Mr. F. N. McCREA (Sherbrooke):
In the matter of equality of rates, there is certainly room for complaint and for a remedy, but the inequality of rates is not, I think, the only and most serious inequality. The inequality of treatment is perhaps more serious than the inequality of rates. I am not quite prepared to say that we should have uniform rates in all parts of say eastern Canada as against western Canada. In the unpopulated parts of this country it would be hardly reasonable to expect the same passenger rates as in the settled parts of the country where there are large cities. What I desire to speak of however, is the inequality of treatment, as between competing points on railways and noncompeting points. I am connected with several industries, the lumber trade
and the pulp trade, and consequently am a very heavy shipper, and my experience is, and I shall speak from experience just now, that the great grievance, is in the treatment given to shippers at non-competing points as against competing points. If we want two cars or a dozen cars to ship from a competing point, we would not have to go and ask the railway company for them. They are out catering for the business at these competing points, and there is no season in the year when they are not prepared to furnish cars on twenty-four hours' notice, or less. But at other points, where there is no competition, we can wait a month for cars. Personally I am a shipper of timber, and square timber, when ready for shipment, is almost as perishable as fruit because if left long exposed to sun and weather it becomes cracked and weather beaten, is not merchantable when it reaches the market. The only remedy we have is to say to the railway companies unless you give us cars to ship our goods you will not get any business from us at competing points. By using this threat we generally succeed in getting cars, but I do not know how it is with the poor fellow whose business is entirely at noncompeting points. I think that this is a question that the Government of this country should take up and deal with. There does not seem to me to be any reason why a railway company can supply cars on twenty-four hours' notice at competing points, and cannot supply them at noncompeting points within a reasonable time. This is a point which my hon. friend (Mr. Maclean) has not touched upon, but it is a condition from which the public are suffering more than from the inequality of rates. For my part, I would quickly pay one or two cents additional per hundred if I could get a car when I wanted it in preference to having goods damaged by delay in for cars. When goods are not merchantable when they reach the market, it becomes a serious question.
Mr. J. D. TAYLOR (New Westminster). It is one of the advantages of a periodical change of Government that translation from right to left in this House brightens the minds of so many hon. gentlemen and makes them conscious of long outstanding facts of which, for a long period, they appear to have been utterly unconscious. I am delighted indeed to hear a member of the late Government (Mr. Oliver) champion equality of treatment between East and West. I am all the more delighted to hear it because it has always seemed to me strange that any western minister, like him, should have been content to rest so long in control of the administration of affairs, particularly with regard to the West, and to pay no attention to the representations made to
him and to his colleagues in the Government for equal treatment.
With respect to the amendment now before the House, I may say that it was not because of any lack of sympathy with the suggestion that the hon. gentleman who has moved it found that he was ploughing a lonely furrow. He would have had no difficulty at all in securing a seconder, or supporters for a resolution of this kind, if it. had been made at a time^ when it seemed to be with serious intent, instead of for the purpose of advertising. This is no new thunder which has been sprung upon the House to-day. This matter of the equalization of rates, and the securing of justice to shippers to and from the West, so far from not having received attention, has been receiving the most elaborate attention and is now before the Railway Commission, it having been presented in a most thorough way through the efforts of the boards of trade of British Columbia, in co-operation, I believe, with the boards of trade in various parts of the prairie provinces. We have strong hopes of success in our efforts before the Railway Commission, because we believe that if the Railway Commission find that the representations which we have made to them in an orderly and regular manner are justified, and that they lack the power to make such order as they desire to make, they will apply to Parliament in an authoritative way and ask Parliament for the necessary power. If they do, I am in strong hopes that such a request shall receive the support of hon. gentlemen on both sides of this House.
The hon. member for Edmonton (Mr. Oliver) has been rather careless in his concluding statement to the House, that passenger rates have already been equalized. If he had given the attention to the subject which anyone who was earnestly interested in the success of this movement might have been expected to give, he would have known that on the contrary passenger Tates have not been equalized, but that the province of British Columbia suffers still from a disability to which it was subjected very many years ago, and that the railways are permitted to charge, and do charge, the extortionate rate of five cents per mile in British Columbia, whilst in eastern Canada the rate is three cents per mile. I would press upon the attention of the Government the advisability of removing the permission which the railway companies have to make that discrimination; and, further, the advisability of dealing with the subject of American railroads crossing the border into our Dominion and taking advantage of the Canadian law to charge in Canada rates which are double those charged on contiguous portions of their lines in the United States. I have in mind particularly the Great Northern Tailway line from Mr. TAYLOR. '
Seattle to Vancouver, running for about twenty miles through the district that I represent. The company charges the full five cents per mile on the -Canadian side of the border as against two cents per mile on the American side, notwithstanding the fact that the traffic is quite as great in Canada as it is in the United States, and notwithstanding the fact that the railway has no justification at all for this increase in the charge, except that the Canadian law permits it, and it takes full advantage of the law without any other reason whatever. I would call the attention of the minister to the fact that these abuses do exist, and I would suggest to him that this matter might very well be made the subject of serious consideration at the first opportunity on which Parliament can consider it. While we do not expect a change of this kind to be made as an amendment to Supply, we from the West are strongly in sympathy with the principle's laid down by the mover of this amendment.
Topic: EQUALITY OF FREIGHT RATES.