June 7, 1938

LIB

Thomas Vien

Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

Let us not play upon words; if my hon. friend does not like the word "publish," let us say: "put into effect" a rate of 80 cents. This means a rate war, between the highway and the railway carriers. By agreed rates the rail carrier can go to a

shipper and say to him, "If you will give me all your traffic, for such a period, I will give you such a rate." This is the proposed agreed rate. An agreement is entered into. It is a contract. No rate war is possible. If they agree, the shipper and the carrier are bound. Competitive rates are suicidal for both the highway and the rail carriers.

It therefore seems that there is no difference in principle between the Railway Act and this proposed legislation, because the Railway Ac* enables the rail carrier to publish competitive rates to retain its traffic; herein, to avoid a rate war, we propose to allow the rail carrier to enter into such agreements with the shipper as will oblige the latter to route his traffic by a particular rail route, without a cut-throat rate reduction. There is therefore no fundamental difference in the principle of competitive rates under the Railway Act and the principle underlying these agreed rates.

My hon. friend's third point was that it is improper to refuse the highway carrier the privilege of appearing before the board to complain against agreed rates. May I suggest that the highway carrier is not unjustly discriminated against. The highway carrier is not regulated. He cannot be compelled to come to the board. His rates are not submitted for approval. He therefore competes with the rail and water carrier without control or regulation. He enters into agreements with shippers, and the rail or water carriers have no say in the matter and no remedy.

I submit that the rail carrier should be given the right to enter into an agreement with his own shippers, without the interference of the highway carrier. If the highway carrier can establish an agreed rate in favour of a shipper, why should not the rail or water carrier be granted the same privilege? My submission is therefore that there is no departure from the underlying principles of the Railway Act. The only principle herein involved is that we allow carriers to come to an agreement with shippers so as to retain traffic which otherwise would go to uncontrolled and unregulated highway carriers.

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

I should like to refer a

little further to what the hon. member (Mr. Vien) has just said about excluding the carrier from the right to appeal to the board. A shipper cannot appeal to the board unless that shipper has been shipping his goods by a carrier under the terms of this act. Take a shipper who is ten miles away from a railway terminal, and uses highway transport which competes with the railway. If an agreed charge is made with another shipper he would

Transport Commission

have no standing before the board, because the provision reads:

(6) Any shipper who considers that his business will be unjustly discriminated against if an agreed charge is approved and is made by the carrier, or that his business has been unjustly discriminated against as a result of the making of an agreed charge, may at any time apply to the board . . .

The general assumption is that that means any shipper. But turn to the definition of "shipper" and you find this:

"Shipper" means a person sending or receiving or desiring to send or receive goods by means of any carrier to whom this act applies.

That does not apply to a shipper who is not dealing with a earner under this act. My point is that any citizen of Canada has a right to appear before any court in Canada, a court of law or a court of equity. That is one of the fundamental rights of a citizen. I cannot sanction a law which will in effect rule a man or a company out from appearing before the courts. Under this we simply blackball those engaged in the highway traffic business.

And we are not free from biame in this. This parliament has never occupied the field that it might have occupied in controlling interprovincial and international transport by motor truck. That is admittedly our field; why does not the Minister of Transport occupy it as far as he can? Recognizing that we cannot interfere with the provincial jurisdiction, let this parliament occupy that field as far as it can, and then give to the trucking system its inherent common law right, that of appearing before a court to argue its case. I object to the idea that a court can be set up in this country to which a citizen is denied access.

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LIB

Thomas Vien

Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

A shipper and a highway

carrier can establish an agreed rate. The

rail carrier or any competitive shipper cannot challenge such a rate. Why should the highway carrier, or a shipper using the highway have the right to challenge an agreement between a rail carrier and a shipper using the rails?

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

The answer is verysimple. In the one ease there is no lawwhich applies to the trucking system. If there is a law applying to the trucking system he can apply. The rail carrier and other

forms of transport are covered by law, and it is the privilege of any person to appear before a court in this country and argue his case.

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LIB

Thomas Vien

Liberal

Mr. VIEN:

But how can they claim the

right to discuss a rail rate without allowing others the right to discuss their own rates?

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CON

Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEVENS:

That is simply because

we have not found the machinery to control the trucks.

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LIB
CON
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

This section was discussed quite extensively at the last sitting, and I have no desire, and I think hon. members would not wish me, to traverse the ground we covered yesterday. However I think something should be said about the point of restricting access to the board of transport commissioners in the matter of agreed charges. Any person can appear before the board of transport commissioners in the matter of agreed charges who is allowed to appear before any court in the land; in other words, he must show an interest in the matter being discussed. He is allowed to appear if he is a shipper or a prospective shipper, that is if he wishes to ship goods. He is allowed to appear if he receives goods by the carrier, or if he wishes to receive goods-is a prospective receiver of goods. He is allowed to appear if he is a carrier under the act. What other classes of persons than these could possibly have an interest in a matter affecting rates? I cannot imagine any other class of person who could come before the board and show an interest.

Then as to discrimination. A rate is applied after exhaustive hearings by the board. Anyone affected by the rate has two options. One is that he can have exactly the same contract if he is shipping under substantially the same circumstances; and I think the act makes it perfectly clear that the size of the shipment does not enter into the situation as far as the similarity of the service is concerned. That is safeguarded in several clauses. Then if the shipper is not in a position to take advantage of the contract, but believes the contract will injuriously affect his business, he is given opportunity to appear before the board and object to the contract on the ground that if made it will injuriously affect his business. When we consider all the latitude that the transport board will have, when we consider the composition of the board, which after all is, as the railway board is and has been, a board for the protection of the public, I can hardly imagine that these agreed charges can be used in a manner injurious to the public at large.

As to the amendment offered by the hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens) it would of course be restrictive to a point

Transport Commission

which would make the operation of agreed charges practically worthless. Cutting away all the verbiage, it would be necessary before an agreed charge could take effect to show that the particular traffic is subject to truck competition. The amendment says " must be subject to competition other than by a carrier under the act." Bulk water carriers would hardly meet that requirement, since bulk carriers do not carry the class of goods which is regulated under the act. So it comes down to this, that the amendment would have the effect of prohibiting the making of agreed charges except for a particular route which is subject to truck competition. One sees at once that that would prevent the sending of goods from the eastern part of Canada to the west under agreed charges, for the reason that there are no highways through part of northern Ontario; therefore goods originating in the east could not move under agreed charges farther than central Ontario. Every movement of goods under agreed charges would have to be subject to the test as to whether truck competition could be proven. I suggest that the amendment offered by the hon. member for Kootenay East is a method of rendering this part ineffective, and I must oppose it.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Mr. Chairman, two days ago I pointed out what I conceive to be the dangers in the adoption of the principle of agreed charges, under the terms provided for by the bill as it now stands. I pointed out that the basis of the present law is equality as to tolls and facilities. I find that that is the heading of the section in the Railway Act -Equality as to Tolls and Facilities. The first subsection is headed "equal tolls to be charged"; the second, "no discrimination"; the third, "carload quantities"; the fourth, "localities"; the fifth, "duty of the board"; and the sixth, "competitive points". The sixth subsection reads:

The board may declare that any places are competitive points within the meaning of this act.

Further it is pointed out in the Railway Act that no agreement can be made by which a railway company may give preference to any community or shipper. Certain well-defined classes of freight rates are also provided by the statute. As a matter of fact there are four: the standard tariff, the special tariff, the competitive tariff, and the joint tariff; with the addition of a special one which deals with exceptional circumstances such as bad crops and matters of that sort.

Then follows a provision with respect to how the tariffs come into operation, which I

do not intend to discuss. The competitive tariff, as mentioned by the hon. member for Outremont, came into being for many reasons, principally, on this continent, because of water carriage.

Now, whatever may be said as to the justice or injustice of the law, or the desirability or undesirability of our Railway Act, I think everyone will agree that as a result of what took place in the United States prior to the passing of the Interstate Commerce Act, and in Canada prior to the inquiries that were set up by the late Mr. Blair, which resulted in the passing of the Railway Act, equal tolls were not charged to all persons, and preferences were given to individuals-sometimes because of the volume of the traffic, and sometimes for other reasons The difficulty that arose in the United States caused a great deal of friction, and, as I say. resulted in the statute to which I referred. The result of the statute in Canada was just what I read a moment ago as the heading of the section, namely, equality as to tolls and facilities. As I pointed out, tolls are covered by four different kinds of tariffs, in addition to the very special class which deals with exceptional circumstances which need not be mentioned here, and which has .not been regarded by text writers as an additional classification.

We are to do away with that. We are to do away with the equality under the law which was tthe basis of our freight rate structure. The abuses which took place prior to the enactment of our Railway Act and the passage of the interstate commerce measure in the United States-all these are again to be possible, because there is no longer equality under 'the law with respect to freight rates. The minister says, or may say-and I judge from what he said the other day that he does say it-that it is no longer desirable to maintain that principle of equality under the law, and that agreed charges or charges that are agreed in contract rather than by parliamentary control shall prevail. An agreed charge is in essence a contractual charge. The present tariff toll is a statutory parliamentary charge, and until such time as under the existing law tolls are approved by the board they cannot recover a single cent. The law itself in terms declares that they cannot recover anything at all until such time as the tolls, whether they be one of the four classes I mentioned, any one of them, have been approved by the board.

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LIB
LIB
LIB
CON
LIB
LIB

Clarence Decatur Howe (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. HOWE:

There is hardly a rate in

practical effect that is specifically approved by the board.

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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

They have to file them with the board. There is a provision that the filing of them with the board under certain conditions operates automatically as approval. That is what the former member of the railway commission desires to say.

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LIB
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Yes, that is true; but

that does not get away from the fact that in essence filing is essential in order that there may be objection, if desired.

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LIB

June 7, 1938