have to pay a single cent, and when all that my hon. friend (Mr. Maclean) claimed as ideal and proper could be obtained for the country by this Government simply taking .advantage of their own bargain made three years ago and incorporated in a statute.
The Minister of Finance, when he presented his resolution, instead of intituling it "An Act to provide for the acquisition by His Majesty of the capital stock of the Canadian Northern Railway Company" should have intituled it "An Act to reform the statute passed in 1914 with reference to the Canadian Northern Railway Company and to amend section 24 of that Act so as to destroy its full effect and operation."
That is exactly the effect of this Bill. fMr. W. F. Maclean.!
I should like to ask the minister, either at the conclusion of this debate or when the Bill goes into committee, to inform the House who the real owners and pledgees of the stock of the Canadian Northern Railway are. My hon. friend has that information but has not yet given it to the House. In other words, this House and the country do not know with whom this arbitration is to be carried on. We have been discussing it as if Messrs. Mackenzie and Mann, whose names are well known throughout the country, are the people who are to .get this money. I do not know if that is so. No one knows whether it is so. The other parties to the arbitration have not been disclosed to the House or to the country. I ask the minister to let us know whether Mackenzie and Mann own the five-sixths of this stock, and if they are the parties with whom this agreement is made. If not, who are the parties, and with whom has this stock been pledged, and for how much has it been pledged? It would be absurd, ridiculous, for Parliament to consider seriously the passing of a measure involving the purchase of a large quantity of stock which we do not have to purchase, involving the pledging of the credit of the country to an amount in the vicinity of $100,000,000, for the purpose of getting stock from certain people whose names are known to the Government but are not given to the House. My hon. friend should also, tell us who are the owners of the one-sixth of the stock in regard to whom special provisions are made in the latter part of the Bill. This information is essential if the House is to pass upon this measure with any degree of intelligence.
My hon. friend from South York (Mr. Maclean) in his enthusiasm for government ownership, evidently has not taken the trouble to read this Bill, because if he did so he would not find a single provision how this road is to be operated after it is obtained-not a line. All we have here is authority given td the Government to purchase a certain quantity of stock from some person or persons unknown, without a line of declaration of policy as to how that railway is to be operated. The Bill might well be called "An Act to reform Chapter 20 of the statutes of 1914, .and to amend the agreement and stipulations in that Act which provide for the people of Canada getting the Canadian Northern Railway and all its belongings without their costing the Canadian people a cent"-and I propose to prove that beyond the shadow of a doubt. There is but one issue before this House in regard to this measure, that is whether the
amendment of the hon. member for South Renfrew (Mr. Graham) is one which rightly states the previous law and the facts in this case. If it does, there is no justification for this measure, for the creation of a board of arbitrators or for the provisions under which the country is to be committed to a large payment of money. Are the statements in the amendment of my hon. friend true? Every one has assumed in this discussion that the Canadian Northern Railway is in default in its payments. What does that mean? In 1914, after a previous grant had been made to the Canadian Northern Railway the year before of fifteen millions, my hon. friend came to this House with a proposition that there should be loaned to the Canadian Northern the sum of $45,000,000. And there was submitted to the House for ratification an agreement which was made and entered into between the Canadian Northern Railway and Messrs. Mackenzie and Mann who were described as the contractors, and the Government of Canada. It was represented that when the country provided for its guarantee of $45,000,000, the whole railway question, so far as the Canadian Northern Railway was concerned, would be solved, and we would not be called upon for any more money.
We all remember how, when that proposal was made, the hon. member for Calgary (Mr. R. B. Bennett) attacked the proposition in the most aggresive and energetic way. My hon. friend from Kingston (Mr. Nickle), discussing the question at that time, declared that every dollar of the so-called stock of the Canadian Northern was watered stock and that the whole was not worth a cent. The ^energe tic opposition o,f these gentlemen did not avail with the Government, and they proceeded to ratify that proposition and put through the arrangement. What was the attitude of hon. gentlemen on this side? I had the honour of moving, on behalf of the opposition, the six months' hoist to the whole measure. Later on, in the discussion upon the question, my hon. friend from Middlesex (Mr. Ross) moved what was a reasonable proposition-that before Canada should commit herself to any such arrangement as proposed, there should be a complete and full investigation into the affairs of the Canadian Northern. That was voted down by 'hon. gentlemen on the other side. Supplementary to that, the hon. member for St. John (Mr. Pugsley) proposed to amend the proposition, so that, in addition to taking over the portion of the stock which
the Government were taking at that time, which was only 40 per cent of that stock, the whole stock should be taken over, and become the property of the Dominion, the matter to be determined by arbitration. That was voted down. What answer did my hon. friends opposite make in regard to that proposition of the hon. member for St. John? Every one of them went on record, the Prime Minister and all the others, to the effect that the provisions of the statute contained in sections 22, 23 and 24 were so apt, so definite and certain that, if the Canadian Northern ever were in default, automatically, under the provisions of section 24, the title to all the assets and property of the Canadian Northern could simply by this Parliament passing legislation declaring that it was done, become the property of the Canadian people without it costing them a single cent. If that statement is true, then this legislation is entirely unnecessary. Section 22 provides as follows:
Upon the happening- of any event of default, and at any time or times while the same shall continue, it shall be lawful for the Governor in Council after such notice to the Canadian Northern as the Governor in Council may direct, to declare to be vacant the offices of the directors of the Canadian Northern.
My hon. friend (Sir Thomas White) told us, when he moved this resolution, that a very important advantage in getting this stock was that we would be able -to turn out the present directors and get new ones. But he forgot to inform the House on one Very important point-and were it not for the hon. gentleman from South Renfrew (Mr. Graham) dealing with this question, and pointing out what the law was in 1914, the House and the country might have forgotten that the Government of Canada has greater power under the statute of 1914 than it will have under this proposed measure. In the event of default this Government can at once declare to be vacant the offices of the directors of the Canadian Northern and of any of the constituent or subsidiary companies. That power existed beyond all question. Why was it not exercised in the interests of the Canadian people? I ask the hon. Minister of Finance, or any other hon. gentleman on that side of the House, to tell me why it was not exercised last year when they gave the Canadian Northern $15,000,000 more? Why was it not exercised this year, when my hon. friend has to go to New York and pay the highest rate for money, and sell his securities at the lowest rate at which securities have been sold?
Why should my hon. friend ignore that provision, and ask the Canadian people and this Parliament to provide for the payment of money when they need not do so? Section 23 provides:
The directors so appointed by the Governor in Council shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor in Council, and any such director may be removed and another appointed in his place. Vacancies occurring from time to time may be tilled by the Governor in Council.
My hon.. friend from South York could have sung his paeans of joy just as well without cost to the country, if the powers conferred upon us by chapter 20 of 1914 were exercised. But further let me call attention to section 24, which has been read to the House. The marginal note, epitomizing what the effect of the section was, reads as follows:
Equity of redemption foreclosed on default and vested in His Majesty.
The section provides that, on default, the equity of redemption in the Canadian Northern Railway is automatically foreclosed by order of this Parliament and becomes vested in His Majesty. That is the law. I venture to say that no hon. gentleman in this House who has any regard for his status as a lawyer will venture to declare that, under the provisions of section 24, ample power of the most radical kind was not conferred on the Government by which automatically, and simply by resolution of Parliament, the whole property of the Canadian Northern would .become vested in the Canadian people, withoui costing them a single cent. That that >vas the meaning of the law hon. gentlemen have shown by some of the statements made by various hon. gentlemen at that time. In the light of the rather casuistic argument made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden), I want to refer particularly to what he said that clause meant in 1914. I quote from page 3674 of Hansard:
It is also provided by clause 24 that, if authorized by the Parliament of Canada, the Governor in Council may, in case of default, declare that the interest of Mackenzie and Mann in the Canadian Northern Railway system is absolutely barred and foreclosed, and that all the properties and assets thereof,' subject to any outstanding obligation, shall thereupon vest in the Crown, in the right of the people of Canada,
Either that meant what the right hon. gentleman said it meant, and what every hon. gentleman who reads it knows it meant, or it did not. If it meant what the Premier said at that time, then the Minister of Fin-fMr. Macdonald.]
ance knows, as does every hon. gentleman that this legislation, is totally and absolutely unnecessary, and it is intended to divprt from the treasury of Canada at least
5100,000,000 which ought to be there in this time of stress and war. My hon. friend from Calgary ventured to 'question the effect of that, and in, an able speech which he delivered at that time this is what hg said about it: .
They talk about the slow machinery of the courts, but look at this: ''That if authorized
by the Parliament of Canada," you have to come back to Parliament to foreclose. To foreclose what? About $60,000,000 of stock outstanding in the hands of Mackenzie and Mann. Our $40,000,000 is there too, and the $25,000,000 of convertible securities which may not be converted, are there also. We are going to foreclose our interest, but we have to come back to Parliament to do it. Mr. Speaker, those loyal devoted Canadians who believe that democracy's mission is not fulfilled, and that popular government is upon trial, know what that means-a long protracted lobby as to how much we are going to pay to get rid of Mackenzie and Mann.
Now, what was going to happen? We have not had the lobby with members of Parliament, hut there has been some influence working from the owners of that stock, whom the people of Canada do not know, upon this Government, as the result of which they have been induced to forego the effect of section 24 of this Act, and to bring down this measure, taking from the treasury of Canada $100,000,000 which ought to be left there.
What did the Minister of Finance say in reply to the member fir Calgary when he raised that very question? The minister pointed out the ridiculousness of dealing with the stock of the company. I need not delay the House by setting forth the long argument made by my hon. friend to show that the stock was no good. He said that we were getting a better thing-the assets -something that really belonged to the company. He went on to say
If I have a mortgage on a company's undertaking I do not care very much for the stock' as security except that it is advisable to have the stock in order that I can take possession of the company, put in my own receiver, and operate the company with my own board of directors. That is the only advantage. The stock does not give any higher security, but it makes the realization of the security a little more convenient. What security have we? I have seen a good deal of financing in my time, and I know something of law although my hon. friend from Pictou (Mr. Macdonald) does not think so, and I want to say this: I have never seen as effectual a means of entering into possession of a property upon which a mortgage is held as has been devised by the Solicitor General In connection with this transaction.
Subtopic: DEBATE CONTINUED ON MOTION FOR SECOND READING OF CANADIAN NORTHERN RAILWAY BILL.