June 16, 1925

LIB

Edward Mortimer Macdonald (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACDONALD (Pictou):

Does the

hon. member realize that the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada rendered some few months ago changes the whole situation with regard to the Crowsnest pass agreement?

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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PRO

Robert Forke

Progressive

Mr. FORKE:

I understand the situation

thoroughly, and I understand the decision that has been given by the Supreme court since the Prime Minister made those state-

ments. But I am perfectly sure that parliament has the same power to-day as it always has had to remove any discrimination, and that in fact it could have removed that discrimination when it took place at the very time the Crowsnest pass agreement came into effect. The idea at that time was to wait until the decision of the railway commission in regard to discrimination was given. We had some dispute with the railway commission. Instead of removing the discrimination, the commission abrogated the Crowsnest pass agreement altogether. I am not blaming the government, but at the same time I know they could have removed the discrimination if they had so desired. I am sure the Prime Minister would like to see those promises fulfilled, and to let us have the Crowsnest pass agreement, or a quid pro quo in western Canada. Conditions have perhaps changed to some extent since 1867, but I want to repeat that the west will not be satisfied unless they have a maximum rate fixed for westbound traffic, just as it has been fixed for eastbound traffic. This is our Magna Charta. We are situated in the centre of the continent, and while hon. gentlemen claim they have tremendous faith in the railway commission, that commission is only human and we do not know what it might do. With respect to other parts of Canada, it would be a serious matter if they had to pay the maximum rates, but in the case of the prairie provinces it would not only be serious, but it would mean bankruptcy to the people of the west. Transportation through the western provinces is of more consequence than it is in any other part of the Dominion of Canada. That is the reason why we feel so strongly on this subject and are so anxious to see that the prairie provinces get a square deal in this matter.

In conclusion, I repeat that I have no thought of hostility towards any part of Canada. I know something about the troubles and difficulties of the Maritime provinces. I am sure we have the warmest feelings towards the people down there and we wish to see them prosperous and happy. The same is true with regard to British Columbia and the far west. We have the warmest feelings towards the people in that part of the country. We want to work hand in hand with every section of this Dominion in order to make it a happy and prosperous country.

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LADNER:

This question is of paramount importance to British Columbia. For nearly twenty years the governments, both Conservative and Liberal, have been fighting for fair treatment in regard to freight rates. The commencement of this contest was dur-

Railway Freight Rates

ing the premiership of Sir Richard McBride. To-day that province faces, perhaps, a more delicate situation than it has ever done in the past. The industrial, commercial, shipping and agricultural future of British Columbia stand in the balance. If the scales of justice and fair play weigh out equitable treatment on this important question, our future is assured and our province will prosper. This legislation is rather late in being brought down. I do not know of any question more important to the people of Canada than that of freight rates. It has been under the consideration of parliament for the last three years or more. Evidence in great detail and from men best qualified to give it has been taken before a special committee; hearings have been had before the Board of Railway Commissioners; reports on previous occasions have been made to the House; legislation has been brought down, and at this juncture, on the eve of an election, the government brings forward a policy which is capable of being interpreted as being calculated to remedy the ills or grievances of every particular section of the country. The order in council is of a very general nature. The legislation, however, is specific on one point, and that point seriously and vitally affects the province from which I come. The legislation states in clear terms that maximum rates on grain and flour moving eastward are fixed according to the Crowsnest pass agreement, but the Crowsnest pass agreement, which was limited formerly to certain areas or districts, is now made applicable to both railway systems, and in order that the government may be more specific in its intention, notice has been given by the Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. GraJham) that an amendment will be made making it very clear and precise that the advantage o-f comparatively low rates on grain and flour shall not be given to British Columbia.

In my opinion, that is politically an affront to the people of my province. They have carried on the fight for many years. The merits of the case cannot be and never have been denied. It seems to me that the whole point involved in this discussion, so far as British Columbia is concerned, is this: On what principle or basis of reasoning does the government grant a special right and privilege for grain moving eastward to a certain market and deny that same right and privilege for grain moving westward to the same market, the government having spent many millions of dollars on grain elevators and port development in the city of Vancouver? Has the government an answer to that question? I won-277

der if there is even a plausible excuse. I wonder if there is any excuse at all, beyond the plain, patent fact that it is an act of political expediency on the eve of an election in order to gain the support of the middle west provinces. I do not think I am overstating the case in putting it in that way. We, in the activities of the House, are well aware of the suggestions and manoeuvring backward and forwards which for many years have gone on in connection with the Crowsnest pass agreement, the rates of which, so far as they affect British Columbia, were simply iniquitous. No one will deny that. Now, when it is seriously the intention of the government to tackle this great question, one that goes to the root of our economic body, of every activity which we have, industrial, commercial and otherwise, instead of taking hold of it in a statesmanlike manner in the interest of the whole nation and giving to an expert body who understand the problem and the complications of the matter, authority to determine the question from one end to the other, they give the Board of Railway Commissioners authority to determine the question on everything but grain and flour moving eastward. I am not saying that the middle provinces have reason to be displeased with the measure of success which they have obtained. The point which I wish to make and which I would ask the minister to answer now if he can, is this: On what basis of reason, policy or fair play, does he determine a course of legislation which fixes definite maximum rates on grain moving eastward to a certain market 'but denies them on grain moving westward to the same market?

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I have answered it at

least four times this afternoon. The fact is that the Crowsnest pass agreement is allowed to remain on the statute book as regards grain and flour. The Crowsnest pass agreement never affected British Columbia, and there is no clause in the bill or in the amendment which has any reference to British Columbia or that will in any way affect the decision of the Board of Railway Commissioners adversely to British Columbia.

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LADNER:

I think the minister's explanation is a very weak one.

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

That is the hon. member's opinion, of course.

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LADNER:

There are two features

of his explanation. One is that the Crowsnest pass agreement does not affect British Columbia. The Crowsnest pass agreement vitally affects British Columbia, because since the

Railway Freight Rates

agreement was made, we have had the Panama canal opened giving a new outlet for grain leaving this country and a new route for goods to come in from Europe and certain portions of eastern Canada. The minister has entirely forgotten that the whole situation in regard to the shipment of grain from the prairie provinces has been changed. As to the other point that the Crowsnest pass agreement is allowed to remain on the statute book, what the government are really doing is to allow the two items of grain and flour to remain there.

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

That is what I said.

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LADNER:

They are cancelling eleven other articles of far-reaching effect. Having put the pruning knife on the tree, why not prune it properly and make it look decent and fair? If they are going to change the Crowsnest pass agreement, as they must do in order to cancel the eleven other articles, they might just as well, in order to be consistent and carry the policy of fairplay to the'other portions of the country affected, make a little addition and say that this rate will apply, not only to grain and flour moving eastward, but to grain and flour moving westward. The minister is quibbling on the matter. This does not go to the root of the problem. I repeat that laying down a policy on a matter of such overwhelming importance to the country, definitely fixing the rate on grain moving in one direction to a given market, and specifically and intentionally denying it to grain moving westward to the same market, is not only inconsistent; it is farcical. It is pure political expediency and nothing else in view of an expected election this fall. In making these remarks I do not wish to cast any reflection on the Progressive members to my left. They have felt themselves under an injustice in the matter of freight rates and they have fought for the interests of their section of the country; and the government has been weak enough to yield to this sectional demand without proper regard to other portions of Canada.

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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PRO

Milton Neil Campbell

Progressive

Mr. CAMPBELL:

I hope the hon. member does not imply that members in this section are not as much interested in securing lower rates on grain and flour to Vancouver as are members from British Columbia.

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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CON

Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LADNER:

Not a bit. I quite understand that hon. members to my left are in accord with us in the view that the rates should extend to westbound grain, inasmuch as the commodity goes to the same markets and is produced by the same people. So far as

British Columbia is concerned, when the order in council appeared it was published in a local newspaper there which had taken a very active and aggressive part in the freight rates question. A report was published spreading right across the paper and a great deal of credit was given to the government on account of the fact, as alleged in the report, that a new era had dawned for Bri:ish Columbia. On that same day, the 6th of June, editorials appeared in both the leading Vancouver newspapers, and for the information of the committee as well as the members of the government I should like to read one or two short extracts from these articles. The Vancouver Province in its leading editorial of that date says:

"Equitable treatment" is the thing British Columbia [DOT] has been fighting for. We have never asked for more. We shall not be content with less. And there is very good reason to believe that with the practically free hand now given the railway commission, we shall achieve our end. Practically since its establishment, the railway commission has devoted itself to the ironing out of unjust discrimination, wherever found, and there are many precedents in its past decisions. The limitation of its powers under the Crowsnest Act brought it to a full stop. Now, it can get under way again.

Further on the editorial has this to say, which I would commend to the attention of the minister:

Two things British Columbia has been seeking in her freight rates fight: an equitable rate on grain, westbound, which will enable us to reach farther into the prairies for cargoes to fill our ships; and an equitable rate on other commodities moving from the Pacific coast eastward which will enable our manufacturers and wholesalers to get a fair share of the prairie business.

In the Morning Sun of June 9, three days afterwards, that newspaper reconsidered its position and editorially advised the government and the Prime Minister in these words:

In their order-in-council requesting the railway board to equalize freight rates, Premier Mackenzie King and his colleagues have shown a vague intent to do the west justice.

That vague intent is not good enough.

The order-in-council decrees that the Crowsnest maximum rate on eastbound grain shall not be exceeded. It would have been just as easy, instead of generalizing on equalization, to have said plainly and definitely that that maximum Crowsnest rate on grain should not be exceeded eastbound or westbound.

Nothing less than such a plain definite statement can actually bring British Columbia into the Canadian confederation.

Nothing less can give the people of British Columbia full Canadian citizenship.

The task of making British Golumbia a Canadian province or an alien province rests with Mackenzie King, not with the Railway Board.

There you have the views of two newspapers, one of no particular political complexion and the other frequently a supporter of the government. But I commend to the government the words of a gentleman welll informed on

Railway Freu/hl Rates

this question and on all its intricacies, an ardent supporter of the present administration, an aggressive, fighting leader of the Liberal party in British Columbia, Premier John Oliver. He has never been known to sympathize with anything that savoured particularly of Conservative policy, nor has he ever been known to support the Conservative cause in any way whatever. Let me read from a signed statement given by Mr. Oliver to the local newspapers, which statement I would urge the government to consider carefully. Mr. Oliver says:

I say, without any reservation, that under the pro. posed legislation the Board of Railway Commissioners may allow any discriminatory rate against the westbound movement of grain and flour, either for export or home consumption, and while I have no desire or intention to in any way reflect upon the honour of the Board of Railway Commissioners, or of any member thereof, yet I have in mind that the majority of the members of the board are the same men who authorized the discriminatory rates under which we have suffered so -long and so grievously.

I do not share Mr. Oliver's view if it reflects upon the Board of Railway Commissioners because I believe that the board is well qualified to handle the matter. He goes on:

Should they in the future authorize a discriminatory rate with the proposed legislation upon the statute book, it would be hopeless to appeal to the Supreme court as a matter of law, and I would have no confidence in appealing to a government which, in the face of the protests that have been made, would persist in placing legislation, as proposed, on the statute books.

This is a Liberal premier in British Columbia advising his Liberal friends in Ottawa. Mr. Oliver continues:

I ask >in all sincerity what justification can there possibly be for making such a statutory distinction between the same commodity moving over the same road, but in opposite directions.

We have had the explanation of the Minister of Railways and I intend to mark it and send it to Mr. Oliver for his further consideration. The importance of this matter is something of which the government cannot plead ignorance. Mr. Oliver in his evidence before the special committee on Railway Transportation Rates, on May 29, 1922, made the following statement:

I want to tell this committee that our industrial life in British Columbia is absolutely at stake in this issue before the committee at this moment.

By the chairman:

Q. On the Crowsnest pass agreement?-A. I take it, Mr. Chairman, that the Crowsnest agreement involves the whole rate structure and I will give you as my authority Mr. Beatty, who took that stand, and I will give you as that authority Mr. Hanna, who declared that the whole rate structure of the Crowsnest agreement if brought back is all shot to pieces.

In other words, when the government adopts this policy of taking grain and flour at a fixed 277i

maximum rate, it has practically settled the rates question and left little for the railway board to deal with. Mr. Oliver goes on to say at page 154 of the evidence:

Now, it will also have the effect of making it impossible for parliament to remedy the discrimination of which we are now complaining, and to give British Columbia the relief to which it is entitled. It will make that impossible except on one condition, and that is that the nation as a whole shall foot the bill for the deficiencies in revenue of the railways if the railways are forced, a3 Mr. Hanna intimated to the committee, to reduce the rates on other basic commodities in order to bring them on a parity with the rates under the Crowsnest pass agreement.

On June 27, 1924, a number of representatives appeared before the Governor in Council, and among the documents filed for consideration by the government there was a telegram from Mr. John Oliver addressed to the right hon. Prime Minister (Mr. Mackenzie King), dated June 25, 1924. In that telegram Mr. Oliver represents to his friends in Ottawa exactly what will happen if the government takes such a step as is now proposed in this legislation. He says:

The responsibility for the existing discriminations as well as those which will be added-

That is, this legislation.

-must lie with the government and parliament of Canada.

Then he continued:

We are not opposing the restoration of the Crowsnest pass rates, but we are asking the government and parliament of Canada to place British Columbia in an equitable position similar to that enjoyed by the people of other parts of the Dominion.

Now, Mr. Chairman, at this late stage of the session it is not my intention to discuss this question further. I do not expect that any words of mine will have the slightest effect in inducing the government to depart from the plans they have laid for the next general election, but I appeal to them-and in appealing to them I am placing the case before the very electors to whom they intend to appeal-I appeal to them to remember that this question is of too great and overwhelming importance to be allowed to be trifled with in an attempt to secure a political advantage, and I warn them that in fixing maximum rates on grain and flour they have, ipso facto, denied British Columbia the equitable treatment to which it is rightfully entitled. By taking that course this government will raise the rates on grain moving from the prairie provinces to British Columbia, thus handicapping the future of the port of Vancouver and jeopardizing an investment of millions of dollars in elevators and other equipment. According to the opinions already expressed of the Premier of British Columbia, the press, the Board of Trade of Vancouver

Railway Freight Rates

and the other public bodies interested, it is their judgment, as I interpret it after a careful investigation of the whole subject, that in such legislation as is proposed the government are taking a course that will prove disastrous to the best interests of British Columbia. It is unfair, it is unjust to the province, and the responsibility is upon the government. If the government cannot see their way clear to remedy this injustice, I hope the electors at the forthcoming general election will express their sense of disapproval in a manner which will fully vindicate what I have said this evening.

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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LIB

Francis N. McCrea

Liberal

Mr. McCREA:

Mr. Chairman, the question of freight rates is one of the most important before this House and the country, especially in view of the fact that the government owns the greater part of the railway mileage of the country, and when the Canadian National Railway system does not earn sufficient to pay its bills the people are called upon to meet the deficit. I think it is well that we should know what part of the country's business is paying its way, whether that in the east, the west or the centre; and, furthermore, what part of the country is paying the greater proportion of the taxes. Consequently I shall take up some little time to explain my views.

The Crowsnest pass agreement, which we have heard so much about, was entered into in 1897 between the Canadian Pacific Railway Company on the one side and the government of Canada representing the people on the other side. Under that agreement it was provided that the rates-now known as the Crowsnest pass rates-should not exceed certain maxima. I presume it never entered into the minds of the parties to the agreement that conditions would ever change. At that time wages, materials, and other costs that enter into the operation of railways were very different to what they are to-day. That arrangement continued for many years, and the Canadian Pacific Railway and other roads kept their rates much below the maxima fixed thereunder. Ultimately during the war railway operating costs went so high that the Crowsnest pass agreement had to be suspended for a period of years. At the expiration of that period there was a clamour, especially from the west, for a reversion to the Crowsnest pass rates. Unfortunately the cost of railway operation at that time did not

9 p.m. justify the restoration of these rates. In 1922 this House appointed a committee to investigate the freight rate question, and that committee summoned before it not only all the railway magnates

of Canada but also many from across the border. Mr. Beatty, of the Canadian Pacific Railway, usually acted as spokesman for the railways. He made several propositions, the final one being for a general reduction of 20 per cent in the rates on all basic commodities to all parts of Canada. That committee finally, by a small majority, passed a resolution recommending the acceptance of this proposition. But the western members rebelled and said they must have the Crowsnest pass rates regardless of what any other part of Canada might get. Naturally they might be expected to take this course, but I did not quite agree with the government's yielding to the demand The outcome has been that whilst, the prairie provinces have secured the restoration of the Crowsnest pass rates, which represent approximately a 35 per cent reduction in the freight rates on grain to the head of the lakes, the rest of Canada got a reduction of only 6 per cent in - the rates on basic commodities.

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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PRO

Milton Neil Campbell

Progressive

Mr. CAMPBELL:

I think the hon. gentleman desires to be fair. Therefore he might tell the House that this was only a partial equalization of the rates, that before it was put into effect the rates in western Canada were very much higher than the rates in eastern Canada.

Mr. MoCREA: So far as I was able to

catch my hon. friend's question, I will show before I get through who is paying the taxes in Canada, and I think that will be a good barometer by which to judge who is paying too high rates and who is paying too low. Surely it was not the intention of the government, when they entered into that agreement in 1897, that one part of Canada should suffer for the benefit of another section, that one section of the country should have practically a 35 per cent reduction in freight rates on basic commodities, and the rest of Canada get only a 6 per cent reduction;-* and that applies not only to the government-owned railway but to the Canadian Pacific as well, because if the Canadian Pacific had made a similar reduction of 35 per cent all over Canada on basic commodities they would be in the bankruptcy court or pretty close to it to-day. If the Canadian Pacific are making money at all they are making it where they are getting paying rates.

There is a great deal of talk about that agreement, but there is one phase of it I have not heard mentioned in this House, and that is this:. The McAdoo award raised the rates of remuneration on the railways to a very high pitch, and not only the remuneration but also the classification of labour employed on the

Railway Freight Rates

railways, and that sent the cost of operating a railway up out of all proportion to the rates on the commodities the railways carry. When the McAdoo arrangement which had been formulated and all worked out in Indianapolis, or somewhere else across the line, was proposed to Canada, the Canadian railways were simply advised that on such and such a date this schedule of wages and classification of labour would come into force. The railways of Canada at that time held a conference, at which the question was discussed from all angles, and they finally decided that, whether or not it was possible for the United States to accept this remuneration and classification of labour, so far as Canada was concerned it was absolutely impossible, and they notified the Canadian government that they would not accept the award. The government, of which my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition was a member, then passed an order in council ordering the Canadian railways to accept that schedule of wages and classification of labour. I wonder if it has ever entered the minds of the people of Canada that that action has placed the railways of Canada in practically an impossible position to give us the rates we should have? It tied them up to a remuneration and classification of labour that the present conditions of this country do not justify, and meant an increase in railway rates.

As I have said before in this House, there are three parties to this business: There is the producer. Whether he be a farmer, a lumberman, a miner, or whatever his calling may be, if he is producing goods, he is a producer. Then there are the transportation companies. No matter whether they operate by land or sea, the people who are engaged in carrying the products of this country from the sources of production to the sources of consumption are engaged in transportation. The third element is the distributor. It does not matter whether he is a wholesaler, a jobber or a peddler; he is selling goods, and therefore is a distributor. We have, then, these three classes, and if one of these classes gets more than their fair share, the other classes get less than their share. That is the situation in connection with the railways. The railway employees are getting more money than the business of the country can stand, and that has been brought about to a large extent by the railways, against their will and desire, being forced to accept a schedule of remuneration that was not possible for this country to pay. Whilst this schedule of wages might possibly be worked out in the United States, we must bear in mind that the

United States have a population of 437 for each mile of railway, whereas we have just a fraction over 200 people for each mile of railway. That means the United States railways have, or should have, double the passenger and freight traffic for each mile of railway that we have, and consequently they can stand a scale of wages and a classification of labour that we in Canada cannot stand. That is the reason, to my mind, why the government of this country should say to international labour, whether it is railway labour or any other kind: We would be glad if

you would stay at home, run your business as you like, and we will attend to our business; we have no objection to our citizens organizing, if they wish, to carry on their work, but we absolutely refuse to allow international labour and international labour organizations across the border to come here and dictate terms to us; we are supplying the money; we are running this railway; we are running the whole country, and we propose to run our business in accordance with our ability to pay, and meet the conditions as we find them in Canada; we are not in a position to meet the conditions that exist across the line, especially in railway matters, where you have more than double the population per mile of railway that we have. I do not think, Mr. Chairman, I will talk much longer on that score. My system does not allow of talking too much.

I remember well, and I think everybody who was in the House at that time will also remember well, that when the late government was taking over the Canadian Northern and the Grand Trunk, one of the great fears we who then sat on the other side of the House had was that the operation of the government-owned railways might become a political football. We had fears that that might happen, and I hope we will bear that in mind now that we are on this side of the House. In dealing with this matter, I think it would be wisdom on the part of the government simply to pass the legislation necessary to, put the fixing of railway rates in the hands of the Board of Railway Commissioners. They are the people to deal with the fixing of rates, and if we have not got sufficient confidence in their ability to deal with this matter, in their knowledge and integrity, in their desire to deal squarely and honestly with all parts of the country and give everybody a square deal, then let us appoint somebody else to that commission that we have confidence in, and then place in their hands this question of the fixing of railway rates. The members of this House no matter how

Railway Freight Rates

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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PRO

Donald MacBeth Kennedy

Progressive

Mr. KENNEDY (Edmonton):

How much

of that do they pass on to the consumers in the rest of Canada?

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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LIB

Francis N. McCrea

Liberal

Mr. McCREA:

I cannot hear the hon.

member. I am not disposed to be sarcastic or unreasonable, but my contention is that this country can be prosperous only when the people of the different parts of it make up their minds that they are willing to bear their full share of the responsibilities and the taxation of the Dominion and willing and ready to give the other parts fair play and justice. When we were offered by Mr. Beatty twenty per cent of a general reduction on all

basic commodities, and when that committee, which was hearing the evidence and which spent practically the whole session in gathering information, finally passed, by a small majority if you will, a motion that Mr. Beatty's proposition should be accepted, our friends from the west put up such a rebellion, threatening the government-and unfortunately they frightened them-that the outcome was that they got practically a thirty-five per cent reduction on grain and we who bear the great burden of the taxes got a reduction of six per cent. The west is entitled to all sympathy and justice, and for my part and, speaking so far as I know, for my province, we are inclined and disposed to be just, fair and reasonable, but the time has come when we shall have to have a, little more justice than the west is disposed to give us on freight rates.

In the particular case before the committee now, there is no reason why this whole matter of fixing freight rates should not be placed in the hands of competent men, selected by the government of this country to deal with railway questions and to fix just and fair rates for all parties. Until we get that, this granting a reduction of thirty-five per cent in one section of the country and a reduction of six per cent in our section when we are paying practically eighty per cent of the taxes, is unjust and unfair, and I trust the government will see to it that this injustice is remedied so that all parties will bear their fair share of the responsibilities and taxes. Let us have our share of both the good and the bad. This country of ours, properly governed, properly managed, is the garden of the earth in my judgment. But it will not do for any one element of this Dominion to think they are the chosen people and that they must have all the plums and the other people all the bills.

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. SHAW:

There is probably no problem which comes before parliament which is more complicated in its character than (that involving a freight rate structure. When one considers the many varieties of rates alone, class rates, [commodity rates, transcontinental rates, export rates, one becomes somewhat bewildered. But when there is added to that such terms as constructive mileage, mountain differential and long and short hauls, one can readily understand that the problem is, generally speaking, beyond the judgment of an ordinary cosmopolitan parliament. But if 'the terminology of the subject were not sufficient in itself, a perusal of the bill would, I am sure, convince anyone that the subject is difficult

Railivay Freight Rates

of 1897 should be wiped out and the railway board left with a free hand to fix such rates as it may deem to be just and reasonable.

Now, I want to Suggest what seems to me to be fair and reasonable under all the circumstances. The only objection so far as I know to the minister's proposal is that the people of western Canada feel that they are being disarmed, that their only safeguard on westbound commodities is being taken away from them by this proposed legislation. I approve entirely of the minister's action with regard to the eastbound commodities. But with regard to westbound commodities, my suggestion is that there should be a suspension of that portion of the agreement for a period of, say, three years. I say that first of all because the railway commission in the intervening time will have an opportunity to work out this system of so-called equalization of freight rates. We have had rate equalization cases before; they have not always been . satisfactory. It is a high-sounding and pleasant term, but it really does not mean equal freight rates at all, because under the rate equalization cases, as the former chairman of the railway commission (Sir Henry Drayton) well knows, the rates in western Canada were from 15 to 20 per cent higher than those in eastern Canada. There were many other discriminations which I will not take the time to enumerate. So we do not really know what equalization of freight rates is going to result in under actual practice. The lapse of three years will give the railway commission an opportunity to evolve its system of rate equalization, and then we will know whether or not the freight rates imposed are fair and just to western Canada. If it is, if we are not called upon to bear more than our fair share, then we will gladly let the westbound section of the agreement be eliminated forever.

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

What does the hon. gentleman mean by the westbound section of the agreement? In what way does the Crowsnest pass agreement affect westbound freight at all?

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. SHAW:

There are some thirteen commodities mentioned in the agreement itself upon which a definite percentage of rate reductions on the then existing rates are effected.

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
Permalink
CON

John Arthur Clark

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARK:

The hon. member is not referring to commodities westbound from the prairie provinces to the Pacific ocean?

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
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LAB

Joseph Tweed Shaw

Labour

Mr. SHAW:

Oh no, that is an altogether different question. I think hon. gentlemen to my right are worrying unnecessarily about that problem.

Topic:   RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   BILL TO AMEND THE RAILWAY ACT, '1919
Permalink

June 16, 1925