October 26, 1951

PROVISION FOR APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE

LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Hon. Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport) moved:

That a special committee on railway legislation, consisting of 31 members, to be named at a later date, be appointed to consider Bill No. 12, an act to amend the Railway Act, Bill No. 6, an act to amend the Canadian National-Canadian Pacific Act, 1933, Bill No. 7, an act to amend the Maritime Freight Rates Act, and such other railway legislation as may be placed before it; and that the committee be empowered to send for persons, papers and records, to sit while the house is sitting, report from time to time and to print such papers and evidence from day to day as may be ordered by the committee; and that paragraph (1) of standing order 65 be suspended in relation thereto.

Topic:   RAILWAY LEGISLATION
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Howard C. Green (Vancouver-Quadra):

Mr. Speaker, the official opposition have no objection to the problem which is dealt with by these bills being referred to a committee of the house for study, but I have two suggestions which I should like to place before the minister today with regard to the procedure to be followed.

Special Committee on Railway Legislation

In the first place, I suggest that, instead of setting up a special committee to consider these bills, the reference should be to the standing committee of the house on railways, canals and telegraph lines. That was the practice followed by the government in 1929 when there were important amendments to the Railway Act. I believe that at that time the study was made by the standing committee, not by a special committee.

The standing committee has had considerable experience with problems of this type. In 1950 it dealt with amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, which were extensive and complicated, perhaps just as much so as the amendments to the Railway Act which are contained in Bill No. 12. Furthermore, the standing committee has dealt with' different bills authorizing the construction of railways and I submit is in a position to deal efficiently with the problem now before the house.

Canada is in the process of working out a new national transportation policy. The bills presented now are only one part of that policy. Perhaps the other parts, which will follow at later sessions, will also have to be considered by a committee, and it would be unwise, in our opinion, to set up a special committee in each case. Why not let the standing committee do its job? We have quite a few standing committees of the house. Several of them never meet at all except to choose chairmen, which I think is unfortunate. In the standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines we have a committee which has actually been working each session and doing good work. I do hope that the minister will agree to have this question referred to that committee. At this fall session there will be only two or three committees sitting. It is not as though there would be many committees taking up the attention of a large number of members, who in some cases have been sitting on two or more committees. This fall we are going to have in all only two or three committees. There is no reason why this standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines could not do a first-class job on this particular question.

This point was raised with the minister on April 5 of this year, when we had a discussion on the report of the Turgeon commission on transportation. The discussion will be found at page 1657 of Hansard. I asked the minister this question:

The minister means that any legislation brought in will be referred to the committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines.

His answer was as follows:

Topic:   RAILWAY LEGISLATION
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

What I mean is that legislation

having to do with equalization, if it is approved

Special Committee on Railway Legislation of by the government, could, I think, be referred to the committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines, if it was the wish of the house.

Then on June 14 of this year the minister introduced Bill No. 377, which was a bill to amend the Railway Act in much the same terms as Bill No. 12, which is to be considered this afternoon. His explanation will be found at page 4065 of Hansard. Asked to explain the bill on first reading, he said:

This bill, which is to amend the Railway Act, together with the other two which follow, an act to amend the Canadian National-Canadian Pacific Act, 1933, and an act to amend the Maritime Freight Rates Act, are bills which have been drafted to meet the recommendations of the royal commission on transportation so far as the equalization of freight rates is concerned.

When we reach the second reading stage of these bills I propose to ask my colleague, the Minister of Public Works, to move that the bills be not now read a second time but that the subject matter thereof be referred to the standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines, with instructions that the committee shall consider the same and report thereon from time to time to the house.

Topic:   RAILWAY LEGISLATION
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

Mr. Speaker, is it the intention that

the standing committee should consider the subject matter of these bills during the present session, or at the fall session?

Topic:   RAILWAY LEGISLATION
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

The committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines is the master of its own procedure, and will decide what action it will take in connection with the bills.

All I am suggesting today is that the minister's own promise, as made on June 14 of this year, should be fulfilled, namely that instead of referring the bills to a committee, he should refer the subject matter of the bills for study before second reading, anid that the reference be to the standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines, rather than to a select committee which of course will be an entirely new committee.

Topic:   RAILWAY LEGISLATION
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CCF

Major James William Coldwell

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

Mr. M. J. Coldwell (Roseiown-Biggar):

Mr. Speaker, we learned of the intention of the government, and therefore had an opportunity of considering the matter, and we are of the same opinion as that expressed by the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra (Mr. Green). We think that we have an experienced committee which has been dealing with railways, canals and telegraph lines for a number of years. Some members of the committee have had experience on that committee for a number of years, and we are of the opinion that much more could be done by an experienced committee than one which is set up anew to deal with this problem. I suggest to the minister that it would be in the best interests of the house and of those who will appear before that committee, and the officials who will be there to advise hon. members, that the experience of this committee should be utilized in discussing this problem, which is of very great importance not only to the government but to the country

and to every member of the House of Commons as well as indeed to the railways. And therefore I would support-I may say that I do so at the request of my colleagues, and I am in agreement with it of course-the suggestion that the procedure outlined by the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra be followed.

Hon Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport): Mr. Speaker-

Topic:   RAILWAY LEGISLATION
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LIB

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. If the Minister of Transport speaks now he will close the debate.

Topic:   RAILWAY LEGISLATION
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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CCF

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

Is this a substantive motion?

Topic:   RAILWAY LEGISLATION
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

I am glad to see that both the spokesman for the official opposition and the C.C.F. party agree that the legislation should be referred to a committee for study. There is, however, some disagreement as to which committee it should be referred to. While it is true, as stated by the hon. member for Vancouver-Quadra, that on one occasion, if not on more than one, I indicated to the house, first that the subject matter of this legislation should be referred, or might well be referred, to the committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines, still, after giving it further consideration, I came to the conclusion, with which my colleagues agree, that it would be a better and a more efficient procedure to send it to a special committee. I want briefly to speak about the two points raised by the hon. members. First, I would deal with the one having to do with the subject matter. The moment the subject matter was referred to the committee, and the bills were reported upon, then it meant that entirely new bills would have to be introduced in this house. That action would have been required, because it had not been decided what form the $7 million subsidy should take. In other words, it had not been determined at the last session of parliament whether we would cover it by a section in the bill or place an item in the estimates.

Having decided to do it by way of a section in the bill, it was necessary to introduce a resolution. So that it was therefore no longer possible to refer the subject matter of the Railway Act amendment, if not the whole legislation, direct to the committee. It was necessary on that account to refer the actual bills; and that is the procedure which, so far, the government has followed-by placing the bills on the order paper, and considering today the second reading thereof.

Now, with respect to the other point, it is true that the committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines has done an excellent job on railway legislation, both public and private

bills dealing with matters concerning railways generally. But I should like to submit to the house that it is a fairly large committee, so far as numbers are concerned, and it was felt by the government that a smaller committee composed of some thirty-one members which could be representative- and which I am sure will be representative of all parts of Canada, because I have seen the list prepared by those responsible from this side of the house and I know it gives representation to every area in Canada- would be more satisfactory.

Because of that, the government was of the opinion that this committee might be in as good, if not-and I say this with all respect- a better position to give its full time to this legislation. Because if, perchance, it were not possible to deal with the bills during this session, and we had to go over to the next session-which I hope will not be so-then the committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines would perhaps be extremely busy dealing with other bills of a public and private nature.

For that reason we hope this procedure will commend itself to the best judgment of the house, and I trust the suggestion will be adopted.

Topic:   RAILWAY LEGISLATION
Subtopic:   PROVISION FOR APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE
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Motion agreed to.


RADIO BROADCASTING

SHORTWAVE BROADCASTS TO EUROPE


On the orders of the day:


LIB

John Decore

Liberal

Mr. John Decore (Vegreville):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask a question of the Secretary of State for External Affairs. Is the minister prepared to make a statement as to whether there has been any decision to inaugurate shortwave broadcasts to Europe over the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation international service by the addition or inclusion of other languages in addition to those now used, for the purpose of informing as many people as possible under Soviet domination about our Canadian way of life?

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   SHORTWAVE BROADCASTS TO EUROPE
Sub-subtopic:   LANGUAGE SERVICE
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LIB

Lester Bowles Pearson (Secretary of State for External Affairs)

Liberal

Hon. L. B. Pearson (Secretary of Slate for External Affairs):

Mr. Speaker, I understand a decision has been taken that the C.B.C. international service shall make shortwave broadcasts in the Ukrainian language. The C.B.C. is now making the necessary preliminary arrangements for the inauguration of these broadcasts.

Topic:   RADIO BROADCASTING
Subtopic:   SHORTWAVE BROADCASTS TO EUROPE
Sub-subtopic:   LANGUAGE SERVICE
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RAILWAY ACT

IMPLEMENTING CERTAIN RECOMMENDATIONS OF ROYAL COMMISSION ON TRANSPORTATION

LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Hon. Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport) moved

the second reading of Bill No. 12, to amend the Railway Act.

Railway Act

He said: Mr. Speaker, this bill is based upon the recommendations of the royal commission on transportation and seeks to put them into effect, particularly those dealing with equalization. I should like to make some remarks of a general nature on the amendments therein proposed.

The sections of the present Railway Act dealing with tariffs and tolls, which are the principal subjects of the proposed amendments, have been changed little if at all since 1903. In passing the early railway legislation, parliament's concern with rate regulation was a relatively limited one, namely, the prevention of unjust discrimination. Nevertheless it promised a solution to the discontent and dissatisfaction which had been developing for over half a century, and probably few pieces of legislation won greater or more widespread approval.

In a small and compact economy the "unjust discrimination" concept of public control might well have maintained itself to the general satisfaction of all parties. Similarity of conditions, including those of competition, would have required only a minimum of intervention by the regulatory board.

However ideal such a state of affairs may appear, one would be less than realistic to overlook the fact that we are far from having the ideal conditions for it. Instead of being small, compact and homogeneous, our country is large, sprawling and varied. Densities of population, producing and consuming areas, types of traffic, and lengths of haul, to mention but a few factors, all show the widest variation. And in addition thereto, the last quarter century, in particular the last decade, has been a period of tremendous economic change with important consequences to transportation. The royal commission assessed these and other factors in considerable detail; and, in concluding that the present Railway Act was deficient in certain respects, stated:

It appears that Canada has reached a stage in its development when former methods of making regional rates must give way to a uniform rate structure that, as far as may be possible, will treat all citizens, localities, districts and regions alike.

The board of transport commissioners is a statutory tribunal and as such must rely for its authority upon the Railway Act. A warrant must be found in the act for its orders or they are null and void. Its decisions are remedial and corrective in intent, endeavouring to remedy a situation rather than punish a dereliction. The board's responsibility is to see that all parties receive fair treatment. It is legislation based on this premise of fair treatment which confers wide general powers on the regulatory board but is sparing in specific directives. The board is

i ji!

Railway Act given wide powers of initiative to meet particular situations, but is not encouraged to expand its regulations as an end in itself. There seems no doubt but that such general policy will continue to meet the approval of the Canadian people. On this point the royal commission found almost unanimous agreement among all who appeared before it. No one asked that the board of transport commissioners be made an economic planning board, nor for that matter did anyone seek to have the board "manage" the railways. I do not believe that this point can be over-emphasized, for failure clearly to define the purpose and extent of regulation has provoked regrettable dispute between parties who actually have been very close to agreement on this essential point all the time.

The findings of the royal commission indicate that rate regulation would be more compatible with the public interest and would more effectively meet our national needs if parliament were to determine a national freight rates policy. In accordance with the commission's recommendations section 332A of the present bill provides an over-all directive respecting freight rates and authority for the board to carry out parliament's intent. If it is the desire of the Canadian people that such basic conditions should govern the freight rate structure-and the royal commission was of this opinion-then the board should be so instructed by the inclusion of those conditions in the Railway Act.

The attainment of basic uniformity in the freight rate structure is to be sought by modification, not repudiation, of the general principles on which existing tariff and toll legislation has been based. Both the board and the railways would retain their respective fields of initiative in rate matters. The rates which by this legislation would be subject to equalization are almost entirely those which might be termed the "permanent" or basic rates in the rate structure. These rates are not subject to the same frequent changes as are those which in the course of the railways' day to day business are constantly being issued, revised or cancelled.

The only changes to which the permanent or basic rates have been subject have been the general percentage increases or decreases and such adjustments resulting from the board's numerous decisions bringing them closer to equality or removing unjust discrimination. With substantial equalization accomplished, the motive for many such adjustments would disappear. The general position would then be a relatively constant body of equalized class and commodity rates applicable throughout the country, and beneath which the lower specific commodity

and competitive rates will appear, change or disappear as particular circumstances and conditions require.

It need not be anticipated that the proposed amendments will result in a body of freight rates which will disrupt established industry and trade patterns. The differences to be equalized are not that extensive. The legislation offers a means whereby general agreement will be obtainable on the basic elements of the rate structure-class rates and commodity mileage rates-and relief to the board from those regional controversies from which it has never been free in all the 48 years of its existence.

In my opinion the great advantage to be derived from this legislation lies in the removal of a persistent source of regional grievance. In this country, made up as it is of widely differing regions, no state of affairs within the power and responsibility of parliament, and which is a source of friction and grievance between regions, should be permitted to continue. So long as regional grievances remain unsolved they encourage thinking _ exclusively in terms of regional interests rather than in terms of national interest.

Clauses 1, 2 and 3 of the bill relate to the appointment, term of office and salary of the chief commissioner. As the Railway Act now stands, the office of chief commissioner is filled by a judge of the exchequer court. It has been considered advisable to change these requirements and the bill now provides that any person may be appointed chief commissioner who is or has been a judge of the superior court of Canada or of any province of Canada, or who is a barrister or advocate of at least ten years' standing at the bar of any such province. The bill also provides that the chief commissioner shall have a position and pension rights similar to those of a judge of the exchequer court and an annual salary equal to the salary of the president of the exchequer court. If the term of office of the chief commissioner expires before he reaches seventy-five years of age and he is not reappointed, he becomes a supernumerary judge of the exchequer court with the same rights and privileges as a puisne judge.

Clause 4 of the bill provides for an appeal from a decision of the board to the Supreme Court of Canada on a question of law upon leave being obtained from a judge of the supreme court. Parties to a proceeding before the board now have the right to apply to a judge of the supreme court for leave to appeal to that court on a question of jurisdiction. It is proposed to give the parties the right to apply to a judge of the supreme court

for leave to appeal on either a question of law or a question of jurisdiction. This amendment would make an application to the board for leave to appeal unnecessary and it is proposed to repeal subsection 3 of section 52. The commission did not recommend any change in subsection 1 of section 52 which provides for appeals to the governor in council, and no amendment is proposed in this respect.

The next amendment of importance provides for a new division of freight tariffs. In order to implement the recommendation of the royal commission and to bring the provisions of the act relating to freight tariffs more in line with modern railway practice, sections 328 to 332 inclusive are repealed and new provisions substituted therefor. At present, section 328 of the Railway Act provides for three classes of freight tariffs, namely, the standard freight tariff, special freight tariffs and competitive tariffs. The bill provides for a new division of tariffs into four classes, namely, class rate tariffs, commodity rate tariffs, competitive rate tariffs and special arrangements tariffs. This new division of freight tariffs is well understood by railway and shipping interests and will be helpful in working out the application of the equalization sections of the bill.

New section 331 of the bill provides that the board may require a company issuing a competitive rate tariff to furnish information to establish that the competition actually exists; that the rates are compensatory; and that the rates are not lower than necessary to meet competition. The section provides that the board may require other information to be filed regarding competitive rates.

The part of the bill that empowers the board to effect and maintain the uniformity in freight rates throughout Canada recommended by the royal commission is found in new section 332A. Subsection 1 of this section declares the national freight rates policy and says that every railway company shall, so far as is reasonably possible, in respect of all freight traffic of the same description, and carried on the same kind of cars, passing over all lines or routes of the company in Canada, charge the same rates to all persons. Subsection 2 provides for a uniform scale of mileage class rates and a uniform scale of mileage commodity rates and for revision of any other rates with a view to implementing the national freight rates policy. Subsection 3 gives the board power of disallowance of any tariff considered to be contrary to the national freight rates policy, and subsection 4 contains the exceptions to equalization.

Hon. members will note that the provision for an equalized freight rates structure is

Railway Act

made subject to the proviso to subsection 5 of section 325 of the Railway Act which establishes the Crowsnest pass rates, and is also made subject to the Maritime Freight Rates Act. Neither of these special statutory provisions will be affected by the new equalization section of the bill. The other exceptions are joint international rates, rates on export and import tariffs, competitive rates, agreed charges, rates on the White pass and Yukon route, and any other case where the board considers an exception should be made from the operation of this section.

Provision is made in new section 332B to implement the recommendation of the royal commission that the benefit of any transcontinental rate from the east to the British Columbia coast or from the Pacific coast to eastern Canada should be carried back in the rate to intermediate territory on a basis not more than one-third greater than the transcontinental rate. In other words, when competitive transcontinental tariffs are published by the railways, such tariffs shall provide that the rates to or from intermediate territory shall not exceed the transcontinental rates by more than one-third.

Another amendment contained in clause 10 of the bill carries out the recommendation of the commission on interline rates. An interline rate is one which applies between stations on the lines of two or more different railway companies. As a rule these rates are lower than the sum of the local rates but more than the rate for the same distance over the line of one company. The amendment dealing with this problem provides that in any case where it is shown that joint interline rates exceed the rates in a single line tariff for the same or similar distances in the same locality, the burden of proof shall be placed on the companies to show to the satisfaction of the board that there are greater costs involved in the joint movement, and only in such case are the companies permitted to charge joint rates higher than on the single line basis.

The royal commission recommended that the Railway Act be amended so that the board should be empowered and directed to prescribe, as soon as practicable, a uniform classification and system of accounts and reports for rail items for the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways. The commission also recommended that the board be empowered and directed to maintain a revised statistical procedure so designed as to provide the requisite data necessary for the performance of its duties. Effect is given in clause 15 of the bill to these recommendations.

Railway Act

Clause 18 of the bill covers the payment to the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways of the cost of maintaining corresponding amounts of trackage on that part of the two transcontinental railway systems which serves as a link or bridge between the east and west, that is, between Sudbury and Fort William on the Canadian Pacific and between Capreol and Fort William and between Cochrane and Armstrong on the Canadian National. The payments to the railway companies are limited to $7 million in the aggregate and are to be paid out of the consolidated revenue fund. This part of the bill was outlined when the resolution was considered in this house on October 23.

In view of the complicated and difficult nature of the provisions of the bill to amend the Railway Act, and the importance to the welfare of all citizens in all parts of Canada of the changes recommended by the commission, I consider that this bill should be referred to the special committee on railway legislation for further examination and study. The bills to amend the Maritime Freight Rates Act and the Canadian National-Canadian Pacific Act deal only with minor amendments and should go to the committee together with the bill to amend the Railway Act.

I have already indicated on several occasions that in our minds these bills are the implementation of the recommendations of the royal commission in so far as equalization is concerned. In other words, these bills not only lay down the principles recommended by the commission but also give effect to a number of recommendations on equalization in the report. I do not think it desirable that the government should be committed to all the details of the legislation prior to its being referred to the committee for consideration and report. It was our feeling all along that these bills should be referred to a committee. First of all I thought that the standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines might be the appropriate committee. Later, after giving it further thought and because of the reasons mentioned earlier this day and also because of the fact that this would be a committee to study principles, it was felt that it should be a special committee.

I hope that the committee which will hear these representations will not be put in the position of having to rehear all of the briefs, recommendations and statements that were made before the royal commission on transportation. I think it will be for the committee, in consultation with subcommittees if it is decided to establish them and in consultation with the chairman, to determine what the procedure should be. But if this

committee receives all these representations again it will bog down and the house will not be in a position to deal with this legislation at the present session. It seems to me -and I give this as my own opinion, not as any direction but for what it is worth-that those who will appear to make representations before the committee, individual witnesses, groups, associations and the like, should indicate whether or not this legislation has a detrimental or favourable effect upon their respective regions. Otherwise the committee will be listening to a repetition of arguments and representations already made. I am sure the house will wish those appearing before the committee to follow that course. Again I repeat that I give no direction. The committee is master of its own destiny, and I am sure that its members will deal with this legislation as it should be dealt with. At the conclusion of this debate I intend to move, as I have already indicated, that this particular bill, together with the other two which will follow, be referred to the special committee on railway legislation.

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTING CERTAIN RECOMMENDATIONS OF ROYAL COMMISSION ON TRANSPORTATION
Sub-subtopic:   MAINTENANCE OF TRACKAGE
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PC

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Howard C. Green (Vancouver-Quadra):

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transport (Mr. Chevrier) has reviewed the terms of this particular bill, and I do not think there is any need for me to go over the same ground. The members of the official opposition are glad to facilitate the placing of this bill, and the two other measures known as an act to amend the Canadian National-Canadian Pacific Act, 1933, and an act to amend the Maritime Freight Rates Act, before the special committee on railway legislation. Mind you, we would have preferred to have them go before the standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines, but we cannot always have our way on these things, and now we shall facilitate getting the bills before the special committee.

We recognize very clearly the importance of the Turgeon report on transportation in Canada. It must be obvious to every member of the house who has given the matter any thought that the transportation question is extremely complicated and requires the most careful study. I find myself in sympathy with the remarks of the minister about the way in which the special committee should carry on. I agree that if we hear any large number of briefs similar to those which were placed before the royal commission it will be impossible for the committee to do a job at the present session.

However, I hope that representations will be made by the railways, the provinces and any organizations that are interested. The history of proceedings during the last few years is that only seven of the provinces

have shown an interest in the question of freight rates. Thus far Ontario and Quebec have shown very little interest. Of course there is a reason for that attitude in that in Ontario and Quebec the railways face extensive competition from trucks and water transportation on the canals and the great lakes with the result that freight rates have been kept lower than in other parts of the country. The seven outlying provinces have been the ones which have had to keep on complaining. I understand that the new province of Newfoundland is in the same position. It has been compelled to join in the chorus of protests from the other seven provinces. Therefore I hope that an opportunity will be given for the provinces to make their representations before the committee. The men representing them have acquired a very thorough knowledge of the whole freight rate question, and I am sure they could help us a great deal in our deliberations.

While we are anxious to facilitate getting these bills before the committee, there will be speeches made by members of the official opposition in which they will try to place before the house and the country some suggestions and complaints about the proposals. Perhaps it would be better for me to use the word "doubts". They have some doubts as to just how the plan is going to work out. I believe that is particularly true of members from the maritime provinces. There seems to be a great uneasiness there about how this so-called equalization is going to affect them.

As I see it, the main principle of the bill is contained in the new section 332A which sets out a national freight rates policy for Canada in these words:

It is hereby declared to be the national freight rates policy that, subject to the exceptions specified in subsection 4-

In this policy, of course, the exceptions are very important.

-every railway company shall, so far as is reasonably possible, in respect of all freight traffic of the same description, and carried on or upon the like kind of cars or conveyances passing over all lines or routes of the company in Canada, charge tolls to all persons at the same rate, whether by weight, mileage or otherwise.

That policy may be described as an equalization policy, although I think it is hardly that because there are so many exceptions. Some have described it as a policy of uniform rate structures. The implementation of the policy is left to the board of transport commissioners. This bill merely lays down the broad approach for the board, and results, of course, will only follow depending upon the manner in which the board carries out that policy.

Railway Act

There are other important matters contained in the bill, but today I intend to refer only to one and that is the provision for the payment of a subsidy of $7 million for the maintenance of the transcontinental trackage through the wild country of northern Ontario. I do not know how long we shall be able to describe that country as wild. Every time I go through it there are new towns, and one of these days it may be an important producing part of the country. However, there will always be great expense in maintaining the tracks through that particular area, and I believe the minister will find general agreement with the proposal that there should be a subsidy paid for the maintenance of those tracks. The amount of $7 million was the amount recommended by the Turgeon commission. I do not know whether it will pay the whole cost of maintaining the tracks, but in any event it is a move in the right direction.

As I have said the implementation of the main national transportation policy is left to the board of transport commissioners. From what the minister has said in the different debates on this subject, I judge that the board will take a considerable time to implement this policy. The commissioners must first complete the general freight rate investigation. It is now over three years since they were instructed to undertake that investigation, and instructed in much the same terms as this national policy is outlined in the bill. Three years ago we were promised that action would be taken along that line right away but as yet there are very few results to be seen. If there is to be any long delay, I hope that there will be no more horizontal increases in freight rates in the meantime. Every time there is a horizontal increase it makes the discrimination across the country worse. Surely, a stop should be put to horizontal increases until the board has taken steps to implement the policy laid down in this bill.

I am afraid that the minister will have to do something about strengthening the board of transport commissioners. He has not made any reference to a step of that kind, but I believe that some of the trouble has been that the board is not sufficiently strong to handle the job.

Topic:   RAILWAY ACT
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTING CERTAIN RECOMMENDATIONS OF ROYAL COMMISSION ON TRANSPORTATION
Sub-subtopic:   MAINTENANCE OF TRACKAGE
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October 26, 1951