May 6, 1921

UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Hon. Mr. REID:

I can hardly believe it takes that long. However, I do not think the committee feel they have all the information'they desire on this item, and I am not going to urge that it be passed to-night. In the meantime I shall make inquiries into the matter my hon. friend has brought up.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

Leaving aside the question of the claim, why has the Canadian National Railway Company been included here? It does not represent the Canadian Northern Railway system. The Act provides:

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, - "Canadian Government Railways'' means and includes all such railways or parts thereof, and all such properties, works, powers, rigts and privileges, or interests or any of them as may be designated, whether generally or in detail, in any Order in Council from time to time

subsisting, entrusting the management and operation thereof to the company under the provisions of section eleven of this Act, and includes, unless expressly excepted, all properties, works.

And so on.

"Canadian Northern" means the Canadian Northern Railway Company; "Canadian Northern System" means the Canadian Northern and the companies designated in the First Schedule to this Act.

We know exactly what "Canadian Northern Railway" means and what "Canadian Northern System" means, because every company included in those terms is designated under a specific name in the schedule attached to the Act. But "Canadian National Railway Company" is absolutely meaningless unless there are words there to cover something we know nothing about.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

Robert James Manion

Unionist

Mr. MANION:

Before I discuss the

subject which I desire to take up for a few moments I want to state a fact which will, I think, warrant the view that I shall not be out of order in what I have to say. The line to which I shall refer was originally a Grand Trunk Pacific line, the lake Superior Branch, but about the year 1913 it was leased by the Government to be run in conjunction with the Canadian Northern Railway. Having stated this, I think I am perfectly in order in discussing this subject, and I can assure the committee that I shall not occupy very much time. It will be remembered that a few years ago it was the custom of the railways particularly, but also of other companies, to look for bonuses. We know that the railways used to look for bonuses, not only from the Dominion Government, but also from the Provincial 'Governments, and the municipalities. At the time the lake Superior Branch of the Grand Trunk Pacific was built, from the main line to lake Superior, a distance of about 196 miles, the Grand Trunk Pacific Company entered into an agreement with the city of Fort William on March 29, 1905, by which the city gave them, among other things, a cash bonus of $350,000. They also gave them some land grants, some rights of way over streets of the city, certain exemption from taxation, police and fire protection, and street railway and other facilities. The citizens of Fort William estimate those grants, apart from the $350,000 cash, to run into hundreds of thousands. In return for this, the company agreed to establish their terminals at Fort William. Practically in the words of the agreement, they undertook:

To erect and maintain in Port William its principal Lake Superior terminals, works, and head office, and engineering, construction, and operating staffs in connection with and pertinent to the said Lake Superior Branch.

These terminals consisted of such things as round houses, machine shops, repairing shops, work houses, superintendent's headquarters, engineering, construction and operating staffs, and the lake and rail traffic pertinent thereto. That at least was the spirit of the agreement entered into by the city of Port William, which has lived up to the agreement. It has paid over the money, given the exemptions, and fulfilled all the other terms of the agreement. The people of Port William never believed that they got their money's worth from the agreement, but so long as the company lived up to the conditions they agreed to, the city felt that though it had not derived very great advantage from the contract it must nevertheless take its medicine, so to speak. The people thought they would be sports enough to stand by the agreement, whether they were winners or losers.

About 1913 the Government took over the line on a lease to work it in conjunction with the other lines of the Canadian Northern and the Government railways, and from that time on the people of Port William have been gradually losing as a result of the agreement. You will readily understand that a city of 8,000 or 10,000- the population was about that when the bonus was given-having given $350,000 cash, to say nothing of the various other concessions they made, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, have shouldered a a heavy burden in this undertaking, and they are realizing now that it has been a losing proposition. The Board of Trade met some months ago. I was present at the meeting and on my suggestion they appointed a committee to look into this matter. They waited upon the superintendent at that place, but on orders from the authorities higher up, he refused any information as to the conditions that existed at that time in comparison with previous conditions. At various times since, citizens have noticed, without any information from the superintendent, that various trains have been taken off which made their headquarters at Port William, both passenger and freight trains, various officials have been removed and freight, passenger and other traffics which had been transferred at Fort William, were no longer being transferred there. Large staffs of men were taken away and the city has lost what it would have gained had the agreement been lived

up to by the other party. I will not go into the question in great detail.

There is nothing new in this condition, because I remember that nearly three years ago I came to Ottawa with a deputation and waited on the Minister of Railways. At that time we foresaw that we were going to lose certain things on behalf of desire for efficiency, but while we had no objection to anything being done to promote greater efficiency, we wished either to get what was coming to us or something equivalent to what the city had spent, both in this cash bonus and in the various grants it had given. We waited on the minister and later on we interviewed Mr. Hanna in Toronto. I have under my hand a letter written by the Board of Trade to the Minister of Railways on November 2, 1918, two and a half years ago. The minister throughout has been very friendly to the city, and I believe it has been his desire to give the citizens justice. But it has always been pointed out that the railways are operated by Mr. Hanna and a directorate. The city lately concluded that they were not getting justice. There was no sign of their getting what was due them, and so they took legal advice. They consulted some of the best lawyers in the country who upheld their contention that they had undoubted rights in the matter, and that if the terms of the agreement were not complied with on the part of the other party, they had a perfect right to institute a lawsuit. I have spoken to, waited upon, and written to Mr. Hanna on the question and he gives various excuses as to why changes are made, but he always insists that Fort William should and will get a fair deal. He claims that the changes have been made in the interests of efficiency, and I have no argument against any steps in that direction, nor have the people of Fort William. But neither they nor I agree that all these changes have been necessary in order to promote efficiency, and whether they are necessary or not, they should not all be made at Fort William's expense and the city unquestionably has a right to some return for this cash bonus of $350,000 and the various other grants they have made. Certainly the citizens do not intend to sit quietly by and see the profits which should accrue to them taken away. Without going futher into the question, I wish to say that the people of the city of Fort William which I have the honour to represent expect that this agreement will be lived up to by the other party. They realize that when

a private corporation enters into an agreement with a city or another corporation, if the agreement is taken over by a third party, that party is expected to fulfil its terms just as through he had been one of the original parties to the agreement; and in the same way when the Government takes over a railway, as it has done in this instance, it is expected that the agreement will be observed. The Government must live up to the agreement just as the Grand Trunk Pacific would have had to do. There is not only a moral but a legal claim as well, and the citizens of Fort William have legal opinion behind them in this position. As I have stated, I believe that the minister and Mr. Hanna have both tried to be fair. They both claim that they have been endeavouring to do justice by Fort William, and the minister on various occasions has taken the matter up with Mr. Hanna to see that .everything that could be done to ensure a fair deal by Fort William should be done. But the citizens of that city have reached the stage where they demand a show-down and they expect that this agreement will be fully lived up to. I expect the same thing, and I may say that the people of Fort William will certainly fight to see that they get their rights in the matter. If the agreement is not lived up to the Government is sure of a lawsuit; and if the lawsuit does not give the city justice I can assure the Government that during the next session of Parliament I will see what the Parliament of Canada has to say about it. Finally I would like the minister to assure me-he has done so privately and I feel sure he will be quite willing to do so publicly-that he will make strenuous effort to see that Fort William will not suffer injustice under this agreement with the Grand Trunk Pacific.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Hon. Mr. REID:

The hon. member has several times very forcibly brought this matter to my attention, and I think the people of Fort William can rest assured that he is, looking after their case satisfactorily. The trouble is this: It is impossible for me to take the matter up at the present time on account of the railway situation being in an unsettled state. There will be some dissatisfaction as a result of placing the Transcontinental system, and the Canadian Northern and the other railways together on account of the changes that must be made, which changes are in the interest of economy. These cases, when the Government gets control of the

whole system, must be dealt with, and I would say would be dealt with fairly by any government. I am sorry that we have not been able to take this matter up and get a decision earlier than this. I have within the last few weeks taken up the case of Fort William with Mr. Hanna and urged him to do what he could to carry out the agreement so far as it was consistent with the operation of the railway. I am satisfied that the question will have to be taken up by the management within the near future, and if an agreement cannot be come to between the management and the city it will, of course, have to be settled through the courts. The Government, however, has no desire whatever to ' take advantage of any claim the city of Fort William may have. All it would wish to do would be to see that in any settlement made-if it is necessary to make a settlement, on account of placing the two terminals together at either one point or the other-such settlement is fair and reasonable, and I am satisfied Parliament will vote any amount that would be necessary to settle a claim that was properly established.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

Robert James Manion

Unionist

Mr. MANION:

May I say, in justice to the minister that he has done what he stated; he has taken the matter up with Mr. Hanna and has endeavoured to get the matter straightened out to the satisfaction of the people at Fort William. May I also say, in justice to Mr. Hanna, that he always asserts that he intends to do the same and that at the present moment he is dealing with the matter. The reason I brought the question up to-night is because when we are dealing with the Estimates, as we are now doing it is practically the only opportunity when I can reasonably bring it forward. I wish to put myself on record as stating positively here that if the city of Fort William does not get justice in this matter, that when the time comes I will again bring it before hon. gentlemen, if necessary, and ask the House to deal with it.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNI L

William Stevens Fielding

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. FIELDING:

May I bring to the attention of the minister a matter concerning one of the railways which are included in the Canadian Northern system and therefore entirely within his department. There is a railway running through the western part of Nova Scotia known as the Halifax and South Western, which is one of the subsidiaries of the Canadian Northern. A fire occurred along the road a year or two ago in the district known

as Sable River and Louis Head. The people in the neighbourhood, regarding the road as now controlled by the Government, not unnaturally made representations to their members of Parliament, and I brought the matter before the railway management. I must in fairness say of them that they acted very promptly in the matter of an investigation. An official was sent down and made the necessary inquiry. My impression is he reached the conclusion that the claim was a just one, but when some delay occurred and representations were urged upon the management, the reply was that under the Railway Act not more than $5,000 could be paid on one fire claim -I think that was the statement made to me-and as the claim of these people exceeds that amount nothing could be done. Now this is one of the anomalies arising from the questionable character of the ownership of the road. If it is a government road there should be no limitation; if it is a private road, a corporation road, I suppose the general principles of the Railway Act will apply. It would certainly seem to me that the claim is a just one. I do not wish to assert that; I only speak of it because I think the inquiry that was made rather led to the department having the impression that the claim was a just one. If the claim is found to be a just one and these people have a real grievance, I do not think this $5,000 limit should stand in the way in the event of their having suffered damages to a larger extent. I do not suppose the minister himself has any particular knowledge of the subject, but there is an impression in the minds of the people down there that they have not had fair treatment in the matter, and I would be very glad if the minister could, in any way he thought best, look into it.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Hon. Mr. REID:

I will be glad to look into the matter and find out exactly what the situation is. Of course the railway in question is part of the Canadian Northern system, having been built by a private company, and the Railway Act would apply to this particular case. However I will look into the matter and perhaps at the next meeting of the committee I will have some information with respect to it and be able to discuss it.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

Ira Eugene Argue

Unionist

Mr. ARGUE:

I would like to have a more definite statement from the minister with reference! to the branch line in Saskatchewan to run from Gravelbourg to Swift Current, on the Canadian Northern. In 1918 we were promised by the president

of the company that the railway would be in Swift Current in 1920, and we have been very patient so far in waiting for the road to be built. Now the grade is up to Neidpath, and steel is laid to within ten miles of that point. The farmers of that district have made arrangements, and laid all their plans, to build an elevator at Neidpath but they were advised that it would be better to wait until they could get some more definite assurance with regard to laying the rails on that branch. What I would like to know is whether the rails will be laid on the branch in time for these people to get out their wheat this fall. There is something like 40,000 acres of grain which will be marketed in Neidpath providing the elevator can be built so as to store the grain until it can be got out. I would like the minister to give me that assurance so the the farmers can go ahead with the arrangements for building the elevator with the certainty of being able to take out the grain this fall.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Hon. Mr. REID:

In speaking to Mr. Hanna about the matter he mentioned that they would lay this ten miles this year for the reason that an elevator would be built, and it was for that purpose the rails would be laid. I am quite satisfied that it is the intention of the Canadian National Railway management to lay the ten miles in question, and I feel satisfied from the way Mr. Hanna mentioned it to me that there is no doubt it will be done. Unless something unforeseen should happen it is the intention anyway to lay the rails before that time. The 50,000 tons of new rails which were purchased are now being rolled and sent on to the main line. The rails thus released will go on to the branch lines and the branch in question is one of those that will be taken up first.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION
UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Hon. Mr. REID:

In Manitoba: Amaranth extension, starting point Delta junction When the present track is complete the grade will be to mile 61.9; track on December 31, 1920, was at mile 44.1; 17 miles yet to lay. That will be laid this year. St. Rose du Lac branch, starting point Ochre river. When the present track is' complete the grade will be to mile 40; track on December 31, 1920, was at mile 14.9; 25.1 miles will be laid this year.

Topic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

P.EVISED EDITION. COMMONS


ready done? The reason I ask is that it looks to me from the programme submitted to-night as if the department have completely lost a railroad in the province of [DOT]Saskatchewan. I refer to the line that was built from the Canadian Northern at Lumsden to Craven, and which has been operated in a sort of a way for freight purposes for a number of years. About seven or eight years ago the line was graded from Craven down through the Qu'-Appelle valley to serve a very thickly settled district that is badly in need of railway accommodation. Is it the policy to lay steel on grading done in the last year or two and neglect grading completed five or six years previously? It seems to me there ought to he some preference given to the grading first done.


UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Hon. M. REID:

It is quite evident from the remarks of the hon. member that I have not that line on my list. The policy is to lay rails on the grading already done at the earliest possible date. I will make inquiries and when we come to the item again at another sitting I will have full information ready.

Topic:   P.EVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
PRO

Andrew Knox

Progressive

Mr. KNOX:

Will the same assurance

be given in reference to other lines in Saskatchewan that the minister stated a little while ago were already graded?

Topic:   P.EVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Hon. Mr. REID:

I gave a list of the lines in Saskatchewan and stated that the management intended to lay rails as fast as they could get them from the main line.

Topic:   P.EVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
L LIB

Onésiphore Turgeon

Laurier Liberal

Mr. TURGEON:

When I made the statement that only 24 per cent of the grain of the West was exported through Canadian ports I could not lay my hand on the information. It has reference to the six months ending last February.

Topic:   P.EVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNI L

William Stevens Fielding

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. FIELDING:

May I be permitted to call the minister's attention to another little line in connection with the Halifax and South Western? We are repeatedly assured by hon. members of the Government that we must all practice self-denying ordinances and not ask for new construction of public works owing to the financial situation. That argument has very much weight, but exception appears to be made, and perhaps justly made, in the matter of branch railways. My hon. friend has read a list of branch railroads in connection with the Canadian Northern which are to be constructed in the West, most of them lines of considerable length and involving large expenditure. I take it for granted that these are really urgent matters, and I do

not wish to be understood as offering any objection, but there is a small matter down in my county of Shelburne affecting the branch line running into the town of Lock-port. Lockport is one of the most important fishing towns in Nova Scotia. It is about four miles away from the main line, and its traffic at present is done by ferry. That is better than nothing, and the people are glad to have it, but at the same time the business of the community would be much better developed if they had this siding-it is not more than that- of four miles. I mentioned the matter last year when the minister was talking of branch lines in the West running into an expenditure of millions of dollars, and I said I thought it would not be asking too much to have this small branch line of four miles constructed. I think I made such an impression on the mind of the minister because I find he answered me in these terms-I am sorry I cannot find the reference at the moment, but he spoke to the effect that the matter was already engaging the attention of his department, and he did not see any reason why the line should not be constructed. Nothing has been done. I am not making a complaint on that score but I do think a strong case can be made out for this little branch if the Government is going to indulge in new expenditures of that nature in other parts of the country. The hon. gentleman assured, me last year that he would send a responsible officer down there to see the people concerned and report on the traffic prospects. I know when Mr. Hanna was in Nova Scotia making a general survey he was to have looked into the matter, but he was summoned back to Ottawa on urgent business. He assured me that he would send some one down to inspect and report. I cannot say that that has not been done, but I have heard nothing further about the matter. I would again urge the importance of this little branch line. If we were refusing branch lines everywhere I would not make this request, but this small branch of four miles I think can, for business reasons, be amply justified. I hope my hon. friend will again take a favourable view of it and see if my request cannot be complied with.

Topic:   P.EVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink
UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Hon. Mr. REID:

I well remember my

hon. friend bringing this matter to my attention last year. I cannot remember now what was done but I will make inquiries and have the information ready at the next sitting of the committee.

We have had quite a discussion, Mr. Chairman, and I would move that the committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

Progress reported.

On motion of Right Hon. Mr. Doherty, the House adjourned at 12.05 a.m. Saturday.

Saturday, May 7, 1921.

Topic:   P.EVISED EDITION. COMMONS
Permalink

May 6, 1921