May 4, 1922

LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Pictou) :

I cannot follow my hon. friend now.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

I regret it but 1 really think I am right this time. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, the House feels under n deep debt of gratitude to the Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King) for writing cut a declaration of the policy of his party. Here is another great document to be preserved for all time, and it is one he need never tear to pieces like the others have been torn, because I am sure it will never be able to hurt one way or the other. It commits him of course so definitely to just what he is going to do in connection with the matter under discussion. One of his formulae under which policies are to be interpreted and treated will not apply. It is his formula to the effect that "the letter killeth but the spirit giveth life." He will not be able to say that in this case because there is no letter. There is nothing in this particular thing at any rate that he need get away from. Then we have another r.ew doctrine and that is that before anything is done by the Government which amounts to anything, it must first be sent to a special committee of this House. I wonder how it would be possible to carry on business in this country if my hon. friend

seriously intended to carry out that idea?

I am sure he will find a great deal of difficulty in getting the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) to subscribe to this new doctrine and to sending on the budget to a special committee of this House before we consider it here. The budget of course gets to a committee finally but it gets there with the imprimatur of the Minister of Finance. He takes his stand upon it just as the Government ought to take its stand upon this question here to-day.

There is one thing that puzzles me about the whole of this debate and that is why this question is raised at all by the Government unless it be of course for the purposes that have already been suggested. How can there be any room for debate upon the question that more information can be got? We have had months and months of evidence being taken. It is all available to the Government. Then we have had three weeks of argument. That too is all available to the Government. What is more, the people of this country paid an awful lot to get that evidence and have that argument made before the commission. ' I remember that one of the chief complaints made against the Railway Commission in connection with the judgment of 1920 was that the board had not gone west but had stayed in Ottawa, had received the evidence and had come to a conclusion here. The West was very cross about it and so were other districts of the country. Well, since then we have had this investigation and a complete investigation. We have had the board sitting,

I think, in eight of the provinces. The people of Canada have incurred an expense in getting experts and lawyers for the purpose of submitting their cases that may run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, and yet notwithstanding this all these people are invited to come back to Ottawa again-to do what? Simply to repeat what they have already said, simply to repeat everything that is now down in black and white, and, which the Minister of Railways must be thoroughly familiar with. And why? In order that this matter may be stalled just so much the longer.

Now we are interested, and very much interested, in the railway rates question;

I entirely agree with everything that has been said on that point. But we are interested in the reduction of rates on basic commodities in the whole rather than in any particular part of Canada; and we are interested in a fair treatment of com-' modifies as a whole, and not of commodities

Crowsnest Agreement

within a small class. I may be wrong but I think there are approximately fifteen different commodities which eastern Canada is interested in having regard to the movement west-I do not think there are more covered by the Crowsnest pass agreement. I do not know exactly why they were selected. Of course the gentlemen that are interested in those few items would be deeply interested in the maintenance of that low rate. Now just to give the House some idea of what it means I hold in my hand a freight classification with hundreds of pages. That affords some idea of the manifold activities of commerce. Why should fifteen articles-or fifteen classes of articles-out of the whole of that mass get a preferential treatment? We have had a lot of trouble-every country has had the same experience-in trying to get something like fairness in connection with railway administration. It is a very difficult thing to accomplish. In the old days you had special agreements here, there and everywhere. The bigger manufacturer, the man who was in the position owing to the volume of his business and the traffic he could offer, was always getting advantages over his less favoured competitors. Not only that but you had the same thing in connection with certain municipalities, districts, and the like; and as far back as 1873-the year that England appointed her railway commission- this Parliament set to work to try and remedy those grievances. Nothing was done; nothing could be done until you had a special rate regulating commission which was not created until 1904.

Now what was the underlying principle of all that legislation? It was that there should not be under discrimination; that is unfair discrimination, not only as between traders, shippers, but also as between different localities and different places; they were all to be treated the same way. When this agreement was put into effect there was no enforcement of that law; but I cannot imagine anything which is much more discriminatory than that very agreement. What is wanted in Canada is a reduction,-just as drastic a reduction as can be made-in freight rates on basic commodities which have to move in mass and to the extent that special privileges and discriminatory rates are given here, in so far as all basic materials not covered by that contract are concerned, you may say goodbye to any reduction of rates.

I do not exactly know what is involved in this particular issue having regard to

money. From my recollection I would take it that since I left the railway board there have been increases in western territory amounting to something like thirty-five per cent. I would imagine that the decreases made since would probably leave in the West a net increase over the 191.) standard of twenty per cent.

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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

A little more than that.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

If that be the case I would be within the mark in saying that this agreement would involve a difference in railway rates of approximately something like $18,000,000; and it is quite clear that if that amount of railway revenues was taken away to-day, with the deficits which we already have, there would not be very much left for us to work on for the purpose of getting overdue reductions on other basic commodities.

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PRO

Thomas Alexander Crerar

Progressive

Mr. CRERAR:

The sum my hon. friend has mentioned would cover all railways and not merely the National lines alone.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

My hon. friend is quite right. I think it would cover all railways. As I say, the amount would be approximately correct.

Then, in connection with the point raised by the hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Macdonald) as to the manner in which the agreement operates, it is quite true, and 1 think I was responsible for it, that when that agreement was before me for consideration the attitude I always took was that the board could not think that Parliament intended absolutely widespread discrimination in connection with that contract and we always invited the companies to put in tariffs which applied Crowsnest pass rates to new lines, but I am perfectly free to admit, in view of more recent authority, that there is very grave doubt as to the legality of that position. The contract, after all, was a contract having to do with the company's lines as then owned, leased or operated and projected through the Kootenay district, and the basis of rates was also fixed having regard to the then scale of rates applying on the different lines cf railway which were under operation. I would say that the chances are that the agreement would probably be confined by the courts to the situation which was covered by the agreement when the agreement was made. At the time the agreement was made there were some

10 p.m. 7,400 miles of railway in operation by the Canadian Pacific, and I think to-day there are some 14,000 miles.

Cro'osnest Agreement

But the main trouble has nothing to do with that; the main trouble is that we have high freight rates in all parts of Canada, and we think, in connection with basic commodities, any reductions made ought to be so made as to give the whole country some benefit of them. For example, we have tremendously high rates on coal in Ontario, and I am afraid it would never do to allow everything which could be made available for a reduction in rates to go in one particular direction on a comparatively small mileage, unless we are to say that, for all time, we agree on the principle of creating and continuing discrimination. But this all serves merely to emphasize the fact of the necessity of something being done one way or the other, of some action being taken by the Government to-day, of their saying: "yes" or "no". The question was put to the Prime Minister by the hon. member for South Oxford (Mr. Sutherland), whether the fact was that high rates were being maintained in this country because the Government was not able to make up its mind as to what it was going to do with the Crowsnest pass agreement. I do not think that question was answered, and it certainly was a question rightly put if we have regard to what was said by the Prime Minister. The House has most assuredly been told that the Government has gone into conference with the railway executives and that they have said: "We cannot make, in these basic rates, those reductions which are so much required until we know what you are going to do with the Crowsnest pass agreement." We need to do more than talk about reducing rates and reducing expenses; we need to do something towards bringing about that reduction at the earliest possible moment. Therefore, in view of what the Minister of Railways has said, in view of what the Prime Minister has said, I now beg to move, seconded by the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen):

That all the words after the first word "that" be struck out and the following substituted therefor.

A general reduction in railway rates so essential to the welfare of Canadian production and trade cannot, as declared by the Government, be made until Parliament decides whether or not the suspension of the Crowsnest pass agreement which expires on July 6th be renewed; that it is the immediate duty of the Government-already too long deferred-to acquire the necessary information gathered and in their disposal at the hands of the Board of Railway Commissioners and to submit its policy, to this house.

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LIB

Albert Blellock Hudson

Liberal

Mr. A. B. HUDSON (South Winnipeg):

Mr. Speaker, the question before the House, it seems to me, is not altered or advanced by the amendment which my hon. friend (Sir Henry Drayton) has just moved, and 1 think the whole question has been so fully discussed that it is not necessary for _ me to enter into any of the various phases of the matter to any great extent. The question, however, of a reduction of freight rates is of such vital importance that I feel 1 should state my position briefly before this resolution or the amendment is put to a vote. The position which is taken by hon. gentlemen opposite, so far as I can make out, is that hon. members of the official Opposition do not want the Crowsnest pass agreement to come into effect, and hon. members of the Progressive party do want the Crowsnest pass agreement to come into effect.

With much that my hon. friends of the Progressive party have said in regard to this agreement,, I agree. If the question before the House at the present moment was whether or not the Crowsnest pass agreement should be restored to its full effect, I would be bound to vote in favour of that position. But the question is not that; the question is whether or not an opportunity should be given to members of this House to make a further inquiry, to inform themselves as to all the facts which have a bearing on the situation, and then, after that, somebody will have to make some substantive move before the question of the Crowsnest pass agreement can come up for discussion. For that reason, for the reason that I believe all members of the House, including myself, should supply themselves with the fullest information that is available before the time for action comes, I propose to support the resolution and to oppose the amendment.

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LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. J. T. SHAW (West Calgary) :

Mr. Speaker, I trust that, perhaps, I may be pardoned for intervening in this debate, in view of the importance of the matters involved, not only to the West, but to all parts of Canada. There is one gratifying fact, and that is that, apparently, all parts of the House are agreed as to the necessity for an immediate and drastic reduction in freight rates. That is not common only to members of this House; it represents to an almost unanimous degree, the attitude of the people of this country, and to some extent, perhaps, the attitude of even the railway companies themselves. Now, in order to place on Hansard the views of the

Crowsnest Agreement

provincial government of Saskatchewan, to which reference has already been made in this debate, I would direct the attention of the House to a resolution passed unanimously on the motion of the former provincial treasurer, now premier of that province, on this particular question. The resolution reads:

Whereas the burden of existing freight rates, especially on the products of agriculture, is so great as to be more than the traffic can bear, and

Whereas in many [parts of the province the result of this condition is that grain is standing in the fields unthreshed because, at the present prices, threshing costs and freight charges would absorb the whole of the price realised;

Therefore be it Resolved that in the opinion of this Assembly the Government of Saskatchewan should continue to press its application for the reduction of freight rates now before the Railway Commission of Canada and further

And I direct the attention of hon. members on all sides to this part of the resolution-

That in the opinion of this Assembly the Parliament of Canada should under no circumstances re-enact subsection five of section 325 of The Railway Act of Canada which expires in July 1922 and which, if allowed to lapse, will again bring into force the Crowsnest agreement.

Now, in support of. that resolution the then provincial treasurer made this statement:

It may seen an extreme statement to make that at the present time existing freight rates are killing the traffic, but anyone who travels through the province, and particularly the northern part of the province, cannot fail to be impressed by the large number of fields in which stooks of oats are still standing unthreshed for the reason stated in the resolution, namely, that the present price will not bear the threshing costs and the freight charges.

What the present Premier of Saskatchewan says in that regard I am quite sure can be substantiated by many members of this House. Let me also quote the statement of the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which, I believe, appeared in the newspapers either this morning or last evening. In that part of his speech dealing with freight rates, he says:

It is the view of the directors, and it has been their view for some time, that the scaling downwards of freight rates should be begun with reductions on basic commodities, especially in those industries which have felt the general depression most severely. Notwithstanding the willingness of the companies to make sacrifices in their revenues in the hope that a lower scale of rates on basic commodities would give an impetus to business activity, they have been precluded from agreeing on a definite policy because of the approaching expiration on July

7 next of the provisions of the Railway Act allowing the Railway Commission to make rates irrespective of agreements, statutory or other.

Now, I take it from that statement that the Canadian Pacific Railway company will object, as an org-anization, to the reviving of the Crowsnest pass agreement. In view of the various statements made with regard to the resolution before the House, one perhaps finds himself in some difficulty in determining exactly what is the particular issue. It seems to me, however, regardless of how it may be put, that the question fundamentally is simply this: Are we going to appoint a committee to determine whether or not, after all the facts have been ascertained, the Crowsnest pass agreement shall be further suspended, shall be abrogated, or shall be revived in its present form? Let me say at the outset that I for one at least am in favour of the agreement being revived on July 7th next, and I am perfectly clear on that. I have no objection to an investigation into railway rates as they affect any other commodities not covered by the Crowsnest pass agreement, but as regards that agreement I believe without question that it should come into effect again on July 7th next.

Realising the necessity for a reduction in freight rates, let us for a moment consider the contract which the Canadian Pacific Railway Company has with the Government in the agreement described as the Crowsnest pass agreement. It is unnecessary for me to point out that this is not the only contract which the government of Canada has made with the Canadian Pacific Railway Company; and I think that everyone will agree with me when I say that the people of Canada have scrupulously and faithfully carried out every provision of any contract that they ever entered into with that company. They have not asked for the abrogation or the suspension of any of those agreements many of which undoubtedly have borne very heavily on the country, and more especially on the people of western Canada. We have hewed to the line and carried out the terms of each and every contract which our governments have at various times made with the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. Is it proposed now that this committee shall consider only the Crowsnest pass agreement because the Canadian Pacific Railway asks for the abrogation or the suspension of that agreement? Would it not be just as fair, considering this as a solemn agreement made

Crowsnest Agreement

in consideration of a cash subsidy of $3,630,000, for the Parliament of Canada to ask the Canadian Pacific Railway company to consider the suspension or the alteration of their charter regarding, for instance, tax exemption? I think that the Canadian Pacific Railway company, when they entered into this solemn and binding contract, must have realised the possibilities of the situation. They may not perhaps have realised them all, but in that regard they must take their chances just as the people of Canada took their chances when they entered into the agreement with the Canadian Pacific railway in the matter of their charter. Would the Canadian Pacific railway, in consideration of the abrogation or suspension of this particular agreement, undertake to return to the people of Canada the sum of $3,630,000 which was given them as a cash subsidy? Do they propose to give us any consideration for the privileges which we have accorded them? So far as I can observe, I presume they will not. The Crowsnest pass agreement of 1897 represents nothing less and nothing more than a charter so far as freight rates are concerned, and I think we should be very careful indeed before we consent to a further suspension or to an abrogation of that agreement. I may say frankly that I, for one, am not prepared to consent to anything of that kind.

Considering the agreement for a moment, I may point out that the bill incorporating the Crowsnest pass agreement itself was introduced by the then Minister of Railways, the Hon. A. G. Blair. Mr. Blair had apparently no misconception as to the value to the people of Canada of this particular provision regarding freight rates. He said:

The committee will have noted that we have sought to ensure the country a large measure of relief from the rates which have obtained since the Canadian Pacific railway was started. We have imposed conditions upon the company which are very largely restrictive of their present powers. We have embraced in one of the sub-clauses of these resolutions, a considerable list of articles which go into very large consumption among the people of the western provinces and we have secured an agreement on the part of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company that very substantial reductions will be made upon existing rates.

Now, the commodities have already been referred to, a few items at a time, but I think, it will be found upon a close examination that so far as the westbound commodities are concerned they cover fruit, agricultural implements, building materi-

als, household furniture, iron and wire, cordage and binder twine; those are substantially the commodities concerned in the westbound traffic referred to in this agreement. It is true that at that time these particular commodities did constitute the basic commodities of the West. It is also true, despite what the late Minister of Railways (Mr. Stewart) has stated, that with one or two possible exceptions-live stock, fruit and one or two other commodities- they still constitute the basic requirements of the western country. Looking at the eastbound traffic, we find two items, grain and flour. Surely no one will suggest that these articles do not still constitute the basic products of the West. But it seems to me that the members of the House in those days when considering these various commodities endeavoured to give favourable rates to eastern manufacturers so far as westbound freight was Concerned, and favourable tolls to eastbound products of the western country.

It has been suggested, Mr. Speaker, that this agreement applies to the Canadian Pacific railway only as it then existed. But I would point out to the hon. gentleman responsible for that view that the Railway Commission, which is a judicial body, decided in December, 1917, and its decision has not been questioned, that the Crowsnest pass agreement:-

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Pictou) :

What is the date of the decision?

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LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. SHAW:

December 26, 1917. It

deals with the 15 per cent increase then granted by the Railway Commission under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Drayton. In deciding the question as to whether or not the agreement applied to the Canadian Pacific Railway as it then existed, the chairman said in the operative part of his judgment:

I am of opinion that the discrimination should be avoided, and that the effect of the Crowsnest pass agreement must be extended to the system of the company as now operated.

If that interpretation of the law is correct, the situation is simply this, that not only did the agreement apply to the Canadian Pacific Railway of that particular date and to the lines leased and operated by it, but it likewise applies to the Canadian Pacific Railway as it exists to-day.

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LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Pictou) :

The question I raised is purely a legal question and not a matter of rates. The quotation from Sir Henry Drayton's judgment does not

Crowsnest Agreement

purport to decide, as a matter of law, that the Crowsnest pass agreement extended beyond any lines other than those then existing. I am sure my hon. friend will agree with me in that.

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LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. SHAW:

I do not wish to mislead any one, certainly not the hon. member for Pictou, but it does seem to me that that particular point is perfectly clear in the judgment of the Railway Commission as given by Sir Henry Drayton, and I quote it for what it is worth.

Hon. members may recollect that a case involving a somewhat similar point came before the Privy Council in connection with the application of a gas company in one of our western cities for a declaration that they were entitled to franchise rights in property which had not been included in the area of the municipality at the time the franchise was granted. The Privy Council held that the franchise rights extended beyond the original corporate limits of that particular city at the time, and covered the increased area subsequently taken into the municipality.

Another point referred to was as to whether or not the Crowsnest pass agree-men applied only to the Canadian Pacific Railway and not to other lines of railway -the Canadian Northern and the Grand Trunk Pacific. Of course, in the agreement there is no reference to these two additional railways, they not being then in existence, but in the same judgment from which I have already quoted the chairman of the Railway Commission said:

It is quite true that neither the Canadian Northern nor the Grand Trunk Pacific are bound by provisions of the Crowsnest pass agreement or act. On the other hand, while it would be open for the Board to permit an increase of 15 per cent in their rates over a very large part of the territory served by one or other of these systems, grain could undoubtedly be hauled to the Canadian Pacific. The result would be that both these companies in order to protect their traffic would reduce their rates at all points where their traffic would suffer from Canadian Pacific competition. The element of unequal rates would be again introduced into the western territory, and I am convinced that this is no better for the railways than it is for the districts.

So the chairman held that the agreement applies not only to the Canadian Pacific Railway, but in addition to the Canadian Northern and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railways.

Suppose the Canadian Pacific Railway Company has to abide by the provisions of the Crowsnest pass agreement, it will undoubtedly suffer considerable loss. The

National Railways will substantially have to comply with the same provisions, and consequently they too will suffer considerable loss, the total of all losses being estimated at some $18,000,000. Now, would the Canadian Pacific Railway Company be permitted to raise existing rates on other commodities for the purpose of meeting this deficit? I suggest not, because of course it has got to meet the competition of the Canadian Northern and Grand Trunk Pacific.

I have every respect for the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. It is a large and businesslike corporation. I have heard it suggested that it is the financial barometer of this country. It is true that during 1921 the company paid its dividend and had a substantial surplus, something like three-quartetrs of a million dollars, but if on last year's operation the Canadian Pacific Railway Company does constitute the financial barometer of this country, then I certainly am very much mistaken, because I fear that very few corporations indeed, unless specially favoured in some particular way, made anything like that showing. Therefore if the Canadian Pacific Railway Company is a barometer of the financial condition of this country, it is not a true barometer of that condition during the past year. On that ground alone I have no hesitation in saying that barometers of that character are not going to fool anyone who is endeavouring to truly ascertain the financial credit of this country.

It is also urged against the coming into force of this agreement that the National Railways might suffer. Now, everyone knows that the National Railways, or a great part of them, were speculatively built; as suggested by the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar) they were colonization roads. I think, however, we have every reason to expect that with the aggressive attitude assumed by the present Minister of Railways (Mr. Kennedy) in the co-ordination of these two now separate ^ and distinct railway services, a great saving will be effected, and also, I think, a great increase in efficiency.

I suggest also that we at least on this side of the House are hopeful that the Minister of Railways will not be unmindful of the recommendation of the former chairman of the National Railway Board that the very large capitalization of the National Railways should be reduced in order that the earnings might represent a fair return on the capital involved.

Crowsnest Agreement

Now, my suggestion, Mr. Speaker is this: that the Crowsnest pass agreement, which is simply a charter of our rights respecting freight charges, not only in this part of the country, but in western Canada as well-that the Crowsnest pass agreement should be given a try-out for such period of time as Parliament may decide. If after it has been tried out it is found that the railway companies have suffered unduly or that the efficiency of our transportation systems has been injured, it will then be time enough for Parliament to determine whether the Crowsnest pass agreement should be suspended for a further degree of time, or abrogated altogether. I do think that an opportunity should at least be given for such a trial as I have suggested.

If Parliament decides to have an investigation into transportation costs as asked for in the resolution, I think perhaps that might be desirable, so long as our rights reserved under the Crowsnest pass agreement are protected, and so long as it is definitely understood now that that agreement is to go into effect on the 7th of July, 1922.

I am sure it must be common ground in this House that an immediate reduction of railroad rates would go a long way toward remedying- the business paralysis which now prevails everywhere. I think that we, assembled here as the representatives of the people, should be the last to interfere with the going into effect of the Crowsnest pass agreement, that solemn contract between the Government of Canada and the Canadian Pacific (Railway Company.

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CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. L. J. LADNER (Vancouver South) :

Mr. Speaker, I do not think that even at this late hour it would be out of place for a member from British Columbia to say just a word on this extremely important question. I must say, as I have said on previous occasions, that hon. members on my left have a tendency to take a more or less sectional view with regard' to some great national questions. It may be said that the Government is dilatory in its conduct, but so far as our friends on my left are concerned, they tell the House and the country that they want the Crowsnest pass agreement enforced because it means, primarily, cheaper rates on wheat. But I would ask hon. members to raise their vision from the tops of the wheat growing on the prairies to the tops of, the forest growing on the hillsides of British Columbia

and remember that when they return to the agreement and thus improve their own position, they deal a far worse blow to the lumber industry in British Columbia than it has ever before received. The rates on wheat would be out of proportion altogether to the rates on lumber, fruits and fish.

We in British Columbia have for years been working under a great handicap. The extremely high freight rates on lumber have closed many of our mills, with resulting unemployment and stagnation of industry, which includes the business of supplying lumber to the farmers who require it on the prairies. If in no other way, I suggest that the farmers of the prairies could profitably use that lumber to cover the immense quantities of agricultural machinery that we see scattered across the plains from the Rocky mountains to Fort William.

The point I rose particularly to make, Mr. Speaker, is that we expect from a party which calls himself Progressive a larger and broader outlook on great 'national questions of this kind. Hon. gentlemen come here and in many of their speeches emphasize the desirability of foresight and breadth of vision on the part of public men. During the debate on the Address we heard many splendid speeches, idealistic in their character, from my friends to my left. Now, here is an opportunity for my hon. friends to put those principles into practice, but instead of doing that they say to the people of Canada: No matter what happens to the industries of the rest of the country, we are going to have the restoration of that agreement; we are going to have cheap ra'es on our goods, and that finishes it so far as we are concerned.

But it may be that hon. members to my left are, as a whole, in accord with a general reduction of freight rates. I believe they are, Mr. Speaker, because the people of the country demand such a revision. The heads of the railway corporations have assented to it, and the Government have expressed their own concurrence in that view. Surely the speeches which we have heard from our friends of the Progressive party represent the views of only a portion of them; surely they would not take a course which would have the effect of deciding a great question like this without regard to the needs of the other provinces. British Columbia has laboured under greater difficulties in regard to freight rates

Crowsnest Agreement

and greater handicaps than any other province, particularly as regards the immense sawmills there, the great salmon canneries and other fishing industries, and the fruit industry. Those who have spoken from the ranks of the 'Progressive party have not said that when they get the rates reduced on Wheat they will, in the national interest, extend their policy so that the various economic factors throughout the whole country, industry, commerce and agriculture, may receive fair and equitable treatment. I think the course proposed is one which is inimical to the best interests of the country.

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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, before the motion is put I desire to make a few remarks, not in relation to my own position on the question, which undoubtedly I made clear to all hon. members of the House when I spoke on the motion itself, but to say something by way of reply to assertions, if I cannot call them arguments, advanced on behalf of the Administration. I submit there has been very much introduced into the debate that has had a tendency to confuse the issue and to divert the minds of hon. members from what we really decide in voting yea or nay on the amendment and on the motion.

In the first place it iis not a question of the justice or wisdom of the present scale of rates that is in issue. As the hon. member for Calgary (Mr. Shaw) has stated, summing up the purport of the debate, there is only one opinion that has been expressed in the debate on that question. There is only one, I think, that can be expressed. I agree with him that any far-seeing, intelligent railway executive would concur with the purport of the discussion this afternoon, that it is in the interests of all concerned, the railways included, that substantial and, as nearly as may be, immediate reductions be made in the general level of freights in this country. I would not object even to the application of the term drastic. The time comes when big things of this kind must be grappled with, and grappled with resolutely, and hands forced on the question. Otherwise, one waits on the other and the other on the one, and the country waits on both. But that is not the question that is in issue at all.

Nor is the question of whether or not the Crowsnest pass agreement as such should be made permanent in issue. I can understand, however, the attitude of hon.

members who say, "Inasmuch as I have already studied out this question, read the evidence, thoroughly informed myself on the question, and am irrevocably opposed to the renewal of the agreement, consequently, I cannot admit a yea vote on this question." I think that is quite consistent. If hon. members are able to firmly decide and turn their backs finally on the evidence, if they have read it all and come to a conclusion, then, of course, they are in a position to say "The matter does not admit of debate. I do not need any policy to be submitted to me. My mind is made up." That position is consistent.

I must say I was not able to comprehend the position of the hon. member for South Winnipeg (Mr. Hudson). He has reached the conclusion evidently of the hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Crerar). Well, if he has, why does he want to delay decision? Is his purpose to try to educate others? If so, let it be done m debate in this House. Why submit to a committee on what in his judgment is not debatable any longer?

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

Frank S. Cahill

Liberal

Mr. CAHILL:

Why was this submitted to a committee when parliamentary legislation was initiated in the first place?

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:

This will be submitted to a committee again. The Government of that day came down with its policy, moved a resolution in this House, stated where it stood. The resolution was moved by the Minister of Railways.

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

Frank S. Cahill

Liberal

Mr. CAHILL:

No, exactly the opposite.

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:

Undoubtedly it was.

The Minister of Railways came before the House and moved a resolution. He stated that was the best judgment of the Railway Commission, that was the Government's policy, and that policy went to a committee of this House, the same as all Government policies do.

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

Frank S. Cahill

Liberal

Mr. CAHILL:

A special committee.

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:

Yes, a special committee dealing with the revision of the whole Railway Act, but the Government first came to the House with its policy. If the Government did not move that, who moved it? Does the hon. gentleman know?

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