October 26, 1951

PC

Gordon Francis Higgins

Progressive Conservative

Mr. G. F. Higgins (St. John's East):

Mr. Speaker, I realize that at this stage of the evening, after a subject has been so well debated, it is exceedingly difficult to say anything that has not been said before. This subject, however, is of such great importance to the maritime provinces and Newfoundland that I think anything, even though it may be repetitious, may be fairly said.

As the minister said after introducing the measure, it is based on the recommendations of the royal commission on transportation. So far as I have read the bill, that part of greatest importance to the maritimes, and certainly to Newfoundland is section 332A dealing with equalization. When introducing the subject on April 5, as reported at page 1656 of Hansard, the minister said, referring to the report:

In the chapter entitled "Equalization" the commission is of the opinion that the time has arrived when there should be equalization of freight rates in Canada so far as that is possible. To say in a report that there should be equalization is one thing, and to put it into effect is another.

That, I think, is the gist of the whole difficulty with which hon. members find themselves faced today. In discussing the resolution the other evening, and again in introducing the measure today, I believe the minister endeavoured to lay at rest some of the worries

of maritime members with respect to increases in their freight rate structure. On Tuesday-night, when he was asked on one or two occasions as to the increases to be faced in freight rates, especially by Newfoundland, he said quite definitely that this legislation had nothing whatsoever to do with increases in freight rates. After reading his remarks and studying the legislation I must agree with him in so far as the measure itself is concerned. But, Mr. Speaker, at this point we diverge. Here I join with members of my party who have spoken this afternoon, and who have disagreed with the minister and with the senior member for Halifax (Mr. Dickey) in the interpretation they have placed upon the bill.

As the senior member for Halifax said, if you can read the king's English you must understand you are fully protected by the Maritime Freight Rates Act. I may not have quoted his words exactly, but that is what I understood him to say. That may be so, and the minister may be perfectly correct in what he says. But again I say that is a legal interpretation. While I have a high opinion of the minister's legal ability, with all due respect to him I would want a little more than an opinion. If we had a definite and positive undertaking by the government that there will be no increases in freight rates so far as our province is concerned, then I would have no further hesitation in taking my seat at this moment. But I know we cannot get that. With all due respect to what was said by the minister as to certain applications being sub judice-and he was referring to applications now pending before the board of transport commissioners-I say that such applications are based upon this measure. In my opinion any reference to them-and again I bow to the ruling that has been given-is not out of order in this discussion. It is the interpretation to be put upon this measure as to which the board of transport commissioners are now being asked by the railways to rule.

Equalization as we understand it, and as it has been explained to us, means merely that the western provinces, which have agreed to this theory of equalization and which have been complaining bitterly for years about high freight rates, will have their freight rates scaled down, while maritime rates will be increased. That is what equalization is going to mean. We had not long been a part of this dominion before we were faced with a freight rate dispute of another type. This involved an increase in freight rates for Newfoundland. At that time I made the brash statement that I would resign from this august company if we were not given justice. I was happy to 94699-30

Railway Act

note that my threat was taken into consideration and that I did not have to resign; because I can assure hon. members that I am not going to repeat the threat. I was young in the membership of the house in those days. However, there is another chamber in parliament, a chamber used to mild speeches, a chamber used to conducting itself in a more orderly manner; and I hope I am not using an improper word. Recently over there we heard very strong statements made by a Newfoundland Liberal senator.

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

Elie Beauregard (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. I would remind the hon. member that it is not customary to refer to recent debates in the Senate.

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

Gordon Francis Higgins

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Higgins:

I do not wish to infringe upon the rules, but .what was said was in reference to this particular matter. I would suggest to hon. members that they peruse the official report of debates in that place, so they might see what I mean.

In that connection I have a comment which I believe would be in order, which arises out of an editorial in the Daily News of St. John's. It makes reference to the speech made in the other chamber, but I shall not refer to that part. Perhaps I might say in passing, however, without pursuing the matter further, that the observations were made by a person who was not altogether unfavourable to the government. This is what appeared in the Daily News of October 22:

People are just beginning to wake up to what equalization could mean to the future of Newfoundland. As a consequence they are alarmed at the damage that could be done to their economic hopes and shocked that in a federal system this kind of proposal could be made.

Newfoundland did not join Canada so that her people could become hewers of wood and drawers of water.

Premier Smallwood has himself disclaimed as the objectives of first importance some of the chief props of the confederate campaign. It was not for old age pensions, not for family allowances, he has said, good as these are that he sought to bring Newfoundland into the Canadian federation. It was rather to gain that wider market and consequent economic emancipation from dependence on one or two primary industries that he fought so hard.

But equalization threatens to blast at a single blow every hope and prospect he may have of building a small industrial empire in Newfoundland. It would cripple existing industries, drive up the cost of living to intolerable levels, and destroy all that has been attempted to procure a diversified economy through a new kind of industrial development.

For if federation means anything at all, it means equal opportunity for all. If, on the other hand, It can be construed as a system that imposes a penalty upon the people of provinces that are industrially poor and far from the main centres of production and distribution, then it is nothing more than a sham, a deception, and a mockery.

And again:

The major benefit of union, in Mr. Smallwood's

own terms, is 1he wider market we should be able

Railway Act

to enjoy for the products of this province. Equalization would destroy that market. It would also crush the local manufacturing industries we already have. And. in fact, if we do not get the benefit of that wider market, confederation will prove no more than a snare and a delusion.

We are at this very time contributing not less than $50 million a year in direct and indirect taxation to Ottawa, and that is more than we get back in baby bonuses and pensions and unemployment insurance and federal disbursements on public works and other administrative outlays. That revenue, accruing to Newfoundland as a sovereign entity, would be capable of meeting all the services we now receive from all sources. We are not, therefore, a parasitical growth attached to the Canadian federation but a people who are paying their way and paying it in full.

The least that we can expect is that Canada should prove herself to be the kind of federation that has been her boast for the past seventy-five years.

We want freight rates that represent an acknowledgment of the fact that we are not to be penalized for our geographical remoteness from the centre of Canadian industrial life.

And further on:

We want equality of opportunity with the rest of Canada so we can pull our full weight in the dominion and work out a bright and prosperous economic future within the framework of confederation.

We want this equality of opportunity in many fields, not the least of them education.

But above all and everything else, we demand the right to live by our industry and not to be placed in the position where the only salvation for our people is that they should move to where freight rates have decided they must go.

We did not enter union that Newfoundland might become a deserted and penurious island. We did enter it so that Newfoundland might attain to a new economic and social stature. But if the equalization bill goes through by the will of the Liberal majority in the parliament at Ottawa that purpose will be destroyed and Newfoundland will be destroyed with it.

Those are strong words, and comments equally strong have been made in another place. I do not know that there is much I can add to that type of argument. Rates have been referred to by the hon. member for Annapolis-Kings (Mr. Nowlan), which would suggest a considerable increase indeed. If the minister has no objection I should like to refer to some additional rates because they show more glaring increases. They make it quite obvious why the people of Newfoundland are so worried.

For class 1 freight the present rate from Toronto to St. John's-*

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

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

May I ask the hon. member if he does not think that the rates he intends to place on Hansard should be given to the committee instead? I understand those rates were submitted to the board of transport commissioners in connection with its equalization investigation, and the matter is therefore before the courts.

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

Gordon Francis Higgins

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Higgins:

If we give second reading to this bill we will be approving it in principle,

and it would then be more difficult to have this particular section removed. I hope I am wrong in that understanding. That is why I should like at this time to present every possible argument that can be put forth, at least by those from the maritimes, to show that this equalization principle is not of benefit to us.

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

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

I believe the hon. member should give that to the committee. I think that is the proper place.

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

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

If the minister is raising a point of order, let him raise it. If he is not, he should allow the hon. member to go on with his speech.

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

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

I do raise a point of order. The hon. member is quoting rates which have been submitted to the board of transport commissioners in connection with the equalization investigation following order 1487 passed by the government. The matter is now under investigation, as the hearing was adjourned until January 10, 1952. Therefore anything having to do with it is sub judice and should not be referred to in the house.

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

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

The order in council directing the board of transport commissioners to make this investigation was passed nearly three years ago, and they have been on that investigation ever since. Here we have a case where certain railways have put forward proposals in connection with the equalization plan. The details of this plan have been published in the press. I submit that the minister is completely wrong when he says that this matter cannot be discussed. I repeat that these figures have been given in the daily papers. There is nothing before the courts in the accepted meaning of that term, and I submit that the hon. member for St. John's East is perfectly in order in attempting to bring forward the effects of these high rates.

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

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

May I say a word in reply? The point is that this legislation has nothing to do with individual rates filed before the board of transport commissioners. This legislation proposes to enact certain principles which the board of transport commissioners will be directed to put into effect. The hon. member for St. John's East is attempting to put on the record matters that are before another court of record. Being a lawyer, surely he will not insist on that.

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

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

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

Mr. Knowles:

Being a lawyer, he will try anything.

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

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

I pointed this out as respectfully as I coul i to the hon. member for Annapolis-Kings, who immediately desisted. The

hon. member for Annapolis-Kings did not place on the record what the hon. member for St. John's East now proposes to place on the record, and I do not think that should be done.

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

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

The hon. member for Annapolis-Kings had already put figures on the record before the minister made his protest.

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

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

He put one figure on the record out of a series of figures.

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

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

He put six

figures on the record.

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

Howard Charles Green

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Green:

This bill lays down a policy-

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

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (St. John's West):

Mr. Speaker-

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

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

The hon. member should not be heard.

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

William Joseph Browne

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Browne (Si. John's West):

On a

question of privilege, the minister has just said that the hon. member for Annapolis-Kings put only one figure on the record.

I took down six figures that he put on the record, and when I interjected that he had placed six figures on the record the minister, in a manner different from his usual behaviour, made a remark which I consider he should not have made.

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

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Perhaps in making the

remark I did I was governed by the conduct of the hon. gentleman the other evening, but, in order that he may feel quite sure I have no intention of disparaging him or any other hon. member, let me tell him now that I did not mean to hurt his feelings or reflect on his integrity in any way by the statement I made a moment ago. I hope he will accept that explanation.

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

October 26, 1951