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

SC

Charles Edward Johnston

Social Credit

Mr. Johnston:

It is almost double. Then let us take the rate on farm implements -I am skipping a great many-such as binders, harvesters, mowers and so on. For less than carload lots, to Edmonton the rate was $3.76 in 1945; in 1950 it was $4.91 and in 1953 it is $6.74. In carload lots, minimum weight 24,000 pounds, to Edmonton the rate in 1945 was $1,634; in 1950 it was $2.14 and in 1953 it is $3.17. Then let us look at the rate on passenger automobiles. For less than carload lots actual weight subject to a minimum of 5,000 pounds each, to Edmonton the rate in 1945 was $4.53; in 1950 it was $5.92 and in 1953 it is $8.12. For carload lots, minimum weight 10,000 pounds, to Edmonton the rate in 1945 was $4.53; in 1950 it was $5.92 and in 1953 it is $6.17.
This clearly shows that these rates are going up in such proportions that we in western Canada, and those in the maritimes as well, are greatly concerned over this continual increase in freight rates.
The minister, when he was speaking a moment ago, said that some of these rates were not affected, that there had been some endeavour to alleviate this condition in western Canada, and he spoke of agreed charges. But, Mr. Speaker, the railways, under their agreed charges on petroleum products, are now hauling that stuff at what is generally considered to be away below cost. What for? To gain revenue? Not at all. They are doing that under the agreed charges in order to eliminate competition from the trucking industry. I do not profess to be a lawyer, Mr. Speaker, but if I am not mistaken that procedure is illegal. I think it is against the law for the railways to haul any commodity at a loss. Yet they are hauling petroleum at ridiculously low rates in order to eliminate the only effective competition that we have out in western Canada.
As the hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Argue) said a moment ago, possibly the alternative is subsidization. I do not know; but I would say that if something has to be done, it should be subsidization rather than discrimination. The way the government's policy is working now is this. It is making those of us in the outlying areas, those any distance from central Ontario and Quebec, pay the shot. I think the government should halt this increase. I do not know what the legal procedure would be, or whether it could be done at the moment; but certainly the government should take some steps to

see to it that there is greater equality for the people of Canada in bearing this tremendous burden of increased freight rates.
Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Robinson in the chair.

Topic:   FREIGHT RATES
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