Mr. ALCIDE COTE (St. Johns-Iberville-Napierville):
While the Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier) is in his seat, Mr. Speaker, I wish to clear up a point.
Mr. Speaker, I have made representations 'last year, in connection with the Victoria and Jacques Cartier bridges, in the province of Quebec. I had the support, at that time, of the hon. member for Chambly-Rouville (Mr. Pinard). The government of the province of Quebec is wholly responsible for its highways and, of course, has to pay for the cost of building and maintaining the bridges that are extensions of such highways. However, the Victoria and Jacques Cartier bridges were built and paid for by the federal government. When the toll system was applied generally to all main bridges in the province, whether they were considered provincial or federal bridges, the whole population was being treated equally. When in 1942 the Quebec government ruled to abolish the toll system in fairness to all provincial taxpayers, it should have eliminated the toll also on
Victoria and Jacques Cartier bridges. Otherwise, there was this unfairness that one important region of the province kept on paying tolls whilst all others benefited from the abolition of the toll on the other bridges. That is why, as far back as 1942, the hon. Adelard Godbout, then premier of the province of Quebec, said he was ready to reimburse the federal government a reasonable amount if the toll was abolished on Victoria and Jacques Cartier bridges, the same as on other bridges of the province. However, after the negotiations were started, a new administration came to power and they were never resumed.
We must at this time take cognizance of the injustice of which I have just spoken, which consists in imposing double taxation upon one section of the population, to the other section's benefit, an injustice which has lasted from 1942 to this day.
Since then, the union of municipalities of the province of Quebec, of which I am a director, has expressly requested Premier Duplessis to meet the federal authorities with a view to solving this problem once and for all.
I am told, on the other hand, that the Quebec government have obtained permission from the federal authorities to use one of the two railway lines across the Quebec bridge for the purpose of widening the motor thoroughfare.
Last year, following representations made by myself and by the hon. member for Chambly-Rouville, the Minister of Transport declared himself willing to meet the representatives of the province of Quebec at any time to study the possibility of abolishing toll charges on Victoria and Jacques Cartier bridges. Unfortunately we are still at the same point today and this injustice has not yet been done away with.
That is why I am now asking the Minister of Transport the following questions:
First, since July 2, 1947, after my colleague and I had made representations to the hon. minister, and as a result of the latter's statement, has the government of the province of Quebec, through its premier, Mr. Duplessis, or a representative appointed by him, taken any action with a view to meeting the dominion government about the toll problem in connection with the Victoria and Jacques Cartier bridges?
Second, is the dominion government or the Minister of Transport always ready to meet the representatives of the Quebec government with a view to considering and eventually solv-
ing the toll problem as regards the Victoria and Jacques Cartier bridges?
Finally, is it true that the provincial government has secured from the dominion authorities or the Minister of Transport permission to use one of the two railroad tracks on the Quebec bridge for the widening of the vehicular traffic lane?