March 8, 1928 (16th Parliament, 2nd Session)

LIB

Frank S. Cahill

Liberal

Mr. CAHILL:

Who bought the railways
under closure? My hon. friend from South Wellington, who to-day eulogized the management. He could never do that when he and his Conservative friends were in control of the Canadian National Railways. But, as the hon. member said, you cannot divorce the success of the Canadian National Railways from the prosperity of Canada; and the prosperity which he spoke of must be attributable to the government of Canada-to the government of the day. If our railways were able to earn the dividends which he mentioned, it was only because of the good government which we have had since he and his friends left office in 1921.
My hon. friends reason that the debt should include guarantees of the Canadian National Railways. I do not know what system of book-keeping they would set up in order to show that two parties were liable for the same debt. If the Canadian National Railways are earning dividends on their debt to the public, why ^how it in the Canadian statement of Canadian affairs? If they were not, it would have to be added, as was done in the past, as non-active securities of Canada. That was the system adopted under the Conservative regime. They showed that advances to the Canadian National Railways were non-productive, and they were classed as non-active assets; the Conservatives did not figure that they would ever be able to realize anything from them. But when the Canadian National Railway system reached the stage where it was earning interest on its debt to the public it would be impossible to show in the Canadian statement a $40,000,000 guarantee of a loan and charge that as a liability against the Dominion government, while Charging the same thing against the Canadian National. There is no better way of dealing with the matter than the method followed by the Conservative party, nor is there a better method than that now pursued by the Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb). You
are not telling the public anything new when you say that the government have guaranteed the stock of the Canadian National Railways; the people know that. The people also know that under this administration interest is being paid on account of the debt-something which was never known before in the history of the railways under the Conservative administration.
My hon. friend complained of the huge debt of the Canadian National Railways. I realize that it is huge. But the hon. gentleman must take responsibility for a large part of that debt: he and his colleagues in the house insisted, by closure, on paying to the owners of the stock of both railways which they took over an excessive, exorbitant price, when they could have foreclosed and saved hundreds of millions of dollars to the Canadian people. Of course, the railway is heavily loaded with debt,'but to my hon. friends opposite must be charged the responsibility; it is not attributable to this government.
I notice that the party opposite are trying very hard to get into the good graces of the people again by their support of the Canadian National Railways. My hon. friend from St. Lawrence-St. George, however, apparently slipped, although he was quickly brought to time by his colleagues around him. The people of Canada know that the Canadian National Railways must be supported by public opinion if the system is to succeed, and I am very glad to see that our friends opposite are now taking the attitude that they too will deal fairly with the Canadian National.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   DEBATE ON ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
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