May 17, 1904 (9th Parliament, 4th Session)


Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)


I can only say that is what I understood the hon. gentleman to say, and I incline to the opinion that ' Hansard ' will bear me out. Since he denies it, I am, of course, bound to accept his statement. The hon. member went on to

say : we cannot change a single condition
of this contract or a single clause of the Bill, but we have to accept it in its entirety or reject it in its entirety. Who is saying this ? It is not the government who have made the contract. It is only a common member of parliament. What authority had he to make that statement ? Was he the party who made this binding agreement ? I find that the agreement was signed by Henry Robert Emmersou, Minister of Railways, representing Canada. We like to have principals speak, and not Subordinates. We like to have those speak who have the authority to speak. But, strange to say, the principal is not here, and it is left to his subordinates to say what is the binding nature of this contract. His deputy, the Minister of Justice, who is employed to act for him, is the only man in the House who assumes any responsibility, and who speaks authoritatively. The deputy of the Minister of Railways speaks, but the Minister of Railways himself is not present. We would like to see him here. We would like to have his interpretation of this contract. We would like to hear from him whether there can or can not be any amendment to it. If it be the fact that there can be no amendment to this contract, why are 213 or 214 members of this parliament, representing the people of Canada, wasting their time debating it clause by clause ? If we are to accept it or reject it in its entirety, why do the government not move it en bloc ? Does it not seem to be silly child's play to take up the time of this House day after day discussing the clauses of this Bill and the binding nature of the contract, when we are told by one who is supposed to know that we are wasting our time, because we have to accept the contract or reject it in its entirety ? If we cannot remedy any defects in it, we are only wasting the time of this House considering it clause by clause. This House was plied with a similar argument last year, when the original Bill was before us. We were told that not one clause of that Bill could be changed, because a solemn and binding agreement had been entered into by the government with the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company, that the country was bound to carry out the obligations entered into, and that we were compelled to accept it whether we liked it or not. Every amendment we proposed was voted down', and the Bill was carried through in its entirety. How long did the company stand by that agreement ? So far as we know not one month. How do we know that they will stand by the present agreement ? We do not know. Immediately after that agreement was confirmed by parliament, the other contracting party began to find excuses for withdrawing from it, and they did withdraw.
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The other party withdrew from the contract, and asked to have the agreement changed. The government agreed to the changes demanded and now call upon the House to ratify this supplemental movement. But what greater obligation are we under to honour the agreement made by the government than the railway company were to honour the agreement into which their representatives entered ? We believe that this contract contains defects and we desire to remedy them. The government, however, refuse to consent to any remedy. They say that the contract must be accepted in its entirety. With regard to this amendment, I have proposed it for this reason. We find that tjie contracting parties are the government, acting on behalf of the country, as the party of the first part, and the Grand Trunk Pacific as the party of the second part. The party of the first part agrees to build the eastern division and to guarantee three-quarters of the cost of constructing the western division, and the party of the second part agrees to lease the eastern division from the government at a rental of three per cent upon the cost of its construction, and to pay besides three per cent interest upon the bonds guaranteed by the government for the construction of the western division.
But during the first seven years the party of the second part is to pay no rent on the eastern division or interest on the bonds guaranteed by the government for the construction of the western division, and during the succeeding three years, unless the earnings of the road be sufficient to pay operating expenses and three per cent interest, the party of the second part is not to be obliged to- pay any interest on the eastern division or on the guarantee of the western division, but thb amount of that interest is to be added to the principal and it will pay interest on the entire amount for the future. It will therefore be the interest of the Grand Trunk Railway, which is to have entire control of the Grand Trunk Pacific, that the earnings be not sufficient to enable the Grand Trunk Pacific to pay that three per cent interest for the first three years at least after the expiration of the seven years. How is the Grand Trunk Pacific to pay tile interest ? Out of the earnings of the road. But the earnings of the road, in the first instance, have to be divided between two or three railway corporations- between the Grand Trunk Pacific, the Intercolonial and the Grand Trunk Railway, as regards all the freight that may pass over the Intercolonial Railway, the contract stipulates that a division of the earnings between the Grand Trunk Pacific and the government will be made on fair and equitable lines. That provision is made in clause 44 :
In respect of the tolls for any traffic carried partly over any line of railway operated by the company, and partly over any of the lines of

the Intercolonial Railway, a fair and equitable ratable division of all such tolls shall he made hy mutual agreement.
Between whom ? Between the Grand Trunk Pacific and the government, I assume; but if they fail to come to an understanding as to what is a fair and equitable distribution, then such division shall be fixed by arbitration in the manner provided by paragraph 47, or by a board of commissioners which may hereafter be appointed, as mentioned in paragraph 190 of the agreement, and subject to the right of appeal as therein provided. But, when the third party comes on the scene, the Grand Trunk Railway, whose freight may be carried over a portion of this line, there is no provision made lor a fair and equitable division of the earnings between the Grand Trunk Pacific and the Grand Trunk Railway. It is true that the two companies will be obliged to divide the earnings in some way or other, but as it is the Grand Trunk Railway which will be operating the road, it will be to the interests of that company to defer any payment to the government as long as possible, and if, by taking more than a fair share of the earnings for its own railway, they will be able to defer payment of interest for three years, they will be likely to do so. We had a considerable discussion about that last night, and I understood the Minister of justice to say that there was a provision in the Railway Act which met that objection. Well, I cannot see any such provision in that Act. While the Railway Commission have the right, before assenting to any rate, to see that it must be a fair rate as between the people and the railway corporation, it has not the right to see that the division of rates is a fair one between the two railway companies. There is a provision in the event of dispute between the government and the Grand Trunk Pacific, but there is no provision in case of a dispute between the Grand Trunk Railway and Grand Trunk Pacific or the Grand Trunk Railway and the Intercolonial. There is no provision for an equitable division in these cases, and it is to provide a means of settling the dispute, similar to that which the government has provided in the case of a dispute between the Grand Trunk Pacific and the Intercolonial, that I move this amendment.

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