I wish to make a suggestion with regard to the order of business that shall be proceeded with under the order relating to private Bills. There are a large number of private Bills on the Order paper, most of which . unfortunately for the promoters of these Bills, come after the Bill (No. 103) ; and I would suggest to the government the propriety of dealing with a number of these Bills that can be dealt with
4941 MAY 13, 1901 4942
*without debate, so as not to imperil the [DOT] passage of measures of such a character that no one has any objection to them. 1 throw out that suggestion with regard to Bills which are not opposed, and which might be allowed to pass their stages like unopposed notices of motion. The PRIME MINISTER. I cannot conceive how these other Bills can be imperilled if we go on with the present Bill. Mr. CHARLTON. They can be got through more quickly. The PRIME MINISTER. If I understand that this Bill is not to be allowed to be proceeded with, then they will be imperilled. Mr. CHARLTON. Not at all. The PRIME MINISTER. But if there is to be legitimate discussion, I do not see that there will be any danger of the other Bills being imperilled. On the preamble, Mr. CHARLTON. Mr. Chairman, the Bill now before the committee, the passage of the preamble of which you have just called for, is, it is unnecessary to say, a Bill of more than ordinary importance. I have offered a few remarks on this Bill on two previous occasions ; and, owing to the brief time allotted for the consideration of private Bills on the Order paper when I was speaking, I was unable to conclude my remarks. My argument on the case has been a continuous one for the two days on which the Bill has been under consideration, and I have still a few points to dwell upon which time did not permit me to give attention to on Wednesday evening and on Friday evening last. I wish to disclaim any intention to offer to this Bill factious opposition. At the same time, Sir, it is a Bill of such great importance, covering interests of such a wide range, and calculated to exert so potent an influence on the future of Manitoba that I deem it deserving of the fullest consideration ; and, while not intending to indulge in anything in the shape of obstruction, I do intend to give to this Bill as full and as fair consideration as I am capable of doing. It may be, Sir, owing to the peculiar circumstances under which my argument has been presented, in instalments as it were, like a continued serial, that I shall be compelled to be somewhat discursive; but I shall avoid that defect as far as it is possible for me to do so. I endeavoured to take up the discussion on Friday at the point where I had left it on Wednesday, and to-day I shall endeavour to take it up at the point where I left it on Friday night ; and I shall endeavour to urge on the committee the considerations which I deem sufficient, not for the rejection of the Bill, although I think it ought to be rejected, but which not only warrant the government, but which imperatively require the government to refer this Bill back, with the amendments the Railway Committee have made in it, to the Manitoba legislature for confirmation. On Wednesday evening, when the time was called, I was engaged in a discussion of the proper functions of this legislature in relation to this Bill. I was endeavouring to point out that we were called upon to exercise positive legislative functions ; that we were here not merely to record the decrees of provincial legislatures, but that we had before us a piece of legislation which had been referred to us not only for revision and for the expression of our opinion, but for our action in the capacity of the paramount legislative authority, and that we had it within our power to amend the Bill, to reject the Bill, or to pass it with such conditions attached to it as we might deem prudent for a reference back to the legislature from which it emanated. These positions, which I reaffirm today, I hold to be unassailable. We are called upon to act in regard to this Bill as the legislature of Canada, paramount to all other legislative bodies in the Dominion, controlling their legislation so far as it comes under our supervision, and exercising functions analogous to those which would be exercised by the government if they disallowed a Bill passed by a local legislature. This Bill, as its title says, is ' an Act relating to an agreement between the government of Manitoba and the Canadian Northern Railway Company respecting a certain railway,' and it is endorsed with these words : ' Reprinted as proposed to be amended in the Railway Committee.' Here is a Bill, sent down to us by the Manitoba government, discussed in the Railway Committee of the House of Commons, and reprinted as amended by that committee, and now we are acting on a Bill which the Manitoba legislature has never acted upon except in part; we are acting on a Bill which is new, which is foreign to the Bill as it was passed by that legislature and sent to us for confirmation ; and what I say now, as I have said before, is that if we do not, under these conditions, choose to reject the Bill entirely, which we ought to do under the evidence, we at least ought to have the courtesy to refer back to the legislature of Manitoba a Bill which has emanated from them, which has been changed by us in material particulars, and which, if we now carry it into effect without their concurrence in the changes, will be a usurpation of their provincial rights. At this point the question arises, can we pass this Bill with a provision added, requiring its reference again to the Manitoba legislature for consideration and confirmation ? 1 answer, we can : and if that is not a sound position, let any lion, gentleman promoting the passage of this Bill name the particulars in which it is not. If it is a sound position that we can do so. the next question is, ought we to do so ? I say unquestionably
that we ought. I say that the circumstances under which this Bill passed the Manitoba legislature might without impropriety be termed suspicious. I would say, at all events, without fear of contradiction, that the Bill passed that body with undue haste, and without receiving the due consideration which its importance entitled it to ; that facts have been made known and circumstances have developed since its passage that might have had a very considerable bearing on the action of the legislature if they had been known at the time. If under these conditions we do not refer the Bill back to the Manitoba legislature, we shall be guilty of a line of conduct which will imperil the position of the province, which will leave the government of that province free to take snap judgments on the people and to promote the interests of a clique of men who have craftily secured the passage of this legislation.
Then, again, we have interests involved in this Bill, aside from the interests of the people of Manitoba. We have the interest of the people of Ontario and the east; we have the interest of the people of all the territories to the west; we have the general interest of the entire Dominion bearing on the prosperity of the provinces or of a single province; and we have, in addition, the principles of justice involved in this Bill. We have the necessity resting upon us to secure the application aud operation of the most ordinary principles of justice which should underlie the legislation of this and every other legislative body in this Dominion ; aud if we do not disregard the principles of justice and the interests of the province of Manitoba and of the Dominion at large, we shall pass this Bill, if we pass it at all, subject to revision by the legislative body from which it emanated. If this Bill were law and before the Privy Council, the government could of course veto it. Whether they could veto it after the House of Commons became a party to it is something more than I can say. That is a question which I leave to the constitutional lawyers. But the Bill is not before the government for disallowance, and the question arises here, a very important one, what is tlie degree of the government's responsibility for this Bill ? Are they in a neutral position ? Are they sitting here as spectators watching the progress of this measure and the combat waged by its friends on the one hand and the advocates of popular rights on the other, before making up their minds as to what position they shall take. Is that the position the government occupy ? I hope it is, and I hope that, as a judicious and impartial umpire, they will arrive at a right conclusion. But I am somewhat afraid it is not. In fact, I feel certain that the government is now in a position in which it is called upon to exercise its functions, as a government, with regard to this measure, and that it cannot escape the responsibility Mr. CHARLTON.
resting upon it of declaring whether this is practically a government measure or not ? Is the government in favour or not in favour of this Bill ? It cannot escape responsibility in my opinion. 1 find, on looking up the authorities, that this responsibility is set out in Todd's Parliamentary Government in England, vol. II., page 389, as follows
So also if the interests of the public were likely to be injuriously affected by a private'Bill, or if an attempt were made to establish an unsound principle by.such means, ministers will be justified in using their influence to oppose it ; whilst, on the other hand, ministers would be justified in promoting the passing of a private Bill, if it should appear to be desirable for the public interests, because they are responsible for exercising the prerogative of the Crown so as to control all legislation in parliament, whether upon public or private matters.
Let that be taken a note of It.
They are responsible for exercising the prerogative of the Crown so as to control all legislation in parliament, whether upon public or private matters, for the furtherance of the public welfare and the protection of private rights from unjustifiable aggression.
Now, here is a case where private rights, where the rights of 400,000 people in a sovereign province are being made the prey of unjustifiable aggression. Here is a case where a measure is pending before this House which has a most intimate bearing upon the welfare of the people of Manitoba and this Dominion. Here is a case, if ever a case arose under a private Bill, where the government are called upon to exercise the prerogative of the Crown, so as to control legislation in parliament upon a matter which intimately affects the public weal.
We have, iu addition to the authority of Mr. Todd, an authority equally well recognized, that of Sir John Bourinot, who states, in his work on parliamentary procedure, at page 807 :
Although It is not usual for a minister of the Crown to take charge of a private Bill, it is the special duty of the government, as the responsible leaders of legislation and the chosen guardians of the public interests in parliament, to watch carefully the progress of private legislation in the House and its committees, and see that it does not in any way interfere with the policy of the ministry or the statutory law in reference to the public lands, railways, canals, public works, and such other interests as are entrusted to the Dominion authorities. It is in the standing committees that the supervision of private legislation is chiefly exercised. One of the most important committees of the Commons, that of Railways, Canals and Telegraph Lines, has invariably for its chairman one of the ministers of the Crown, and the minister in charge of the railways is also one of its members, whose special duty it is to watch all legislation that may affect the policy of the government.
Well, we had a minister of the Crown as chairman when that committee had this Bill under consideration. I would not venture,
4945 MAY 13, 1901 4946
if the question were asked me, to say that I thought that the minister who occupied the chair was thoroughly free from bias. But that is a question the people will ask some day and may be asking now. Is the government putting this Bill through ? Well, I do not know, but the people will want to know, and the people will know. At least the people will arrive at n decision, and will size up the situation and decide, in their own minds, whether the government is lending aid to this Bill, and whether it is practically making it a government measure and putting it through. I wrould not approve of the conduct of the government in doing that, because I believe the Bill is most obnoxious; and I ask the government to go to the extent at least of the referring the Bill back to the Manitoba legislature, and I think that those of us who take that position are taking one which is unassailable. If the government should refuse to grant the opportunity to the Manitoba legislature to reconsider this Bill, it will deliberately be putting Manitoba in a position of a most disastrous character, from which Manitoba might desire to extricate herself if she had the chance to put her second thought and consideration into operation.
The consequences involved in this Bill are of the most momentous character; they affect the future stability and prosperity of all the inhabitants of that province ; they affect the interests of people who at the present moment, perhaps, are but slightly aware of the magnitude of the issues that are involved ; they affect the future of that people who will inhabit Manitoba for 999 years, if the Bill continues ; they introduce conditions that, in my opinion, will lead to repudiation of the contract by an aroused people within a brief period of time, and will lead to commotions and difficulties of a most serious and regrettable character ; and all that has to be done to avoid responsibility for results such as these, is to send that Bill back to the source from which it originated, and ask them if they approve of the Bill with the alterations we have made. If this is not done, if this reconsideration is refused, the entire responsibility for this measure will rest upon those who have refused reconsideration, and have refused to send back the Bill. There will be no escape from that responsibility.
Now does my right hon. friend the leader of the government want his name associated in the future with a transaction as ill-favoured as the Pacific scandal ? Does he desire to be god-father or sponsor to this measure, which I believe may fairly be termed an iniquitous one ? Does he desire to stand upon the pages of history in future as the premier of a government that had under consideration an insane Bill, passed hastily , by a legislature of a province, and sent here for consideration, and considered.
confirmed, and referred back to the authority from which it emanated refused V If he desires to occupy that position, I shall be sorry, I shall be sorry for his own good name and good fame, I shall be sorry for the consequences involved, I shall be sorry for the honour of the country.
Now in this matter, Mr. Chairman, I wish to disclaim any feeling of hostility to the promoters of this measure, as I once did with reference to the magnates of the Canadian Pacific Railway, whom I attacked as having got from this government vastly more than they were entitled to. I never blamed them. They were railroad' men, they were getting what they could. The blame rested upon those who gave them more than they should have had. In the same way with Mackenzie and Mann ; I have no quarrel with them, I admire their enterprise, I admire their push, I hope they will be successful. I voted and spoke in this House for subsidies to the line from Port Arthur to Rainy River that I deemed exorbitant, $0,400 a mile, when they were receiving $4,000 a mile from the Ontario government ; I supported these because I wished to stretch to the utmost point my feeling of friendliness for Mackenzie & Mann in concrete action. I desired to see them put in a position to reach Manitoba with their railway line, I desired to see them placed in a position where they could give to the farmers of Manitoba competition in rates to Lake Superior ; and I had no objection to their securing by that arrangement and the bonding of their road, resources that would build 000 miles of railway and put the burden upon 300 miles only. All this I was willing to do in order that Manitoba might get this railway competition through the granting of these bonuses. But when it comes to the point of binding Manitoba hand and foot, after a company has got out of the province of Ontario and the Dominion government almost enough to build the road, when it comes to the point of getting Manitoba to guarantee $20,000 per mile of bonds upon that same road, to become sponsor for the purchase of the Northern Pacific line, to incur liabilities of $17,000,000 for getting something she does not get, and incurred under a false apprehension of what the character of the quid pro quo was she supposed she was receiving, I, say when I come to that point I have got to abandon Mackenzie & Mann and stand up for the interests of the taxpayer, the farmer, the settler and the residents of the province of Manitoba.
Now there are peculiar influences at work for this Bill. I think it is a unique kind of performance, taking it altogether. We have had nothing like it before in the history of political affairs in Canada. We have got a Bill put through by a Tory government in Manitoba, and because it is the work of the Tory government of Manitoba, the Tory opposition in the House of Commons is loath
to say anything against it, although undoubtedly they understand the character of the measure perfectly well. Then, having emanated from the Tory government in Manitoba and secured the sympathy of the Tory opposition in this House of Commons, it receives the quasi if not actual support of the government of Canada, because, while the Tory opposition are afraid it will ruin the Tory government in Manitoba if disallowed, the Liberal government hopes it will ruin the Tory government of Manitoba when it goes into operation. And so this little game at politics controls the situation ; oil the one hand an opposition favouring an iniquitous Bill because their friends are interested in it, on the other hand the government favouring the iniquitous Bill because they hope a pile driver will drop on somebody's head to their advantage. In addition to this we have Mackenzie & Mann, who are interested in this matter, and hope to gain the sympathy of the Tory government of Manitoba and possibly (K friends high in the ranks of the Liberal party-because there may be people who are under obligations to them, I do not know how that is ; but Mackenzie & Mann are astute railway men, and it does not matter to them whose political influence they purchase if it will only serve their purposes. So we have here, Mr. Chairman, in the parlance of the gambler, a sort of poker game, and a hand is held which will be a very difficult one to overcome. There is an old motto among poker players that it is hard to beat four of a kind, and here we have got four of a kind. We have got the Manitoba legislature, we have got His Majesty's loyal opposition, we have got the government of Canada, and we have got Mackenzie & Mann, and that is a hand that his Satanic majesty cannot get cards enough up his sleeve to heat. So that is the position of the matter, and I think I am warranted in saying that the conditions pertaining to this Bill are absolutely unique in their character, that we have never had anything like it before in this country, where both parties are united, the one because they want to save an ally, the other because they want to ruin him, both because they are willing to do this at the expense of the general public. Now the people's interests are of no account here, they do not count for a cent in this matter, not for one solitary cent. The demands of justice are not in it, they are not heeded at all. It is a mere game upon a political chessboard on the one hand for the purpose of securing ultimate political advantage, and on the other hand, for the purpose of averting a political disaster to friends.
Now I do not believe, if the government do put through this Bill, that the course pursued, that the associations they will be connected with in this matter, will redound to their advantage. I do not believe that a scheme of this character can result to the advantage of anybody connected with it ex-Mr. CHARLTON. x
cept those who profit by the plunder ; and I reiterate the statement that if this Bill is not disallowed here, that at least it should go back to the Manitoba legislature that they may have a chance to retrieve a great political blunder, and redress a great outrage upon the rights of the people.
I do not think any one has, that I am aware of. But there are a few people in Manitoba who are to bear the consequences who have asked it. Numerous meetings have been held, public sentiment has been aroused, the indignation of the people has been aroused against the men who have not asked for a chance to undo their foul act; and while there are those who feel doubtful whether it would be an adequate remedy to send the Bill back to the packed jury from which it emanated, and who believe that it should be sent directly to the people of Manitoba, yet I am anxious to secure an honourable and respectable issue for this matter, and will be content if the Bill is sent back for reconsideration to the very men who perpetrated the outrage.
And this consideration, if the contract is all right, this sending the Bill back, does no harm. If, on the contrary, the Bill is what X believe it to be, the sending of it back gives us a chance to avoid a catastrophe. And in either case the course I recommend to be pursued strikes me as one of the best under all the circumstances that could be adopted. Now, there are many reasons why I feel unable to arrive at a conclusion, a thoroughly reliable conclusion, as to the character of this measure. There are items of information which X have not had an opportunity to examine. For instance, there are documents relating to the Minnesota and Manitoba Railway Company, fifty miles of this road running through foreign territory. There are documents and agreements in relation to that matter, and there are conditions that may have a very important liear-ing on this case. I would fain see these documents. So far as I know, they have not been produced. They were asked for, but If they are accessible T am not aware of the fact. I think it esseutial that we should have an opportunity of considering the character of the documents and agreements relating to this fifty miles of road. Then there are documents relating to the Minnesota and Ontario Bridge Company, which is connecting the territory of Ontario with the territory of Minnesota by a bridge over the Rainy River. This, like the other, is a matter entirely outside the jurisdiction of Manitoba, but both are matters in which Manitoba is very intimately interested. I think we should see botli these documents, as well as other documents before we can arrive at
a fair, a judicious and judicial conclusion. There are other features connected with this matter which have not been alluded to to examine so far as I am aware, l or instance, there is the question of the jurisdiction of the inter-state commerce commission and the effect it will have upon the operations of this road to the extent that these operations are carried on within the territory of the United States. To what extent could the Interstate Commerce Commission interfere with the operations that it is designed by this agreement to have carried on ? I do not know. But we ought to know, we ought to be able to examine into this matter thoroughly, and have in our possession all the details obtainable bearing upon it.
There is another feature of this question, This road from Winnipeg to Port Arthur, at it passes in part through the state of Minnesota, the American government can put its, hand upon the throat of this line of com,, muuication and render it worthless. A simple withdrawal of the bonding privilege, a simple change of the regulations with regard to bonding, and the Rainy River and Winnipeg Railway is not worth a dollar aa a line of communication between Winnipeg and Port Arthur. And here is a province assuming a liability of $17,000,000 for a road over which it supposed it had control, but over which it has no control, and regarding which its supervision is subordinate to that of the Dominion government-paying $17,000,000 for the use of a road which passes through a foreign territory, by the regulations of whose Interstate Commerce Commission all its operations may be thwarted- paying $17,000,000 for the control, as they suppose, of a road which may be shut up any day and for an indefinite period by the simple withdrawal of the bonding privileges. The whole thing is an investment of money without proper consideration, without proper thought; a hasty bargain made without due consideration of the difficulties and of the various circumstances that might render their expectations and calculations entirely visionary. And we ask-with all these facts discussed, with all these figures brought to our notice and the notice of the I>eople of Canada-the poor privilege of having the Bill sent back to these men and the question asked them : What do you think of this thing now ?-and if you are of the same mind as you were before, put it through, and that is the end of it. Parliament, as the matter stands at the present moment, proposes to enable a railway company to consummate a bargain in Manitoba without having changed the conditions of that bargain, without allowing Manitoba, the party most intimately and particularly, interested, to say whether she approves it or not. It is a monstrous proposition, an outrageous proposition. I wonder that any party of men can think of standing up and justifying an act which proposes to pass upon the measure in the sovereign capacity of a legislature, to change the character of that contract, to expose the fact that the conditions under which the contract was made do not exist-no control-without permitting Manitoba one more chance to pass upon it. I can hardly conceive such a thing to be possible.
I see but one purpose to be served, and that is to create a class of plutocrats in this country at the expense of the common people. They have already such a class in the United States. In Rome the Praetoriam Guard used to offer the imperial purple at auction, to sell the position of emperior to the highest bidder ; and, in the United States they have a condition of things almost quite as bad. Only the other day the interests of the people, the interests of many millions in the United States, were wagered by millionaire gamblers ; the dice were shaken, and tens of thousands of people were ruined ; values were unsettled and financial revolutions took place. And all from the machinations of men similar in character and created in the manner we propose to create a batch, a brood, a swarm of millionaires here to prey upon our interests
My hon. friend laughs, but this is a state of affairs that all the world wonders at. This is the great menace to modern civilization, and the interests of the masses that exists in that country and that is being created in this country. I think we had better take warning from this example and strive to conduct our own legislation and our own management of public affairs with an eye to the warning that exists before us, with a desire to avoid the rocks upon which these interests have split. Now, there are some general objections to this Bill, which may be briefly summarized and which are briefly summarized in the list which I am about to read. Amongst these general objections are the following particulars :-
1. The plan proposed includes ownership by the province of Manitoba (a sovereign power) of a Dominion railway; that is to say, a railway subiect to the control of the Dominion.
They are subject to that control by the terms of the contract between this company and the Dominion, by virtue of which a subsidy has been received. There are also under the control of the Dominion by virtue of the general law and by virtue of a special stipulation on the part of the company with the Dominion ;
2. The rates of the company are, by the Railway Act, subject to control of the Dominion.
3. The rates of the company are, by the Dominion Acts authorizing its subsidies, subject to the control of the Dominion only.
4. By the terms of the Dominion Subsidy Acts, the compact of the company with the Dominion is that the rates shall be subject to the control of the Dominion only.
5. In the same way, by virtue of the Subsidy Acts, Ontario is entitled to demand of the company that its rates be subject to the control of the Dominion only.
6. All the provinces, other than Manitoba, as members of the confederation, are entitled to ask of the Dominion that the rates be subject to the control of the Dominion only.
7. A portion of the railway system runs through a foreign country, and it is impossible to tell what difficulties may arise from this circumstance, especially in view of the fact that the documents relating to the portion in question have not been produced.
S. The railway system in question crosses an International bridge, the rates upon which are subject to the jurisdiction of the foreign state and the Dominion. It might be noted that the bridge connects, not Manitoba, but Ontario, with the foreign country.
9. A very serious constitutional question is involved as to the whole of the bargain.
10. A very serious constitutional question is also involved as to the control of rates.
11. If the Dominion legislation has not changed the bargain as to rates, the province and the Dominion are already at issue.
12. If the Dominion has changed the bargain as to rates, the mandate of the people of Manitoba, as expressed through their legislature, is not being carried out.
13. The Dominion has changed the bargain in other particulars so that the bargain is not that of the people of Manitoba.
14. Whichever view may ultimately be proved to have been correct in respect of the serious questions raised, the mere existence of those questions is enough to justify delay and to condemn a haste unfitting to the magnitude of the difficulties involved.
The natural inference would be, in view of all the circumstances, that it is incumbent upon us in the popular interest to give delay, to give an opportunity for mature consideration. to allow this Bill, with the amendment which was brought into this House, to go back to the legislature of Manitoba for reaffirmation. I was asked by my hon. friend from Centre Toronto (Mr. Brock) as to whether there has been any expression of disapprobation of this Bill on the part of the members of the Manitoba legislature, and of course I was obliged to say that no disapprobation had been expressed so far as 1 knew by members of the Manitoba legislature. But, I judge from the tone of the press in Manitoba that public sentiment is very pronouncedly against this measure. I find this morning, and I make bare reference to it because it will be referred to later on, an article in the Winnipeg Free Press, a very powerful article, published about a month ago or a little more, in which the ground was taken that this question ought to be thoroughly threshed out, that it would, of course, require to be submitted to the Dominion parliament for ratification, and that after ratification there it should, beyond all question, be returned to the legislature of Manitoba for reaffirmation. I think that every leading paper in Manitoba, so far as my knowledge goes, takes substantially the same grounds. I would beg to call the Mr. CHARLTON.
attention of the hon. member for Centre Toronto to a list of meetings that have been held and it does not include a list of meetings held lately. A number of public meetings have been held in Manitoba to condemn this bargain. There was one held in Winnipeg, at which Mr. J. H. Brock, a brother of one of the hon. members of this House, moved the following resolution :-
Resolved that this board
The Winnipeg Board of Trade.
-disapproves of the contracts and Acts affecting the Northern Pacific Railway Company and the Canadian Northern Railway Company, as drawn and brought before the legislature, and in view of the great importance of the subject, the great liability to be assumed by the province, the number of railway proposals recently made to the government and the uncertainty as to future railway extension, this board is of opinion that the Acts confirming the contracts should not. be passed at thi3 session of the legislature, but that ample tjme should be given the country to study fully the whole railway situation.
Can anybody doubt the necessity for that ? Can anybody doubt that time should be given to study the railway situation, so vast in its reach, so complicated in its character, affecting as it does interests of such momentous consequence ? Can anybody doubt that time should be given to study the details of this contract and to arrive at a conclusion as to whether this is a good contract for Manitoba or not and if the Dominion parliament is in a position to grant this boon to Manitoba, is in a position to give time to consider this contract, is in a position to give that province an opportunity to retrace this ruinous step, is the Dominion parliament entitled by any species of reasoning to refuse that opportunity ? Is it not, on the contrary, a duty resting upon ns, a duty we are bound in all fairness to discharge, a duty that if we do not discharge, it will render us justly liable to the reprobation of the people of this country ? Then, we have resolutions to the same effect passed by public meetings in the following places By a large meeting of the citizens of Winnipeg, at Selkirk Hall; by a large meeting of citizens of Winnipeg, at the Winnipeg Opera House ; by a meeting of the Icelandic citizens of Winnipeg, at Northwest Hall ; by the citizens of the town of Selkirk ; by the Icelandic citizens of the town of Selkirk ; by meetings of citizens at Baldur, Shoal Lake, Grund, Gimli, Hnausa, Icelandic Itiver, Sifton municipality, Mor-den, Strathclair, and at numerous other public meetings. Will an hon. gentleman give me an instance where the people of Manitoba have assembled in public meeting and endorsed this contract ? I do not think he can. I think it counts for but little that the legislature, after twenty-five days consideration, has passed a measure whereupon scrutiny and investigation develops the features and characteristics that this measure pos-
4953 MAY 13, 1901 1954
sesses. It amounts to but little, and I think they had, better have a little more time to study the measure over again and see whether the opinion expressed by their friends, by the citizens of Manitoba, in meetings held at various points, and resolutions formulated by them, are well founded and justified by the facts of the case.
I say without hesitation that in so far as I am able to judge the state of public sentiment in Manitoba so far as it has beeu expressed, it is my belief that public sentiment is almost unanimous against
the character of the legislation we have under consideration. I wish now to recount a few particular objections that I entertain to this Bill. I may perhaps repeat to a slight extent what 1 have said, but this is a recapitulation where the logical sequence and unity of argument require a brief statement. My first objection is that the Bill imposes a liability of from $623,000 to $683,000 annually on the people of Manitoba, or capitalized at 4 per cent, from $16,600,000 to $17,700,000 ; and that this liability is incurred without adequate consideration.
Yes, and I will make you sure of it in a moment. If the people of Manitoba were assuming this liability for something that warranted them in incurring it, the contract would not be open to the condemnation it is now open to. But they are doing this without adequate consideration, because in the first place the rates that they supposed they were securing under this contract will be by the natural law of competition exorbitant rates in three years, and higher than the people of Manitboa will be called- upon to pay without the investment of a red cent.
I am telling you my friend. The people of Manitoba have hitherto been dependent on one line of railway for an outlet for their freight and that line has been a monopoly. Some of the monopolistic features of that line, the Dominion government have bought off at a very great cost in bonusing the very road that forms a part of this contract and by the opening Of a road by the Northern Pacific system to Duluth. The province of Manitoba is about to have the benefit of competition from three lines in place of being the thraldom of one line, and the rates fixed by this contract will inevitably be found to be higher than the rates that would be secured naturally by competition.
I wish my hon. friend (Mr. Boyd) would allow me to proceed. His interruptions are not pertinent nor are they
calculated to elicit information. We find that wheat is carried from Chicago to New York, a distance of a thousand miles, at a regular rate of from 9 to 12 cents, and from Buffalo to New York, a distance of 450 miles, at a regular rate of 4 cents, and can be carried at 24 cents and afford a fair margin of profit.
M hundred pounds, or 50 cents a ton. Wheat is carried by the Booth line of steamers and rail from Chicago to Montreal for 3| cents a bushel, which is about 5 cents per hundred, and comparisons with freight rates over the leading lines must lead to the conclusion that the rates secured under this contract are rates that will be secured under the law of competition, so that the province of Manitoba is undertaking to pay $683,000 for absolutely nothing ; for securing that which by sitting still she will inevitably secure without any cost to her. The province of Manitoba has made this contract without adequate consideration, because her primary motive has not been attained, and contrary to the expectation of the great majority of those who supported this measure the Dominion parliament and the Dominion Railway Committee have paramount control over the rates by virtue of general legislation, and by virtue of special stipulation between the Canadian Northern Railway Company and the Dominion of Canada as a consideration for having received a subsidy. Again, no provision has been made and no provision can possibly be made against the adverse action of the Interstate Commerce Commission of the Enited States which will have control over fifty miles of this road south of Rainy lake and in the state of Minnesota. It is evident that Manitoba has overlooked this, and has not realized that the conditions in this contract cannot be fulfilled, because the authority of the Dominion of Canada, and the authority of the Interstate Commerce Commission of the United States can exercise influences that would defeat the purposes of the contract. Not only is there a possible interference by the Interstate Commerce Commission, but there is the possible destruction of the whole investment by the suspension of the bonding privileges in the United States, so that the whole thing would be at the mercy of the United States government and during its pleasure, for if this were done the contract would not be worth the paper it is written upon. Then there was no adequate consideration secured, because the contract was. so arranged that Manitoba had no adequate safeguard against paying the guarantee. Under section 8 of schedule B, it was provided :
8. In consideration of the guarantee of the said bonds and the assignment of said lease and option, the company hereby agrees that up to
the 30th day of June, A.D. 1930, the Lieutenant Governor in Council shall from time to time fix the rates to be charged or demanded by the company for the carriage of all freight from all points on the company's lines in Manitoba to Port Arthur, and from Port Arthur to to all points on the company's lines in Manitoba, and from all points on the company's lines in Manitoba to all other points on said lines in Manitoba. Provided always, that before any rates are so fixed the company shall be heard and their Interests taken into consideration. The company agrees that it will not at any time after the said rates have been so fixed charge or demand for the carriage of freight between the points aforesaid greater rates than those so fixed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
I call particular attention to these words :
Provided always, that before any rates are so fixed the company shall be heard and their Interests taken into consideration.
In what way ? Well, I suppose it is in the interest of the company to have a dividend.
I suppose it is the interest of the company to have some portion of its revenue that can be devoted to the payment of interest on the investment made by its stockholders. I ap-preheiyl that under that, clause the company would have a good case in demanding that the rates should not be put down to a figure that would not leave them something tangible in the shape of dividend or return from their investment. I draw that inference from this section.
Then, the province of Manitoba has not been properly protected and has no adequate consideration guaranteed in the matter of the provision with regard to deficiencies and two years periods. Periods are brought together, with two years in each. These two years may show a very large deficiency ; the next two years may show a surplus. One year in the two years period may have a surplus, and the other year a deficiency ; but the Manitoba government could take no advantage of that. Nothing can be applied from a two years period of surpluses to a two years period of deficiencies. As I said the other night, in this arrangement, it is heads I win, tails you lose, so far as the government of Manitoba is concerned.
Then, the most striking feature in this contract, and where the Manitoba government has failed most strikingly in guarding the interests of the province and providing for adequate consideration, is in regard to the operating expenses of the road. It is provided in this contract, in section
For the purposes of this clause the term * working expenditure ' shall not include the salary or remuneration of any officer, employee or other person whose time is not wholly employed bona fide in connection with the said lines of railway iu this clause mentioned; but as to officers and employees and other persons whose services are necessary or desirable in connection with the said lines and whose whole Mr. CHARLTON.
time is not taken up in connection therewith, there shall be included reasonable remuneration for the time actually expended and services actually rendered by them in connection with said lines; and the said term shall not include any expenses, payments or outgoings not reasonably necessary for the efficient management, maintenance, operation and repair of the said lines, nor shall the said term include the cost of double-tracking the said lines, but siding reasonably required for the traffic and operation of the lines shall not be deemed double-tracking.
Under this provision there can be charged to working expenses in the ease of the Canada Northern, first of all. the serious item of relaying the track with heavier rails, which will soon be necessary second, the item of renewing the bridges, which will probably soon be necessary, because the road is being hastily constructed, and many of the bridges are probably wooden trestles ; third, the construction of sidings, spurs and branches ; fourth, the erection of warehouses, elevators and station houses ; and fifth, all renewal expenses of every nature and kind whatsoever, except the mere laying down of a double-track line. Under this provision it would be hopeless, I imagine, for the Manitoba government to look -or if they did. they would be undeceived -for returns in the shape of payments for some years to come.
Then, this contract is without prospect of adequate compensation to Manitoba, for the reason that there is no provision in it to regulate the manner in which the railway company shall transport construction material over its lines. It is contemplated to extend this line from the western borders of Manitoba to the Yellow Head Pass, and from the Yellow Head Pass to the Pacific ocean ; and from some source a vast tonnage of steel rails, bridge materials, fishplates, joints, spikes, timber for stations, and a multitude of articles required in railway construction is to be procured. Naturally the great bulk of this material will pass over the line of this road from Port Arthur ; and there is nothing to prevent the company for carrying these materials to charge a figure so small as to be practically nothing, and leave to the province of Manitoba practically all the expense for carrying this freight over this line.
There is another item which warrants me in saying that adequate consideration is not secured ; that is, the fact that the government of Manitoba has no representative on the railway board. Imagine a government putting up all the means of setting up a company in business, becoming responsible for $17,000,000. leaving the company to wield these vast influences over a thousand miles of railway, and agreeing to pay $683,000 a year in case of mismanagement or recklessness, without reserving to itself the right of representation on the board-the right to have any individual there to watch its interests or to become aware as far as
possible of the conduct and manipulation ] and operations of these men. Why, it is simply setting a premium upon misappropriation and mismanagement, if it is in the interest of the party of the second part to do it.
In the second place, the particular objection I have to urge against this Bill, is that parliament is asked to make a bargain not endorsed by Manitoba, by initiating legislation and refusing a reference. That is what we are doing if we do not refer this matter back to Manitoba. We are practically making a bargain with the syndicate, the railway ring, which has entered into the arrangement with Manitoba. We are in a sense taking initiatory proceedings by entering into that bargain, and we are doing it without consulting the wishes of Manitoba, without referring the matter to the revision of the Manitoba legislature, 1 who are the representatives of the people who must bear all the consequences if any mistake is made.
In the third place, parliament in doing this is exceeding the functions, which it is at liberty to exercise in this matter, of concurrent and co-ordinate action ; and it has reached the position of initiatory action. It has put into the contract the idea that the people of Manitoba were labouring under the delusion that they were control-1 ling the rates. Having gone beyond the limits of concurrent and co-ordinate action, and having assumed the functions of initiatory action, and made practically a new1 contract, entirely beyond the knowledge or wishes of Manitoba, it refuses, forsooth, to send this contract to the Manitoba legislature for ratification. I do not know what kind of a figure such action on our part will make in our political history; but I do not think it will be the most shining example of fair-play that can be pointed to in the future.
Another particular objection which I have to the Bill is that if we refuse this reference, parliament will fasten upon Manitoba a ruinous bargain with full knowledge of the fact. We are not doing this in ignorance. We are not acting here hastily. We are not confirming the bargain because we suppose it is a good one. We know that it is a monumental act of folly. We know that it will fasten upon Manitoba ills that can scarcely be dreamed of. We know it is a bargain that cannot be justified. And we are, with our eyes wide open, with a cool knowledge of the facts, with the cool knowledge that this means ruin to Manitoba, fastening around the neck of Manitoba this bargain, with the changes we have made, and are refusing to allow, what we can do with perfect propriety, that bargain to go back to the Manitoba legislature in order that they may have a chance to exercise their second thought and better judgment, and decide
whether they will, with all the knowledge they have to-day, perpetrate one of the crowning acts of oppression that will characterize the first quarter of this century.
The fifth particular objection which I have to this measure is, that parliament is giving its endorsation to an Act which is ultra vires, or at least asserted to be ultra vires, and the argument upon which that assertion is found is evidently a good one. We are giving our sanction to that which is asserted to be ultra vires, we are refusing to test its validity, refusing to give consideration to the representations of those who affirm that it is an unconstitutional Act, either by referring it to the Department of Justice or the Supreme Court of Canada. Now, this is not the way to do business. If we are in doubt as to the constitutionality of an Act-and especially an Act of this character, an Act of such consequence, of such importance-we ought to be sure of our ground, we ought to know where we are, we ought to ascertain definitely, by reference to the proper authorities, whether the assertion that this Act is ultra vires is well founded or not. That is the course we ought to take. We ought to settle the question of constitutionality.
And in the seventh place-and this is somewhat of a reiteration, perhaps, of a point made before-the particular, and perhaps the greatest, objection that I have to the affirming of this legislation, is that it refuses to give Manitoba a chance to more deliberate consideration, to more mature judgment. And I say : Give to Manitoba that chance.
If we pass a Bill in this House and it goes to the higher branch of the legislature, and that branch makes amendments, no matter how trivial, as an act of courtesy-nay, more, as a necessary act to secure concurrent action of both branches-that Bill comes back to us, and we exercise our prerogative to accept or reject the amendments. They cannot be forced upon us. But suppose, after a Bill goes to the Senate, the Senate assumes to make amendments and then attemps to make it law without referring it back to this House, what kind of business would that be ? It would be exactly the same kind as is proposed here now, when we take this Bill and make amendments to it and then refuse to send it back to the legislature of Manitoba where it originated. To refuse this privilege to Manitoba, I assert without hesitation, would be a monstrous usurpation of power on the part of this House.
We hear a great many expressions about abstaining from interference with the rights of a province. We have a great many qualms of conscience expressed about doing anything that will interfere with provincial autonomy and the exercise of provincial authority and the carrying into effect of provincial wishes. For my part, I have never held that the provision in the British North
America Act with regard to the revision of legislative laws by the Dominion, and of Dominion laws by the Imperial government, was inserted in that Act without due reason. It has always seemed to me that in this great chain of commonwealth, from the Imperial Dominion of Great Britain down to the Dominion of Canada and the provinces of Canada, there is a centre of paramount authority, and that, consequently, the supervision of our legislation by the Imperial government is proper, as is also that of provincial legislation by the Dominion government ; and the reason that this has been called into question in the past was, perhaps, largely because that power of disallowance was improperly exercised, was exercised for purely partisan purposes, and uot always from the highest motives and in the highest interests of the people. But, where a case exists for the exercising of that power for the good of the people of a province and of the Dominion, for the preservation of our institutions, for our liberty and for the averting of calamities public or private-in all such cases, that disallowing power should be exercised, and the government, which has that power in its hands, should be governed in its exercise, not by the lower considerations of expediency, but the higher consideration of public duty. It should be governed by its duty to the public, both in the present and the future, and we come down here and strain at a gnat about disallowing some little law, and then are prepared to swallow a camel by putting this Bill through and refusing its reference back to the source from which it emanated. What do you suppose will be the natural inference on the part of the Canadian public ? Do you think that the public of Canada will applaud the high moral motive that prompted the refusal of that reference ? Do you suppose, Sir, that the Canadian people, after this thing has received the calm consideration that one or two or three years will secure for it, will believe, in their judgment, that high patriotic motives and a sincere desire to promote the interests of Manitoba led to our refusal to send this Bill back to the Manitoba legislature ? Well, I would be more afraid that the conclusion of the people would be that there was influence enough in this House of Commons, interested in demanding the passage of that Bill, to secure the refusal of its reference back to Manitoba, lest, in such case, the steal would be defeated by Manitoba's rejecting the measure. That, I believe, would be the conclusion at which the people would be more 'likely to arrive.
I really would like to know, at this juncture, whether this is a government measure ; because, if it is, I have said, perhaps, more than, as a good loyal supporter. I would have felt warranted in saying. But, I cannot conceive it possible that this is a government measure. If, however, the right hon.
gentleman who leads the government will state that it is, I will yield to his discretion at once. But, I am warranted in assuming, until we have some express declaration that it is a government measure, that although it is practically a government bill, that although the government cannot escape responsibility, yet, the government may not be actuated by a positive, definite line of policy that would lead them to desire its success, and determine to put it through.
If that be the case, I implore the government to use its influence in behalf of the request I am now making. I am asking, not that the Bill be referred back to the people to be decided by a plebiscite, but to refer the Bill back to the body in which it originated to give their final decision as to the character of the Bill with the amendments it has received in this House. We are entitled to do that; no fault can be found with this House for.doing that. But abundance of fault will be found with us if we do not do that. And I hold that if we do not do that, one of the most stupendous political mistakes that have ever characterized the operations of a government will have been made. I believe that if this is not done, this Bill will rise up in judgment against us. If this is not done, those who follow us will be unable to justify this action. If this it not done and ruin overtakes Manitoba, as it probably will, if circumstances develop the fact that this is an improvident bargain, as they will, if it becomes as clear as sunlight that the whole thing was an act of folly-inane, fatuous, supreme-if that point is reached, we will wish that we had stood from under and avoided direct primary responsibility for this measure. As I say, I never have advocated the thwarting of the purposes of Manitoba or any other province. But I want to know, I want to be convinced that Manitoba knows definitely what her purpose is. And if this is not a measure of the Dominion government, I want to know if it is a Manitoba measure, and, with the amendments of the Bill, I cannot know that until the verdict of the Manitoba legislature is given upon this measure. Until then, I cannot know, this House cannot know, this country cannot know if it is a Manitoba measure. If it is a Dominion government measure, of course put it through ; if it is not a Dominion government measure, let us take the precaution to learn definitely whether it is a Manitoba measure, by referring it to the Manitoba legislature.
Now, we have been dealing with remedies proposed or assumed, theoretical remedies, for transportation irregularities, means for the regulation of the perplexing question of railway freights. And we have been going at it in this instance wrong end first, we have been going at it by the exercise of powers that are subsidiary to higher powers and must be inoperative. There is a remedy, but that remedy is not in provincial action.
Provincial governments have not the power to apply the remedy ; the remedy for all these evils is Dominion action. The power is now in our own hands. If we have the honesty, if we have the courage, if we have the prescience, to exercise that power in a public direction, we can remove these evils. We can appoint a railway commission. A railway commission has been operated in the United States for nearly fifteen years with results in the highest degree beneficial and satisfactory to the public. Many of the evils that have attended the transportation question in that country have been remedied by the authority of the interstate railway commission in the United States ? Appoint a similar commission here, a commission exercising practically the same functions, and that commission in conjunction with the Railway Committee of the Privy Council will deal with this question ; and if it deals with it with authority, with fairness, with honesty, we shall have no call for contracts of the character of those we are considering; we shall have no complaints, or, at least, few complaints about transportation irregularities ; we shall have this whole transportation business upon such a basis that it can be controlled by a power whose jurisdiction cannot be questioned and whose field of operations will be co-extenslve with the Dominion government itself. Now, Mr. Chairman, this, perhaps, may be regarded as a diversion from the question at issue, in the sense that it is a reference to the proposed operation of the commission to act in conjunction with the government in the settlement of these questions, but I believe that the true remedy for these evils connected with the transportation problem, and without desiring to consume time-I have spoken with no intention of obstructing-I believe that I present to-day, as I have presented on two previous occasions, cogent reasons to support the position I take that this parliament of Canada is not obliged to record Manitoba decrees and legislation, that we have co-ordinate and co-operative functions, and that we have no right to initiate new features of legislation without allowing the body most interested to pass upon them. And if in matters of this kind we do not respect ourselves, the interests of Manitoba and the obligations that rest upon ourselves, if we do not promote the interests of this country by referring it back to the legislature, we have failed to do our duty in the premises. With these remarks, I beg to submit the question to the consideration of the premier of this Dominion and his colleagues in office, assuring them that responsibility rests upon them and that their action in this matter practically determines whether it is a government measure or whether it is not. The whole question hinges on their opinion, and they cannot divest themselves of the responsibility, they cannot shield themselves by the assumption that it is a private Bill. This is a Bill dealing with 156
vast interests and affecting the whole Dominion, a Bill so important that no Bill of greater importance has for many and many a year been under our consideration. The government must honestly face its responsibility and either say that the Bill meets with its approval and should pass, or that it should be referred back to the legislature of Manitoba to pass upon the provisions that have been incorporated in it by the action of this House.
I hesitated before again taking up the discussion of the premble of this Bill, on which I have already expressed my opinion. I really expected that after the long and well prepared analysis of the Bill and its consequences on the province of Manitoba, as well as upon the whole Dominion, by the hon. member for North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton), some representative of the government would have taken it upon himself to state the position which the rulers of this land intend to take with regard to it.
Of course, at the two other sittings which were devoted to the discussion of this Bill in committee, the Minister of Railways and Canals was absent; but now he is in his seat, and I suppose he will not allow this Bill to take its third reading without giving us an explanation of the position which he took in the Railway Committee. The Railway Committee discussed that Bill for a long time, arguments were presented for and against it, several members of parliament pronounced against it; and yet since the Bill came back to the House, the Minister of Railways and Canals has not deigned to give us any opinion upon it. When the Bill was in committee, however, he expressed the strongest views about it; and if I am taking such an interest in the matter, it is because that hon. gentleman greatly impressed me with the grave importance of this Bill. Now that the Bill is before us for our sanction or rejection, the Minister of Railways and Canals,.whose opinion the parliament of Canada is supposed to regard in railway matters, should favour us with his views. Therefore, before I go on with the discussion, I would like to know if the hon. gentleman is ready to give us his opinion on this matter.