July 21, 1931

CON

John Thomas Hackett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HACKETT:

I withdraw anything I

have said that may be thought to be offensive.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

Joseph-Arthur Bradette

Liberal

Mr. BRADETTE:

Let him go the limit.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
CON

John Thomas Hackett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HACKETT:

An amount of $604,000,000 in cash was put into this enterprise, all with the exception of $157,000,000 after the bankruptcy, every dollar of which was used by the company; and the hon. gentleman has argued that this should not form a part of the capital of the railways.

Now what is going to be done? The management has offered this solution: it suggests that we scrap the merchant marine. I have no objection to that, it is probably unfortunate for the taxpayer that this course was not pursued some years ago. Then the suggestion is made with regard to the railway itself, that we appoint a commission to investigate the condition of transportation in Canada. I take that to mean, Mr. Speaker, that the management feels that its effort of the last eight years has been unproductive and that it is incapable of finding a solution to our problem. It means that if it means anything.

I am not sure that it was possible to find a solution in the circumstances in which the management found itself. Commissions in the past have been a haven for those who were perplexed, and have furnished fodder for pigeon holes. However, commissions, like governments, are good, bad or indifferent as the men who comprise them are competent or otherwise. If a commission of men, judiciously selected and competent, cared to undertake the solution of this problem, I daresay it might yield to their treatment. I consider that the government is better able than any commission to deal with this situation; it is more capable of dealing with it, especially from the financial point of view. There is a limit quite regardless of what may have happened in the last thirteen years to the credit of the country. It is necessary, when we decide upon the future policy of this transportation system, that we realize that our treasury is not inexhaustible. I believe that the government, with such assistance

as it can commandeer from the railways, and possibly from some outside sources, is in a better position than any other body of men to deal with this problem promptly and effectively.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

What outside sources?

Mr. HAOKiETT: Riviere du Loup. But while we are dealing with this question, it seems to me that there are some aspects of it which are more urgent than others. In the first place, whatever may have been the success of the management in its administration of the properties there is one field in which it is absolutely supreme. It has outshone all its rivals in the gentle art of publicity. The Canadian National Railways have monopolized the agencies for disseminating news. They have their own publications which in no way minimize either the virtue or the achievements of those who form part of that organization.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

What is wrong with that?

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
CON

John Thomas Hackett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HACKETT:

They control the radio service; they have a telegraph service; and they have so demeaned themselves towards the press of the country that, with a few rare exceptions, any copy which is not laudatory of the Canadian National is not good and fit copy to go to the public of Canada. I say, Mr. Speaker, that so long as this method obtains, this method of suppression which withholds news and which prevents public opinion from being formed, there hangs over the Canadian National system and over this country a peril which shortly will do it great harm. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that the great public of the country should be acquainted with the Railway situation. They should be acquainted with all its details; the people whose road this is-an institution which is of the people and for the people-should be thoroughly known to the public in all of its activities.

Another aspect of the situation which in my view requires immediate attention is the curtailment of all non-productive expenditures. I am of those who believe that steam traction ultimately will come back into its own, but at the present time it is challenged as it never has been challenged before. It is challenged on land by the auto truck and by the passenger automobile. It is challenged by the ocean; the Panama canal has done much to minimize the transcontinental movement of freight. The Hudson Bay railway was built for that very purpose. It is challenged by the deep waterways, that projected system of transportation

Railways and Shipping Report

which has emerged from the realm of theoretical discussion and is rapidly becoming one of practical politics. If it becomes a reality, it must of necessity take much freight from the railways of Canada. It is even challenged from the air. Until we know what success awaits our steam roads, until we know they are going to withstand these challenges, and resist the inroads which are being made on their earnings, it behooves us to go slowly and discontinue these large capital expenditures, it behooves us to exercise some element of control. Whether this control can be exercised by appointing directors who know something about railroading, men who can give their full time to this work and who will not be selected because of some accident of political stripe or residence, men who will know something about the problems to be solved and who will be able to render useful service, or by naming some official of the government to direct and check expenditures, I know not, but it is abundantly apparent from the events of the last few months that such an element of control is needed.

I suggest that these publicly owned roads be made to pay their way and that future deficits be paid out of taxes. It is only by this means that the public will have an opportunity of becoming acquainted with these roads and knowing whether or not the benefits they confer are worth the price which they cost. We have been charging deficits to capital account and thus saddling the future with a heavy burden. The full cost of railway transport must be paid either by the classes served, by the taxpayers of the time, or, with compound interest, by posterity. To spread this cost over a long period in the name of constructive benevolence is to dull the instrument of financial criticism by which all well-ordered communities locate and analyze their financial weaknesses. Worse than that, Mr. Speaker, it is a direct invitation to posterity to indulge in that all-shattering denial- repudiation. Something should be done and done now. Every way we have turned during the last six months in an effort to curtail expenditure we have been told that we were too late. We were too late because a contract had been signed here, a sod turned there, or a statute passed here. The mocking spectre of "Too late'-' has dogged our steps for the last six months. I ask that something be done now to preclude further commitments before it is too late, not only for the roads but for Canada.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

William Daum Euler

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

Mr. Speaker-

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

Joseph-Arthur Denis

Liberal

Mr. DENIS:

Mr. Speaker, I have a question to ask.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member for North Waterloo (Mr. Euler) has the floor.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

Joseph-Arthur Denis

Liberal

Mr. DENIS:

I desired only to ask a

question.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Speaker of the Senate)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member for Stanstead (Mr. Hackett) has been speaking for forty minutes, and the hon. member should have asked his question during that period.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

Joseph-Arthur Denis

Liberal

Mr. DENIS (Translation):

Would the hon. member allow me to ask him whether the Canadian Pacific Railway would be willing to purchase the Canadian National Railways, at its actual value; moreover, would the hon. member accept the presidency of the Board of Directors of the Canadian National Railways, at a lower salary than that of Sir Henry Thornton?

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
CON

John Thomas Hackett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HACKETT (Translation):

As regards the Canadian Pacifio Railway's intentions, I am unable to give any information, so far as the second question, it is not a serious one-

An hon. MEMBER (Translation): You must consider it.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
CON

John Thomas Hackett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAQKETT (Translation):

-and I prefer not to answer it.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

William Daum Euler

Liberal

Hon. W. D. EULER (North Waterloo):

Mr. Speaker, I fear I am not at all qualified to follow the hon. member for Stanstead (Mr. Hackett) in the melodramatic type of eloquence which he has employed; being but a practical man I cannot soar into the heights of imagination and eloquence to which he has resorted. The extravagant statements- I say this advisedly and I think I am within the rules of order-which he made, especially with regard to the attitude taken by myself, cannot do me any particular harm and I am sure they do not do his cause any particular good. When he refers to me as speaking on a previous occasion with my tongue in my cheek, that does not offend me particularly, although I might say that the same might not be true of the hon. member. I was just wondering whether it is the hon. member's own tongue that speaks or whether it is the tongue of somebody else.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
?

An hon. MEMBER:

That is pretty unfair.

. Mr. EULER: I am just giving back a

little of that given to me by the hon. member. The speech made by the hon. member on the address in reply to the speech from the throne has been practically repeated today, and for that reason I do not intend to take up the time of the house in replying because to do so would necessitate my using practically the same language as I did when speaking on the budget when replying to him. In fact, I had not intended to speak at all.

Railways and Shipping Report

The report has been presented and it is stated to be a unanimous report and I am willing to accept it as such. In some respects the report was not exactly as I would have desired, but no legislation, committee work and so forth can be carried on entirely unanimously. We must give and take and so far as I am concerned there was a bit of compromise in that report. I did not desire to create friction and for that reason I was quite willing to allow it to be presented as a unanimous report.

I am at a loss to understand just what motive-I have no desire to impute wrongful motives-is behind the hon. member's speech. It is not a speech friendly to the Canadian National Railways, and I do not think my hon. friend would contend that it is that sort of a speech. I am at a loss to know just what good will be done by this speech. I intend to deal with only a few criticisms made by my hon. friend. I will not take up the financial structure of the railways, as this matter has been discussed and the charges of extravagance made by my hon. friend have been answered.

The hon. member for Stanstead was a welcome visitor at the sessions of the committee, and in fact I think he took just as much part in its deliberations as if he had been a member. I make no complaint in that regard, but the hon. member had every opportunity and seemed to avail himself of those opportunities to make the criticisms he has made to-day. As I followed the hon. member, his one criticism was that there was no audit made of the transactions of' the board.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
CON

John Thomas Hackett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HACKETT:

I did not intend to convey that impression.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

William Daum Euler

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

I gathered that the hon.

member contended that there was not a sufficient audit made of the expenditures.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
CON

John Thomas Hackett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HACKETT:

Sufficient control.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink
LIB

William Daum Euler

Liberal

Mr. EULER:

I will accept that. As is

well known, the Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Manion) has authority under the act to send in an auditor at his pleasure.

The hon. member says that the board is practically a useless body-I am giving the spirit of his remarks-and if its uselessness could be excelled it would be by the committee which has made this report. I will not say a great deal about that statement because I was a member of that committee. I will not say much about that board because it is a creature of the present government and in so far as the hon. member

criticizes the personnel of the board, he is criticizing the government which he supports. I would say in passing-and the matter was discussed in committee-that I believe it would be possible to appoint a board which would be more efficient than the present board or the one constituted before the present one. Perhaps I am speaking of an ideal impossible of attainment, but if it were possible to appoint a board of directors of the Canadian National Railways, having only one qualification in view, namely that of fitness for the position and no regard whatever for political leanings, we would be going a long way in the right direction.

Topic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Subtopic:   MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE IN THIRD REPORT OF SELECT STANDING COMMITTEE
Permalink

July 21, 1931