April 1, 1924

PRO

Robert Gardiner

Progressive

Mr. GARDINER:

Is the hon. gentleman

not aware that the western lines produce the paying tonnage and the eastern lines do not?

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB

Jean-Joseph Denis

Liberal

Mr. DENIS (Joliette):

I will be ready

to listen to my hon. friend when he undertakes to prove that the western lines are paying for themselves. My knowledge is that they do not pay for themselves, and until the proof is furnished I maintain they do not. He advances the proposition that they are the railways that pay. It will be for him to prove that, but that is another argument altogether. I was answering my hon. friend when he stated that there was expended in Quebec for wharves and harbours and improvements of the St. Lawrence, one million and a half last year. This is an insignificant sum compared to what these railways are costing us.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

We pay that every

year.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB

Jean-Joseph Denis

Liberal

Mr. DENIS (Joliette):

But the railways are piling up an enormous defiicit every year. Coming back to my subject more definitely, I say there are in the province of Quebec many localities where railways are just as badly needed as they are in the West. I will give you one example. I do not want to be parochial, but I would refer to Joliette and Berthier which are my county and the adjoining county where there are communities with populations of 7,000, and they are sixty miles from a railway. Those communities have been in existence for over thirty years, and there is a great deal of traffic through that part of the country. If a railway were built there, it could develop that traffic and the country could develop, but the country cannot at present develop because it is too far ffom a railway. When requests are made for railways, the answer comes necessarily: "We have no money to

build them." I am ready to admit that money is scarce; but we cannot on the one hand

say that there is no money to build a railway in Quebec, and on the other say that there is money to build railways in the West.

I have every consideration for my hon. friends from the West and the other provinces, but I have shown now that Quebec is very far behind any of the other provinces of this Dominion as regards the building of railways.

What is this confederation? It is an agglomeration of nine provinces, in which the* interests, in many instances, are absolutely different, if not opposed one to another. What means has a province to advance its own interests? Its influence, and the influence in this case comes through the population. The province that is most populous is most important in this confederation-I mean in point of activity and influence-by the very nature of things. The province that has the least population has the least influence. It is reasonable for any citizen of any province to claim that his province should have the railways which it deserves, because railways bring population and population means importance and influence in this Dominion. For all these reasons, while I am not prepared to say that I shall be opposed to every one of these resolutions, 1 want to reserve my right to examine each and every one of them, and I feel convinced, unless I should change my opinion in the meantime-and that is not likely-that the greater part of these resolutions =hould be discarded.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. ROBERT FORKE (Brandon):

Mr. Speaker, I intend to say only a few words, because I am aware that on this side of the House there may be members who are able to speak with better knowledge than I regarding some of these branch lines. I want, however, to reply to some of the remarks made by the two previous speakers. I think it goes without saying that in this House we are all standing for economy, only our ideas as to what economy means may differ a little, sometimes on account of the particular point of view from which we view the question of economy.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

If hon, gentlemen to my right will wait until I begin to express my views, perhaps they will know what I intend to speak about. It is rather surprising to find so much interest taken, before one begins to speak, as regards what one is going to say.

We hear continually about the drift of population to the south and the causes of that drift of people from Canada to the

C.N.R.-Branch Lines

United States. I think I mentioned before that there will always be a certain number drifting over the line to the large population to the south of us. At the same time, I think we will all admit that present circumstances with us are not such as they might be to conduce to keep our people at home. I am willing to admit that hon. members in all parts of this House are quite as sincere as I am in their endeavours to better conditions, and to see that this Canada of ours shall be as prosperous as it can possibly be made.

I have no intention to discuss this matter ifrom the standpoint of any particular province. .1 realise, as the last speaker has said, that there are difficulties in governing this country owing to its geographical and physical conditions. I believe all of u? ought to consider from a national point of view the various items that come before us for our consideration. It is quite human that most of us will be influenced by the locality from which we come and the environment by which we are surrounded in that locality; but I think it is possible to divest ourselves of that state of feeling and to judge things with some degree of fairness to all parties concerned.

As regards the branch lines in the West,

I think Manitoba has only one small branch line. Quite a number, however, of branch lines are in the western prairie provinces. The hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George- (Mr. Marler) was very particular to inform the House that he was not going to support any of those lines unless they were absolutely needed.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB
PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

I quite agree with that. I

was rather unfortunate in the way I made the remark. I meant all branch lines.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

I did not say that I would not support any particular branch line. I stated that no branch line should be built except where necessary and essential. I think my hon. friend will very likely agree with me in that.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

My hon. friend has put the

matter better than I could put it. That was exactly what I was going to say. I quite agree with the hon. member, and I will support no line unless it is absolutely necessary and a paying proposition to build. That is the position which I would take as regards any line that is proposed at the present time. I will say a few words about that later on. ,

The statement was made that we must keep our railways out of politics. I could not

help thinking that the hon. member was putting up a straw man simply to knock him down, because we all know that when the question is one of voting money for the Canadian National Railways, that question must come before this parliament, so when we speak about keeping the National Railways out of politics, we do not mean it in that way. If money is required for capital expenditure on the Canadian National Railways, it will have to be voted by this parliament.

Another remark was made regarding business, and I paid particular attention to that remark, because it was bracketed with the tariff. It seems to me that no address can be made in this House unless the tariff appears in it. The hon. member referred to the fact that there were certain rumours in regard to the tariff. I cannot quote his exact words, but I think I caught the meaning that business was so alarmed, in such a precarious position, that it would be very difficult to get money to build branch lines as long as business was in that particular frame of mind.

I think I have the idea fairly that if business were put into a safe position through the tariff being stable, or put into the position that business would want, possibly we could go on and build branch lines. I do not know whether I drew the inference correctly, but that is the inference which I draw from the remarks ffiade at that particular time.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

There was no suggestion

on my part that money could not be obtained to build branch lines having respect to the tariff. What I intended to convey was this, that business was not at the present time certain what the tariff proposals of the government might be, and I thought it better that the fiscal policy should be definitely known before we expended a large amount of money on branch lines or anything else.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

I accept the hon. member's

statement. It is pretty much along the line of what I tried to convey myself. He probably has a better command of language and 1 can put the question more clearly than I can. As regards the situation in business,

I am quite in sympathy with having industry prosper and I wish to see it prosper. When the question of taxation is referred to it is always spoken of as being something that presses heavily upon business. Well, let me say that taxation presses heavily upon all the people. ,

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB

Herbert Meredith Marler

Liberal

Mr. MARLER:

That is precisely what I said in my opening remarks; I pointed out that taxation pressed heavily upon both agriculture and business.

C.N.R.-Branch Lines

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

That being the case, I do not see why I should be making this speech, because the hon. member has already apparently stated everything that I have to say. He also made reference to the rivalry between the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National Railways. No one in this House harbours any antipathy at all to the Canadian Pacific Railway or regards it in an attitude of antagonism. It is one of the greatest institutions the world has ever known, and we as Canadians are proud of the fact that we have the Canadian Pacific Railway in this country. So that we can, I think, dismiss from our minds any idea of hostility to that great corporation. At the same time, however, we want to look after our own interests as far as we can just as the Canadian Pacific Railway Company are doing from their own point of view. With the Canadian National Railways the position is somewhat different. We are interested not only in the efficient operation of the roads but, as well, in the financial success of the whole concern, because the success of these railways is a matter that affects not only our national pride but our national pocket as well, and we must see to it that they are made prosperous. I do not like to speak in a particularly optimistic tone in regard to the future of the railways, but I believe that at no very distant time hence a great many of our difficulties in connection with the Canadian National system will disappear with a growing population and growing business, and that the great burden that at present weighs down upon us will have been partly lifted from our shoulders.

A remark was made by an hon. member regarding the mileage of railways that were being built in the different provinces. I do not know that this is the happiest way of approaching the consideration of this subject. I think that the needs of the various provinces would constitute a better basis upon which to discuss the matter. Population per mile is not, in my opinion, a satisfactory standpoint from which to examine the railway situation in any province; rather, I think that the earning power per capita of the population for producing traffic for the railways would be a much fairer way of arriving at the true mileage which the, people in any particular locality should have. On this basis I claim that in the three prairie provinces the people produce more tonnage per mile than is produced in any other province in the Dominion. I dislike mentioning personal affairs, but if I may be pardoned I may say that I have shipped as many as thirteen and

fourteen cars of wheat in one year, which is a very large amount of tonnage for one individual to produce. This of course may not be typical of the entire prairie country, but I consider that the population of these provinces produces a larger tonnage of freight for the railways than any other province in Canada.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB
PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

It is a well known fact that the paying mileage of the railways is in the West. Hon. members from the East are continually asserting the fact that the great burden of the railways is put upon the shoulders of the people, and that the country is building western lines.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB
PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

Well, a good many people do. But they seem to forget that had the railway mileage stopped at Fort William, there would never have been such large dividends as ha,ve been earned by the prairie lines that were constructed from Fort William, west. Never in the history of railways have larger dividends been paid than on the western lines, but these dividends would not have been possible had the mileage stopped at Fort William. I have no hostility to the province of Quebec; indeed, I like that province and its people. But I want them to bear in mind the fact I have just stated. I do not like to see any question discussed in this House purely from a provincial point of view. It is absolutely necessary, of course, when members of parliament come here to represent certain sections of the country, that they shall look after the interests of those particular localities. But, while this must be done, I hope it will aways be done in the proper spirit and with a view to cultivating that broad national outlook which I am sure we all trust will be characteristic of the Canadian people before long.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink
LIB

Andrew Ross McMaster

Liberal

Mr. ANDREW McMASTER (Brome):

I do not propose delaying the House long with the observations that I have to make, but I feel that an expression of gratitude should be tendered the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Marler), for the very able manner in which he has dealt with this matter. I believe that it is of vital importance, in considering this large number of railway bills that we should have always before us the financial condition of the country. To say whether one was in favour of branch lines or not would be as ridiculous as to say whether a man liked vegetables or not; there

C.N.R.-Branch Lines

would be some which he would like and others which he would not like. I do not think that we can consider these branch lines in a lump; each one will have to be taken up and examined carefully, and, in my opinion, the light in which we should view this question is the light of this principle- that we in this country cannot afford to spend money upon anything except vital necessities.

Topic:   EDITION
Permalink

April 1, 1924