The hon. gentleman starts out with the assumption-a very extraordinary thing for him to do-that there is no discrimination. I am trying to point out to him that somebody must determine whether there is discrimination or not and lie cannot determine that unless the rates are made known.
Hon. Mr. HAGGART.
And would the hon. gentleman (Hon. Mr. Blair) be kind enough to tell me how the board could know from merely seeing the rate whether there was discrimination or not ?
When they have the facts
The question of discrimination will only come up if there is a complaint raised. The person making the complaint would know whom to accuse of receiving the advantage, and that person could be brought before the board and made to give evidence as to the rate. The fact is that the hon. minister, to facilitate the trying of cases before the board, is destroying competition. [DOT]
The hon. gentleman (Mr. Barker) is altogether mistaken.
The hon. member for Hamilton (Mr. Barker) has said that the effect of this was to destroy competition. It seems to me that is the pith of the whole argument. I would like to give a concrete illustration of something that came under my notice a year or two ago. It relates to the matter of fuel oil. When the Standard Oil Company came into Canada, they
raised the price of fuel oil to nearly double what it was before.
In what year ?
About two or three years ago. The Canadian railways, the Grand Trunk and the Canadian Pacific Railway, saw that by water competition they would be deprived of carrying a certain amount of refined oil such as they had carried previous to the time the Standard Oil Company came into Canada. The rates from the fields where the oil was produced were, for refined oil 15 cents per 100 pounds, and for fuel oil, which is a by-product of the other, 9 cents per 100 pounds. The two Canadian railways abandoned the rate of 9 cents on fuel oil, "which was worth about $1.50 a barrel against about $7 for refined oil, and allowed the fuel oil to come under the rate of freight on refined oil. So far as Toronto and every other town in Ontario east of Toronto was concerned, this rate held. But the Michigan Central has connection into Hamilton, and it refused to adopt the ruling of the other railways but went on carrying oil at 9 cents per 100 pounds as it had been carried for many years before. Now, under the provision proposed by the hon. minister with regard to this matter, that kind of competition will be destroyed.
I do not think it at all.
If the railway cannot make traffic at a lower rate of freight than those filed with the government, it seems to me that destroys competition.
We have passed a number of clauses dealing with the general subject of rates. We have passed clauses relating to the subject of reducing rates without a word of criticism, nor -would criticism have been justified. Read section 262. All this Act requires is that special freight tariffs and competitive tariffs shall be filed with the board, and such tariffs shall state the date when issued, and when to take effect. And the section says :
When any such tariff reduces any toll previously authorized to be charged under this Act
So, reductions are contemplated in plain and explicit terms. The company may reduce its tariff to zero if it will-
-the company shall file such tariff with the board.
And so on. Now, I say that is all, and that tariff, as well as other tariffs, may be disallowed, but disallowed for sufficient cause. It would be disallowed if proved to be a discriminating tariff within the meaning of this Act; if it was not discriminating, no one having any qualifications to be a member of the board would disallow it simply because it reduced the rates. The very point is to get the rates down to a
reasonable and proper basis, and when a railway company reduces, of its own motion, the rates which it charges, surely it is not to be assumed that the railway commission are going to disallow that tariff upon that ground alone. If there is any discrimination about it which will work unjustly to others, then of course the board may properly exercise the discretion with which the law invests them. Now, when we are dealing further along with other phases of the question of charges, of freight and tolls, when we come down to the joint tariff for practically foreign business, all that we provide is that these joint tariffs should be tiled. Now, where is there any possibility of injury to any interest in requiring that these should be filed, and where is the foundation for the suggestion lion, gentlemen have made that we are interfering with competition ? I venture to say it cannot be found in the provisions of this Bill.
The minister will admit that any tariff has to be registered and filed with the commission. Any railroad knowing that its cut rate which is of advantage to the public, was going to be made known to other railroads, would not file. A man would not make the cut rate if lie knew his competitors were going to find it out immediately, and the public would not get the benefit of it.
We are providing that these should not be made public, they are for the private and personal knowledge of the commissioners alone.
But they are bound to tile every cut rate.
Yes, but they do not publish them, they are simply filed. That it seems to me, is a reasonable and proper precaution; the board should have knowledge of all the rates that are being imposed by the railway companies so that they may, having that knowledge, better decide as to whether or not there is any violation of the law in discriminating against other rights and interests.
Hon. Mr. HAGGART.
I thought that before any special rates took effect they had to be published. First of all, you have to file them with the board and then you have to publish them three days before they take effect.
When any such tariff reduces any toll previously authorized to he charged under this Act, the company shall file such tariff with the board and shall publish the same in the manner in section 274 in such case provided, at least three clear days previous to the date on which such tariff is intended to take effect.
That expressly excludes applications for competitive tariffs. That clause has been amended.
Hon. Mr. BLAIR.
It seems to me you are abandoning the fundamental principle of the American law, which says that the great and beneficial effect of their board is publicity. You say here that you intend to keep it private.
I would like to be able to satisfy all my hon. friends opposite, but I do not see how I can do so. One says this is going to work unjustly because the competitive tariffs are going to be published; another condemns the Bill because he says that the great merit of the board is publicity.