Mr. THOMAS REID (New Westminster):
It was only to be expected, Mr. Speaker, that the freight rate question would arise in the house after the decision of the board of transport commissioners became known. I listened with a great deal of attention to the remarks made by the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell), and while I agree with everything he said, I would point out that, as a result of this decision, no province has been harder hit than British Columbia. I can say this also because I am one of the few members in the house who had the responsibility some years ago of appearing before the board of transport commissioners in an appeal with regard to freight rates on grain, and who also had the privilege of appearing before the privy council-which, by the way, is the government -in an appeal against an adverse decision made by the then board of railway commissioners on the same question.
It is not generally recognized-and I am not saying this in a derogatory sense, but rather as a result of experience-that the board of transport commissioners are not doing the job which they were set up to do in the first place. They were set up to protect the public
from the railways; they are now protecting the railways from the public. I say that in all sincerity. This decision which they have made cannot be taken lightly by the government, and I shall make one or two proposals before I sit down. But there are other matters that I want to deal with before making the proposals which I have in mind.
First of all, may I say that I am sorry I came down to the house without my file on freight rates, which I have been keeping since 1934. For sixty years British Columbia has been fighting what is known as the mountain differential in freight rates. They have spent considerable sums of money in appearing before the board of transport commissioners. Here is one thing I found when I appeared before them. It did not matter what argument you placed before the board of transport commissioners, they always came back with this answer: this matter of the differential in freight rates was decided many years ago and we cannot change that decision. The board of transport commissioners are not interested in trade. They are not interested in the development of trade. That is not their job; at least they say it is not their job. But when it comes to an application for an increase of freight rates and passenger fares, this fact should stand out. No real expert from the railways has yet been able to tell the board of transport commissioners just what it costs to haul passengers or to haul a ton of freight. The evidence of the C.P.R. is on record when they had their experts before the board, and not one of them could give the information. It was I believe impossible to tell. Therefore the railways went about their job of putting the charges on the public to the extent, in the words of the old statement, of what the traffic would bear. The differential into British Columbia has been paid for many times over by the people of that province. As was pointed out by the leader of the C.C.F. (Mr. Coldwell), when we entered confederation it was understood that we would have a railway on equal terms with the other provinces of Canada. When the C.P.R. went into our province, acting contrary to better judgment and deciding against the route chosen by the government of that day, they picked the highest grade for a railway into the province. We have been victimized right from the beginning, from the time the railway came into the province until the present time. I know that there may be members from Ontario who will get up and say it is wrong for us to contend that we in British Columbia are paying more for freight than they are. But may I point this out to the house. It is strange and significant that in the appeals by the various
provinces before the board of transport commissioners, Ontario and Quebec were not represented. I ask the people of this country and I ask the government to make inquiries why those two provinces did not appear before the board and make representations.
Subtopic: INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31