May 4, 1922

CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS-GRAIN LEAKAGES

CON

Hon. Mr. MANION:

Conservative (1867-1942)

1. What was the cost to the Canadian National railways of leakages of grain, from cars, between points of shipment and the head of the lakes, during the past railway year?

2. What was .the cost to the said railways of new grain doors, and repairs to grain doors upon grain cars, during the same season?

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS-GRAIN LEAKAGES
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LIB

William Costello Kennedy (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Hon. Mr. KENNEDY:

The information in answer to this question will have to come from Winnipeg, and it will probably be about ten days before I can give the information to the House.

Question stands.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS-GRAIN LEAKAGES
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IMPROVED FISHING METHODS

LIB

Hon. Mr. MARCIL (Bonaventure) :

Liberal

1. Does the Government intend to take any action on the application of W. A. Wick and others, asking for the introduction of improved methods in the fisheries of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Gaspesian coasts?

2. If so, what action?

Topic:   IMPROVED FISHING METHODS
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Hon. Mr. LAPOINTE:

While preparations were in progress for such action, in view of the arrangement that was made with the provincial authorities, for the administration of the fisheries on that portion of the coast, it was decided to discontinue them, and the provincial authorities were so informed.

Topic:   IMPROVED FISHING METHODS
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EXCESS OVERAGES

PRO

Mr. SALES:

Progressive

1. What terminal elevator companies have paid moneys to the Government by reason of excess overages?

2. What terminal elevator companies owing money on excess overages have not yet paid?

3. What are the names of these companies and the amounts owing by them for the year 1919-20 and the year 1920-21?

4. Why have the companies referred to in question 2 not paid?

5. Has the right of the Government been definitely challenged in regard to enforcement of payments?

6. If so, what is the policy of the Government in respect to the challenge, and also in respect to companies who have not challenged the authority of the government but who have paid the moneys?

Topic:   EXCESS OVERAGES
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LIB

Hon. Mr. ROBB: (Minister of Trade and Commerce)

Liberal

1. For the 1920 weigh-up, the following terminal elevator companies paid moneys to the Government by reason of excess overages:-Empire Elevator Co., United Grain Growers, Fort William Elevator Co., Grand Trunk Pacific Terminal Elevator Co., Port Arthur Elevator Co., Thunder

Questions

Bay Elevator Co., Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator Co.

2. For the 1920 weigh-up the Eastern Terminal Elevator Co. has not yet paid.

For the 1921 weigh-up the following companies have not yet paid: Canadian Pacific Railway Co., Consolidated Elevator Co., Western Terminal Elevator Co., United Grain Growers, Grand Trunk Pacific Terminal Elevator Co., Northwestern Elevator Co.

3. 1919-20-

Eastern Terminal Elevator Co. $49,027.07

Canadian Pacific Railway Co... 29,184.17

Consolidated Elevator Co 3,432.73

Western Terminal Elevator Co. 47,907.42

United Grain Growers 41,971.05

G. T. P. Terminal Elevator Co. 5,697.45 Northwestern Elevator Co 2,331.24

4. Because the right of the Government to these overages has 'been contested.

5. Yes.

6. The matter is at present under the consideration of the Department of Justice.

Topic:   EXCESS OVERAGES
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QUESTION PASSED AS ORDER FOR RETURN

LIB

Mr. LANCTOT:

Liberal

1. What has been the cost of the trips to Europe of the ministers of the Canadian Gov-eminent during the war period and since?

2. What has been the cost for each minister who attended any of the after war conferences

-tr ^>aris' Geneva or elsewhere in Europe?

3. How much, if any, has each one of such ministers returned to the Treasury of the amounts allowed for such trips over and above their actual expenses ?

4. What are the names of such Ministers and the respective amounts allowed to each, as well as the amounts returned by each?

Topic:   QUESTION PASSED AS ORDER FOR RETURN
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CROWSNEST PASS AGREEMENT

PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO EFFECT UPON RAILWAY RATES

LIB

William Costello Kennedy (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Hon. W. C. KENNEDY (Minister of Railways and Canals) moved:

That notwithstanding that the regulation of railway rates is a matter within the jurisdiction of the Board of Railway Commissioners, it is advisable that a Select Special Committee be appointed to make inquiry into the question of railway transportation costs, it having been disclosed by recent conferences held between the Government and the chief executives of the various railways with respect to the reduction of freight rates that the representatives of the railways deem it inadvisable immediately to reduce rates on basic commodities because of the expiration, on July 6th, 1922, of the suspension of the Crowsnest pass agreement;

That, in the circumstances, it is advisable to afford opportunity to all interested parties to submit their views upon the subject matter of the inquiry to the said committee with partl-

cular regard to the effect of the rates established by the Crowsnest pass agreement upon Canadian National railways and other lines, as well as upon agricultural development and Canadian industry generally;

And that the said committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and records, including the minutes and evidence taken before the Committees of this House in previous Sessions, to examine witnesses under oath, and to report from time to time.

He said: The resolution just read states the reasons why it is considered at the present time in the public interest to appoint the committee proposed. When this Government assumed office there was, as there is to-day, a general feeling throughout the country that freight rates were unduly high and that they not only interfered with, but were oppressive to, the trade and commerce of the country. The Government were anxious there should be an immediate and substantial reduction in the rates, and while this could be effected in part by allowing the Crownest pass agreement to become once more operative in July next, it was felt that the matter was of such' far-reaching importance that the Government would not be justified in permitting this to take place without having a committee of the House appointed to inquire mto the effect which such a revival of the agreement might have, and to make such recommendations as, in the public interest, that committee might deem advisable. As intimated in the speech I delivered to the House on the railway situation a short time ago, the Government, soon after its assumption of office, had a conference with the heads of the Canadian National Railways, the Grand Trunk Railway, and the Canadian Pacific Railway, with a view to securing, if possible, a voluntary reduction m rates^ on those products known as basic commodities. The matter was thoroughly investigated and as a result of the conference, the executive of the railways felt that, in view of the fact that the Crowsnest pass agreement would expire on July 6, it was not advisable at the present time, however desirable it might be, that any immediate reduction should be made. As hon. members know, the Crowsnest pass agreement is an undertaking entered into in 1897 by the Government of that day with the Canadian Pacific Railway whereby, in consideration of a subsidy, freight rates on certain commodities were limited. That agreement stood until 1918, when the United States Government, through its Labour Board, increased the wages of the railway employees in that country. The employees on the Canadian

Crowsnest Agreement

lines thereupon made application for a similar increase in their wages. The Order in Council which made the McAdoo award effective on government owned lines and recommended its adoption on privately owned railways authorized the Board of Railway Commissioners to prepare a schedule of rates which would grant increases in freight rates in Canada similar to the increases that had already been granted in American territory. The Board of Railway Commissioners prepared such a schedule of rates which was given effect by Order in Council of July 27, 1918, under the War Measures Act, authorizing the board to set aside the Crowsnest pass agreement or any other rate-limiting agreement. This Order in Council remained effective until the revision of the Railway Act was under consideration in 1919, when, by subsection 5 of section 325, authority was granted the Railway Commissioners to set aside the Crowsnest pass agreement for a period of three years from the passing of the act. That period of suspension expires on July 6, 1922. The Consolidated Railway Act came before Parliament for revision, having first been dealt with by the Senate, and was referred to a select committee of the House, and it was that committee that finally incorporated in the bill subsection 5 of section 325 to which I have just referred. The bill was passed and returned as amended to the Senate. The Senate objected to this section in its original form, and a conference was held between the managers of the two Houses. Sir Robert Borden afterwards intimated that it would be satisfactory to the Senate if acceptable to the House that a limitation be made in subsection 5; and the limit was then fixed in that subsection at a period of three years from the passing of the act in 1919.

To-day the railway companies have come to us and represented that they are in exactly the same position in which they were in 1918. They are faced with the still increased costs of labour and materials and they declare that if the Crowsnest pass agreement goes into effect on July 6 it will mean a loss of millions of dollars, adding to the already very heavy deficit of the Canadian National Railways, and materially affecting the earnings of the Canadian Pacific Railway. On the other hand, there are those who contend that the reduction in freight rates would stimulate business and bring about increased activity, which would result in greater earnings for

89J 7?;

the railways. Furthermore, they add, there is the possibility that in a very short time there will be a further decrease in wages in the United States, which would in all probability apply in Canada as well, and that the railways would not suffer the loss they claim would ensue. But there is another reason why the matter should be considered by a special committee. The Board of Railway Commissioners, in the last adjustment made in September, 1920, through its chairman, Mr. Carvell, gave this judgment:

As our jurisdiction for granting increases on certain lines of railway in Western Canada depends entirely upon the amendment to section 325 of the Railway Act, 1919, which expires on the 6tli day of July 1922, the rates hereby established cannot continue beyond that date unless Parliament in its wisdom sees fit to extend the provisions of that section. Therefore, the rates herein provided for shall not extend beyond the first day of July, 1922.

The Railway Board have themselves put the matter up to Parliament. So far as the Crowsnest pass agreement is concerned, they have no jurisdiction because it is a matter of statute; and I may say that it is not the intention of the Government, nor is it the desire, to interfere in any way with the functions or the duties of the Board of, Railway Commissioners. The Board of Railway Commissioners are the proper authorities to fix rates. In so far as the Government is concerned, this committee is to deal specifically with the Crowsnest pass agreement, not with the general question of rates. It may. be necessary, in order to deal intelligently with this matter, to get information with reference to rates, in their application to this agreement and the committee will determine this under the powers conferred upon it.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I have only to say that this is a matter of great importance to this country from every standpoint, agricultural, business and railway, and the suspension of the Crowsnest pass agreement or its continuation should have the very careful consideration of every hon. member. The Government is anxious to have this committee obtain the fullest possible information that can be gathered in connection with this matter so that it may recommend to Parliament what will be in the interests of all the people of this country.

At a later stage of the proceedings I shall move the nomination of the members of the committee.

Crowsnest Agreement

Topic:   CROWSNEST PASS AGREEMENT
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO EFFECT UPON RAILWAY RATES
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, the subject involved in the resolution has not only commanded the attention of the Parliaments of Canada for years, but since Confederation has been one of the main problems confronting the country. The construction, control and general supervision of our railway systems has, in the very nature of things, been one of the great difficulties that our people have had to overcome.

Canada is a vast country, and when she essayed the task of confederating all of British North America, she did so at a time when her population was sparse, and when consequently the burden of transportation was heavy relative to the number of taxpayers to sustain it. Therefore, in the very fact of our geography, in the very fact of our sparse population, lie the roots of the great transportation problem with which we have wrestled through these fifty years; and that we should now be faced with that problem virtually only in the form of a question of rate reduction is a matter of some congratulation.

I think the people have wanted neither in courage, nor intelligence, nor practical business capacity in the manner in which they have addressed themselves to this question, faced all its difficulties, and surmounted them one by one; and in my humble judgment, though we have made mistakes, and one major mistake, we have surmounted those difficulties so successfully that we find ourselves to-day with the greater number of them behind us. .

That there should be at this time a demand for a reduction of railway rates is natural. We have had that demand before us with growing insistence for months past. In the period of the war, for reasons very indirectly referred to by the minister (Mr. Kennedy), increases of rates were not only necessary, they were so manifestly inevitable that there was no difference of opinion as to bringing them about. After the war ended, the problem instead of being an easier one, really assumed dimensions greater still. Later on we met with the first movement towards reduction of rates, a slight reduction taking effect on the first of January, 1921, to the extent of five per cent, under an order of the Board of Railway Commissioners. On first December, 1921, a ten per cent reduction was made. These reductions were ordered conformably with the suspension of the Crowsnest pass agreement to which the hon. gentleman

refers. Since that time the Railway Commission has made no further reductions.

I refer to these matters now-I shall refer to them at greater length perhaps before I close-only to put in proper perspective the situation as we meet it today.

I say it is only natural that the people at this time should' urgently seek for a further reduction in railway rates. One of the vital, indeed, one of the indispensable conditions' of confederation is low railway rates. We undertook at Confederation to construct a nation on this portion of the North American continent. We then had but three or four Millions of people, if we had that number; our territory was four thousand miles in width, and our fathers foresaw that if we were to make a nation we must not only bind that territory with transportation routes, but we must make the conditions of transportation over those routes such that trade would actually flow over them and the bonds of commerce unite the provinces, thereby making progress as a unit possible, and the prosperity of the people a living truth.

We met the same difficulty in relation to our trade question. Historically we have solved that problem along certain lines, and whether rightly or wrongly-in my judgment, of course, I think rightly-the people have solved it every time it came before them in a consistent form with a desire to so direct our trade as also to bind our provinces in trade relations that would be 'healthful and secure.

Virtually the same question that confronted us in trade matters confronts us in transportation matters. It has always been deemed essential that our rates of transportation, even at considerable cost to the national treasury, .should be such that our trade to the utmost extent should flow east and west-that we realy should have a commercial entity which is a fundamental requisite of our continuing as a national entity. Consequently this Dominion has by no means been parsimonious in its treatment of railway companies. On the contrary, we have sought by generous treatment of railway transportation companies to make railway construction possible. We have sought as well by like treatment, even at the expense of the whole nation, to make possible low transportation rates. Canada has borne those burdens as a nation since its inception, in order that the rates of transportation might be such that what might be described geographically as the natural routes of trade would not fatally

, Crowsnest Agreement

interfere with, at least would not predominate in competition with, what was essential to the primary continuance of Confederation-our east-and-west routes of trade.

Therefore we have at all times sought this goal, and never did our people seek it more ardently, never did1 they seek it more devotedly and insistently, than they do at the present time. At all Costs our railway rates must Ibe cut down. I do not say on whom the burden shall wholly fall-it may have to rest on certain classes, probably in part on the whole Dominion; I am not discussing that at all-but the rates of transportation in this country must come down because the present rates are inconsistent with that flow of trade which is an indispensable necessity to the continuance of our country as a real commercial entity.

I do not think there is any great difference of opinion on that score. There is a difference of opinion as to the order and the method in which it shall be done. The railways take one view, and the majority of the people, I think, take another. There must be a disposition to be fair on both sides, but one thing is imperative, and the sooner all come to the conclusion the better: we must have not only lower, but very substantially lower, freight rates in this country generally, and that in a very short time.

Now, what is the history of the treatment of this question? For years it was dealt with in this Parliament. Railways are not a commercial proposition in that independent sense that most others of our industries are. Railways, in the evolution of trade, have become more or less-first less, then more, and now almost wholly- natural monopolies. They must have monopolistic rights of a character; they must have rights of eminent domain. Consequently there grew up in time the doctrine that there must be a review of rates and charges made by companies engaged in railway transportation on the part of the public-that is, on the part of Parliament-differing entirely from that which Parliament would think wise to exercise in relation to ordinary business. That responsibility Parliament itself sought for a long time to discharge, but subsequently it became the function of a committee of the Privy Council. Subsequently, in the year 1903, it was vested by this House in what became known as the Railway Commission of Canada. That Railway Commission was appointed; it was established for the purpose of exercising with respect to all transportation companies that very supervision and review in relation to railway rates, in relation to the distribution of facilities, in relation to the charges to be made for one facility and the other,-in relation, indeed, to all matters that affected the public. It was established, I say, for the purpose of. exercising that review in a manner fair to the public on the one hand and fair to the railways on the other. That legislation was concurred in by all parties in this House. From that time there has been vested in the commission this function, and the major part of it has been that control of the rates for which primarily it was created.

Now, I am not here to discuss at this moment at all the discharge of its duties by the Railway Commission. On the whole, it has undoubtedly been a splendid institution and has rendered great service to Canada. What, however, is the history of the immediate question dealt with or presumed to be dealt with by this resolution?

In 1897, before the creation of the Railway Commission, an agreement was entered into between the Canadian Pacific Railway Company and the government of Canada whereby, in lieu of certain cash subventions connected with the constitution of the Crowsnest Pass Railway, amounting, I understand, to approximately $4,000,000, the railway company on its part undertook indefinitely to grant certain commodity rates, chiefly on grain passing from western Canada through Fort William eastward, but also on live stock passing from provinces east through Fort William westward. In addition, a somewhat arbitrary selection was made of commodities moving westward from the eastern provinces into the prairies, and certain fixed rates were agreed to be adopted by the company as respects those commodities. The railway company lived up to its obligations as respects that agreement continuously until the year 1918. The living up to its obligations on the part of the Canadian Pacific entailed not only the extension of the application of the agreement to its own largely enhanced mileage both west and east, but entailed as well, in order to get business, the application of the same rates on the same or approximately the same commodities, by other competing companies. As a consequence, those rates became virtually universal.

Crowsnest Agreement

In 1918, the year at which the incidence of the war and all its dangers were at their worst, the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States made an order in respect of railway wages known as the McAdoo award. There were many subsequent orders on the part of the Chicago board, and all of these had the result of very materially-indeed, drastically-elevating the whole level of railway wages in that country. Our railways are, to an extent, international-that is, to the extent that many of them cross the boundary. They are international also in this respect: the organizations of employees that man our roads are of an international character. The situation that confronted the govern-men, then, was this: These increased wages having taken effect in the United States, there naturally arose a demand-indeed, the demand was inevitable-that they similarly take effect on the Canadian portions of the roads and throughout our country. And beyond question-though we need not go back and put ourselves in the same position just now-beyond question, we would have been confronted at that crucial time with a very serious tie-up-yes, paralysis, if not the destruction of our entire transportation work-had not the demand been met. The railways found themselves in the position that they could not meet the demand, largely because of the general level of the rates, but as well because of the rates in force under the Crowsnest pass agreement. The general level could not equitably be raised unless the impediment of that agreement were removed. Consequently, the government of that time- and hon. members will remember the constitution of the government then-in deference to the imperious demand that the war Situation imposed upon us in this country, determined that its duty was courageously to face the situation, to remove the impediment and at all costs bring about conditions under which transportation would move in Canada as it had to move if the war on our part was to be conducted. So that under the powers vested in us by Parliament, certain railway rates recommended to the government unanimously by the Railway Commission of that time were established by Order in Council, P.C. 1863 of the 27th of July, 1918. These rates, let me repeat, were the rates that in the judgment of the Railway Commission were essential if the objects sought were to be gained, namely, the moving of our commerce. They were established, and that they might be, the Crowsnest pass agreement was for the time being

suspended. In 1919, as hon. gentlemen well know, though the war was over in the sense that the armistice had for some months been signed, the conditions that the war brought about were more marked, more accentuated, more acute, than they had been even the year before. That, indeed, was in part due to further increases of wages made by the Chicago Railway Board, which had precisely the same effect as respects Canadian wages as the McAdoo award of the previous year. The situation was met that year by the introduction to Parliament-indeed, the same had been done in I think, the two preceding years; one, anyway-of a general revision of the Railway Act of this country, The Government came to Parliament with a revision of that act. In the year 1919 the government of the day came first to the Senate-in an effort to distribute more equally the labours of Parliament-and laid before it the Government's proposals as to the revision of that act. Initially there was not included in it any reference whatever to the Crowsnest pass agreement. That bill came to and passed the House of Commons, but during its progress in this assembly the Government, after conferences with the Railway Commission, introduced subsection 5 of section 325 which in effect gave the Railway Commission free and untrammelled control of rates irrespective wholly of any special agreements that might have been entered into, and irrespective among other things, of the Crowsnest pass agreement itself. That was one of the amendments made in the Commons to the bill that came from the Senate, made at the instance of the Government. It was one among forty-three or forty-four amendments made, all of which amendments afterwards passed the Senate save four. Included in these four was this subsection 5 of section 325. In that form with the four clauses rejected the bill came back to the House of Commons. Managers were appointed for the two Houses, in accordance with our constitution. Those managers considered these four rejected amendments, and they adopted, after debate, subsection 5 of section 325. They suggested certain amendments to the other three, and in that form the managers reported to their respective bodies. Notwithstanding that subsection 5 of section 325 was accepted by the managers for the Senate, in the House ol Commons certain objection was then taken to it, chiefly on the part of the present hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. MAY 4, 1922

Crowsnest Agreement

MeQuarrie), who then sat for that constituency. After debate the Prime Minister of the day suggested that it. might be well, because he expected, as all of us did, that conditions would change in a short time, to limit the operation of the suspension to a fixed time, and finally he himself introduced in the Commons an amendment to the clause by which the operation of the suspension was limited to three years and was made to expire on the 7th day of July, 1922.

The bill passed the Commons, was accepted by the Senate, and became the law of the country.

While this suspension was in operation the Railway Commission found themselves able on the 1st of January, 1921, to make some reduction, very small, and to make a subsequent reduction on the first of December of the same year. In the summer of 1921, also, a large reduction was made on live stock rates. Previous to that, there had in the year 1920 been a very substantial increase made by the Railway Commission, an increase of forty per cent in eastern Canada, and an increase of thirty-five per cent in western Canada- these, however, accompanied by most important exceptions applicable to coal, applicable to milk, applicable to stone, gravel and other materials, which had the effect of modifying very considerably the forty per cent and the thirty-five per cent increases respectively.

There was an appeal taken from this decision on the part of many bodies, provincial governments and others, to the Governor in Council against the judgment of the Railway Commission. It may be interpolated here that in the original statute, continued ever since, though control was vested in this judicial tribunal, the Railway Commission, of rates and other matters of railway supervision, there was reserved to the government of the day a review in appeal over what the Railway Commission might do, that review being virtually untrammelled so far as the words of the act were concerned. Historically, such review has not been exercised save to the extent of referring the judgment back where it might appear there had been certain considerations of fact not brought to the attention of the Railway Commission in its consideration of the case, or wrong principles affecting public policy adopted. I think that as a matter of record there has been only one change, that all the other interferences consisted merely of references back.

In the fall of 1920, upon appeal, the government of the day, after hearing counsel for all parties and after fully considering the entire question, referred back the order of the Railway Board because in its belief there had been certain principles followed by the board which were not sound principles in point of public policy. One principle to which exception was taken was this: The Railway Board in its judgment had affirmed that in determining what railway rates should be, how far they should go in the way of fixing rates, regard should under the circumstances be had to the financial requirements of the Canadian National system. The government of the day felt that having regard to the basic purposes for which the various units of that system were constructed, the factors in determining the construction being in part colonization, in part political, at all events not wholly commercial, it was not a sound principle to follow for the Railway Commission to say they must be governed in their decision as to what were fair and equitable rates by the financial requirements of the Canadian National Railway system. Therefore, there was a reference back, in order that that principle might be reviewed and that a decision might be arrived at without regard at all to the needs of the Canadian National. There was a reference back on other matters bearing on the alleged discrimination between the rates prevailing in western Canada and in eastern Canada. On the reference hack the Railway Commission following the instructions, if you call them that, of the government, following the government's definition of what it believed to be true public policy on these matters, affirmed its decision previously arrived at, affirmed the rates therein set out.

It should, of course, be noted that in the original decision the board provided for monthly returns from all the companies, the three principal companies as it named them, and stated that upon those returns, if it appeared possible any month to effect reductions greater than those provided for in the decision itself, those reductions would be made. Anyway, the board affirmed its previous judgment, and since that time there have been made the two reductions of last year, but no more.

I should have said in the reference back made by the government of the decision of the commission in the fall of 1920, the government requested the Railway Board to make a general review of the whole railway rate position, with a view to

Crowsnest Agreement

seeing what reductions could be made from time to time of a general character, but with a view especially to the elimination of all complaints, if possible, as to discrimination. The board addressed itself to the task imposed upon it by the government, and has been since the fall of 1920 mainly employed in investigations throughout the length and breadth of our country in order to put itself in a position to decide definitely this most complicated, and difficult problem. But the board has stated, as read by the Minister of Railways, that it finds itself now confronted with the very same obstacles that, on the reverse journey, it confronted in the year 1918. In determining now upon reductions, just as then in determining upon increases, it finds its hands tied by the revival on the 6th of July of this year of the old Crowsnest pass agreement, and it virtually says to this Parliament: We cannot decide what we ought to do in the way of reductions of the multiplied tariffs that are before us; we cannot decide the question until we know what is going to become of the Crowsnest pass agreement on the 6th day of July next. And they rightly affirm: We have not the power to say "yes" or "no" as to that revival-that is a matter for Parliament, and for Parliament alone. Consequently the Railway Commission are on sound ground in saying: The burden, in so far as it is on us, is suspended until Parliament acts with respect to the Crowsnest pass agreement. Hence it cannot be argued, I think, with any show of success that there is default at the present time on the part of the Railway Commission. That appears to be the judgment of the Government itself, as evidenced in the address to the Minister of Railways. I could not help but reflect as he was speaking on the probable difficulty that he had in bringing his Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell) to that opinion. I could not help but reflect indeed on some of his own speeches delivered in less responsible days; yes on some of the speeches of his leader (Mr. Mackenzie King), but particularly on those defiant and rebellious utterances of the Minister of Agriculture when he laid the whole indictment of our high railway rates at the door of the Railway Commission, and particularly at the door of its chairman, and when he pronounced himself bound on a crusade to Ottawa to dethrone that iniquitous chief.

That brings us to the position as it meets Parliament now. The Government of the day faced with the responsibility-just as

we were faced with it in 1918 and in 1919- comes down with this resolution. I remarked in opening that we had historically in this country, though the obstacles were great, though the mountains were high, met them courageously and surmounted them in the main successfully-met them with intelligence, met them with practical business grasp. May I ask what is the spirit and the method with which the Government meets this situation now? It comes to Parliament and asks for a special committee of hon. members. To analyze this resolution, it asks for a special committee to inquire into transportation costs. That is the purpose of the resolution if it means what it says. There is nothing else that the committee is asked to do, save to inquire into the question of transportation costs. In the second paragraph, the resolution instructs the committee to listen to evidence on transportation rates, bearing particularly on the effect of the revival of the old Crowsnest pass agreement. Now the minister says this is a resolution asking Parliament to select a committee to consider the wisdom of the revival of the old Crowsnest pass agreement. It is not. If it was, my attitude to it would be just the same as it is now, but it is not that at all. It is for a committee to go into the whole question of transportation rates and to listen to evidence on the question of the revival of the old Crowsnest pass agreement. Very well let us take it to mean what the Minister of Railways says. Undoubtedly, in order to decide on the Crowsnest pass agreement revival, regard must be had to the general question of transportation rates. Intelligence-yes indeed, complete intelligence - must be exercised in relation to the question of general transportation rates. Of 4 p.m. that there is no doubt at all. This committee is going to be a commission, if the Government has its way, to review the whole question of transportation rates and to listen to evidence with a view, I presume, to reporting on the question as to whether it ought to revive the old Crowsnest pass agreement. The resolution recites that this is to be done notwithstanding the fact that the regulation of railway rates is a matter within the jurisdiction of the Board of Railway Commission. Well, I can see that that is

a very good reason why there should not be a committee appointed to

duplicate the functions of the Railway Commission. That is a very good reason recited by the Government for not

Crowsnest Agreement

doing what it proposes; hut the reason, the only reason, recited by the Government for doing what it proposes has very little more relationship to the conclusion than if it had recited that we have had a late and unsatisfactory spring. Why appoint a committee to go into the whole question of transportation rates? The reason, the minister says, is that the railway companies tell him that they are not favourable to a voluntary reduction because they do not know whether it is intended to revive the Crowsnest pass agreement. Well that would be some reason for the Government telling Parliament what it ought to do, and if the Government did not feel that it was in a position to tell Parliament what it thought it ought to do, it would he reason for the Government getting the necessary information by the best means in its power. Now what date is this? This is the 4th day of May, 1922. This suspension expires on the 6th day of July, 1922-almost two months from to-day. We are half-way through the time between the opening of this session and the expiration of this suspension. What is this committee to accomplish in the meantime? This committee is to accomplish what the best experts this country could secure found themselves unable to accomplish, not in weeks or months, but in years. In 1895 the question of railway rates was reviewed by a body under instructions of this Parliament. Many months were so occupied and really no result was obtained. The effort was renewed. In this connection I commend hon. members to an address delivered 'by Professor MacGibhon, of the University of Alberta, on or about the 19th day of January of this year on this subject-a most illuminating and carefully thought out address. I quote as follows:

The first investigation into railway rate levels in the Canadian northwest occurred about 1895. Since that date rate grievances have been a fairly constant subject of discussion. A second investigation was begun in 1899, continued until 1902 and eventuated in the creation of the board of railway commissioners in 1903. In turn the board of railway commissioners has found a large part of its occupation in adjudicating upon rate disputes in western Canada.

The Commissioners, previous to 1903, deliberated for three years on this question. Finally they came to Parliament and said: It is so complicated, it is so big, that we commend to Parliament the creation of a judicial body that will take it under its permanent and constant charge and review. That was the conclusion after the last investigation. Since the Railway Commission was created, the great body of its

time-as hon. members know, who read the reports of its activities-has been employed through its experts, travelling as it does through the length and 'breadth of Canada, in studying this question of transportation costs, in determining the application of its principles to the multiplied problems that come before it-because if there is one question that is complicated, if there is one question that is Almost endless, if there vis one question as to which experts, and only experts, can apply their minds in even a reasonable time to the solution of with any success, it is this question of the rate structure of our railways. What are equitable transportation costs are affected by fifty, yes a hundred, different considerations. The considerations that affect them at one point have no effect at all at another. Different considerations apply. The considerations that affect them as respects one road do not affect them as respects another road. The considerations that affect them as respects one commodity do not affect them as respects another. The considerations that affect them

at one time do not affect them

at another time at all. All sorts of outside influences and pressures, factors that cannot be eliminated, come from time to time. Why, after the Board, a board that, right from its inception, had devoted its time to this problem, was asked, in the fall of 1920, to make again a systematic, concentrated study of the question in order to determine, just as soon as possible, when reductions might be effected, that board has taken until now and is only now able to act, and then only, after we decide what we want done about the Crowsnest pass agreement. In an address delivered by the vice-chairman of that board just a few weeks ago in the city of Montreal, he elaborated at some length on the manysidedness of this great question; and amongst his assertions was this, that there had been submitted to the board last year alone no fewer than 75,000 different tariffs of rates by the various railway companies of this country. I am informed that there are to-day no fewer than 250,000 different tariffs of rates in actual effect. Such is something of the nature of the question; and the Government comes to Parliament and says: "We have to decide whether we will continue the suspension of the Crowsnest pass agreement or whether we will not, and we are going to ask a committee of Parliament to delve into the whole railway rate question, especially in

Crowsnest Agreement

its bearing on this question, and to give us its recommendation in time to take effect before the 6th day of July." nay, more, in time to take effect much sooner. After the Government comes to Parliament with its judgment and submits it to Parliament, then some time must intervene. The Government's judgment may be: Yes; the Government's judgment may he: No; the Government's judgment, may be: Yes, conditionally; the Government's judgment may be: No, conditionally, and the multiplicity of conditions it might be hard, at this time, to conjecture, conditions that might be possible and right. Whatever the Government's decision may be, one of those two, one of those dozen, the rates that must be formulated, in accordance with the decision of the Government, will be of a different character in the case of one from that of another. All those tariffs of rates must be formulated after the Government decides, after Parliament decides. They must be submitted to the Railway Commission; and the Railway Commission may feel it should hear evidence, indeed, it may feel bound to hear evidence pro and con as to those rates in the light of the decision that the Government arrives at. Consequently, {a reasonable time undoubtedly must intervene between the determination of this problem on the part of Parliament and the 6th day of July when the suspension expires. Whei is that reasonable time? I submit that all this subsequent deliberation will take at least some days or weeks, and we have only about eight weeks left. Yet the appointment of this committee is asked on the 4th day of May, and it is asked to come to such intelligent decision, after review of the whole question of transportation costs, as to be able adequately in the course of three, four or five weeks to advise the Government in this regard.

You ask me what should be done? It seems to me that the course of the Government was quite clear. The late government went into this matter with the body that should have the information in its hands, i The late [government consulted that commission which Parliament created in order that it might have this information in its hands. We consulted that commission in 1918 and, again, in 1920. We acted on the recommendations of that commission. We got the facts from them in order to enable us to say to Parliament, what, in our judgment, ought to be done, and we came to Parliament and, by the [Mr. Meighen. 3

voice of a member of the government, we submitted to Parliament the judgment of the government and .asked that Parliament review that judgment in the regular constitutional way. I submit that that course is the course that ought to be pursued to-day; yes, it is the course that should have been pursued earlier in the session if the Government we have now had been able to decide anything at all. We should have known what the judgment of the Government was long 'before this period of the session, in order that a well deliberated decision might be reached, in regard to this question and all concerned adjust themselves accordingly.

On what ground does the Government seek to evade its responsibility? What is there about the matter that justifies the Government in seeking to evade its responsibility? It is true that on occasion special committees are the proper course. If a new question presents itself as respects which new facts may be divulged, new angles of approach may be disclosed, and as respects which there is no constitutional tribunal competent to advise the Government, then there may be a case for a special committee. Special committees have frequently been appointed under those circumstances. But this is an old subject, not a new question in any sense, a question that has been before us for years and, moreover, a question, in respect of which, as to the facts that we ought to have at hand, to enable the Government to decide, there is a body sitting, prepared to advise, having gathered information thereon during seventeen years of its existence. Why, then, not go to that body? Why seek to evade responsibility for action by asking a new body, wholly unequipped, wholly inexperienced, in a course of time even ludicrously inadequate, to come to a decision to advise the Government? Let the Government go to the Railway Commission and ask them what will be the effect, on the general question of a reduction of rates, of the expiration of the suspension. Let the Government ask the commission what will be the effect on trade throughout the country if the expiration of the suspension is allowed and the old agreement revives. Let them ask the commission what, in their judgment, will be the effect on organized and every other industry if the old agreement does not revive and if the suspension is made permanent. Let them ask the commission what will be the effect on the earning power of roads, on surpluses, on railway

Crowsnest Agreement

credits. Let them inquire what, if either of these courses is followed, will be these effects in the judgment of the commission that has studied this subject for years. That can easily be done; the commission is in a position to advise the Government. It is the duty of the commission, and it is, doubtless, ready to advise the Government. Let the Government take that course which it should have taken long ago, and come to this House and say: "This is our proposal, our best judgment; to this House we submit that judgment, and we ask for approval of the policy of the Government." Is that not the manly, the courageous course? Is that not the course consistent with responsible government- responsible government about which we heard so wearisomely, so inconsistently all through these later years? That is the course I recommend to the administration. Let the administration take that course and it will give earnest of something that the people of this country are waiting very wearily for the administration to show; it will show courage, resolve and capacity to deal with the practical task of governing this country. Does the administration expect, by the passing of this resolution, that a committee of this House can accomplish in two months, nay, in far less than two months, anything comparable with what the Railway Commission has already accomplished and can advise the Government upon at the present time? Does it expect that? It expects nothing of the sort.

Now, I do not like to indulge in expectations, but I should like to give what seems to me the real purpose of the Government. Whether it is a deliberate purpose or not, I submit that the passing of this resolution is going to have the effect of stalling the whole question. It is going in a few short weeks, to land the Government in a cul-de-sac, and the Government may find itself obliged to come to Parliament and say: " Oh, the committee is still at work; we find that is an enormous question. We find that this is a question the most intricate and complicated that a body of men ever addressed itself to, and the committee is not yet through. We dare not in these circumstances take the responsibility of letting the suspension lapse, and so we come to Parliament and, aside from the merits of the question, as to which we have no opinion at all, we ask that under these special and stringent conditions Parliament agree with us to a continuation of the suspension." That is what I expect.

I hope that my words of warning now will have the effect of deflecting the Government from thqt course. But if they have not that in mind, for the life of me I do not know any proper public object they have in view.

Topic:   CROWSNEST PASS AGREEMENT
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO EFFECT UPON RAILWAY RATES
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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

May I ask a question on that point? Does my right hon. friend himself support the further suspension of the operation of the agreement?

Topic:   CROWSNEST PASS AGREEMENT
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO EFFECT UPON RAILWAY RATES
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

"My right hon. friend" will come to his decision when it is his constitutional obligation to do so. When I was in office, yes, and when the hon. member (Mr. Crerar) was a colleague of mine in the year 1918, he and I in conjunction with our other colleagues took our courage in our hands and came to Parliament with our decision. We made our decision in 1918; we had to make it in the vital interests of the country; and we came to Parliament in 1919 and took responsibility for that decision. We treated Parliament in 1919 precisely as, I submit, it is the duty of the Government to treat this House. We could with more reason than now applies have adopted these evasive tactics, but we did not do so. Hon. gentlemen opposite, when any facts are adduced to show the conscienceless character of the methods they pursued to obtain power, have adopted a uniform reply. Of all things that they have done, there is one respect in which they have been consistent. When they are charged with dereliction of duty and with misleading the public, when they are charged in a wholesale way with swallowing the convictions and professions of a lifetime, they always answer: "Oh, we won the election. We are here and you are there."

Topic:   CROWSNEST PASS AGREEMENT
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO EFFECT UPON RAILWAY RATES
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   CROWSNEST PASS AGREEMENT
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO EFFECT UPON RAILWAY RATES
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That is the constant and solitary answer of the Government, and hon. gentlemen opposite, unable to agree with me in serious argument, at all events are at one with me in my statement of their defence. In their desperation it is really the only answer they can give; so to my friends opposite a generous pardon is extended now. But I answer them in their own words on this question. Yes; you are there and we are here; and I submit to you the suggestion that you come before Parliament with a policy and thus demean yourselves in a manner becoming men who have courted and are entrusted with power.

Hon. GEORGE P. GRAHAM (Minister of Militia and Defence) : If my right hon. friend (Mr. Meighen) could conclude his ar-

Crowsnest Agreement

guments on any of these questions without making a political attack, it strikes me that his contributions to the debates would have a greater impression on the House. Now, this is a matter which should have no political significance at all.

Topic:   CROWSNEST PASS AGREEMENT
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO EFFECT UPON RAILWAY RATES
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   CROWSNEST PASS AGREEMENT
Subtopic:   PROPOSED INQUIRY INTO EFFECT UPON RAILWAY RATES
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May 4, 1922