April 5, 1948 (20th Parliament, 4th Session)


Major James William Coldwell

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


We have been penalized by the tariff, and now we are to be penalized by a further increase in freight rates. I should like to suggest that we should not leave the matter there but rather that the government consider an alternative policy. If we are, as we contend, living in a country which has been built up largely upon railway facilities, then the people who live in distant parts of it should not be penalized because they live there. Consideration should be given to the equalization of freight rates across this country, thus recognizing that the railways are indeed a vital factor in the preservation of confederation. If the railways, as is contended, are unable to provide adequate services and to pay proper wages to their staffs with their present revenues, it seems to me that there arises the question of a national transportation policy for this country, that that national transportation policy should be presented to the house by the government, which should take responsibility for recommending it, and that the house should consider it and either modify it or adopt it as the case may be. There should be no regional injustices in order to finance the railways or to keep in operation any part of the Canadian economy. In our opinion an extension of government regulation of competing transportation agencies is overdue. I know that one of the factors in the demand for increased freight rates is that much of the profitable

Freight Rates
freight and passenger traffic is now being carried by buses and trucks. It seems to me that whether the buses or trucks are owned and operated by private companies-and I am not going into that aspect of it this afternoon; let us leave that out-or whether they are operated by governments, we should consider how they can best be integrated into the whole transportation system so that they may feed rather than destroy the great lines of railway upon which this country depends for its existence.
I note that the board of transport commissioners admit that railway freight rates -and I shall be just one minute longer, if I may conclude, Mr. Speaker-should be just and reasonable. I say that they have always been unjust, unreasonable and discriminatory as far as certain parts of this country are concerned, namely, the maritimes, British Columbia, and the prairie provinces. This freight increase makes them more unjustified, more unreasonable and more discriminatory. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I want to urge upon the government that they take immediate action-not consideration but action-to
prevent the increase in rates until a thorough investigation has been made, having regard not only to the economic factors upon which the board delivered judgment but also to the broader political considerations to which I have referred this afternoon, and to present an alternative policy to this house for its consideration.

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