Mr. Speaker, I was unfortunately absent from the city when this Bill came before the Railway Committee, and therefore no person had charge of it for the purpose of giving explanations. However, I quite readily appreciate that when a Ball has been fairly considered by the Railway Committee and has received fair treatment by that committee, very strong reasons indeed should be advanced for asking the House to refer it back. In] this particular case the Bill was defeated by a majority of one. There was an actual majority in the committee in favour of the Bill. There were members of the committee who were present during the entire discussion, who were familiar with its merits, but who happened to step outside of the Railway Committee room during the time the motion was being read and when they returned for the purpose of voting the objection was taken that they had not been in the Railway Committee when the motion was being read and the objection was sustained. This charter has been renewed upon previous occasions. Tbe promoters of the Bill only ask now that they shall receive an extension of time until the 1st of July, 1903, for the purpose of the commencement of construction and until the 1st of July, 1904, for its completion. All the time they ask is a year from next July. As an evidence of the good faith of the promoters I may say that they have started operations and have graded some eight or nine miles of the road at a cost of $25,000 or $30,000. Earlier in the life of the charter it was in the hands of some English capitalists who became financially embarrassed lin connection with other ventures and did not carry this work to a successful completion. When thex-c was a renewal of this charter, one of the conditions which was imposed upon the new incorporators, or the company, was that they should deposit $50,000 in cash in the hands of the Minister of Finance as an evidence of good faith. That $50,000 has been deposited in the bands of the Minister of Fin-
ance and it is in the hands of the Minister of Finance to-day. I think that under the circumstances, and in view of the technical objections that were taken to certain members of the Railway Committee voting, in view of the fact that these people have gone on with the bona fide construction of the road and have expended $25,000, or $30,000, in grading eight or nine miles of the road, in view of the fact that the incorporators have deposited $50,000 in cash in the hands of the Minister of Finance, and further, in view of the fact that they only ask an extension of time of a year from next July for the commencement of the work and of two years from next July to carry it to a successful completion, I do not think 1 am asking too much in asking the House to refer this Bill back to the Railway Committee that it may be considered upon its merits.
I think the hon. mover of the motion (Mr. Cowan) spoke very truly when he said, that there should be some substantial reason for referring a Bill back to a Standing Committee after that Bill has been fully discussed and decided upon by the committee. I do not agree with him that on this occasion the reason given is a substantial one. The Bill was discussed before the committee during the entire two hours of sitting. While the committee was at a loss for the lack of the presence of the hon. member (Mr. Cowan), the solicitors of the Bill were present, and another member of the House, certainly a very prominent member of the House assumed charge of the Bill for the occasion. There is no "question but that the committee was thoroughly aware of the merits of the Bill and there was no question as to the vote of the committee. To call in question the vote of the committee is to call in question the ruling of the chairman, which has not been done so far during this session of parliament. I think all the members of the Railway Committee will bear me out when I say, that the Chairman (Mr. Hyman) has been scrupulously correct in his rulings ; and on this occasion as on others.
If hon. members were not sufficiently interested' in the Bill to listen to the discussion of its merits but were ready to come in and cast a vote on a Bill the merits of which they do not understand because they did not listen to the discussion or did not consider it sufficiently important to warrant them spending their time listening to it; I submit that is not a reason why this House should refer the Bill back for the consideration of that committee. However, the hon. member who has charge of the Bill has seen fit to exercise his privilege to make this motion.
I believe that this motion raises the question of the merits of the Bill, and on that supposition I take the liberty of placing before the House some of the reasons Mr. COWAN.
why the Railway Committee rejected the Bill. It would almost seem from the statement of the hon. member (Mr. Cowan) that this was a much abused company ; that this was one of the very few railroad companies applying for charters in this Dominion who really meant business and who had not had fair treatment from the Railway Committee of this House. It may surprise the members of the House to know a little of the history of this company which begins as far back as the year 1888-and it does not begin with an Act of parliament, but with an Order in Council granting to the company, not then in existence, an area of 350,000 acres of the publie lands of Canada in order that the company might be brought into existence ; and be profitable I presume to the promoters. That Order in Council is dated November 28th, 1888, and recites :
On a report dated November in, 1888, from the Minister of the Interior, stating that representations had been made by Mr. J. Ick Evans, of Toronto, that he has succeeded in forming a company of English capitalists who have given notice of their intention to apply for an Act of incorporation under the name of the Red Deer Valley Railway and Coal Company for the purpose of building a railway from Cheadle Station, Alberta, to the coal mines found to exist in townships 28, 29 and 30, ranges 21, 22, 23 and 24 west of the 4th principal meridian, provided a bonus of 6,400 acres of land per mile of railway to be built, estimated at 55 miles, being about 352,000 acres, can be obtained, and he asks that such land grant shall consist of the odd and even numbered sections, exclusive of Hudson's Bay and school sections, in the following townships and parts of townships, as shown upon the annexed map.
The townships are then recited and file conclusion of the paragraph is : ' which would amount to about 358,400 acres.'
The minister is satisfied as to the financial ability of the parties who have offered to assist Mr. Evans in this undertaking, and as the proposed railway would not only give access to an excellent agricultural section of country, but would also enable the government to sell some of the coal lands in that district which otherwise might remain unproductive for a considerable time; he recommends that, subject to the approval of parliament a free grant of 6,400 acres of land per mile to aid in the construction of a railway from' Cheadle station, on the line of the Canadian Pacific Railway, to a point in or near township 29, range 23, west of the 4th meridian, be made to the company now seeking incorporation under the name of the ' Red Deer Valley Railway and Coal Company,' to consist of so much of the available lands in the townships hereinbefore enumerated as may be required to make up a subsidy to this company at the rate of 6,400 acres of land per mile for the whole length of railway found necessary to build in order to reach the coal fields above mentioned, such distance not to exceed iu any event fifty-five miles, and the location, gauge and grade of the railway to he subject to the approval of the Minister of Railways and Canals and with whom the contract must be arranged. You will notice Mr. Speaker, that tbe basis of tbe extraordinary action taken on that
occasion was the urgency of the necessity of the building of this road for the development of Certain coal mines, and to enable the government to sell its coal lands in this locality. The government was then satisfied of the financial ability of the man to whom the grant was made. That was on the 28tli of November, 1888, and to-day an hon. member comes to the House and asks that his Bill to give the company, not until the 1st of July 1903 but until the 1st of July, 1904 to finish this 55 miles of railroad, shall be again considered by the Railway Committee of this House. Now, if it was urgent in 18S8 that this railroad should be built, it is surely as urgent In 1902. I therefore say that when these parties ask for two years and some months time to build 55 miles of railroad over prairie country, they are giving poor evidence of their ability to build, even under the remarkably favourable conditions set forth in the Order in Council. For the information of hon. members of this House I may say, that the principal bulk of population which is interested in the building of this road, have been heartsickened by the action and attitude of this company. I speak of the people of the city of Calgary. At a meeting of the city council of the town of Calgary some months ago, a resolution was passed and forwarded here, asking parliament to reject any application for any further extension of this charter. The Calgary city council which represents the people principally interested in the development of that district have asked that the ground be cleared ; that this company be wiped out so that other people may come forward and have an opportunity to build the road. You may say that is an extreme position to take, but I would remind the House that this company holds absolutely locked up from settlement nearly half a million acres of land so that the country tributary to the city of Calgary cannot be developed until it pleases this company to open that land for settlement by the building of the railroad. Instead of this charter being a charter granted for the development and advancement of a part of the North-west Territories, it has been a dead weight upon that development. If even yet there was a prospect that the charter was in the hands of people who meant business, I presume the people of that district would be glad to have the company own it and build the road. At this late date, fourteen years after the original charter was granted, the company comes forward and asks for two years more time to build these 55 miles, making at least 16 years from the first inception of this company which then had satisfied the minister that it was competent to build.
I say it shows a lack of willingness or ability, either the one or the other, and it makes no difference to this parliament which. It is the duty of parliament to pro-1014
tect the public interest by preventing lands from being locked from settlement any longer at this time, when settlement is rushing into the country, and when those lands are in demand. The rush of settlement which took place into the North-west twenty years ago was turned back, and the progress of the country was hindered for twenty years, by the holding up of lands, just as in this case; and it is as necessary to-day that the lands should be opened to public settlement, or that the railroad should be built to afford advantages to the public and to give value to the lands as it was twenty years ago.
It is perhaps not necessary to follow the somewhat devious course of this company between the year 18S8 and the present time; but inasmuch as these people come before us now and say, ' Oh, we only want a little extension of time,' I will trespass on the time of the House enough to show that that has been their plea ever since 1888- that it has been extension after extension; that they were always able to build the road, but they never built it. In 1888 they got their first Order in Council, granting the land; in 1891 the order was revived and amended; in 1S93 it was revived and amended again; in 1894 once again; in 1895 again; and let me draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to a very peculiar provision in this revival of 1895. It relates to the control they should exercise not only over the lands but over the settlers who were on the lands, before the date of this Order in Council :
Each bona fids settler found on the land granted to the company at the time such land grant is earned who settled thereon before the 1st of January, 1891, shall have the right to retain the land occupied by him
Mark the generosity of this noble company-
- to the extent of 320 acres on' paying the company therefor at a price not exceeding in any case $2.50 per acre.
That is, the people who settled on the land before the company had an existence, when land was worth a dollar an acre, were to pay this company $2.50 an acre for It.
-and if he settled thereon after the 1st of January, 1891, he shall have the right to retain the land occupied by him to the extent of 160 acres -only if you please
-on paying the company therefor at the price ruling under the Dominion lands regulation in force at the time he went into occupation of the land.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I draw your attention to the generous way in which this company proposed to deal with the settlers upon their tract. But particularly I draw your attention to the value which they placed upon this land grant. They have a grant of 358,000 acres, which they themselves value at a price varying from $2.50 to $3 per acre, amounting to a total value of from $750,000 to over $1,000,000 ; and they are not able to build 55 miles of railway on that
land grant, but want a further extension of time. They came again in 1898, and again in 1900. Their land grant was renewed by Order in Council dated 1900, and expires on the 1st of July, 1903. Now, Mr. Speaker, for the information of the House, I beg to say that X suggested to the Railway Committee that the extension of time to be given the company should coincide with the date limiting their land subsidy. But they said : ' No, we canpot build in that time ; it will not be of any use to us.' Then I said : ' If you cannot build within the time that enables you to earn your subsidy, you cannot build at all, and you do not want to build at all. It is simply a case of trying to hold up a land grant and of holding up the public until something turns up that will enable you to sell the charter to better advantage.' These were the reasons, as I understood, which caused the Railway Committee to reject the application of the company; and I submit that if this House has any regard for what is fair and right to the country at large, or to the people who are developing the country, they will support the action of the Railway Committee, and refuse to refer the Bill back.
Mr. Speaker, it strikes me as somewhat singular that the hon. gentleman who has just taken his seat should take the position he does with reference to this Bill. It struck me, from the remarks made by the hon. member for South Essex (Mr. Cowan), that the request of this company for an extension of time for the completion of the road for two years from the 1st of next July, was a moderate and reasonable request. It seems from what my hon. friend says that a company has been in existence for the last fourteen years which has possessed the charter for the construction of the railway under consideration; but I am told that that company has ceased to exist, that there has been a reorganization of the company within the last year, and that one of the reasons why the company did not proceed with the construction of this railway was the impossibility of getting iron, which has been a difficulty in the way of many railway companies in America making extensions or improvements. Now, if this reorganized company, which I am told was not represented when the Bill was considered by the Railway Committee, has not for this reason received fair consideration by the committee, if the facts which it is necessary for the committee to have in their possession in order to arrive at a fair decision, have not been placed before them, I see no reason why the Bill should not be referred back. On the contrary, I think the refusal of this House to refer it back would be a high-handed act, an unjust and tyrannical act.
I am told that the parties upon which the company relied to place their case before the committee were absent. This company, I am told, has already proceeded to grade a portion of this road, and has, in fact, graded some seven or eight miles, and placed $50,000 in the hands of the Minister of Bfinance.
Very well, that is a question of veracity between the representatives of the company and my hon. friend. That is a matter for the committee to inquire into if the Bill is referred back, and that is an additional reason for referring it back.
Probably they were, but I am dealing with what I believe to be certain facts in relation to this matter. My hon. friend says that his friends in Calgary want the ground clear, that they want this company obliterated. Very naturally. He is interested probably in some other company that wants to get hold of the charter and the land grant. Supposing he succeeds, suppose this House should refuse to refer this Bill back to the Railway Committee
I was not imputing motives. I say that the hon. gentleman's friends are very anxious to have the deck clear and this company obliterated, and I am drawing an inference from that statement. Who is anxious for this, and what is the reason ? Can a company be formed in place of the present one which can finish the road any sooner ? Why, the new company would have to get a charter and could npt take the first step until another session. The present company, however, asks for two years from next July in which to build the road, and it is not in the bounds of reason to suppose that any other company can excel this one in celerity in giving to v this locality the railway accommodation it requires. Under the circumstances, the public interest cannot suffer by giving the extension asked. Any company that may succeed this one is prevented by physical means from completing the road any sooner than the time in which the present company pledges itself to complete it. The present company has given evidence of good faith by having performed certain work, by having put up money, and by asking for a limited period in which to complete the enterprise, and the fact that it could not get
iron last year, and consequently could not proceed with the work, points to the conclusion that justice will not be done if this Bill be not referred back to the committee.
I am not going to take up any time in discussing' the merits of the case, but as the circumstances under which the committee reported are somewhat peculiar, it is only fair that the hon. members should know them before voting. I have taken the ground in the House before now, and intend always to take the same ground, that unless there" are good substantial reasons, unless there are practically some new matters brought before us, it is the duty of the House to stand by the reports of its committees, especially a committee consisting of so large a representation as does the Railway Committee, over which I have the honour to preside. When the merits of the Bill were presented, there was a good representation of the Railway Committee present -seventy-one members. When the vote on the preamble was put, the preamble was carried by a vote 30 to 35. But there were two members of the committee who, to my knowledge, had been present during the greater part, if not during the whole of the discussion on the merits of the Bill, and who happened to leave the room just previous to the question being put. They returned as the vote was being taken, and their votes, in the first instance, were recorded, so that the vote stood 36 for the preamble to 35 against. The point of order was then raised, I think by my hon. friend from Alberta (Mr. Oliver), that two members of the committee, who had voted, were not present when the motion was put by the Chair. I upheld the point of order, rightly or wrongly, and ordered the names of the two gentlemen to be struck from the record. The consequence was that the preamble was rejected by a majority of one, namely, 35 against, and 34 for, and the Bill was not reported. Under the circumstances, as there was an actual majority in the committee in favour of the preamble and as it was only on a technicality that the Bill was not reported, I think that another opportunity should be given the promoters to present their case before the Railway Committee.