April 8, 1927

LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Would my hon. friend

permit me? I rise to suggest that as apparently he has extended remarks to make, and I know some other members desire to express (heir views on the railway commission, if iit will meet the convenience of the committee I am w'illing to let this one item, the railway commission vote, stand over for a more convenient time and in order that we may pass the remaining items-

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Put it through.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

-if my hon. friend will agree.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

I am not prepared to let the item stand, Mr. Chairman, because when I asked information from the minister some time ago he would not give it to me. He said it was not in the public interest. When I conclude my remarks I think it will be quite in order for the minister to ask me to let the item stand. The portfolio of Railways and Canals might as well be abolished altogether. Part of its work has been handed over to the railway commission. The minister might get busy and go into the offices of the commission. What does the commission do? Nothing but whitewash everybody that makes application for increase of rates. Has the railway commission any control over Sir Henry Thornton? No. The late Mr. Carvell doubted if the board could regulate the Canadian National Railways. The railway commission was appointed to prevent unfair and unjust discrimination. Three former chairmen of the board, Hon. Mr. Blair, Mr. Justice Mabee and Sir Henry Drayton, used the big stick on some of the corporations. They protected the public. But to-day this commission protects nothing; it simply grants holus-bolus the various applications made for increase of rates. I am going to move a reduction of this vote because I think that is the only way to get anything done. I do not think the minister has played fairly with me, and for that reason I should like the item to stand until he has brought down the information I have asked for. I asked for the production of papers early in the session, and the minister replied that it was not in the public interest to divulge this, that and the other thing.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

I do not remember the occasion to which my hon. friend refers, but if he will tell me what papers he has asked for, I will look into the matter.

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CON

Thomas Langton Church

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHURCH:

I asked for the production of papers with regard to the Bell Telephone Company, and whether the minister had made an agreement with that company by which the National Railways got cheap rates at the expense of the general telephone users of this country; and secondly, whether the government of Canada,- after this application had been launched by the Bell Telephone Company, had secured a contract with the company at cheaper rates. The Bell Telephone application was made on the grounds of discrimination, and yet this railway commission, at the instance of the Minister of Railways and his department, with the assistance of

Supply-Railways and Canals

Sir Henry Thornton, have granted rates to the company which will take from the people of this country several million more dollars, in order that the National Railways and the Department of Railways and the government may get cheaper rates.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

My hon. friend is making so many wild statements that it is very difficult for me to follow him. I have some recollection of his asking for papers in connection with the Bell Telephone Company, and it is my impression that I have already tabled a return relating to that matter. Can he tell me whether he moved for a return, or give me the reference number, or any other information upon which I can act?

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Charles Edward Church

Mr. OHURCH:

I will move to reduce the item. The Minister is not fair. I can prove all I say if I can get the papers. There are three or four other matters on which I have not received any information. We have a railway commission which is supposed to exercise some control over public corporations, but can the minister name one case where the railway commission has gone out into the highways and byways, of its own volition, to check up these large corporations? I say no, and I say that in the public interest there should be some reorganization of this commission. If there is any dissension among the members of the commission, the public are entitled to know it. We should have a commission that will regulate the railways, the telephone companies, the express companies, and all other public service corporations.

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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARDINER:

Has the government taken into consideration increasing or decreasing the membership of the board, so that there will be an odd number on the board? I think he will remember that there have been cases recently where there has been an equal division on the board, three and three, and that has prevented them from giving any decision on the matter that was under consideration. Is it the intention of the government to have an odd instead of an even number on the board?

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

The situation referred to by my hon. friend is, of course, before the government, and is receiving consideration. Beyond that I cannot go at the moment.

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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARDINER:

If the feovernment

enlarge the membership of the board, I suppose they will take into consideration that western Canada has only one representative upon it, and remember that we would like to have two instead of one.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

My hon. friend can rest

assured that all these matters and many others

will have to be taken into account in dealing with a situation such as this.

I should like to take the opportunity on this vote of correcting what appears to be a false impression regarding some remarks I made the other evening with respect to Crows-nest rates. Apparently there was an impression in the minds of some members, which is borne out by some of the press reports-I am not now imputing any sinister motive to anyone-that I had the belief, and expressed it, that the Crowsnest rates on grain were not profitable rates. I did not so intend, and: I think the language attributed to me in Hansard will bear out the lack of any such intention. , Two extremely opposing views were being expressed, one that the rates lost a very considerable sum of money for the railways, and the other, to use the expression of one of my hon. friends in that corner, I think, that the railways made very, very handsome, or very, very large profits out of carrying gram. I deem it my duty as Minister of Railways to endeavour to keep discussion along the line of fact, where I have opinions sufficiently based upon fact to express them, and to neither of those extreme views do I subscribe. I do not believe that the railways lose money hauling grain, as would be found if it were possible to separate the grain figures from the other figures. On the other hand, neither do I agree with the other extreme view that the railways are making handsome profits on hauling grain- at present rates. I know that neither of these extreme views is correct. That is the attitude I take on the matter.

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Item agreed to. Canada Highways Commission-to provide for payment of staff of Canada Highways Commission, including A. W. Campbell, C. E., Chief Commissioner of Highways at $5,000 per annum, $25,000.


UFA

Donald MacBeth Kennedy

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. KENNEDY:

I understand that the

federal grant for highways expires some time in the near future. Has the government made any provision for renewing the grant, or making an additional grant?

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

We are endeavouring to conclude the distribution of the grants provided for under the present extension which expires on September 1, 1927. By then we hope to have the whole thing cleaned up.

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UFA

Donald MacBeth Kennedy

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. KENNEDY:

Is the question of renewing under consideration.

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LIB

Item agreed to. Supply-Railways and Canals Miscellaneous services, including salaries and expenses of experts employed temporarily, $10,000.


CON

John Alexander (1874-1948) Macdonald

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONALD (Kings):

Is it the intention of the government to provide for any further expenditure in connection with the standardization of the gauge of the Prince Edward Island railway? A considerable portion of the mileage is not yet standardized, and everyone knows what a serious handicap it is to people living on that line. I desire to ask also in regard to the car ferry. The Duncan commission recommended that something should be done in connection with the claim that the car ferry boat there was not giving satisfactory service. The report of the commission reads:

Altogether the ferry boat service is unsatisfactory. The railway administration admitted that there was need for supplemental provision being made in the form either of a second ferry boat or a special freight boat. We recommend that the matter be gone into from the point of view of placing at the disposal of the island such satisfactory means of communication as will ensure as regular and complete a service as can reasonably be made.

Another matter I refer to is the fact that this boat is running in the fall to full capacity and cannot maintain this operation very long. There is a danger of disconnecting the province altogether from the mainland. Another item in the Duncan report reads:

We further recommend that, so far as the ferry boat service is concerned, it should not be run as part of the railway operations, but should be run by the railway administration under separate account for the department. We feel that, by reason of its association with railway accounts, this service does not get the attention it should receive.

If the minister could give us any information about these different items we would appreciate it.

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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

I cannot answer offhand

the question addresed to me by my hon. friend from Kings. I can only say to him what I think he already knows, that all these matters are at present under investigation. I think there is a question on the order paper relating to one of these items. They are all now under investigation, following the Duncan report.

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April 8, 1927