April 17, 1902 (9th Parliament, 2nd Session)


William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN (East York).

This Bill is a very important one. There long have been grievances in this country in regard to tolls on the Canadian Pacific Railway. This government is on record, some years ago, when the Crow's Nest Pass legislation was introduced, as favouring a principle which was in the public interest- that if the Canadian Pacific Railway were to get any further concessions from parliament they were to give concessions to the people in return. Now, legislation is introduced giving increased stock powers to the Canadian Pacific Railway, and yet the public grievances existing under the original charter are not being dealt with. These grievances are mainly two. First, there is the regulation of the rates after 10 per cent profit is earned. There is no proposition in this Bill, so far as I can gather, to deal with that. The government told us last year that it was their intention to deal with this question by proceeding to ascertain what the actual cost of the railway was, and on what amount this 10 per cent should be allowed. Are there provisions in this Bill for that being done? Here is a government that says that the transportation problem is the great problem. But what are they doing to ascertain the actual cost of this road, and so protect the public? The profit of that road, I venture to say,

is away above this 10 per cent. Their statements show it. The time has come when the freights ought to be regulated, and a law passed that the government, in the interests of the people, should ascertain what the cost of the railway was. Another grievance against the Canadian Pacific Railway is that of the exemption from taxation of their land grant. It was a very important question last session, and we were told that legislation was to be introduced, and these lands were very shortly to come under taxation. or, at least, a test case was to be made. And I believe that test is promised to be made. But that is not the way to cure this great grievance. The principle to be adopted is that recognized by the government in* the Crow's Nest Pass case-that if a company are to get concessions, they are to make concessions. But here we see things done in the old way,-the old rule is followed, and everything the company wish is being granted, but the two substantial grievances, the exemption of the company's lands and the question of the tolls based upon the actual cost of the road, are not dealt with. I now point out to the House that the government are abandoning that principle which they claimed to be in the public interest in 1897, when the Crow's Nest Pass legislation went through, and they are not talcing advantage of the opportunity offered them to procure the settlement of these two grievances which the public are labouring under. Then, as to the raising of this 820,000,000. I corftend that a great deal of the money could be raised on the bonds of the company and a great deal of it could be paid out of the current earnings. But it is all to be raised on stock, notwithstanding the provisions of this Act and notwitslitanding that it more or less endangers the power of the public to regulate the rates under this 10 per cent clause. Had the government really been in earnest in seeking to promote the interests of transportation in the country, they would have said to the company : If you intend to
issue .$20,000,000 worth of stock, as your road is a fine road, we intend to take that stock on behalf of the people of Canada.
But we see none of these things advocated in this Bill. The public grievances are not corrected, there is no effort to correct them. There is no regulation of rates that we were promised long ago. And who were the gentlemen that howled against the rates in that awful charter of the Canadian Pacific Railway, if it was not hon. gentlemen opposite ? Now they are in power, now they have an opportunity to remove some of these grievances, especially in respect to the regulation of rates. They know the rates are wrong, and they claim, to have secured a reduction of them in connection with the Crow's Nest Pass Railway. Now was the time, not to send the question to the law courts or a special committee to ascertain the actual cost of the road, but now was the time when they should have
sat down with the directors of the company in the same way they did with the Crow's Nest Pass Company, and said : Gentlemen, we will give you your increased capital if you state to-day that you are under the 10 per cent clause. I believe they would have been prepared to say they would come under the 10 per cent clause ; and therefore the whole question of the rates on that road would have been under public regulation. And the same thing in regard to that hideous thing that exists in their charter' with regard to the land grants of the company, the patents for which are being issued now and were issued last year with enormous rapidity ; the contention is now that for 20 years hence the land grants of the company not sold should be free from taxation in the North-west Territories. Public policy should have insisted on the public being protected in these respects. But there is no promise of it in this Bill to-day, but there is an indication that even this government who made that arrangement in 1897 with the Crow's Nest Pass Railway Company, are to-day carrying out the will, and behests, and requisitions of the corporations, and doing nothing for the public.

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