April 13, 1948

CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

You have not heard us say that.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

I have not said so.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

Don't point at us, then.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

There has been much said about secession.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. COLDWELL:

Not by us.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

I make this statement now: I grant immediately that there is no question which can divide the country any more easily than this one can. There was a time when we in this country were divided by racial and religious issues. Fortunately members of parliament have cast that to one side and have placed reason far above passion and emotion. If this particular question is not dealt with in that light, unquestionably it can divide our country. Any hon. member who attempts to make a political issue out of this question is to my mind doing a disservice, not only to himself but to his country.

This is a motion to go into supply, and my hon. friend has decided to move an amendment to the motion in order to expound a grievance, something which he has a perfect right to do. But I submit that before that grievance was expounded the government had made the grievance disappear by ordering a thorough and complete investigation into the railway freight structure by the only board competent and efficient to deal with the question. The government has moved to have the situation righted by this investigation.

The only consistent thing to do is to adopt the position that that board is the proper body to fix rates, that that board is the proper body to eliminate so-called discriminations and inequalities. The only logical course the government could adopt in the light of all the circumstances was to take the step which it did take. For these and other reasons which I have mentioned during the course of my remarks I submit with deference that the house should vote confidence in the government.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. JOHN BRACKEN (Leader of the Opposition):

Mr. Speaker, a few days ago the board of transport commissioners made a report. It recommended a horizontal increase in the freight rates of this country of 21 per cent. The government then took steps to see that that recommendation was put into effect.

On Monday, April 5, a motion was moved in this house for leave to adjourn in order to discuss a -matter of urgent public importance, namely, this question of freight rates. The discussion continued until the hour of adjournment.

Freight Rates

On Wednesday, two days later, following criticisms which had been made, the government announced a change in policy and said that there would be a further investigation into the inequalities and discriminations in the freight rates of this country. On the same day on the motion to go into supply the matter was further discussed, until adjournment at six o'clock. In that discussion the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) moved the amendment which is now before the house. Today we are considering the matter again.

We have just now heard from the Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier) who dealt with three phases of this question, the responsibilities of the governor in council in respect to freight rates, the decision of the board recommending the increase, and the decision of the government to have the board further explore freight rates. I should like to make a brief comment with respect to each of these points.

First, as to the decision of the board. The minister said that application had been made by the railways for an increase in rates to cover increased costs and expenses, and that it was purely a matter of revenue that was referred to the board for consideration. He said that there was no application for the consideration of inequalities and discrimination. My criticism, our criticism and the country's criticism is that the government did not appreciate and deal with these inequalities and discriminations before this and did not take steps to see that they were removed.

In connection with the responsibilities of the governor in council with respect to freight rates, the minister went back for more than forty years, to the time prior to the appointment of an independent board dealing with these matters. He pointed out that now we have an independent board; that it is not now the responsibility of the governor in council to determine detailed matters of rate increases, that theirs is more a judicial capacity and that it is the responsibility of this so-called technical and certainly independent board to deal with details of freight increases.

The minister said that the government had never interfered with the board's responsibilities in that respect. I am speaking now from memory, but I have a recollection that more than twenty years ago

if I remember *correctly, in 1925-we did have a serious fight with the government of the day in connection with interference with the statutory rates known as the Crowsnest Pass rates. I heard the minister refer to this only a few moments ago, and I have not all the details in mind; but my impression is that there was interference by the government at that time with respect to statutory rates and that it was a long-drawn-out fight which resulted finally in the rates being retained for the interests of the people of western Canada.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

1920, not 1925.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRACKEN:

I am speaking of the action of this government in 1925. I was not premier of Manitoba in 1920, and I was premier of that province at the time we had this fight over the Crowsnest Pass rates. My recollection is that it was 1925.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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LIB

James Garfield Gardiner (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. GARDINER:

They put them back at that time to where they were before.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRACKEN:

In connection with the responsibilities of the governor in council the minister said that they would now consider a petition of the provinces for a stay of the application of this rate if they asked it. I gathered that that was what he said.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

May I say just a word? What I did say was-

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

You would not allow anyone to interrupt you.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

If the house does not want to know-

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. DIEFENBAKER:

You did not allow it.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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LIB

William Ross Macdonald (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER:

With the permission of the leader of the opposition.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

I do not like to say "correct" the hon. gentleman, but I should like to say to him that that is not what I stated. What I stated was that we had considered the application to stay the order, and that we would consider an application for appeal when it would come to us. We have not received it, but we have received notice of intention.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRACKEN:

I am glad the minister got up to speak. What he says now is that they did consider the application. What I want to point out is that they turned it down.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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CCF

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

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

Mr. KNOWLES:

By order in council.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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PC

John Bracken (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. BRACKEN:

Yes, by order in council. The minister is now apologizing and saying: Well, we made a mistake; now that we know better we will consider an appeal if they make it.

I have here a copy of the order in council the government passed. It might as well be read now. I quote:

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDW'ELL SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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April 13, 1948