March 15, 1933 (17th Parliament, 4th Session)


Charles A. Stewart


Hon. CHARLES STEWART (West Edmonton) :

Perhaps there has been no bill before the House of Commons at this or any other session which was of so much importance to the railways of Canada and to the people of the country as the bill which is now before us. This legislation will have far-reaching effects and I have listened with considerable interest to the speeches that have been made both in its defence, by members of the government, and in (opposition by members on this side. Needless to say, everyone in Canada who has a stake in the country is tremendously interested in the idea of making a success of public ownership. I doubt if there are many hon. members or many people in Canada who do not feel that the least that can be done is to give the best opportunity possible to the public ownership and administration of this great utility. That was the object which the recent government had in mind. I for one am going to confess that when I joined the government in 1922 I had some doubt whether a great commercial enterprise of this kind could be successfully managed and operated under government auspices, but after ten years' experience and despite the criticism made of the administration and operation of the line, it can be said that it has been quite as efficient as its privately owned competitor. I do not think anyone who has given careful consideration to the history of the Canadian National Railways for the last ten or twelve years will dispute that statement. I know there are hon. gentlemen in this house who hold the opinion that a privately owned system is much superior to a publicly owned system, but those who criticize the publicly owned system, and indeed some of those who criticize the privately owned system, should bear in mind that throughout all these years
C.N.R.-C.P.R. Bill-Mr. Stewart (Edmonton)
the people of Canada have enjoyed lower rates, both in passenger and freight traffic, than have our neighbours to the south upon their privately owned railways. That is something which we must not forget.

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