March 15, 1934

C.N.R.-C.P.R


that if a service is abandoned or taken off there is likely to be reaction against the other company, not only at that point but in Canada generally. I do not wish to press my views on this bill, but I want to take this occasion to say in a general way that so long as the companies maintain the spirit of competition and at the same time endeavour to arrive at a certain degree of cooperation, there are bound to be these difficulties, and I repeat that the stand of the companies as regards the service between Montreal and Ottawa is directly opposite to that taken in regard to the service between Quebec and Montreal.


CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

In reply to that, may I offer this suggestion as it has been put to me? So far as both railway routes are concerned the territory between Ottawa and Montreal is much more densely populated than is the territory through which the Canadian National runs from Montreal to Quebec. It has also been put forward to me that the Canadian Pacific route from Montreal to Quebec does run through a thickly populated section while the Canadian National road does not. But between Ottawa and Montreal both railways run through fairly densely populated sections of the country. I point that out as it has been pointed out to me in explanation of the situation.

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LIB

Ernest Lapointe

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

But that argument would not apply to fast passenger trains stopping at only a few points.

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LIB

Louis Édouard Fernand Rinfret

Liberal

Mr. RINFRET:

I admit that that was the stand taken by the companies, that there should be no pooling of services between Ottawa and Montreal unless a train in addition to the present service was run because they wanted to serve the intermediate stations. They also pointed out to me that it would not be fair to ask either company to pool either the whole or part of its service between the two cities because it would react against that particular company. That is the very situation that is being pointed out by the hon. member for Quebec East, that if the Canadian National is taken off the Quebec service it will react against that company.

I did not rise, Mr. Chairman, so much for the purpose of discussing this bill as of taking this opportunity to make known to the committee what had taken place between the companies and myself as regards the question I raised the other day. But I have no hesitation in stating now that in my humble opinion these efforts to pool and cooperate are bound to fail, and notwithstanding the action that was taken by the house last year

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I really believe that we shall come to a time when it will be necessary to have a very much stronger tendency to amalgamation than the house showed last year. I say that to-day there is not enough passenger traffic and there is not enough freight traffic in this country for two transcontinental railways. It is all right to arrange to cut off a train between Quebec and Montreal, or something like that, and I agree with the minister that there will be protests at once when a step of that kind is taken, but it is only postponing the day when the two companies will have to come much closer together than they are now and when we shall have to consider much more radical measures for remedying our present railway situation than these local arrangements which do not give satisfaction to anyone. .

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?

James Wright McGibbon

Mr. McGIRRON:

Mr. Chairman, if I might have a moment-

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CON
LIB
CON

Peter McGibbon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McGIBBON:

If that would do anything towards eliminating the burden of the railways upon the country it would be a good thing. I think, Mr. Chairman, that discussions of this kind are rather dangerous. It seems to me that we must do one of two things in connection with the railways. AVe must either leave the operation of these railways in the hands of the managements or we must make the minister responsible to the House of Commons and to the people for their operation, which would bring the subject of the railways into this house. That is the method that I prefer, and I said so last year, but the house took a different view. Nearly everyone who spoke at that time thought that the railways should be kept as far away as possible from politics. But this discussion, Mr. Chairman, brings the whole subject right back again into parliament.

I do not wish to speak of particular instances where complaint has arisen. There may be complaints. There are bound to be complaints. I agree with the last speaker that the day is coming when there must be a closer union between these two railways. I spoke last year in favour of cooperation under one company, not amalgamation, and I think I made myself quite clear on that point. It has been estimated by Mr. Beatty of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and we have also the authority for it of the hon. member for North Waterloo (Mr. EulerL who, if he was

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correctly reported, said in a speech a little while ago that the late Sir Henry Thornton told him that $75,000,000 a year could be saved by joint operation.

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LIB
CON

Peter McGibbon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McGIBBON:

I do not think myself that they have to be amalgamated to get joint operation.

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LIB
CON

Peter McGibbon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McGIBBON:

Very well. We shall this year have to vote out of the funds of this country probably $60,000,000 to carry on these railways, and that allows nothing for depreciation or future expansion. When you add a reasonable sum for that, I think I am safe in saying that these railways are costing this country from $75,000,000 to $100,000,000 a year. Can we afford it? In the Duff report the statement is made that 42 per cent of the mileage of these roads is doing less than five per cent of the business of the country. How can the railways be anything else but a failure until that situation is corrected? It means that we have to have elimination of services; there is no question about that. There is not enough business in this country in my opinion ever to support three transcontinental systems within the lifetime of any man now living.

But we have appointed three trustees to administer the railways. I did not like that plan, and I said so in the house last year. I do not like to see such a tremendous organization put into the hands practically of one man, for that is what it really means because the other two trustees are half-time men and are far secondaiy in influence to the chairman. But having adopted that system, if we are now going to bring the whole subject back into the House of Commons for each one of us to get up and criticize the trustees for what they are doing and have done, then in my opinion our last hope of saving this enterprise is gone. I am not hopeful that we can save it at all. In the last eighteen years this country has been spending on an average over $130 for every $100 it took in, and if you confiscated all the revenues of this country outside of the incomes that were exempt by statute, namely $1,500 and $3,000, we would not have enough money to pay the expenses of governments in Canada. If we took all the field crops of Canada for the last five years and doubled their value we would then only have about sufficient to pay the cost of governments, federal, provincial and municipal in this country to-day. On top of that, we have this railway burden.

I cannot see any light ahead at all. I can see nothing but a deficit of from fifty to seventy-five million dollars a year at least so long as any of us is living. I agree with the last hon. member who spoke (Mr. Rinfret) and with the hon. member for North Waterloo. I think most people in this country who have given this subject any thought believe that these two roads must be brought together in some way, and we must eliminate this mileage of forty-two per cent which is doing less than five per cent of this country's business. We must cut our overhead and curtail expenses because this country cannot, in my opinion, carry the debt it is carrying to-day and expect a return to prosperity.

I rose, Mr. Chairman, to say that I think we are wrong in criticizing the trustees who have been appointed and made responsible for the conduct of this enterprise. If you put responsibility upon them you must give them liberty and freedom to exercise their judgment. Otherwise it is not right to hold them responsible. I regret that the minister has said he would interfere.

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CON

Robert James Manion (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I did not say I would

interfere, I said I would direct the attention of the railway management to the discussion which has taken place to-day.

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CON

Peter McGibbon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McGIBBON:

That suits me much better. This problem is so serious that it deserves the earnest consideration of every man, both inside and outside this house, who is seeking a return of prosperity to this country when everyone can earn an honest and decent living and still have something left.

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CON

Isaac Duncan MacDougall

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDOUGALL:

Mr. Chairman, the

men of the Canadian National Railways have made a greater sacrifice during this period of stress and strain than any other body of labour in the country. In justice to them I think we Should try to find out whether the national railways have stood up during the last three years as well as the Canadian Pacific Railway. These employees have accepted a reduction of over twenty per cent in order to help Canada during a time of need. Instead of listening to Mr. Beatty prating, prattling and foaming at the mouth with his suggestions that the Canadian Pacific should absorb the Canadian National, we should do just the opposite. We should have a real national,-well, a national government.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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CON

Isaac Duncan MacDougall

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDOUGALL:

We have that.

There should be a policy whereby these men who have sacrificed themselves under public ownership should be given the right to take

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over private ownership in certain cases. There is no one who has more sympathy for the worker, there is no one more ready to speak on his behalf than I but the fact remains that there is not a Canadian Pacific worker who has made greater sacrifices than those employed on the Canadian National Railways. I have the record of this system under my hand, and I challenge any man in Canada to contradict the statement that the Canadian National Railways, through the loyalty of its workers, has held up better than the Canadian Pacific Railway.

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CON

Joseph-François Laflèche

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LAFLECHE (Translation):

Mr. Chairman, in the constituency which I have the privilege of representing a large number of employees of the Canadian National Railways look upon as contrary to their interests, the changes carried out following the reorganization of the train service of the Canadian National and the Canadian Pacific Railways between Quebec and Montreal.

I admit, sir, that the government has had no hand in this reorganization which was carried out by the higher officials of the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways, however, on behalf of my constituents I wish to request the honourable Minister of Railways (Mr. Manion) to intervene, if necessaiy, in the interest of the employees of the Canadian National who reside in my constituency.

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CON

Otto Baird Price

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PRICE:

Mr. Chairman, I should like

to say a few words with regard to the railway situation and the condemnation there has been of the operation of pool trains. While certain economies have been effected by the pooling of passenger trains, we should not lose sight of the fact that the general traffic on the Canadian National Railways, particularly on the lines in the Atlantic region, has greatly increased. The shipments of coal from Nova Scotia, particularly from Cape Breton, during last year and this year up to date have been greater than ever before. The largest bituminous coal mine in America is now being operated in Cape Breton. Canadian National Railways are short of cars with which to handle the traffic coming from Cape Breton. Train crews that have been out of work for the last five years are now back on duty. Every man who had been dropped temporarily from the service is now back at work. A large number of railway shop men who were laid off in Moncton have been taken back but the men employed in the running trades, such as drivers, firemen, conductors, trainmen and roundhouse men, are all back in the service. The traffic in coal, in lumber and in fruit from the Annapolis

valley has been enormous. The business of the Canadian National Railways in the maritime provinces is in a flourishing condition. Shipments from our excellent ports of Saint John and Halifax are greater at the present time than they were even during the war when large shipments of munitions and supplies were made to the old country. During the spring of 1933, the business in the northern region showed a great improvement. As a result of the trade treaties entered into by the present administration, large amounts of lumber have been brought up from Maine, as well as from New Brunswick, to be shipped from Campbellton. During that year the port of Campbellton enjoyed such business as it had never enjoyed before. During the fall of 1933, while these large shipments were passing through Campbellton, while twenty-nine large steamers were loading at that port, the leader of the opposition (Mr. Mackenzie King) and the hon. member for Restigouche-Madawaska (Mr. Michaud) travelled up and down the country preaching depression. There were certain things they did not wish to bring out; they did not mention the flourishing condition of the railways and the port of Campbellton. We now find the hon. member for Restigouche-Madawaska asking for grants to be placed in the estimates for the dredging of the Restigouche river. I have every sympathy with him in that connection but the fact still remains that at a time when conditions were in a healthy state and when much additional business was being done by the port of Campbellton, the hon. member and his leader insisted on preaching depression.

I should like to give the committee some idea of the amount of business done in the Atlantic region. There was an increase of forty-four per cent in general exports from Saint John up to March 1 this year as compared with last year; actual shipments were up forty-nine per cent; exports to South Africa had increased by forty-two per cent, while exports to India increased by almost four hundred per cent.

With regard to shipments, what has taken place this very year? At the end of February revenue cars loaded and received from connections in the Atlantic region show an increase of 10,791 over the corresponding period of the previous year. Cars loaded and received from such connections prior to February 28 last year totalled 22,234 and this year the number was 33,025, or an increase of 48J per cent. I think, in all fairness to the Canadian National, it should be stated that with the subventions which are given on coal shipments from Cape Breton into Ontario

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and Quebec and with the general increase in the lumber trade which has taken place as a result of trade treaties with Great Britain, there is very little to complain of at the present time.

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March 15, 1934