Mr. Clarence Gillis (Cape Breton South):
Mr. Speaker, I am glad of another opportunity to serve on this committee. I believe service on this committee is an education to any member of the house. It gives a fairly good look at what makes the whole nation tick, not only on the rails but in the air and on the water.
I am not going to demand from the minister any concrete answers to the problems that committee will handle. I do not think it is his job to give them. I think it would be asking the impossible to ask him to answer the many questions that will come before that committee. However, I think this is not a bad time to put some ideas on the record for the benefit of Mr. Gordon and his witnesses, as a fair warning of what he may be asked to answer when he comes before the committee. It will give him a chance to think about the matters and perhaps get the proper answers.
For a start I should like to discuss the Maritime Freight Rates Act, but I am not going to do it here. I should like to take the Chignecto canal proposition and set it out as an answer to shortening the distance to markets from the maritime provinces into central Canada and over to the eastern United States. I believe the answer is to be found in the digging of that 14-mile canal across that neck of land that connects Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. It could very well be done by the C.N.R.
I agree with the hon. member for York West when he pointed out, according to a newspaper article, that as far as passenger service was concerned and to a large extent freight,-that is lighter freight-the railways are going to lose that business in the foreseeable future. The C.N.R. is a big organization and has capable staffs. It has subsidiary companies. I do not see why it would not be good business for the C.N.R. to undertake that Chignecto canal proposition, put it through, put their own boats on that route, and in addition develop the huge power potential that goes along with that particular project.
I am not going to go into that matter any further now. I want Mr. Gordon to think about it. That is why I am putting it on the record. I think it is a project that is practical. It is reasonable in cost. What it could do to solve the problem of freight
Committee on Railways and Shipping rates in the maritime or Atlantic area would more than offset the small amount of money involved in putting that project through.
Another thing I should like Mr. Gordon to explain when he comes before the committee is why the relief and insurance association of the employees that has been in existence since 1890 is being relegated out of the picture. My information is that as of January of this year a new plan has been set up, but that it does not include those who were previously paying into this relief and insurance association. They number some 14,000.