April 14, 1926 (15th Parliament, 1st Session)


Robert James Manion

Conservative (1867-1942)


No, it did not arise out
of the failure of private ownership. It arose partly out of that, but mainly out of the overbuilding of railways on the part of the government.
I do not wish to enter into a discussion of the railway situation or of the hydro-electric question, but I repeat that we have nationalized enough things in this country-surely the railway situation is proof enough of that -without wishing to nationalize the banking system.
Not only is a government more extravagant in construction and operation, but as a rule the efficiency is not so good in any nationally-operated enterprise as in private operation. In England the telephone and the telegraph *were at one time in the hands of private companies, but were taken over by the government, with the result that the government is out millions of dollars annually on the operation of the system and the service is not nearly so good. I have observed the same thing in other parts of the world. I have travelled on the Italian railways, and if there are any wTorse railways in the world II do not know where they could possibly be found. The French government railways are in nearly as bad a condition. The Australian railways, I am told, though I have not travelled on them, are operated by the government, and they have gone so far as to have different gauges; so that in the middle of the night you have to get off one sleeping car and get into another, because the gauges of the roads are different. The operation has not been satisfactory there. There has been only one line of publicly-operated railway in the world which has really given satisfaction-those in Germany. I have travelled on the trains in that country myself, and they were very satisfactory. But the Germans are a different people from the English speaking and the French speaking people in the countries in which we live. The German people are apparently willing to be governed by bureaucrats. They are willing to be docile enough to permit the higher officers to compel them to do as they wish. I remember well a thing that struck me on the German railways, in fact you will find it all ovef Germany, and that was that the word "ver-boten" which means forbidden was written all over the walls in the public places and on the railway trains. The German people are willing to be forbidden to do anything which the bureaucrats desire to forbid. The Anglo-Saxon people of England and of Canada are not satisfied to be forbidden to do this, that and the other. In thinking the matter over, I came to the conclusion that the
German railways, though government owned, made a success, in contradistinction to the railways of the other countries, because of the national characteristics of the German people.
Another reason why I object to the nationalization of enterprises is that it leads to business methods being replaced by favouritism and politics. It has been suggested that some political friends would be favoured. I think the hon. gentleman from St. 'Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Cahan) made the suggestion that if the government was in control of the banking system favouritism would be shown. I have no doubt that
statement is absolutely correct, whether it be a Conservative, Liberal, or even a Progressive government. I have an idea that if my Progressive friends controlled the banking system they would give all the money to the farmers of the prairie provinces.

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