It may be that here and there some individual member of the House feels free to express his individual views, but let us understand clearly that this policy of railway subsidies, now and in recent years, has been the fixed policy of both parties, and that the very resolutions the hon. gentleman complains of as granting large subsidies, have, during the last three or four years, been supported by both sides, and I challenge my hon. friend tq point to any vote he ever gave against them. They were passed by the general consent of the House, either unanimously or without division. They are the fixed policy of the country, and so long as that policy is applied with moderation and a desire to serve the sections still requiring railway development, that is a policy which any government may be proud to present to the people of Canada.
The hon. gentleman could not have felt very comfortable in his reply to my hon. friend from Lennox (Mr. Wilson), when seated beside him as one of his colleagues who, in 1896, wrote to the Farmer's Son, the then organ of the Patrons, that the policy of the Reform party was practically that laid down by the Patrons of Industry, one of the planks in whose platform was no more subsidies to railways. The Finance Minister, by his plea, has just condemned his colleague for the principles laid down in that letter. Surely the hon. member for Lennox was, under the circumstances, justified in drawing attention to the fact that hon. gentlemen on the Treasury benches have gone back on their platform.
The hon. minister referred to the debt of the Grand Trunk Railway, of which every province has to pay its share, and he asked were not the maritime provinces, therefore, entitled to some consideration in the way of bonuses. But, Sir, he omitted to mention the fact that the Intercolonial Railway is a road built specially to accommodate the maritime provinces, and that all the other provinces pay their share of the debt. The Canadian Pacific Railway and the Grand Trunk Railway, and the Intercolonial Railway are all Dominion works, and consequently each province has its share of their benefits as well as their debts. But what we complain of is that the policy of the government is in open violation of its platform in 1893. I am not opposing in the main the policy of assisting railways. What I claim to be the correct principle is to subsidize such lines as open up new sections of country not yet supplied by railways. There are portions of the country which have never had the benefit of railway facilities, and which do not offer sufficient inducements to capitalists to build. It is the duty of the government to come to the assistance of the people, who are entitled to these conveniences of civilization just as are the people in other sections of the country. But the general necessity for the granting of subsidies does not exist to the same extent to-day as it did some years ago. Money is to-day more plentiful, and our mining enterprises and pulp and other industries offer stronger inducements to capitalists to invest their money in the building of railways. Therefore, we ought to be much more careful in the granting of subsidies than we were twenty-five years ago. I think the time has come when it would be wise for us to grant assistance to railway enterprises on the plan adopted by our American neighbours, namely, by giving them loans which would be repayable some time in the future. But we certainly, in any case, should avoid giving indiscriminate subsidies all over the country, and confine them to the newer sections of country which, without such assistance, would remain undeveloped.
Another tiling to which I would draw attention is the amount of the subsidy. We propose to give $3,200 per mile as the lowest subsidy to railways, which do not cost over $15,000 a mile. But any one will understand how easy it is for a railway company to show that its line has cost over $15,000 a mile, and if the cost exceeds $15,000 per mile, then the company is entitled to ask for an additional subsidy of $3,200 per mile, making in all $6,400. What means does the government take to check the accounts furnished by the railway companies. The same remark applies to bridges. We propose to give a subsidy of 15 per cent on the cost of a bridge provided that bridge costs over a certain sum. But how does that system work? We h(id an application for that subsidy from the company which built the Sorel bridge on the South Shore. They gave a statement of the cost, $243,000. It appears, however, that some parties were satisfied that the bridge did not cost that amount, and we find in the Auditor General's Report various estimates. Mr. C. A. Keefer estimated the cost at $112,472. Mr. Sclireiber took Mr. Keefer's quantities and gave a different estimate altogether. Mr. McCarthy, the engineer of the company, made the cost $150,,084, and Mr. Ridout estimated it at $101,000. Yet upon the strength of the claim which was entered by the company, the government is expected to pay a subsidy of 15 per cent. What check have the government that would justify us in the belief that they' are not paying on more than the actual cost? We have no check that could be regarded as final and concluding. I would advise the government to devise means of checking the accounts of these companies, or otherwise we will be paying them larger subsidies than they are entitled to.
The statement of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Sproule) with regard to this resolution is not correct. He stated that this gave a subsidy of $3,200 per mile to a railway costing $15,000 a mile, and that if it cost more than that it received an additional $3,200. That is not the resolution. The resolution states that a railway receiving $15,000 a mile shall receive a bonus of $3,200 a mile, but in any case no railway shall receive more than $6,400 a mile.
Mi-. SPROULE. Does not the resolution say that it shall not exceed $6,400 a mile ?
I shall read the resolution, as I intended to do in the first place :
Resolved, that it is expedient to authorize the Governor in Council to grant a subsidy of $3,200 per mile towards the construction of each of the undermentioned lines of railway (not exceeding in any case the number of miles hereinafter respectively stated), which shall not cost more on the average than $15,000 per mile for the mileage subsidized, and towards the construction of each of the said lines of railway not exceeding the mileage hereinafter stated, which shall cost more on the average than $15,000 per mile for the mileage subsidized, a further
subsidy beyond the sum of $3,200 per mile of fifty per centum on so much of the average cost of the mileage subsidized as shall be in excess of $15,000 per mile, such subsidy not exceeding in the whole the sum of $6,400 per mile.
Will tlie bon. gentleman tell me wherein I am incorrect ?
The hon. gentleman is entirely incorrect. Suppose a road cost $16,000 per mile, the subsidy it receives will be $6,400 per mile, plus one-half the cost over $15,000 per mile or $500. Now, I certainly think it unkind for some of the hon. gentlemen from certain constituencies to find fault with the granting of these subsidies. It is very well to make general statements that we must be careful how these subsidies are being granted to see that they are given only to deserving roads. I take it for granted that the government have been careful to see to that. I know of no railway on this list that is not deserving, and I have not heard any lion, gentleman refer to. any particular item and say that such is not the case. I think it is ungenerous as well as unjust for hon. gentlemen whose constituencies have been served not merely with subventions to railways, but with large sums for the construction of canals and other important public works to come here and say : We have got all we want, and now we will close the door on further expenditure of this kind.
1 The hon. gentleman's own friends said that.
If the hon. gentleman will pardon me, he has taken the long way around to show what my friends stated. Before the Liberal party came into power, they laid down a platform on which they asked the confidence of the people. We are responsible for our platform, I for one do not care to listen to quotations from what some gentleman may have said which was reported in some newspaper and is not held to be the policy for the Liberal party to-day. Our policy is what it has been, and, I hope, what it will be in the future- that subsidies shall be given to deserving railways.
Mr. HUGHES (Victoria).
Is the hon. gentleman ashamed of the policy proclaimed by his leaders in the past ? Does he repudiate the utterances of his friends ?
I am neither ashamed of, nor do I repudiate anything that has been said by anybody for whom I am not responsible-I have nothing to do with that one way or the other. I hold with the) policy of the party as enunciated by the party and laid down by the party. I stand by the utterances of the leaders of my party in parliament. But I am not going to be held by the remarks of some newspaper published in the wilds of Ontario. I was struck by the remarks of the hon. gentleman from Centre Toronto (Mr. Brock).
Toronto, I find, is a generous city. They *have had nothing done for them from the general funds of the Dominion ; they have not been built up from the money of this country spent in the construction of railways and canals. But what struck me most forcibly was the parental care with which this hon. gentleman wished to take from the government all power and responsibility in these matters. He wanted a railway commission to take the matter out of the hands of the government and consider these questions, carefully, critically, dispassionately, and decide when a railway subsidy should be granted. X can understand why the hon. gentleman is anxious to get as much power out of the hands of the government as he can ; but he did not seem to be worried on that score when his own party was in power. So far as I am concerned, I am prepared to believe that the government as it exists is in quite as good a position to decide when a railway should have a subsidy as any commission that might he formed for that purpose. Now, we hear of huckstering charters. In our province of Nova Scotia and in the maritime provinces generally, we have seen very little of that. I have heard a great deal of talk about it up here, but have seen very few instances of it. I do not think it is well' for us in this way or in any way to discourage the building of railways. I agree with what has frequently been said this session that the great question before us to-day, the question which involves the greatness of Canada more than any other, perhaps more than all others, is the question of transportation. This question we should not regard from a sectional standpoint, but we should work together to settle in the best interests of the country this greatest of all questions that we have to deal with.
Mr. RICHARDSON (Lisgar).
Since my entrance into parliament I have consistently opposed the bonusing of railways. I believe that the system is entirely vicious, and I hold, with the Globe, that the time has come when we should inaugurate a new system with regard to railways.
Mr. HUGHES (Victoria).
The present Globe ?
Mr. RICHARDSON (Lisgar).
Yes, the present Globe. The people of Canada have contributed for the construction of railroads ?223,000,000, exclusive of anything we may vote this session. We have given 60,000,000 acres of land, and if you include the exemption from taxation of these lands, hon. gentlemen will understand what an enormous subsidy that means. If you take the lands at $3 an acre, you get $180,000,000 worth of land grants, or, in all, some $403,000,000. This is the sum that the people of Canada have contributed for the construction of railways-practically enough to Mr. WADE.
build all the railroads in Canada at the present time.
Instead of controlling these railroads, these railroads exercise a very important control over parliament. We have not got that control of rates that we should have. The whole transportation question, to my mind, has been bungled from the start. These remarks will apply equally to our canal system. I think, with the hon. member from Toronto (Mr. Brock) and with the others who have studied this question, that the time has come for the inauguration of a new policy with regard to railroads. I am not here to say that no railroad should be built, but I say that if the country is to go on as it has been going for the .last twenty years, paying for these railroads without owning them, and if we are to give large bonuses as we have been doing, these bonuses ought to be given under an entirely different system. We ought to make conditions, so that if at any time we desired to take these roads over, we can take them over, less the bonuses we have given. Then, we ought to exercise most careful supervision over the bonding of these railroads, over the capitalization that may be made upon them ; so that when the time comes, as come it will, when the railroads of this country must be nationalized, we will be able to nationalize them on a proper basis.
I listened with great regret to the remarks of the hon. the Minister of Finance when he declared that we have in this country the same policy carried out by both parties, Now, as a Liberal from childhood up, I wan t to dissent from that view. That is not wha t I learned from the Liberal party. I hold in my hand a pamphlet issued in 1896 by the Liberal party, entitled: 'Dominion of Canada -Principles, Policy and Platform of the Liberal Party.' I turn to page 53, and I find, in a discussion of the Patron platform, a paragraph which I will read. This is the campaign document which was placed before the people. I will read clause 11 of the Patron platform, and what the writer of the platform says of it:
Clause 11. Prohibition of the bonusing of railways by government grants, as contrary to the public interest.
The policy of bonusing railways by cash and land grants from the Dominion government has become a fruitful source of jobbery, speculation and corruption. Under its operation favourites of the government have been enriched. Appropriations have been made for the sole purpose of purchasing the support of constituencies, and vast sums of public money have been voted without regard to the public interest, while millions of acres of land that should have been held in trust by the government for the future homes of hardy and deserving settlers, have beeu handed over without consideration or justification, to charter hawkers, whose intervention actually retards the construction of the lines whose franchises they control, for the purpose of extorting money from the ultimate builders of the roads. The policy of granting these subsidies has repeatedly been condemned
in parliament by the Liberal party, and this resolution is in harmony with the attitude of the Liberal party upon this question. (See resolutions 3 and 6, Liberal platform.)
Who signs that?
Mr. RICHARDSON (Lisgar).
This was issued by the Liberal organizer of Ontario in 1896, for distribution over the entire country. On the first page I read :
Copies of this pamphlet can be had by Liberal candidates from Alexander Smith, Secretary, Ontario Liberal Association, 34 Victoria street, Toronto.
Now, I do not read this for the purpose of giving any party in this House any comfort, for the policy which has been followed by the Conservative party in regard to bonus-ing railways has been an iniquitous policy, in my estimation, and I cannot denounce it too strongly. The claim I make is that the Liberal party was returned to power after having denounced that policy ; and I regretted to hear the Minister of Finance make the statement, that the policy of the two parties was now the same in this respect. I certainly did not learn that policy at the feet of the Liberal party. I want to say, also, that every word expressed in that resolution which I have just read I agren with. I agreed with it in 1890. and I agree with it to-day. I think that the history of railway subsidies since 1896 has been as vicious as it was prior to that date. The position I took then I take to-day ; and 1 would urge upon the government the desirability of inaugurating a new policy with regard to the bonusing of railroads and the control of railroads. 1 believe you will never have the transportation question in this country satisfactorily solved until the government controls at least one railroad extending from the Atlantic and reaching into the wheat fields of the North-west Territories.
Now. whatever may be said in favour of bonusing or assisting railroad construction, say, in the province of British Columbia, or even in the settled portions of the Northwest Territories, I think it is utterly indefensible that in this year of grace, 1901, this parliament should be called upon to vote vast subsidies for the purpose of building railroads in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and many portions of the province of Quebec. Why, these provinces have been settled two or three hundred years, and surely they ought to be able to stand upon their own feet in the matter of transportation, and this House ought not to be called upon to furnish subsidies to help build these railroads. Fancy a proposition being made in the United States Congress for subsidizing railroads ; why, it would be laughed out of court. Surely, we ought to learn some lessons in this country, and one thing we ought to learn is, that it is time, if we are going to contribute practically all the money, all the resources that we have been giving towards these railroads, that the parliament of Canada should exercise efficient control over them. I do not profess to be a prophet, but I say that within five years, so strongly will the opinion of the people of Canada be aroused upon this question,- that the government, be it Liberal or Conservative, will be forced to take up this question in a practical manner and to see that the money that the people are contributing for the building of these railroads is not wasted, and that if we build them, we should at least have them operated in the interest of the people who contribute the money.
I would not speak on this occasion were it not for the reference to the railway in my own county. I will ease the hon. gentleman's suspicion that there is any corruption in this, when I state that since 1867 the county of Guysborough has on only one occasion returned a Conservative to the House of Commons. So it cannot be for the purpose of purchasing votes in my county, for my county has always returned Liberals except on that one occasion. Neither can it be for the purpose of rewarding political supporters, because the company that are now going to build this railroad is composed of M. H. Fitzpatrick, the local Conservative member of the House of Assembly in Nova Scotia, one of the best men I know, and Mr. George McCormick, who sits in this House and is a gentleman who cannot be purchased by giving him a grant to a railway. This, at least, can stand on its merits. It was voted before, and voted without objection. The county is a very large one, is rich in natural resources, and I think that while we may be at some pains to examine these votes closely, as the hon. member for East Grey says, when a good case is made out, the proper position to take is, that the subsidy should be granted. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Richardson, Lisgar) who has just spoken has forgotten the fact of the immense sums the United States had to pay for the construction of railways. Take, for instance, the Union and Central Pacific.
Mr. RICHARDSON (Lisgar).
Yes, but they got it all back.
They have not got it back to this day. How about the land grants ?