March 26, 1903


Mr. JOHN CHARLTON (North Norfolk) moved second reading of Bill (No. 2) to amend chapter 8 of the statutes of 1900, authorizing the granting, of railway subsidies. He said : Chapter 8 of the statutes of 1900 makes a provision which I desire 18 slightly to amend. This provision is contained in section 3, subsection ' C ' and is as follows : Upon progress estimates and the certificate of the chief engineer of Railways and Canals, that in his opinion, having regard to the whole work undertaken and the aid granted, the progress made justifies the payment of a sum not less than $60,000. In practice, this provision is found to work to the detriment of roads whose subsidies are within the sum of $60,000. A road with a larger subsidy, may upon a progress estimate apply for an allowance from the subsidy and upon the report of the chief engineer, that allowance can be made. But a road with a subsidy of $60,000 or less, although it may be almost completed, although the progress estimates would show that a very small sum of money would be required to complete the road ; yet a road of that character is absolutely debarred from an application for an allowance upon its subsidy under the progress estimate. It must be apparent to the House that this inadvertently works an injustice by putting a road with a small subsidy at a disadvantage as compared with roads having a larger subsidy. In view of this I have introduced this Bill which contains the simple provision that the figure ' $30,000 ' shall be substituted for '$60,000.'


CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

Is this amendment going to apply to railways which are only entitled to a subsidy of less than $60,000, or has it a general application ?

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS (Hon. A. G. Blair).

I might be permitted to explain that in 1898 we introduced a departure from the ordinary rui"-which governed the payment of subsidies, by providing that in respect to the Crow's Nest Pass Railway, and I think the Victoria bridge, which were likely to earn very large sums, and which would not be able to complete their line in ten-mile sections ; that we should be authorized to make payment on progress estimates providing the amount earned on the said progress estimates would not be less than $60,000. Not that the whole subsidy then earned would not exceed $60,000, but when the amount to be earned with respect to such progress estimates would not exceed $60,000.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

Was that in 1900 ?

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

It was before 1900. I think It was as early as 1898, because it was then that the Crow's Nest Pass contract was entered into. At the same time the Grand Trunk Railway was building the Victoria bridge.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

The hon. Minister of Railways may remember that yesterday there was a debate on this very subject, in which I stated that the Railway Act was amended so that progress estimates might

be allowed as the road was under construction. The Minister of Railways then stated that that had application only to the Crow's Nest Pass Railway.

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

No, my hon. friend is in error as to that.

, Hon. Mr. HAGGART. If you look at the debate of yesterday, you will find that I ana strictly correct.

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

I understood the hon. gentleman to have reference to the original adoption of this particular change in the law, which was in respect of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Grand Trunk Railway.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

My statement was that the Railway Act was. read so as to allow the government to make advances on progress estimates instead of on the completion of 10-milei sections. The hon. minister stated that that applied only to the Crow's Nest Pass Railway.

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

I did not intend to convey that.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

The Act provides that the subsidies hereby granted, and any subsidies heretofore granted under any Act of parliament of Canada, still in force, but not fully paid, may be paid upon progress estimates on the certificate of the chief engineer of Railways and Canals that in his opinion, having regard to the whole work undertaken and the aid granted, the progress made justifies the payment of a sum not less than $60,000. It has no such application as the Minister of Railways now states. He states that this only takes effect when there has not been ten miles of road completed, and where there has been $60,000 spent on a section that does not constitute a complete section of ten miles. There is no such application as that at all.

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

I did not say there was.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

Well, it is unfortunate that when I repeat a statement that has been made by the minister just a few seconds before, I have so misunderstood it that I am subject to a correction by the hon. minister. I leave it to the House if I am not correct in saying that the hon. minister left the impression on the House which I have stated. He may not have intended to say so, but the fact is there that payments can be made on progress estimates, not taking into consideration whether ten miles are completed or not; and the present Bill is for the purpose of amending the Act in order to extend the application, as I think properly, to sums not less than $30,000.

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LIB

John Charlton

Liberal

Mr. CHARLTON.

The Act contemplates dealing with a class of railways-there are not many of them-that have a subsidy coming within or very near the limit set in Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

this Bill. For instance, there may be a road fifteen miles In length entitled to a subsidy of $3,200 a mile.

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LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

I wish to call the hon. member's attention to the fact that hei has already spoken, and he cannot continue except with the unanimous consent of the House.

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LIB

John Charlton

Liberal

Mr. CHARLTON.

The subsidy on a road of that length would be something like $48,000. The road might be almost completed. There! might be work enough to have completed fourteen of the fifteen miles, and yet the ten-mile section not fully completed. Although there might be only $2,000 or $3,000 of expenditure required to complete the work, the subsidy would be hung up by this provision, which was not intended to discriminate in that manner against the smaller! roads; and the Bill simply asks for the substitution of * thirty ' for ' sixty,' so that these smaller roads may be treated with the same degree of fairness that would be accorded to the larger and more expensive roads., It is for the purpose of rectifying an unintentional hardship, and not for the purpose of prejudicing in any way any public interest, that this Bill is introduced.

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Subtopic:   RAILWAY SUBSIDIES ACT-PROPOSED AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

It does not seem to me very wise for us to change the statute of 1900. By the terms of section 3 of that statute we provide that subsidies shall be paid in two cases : first, in the case of the completion of a ten-mile section. That seems fair enough. Secondly, upon progress estimates on the certificate of the chief engineer of Railways and Canals, that in his opinion, having regard to the whole work undertaken and the aid granted, the progress made justifies the payment} of a sum not less than $60,000; or with respect to part one way and part the other; that is to say, when part of the ten-mile section is built and part of the $60,000 is earned. It seems to me on general principles that this gives the government and the railway company quite latitude enough. We should not, I think, reduce the limit of $60,000 to any smaller figure, particularly in view of the facts which were commented on yesterday in this House, showing that these payments of subsidies are very often abused. Unless there is some very special reason, graver than that given by the hon. gentleman, I think we should adhere to the enactment of 1900.

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

I do not know whether I shall be taken as having spoken, because of the explanation I made ; but if I have, I would ask the indulgence of the House for the purpose of making one remark on the Bill. While I have no objection to offer to the hon. gentleman's motion passing, and would not set up any direct nor indirect opposition to it, at the same time I think that we might very well consider whether or not it is desirable to continue in the future the

system of paying on progress estimates. 1 see no such objection to it as has been referred to by the bon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk), because I think the public interest can be safeguarded as well if you are paying from progress estimates as if you were paying according to the original plan. But there are drawbacks which are largely departmental, and which it would not be desirable for us to continue. It will be in the memory of hon. members that some years ago-I think in 1898-we adopted the plan of allowing payments to be made on progress estimates and not limiting the payments of subsidies to the completion of ten-mile sections. Very strong representations were made that it would be impossible in a work such as was contemplated-the construction of the Crow's Nest Pass Railway-that ten-mile sections could be completed. There was a great deal of heavy work on it. The company desired to prosecute the work with all dispatch, to go on with its grading over the entire length simultaneously, if possible, and it would not be possible to grade and do ballasting and station building on every ten miles with the expedition they had in mind. Therefore parliament consented that in respect of these two undertakings, the Crow's Nest Pass Railway and the Victoria bridge, upon the companies showing that they had expended a sufficient amount in the work to earn a payment on subsidy account of not less than $60,000, the government might make payment to them of such an amount. Since then a clause lias been inserted in this general Act, and we have paid in a few instances on progress estimates when the parties have been able to bring themselves within the limitations of the present law. I think that the law is attended with some disadvantages. We are often called upon to send engineers for the purpose of making an inspection of a road, and are called upon for payments with a great deal of frequency, which adds to the work of the department. And if this were to go on to a greater extent, it would exceed the capabilities of the department. The lower you reduce the amount, the more frequent have the surveys to be made and all the machinery put into operation in order that these payments may be made. It was chiefly for that reason that we made the limit ns high as we did. I do not think that any great hardship is likely to be done in this case-at all events none that the companies ought not be expected to bear. Therefore I should be disposed to drop this portion of the conditions attaching to payments altogether from future subsidy Bills and confine payments to the ten-mile sections as was the law prior to that change. I would not offer any opposition to the present Bill because I think if it becomes law, it would not long continue in operation, as we should have to revert to the original conditions which existed before we made this change.

18i

Motion agreed to, Bill read the second time, and House went into Committee thereon.

On section 1.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   RAILWAY SUBSIDIES ACT-PROPOSED AMENDMENT.
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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

In view of the statement made by the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals that although offering no opposition to the Bill, he is in opinion that we should revert to the previous system of paying subsidies on the completion of ten-mile sections, it seems to me that it would be prudent for us, before proceeding still further in the direction upon which we entered in 1900, to have this Bill examined by the Railway Committee and have the report of the Committee before taking any action.

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LIB

John Charlton

Liberal

Mr. CHARLTON.

I am sorry to meet with the opposition of my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier in this matter. If he understood all the circumstances, he would see that this does not involve any dangerous departure but is merely a provision to treat fairly and equitably projects already under way and nearly completed, and not place them at a disadvantage as compared with larger concerns. The denial of the provision asked for will work hardship in one or two cases, where roads with subsidies of less than $60,000 are nearly completed and in much better condition to ask for progress estimates than many larger roads which have asked for these estimates and received the money. I have introduced this Bill with a full knowledge of the facts. I do not think that the opposition of my hon. friend was called for, and I trust that the application will not be opposed.

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March 26, 1903