April 17, 1923 (14th Parliament, 2nd Session)

CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

It would be all the same. There is only one source from which reductions can come. Surely my hon. friend knows this much about business, that there is only one way in which a railway can get its revenues, and that is out of the earnings it makes, and if you set to work and apply a whole lot of reductions here, unless you want to bankrupt your system you cannot give them over there. Nothing could be done, nothing was done, because there was an arbitrary withdrawal of funds to one purpose and one purpose alone, amounting to $17,000,000, as a result of the action of my hon. Mend's administration. I am not saying that all these reductions would have
Railway Rates

been made. Of course they would not have been, but the people of this country at least would know this, that there had been a real survey of the railway situation, not a survey such as is shown in that judgment we had read to-day, just pointing out what the government had done, and as a result of what the government had done the impossibility of doing anything further. You would not have had that. You would have had something like a proper, honest survey of the whole thing, out of which perhaps something like proper equitable treatment could come.
Now as to these rates. I have given enough to show what Ontario and Quebec are suffering under. I am going to give one or two now for Nova Scotia. Fish is a very important rate in Nova Scotia. There is a general fish rate which applies to fish, dry salted, green salted, pickled, smoked, in carload lots. I am going to take a few shipping points given to me by gentlemen down in the district as being absolutely vital to the trade. I do not pretend to know myself that these are the correct points, but some hon. gentlemen in this House from Nova Scotia will correct me if they are not; but I believe them to be important points. The rate from Port Hawkesbury to Montreal was 38 cents; it was increased to 66 cents, a percentage increase of 73 per cent, and that increase stands to-day. From, Lockport to Yarmouth the rate was 8 cents; it was increased to 18 cents, an increase of 125 per cent, and that still stands. Then on fresh fish, we will take the rate from Port Hawkesbury again to Montreal. The rate was 48 cents; it was increased to 83| cents, an increase of 73 per cent, and that still stands.
We have heard a lot about coal, and about the needs of coal. I am sure if the hon. member for Cape Breton (Mr. McKenzie) were here he would have a fit to think he voted for something that left things in this position. Take the rate from Springhill to Montreal. It used to be 9j cents; it was increased to 18 cents, an increase of 89 per cent, and every single cent of that still stands. Then suppose we go into business down in the Maritime provinces and try textiles. You have textile factories at Truro and Amherst. Your textile rate from Truro to Montreal was 38 cents; it.was increased to 68 cents, an increase of 78 per cent. There is a similar increase from Amherst to Montreal of 78 per cent.
Iron and steel, a most important product in Nova Scotia, had a rate of 22 cents; that was increased to 40 cents, a percentage increase of 81 per cent upon Nova Scotia's biggest industrial activity. They are complaining that

they cannot ship, that they cannot sell. Well, there is their increase, 81 per cent, and it still stands. That is on iron and steel, list "A." If you take iron and steel, list "B," which is a higher quality, it is worse. The old rate was 28| cents; that was increased to 52 cents, a percentage increase of 82 per cent.
The whole fact of the matter, Mr. Speaker, is that the results are just exactly what might be expected from the action that was taken. The government started out by saying: We know nothing about rates; we have no mind on this subject, and they sent it off to a committee. We had evidence taken for weeks and weeks pointing practically to all these conclusions, pointing to what was going to happen, and that was all thrown away. The political question was the only one considered, and if this discussion to-day does nothing else it will do a splendid thing for Canada if hereafter no government is going to try and make rates and take away from the board absolute and full jurisdiction in connection with the rate question. It would be a first-rate thing if it could do that.
Something was said about the inadvisability of making rates here. I would like to know how much better qualified the government is to make rates than is this House? Again, it was contended that the government cannot do anything with this question because it has to do something with it afterwards. Well, I would have thought the government would have welcomed action by this House. Generally it wants to know what the House thinks before it does anything on this, that and the other question. Why, even action upon the subject of oleomargarine has to depend on a resolution being introduced by a private member. I would have thought that the government would be pleased because this matter was being discussed by the House.
We think that the wrong thing was done last year; in fact we know it. We know that those who are producing these essential basic commodities are suffering. The government has put into effect an old statute and something was said about the matter of consideration. The consideration paid in connection with that statute was $3,600,000-that was the whole amount that was paid under the subsidy; and the losses in this one year under present conditions are infinitely greater. But the government brings that act into effect again when it need not. It is idle to say that the government is to be excused because it does nothing here. Surely if the government believes in fairness, and finds special privileges lurking here or there it is its duty

Railway Rales
to remove it. It is equally idle to say, if special privilege prevails by reason of the fact that we do nothing, that we are not to blame. The present position is entirely the result of the government's action. Even admitting that this House of all bodies, except perhaps the Privy Council is the most ill-fitted to consider a question of this kind, it has the right to ask something like a similar class of treatment for all the provinces. We were told last year that the action taken would help two important provinces. It did. Those provinces are important, it was right to help them; but there are a whole lot of other provinces that have not yet lost their importance and that are still highly important that require help just as much, and they have a right to expect equality of treatment at the hands of this government.

Topic:   EQUALIZATION OF RAILWAY RATES
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