April 1, 1903

CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I regret that the hearing of the hon. Postmaster General is so defective.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

I regret that my hon. friend's understanding is so defective.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

That may be, but my hearing is better than the Postmaster General's evidently.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

I prefer understanding.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I think it is a somewhat serious matter, that an announcement of this kind should have been made by the Minister of Marine and Fisheries in Montreal, and repeated here to-night, as it has been in the presence of this House, while no announcement in the usual form has been made to parliament by the government. I would ask the Minister of Finance, in view of what the Minister of Marine and Fisheries has stated, whether or not the government is able to announce to the House any policy with regard to assistance to a transcontinental line. I think the House is entitled to that after the statement which has appeared in the public press, and after that statement has been corroborated as it has been to-night in the presence of the House by the Minister of Marine and Fisheries.

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

I am unable to agree with my hon. friend that this is the precise moment for announcing policies on great questions, which are not at the moment before the House. The question is one of great importance, and when the government have prepared a policy on

that question, they will not fail to communicate it to the House in the proper way.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

The fact that it is important is a very good reason why it should not he announced to the country in this indirect manner.

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

My hon. friend the Minister of Marine and Fisheries says it was not announced.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

We will not quarrel about the words. I certainly understood them as stated by the Minister of Marine and Fisheries, that he announced to this great gathering in Montreal that a transcontinental line now proposed to be built would receive assistance of the same character as that which had been extended to similar enterprises in the past. You cannot get anything more nor less out of the announcement than that.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

When my hon. friend reads to-morrow's ' Hansard,' I think he will find-and I know he desires to be fair-that the Minister of Marine and Fisheries did not use the word he says he did. He has twice said that the Minister of Marine and Fisheries alleged that the government would extend assistance. I say that the Minister of Marine and Fisheries did not, in my hearing use the word assistance.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I will not quarrel with my hon. friend the Postmaster General about the exact word-whether it is aid or assistance or some synonymous word; but the impression which the hon. gentleman gave to my mind-and I am sure he gave the same impression to every man in this House-was that he had announced at this meeting in Montreal that the government had determined on some measure of assistance to a transcontinental line. I do not preteud to be able to quote the exact language he used, but I am perfectly sure of the exact impression he conveyed to my mind and to the mind of every hon. gentleman in this House who heard him.

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Tile MINISTER. OF PUBLIC WORKS (Hon. James Sutherland).

As the hon. gentleman challenges every member of this House, I may say that I was listening most attentively to the remarks of the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries, and they made no such impression on my mind, nor do I think they did on the minds of the majority of this House.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

What did the hon. Minister of Public Works understand the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries to say ?

The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS I understood him to say that he thought a transcontinental line was desirable and that it was receiving the consideration of

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Hon. Mr. FIELDING.

the government. That was all I understood him to say. I do not believe he used the word assistance or aid. However, it is a matter of impression. I am not particular as to the words, but, as the hon. leader of the opposition has challenged the House, I beg to state most candidly that the words made no such impression on my mind.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES (Hon. J. Raymond Prefon-taine).

(Translation.) I am going to speak French, and in that way, I may possibly succeed in making my statement clearer and more explicit.

Let me read from ' La Patrie ' of March 31, a report of the statement I made at the meeting referred to. Here are the very words I used upon that occasion, according to that report, and I am going to read them to the House in order to avoid any further misunderstanding on the matter, because, after all, it is only a tempest in a tea-pot. Referring to the new transcontinental line, I spoke as follows

A new transcontinental line running from the Pacific to the Atlantic, for the forwarding of the grain and other products of the west through all-Canadian channels, and by the shortest way, under Canadian control. Under such circumstances, the duty of the government is plain. They should aid in the carrying out of that undertaking to the best of their ability, with prudence and caution.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

(Translation.) Is that a correct report ?

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

(Translation.) Pretty nearly so.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

(Translation.) That is just what we wished to ascertain.

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

(Translation.) So much the

better, then, if the hon. gentlemen opposite are satisfied with my explanation. These

8<51

are the very words I used on that occasion and I do not see there was much wrong in speaking as I did. As to the question of establishing a Commission-not a company, as ' Le Journal ' styles it-but a Commission on transportation, let me quote again from ' La Patrie.'

The name of Sir William Van Horne has keen spoken of

Now, Mr. Chairman, allow me to call your attention to the words * spoken of.' As you see, I am not responsible for that piece of news, and I was merely repeating a current rumour in the country.

-the name of Sir William Van Horne has been mentioned as president of that commission, together with the names of Mr. John Bertram, of Toronto, and Mr. H. Kennedy, of Quebec, as assistants, and those of Mr. J. X. Perratilt, of Montreal, and Ball, of Winnipeg, as secretaries.

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April 1, 1903