April 12, 1951

LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

That was one plan, and there was another plan which was given in detail in the report. Prior to 1914, I believe, the plan was one which increased the rates in western Canada less than in central Canada. I think there was, as well, a basis for a percentage increase in the eastern provinces.

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PC

Heber Harold Hatfield

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hatfield:

The railways have not followed the terms of the act. They have not kept separate accounts up to Diamond Junction or any other place. They are supposed to keep those accounts.

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

I am telling my horn, friend now that one of the maim complaints of the maritime provinces was given effect to. Then, when he asks about a comparable point on the Canadian Pacific to Diamond Junction, if my hon. friend looks at section 4 of the act he will find it sets out a list of the preferred movements affecting the various railways.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Mr. Chairman, I agree with what the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar said this afternoon, that the Turgeon commission did a particularly good job. I am more than pleased to be able to say that, because for many years the chairman of that board practised law in my own city of Prince Albert, and started bis political and judicial career there. I know the member for Rosthem recalls the days when Mr. Turgeon first came to Prince Albert, established himself there and started his record of public service which is continuing.

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PC
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

As the member for

Victoria-Carleton says, he really had a good start having been born in New Brunswick.

I intend to make one or two observations about this report. First, I think that it does bear out many of the criticisms that have been made over the years, and in particular during the last two years, respecting horizontal increases in freight rates and the detrimental effect they have in so far as western Canada and the maritime provinces are concerned. I remember when, a little less than a year ago, the debate on this subject took place in this chamber. At that time I pointed out the injustice that was being done by reason of this horizontal increase in freight rates. It struck at western Canada-Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The horizontal increases resulted in the unfair, discriminatory rates of 15 per cent, as they then were, finally being increased to 21-78 per cent. Certainly no one, in reading the report, can do otherwise than conclude that the only hope for the building up of a united Canada is in the removal of the discrimination that has been in effect in respect of freight rates.

I feel that, at the earliest possible date, the government should bring before parliament legislation that will implement many of the recommendations of the commission, in so far as they are generally acceptable to hon. members in all parts of the House of Commons. So often in the past, Mr. Chairman, when royal commissions have made their reports, those reports have been unused and have found their way into the archives. Having regard to the opinions expressed in this chamber last June by the minister, I trust that this is one report that will be implemented at the earliest opportunity, with a view to removing the existing discrimination and the

injustice to the maritimes and to the western provinces under which those areas have laboured over the years.

Some mention was made today of the extension of the authority of the board of transport commissioners. My friend the hon. member for, Bow River seemed to be under the impression that the report recommended not only that railway, steamship and air transport be placed under the board but trucking transportation as well. I do not read the report in that way. In fact, the majority opinion indicates that there was a full realization by the board that trucking was a matter, generally speaking, of provincial jurisdiction and that it could in no way be controlled by the federal authority.

I feel that it would be to the public interest to extend the power of the board of transport commissioners to cover not only railway transportation, but sea transportation and air transportation. There is no reason why the board, as it is at present constituted, should not be able to discharge those responsibilities. The chairman of the board, Mr. Justice Archibald-and a most distinguished judge he was-is today discharging his responsibility in a judicial and acceptable manner. I feel that the power of the board should be extended.

I mention this phase of the matter, and I hope I shall be pardoned for doing so. On more than one occasion I pointed out that, having regard to radio, it was unjust that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation should act in a judicial capacity in matters of dispute as between the private stations and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In other words, the C.B.C. is in a position of being not only a competitor but also a judge in its own disputes. When and if the authority of the board of transport commissioners is extended to cover the three modes of transportation-railway, sea and air transportation-I think at the same time consideration should be given to giving it authority to supervise the question of jurisdiction and to settle disputes as between public and private authority in connection with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. Coldwell:

Will the hon. member

permit a question?

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PC
CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. Coldwell:

What about international

and interprovincial trucking?

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

My hon. friend mentions international and interprovincial trade.

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CCF
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

I meant trucking. As

a matter of fact, the line between what is

international trade and what is interprovincial trade is difficult to draw. The courts have endeavoured to do it in the United States. The interstate commerce commission has found it almost impossible to arrive at a common basis upon which to determine what is, in fact, trucking within the state and what is interstate. For that reason I believe that to add to the jurisdiction of the board of transport commissioners the power to determine rights and to decree responsibility in reference to trucking would cause a great deal of legal argument and result in no final determination, having regard to the difficulties of differentiating between what is provincial and what is federal. Indeed, that consideration I think is pointed out on more than one occasion in the report. At page 277 we find these words:

Special mention was made of the desirability of bringing trucks within the same control and regulation as the railways. And here a great obstacle lies in the way. By far the largest part of truck traffic is intraprovincial, and most of this intraprovincial traffic consists of private trucking, that is trucking done by individuals and commercial firms in the handling of their own articles of merchandise. Only a small percentage is trucking for hire. All this intraprovincial truck traffic, both private and for hire is beyond the jurisdiction of parliament, and this fact presents a barrier to coordination and integration of highway and railway services.

In answer to my hon. friend, I point out that the opinion of the chairman of this commission is that of a renowned man of judicial experience; and he expressed, as did the commission, the gravest doubts as to the possibility of bringing trucking under the board. Then again at page 278, after reviewing the difficulties that had been experienced with the provinces in agreeing to any change in the constitution to meet that situation, the following appears:

This attitude of the provinces gives no ground for the hope that central, uniform control and regulation of all transportation, including provincial transportation, is realizable in the near future.

Notwithstanding the existence of this barrier of provincial opposition, it will be well to state briefly the views expressed on the subject.

Then here are set out the views of various groups, such as the Canadian Manufacturers Association, the Canadian Congress of Labour, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and so on.

I feel that if the matter of trucking and the jurisdiction over it were placed in the hands of the transport board, it might be exceedingly difficult for that board properly to discharge its responsibility in view of the question as to the jurisdiction of the board so to do.

I welcome this report, first because it at least recommends the removal of discrimination in freight rates. It does not refer directly

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to discrimination but it recommends equalization of freight rates which indeed is just another way of saying the removal of discrimination which we in the western provinces, as well as those in the maritimes, have suffered from over the years.

If we are to build up this country and develop our natural resources one of the first things that must be done is to equalize freight rates. In the western provinces we have infinite natural resources that could be developed. Manufacturing industries could be established there. Sites for power development are available in the province of Saskatchewan, but industrialization cannot be achieved until such time as there is an equalization of freight rates. The injustices of the past in this direction have gone a long way to deny industrial development not only to the western provinces but also to the maritimes.

Now, sir, I think that all hon. members-[DOT] and I say that without regard to party consideration-will appreciate the recommendation for the continuance and the maintenance of the Crowsnest agreement. There never was any demand that I know of for many years for the removal of those advantageous rates in so far as the grain products of the prairie provinces are concerned, but it is well that the matter was discussed and that evidence was given respecting it, and that the authority of this commission is behind the maintenance of those rates.

There is one other matter to which I should like to refer. In the introductory paragraph to chapter 17 the commission sets out the broad outlines of Canada's national transportation policy. It set them out as follows. It said that the national transportation policy had its inception in:

(a) The construction of the Intercolonial railway to enable the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to market their products in central Canada:

(b) The construction of the Canadian Pacific railway to unite British Columbia with the rest of Canada;

(c) The agreement to establish and maintain continuous communication between Prince Edward Island and the mainland of Canada;

(d) The terms of union with Newfoundland providing for the taking over of the Newfoundland railway and steamship services and the entrustment thereof to the Canadian National Railways, and the agreement to maintain a freight and passenger steamship service between Port aux Basques and North Sydney.

This matter will be dealt with by my colleague, the hon. member for St. John's West. Then the chapter goes on to deal with the various steps that have been taken in developing our railway system. Among other things it deals with the construction of the Hudson Bay railway and the development of the port

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of Churchill. I am going to say a few words now regarding that. I realize that during the past year there has been more extensive use of the Hudson Bay railway than for a period of several years, but there is still lots of room for improvement in that connection. I feel that greater encouragement should be given to the utilization of the facilities at Churchill.

During the last few days many hon. members have visited Churchill and have seen something of the potentialities inherent in the developments that have taken place there during the past year. Churchill harbour has moved 6,700,500 bushels of wheat to overseas markets, and the ships on their voyages to Churchill have brought in 3,400 tons of merchandise. The savings on freight to the western farmer on the wheat shipped by way of Churchill amounted last year to $810,000. Greater use should be made of the facilities there at the present time.

The situation with regard to damp wheat in the western provinces is a serious one. The elevator at Churchill has a capacity of 2,500,000 bushels and a drier capacity of 20,000 bushels a day. These facilities should be used now in order to save millions of bushels of wheat that otherwise is in danger of being destroyed as a result of the condition in which it is.

The use of those facilities can no longer be excused on the ground of dangers to transportation and high insurance rates. The insurance rates have been reduced. The use of those facilities today, if given the encouragement that I should like the Minister of Transport to give to the shipment of wheat in that direction, would mean a very great saving to the western farmer. Certainly, the facilities have not been used to any extent at all since 1935. Last year's shipment of some 6 million bushels is merely a drop in the bucket when compared with the use to which those facilities could be put.

The wheat board is an emanation of the crown. There is no reason why the wheat board, in endeavouring to secure, as it should, the largest possible return for the farmer, should not be utilizing these facilities. I do make an appeal to the minister, as hon. members have on other occasions, for greater encouragement of the use of those facilities; for in that way we in the western provinces will be enabled to overcome some of the handicaps resulting from our geographical position, and will be able to assure to the farmer the greatest possible return for his products.

Just one other matter and I am through. Our position geographically is that we in the

rMr. Diefenbaker.]

western provinces find a gap of five hundred or six hundred miles in northern Ontario, which has the result of greatly increasing the freight rates and) the cost of the commodities that are shipped in to the western provinces. That so-called gap is an economic gap between the east and the west. It is one that should not be detrimental to the people of the western provinces. That gap is a part of confederation; it is part of our geographical position. When the time comes to determine the question of freight rates, so far as the western provinces are concerned, the government of Canada should give a subsidy in order to cover the extra cost of transportation in that five hundred or six hundred mile gap to the end that we in the western provinces will not be discriminated against because of our geographical position. The problem is, how to overcome it. It is one that has received the support of the government of Saskatchewan; it is one that has received the support of the leader of the Liberal party in Saskatchewan; it is one that has received the support of the leader of the Progressive Conservative party in Saskatchewan, and I think generally of the western provinces. There is no reason-

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LIB
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Yes; I was not taking anything away from the Liberal members in Ottawa. There is no doubt that they give it support, and if they will just exercise-I will not say restraint, because sometimes they exercise too much of that-enthusiastic support, both publicly and in caucus for this, I am sure-

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LIB
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

They have? I am glad

to hear that. Enthusiastic support from them up to the present moment has not warmed the heart of the minister sufficiently to bring it into effect. I only hope that they will continue the warming process. I will join with them in it to the end that something be done to remove the injustice that arises in consequence of that gap. We are united on that. There is no political difference between us. The hon. member for Moose Mountain knows that we are united in that. Fairness demands it. I should like to see the minister go further than to say, as he did a moment ago, that representations have been made. I would rather hear him say that every possible support will be given by him to the end that this injustice of geography will not be detrimental to us in the western provinces in future years.

This report is one worthy of a great commission presided over by an outstanding

public servant of the western provinces. I sum up what I have endeavoured' to say, first, that I am in agreement with the commission that discrimination must end and that equalization of freight rates must take place; and secondly, that the Crowsnest agreement shall not be interfered with. Then, thirdly, I suggest a subsidy from the country as a whole to remove the detrimental effects of the gap in northern Ontario which, up to the present time, have operated most unjustly in connection with the development of the western provinces industrially and' have meant higher costs for the commodities our people have to buy. Fourth, I would bespeak the active support of the Department of Transport in the making of representations to the wheat board; for the utilization of the Hudson Bay railway to a far greater extent than at present.

One has some realization of the saving there would be to the farmers of the western plains when he realizes that on 6,500,000 bushels there is a saving in freight rates of $810,000. The use of the facilities even to the extent of 35 million bushels, which I am informed is quite possible, and would require very little extension in the facilities now existing at Churchill, would mean a tremendous saving to the farmers of western Canada.

Those, sir, are in general the representations I make to the minister at this time, coupled with my support for adding to the duties of the board of transport commissioners responsibility over maritime and air transportation, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The board is now semijudicial, having at its head an outstanding judge and as its deputy chief a member of the bar of more than ten years' standing. My suggestion is that consideration be given by this board, not only in the interests of the assurance of equity and justice as between the broadcasting corporation in its public capacity and the private radio stations, but also with the thought that by bringing these together under one board which is large enough and has the available talent to discharge its responsibilities considerable economy would thereby be effected and we would have as well the assurance of judicial consideration of many of the problems this board is singularly fitted to survey.

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Mr. Chairman, may I deal with just one or two of the matters brought to my attention by the hon. member for Lake Centre. I was pleased to hear him speak so highly and so eloquently of the chief commissioner, the Hon. Mr. Turgeon, and of the report itself. I think the fact that he speaks in such a vein about the

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report, rather than in a critical manner, is under all the circumstances most helpful.

However, when he deals with the matter of the gap I am sure he has not read the statement I made in the house the other evening in reply to a question by the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra, because at that time I did say what the intention was. I said in effect that a committee had been established in the Department of Transport to deal with draft legislation covering the subject of equalization, and that I was hopeful that it would be possible to implement this legislation at the present session of parliament.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Does that include a

subsidy for the gap?

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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

I said one went with the other; but I made it clear, because I wanted to be fair with the house, that I had to bring before my cabinet colleagues the draft amendments concerning the legislation before final decision could be taken. Because there are not only the eighteen or twenty sections referred to in the first part of the report which one must consider, but there are a number of other sections in the Railway Act as my hon. friend knows, which must be taken into account when one is considering what the relationship of those sections will be to the eighteen or twenty amendments recommended by the commission. So that I think my hon. friend need not have any apprehension, so far as that part of the report is concerned. I have no authority to go any further. But I do say the government is quite sincere in giving effect to the first part of the report at least.

The hon. member did speak also of his concern with respect to the port of Churchill, and asked me to give attention to the greater use of the facilities in that area. I would remind him that it is not the responsibility of the minister to direct traffic to one port rather than to another. It is his responsibility to see that when traffic moves the facilities are available to handle it.

I think the national harbours board and my predecessors in the Department of Transport have always taken the view that it is for the responsible authorities in the various national harbours, municipal or otherwise, to promote trade toward those ports. What we did do in the Department of Transport however, in connection with the port of Churchill, was to extend the season of navigation by seeing that greater aids to navigation were provided, and seeing that more loading and unloading facilities were there in the event of traffic coming to that port. Also there was the not unimportant factor of reducing insurance rates. True, as I said in the house, that

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is a matter over which we have no direct control. But we did bring to those in the United Kingdom who are responsible for establishing those rates representations which I believe had the effect of reducing them.

I can assure the hon. member that we will continue to give to harbour facilities and railway facilities the best possible attention, and to encourage the movement of wheat outward through Churchill, as well as the movement of other cargo. But unless the shippers in the United Kingdom and elsewhere decide to move commodities through the port, I do not think there is any authority in the Department of Transport which I would have to direct them to use one port rather than another.

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PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

What did the minister mean by the use of the word "encourage"?

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April 12, 1951