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


Leon Johnson Ladner

Conservative (1867-1942)


No, I mean in rectifying it, you adopt the resolution before the House to eliminate the mountain differential, the discriminatory rates, and to give the same treatment to all the members of confederation on their basic commodities. What can be fairer than that? Can any hon. gentleman present stand up and seriously and honestly deny the merit of that contention? Certainly not, and least of all the government. What did they do? They took the first step last

Railway Rales
year to smash a well-balanced, judicial body in the way of the Railway Commission, and to substitute for that judicial machinery, political machinery in exactly the same way as we have seen one attempt after another, under different guises, to abolish the Civil Service machinery and to inject political machinery, a process which even now the government may be endeavouring to carry into effect. The duty of every member of parliament is to put his hand flatly against attempts of this kind.
This resolution is being brought before the House on this occasion, largely irrespective of the political aspect, in order to make bare and plain to the government the effect of their action of last year, and the fact that when they gave a special consideration, as they did last year to the prairie provinces-not that I would deny them that at all-they must in duty and justice extend that to the rest of us. What do we find as a consequence of this advantage that was extended to [DOT] the prairie provinces last year? We find that in playing politics on those freight rates to move the prairie provinces, this year a Romeo left the family circle of the government in Ottawa, in the guise of the Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Motherwell), and hastened away to Moose Jaw to sound his plaintive note; but sad as it may be said, Miss Moose Jaw hooked up with a Farmer. The result is that they are no further advanced than they were before.
Anyone who listened to the discussion last year, anyone who has heard the debate this year, the case ably presented by the hon member for Burrard (Mr. Clark), and the arguments brought out in some very able speeches, must, if he uses his intelligence, his heart and his judgment, admit that the case for British Columbia has been established to the full. We did suffer an injustice; we are under discriminatory rates; we are entitled to have that rectified, and the action of the government last year made it still more impossible to bring about the rectification of the situation in which our province finds itself. This year the government, through hon. members speaking on their behalf, say: "Keep railway rates out of politics; that is a matter for the Railway Board." Why did they not say that last year? This year they say: "We have the matter under consideration"; but for the past two seasons the government have been telling us that they are a democratic government; that when they have a complicated matter of interest to the whole people, they consult all the representatives of the people, they consult parliament, and when parliament has expressed its view, they
[Mr. Ladner.?
formulate the conclusion into legislation. These are inconsistencies which must be apparent to every hon. member, and I wish simply to point out, with all due respect to the Minister of Public Works (Mr. King), my good friend from British Columbia, that when he says that the people, of British Columbia would prefer if the hon. member for Burrard had not meddled in this question, he is stating just the reverse of the facts. I believe the people of British Columia want every one of its members to advocate its cause before the representatives of the sister provinces of this confederation, because we know that from the time of our admission to the union by the act of 1868, enforced in 1870, we were protected under that act with respect to unfair discrimination. We know that when the Canadian Pacific built their railway, it was especially planned under the statutory laws of that time that that railway should pass through the Yellowhead pass. If it had passed through the Yellowhead pass, and somebody had not made a mistake during the survey and diverted the line to the Roger's pass, the advantages accruing now to the Canadian National would have accrued to the Canadian Pacific, and would have redounded to the advantage of British Columbia and the Dominion at large. These are facts, historical records.
We come down to the present time, and a last effort was made to preserve the protection we had in British Columbia in 1910 in the agreement with the Canadian National Railways. It is not my intention to go into that matter; but in that agreement a special, concrete provision was made that British Columbia would have on rates the protection which she had had in the past, and which she did not wish to be deprived of. The fact is-and no hon. member has made a suggestion to the contrary-that there are discriminatory rates, and we are handicapped without a just cause. Where is the remedy to be found? Parliament last year absorbed by its action $17,000,000 out of the revenues of the railways in order that the prairie provinces might benefit that much. I do not object to their having that; but that is what the result of parliamentary legislation was, and this made it impossible to remedy conditions in British Columbia and to give fair treatment to the other provinces.
So to-day, Mr. Speaker, the government find themselves in the predicament that having injected politics into the question they have to play politics to get out of it. And that is what they are doing. They are appealing

Railway Rate-i
to parliament and saying: "Gentlemen, do not treat this resolution on its merits. This is a want of confidence motion, and if you want to retain your seats support the government. Never mind the merits, support the government."

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