May 4, 1923

CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

At the right time.

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PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

Then what steps would

parliament take supposing it is not satisfied with the operations of the railway board? Would parliament over-ride the decisions of the railway board in that case? For instance, in connection with this express company, if parliament thought that a wrong appointment had been made would it interfere with what the railway board had done? What is the meaning of the whole thing?

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

We would get into a

fine mess then.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

The Minister of Marine

(Mr. Lapointe) says it would be a fine mess. I would just suggest to the hon. member for Brandon (Mr. Forke) that he read the speech of the minister two years ago demanding that very thing. I might also say, and I say it without any sense of malice whatever, that if the hon. member will at the same time read the speech of the hon. member now sitting to his right (Mr. Crerar) he will find the greatest possible cause for the establishment of such a committee. We did contend, we always contended, that we could not directly as a parliament or as a government control the operation of the railway, and we thought it was only consistent with that that the management should not be harassed from day to day by having the matter of operation wrangled over in this House, disclosed to it and made the subject of discussion and debate. But we had to fight heroically to maintain our ground against the assaults of hon. gentlemen here, who claimed that the dismissal of every man, or the purchase of every ton of coal, should, if demanded be made a matter of discussion right on the floor of parliament. But we went this far ourselves: That this was the place where railway expenditures should be made known, but made known at a time when they would not harass

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the management of the system. Consequently the committee was appointed to look into the whole situation and see when, and by what means, those things should be known. Now the hon. member asks for what purpose should they be made known? Just in order that the people of Canada would know about it and realize how their railway system had been managed. If such things, for example, were revealed as disclosed a lack of care on the part of the directorate, then the very fact that they were revealed would bring home to the government the need of altering that directorate. Undoubtedly no one could argue, no one did argue, that it was not necessary that these matters at the proper time be made known, and made known in whatever detail hon. members might desire. The only thing we wanted to guard was that we did not so pry into matters of operation while operation was on as to harass the management of the system. Now,

1 think I have made the matter clear, and T know that two years ago there was no difference of opinion that we should go that far. There were others who argued we should go far further, a great deal further-that we should go into these matters at any time. But all I ask now is that we do go as far as the House, as every hon. member of the House, was ready to go two years ago and that a committee should be appointed to work the matter out, and complete the work of the committee of two years ago.

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PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

I can only say I was not expressing an opinion, I simply wanted information.

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Section agreed to. On section 2-Agreements with other companies or municipalities:


CON
CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

The effect of this clause

2 is to enable the directors of the National Railways to enter into an agreement, which they cannot do now, for the sale of part of a national railway to a municipality. At present they can only sell to another railway company. The object of the bill is to enable the directors of the National Railway to sell part of the Toronto Suburban railway to the city of Toronto. There has been a change of policy on the part of the new board of directors. The old board had a friendly working arrangement with the Hydro-power municipalities of central Ontario, including the Niagara, Hamilton, and Toronto districts. The Hydro-power municipalities are 346 in number. These have a cheap light and power

system of their own which is operating successfully and paying a large surplus. They wished to go into the railway business and to take in certain railways operated by the National system and establish a radial system of their own, including the Toronto Eastern, the Niagara and St. Catharines, and the Toronto Suburban. The by-laws for this purpose were adopted by the interested municipalities. No politics intervened in connection with this scheme. Liberals and Conservatives alike worked together from the start of the Hydro in the interests of improved transportation by radials and the people's own light and power scheme which operates at cost.

The plan proposed would have the effect of relieving the National railways of these three radials and heavy deficits. The people of Toronto have recently taken over the street railway system there. They have spent $17,000,000 in betterments, have rebuilt 140 miles of track, and are to pay nearly $12,000,000 as a result of an arbitration for the acquirement of the Toronto street railway. They have eliminated private ownership of the street railway franchise within the borders of the city and all other electric franchises except the small section referred to, the Toronto Suburban railway within the city limits. It is to consummate the purchase of this line within the city that the present proposed legislation is necessary. The acquisition by the city of the Mackenzie and Mann radial lines running in various directions in the county of York left the railway in question the only line not under the control of the municipality. Arrangements have been made for taking this line over, and arbitrators have been appointed for that purpose. The policy of the old board of directors of the National system was to work harmoniously with the Hydro in rural and urban municipalities. An arrangement had been entered into to sell these three roads to the Hydro municipalities interested: first, the radial system in the Niagara district known as the Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto railway; second, the Toronto and Eastern railway, to be built from Toronto to Bowmanville, partly constructed; third, the Toronto Suburban railway running partly through the city and over 62 miles of track to Guelph partly on the highway and partly on a private right of way. The by-laws, based on the options obtained with the old board of directors of the National railways were submitted to the people and carried and options for the purchase of the three roads were given to the municipalities affected

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in the districts in which the three roads were. The ratepayers thoroughly discussed the project, the Hydro Commission engaged experts in the United States to study the question from the standpoints of engineering, commerce, traffic and policy, and decided to carry out the plans. Some of these municipalities are represented in this House by Liberals, others by Conservatives. The by-laws were carried by large majorities. What happened after the vote had been taken and the bonds for the purchase of these roads had been deposited in the proper quarter. An election was held, a new government came in, a new, railway board was appointed and they went back on these solemn agreements and options with the Hydro.

I may say that in the operation of this radial railway scheme Liberals and Conservatives are united. There has been no politics in the administration of the Hydro Electric Power Commission of Ontario, the object is to carry out a cheap light, heat, power and transportation scheme at cost and give proper service. In Toronto private ownership has disappeared in a light, power and transportation sense. The municipality has bought out the private companies and they were glad to get out. In the past under private ownership the operation of these radials created large deficits; but the municipalities by rebuilding the line and carrying out certain betterments and economies will soon place the lines upon a paying basis, and they are now giving most efficient service. What has happened in consequence of the change in the directors of the Canadian National Railways? The President, Sir Henry Thornton, had scarcely been installed in office when he sent a telegram to the Board of Trade of the city of Toronto going back on the radial options given and virtually declaring war. At that time an election was pending, the people were voting on the various hydro radial bylaws to which I have referred, they wanted to be left alone, they desired to help the National railways through the medium of hydro radials of the new plans as Ontario has always done. As I say there are 346 municipalities directly interested in the Hydro Electric and radial schemes. They have no quarrel with private ownership. They respect the men who went into the privately-owned light and power companies and who bore the heat and burden of the day and then sold out to the Hydro. But the owners of these private systems wanted to sell out and the municipalities bought them out. Sir Henry Thornton, as I say, sent a telegram to the Board of Trade of Hamilton

which upset the proposed hydro radial schemes by which so many municipalities had planned to go ahead with the extension and operation of their own hydro radial system. In connection with the acquisition of the Toronto Suburban railway a letter was written the Board of Control of Toronto by Mr. Walter Gow of Blake, Lash and Cassels. It was referred to in a report to the city council in this question before the board of control. I will not read his letter but he says that the bondholders have bonded the entire road from Toronto to Guelph and they were not going to be allowed to sell part of the road or the bonds on the whole would come due. The bondholders would set up the "doctrine of severance" in law, and if part were sold the bonds on all would become due. So I contend that the government cannot sell part of this road legally to the city, or the doctrine I have referred to would apply and the debentures on all the road would become due.

If this section is passed to-day what will be the result? The National Railways can sell this road to a municipality. I have no objection to the second part of the section, to enable the Canadian National to sell the entire road, but I object to the Canadian National Railways coming around after the hydro municipalities have a radial scheme of their own validated by the people at the polls and for which the municipalities are willing to pay, after private ownership has proven a failure in its operation of the three Mackenzie and Mann roads in the district, and after the government agreed to let them go to the Hydro-I say I do object to having Sir Henry Thornton upset all this.

The Toronto suburban roads have gone behind $70,000 since September 1, as the board of control's report which I have here shows. The acceptance of the offer means that the city of Toronto will have to pay the deficit incurred by these lines, which will amount to about $70,000, and about $190,000 for the city sections of the Toronto Suburban. I cannot understand why Sir Henry Thornton comes along and wants to spend a lot .more of the money of the taxpayers of Canada on three radial railways which railways should be taken over by the municipalities and without a dollar's cost to Canada. The municipalities are willing and eager to take them over and to release the government of this country from any further liability and all the large capital expenditures and deficits, and will rebuild them without cost to the country and incorporate them in a hydro system. If the proposition is accepted it will save the

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country millions of dollars. The people's own Hydro Electric radial will act as feeders for the National Railways and millions of dollars of business for the National in the future would have been obtained by Sir Henry Thornton and his directors if he had sold these radial roads to the municipalities and let them operate them. He came along and upset it all after the people of Toronto had carried by-laws to take over the two roads-the Toronto and Eastern and the Toronto Suburban. The people of the district from Toronto down to Bowmanville had carried bylaws to take over as a hydro radial the Toronto and Eastern partly built which would have been a great financial success. The people in the suburban districts around Toronto through the constituency of the hon. member for West York (Sir Henry Drayton) had carried by-laws. So had the people in the municipalities from up to Halton and they were to thus have a radial system of their own which would have solved their difficulties, and would have brought the farm produce into the city at all hours of the day, thus solving under-production and unemployment and conferring a great boon on the people of many counties in central Ontario. [DOT] Now Sir Henry Thornton comes along and proposes a radial system of his own, known as the National radial scheme for the Toronto district. I venture to say no practical man who knows anything about radials will approve of the scheme and that it will never pay the fixed charges on the proposed road. In the first place he proposes to electrify the Toronto and Eastern and link it up with the old belt line on the Don and then connect with the Guelph section of the Toronto Suburban. As I say, it will go along the old belt line and across the northern part of the city north of St. Clair avenue and through the city of Toronto and York county and link up with the Guelph system of the Toronto Suburban. That proposal is absurd and will be a huge failure for this reason: The city of Toronto is spending $26,000,000 in rebuilding the Toronto harbour and one of the main reasons why they are spending that money themselves has been to eliminate level crossings on the water front and in the city proper where many people have been killed in past years, where traffic is blocked and where the conditions have become intolerable. After we signed a viaduct agreement with the government of Can-4 p.m. ada, the Grand Trunk Railway, and the Canadian Pacific Railway to build a viaduct and eliminate all level crossings on the water front, it seems to me a pity that we cannot have this viaduct built. * Now Sir

Henry Thornton comes along to the north and will establish sixteen level crossings in the northern part of the city of Toronto, and the township of York at the following streets: Bowie avenue, Bromley, Rowland, Fourth and Fifth streets, Sydney avenue, Dufferin street, Rosebury avenue, Sixth street, Second street, Cheyne avenue, Hilltop avenue Mayfair avenue and city line In other words, it is going to take $32,000,000 presently and in the future to eliminate the sixteen level crossings which with one sweep, without consulting the municipalities, Sir Henry Thornton proposes to establish for his radial in and to the north and west of the city of Toronto.

This radial scheme will never pay the interest on the bonds. The people's own system of radials is what the people of the city and the farmers want. They carried the by-laws for their own system by a large majority, in many cases by three to one in the Toronto district, and the people's own hydro radial system was to run along the water front on elevated tracks with no level crossings. The railways come in on elevated tracks. It is a fast express service that the people want. Sir Henry Thornton's scheme will use the Toronto and Eastern and the old belt line will electrify them and run over them, and will involve sixteen level crossings. Not only that, but he comes along after the city of Toronto has spent $30,000,000 to acquire the Toronto railway and provide betterments, parallels part of the city line, and does a local business.

I am very much surprised if this is what we are to expect from the Canadian National Railways and I think we might as well close up altogether if they are going to spend millions in the foolish and unnecessary manner proposed here, and establish sixteen level crossings over the township of York and Scarborough and the city of Toronto after we had in good faith made an agreement with the government to have our own system without cost to Canada, spent millions on the water front to improve the harbour and 'eliminate level crossings, acquired our own light and power scheme, and taken over our street railway system. I am surprised that Sir Henry Thornton should come along and propose such an absurd scheme involving the creation of sixteen more level crossings. The privately-owned Mackenzie and Mann roads were glad to sell out to the city of Toronto as they had deficits on their radials and I think there was just as good business ability in the Mackenzie and Mann Company as there is in the management of the Canadian National road.

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This Sir Henry Thornton radial scheme has not the confidence of the people of the county of York. I will leave that to the hon. member for West York, and other members from that district. The people of this district, Liberals and Conservatives alike, wanted their own radial programme and the people of the York district will not back up this new radial proposition. It is not their own scheme but a scheme which the people do not want, which will add to the deficit of the National Railways by millions of dollars, and will establish a system of level crossings, the like of which is not to be found in the city of Toronto to-day. There are 320 hydro municipalities that want to be the friends of the National Railways and to spend their money on a radial scheme of their own to do this work which the Dominion government should never be asked to do. The hydro radials would act as feeders to the Canadian National. Why should Sir Henry Thornton put forward the proposition now before us, and why should we be told that this money is going to be spent for the benefit of the farmers of York when they do not want it? It could not be called a work for the general advantage of Canada by the widest stretch of imagination, yet we are going to spend millions of the taxpayers' money to put this radial proposition through. The people want their own hydro radial system and they want an elevated fast traction entrance into the city of Toronto. Under the scheme proposed by Sir Henry Thornton we will have a slow system over level crossings and we will have great deficits.

It seems to me that the present board of directors of the National Railways have altogether too much power. They are going up and down the country spending millions of dollars in building skyscrapers and promising Ottawa and other parts of the country new terminals. They have promised the city of Ottawa new terminals. They have made a trip to Hamilton and other cities and promised to spend millions of dollars on terminals there, which will never be built, and if the board of directors of the National Railways would only carry out the capital commitments and agreements which they have now conditions should be better.

There are many other agreements with priority which the Canadian National Railways cannot carry out, involving millions of dollars, from coast to coast, and here we have a board of directors going up and down the country promising the people something which they know they can never give them because parliament 'will never vote the money. I want

fMr. Church.]

to discover, if I can, just w7hat powers this National Railway Board has. Under the British North America Act 'parliament is defined as comprising two houses, the House ot Commons and the Senate; but it seems to me that under the new order of affairs, since Sir Henry has come, we have three houses of parliament, the House of Commons, the Senate, and the House of Thornton. It is pretty nearly time, I think, that rve had responsible government in Canada, so far at any rate as railway matters are concerned. Parliament is responsible to the taxpayers; yet we have no control over the spending bee of this board. Now, public ownership is not responsible for the present railway situation in this country; the condition of affairs that exists to-day in connection with our railways is attributable to the operations of private ownership. I think Sir Henry Thornton should carry out the agreements made by the late government with these hydro municipalities in the Niagara, Hamilton and Toronto districts, where both Liberals and Conservatives and all the people are interested in the hydroelectric radial scheme. We desire to cooperate with the Canadian National Railways, with whom we are friendly; and it seems to me that it would be better for Sir Henry to endeavour to work hand in hand with the municipalities instead of sending such a telegram as he did to the Hamilton Board of Trade on the eve of a municipal election, proposing a system of radials which would never pay the interest on the investment. It is a level-crossing system and is perfectly absurd, for you cannot get directly from one point to another. If you wish to travel from point A to point B you are bound to go over a circuitous route; you must touch at C and D in three other sections before you can finally reach B in a straight line. It is the most absurd sort of radial system one could imagine, and if you are going to run the Canadian National Railways in that manner at all you are bound to have deficits. I do not regard the minister as being responsible for this condition of affairs in connection with this particular line. I believe that if he had his way he would carry out the agreements made with the late government and give the municipalities a chance to have their own system. I certainly am of the opinion that if the agreement were carried out it would relieve the country of a very heavy financial burden which is unavoidable under the York Radial plan proposed. I repeat again that it would be by far the best thing for the minister to carry out the honourable bargain entered into with these municipalities.

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

The question raised by my hon. friend in regard to the rights of the bondholders being protected calls for a remark, I think. The bondholders of the Toronto Suburban are subject to the terms of the franchise of the old Toronto Junction, now Ward 7 of Toronto, just as are the shareholders. Outside of the franchise their rights would have to be secured in any sale made. These are my instructions from the solicitor of the Canadian National Railways. This bill is to allow the Canadian National Railways to sell to the city of Toronto certain portions of the suburban railway lying within the municipality. The reason for this bill is the fact that, while under the statute of 1919 the Canadian National Railway Company was empowered to make agreements with other railway companies, it was not empowered to sell to the municipality. The franchise expired in 1921, and Toronto desires to take over the portions of this line within the city, so that it is necessary to have the Canadian National Railway Company empowered to treat with the municipality as they are empowered to treat with other railway companies.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Can my hon. friend tell me why the decision to sell lines which to quite a large extent depend on municipal franchise was reversed? It was thought good Dominion policy that the Dominion railways should in fact be steam railways. True, they might be electrified afterwards, but it was thought best that the railways of the larger lines should be operated by steam. It was regarded as good policy to sell these electric lines, many of which depend on the municipal franchise, to the people that gave the franchises, getting out every cent of money we had in the lines and securing an agreement that we should get the benefit of all freight produced. Why is the partial sale being made instead of a total sale, so far as Dominion governmental interest is concerned? I want to tell my hon. friend that there are more people interested in this question than are to be found within the confines of the city of Toronto. If there is one disgraceful railway on the face of the earth it is that very Toronto suburban line. My hon. friend is operating cars on that line that can be duplicated only by the Toonerville trolley which we see in the papers in the morning, and the only reason that things are in their present lamentable shape is that for years it was understood that the municipalities were to get these properties, so that we have been putting up with this condition in the meanwhile. Why is the original proposition being departed from?

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

The new board of management believe that these are very valuable properties that should be secured for the Canadian National system rather than be disposed of to any interest. If they are not properly managed they are now subject tc the board of commissioners the same as any other part of the National Railway system. The people should have a good service.

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CON
LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

They should. The municipalities east of Toronto rather expressed the view in the last election that they did not wish to have the radial system, and I think that the city of Toronto itself expressed that view. That being the case I believe the board is acting wisely. But, apart altogether from that, here is a property consisting of some electric railways which are feeders to a large extent to the Canadian National system and which are owned by that system. Why should they be sold to anyone else? I admit that service to the people is the prime consideration, but if that service be given-and it can be given by that company as well as by any other-then why should we all over Canada who have an interest in this property sell it to someone else? These, I think, can become in a more extensive manner feeders to our Canadian National Railway system, and I agree with the board that it would be unwise to hand these feeders over to some other companj^ that might operate them against our interest; but when we own the feeders, when we own the electric lines some of which run parallel, or nearly so, to our own steam lines, then it makes no difference which way the traffic, goes, it belongs to the Canadian National Railway system. It has been a difficult proposition to work out, and in the main I agree with my hon. friend that electric railways are in a different category from steam railways. But. here we have electric railways that came into our possession through the purchase of the Canadian Northern system and all its ramifica.-tions. I agree with the board that if these electric railways are a good paying system, or can be made so, the Canadian National Railway Company, serving all the people of the Dominion, should retain them rather than sell them to any person else. But, of course, the people should be served by the National as well as by any other company.

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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

My hon. friend is working in the larger issue with one which

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is a good deal smaller. There is no doubt that the general radial policy did suffer defeat at the hands of the ratepayers at the last municipal election, and there is also no doubt what the reason was. I will come to that reason in a minute. But apart from the general scheme there was also the idea that these lines could be easily owned by the municipalities. They were willing to undertake the burden and to agree that the Dominion should get quit of everything. And my hon. friend well knows that these lines were not paying. The St. Catharines branch has always paid, and there is no reason why it should not continue to pay; but the Toronto Suburban has never paid a cent, nor has the Toronto and Eastern. However, it was thought that with the local business which could be worked up these lines could be made to pay and to become valuable feeders to the national railway. And I do not know that it hurts a steam road at all to have this local traffic collected for it. However that may be, my hon. friend takes the position which he has just declared to us. We have not yet had any particulars, and I should like to know whether my hon. friend is implementing in his vote what he says ought to be done for the people of these counties? We have not cars, we have not tracks, we have not service, and it costs money to give us these.

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

Which one are you referring to?

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CON
LIB
CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

It runs up to

Woodbridge, and through part of the riding of my right hon. friend, the Prime Minister. Is my hon. friend taking that up in his estimates this year?. These people might be getting service to-morrow if the sale be put through. 'My hon. friend says the people are entitled to that service. Will he see that it is given to them?

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

The whole question of

suburban service is now being considered by a committee of the Canadian National Railway Board if I remember correctly. The line to which my hon. friend refers is in a little different position to the one I had in mind when I was discussing the larger question of radials. That line might well be discussed at closer range. It is really a smaller line subsidiary to Toronto.

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CON

May 4, 1923