March 9, 1953 (21st Parliament, 7th Session)


Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)


Mr. Chevrier:

This matter is one which concerns the internal management of the Canadian National Railways; and as the house knows, it has not been the policy either of the various departments or of the Canadian National Railways to table correspondence having to do with officers within the department. This policy is one of long standing which has been followed in this house not only by Liberal governments but by Conservative governments as well. My colleague, the Minister of Resources and Development (Mr. Winters), some days ago quoted from a statement made in this house by the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen. It was a statement made in 1920, dealing with a matter having some relation to that which is now before the house. I should like to quote from another statement made by Mr. Meighen in 1921, during which time the then minister of the interior, as I believe he was, gave cogent reasons for the policy which, I submit with deference, should be followed on this occasion. His remarks can be found at pages 1182-3 of Hansard of that year and are as follows:
I think it will be obvious that if the Canadian National directorate are to be compelled to answer to resolutions, which by the dozen may be put upon the order paper of this house every day, calling for copies of correspondence, for the disclosure of every fact and of every deed connected with the operation of the road, they will be put under a disability that their great competitor is not under at all. Should we do that they might well say: You shackle us in the management of the road: you refuse to give us that latitude and freedom of management that every successful business must have; you therefore will have to take the responsibility of failure-we do not. That would be the position they would logically assume. I venture to say that no board of directors, no president and general manager who would be big enough for the tremendous task of operating that system today, would undertake to assume such responsibility under conditions that would be brought about were this amendment to be adopted.
As the minister responsible for the Department of Transport I have always taken the position that it is not in the interests of the Canadian National Railways to give information which relates to the internal operation of the system, and which other competitors or other business organizations would not be required to produce. In fact, the hon. member who has made this motion

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seems-at least to my way of thinking-to have adopted and to have accepted that position when the debate took place on the motion that I referred to in connection with the Minister of Resources and Development because-and I am sorry the hon. member is not in his seat now-after the position was set out by my colleague he had this to say, as reported at page 2292 of Hansard:

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