I want to thank the committee and I can assure you I will not encroach upon its generosity.
I should like to say, with reference to this question of the R.C.M.P., that this is a continuous policy that has been carried out. No one in this party or anywhere in the house will ever object to the enforcement of law or to the arrest or punishment of those who, by overt actions, are seeking to overthrow democratic government by the use of force. However, when we prosecute innocent people on the basis of secret reports which they have never seen, on the basis of gossip, on the basis of evidence from stool pigeons, we violate the basic tenets of justice and of the bill of rights. I am prepared, when we get to the estimates of the Department of Justice, to document some of the things which I know personally have happened. I do not lay this
at the door of the present Minister of Justice. This has been going on for many years, both under this government and the former government.
The other matter I want to raise is the abandonment of railway lines on the prairies. I hope some opportunity will be given for discussing this subject. I hope we shall have some statement from the government at an early date because this is a pressing matter. As a matter of fact, I understand the premiers of the three prairie provinces are calling a conference to consider this subject. They will undoubtedly be making representations to the government as a group. I know some of them have already made representations to the government individually.
In a nutshell the situation is this, Mr. Chairman. The royal commission on transportation, in its report, said that there were about 4,300 miles of light density lines on the prairies. The Canadian National has informed the three prairie governments that there are about 2,200 miles of railway lines that are candidates for abandonment. Mr. R. A. Emerson, the operating vice president of the Canadian Pacific, has indicated there are about 2,500 miles. This means that there are between 4,000 and 5,000 miles of line that may be abandoned, and between 2,000 and 3,000 miles of this is in the province of Saskatchewan.
I will not take the time of the committee to go into what it means to have lines abandoned, to leave small communities in rural areas without railway transportation for shipping their products; the loss of investment in grain elevators, places of business and homes that have been constructed along those railway lines. What I do want to point out is that the royal commission on transportation recommended that if there were to be a program of abandonment it should be conducted in an orderly manner; that there should be a five year period of adjustment between the time permission was granted to abandon the line and putting the abandonment into effect. It was recommended there should be larger depreciation allowances to ease the adjustment, and other forms of compensation.
Mr. Donald Gordon, president of Canadian National Railways, has advocated that a master plan should be drawn up so that the citizens would know what lines were going to be abandoned and when they were going to be abandoned. He advocated that this be done in an orderly fashion. I should like to suggest to the government that representations should be made to the board of transport commissioners that no more abandonment be authorized until the government has formulated a policy and a master plan containing adequate compensation provisions.
Already over 180 miles of line in Saskatchewan have been abandoned or are the subject of applications for abandonment. The chairman of the board of transport commissioners quite properly said that legally he must hear these applications and he must pass upon them. It is not his business to hold them up until the government has produced a master plan.
I hope that before we come to the next request for interim supply the government will be prepared to give some statement to the committee concerning their program and that in the meantime they will make representations to the board of transport commissioners to hold up any further authorization for abandonments.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, may I say that I have dealt with several matters, concerning all of which we would like an opportunity to question the ministers, and to hear from them statements of policy. When we come back after the recess we will be asked to pass the eleventh twelfth of these estimates. I should like to say that we should not then be blackmailed into passing them by being told, "We must have this money passed in two or three days, otherwise we cannot pay the civil service." I think we have a right to expect that when the interim supply motion is considered again we are going to get adequate replies to some of these questions, and we are going to have an adequate opportunity to question the responsible ministers regarding the supply which they are asking this parliament to pass for them.