February 17, 1950

NEW DEPARTMENTS

RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT, MINES AND TECHNICAL SURVEYS, CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION

LIB

Louis Stephen St-Laurent (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister):

Mr. Speaker, on November 26 last, during the course of the discussion on the bills that were then before the house for the establishment of three new departments, the hon. member for Peel (Mr. Graydon) suggested that when the departments were set up it would be convenient to have charts prepared showing the branches of the service that would be included in each new department.

The departments were set up in accordance with proclamations which were published in the Canada Gazette of January 28 at pages 320 and 321. We have had charts prepared showing the distribution of the branches of the service among the new departments, and I should like to table two copies of each of these charts and to say that they have been made available for distribution to all hon. members of both houses.

Topic:   NEW DEPARTMENTS
Subtopic:   RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT, MINES AND TECHNICAL SURVEYS, CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Graydon:

They have been distributed already.

Topic:   NEW DEPARTMENTS
Subtopic:   RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT, MINES AND TECHNICAL SURVEYS, CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
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REPORTS AND PAPERS


(For list of departmental and other reports tabled, see Votes and Proceedings, No. 2, of February 17, 1950.)


CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS

REDUCTION IN PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICES- COAL SUPPLY


On the orders of the day:


PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Gordon Graydon (Peel):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to address a question to the Minister of Transport. When may we expect the service of the Canadian National Railways in Canada to be restored to normal?

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   REDUCTION IN PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICES- COAL SUPPLY
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. Coldwell:

Perhaps the minister might answer at the same time the question I sent him a day or two ago. I will not repeat it.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   REDUCTION IN PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICES- COAL SUPPLY
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Hon. Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport):

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the C.C.F. party (Mr. Coldwell) was good enough to send me some two days ago notice of a question similar to that which the hon. member for

Peel (Mr. Graydon) has asked. In fairness to members on this side of the house who have also been pressing for a statement on the subject, I think I should say that at the time I received notice from the hon. member I already had a statement prepared on the situation, because I expected that some such question would be asked. With the permission of the house I should like to read it now.

On December 28, 1949, the Canadian

National Railways announced reductions in passenger train service equivalent to approximately 25 per cent, effective January 9, 1950. These were made necessary by the reduction of the stockpile position of coal on the Canadian National Railways. Neither the government nor myself was previously advised of this decision.

Since the reductions were announced, officers of my department and myself have been in constant touch with the management of the Canadian National on this question of coal supply. I have asked the new chairman and president, Mr. Donald Gordon, to give me a memorandum setting out in detail the events leading up to the decision curtailing passenger train services. At my request, Mr. Vaughan, the former chairman and president, has given me a letter of explanation of the circumstances which brought about the present situation.

I would like to summarize to the house these events.

First of all, the board of directors of the Canadian National Railways, at its meeting in October, 1948, approved an objective of

2,365,000 tons of coal for stockpile as at December 31, 1949-this being about four and one-half months' supply. I am advised that if this stockpile objective had been obtained, a reduction in train services would not have been necessary unless there had been a complete interruption of supplies covering, say, a three or four months' period. Early in June, 1949, Mr. Vaughan, then president, gave instructions to the purchasing department to keep the coal stocks of the C.N.R. at approximately three months' supply. He was of the opinion that such reserve was ample to meet any emergency. The events which occurred in the coal industry, coupled with the decision of Mr. Vaughan, had the effect of reducing the stockpile objective, as set out by the board of directors in October, 1948, from 2,365,000 tons to 1,043,000 tons at December 31, 1949. This meant that a condition of emergency existed, since the coal supply in the heavy traffic

24 HOUSE OF

Canadian National Railways region of the Canadian National was at that time only from twenty-four to twenty-six days. I may say that the over-all position of the Canadian National was somewhat better than the twenty-four to twenty-six days which I have just indicated.

It is well known that there has been a series of work interruptions in United States mines from June, 1949, to the present time. There were work stoppages, vacation periods, a three-day-a-week work program, a fifty-one day strike, a walkout, and at the present time a general strike throughout United States coal fields since February 13.

While orders for the purchasing of United States coal have been held to a minimum in accordance with the government policy of the conservation of United States dollar expenditures, the actual orders placed for Canadian and United States coal generally would have been sufficient to meet requirements if regular deliveries had been maintained from the United States mines. Unfortunately such a condition did not prevail, and late in December the Canadian National had to curtail passenger train services in order to maintain coal supplies. The reduction in passenger train services put into effect totalled some

89,000 miles, bringing about an estimated reduction in coal consumption of approximately 1,000 tons per day. Thq passenger train miles which were cancelled were distributed as follows for the various regions:

Atlantic region 13,700

Central region 45.800

Western region 26,300

United States lines 3,200

The development of the labour disputes in the United States mines, and the interruption of coal deliveries, found the Canadian National with an inadequate stockpile position, and action had to be taken to conserve system stockpiles and use them to the best advantage so as to reduce public inconvenience to a minimum. I am firmly convinced that the precautionary measure taken by the Canadian National to reduce temporarily passenger train services by 25 per cent was fully warranted by the conditions which I have described, and I also believe that it was only fair that all sections of Canada should be treated in the same way so far as the reduction in passenger train services was concerned.

It is most unfortunate that the situation which I have reviewed culminated in a temporary reduction in the Canadian National passenger train services. I can assure the house that as soon as the coal supply situation improves, the passenger train services which have been curtailed will be reinstated. I wish also to assure the house that at no time did the management of the Canadian National consider reducing its passenger train services

with a view to financial economies. On the contrary the reduction in passenger train services was resorted to in order to conserve the dwindling coal stocks, and to prevent, if possible, subsequent greater reduction in train services, as happened in the case of the railways in the United States.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   REDUCTION IN PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICES- COAL SUPPLY
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PC

Gordon Graydon

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Graydon:

I should like to ask a supplementary question which is being asked by many people, including the employees of the Canadian National Railways. While train services are being curtailed by the Canadian National, apparently the Canadian Pacific has plenty of coal. Surely there should be some explanation of this error in judgment on the part of the Canadian National management, as a result of which the Canadian Pacific is said to be now getting a great deal more business.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   REDUCTION IN PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICES- COAL SUPPLY
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

I tried to bring that out in the statement I have just made; but I would say that the positions of the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific in this country are entirely different. The main mileage of the Canadian Pacific is in western Canada, whereas the greater part of the mileage of the Canadian National is in central Canada, Ontario and Quebec. Speaking from memory, I believe the Canadian National have some

11,000 miles of railway east of Manitoba, as opposed to some 5,600 miles operated by the Canadian Pacific. In other words, for the most part the Canadian Pacific is operating in a region where there are coal mines, whereas the Canadian National is operating in central Canada where there are none.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   REDUCTION IN PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICES- COAL SUPPLY
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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

I should like to know if it would not be possible to get more coal from the maritime provinces, and why more coal was not obtained there by the Canadian National Railways.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   REDUCTION IN PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICES- COAL SUPPLY
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

That is a question which it would require some little time to answer in detail. Generally speaking, however, the Canadian National is taking from the maritime provinces, as well as from western Canada, all the coal it can get at the moment.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   REDUCTION IN PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICES- COAL SUPPLY
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PC

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Brooks:

That is not the impression in the maritimes.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   REDUCTION IN PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICES- COAL SUPPLY
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Even if the Canadian National had taken all the coal it could have obtained in 1949 in the maritime provinces and in western Canada, the present position would have been no different.

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   REDUCTION IN PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICES- COAL SUPPLY
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LIB

Gordon Benjamin Isnor

Liberal

Mr. Isnor:

Can the minister tell us what quantity of the 2,365,000 tons of coal in the stockpile came from the United States and what quantity came from Canadian mines?

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   REDUCTION IN PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICES- COAL SUPPLY
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

I am sorry, but I have not that information at my fingertips.

Inquiries of the Ministry

Topic:   CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAYS
Subtopic:   REDUCTION IN PASSENGER TRAIN SERVICES- COAL SUPPLY
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February 17, 1950