April 30, 1974 (29th Parliament, 2nd Session)

PC

Charles Humbert Thomas

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Thomas (Moncton):

Mr. Chairman, in speaking on clause 5, I allude again to remarks I made this afternoon when I said that although I am reasonably satisfied with the purpose of this legislation, I am disturbed at the vast powers given to the CTC. As I said, members on my side do not place too much confidence in the Canadian Transport Commission. We are disturbed to note the speed, or lack of it, with which it acts on applications, and at the lack of parliamentary control ove the CTC. The situation is manifestly ridiculous. We are asked to pass a bill which will make available hundreds of millions of dollars to a body over which parliament has no effective control.
Let me explain what I mean. Clause 3 gives the CTC power to consider applications and determine if the applications are valid. Then the commission must determine whether funds are to be provided with respect to the financial plan and transportation plan. There is a study under way in the Moncton area on which $150,000 has been spent. It follows other studies, and before they are all completed we shall have spent perhaps half a million dollars on them. That may be fine, but I wonder what is the purpose of clauses 5(1) and 5(1) (c), where provision is made for plans to be altered. Clause 5(1) reads:
The accepted plan, together with the financial plan, shall be filed with the Commission and the Commission may accept the transportation plan and the financial plan either as submitted or with such changes in either of them as the Commission considers necessary,...
Subparagraph (c) of clause 5(1) says, in so many words, that if the municipality or province applying for assistance does not agree with the changes the commission has made to the plan, the whole thing shall be tossed out. Why provide government funds for an exhaustive study of a financial and transportation plan, which we assume will be done by reputable and responsible people, if the whole thing can be tossed out? Why include such a provision which negates the entire thrust of the statute? I think I have read the bill correctly.
Let me ask the minister, why is it necessary to give the CTC power arbitrarily to alter a financial plan or transportation plan as it sees fit? If we intend to give the CTC veto power, provision should be made for arbitration and consultation. If the CTC suggests certain changes, they should be referred back to the applicant, who may or may
Relocation of Railway Lines
not agree. This clause, as I read it, provides that the CTC can make any change it deems necessary, and only after the plan has been agreed to will the CTC approve it. Such language is not necessary. Why spend a lot of money on a plan which the CTC can toss out at will?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   RAILWAY RELOCATION AND CROSSING ACT
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