May 4, 1922 (14th Parliament, 1st Session)


William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council; Secretary of State for External Affairs)



-in a loud as well as at times a modulated voice, to cover the ground which he has found it necessary to cover in support of his case. I think the amendment only gives the House an added reason why it should support the original resolution. The first paragraph of the amendment reads:
A general reduction in railway rates so essential to the welfare of Canadian production and trade cannot, as declared by the Government, be made until Parliament decides whether or not the suspension of the Crowsnest pass agreement which expires on July 6th, be renewed.
This clause is to the effect that Parliament must decide whether or not it is advisable for the Crowsnest pass agreement to be renewed. May I ask hon. members of the House-How are they to reach a wise and sound decision on this question unless they have ample opportunity of satisfying their minds as regards all the bearings of the situation? The purpose the Government has had in mind in suggesting this committee, is that every hon. member should have opportunity of getting such information as may be necessary or desirable to enable a decision, that will be in the national interest, to be reached. I contend it is impossible for hon. members, without any knowledge whatever of the arguments pro and con with respect to this agreement, to register in this House an intelligent and fair vote upon the matter.
May I draw attention to the next clause, and see what it implies?
That it is the immediate duty of the Government-already too long deferred-to acquire the necessary information gathered and in their disposal at the hands of the Board of Railway Commissioners and to submit its policy to this House.
Is that not simply repeating what was said by my right hon. friend this afternoon, namely, that the Government should come into this House and suggest a certain course of action in connection with freight rates, based solely on information obtained from the Railway Commission or upon information received in conference, but, as I remarked this afternoon, in purely informal conference without any opportunity whatever of the Government ascertaining, by further inquiry, whether the representations that have been made are, to all intents and purposes, fair and accurate. In a matter of this importance, the Government would not be justified in taking, at their face value, the representations that have been made to them by the railway executives. They have heard only one side from the railway executives. They desire an opportunity of bringing the railway executives before a committee of this House and of enabling every hon. member to question the railway executives and to get true and accurate information in regard to the situation. The Government wants that for its own protection as well as for the protection of the people of this country. If we are going to decide this matter, it being of the magnitude it is, in a way that is unmistakably in the national interest, there should be opportunity for the fullest investigation. The leader of the Opposition (Mr. Meighen) says: " Take the information you have already at its face value; take it from the railway executives and from no one else excepting the Railway Commission." What did my right hon. friend have to say about the Railway Commission this afternoon? As I pointed out, he said that, in the minds of the people of this country to-day, the Railway Commission is standing for the protection of the railways.

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