January 27, 1914 (12th Parliament, 3rd Session)


William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative


I do not know whether I would or not. I am not against giving bounties; I was born that way. I hope the hon. gentleman is not taking the posi-

tion that the national policy for the encouragement of home industry in this country ought to be based upon the legislation of the United States. That is what it comes down to. If it goes abroad that this Canadian Parliament is looking to the United States duty on wheat to keep their industries at home and to encourage their home industries, President Wilson will be down to-morrow with a Bill taking off the duty on wheat, whether we care to do anything or not. That is what we are up against. Most likely he will do it, but in the meantime, do not let the Canadian farmer of the West suffer from present conditions. Take the Canadian farmer out of bondage, and he is in bondage to-day to the railways and to the mills. When I shy that the railways can stand a reduction in their freight rates, let me give you the instance of the enormous wealth of the great Canadian Pacific railway in this country. Can any Conservative member stand up in this House and say that he justifies our present railway policy, which is a discrimination in Canadian freight rates as against the Canadian West. The whole country paid for these railways or for the most of them. We passed the legislation and we are here to pass legislation, the result of which will be fair treatment throughout Canada. And, though we have been passing legislation dealing with railways for twenty-two years since I first came here, and long before that, I have never yet heard the voice of the man I would like to hear declaring on behalf of the West: We refuse to let any legislation go through this House until the principle of equality of freight rates in this country is inscribed in the Statute Book and not left to the Railway Commission. Who is there, who claims to be a Canadian and says he believes in fair railway rates and equality of treatment, who could justify the discrimination that has been put upon the West, that stigma that has been put upon them that although they pay their share of the customs duties and of everything else in this country, for some reason they, for all time, are to pay railway rates that discriminate against them. I contend that the Canadian Pacific railway has in its charter to-day a condition under which it ought to give lower rates to the people of the West. If you tell me that the Grand Trunk Pacific or the Canadian Northern railway, who are coming into the field, could not stand the reduction in rates that the Canadian Pacific railway would stand; I would reply that some kind of national policy should be devised that
would help them out for the time, and that the people of the West should not be allowed to continue under this unjust and unfair condition of railway rates. Nobody has ever justified it yet. The Railway Commission may be trying to justify it, or may be trying to wipe it out. My contention is-and I will stand by it every day in the week-that the time has come for equality of railway rates as between the East and the West. I contend that the farmer of the West is entitled to the best market for his wheat and to the lowest possible freight rate. I know just what the people of the West want, I have no doubt about it; and I am here to-night to urge the Government when considering their tariff, and in any changes they may have to announce in connection with the Budget speech - especially in view of their statement in this debate that the interests of the farmers of this country is to be their first concern *- to give consideration to the prayer of the farmers of of the West that they may be given free wheat in order that they may get better prices, and also given equal freight rates with the East. I may have to discuss this question at a greater length on a subsequent occasion during the present session. But I think I am doing a very practical service to the country by bringing the subject forward and giving -what I think are sufficient reasons for the position I have taken.
Now, I wish to deal briefly with another question that I have raised pretty often in this House, and that is the capitalization of railways. That question has been brought to our attention again by the action of the Canadian Pacific railway in its last issue of capital. I have heard very prominent men in this House, especially lawyers, and more especially ministers of justice, say that the question of capitalization is of no interest to the people, that it does not matter to the people what capital the railways issue. Will anybody look at the United States today and see what has taken place there in regard to the over-capitalization A railways, see how the New York and New Haven and Boston and Maine roads have been wrecked and reduced to absolutely non-paying propositions by reason of over capitalization, and repeat here again the statements I have heard made in this House by men in high positions supposed to be authorities on this question? Over capitalization is a curse; it is against the public, against the State, against the railway itself. But the air is clearing in the United States. A statement was made there the other day by the Presi-

dent of the United States which, I think, settles the question for good. I heard the other day that our Minister of Finance was considering the question and would perhaps issue a commission to ascertain the facts in regard to the capitalization of railways. I do not know whether I am correct in saying that, I merely heard it incidentally. But we do not want any commission after the lucid deliverance that was made by Mr. Wilson when he addressed Congress the other day. I will read his words:
In the second place, business men as well as those who direct public affairs now recognize, and recognize with painful clearness, the great harm and injustice which has been done to many if not all of the great railroad systems of the country by the way in which they have been financed and their own distinctive interests subordinated to the interests of the men who financed them and of other business enterprises which those men wished to promote.
The country is ready, therefore, to accept, and accept with relief as well as approval, a law which will confer upon the Interstate Commerce Commission the power to superintend and regulate the financial operations by which the railroads are henceforth to be supplied with the money they need for their proper development to meet the rapidly-growing requirements of the country for increased and improved facilities for transportation.
We cannot postpone action in this matter without leaving the railroads exposed to many serious handicaps and hazards; and the prosperity of the railroads and the prosperity of the country are inseparably connected.
The time has come when we must regulate the capitalization of the railroads and other corporations of this country. Overcapitalization has been a curse. I say, it has wrecked railroad after railroad in the United States. Attempts have been made under State laws to regulate the capitalization there. Wherever this has been done the benefits have been substantial and the results have been greatly appreciated by the public. But the time haa come in regard to railroad corporations when the federal authority must control the issue of capital. And the wise thing for us in this country as I have often contended in this House- and both parties are to blame that it was so, and the worst thing ever done in that thing in this country, I have often contended in this House and both parties are to blame for it-was the way we allowed the Canadian Pacific railway to issue stock on which a high dividend had to be paid, against an issue of bonds which would have been sufficient for all their purposes. I hope and trust that in the new Railway Bill which is to come down, I do not know whether it is mentioned in the Speech from 16
the Throne, but I have seen it stated in the newspapers that such a Bill was to be introduced-there will be a section vesting the control of capitalization of railways in the Railway Commission. I hope the Minister of Railways will also put on the statute book a principle of equality of freight rates in this country. It is a principle that Parliament must settle. It is absurd to say that such a principle must be left to the Railway Commission. If the assertion of the principle means that freight rates may have to go up a little, if we put the principle on the staute books, it will be the duty of the Railway Commission to adjust the rates all over the country so that there may be equality. I want to see the man rise in this House who will say that, notwithstanding that railways cost no more to build and to run in the West than in the East, there should be higher prices in the West than in the East. If the feeling in this House is, as I believe it to be, in favour of equality of freight rates, then that should be put on the Statute book and not left to the unsafe action of a Railway Commission.

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