May 4, 1923

CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

My hon. friend need not think we want the details of the business.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

The hon. gentleman asked me how many men were going to be dismissed.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

The question is, what economies can be effected? Did the board say that in the name of economy they wanted to wipe these things out? Did they go even that far?

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LIB
CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Then it comes down to this: The string is pulled; the board says, "Get rid of these things, because economy will result," and my hon. friend does not know a single detail as to what economy will be brought about. Not even an approxima-

tion is given. Did my hon. friend discuss it at all? Has he any information except that bald statement?

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I have some information as to the returns from the operation of the express cempany and the number of employees. I think I am following out the policy announced by my hon. friend himself that when it comes to the details, that is a matter for the board. When the board makes a recommendation that looks reasonable to me, I accept it. Sometimes I do not have to decide upon it, but in this case parliament has either to accept or to reject, it. If, of course, parliament does not want to accept it, I cannot help it.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I do not think anyone would suggest that the details of management should not be left to the board. I never heard anyone suggest that, save hon. gentlemen opposite when they were in opposition. That principle, of course, must be adhered to. But when the Canadian National Board presents legislation to the House through the Minister of Railways, the House is entitled to know something of what is to be done under it, to have something on which to base an opinion whether this new system of operation is in the interests of economy. The minister asks us to go at it blindly. He says we are told it will be economical, therefore it is all right. Now, as to Mr. Robb, he is for the first time in his life placed in charge of a vast express system. He never in his career had anything to do with the express business. He had to do with motive power, which is part of the mechanical department. Naturally transportation would be connected with motive power, though during the last two or three years he had, I thought, less than that to do with transportation. But he never had anything to do which was connected with the least degree with the express or colonization business, and he is now made vice-president in eharge of both, at a salary, I understand, of $25,000 a year. How many more of these vice-presidents are there?-for they all receive $25,000 a year-and are there others who never had any experience whatever in the work that is committed to them at this large salary?

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

Well, I have to go back to what I said before: If parliament wants me to interfere with the work of the Canadian National Board to the extent of knowing the qualifications of every man they select, knowing what he is to do and how much he is to be paid, then we need not have the Canadian National Board; we had better put it where

C.N.R.-Express

it was in the case of the old Intercolonial, when the minister was the last word in the matter of management. I want to give everything to parliament that parliament should have, because parliament has to supply the money. But this is a case of internal management. The men whom we have entrusted with the task of managing the system come to me as minister, the medium through whom they have to approach parliament, and say that they can effect economies in this way.

I do not think I ought to be asked for details of what this man does or what that man does; that is a matter in connection with which I take the advice of the Canadian National Board. '

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Nothing could be a

greater contrast than the position of the minister to that of his friends when they were on this side of the House. I wish to take exactly the same position that I took then: I do not belie-ve in details of management befng revealable every day or discussable in the House of Commons, and never did. At the same time I realize, as I realized when in power, that there are some matters in connection with which the details might be brought before the House at the proper time -when that might be done without interfering with the actual day to day management, and when all the doings of the company could be scrutinized by hon. members. If the minister himself was not in the House at the time, there are others here on all sides who were, and those who were will remember that in the session of 1921 I moved the appointment of a committee of this House to review the following subjects-I speak now from memory: The first was the system of management by a directorate of the national system with a view to recommending improvements in the method of appointment, the constitution of the directorate, Or otherwise. The second object was to determine what should be contained, and to what extent details should appear, in the report of the company. The third object was to determine at what time and under what circumstances the matters of management might be made known to the House of Commons and to the Senate. While management is on and while they are hiring this man and firing that man. buying coal here and refusing to buy' it there, we admitted and argued strenuously that it was impossible to have these things subjected to daily scrutiny, but we always said that the time came when the House had a right to inquire into everything in management, and we asked that committee to ascertain when that time came and how these matters could

be brought before the House. The fourth object was to recommend to the House whether and for what purpose the committee so established should become, and become known as, a Standing Committee of the House. The matter of steamship management was included in the National Railways I believe I have now given virtually completely the purposes of that committee. It was presided over by the present member for East Hamilton (Mr. Mewbum). The committee was appointed, however, only about three weeks before it was necessary for the House to close owing to the conference. The committee really never finished its work. Its report, however, is of value. This House has never followed the report of that committee. This government, made up of those who, while in opposition, screamed for details from day to day, demanding that everything be known right off, has never proceeded along the line even that the late government took toward the appointment of a committee to complete the work of the committee that was then appointed to find out the right system under which the scrutiny that, undoubtedly, we as representatives of the people ought to make of National Railway affairs and National Railway operation at the proper time, could be made. That scrutiny, I say, can be exercised, but this government has never moved a step to establish such a system, and the consequence is that now, a year and a half after they came into office, this House is practically blindfolded to the National Railways, and there is no method whatever by which the scrutiny we ought to exersise at the proper time can be made.

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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON:

I would like to ask the minister if he has any information as to the termination of the contract of the Dominion Express Company with the Canadian Government Railways? If so, why is it being terminated? It might appear to be a duplication of the same service, but in so far as there was competition between the Canadian Express Company and the Dominion Express Company the communities which were served jointly by these two companies got very much better service than they will get if the contract with the Dominion Express Company is terminated.

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

My hon. friend is correct; I am not disputing it. The same thing would apply to the Canadian Racific Railway. But our express company is not allowed to do business on the Canadian Pacific Railway.

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CON
LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

They are not. If the company are going to run this as a business proposition we have to let them run it that way. The public must be served, that is true, but there is no reason why the Canadian National Railway Company doing an express business should ask somebody else to go into its own line and take its business away providing it is serving the public. The Canadian Pacific Railway does not do business that way. The first thing is service to the public. If that is neglected we ought to have something to say. Upon the recommendation of the board I did give the Dominion Express Company notice that on all our lines we would do our own express business, as they have never allowed us to do business on their lines, as I understand it.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I just recall to memory that the senior member for Halifax (Mr. Maclean) was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the resolution to which I referred for the appointment of a committee and the devising of a plan for the examination into Canadian National affairs. Indeed, if I remember rightly, he wanted to go further even than we went. He has been remarkably silent this session. I think he might favour the House now with a statement of his view and just how far he suffers with patience the present policy.

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. MACLEAN (Halifax):

I remember

that last year I asked for the appointment of a committee-

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Oh, no, the hon. member * is wrong. He was very quiet last year. It was two years ago he asked for it.

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. MACLEAN (Halifax):

Two sessions ago, and I think I very plainly stated then the purpose I had in mind in asking for the constitution of such a committee. I had in mind particularly an inquiry into the matter of the operations of the Canadian Government Merchant Marine. I was fairly well satisfied with the information I got. I do not remember that I declared myself particularly one way or the other in respect to the appointment of a committee to deal with Canadian National Railway matters. I think I espoused the idea some time ago, I do not know how far back, that it might be advisable to have a standing parliamentary dommittee before whom and by whom all matters relative to railway administration might be discussed so that we would avoid all discussion in the House.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Indeed that was the very purpose of the hon. member's motion, but he

has not yet explained how he is satisfied to let matters go along without any committee.

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LIB
PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

I am at a little loss to

understand this situation exactly. I understand that the board of railway management has control of employment and the operation of the railways. Just how is the minister going to get this information as to what is being paid to the employees, how they are employed and generally the method of securing them? Is it the idea to have some committee to which the railway board will report, and to have its report come before parliament for discussion?

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May 4, 1923