The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.
Certain boards of trade might be notified.
Certain boards of trade might be notified.
Something like the following has been suggested :
The company shall file with the board as many copies of all proposed tariffs and freight classifications as the hoard may prescribe, and on receipt thereof the secretary of the board shall mail to each incorporated board of trade, chamber of commerce or commercial association in Canada a copy thereof, and shall send by mail a copy thereof to all other persons requiring the same.
I think fifty or sixty copies would be sufficient.
I think we might make provision very easily ; but I would not advise as many copies as'that. There are only three Hon. Mr. BLAIR.
or four boards of trade that interest themselves in the subject. The Toronto Board of Trade is the only one with which I have had any communication on the subject.
It represents pretty well the Ontario organizations.
I think I would not be far astray if I said that one of our great railroads would have a thousand different tariffs in operation, and it would be a very serious matter to give notice of all these.
The hoards of trade look upon it as a very important matter.
That is true, and I think the case would be met sufficiently by providing that the boards of trade of Toronto and Montreal should be supplied. Tjiey are the great centres, and perhaps would be the only ones requiring to be informed.
You might provide for sending to cities of over 200,000 population.
I will look into the matter, and put something in the Bill. [DOT]
If the minister adopts that clause or any modification of it, I would suggest that he would provide for sending to all cities where there are boards of trade.
On section 279, subsection 3,
3. Any person or any officer or ageht of any company who shall deliver goods for transportation to the company or for whom as consignor or consignee the company shall transport goods, who shall knowingly or wilfully, by false billing, false classification, false weighing, false representation of the contents of the package, or false report of weight, or by any other device or means, whether with or without the consent or connivance of the company, its agent or agents, obtain transportation for such goods at less than the regular tolls then authorized and in force on the railway shall for each offence be liable to a penalty of not exceeding one thousand dollars nor less than ore hundred dollars.
I do not understand what the object is of making a double penalty for the shipper. The railway company, under the two preceding sections are liable to a flue of from $100 to $1,000. Under subsection 3, the shipper is liable to a similar penalty. But why put into the hands of the railway power practically to fine the shipper and hold his goods and confiscate them to pay the fine ?
The object is to provide all necessary and proper, and possible guarantees that the law shall be enforced. In replying to what I understand to be the hon. member's (Mr. Kemp) view, I do not see why one of the parties should be subject to a penalty and the other, who may have wilfully incited or encouraged
the unlawful act, should escape. We make both liable and put both on the same basis.
I think the hon. minister does not understand me. I agree that the shipper should be subject to the penalties which are prescribed in subsection 3, which are the same as those prescribed against the railway. But the hon. minister not only subjects the shipper, to the same fines as the railway company-to which I agree- but he allows the railway company to charge fifty per cent more if freight is not classified in the way prescribed.
It is the fifty per cent tariff the hon. gentleman objects to ?
I object to the double fine against the shipper. I may refresh the hon. minister's memory by again calling his attention to something I spoke of in the House a few days ago. The railway companies issued a classification which was to take effect on the 1st of May. Under the law, that should be submitted to the Governor in Council and approved. This has not been done, but yet the railways are operating under it. It may be said that the classification is not more onerous to the shipper than the schedule of a previous time. I am not speaking of the classification itself, but of a rule inserted in the front of this classification. To this rule I drew attention before. It provides that if articles are shipped under false names to deceive the carrier or avoid the classification, the agent is to charge fifty per cent in addition to the rate that would have been charged had the property been correctly described. So, the hon. minister will see that the railways, while they occupy the same position as the shipper with regard to the penalty of from $100 to $1,000, they have asked-I take it-the hon. minister to empower them by legislation to inflict a double penalty upon the shipper. I take it that the attention of the hon. minister has not been drawn to the fact that the shipper is already subjected to the same penalty as the railways, and should not be subjected to the double penalty at the hands of the railways without coming before the commission.
If I understand what the hon. gentleman (Mr. Kemp) has in mind, I must say that I cannot agree with him. The1 penalties imposed under this clause are not because the shipper is trying to cheat the railways, but for the purpose of securing the observance of the law. When the fine is imposed, it does not go into the exchequer of the railway. In the other case where the extra rate of fifty jier cent in addition to the ordinary rate is allowed, that is for the protection of the railways. Suppose that a railway carries a cargo of grain the freight on which would be, for the
sake of illustration, $200, but stowed away in that grain are ten or fifteen thousand dollars worth of very high class, rich goods, which, if properly billed would pay very high rates, the hauling of these goods being very profitable to the railway. If a man is trying to have carried as grain, goods that should be charged four to twenty times as high it is reasonable not only that he should pay a penalty for his fault, but that he should pay a higher rate to the railway company than he would be called upon to pay under ordinary circumstances. It is not a very excessive penalty that is imposed in this way. He only pays one-half more freight than he would have paid if the railway company were carrying the article under its proper classification. There seems to be no reason why, when fraud is being practiced upon the company, and they discover it, the shipper should not pay additional freight. That, at all events, is the reason why this clause has been inserted. I have talked the matter over fully with the railway people, and they made cut a case that satisfied me this was a fair proposition.
It seems to me there is not sufficient reason to make the distinction between the punishment provided in subsection 3 and the punishment provided in the other sections. The shipper who commits the fraud described in subsection 3 incurs a punishment similar to the punishment provided in the other subsections. He is liable to pay a sum of from $100 to $1,000, and he is punished for that offence. Why should he be punished twice ? There is no doubt that under the common law, if that fraud is discovered and he is convicted, the railway company has a claim against him for the full amount ; and if, as mentioned by the Minister of Railways, he has stored that grain or other articles, he might be subject to the full amount of his freight, I think the Minister of Railways will admit that, without the proposed amendment. The fraud has been discovered. We will suppose he has paid his fine, and he is subject to the full amount of his freight under the common law. Then why should we subject him to this 50 per cent additional ? I say that he has purged his fault by the payment of his fine. It seems to me that the railway companies are demanding a little too much when, after he has paid his fine, they wish him in addition to pay 50 per cent more. He becomes, under these circumstances^ liable to a double penalty. I think it would be better to leave it as it is.
I do not know that I can add anything to what I have said. It still seems to me reasonable that a man who has been caught in the act of practising a fraud in getting his goods carried at a rate much below the proper rate, should, when discovered, be called upon to pay something in addition
to the price of that freight, because that is the only mode in which the company can protect itself. The railway company may perhaps, in the course of the year's business, carry a good deal of freight under those circumstances and in that way, without discovering the fraud, and after sustaining a loss. But when a man is caught operating in such a fashion, I do not think we are treating him unjustly when we say that, in addition to the proper rate of freight which he would have to pay, he should pay an additional sum to the company whom he may have defrauded in many instances. So far as the penalty is concerned, that is a separate proposition. But I do not see why we should feel any concern at all as respects the individual who is caught perpetrating such acts. He does not deserve any sympathy.
This is another illustration of the plausible way the railways have of putting their case before the minister. I would like to ask the minister if the railways can cite a case where grain was ever carried in car-loads as silverware, or other expensive material ? I do not deny but that it might be done. A man who would do that would steal, he would do anything; and there ought to be a law to reach such individuals. But under the Act, as the minister had it originally drawn, that man is subject to a penalty of .$1,000 if he is discovered. Now, that is an extreme case, and it is another indication of the plausible and clever way the railways have of working. I venture to say that such a case never happened. But I wish to refer to the thousands and thousands of shipments that take place every day, from every warehouse in the country and from every factory in the country, which would be affected by this clause. Now, in that classification there are upwards of 3.000 different items. That classification is not carefully studied by the clerk in the employ of the manufacturer or the merchant : it is a most complicated document, and it is possible for a clerk to make a mistake. If he makes a wilful mistake, he can be punished. But this clause goes further, and as soon as the goods which are shipped reach the railway station they are subject to an inspection-by whom ? They are subject to the inspection of men appointed by the railways. These men sometimes know their business, but very frequently they know very little about what the goods are that are shipped. After making their inspection, they raise the billing of these goods, and they walk into the office of the billing clerk of the railway company and they say : Inflict a penalty on this man of 50 per cent over and above the freight of these goods, because they are wrongly billed. Who is to try the case ? The man is not asked. The railway people never go to the shipper and ask him why he did this, and get an explanation. Still they are just Hon. Mr. BLAIR.
as liable to be in the wrong as the shipper. They are more frequently in error than the shipper, in my experience, and I have had a good deal of experience with them. And to say that a man should be subject to a. penalty of $1,000 for committing such a mistake, and that his goods are liable to be confiscated by the railway with 50 per cent addition-I say it is an outrage, and the public of this country will consider it as such if it is persisted in. I would like to know where there is a precedent in Great Britain or the United States for such action. I say the dishonest shipper that will wrongfully classify his goods should be brought under the Criminal Code. I do not complain that he should be fined $1,000. even $2,000. Put him in jail if necessary ; but do not leave it in the hands of the railway to administer the criminal laws of this country.
It is not proposed that the railways shall administer the criminal law. They cannot even enforce any of these penalties under this Act without leave of the board. But this is a case where a man has wilfully committed a fraud. He is not, as the hon. gentleman has just pictured him, an innocent man who has made a mistake by reason of the great extent and variety of the classification which he has not been able to understand. This is the case of a man who wilfully perpetrates or attempts to perpetrate a fraud upon the company in the transportation of his goods. WThy should not that man be asked to pay more than the ordinary rate that he has tried to escape by getting freight carried for less ?