Over every bit of railway mileage as provided in the contract of 1897. This government accepted that on the 6th of July of last year. It accepted as its policy that the Crowsnest agreement would prevail, as they understood it to prevail, without discrimination over the whole of Canada. It was not in the mind of a single member of the government or a single member of the House that anything else but the Crowsnest agreement was coming into force, and that without the discrimination that was afterwards made out by the Board of Railway Commissioners, and confirmed later on by the Supreme court. That was the intention of the government last year. Members of the government last year toured western Canada; the Prime Minister himself came out to western Canada, and he did not deny on a single occasion but that we were following out the railroad policy laid down by the Laurier government and he never left a single intimation in western Canada but that the Crowsnest agreement of 1897 was in full force and effect I am sure that it must have come as a shock to him, as it did to me and the rest of us there, that the Board of Railway Commissioners would set aside, or that they even intended to set aside, at one fell 4 p.m. swoop the act of this parliament.
The Board of Railway Commissioners appear to have acted with wonderful celerity upon that occasion. Speaking moderately, and without any trace of feeling whatever, it does seem to me that the Board of Railway Commissioners proceeded with undue activity in setting aside a contract which had stood as the Magna Charta of western Canada in its transportation difficulties for some twenty-seven years. In setting that contract aside on a fifteen-days' notice, without waiting to go to the Supreme court to see if they were sound upon the matter at all it seems to me they acted with undue and indecent haste. It would have been meet and proper under the circumstances to have waited until they had the law from the Supreme court.
Railway Freight Rates
It was, if I might say so, 'hurrying the culprit to execution almost without the benefit of the judicial clergy.
But we can go further. On the 24th day of December of last year an order in council was passed by this government, with the full knowledge before them of the Supreme court's decision, again reinstating the Crowsnest policy and conpact of 1897, in these words:
Your committee is of the opinion, however, that liour Excellency in Council has power to grant a stay of proceedings or postpone the operation of the order ' the board complained of, pending the outcome of the appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada above referred to, and to direct that the said order of the board be varied by providing that the tariffs therein referred to shall again become operative and remain in effect until further order of the board following the decision of the Supreme Court upon the said appeal.
So that for a period of twenty-seven years until practically the present moment, the Crowsnest compact has been the policy of the Liberal party, and incidentally I might add of the Conservative party in the past, too, and it never was set aside at any time except as a war measure.
Now what has occurred in the interval, Mr. Chairman, to change the mind of the government upon this matter? Apparently they were running true to form on the policy of giving equal justice to the people of the central provinces who were far removed from water. What has caused their change of
mind? I can conceive of only one thing which the government can advance as a [DOT]reason, and that is the fact that the Supreme court has found that there is discrimination throughout Canada, that the Board of Railway Commissioners would have the right to set up the discrimination that now exists in western Canada, and to approve of the discrimination that now exists in eastern Canada, and in order to meet an awkward situation the government has decided upon a sort of compromise. Are the government justified in doing that? We must remember what the government's opinions were prior to the decision of the Supreme court. Now, the government have the power, this House has the power, to override that decision and to put into legislation that which the government approved of up until the 24th of December last year.
Is western Canada really and properly entitled to some form of guaranteed rate? There can be no argument as to that. Any Board of Railway Commissioners would find themselves placed in such a situation, as a result of the course proposed to be taken, that they would have to put an additional and heavy burden upon the shippers of west-err Canada. They are bound by the con-
*ditions of water transportation in eastern Canada. In eastern Canada the rates cannot be raised by reason of that fact. The railroads must have a certain amount of freight rates to keep their lines in operation. That is an undoubted fact. Talk about the equalization of freight rates! There cannot be such a thing in this country as equalization of freight rates as long as water competition exists in eastern Canada, and western Canada must for many years to come pay a higher freight rate than eastern Canada. We must pay it because the money must be raised. The mountain scale applicable to British Columbia is so high already that it cannot be raised any higher. The conditions of competition in eastern Canada are such that the rates cannot be increased there either. Western Canada, that great reservoir producing the largest proportion of freight in this country, must for many years to come bear a higher burden of freight rates than eastern Canada. W e are agreed as to that. In what position then must the Board of Railway Commissioners find' themselves? They find themselves in this position, that without a maximum protection in western Canada they are compelled to raise the rates there to meet the necessities of the freight rates question. Without that maximum western Canada would be in the position of a man playing poker with all the cards stacked against him and the other side asking for the sky as the limit.
Subtopic: RAILWAY FREIGHT RATES