Consideration of the motion of Mr. Putnam for an Address to His Excellency the Governor General, in reply to his Speech at the opening of the session, resumed from Friday, February 2.
Hon. GEORGE P. GRAHAM (Acting Minister of Railways and Canals): Mr. Speaker, in addressing myself to the motion before the House I cannot but feel that in dealing with the question which will form the greater part of my remarks I am speaking for another who is not now with us. The words I am about to utter will be in confirmation of his businesslike management of the department over which he so ably presided. I would not for one moment, Sir, mar the effect of the eloquent tributes to the departed, delivered by the three leaders, by any commonplace words of my own. Never in all my life have I heard more eloquent tributes more thoroughly deserved, and I concur in everything that was said in recognition of the personal worth and ability of our former comrade.
To those young members who have just entered the House of Commons I, with other speakers, tender my hearty congratulations and welcome. Young men can enter no better school for the development of their sum of knowledge and their intellect than this House; and, Sir, notwithstanding criticisms that we often hear of the calibre of the men in the Canadian parliament, as a man who has been in public life for some years, I believe that the membership of our two Houses will compare favourably with the membership of any other legislative body in the world. The two members who moved and seconded the Address in this House, as is usual, brought to their task both eloquence and information, and we look to them to be in the future a great strength not only by their debating ability, but for the quota of
The Address-Mr. Graham
information which they will impart to this House and to the country.
I would not for a moment, Sir, forget to congratulate my good friend from Brandon (Mr. Forke), who is not the leader of the "peculiar angle," but the leader of the second largest group in this House. His speech, to my mind, was fair in every respect, well reasoned and temperate. We all join with him in believing that the legislation enactef by Parliament ought to be for the welfare of all classes, and that the nearer we can arrive at one viewpoint on matters of controversy by each giving and taking a little, the closer we shall be passing legislation that will beneficially affect the whole nation.
Now, Sir, I want to direct the attention of the House to the railway problem that confronts this country. I do not hope to add anything to the information of the older members of the House who have been here since 1911, and I do not flatter myself that I can add much to the information of the younger members, but I think it not unwise that the sequence of events leading up to the present situation should be placed before the House and the country, not by way of argument, but as a statement of fact, so that those of us who were not here throughout the earlier sessions, and have not had an opportunity of becoming conversant with the conditions then existing and which eventually resulted in the problem that now confronts us, will be in a position hereafter to grasp that problem in a comparatively succinct form.
Let me first try to impress the House with the magnitude of the problem that our people are undertaking to solve. The National Railway System, as it will be in a few months, is the most extensive railway system in the world, and Canada in entering upon the experiment of public ownership is undertaking the solution of the greatest rail transportation problem that has ever been attempted by any company or by any country. The effort is worthy of a young country like Canada, and we will be judged, to a certain extent, as to our ability to grapple with great undertakings by the way we work out this problem.
The Canadian National Railway System comprises a total of 22,646 miles, made up as follows: Canadian Northern Railway, 9,900; Canadian Government Railways, 4,682; Grand Trunk Railway, with owned and controlled lines, 5,308 (this includes 1,164 miles in the United States); Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, 2,756. The Government lines of which I have spoken are: The Intercolonial, 1,670 miles; the National Transcontinental
2,006; the Prince Edward Island, 2,076; Branch lines, 730; and the Hudson Bay Railway. [DOT]
The value of this property as appearing on the books of the various companies is: Canadian Northern Railway, 8681,822,115; Canadian Government Railways, 8415,438,153; Grand Trunk Pacific, 8256,768,407; Grand Trunk Railway and subsidiaries, 8512,687,252; Central Vermont Railway, $25,861,823. The consolidated system owns 3,476 locomotives, 3,583 passenger service cars, 122,362 freight cars, and 7,719 work and company service cars. The total earnings in 1921 were $235,789,000, and the working expenses $247,509,000; the operating deficit, therefore, was $11,720,000. The magnitude of this system and its possibilities may be judged from a comparison of its working expenses with the total revenues of the Dominion of Canada. The working expenses of the system in 1921- it included then, of course, the Grand Trunk- were $247,509,000, while the entire Dominion revenue was $381,271,000. So that in the working out of this great railway problem we are facing a task which is second only to the task of administering the affairs of the Dominion of Canada.
The number of employees in 1921 was 102,454, the operating pay-roll for that year amounting to $149,426,849.59. I place these figures on record in order to give an idea of the great task involved in the administration of this system, and to impress on all the people- because the system is theirs-the necessity of giving it, without political preference or political prejudice, a fair chance under government ownership. Government ownership is on trial in respect of the largest scheme that man has ever devised for the purposes of transportation, and it rests with the people, the government and the parliament of Canada to allow the Canadian National Board to try this experiment untrammelled.
I wish to direct the attention of the House to the transactions which led up to the acquisition by the country of the various units that go to make up this system. We will take first the acquisition of the Canadian Northern Railway, which, as we all know, is made up of many subsidiary companies. Aid was given to that system by the federal authority as well as by the provinces. I may point out in passing, as it is a live question, that that part of the Canadian Northern which lies within the province of British Columbia was constructed with the assistance of and under a charter granted by the government of that province. Under the agreement entered into in respect to that road-
The Address-Mr. Graham