May 6, 1921

UNION

John Archibald Campbell

Unionist

Mr. CAMPBELL:

Perhaps the minister could save time if he would give the details of the work that is to be done on these roads?

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UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Hon. Mr. REID:

On the Thunder Hill branch there are thirty miles yet to be done; Melford to Humboldt, fifty-four miles yet to be done; Swift Current, to finish to mile 109, thirty-five miles to be done; Luck Lake, twenty-eight miles to finish.

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PRO

Andrew Knox

Progressive

Mr. KNOX:

There is some mistake about the line to Humboldt. That is already finished except the ballasting. *

Hon. Mr. REID Yes, fifty-four miles to ballast. I have here another statement, with respect to Saskatchewan which I think is the correct one:

From Peebles to Lampman when present contracts complete grade will be to mile twenty. No track has been laid on this twenty miles.

Thunder Hill Branch-

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UNION
UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Hon. Mr. REID:

I will give that information when I mention each line:

Thunder Hill Branch. Starting point of branch mileage Thunder Hill Junction. When present contracts complete, grade will be to mile 118. The track as of December 31, 1920 was at mile 100. That will leave 17 miles yet to put rails on and to complete it to Thunder Hill Junction.

Melfort northeast. When present contracts complete grade will be to mile 30. There are no rails laid.

Melfort to Humboldt. Starting point Melfort. When present contracts complete grade will be to mile 54. There is no track on that.

Prince Albert north east. When present tracks complete grade will be to mile 20. No track on that.

Swift Current Extension. When present contracts complete grade will be to mile 120. Track as on December 31, 1920 was at mile 109. When present contracts complete there will be 10 miles and 4-10 of a mile to lay on that.

Luck Lake Line to Dunblane 35 miles. When present contracts complete grade will be to mile 35. The track on this laid to 19.7. There are still 15 miles to grade.

Alsask, south east, starting at Elrose Junction 148 miles when the grade contracts are completed. There are 148 miles of track on that road.

Eston south east, starting at Eston. When the contracts for grade are completed there will be 35 miles graded. No track has been laid on it.

Turtleford to Meeting Lake, starting at Turtleford, 23 miles of grading when the present

contracts are complete. No rail has been laid on that.

Jack Fish Lake starting at North Battleford, 83 miles. When the present contracts for grade complete grade will be to mile 83. There have been 64 miles of rail laid on that road leaving 18.3 to be constructed.

Acadia Valley starting at Eyre. When the present grade contracts are complete 12 miles will be ready for track. No rails have been laid on that.

I may say that we made a contract for some new rails a week ago, and it is our intention to place these new rails on the main lines. The rails we take up will be placed on the branch lines such as I have mentioned, as far as those rails will go, and to the extent we are able to lay during the present year.

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UNION

John Archibald Campbell

Unionist

Mr. CAMPBELL:

What kind of rails

are these and what price was paid for them? ,

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UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Hon. Mr. REID:

The new rails that we purchased are 85 pound rails and we paid $55 per gross ton for them-that is the contract we have made for rails. I am sorry that we were not able to make such a price much earlier. Had we done so we would doubtless have been able to lay many more rails than we will probably be able to do on account of the delay.

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L LIB

Onésiphore Turgeon

Laurier Liberal

Mr. TURGEON:

Before this amount

of $50,000,000 is voted I should like, if I may, to make a few remarks on the general railway situation which confronts us today. The statements and reports which we have received in regard to our railways, have certainly aroused a feeling of disquiet in the minds of the people, and from one end of Canada to the other every one is asking himself what is going to be the outcome of the present situation. To many persons that situation seems appalling, and the dictum that the railways are the safeguard of the nation has, in the minds of a great many people, been changed to a fear that they may become the nation's ruin. To-day the people of Canada as a whole are interested in what is to be done, not in order to immediately remedy the situation, for that is scarcely possible, but by judicious measures to put an end to the present waste of money which every one deplores and, I am sure, none more heartily than the Minister of Railways himself.

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

He bears it cheerfully.

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L LIB

Onésiphore Turgeon

Laurier Liberal

Mr. TURGEON:

I do not claim to be

an authority on railway matters; I am merely accepting the sincere and generous

-with their farm implements, their waggons, their trucks, their flour and so on, all of which have been carried at much cheaper rates than those applicable to transportation to other parts of the country. And what have they had to pay for that service? What has been the cost of the prosperity which has thus been brought about? Until two years ago, a deficit each year in operation of a few hundred thousand dollars.

To show that the Intercolonial has not, after all, been such a burden as people are apt to think, I wish to quote the statement of no less an authority than the present Minister of Finance (Sir Henry Drayton) as contained in the Drayton-Acworth report of 1917

a report which has commanded the respect and attention of the people of Canada. It has commanded also my respect and attention, although there are a few things in it with Which I do not agree, particularly the suggestion as to the advantage of the Grand Trunk railway coming into the hands of Canada. However, I wish to give this quotation; I am gorry the Minister of Finance is not in his seat.

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L LIB
L LIB

Onésiphore Turgeon

Laurier Liberal

Mr. TURGEON:

I suppose his budget is a matter of more importance just now than the few remarks of the back-bencher from Gloucester. Here is what the Drayton-Acworth report has to sqy with regard to total deficits on the Intercolonial during tlm twenty-eight years prior to the year in which this report was made:

Whatever question there may he as to the propriety of endeavouring- to earn interest on capital, it will hardly be questioned that the line ought to be so managed as at least to earn operating expenses, including therein a proper allowance for taxes. And even ignoring the early history of the undertaking, and considering merely the years from 1889-1916, during which the greatest advance has taken place in Canada and the traffic of Canadian railways has shown the greatest increase, the Intercolonial has paid no taxes and still not earned operating expenses. During this period the total operating deficits reported amounted to $11,188,885.50. The total operating surpluses amounted to $1,651,239.73. In addition, however, there was in the years 1912-16 an amount of $3,046,406.86 charged to working expenses and devoted to renewals, which under the accounting methods in force before that date would have been credited to surplus. Adding together these two latter figures, and deducting them from the deficit, we find that in the 28 years from 1889-1916 there was an accumulated deficit on operation of $6 491 -232.91.

A deficit of $6,491,000 on the Intercolonial at the expense, I will admit, of the

whole people of Canada, during 28 years, means a deficit of between three and four hundred thousand dollars a year. If the new Board of Management had been able to operate, at the same rate of deficit, the railroads which are under their control to-day, and which have about eight times the mileage of the railroad operated during those 28 years by the governments of the country, they would have come before the people of Canada in the last few years with a deficit of some two or three million dollars a year. If they had done so, every Canadian would take off his hat to the board and say: "Go ahead; we have a prosperous country." The present situation, therefore, shows that there is something wrong with the administration. Moreover, as I stated last year, before this Board of Management took over the Intercolonial, it had a deficit of a million dollars some years, a million and a-half one year and a surplus another year; whereas, last year under the commission, there was a deficit of $4,500,000 for the Intercolonial alone, not counting the different branches that have been taken over, and this year there is a deficit of $6,500,000. My hon. friend is one who brought in a surplus during his administration and his late respected predecessor also brought in a surplus. I judge of the immense deficit on the Canadian National railways by the accrued deficit on the Intercolonial. If the Board of Management had operated the National railways at the same rate of deficit as that of the Intercolonial during that twenty-eight-year period, we would say: the Board of Management had done well. We would encourage them to continue and to bring prosperity to the country; but the deficits during the last few years have been increasing by leaps and bounds, so that there must be something wrong with the administration. The Minister of Railways must devise some means by which these deficits will be stopped, and if not changed into surpluses, at least brought to a condition which will give renewed hope to the peopele of Canada.

I am presenting these observations to the committee, and especially to the Minister of Railways and Canals, I am not actuated by any desire to make, as he said, a political football of the road. We must, however, consider the policy of the Government in the light of the railways that we have to-day. Until two or three years ago, it was the habit of hon. members on the Government side to deplore the deficits

on the Intercolonial and to oppose the idea of Government ownership, control- and operation of railroads in this country. Some fifteen years ago, when I and others in the Maritime Provinces, asked for subsidies for the national railways of the Maritime Provinces, we were met by a condemnation of Government operated railroads on the part of hon. members opposite. But they have suddenly become strong supporters of Government operation. It was only when circumstances compelled them to reverse their attitude that they favoured Government ownership of railways. I remain consistent and persistent, as I have been during my life. The Minister of Railways and Canals knows my persistence and perseverance, my only virtue, and he knows that they have at times enabled me to reach my objective. I wish I could by persistence, impress my view upon the mind of the minister so that he could, in turn, impress it upon the mind of the Board of Management and induce them to reverse their policy and if necessary, to reverse the policy of the Conservative party as regards railways in times past because I believe- and these few remarks which I am going to make on the railway situation are inspired by honesty of purpose and vision- that if the policy of Sir Wilfrid Laurier in the building of this Transcontinental railway from Winnipeg to Quebec and the Maritime ports of St. John and Halifax had been put into effect with the view which he had in mind, we would not be confronted to-day with one-half the deficit that we have. That road was constructed with a view to a certain trade and more particularly to secure that cheapness of operation which is necessary in order that the products of the West may be brought over Canadian lines to Canadian ports instead of being diverted to American ports. My convinction-and I speak my conviction and nothing else-is that had that policy been carried out, we would not be in the situation in which we are. The West was at that time the great promise of the future of Canada, and we had to nvepare for the shipment of its products. The West was that part of Canada which alone could become the granary of the world, more particularly of the British Empire, 'because the Prairie Provinces alone could produce the grain requirements not only of Canada and the British Empire, but of the world, as was proved during the last few years, more particularly during the war. It is, therefore, important that we should keep within our own channels, not only the export of the grain from the Prairie Provinces through Quebec, St. John and Halifax, but the return trade, both of which have gone during the last few years to American ports on account of lack of proper railway facilities for the traffic. It was to provide those facilities that the railway from Winnipeg to the Maritime Provinces was constructed. That route is 215 miles shorter than any other route. That means rapidity of transit and quicker returns for the farmer. The line has also the advantage of low insurance. This road would have been the best, not only in America, but in the world, if it had been used for the purposes for which it was intended of bringing the products of the West by rail down to the East. A train of from 60 to 75 cars could have been hauled from Winnipeg to Quebec with scarcely a stop. We all know how railroads lose time in the winter, and how they spend almost as much time at stations as in running between them. If these products had been brought from the West over the Government road it would have meant an immense saving of coal. By the time the Canadian Pacific train leaving Winnipeg has arrived at Port Arthur, the Transcontinental has reached Armstrong; by the time the grain has been transferred from the Canadian Pacific to the ship and is on its way across the lakes the Transcontinental has reached Quebec, and its load of grain is going down the St. Lawrence before the lake boat has reached Buffalo. That illustrates how much faster a route the Transcontinental is. It is a well known fact that grain should have been carried over the Transcontinental from Winnipeg to Quebec for six cents a bushel without there being any deficit on the railway. Today, under present conditions, it can be carried for 18 cents a bushel, which is still from 6 to 8 cents a bushel cheaper than the rate to United States ports, but this trade has been lost to the country in the last four or five years. Every time we on this side of the House mention railway deficits, hon. gentlemen opposite condemn us for the construction of the Transcontinental. It is only a few days ago that I heard with regret the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Cockshutt), a gentleman for whom I have the highest respect, say that the Transcontinental traversed a wilderness, that we had been promised mountains of information, but that nothing in that direction was to be had. I would ask him if he has travelled through that portion of the country from Winnipeg to

Quebec. If he has, he must have seen living mountains of information in the persons of hundreds of thousands of settlers along that route, cultivating the forests and working in the pulp and paper mills, notwithstanding all the handicaps under which they are placed. I believe that any man who knows anything about railways, notwithstanding any prejudices he may have had at first, if he will only sit down and study the matter for a while, will admit that we have suffered a tremendous loss by not taking advantage of this route from the first. The Prime Minister takes pleasure in calling it the ill-fated Transcontin-mental. That wounds my feelings, but that perhaps is not of much moment to him; more than that, it arouses the ire of great corporations in this country, more particularly in the East. The farmers of the west have lost from 5 to 8 cents a bushel on their wheat on account of the Government's policy in connection with this road. My hon. and beloved friend from Brantford (Mr. Cockshutt), has come in since I started to speak, and in justice to him I want to repeat what I have said. No man has a greater respect for him than myself. My hon. friend some time ago referred to the Transcontinental railway built between Quebec and Winnipeg, and in the course of his remarks, in reference to the question of the Government submitting information to the House touching the railways of the country, he said that when that project was under consideration the late leader of the Liberal party, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, had promised mourttains of information, and had declared that this railway would be a great benefit to the country. I would ask him now if he has visited that portion of the country from Winnipeg to Quebec since the railway has been in operation? I receive no answer, and I presume my hon. friend has not done so.

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UNION

William Foster Cockshutt

Unionist

Mr. COCKSHUTT:

I have travelled over a good portion of that road twice.

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L LIB

Onésiphore Turgeon

Laurier Liberal

Mr. TURGEON:

I dare say, between Cochrane and Winnipeg, but not between Cochrane and Quebec. If the hon. member travelled between Winnipeg and Quebec I can assure him he would see the mountains of information of which he spoke, in the shape of thousands ' of live settlers who have erected lumber mills and pulp mills and engaged in other activities, thus creating a trade the benefit of which is lost to the farmers of the West because of the lack of proper transportation facilities. I

have spoken of the quantity of wheat shipped to the United States, and I think that the more sold in that country the better for us. The United States market we tried to get, and it is no fault of the late Sir Wilfrid Laurier that reciprocity was defeated in 1911. If that agreement had been entered into, the people of the West would to-day have been happy. It was my privilege, through the generous invitation of my admirable leader, to address some meetings in Saskatchewan last fall, and I remember there making the statement that had reciprocity been the fortune of Canada in 1911, there would have been no need to-day of a Farmers' party, because the farmers would have been prosperous and quite content. Recently it was my pleasure to read in the newspapers a report of certain utterances of the leader of the Agrarian or Prog'res-sive party, the hon. member for Maquette (Mr. Crerar), in which he stated the same thing. He said that had reciprocity been carried into effect there would have been no need for a Farmers' party in Canada at the present time because the farmers would have prospered. I was very much pleased to note that sentiment on the part of the hon. member.

The minister will, no doubt, recall that when we were considering the taking over of the Grand Trunk two years ago I warned the House that the products of the West, particularly grain, would not find their way to St. John or Halifax but would go to Portland. My hon. friend promised me at the time-I had no reason to doubt his word, and he would probably have carried out his promise had he not been prevented-that he would take steps to see that this would not occur. I warned the minister that if we did not take steps to prevent the diversion of our products from the port of St. John to Portland, he would find himself faced with a situation which it would be exceedingly difficult to overcome. I regret the new minister for New Brunswick, the Minister of Customs (Mr. Wigmore), is not here. Complaint was made in the city of St. John, in the month of February, that no grain was coming through the port of St. John, but was going to Portland. A delegation waited upon the minister, and certain questions were also addressed to the head of the Board of National Railways. Mr. Hanna replied that he had not so far sent any grain to St. John, nor had he sent any to Portland. He added

however, that it was his intention to send some to St. John as soon as possible but that perhaps the Grand Trunk had been taking grain. On inquiry it turned out that the Grand Trunk had been taking grain from Montreal to Portland. Now, if that is to continue, and grain is to go through American routes, then I say to my hon. friend the Minister\of Customs, that the people of St. John might as well have no harbour at all. It is not only money for their harbour that the people there require; they need trade as well, and as we know, only about 24 per cent of the grain trade last year moved through Canadian ports.

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L LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Laurier Liberal

Mr. McMASTER:

The Minister of Railways is shaking his head; you had better prove your statement.

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L LIB

Onésiphore Turgeon

Laurier Liberal

Mr. TURGEON:

He knows I am correct. Only 24 per cent during the past six months has gone through Canadian ports; the rest has gone through American ports.

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UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Hon. Mr. REID:

The very opposite is the case; the figures should be reversed.

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L LIB

Onésiphore Turgeon

Laurier Liberal

Mr. TURGEON:

I have not under my hand at this moment the figures to establish my statement, but it is well known that from twenty-four to thirty per cent of the grain trade of the West has gone to Canadian ports, and of that thirty per cent at least eighty-five or ninety per cent is controlled by the Canadian Pasific Railway Company, leaving very little available for the Canadian National Railway. It is in the hope that provision may be made for the future that I am now impressing upon the committee and the Minister of Railways the existing conditions in this country. As I say we have lost the export trade and we have lost the imports which the control of that trade would have meant for the West. The Transcontinental and Grand Trunk Pacific was especially designed to haul heavier trains than the other railways could haul-they are railways designed to carry as much as 10,000 bushels of grain in less time at a lower rate than other railways could do. Special transportation facilities are required for the carriage of wheat owing to the small profit which the farmer is necessarily bound to get; with such a long haul, and that factor in the future is bound to be of much greater importance than it has been in the past. It is quite true that owing to the war the grain products of the West for a few years commanded a high price; but when things return to normal state

the farmers of the West will inevitably suffer unless we can cheapen the cost of transportation for them, and the heavy cost of carrying the wheat will swallow up, * or greatly reduce, the small margin of profit likely to come to them. If the situation is not seriously considered and a remedy provided the farmers of the West are bound to encounter hardships in the future, and it would be indeed an evil day if our western wheat should ever come to lose its commanding place in the markets of the world. The price of wheat is fixed in Liverpool and the cost of the long rail haul in Canada should be reduce^ in every way possible. The profits or losses incurred by our western farmers depend to a great extent upon whether the cost of transporattion has been brought down to the lowest possible point. In the case of a train load of silk, intended for the large centres of the East, which our railroads carry from the Pacific and which is perhaps worth millions of dollars, an enhanced freight rate may not be a very serious thing; but the addition of. a cent or two to the cost of carrying wheat, and other farm products, may mean all the difference between profit and loss.

In the matter of ocean insurance the improvements in the St. Lawrence have made that route absolutely safe and today there is no greater danger of accident on the St. Lawrence than there is on the ocean itself. That is as regards summer navigation. If we take winter navigation the ports of St. John and of Halifax also provide safe routes, and there is no reason why a higher rate of insurance should be charged on vessels sailing from these ports than in the case of ships sailing from Boston or Portland. Our summer and winter ports are therefore in a good position to handle the export trade coming from the West, and excessive ocean insurance rates should not be demanded.

The National Transcontinental railway was built with the idea not only of carrying eastward and westward bound freights, but of providing a fast passenger and mail service. We have lost this trade also. It has gone mostly to the United States ports; the balance has been captured by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. On the Canadian National Railway passengers and mail could have been carried from our ocean ports to Winnipeg twenty-four hours quicker than by any other route. Yet this business has been lost to us. No wonder the Canadian National railway

does not pay. It is certainly, in large measure, owing to these losses that the couutry is to-day faced with the present * railway situation. Not only has there been a failure to use the Transcontinental railway between Winnipeg and Quebec, but the operations of the Grand Trunk Pacific west of Winnipeg have largely been strangled by allowing Mackenzie and Mann to build parallel lines all the way to the Pacific. This policy resulted in the downfall of Mackenzie and Mann, to say nothing of a provincial administration in British Columbia, but because of it we to-day hear the story of deficits and of insufficient traffic on the Government lines.

This is a very serious problem, and, as I said at the outset, I am not making these remarks for any political effect. What I am saying will not bring me a single extra vote in Gloucester. Last fall the Prime Minister when he came down to Nova Scotia called us Bolshevists and Communists, and as I had been talking very strongly in favour of free trade I considered I was in that category, and was rather surprised. As a matter of fact I am called the "peacemaker" in Gloucester and I have succeeded so well in that role that you could not find to-day ten Conservatives in my county. But I do say from the bottom of my heart, and in the hope that it may have a salutary effect on the Board of Management, that those gentlemen must understand that the people expect an improvement or else that the Board will demobilize themselves, Each year the deficit grows bigger, and I can derive no hope of any improvement in the immediate future from their utterances. For instance, I read in the Ottawa Journal a few days ago that Mr. Hanna had stated before the committee which is inquiring into our national railways and merchant marine that freight rates should not be disturbed. That to my mind is a hopeless outlook. We talk of the success of the Canadian Pacific, but the men in control from Lord Shaughnessy and Mr. Beattie downwards are human beings, and surely other human beings ought to be found capable of administering our national railways with an equal measure of success. We cannot dispose of these railways with any advantage to the country. We have the Grand Trunk Pacific, for instance, which cost the country three times per mile more than the Transcontinental cost. The latter is the cheapest road Canada possesses to-day. It has cost $180,000,000, but it must be remembered that it has cost no more. But let

us consider what the Canadian Pacific has cost the people of Canada. According to the reports of that company $70,000,000 yet remains to be paid on the lands they have sold, notwithstanding the millions of dollars they have collected every year from land sales, and in addition they value the balance of the land they received from the Canadian people at $91,000,000. There is over $160,000,000 which the Canadian Pacific has cost this country, and if we had placed the same quantity of land to the credit of the Transcontinental the land itself would have paid for its construction, as we have paid practically for the construction of the Canadian Pacific.

If I may be permitted to refer to the offer made by Lord Shaughnessy to the Government in connection with our railway problem, I would say that although I have the greatest respect for him, neither he nor any other man can make an offer today that will relieve the situation. If the Canadian Pacific railway and our national railways were operated as one com-.plete system we could no longer control the rates which the management might find necessary to secure sufficient revenue to pay dividends. But I am heartily in accord with that part of Lord Shaughnessy's memorandum in which he states:

Even at this advanced stage it would be wise for the Dominion Government to drop all measures looking to the acquisition or control of the Grand Grunk, to relieve that Company of all obligations in connection with the Grand Trunk Pacific and to grant easy terms covering a period of years for the repayment of any amounts advanced by the Government to the Grand Trunk or secured on the credit of the Government in the last two years.

It is practically the same proposal as I myself made in 1919 when speaking on the Grand Trunk Bill. I agree with Lord Shaughnessy to that extent, but I cannot agree with him when he says that the Transcontinental railway has cost too much money. I would not assume to oppose my judgment to that of Lord Shaughnessy but I would give the opinion of no less an authority than the late Sir Sandford Fleming, one of the greatest engineers that Canada- indeed, the British Empire-ever possessed. Sir Sandford Fleming points out that a railroad should be built with the idea of permanence so that it will not have to be reconstructed every twenty or thirty years. Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his Government saw to it that the Transcontinental was constructed of the very best material; that the very highest degree of perfection was attained in order that

traffic could be moved with the greatest possible speed and at the least possible cost. I quote from the historical sketch of the Intercolonial, 1832 to 1876, written by Sir Sandford Fleming, page 110:

No portion of railway work is more important than its bridges. When a line is carried out by private effort, a circumscribed capital may compel the adoption of cheap structures. In such cases it is not the character of the structure, or its economy, which commends itself; but it is the necessity of the case, which limits its cost.

A railway constructed to meet a national requirement, and situated like the Intercolonial, is controlled by -no such limitation. It requires no argument to establish that in such circumstances all structures should be of the best form suggested by experience, and that the most durable material should be used. They are then permanently built, and require no subsequent renewal. The first expense is the one cost and in the end, the durable structure is by far the least costly.

This is the opinion of that eminent engineer who served Canada so faithfully and well for many years. When later on he was connected with the construction of the Canadian Pacific he was forced by circumstances to accept bridges of a less durable structure than those which he here recommends, but those have since had to be rebuilt. During the last twenty years the Grand Trunk Pacific has practically rebuilt its road, while the Transcontinental is there for years to come, with its small cost of maintenance per mile compared with that of other roads.

I hope, Mr. Chairman, that the committee will bear with me in my expression of opinion with regard to these matters. Only by discussion and suggestion can we hope to arrive at a solution of our difficulties in connection with the railway situation. Of course, it would require a mind greater than mine, minds even greater than those of many others who have considered the matter, to find the right solution for the problem. But if in the few suggestions which I have made I have been of some assistance to the Minister of Railways, my remarks shall not have been in vain. I feel sure, Mr. Chairman, that hon. gentlemen opposite who have had the patience to listen to me know that what I say is right. It is hard to admit a false policy, but we all at times have had to admit error. Let my hon. friends, therefore, admit that they have been in the wrong, and go ahead and do something. Let us take such steps as will result in affording us the cheapest possible means of transportation consistent with rapidity and efficiency, so that our

people will be able to command a market for all that they produce.

Some attempt has been made, on the ground of lack of cheaper transport facilities, to export grain from Alberta through the Panama canal. One ship, I understand, was loaded last fall and proceeded via the west coast and through the Panama canal to Europe. It was estimated at that time that the farmers who were shipping via that route would save three cents a bushel on the cost of transportation. When the Board of Railway Commissioners last September were in a hurry to raise the freight rates forty per cent, they thought they would help the farmers in connection with the shipment of their grain to the seaports of Canada, but the effect was that the grain went through United States ports. But now the farmers are endeavouring to find a remedy for themselves by shipping through the Panama canal. The Panama canal has certain advantages; it may be of advantage to British Columbia in the export of her lumber, coal and other products, but it cannot possibly rival transportation over Canadian railways through Canadian ports. When the western farmers' grain reaches the Panama canal, it will have to meet competition from Buenos Ayres and Argentine ports. Wheat produced in the Argentine Republic can reach the Panama canal at very little cost, at a cost not to be compared with that of transporting wheat produced in Alberta to the Pacific coast. Therefore, the farmers of Alberta will not be able to compete with the farmers of Argentina. Moreover, shipment via the Panama canal will be a slow process so that the wheat could not reach the market at the desired time, and rapidity of transit is a great consideration in the shipment of wheat. Therefore, the only really possible route for the transportation of the products of the West is from Winnipeg to Quebec in summer and to St. John or Halifax in winter.

If I have not been able to interest the committee as I should have liked, I have taken part in this debate in the exercise of my duty as the representative of the people of my constituency, and in the hope that others will have the same courage and will offer suggestions. Had it not been for the invitation of the minister to any member, who so desired, to make suggestions in honesty of purpose I would not have taken that liberty. I thank you, Mr. Chairman and the committee for extending the privilege that you have given

to me. My observations and suggestions have been given in the spirit of a true Canadian.

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Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

Before the hon.

member rises to speak, I must remind the committee of the ruling given when this resolution was called this afternoon. The Chairman suggested that all of these items be taken together by unanimous consent in order that all hon. members could discuss fully all matters pertaining to railways. This suggestion was not accepted. The hon. member who has just taken his seat (Mr. Turgeon) was not in the committee at the time, and for that reason he was not interrupted. I must, however, point out to hon. members that all questions relating to the Grand Trunk Pacific railway, the National Transcontinental railway and the Canadian Government railways are not in order under this item. The motion was made that the items be considered separately, and it becomes the duty of the Chairman to prevent a repetition of the same arguments and to direct that the discussion should be relevant to the item under consideration.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
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UNION

Howard Hadden Halladay

Unionist

Mr. HALLADAY:

In the year 1918, the Canadian Northern started to build a railway from the town of Hanna, on their main line running from Saskatoon to Calgary, to the city of Medicine Hat, a distance of about 130 miles. They laid more or less steel north of the Red Deer river and did a certain amount of grading south of the river. How much grading is there to be completed? Will the steel be laid on this grade this fall and, if so, will the connection be made over the Red Deer river? It is very important that this road be completed as soon as possible, because it connects the Canadian Northern system with one of the best manufacturing cities in Western Canada, and it will add greatly to the revenue of this road when completed.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
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May 6, 1921