My attitude, when I stated that I was instructed by the city council of Calgary to oppose the Bill, was not changed by the course I took when I suggested that the committee be allowed a year. I said distinctly to the committee that I was taking long chances as between myself and Mr. INGRAM.
the people of Calgary, ana I held out no prospect that the attitude I then assumed would be satisfactory to the people of Calgary. If I may go as far as to explain what the Minister of Railways and Canals said in regard to the terms of the grant, I think he intimated that I had been willing to extend the time a year, and was unreasonable because I was not willing to extend it longer. I was willing to extend it a year because that was the period mentioned in the Order in Council granting the land. I was willing to extend the charter to a term equal to the Order in Council granting the land, which was all the people had a right to. To extend the charter further was to bring up the question of extending the land grant, and giving them a leverage at any rate, to get an extension of that land grant. I made the proposition to ascertain for the information of the committee, the bona tides of the company. If the company were not willing to build within the year then they were not a bona fide company.
Is it not a fact that the hon. gentleman moved an amendment to the Bill limiting the time till the 1st of July, 1903 ; and. that subsequently an amendment was moved extending the time to the 1st of October, 1903, and a discussion took place on those two amendments ?
Upon the principles which have been laid down by the right hon. gentleman who leads the House, and from the statement made by the Minister of Railways and Canals this afternoon, it does not seem to me there is the slightest ground for sending this back to the committee. The Minister of Railways and Canals has stated that there was tiie fullest possible discussion of this matter in the committee, therefore, so far as that is concerned there does not exist the slightest reason for sending this matter back to the committee. The right hon. gentleman who leads this House has laid down the principle again and again that when the committee sanctions a Bill this House should sustain the committee, and that the matter should not be reconsidered.
My hon. friend says that the leader of the House qualified his statement that way. Well, let us see what cause is shown. The matter of counting votes in the committee Is, I submit, a matter entirely for the committee itself' to regulate, it is not a matter in which this House is justified in interfering. The vote in the committee, if it is desirable to discuss in this House the manner in which the vote is taken, was taken exactly in the same way as the votes are taken' in this
House. Hon. gentlemen have talked about the unfairness of excluding members of the committee from voting, because they did not happen to be present when the question was put. Exactly the same argument anight be made in this House. Hon. gentlemen here listen day after day to debates, and yet they cannot vote unless they are actually here when the question is put from the Chair. The Railway Committee enforced exactly the same rule that is enforced in this House. I venture to say that if you are going to refer this matter back to the Railway Committee simply because you are of opinion that the chairman of that committee did not do his duty, you are doing something which should not be undertaken bv this House. I think that the rule followed by the chairman of the committee was a fair and proper one and that we have no cause to find fault 'with it. But, if there were cause to find fault with it, that is a matter to be dealt with by the committee itself. The time of the House should not be taken up in discussing for two hours a matter which is really a question of the internal regulation of the Railway Committee, so far as any real question presents itself. For, surely no one will say that the fact that this measure was defeated by a majority of one is a valid reason for sending it back to the committee. It goes without saying that that is no reason at all. The only question is whether the chairman of the committee did his duty. I think he did, and that he properly counted the vote. That being so, I see no reason to refer this measure back to the committee. If it is referred back, it will be quoted in the future as a pi'ecedent for taking up the time of the House day after day with a discussion of matters that properly appertain to the Railway Committee itself and that should be dealt with by that committee alone.
The PRIME MINISTER (Rt. Hon. [DOT] Sir Wilfrid Laurier).
It seems to me that my hon. friend (Mr. Borden, Halifax) in the argument he has just offered has not shown the logical qualities of mind which he usually displays. I think I can show conclusively even to himself that the reasons he has urged why this Bill should not be referred to the committee are not adequate and binding. My hon. friend has stated the rule which-of course, I do not claim to have created it-I have observed ever since I first assumed the position I have the honour to occupy. That rule is invariably to maintain the decision of a committee unless adequate cause is shown for different action. The hon. gentleman says that adequate cause has not been shown in this case. We have'the report of the committee, which is stated to have been carried by a majority of one, rejecting this Bill. When this discussion commenced, I must say_ my mind was very strong in favour of rejecting the motion. But an argument has beeu
brought forward, which, it seems to me, puts upon the question an entirely different complexion. The chairman of the committee, the hon. member for London (Mr. Hyman) has risen in his place, and, speaking not as a member of the House, but as chairman of the committee, has stated that, though he reported the Bill as he was bound to do, in his opinion the vote upon it was a snap vote, and that the committee should 'be seized again of the question and have an opportunity of adjudicating upon it. The chairman's fairness is recognized upon all sides, upon the Conservative as well as upon the Liberal side; and, of course, his opinion must carry great weight. This is the argument to which I would invite the attention of my hon. friend. But I would go further. Suppose that it had happened in the case of this Bill instead of meeting this adverse vote in the Railway Committee it had met it in the Committee of the Whole House, what would have taken place ? The following day, probably, the promoter would have asked the House to reconsider its determination, and the House would have reconsidered and either reaffirmed or negatived it. More than once a Bill defeated in Committee of the Whole has been brought forward by the promoters who has asked the House to' reinstate it upon the Ordei- paper. Shall we be told that a proceeding so simple, so just, so fair, shall not be allowed because this vote took place not on the floor of this House,, but in the Railway Committee 1 This position is so strong that my hon. friend anticipating it, has tried to force himself into another position. He says it is for the committee to rectify the error if an error has been made. But the committee has no power to deal With it. The jurisdiction of the committee has been exhausted, and it cannot agam deal with the question unless the report is sent back to it by this House. I submit that in a deliberative assembly no * more than in a Court of Justice a mere snap vote should not finally settle a matter. Sharp practice should mot prevail. I do not make any imputation against anybody. But, if certain members wlio were anxious to vote upon the question, who had attended the discussion but happened to be called away had been pi-esent when the vote was taken, the report would have been different from what it is. It seems to me that it would be an act of injustice not to allow the promoters of the Bill to have it go before the Committee of Railways and Canals and have its merits threshed out. As to the merits of the Bill, I have nothing to say. That is a matter which does mot come before the House, and will have to be dealt with by the comniittee. If the committee come before us with a report favourable to the Bill, it will be time to discuss the merits of the measure. Up to the present time the question is one of procedure only. It is asked, and I think with good reason that the promoters shall have an opportunity of discussing the merits
before tlie committee. My hon. friend from East Assiniboia (Mr. Douglas) has said that if this carried it will be the first time such a vote has ever been carried in the House. The hon. gentleman is quite right. But I would say also that this is the first time when a .proposal of this kind has been supported by the chairman of the committee whose report was under discussion, and that is to me, sound and good reason why it should carry.
Hon. members can 1 Oh ' as much as they please. I have a right to speak, I have something to say, and 1 propose to say it regardless of what may be said upon the other side. A great deal has been said about what took place in the Railway Committee. Some two hours were spent in discussing the measure and seventy-one men were there and voted upon it. And the exception that was raised, that some members did not hear the question put, notwithstanding what was said here, was raised in the committee. And the decision of the chairman was such as from his position he was compelled to give. Now the point is this, and it has been shown here and the hon. gentleman wlho is the promoter of the Bill has not brought forward anything to the contrary-that this is a new company practically that has charge of this Bill, and that they are coming here, fourteen years after the time a charter was originally granted, to get that enormous amount of land which, since then, has greatly increased in value. And what caused that increase 7 The. settlers who have gone into that country and settled round about that land have made it valuable after these fourteen years, and now a new company, because practically it is a new company, are coming here aud asking for a land grant from this government, notwithstanding the policy and the doctrine which has been laid down and announced up and down this country by hon. gentlemen opposite. The vote you are going to give here to-day, and no doubt we will see that you take a vote, will mean that any man who votes to send this Bill back to the Railway Committee votes for giving that land to this railway company. If you vote to send this Bill back you will repudiate the declaration of your leaders and of all those who sought the votes of the people on the pledge that no more land would be given to railway companies. If the suggestion of the hon. member for Guys-borough (Mr. Fraser) is good, this company may come back fifty years from now and ask for land which is worth from $25 to $50 an acre more, and get a charter from this government. While railways have been a help to that country, they have also been a curse in some respects. Who are the men who held them up to the scorn of the country but hon. gentlemen who are now
sitting on the Treasury benches opposite? The right hon. leader of the government knows well that he and other leaders of the Liberal party, when he sat on this side of the House, condemned the action of the government of that day, notwithstanding the fact that they had some just cause that time, 14, 10 or some 20 years ago, to give the land which had no value, but, when you, by your vote to-day, as you shall vote, send that Bill back to the Railway Committee, and if you do, you will come back to this House
Excuse me, Mr. Speaker, from deviating slightly from the rule. When hon. gentlemen come back to this House and give to this new company this enormous amount of land which the settlers have made valuable to the extent of five, six or ten dollars an acre by occupying the land around it, they will do something which the people of this country will condemn.
Mr. Speaker, in reference to the argument as to the proper course of procedure in the matter now before the House, that is, as to whether or not this 'question should be referred back to the Railway Committee, the right hon. gentleman who leads the House (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) has laid down the proposition that nothing can be considered in this House-I am referring to a past utterance of his-except what appears upon the record as it comes before parliament. In this case, I am sorry to say, he is violating the very good apd sound constitutional practice which he enunciated to parliament and which will be evident from a few words I will read from a past utterance of the right hon. gentleman :
The rule which is invariably followed on the floor of this House is that the House maintains the decisions of committees unless adequate cause be shown to the contrary, and unless cause be shown on the record.
I am referring to exactly the same precedents that have been referred to by the right hon. gentleman and by the hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Borden, Halifax) on the occasion to which I have referred, and which arose in connection with a precisely similar motion to have a report referred back to a committee. The right hon. gentleman laid down the rule and supported it by his vote, that the House could take no cognizance of anything
whatever except it appears on the record that came from the committee. He specifically debarred himself, or any one else, from using such arguments as he has used to-day, when he objected to the statement of any hon. gentleman toeing taken, and characterized it as the ipsi dixit of this hon. gentleman or that hon. gentleman, saying that it was a matter of statements being made pro and con, and which could not be considered at all. He practically shut this House out from the consideration of anything that did not appear on the record. I maintain that if this is the case, the right hon. gentleman is entirely precluded by his own action, by his own sound constitutional statement, which I was very glad to accept upon that occasion as being authoritative, from making such an argument as he has addressed to the House to-day.