April 17, 1923

CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

What they ought to do is at least to try to have the matter dealt with with a semblance of fairness; at least to try to undo some of the wrong they did; at least to try to put production on something like an equal basis throughout this country.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

That is all

very well; these are generalities. But come down to the concrete point: Does my hon. friend say that because, according to his argument, an injustice was done last year, this parliament should aim at repeating that injustice in many different directions?

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Are you repeating it? If it is good business to say that railway rates shall be put into effect irrespective whatever of cost, irrespective of merit, irrespective of the demands of traffic or anything else, and for the benefit of one set of traders-if that is to be the rule, do the farmers of Ontario not require some assistance?

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

That was not the ground, on which any action was taken last year?

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

I fail to see, then, what possible justification there is for it. Let us go back to it'; we have threshed it out so often that I thought it was clear. We started out with a declaration of parliament- I do not think my right hon. friend was in the government of that day; he was too young to be in it at that time, but he was a supporter of it. But that was a great declaration on the part of the then government. In other words, the administration of Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1903 said: "Special privilege is to stop; there is to be no further discrimination and unfairness in connection with the railway rates."

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

I do not want to interrupt my hon. friend, but if he is going back, why not go back to the obligations imposed upon the country by the legislation adopted by parliament in 1897?

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Oh, we will get there; I intend to deal with that. I just wish in the first instance to get my right hon. friend's attention centred on the time of the change.

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

December 6th.

Railway Rates

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Of course it is only a matter of amusement to my hon. friend the Acting Minister of Railways. He can laugh about it; I do not suppose he is at all concerned about this tremendous increase that I have referred to in Ontario.^ We had that principle declared in 1903. Before that principle had been declared and before we had a method of general rate regulation, we had attempted-not only in this agreement; hon. gentlemen can find other agreements if they want to look for them- to make partial rate regulations. That is all we could do at the time; we had no general rate regulating facilities. Partial regulation was attempted in the Crowsnest pass agreement. Now, what does my hon. friend think would be the right and proper position? Where you have a general declaration of fairness, ought the government to be a party to the preservation of special privileges here and special privileges there, or should it be a case of general fairness everywhere? Should the people as a whole get anything like a square deal in railway matters, or is it right that the government should have special favourites here or there or anywhere? Does my hon. friend think it would have been right in 1917, 1918 and 1919 to increase further the rates on agricultural products everywhere else and leave them untouched so far as the Crowsnest rates are concerned? Was parliament wrong in saying that these necessary advances should be treated on the same basis? Why, they were not even then treated on the same basis, because it was recognized that the increases on the entire haul ought to be somewhat less on grain and flour than they were on those products. And they were- increases of 35 per cent, 50 per cent, as against increases of 80, 81 and 82 per cent; so that they were kept lower. But does my right hon. friend think there should have been no increases at all during that period and that the Crowsnest pass rate should have applied throughout the \tar? If as a matter of fairness he does not object to that-and I pause for an objection-

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Well, in regard to anything that was done as a consequence of war conditions or arising out of the war situation, that was an exceptional case for that exceptional reason. When conditions were being gradually restored to normal it was reasonable that the government should seek to get back to the former legislation.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Well, let us see. You work up to your peak as the result of war conditions; you are left on the peak- is that not the result of war? Is it not a fact that these high freight rates all over the

country are the result of war and of abnormal costs? If it is fair to increase equitably, is it not fair to deflate with some regard to equity? That is what the commission is for. They put up those rates with that permission for that war purpose. That my hon. friend admits is right, and having been there, should not they come down in the same way?

The hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Macdonald) charged us with inconsistency today. I am only saying what I said a year ago, and I am in this happy position that I can turn to a tariff anywhere asked and absolutely justify every remark I made. That is the only difference. Why, it was simply extraordinary, Mr. Speaker, the way the demands of commerce,! the way the demands of the farmer everywhere outside of the prairie provinces were absolutely disregarded-simply extraordinary. But to my mind the most extraordinary thing is the accusation made to-night by the hon. member for Pictou, that this talk is all politics when he himself attended on that committee, voted for that first report, supported it right through, and for political purposes turned right about in this House in two days and swallowed it all. And what did he swallow? Is there no trouble down in the Maritime provinces? Are not the rates out of line there? We told you what would happen if you did what you did. Are not the rates out of line there? I am just going to give the hon. gentlemen, the noble sixteen, the result of the wonderful work which they did for their province last year, and I shall take just the articles in which Nova Scotia is tremendously interested. I shall not give very many of them; it is not necessary.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Before my hon. friend does that, may I ask, does he propose to remedy the injustice he is now going to speak of in the same manner that he proposes to remedy this alleged discrimination?

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

It would be all the same. There is only one source from which reductions can come. Surely my hon. friend knows this much about business, that there is only one way in which a railway can get its revenues, and that is out of the earnings it makes, and if you set to work and apply a whole lot of reductions here, unless you want to bankrupt your system you cannot give them over there. Nothing could be done, nothing was done, because there was an arbitrary withdrawal of funds to one purpose and one purpose alone, amounting to $17,000,000, as a result of the action of my hon. Mend's administration. I am not saying that all these reductions would have

Railway Rates

been made. Of course they would not have been, but the people of this country at least would know this, that there had been a real survey of the railway situation, not a survey such as is shown in that judgment we had read to-day, just pointing out what the government had done, and as a result of what the government had done the impossibility of doing anything further. You would not have had that. You would have had something like a proper, honest survey of the whole thing, out of which perhaps something like proper equitable treatment could come.

Now as to these rates. I have given enough to show what Ontario and Quebec are suffering under. I am going to give one or two now for Nova Scotia. Fish is a very important rate in Nova Scotia. There is a general fish rate which applies to fish, dry salted, green salted, pickled, smoked, in carload lots. I am going to take a few shipping points given to me by gentlemen down in the district as being absolutely vital to the trade. I do not pretend to know myself that these are the correct points, but some hon. gentlemen in this House from Nova Scotia will correct me if they are not; but I believe them to be important points. The rate from Port Hawkesbury to Montreal was 38 cents; it was increased to 66 cents, a percentage increase of 73 per cent, and that increase stands to-day. From, Lockport to Yarmouth the rate was 8 cents; it was increased to 18 cents, an increase of 125 per cent, and that still stands. Then on fresh fish, we will take the rate from Port Hawkesbury again to Montreal. The rate was 48 cents; it was increased to 83| cents, an increase of 73 per cent, and that still stands.

We have heard a lot about coal, and about the needs of coal. I am sure if the hon. member for Cape Breton (Mr. McKenzie) were here he would have a fit to think he voted for something that left things in this position. Take the rate from Springhill to Montreal. It used to be 9j cents; it was increased to 18 cents, an increase of 89 per cent, and every single cent of that still stands. Then suppose we go into business down in the Maritime provinces and try textiles. You have textile factories at Truro and Amherst. Your textile rate from Truro to Montreal was 38 cents; it.was increased to 68 cents, an increase of 78 per cent. There is a similar increase from Amherst to Montreal of 78 per cent.

Iron and steel, a most important product in Nova Scotia, had a rate of 22 cents; that was increased to 40 cents, a percentage increase of 81 per cent upon Nova Scotia's biggest industrial activity. They are complaining that

they cannot ship, that they cannot sell. Well, there is their increase, 81 per cent, and it still stands. That is on iron and steel, list "A." If you take iron and steel, list "B," which is a higher quality, it is worse. The old rate was 28| cents; that was increased to 52 cents, a percentage increase of 82 per cent.

The whole fact of the matter, Mr. Speaker, is that the results are just exactly what might be expected from the action that was taken. The government started out by saying: We know nothing about rates; we have no mind on this subject, and they sent it off to a committee. We had evidence taken for weeks and weeks pointing practically to all these conclusions, pointing to what was going to happen, and that was all thrown away. The political question was the only one considered, and if this discussion to-day does nothing else it will do a splendid thing for Canada if hereafter no government is going to try and make rates and take away from the board absolute and full jurisdiction in connection with the rate question. It would be a first-rate thing if it could do that.

Something was said about the inadvisability of making rates here. I would like to know how much better qualified the government is to make rates than is this House? Again, it was contended that the government cannot do anything with this question because it has to do something with it afterwards. Well, I would have thought the government would have welcomed action by this House. Generally it wants to know what the House thinks before it does anything on this, that and the other question. Why, even action upon the subject of oleomargarine has to depend on a resolution being introduced by a private member. I would have thought that the government would be pleased because this matter was being discussed by the House.

We think that the wrong thing was done last year; in fact we know it. We know that those who are producing these essential basic commodities are suffering. The government has put into effect an old statute and something was said about the matter of consideration. The consideration paid in connection with that statute was $3,600,000-that was the whole amount that was paid under the subsidy; and the losses in this one year under present conditions are infinitely greater. But the government brings that act into effect again when it need not. It is idle to say that the government is to be excused because it does nothing here. Surely if the government believes in fairness, and finds special privileges lurking here or there it is its duty

Railway Rales

to remove it. It is equally idle to say, if special privilege prevails by reason of the fact that we do nothing, that we are not to blame. The present position is entirely the result of the government's action. Even admitting that this House of all bodies, except perhaps the Privy Council is the most ill-fitted to consider a question of this kind, it has the right to ask something like a similar class of treatment for all the provinces. We were told last year that the action taken would help two important provinces. It did. Those provinces are important, it was right to help them; but there are a whole lot of other provinces that have not yet lost their importance and that are still highly important that require help just as much, and they have a right to expect equality of treatment at the hands of this government.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN (South York):

to Canada in freight rates, or economy in railroad administration, is to be derived by using the Panama canal let that route be used, and let parliament give its assistance. The Railway Commission will never give it. It must come from parliament and by parliamentary action, by parliament taking the two roads, and wherever there is waste as between them, and where through or interprovincial freight is involved, and there is a better grade on one road than on the other, there must be common usage of the improved grade on terms. If we start in on that basis, instead of making it a fight between lawyers, or a question to be submitted to the Railway Commission or to the Privy Council, we may get somewhere, but if it is to be fought out between lawyers, as I suggest, we will have these discussions for a year or two. I do not think a discussion of this kind can accomplish anything; we must have direct action. The country demands it. We get that direct action in parliament.

I agree with the ruling of the Speaker that this question is a parliamentary one. It is not a question for lawyers, or the commission, or the Privy Council, but one for this House. A hundred railroad questions are pressing on the people of Canada to-day, and the solution is in parliament.

The responsible Minister of Railways should find a way to wipe out this differential based on the alleged greatly increased cost of the Canadian Pacific Railway over the Canadian National Railway. As a matter of fact, the Canadian National is prepared to have this Crowsnest pass discrimination wiped out. They know they can do the work for a great deal less and they are anxious to do it. I believe Sir Henry Thornton has said that he is anxious to do it, and if that is the case why leave it to lawyers? Why not let the department introduce an immediate and quick cure, not only for this question, but for a lot of others that may arise? Hon. members may say they do not want to bring up cases of individual rates. Neither do I, nor do I wish to see the time of this House taken up by somebody trying to get a little political advantage for his province or his business. This question should be settled in parliament and the responsibility is on the government, especially if there are two competing lines where the management of these lines will not come to an understanding. In such case let parliament wipe out the unfair condition of affairs and make them come to terms.

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UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. ALFRED SPEARMAN (Red Deer):

I crave the indulgence of the House for about five minutes while I make a few comments

upon the method in which this resolution has been presented and upon some of the arguments by which it has been supported. As I understand this question, it is a matter in which the twin sisters, or the two provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, are vitally interested, and so far the two governments | have been working in partnership in order, if possible, to have the differential rates under the mountain scale removed, believing it would be for the benefit of both parties in that partnership, to enable those two provinces, and also the province a little further east, to trade together on the same terms on which the other provinces of the Dominion are permitted to trade. We believe it would be for the advantage of the province of British Columbia and the province of Alberta, and we believe also that the removal of that differential would enable the Alberta men to take advantage of their proximity to the sea, and on that ground I and the other Alberta members, and, indeed, I think most of the Progressives in this House, would be solidly behind any bona fide attempt to have this differential removed, whether it is accomplished in this House or outside of it.

But I must confess. Sir, that I somewhat resent the manner in which this matter has been presented to the House at this time. I believe as I said, that this is a matter of partnership between the two provinces, and yet what do we find in the presentation of the case this afternoon and evening? I am not reflecting on the sincerity of the hon. member (Mr. Clark) who introduced the motion, but we find on the part of many hon. members who supported the motion simply a camouflage attack on the Crowsnest pass agreement. That is all it is, and all it is intended for, to my mind, on the part of many hon. members. I think I can say that, and at the same time be absolutely fair in saying it, by simply referring to what was said by the right hon. leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen) and concurred in, as far as I could see, by the party who sit behind him, when he made the offer to the Prime Minister regardless of the other party to this agreement, regardless of the rights of Alberta, that if this government would cancel the Crowsnest pass agreement which it put in force last year, which meant more to Alberta than to any other province of Canada, he and his party would be willing to withdraw their resolution. Is that fair play? Or does it savour more of treachery to the other partner? I and others in this branch of parliament resent the attitude that has been taken, and the camouflage attack that has been made upon what we consider to be one of the charters under which we can work the

Railway Rates

charter of our liberty I was going to say, but, at least, one of the safeguards of our possible success.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

Did the hon. member not hear the Prime Minister state that the Crows-nest pass agreement would die by effluxion of time next year?

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UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

If the hon. member understood the Prime Minister in that way, I did not. I understood him to say, in confirmation of what was done last year, that next year, if the Council took the action which they were authorized to do by parliament last year, the whole Crowsnest pass agreement would come into effect, and that the suspension in part would cease.

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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

That is what I did say.

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UFA

Alfred Speakman

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPEAKMAN:

And had the Prime Minister stated otherwise I certainly would have strongly resented any such statement, but the fact remains that the only members in this House who have suggested the abrogation of that agreement have been the hon. members to my right, as a camouflage for securing the differential freight rates as existing over the mountains to British Columbia.

I promised I would only speak about five minutes, but I felt it was necessary for some member in this House speaking for Alberta to take exception to that attitude, and that is why I have spoken to-night. I am not reflecting on the bona fides of the hon. member who introduced the motion. I believe he is sincere in his wish to have that differential removed, but I certainly do not think his judgment was equal to his sincerity in that respect. I believe that had it been the intention on the part of hon. members on my right to have this matter definitely accomplished, to have these differential rates removed, to have trading permitted to be carried on freely and equitably between one province and another, to relieve the province of British Columbia from the disabilities under which it laboured in consequence of that differential, to assist the province of Alberta which is the partner with them in this matter in securing access to the sea, and the use of the port of Vancouver on the most favourable terms, they would have brought forward a resolution worded in a different manner, because the resolution mixes up two distinct questions, first calling for the removal of the differential, calling for the reduction of freight rates over the mountains, to bring them in line with the freight rates existing in other parts of the country, and, second,

attempting in a most peculiar manner to discredit the Crowsnest pass agreement.

That is all I need to say, all I wish to say, except that every Alberta Progressive in this House has been, is now, and ever will be, as far as I am aware, solidly behind those two provincial governments which are doing their best to have justice done to those two provinces. At any time in which this matter is brought forward in such a way, you will find us solidly in its support; but when an attempt is made, under cover of a proposed removal of the differential, to attack the legislation passed last year, when an attempt is made to take away from us the benefits of the Crowsnest pass agreement, we will oppose that attempt in this House and out of it at all times. .

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CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

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

Mr. Speaker, I desire to add a very few words in support of the resolution. The last speaker (Mr. Speakman) is much concerned about what he calls the attack on the Crowsnest pass agreement. The resolution before the House is not an attack upon the advantages which the prairie provinces have received under that agreement; it is an effort to appeal to the justice of parliament for the same advantages and the same principles to be extended to the other partners in confederation. That is the whole proposition in a sentence. I venture to say that every member from British Columbia, faced with the issue involved in this resolution and unable to avail himself of any subterfuge, would have to support the resolution, because the 600,000 citizens of our province appreciate the injustices w'hich have been perpetrated upon them in the past, either by chance or by design. The government last year did play politics, and now they are reaping the retribution of their wrongdoing. Until they rectify the mistake they made then, they will find themselves in continuous hot water from Halifax to Vancouver.

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April 17, 1923