April 5, 1948

LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

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

Freight Rates

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.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

They never come to anything.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

I am not going to say anything about stories that have been told us as to the reasons they want to acquiesce, namely that they have a compact with the freight lines or something else. But in a great national question, when we hear members from the province of Ontario denying that they do not discriminate against other provinces, then certainly it is very strange that on this national question there was no representation, from either Ontario or Quebec.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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PC

Karl Kenneth Homuth

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HOMUTH:

What is your government doing?

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

Our provincial government at least has done more than Mr. Drew, because they have already protested. I will wait to hear the protest from Ontario. That at least is something.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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PC

Karl Kenneth Homuth

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HOMUTH:

I am asking about the government at Ottawa. What are they doing?

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

We will ask them, too.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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PC

Karl Kenneth Homuth

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HOMUTH:

You ought to.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

I am on my feet now to ask that very question.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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PC

Karl Kenneth Homuth

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HOMUTH:

But you will not get an answer.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

Well I have done more than you; at least I am protesting, while all you are doing is to interrupt. Just let me proceed with my argument. If this is going to be a debate between you and me, then I will accept it. I thought, however, this was above that kind of thing; if it is not, I will abide by any rules you like to put into effect. I believe that before I have finished I shall prove what I say about the benefits received by the two central provinces-especially Ontario-as against British Columbia.

When the, Canadian Pacific railway built into British Columbia they were paid well over $100 million and given, twenty miles of land on each side of the tracks through the province. The people and the government of that day reckoned that we had paid the C.P.R. for coming through the mountains. There still are people who think that when you go to British Columbia you go over the mountains and then drop down. As a matter

of fact the Canadian National railways has through British Columbia the lowest grade for the whole of Canada. It has a grade of not more than -7 per cent on its low level water route. What does the board of transport commissioners do about the low grade of the C.N.R. as compared with the high grade of the C.P.R.? The C.N.R. could haul

passengers from Ottawa to British Columbia- Vancouver or New Westminster-twelve hours ahead of the C.P.R.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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?

An hon. MEMBER:

More than that.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

Well, twelve hours, anyway; I am conservative when I say that.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

That is good enough.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

But are they permitted to do it?

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

No.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

Are they permitted to meet the developments of trucking and transport by air? No, they are not. The board of transport commissioners says: We will not allow the C.N.R. to do it because if you did, it would hurt the C.P.R. Hence I say to the house that the board of transport commissioners is not doing its duty because it is protecting the railways against the best interests of the people of Canada.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

They are protecting

private enterprise.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

British Columbia thought it was going to get justice when the Canadian National Railways came into that province. For sixty years we have fought the battle. Before any national increase was allowed in freight rates, the differential to the Pacific coast should have been removed. There should have been equalization before any increase was put into effect.

True, we are getting a kind of sop when g'-ain is left out of the picture-and, although I am not sure of it, I believe coal is also out.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. COLDWELL:

Twenty-five cents a ton.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
Subtopic:   INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT UNDER STANDING ORDER 31
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April 5, 1948