July 21, 1931

UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

In the office of the Minister of Railways. In 1924 the then Prime Minister made a tour of western Canada, and speaking in the Presbyterian church in Edmonton-an estimable place in which to make definite promises-he pledged himself in

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such a decided way that headlines appeared in the following day's paper like these:

King pledges self to the Peace River cause. Premier promises outlet to Pacific just as soon as humanly possible. Railway will be built, declares Prime Minister at a mass meeting here. Government has but minority in Commons; says times are now difficult and everybody must have a little patience, but Liberal party is not falling down on any of its pledges.

I do not wish unnecessarily to remind lion, gentlemen of promises they have made, but I want to place before the house the fact that both political parties in this country are definitely and irrevocably pledged to the construction of the Peace River outlet. That is my sole object in referring to this promise. I quote from the speech made by the then Prime Minister:

There is to the north of this city a great tract of land that is crying out for development. The Peace River country is amongst the richest in Canada

That statement has been more than borne out by the experience of the years that have passed.

-but before the proper development of that country can take place an outlet to the Pacific coast is an absolute necessity. I pledge myself-

That reminds me of the manner in which the pledges of the present Prime Minister were made.

I pledge myself that as soon as it is humanly possible the great Peace River country will be given that measure of railway relief that will bring to the pioneers of that country the outlet they have been so long denied, and will open up the country for prospective settlers. I must, however, sound the same note to you here as I did to the citizens of Saskatoon. The times that we are passing through are very difficult, and I would ask you to have a little patience, and in as short a time as possible a railway outlet will be provided for Peace River and northern Alberta districts that will open up an era of prosperity for that province which will not be equalled by any other province in Canada.

At this stage I submit this thought, which I will develop later, that the time to undertake great public projects of this kind is not in a period of prosperity but in a time of adversity. At that time we were passing through one of those minor depressions, and the Prime Minister of the day used that depression as an excuse for avoiding the work. The country steadily emerged from that period of depression into what was described by the Liberal party then, as it has been described since, as the greatest era of prosperity that Canada had ever seen. The Minister of Finance of the late government was wont to talk in this house fervently of the buoyant

revenues of the country, of our expanding foreign trade, of the tremendous development of transportation, of the increased production of goods in Canada. Yet no Peace River outlet was constructed. It could not be constructed in bad times, it was said, and it was not constructed in a prosperous period.

Now, that I may link up the other part of the project with this, may I submit to the house a statement made by the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen in parliament, following that declaration of the present leader of the opposition. On October 1, Mr. Meighen, speaking also in Edmonton, said:

I have always urged that the north country should have railway relief. I cannot be accused of making futile promises such as the Hon. Mackenzie King promised in the speech from the throne at the opening of the last session of parliament when he stated that he was going to give railway relief to the north country, and nothing has been done.

No; but if Mr. Meighen and his party were elected it was to be one of their first undertakings. The report of the five engineers to which I referred a moment ago was tabled in the house in 1926. As hon. members will recollect, 1926 was the year of that hectic and stormy session when no one knew what the government to-morrow was likely to be. It was the hectic session of the Customs scandal, during which two governments went down to defeat. During that session a proposal was made in the house, though never acted upon, that instead of constructing an outlet, a rate ought to be struck on the basis of mileage- the mileage of a direct outlet instead of the actual mileage by Edmonton. Nothing, however, was done in this connection. In the following session of 1927, the hon. member for Peace River moved the following motion:

That, in the opinion of this house, the time has arrived for the commencement forthwith and the completion in the near future of a direct railway outlet from the Peace River country to the Pacific coast.

That motion, which was in keeping with the definite pledges made by both the Liberal and Conservative parties of that day, was resisted in this house. Hon. Mr. Dunning, then Minister of Railways and Canals, objected to it and it was referred to the committee on railways and canals, along with the report of the five engineers. During the investigation held before that committee it was found on examination of the report that the Obed route was the only route of the four routes possible of which a complete survey had been undertaken and that the reports in connection with the Peace and Monkman passes

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were mere guesswork. The committee then brought in what amounted to an innocuous recommendation to the effect that a continuous study of the development of the Peace River district and the outlets should be carried on. To the motion for concurrence in that report the hon. member for Peace River moved an amendment calling for an immediate and complete survey of those passes which had not yet been surveyed, namely, the Peace, the Monkman and the Pine passes. The vote on the amendment was 87 for and 97 against. The then Minister of Railways promised that in any case the government would ask the Canadian National Railways to complete the surveys to a stage where they would have sufficient information to be able to say, when it was determined to build the line: This is the territory through which it should pass.

Mr. Murray Hill, of the Canadian National Railways, was sent out through the mountains in 1928. He made a complete survey of the approach to the Peace pass from the north side of the Peace river and between the Peace river and Dunvegan. Mr. Murray Hill who is an estimable engineer possessing quite a reputation reported definitely against the Peace pass route and recommended that further surveys be undertaken to show how impossible that route was. It happens that the crossing at Beatton river and the approach to the canyon at Hudson's Hope along the banks of the Peace river is made at a point where there are exceedingly steep banks which slide during times of rain. At this point I would like to direct attention to the last paragraph of Mr. Murray Hill's report, which reads as follows:

The Peace pass seems to be the most favoured. To my knowledge, there have not been any lines run through this route, either on the north or south side of the Peace river. I would therefore suggest that these surveys be made in order that definite information may be available to show the difficulties in construction and operation of lines over these routes. The Obed route, from information available, is unquestionably the best Pacific outlet for the Peace River country as a whole. It is, however, unpopular with certain sections of the country. Actual surveys have been made over this route and also the Pine pass route. In order that a correct comparison may be made between all routes, surveys must be made over the other two, viz: Monkman pass and Peace pass routes.

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CON
UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Mr. Murray Hill of the Canadian National Railways. Up to this Stage the principal objection to the construction of the outlet seems to have been that there was not sufficient information avail-

able to justify the selection of any definite pass through which the line should run. During the debates in this house it became apparent that both the government and the railways were reluctant to undertake the construction of this outlet because of the position in which they found the northern railways of the province of Alberta. This was apparently the chief stumbling block in the way of definite and immediate action. Both Alberta and British Columbia were directly interested. British 'Columbia owned the famous Pacific Great Eastern Railway and whatever route might be selected might affect the business of that line as well has have an effect upon the political and economic life of the province. That province as well as Alberta was directly interested in whatever route might be selected. The objection in connection with the ownership and operation of the railways in northern Alberta has now been removed.

Before I continue may I mention that the Minister of Railways of that day, the Hon. Mr. Dunning, referred to the Alberta railways and the Pacific Great Eastern railway as being white elephants and suggested that one of the reasons for difficulty in settling this matter was that the premiers of Alberta and British Columbia were doing theiir best to slough off these white elephants on the Canadian National Railways. Mr. Dunning, on one occasion, called attention to the fact that the provinces were unable to pay the cost of operation of their railways. I am afraid that Mr. Dunning was sadly mistaken in his facts, because the first year of operation by the province of the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway showed an operating surplus of $300,000, while the second year s operation showed a surplus of $800,000, sufficient to pay the fixed charges on the replacement value of the railway.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

What year was that?

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I am not

certain of the exact year, but I think it was 1928.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Did that amount not include a certain amount paid by the two railways?

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND:

The report of the Department of Railways and Telephones of our province is as I have stated, that the operating surplus for 1928 was about $800,000, which would cover the fixed charges on the replacement value of the line. The government and people of Alberta were positively astounded at the successful outcome of government ownership.

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Mr. MA.NION: Last year the operating

surplus included an amount of about SI,000,000, or perhaps $2,000,000, which had been paid in by the two railways and which was taken in as operating revenue.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I am speaking of the period when these lines were operated by the provincial government and not by the two railways.

We now reach the stage where the second objection to the construction of the Peace river outlet had been removed. The railways were sold to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company for $26,000,000, on the understanding that up until December 31, 1928, an offer would be open to the Canadian National Railways to share fifty-fifty in the purchase of these lines. This offer was accepted and to-day the 'lines in northern Alberta are operated jointly by the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways.

Previous to 1927 the Edmonton, Dunvegan and British Columbia Railway had been operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway. I am afraid that the showings reported by the Canadian Pacific Railway were not a3 favourable as those shown when the lines were operated by the government. In spite of this fact, both the Canadian Pacific and the Canadian National attempted to secure a lease of the roads for five or ten years. For reasons best known to the province of Alberta, this lease was refused and the lines were operated by the government, and then the classic agreement was made with the Canadian National Railways. I mention this only in order to introduce this statement: It was during the negotiations for

the transfer of these northern lines that Sir Henry Thornton in a letter to Premier Greenfield of Alberta stated that he would be prepared to recommend the construction of this outlet to the Pacific coast when the Peace River district had developed an export of grain amounting to ten million bushels a year, or equivalent tonnage, for three years. I now wish to give to the house information as to the tonnage shipped out of that district.

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

It was a

straight offer-when ten million bushels of grain had been produced.

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UFA
LIB

Charles A. Stewart

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Edmonton):

There was

no mention of that; it was ten million bushels of grain.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I think the hon. gentleman is mistaken.

22110-255J

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LIB
UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

So did we

see the letter. Mr. Greenfield, as premier, had it at the time. But it does not matter which of us is correct because the fact is that that district has exceeded the requirements of Sir Henry Thornton as set forth in his letter, whether he said ten million bushels or equivalent tonnage. It is intensely interesting to notice the growth of the development of that territory. In 1925 they shipped out 89,000 tons of grain or 5,300,000 bushels; in 1926, 6,000,000 bushels; 1927, 6,331,765 bushels; in 1928, 11,506,000 bushels; 1929, 7,323,000 bushels; 1930, 11,050,000 bushels; 1931, up to April 30, 10,067,000 bushels. It therefore must be clear to anybody who examines the facts that the requirements set up by Sir Henry Thornton have been more than met and that the tonnage of that district fully justifies the construction of this line. This year, may I remind the house, in all western Canada, covered as it is almost like a blanket with depression, the one really bright spot is the Peace River territory, There the prospects for a crop are still good. The prospects are that the tonnage there this year will equal if not exceed last year's tonnage, but that will depend, of course, upon weather conditions from now on.

This northern district in our province has shown a better return in railway revenue during the last few years than any other district I know of in all of Canada. In 1929 the Northern Alberta Railways showed operating revenues of $2,232,156, and in 1930, $2,253,737. The net revenues will perhaps be more interesting and comprehensive. The net revenue in 1929 was over three-quarters of a million dollars, $795,000, and in 1930, $301,000. In that year hon. members will recall we had a small crop over quite an extensive area in the west.

In the following session of 1930 the hon. member for Peace River (Mr. Kennedy) endeavoured to secure the ear of the house for the construction of the outlet and moved a motion on going into supply-a want of confidence motion it has sometimes been described. On that occasion the government accepted the motion, and, as was pointed out, technically defeated themselves. In the course of that debate the then Prime Minister, now the leader of the opposition, said on May 5, 1930, as reported in Hansard of that date at page 1809:

We all-

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He was referring to the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Railways and himself:

-have impressed upon the presidents of these systems that it is the desire of the government to have this matter expedited and the surveys completed, that it is our view that at an early date agreements should be arrived at by the two companies as to the route which they will jointly recommend

Notice what follows:

-and that failing agreement by them the government itself will undertake to make a decision.

That is a definite pledge given by the former leader of this house. Again on May 28, 1930, in the debate that ensued, the then Prime Minister made the following statement:

Now, Mr. Speaker, may I repeat what I said the other evening, that in the opinion of the government it ought to be possible-

May I direct the attention of the Minister of Railways to these words:

-for these companies to agree upon a route within six months-

That statement was made on May 28, 1930: [DOT]-and to have work begun within a year.

One year and two months have elapsed:

on a railway which will afford an outlet from the Peace River district to the Pacific. I will say that if they do not make a beginning within a year and the present administration should be in office at the end of that period, we will undertake to find a way or make it for the beginning of the construction of a railway line from the Peace River district to connect with the Pacific via some other railway line or otherwise.

Under these circumstances perhaps my hon. friend will feel that it is unnecessary to press his amendment any further. I said that the government would accept his amendment.

There is the intimation of a man who, I presume, had studied closely all the negotiations and all the preliminary procedure right up to the time he made that statement. He definitely pledged in this house, first of all, that in his opinion the two railways would come to an agreement within six months, that if they did not he would undertake to find a way either to make them come to an agreement or to construct the line.

May I point out that we have removed the difficulty with regard to the railways in northern Alberta? That difficulty being solved, we now come to the solution of the next difficulty. The surveys then to be undertaken have been made. The Canadian Pacific Railway has made surveys and a report has been prepared. A copy of this report is now in the hands of the Minister of Railways. The Minister of Railways has not

(Mr. E. J. Garland.]

yet, in spite of repeated requests by the hon. member for Peace River, tabled the report in the house. He may have good reasons for that.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I have not the permission of the Canadian Pacific Railway to do so.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Then may I say that the minister can readily find means to induce the Canadian Pacific Railway to give permission for the tabling of that report? If the minister is serious about this thing he can go to the Canadian Pacific Railway and tell them that public interest in the circumstances demands that he present that report to parliament. All of that western country is waiting for it. They have been promised the railway by both parties, and it is effrontery, it is absolutely unfair to withhold the report and action upon it. I have no doubt myself that the report of the Canadian Pacific Railway will recommend construction along the Obed route. But that is better known to the minister. It is immaterial what the route is, so long as the report recommends the construction of the line through a certain definite pass.

The Minister of Railways has stated that the government has studied the matter. He has gone further. He has been guilty of a heresy. I understand that one of the bitterest criticisms of the Liberal party in office was that they lacked decision, that they were always going into conference about something or other. Now the minister's excuse for not dealing with this matter, apart from the fact that he has not yet received permission from the Canadian Pacific Railway to table the report, is that he is waiting for a conference between Sir Henry Thornton and Mr. Beatty. It seems that Mr. Beatty was ready at one time but Sir Henry Thornton was busy with the committee.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

We have had the conference.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

Splendid.

That is one more difficulty out of the way. The Peace River outlet was one of the most prominent issues in western Canada in the last election. Supporters of the Liberal administration quoted the then Prime Minister's statement with regard to the outlet time and time again from every platform as a definite indication of the coming rapid construction of the line. The Conservative party was but little more cautious, because the Prime Minister, speaking at Winnipeg, pledged that one of his cures for unemployment would be the development of transport northward to

Railways and Shipping Report

Hudson hay and westward to the Pacific by way of the Peace river. Again, the Conservative convention in Winnipeg made the construction of the outlet one of its major planks.

We pledge ourselves to the improvement of the whole scheme of Canadian transportation northward by the completion of the Hudson bay route, and the construction of such branches as may be necessary to render it most readily available to every part of Canada; to the Pacific slope by a Peace river outlet, and east and west by the development of the St. Lawrence waterways, and we pledge ourselves to aid existing traffic channels and to increase port facilities ....

And so on. No longer, Mr. Speaker, is delay justifiable in connection with this outlet. I make that statement for the reason I have already given, namely that the obstacles which weTe placed in the way of construction are now removed. We have had surveys. I venture to say that no railway line projected anywhere in Canada has had a more complete survey than this one will have had by the time it is constructed. The other difficulty with regard to the Alberta Northern railways is removed by the joint ownership of the Canadian Pacific and the Canadian National. All that remains is for the Canadian National Railways and the Canadian Pacific Railway to get together and agree upon a route upon which the line should be constructed. In order to do that it will be necessary for this government to undertake the necessary expenditures in connection with the share to be shouldered by the Canadian National.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

My hon. friend implies that the Canadian Pacific Railway is ready to build half of it-is that correct?

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I venture to say they ought to be, and if they are not I will give ample reasons why this government should be ready to advance as a loan the moneys necessary to construct their share o>f the road. Up in that great territory there is a magnet drawing the poor unfortunates who are left destitute on the dried out prairies of southern Saskatchewan and Alberta. In this month of July arrangements have been made for the transportation of a great many settlers from the southern portion of the prairie provinces into the Peace River district. Those men are not drifting into the cities and joining the ranks of the unemployed so that they may eventually become charges upon the state. They are doing their best to make another start. The persistence of such people has helped to make Canada what it is, and their action would justify this government undertaking to give them some assistance Iby the construction of the outlet. May I submit to my hon. friends opposite, and to the hon. member who has just made an unintelligent and impertinent noise-I have already made this statement and I wish to repeat it-that the northern railways are the only great sections of the lines in Canada where during the years 1929 and 1930 the gross earnings have not seriously declined. I repeat that if the 1931 crop comes up to the estimates made by the bureau of statistics and by those who reside in the territory in question there will not be any serious loss in this year's movement of grains and commodities from that territory. The settlers up there however are labouring under a serious handicap. They went in with courage in their hearts to tear out a home from the wilderness. They have been fighting for from seventeen to twenty years under a freight handicap the seriousness of which few people in eastern Canada can appreciate. The cost of moving their grain to Vancouver via Edmonton is 5, 6 or 7 cents higher than the cost of moving it from Edmonton to Vancouver. Yet a line of railway could be constructed which would put those people in as close proximity to Vancouver as the people in Edmonton are to-day. The line would have the effect of building up a great territory and would give those people heart and head to keep on fighting to build up their country.

May I point out that the money will be spent anyway, because money must be spent to relieve unemployment in Canada. Why dole it out to single men or unfortunate married men through relief measures when useful work can be provided? Here is an opportunity. Turn all the unemployed in the country to the task of constructing a useful financial asset, one which will be of great benefit to the western section of Canada. Such a line would be beneficial to the province of British Columbia as much as to the province of Alberta. No better suggestion could be advanced than that in this great day of need on the part of hundreds of thousands of people throughout Canada a few thousand could be used to undertake forthwith the construction of this line. Time would be required for its completion. I hope however that the present government will not wait until the dying days of their regime four years hence to make more promises such as the Prime Minister has made and such as were outlined in the Conservative platform at the Winnipeg convention. Here is the chance for the present administration to justify its existence and formulate a real, constructive government policy in connection with this matter.

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Had I the time I could give to the house the recommendations of a body of men well known to my hon. friends opposite, men who certainly could not be charged with being radicals, men who constituted the royal commission in the province of Ontario which in the year 1916 considered the question of unemployment. The list is headed by Sir John Willison, Most Reverend Neil McNeil, D. D, Venerable Archdeacon Henry J. Cody, Reverend Daniel Strachan, D.D., W. K., Mc-Naught, C.M.G., Joseph Gibbons, G. Frank Beer, Professor A. T. DeLury, Gilbert E. Jackson, W. P. Gundy, and another. There, Mr. Speaker, is an aggregation of Conservative men, men who have the training and ability to study such problems, and who at that time directed their attention to unemployment. What did they say? They recommended distinctly that plans should be undertaken to provide for the construction of public works during times of depression. They recommended clearly and by terms which cannot be controverted that the time to plan was in good years and the time to spend was in bad years.

This government, and this government alone of all who hold office in Canada, can borrow money at the cheapest possible rates. They can readily secure funds. Surely the credit of Canada can well be used to support the settlers in the Peace river district. I have no more time at my disposal, but I hope others will further develop the matter. In closing, however, I should say to the Minister of Railways and Canals that the old obstacles which were brought up again and again appear to be removed. The time is ripe for construction. Ample work would be provided for many hundreds of men and at the present time construction work could be done more cheaply than it may be done in many years to come.

Hon. R. J. MANION (Minister of Railways and Canals) r I have been listening this afternoon and this evening to the debate on the motion of the hon. member for Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin) for concurrence in the report of the railways and shipping committee. At this late hour I have no intention of taking up much of the time of the house. Not only is the hour late but we have reached a late stage in the session; therefore my remarks will be brief.

As I listened to the debate this afternoon the one point which struck me was that it has been of the finest type. Throughout the whole debate there has been practically no political controversy; the whole discussion has been on a high plane, and I feel that the

house deserves some credit. Following the Prime Minister (Mr. Bennett) the right hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) so far as I could see adopted a similar attitude in every respect. The use of three expressions struck me particularly. He said that when they came into power they desired that the government railways should be given a fair chance, that the management and directorate should be given a free hand, and that politics should not be permitted to enter into such management. I have no thought of injecting into a debate which has been of so pleasant a character anything of a controversial nature, and in regard to those expressions by the right hon. leader of the opposition I could say only that they are ideals which all true Canadians should have m dealing with the Canadian National Railways. I think therefore all hon. members can agree with the ideals and principles upheld by him this afternoon. We can agree that so far as the management of the Canadian National Railways, and, for that matter, any other Canadian railways, is concerned, politics ought to be taboo.

When we realize that to-day we have in the Canadian National Railways a responsibility amounting to over $2,200,000,000 made up of loans, interest, appropriations, and guarantees we realize that the railways are of such vital importance to us and we realize why hon. members are justified in debating the matter in a non-controversial and nonpolitical way; because actually I think our whole economic structure depends upon the successful solution of the railway problems of Canada.

The discussion to-day was on the report of the special railway committee, a report which was brought into this house unanimously by the members of the committee in the absence of only one of those originally appointed. May I at this moment do what I fear no one else has done-although I have no doubt it was an oversight-congratulate the chairman of that committee, the hon. member for Lincoln (Mr. Chaplin), on the excellent work which he did, particularly in bringing down a unanimous report with the constructive criticisms contained therein.

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July 21, 1931