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

CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

I think the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) will find it exceedingly difficult to deal with the difficulty we are discussing in the General Railway Act. I think it will be an impossibility to deal with it there. You cannot leave it to a board of railway commissioners to settle the division of a through rate between common carriers. It is done by telegraph very often ; scores of such cases arise from day to day. A short time ago we had a similar case discusssed in this House. The government, in connection with the Canada Atlantic and the Grand Trunk, were carrying wheat from Depot Harbour to the ocean port. The three concerns, the Intercolonial, the Grand Trunk and the Canada Atlantic, got a through rate. The Canada Atlantic got a fair paying rate for through traffic over its portion of the line, the Grand Trunk got a higher rate than the Canada Atlantic because it had a short haul, and the government was left with actually less than the cost of hauling the traffic. That was made perfectly clear. The departments answer showed that the only reason they thought the traffic was profitable to the Intercolonial was because of the return traffic ; that is, you were carrying one way at a loss hoping to get something back that would pay. In that case, supposing the railway commissioners were to say to the Grand Trunk and the Canada Atlantic : You must accept a pro rata division, what would be the result ? The traffic would not be carried. The three could not agree to carry at a low through rate unless there was an arbitrary division. That is a matter between the freight agents. It does not concern the public in the least ; what the shipper is concerned in is what the through rate will be. When the freight agents get together they have to consider many circumstances. It may pay a railway company to carry at a loss, but they could not leave it to the discretion of a board of railway commissioners. Take the Grand Trunk hauling to Portland, for instance, there are times when it would pay the Grand Trunk to haul wheat at less than cost. It may be that they have entered into an agreement to fill a ship, and if the ship must go before its load arrives, it must go in ballast. They must put the freight aboard the ship on her sailing day. All such circumstances must be considered, but could not be left to the railway commissioners. They are dealt with as a retail merchant deals with his trade. He deals with it at his discretion, but no man not concerned in the profit and loss account could be allowed to interfere. It would be
absolutely impossible, in my opinion, to deal with the point in the General Railway Act as the minister suggests. There is another point in this matter the minister makes-that there may be a part water-haul. If there is a water-haul in which neither of the railway companies is interested, they will be willing to trust their common interest not to let the ship have more than they are absolutely obliged to allow. But, if the ship is a part of the Grand Trunk, then, what the ship gets will be part of the Grand Trunk rate. The only way you can deal with this is, if the Grand Trunk, owing to its special interest, the fact that it will control both lines, should try to divert the traffic to one portion, there should be somebody in the interest of the country to see that they deal justly. There would be no necessity for this if they were independent companies, if thb Grand Trunk did not control the Grand Trunk Pacific. The necessity arises from the fact that the government have given the Grand Trunk absolute power to control the Grand Trunk Pacific ? This is not a thing you can put in the Railway Act, because you will not have such cases arising under the Railway Act. If this thing existed between ordinary companies, the moment such an arrangement as this was made, it would be one entire company and there would be no division between sections at all. But here, the Grand Trunk, controlling the Grand Trunk Pacific and so having a motive might seek to deprive the government section of the road of some of its earnings. You must have a clause that will enable you to protect the country from anything of that kind.

Topic:   EDITION
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