March 18, 1924 (14th Parliament, 3rd Session)


George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)



My right hon. friend
says, "And the country, too"-he being the country. It has been recounted in this House that certain highly respected gentlemen on this side have expressed views divergent from those which the leader of the opposition says appear in the Speech from the Throne, and that is looked upon as a tremendous blow to the Liberal party. Why, that is the pure essence of Liberalism: members of the Liberal party can differ on details and still be true to the great principles of Liberalism. What would have happened on the other side of the House if some member had got up and talked free trade? He would have had a very cool reception all through the lobby; the chances are that he would have moved out. That is the difference; members of the Liberal
The Address-Mr. Graham

party do not take carefully selected views of others as their own, but are at perfect liberty to express their own opinions; and when it is suggested that the views expressed by certain gentlemen on this side were really an explosion, I want to say to hon. gentlemen opposite that those who so express themselves are but following out the instincts of real Liberalism.
I think that my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition's trouble is religious in its character, and that his depression is caused by certain views he holds-I do not mean church union views. There is a large sect the members of which face the east when they pray, but since December, 1921, the people of this country have compelled my right hon. friend to face the West when he prays in this House. That to my mind accounts for the great depression.
Certain references have been made to the Canadian National Railways. While I do not intend to enter into any lengthy discussion of that great national undertaking, I do wish to say a word or two. It is the greatest undertaking of its kind in the world, and it is the longest line of railway. The difficulties surrounding its management, semiparliamentary and semi-private, are very great; no one understands them better than I do. The present management has a task unprecedented, a task that was not imposed on the former management. Sometimes we are apt to forget, in making comparisons, that in former years, prior to the time that Sir Henry Thornton became president of the Canadian National Railways, there were two systems, managed by two boards with two presidents, the Grand Trunk, and what then comprised the Canadian National Railways. These two have been merged, and the load upon the president at the present time far surpasses the load placed on the shoulders of the head of any other railway system in the world. To amalgamate these two staffs, to get them in working order, to bring together men who had been keen competitors in the years gone by, was a task in itself that would try the mettle of any man, however great. That friction cannot be wiped out in a few days or in a few months, but the management of the road and the service that it gives are, I think, an evidence of the fact that these wrinkles are fast being ironed out.
Some person has said that the President of the Canadian National Railways makes mistakes. So he does. There is only one class of people that make no mistake. They are dead. The live man, the man who is alert

and who is putting every pound of energy behind his job, is sure to make mistakes. If the errors made by the managements of private companies were discussed year by year before this House and the country, it would be found that Sir Henry Thornton had made fewer mistakes than the average man who manages a big concern. I think it was a mistake at that time to acquire the Paris building; I have no hesitation in saying that-Liberalism is free to express its opinion. But it will not be so grievous a mistake as some people are trying to make the country and the world believe. The greatest enemies of the Canadian National Railways are not found among the men who honestly oppose government ownership; its real enemies are those who, while pretending to be its friends, take advantage of every opportunity to decry it. A sample: At one of those very large meetings held in the province of Quebec- perhaps more than one-which my right hon. friend attended, he had with him a former colleague-a colleague on the weekly instalment plan, I might say, because he was there but a very short time. This gentleman had the temerity, in the presence of my right hon. friend, to refer to Sir Henry Thornton as a "foreigner"; to say that the Government of Canada had appointed* a foreigner to manage the Canadian National system. I want to ask this House, since when did a British subject become a foreigner? Why was it said? A little cheap clap-trap in order to make the railway men of Canada and the people generally believe that we had brought in a foreigner to manage a national enterprise. Sir Henry Thornton originally was an American. Trained on one of the best-managed railway systems in the world, the Pennsylvania Railroad, he went to the Old Land and was given very important work by the Allies during the war; and so competent was he in that work that His Majesty the King called him in and knighted him in recognition of his services to the Allies. This man comes to us a British subject not by birth but by choice. And, forsooth, in order to get a few hand-claps and to make capital against him, an ex-minister of the Crown of the Dominion of Canada refers to him as a " foreigner." The people, Sir, resent that kind of thing. Our forefathers, a great many of them, were foreigners, but they came to this country and applied themselves to its development, and the sturdy race we see in the Dominion of Canada to-day is the offspring cf these men whom the gentleman, a former minister of the Crown, would describe as "foreigners."

The Address-Mr. Graham

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