At the time of adjournment last night, Mr. Chairman, I had touched on some of the subjects which I had discussed previously in connection with the C.N.R. I shall continue that discussion a little further. I intend to talk about the St. Lawrence seaway tolls after I get through speaking on these matters, if I have the time in which to do so. If not, I shall be obliged to take up the matter again at another opportunity and give others a chance to speak on the subject. However, I should like to finish my remarks if possible before the adjournment.
One matter that was mentioned by the hon. member for Vancouver East was that of public ownership. I would go along with him in what he said. He pointed out that it seemed that only public ownership might make a success of anything. However, there are some cases in which it just does not happen. I know we have made a success of public ownership in Ontario in connection with
hydro and the development of power, and also in the city of Toronto in connection with our transportation. To date they have made an outstanding success in that regard. It is true that we have run into a little bit of difficulty in financing the subway. However, I am sure that public ownership, when it is handled in the right way, always results in outstanding success. Nevertheless I have found that when private enterprise cannot handle some matter or when it becomes a monopoly, the government generally takes it over.
In this case the government has taken over defunct railways of this country and given it to the Canadian National Railways to administer. So far the venture has not been an outstanding success. That is the reason for most of the comment that has taken place recently. People are not satisfied with the service that is given. I touched on that matter last night. The service has not been what it should be. Perhaps that is one of the reasons the undertaking has not been a success. There has been no attempt to make the service attractive. The convenience of the passengers or the people using the C.N.R. has been the last consideration.
I corroborate the statement made by the hon. member for Vancouver East with regard to reservations. You will be told that they are filled up and that you will have to wait. Then when you get on the train you find there is plenty of accommodation for you if they want to give it to you. I do not know where the fault lies. The board of directors is sufficiently large to take care of almost any incidental writing that needs to be taken care of. One would think this would be one of the things in which they would be vitally interested.
There is also the other matter that I mentioned with regard to stations. It occurs at both the union station in Toronto and the union station in Ottawa, which is one of the most deplorable of the stations. In fact it is not a union station any more either in Toronto or in Ottawa. These stations have just become glorified freight sheds. The convenience or service of the passengers is the last thing in which the railways are interested, in my opinion. Probably if they would smarten up they would find people willing to use their services. Probably they would like to use them. I do not mind paying for service, but I do not like paying for it when I do not get it.
As a matter of fact I can get home to Toronto from Ottawa more quickly by driving my car than I can by going by train. I might also say that not much time is saved in going by air, as far as I am concerned. These are things to cause one to ponder.
I refer particularly to the timetable. I do not ever remember arriving in Ottawa on the scheduled time in the morning. You are always late. I wonder what they do with the time during which they fool around down at Perth, Smiths Falls and the various other places, which could have been used in order to get them to the Ottawa station at the time indicated on the timetable.
Mention is made of the piggy-back service and of what a wonderful success it has been. That service is not anything new. It was being used on the Pacific coast from Seattle down to San Francisco and Los Angeles. It relieved the truck driver from having to make a tiresome drive. It gave him some rest. It was also done at a more economic rate. It is not something that is new. The situation is probably the same as it was when, if my memory serves me correctly, Sir Henry Thornton was head of the C.N.R. and Sir Edward Beatty was chairman of the C.P.R. The same thing applies here, I suppose. There was the time they lowered the rate from Toronto to Hamilton; it went down from something like $2.30 to $1.60 or $1.70. I can remember Tommy Church describing Sir Henry Thornton, the then president. He said, "It is the same thing; when the C.P.R. lowers the rates Sir Henry Thornton, as president of the C.N.R., just lowers their rates and follows along".
The same thing applies to the piggy-back. They have adopted what has been found to be successful with others. There is also the matter of trucking. I talked on this trucking matter with railroad men as far back as 1924. They had railway right of ways for running the trains, and the highways were not as large or as numerous then as they are now. They were running into trouble because the trucks were not making good time and I wondered why they could not use the railway right of way for putting trucks and goods on the railways. Then any time they wanted they could run the trucks off the railway right of way and onto any side road and have a good service. They said they would not be permitted to do that.
This was about 40 years ago, and they are just waking up now and getting into the trucking business. In those days these people were handling freight by horses and wagons, and only recently has there been a transition into trucking. They are just now getting around to going into the trucking business. They could have gone into it long ago. Now they are confronted with the vested rights of the trucking business, which are causing a lot of concern and they will find out that perhaps it is not going to be very successful or profitable for them.
Now I come to the question of the president of the Canadian National Railways. In the last two or three years there has been a lot of comment and a great deal of criticism in connection with the president. When you examine the matter you find that the president of the Canadian National Railways came to be on the board of directors because he had a nomination from the Bank of Canada. He took over, and there is some reason why he was sent to the railway, because he had made such a name during the war years in connection with the Bank of Canada and also, I think, with the wartime prices and trade organization. No one is trying to take away from the things he accomplished there; they were possibly good, but this did not mean he would be an outstanding railway man.
When he was appointed to the C.N.R. he was thought of as a wonderful individual who was going to accomplish great things for the Canadian National Railways. Because of his knowledge of banking and other things it was thought great things were going to take place in the C.N.R., but they did not take place. We have evidence that since he has been in office more things have not been accomplished than have been accomplished; we have more proof that he has not accomplished anything. He has not made the economies it was thought he would make, and what he has done since being appointed to the board is to practically truncate the service; he has reduced it. He can probably be called the great truncator of the Canadian National Railways.
This raises the question of the employees who are concerned. The employees of the railway are vitally concerned because this truncation has taken place on the railway. This matter was touched upon by the hon. member for Acadia last night when he mentioned the morale of the employees who were hired by the railway. Their morale is low, and perhaps rightly so, because they are in a better position to judge these matters than we are. They have probably come to the conclusion, and perhaps rightly so, that while he is the president and also a director, he is not in fact the manager of Canadian National Railways, but rather than being manager and director he is really the receiver the government has put in to fold up the railway. I think this is the thought that has got into their minds.
I would say that so far he has done a pretty good job of being the receiver of the railway, and the employees of C.N.R. have begun to look at it in this way. That is why their morale is low. There is no reason for high morale among the employees, because the president has not the respect of his employees and they have no confidence in him. He is not a railroad man; he is a banker.
Hon. members know the situation in regard to banks nowadays, and I should like to tell the committee the story about the man who went into a bank to get a loan. This man had good collateral and very good security, but times were something like they are now and banks would not loan money no matter what the security was. They were tight money days, as they are now. However, this man was a good customer of the bank and the banker did not want to offend him, so he talked about different subjects. Then he said, "Recently I had a serious illness. I had to lose an eye. I had to have an eye taken out and an artificial one put in, so I have a glass eye. I pride myself on the fact that this eye defies detection by anyone. No one can tell the difference between my glass eye and my good eye. I will bet you $10, if you want to take it up, that you cannot tell which is my glass eye". The man who wanted the loan said "I will take you up". The banker said, "Which is my glass eye?" The man said, "Your glass eye is the one that is on your left side". The banker said, "You are the first man who has ever been able to tell that by looking. How did you discover it?" "Well", the man said, "it was not too difficult on my part. I looked at your eyes and immediately said to myself that the glass eye was on the left side because it showed more warmth than your right eye".
That is the situation today with regard to the employees of the railway. They look upon this man as having no feeling for them, that he is just there in a receivership capacity, and that is probably what he is there for. They look upon him as being there to fold up the passenger services of this railway, when he was put forward as a man of such eminence. He has great eminence; I suppose he is one of the most powerful men of this country, because he is practically lord of this whole domain, as far as Canada is concerned, from the Pacific to the Atlantic and from the Arctic wastes to the United States border. He can go anywhere he likes. He is probably the second highest man in the country, perhaps even higher than the Governor General as far as salary is concerned. He issues his orders and no one can defy them. He is practically a law unto himself, something the same as the governor of the Bank of Canada. No one can question the right of this individual and his facilities for getting around the country at our expense, issuing great orders and doing great things. He even went to Ungava, Newfoundland, where he was investigating the narrow gauge up there to see if he could do something better for them
where the woods are small. I suppose he figured on getting great prestige up there and obtaining their support.
He puts in all this effort, but there are very few people that I know of, even on the opposition side, who stand up for him. Even on the Conservative side we find hon. members who will not stand up for him, and he is even losing the admiration of such hon. members as the hon. member for Greenwood, who has been a great admirer of his, and the hon. member for Dufferin-Simcoe, who in the committee said he was a wonderful fellow and it is probably a tough type of job that he has; it is just like shovelling fog or smoke. But he shovels a lot of other stuff besides smoke and fog that has a little more substance in it and is better used for fertilizer than smoke or fog. The hon. member for York North is also a great admirer of his. Why he is remains a mystery to me. He will probably explain it one day. He is an individual who wants to sell everything we have that is profitable and tells us to hang on to the things that are not profitable.
I should like to take a poll of this committee today, or any time we could have a free poll, and ask hon. members what they think of this great individual who has this country so tied up as far as the transportation system is concerned. I think you would find he would lose out by a 20 to 2 vote. The thing that remains for us to do is to be a little more concerned about the people of Canada and the transportation system, and take the necessary steps to see this system improved. We should get a person who is a railroad man, who would have the confidence of the railway employees. Donald Gordon does not have the confidence of anybody on the railway, I would say, even up in the higher echelon. It would be a good thing for this country if we got rid of the people who are causing the trouble.
There is another matter I should like to discuss at the present time. I will just touch upon it for the time being. I refer to the matter of grade level crossings. For years this matter has been advocated and we have been very successful in increasing the amount of the fund from $1 million up to $5 million, but still too many accidents take place year after year on our doorsteps. It has been increased until now it is $15 million a year. Even when this matter is tackled under the most favourable conditions we find that because of the method of financing, neither the railways nor the municipalities are able to make rapid progress in reducing these grade crossing tragedies. We shall probably have to devise a means of removing this responsibility from the shoulders of the municipalities and of the railways. As we all know, the
railways are running continually into deficits, and it is not very practical to ask them to attend to this matter of the removal of level crossings.
In Scarborough, which is in my own riding, there are 82 of these level crossings, possibly 90 of various descriptions. About 30 of them are on the fringe of being a menace to life. However, it happens occasionally that there is an accident off the beaten path, so these less used crossings cannot be entirely ignored. The local authority has taken care of one or two of these crossings in the past year, but they cannot go further; the provisions of the act as now applied do not allow them to deal with more than one or two a year. This work could be extended threefold throughout the Dominion of Canada if the present arrangements were reviewed and new steps were taken to deal with this menace which presents itself to road and rail traffic.
Last year the hon. member for High Park spoke on this subject and dealt with the formation of a Canada Council whose first president was Mr. Brooke Claxton. Later Mr. Ashe was president; I do not know who is president at the present time. The hon. member was concerned with all the accidents which happen on the highways of Canada generally. The figures he presented were astounding and appalling, so much so that the figures we have with regard to accidents at grade level crossings, high as they are, pale into insignificance compared with them.
The comparison does not lessen the gruesomeness of the tragedies which occur, but it does raise a larger question; because in the light of the total figures one cannot very well put on undue pressure for more to be done with regard to grade level crossings until the whole situation on Canadian highways and the rate of accidents generally have been taken into consideration. We have arrived at the point when statisticians are able to predict the number of road accidents and fatalities which will take place on certain days. These predictions almost always turn out to be correct, or very nearly so, and when a situation of that kind exists it is clear that something should be done to deal with it even if it means greatly increasing the preventive force.
Now I have dealt with that subject and I should like to turn to another matter. I see the hon. member for Laurier in his place, and I think he would probably be able to give me the information in which I am vitally interested. It concerns a subject which has been before the committee and the house on previous occasions. The hon. member for Laurier was, of course, minister of transport in the former administration at the time he was the hon. member for Stormont. Later
he became chairman of the authority itself. He has spoken on this subject on many occasions in this house, and in the course of his remarks has made some statements which I am not able to fathom. I am not questioning that what he says is right, but I found it hard to understand when he said there had been complete agreement by all parties with regard to the St. Lawrence seaway development. On the surface that appears to be correct. The hon. member went on to say that there had been no objection to the terms, no objection to the tolls being charged.
Topic: DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT