April 22, 1948

CCF

Thomas John Bentley

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

Mr. BENTLEY:

That was my purpose anyway in doing that.

I now want to come to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. It has had most generous treatment. I want to point out that I support the things wThich were said by the hon. member for Cariboo (Mr. Irvine) when he was here. The Canadian Pacific has had entirely too much influence on the operation of the Canadian National all through the picture, both when the Canadian National was privately owned and since it has become a government institution. I think that is a regrettable situation.

When the Canadian Pacific was being built, we know there was difficulty, and we understand that there was a good deal of risk-capital involved. We know they were to go across what at that time were empty, or practically empty, prairies; and no one knew for sure that they would actually be productive. In order to recompense them to some extent- in fact, to recompense them to quite an extent-they were made a gift of 32,848,477 acres of land, according to this statement. With that they were given the mineral rights in a tremendous amount, if not all those acres, some of which mineral rights they have used to convert into tremendous wealth

Freight Rates

for the Canadian Pacific shareholders. This does not appear in the financial statement of the railroad and is not used, so far as I know, in paying the operating costs. Nevertheless the gift was made to them to recompense them for the risk they were taking in going across that wild country, as it was at that time.

It would appear that the government should accept this argument, that this railway company, having been given all those gifts, from there on should be subject to competition from any other transportation company which may appear on the scene. But instead of that, we have found that, in spite of the gifts to the Canadian National and in spite of the gifts to the Canadian Pacific, both of them now want to gouge the public more and more, instead of getting down to a basis of proving which one can operate most economically and most successfully in the interests of the Canadian people and still take care of their capital costs, pay decent wages and provide proper working conditions for the people who work on them.

Time does not allow me to go much farther with that particular part of my argument.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDWELL- SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Go ahead.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDWELL- SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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CCF

Thomas John Bentley

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

Mr. BENTLEY:

I could give a great deal more along that line.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDWELL- SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Go ahead.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDWELL- SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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CCF

Thomas John Bentley

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

Mr. BENTLEY:

I am simply trying to get the government to see the point of view that we have, that there is no excuse for their allowing the railways such a gift as that.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDWELL- SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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LIB

Thomas Vincent Grant

Liberal

Mr. GRANT:

You are not going to blame the rest for that.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDWELL- SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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CCF

Thomas John Bentley

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

Mr. BENTLEY:

I am trying to prove my point. The hon. member for Kings (Mr. Grant) can have his fun with the Tory member for Queens (Mr. McLure) at some other time. I think I have already brought forward some fairly substantial evidence to support my point.

I want now to turn to the second part of the amendment which reads:

. . . further this house is of the opinion that the government should reconsider this matter and take action to prevent the proposed increases from coming into effect at this time.

There is only one appeal which a person can make to a body of people in authority for something of that kind. One must appeal to their reason and their generosity. I want to remind this government that, aside entirely from partisan political considerations, they have enjoyed-even from those who do not

support them politically-loyal support in Canadian policies from the people across this country. Right through the war they did not ask a thing from us that we were not prepared to give. It is true that we exercised our democratic right of opposing them on the platform and in other ways, when we thought they were wrong. But they were the governing body, and when they said that something should be done, we loyally supported them. That goes for the people from Halifax to Vancouver. To people who have been as loyal as that, and who have the nature to continue to be as loyal as that, no matter who governs this country, it seems to me that the government should give consideration with regard to their needs and desires.

Outside of the places where this increase in freight rates will not be effective because of other factors which enter into the matter, a great many Canadian people will suffer seriously in the operation of their businesses, in the maintenance of their homes, and in all the ways whereby the extra freight rate they will have to pay will affect them when they go to buy the goods and services they require in order to carry on. Is there not some little place in the mind of the government where a little sympathy can edge its way in, gradually expand and grow to a nice big, green tree; not a weeping willow but a tree that will provide shade and comfort for the people of Canada along those lines.

As I say, one can produce piles of evidence to support the statement I made that this is inimical to the people of Canada. But I can use only the argument I have just used in order to try to convince the government that they should at this time reconsider this matter and take action to prevent these proposed increases from coming into effect at this time. If they will do that, they will earn the gratitude of many people in this country. If they do not, they will earn something else; and they will certainly get it.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDWELL- SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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CCF

Edward George McCullough

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

Mr. E. G. McCULLOUGH (Assiniboia):

The debate, Mr. Speaker, has taken a serious turn this evening.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDWELL- SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDWELL- SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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CCF

Edward George McCullough

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

Mr. McCULLOUGH (Assiniboia):

I wish to bring to the attention of hon. members the points I want to make. In the first place, I should like to have had more time to put on record some additional arguments for the necessity of a serious consideration of the judgment handed down by the board of transport commissioners. I know among this group there are members who would like strongly to urge the government to reconsider its refusal

Freight Rates

to delay the imposition of the new schedules until the seven provincial premiers have had an opportunity to make their recommendations to the government. When the judgment was handed down by the transport board the Premier of Saskatchewan, Hon. T. C. Douglas, made a public statement in which he said the seven premiers would be lodging a petition to the federal government under section 52(1) of the Railway Act, and I say the action we have witnessed is anti-democratic and certainly shows a cynical disregard for the wishes of the provincial premiers. This is a definite slap in the face to these gentlemen who want to come here and lay their case before the government.

Hon. members from this side who have spoken, and many from the other side, have put on record figures showing clearly that the Canadian Pacific has a surplus this year, and that only the possibility of poor business in future years can justify the additional revenue the increase will give them. Neither I nor any other member of this group would protest increased freight rates as such. We say if it can be shown that the railways need the increases then we are ready to agree to them, but we do not want them imposed in addition to the inequalities which already exist under the freight rate tariff. It has been stated that if the railways were not given these new rates and the larger profits it would mean a general strike of railway employees across this country. That is completely ridiculous. I want to read a statement made by the railways to the board of conciliation in the current wage dispute:

Any relief provided by way of increased rates will not be available for increase of extra costs for the future-such as increased wages-only those up to October, 1945, will be covered.

That should settle that argument.

Getting back to the point I was trying to make, I feel that men who have been elected to parliament do not represent only their particular constituencies but are representatives of the people of Canada, trying to carry out the wishes of those people in order that we may have better relationships, so that our dominion may grow in stature and we may improve the conditions of our people. Last Monday the Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier) told the members of the Tory party that if the debate could not be concluded by six o'clock the government would adjourn it and take up another matter so that the vote would not be taken that evening. If the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Gardiner) had co-operated in the same way with this group there would not have been the necessity of carrying on

this debate. However I feel that we have served the people, and my hon. friends opposite who are making so much noise can answer to the people. I believe we have a democratic right to carry on this debate in an effort to see that the decision of the transport board is not allowed to remain in effect. The Premier of Saskatchewan said if these rates were allowed to go into operation they would bring chaos, and that if the decision were reversed later, after representations had been made, a great deal of confusion would result. That is what has happened; and, as I said before, I think the action taken by the government was a slap in the face to the seven provincial premiers who are coming here on April 24 to meet the cabinet. In the past these same premiers have co-operated with the government at interprovincial conferences, and I think they should have been shown a little courtesy.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDWELL- SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

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

Mr. A. M. NICHOLSON (Mackenzie):

Since I had an opportunity to discuss this matter in the house a few days ago, I have received from my constituency telegrams and resolutions which indicate that the people of western Canada will not accept the increase in freight rates without protest.

I find that the judgment of the board of transport commissioners sets out that the rates in the standard and special freight tariffs may be increased by 21 per cent. We find the word "may" appearing throughout the judgment, apparently leaving it to the railway companies to decide whether the increase shall be put into effect in some parts of the country and not in others. I have been told of the increase the poultry producers in Saskatchewan have been compelled to pay. Previously I understand that they enjoyed a rate of thirty-five cents for a thirty-dozen crate of eggs, and that this rate has now been increased to seventy-five cents.

I move the adjournment of the debate, Mr. Speaker.

On motion of Mr. Nicholson the debate was adjourned.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   FREIGHT RATES-INCREASES ORDERED BY TRANSPORT BOARD-AMENDMENT, MR. COLDWELL- SUBAMENDMENT, MR. BRACKEN
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BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

PC
LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. CHEVRIER:

Tomorrow we hope to deal with the motion of the Minister of Agriculture for second reading of Bill No. 204, to amend the Prairie Farm Assistance Act. Then we should like to go into committee of the whole on the Unemployment Insurance Act. Then we shall take up the Dominion

Business of the House

Elections Act, and any other items on the order paper not yet disposed of. We had hoped to be able to go into supply in the Department of Agriculture, and in the Department of External Affairs on Monday next, but unfortunately that has not been possible.

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. GRAYDON:

Will the minister give any indication as to when the freight rates debate will go on?

Topic:   BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
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LIB

At eleven o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order.



Friday, April 23, 1948


April 22, 1948