April 27, 1951

PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

No, I have the letter here. Copies were sent to the minister, and the president of the Canadian National Railways, but that letter was directed to Mr. John Diefenbaker, M.P., and then at the right, Mr. Stanley Knowles, M.P., and to no one else. At the end of the letter there is a note that copies were sent to Hon. Lionel Chevrier, Minister of Transport, and Mr. Donald Gordon, president of Canadian National Railways. Surely a letter like that should not have been placed on the records of the railway committee. Since it has been, and since over the years I have advocated the need for something being done for the Canadian National Railways employees, I am going to make a reference to this letter now so that I may be in a position to give my answer to it. With the consent of the committee, instead of reading the letter I should like to put it on Hansard, because the minister has a copy of it. Have I the consent of the committee?

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Deputy Chairman:

Has the hon. member leave to place the letter on Hansardl

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

The letter is as follows:

THE ORDER OF RAILROAD TELEGRAPHERS Canadian National Railway System Division No. 43

Winnipeg, Man.

April 12, 1951.

Mr. John Diefenbaker, M.P.

House of Commons,

Ottawa, Ontario.

Mr. Stanley Knowles, M.P.

House of Commons,

Ottawa, Ontario.

Gentlemen:

It has come to my attention that you asked some questions of the government in connection with C.N.R. pensions, and I would understand that it is your intention to ask further questions before the special committee, probably next week.

I wish to assure you, on behalf of the C.N.R. employees, that your interest in this matter is very sincerely appreciated, and we know the sincerity of your desire to improve the condition which we know only too well to be very bad indeed.

However, I would like to give you an outline in brief of the situation as it is at the moment.

Through our general chairmen's association we have been trying for some years to effect improvements, but have met with no success or encouragement until quite recently.

At our annual meeting, held in November, 1950, we had the pleasure of having Mr. Donald Gordon, president of the C.N.R., to address a joint meeting of our association and the representatives of the Canadian Brotherhood of Railway Employees. The combined meeting represented practically all organized labour on the C.N.R.

At our request Mr. Gordon spoke on the subject of pensions and told us that he realized that our present pension plan is inadequate and outdated. He promised to set up a committee of railway officers to meet with a corresponding number of representatives of organized labour to undertake to revise the existing rules.

He fulfilled his promise and set up a committee of high ranking officers. We, on our part, selected a committee of labour representatives drawn from the Canadian and international unions.

Negotiations have been carried on by the joint committee in a very co-operative atmosphere, and we have now reached the stage where certain concrete proposals are being considered, and the proposals have just been submitted to actuaries for their report and advice as to the cost to employer and employee of the various plans which are now under consideration.

It is expected to take at least six weeks to get a report from the actuaries, and following the receipt of that report it is intended that we proceed as rapidly as possible to revise the pension rules.

I feel very sure that we are finally on the way to completing a very satisfactory revision of the rules, and that it will not be delayed any longer than is absolutely necessary.

One of our prime objects is to improve the status of those who are now on pension, and we have reached tentative agreement on what can be done to improve their situation, but our plan is dependent to a great degree on the action of the government in regard to the institution of an old age pension at age seventy without a means test, and we earnestly solicit your continued support of that project.

As I said previously, we appreciate your action in asking questions and your interest on behalf of

Supply-Transport

the employees whom we represent. I wished to give you the facts in the matter and to say that I doubt that our interests would be advanced in any way by pressing the government or the railway officers for additional information at the present time.

I fear that pressure exerted now might result in hurried decisions which would not be as satisfactory as those we hope to reach by negotiations now in progress.

It would be appreciated if we could continue the present negotiations to a conclusion along the lines on which we are working.

If the conclusions reached are not satisfactory we will then hope to have the privilege of calling on your good selves and all our other friends in the house for such assistance as is necessary to reach a satisfactory solution of our problem.

In all fairness I cannot do other than say that I believe Mr. Gordon and his officers are doing all that is reasonably possible to co-operate with us in our present efforts, and the fact that this revision has been so long delayed is not the fault of the present administration of the railway.

I should have stated that I was elected to act as spokesman for the committee which was set up by the Canadian and international unions in matters pertaining to the revision of pension rules, so that you may regard this letter as being from the elected representatives of the employees.

Again thanking you for your interest on our behalf, and trusting that you will find it possible to comply with my suggestion that you do not press the matter too much at this time, I am,

Yours very sincerely,

A. A. Hutchinson, Chairman,

General Chairmen's Association, Canadian National Railways.

Having placed the letter on Hansard I now point out that, in effect, it says negotiations between the railway company and the Order of Railway Telegraphers have started. It says that a tentative arrangement has been discussed, and then this follows:

I fear that pressure exerted now might result in hurried decisions which would not be as satisfactory as those we hope to reach by negotiations now in progress.

I do not know what that means, but if it implies that bringing the matter before parliament on behalf of people who cannot speak in parliament will be detrimental, then I strongly take objection to any such view being expressed.

Finally, it deals with a- meeting that took place, and it says this:

It would be appreciated if we could continue the present negotiations to a conclusion along the lines on which we are working.

If the conclusions reached are not satisfactory we will then hope to have the privilege of calling on your good selves and all our other friends in the house for such assistance as is necessary to reach a satisfactory solution of our problem.

In all fairness I cannot do other than say that I believe Mr. Gordon and his officers are doing all that is reasonably possible to co-operate with us in our present efforts, and the fact that this revision has been so long delayed is not the fault of the present administration of the railway.

Supply-Transport

It is not for me to enter into that discussion. I have no views on that, but I do say that from July, 1947, until November, 1950, nothing has been done to meet the situation of these pensioners who find themselves unable to carry on. The letter concludes:

Again thanking you for your interest on our behalf, and trusting that you will find it possible to comply with my suggestion that you do not press the matter too much at this time. I am.

Yours very sincerely,

I mention that paragraph, too, Mr. Chairman. I believe in doing everything I can on behalf of Canadian National employees who are, as I believe, unfairly treated, or any other group. When I received that letter, naturally I was impressed by it, and naturally I was only too glad to co-operate. But for the life of me I cannot understand why, having written that letter, the chairman of the order saw fit to allow the president of Canadian National Railways to place it before the railways and shipping committee. That is something I cannot understand, and I leave it there.

In view of the instructions given in that letter, and the publicity that was given to those instructions'-it is the first time in my experience in the House of Commons I have ever known of a lobby in reverse-I no longer wish to press this matter. I would be the last one to appear to do anything in parliament that would be detrimental to those who deserve justice in the matter of pensions. I never knew before that anything detrimental could be done to employees who are in any way connected with the government of Canada by having their complaints brought before parliament.

However, having said that, I still press for the need of an immediate revision, and an increase in the basic pension without delay; for I have letters on my desk-as the minister must have-from employees of the Canadian National Railways all over this country who are between sixty-five and seventy and who, because of the fact that they received low wages in positions such as sectionmen, porters and the like, find themselves today, after years of service, in a condition bordering on destitution. Their case deserves attention without regard to whether or not other classes should be considered, as they should, and civil service employees as well. Surely those pensioners of the Canadian National Railways, receiving, as they do, less than any other employees of government- because they are employees of the government-have a proper and just claim to the consideration I have asked on their behalf on this and previous occasions.

To sum up, I ask the minister whether even now, instead of waiting until the old age pension legislation may be brought before parliament-and normally it will not be introduced before next February or March- something can be done to meet the needs of those former employees who are receiving less than $40 a month.

Second, I suggest that the rules and regulations of the pension fund be revised. They have not been revised for years. In 1947 I brought certain clauses to the attention of the minister, but as yet nothing has been done in that regard.

Some of the employees in the lower income brackets who have contributed to the fund would like to make withdrawals for certain needs that are most demanding at the moment. I would appreciate it if the minister would give consideration to allowing those who wish to withdraw their contributions to do so-thereby of course denying themselves the larger pension which they would receive were they to allow those amounts to remain in the pension fund-instead of their being held as they so often are today.

At the expense of reiteration I make this appeal. As one travels across this country one meets former employees of the Canadian National Railways who ask that parliament do something about this matter. They are in the age group of sixty-five to seventy, and, in the face of the rising cost of living, they receive a pension which is inadequate, and which is out of keeping with the services they rendered and the responsibilities they discharged over the years, and also with their standard of living and

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

The issue before us at the present time is the plight of retired Canadian National Railways employees whose pensions are hopelessly inadequate. I hope that the discussion of this letter, unfortunate though it is that it was tabled by Mr. Gordon, will not take us away from the seriousness of the issue affecting the men concerned. However, since my name has been mentioned in connection with this matter by the hon. member for Lake Centre, and since the letter, bearing, as it does, my name, was put on the record in the railways and shipping committee, I feel that I should say a few words about it.

In passing, I dare to hope that this whole incident in relation to Mr. Hutchinson's letter may turn out to serve the cause well. Certainly it has drawn wider attention than we have had before to the plight of Canadian National Railways pensioners, and it has also served to underline the fact that the problem

has to be dealt with jointly by the management of the Canadian National Railways and by the government. Indeed, the statement of the Minister of Transport, made to me the last time this matter was up on Friday night, April 13, makes it clear that the decision not to do anything to supplement the pensions of Canadian National Railways retired employees in the lower brackets has been made by the government. The minister said quite clearly that thus far the government had not seen fit either to instruct or to direct the Canadian National Railways to make an increase in the basic pension.

I want to come back to that in a few moments, but before I do I must say a few words about Mr. Hutchinson's letter, and about some other letters that I have received since his letter of April 12, which Mr. Gordon put upon the record in the committee. I want to say that I have no desire to take issue with Mr. Hutchinson's letter, nor do I wish to come in between Mr. Hutchinson and other members of the general chairmen's association or other labour leaders interested in this matter.

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

Neither do I.

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

Therefore I shall make my remarks as carefully guarded as I can. I must say, however, that though I recognize Mr. Hutchinson's right to write to us the kind of letter that he did, though I have no quarrel with his making to us on his own behalf the suggestions he made, I too was surprised that the president of the Canadian National Railways should produce a copy of the letter which had been sent to him and place it on the record in the railways and shipping committee. Since he did that, attention should be called to the fact that although Mr. Hutchinson preferred that we leave to his committee and to the management of the railway the working out together of changes in the basic Canadian National Railways pension fund, he was anxious that we continue to do our best to get some sort of relief for those now retired, those now having a difficult time to get along on very inadequate allowances. I refer in particular to the paragraph in which he says:

One of our prime objects is to improve the status of those who are now on pension, and we have reached tentative agreement on what can be done to improve their situation, but our plan is dependent to a great degree on the action of the government in regard to the institution of an old age pension at age seventy without a means test, and we earnestly solicit your continued support of that project.

In other words, despite some of the suggestions contained in Mr. Hutchinson's letter, 80709-157

Supply-Transport

there is in it his plea that we keep on working to try to get some improvements in the position of those now retired.

I answered Mr. Hutchinson's letter on April 17. I shall not weary the house by reading the whole of the letter, but 1 should like to put a sentence or two on record, where I said:

I note your desire that we continue our efforts on behalf of this group already retired. You can count on it that I will do so. I dare to hope that Mr. Chevrier won't use the copy of your letter which you sent to him to try to dissuade me from this effort. That would be unfortunate, but if he does, I can of course point out to him that you have earnestly solicited our support on behalf of this group. Indeed many other letters we receive stress the urgency of our doing so.

As I say, I wrote to Mr. Hutchinson rather fully and in friendly terms. I am pleased to say I have had a further letter from him, written on April 20, the tone of which strikes me as somewhat different from the tone of his letter of April 12. It is a lengthy letter, and I have no intention of reading it all or placing it all on the record. However there are two or three paragraphs I should like to read. This is from Mr. Hutchinson's letter to me on April 20:

Our most urgent wish is to do something for those who are now in retirement on inadequate pensions and with this in mind we did everything we could to get the C.N.R. to agree to a cost of living bonus for these people.

Then, later on, having indicated to me that their committee is not making much progress with respect to the plight of those already retired, he said:

Since that time we have been working on other plans to try to arrive at some relief but have not yet been able to get anything satisfactory done.

We are still working and hoping that we can do something, but the plan we have in mind is dependent on the passage of legislation authorizing a forty dollar per month old age pension at seventy without a means test.

At the present time we are tied up awaiting that legislation.

May I suggest that if it were possible to have the government reconsider their position in regard to cost of living bonus payments to civil servants it would open the way for a renewal of our claim.

I sent Mr. Hutchinson copies of Hansard of April 10 and April 13 when these matters were up for discussion. I had drawn his attention particularly to what the Minister of Transport had said as reported at page 2036 of Hansard for April 13, when he indicated to me that the case of retired C.N.R. employees stood on the same plane as that of superannuated civil servants.

And so now I have this further letter from Mr. Hutchinson stressing the plight in which retired C.N.R. pensioners still find themselves, and urging that we do something to relieve their situation. He suggests in particular that we work hard to get rid of

Supply-Transport

the means test from the old age pension, and to get something done for superannuated civil servants so that that road block will be out of the way so far as C.N.R. pensioners are concerned.

In addition to the further letter from Mr. Hutchinson, which, I submit, sets aside any suggestion made by Mr. Gordon on the basis of the previous letter to the effect that we should not press this matter on the floor of parliament, I have had communications and messages from many others interested in this matter. In many instances they have been from ordinary individuals, retired on low C.N.R. pensions. Each one who has written me has urged that we keep up the battle. In addition I have had telephone communications from a brother general chairman of Mr. Hutchinson. He, too, was not quarrelling with what Mr. Hutchinson had done. He felt it was unfortunate Mr. Gordon had placed the letter on record; but he said that, as another member of the committee of which Mr. Hutchinson is a member, his view was that we had to keep fighting this matter out in the open, on the floor of parliament, if we were to get anywhere with it.

In addition, a few days ago I received a letter from Mr. J. E. McGuire, national secretary-treasurer of the Canadian brotherhood of railway employees and other transport workers. It is a lengthy letter, the whole of which I shall not put on Hansard. However, I shall read the closing paragraph, which says:

So far as we are concerned we are most grateful to you and to the other members of parliament who have taken an active interest in this very important matter, because we believe that the time is long overdue when improvements should have been effected in the pensions now being paid to persons who have been retired from railway service, and I hope that you will continue your efforts along these lines.

Yours very truly,

J. E. McGuire, National Secretary-Treasurer

So it all adds up to the fact, as I said earlier, that perhaps it is a good thing that the letter to the hon. member for Lake Centre and to me was placed on the record by Mr. Gordon, because now we have this additional plea from Mr. Hutchinson himself, in his further letter to me, and the reaction of others who are interested. They are all backing us up and asking us to try to get this government to do something with respect to C.N.R. pensioners who are now retired.

It comes to my mind at this moment that the hon. member for Lake Centre gave one figure which I believe should be corrected. I realize he was speaking from memory, but he did refer to the number who were

receiving only $25 a month. I though I heard him give that number as 1,800.

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

It was 1,700.

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

No; the figure is 3,256.

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
PC

John George Diefenbaker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Diefenbaker:

I am always conservative.

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

That many are receiving $25 a month. His other figure was correct, when he said that over 7,000 were receiving pensions of less than $40 a month.

On Friday, April 13, when this matter was under discussion, we did at least get a statement from the Minister of Transport, when he said:

I have to say that the government thus far has not been able to recommend or direct the Canadian National Railways to increase the basic pension upwards until such time as the matter of its own civil servants receives similar or adequate consideration.

And then later he said:

It appears to me that this question cannot be disposed of piecemeal, and that until such time as it is possible to find a solution for the whole problem the government does not feel disposed thus far to direct the Canadian National Railways to deal with a portion only of the problem.

Later, when I said that I took it from what he said that their case stood on the same plane as that of the superannuated civil servants and others in similar situations, the Minister of Transport replied, "That is right."

In other words, we now have it clear that the government recognizes the problem. It recognizes it in the case of retired Canadian National Railways employees, and recognizes it in the case of other groups to whom the minister referred. Well, that is a step in the right direction. If the problem is being recognized by the government, perhaps one of these times we will get them to do something about it. "But," says the Minister of Transport, "we cannot deal with it piecemeal." Let me point out that the government does deal with problems of this nature in a piecemeal fashion. I cannot discuss it at this time, but there is on the order paper a resolution to amend the Judges Act, and one of the purposes of that amendment, according to the resolution, is to improve the pension of judges and the widows of judges. That is a piecemeal approach to the problem. I have looked through the estimates and I find that the lowest pension paid to any judge or the widow of any judge at the present time is $1,111 a year. But in talking about railway pensioners we are dealing with the plight of over 3,000 persons whose pensions are only $300 a year.

I submit if it is possible for the government to deal piecemeal with the plight of the

widows of judges or of judges whose pensions of $1,111 or more a year are too low, it is possible also to deal piecemeal with this problem. I never heard the government announce before such a perfectionist policy- this idea that it cannot touch a part of a problem until it deals with the whole problem. If the government waited in that way to deal with all the problems facing the country it would never make a move of any kind. Surely the way to grapple with the problem is to start somewhere. I submit that here is a deserving group of employees of a government-owned railway, where a start could be made. I go further. I remind the government that it has set a precedent. The fact that there is that precedent is to be found in the terms of the item we are now discussing. The item we are now discussing provides for the payment of a sum of money into the Intercolonial and Prince Edward Island railway employees' provident fund. What for? It is done to make it possible to make the minimum pension to retired employees covered by that fund, not $20 per month as the act of 1907 still specifies, but $30. I checked today and I find that figure of $20 per month was in the original act of 1907. Some years ago this practice was started of paying into the fund moneys provided by a special vote which would make sure that no recipient of a pension out of that fund would get less than $30 per month.

In addition to the estimates that deal with this matter, I have before me the annual report for the Department of Transport for the year ending March 31, 1950, and I find on page 101 Appendix 6(f) which sets out receipts and expenditures' of the Intercolonial and Prince Edward Island railway employees' provident fund. Among the receipts is an amount of $15,790.61 which was put in there so as to increase the retirement allowance to all retired employees receiving less than $30 per month to a figure equal to that amount.

This is one of those interesting balance sheets or accounts that starts with receipts nil, and then shows receipts totalling something over $3 million; then the expenditures are the same amount, and at the end of the year the balance to the credit of the fund is nil. In other words, the necessary amounts are put in both by the railways and by the government so that these retired employees will get a certain minimum pension. There is the precedent, although I have not been able to find out in what year this practice started, of putting in a special supplementary amount so as to bring the statutory minimum up from $20 to $30 per month.

But there was a piecemeal attack on the problem. It was an attack on a problem 80709-157J

Supply-Transport

within the realm of retired railway workers. If it was possible to bring in a vote to assist that fund in order to pay the retired employees covered by it, not a minimum of $20 but a minimum of $30 per month, surely i't is possible to bring in a similar vote to pay the employees of the Canadian National Railways generally who have a minimum of $25 per month a much higher minimum than that amount-double that figure, in any event.

Perhaps I should let the minister have something to say about this. It is perfectly all right with me if he wants to comment one way or another on the action of Mr. Gordon with regard to that letter.

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
PC

Edmund Davie Fulton

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fulton:

The minister was there when it was put into the record.

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

If by any chance a covering letter was sent to the minister by Mr. Hutchinson, that should be put on the record along with the letter itself. I do not know if there was, but if so it is only fair that the covering letter to the minister and the covering letter to the president should also be on the record.

As I said in my opening remarks, the hon. member for Lake Centre and I naturally are concerned about what happened with respect to that letter. But we are not disturbed about it because it is quite clear that we have to fight these matters on the floor of parliament, or nothing is done for these groups of people. We have a request to do so from Mr. Hutchinson, from Mr. McGuire, and from scores of individuals. The important question is the plight of these men and I hope the minister will not get involved in any discussion about this letter and get away from the basic issue itself.

Let him not say that the problem cannot be attacked piecemeal. The government is attacking it piecemeal, and I have referred to two examples in particular, judges' widows and the item that is before us.

I want to say to the government that some time or another the problem of people on fixed pensions will have to be faced and dealt with more realistically than it has been thus far. We seem always to be arguing the plight of people now on pension and some members seem to have the notion, and I think the government has the notion, that it is a temporary problem, that if they can just wait a while these people will die off and the others who come along and go on pension will be on a higher rate as provided by the various pension schemes that have been put in effect in more recent years.

Supply-Transport

The plain, fact of the matter is that when people who are working today in the anticipation of higher pensions in their years of retirement reach those years of retirement their pensions will not be worth as much as they now think they are going to be. In other words, it is a recurring problem. Every generation of pensioners, whether they be Canadian National pensioners, superannuated civil servants or what have you, will face the same problem of the inadequacy of fixed pensions in view of the story across the years of prices continuing to rise. Sometimes prices rise rather violently in a short period, but over the years they rise steadily and the value of a fixed income or fixed pension is forever going down.

I submit to the government that they are not going to sidestep this problem by simply waiting until people whose plight we are now pleading die off because there will be another generation of pensioners. If not immediately when they go on pension, certainly shortly thereafter they will find that what they are getting is hopelessly inadequate. At some point along the way some sort of an adjustable basis will have to be found. In so far as the Minister of Transport is concerned I submit that as these people come under his jurisdiction he can render a real service, not only to those persons retired on C.N.R. pensions but also to all C.N.R. workers whose pension days are ahead, and to people generally, if he would find a formula or establish a precedent for dealing with the plight of these people by providing a cost of living bonus or a supplement to these people. Let it be an amount sufficient to sustain life in decency and dignity.

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

Mr. Chairman, perhaps I

might be allowed two minutes to reply generally to what the two hon. gentlemen have said in connection with this subject matter. First of all, let me tell the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre that I have never seen him so vehement in his attitude toward this question as he is today. Perhaps that is due to the fact that he does not like the letter which was sent to him and which was placed on the record by the president of the Canadian National Railways.

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

No, Mr. Chairman, I stated

quite clearly that I had no objection to the letter, but the minister is right when he says that I did not like the action of the president in placing it on the record, especially when the two people to whom it was addressed were not members of the committee.

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

I shall deal with that in a

moment, but I think I am quite correct in assuming that my friend does not like the

letter he received from the chairman of the brotherhood. As I said a moment ago, I have never seen him so exercised. During the course of this discussion he has acted as if he had a chip on his shoulder.

When the motion was moved to appoint the committee on railways and shipping the hon. member said that now we would have the opportunity of discussing pensions to retired employees of the Canadian National Railways and that we would not be stopped from dealing with this matter. The committee is established, discussion takes place, the letter is put on the record; my hon. friend is angry, he does not like the letter, he does not like what has happened and he comes back here to the house and we have a repetition of everything that took place during the earlier debate. So that in essence we have a greater debate on these items as well as consideration in the committee with reference to this subject matter than we have ever had at least since I have been dealing with the estimates of the Department of Transport.

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

That is all to the good.

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

I do not say that it is not, but let my hon. friend not complain that he has not had every opportunity, or that the committee was not given an opportunity, to discuss this matter. Let me deal now with the terrible attitude of the president of Canadian National Railways who, without the consent of either the hon. member for Lake Centre or the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, dares to put this letter on the record. If my recollection serves me right, the president of Canadian National Railways before putting the letter on the record stated to the chairman of the committee that he had the permission of Mr. Hutchinson to do so, and that Mr. Hutchinson had indicated to him that he would not have the slightest objection if the president saw fit to put the letter on the record. He did put it on the record, and what does it say? I should like to quote some of the things that were not quoted by the two hon. gentlemen. It says this:

At our annual meeting, held in November, 1950, we had the pleasure of having Mr. Donald Gordon, president of the C.N.R., to address a joint meeting of our association and the representatives of the Canadian brotherhood of railway employees. The combined meeting represented practically all organized labour on the C.N.R. At our request-

I would ask the two hon. gentlemen to listen to this.

-Mr. Gordon spoke on the subject of pensions and told us that he realized that our present pension plan is inadequate and outdated. He promised to set up a committee of railway officers to meet with a corresponding number of representatives

of organized labour to undertake to revise the existing rules. He fulfilled his promise and set up a committee of high ranking officers. We, on our part, selected a committee of labour representatives drawn from the Canadian and international unions.

Negotiations have been carried on by the joint committee in a very co-operative atmosphere and wo have now reached the stage where certain concrete proposals are being considered, and the proposals have just been submitted to actuaries for their report and advice as to the cost to employer and employee of the various plans which are now under consideration.

I can see no objection, and I certainly cannot accept the great protests of the two hon. gentlemen in so far as the president of Canadian National Railways is concerned about his putting on the record the parts of the letter which I have read and the rest of it. Certainly there is nothing offensive in that. If there had been I am sure the representatives of the party of the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, and the representatives of the party to which the hon. member for Lake Centre belongs, would have objected to it, because I must say they are able members of the committee. They saw no objection to placing the letter on the record and as a matter of fact it did not stop the discussion a particle. It only encouraged it.

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Knowles:

Hear, hear.

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink
LIB

Lionel Chevrier (Minister of Transport)

Liberal

Mr. Chevrier:

My hon. friends who protest that this matter has not been brought to the attention of the responsible authorities certainly are mistaken in that view because that is not so. I am afraid I must disagree with the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre when he says that this is a matter for the government and the C.N.R. to decide. This is first and foremost a matter for Canadian National Railways and its employees to decide, and that is exactly what Mr. Hutchinson says. That is exactly as it should be, because parliament has authorized the Canadian National Railways management te deal with problems such as this.

But if it turns out that they are unable to deal with their employees and they make representations to the government with reference to the matters to which my hon. friends have referred, then I think it is not only the duty but the responsibility of the government to decide whether or not it will revise upwards or take no action with reference to this problem. Therefore I say, putting it in its proper light, that this is a matter which is now under discussion between the authorities of the Canadian National Railways and its employees. It is being given careful consideration by a joint committee of the employees and the officers. I think,

Supply-Transport

as the letter states, we should at least give the committee a chance to see what it is possible to do. If they are not successful in dealing with it, then I think it will be the responsibility of the government if Canadian National Railways should decide to recommend to the government a plan upon which both will have agreed, or an alternative plan in case both cannot agree. Beyond what I have already said on a former occasion and what I am saying now I cannot go, and it would strike me that the house has had a full opportunity to deal with the matter.

Topic:   HAMILTON HARBOUR COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING PURCHASE AND OPERATION OF AN AMUSEMENT PARK
Permalink

April 27, 1951