Mr. A. W. PUTTEE (Winnipeg).
I wish to bring to the attention of the House and of the government a matter which I think is of some urgency. It is in connection with the immense movement now taking place, of settlers from across the ocean and across this continent to our North-west. It is a matter of gratification to us all, and more especially to those of us who come from the North-w'est, that the settlers now coming in there by thousands are practically all British. It seems that circumstances have brought about a change which even our ow'n officials could not bring about. On Saturday last, there were no less than four ships discharging immigrants at the port of Halifax, and, during the next few hours eight special trains started across this continent to the North-west. They passed through and by Ottawa Monday last. I took occasion to devote the greater part of that day to seeing and questioning these immigrants and ascertaining what accommodation was being provided for their transport across this country. The conditions which they were subjected' to were simply scandalous. Not only did I see this myself, but I may tell the Acting Minister of the Interior (Hon. Sir William Mulock), agents of whose departments are on the trains, that from communication with those agents, I believe they are aware of the facts, and are prepared to report that the treatment and the accommodation provided are simply not decent. On one train especially, that was here Monday, a train composed of eleven cars, there was not more than one car that was fit to travel in for twenty-four hours continuously. The other cars were borrowed from the Grand Trunk and the Intercolonial. The worst, unfortunately, were government cars, borrowed from the Intercolonial Railway. I am not seeking to criticise or find fault with the transportation companies. This is a public matter, altogether public. These cars were simply short trip day coaches, coaches with fixed, narrow seats, with no berth below and no berths at the top, without even so much as parcel racks. Passengers here were complaining very much. They told me that the aisles even had to be used the previous
nights for sleeping, the seats not being movable at all. There was only one car on one of these trains where water was obtainable. I was so informed, and I believe it, for, reaching here where water was obtainable, the passengers proceeded to have a good wash. And the lavatory conveniences were used indiscriminately by male and female. This is not common decency. These people are a very superior class, compared with what our immigration has been at times. They are people who have come from good homes. They are not all young men ; there are families and a large proportion of women among them. And X say it is a reflection on our country and on our methods that they should be carried across the country in this style. When they left Halifax they had before them four, five or six days' travel. When they reached here they had been on the trains nearly two days, and they had nearly four days still ahead of them. ,
Now some remedy should be applied, some way should be found by which the immigrants that are coming to this country may be properly transported. Yesterday 2,000 people sailed from Liverpool, and the number is likely to be increased. The railway company may say that they have not rolling stock sufficient to convey them. No matter what the explanation is, the thing must be remedied. Although the company are transporting them across this country, the company is not responsible for their coming here, they are induced to come here by the representatives of this government. They were told that travelling in this country is far more easy, far more safe and comfortable, and far more luxurious than in their own country, and on this information they do not provide as they otherwise would for their journey. It is not until they get here that they find that 'this state of affairs exists. Now I am not prepared to take any reason as being final that provides for a continuance of this state of affairs. It is not sufficient to say that they are settlers, that they are being transported across this continent at a very low rate Indeed. That may be, but at the same time it does not meet the case. The Immigration Department have officers on those trains who go along with the immigrants, with the idea, I presume, of obviating any difficulties they may meet with. I can understand that possibly the company could not be expected to have sufficient rolling stock on hand, and the probability is that they will not have next week, nor during the whole of the season. Now there is a tremendous immigration coming in this year. All the steamships sailing from Liverpool are practically booked up now away into the season, and if this trouble continues it means sending back to the old country the very worst reports. It means unfavourable criticism, it means dissatisfaction, it means demoralization, and is one of the worst things that could happen