Robert Knight ANDRAS

ANDRAS, The Hon. Robert Knight, P.C.

Personal Data

Thunder Bay--Nipigon (Ontario)
Birth Date
February 20, 1921
Deceased Date
November 17, 1982
automobile dealer, businessman

Parliamentary Career

November 8, 1965 - April 23, 1968
  Port Arthur (Ontario)
June 25, 1968 - September 1, 1972
  Port Arthur (Ontario)
  • Minister Without Portfolio (July 6, 1968 - June 29, 1971)
  • Minister of State for Urban Affairs (June 30, 1971 - January 27, 1972)
  • Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (January 28, 1972 - November 26, 1972)
October 30, 1972 - May 9, 1974
  Port Arthur (Ontario)
  • Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (January 28, 1972 - November 26, 1972)
  • Minister of Manpower and Immigration (November 27, 1972 - September 13, 1976)
July 8, 1974 - March 26, 1979
  Port Arthur (Ontario)
  • Minister of Manpower and Immigration (November 27, 1972 - September 13, 1976)
  • President of the Treasury Board (September 14, 1976 - November 23, 1978)
  • Minister of State for Economic Development (November 24, 1978 - June 3, 1979)
May 22, 1979 - December 14, 1979
  Thunder Bay--Nipigon (Ontario)
  • Minister of State for Economic Development (November 24, 1978 - June 3, 1979)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 674 of 674)

May 18, 1966

Mr. R. K. Andras (Port Arthur):

Mr. Speaker, I would like to join with other hon. members in commending the hon. member for Edmonton West (Mr. Lambert) for presenting this motion to amend the Criminal Code. As he explained, it is designed to prevent entry into locked vehicles and the theft of cars and trucks. On the surface such an amendment to the Criminal Code could be considered as a step toward making the committing of such crimes more difficult.

[DOT] (5:40 p.m.)

The question which arises in my mind, as has been pointed out by the hon. member for Fort William (Mr. Badanai), concerns the practical application of such an amendment and the enforcement of this addition to the Criminal Code. Also I think perhaps one point has been lost sight of and that is the original purpose for the designing, manufacturing and supplying of master key sets. Most certainly it never was set up to make it easy for car theft criminals to practise their nefarious occupation. This item was brought forward for a very practical use by those engaged in the manufacture, sale, repair, and servicing of cars and trucks.

In his amendment the hon. member has suggested that in addition to the manufacturer or assembler of motor vehicles being authorized to be in possession of master key sets, the authorization also would include-and it is a bit vague-such person or persons duly authorized by the said manufacturer or assembler. By coincidence I too have had some

Criminal Code

several years experience both at the manufacturing and retail end of the automobile business. I, perhaps, can give you some indication of the practical and quite legitimate use of master key sets by the people who are engaged in this type of business.

Most certainly it would be logical to extend permission and authorization for possession to such people as the authorized dealers throughout the country, of which there are several thousand. It would also be most logical to extend permission and authorization for possession of master key sets to all the service and repair garages throughout the country; it would be most logical to extend this type of authorization to service stations. You could add to that police officers and agencies engaged in the rental or leasing of vehicles, or those engaged in the legitimate sales occupation involved in the merchandising of used vehicles. These occupations all involve legitimate and practical application of master key sets.

Let me give you an example of what happens when one is engaged in a business which carries a stock of a wide diversity of makes, models, and years of cars and trucks. We have a tough climate in various parts of this country, where the weather gets very cold. In the business where such a stock is carried, each vehicle has to be started and operated every day to keep it in goood condition. This means that someone has to carry the keys to each individual vehicle in the process of going through a stock of 60, 70, or in some cases 100 or 150 cars in the course of a morning.

You can imagine the number of keys this person would have to carry with him were he not authorized to have master key sets. Of course this extends to all the other legitimate users such as authorized dealers, service stations, and all those engaged in the repair of automobiles and trucks. I do not think anyone would deny it would be legitimate to authorize these people to have key sets, and by the time you had added up the number of people who legally should be in possession of them, you would have literally thousands and thousands of agents and individuals throughout this country.

As the hon. member for Fort William pointed out, duplicate keys can be cut in several places in practically every town, village and city. They can be duplicated on machines which are quite inexpensive to obtain. I submit that the determined vehicle thief can find ways to steal vehicles without

May 18. 1966

Criminal Code

keys. He does not need door keys or ignition keys if he is determined to steal vehicles. Naturally any legislation which makes it more difficult to obtain master key sets also would inhibit such criminals to some degree; but nevertheless I think-and this is where the problem lies in the amendment-the law would be most difficult to enforce and it certainly would not be long before contraband duplicate master key sets could be obtained by anyone who seriously desired to obtain them.

For this reason, although the intent is most commendable, I really cannot see any benefit in this amendment in respect of preventing vehicle thefts by organized groups of professional criminals. Most certainly such people would have little or no difficulty in obtaining master key sets. Again, at first glance it would seem that it would make it much more difficult for the type of person who probably could be described as a casual, impulsive thief, and the danger of thefts by this type of person might be diminished. But how many vehicle thefts result from the use of master key sets; how many of these master key sets are or ever will be in the possession of the type of person who might be a casual thief? I submit that such determined types as those who now possess such keys still would find it possible, indeed quite easy, to obtain them.

I am all for any practical and enforceable law which will prevent crime. However, I am always a little concerned about the addition to existing laws or laws which are not practical and which perhaps are very difficult to enforce. I sincerely feel that this suggested amendment falls into that category. I believe it probably has a great deal more psychological than practical effect. Unfortunately, I feel I should bring to your attention also the tremendous inconvenience this would cause to those persons who are engaged in the manufacture, sale, repair and servicing of vehicles, who legitimately require these master key sets. In this connection I think I would have to describe it as being about ten pounds of prevention to provide half an ounce of cure.

Again I commend the hon. member for Edmonton West for the intent in his amendment, but in its present form I would find it difficult to support this motion.

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May 18, 1966

Mr. Andras:

I appreciate the comment of the hon. member for Edmonton West, but I think he has somewhat misconstrued my argument. I am saying simply that there are many legitimate agencies which should be authorized to have possession of master key sets, such as the authorized manufacturers, their dealers, the independent garages, repair garages, and so on, because their operation is so diversified that it is necessary to reduce the number of keys which they have to carry on any given occasion, which arises quite often. I extend that by saying that by the time one completed authorizing all the people who are entitled to possess such keys there would be thousands of keys issued throughout this country. I do not deny the implication that the effect of this motion would make the possession of keys by unauthorized persons an illegal act, but I simply say that it would be impractical to administer and enforce.

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March 30, 1966

Mr. R. K. Andras (Port Arthur):

I have a question for the Minister of Transport. In view of the fact that some six months ago the Board of Transport Commissioners deferred for a period of six months their ruling on granting permission to the railways to increase freight rates on lumber shipments from northwestern Ontario to eastern Canada, and in view of the fact such a decision is imminent and will be important to the economy of northwestern Ontario, can the minister tell us where this matter stands now?

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February 10, 1966

Mr. Andras:

Mr. Chairman, other than a brief sortie into the question period last Friday this also is the first time I have attempted to inflict any words of wisdom on the members of the House of Commons.

As is traditional, I am very tempted to take this opportunity to tell in detail of the many attractions of my riding of Port Arthur and of northwestern Ontario. I am also tempted to try to enlist support for the solution of all the problems of that area, and these are many.

However, I will resist that temptation to cover so much ground until some later date, and will attempt to concentrate on one major field related to the subject under discussion. It seems to me appropriate that, on debate of the Department of Transport estimates, the member for Port Arthur should air his views on a matter of importance, concern and quite extreme emergency to his constituents. I make no apology for the fact that much of what I have to say will be repetitious, some of it already having been mentioned during the course of this debate, but it is sufficiently serious and urgent that I think it bears repetition.

I am referring to the recent alarming developments in one of the most significant fields of transport, the serious dissipation of the

railway passenger services of this country. I feel sure I will be supported in my remarks, at least in principle, by members in all parts of the chamber, and especially by my colleagues from neighbouring constituencies, the hon. member for Fort William and the hon. member for Kenora-Rainy River.

All present here, and many throughout the country, are aware of the existence of a fairly comprehensive survey of the railway transportation system of Canada. Like others,

I have had the opportunity to study and review in fair detail the report of the Royal Commission on Transportation. This published survey, known also as the MacPherson report, in volume 1, beginning on page 43, makes very special mention of the problem of passenger services. Essentially the royal commission report appears to contain these observations, to reach these conclusions, and to make certain recommendations.

The key observations are:

"First passenger services are clearly one aspect of rail operation which is uneconomic, taken as a whole."

The second is that the railways have a-

-"continuing need of revenues to cover deficits incurred because of the apparent inability of railway management to slough off the historical, traditional and institutional obligation to provide passenger services."

The third key observation is that the revenue to cover such deficits is-

"a burden which at present must be borne by the users of rail freight services."

The key conclusions of the MacPherson report with regard to passenger services are, first:

Railways must eventually withdraw all uneconomic rail passenger services subject to similar time limitations imposed in connection with the abandonment of uneconomic plant.

And, second:

Immediate and abrupt withdrawal of rail passenger services where they are unprofitable would cause dislocations far outweighing the advantages to be gained.

The key recommendations are that elimination of uneconomic passenger services be proceeded with over a period of five years, and that since those five years could be long enough to have serious consequences for those freight shippers already burdened with high freight rates and the possibility of further increases in freight rates-

-the government of Canada should, in the interests of the nation as a whole, absorb in declining measures-for a period of five years-this most substantial of all obligations now incumbent upon railway management.

And furthermore:

To the extent that there remain after this five year period rail passenger services operating at a loss, but essential because of a lack of alternate surface transportation, it shall be the responsibility of the nation to bear the burden of that loss.

Mr. Chairman, this railway administration, railway efficiency problem, is one of the more complicated and difficult facing the nation internally today.

One cannot argue too much with the validity of the statement that passenger service is uneconomic as a direct return on direct railway investment.

One cannot argue at all about the disadvantages to the economy, and to shippers of freight, inherent in the railways' apparent practice of spreading the passenger service loss over freight rates. Most certainly this is iniquitous to the shippers, and to customers and end-consumers and users of shipped goods.

One cannot really argue with the desire of railway management to operate profitably and, in their eyes, efficiently.

[DOT] (7:30 p.m.)

Perhaps in the long term, at some distant future date, the recommended withdrawal from uneconomic passenger service may be the right answer; but even assuming the logic of the eventual withdrawal of such services, which is more than I would care to assume at this stage, there are many considerations of timing, degree and method that must first be resolved before irrevocable action can be taken. There are many interlocking and related problems of both a social and economic nature that must be carefully analysed before even the beginning of this drastic policy of mass abandonment should be condoned or permitted.

In terms of timing, there are areas and regions in this country, which are so sparsely settled with so many isolated communities, where adequate alternative passenger transportation is simply not available and does not yet exist. Let us make no mistake about this that the lack of transportation, including specifically the movement of people, is still a very major economic and social barrier to the development of Canada toward its potential. As is characteristic of so many other aspects, there are vast differences in the transportation needs of the many regions and sub regions of our nation.

A policy such as the elimination of the "Dominion" passenger train by the C.P.R.

Supp ly-Transport

might not be so drastic in the highly developed areas such as the "golden horseshoe" around Toronto or Montreal, but it could be and is most dangerous when applied to areas like northwestern Ontario and western Canada. In these underdeveloped and underpopulated sections our crying need is for more access transportation, not less, and the elimination of passenger train service is not progress to us, but regression. It could cause our regional economy to go backwards, not forward, and for us at the very best this action is very much premature. So timing and degree in a matter like this is vital.

As to method, surely the MacPherson report or the authors thereof did not anticipate or condone even the beginning of implementation of the withdrawal of passenger train services on a national scale before all the related problems could reasonably be analysed and answers worked out; but with the abandonment of the "Dominion", in particular, that withdrawal is being proceeded with at a rapid pace.

In fact, Mr. Chairman, at the pace of abandonment of railway passenger train service by the C.P.R., the discussion or study of railway policy at some future date by this house or by its transportation committee may be academic. The C.P.R. has already eliminated half of its transcontinental train operation, and certainly all the signs point to the dumping of the "Canadian" at the earliest opportunity. If the C.P.R. is permitted to proceed as it is now proceeding, this house and its transportation committee will soon be facing an already accomplished fact, particularly when it attempts to deal with the royal commission on transportation.

To make sure of all this the C.P.R. appears to be embarking on a deliberate policy of not replacing its passenger train capital equipment as it wears out, and in many ways is making its passenger service so expensive, so inconvenient and so unattractive that people will get the message which simply is: Stay away; don't ride with us we don't want you.

The stories of increased fares, of peculiar space reservation tactics, of deteriorating equipment, of frequent delays and so on are being heard on every side, and several of these have been related to some degree in this house by members of all parties. No, there cannot be much doubt that the C.P.R. is jumping the gun and is not waiting for the total study that is so necessary in regard to-this most serious and major matter.


By instinct, by training and by experience I lean toward the premise that the government should be very cautious about undue interference with business and private enterprise. By the same token, although the C.P.R. is ostensibly a private enterprise company, it is dealing in a national service and has had very considerable national assistance. Its actions gravely influence the national economy. It is by nature a utility, and this has already been recognized in principle by the Railway Act and by the creation and jurisdiction of the Board of Transport Commissioners. So, more than any other private corporation, it is answerable to the public and to this house.

I suggest that we are entitled to interfere when the national interest is threatened, and it is my opinion, as a result of recent action on the part of the C.P.R., that the national interest is being threatened. Most certainly there is sufficient evidence of public concern to justify our demanding a great deal more information and answers than we have had so far in respect of this railway problem. We have heard no real details from the C.P.R. about its program for the protection of C.P.R. employees who are being or are about to be transferred or displaced, ultimately and potentially by the hundreds. We have heard no suggestions from any source as to what happens to the smaller railway towns and communities such as Schreiber, White River, Kenora and others. What will happen to the small storekeepers, hotel owners and the dozens of other small businessmen who are locked into investments so dependent upon the trade of railway employees who may not be there much longer in many of these towns? Surely this is public business.

We have now experienced in my constituency of Port Arthur, and indeed throughout northwestern Ontario, the fear, the insecurity and the anxiety of so many people who do not know what lies ahead, but who, perhaps with real reason, anticipate the worst. This is not only public business, I consider it to be my very personal business. All these considerations and many more are pertinent to what appears to railway executives to be only a straightforward matter of railway corporate profits or losses.

The performance, profit-wise, of the C.P.R. and C.P.I. and its subsidiaries and associated companies in connection with its responsibility to its shareholders, has not been bad.

The continuation of passenger service will not in the immediate future threaten the C.P.R.'s corporate existence, particularly if a

[Mr. Andras.l

reasonable compromise solution is worked out in the near future in terms of the nation absorbing some of the passenger losses so that freight services do not subsidize passenger service. Surely the C.P.R. can be reasonably expected to be patient. This is not so simple a problem that it can be dealt with as just one of immediate corporate profits or losses. This requires study, and the time to study it thoroughly.

The appeal of the ruling of the Board of Transport Commissioners, allowing the C.P.R. abandonment of the "Dominion", will be heard by the cabinet soon. Incidentally it seems peculiar, to say the least that in spite of the knowledge of this pending appeal the transport board the day before yesterday proceeded to let the C.P.R. eliminate even the summer run of the "Dominion".

It has also been suggested that the transportation committee of this house should sit down with C.P.R. management to get a clear-cut picture of their forward plans regarding passenger train service.

[DOT] (7:40 p.m.)

Surely until this has been done and until the MacPherson report has been fully aired and dealt with, together with all the related problems, and until a consensus of this nation has been formally reached and identified, it is reasonable to ask that the C.P.R. should itself delay any further dissipation of its passenger service and indeed even reverse its decision regarding the "Dominion".

In the absence of this voluntary action by the C.P.R., which I realize we might be extremely naive to expect, I can assure the government that a decision by it, if necessary through this house, to disallow the Board of Transport Commissioners ruling regarding the "Dominion" would be extremely well received in the Port Arthur riding and, I suggest, throughout all of western Canada.

With this type of moratorium it would then be possible to deal rationally and objectively with the whole railway program and its interlocking relationship with all segments of our nation and its people, through the house transportation committee and then the house itself, in full consultation with railway management and the railway unions. Failing that, Mr. Chairman, I anticipate-if I judge the mood of the people correctly-that the C.P.R. will face the toughest and most militant union resistance in its long history during the next contract negotiations.

I further anticipate that the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Transportation will, when they are dealt with, find many of the members of this house from all parties and the people of Canada in a pretty ugly mood, beamed particularly toward the Canadian Pacific Railway.

After all, the people of this country through huge grants of land and money gave this company its start and provided it with many assets that have always been highly profitable.

The C.P.R. has an obligation to this nation, and through the medium of this house and its attendant publicity I call upon this company to recognize and honour that debt by showing a great deal more patience and national responsibility, or alternatively perhaps this debt should be paid by returning to the people in full current measure those original grants.

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February 4, 1966

Mr. R. K. Andras (Port Arthur):

Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary question for the Minister of Transport. I understand from the previous answer that the appeal against the abandonment of the Dominion is going to be heard in spite of the fact that it is proposed to set up a parliamentary committee to study this matter.

My question is this. In the course of the hearing and ruling on this appeal will the cabinet consider itself restricted to dealing with the abandonment of the Dominion as an isolated action, or will the cabinet recognize this as possibly another stage in the Canadian Pacific Railway's program of complete withdrawal from transcontinental passenger service?

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