April 25, 1917 (12th Parliament, 7th Session)

CON

Herménégilde Boulay

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. H. BOIJLAY (Rimouski):

I had no idea that this motion would provide so much discussion, as I brought it up purely for the purpose of criticizing the management of the Intercolonial in the matter of promotions, but before dealing with that I will turn for a moment to the remarks that have been made by my hon. friend from Victoria, N.B. (Mr. Michaud) about the International railway. I corroborate everything he has said about the way the engines were compelled to take water last winter, but it was impossible for the management to do any better, and my hon. friend was certainly wrong in saying that the Government had not done a good service to the population scattered along that line, because if the Government had not taken over the road the people would have had no railway service at all. The road was already going to pieces when the Government took it over two years ago, and they could not have done better than they did last winter; we were very lucky indeed to get the service at all.
If I understood my hon. friend correctly, he suggested that an express train should be put on that branch. I agree with him. As soon as the road bed is good enough, I think it would be in the interests of the Intercolonial to have an express train on this blanch. It would not only increase the passenger traffic, but would be an
accommodation to the settlers scattered along the road, and would help greatly in settling this promising section of New Brunswick.
Coming back to my resolution, I divide it into two parts, the first referring to an injustice done to the old employees in the matter of promotions. In my remarks this afternoon I proved that the employees of the road had been passed by when vacancies occurred, and my hon. friend from St. John (Mr. Pugsley) pointed out that according to an answer he received last year the number of officials who were appointed to high positions on the
Intercolonial from other roads was nearly thirty. In no case were these imported men any better than men who could have been chosen from the ranks of the Intercolonial. I have met a good many of these outside men, and so far from being as efficient as the old employees, they do not know the road at all at first, and have to serve a kind of apprenticeship before they can discharge their duties properly. I am not speaking of Mr. Gutelius, because I do not think the Minister of Railways could have selected a better man for the position, and I have never reflected on him in that respect in any of the speeches I have made on the Intercolonial. I repeat what I have said before, that he is a gentleman in e^ery respect, a man of great ability, very polite, and he gives every employee from the highest to the lowest a chance to air any grievance he may have, and I am not aware of any instance where an employee has not got justice. Under the administration of hon. gentlemen opposite, Mr. Brady occupied that position and things were quite different. Not only were the employees not given the opportunity of bringing their cases before him, but even the business men, the patrons of the Intercolonial, could not approach him to discuss business matters. Mr. Gutelius is quite different and can be seen by any of the employees or patrons of the road. The only thing I complain of is that he goes outside in filling the higher positions on the road, and I think that charge is justified by the cases that have been cited this afternoon. I have .mentioned the case of Mr. Devenish and the hon. member from Pictou also spoke of him. It was a great mystery to me why Mr. Devenish was brought to Canada to take the place of Mr. Price. I pleaded then with Mr. Gutelius and the Minister of Railways for justice for the province of Quebec. We had been run by the province

of New Brunswick for forty-five years, and that ninety-two mile section in the province of Quebec had never received its share of patronage in respect to high positions on the Intercolonial. Mr. Gutelius said that Mr. Devenish was there on a kind of an apprenticeship, and that when he was promoted to a higher position I should be able to appoint a superintendent, or at least an assistant-superintendent, from the province of Quebec. This did not satisfy our people in the province of Quebec, but I told them we would soon get justice. I waited, and what happened? Mr. Devenish proved a failure in his administration of the railway. It was clear that he had no capacity for operating that part of the road between Campbellton and Mont Joli, and Mr. Gutelius made him superintendent of a division somewhere near Moncton. Then, instead of giving us justice as he had promised, he appoinnted Mr. Fitzmaurice, against whom I have nothing personally, for he is a gentleman and knows something about the road; in fact, he was brought up on the Intercolonial, and I shall not say much about his promotion. We should have obtained what we were promised. The best way to give us that was to nominate an assistant superintendent. But this was not done. On this ground I criticise the administration of the road. Had I not suggested the name of the man to fill the position I should feel now that 1 had failed in my duty. But I was watching the game, and as soon as the. job was open I suggested the names of three men, all men who had been on the Intercolonial from ten to twenty years and of whose competency for the position there could be no question. There was not the slightest reason to refuse all these and give the position to a man who bad only had four or five [DOT] years' experience, a switchman who knew nothing about running a road, who knew nothing of the population amidst whom his work was to 'be carried on, and who did not understand even a single word of French, though his work was to be amongst a population made up almost exclusively of French-Canadians. And this is the bind of thing that has been going on for forty-five years, ever since the road was built. The people of Nova Scotia do not like to have the part of the road that runs through their province administered by men from British Columbia. I know that, because I travel over the road. Nor do the people along the Intercolonial in Quebec want men from other provinces to occupy high positions in the
service of the railway there. We want our own situations for our own men. If there were any difficulty about it, I would not grumble; if there were good reasons against it, I would not complain. But the Toad has everything to gain by giving us justice. In the first place, it will take away all the animosities that sometimes exist between the two races when they do not understand each other. If we had a superintendent to cover t'he whole system in the province of Quebec we should have nothing to do with the road in other provinces, and the employees would accomplish theiir duty much better and the relations of all the people would be a good deal more friendly.
. The appointment of these strangers to administer the affairs of the Intercolonial is objectionable from another standpoint. The old employees, seeing these men come to take the places to which they might reasonably have expected to be promoted, instead of fulfilling their duties with enthusiasm, naturally tend to do their work in such a way as merely to avoid trouble. That is the reason why last year, in such a place as the Matapedia valley, the road was blocked for days and days, and twenty-five to thirty-five hours was occupied with a run that ordinarily takes seven hours. But if they had had a superintendent known to them, like Mr. Fitzmaurice, they would have done as they did last winter, when trains (worked smoothly and not a single one was blocked.
I must add a few words in justice to Mr. Gutelius. During the last local election I happened to be in New Brunswick. My hon. friend from St. John (Mr. Pugsley) does not like to see me interfering in New Brunswick affairs. But I may tell him that I have property in New Brunswick, that my county borders on that province, and that among the settlers along the Intercolonial railway in the county of Resti-gouche ten per cent come from the county of Rimouski. It is only natural on my part to look after their interest when they want to be helped. The population of Resti-gouche is about seventy per cent French, and consequently a French-Ganadian feels pretty well at home when he gets into that county. I was there during the local election, and heard speeches made at a number of meetings. And one of the things 1 heard said with reference to Mr. Gutelius by a frined of hon. gentlemen opposite was this: If we ever get into power at Ottawa we know one thing for sure, and that is that the Intercolonial will not be run by a German. Now, that is not fair.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS-PROMOTION OF EMPLOYEES.
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