March 28, 1955

CCF

Clarence Gillis

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

Mr. Gillis:

Not from the Atlantic. That is the pipe line that will scrap our coal mines.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. Herridge:

I understand there are some persons in the maritimes who have surplus capital to invest and who, no doubt, would be willing to invest it in this national project. However, I see I am treading on the toes of the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis).

I do think this is a project well within our capacity. We have raised large amounts of money through the sale of Canada savings bonds, and I think it is about time that we started to raise money in Canada for these public projects. This is a good one to start with, a national bond issue for the building of a trans-Canada pipe line. This is an opportunity for the first step in the greater development of Canada and long-term plans to meet unemployment, by Canadians and for Canadians. I think it would be a demonstration of confidence by Canadians in Canada's future.

In the opinion of members of this group this is a natural field for public enterprise, in this case public enterprise supported by the investment of hundreds of thousands of Canadians who I am quite sure would prefer to see this being done in this way than to

be dependent upon the whims of United States capitalists. This would be an investment by Canadians in a wholly Canadian project to serve Canadians for generations to come.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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PC

Owen C. Trainor

Progressive Conservative

Mr. O. C. Trainor (Winnipeg South):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to say a few words on this motion. Some time ago I placed a question on the order paper, as follows:

1. What offers, if any, have been received by the Canadian National Railways for their various hotels listed for sale?

2. What terms of payment are suggested in

respect of these offers?

3. What is the appraised value of each of these

properties, if such appraisals are available?

I received an answer to the first part of my question giving the details with respect to two hotels. In answering the second part of the question I was told that it was inadvisable, in the light of the policy of the railroad, to disclose such information. In reply to the third part I was told that the information was not available.

I have no particular objection to this type of answer, provided the Canadian National Railways are prepared to stand on their own feet. Who owns this railroad? Does the Minister of Transport, or does the government, or do the people of Canada own it? If the people of Canada own it, then I submit the people of Canada have a right to this information and neither the minister nor the government have any right to deny them information that is vital, especially in view of the fact that the Canadian National Railways are coming to the people of Canada to make up their deficit. Still they refuse to give the people of Canada simple information as to how they are conducting the affairs of the railroad.

There might possibly be some objection to disclosing this information if the negotiations for sale were in the process of being carried on, but that was not the case. In the case of the two hotels referred to the negotiations had been completed, and there was no conceivable reason for denying such information.

Apparently the Canadian National Railways are developing into something in the nature of a sacred cow as far as the government are concerned. One cannot get any information about the operations of this railroad. There does not seem to be any logical explanation for this attitude. If it was a question of effective competition perhaps one could understand it, but these were cases in which no such factor was involved. Personally I do not see any particular reason why such information should be denied.

Rumours have been rife in Winnipeg and vicinity that the Canadian National Railways were disposing of these hotel properties 50433-157

Committee on Railways and Shipping at fire sale prices. This may or may not be true, but if it is not true I would suggest that the best way for the minister to disabuse the minds of those who so think would be to disclose the information, more especially in view of the fact that no particular purpose would be served by refusing to do so.

I have in mind another instance of this peculiar attitude on the part of the government with regard to giving out information. Some time ago I asked why the government would not allow Winnipeg and area citizens to travel to Europe over the trans-polar route by way of Scandinavian Airlines. The answer I received was that there was no reciprocal arrangement. I suggested that perhaps they might be able to negotiate such an arrangement, but no reply was given to that suggestion. When I attempted to pursue the matter further I did not get very far.

Here is an instance in which the convenience of the travelling public is involved. One would think the first objective and even the duty of the government would be to promote the public interest and public convenience. Do they do that? No. Apparently they want to reserve this route for Trans-Canada Air Lines, and are prepared to go so far as to force a person residing in Winnipeg to travel to Montreal over Trans-Canada and then take Trans-Canada overseas to Europe, whereas he could get in an aeroplane in his own backyard, so to speak, and be in Europe in eight hours. As far as I can gather the minister is the only citizen of Canada who has had the privilege of travelling this route, and he is not prepared to extend that privilege to his fellow citizens.

The hon. member for Hastings South made what to me at least was an interesting suggestion, and this was commented upon by the hon. member for Kootenay West. This was a proposal to have Canadian National Railways build a trans-Canada pipe line on their own right of way. This is a suggestion that could come only from a Liberal.

In the first place the geography is all wrong. The major gas distribution in western Canada happens to be along the line oi the Canadian Pacific. The Canadian National right of way is some hundred miles or so to the north, which would mean another hundred miles or more of extra pipe line to be constructed. If one has travelled over the right of way of the Canadian National Railways from east to west, as I have, he cannot help but be struck by the type of country through which the line travels. How in the world would you expect to sell any gas along that line?

In the first place this line would not be able to buy any gas in western Canada,

2466 HOUSE OF

Committee on Railways and Shipping because they would not be prepared to pay enough money for it. In the second place they would not be able to sell any gas or oil along the route because nobody would want to buy it. So you would have a gas pipe line without a supply and without customers. All that would be accomplished, in my estimation, would be a carrying on of the pattern established by Canadian National Railways of deficit mounting on deficit year after year.

Finally, with regard to pensions for Canadian National Railways employees, this is a subject of great importance; as a matter of fact pensions in general are a subject of great importance. These pensions have been paid for in part by the pensioners' own money. Their good money has been taken from them and has been returned to them in money that is not so good, in currency that is debased to a certain degree.

Here we have the nub of this whole question, and the government must sooner or later face up to this proposition. Inflation is destroying the basis of all fixed income in the country, and in my opinion the government must take note of that fact. What is the use of giving pensions if 20 years from now when the pensions become payable they are going to be worth only half? That is what has happened in the last 20 years, and the trend is continuing. There is no indication that this inflationary trend in our economy is being arrested. There is no indication that the government is making any serious effort to arrest it.

There is only one possible stand for the government to take, as I see it. If it is not prepared to arrest this inflationary trend then it must compensate these people for the depreciated value of their pensions. Otherwise I suggest it is not quite honest to take from an individual money with a certain value and return it to him in money of half the value.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would make a plea to the minister that he not be so reticent in matters concerning the Canadian National Railways unless reticence is a matter of real importance, and I am not convinced that in the past it has always been a matter of real importance.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. H. Ferguson (Simcoe North):

Mr. Speaker, you will notice that my voice is very hoarse. I was hardly able to speak, owing to a cold I caught in the barn that is used as a customs house at Halifax upon my return from Europe. I hope, however, and I am sure all of you hope that I will soon regain the full force of my voice. You must have missed listening to my eloquence in the three weeks since I have been home.

Never did I think I would live to see the day when Canadians would lose their vision and foresight to such an extent that the people of Canada as stockholders in the publicly owned railway would find themselves treated in a manner which the stockholders of the Canadian Pacific Railway would not tolerate for a moment. The stockholders of the Canadian Pacific Railway have the privilege of attending stockholders' meetings and voicing their opinions and displeasure to the management as they see fit.

We have all known the C.P.R. railway stock to go up and down. We have also known times when everyone sought eagerly to have C.P.R. stock in their portfolio of investments; it was a must. We also lived to see the day when they could not get what they paid for it, which was brought about by world-wide conditions. The stockholders of the Canadian National Railways do not have the same opportunity to voice their opinions as to whether the management is good or bad. This can only be accomplished through their spokesmen in the House of Commons of Canada, which is the voice of the Canadian people. At the moment I happen to be a member of that body which serves as the voice of the people of Canada, and I am one of those members of that body who do not entirely agree at all times that the management of the railway has been correct in its decisions.

I have known a time when the advice of competent government and outside engineers was accepted in relation to the construction of gigantic projects in Canada, and they turned out to be great flops. We know they built a canal leading out of lake Simcoe in the vicinity of Newmarket which was heralded as a great event. After they completed about one-third of this project it was discovered they were building a canal which would have required the water to run up hill in order to bring any benefit, and they finally abandoned that project.

Every new hotel that was built by the Canadian National Railways in the past was heralded as a great benefit to almost all of Canada. I can remember when they built the Minaki hotel. My father owned property around Minaki for about 50 years, for which he paid at least $500. I know that if I offered to sell it to anyone in this house tonight for $250 I would not get it. When the hotel at Minaki was built with every convenience, including a golf course, it was advertised throughout Canada and all over the world, but finally it was almost given away. Many other hotels were built about that time by competent, intelligent railway management.

As you travel throughout Europe you do not find hotels which are 1,000-room projects, with other hotels being constructed, each offering an increased number of rooms. Irrespective of the economic soundness of it, the building of gigantic and unfriendly hotels is a United States idea and many of those constructed in that country have been flops.

I can remember taking a room at the new Waldorf-Astoria when it was first opened. My room cost me $25 for half a day, and I took it so I could say I had stayed there at the opening. I think I stood on the rug in that room for the entire day in order to get my money's worth. I did not want to go downstairs to see anything else, because I said to myself, "I have paid $25 for the privilege of spending 12 hours in this joint, so I had better get my money's worth".

The management of the C.N.R. has done many things for which it deserves credit; but if the management of the C.N.R. and the representatives of the taxpayers in the House of Commons believe this hotel in Montreal is something which will benefit all Canada, surely the clever and ultra-brainy Hilton organization could have been induced to erect their own hotel. If the idea of the construction of this hotel was not good enough for the Hilton people we should benefit by their refusal, and construct a hotel in Montreal to accommodate not only those people travelling on the C.N.R. but all people coming to Montreal. Surely we need not rely on the prestige of the Hilton people to channel tourists and other visitors to this beautiful new multimillion dollar edifice. If we need that force behind us the construction of the hotel is not worth while.

Let us not continue to display marvellous architects' drawings to the people of Canada. Let us get down to earth and start to exert some of the old-time energy that made the C.P.R. what it is today. Let private enterprise do those things that are necessary and which will be profitable. Let those who build them take their chances. Don't put the burden on the taxpayers. If it does not succeed, let it crash; and let those people who have not the ability to manage or have not the foresight to plan for the future take their medicine. They are taking it now all over Canada, and they are perfectly able to take it on a project of this kind.

I would like to ask this question. If a 1,000-room hotel is necessary, how much more necessary would a 500-room hotel be? When we build something of this kind in this country, consider the position Canada is now in. When we build this absolutely necessary project-something the whole country has been crying for, something without which 50433-1574

28, 1955 2467

Committee on Railways and Shipping Canada can never grow-we must go down and select foreign management for a government project for the first time in the history of Canada, I believe.

Let me say this to the members of the Liberal party. This is one of the worst slaps in the face this government has ever given Canada and the Canadian voters. I wish there were a by-election going on somewhere in Ontario. If there were, I would take on any Liberal and defeat him amongst the honest Canadians of Ontario on that particular subject, namely that the time had now come to use the Canadian taxpayers' money to build something we must have-the same as we had to have those hotels we are now selling-and that through the greatest stretch of imagination on the part of those in the government or the Canadian National Railways, they could not find competent management out of 15 million people in Canada.

If that is true the sooner we take the boundary line down and stop paying salaries for members of parliament in Canada, go south to Washington and join up with those people in the United States, the better. If the time has come when we have to go down there to seek management for an hotel, it has now become time to join up on all other projects in the same manner. Don't be afraid to face the facts if the facts are there. But they are not there, thank God. It is only the imagination of this Liberal government that has tolerated the management of the C.N.R. going down into the United States and bringing up foreign management for a Canadian project.

If that were true I would say there was no need to keep this parliament open. Let us go down and throw in our lot with them and let individual Canadians who have some guts left take their chances down there as Americans. I am sure we would not starve to death any more than we have starved in the past. There has never been a time when I have felt inferior to any American or to any foreigner, particularly when I was walking on my own, my native land.

I say this with all respect to the present management of the railroad and to the minister. I believe there has been a gross slip-up with regard to the idea of bringing in the Hilton people to manage this project. If it has been given the consideration it should have been given, and if it has one one-hundredth part of the merit we are led to believe it has, then I say you have shown a bad example to Canadians. You have taken the starch out of every decent young Canadian working for the Canadian National Railways. Out of 120,000 employees you say

2468 HOUSE OF COMMONS

Committee on Railways and Shipping

you could not get managerial personnel. What I myself refrained from rising for quite a a hope that is for these men down here in the while because, as the member for St. Law-Chateau Laurier, who either should be fired rence-St. George, I am much interested in or promoted. If they are not competent, fire the subject of hotels. But I am wondering them. If they are competent, give them whether we are not trespassing a little bit promotion. I am not speaking from the and getting somewhat far from the resolution political angle- that is at present before the house.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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LIB

J. G. Léopold Langlois (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Langlois (Gaspe):

What a joke.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

At least I am speaking with some degree of humour, apparently. There are some men who pay little attention to what goes on in the House of Commons. This is now bringing a little laughter to their lips. There must therefore be something in what I am saying when it creates a laugh even amongst those rubber stamps of the Liberal government. If I have done even that, I have done something.

I want to impress upon them that I am on my feet for only one reason. I believe Canada is a great country. I am disappointed about the unemployment situation as it exists today. I believe Canada should have 50 million people, with its terrific natural resources.

I am also firmly convinced that Canadians must stop looking for foreign aid. We have to stop living in prosperity brought about during the war. The first and second wars virtually put Canada on her feet. You cannot deny that. We made money when other people shed their blood. We did that to some extent. The two wars were the greatest experience Canada ever had. They brought manufacturing plants to this country that we would never have had today. In the eight years since the war we have been basking in the prosperity brought about by the fact that we were making munitions during the six years of war.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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LIB

Claude Sartoris Richardson

Liberal

Mr. Richardson:

Mr. Speaker, may I rise on a point of order? Perhaps the hon. member for Simcoe North (Mr. Ferguson) would like a rest for a moment. I have been reading Beauchesne. I realize that I am only a junior member and therefore full of ignorance. However, I want to learn.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

Sit down and you will learn, all right.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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LIB

Claude Sartoris Richardson

Liberal

Mr. Richardson:

Beauchesne, third edition, citation 546, reads as follows:

When the house is engaged in nominating the members of a committee-

I understand that is the purpose of the resolution before the house.

*-it is not competent for an hon. member to open the whole subject.

Mr. Speaker, could we have a ruling as to whether we have not gone quite a distance?

[Mr. Ferguson.1

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

If my hon. friend had been here this afternoon he would have heard this matter settled. It was all discussed then.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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LIB

J. G. Léopold Langlois (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Langlois (Gaspe):

He was here.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

If you are still of the same opinion-

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Depuiy Speaker:

Order. I appreciate the remarks of the hon. member who has raised the point of order. It is my own impression that on a resolution of this kind we should attempt to discuss the advisability or inadvisability of setting up the committee. However, if one reads the debates on resolutions of this kind, one finds that in practice it is almost impossible to confine a debate so strictly.

In this debate today I am afraid that perhaps rather wide latitude has been allowed. While there is some merit in the point of order raised by the hon. member, I do not feel that I could at this time rule that the hon. member for Simcoe North was out of order. At this stage in the evening, however, I would request all hon. members to confine themselves, so far as possible, to the principle of the resolution, namely the advisability or the inadvisability of setting up this sessional committee.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

Mr. Speaker, my friend the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George will, I am sure, have his wish fulfilled within the next five or six and twenty years. He will learn something in the House of Commons. If at times the hon. member feels as sincerely as I do, through the bitter experience of watching the slow growth of this country of ours, I hope he will voice his views in order to try to alter the opinions of those in power even when he finds himself, after the next election, in opposition.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

Much gross mismanagement of Canadian affairs of the kind we are now seeing at the hands of the present government will bring about that very result. There are many people who feel like I do. They believe there is no reason for the management of Canadian National Railways to do what it is about to do. They feel that the example they are setting is a great detriment to the progress of Canada and is a bad example for the coming generation. They

believe it is taking away their ambition and the feeling that they can accomplish things in their own dominion.

One of our greatest troubles is that after we have paid for the education of our young Canadians they go south of the border to take positions. Here we have the case of a Canadian-owned railroad building the biggest hotel in Canada and employing foreigners to manage it. I say there can be no possible justification for such action. I say it is a slight to Canadians, and if the people of Canada knew the full facts of the case they would feel they had been slighted in such a way that they would never forgive this or any other government.

I am not trying to harangue the government. I am speaking as a member of the opposition to the government which, I believe, still has the power to let the Hilton people build their own hotel if they believe this enterprise is going to be as good as the government would lead us to believe the Hilton people are going to make it.

I am sure we shall live to see the day, and in the not too far distant future, when the government will be called upon to subsidize this very project in spite of the fact that the miracle workers from south of the border are going to manage it. You know, Mr. Speaker, I was looking over the statement of the Canadian National Railways steamship lines. I know they did not make any money. There may be all the excuse in the world for that, but in looking at their statement I see that there is a bond issue of $9 million guaranteed by the Canadian government. As a purchaser of bonds I know that simply means that these bonds are as good to the bondholders as Canadian government bonds. Canadian government bonds draw interest of 3 or 3J per cent. These bonds are paying 5 per cent and they mature, thank God, in the year 1955.

I am sure the public are getting fed up with guaranteeing bond issues for government corporations involving the payment of interest at 5 per cent when the Canadian government can borrow all the money it wants at 2} to 3 per cent and lend it without interest to the steamship company. The minister has the report right there in his hands. Turn over another page and you will see it. The minister has already discovered it. I am sure when he sits over here in opposition he will remember my words.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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?

An hon. Member:

You will not be here.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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PC

Julian Harcourt Ferguson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Ferguson:

We are being called upon to make this building possible so that people can live in the greatest hotel in Canada.

Committee on Railways and Shipping There was a blunder in the first place in deciding to build it, and in the second place a grosser blunder has been made by appointing foreigners to manage it. Let Canada be for Canadians, for God's sake, and let us stop the nonsense of believing that Canadians cannot manage their own affairs.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
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PC

Thomas Miller Bell

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Thomas M. Bell (Saint John-Alberi):

Mr. Speaker, I am tempted to say, with all due respect to the minister, that he should still continue to look at the page that was referred to, because in connection with the setting up of this committee there are two matters that I believe should be given special consideration this year. The first is Canadian National (West Indies) Steamships, Limited. I understand that last year in the committee and elsewhere word was given out that the operations of Canadian National (West Indies) Steamships, Limited, were to be discontinued. This matter was brought up in the house shortly afterward and the then minister of transport, with all due respect to him, landlubber that he was and not being too interested perhaps in the east coast, did say that the steamship service would be continued for another year.

From a quick look at the annual report we see that they have had a fairly successful year of operation. There is a slight deficit, but even with the pessimistic year to year outlook they have been able to put together quite a good year. In my opinion a considerable amount of time should be spent this year in examining the entire operations of the steamship company, and definite plans should be made for a long-range program.

I notice that money is to be taken from the replacement fund for the refinancing plans. I question the right to take money from the replacement fund that is not earmarked for new ships. I also believe that we should be making definite plans for new refrigerated ships and a further continuation of the service that means so much to us on the east coast.

There is also a lesson to be learned so far as the entire merchant shipping business is concerned. In my view a very pessimistic and wrong outlook has been taken. I think the successful year of operations of this steamship line just ended indicates what could be done for our merchant shipping generally if we had farsighted plans and a long-range program. Operations of the West Indies steamships line were planned for one year more. We were told that would be the end of the line, that it would be discontinued; yet even in spite of that they have had a very good year. I earnestly hope I may be present in the committee to see that this matter receives most serious consideration.

Committee on Railways and Shipping

I should also like to refer to the present plans for discontinuance of branch railway lines. I have been given to understand that this is the first year that extensive plans have been made for the discontinuance of many such lines. While there have been some discontinuances out west in past years, this is the first time that wholesale plans have been made. In my constituency it was necessary to give notice of intention to abandon two small branch lines. The board of transport commissioners naturally were involved in the matter, and I think it is fair to say that they conducted a reasonably impartial and extensive inquiry.

It was my good fortune to be able to attend the hearings for part of the time, and two things came out of them upon which I feel the committee must give some direction with respect to future abandonment plans. The first concerns the policy of considering the entire revenue of the region in these matters. Second, there is the part that the future development of the area is to play in these abandonment plans. The hearing I attended was weak in so far as both these matters were concerned. I feel, Mr. Speaker, that these two matters should receive extra consideration this year.

Topic:   QUESTIONS PASSED AS ORDERS FOR RETURNS
Subtopic:   RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING
Sub-subtopic:   ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMITTEE ON RAILWAYS AND SHIPPING OWNED, OPERATED AND CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT
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March 28, 1955