The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS (Hon. James Sutherland).
Mr. Speaker, it has been represented that some points that have been raised in connection with this Bill were not fully considered by the Committee on Railways, Canals and Telegraph Lines, and with the permission of the House, if it is agreeable to all parties, I beg to move :
That the order be discharged and that the Bill be referred back to the Committee on Railways, Canals and Telegraph Lines for further consideration.
I may say, for the information of the House, that there was considerable difference of opinion as to the merits of this measure. The right hon. leader of the government (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) and some of his colleagues received a deputation representing both parties, and the conclusion was reached that the counsel having charge of this measure should present to the government the case in support of the measure and that flve days should be given to those who oppose it to make answer to the case presented on behalf of the promoters. Since that meeting was held, in so far as I am aware, those representing the municipalities opposed to the Bill in its present form have not been heard from, and I want to know if the action that is being taken meets with their concurrence ?
The PRIME MINISTER (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier).
As the hon. gentleman (Mr. Clarke) is aware, the invariable practice on both sides of the House, I think, is to support the report of a standing committee of the House when they have examined a matter that is referred to them by the House. Naturally, we come to the conclusion that they have given the best consideration to the question that is possible to give to it, and we are prepared to give to their report all due consideration. That rule of the House has been invariably observed, except where it has been shown that there has been misrepresentation, or that an important feature of the measure has not been examined. This Bill has been reported by the Railway Committee, but since the Bill has been so reported it has been represented to us that this was a matter which invaded provincial rights. Strong representations, as my hon. friend knows, have 245}
been made to us in that respect. It is difficult to come to a conclusion and to form a judgment upon the point so raised except by a thorough examination and discussion of the Bill itself and the effect of it. We have, therefore, without prejudging the question at all, thought it preferable to have the matter referred back to the Committee on Railways, so as to give an opportunity to all parties to have the matter thoroughly threshed out, and that is the reason we have come to the conclusion that it is better that this motion should be made and the matter again brought to the attention of the Railway Committee. I have received a long memorandum from the city of Toronto upon this subject.
Before the matter is taken up by the Railway Committee, will those who are opposing the Bill in its present shape be communicated with and be given an opportunity of being present so that they may be heard ?
Mr. Chairman, I would suggest to the committee the advisability of disposing first of the clauses of the Bill that stood for consideration, and then taking up the proposed amendments of which notice has been given by hon. members.
I intend to take the opportunity of this motion which is now before the House to discuss the general proposition of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, both in the way of this Bill and in the way of the proposition made by the government the other day. I am quite within my rights, I think, in discussing it [DOT] upon this question, and I propose to avail myself of the opportunity.