Mr. Gerard Duquet (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport):
Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member is proficient in both languages, he will certainly pardon me for replying in French, as he will easily understand my explanations.
As the question he asked today was much more general in scope than that which has been discussed tonight, my answer will not be as precise as he would have liked it to be and as I should myself have wished to make it.
In the meantime, I have been able to contact the officials of the Canadian Transport Commission to check on the limits of its jurisdiction in view of the right of ownership which could affect the discontinuation of railway transport.
When a railway is in operation, it is required by statute-in this case, under section 214 of the Railways Act- to put fences on each side of the track in order mainly to prevent animals to wander into the railway's property.
I want to make it clear that the matter involves farm lands located in rural areas. The purpose of this measure is to protect the land owner. The railway company is also responsible for destroying weeds on its own property and, in some circumstances, it must also insure the protection of animals.
Mr. Speaker, before the Board allows a rail service to be discontinued, it must bear in mind the representations made by the land-owners as well as by any other persons living along the railroad, who believe they are entitled to some consideration.
The major factor is that the abandonment of a rail line cannot affect the rights and responsibilities of farmers nor those of the railway company, since they are joint owners.
There may be some responsibilities resulting from continuing relationships between the railway company and its neighbour, as joint owners, that the Board may be authorized to control.
Had the hon. member had in mind this afternoon more specific points such as those he mentioned tonight, I should have been very happy to reply more adequately to his question, but since it was general in scope, I had to answer in the most appropriate way possible.
June 20, 1972
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: BUSINESS OF SUPPLY