It is a great hardship to have to fight a railway company before the courts. In my own constituency there have been a lot of cattle killed in years gone by, farmers have suffered great losses and very seldom have they been able to get compensation for those losses. I would like to read a portion of a letter to explain what has happened in the constituency of Dauphin. The writer says:-
A few years ago there were several horses killed on the track at Valley river inside the fences and the case was taken to the Commission, asking for damages. Chairman Mabee ruled that the claim was just but it was beyond the power of the Commission to compel the railway to put in guards that were of any use or to recompense the farmer for loss sustained.
While the Railway Commission ruled that the guards were inefficient and that the railway should pay damages for the animals that were killed; they had no power to force the company to pay. The Railway Commission should have power to make a railway company pay a farmer for cattle that are killed. If the railway company are liable there is no reason why the Commission should not have power to compel them to pay damages and not put the farmer to the expense of enforcing his claim in the courts. The writer goes on to say:-
There has been at least five times the stock killed on the main line between Dauphin ana Ashville as there has been between Dauphin and Valley River. The line to Valley River has no fence and the Ashville line is fenced.
The reason for that is that the cattle-guards are absolutely useless, and if the cattle get over the cattleguard and stray upon the railway, when the train comes along, they are fenced in there and cannot get out. I am speaking of wild, unsettled land. Where the railway track is not fenced there is not so much danger. The letter continues:-
The stock walk across the cattleguards and are then trapped between the fences. The slaughter has started this year again. Two horses were struck Saturday morning; one killed; the other had its leg broken. As a precaution we farmers are going to fence across the road at the crossings, putting a gate at each side. How long that will be allowed to stay I don't know, but something has to be done if we are going to have any use of the thousands of acres of vacant land that the settler has to pay the taxes on, both school, municipal and patriotic, and build roads past. In our school district there are over twenty quarter-sections that do not hear taxes and a number more that the tax is very light. The same with the war appropriation ; it is distributed to the districts in proportion to amounts received so the only way to get anything off this vacant land to keep stock and pasture it. We get a lot of advice about keeping more stock, producing more, our duty to our country, etc., but very little about our country's duty to us. There ;s very little encouragement to keep stock if the railway is allowed to slaughter them as they have in the past.
The Kailway Commission should have power to force the railway company, where they find they are liable, to pay the farmer without putting him to any more expense. It is very important that the farmer should get protection along that line to encourage him to increase his stock. I am sure that hon. gentlemen opposite know what it is to fight a railway company. Any farmer of small means has no chance whatever if he goes into court against a railway company. They will beat him if they can. I would respectfully ask the Minister of Railways to consider this matter and see if he cannot give the commission more power to force the railway companies to pay for any stock that they are entitled to pay for.
Topic: P520 COMMONS