March 10, 1933 (17th Parliament, 4th Session)


James Malcolm



With regard to that I
want to say that the expenditures of 1928 were predicated upon the demands of the public for service. They were predicated on the demands of members of this house for branch lines. Can we not recall the brilliant speech made by a member of the Senate who was then a member of the House of Commons in which he advocated a very extensive and very expensive immigration project for the Peace River district. Opinion in this house was divided, but mostly supported the then member for North Vancouver in his desire to improve the conditions in Canada by an extensive immigration policy to fill up the Peace River country. I remember at that very time Sir Henry Thornton made the statement that we should go slowly. He said, there is a limit to what the national railway can carry, and the Peace River railway may be the last straw that will break the camel's back. Whatever we may say about the extension of branch lines in the dominion during the prosperous years up to 1929, I think it is only fair for hon. gentlemen to admit that we were all looking at things through very rosy glasses, and regardless of political affiliations we in

CJV.R.-CR.R. Bill-Mr. Malcolm
this house were all anxious to see the Canadian Pacific and the Canadian National give the very best service possible, in fact we were demanding super service, we were demanding branch lines which in the light of recent events were probably not at all justifiable, but which did look to hon. members then to be quite worthy of consideration. I do not think it is fair to criticize former parliaments for their optimism at that time. No member of this parliament who sat in the last parliament ever anticipated to the slightest extent the economic collapse which has fallen upon us in the last four years. Does anyone here recall a single speech of warning in this house in the years 1928 or 1929 by which we were told that we were going to have the greatest economic collapse that the history of the world has ever recorded? I think not. So in dealing with what we did in previous years I do not think anything is gained by crying over spilt milk. We are just in the position to-day that other business men are, we are faced with a problem and that problem must be solved. The Minister of Railways has introduced a bill to that end. Members of this house are entitled, indeed it is their duty, to express their opinions as to the best method of solution in the light of existing circumstances and not in the light of recriminations for anything that past parliaments have done.
May I say with regard to the expenditures which were made during the period of prosperity, that we are benefiting by those expenditures now to an extent of which we little dream? We could not save money to-day on the Canadian Pacific or the Canadian National if we had not built our rock ballasted roadbeds up to their present fine condition. We could not save money on power if that power had not already been provided on both systems, if the equipment was not in good shape for many years to come. We are now relying on the fat that was built up during those years on both railway systems. We can now economize and benefit from the expenditures of former years, until things revive.
There has been a great deal of criticism to the publicity of both railway systems. But hon. gentlemen who have had some experience with advertising, know perfectly well that advertising has a continuous value, indeed, it has a cumulative value, and the prestige which the Canadian Pacific has built up for itself throughout the nations of the world, and so largely in Europe, is not going to pass in a day. If a man is a good advertiser, he probably has to continue it to some extent, but he can easily curtail his advertising in times of stress and reap the profits of previous publicity which brought his goods or his system into the public view. So I think the expendi-

tures made by the old administration, Sir Henry Thornton and his board of directors, are of distinct value to us at the present time in effecting economies which never could have been effected if the roadbeds had not been built up and the equipment had not been purchased.
I have read the Duff report with considerable care, Mr. Speaker, and I am disappointed in one feature of that report. It makes a most careful analysis of the financial situation of these roads; it deals with many phases of transportation, but I think it fails in one respect. It does not provide what the Minister of Railways referred to in his speech the other day; it does not give any assistance by telling the railways or telling us as trustees of the Canadian National Railways, how the railway systems in Canada are going to secure more tonnage. It is on more tonnage that the systems must rely for any future prosperity. I think perhaps hon. members are quite fed up on discussions with regard to the problem of motor car transportation as it affects the earnings of the railway system, but may I respectfully submit a thought which I think has been overlooked in this regard. The minister pointed out that from 1923 to 1932 the number of motor cars in Canada had increased from, I think he said, a half million to a million, and that during the same period the decline in passenger traffic on the railway systems was equal to the increase in motor car traffic. In other words, the passenger revenue declined by about half. Based on that statement of fact one would be inclined to say that motor car traffic injured the railways of Canada to the extent of about half their passenger traffic, but is that true? I do not think it is. When one begins to consider what the motor car industry has meant to the railways of Canada in the tremendous tonnage they have carried for the motor car industry'one hesitates to say that this industry has been such a detriment to the railway systems. When one considers the tens of thousands of car-loads of road material, cement, asphalt, crushed stone and so forth that have been transported in Canada for the construction of good roads, entirely due to the advent of the motor car, one must realize the tremendous tonnage that has accrued to the railway systems of North America due to the very fact that roads had to be built for these cars to run on. I have discussed this problem with two or three very good railway economists in the United States, one of whom informed me that he did not know of a man on the North American continent who had made a satisfactory calculation to prove exactly what motor transportation had cost

CJV.R.-C.P.R. Bill-Mr. Malcolm
the railway systems if, indeed, it had meant any cost at all in total earnings.
I do submit, however, that our railways are open to some criticism. I believe the operators of all railways in North America have been so busy watching their opponents that they did not consider what might result if only they thought of themselves as transportation men rather than as railroad men. Today they see it; to-day we have the advent of the single unit, gasoline-propelled car in Germany. It is now coming into use in the United States, and I believe two or three of these cars are being built for use in Canada. By this means a good service may be rendered on branch lines without the expensive rolling stock or the heavy operating crew needed on a steam train of three or four cars. If ten years ago the railway companies had seen, as they see to-day, the possibility of using motor transportation on their own rails I believe much of the expense of maintaining heavy services on branch 'lines could have been avoided. In the second place, had the railways realized that they were the transportation principals of this dominion and that anything that had to do with transportation was in their field probably ten years ago they would have done what they are now doing under necessity; namely making use of the trucking system in order to feed their terminals and division points.
I enjoyed listening to the remarks of the minister because of one particular point stressed, namely, that the decrease in railway operation had lessened the consumption in coal, I think he said, from 59,000,000 tons to
29,000,000 tons.

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