April 3, 1924

LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

The matter is under consideration.

Topic:   CHIEF INSPECTOR OF FISHERIES, VANCOUVER
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PACIFIC HALIBUT FISHERY


Hon. P. J. A. CARDIN (Minister of Marine and Fisheries) moved the third reading of Bill No. 21, to amend the Northern Pacific Halibut Fishery Protection Act. Motion agreed to and bill read the third time and passed.


CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS

BILLS PROPOSED TO AUTHORIZE THE CONSTRUCTION OF BRANCH LINES


Hon. GEORGE P. GRAHAM (Minister of Railways and Canals) moved that the House go into committee to consider the following proposed resolution: Resolved, that it is expedient to bring in a measure to provide for the construction of a Canadian National railway line from Rousseau, on the Canadian Northern Quebec railway, to Laurent, on the Quebec and Lake St. John railway, in the province of Quebec; estimated mileage including existing grading, 17 miles; estimated cost, $1,000,000. Motion agreed to and the House went into committee, Mr. Gordon in the chair.


ROUSSEAU-LAURENT

LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I desire to lay on the

Table a communication from Sir Henry Thornton.

Topic:   ROUSSEAU-LAURENT
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

In regard to any particular line, or all?

Topic:   ROUSSEAU-LAURENT
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

It covers in a general way,

I think, everything.

C.N.R.-Branch Lines

Topic:   ROUSSEAU-LAURENT
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Not too general, I hope.

Topic:   ROUSSEAU-LAURENT
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

It is a communication from the president of the Canadian National Railways; I did not write it. The statement is as follows:

Rousseau-Laurent cut-off, mile 0-17 Cost

Proposed in 1925-17 miles grade.... $ 719,500

Proposed in 1926-17 miles track and ballast 280,500

It is proposed in 1925 to grade the 17 miles this line involves, at an estimated cost of $719,500, and in 1926 to complete it with track and ballast, etc., at a further cost of $280,500.

The purpose of this line is the first and most important step in the grade reductions of the route from Lake St. John country south. The present grades on part of this route are too steep for economical operation. On the engine division between Lake Edward and Garneau Jet. they are 2 per cent in each direction, and between Rousseau and Laurent is the worst section of this engine run. The proposed cut-off will have .5 per cent grades in each direction and will avoid a rise of 200 feet in each direction.

The business from this line to Montreal and points beyond is steadily increasing, and very large engineering enterprises are now under way in the Lake St. John district, for hydro-electric and the paper industry development. If the expenditures now being made there are justified, it means the business to and from this district must be increased by several times the present quantity. Our line without improvement is not in shape to cope with much more business, and without grade reduction would soon come to the limit of its capacity. Another phase of the matter is that with the present freight rates and costs, it is not possible on bulk tonnage to get sufficient tonnage behind a locomotive to pay direct out of pocket expenses while operating over the present grades. This means that increased business instead of helping us only puts us further in the hole, whereas, if we reduce the grades, we can look forward to increased tonnage eventually contributing to our net profits, in an increasing ratio.

There are further grade revisions necessary to make this line a .5/10 per cent gradient route. Taking all of them into account it has been shown that, with increased business the operating saving will pay a handsome return on the amount involved. Awaiting confirmation of expected increases in business, no work is proposed till 1925. when it is anticipated this work will be badly required.

Note.-Revision of Line to Lake St. John.

I think it will be well if I read to the committee the letter I have received from Sir Henry Thornton:

Canadian National Railways

Office of the Chairman and President.

Montreal, Que. April 2nd, 1924.

Hon. Geo P. Graham, M.P..

Minister of Railways and Canals,

Ottawa.

Dear Sir,

With respect to the branch line programme of the Canadian National Railways, I desire to place before you the policy which go\-erned the company in its recommendation, and the specific reasons and other data for the construction of each line.

In the preparation of the branch line programme, the following factors were given due weight:

(1) The money already spent and the work already done on each line, where such conditions existed;

(2) The strategic, economic and traffic value of each branch;

(3) The measure of relief afforded to farmers through shortening the road haul on grain and other products;

(4) A regard for the presumable aggregate sum which the finances of the Dominion would permit to be devoted to such a purpose.

After having given proper weight to the factors above mentioned, the programme which has already been submitted to you was prepared and, in addition, it was suggested that the programme, should, if adopted, be spread over a period of three years, the authority remaining alive until August 31, 1927. The objective sought in extending the life of the vote for three years was to provide that continuity of construction which is essential for economy and to enable the engineering and construction department of the railway, as well as contractors, to lay out their work in the most effective fashion. The practice is well recognized by private railways under whose administration sums, when voted by the shareholders, remain in the hands of the executive until the work is completed or authority rescinded. There would seem to exist an analogy between the shareholders of a private company in their relation to the executive, and the parliament of the Dominion of Canada in its relation to the Canadian National Railway system, which would justify such a policy if the experiences of private undertakings are of value.

Varying prices of labour and material, adverse climatic conditions and the difficulty of securing labour during the period of harvest render it imperative that an early start should be made each year if construction work is to be prosecuted with speed and economy and this, it is submitted, will not result if each branch line is to be subjected to an annual vote.

Appertaining to the Canadian National's branch line programme, for which you are submittingenabling bills to parliament, appended hereto are statements with reference to each line which set out the purpose and justification for each. While it is true that all of these lines may not be entirelyjustified from the present railway economic standpoint, particularly if viewed from their first few years' operations, broader grounds must be considered when preparing a svstem of feeders for a railway of the magnitude of that which has been entrusted to the present administration of the National Railways.The first problem that arises from examination of the Canadian National Railways system is to ascertain the main and underlying cause of the deficits, and it is at once apparent that, although certain

economies of operation and co-ordination of the various units comprising the system may materially improve the " net " position, the basic cause is found in the fact that the mileage is much too great for the traffic. The apparent answer to the necessity for more business is more people and a further development of those resources which nature has provided with a generous hand. This end can only be speedily attained by the immigration of both settlers and capital and my various officers and myself, realizing this need, have consistently endeavoured to promote both. No confidence can exist in those who lack faith in themselves. My survey of this Dominion gives me unlimited confidence in its ultimate destiny without which there could be no faith in the final success of the national lines.

Therefore we are looking to develop this vast country, at present but too sparsely settled, and asking people to emigrate and join us in this development. But what do we find? Certain sections of the country are losing the very population we are so anxious to augment. Why are these sections being depopulated? Chiefly through a lack of railway facilities, particularly on the prairies, and the question naturally arises, " Is not the settler, who has manfully demonstrated his ability to bring products from the soil, worth many times the untried immigrant? If we are to bring people into the country we

C.N.R.-Branch Lines

should certainly not allow them to meet others who are departing in a discouraged frame of mind. Therefore, not only are branch lines necessary to develop the country and provide reasonable facilities for the immigrant, but also to retain that part of our population which has so courageously planted itself on the land.

It is not likely that the Canadian National Raliways will suffer materially from a financial view, for three or four or perhaps five years if the branch line programme herein contemplated is abandoned, but it is inevitable, that should such a thing come about, at the expiration of a period of years the system will find itself robbed of all further opportunity for reasonable development. Strategic territories will have been seized by other transportation interests, and the railway will dry up at its roots. I can think of no more effective way to eventually bring about the ruin of the Canadian National Railway system than a refusal to embark upon and consistently maintain a branch line programme. No railway can stand still, and success can only be achieved by keeping abreast of the times in the fulfilment of transportation responsibility. This is even more important in a growing and rapidly developing country.

I particularly desire to make it clear that the recommendations herein contained are based not only on present day conditions but also have regard for the probable volume of traffic which would result from the settlement of the country in years to come.

I therefore endorse the programme which has been submitted to you as representing, after full consideration of all facts and factors, that minimum which is essential to the needs of the communities served by the Canadian National Railways, and the system itself.

Yours faithfully,

H. W. Thornton.

President.

There is a note at the bottom in reference to the "Grande Fresniere Mile 0-12," which intimates that an arrangement may possibly be made with the Canadian Pacific Railway which would obviate the necessity of building this line. .

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CON
LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

The Huberdeau branch. That is in Quebec. If this arrangement is effected, this construction would not be necessary.

Topic:   ROUSSEAU-LAURENT
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?

Sir HENRY DRAA TON@

Before reading

the letter of Sir Henry Thornton describing the situation, the minister read a statement dealing with this particular line. Is that a statement of Sir Henry Thornton?

Topic:   ROUSSEAU-LAURENT
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

This is the statement prepared by the officials of the Canadian National Railway, and in this letter the statements accompanying each bill are endorsed by the president.

Topic:   ROUSSEAU-LAURENT
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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

So that is the

statement referred to by the president in his letter?

Topic:   ROUSSEAU-LAURENT
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LIB
CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

Will the minister let us know which way this grade is? Is it

in connection with the traffic north or the traffic south?

Topic:   ROUSSEAU-LAURENT
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I imagine that it is the

traffic south to a large extent. The advantage of this proposal is that it will give a five-tenths grade in each direction.

Topic:   ROUSSEAU-LAURENT
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April 3, 1924