May 15, 1918

?

An hon. MEMBER:

How would you

write it off?

Topic:   THE RAILWAY SITUATION IN CANADA.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER AS TO THE CONTEMPLATED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

George Brecken Nicholson

Unionist

Mr. G. B. NICHOLSON:

You cannot do anything else but write it off. You have given it away and you cannot get it back.

Mr. MeMASTER: You will have to pay interest on it.

Topic:   THE RAILWAY SITUATION IN CANADA.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER AS TO THE CONTEMPLATED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

George Brecken Nicholson

Unionist

Mr. G. B. NICHOLSON:

We will have

. to pay interest on it, but we cannot make the railroads earn that interest. If any one can devise a means by which the National Transcontinental as it stands today can earn the interest on $225,000,000, with 1,811 miles of railway in competition and with an overhead of charge of $61,000 per mile, he will find the solution for the whole problem.

Mr. MteMASTER: If the Canadian people ' were the creditors of this amount, they could write it off; but the Canadian people

are the debtors; therefore they cannot write it off.

Topic:   THE RAILWAY SITUATION IN CANADA.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER AS TO THE CONTEMPLATED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

George Brecken Nicholson

Unionist

Mr. G. B. NICHOLSON:

The Canadian people borrowed a certain amount of money and put it into the Transcontinental and the Grand Trunk Pacific. For all practical purposes, they might as well have thrown it into lake Superior. When you come down to operate these railways as a business proposition, the liabilities which I have mentioned will be simply charged to the national debt and the people will pay interest on it, not because they put it into a railway, but because they permitted a group of grafters to get away with it. We are trying to get our railways down to a point where they can be operated as a business proposition, and we have to- bring the capitalization down to a mileage basis in proportion to that of competing lines and to what the actual cost of the railway should be. It is not fair to ask the people who are paiying freight and passenger rates on Canadian railways to pay interest on money that we . deliberately threw away. Take, for instance, the case of the Grand Trunk proper, with liabilities amounting to $475,000,000. The Drayton-Acworth report, page 12, gives as the amount of securities outstanding against the 3,331 miles of the Grand Trunk as $424,169,310, and their experts say that they must have $51,000,000 in order to bring the equipment of the road up to standard. It is my opinion that $51,000,000 will not furnish the necessary equipment.

Topic:   THE RAILWAY SITUATION IN CANADA.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER AS TO THE CONTEMPLATED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE:

Topic:   THE RAILWAY SITUATION IN CANADA.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER AS TO THE CONTEMPLATED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

George Brecken Nicholson

Unionist

Mr. G. B. NICHOLSON:

If my hon.

friend can purchase the Grand Trunk Railway system for $50,000,000, the Government would do well to employ him has their agent- and start him out to do it right at once. I am simply giving the figures of the Drayton-Acworth report as to the outstanding liabilities of this road and the amount the Grand Trunk expert says is required to bring the equipment up to standard. As I have said, one of the

Topic:   THE RAILWAY SITUATION IN CANADA.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER AS TO THE CONTEMPLATED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
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L LIB

Charles Murphy

Laurier Liberal

Mr. MURPHY:

The Grand Trunk or the Grand Trunk Pacific?

Topic:   THE RAILWAY SITUATION IN CANADA.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER AS TO THE CONTEMPLATED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

George Brecken Nicholson

Unionist

Mr. G. B. NICHOLSON:

The Grand Trunk.

Topic:   THE RAILWAY SITUATION IN CANADA.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER AS TO THE CONTEMPLATED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

William Folger Nickle

Unionist

Mr. NICKLE:

Is it not a fact that, although the Grand Trunk had a greater number of locomotives than the other railways, those locomotives were so old that the drawbar efficiency made them practically inefficient for operating purposes?

Topic:   THE RAILWAY SITUATION IN CANADA.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER AS TO THE CONTEMPLATED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

George Brecken Nicholson

Unionist

Mr. G. B. NICHOLSON:

That may possibly be so, at least to some degree, hut to my mind it is worth while finding out just where all those locomotives are.

Topic:   THE RAILWAY SITUATION IN CANADA.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER AS TO THE CONTEMPLATED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

William Folger Nickle

Unionist

Mr. NICKLE:

In the shops.

Topic:   THE RAILWAY SITUATION IN CANADA.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER AS TO THE CONTEMPLATED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

George Brecken Nicholson

Unionist

Mr. G. B. NICHOLSON:

Some of them may be in the shops, but information brought to me indirectly is that they are not all in the shops. The Grand; Trunk is operating railroads both in Canada and the United States, and my information is that the Grand Trunk in Canada has been robbed for the benefit of the Grand Trunk m the United States. That may or may not be, but it is a matter at least worth investigating. There is another point in connection with that. My hon. friend has said that the reason for the Grand Trunk

difficulty is that their locomotives are obsolete. I shall give the Minister of Railways and Canals a thought in this connection.

Who is it who is designing the locomotives the Canadian Government is purchasing for the Grand Trunk railway? My reason for asking is this: The hon. member for Kingston (Mr. Nickle) has referred to the fact that the Grand Trunk locomotives are obsolete. I may tell' him that the Grand Trunk put new locomotives built by the Canadian Locomotive Company at Kingston into service less than three years ago, that were obsolete before they were turned out of the shops; positively obsolete, because they were of a type and cflass that was discarded twenty years ago by every railway using the modern locomotives. So, if we are purchasing locomotives for the Grand Trunk railway I would say to the Minister of Railways, be sure and find out who is designing them.

Topic:   THE RAILWAY SITUATION IN CANADA.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER AS TO THE CONTEMPLATED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

William Folger Nickle

Unionist

Mr. NICKLE:

The hon. member agrees with me that the locomotives being built for the Grand Trunk have not sufficient draw-bar efficiency to make them up to date, that the designing is bad, that the engineering service is not as it should be.

Topic:   THE RAILWAY SITUATION IN CANADA.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER AS TO THE CONTEMPLATED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

George Brecken Nicholson

Unionist

Mr. G. B. NICHOLSON:

A locomotive may be obsolete and still have draw-bar efficiency. When I referred to a type of locomotive that was obsolete twenty years ago I was not referring to, the draw-bar capacity of the locomotive, but to what it is going to cost to keep that locomotive in a state of efficiency on the road. I repeat that the last locomotive built for the Grand Trunk that I have had the privilege of seeing-and I make a business of watching for all these things-was of a type that was obsolete twenty years ago.

Now a word as to the Canadian. Northern and its equipment. The road is not fully equipped, but from one end of the road to the other what they have got is all modern equipment, and it is due to the fact that they have modern officials, and if the Minister of Railways is purchasing engines there is one man I know of who can. give him sound advice, namely, the General Manager of the Canadian Northern lines east of Port Arthur.

Topic:   THE RAILWAY SITUATION IN CANADA.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER AS TO THE CONTEMPLATED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Air. CURRIE:

Air. Vaughan?

Topic:   THE RAILWAY SITUATION IN CANADA.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER AS TO THE CONTEMPLATED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

George Brecken Nicholson

Unionist

Mr. G. B. NICHOLSON:

No, but a gentleman who learned his business with Air. Vaughan. I ain giving that information because I think the Government should know it. It is only by getting down to details that we shall ever get out of what

the hon. member for Springfield terms " this mess," and that is what I have endeavoured to do in a rambling sort,of way to-night. There is one other matter I want to refer to, and that is how we are going to manage these railways, and the tolls we are going to exact when we do manage them. I have studied the question from every angle, and if the declaration of the Prime Minister means anything, and I am one of those who believe it means just exactly what he said, I can see no better way than to follow the plan outlined in the DraytonrAcworth report. It will be absolutely necessary for the Canadian Parliament or the Canadian Government to appoint the first board of directors, but if the board is to be kept out of politics it should be self-perpetuating, in just the same way that the board of directors of any private-owned railway in Canada is self-perpetuating. I believe hon. gentlemen will agree with me that should the president of the Canadian Pacific retire, or before he retires for that matter, he will practically nominate his own successor, and the man he choses will be accepted by the directors, and the shareholders will back him up, and unless we are to have a new group of political directors for the State-owned system of railways in Canada, every time a change occurs we must find some means of having the members of the board chosen without coming back to Governments and Parliaments, because Governments and Parliaments will always be political so long as they exist.

Mr. MeMASTER: If my hon. friend's suggestion is carried out, how will the railways owned by the people of Canada be controlled in any way by the people of Canada?

Topic:   THE RAILWAY SITUATION IN CANADA.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER AS TO THE CONTEMPLATED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

George Brecken Nicholson

Unionist

Mr. G. B. NICHOLSON:

Place them

under the Railway Commission, as far as control is concerned. As I understand it, the Drayton-Acworth report recommends that the power of nomination should rest with what they term the Dominion Railway Company, but I would term it a board of trustees for the Canadian people. The power of confirmation should rest with the Canadian Parliament or the Canadian Government. That is my idea. If \ some one else can suggest a better, all right, get busy. If we will look at what the Drayton-Acworth report refers to as the most efficient system of government-owned railways in the world, the Australasian experiment, we shall find that they have been changing from commission to board and then back again to commission, back and forth all the time, just because of political appointments. I

say- that if we are going to have political appointments in the operation of a state-owned system of railways, our last condition will be very much worse than the first.

The rates charged on the Government railways should be under the same control as the rates of privately-owned railways. I should like to refer for a moment to something that has been said with regard to the increase of rates granted Canadian railways by the Railway Commission a short time ago. The Government has been severely criticised for not reversing the order of the Railway Commission, but in my judgment if the Government is deserving of censure at all, it is because they took that order of the Railway Commission under consideration even in the slightest degree, and for this reason: If we are going to have independent control of railways, we cannot possibly set up the principle that every ruling of the Railway Commission is going to be revised by the Government of the day. Reverse the position for a moment, and assume that the Railway Commission orders a reduction of freight rates. Would that be a matter for the Government to revise? Should the Government say the reduction must not take place? The one is just as logical as the other,, and it just comes down to this. I take it that we regard the Railway Commission as we would a court of justice in this country, and I do not think there is a man who would suggest that after a court had given its decision the -case should go for review before a political body. Now as to the merits of the case. The railway companies have to earn increased salaries and an increased cost of all their materials, and I do not think that an increase of fifteen per cent was a large increase in proportion to the increased price they have to pay for everything. The difficulty is that people get a wrong view of what is essential and what is not essential. There are many in this House, for instance, who would say that the railways are not an agency for the production of anything, that they simply stand as a bar between producer and consumer. Now if some of the gentlemen representing a constituency in the West, we will say, will come with me one day next winter and get off the passenger train at White River I will undertake to get him a pass to ride on one of the 210 per cent engines running from White River to Chapleau. I will not ask him to handle a scoopful of coal the whole way, but just keep warm if he can and watch the men who are marketing the farmers' wheat, and I think at the end of the ride he will have a different con-

Topic:   THE RAILWAY SITUATION IN CANADA.
Subtopic:   STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER AS TO THE CONTEMPLATED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT.
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ID 18


oeption of what production and consumption really mean. The hon. member for Springfield, speaking on this question a few nights ago, said with all the dramatic eloquence of which he is capable that the tragedy of the increase in the. freight rates was not that the freight rates were increased by fifteen per cent, but that on the very day the order went into effect the price of sugar in the West went up one-tenth of one cent per pound. Would he believe that the locomotive fireman who helps to market the western farmers' wheat found that on the day that the wheat commission set the price of wheat 180 per cent higher than it was in pre-war days his wife had to pay 125 per cent more for the bread to make the sandwiches that she put up in his .lunch basket? I have not heard anybody say that there was any tragedy' about that. I have heard people undertake to say that the price of wheat went up too high but I could not agree with them. I believe it was the right thing for the commission to do in order that they might induce greater production of the things necessary to feed the people during the war. I have also heard it said in business circles that, because the price of newsprint. paper went up fifty per cent it was no reason why the daily newspapers should have increased the prices in their job printing departments 200 and 300 per cent. I do not agree with that. I am just repeating these statements but they do not represent my own views. I do not agree with 'the callous-hearted people who make these statements, and the only reason I refer to them is that I believe that when the hon. member undertakes to stage a tragedy based on the fact that one-tenth of a cent a pound has been added to the price of sugar he should at least exercise some little regard in the selection of the costume that the villain is going to appear in. To come back to the main question. Whatever is done with the Canadian railways, one thing that is necessary, if we are going to have efficiency and economy, is to find some means of keeping the overhead charges down to a proper basis and putting the .railways in the hands of men who will operate them independently of any political considerations whatever and just the same as a private company would operate its own railway. Mr. MANI'ON: The hon. gentleman speaks about the Australian railways; what about the German, Belgian, French and Swiss State-owned railways?


UNION

George Brecken Nicholson

Unionist

Mr. G. B. NICHOLSON:

I stated that I would make no comparison between the

railways of Central Europe and the railways on the North American continent for the reason that it is utterly impossible. A railway must earn a sufficient amount of money to pay for the things it uses. We cannot make any comparison between conditions in Canada and those on the European continent. You can produce anything you like to mention in Central Europe a great deal, cheaper than you can, produce it in Canada. We are not going to ask our people to work for what the people of Europe get. I simply used the Australian railways for the purposes of comparison because the Drayton-Acworth report pointed them out as examples of Government ownership.

Topic:   ID 18
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May 15, 1918