Mr. John Decore (Vegreville):
May I join with other hon. members, Mr. Speaker, in congratulating the mover (Mr. Hanna) and seconder (Mr. Robichaud) of the address in reply to the speech from the throne. The way in which these two gentlemen acquitted themselves has brought credit not only to them and to this house but also to the constituencies which they represent.
I am very well acquainted with the mover, the hon. member for Edmonton-Strathcona, whose constituency is adjacent to that of mine and with whom I share the same office in this House of Commons. The other day someone said that he is one of the hardest working members in this house, and I wish to assure you that this is correct. I wish also to give him credit for having made an attempt to speak in the French language. It is difficult for some members from the west, who may not have the same opportunity as eastern members to learn the two languages, but we do hope that all the members of the house will endeavour to master French since it is one of the official languages. If we cannot do that we can hope that at least our children, who will one day represent Canada, will be able to do so.
I should like also to congratulate the new leader of the Progressive Conservative party. The responsibility which faces him is great. He has the responsibility not only of being the leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition and criticizing the government, but also of offering alternatives. At the same time he is expected to revitalize his party. Although I am a Liberal, I wish him well in his task of building up the Conservative party in Canada, because I am one of those who believe in the two party system if democracy is to work.
With reference to these splinter groups, at least you can say that the C.C.F. party is socialist, has a certain program and endeavours to follow it. However, since the
The Address-Mr. Decore Winnipeg convention, at which time they chucked out the Regina manifesto, I do not know whether they are any longer necessary in Canada, because I feel they are getting closer to the Liberals. In any event, one thing you can say about the socialists is that they have a certain definite platform and they endeavour to follow it.
When it comes to the other splinter group, the Social Crediters, it is a different matter. They will do anything; they will twist and turn; they will rock and roll; they will offer $25; they will endeavour to muzzle the press if they can, and whenever it suits their convenience, to put something across. As I say, I do sincerely believe, and I am sure a lot of other members who belong to the same political party I do believe, that the best way in which democracy can work in Canada is through the two party system. It is for that reason I do, in all sincerity, wish the new leader of the Conservative party every success-not too much success
in building up a strong Conservative party in this country.
During the course of this debate there have been a considerable number of references to the desire for an increase in social security payments. Reference was made to the desirability of increasing old age pensions as well as pensions for the blind. I think we should recognize this because it is quite clear that the buying power of these payments, especially with reference to old age pensions, has decreased very considerably in recent years. An increased pension to our old-timers contributes to the support and self respect of these pioneers and at the same time gives relief to the younger Canadians who have elderly dependents. I realize we are being confronted with huge expenditures, especially in the field of national defence. We all realize that social security without national security would be meaningless, especially where freedom was affected, but I do hope the government will be able to see its way clear to granting some increase, especially for the blind and for our older citizens.
Now I should like to draw to the attention of this house, Mr. Speaker, what I consider to be an injustice to the province of Alberta from which I come. I am, of course, referring to freight rates. I have spoken about this matter before, I am doing so now, and I shall continue to do so as long as I am a member representing the people of Alberta. I feel that Alberta is being discriminated against by the railway companies. We in Alberta do appreciate, and I appreciate, the fact that the geography of our country is such that it raises difficult problems with
The Address-Mr. Decore regard to rail transportation. Some of these problems are difficult to overcome, and it is not easy to eliminate the discrimination. However, I believe that with regard to freight rates, Alberta is a clear example of injustice.
Hon. members will recall that in 1951 a royal commission, after having studied the problem for some two years and after receiving a great deal of evidence with regard to the problems of transportation, issued a voluminous report. I believe it contains some 200,000 words. Certain recommendations were made. One of the main purposes in setting up this commission to study the problem of rail transportation was to endeavour to equalize freight rates across Canada. As I say there are problems, and will forever be problems, in such a vast country as ours, especially at this time when our population is relatively small. The commission endeavoured, however, to listen very carefully to the representations made on behalf of Saskatchewan and Alberta in particular. I think the house will appreciate the fact that because Alberta and Saskatchewan are so far removed from the markets, and we have not a self-sustaining population, if agriculture is to survive it is necessary that the cost of production be kept as low as possible.
One very important complaint that has been raised time and time again over the years by the province of Alberta in particular has been the cost of moving many classes of goods that are shipped from the east to our province. It costs less to transport goods from Toronto to Vancouver than it does to transport them from Toronto to Edmonton, though there are an additional 600 miles of very difficult terrain that the railways have to go over.
The reason the railways gave the special concessions or low rates was ostensibly to meet water transportation competition. However, the Turgeon royal commission, after having heard representations made by Alberta in this regard, recommended that parliament amend the Railway Act to provide that when the railways inaugurated low rates from eastern Canada to the west coast and from the west coast to eastern Canada to compete with water transportation, then the rates at intermediary points should not exceed the rate to the coast by more than one-third. In other words it was known as the one and one-third rule. It was felt that the one and one-third rule recommended by the Turgeon royal commission on transportation brought real relief from what we in Alberta felt was a long-suffered discrimination against our
manufacturing and processing industries, as well as our distributors and consumers as a whole.
Although the finding of the Turgeon royal commission, that is the one and one-third rule, was incorporated into statute by this parliament, the railways were determined to prevent its operation, with the result that this rule was destined to be shortlived. There appears to be a conflict between the Railway Act containing the one and one-third provisions and the Transport Act, under which the rate-making system of agreed charges was established in 1938.
The railways took advantage of the situation and the practice of making competitive rates on transcontinental traffic, for example between Montreal and Vancouver, was abandoned in favour of the agreed charges, and once again Alberta and western Saskatchewan were restored to the long and short haul discrimination against which these areas fought for many years. In fact a new royal commission was set up known as the royal commission on agreed charges. The finding of this commission was to refuse to recommend the enactment of legislation which would make agreed charges subject to the one and one-third rule, and that of course is the situation today.
Let me bring out, Mr. Speaker, by quoting certain figures just to what extent we in Alberta are being discriminated against with regard to freight rates. If you were to take commodities such as plate or sheet steel and ship them to Vancouver from Hamilton the cost per hundredweight, provided you shipped 100,000 pounds, would be $1.10. The cost of the shipment from Hamilton to Calgary would be $2.46 per hundredweight, or more than twice as much. In other words it would be cheaper in this case to haul the plate or sheet from Hamilton to Vancouver and from Vancouver back to Calgary than to ship it direct from Hamilton to Calgary.
Let me give you another example of canned goods from southern Ontario. The cost per hundredweight to Vancouver is $1.80. The cost to Calgary is $2.30. The cost of shipping anti-freeze from Montreal to Vancouver is $2; the cost of shipping it from Montreal to Calgary is $2.70. The cost of shipping wire rope from Toronto or Montreal to Vancouver is $1.30 per hundredweight. The cost of shipping it from Toronto or Montreal to Calgary is $2.80, or more than twice as much. Do not forget that there are 600 miles between Calgary and Vancouver. The cost of shipping paints from Toronto or Montreal to Vancouver is $2.25. The cost of shipping them to Calgary from those points is $3.35.
Take margarine. The cost of shipping margarine from Toronto to Vancouver is $2.85 per hundredweight. The cost of shipping it from Toronto to Calgary is $3.77 per hundredweight. The cost of shipping cheese from southern Ontario to Vancouver is $2.90 per hundredweight. The cost of shipping it to Calgary is $3.50 per hundredweight. The cost of shipping corn oil and syrup from Port Credit to Vancouver is $1.90 per hundredweight. The cost of shipping it to Calgary is $3.56 per hundredweight. The cost of shipping steel piles from Sault Ste. Marie to Vancouver is $1.25 per hundredweight. The cost of shipping it to Calgary is $2.51 per hundredweight, more than double.
Will you call it six o'clock now, Mr. Speaker?
At six o'clock the house took recess.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY