I could read question after question, Mr. Chairman. These railways were asked to build box cars. Is that the kind of responsibility we are going to get from them- building 3,000 new cars to move grain out of western Canada? At the committee, Mr. MacMillan said they built 3,000 new cars for the shipment of grain. But when he was questioned it appeared that none of the cars were built, trimmed and shaped for the movement of grain. If the railways are going to be that irresponsible and get away with it in regard to movement of grain, what will they do when they receive money from the federal government to change the tracks and railroads that go through our major cities?
To further show the irresponsibility of the railways, ten years ago there were 88,000 cars that were fit to move grain. At the standing committee it was admitted that the number has now been reduced to 44,000 cars. If the railways do not want to move grain and do not want to change their tracks going through the cities, although they will agree with what the government wants, when they get back to their boardroom they will just do something else.
The minister is a charming man and I hope his charm will be strong. I hope it will be so strong that when this House approves this bill he sees to it that, when money is paid to the railways, they will carry out their mandate and their responsibility not only in accordance with the constitution but in accordance with the terms and conditions of this bill. As I said at the beginning and I repeat, I have sympathy for the minister in this regard. The railways seem to believe they are above the law, but he must force them to carry out their responsibility.
As I pointed out in my example, these facts boil down to a simple formula: that the railways, although subsidized by the taxpayers, without right or equity have reduced the number of grain boxcars by 50 per cent in the last ten years. In other words, the number of boxcars suitable for grain movement dropped from 88,200 in 1963 to 48,000 in 1973 for both railways. Canadian National and Canadian Pacific split 50-50. My question, Mr. Chairman, is: Should the government of this nation, whatever it may be, permit
April 25, 1974
Relocation of Railway Lines
the railways to run the nation, instead of the government running the nation and the railways?
It would seem to me that when money is paid by subsidy for the purpose of moving grain, or for building cars, or for lumber shipments, or for movement of other commodities, or for moving tracks out of the cities and large centres of Canada, the railways should be forced to sign an agreement and to live up to the terms and conditions of their agreement. Then the taxpayers' money is used for the purpose for which it was paid.
I feel sorry for the Minister of Transport, who had to admit-for he is honest-that this government did not have a transportation policy. My indictment is not against him or the government for not having a transportation policy; my indictment is against the railroads that have been able to run slipshod over governments for a number of years, and will continue to do so until this government and this parliament gets tough with them.
Subtopic: RAILWAY RELOCATION AND CROSSING ACT