August 28, 1917

REPORT PRESENTED.


Summary Report of the Geological Survey, Department of Mines, for the calendar year, 1916.-Hon. Mr. Meighen.


CANADIAN RAILWAY SITUATION.

CONSIDERATION OF CANADIAN NORTHERN RAILWAY BILL RESUMED IN COMMITTEE-RULE 1TB APPLIED.


Consideration in committee of Bill No. 125, providing for the acquisition by His



Majesty of the capital stock of the Canadian Northern Railway Company-Sir Thoma3 White (Minister of Finance)-resumed from Monday, August 27, Mr. Dugald Stewart in the Chair.


CON

William Thomas White (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir THOMAS WHITE:

I beg to move:

That further consideration of clauses 1, 2, 3 and 4, the amendments, and the title of Bill No. 125 shall be the first business of the committee and shall not further be postponed.

Some ihon. MEMBERS: Carried.

Topic:   CANADIAN RAILWAY SITUATION.
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OF CANADIAN NORTHERN RAILWAY BILL RESUMED IN COMMITTEE-RULE 1TB APPLIED.
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Lost.

Motion declared carried: Yeas, 52; Nays, 25.

On section 1-acquisition of shares of Canadian Northern railway authorized:

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LIB

Jacques Bureau

Liberal

Mr. JACQUES BUREAU (Three Rivers) (translation):

Mr. Chairman, when this

resolution was 'brought before this House some time ago with a view to considering the opportunity of taking this railway line, we 'had the assurance from the prime minister that on the occasion of this measure being submitted to the Committee of the Whole we would be allowed all necessary time to di-s-ouss it. Assurance waisi also given that we would have at hand all necessary information, so that we might deal intelligently, with the Bill now before us.

I submit, iMr. Chairman, that there is not one isingle man here who, realizing the duties he has to discharge as a member of this House, will venture to say that he has performed these duties and has done so in the light of the small amount of information supplied to this House.

I want to ask you, Mr. Chairman, whether I shall have to address people talking between themselves and paying no attention at all, or address myself to a House whose duty it is to give ear when a member has the floor?

As I say, then, we are called to pronounce ourselves on a measure by which this country is to be saddled with an enormous indebtedness, and we are not only asked to assume the liabilities of a bankrupt company, hut also to agree that the people may be made liable to pay this corporation or its promoters a sum of $60,000,000 or $100,000,000 for the privilege of laying a further burden of $600,000,000 upon the taxpayers of this country.

The first reason why I object- to our taking this measure into consideration, is that we have not enough information as to what we are purchasing. We are told that we are taking over 9,500 miles of railroad, ibut we

have not had before the House any information as to the present condition of this railroad line. By taking over the main line, we are also getting control of many sections and branch lines; we do not know what these sections are, we do not know what their liabilities may be, neither do we know what -portion is guaranteed by the parent company. 'There is one of these branch lines, Mr. 'Chairman, which I -know better than, the other ones-; it is -that of the Quebec -and Lake St. John, and I beg leave to state that it is -a perfectly useless acquisition, as this section is- in competition-with the. National Transcontinental. I s-ay in competition, hut I should not use such an expression. The Quebec and Lake St. John -railway, if we consider the recent construction of the National Transcontinental, becomes- perfectly useless, I might even say an actual danger; in fact, this line has- been badly built from its very inception -and its operation is most expensive. During the winter months, if they try to clear -away the snow and the anen- use the least strength in shovelling the snow away the rails go off with the snow and the embankment is taken away. (Such is, Mr. Chairman, the -line the Government -are taking over, when they buy this Quebec and Lake St. John branch-road,

But, when we discuss those matters, the Minister of Finance -answers: W-hy, gentlemen, why are you asking for -information as to the- value of -these lines or as to the condition of these lines-? We are not buying the engines, we are not buying the -stations, we are not buying the physical property of that system, we -are- only buying the stock.

Well, Mr. Chairman, I should- like to know what that stock is worth. We are taking over the 'Canadian Northern Railway company. What is that Canadian- Northern Railway -company? Is it the interests of w-hi-ch the Minister of Finance is the representative, or is it the ra-ilw-ay line- which Wins over the continent? I-s it the stock that constitutes the -main interest of the road, or is it the physical property?

'Mr. Chairman, there is something besides this ro-ad itself, besides the -stock used to keep it running, the real estate comprised in its right of way, its stations -and the lands given to the company as -a -subsidy. It is stated that, in the province of Quebec, *a certain quantity of land -has been given as a kind of subsidy for the building of branch lines. Pertinently, I say that, if an allusion is thus made to th-e lands given to the Quebec and Lake 'St. John railway,

these is not an acre, not even -a square foot of land, now in the possession of the Canadian Northern railway, which is the property of the Canadian Northern.

All the lands-, Mr. Chairman, which have been granted, as a subsidy, for the construction of the Canadian Northern railway, have been sold, have been localized or transferred, either to private companies, or to lumber merchants and other commercial men. Consequently, if the lands whien are counted upon the assets- of the company, and localized in the province of Quebec, are any part of the lands granted to the Quebec and Lake St. John railway, I say that the representation made before the House is a false one, showing fictitious assets, but which have been bargained with and speculated on for several years past.

After all, Mr. Chairman, we: are called upon to have our say upon a mere business question. We are -asked to accept, as assets, on behalf of the people of Canada, a property the component details of which we absolutely ignore. Is there a business man

and I appeal to the ;hon. Minister of Finance himself-is there a. business man -in this House, who would buy any trade whatever, who would buy any kind of business whatever, without having previously inquired as to the value of such trade or 'business?

And how, Mr. Chairman, could he know anything about it? The only way would be to get a detailed inventory, a full inventory of all the personal property, including the franchise and whatever constitutes the assets of the -company. This inventory, once completed, it would then be necessary to havie experts accustomed to estimate such values, who would put upon every article set down in the inventory, the value, not only the value of the article therein mentioned, but also the state or condition of such -article.

I submit, Mr. Chairman, that the information given to the House by the hon. Minister of Finance is not sufficient, and that the Minister of Finance is hiding behind the capital stock to tell us that we are not entitled to know what moveable or immovable estate and what lands do now make up the assets of the Canadian Northern company. I say that he does not do justice to the members of this House and that he does not do justice to the country, because we are not in a position to pronounce ourselves.

There is another way, Mr. Chairman, in which some hon. gentlemen try to justify, partly, the stand taken by the Government,

and that is by invoking the report of the Drayton-Acworth commission and therein they take whatever suits the Government and they set aside whatever does not suit the gentlemen to whom they intend to make a -present of the value, whatever it may be, of the company's stock once it has been estimated by the -commissioners who will be appointed.

It is shown, by the report of a commission appointed by the Government, that the stock has never cost one cent, that there has never been one cent spent in payment of that stock, and that, consequently, they have in no way contributed to the construction of the railway. It is watering of stock and nothing but watered stock.

It has been moreover stated by the Solicitor General, in 1914, that these securities or these stock were worthless, because they had cost nothing and because not a single cent had been paid for their exchange.

The Minister of Finance also told us, in 1914, as he has .stated and asserted it last night, before this House, that this stock was the property of the Canadian Northern and would remaiu its property.

Where is the member who could give me information as to the value, the condition and the running expenses of any of the Canadian Northern branch lines? No one can answer as to that, unless he has fo-und some information in returns; that are withheld from us; no one can certainly answer me from the information now before the House and which is at our disposal.

Now, Mr. Chairman, why should this House be called upon to-day to ratify a legislation whereby spme thing will be estimated, which has been admitted by experts, who have been chosen to form the Smith, Drayton and Aoworth Commission, as noc having cost a single cent; I refer to the payment of those shares. Why are we asked to appoint a new tribunal whose functions will consist in giving a value to a thing that has none? Is it in virtue of the principle laid down by the Government namely, that when they ask any commission to make a report, if that report meets their expectations, they will accept it; but on the other hand, if the same commission makes a report which does not suit them, they set it aside, they repudiate the commissioners, and a'pipoin-t a new commission -composed of members whose opinion has been ascertained.

We are asked to-day to ratify this transaction which shall be imposed upon us. The Minister of Finance says to us: "We know that the Canadian Northern company finds it impossible to meet 'ts obligations."

Topic:   CANADIAN RAILWAY SITUATION.
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OF CANADIAN NORTHERN RAILWAY BILL RESUMED IN COMMITTEE-RULE 1TB APPLIED.
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CON

Joseph Hormisdas Rainville (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

The CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE (Mr. Rainville):

I will call the hon. member's attention to the fact that he has spoxen twenty minutes

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LIB

Jacques Bureau

Liberal

Hon. Mr. BUREAU:

I thought I had begun only at twenty minutes past three .

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CON

Joseph Hormisdas Rainville (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

The CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE (Mr. Rainville):

I am prepared to assert that I was i-n my seat at a quarter past three; however, if the hon. member wishes to speak two or three- minutes longer, I believe I can grant it.

Topic:   CANADIAN RAILWAY SITUATION.
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LIB

Jacques Bureau

Liberal

Hon. Mr. BUREAU :

I will take advantage of these two ot three minutes, to record my protest .against the Act which it is intended to impose on us and against the methods laid down. Yes, Mr. Chairman, I wish to strongly protest .against the Act which they intend to force through by means of a brutal majority, an Act to be forcibly passed under cover of the British flag. When I was a child, I have always been- taught that the British flag was the living emblem of liberty and of fair piety; neveT have I been taught that it could be used to cover, to shroud in- its folds the misdeeds of a Government, of an unprincipled and moribund Government.

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LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte √Čthier

Liberal

Mr. ETHIER (Two Mountains) (translation) :

Mr. Chairman, I cannot allow to be placed upon the statute books of Canada ' an Act so iniquitous in its conception and so disastrous in its consequences, from an economic and financial point of view, without protesting with all the energy in my power against the iniquity which the present -Government is trying to perpetrate. Indeed this is one of the worst misdeeds of the Government since 1911, and especially since the beginning of this session. We need only go back to the 18th of May last to see that from that date, since the hon. prime minister lias1 retuined from England-, its object has been to take away strip by strip, hit after bit, all the liberties that were guaranteed to us by the -Constitution, before the present -Government, elected under false pretences, came into power in 1911. We have only to refer to the conscription Act, to. glance backwards, to examine the Act relating to the soldiers' vote, and we will find that the Canadian Northern Act, which is now before the House is the crowning piece of the present Government's efforts and -conduct since May 18 last. I am opposed to the passing of this Act, -and I am not the only one who objects- to it. I am in, pretty good company.

The hon. member for South Renfrew (Mr. Graham-) in- the -course of the remarks he made upon this Bill's second reading before the committee, has laid before this House the protest of a group of high financiers in Montreal. I do- not intend to again

lastique and it also runs from St. 'Canut to St. Jerome for over fourteen years, the Canadian Northern company hag not had a single full service on that part of its line. I say not one, for in that district we have only a freight train to which ie attached a passenger car and I would he justified in styling it " a cattle car." I have had myself the occasion to come before the Railway Commission to complain of this state of affairs on 'behalf of the residents of the St. Canut municipality.

On two occasions the Railway Commission ordered the Canadian Northern to build a station at St. Canut and

['Mr. Ethier.]

of the country's financial interests, this measure is worse than the conscription Act, for, at least, conscription may help, may contribute to aid our allies and our own overseas; but the Canadian Northern purchase will only contribute to assist Mackenzie and Mann and the rotten speculators whom we do not know, hut whom we suspect of being at the bottom, of this transaction.

'Mr. Chairman, I stated, art the beginning of my remarks that we were used to see iniquities perpetrated by the present Government; I said it was not the first one and; from, what we can see, it will not be the last one either. They so well feel the weakness of the measures submitted that they aTe forced to use violence, to use the gag, to use the closure in order to overcome the people's representatives and to ignore their own mandate.

I see that to-day IMr. Chairman pays a special attention to the members on his left. He .now glances at me, meaning that my time is over. However, last night he had a stiff neck, probably, for .he only had his eyes to. the other side of the House, never looking this way; hut to-day, he is sharp-sighted, we cannot go beyond our twenty minutes. Well, Mr. Chairman, I am

through, I how before the order of the present Government's executioner and I resume my seat.

Topic:   CANADIAN RAILWAY SITUATION.
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OF CANADIAN NORTHERN RAILWAY BILL RESUMED IN COMMITTEE-RULE 1TB APPLIED.
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LIB

William Erskine Knowles

Liberal

Mr. KNOWLES:

Mr. Chairman, this measure is so far-reaching in its consequences that it is a. matter for regret that those of us who have not spoken before are by the action of our autocratic Minister of Finance limited to speaking for only twenty minutes. I suppose that quite fifty Liberals have not yet spoken on 'this Bill, which involves our embarking upon one of the greatest policies Canada has ever entered upon. There has been no unreasonable discussion of the Bill, yet the Minister of Finance takes it upon himself to say that the people's representatives shall be confined to twenty-minute speeches. His only reason must be that he fears open discussion of this measure. If he were anxious to have this measure fully discussed, he would not resolve in his heart that at least fifty of the people's representatives should be refused the opportunity of discussing it, because you cannot discuss a measure like this, involving the far-reaching principle of public ownership, in anything like twenty minutes. I do the Minister of Finance no injustice, but rather pay him a compliment, when I say that he

would be more highly thought of in Canada if he had encouraged discussion of this measure instead of endeavouring to apply the gag and forcing it through Parliament, and it comes with especially ill grace from the Minister of Finance, a gentleman for whom many of us have a high regard, for his ability and other qualities. The fact remains, and the minister knows it just as well as we do, that in the public mind he is very closely linked up in personal friendship and financial interest with Sir William Mackenzie. The people know that; they believe that such is the case, and as a friend of the Minister of Finance, I say that it is an unfortunate thing for him that he has chosen to choke off discussion of this measure, which involves the possibility of our paying out huge sums of money to Mackenzie and Mann. I know nothing about tne personal affairs of the Minister of Finance, aDd desire to know nothing about them, I am speaking of public matters, and I say it is a public belief in Canada to-day that the Minister of Finance is where he is because of the Mackenzie and Mann influence and the Z. A. Lash influence. I have been credibly informed that it was on the nomination of Sir William Mackenzie and the late Minister of Militia and Defence that the Finance Minister secured his appointment.

Topic:   CANADIAN RAILWAY SITUATION.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

There is not the slightest foundation in fact for the assertion my hon. friend has just made.

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LIB

William Erskine Knowles

Liberal

Mr. KNOWLES:

The Prime Minister's statement must be accepted, of course. The fact remains, however, that the ^public mind is convinced that the Minister of Finance is where he is because he is a pet of those interests, and the Minister of Finance would better preserve the name which he has reason in many ways to be proud of, if he were the last person to force through Parliament a measure of which Mackenzie and Mann are going to be the beneficiaries. I make that statement in all friendliness and in all manliness.

I desire to say further, that there is a suspicion throughout Canada that this Government is extremely close to the Mackenzie and Mann people and to the Canadian Northern. That is not a belief of a day's growth, but has been in the public mind for some years. There has been a strong belief in the public mind that in the Minister of Finance the Canadian Northern have a very close friend; I do not say an improper friend. It is also a common belief that in the late

Minister of Public Works they have a very close friend; I do not say an improper friend. It is also a common belief that in the late Minister of Militia and Defence, and in the present Minister of Railways and Canals the Canadian Northern have very close friends. In view of the public belief that this is in many ways a Canadian Northern Government, it is unfortunate for the Government that they should force this measure through Parliament without a fair opportunity for discussion being permitted to those who desire to criticise the Bill. I would go further and say that the suspicion in the mind of the people will not, unfortunately for the Government, be at all lessened by the choice that they have made of an arbitrator. It is not for me to discuss Sir William Meredith in any personal way. I am in the habit in a humble way of appearing before judges, and I am not going to take advantage of my position in this House to say anything with regard to a judge that is unfair or in any way ungentlemanly or unmanly. But I will say this : that once a man accepts an appointment like this in connection with a transaction that is generally looked upon in Canada as a shady transaction'-and Sir William Meredith knows that-he becomes a fair subject of examination and criticism. In the public interest we must ask ourselves: Is Sir

William Meredith an arbitrator of whom we on this side of the House can approve? Speaking for myself, I say without any hesitation that Sir William' Meredith is an arbitrator of whom I do not approve absolutely and entirely, for many reasons.

Topic:   CANADIAN RAILWAY SITUATION.
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OF CANADIAN NORTHERN RAILWAY BILL RESUMED IN COMMITTEE-RULE 1TB APPLIED.
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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

That will be the death of Sir William Meredith.

Topic:   CANADIAN RAILWAY SITUATION.
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LIB

William Erskine Knowles

Liberal

Mr. KNOWLES:

If the minister will

allow me, in my humble way, I am going to discharge my duty to the country, notwithstanding his ironical remarks. [DOT]

Topic:   CANADIAN RAILWAY SITUATION.
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CON

George Green Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir GEORGE FOSTER:

Will you permit a question?

Topic:   CANADIAN RAILWAY SITUATION.
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OF CANADIAN NORTHERN RAILWAY BILL RESUMED IN COMMITTEE-RULE 1TB APPLIED.
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August 28, 1917