February 8, 1923 (14th Parliament, 2nd Session)


James Joseph Hughes



Fox farming is another
industry. All our industries save those I have mentioned have gone to Ontario and Quebec. Then our population was increasing every year, now it is decreasing and to-day we have some six thousand souls less than we had in 1871 and some twenty thousand less than we had two decades ago, which is equal to one-fourth or one-fifth of our total population. This is surely a startling and challenging fact. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (are not increasing in population as they should, but they are not actually decreasing. Our people are engaged entirely in farming and fishing!, and I sometimes ask myself whether a burden has been put upon these industries which they cannot carry. Our climate is healthful, our soil is fertile, our fisheries are productive, and we think our people are mentally and physically equal to others, in fact many of them do well when they go abroad. Then what in the world is wrong with us? I ask the members of the railway board, I ask the members of this honourable House, I ask the people of Canada generally if they can be indifferent while one province, small though it be, slowly bleeds to death. We think our transportation difficulties have much to do with our dwindling population, we think the railway freight rates are unjust to Prince Edward Island- I shall give examples. We also think that no railway board composed entirely of men from the other provinces can fully understand or sympathise with our local difficulties. We therefore think we should have a man on the railway board. I put this matter as strongly as I could before the government, and I now put it before the parliament and the people of Canada, and hope for good results.
If it be thought that representation on the railway board would give Prince Edward Island too many men in public or semi-public life, so far as I am concerned, I would gladly give up part of our representation in this House and in the Senate for representation on the railway board. We have the Railway Commission and the Civil Service Commission, and if Canada is to be governed by boards and commissions we of Prince Edward Island want representation on some of these bodies, where power and responsibility rest, and where there is work to be done.
I said I would give examples of unjust freight rates so far as Prince Edward Island was concerned, and I shall now try to carry out that promise. I find that the rate on grain from Montreal to Halifax, local, is 32 cents per 100 pounds; while on the same article from Charlottetown to Halifax, much less

The Address-Mr. Hughes
than half the distance, it is 31 cents. Charlottetown to Sydney, still less than half the distance, it is 35 cents, while from other points on Prince Edward Island the rate to Halifax and Sydney is 37 cents and 38 cents respectively. If we take potatoes, the discrimination is still worse. We have seen that grain is carried from Montreal to Halifax for 32 cents. The rate on potatoes from Charlottetown to Montreal is 38 cents, and from other points on Prince Edward Island to Montreal the rate is 40 cents, and from Prince Edward Island to Sydney, 38 cents. It does not cost the railway any more to carry 100 pounds of potatoes than it does to carry 100 pounds of grain. Moreover, I always understood that railway freight rates were based, to some extent, on the value of the commodity carried; in which case potatoes should be carried cheaper than grain, but so far as Prince Edward Island is concerned, it is just the other way round.
The soil and climate of Prince Edward Island are admirably adapted for growing potatoes, and the farmers of that province are therefore much interested in their production; but it would seem as if the National Railways management wished to discourage such farming, because for every two bushels of potatoes grown, the railway gets five pecks for carrying them three hundred miles to market, and the farmer gets three pecks for preparing the soil, providing the seed, providing the fertilizer, planting, spraying, digging and marketing Of course, the farmer who grows potatoes gets nothing at all for his labour. I am quite safe in saying that the farmers of Prince Edward Island do not get more than a dollar for a day's work of twelve to fourteen hours, while the coal miners and the railway men get from one to two dollars an hour for their work-and yet these men, or some of them, listen to labour agitators who tell them they are slaves, and that they should strike for higher wages and shorter hours.
Modern civilization has turned our economic system upside down. The basic industry of agriculture has a load that it cannot carry, and some of. the young men on Prince Edward Island who understand farming will not take farms from their fathers as a gift, if they are obliged to live on them, and the young women will not marry young men who intend to follow farming as an occupation.
Lord Shaughnessy, the president of the Bank of Montreal, the president of the Bank of Commerce, and other men of large affairs in this Dominion, have said that a large immigration of agricultural workers would cure
or at least help to solve many of our difficulties. Perhaps they are right. But we are producing more food products now than we can readily market, and if we produce two or three times as much, would it help the situation? It appears to me that conditions are such that men of British descent and perhaps men of French descent in this country, if not the world over-it may not be peculiar to Canada-are leaving the land and flocking to the cities to take up industrial occupations and professional work. It might be that men from some of the countries in Europe who are accustomed to a lower standard of living would be satisfied if they came to Canada and went on the land. That might be a better arrangement. These are the men who, if they were satisfied with a lower standard of living than we are accustomed to, might make a success of farming. I do not know whether that was the idea of Lord Shaughnessy and the others who spoke of immigration as being a cure for our troubles. It is the trend, at all events, of the British people to flock to the cities. Whether other people will come on the land and take possession of it, I do not know; but in the long run the men who possess the land will own the country, for the cities cannot renew their own lives. In three generations they die if they are not renewed from the country, and if that is the tendency of people of British and of French descent in this country, then other people will come in and take our place.
There is another thing in connection with the railway service on Prince Edward Island which tends to make young men discontented with farm work, and so far as I can learn, it is not found in any other province of the Dominion. Eight hours constitute a day's work for a stationmaster. This regulation, or something like it, may perhaps be all right in large cities where there is heavy traffic and the men are kept on the jump, and where enough men are employed to make a shift; but in small villages and country places where only one man is employed, it is simply ridiculous. When the station-master goes on duty at seven o'clock in the morning, his day ends at three o'clock in the afternoon, after which the station and the freight shed are locked and no more business is transacted that day. Just imagine a man driving in some miles from the country to deliver or receive some freight and arriving ten or fifteen minutes late and finding all railway business suspended for the day. Again, imagine a trader or business man in the town or village; who is loading or unloading cars having to quit work at three o'clock

The Address-Mr. Bnxter
in the afternoon, if he can't get a special permit to continue the work at his own risk. These things are of daily occurrence on Prince Edward Island, and this is the method pursued by the railway to get business.
There is another aspect to this kind of thing which has a most injurious effect. When three or four o'clock arrives the station master runs out his car-he can afford one-and takes his wife or his sweetheart as the case may be for a drive through the country. The young men working on the farms see what is being done, they contrast their toil and work of twelve or morb hours per day, with that of the station master, and they decide to get into the railway service or leave the country, and they^-are leaving it by The score and by the hundred.
There are stations on the Prince Edward Island railway where the train leaves or passes early in the morning, say six o'clock, and returns about seven or eight in the evening, and the station master is not there, either when the train leaves or when it returns, to sell tickets, to look after the freight, or do anything else. He comes for a few hours in the middle of the day- when there is nothing or very little to do-[DOT] after which he locks up and leaves. I know one station, Elmira, where the train left at six o'clock in the morning. The station master was not obliged to open the station at that hour, and did not open it. The station master at that place was the agent for the Dominion Express Company. Before these regulations came into force the fishermen in that locality shipped a good many smelts to the United States by express. This business gave the fishermen employment and gave them some money to enable them to support their families during the winter months. After the regulations came into force there was no station master or express agent there in the morning to take charge of the goods and give a receipt for them, and in any event the little jitney of which I spoke was unable to carry heavy goods such as fish. The consequence was the Dominion Express Company closed the office, the fresh fish industry was killed, the fishermen lost this means of making a living, and the railway lost the business.
A man sitting in his office in Chicago, or in some other American city, who is the head of this branch of the railway brotherhood, has the power to enforce these regulations, and the power to protect the brotherhoods in this kind of thing. In my opinion the time has come when Canadians will have to be master

in their own house, and will have to manage their own business and their own industrial activities.
I have not, however, despaired of my country or of my fellow-countrymen. I think if the matter were put before the railway brotherhoods and the labour unions as it really is, if it were shown to them that unless we all pull together we shall all be destroyed together, they would act the honest patriotic part and we would all acquit ourselves like men.

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