June 24, 1925

PRO

George Gibson Coote

Progressive

Mr. COOTE:

Has the department statistics showing how much of this is Canadian and how much United States grain?

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

From a Canadian port to a Canadian port about two million tons of wheat alone.

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Item agreed to. Board of Railway Commissioners for Canada: maintenance and operation of, $239,339.


PRO

George Gibson Coote

Progressive

Mr. COOTE:

Does the government propose to increase the membership of the commission?

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

There is nothing in the

estimates for the purpose, anrt m wVuiu require legislation to either increase or diminish the board. The board was constituted along certain lines, and I had the honour some years ago of introducing legislation to enlarge it. although I think the board is, if anything, too unwieldy already, that does not at all shut out consideration of the suggestion that there might be some reorganization of the board in the future.

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PRO

George Gibson Coote

Progressive

Mr. COOTE:

I am not particularly anxious to have the board enlarged, but I should like to see it more representative of the different sections of the Dominion. Western Canada has only one representative on the board, and I think we contribute the major portion of the net earnings of the Canadian Pacific. With the passage of the railway freight rates legislation within the past few days, the protection which the Crowsnest pass agreement gave us on every commodity except grain and flour has been removed, and we are now left altogether -if I may be pardoned for using the expression -at the mercy of the Board of Railway Commissioners. Does the minister think we are fairly represented on that board? If not, are we likely to receive justice from the board? This is a very important matter to western Canada, and there is a strong feeling in the west that we should have greater representation on the board-one member out of six is altogether inadequate.

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

When the board was first established the object was to get the best men to undertake the work, no matter where they came from, because, considering the diversity of interests throughout the Dominion, the board has a very difficult task to perform. As in any other business the man who will do the best is the man who ought to be on the board. If I were hiring a man to do my business I would not care where he came from so long as he did his work satisfactorily. The suggestion of having a man from the west is worthy of consideration, although I would not admit that any other man would not give the west justice. But the western man might understand the psychology of the western people at least a little better than a man from some other part of the country.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN (York):

I agree with the minister that this board is too large and will have to be reorganized, and the quickest way to reorganize it is to consolidate the two railways. If that is done you will not have all this competition for traffic between two companies, to say nothing of outside companies, and there will not be one quarter of the work that is now imposed on the railway commission. You do not improve matters by increasing the number of members of the commission; in fact you only make things worse. But when you simplify the railway system you can reduce the personnel and simplify the operations of the board of railway commissioners, as well as effect an economy of 5100,000,000 a year-the best authorities say $150,000,000. This is the only way parliament can get control of railway rates; we will save money, have a better system and get a better service.

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PRO

George Gibson Coote

Progressive

Mr. COOTE:

The best member of the

board now is a western man. I have heard it remarked that he spends most of his time writing dissenting judgments.

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I see he gave one the

other day in which he was in accord with the rest of the board.

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PRO

George Gibson Coote

Progressive

Mr. COOTE:

Perhaps the exception proves the rule. I think there is a great deal of misapprehension with regard to the work of the Board of Railway Commissioners. We often hear it stated that the matter of making railway rates should be left entirely to the board. I doubt very much whether the board has ever made a rate; they have only put their stamp of approval upon rates that are made by the railway companies. Whenever there is any rate making, it is by the railway companies themselves, and if no one objects after the rates are posted up in the office of the rail-

Supply-Railways and Canals

way commission, they are approved of by the board. I would like to see this board actively engaged in the making of railway rates, not simply putting their rubber stamp on the rates fixed by the railway corporations.

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Item agreed to. Surveys and inspections: canals, including salaries and expenses of experts employed temporarily, revote, $5,000, $20,000.


PRO

George Gibson Coote

Progressive

Mr. COOTE:

Why is it necessary to make surveys now that we have the Canadian National Railways?

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

There is necessity for a

great deal of special investigation. This vote has been carried for many years and used in various ways, but never outside the purpose for which it was intended. For instance, last year I sent a special man out to investigate certain conditions about railways for my own information and for the information of the department. Then we have the government railways coming under the Canadian National for operation and other purposes, but it is always questionable whether, for the purposes of the construction, say, of a viaduct, the Board of Railway Commisioners has jurisdiction over the government owned railways in the sense of being in a position to make them do certain things. This is a very necessary vote, and not a dollar of it will be expended otherwise than in the interests of the public.

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PRO

George Gibson Coote

Progressive

Mr. COOTE:

Does the minister ever send these officers out to inspect branch lines that were started about fifteen years ago but have been left partly completed, and to report to the government whether the work should not be completed?

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

We have reports on all

these lines. We have been doing pretty well since this government came into power in the way of putting rails on them. We have not always succeeded, but we have done a good deal.

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CON

Arthur Edward Ross

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROSS (Kingston):

How many departments of surveys are there in the government? Is there one for the railways, one for the canals, one for public works, one for the railway commission? Can there not be a beginning at a co-ordination of these services under one head?

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

That is worth considering. But the Board of Railway Commissioners is an entity by itself; its work is different from ours. They do not borrow any of our officers and we do not borrow theirs. If we had to depend on the board for a man to do certain work-and it is not all survey with rod

and line; it includes inspectional or investigational work-then the board might not be able to attend to some applications that an hon. member might place before them. None of these men are idle.

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CON

Arthur Edward Ross

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROSS (Kingston):

How many engineers are employed in railways and how many in canals?

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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

It would be hard to do

that on the canals. There are two engineers on the Trent canal, and they have some assistants. Then there is our chief engineer, and we have also engineers attached to our department, but in no wise responsible to the department, except indirectly, in connection with the investigation of the St. Lawrence waterways. That comes under a separate vote. The Board of Railway Commissioners also has its engineers for the particular purposes o!f the board. There is a good deal to be said for consolidation, but if the hon. gentleman was in one of these departments and was responsible for it he would want his own staff subject to himself to do the work that was required, and to do it when he wanted it done. As long as there are not any men sitting around idle, I do not see that there is much to complain of.

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June 24, 1925