The hon, gentleman (Mr. Richardson, Lisgar) forgets that in the United States matters are reversed from the position in which they are in this country. In the United States a great transcontinental railway will receive assistance, hut the United States government has nothing to do with railways in the several states. Each state is in an independent position, while our province has only a small subsidy out of which it cannot grant railway subsidies.
I am not saying so, but I am giving that reason to show why the central government has not voted large amounts of money. In the United States the country is so rich that the question there is as to who shall he allowed to build) the railways. Does the hon. gentleman say that the Canadian Pacific Railway would ever have been built without being paid something to assist it in opening up the richest country in the world, a part of country where ten acres of land is worth a farm of one liunderd acres in the lower provinces, and if you give a grant to the richest part of the country that you have in Manitoba are you going to deny it to a smaller province ?
If a good case is made out. certainly, but the Dominion) has a mighty margin yet before it will get to the time when it has given to other roads the amount which has been voted to the Canadian Pacific Railway to build a road in the hon. gentleman's country.
We will not discuss that now. The hon. gentleman and I may agree upon that, but that is not the question we are discussing now. We have to do with conditions as they exist now. and not go back to what would have been wise at another time more than to draw from joast experience a lesson as to what it is wise for us to do at the present. I have my own views, I am not sure but that in a well populated country the future may not call for the government ownership of railways. I regret that just now I do not see very much hope for the adoption of that principle in Canada-not for a number of years at least. The whole subsidy given to these roads is only one-fifth of what they could be built for. The subsidy is $3,200 a mile, and I venture to say that not less than $15,000 a Mr. RICHARDSON (Lisgar).
mile will build any of these roads. The hon. gentleman showed conclusively that $400,000 had been given by this country.
I will accept the hon. gentleman's statement. If you are to get back the roads which have been built and for which subsidies have been granted, this country will have to provide at once cash to the amount of $2,000,000,000. Is not that a large sum ? Four hundred millions multiplied by five would make two thousand millions. Is this country ready to borrow $2,000,000,000 to take over the railways ?
He said you could control the stock for $2. I will not adopt that suggestion, because it is not correct. There is no man who will seriously look at the question of transportation to-day but must be struck with this fact, that if a country is thickly populated, the right thing may be for the country to own the railways ; but with an extent of country, such as we have from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and with the sparse population we have, I do not see how the country can undertake that just now. I have a very high respect for the judgment of my hon. friend from Lennox (Mr. Wilson), but I cannot help saying that with the otium cum dignitate of the county of Lennox, with plenty of railways, with the St. Lawrence beside it, and with the $11,000,000 that the present government have spent to make the St. Lawrence better, it should be kind to poorer and less favoured people. It ought to be happy that other parts of the country should be as highly favoured as it has been. I have, in my county with 200 miles of seashore, only two miles of railway. I am pleased to think that these men are ready to put their capital with the subsidy to build that road. There are natural advantages in the county. There is wood, mineral, fish and there is quite a large part of it fairly good farming land. Well, now. is it not a good thing to do to encourage those who are opening up the country ? Do not suppose that I am for giving indiscriminately because there is the asking; but if a fair case is made out, I submit that for years to come we will have to consider it. I think the hon. member for Toronto (Mr. Brock) misunderstood me when he spoke about a railway commission. My idea of a commission is not at all to say whether a road is to be built 10 or 20 miles long, but to a commission to be appointed to solve the great and difficult question of transportation from one end of the country to the other. It is not that a commission should be appointed to be sent down to my part of the country, for instance, to say
A gentleman from Toronto, for example, looks out and sees a great city, and he goes out ten miles and he sees a well-populated rich district. Then, he comes down to Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, where there are ten miles of road to be built, and he says : It is shameful to have a road built here, while from the ground, out of the forests, and the fisheries wealth may be taken that he never dreamed of.
That is to say that the man who has to dig for a wage in the mine should not be assisted at all. My idea of parliament is to give assistance to the weaker. This country, if it is ever going to become great, must assist the poorer people and not lavish bounties upon a few individuals