November 4, 1919

?

An hon. MEMBER:

Sure it will.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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L LIB

Joseph Archambault

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ARCHAMBAULT:

On the other hand it is most likely to entail most serious consequences. These lines of the Grand Trunk as it appears, are showing a deficit now that they are privately owned. What will happen if this agreement goes through? Is it not natural and logical to surmise that the Americans will feel rather chary about using our roads? They will certainly have the same disposition as we would towards a railway owned and operated by the United States in Canada. These lines will increase their deficit and the poor taxpayer will have to dig deeper into his pocket.

Here I come to a very serious consideration. I ask you, Mr. Speaker: What would happen in the case of war? There is only one answer. The United States would be entitled to, and would confiscate the 2,000 miles of line belonging to the Canadian Government, worth over $51,000,000, the country would suffer that loss and Canada would be in the absurd, the suicidal position of having her own railway used against her for purposes of war. There is an advantage in state-owned railways which is not embodied in this Bill. It has been repeated in the House before but I desire to bring the matter up again. By the British North America Act government-owned buildings and railways cannot be forced or obliged to pay one cent of municipal or school taxes. It is certain that whether the Bill is passed or not the school and municipal taxes which our lines in the United States are now paying will continue to be paid. We have had the assurance of the Minister of Railways that in Canada the municipalities will not lose these taxes. I understand that the amount is something like $1,000,000 in Canada and approximately the same in the United States, which means that tire taxpayers of Canada will have to pay, if this Bill is passed, $2,000,000 a year to municipalities which they would not have to pay if the policy of the Government was real public ownership.

Now even if we had all the advantages of public ownership I say this: Although

I believe in public ownership in theory, and although in practice it might be good, in other spheres of action experience has taught us that public ownership of railways has been a failure. The hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar) has pointed out very clearly the paramount reason why, in theory, public ownership of public utilities is preferable to private ownership, and I would be entirely in accord with his view

if this principle could be applied to railroads. The hon. gentleman said this: " Private ownership is based on the principle of gain-it is an investment for profit. On the other hand public ownership is based on the idea of service at cost to the people." I find no fault with that principle, but even my hon. friend's definition contains a doubt. He says that it is based on the idea of service at cost to the people; he does not say based on a service at cost to the people; he has 'to include the word " idea " which means a theory. Is it possible to give service to the people at cost?-That is the whole question.. In some cases it is. In other spheres of action, as I said before, even if the price above cost is so little that the benefits derived from it are greater than the over-cost, it would be all right. I am in favour of public ownership of cold storages for instances, because they require very few employees, and if such a policy were adopted the people would not 'be famished and fleeced as they are now by the food barons of this country. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Crerar) has also cited in order to prove his case, the Hydro Electric Commission of Ontario and the Winnipeg power scheme. Sir, admitting that these enterprises are a success and that in their case public ownership has proven a success, nobody will compare the administration of power enterprises in one province or in one city, with the administration of a system of railroads covering the whole of this Dominion and also operating in the United States. Once the natural energy is converted into electricity the cost of operation is very small-everybody knows that. But in the case of railroad enterprises such as I have described the differ-erence in the cost of operation and in the number of employees is so vast that I am amazed that the facts do not impress the clear and shrewd mind of myhon. friend. When the hon. gentleman speaks of the success of the Hydro Electric Commission of Ontario let me remind him that in the city of Montreal a private-owned company sells power just as cheaply. But let me ask my hon. friend this: Is he in favour of the nationalization of grain elevators and telephones, and what have been the results of attempts at such a policy in his own province?

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

John Hampden Burnham

Unionist

Mr. BURNHAM:

I would like to call my hon. friend's attention to the fact that when the sinking fund is paid off these public-owned properties, the service will be much cheaper than it is now, which is entirely different from private ownership.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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L LIB

Joseph Archambault

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ARCHAMBAULT:

It is, but will the Government create a sinking fund in' connection with their policy for the purchase of the Grand Trunk railway? That is quite different.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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L LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

They will be sinking.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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L LIB

Joseph Archambault

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ARCHAMBATJLT:

It will be a case of the country sinking to the depths of bankruptcy. But taking it for granted, Sir, that in practice public ownership of certain public utilities could be made a success- and I might admit that it might be made a success-it is bound to be a failure in the case of railroads. It has been a failure wherever it has been adopted.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Where?

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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L LIB

Joseph Archambault

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ARCHAMBAULT:

It has been a failure in the United States and it has been a failure in England.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

No.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
Permalink
L LIB

Joseph Archambault

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ARCHAMBAULT:

It has been also a failure in Canada, and can my hon. friend who disputes my statement name another country where it has been a success except Germany.or Austria, and even in Germany at the present moment there is a deficit of $150,000,000. Will my hon. friend suggest that we should adopt the policy of Germany? Germany is a military-conducted country, and it is because the railroads there are operated by the military authorities that the system has proved a success.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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L LIB

Charles Marcil

Laurier Liberal

Mr. CHARLES MARCIL:

And there are no strikes.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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L LIB

Joseph Archambault

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ARCHAMBAULT:

Very true. As my hon. friend sitting near me states there are no strikes. Now, in order to conduct the operations of a corporation or a business with success, four elements are absolutely necessary and essential: First, efficiency in management; second, the acquisition of the basic materials of industry at the cheapest rate and in the absence of waste; third, the selection of the best officials and employees; and fourth, the creation of an incentive to advancement. Public ownership is practically barren of these four elements, because political influence has always existed in connection therewith and will always exist. Every hon, member who spoke in favour of the Bill-the Minister of Railways (Mr. Reid), the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Meighen), the ex-Minister of Finance (Sir Thomas White), and the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar)-stated that public ownership of railways could not be a

success if political influence was to remain in Canada. All other reasons in favour of the policy fall flat, even according to their own admissions, if this essential and sine-qua non condition does not exist. It is a Utopia to seriously consider that railways can be operated by a Government-I do not care to what party it belongs-without political influence. If rails, stations, or other equipment of a railroad are needed, friends of the Government will use-

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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L LIB

Lucien Cannon

Laurier Liberal

Mr. CANNON:

This Government has nofriends. .

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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L LIB

Joseph Archambault

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ARCHAMBAULT:

-I am speaking of Governments generally-will use their influence, and sometimes without scruples as to the means, to secure contracts. If a new line or new stations be needed, the private concern will put the new line or the new stations where most needed; but the Government, irrespective of party, will provide the accommodation where it will be most useful politically-we cannot get away from that. If the position of an official or other employee becomes open there are the 100,000 employees that will be created to be considered-because there will be that number of railroad employees under Government control if the present measure passes, and if we add the Grand Trunk railway to the railroads that are already owned by the country.

Well, for every vacancy there will be at least fifty applications from each of the two-hundred and thirty-five ridings in the Dominion, and where is the hon. member who will contend that from among 11,750 applicants for one job the most efficient will be selected?

Moreover, under the circumstances, the best men will not apply. The best qualified men are always eager for advancement, and this incentive, so necessary to efficiency, does not exist in the case of a publicly-owned company. A great number of men, builders of industry, have started at the bottom and landed at the top, and it is that prospect which makes them hard workers, which makes them- efficient, which makes them devoted to their employers. Many names could be cited as examples, but one of the most striking is the example of the ex-president of the -Canadian Pacific Railway Company, Lord Shaughnessy, who, if I am not mistaken, entered the service of the company as a telegrapher at ten dollars a week and climbed steadily through various stages in the company's employ until he became president. There are other examples,. Sir, too numerous, to mention. Can the

Minister of Railways or the Minister of the Interior give many examples of a government employee who started at the bottom as clerk and reached the head of his department?

Mr. W. F. MACfLEAN: The present postmaster of Toronto.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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L LIB

Joseph Archambault

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ARCHAMBAULT:

Can my hon. friend name any others?

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

William Findlay Maclean

Unionist

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN:

Yes.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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L LIB

Joseph Archambault

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ARCHAMBAULT:

Many others?

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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UNION

Robert Lorne Richardson

Unionist

Air. RICHARDSON:

The collector of customs at Winnipeg.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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L LIB

Joseph Archambault

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ARCHAMBAULT:

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
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L LIB

Joseph Archambault

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ARCHAMBAULT:

Well, I am not ready to answer that. But I remind the House that the position of head of the Railway Commission has certainly not been given to a gentleman who started at the bottom as a railway clerk.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK RAILWAY SYSTEM.
Subtopic:   BILL PROVIDING FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE SYSTEM BY THE GOVERNMENT.
Permalink

November 4, 1919