Mr. Howard C. Green (Vancouver-Quadra):
Mr. Speaker, the official opposition have no objection to the problem which is dealt with by these bills being referred to a committee of the house for study, but I have two suggestions which I should like to place before the minister today with regard to the procedure to be followed.
Special Committee on Railway Legislation
In the first place, I suggest that, instead of setting up a special committee to consider these bills, the reference should be to the standing committee of the house on railways, canals and telegraph lines. That was the practice followed by the government in 1929 when there were important amendments to the Railway Act. I believe that at that time the study was made by the standing committee, not by a special committee.
The standing committee has had considerable experience with problems of this type. In 1950 it dealt with amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, which were extensive and complicated, perhaps just as much so as the amendments to the Railway Act which are contained in Bill No. 12. Furthermore, the standing committee has dealt with' different bills authorizing the construction of railways and I submit is in a position to deal efficiently with the problem now before the house.
Canada is in the process of working out a new national transportation policy. The bills presented now are only one part of that policy. Perhaps the other parts, which will follow at later sessions, will also have to be considered by a committee, and it would be unwise, in our opinion, to set up a special committee in each case. Why not let the standing committee do its job? We have quite a few standing committees of the house. Several of them never meet at all except to choose chairmen, which I think is unfortunate. In the standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines we have a committee which has actually been working each session and doing good work. I do hope that the minister will agree to have this question referred to that committee. At this fall session there will be only two or three committees sitting. It is not as though there would be many committees taking up the attention of a large number of members, who in some cases have been sitting on two or more committees. This fall we are going to have in all only two or three committees. There is no reason why this standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines could not do a first-class job on this particular question.
This point was raised with the minister on April 5 of this year, when we had a discussion on the report of the Turgeon commission on transportation. The discussion will be found at page 1657 of Hansard. I asked the minister this question:
The minister means that any legislation brought in will be referred to the committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines.
His answer was as follows:
Subtopic: PROVISION FOR APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE