November 3, 1919 (13th Parliament, 3rd Session)


William Findlay Maclean



No, I will let the
hon. gentleman discuss that when he comes
to it. I am discussing a question that is now before the people of Canada. We are now faced with the railway question, it has been forced upon our consideration and that is the question that we have to deal with at the present moment. The question of production will come up later. We are here to deal with the question of transportation. We are compelled to do so by the condition of affairs that prevails. I am, not going into the question of which party is the more responsible for the condition that has arisen. In some way we have to deal with this condition and we have - to meet it if we can. In the United States, as I say, the people who are asking for public ownership are the people who have their money invested in the roads. True the men who operated the roads, the railway magnates and the Wall Street people-would like to see the old times back but the people of the United States, the people of Europe and all those who have these problems of reconstruction before them see no way out of the difficulty except by the public ownership of railways.
Then, I want to come to another point which I have referred to in this House before. People who are opposing public ownership, and a good many of them are connected with the press of Montreal which has been mentioned by the previous speakers, say that a democracy is not able to administer its railways. That is the charge that is being made against democracy-a democrary that has done the greatest thing that ever was done in the history of the world in connection with this war. It has made the world safe for democracy and yet we are told that the people who helped to win this war, who put all the money that has been put into the railways of this country, are not competent to administer these railways. I have every confidence in my fellow-countrymen and I believe that they will find a way, once we establish public ownership, to carry out the duty that the adoption of that principle involves. I hate to see newspapers, such as the papers in Montreal that have been quoted here to-day and have been quoted before, saying that the Canadian people are not fit to run their roads, that they are a corrupt people, that they will succumb to corruption. If there has been any corruption in the past in connection with the railways, it has come from the railways and not from the people. I repeat I have every confidence in my fellow-countrymen. I believe that through Parliament and through leadership they

will work out a system of public ownership that will inure to the advantage [DOT]of the country. The man who says that the people are not fit to manage their own railways is not worthy to claim any credit for this country or for what we have done in this war. What Canada did she did before all the other democracies of the world. Canada was the leading democracy that came to the lelief of the struggling people of the world against autocracy. We went over there, we did achieve something, and we did help to make democracy safe. We put our money into the struggle, we have come hack home now, we are undertaking the duty of reconstruction in this country and we believe that the public ownership and control of railways and of transportation by sea are necessary if we are to deal successfully with the problems now confronting us. Not only must a scheme of public ownership apply to the railways but to transportation by sea as well. Our whole effort in connection with transportation, whether by sea or land, must be consecrated to service and achievement and not to profit. The great difference between private and public ownership is that under public ownership all the resources of a country are devoted to service in regard to transportation and not to profits to individuals.
Then, the opponents of public ownership say that we are not only a corrupt people hut that we cannot get the best men to run a national system of railways. 1 repudiate that. We have men now and we are training men in Canada to run railways efficiently. The only thing to do is to give them an opportunity; Take politics out of the railways-and we are gradually doing it- and success will attend our efforts. We .are going to tell our young men what the privately owned companies have been telling their young men who have risen in their service, that if they give the best service they can to the people of Canada under public ownership they will go to the top. I repudiate this attack which is made by the opponents of public ownership who say that our railwaymen cannot run a publicly owned line. If this road is left to the men to administer the Grand Trunk they will make a success of it, if they are put in charge of it for the people and if they are not interfered with. In the past under private ownership they have been interfered with and they have been made to let unjustifiable contracts in connection with construction and supplies for the sake of [DOT]making profits for certain' people. Not
IMr. W. F. Maclean.]
only do our people believe in public ownership, but they believe that we have men in our own country who can run these roads and they have confidence that these men are prepared to give as good service to the country as they would be to a private company.

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