The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.
That is within the discretion of the committee.
That is within the discretion of the committee.
Hon. Mr. TISDALE.
After the Prime Minister's statement, he having corrected his minister, and having stated his position frankly and willingly, I, for my part, would not object to the withdrawal of the motion. I think all the useful services of the motion have been to a great extent accomplished, and that the general acceptance of an important rule is of more benefit than any other question connected with the discussion.
Mr. A. B. INGRAM (East Elgin).
I ask the indulgence of the House once more, as I have done on many occasions, to condemn the practise of having a political head over the government railways of this country. When our own party was in power years ago I stood up in this House and opposed the principle of placing government railways under a political head. Sir, the doubts I had then as to the wisdom of that adminsitration are greatly strengthened to-day. The Minister of Finance stated that we should discuss this question quietly and on its merits. Well, surely . when we find that a large portion of the public press are saying that improper expenditures have taken place on the government railways, are we not discussing the question on its merits ? Now, Mr. Speaker, suppose the government railways of this country were taken away from a political head and placed under some independent body that would be responsible to the Crown for the proper expenditure of all public moneys on the government railways, I ask whether any hon. gentleman in this House, whether he be a supporter of the government or a member of the opposition, would rise and say that notwithstanding the fact that the public press are condemning the expenditure on this government railway, we should not have an investigation into such charges ? Supposing an independent commission were to use these words of the Minister of Railways and Canals : We are not afraid of an investigation, any investigation that may be made-would any hon. gentleman in this House burk an inquiry into charges made against that commission such as have been made by the press of this country against the administration of the government railway ? Why would they not oppose such an investigation ? Because it would be a business transaction, it would be their duty to investigate the affairs of that railway in the interest of the people whose money was being expended.
Now I am not going to charge hon. gentlemen opposite with the mismanagement of that railway, any more than I made such a charge against my hon. friends when they were in power; it is the principle of the matter that I am discussing, it is the administration of government railways by a political head that I am opposing. But discussing the question now before the
Hon. Mr. BLAIR.
House in the interests of the people of this country whose money is being expended, I ask hon. gentlemen opposite, is it not a fact that those of you whose constituencies are located alongside of the government railways, have at one time or another approached the general manager of that railway, or approached the Minister of Railways and Canals, asking him for certain favours on behalf of your constituents ? In many cases perhaps he may have refused your request, and in consequence of his refusal, no doubt threats were made and dissatisfaction engendered. Taking that view of it, then I say if, instead of a political head, you were to approach an independent body and ask them to put on more men than are really necessary to conduct the operations of the railway, why, that independent body would simply say to you in a business way : The department in which you wish us to place more men is already filled up, and we have no need for any more at present. That would be the end of it. We should not see, as we see now, and have seen in years gone by, more men employed than were required on the railway, thereby placing upon the people a heavier expenditure in order to satisfy political friends. For that reason I am opposed to this method of conducting government railways.
Now, we have a general manager, and Mr. Pottinger's name has been mentioned. I am not in a position to judge of his merits, I am not in a position to say whether he is well qualified or not. But since the Minister of Railways and Canals has stated that the officers of the government railways have exercised their best judgment in the administration of that railway, I question his statement in view of the fact I have just explained, that the manager of that railway is not left alone to use his best judgment in its administration, he has been subject to political influences from one quarter or another, and by reason of that undue influence it would be unfair to judge him on his merits as an administrator. The other day I attended that Railway Committee, and I observed another reason why the railway should be taken from under a political head. I found that certain questions were asked a witness in that committee, and the opposition members were eager and willing to obtain the information they wanted from him; and I also observed a disposition on the part of the supporters of the government to burk the evidence given by that witness which would tend to injure the government, But would hon. gentlemen take that course if they were investigating the management of the country's railway by an independent commission ? Certainly not. It is of great importance that the railways owned by the people of this country should be administered on business lines, the same as those on which other railways are ad-
ministered throughout Canada and the United States, that is to say, on business principles.
Now let me examine some of the objections of the Minister of Railways and Canals to the motion that is before the House. He says he objects to Mr. Archibald being summoned because he is not an officer of the railway, and because he is not a contractor for the railway. Now are these reasonable objections ? I have not heard one hon. gentleman in this House say that Mr. Archibald is not a competent civil engineer. No fault has been found with that gentleman so far as his profession is concerned. Now if he posseses the qualifications to give an expression of opinion as to what ought to be done in the interests of the people in the administration of that railway, then I consider it to be our duty as members of this House to ascertain whether he thinks, according to his judgment, that the railway has been properly administered, and he should go upon the witness stand before that committee for that purpose. Another objection made by the minister is that Mr. Archibald is a sore head. Surely that is not a sufficient reason. Suppose that any hon. gentleman in this House were a stockholder in any other railway of this country, and that he happened to be in a minority on a question of managing the railway. Suppose a motion was made concerning the administration of that road, I would like to know from the Minister of Railways and Canals whether he does not think that a man in the position of Mr. Archibald would not be one of the very first persons called upon for information to ascertain whether the road was being properly administered. Why, Sir, he is one of the very best men to have before that committee for the purpose of securing information of that character.
Now, the hon. gentleman asks, does the minority of the committee want Mr. Archibald for the purpose of getting at the truth? The hon. gentleman said in the first place that he was not afraid to have any investigation made into this matter. Surely, if he is not afraid, if there is nothing to hide, nothing to expose detrimental to himself, or to the officers of the railway, what objection can he have to Mr. Archibald being present ? Surely he can have no objection at all. As to the truth or falsity of the statements made by Mr. Archibald that would be outside of the members of the committee, but, certainly, the people of the country would have an opportunity of judging as to the truthfulness of the statements made by Mr. Archibald. These statements would go broadcast throughout the Dominion of Canada. They would not go entirely through the west where there is no government railway, but, they would be circulated along the line of the Intercolonial Railway, through the eastern part of Canada, and those who
are living alongside of that railway and know something about its management would know very well whether the statements made by Mr. Archibald were true or false.
Now, the question has arisen between hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House and hon. gentlemen on this side of the House as to the propriety of the reasons why Mr. Archibald should be summoned before that committee. I am not a member of that committee, but I have paid some attention to the last two meetings and I distinctly heard the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals (Hon. Mr. Haggart) say that on a date previously he had given the reasons why he wanted Mr. Archibald summoned before that committee. The records were referred to but the shorthand reporters stated that they did not make a practice of including anything in the record other than the evidence given before that committee and by reason of that the statement made by the hon. ex-Minister of Railways and Canals was not included in the evidence given before the committee. Now, he rose up afterwards and stated why he wanted Mr. Archibald summoned, and really and truly I did not think it was necessary in the interests of the people of this country that my hon. friend should be placed in the position of a lawyer and be under the necessity of complying with the rules of procedure in so far as that he must jdace his bill of particulars before the other side in order to secure a witness. I did not think the people of this country required anything other than that he should frankly get up and state the reason why he wanted Mr. Archibald before that committee. He stated that he wanted Mr. Archibald for the purpose of inquiring into the cost of ties, of braces, and. of bridges, and who will deny that this gentleman has the knowledge necessary to give information to the committee of very great importance ? Nobody can deny that. Having said that is that not a sufficient reason why the committee and the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals should have him summoned ? But the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals, who, for the time being is at the head of the government railways of this country, called upon his supporters to vote it down and as a matter of fact his supporters did vote it down. Now, let me ask that hon. gentleman : Would he do that if there were no politics involved in securing Mr. Archibald before that committee ? He certainly would not do it although I do not say that, perhaps myself, even, or perhaps, my friends might have done so in days gone by. I do not think that I ever did in my life, and I am quite satisfied that the Conservative members of this House never in their lives, opposed the securing of the evidence of a witness who would give important testimony. Now, there is a strong feeling throughout the country that government ownership of railways is a proper
thing for this country to adopt. If there is a gentleman in this country who believes in the administration of government railways on the principle of administering them as we have it now, then, I call upon him to change his views and denounce any such proposition, because the proposition as we have it now is not in the interests of the people of this country. So long as I am a member of this House I will protest against any political interference with the management of ihat railway. Here is another reason why Mr. Archibald should be called upon to give evidence before that committee. We had the general manager of the road before the committee and we had his statement that he was the one who prepared the estimate for the large number of ties necessary for that railway. Shortly afterwards he was asked the question : What class of ties did you purchase ? And he was subsequently asked : What are the lives of the different qualities of timber that you purchased ? He could not tell the committee the lives of the ties that he had been using for years. I want to say that I do not like to reflect upon the general manager of that railway, but, if he says honestly under oath that he cannot tell the life of a railway tie, then, he is unfit to msthage the government railway or any other railway. How can any man sit down and estimate the number necessary unless he knows the lives of the ties and unless he knows too the age and number of old ties which had been put under the rails by which matters he arrives at his estimate, and on which his estimate is based ? If we cannot get a statement of that character from the general manager should we not have a statement from a man like Mr. Archibald who does understand the life of a railway tie on this or any other railway ? I do not intend to take up any more of the time of the House
Yes, I can quite understand why some of my hon. friends say ' hear, hear.' If they will go before their constituents I will venture to go before their constituents with them and I venture to ask their constituents if they arc in favour of administering this railway under a political head, or through an independent body which will not be subject to the whims of every member of parliament, and I will undertake the responsibility of saying that 99 per cent of the average Grits or Tories in the country will support me in my contention, because, instead of having large deficits on our government railways as we have to-day, the expenditure will be something within the revenues instead of the expenditure being in excess of the revenues owing to the improper management that we now have of the government railways of the country.
Hon. Mr. TISDALE.
Mr. W. F. MACLEAN (East York).
Mr. Speaker, I am one of those who believe in the government ownership of railways in this country.
Hear, hear, and after the speech of the hon. member for East Elgin (Mr. Ingram) and after the speech of the hon. member for West Toronto (Mr. Osier) last night, in regard to the same question, I wish to set myself right and I especially wish to set right the views of those who believe in the government ownership of railways. I believe in government ownership and I also believe in a political head who is responsible for the administration of the road in the way that a certain amount of political responsibility goes with it, but I do not believe that there should be any partisan administration of government railways. The two things do not go together, and only last session, when I brought up the question of the public ownership of railways, I brought it up in the way of presenting a motion to the House declaring that the administration of the Intercolonial Railway should be depoli-ticalized. I was laughed at for that proposition by hon. gentlemen opposite. There is no connection between the two things. The Intercolonial Railway to-day can be administered as the peoples' railway without any partisanship in it, without any interference, as there is to-day by members of parliament and party heelers from one end of the road to the other. In Australia, a colony somewhat similar to Canada, where they have public owned railways, they have a responsible chief in parliament, but they have the administration of the road placed in the hands of commissioners as was outlined by the hon. member for East Elgin to-day. I take this opportunity of putting myself right and of asking others in the country who believe in public ownership to put it fairly before their fellow citizens that we say that partisan administration of a state owned railway is not a necessary adjunct to it.
House divided on motion of Mr. Bell :
MacLaren (Perth), Maclean,
Borden (Halifax), Boyd,
Hughes (Victoria), Ingram,
Johnston (Cardwell), Kaulbach,
Robinson (Elgin), Roche (Marquette), Rosamond,
Smith (Wentworth), Taylor,
Laurier (L'Assomption), Riley,
Reid (Grenville), Monk,
(N orthumb erland), Bennett,
NAYS : Messieurs
(King's, N.S.), McColl,
Carroll, Marcil (Bonaventure),
Demers (LSvis), Mulock,
Fisher, Reid (Restigouche),
Fitzpatrick, Ross (Ontario),
Flint, Ross (Rimouski),
Fortier, Ross (Victoria, N.S.),
Geoffrion, . Schell,
Gibson, Smith (Vancouver),
Guthrie, Sutherland (Essex),
Harwood, Sutherland (Oxford),
Hughes . Thompson,
(King's, P.E.I.), Tobin,
Johnston (Cape Breton) Turcot,
Johnston (Lambton), Turgeon,
Laurier (Sir Wilfrid),
PAIRS : Messieurs
I beg to withdraw my vote Mr. Speaker. I am paired with the hon. member for Kings, New Brunswick (Mr. Fowler).
(Translation.) I am paired with the hon. member for Two-Mountains. If I were not, I would have voted for the motion.
I am paired with the hon. member for North Wellington (Mr. Tolton). If I were not paired I would have voted against the motion.
The hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Bell) has not voted.
I was paired with the hon. member for Guysborougli (Mr. Fraser). If I were not so paired I would have voted for the motion.
Motion (Mr. Bell) negatived.
At six o'clock, the House took recess.
House resumed at eight o'clock.
Bill (No. 46) to incorporate the Strait of Canso Bridge Company.-Mr. McLennan. Bill (No. 52) respecting the St. Clair and Erie Ship Canal Company.-Mr. Tisdale. Bill (No. 53) respecting the Canadian Northern Railway Company.-Mr. Davis.
Bill (No. 57) respecting the Ontario Power Company of Niagara Falls.-Mr. German. Bill (No. 58) in amendment of Criminal Code 1892.-Mr. Cowan.