My hon. friend has had very interesting meetings in the west himself, to judge by what I hear from Moose Jaw. In this connection, for example, as a British Columbian, badly off though our province may be, I believe there is one province in Canada in a worse position than British Columbia. That is Alberta, which is at the very apex of the freight rates. At least we in British Columbia get a little advantage from the water competition that exists between Montreal and Vancouver. Alberta gets none of that; but I do not feel I should stand in my place in this house and explain the Alberta plight, when Alberta is represented by the able members from that province. I say also one other body has a very great responsibility for the present plight of British Columbia and for doing something about it. That is the provincial government, whose responsibility it is to take every possible step to safeguard our provincial economy. Yet-and this was the thing that struck me as most astounding and which actually, I can tell the hon. member for Kamloops (Mr. Fulton), did dampen my fires a bit-I learned from the minister that not since 1927 has our province taken any specific, official action. Oh, certainly they have talked. The members of the legislative assembly have talked; the members of parliament like ourselves have talked, but there has never been the one thing which would have brought about some correction of that mountain differential. There has not been an official demand by the government of British Columbia upon the board of transport commissioners for a review of the mountain differential since 1927.
The reason for that is probably that we have become accustomed to our burdens. When you are burdened down with afflictions, after a while you get used to them and bear them. You do not like it, but it is only when extra afflictions are heaped upon you that you suddenly object to the original ones; and that is the situation today. It was only when the 21 per cent was laid on top of our already heavy burden of the mountain differential that we suddenly rose as a province to protest against it. But I say the
real responsibility rests with the government of British Columbia, which should have made concurrent application about the mountain differential when the railways filed their application, so that today the board of transport commissioners and the federal government could not point the finger and say the only matter considered was the application of the railways for increased revenue and that the province of British Columbia made no application for a review of the mountain differential.
That is why, instead of condemning the federal government, I stand here today praising them, for at least they have taken the one specific action which will remove the mountain differential. The announcement of the minister that not British Columbia, the province most directly affected, but the federal government had asked the board of transport commissioners to start an investigation into the inequalities, not only in British Columbia but across Canada, was a positive step which my province and the other western provinces should have taken long ago. I would say this, to the credit of one provincial premier- Premier Manning-that at least a year ago he started preparing his case on the mountain differential. It has now been a year in preparation and should be very well presented before the board of transport commissioners.
There are some in the house who will say: What is the value of the applications now made by the federal government? The actual record shows that in the case of British Columbia the applications to the board of transport commissioners for the removal of the mountain differential have borne continuing fruit. At one time we had a double rate. An application was made against it by the province and the rate was reduced to one and three-quarters. Then came the famous freight rates case of 1924 when our province, at great expense, hired distinguished legal talent, who later adorned this chamber, and who succeeded in having that rate reduced to one and a quarter.
It is also true that a later application, a third one, failed. The vote by the board of transport commissioners was four to two, a very close vote indeed. Since that time great changes have occurred in the economy of our province which have changed our case. Certainly the imposition of this 21 per cent increase will have aggravated the case for the province; but I feel confident that the application made by the federal government on behalf of British Columbia, which British Columbia should have made for itself at the time the railways were making their applica-
tion, will bring the mountain differential down to parity with the rest of Canada.
For these reasons I will vote against both the Conservative amendment and the C.C.F. amendment, and will support the government in the action they have taken.