April 8, 1921

CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS- EMPLOYEES' REMUNERATIONSUPPLEMENTARY ANSWER

UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Hon. J. D. REID (Minister of Railways and Canals) :

Mr. Speaker, since answering the question yesterday asked by the hon. member for Russell (Mr. Murphy), I have received from the Vice-President of the Canadian National Railways a further memorandum giving additionnal information, and I should like to have this placed on Hansard to complete the answer already given. Therefore I would ask the consent of the House for that purpose.

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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

It would be the right of the hon. minister when questions were called to have this additional answer to the question submitted placed on the Table and subsequently printed in Hansard; but I can see it would be of great advantage to have it printed in Hansard of to-day rather than wait until questions are called on Monday. I therefore trust that under the circumstances the House will offer no objection to the supplementary answer being incorporated in to-day's Hansard. Is it the pleasure of the House that this shall be done?

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?

Some Hon. MEMBERS:

Carried.

[Note.-The statements referred to above are printed as an appendix to this day's issue of Debates. Editor.]

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CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS

REPERENCE TO SPECIAL, COMMITTEE OP THE HOUSE

UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Right Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Prime Minister) :

Mr. Speaker, I beg to move the following resolution:

That a Select Standing Committee on National Railways and Shipping be appointed for the present session, and be instructed to inquire into the following questions:-

(1) What information as to operation of Canadian National Railways and Shipping as conducted by the Board of Directors and Management should, in the public interest, be brought down in Parliament on Question, Motion for Production of Papers, or otherwise.

(2) When, by what method, and under what conditions, if any, should such information be given, regard being had for the necessity of securing to Parliament and the public all facts requisite for the determination of policy (including finance), and to the Board of Directors the best possible conditions and efficiency of management.

(3) What system of auditing should be adopted, and what extent of detail should be given in the Annual Report.

(4) Whether and for what perposes the said committee should be continued, and that for the above purposes and for such other purposes as the committee deem in the public interest there be referred to said Committee the Annual Report of the Board of Directors and that the said committee have power to examine witnesses under oath, to send for papers, persons, and records, and to report from time to time.

Mr. Speaker, the subject matter of the resolution has been under debate in the House fully on one occasion and partially on another; consequently there is little necessary for me to add by way of explanation in moving the resolution. The committee that I propose is designed to perform, if it can, a very difficult but a very necessary task, and I think it well that the appointment should be made at the earliest possible date-to-day if it be the will of the House-so that the committee may have the most ample opportunity to call witnesses, make all necessary investigations, secure the best opinion available, and report.

When the matter was first under discussion some ten days ago on the motion of the hon. the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) in amendment to Supply, I intimated that I felt the House might well consider the appointment of such a select committee as was already foreshadowed in the motion of the hon. member for Halifax (Mr. Maclean) and that there should be committed to it, first, the duty of finding and reporting upon the best method of bringing into this House the necessary information as to the National railways, the time and the conditions, and whether or not there might be any information that, for a time at least, should not be brought down. On April 5, when the hon. member for Halifax moved his motion, I took occasion in the debate more specifically to set out what I thought might be the duties of the committee. At page 1660 I used these words:

I have merely outlined in brief what has occurred to me as proper subjects for the deliberation of the committee. I am not going to say that nothing else could be submitted to them. It might be conceivable that the general question of the devolution of responsibility within the managing body might also come up for consideration there. I have no comment to offer upon that suggestion. It can be reviewed when the motion that I shall give notice of to-night comes up for discussion.

And I commented on the four topics that I had then suggested. Later in the debate when I gave the notice I said:

During the course of the discussion with regard to the Canadian National Railways, I promised that I would give notice to-night of a motion for the appointment of a committee. I am prepared to hand the motion in, in the regular way, but as in that case hon. members would have no -chan-ce to peruse it, I think it would be fairer, that I should read it to-night. In that connection I wish to say that the subjects here outlined are not given finally and conclusively as the subject to be under the review of the committee. In the course of my remarks, indeed, I said that such was not the case.

Consequently the attitude of the Government throughout has consistently been to give Parliament the fullest right of review as to what in the public interest can well be taken in charge by this committee for the purposes of report. In view of comment that had been made to the effect that the annual report would not be brought down, at least for all purposes-although I had stated previously that it would be laid before the committee and would be used for all purposes that the committee had to serve -it will be observed that by incorporating in the motion an additional purpose the committee gets the annual report for that purpose as well, which virtually puts it in the power of the committee to use it for any purpose it desires.

Now, I have noted somewhere that comment was made, to the effect that the duties, as indicated in this resolution, are purely academical. I am afraid that I am not able to understand the applicability of that adjective to these duties. The House has discussed many times, not only this session but in previous sessions, the very question that is embodied in the first charge to the committee. That question is about as far from the academic and is about as intensely and markedly practical as any question possibly could be- what actual information as to operation of Canadian National Railways and shipping as conducted by the board of directors and management should in the public interest be brought down in Parliament on question, motion for production of papers, or otherwise. That is the first question, and really it is very difficult to understand how anyone who reads it can have the faintest idea that it is academical. It is a question as to just what facts relating to operation may be brought down. The Government has always taken the view that this at least must be said: the actual operating data, the facts connected therewith, the managing of the road, must not, until a certain time passes- at least during the period of operation to which they apply and until the annual report covering them appears-must not be producible

to the competitor of the road, to the public, to competing tenderers, and all others. As respects these business facts of operation, this corporation must have the same rights as any other, must have the same opportunities as any other, to make a success of its system. In the judgment of the Government, that is vital; it is essential; without it there is no use going on. If these are to be destroyed, then the time has come to turn our backs upon government operation of a system of the magnitude of ours. Any attempt to expose and place the management in the position that has been sought in this House is, whether so intended or not, an attempt to paralyze government operation of railways. Consequently it is an intensely practical question as to what information can be given without prejudicing 'the management of the system, without prejudicing its efficiency; when it can be given, and under what conditions, if any, and by what method-possibly through the committee itself. That covers the first two duties as outlined in the resolution.

The third reference entrusts to the committee the obligation of looking into the question whether we can have a better audit system. It has been suggested-as I recall it, chiefly by the hon. member for St. Hyacinthe (Mr. Gauthier)-that some audit system might be evolved under which there would be an ultimate if not an immediate responsibility on the part of the Auditor General. I know of practical objections that have been raised to this. I do not feel myself competent thoroughly to discuss it; I would like to hear evidence upon it. It will be for the committee to hear such evidence as it may desire and to come to a conclusion thereon. The Board of Management has in the past adopted in its annual report the principle of following the same lines and adopting the same system and going into the same detail as in the case with the Canadian Pacific in disclosing its operating facts, its business year to its shareholders. It might be that under a Government system operated by a board of directors a fuller annual report should be necessary and desirable. That question also can be reviewed by the committee and if this motion passes the House expresses its desire that the committee should make a recommendation thereon.

Lastly, the committee will inquire and will report-I have no doubt that after it gets the evidence and the facts necessary to enable it to report on the first three it will need little more as to the last-as to what functions a standing committee on

national railways and shipping should have. It might come to the conclusion that the work could be done by the regular railway committee of this House. On the other hand, it might not come to that conclusion; it might think that a closer supervision could be exercised by a select standing committee charged with this duty and this duty alone. That is for the committee to decide. I am sure hon. members will agree if they think the matter out in a business way that the House and the Government, after they have had the advantage of a report from a careful and thorough committee, will be in a much better position to decide these questions which go to the very root of the success of the management of this system.

The motion also states that the committee shall have before it the annual report and it will be for the committee to decide what investigation they desire to make based on that annual report. The committee is left to decide for itself, what can be done or how it can be done without impairing the rights of the management in connection with the operation itself. It is conceivable that the committee might, without achieving any end in the public interest, seriously embarrass the management of the road. It could were it so disposed, but it is inconceivable that unless commissioned to do so it would be so disposed.

Now, I need not add again what I have said often, that no committee ever appointed by this House has been entrusted with more important, and, I doubt not, more difficult duties than those which are being assigned to this one; certainly no more practical duties were ever assigned to any committee. I say again that there might be some other functions performed by the committee, but I think there is about enough here to occupy its time during the rest of the session-for a good part of the rest of the session, anyway.

When I was speaking on this subject last Tuesday I mentioned that the suggestion had come that the committee might inquire into the question whether any improvement in the scheme of management could be made, and report to the House thereon. The suggestion came that possibly some board might take the place of shareholders in an ordinary company. I do not know that that is practicable; I am inclined to think it is not. But, if the House is of the view that any useful object could be served by adding that as one of the functions of the committee, namely, inquiry and report-and the inquiry the committee makes on the other subjects would help it to report, perhaps, without any further investigation-as to whether there could be any improvement in the general plan or scheme of management, it could be added to the duties of the committee. I need not suggest to the House that it would be wholly improper to commit to a committee the duty of examining into the efficiency of an official. If we adopt that course we may give up hope of ever getting officials who will be big enough or able enough to manage a system of anything like the magnitude of the Canadian National Railways. The responsibility for the appointment of the directorate must rest with the Government and the Government alone, and we must not expose officials of the road acting under the directors to review without specific cause by any other body. If we do, we may abandon hope of ever having either officials or directors fit for their duties.

I need scarcely add that the task of managing a system of this magnitude, surrounded by the difficulties that inevitably surround government management, is in itself none too inviting; it is easy for hon. members to believe that the task of securing just the man you may want in each post is easier than it really is. Therefore I say to the House in all seriousness, having had some acquaintance with the problem for many years, that we must take care to be fair to those who are entrusted with this great duty. We must take care that they are placed in a position that will enable them to perform their task to the best of their ability. We must take care that we do not prejudice the interests of the country by pursuing a course in this House, or in a committee of this House, that does injustice either to the system or to the management.

I have again presented to the House, in very brief form, my reasons for moving for the appointment of this committee. The reasons for it have been argued at very considerable length by the senior member for Halifax (Mr. Maclean). He, however, did not have any definite ideas as to just what the committee should do. I do not think it would be the part of wisdom to place in the statement of the duties of the committee any omnibus clause, making it their task to do almost anything that they take it into their heads to do. If you do that, you simply turn them out into a wilderness, and you are not going to get any results at all. That has not been the

custom of this Parliament. One cannot emphasize too strongly the wisdom of making concrete, practical, and definite, the duties of any committee of this House. If you do so, then you will secure concrete, practical, and definite results; but if your commitment in the first place is vague, open, and aimless, then you are likely after you get your report, to find yourselves where you began, or you may get no report at all. Consequently, I think, with the suggestion that the duties as embodied in the motion are open to amendment if any practical, concrete amendments can, in the judgment of the House, be made with advantage, it would be wise to take care that, whatever may be the purpose, we do not add terms that are likely to destroy altogether the usefulness of the committee.

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UNION

Edgar Nelson Rhodes (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Unionist

Mr. SPEAKER:

Before the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) proceeds, I deem it my duty to draw the attention of the House to the circumstance that a strict application of the rule would leave only a fragment of this motion debatable, because the House will bear in mind that one portion of it was debated by the leader of the Opposition, on going into Supply, on a motion for the production of papers appertaining to the railways. It will be borne in mind that, on a subsequent motion of the senior member for Halifax (Mr. Maclean), this subject was widely debated, and as the House is aware, there is a rule that the same subject may not be debated twice in the same session.

The Chair is also not unmindful of the circumstance that the Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen), in the course of his remarks, infringed the well-known rule that there may not be reference to a previous debate of the same session; but no exception was taken to that on the part of the Chair, for the reason that the Prime Minister was dealing largely with the question of policy. Over and above all that, I have had in mind this circumstance, that the motion has to do with a subject of tremendous importance, of such great importance that it seems to me in the public interest, that technicalities (if I may use that term) of the procedure of this House should not interfere with the widest possible discussion of this subject. At the same time, while hon. members are debating the motion, I hope they will not be unmindful of these rules and will infringe upon them no more than the circumstances will warrant.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, in the few remarks which I wish to make in

(Mr. Meighen.]

reply to my right hon. friend (Mr. Meighen), I shall endeavour not to take a wider range than he has taken with reference to the motion which he has presented to the House. As my right hon. friend has reminded us, the circumstances under which this motion is presented to the House to-day, will be fresh in the minds of all hon. members, and need not be reviewed. In a word, we have been seeking, in this House, to find a way in which Parliament may be informed with respect to expenditures on the Canadian National railways. We, on this side of the House, have taken the broad position that, as regards expenditures on railways owned and controlled by the Government, the responsibility upon the Government is precisely the same as it is with respect to expenditures by any department of [DOT] Government.

The customary methods whereby information is supplied to Parliament, so far as I am able to see, are three in number. Information can be supplied in answer to questions of the Ministry; it can be supplied by orders for the production of documents, or it can be supplied through a committee of Parliament appointed for the purpose. With respect to the Canadian National Railways and also the Canadian Government Merchant Marine, the Government have taken the position that it is not public policy, or, at any rate, it is the decision of the Ministry, not to give information with respect to these matters where the questions asked appertain to the management or control of the roads or the ships, and where it will be necessary to get an answer from the companies, so-called, which are conducting these great public services. As hon. members of the House well know, the Government, in conducting these public services, have adopted, in each case, the method of creating a corporation for the purpose of carrying on the particular business. We, on this side, take the position that the Government are perfectly within their rights in adopting any method they think will carry out most efficiently the purposes for which Parliament is voting public money. On the other hand, we maintain that, with respect to whatever method they adopt, they cannot relieve themselves of the responsibility which, at all times, must rest upon ministers of the Crown to account to the people's representatives in Parliament for every dollar of public money which has been voted by Parliament for any public purpose.

Naturally, when my right hon. friend gave notice that he intended to move in

this House for a committee to consider this aspect of public expenditure, we, on this side, were only too glad to have the Government intimate at last that they were prepared at least to consider some way of giving the public information in regard to public expenditures. We, therefore, welcomed the suggestion of a committee, whether it were a select standing committee or a special committee, which would give promise, at least, of Parliament being supplied with necessary information.

May I point out that the Government have taken three distinct attitudes towards this important matter of supplying Parliament with information with respect to the Canadian National Railways and the Canadian Government Merchant Marine? Their first attitude, the attitude taken last session, shortly after Parliament had been informed of a deficit of some $48,000,000 on the Canadian National railways, was that Parliament would have the fullest information, the fullest powers of investigation, the right to get details on any particular phase of management, operation or control of the National railways, all that was asked was that Parliament should wait until the report of the Board of Directors was laid on the table of the House. In other words, we were asked, when voting the Estimates of moneys required for the coming year, to wait until that report was laid upon the Table, and then once the amounts were voted we would be given the right to the fullest information; we would be able to get answers to any questions that we might wish to ask.

The second attitude which the Government have taken is the one which has been apparent throughout the whole of this session : it has been to deny to Parliament any information with respect to these public services except with respect to such matters as might come within the very circumscribed field of correspondence between the official departments, and other persons, as contrasted with the companies. In taking that position, the Government have found themselves running counter very strongly, to opinion, not only throughout the country, but even in this House, and, I think, among their own supporters. The consequence is that we have now a third attitude, that, namely, of offering to Parliament a committee to find out what means and methods, if any, should be adopted for giving information to the public with respect to these great public services. We contend, Mr. Speaker, that the first of these attitudes, is the only position

which the Government are justified in taking; that as long as we are dealing with the expenditure of public moneys, the responsibility must rest upon the Government to give the fullest possible information, and that the Government have no right to restrict the powers of Parliament with respect to obtaining information to which it is entitled by referring the matter to any committee to determine one way or the other.

May I say that when my right hon. friend expressed his intention of moving for a committee, we naturally awaited its precise terms with eager expectation. Looking, however, at the terms as they have now been formally set forth, we find that the committee proposed is not so much a committee formed for the purpose of giving Parliament information, as it is a committee for the purpose of placing restrictions around the giving of information to Parliament. We say that is an entirely wrong position. What the Government should aim at is not a method of restricting the giving of information to Parliament in regard to great public services, involving expenditures amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, but to find a way whereby the fullest information possible can be given to Parliament with respect to these all important matters.

May I, in this connection, draw the attention of the House to the different clauses of the proposed resolution. My right hon. friend suggests that this committee should first of all be instructed to inquire:

What information as to operation of Canadian National Railways and Shipping as conducted by the Board of Directors and Management should, in the public interest, be brought down in Parliament on Question, Motion for production of papers , or otherwise.

Mr. Speaker, we do not require a committee for that purpose. This House has the right to any and all information on any matters of great public interest and concern. That is the position we take, not that a committee should be formed to find out what information should be brought down. We contend it is the duty of the Government to bring down anything that is asked for by hon. members of Parliament, or to take the responsibility for not so doing. The Government are not obliged to bring down information if they do not wish so to do, but they have to take the responsibility for refusing to bring down information. That is the position we take. We contend that the Government cannot

relieve itself of an obligation, fundamental as respects every ministry, to be accountable to Parliament for any and every transaction of a public nature, and to give to Parliament the fullest and amplest information whenever that information is requested. We say that any attempt to restrict that right by throwing on to a committee of this House the duty of finding out what information should or should not be brought down, is simply depriving this House of a right which it has, and which it must continue to hold, if it is to continue to exercise a right which the representatives of the people in Parliament are expected at all times to possess.

The second question which my right hon. friend proposes the committee should inquire into is this:

When, by what method, and under what conditions, if any, should such information be given ?

There again, Mr. Speaker, is precisely the same point. This committee obviously is not for the purpose of enabling Parliament to get full information in regard to the great public services, but to determine when, by what method, and under what conditions, if any, information is to be given. We contend that the information ought to be given without restrictions, excepting where the Government itself is prepared to take the responsibility for withholding the information, and we cannot relieve the Government of their first and fundamental duty in that regard by sanctioning any reference to a committee which will, even impliedly, restrict the rights and powers of this House.

The next question which the committee is to inquire into is:

What system of auditing should be adopted, and what extent of detail should be given in the Annual Report.

That is a matter that may very properly be taken up by a committee, but it does not help towards a solution of the great question that is before this country at the present time. It does not enable us to get information with respect to the manner in which the deficit of $70,000,000* on the Canadian National Railways has been brought about. Now that is the very information that we want to obtain; that is the information that the people of this country want at the present time; and if there is to be any solution of the railway problem in this country it will only be found by Parliament and the public having the fullest knowledge and the amplest in-

formation possible on which to base their suggestions. So any reference to a system of auditing, while it may be very useful in some other connection, does not help us at all in regard to the main situation that is before the country at the present time.

The last reference to the committee is this:

Whether and for what purposes the said Committee should be continued-

Here, again, is a matter wholly aside from the main question. The resolution goes on:

-and for such other purposes as the Committee deem in the public interest there be referred to said Committee the Annual Report of the Board of Directors and that the said Committee have power to examine witnesses under oath, to send for papers, persons, and records, and to report from time to time.

Let me say with reference to this particular clause, which refers to the committee the annual report of the Board of Directors, what I think the House pretty generally recognizes, that a select committee has no powers to deal with any matters except such as are referred to it by Parliament. Now the resolution as drafted sets forth a number of subjects which are to be referred to the proposed select committee. By implication it follows that matters not explicitly set forth in the resolution will not come within the scope of the powers of the select committee. Instead, therefore, of the select committee, in any probability, functioning with regard to the obtaining for this Parliament of information with respect to the all important matters on which we have been seeking information, the committee undoubtedly will take the position that its powers are restricted to the matters that have been expressly referred to it by this House of Commons.

What we feel, Mr. Speaker, is this, that instead of placing a number of restrictions upon the duties of the committee, instead of limiting its powers, there should be conferred on it by this House of Commons the amplest and fullest powers to inquire into all matters pertaining to the control, operation, and management, of the Canadian National Railways, and of the Canadian Government Merchant Marine, these being the two important public services and issues with which the time of this Parliament is likely to be most occupied during the present session.

That, Mr. Speaker, I think, covers the point of view which we on this side take with respect to the motion of my right

hon. friend. Let me, as regards the matters referred to the committee, supplement what I have said by quoting the remarks of my right hon. friend made the other day when speaking of the committee with respect to which his motion is now made. On -the 5th of April, as reported at page 1660 of Hansard (unrevised), my right hon. friend said:

It must never be thought that we should give to a committee powers or duties exceeding those we ourselves are ready to exercise. For example, if it is not in the interests of the country that we so hamper the management of the road as to render efficiency impossible by doing in this House what this House decided some few days ago it would not do, namely, bring out merely upon question or motion all information, no matter what it is, if that is not going to be done by Parliament, then Parliament is certainly not going to commit to a committee the power to do what in the public interest it is not right for Parliament to do itself. That could not be considered at all.

That statement of my right hon. friend must be read in conjunction with the clause in the motion which he has just put before the House setting forth the scope of the committee's work. Clearly my right hon. friend has intimated that he does not propose to allow this committee to elicit information of a kind which the Government has refused to give to the House. We contend that a select committee should be formed for the purpose of getting for Parliament, through that source, the information which has been denied to us through other channels, and in that connection, we think, the committee should have the widest posable powers which this House can confer upon it.

Let me mention in passing that while my right hon. friend's motion refers to railways and shipping, he confines the references in the several paragraphs of the motion only to matters pertaining to the national railways. We think that the same duties and powers should be given to the committee with respect to the Canadian Government Merchant Marine.

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UNION

Arthur Meighen (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Unionist

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That is intended.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I am glad we have been able to enlarge the scope of the committee even that much. I wonder if it is also intended that the committee should have the power to engage counsel and transportation experts to assist it in connection with its work. It must be apparent to hon. members that in view of the magnitude, and of the technical nature in many particulars, of transactions pertaining to the Government merchant marine and the

Canadian National Railways, and with the time of hon. members occupied as it is certain to be between now and the end of the session, it will be impossible for any committee of this House to elicit information that will be of real service to the House unless they have the right to retain counsel, and particularly transportation experts, to assist them in carrying out their duties. I propose, therefore, in the amendment I am about to move, to suggest that these larger rights and powers be conferred. The powers of the committee should not be restricted in any way, but should be the amplest which Parliament can give.

As my right hon. friend says, it will probably take to the end of the session for any committee to deal with the several problems he has outlined. What does that mean? It means that, as respects the Canadian National railways and the Canadian Government marine, we shall end this session without obtaining any infor-without obtaining any information at all with regard to the facts upon which we have been seeking light. We shall get a report from a committee petting forth, notwithstanding my hon. friend's objection to the term, an academic statement of certain methods of proceeding. But we shall not get the facts and the information which will account before the public for the enormous deficits that have been incurred during the last few years, and which will probably be still larger next year; nor shall we get the light needed to enable us to deal intelligently with the whole railway and shipping situation. In the circumstances, therefore, I beg to move, seconded by my hon. friend from Shelburne and Queen's (Mr. Fielding) :

That all the words after the word "session", on the second line, to the end of the question, be omitted, and the following be inserted instead thereof:

That such committee shall have power to inquire into all matters in any way relating to the railways- owned or controlled by the Government of Canada whether under the direction of the Department of Railways and Canals or under any corporation in which the Government are stock holders, whether relating to the construction or operation, from the date of the appointment by the Government of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Northern Railway Gompay down to the present time ; and similarly to inquire into all matters in any way connected with the Canadian Government Merchant Marine, either in respect of the construction or operation of the ships, and that such committee shall have power to send for papers, persons, and records, to engage counsel and transportation experts, and to make such reports and recommendations from time to time as, in their judgment, will be calculated to promote the public interest.

In connection with this amendment, I hope the House will not lose sight of the fact that the country is demanding to-day full light upon the circumstances which have occasioned a deficit of something like $48,000,000 last year and $70,000,000 this year on the National railways; also that Parliament is being asked by the Government to vote for railways and canals for the ensuing year a sum amounting to over $167,000,000, while thus far we have not been able to get any information of a substantial or vital character in regard to the operation, the control, and the management of these public services. It is to enable Parliament and the country to obtain the fullest light possible on these vast expenditures of public moneys that this amendment has been drafted in the comprehensive form in which it appears.

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?

Hon. S@

I am very glad to know that there are some things in connection with which I can join my hon. friend (Mr. Mackenzie King) in hearty accord. We do agree that the present situation, having particular regard to the railways, their deficits, and their general operation, is of grave importance. But we differ slightly as to the way in which we should endeavour to get something done to meet the difficulty; and it is by reason of the fact, among others, that the Government is impressed with the gravity of the situation and is fully alive to. its importance, that we are so anxious to have the best possible committee that can function upon this subject entrusted with the determination of perfectly plain and simple issues upon which we may base some concrete answer and give some concrete -information that may be of assistance to the House. In the first place, I do not know that it makes so much difference, in so far as this motion is concerned, as to just exactly what the Government has been doing in connection with the giving of information. Whether what we have been doing is right or wrong, we desire to see if matters cannot be handled in a better and more simple manner and in a more concrete form than heretofore. My hon. friend is entirely correct, in one respect, in his statement as to the Government's course. He says that last year it was understood that the fullest information was to be given to the House just so soon as the report was laid on the Table. Well, the position is the same to-day; it has not been varied in the slightest. The reports have been tabled and they are not only open to hon. members, but they may be sent [Mr. Mackenzie Klng.l

to any appropriate committee, on the request or the motion of any hon. gentleman. But the fact is that this year, as last year, no action has been taken by the Opposition in connection with the annual report with a view to obtaining information which they thought necessary for their purposes. This year, it is said, we have refused all information; but the position is exactly the same as it was last year, so far as the reports are concerned. Now, if I understand the tenor of my hon. friend's remark's,-and I have tried my best to follow them-what he wants, apparently, is that the Government should bring down any information that is asked for or else take the full responsibility for declining to do so.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Hear, hear.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton (Secretary of State of Canada; Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

My hon. friend says "hear, hear." Well, if'that is the position, why is he worrying? Why is he annoyed? Why is he vexed? We have refused to bring down information and we have taken the responsiblity for that refusal; we ought to be perfectly happy. But we want to do something more. We do not want to leave this matter to the arbitrary exercise of any government right of refusal. We do not want to take that position if it can be found, having regard to the tremendous values of these properties and the great task of properly managing them, that information can from time ro time be brought down to any greater extent than has been the case in the past. We should like to remove the subject from a position with which my hon. friend would appear to be entirely content.

_ The motion is drawn for the purpose of including both the railways and the marine service. And it is not only drawn with that intention but it carriesthat intention into effect, because

it is the same committee, it is the same board of management, the same directors manage both systems. Both systems are covered, the same directors are covered, and the same jurisdiction is given to the committee over the marine as over the railways. Then I am afraid that my hon. friend likes very much the present situation. He likes having it left so that information is asked for and information is refused. And the reason why I think he was perfectly sincere in his statement that he thought that that ought to be the position is fortified by the amendment that he now brings down-and I only had the opportunity of looking over it while my hon. friend was speaking.

After all how does the question come up? The whole question comes up with the request for information-that and nothing else. I notice that my hon. friend's amendment strikes out all reference to this burning question of information altogether. It is struck out entirely-apparently there is no immediate hurry for information in this committee. In place of it-in place of a clear, a defined field of operation-a field is left which is of itself so great that unless some particular programme be laid down I do not know when any report could be expected; certainly not for a long time, certainly not within any reasonable period -and my hon. friend lets the committee loose on that large field. Well, I do not know what that is for, what the idea is whether it is to be a general fishing expedition or whether they were to go back and find out why at one time railways that had to be built went in a certain direction, or whether some farm crossing in a certain concession was taken up that ought to be left and what it is for, matters far removed from the present difficulty that, I take it, we are all honestly anxious to have solved. No matter how far removed these questions may be my hon. friend proposes that they be all left to the committee with full powers for a general fishing expedition.

Now I think my hon. friend was wrong in another direction. He says that instead of finding excuses for not bringing down papers, the object of the Government ought to be to find a way to give the fullest information to Parliament. That is exactly what we are trying to have done; that is exactly the concrete thing that is left to that committee. I do not know any other way whereby you could pursue anything like a course of action, which would not hurt business, to let you know where you are, or any method more likely to bring >

about, than leaving the concrete question to that committee.

Then my hon. friend says the committee wlil have no powers except in connection with these three matters-the papers containing information, the method of bringing them down and the audit. Well, I would like to point out that the whole report was referred to the committee. The whole of that report is in the hands of the committee and that being so they have the right of going into anything and everything they want arising out of that report. My hon. friend will find nothing having regard to the conduct of its business which is not directly or indirectly covered by that report.

A further thing that my hon. friend points out is that there is nothing in the resolution giving them the information which they very much desire-namely, information as to why the deficit is as great as it is. Well, I dare say that hon. gentlemen opposite have better memories than I have, but does any one remember any questions being put on the Order Paper asking for reasons as to why the deficit is so large? Nobody ever heard of it. On the other hand, we have heard of questions put for the purpose of showing that the deficit ought to be greater, questions put for the purpose of ascertaining why 4 p.m. some agent is not working twenty-four hours a day, why the office is not open twenty-four hours a day, or why at some point there is not a regular station instead of a flag station-these are the questions that are being asked.

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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

May I interrupt my hon. friend? Does the Minister of Finance not remember questions put on the Order Paper asking what other directorships were held by the directors of the Canadian National Railways, and what business has been done with the companies in which they were interested?

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton (Secretary of State of Canada; Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

I do not know that is any answer to the question I put.

I do not know whether the object in making such an interrogation on the part of my hon. friends was to find out whether or not the men of business being put on the National system were men so little known to the business world that no other business organization had any confidence in them. But that is not a question as to why the deficit is as great as it is and what can or ought to be done with regard to reducing it.

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L LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Laurier Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR (Guysborough):

Does

my hon. friend remember a question like this-whether the coal used in the running of the mercantile marine was bought by tender or by private contract,-and a refusal to give any answer?

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton (Secretary of State of Canada; Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

My recollection upon that point-and I speak entirely subject to correction-is that the question was put at one time as to whether the coal was bought by tender or not, but the question also went further and desired information as to the tenderers. My recollection is that the answer was that coal was bought by tender, but information as to who the tenderers were was refused. However, that may be, what I submit with very great confidence is, that it would be impossible

for us to ever ascertain why railways do not pay by asking questions across the floor of the House-that is absolutely impossible. On the other hand it well may be that if we had a committee properly manned and properly constructed-as I have no doubt this committee will be-with fixed and definite objects ahead of it, much good can be done.

Now the query is also made by the hon. gentleman as to whether counsel may be retained. Well, I have had a good deal to do with railway matters and I do not know that I ever found any farmer who appeared before the Railway Board-either in a rate case, or in a cattle case, or any other kind of a case-handicapped because he did not have a lawyer. After all, the issues here while they are very serious and very great are not legal. I would say that the committee could get along very well without the assistance of counsel.

There are lawyers in the House, and I have no doubt some of them will be on that committee, and it would occur to me that the expense of counsel is entirely unnecessary. Then, so far as traffic experts are concerned, again I do not know that it is necessary to take very much evidence from them. We want to get at the actual facts relating to transportation and the like. The committee may be able to get an expert who is not associated with or interested in either one system or the other -they may, but I would doubt it. It would occur to me that the best thing to be done on the question of retaining counsel and traffic experts is to leave it open, so that the committee can if the necessity occurs come back to this House and ask power to retain such assistance.

Now, Mr. Speaker, our position is simply this. We are sincerely anxious to see something done. We do not think that a general fishing inquiry as to what has happened in railway circles in Canada is going to help us very much in deciding what ought to be done at the present time. On the other hand, we have a direct commitment to this_ committee of something definite, and calling for a definite answer, which answer may, and we hope will, be of great assistance toward a solution of our railway problem.

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UNI L

William Stevens Fielding

Unionist (Liberal)

Hon. W. S. FIELDING (Shelburne and Queen's):

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that this question, which is one of tremendous importance, is at this moment narrowed down to what I may call very small bounds-narrowed down to points which

the public will clearly understand, and about which I believe there can be no possibility of misapprehension. It seems to be the general wish of the House that a committee should be appointed to inquire into these matters. The question is as to what power shall be given to that committee. When it is appointed it will undoubtedly contain a majority of members supporting the Government. Now, just how that committee shall exercise the powers that may be assigned to it we are not to determine; we shall have to take the risk of that.

The motion of the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Meighen) gives the committee certain specific and limited powers. I am not a lawyer, but somewhere in the dusty bins of the. legal profession I think there is a maxim which says, that the expression of one thing is the exclusion of another; and if you specify in a statute or public document a number of things, you thereby exclude all others. If I am wrong in my legal doctrine, no doubt some one will correct me. At all events, if it is not law it is common sense. The motion of the Prime Minister assigns certain subjects to the committee; that means that no other subjects can be considered by it. The amendment moved by my hon. friend the leader of the Opposition takes in everything. I want that noted. Every thought and word that is in the motion of the Prime Minister is included in the amendment. But we go further. Ah, that is the point. The hon. minister says: No, you must not go further. Why go further? We have a great difficulty before us, a tremendous financial problem involving a very large deficit last year, a much larger deficit this year, and rumour says even larger again in the coming year. In regard to that I make no charge; I make no accusation against any of the managers of the road-

I do not even find fault; I do not know what all the trouble is. If I am asked: Have you a particular solution to offer for this great problem?-I say frankly, I do not know. In that respect I do not differ from other members probably. But if -we are asked to provide a solution, surely the first thing we must do is to get all the information possible; all the information, not on this, that or the other point, but on all points which in any way relate to this transaction, or which can have any bearing whatever in remedying the condition of things which we all desire to remedy.

Again I say I am not finding fault with the management, I make no accusatons. In

anything I have had to do with any of the gentlemen connected with these railways I have invariably received every courtesy and consideration, and the last thought in my mind is to suggest that there is any wrongdoing. Here is the position: an enormous deficit of $70,000,000,

equal to the total expenditure of Canada only a few years ago. Now, this tremendous financial problem calls for serious reflection, and reflection of an impartial character; in other words, a non-partisan study. It is that which we. desire. But surely members of the Government must see that when they start out by putting restrictions on the investigation and saying: You may investigate that particular thing, but you must not investigate something else, surely that is a position they cannot defend before the people of Canada. Our proposal is to appoint this committee and give them unlimited powers. My hon. friend the Minister of Finance (Sir Henry Drayton), and I think the Prime Minister also, said that unless you give this committee some particular instructions to do some particular thing nothing would come of it. That is a very queer doctrine. We often appoint committees in general terms. I have in my hands the terms on which we appointed the committee on pensions. According to my hon. friend's contention, since we gave that committee no instructions they will do nothing, but we know they are giving attention to that very important subject, and I have no doubt are arriving at a solution which will be of great value. Here is the motion:

That a Special Committee be appointed to consider questions relating to the pensions, insurance and re-establishment of returned soldiers, and any amendments to the existing laws in relation thereto which may be proposed or considered necessary by the committee; with power to send for persons, papers and records, to print from day to day its proceedings and the evidence taken, for the use of the committee, and to report from time to time; and that Rule 11 be suspended in relation thereto.

That, in different words, is exactly what we are proposing now. We say: Here is a great problem. Appoint your committee and give them unlimited powers. I think the Prime Minister made one remark in that connection, which I fully endorse. He said that it would be in the power of the committee to embarrass the management of the road, but, he added, "it is inconceivable that they would do so." I accept that view. I say that this committee appointed in general and unrestricted terms would

neither embarrass the management nor be disagreeable and insist on calling people whom it is unnecessary to call. It would be in their power to do a great many things, but I agree with the doctrine of the right hon. Prime Minister that it is inconceivable they would do them. Why not, then, give the committee all the power that is possible? I cannot for the life of me see the need of restriction, to say that they are not to be given a free hand, but must report on certain particular things and those only. By our motion we say: Let them report on whatever in their judgment is best calculated to bring about a solution of this problem. That is the great duty, at every stage we should have a full open inquiry, trusting the committee to be reasonable, to exercise their power as members of Parliament with a sense of their responsibility to their constituents, to this House and to the country; and to report whatever in their judgment is fair and reasonable. Everything that is contemplated by the motion of the right hon. Prime Minister is included in our amendment; let there be no mistake about that All he asks we are asking too, but we say if there is anything more that can be brought to the knowledge of this committee, by all means let us have the benefit of it, and leave the committee unrestricted in any way, shape or form. The matter seems to me so simple that I really could not debate it at any length; the principles are too plain and too clear. It is a question whether we shall have a restricted and limited inquiry, or whether we shall give an absolutely free hand to this committee to bring their best judgment to bear upon this question, to exercise their responsibility to their constituents, to this House and to the country and invite all available information, giving the House every possible suggestion that the judgment of the committee may tell them is going to be helpful towards a solution of this problem. We by our amendment enable them to do that, but they are told by the motion of the Prime Minister that though they may have notions in their mind of some solution of this problem they must not say anything about them, because they do not come within the four corners of his resolution. It is a question between full inquiry-that is what the country wants-and restricted inquiry. Again, I say that I make no charge or complaint. We are confronted with a great financial problem which is disturbing the country, and justly disturb-

ing the country. I approach it in every spirit of fairness to all concerned. I complain of nothing; I find fault with nothing. I say that what we all need is information. Let us get the fullest information that is possible and then try to find a solution.

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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Right Hon. C. J. DOHERTY (Minister of Justice) :

The hon. gentleman (Mr. Fielding) , echoing in that regard, if I am not mistaken, the hon. leader of the Opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King.), persists in speaking of the committee for the appointment of which the leader of this House (Mr. Meighen) has moved as a committe to provide restriction upon information. The hon. gentleman suggests that his proposed amendment remedies that alleged defect by providing for the appointment of a committee with a roving commission to get all or any information whatsoever about anything great or small connected with the operation or management of the railways or of the shipping. In taking that position, hon. gentlemen are simply refusing to consider the first problem that presents itself; their motion simply begs the real question. The committee for which the right hon. leader of the House asks is a committee to study the problem of how we may remove the obstacle which presents itself to the obtaining of information. While we must recognize the right of this House to have all information necessary to the intelligent performance of its duty of controlling the expenditures made out of the moneys of the people, on the other hand it is the duty of the House to protect the people from any injury that might come to them through the making public of all the details of the operation of their business carried on in competition with others. Now, that is the problem we have to face, and the purpose of the proposed committee, far from being to restrict the information to be obtained, is that the Government may obtain the judgment of that committee ^as to the best method of obtaining all possible information without involving the particular injury that I have mentioned.

And what position do hon. gentlemen take in regard to that? They say: Our principle is that, whatever may be the injury to the public interest, we must have all information about every detail in connection with the operation of these roads, and we refuse to give one moment's consideration to the question whether the obtaining of information may not be infinitely more damaging to the public interest than our doing without it. I ask this House, is that an intelligent position? Is that the position that

ought to be taken by a Parliament desirous of really protecting the substantial and material interests of the people of this country? Is it not quite clear that our first duty is to determine to what extent it is essential that information should be obtained? It may be conceded that there is an absolute right to obtain all information, but it is not always wise or prudent to insist upon absolute rights. Certainly no one would speak in high praise of the action of an agent or trustee, who, because he had an absolute right to obtain and to give broadcast to the public certain information, would insist on exercising that right, even though his doing so would ruin the interests of his principal or of the persons for whom his trust existed.

Now, what we are asking this House to do is, first, to submit to the committee the question how we are going to get the necessary information without causing detriment to the public interest. Surely hon. gentlemen should at least be willing to consider that question. v

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April 8, 1921