April 25, 1919 (13th Parliament, 2nd Session)


William Thomas White (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)


Sir THOMAS WHITE (Acting Prime Minister):

I have given the matter some consideration, and it is not clear,-apart from the condition of war and for a war purpose,-that the Dominion Government has general jurisdiction-upon the subject of time in the Dominion. On the contrary, it would appear to me that for many, if not all, purposes, this jurisdiction is provincial. However, I do not pas finally upon that; it is a legal question. My hon. friend, I think, suggests by his question, the advisability of the Dominion Government enforcing certain time or certain time-tables upon the railway companies ol Canada. In connection with the recent decision of the Board of Railway Commissioners for Canada, certain points have been cleared up. In the first place it does not appear that the railway companies of Canada, in the time they have adopted, are violating any law which has been enacted by the Parliament of Canada. It seems to be made clear by the decision of the chairman and the vice-chairman of the Board of Railway Commissioners, that the railways are within their right in what they have done. The Chief Commissioner, Sir Henry Drayton, points out in his decision that local time has never been observed by railways operating in Canada nor has it been observed by railways operating in the United States. He says:
The different points in the United States where time now changes under American law were fixed by the exigencies of railway operation.
I find that in England the practice of the railways, before the English Act of 1880 was passed, which standardized the mean time of the Greenwich standard meridian for England and Scotland, was to run on Greenwioh time and pay no attention to local time, and that in some cases clocks, as a result, had two sets of hands, the one showing Greenwich time and the other the time of the locality.
Then the vice-chairman of the Board observes as follows:
I do not think we have power to intervene in the matter. The railway companies are at liberty to adopt whatever time they choose, in accordance with the Railway Act.
In connection with the advisability of such action as is suggested on the part of the Dominion Parliament, I would call attention to the following observation of Sir Henry Drayton:
Having regard to the convenience of the travelling public at large no order cancelling the new time schedules can well he justified.
It is but fair to point out that it takes some time to rearrange time-tables. The lines, in some instances, are particularly busy. Changes in the running time of a large number of trains

that would be affected have to be carefully worked out. The mere printing and rearrangement of the time-tables of itself takes time, and if the time is set hack and new time-tables printed, a period of at least three weeks should be allowed for the purpose.
The companies also insisted that in the interests of public safety it is practically impossible to do anything else.
Then the vice-chairman of the Railway
Commission makes the following statement:
. 111 view of the evidence given at the hearing in the matter. I, for one, would he willing tb report favourably, as I think in advancing their time they have acted for the benefit of the public in general.
Having regard to all the considerations which I have mentioned, namely, the doubt which exists as to the constitutional powers of the Dominion to legislate respecting the matter of time now that the war is over, and also the views put forward by the chairman and vice-chairman of the Board of Railway Commissioners as to the inconvenience and danger of the travelling public, it does not appear to me, speaking for myself, that the introduction of legislation would be expedient.

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