August 26, 1903

CON

Adam Carr Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BELL.

I am criticising this scheme. I say this, that if the hon. gentleman who has just spoken, wants the road to go to Moncton, it is not because he is very anxious to see grain shipped by Halifax or St. John, but because he wants to have some

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CON

Adam Carr Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BELL.

kind of an excuse to offer his people for supporting such an absurd proposition.

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LIB

Alexander Johnston

Liberal

Mr. JOHNSTON (Cape Breton).

Then the hon. gentleman is opposed to it ?

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CON

Adam Carr Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BELL.

The hon. gentleman is prepared to stand by the declaration made by his leader. This being the character of the scheme before the House, let us understand the reasons advanced by the First Minister for introducing it. What are these reasons ?

I suppose we should take them in chronological order, and begin with that vein of piety which broke out in the hon. gentleman, and his regard for the passage of time ? He could not wait; there was great urgency. As an hon. gentleman said in this House, there was a crisis somewhere. And I think the suggestion was that somebody had it in his pocket. But apart from that urgency which has such an influence on the right hon; gentleman, there was the danger of the abrogation of the bonding privilege. Well, the right hon. gentleman has been Premier of Canada for seven years, and this urgency never seemed to strike him until now. Was he afraid of the abrogation of the bonding privilege at any other time ? Does he consider that this tide in our affairs never began to flow until the year of grace 1903 ? Have the susceptibilities of the right hon. gentleman received a sudden awakening in 1903 ? Or can it be possible than an election believed to be imminent has anything to do with his sudden zeal ? Well, let me first deal with the question of the bonding privilege, you can fairly estimate the chances of anything happening by experience. You can calculate the chances by what has occurred. What chance is there that the bonding privilege may be interrupted. Has it ever been interrupted ? How long has it been in force ?

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Adam Carr Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BELL.

Might 1 ask the First Minister how long the bonding privilege has been in force between the two countries, and when it was put in force ? It has been in force, Sir, between the United States and Canada at least forty-seven years, and has never been interrupted. It has possibly been in force fifty years without interruption. It has been threatened, as my sagacious friend from Victoria says, but he ought to know, as a good Scotchman, that a threatened man lives long. When was it threatened ?

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Adam Carr Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BELL.

I am much obliged to my hon. friend for the valuable information. It was threatened by the President of the United States at a moment when an election was imminent. It was rather a remarkable coincidence that just as President Cleveland used the bonding privilege on his

side of the line for electioneering purposes, so the Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier uses it on this side for like purposes. And neither of them meant a word he said, I am afraid in this connection. We have very good reason to believe that President Cleveland was not very much in earnest. He played his capers quite frequently when an election came on, and I am quite sure in saying that the right hon. the First Minister never lost any sleep on account of his fear that the bonding privilege might be interrupted, and is not likely to lose any. It has been in force fifty years and never been interrupted, but it has been threatened and idly threatened. We have no need to be afraid. The bonding privilege is quite as valuable to the people of the United States as to the people of Canada. It rests upon our treaty rights with the people of the United States. The right hon. gentleman shakes his head. It is true that the treaty of Washington has been repealed, but there is a much older arrangement between Great Britain and the United States, made in 1830, under which the people of the United States were admitted into the West Indian ports on condition that Canadians should be admitted on equal terms into American ports. [DOT]There is, therefore, no reason why we should doubt that the bonding privilege is unassailable. If the Americans were to take so unfriendly a course as to refuse us admission into their ports, ipso facto, their ships would be refused admission into the West Indies. And now that the different portions of the empire are drawing a little closer together they might even find that the mother country is not disposed to give up her coasting trade to the Yankee ships if the United States should attempt to treat the people of Canada in an unfriendly way. But apart from that there remains the fact that the bonding privilege is more valuable, if possible, to, the people of the United State's than it is to the people of Canada. The returns show that in the course of the last year the total amount of Canadian trade that passed through the United States was 98,000 tons, 78,000 tons of foreign merchandise coming or going through the United States between Canada and foreign countries and 20,000 tons of domestic freight that passed from one part of Canada to the other. Why there is crossing over the Canada Southern Railway every year between one part of the United States and another, 4,000,000 tons of freight, a large portion of which unquestionably belongs to the United States. One-tenth of the trade carried on railways in Canada is carried under this bonding privilege, and the United States would certainly make a very great mistake in withdrawing the bonding privilege, and they have not the remotest intention of doing so. The question is raised occasionally in the United states by gentlemen of President Cleveland's stripe, and what do you see? At

once every powerful, intelligent and leading community in New England raises its voice against any such absurd proposition. I venture to say that nothing in the comic papers this year has amused the people of the New England states one-half as much as the Premier's statement as to the bonding privilege being in danger.

Through the Welland canal every year the people of the United States send 200,000 or 300,000 tons of freight each way. They enjoy all the privileges of our waterways. The approach to the great city of Detroit is partly in Canadian waters and might be'closed if the people of this country found it necessary to answer unfriendly act with unfriendly act. There is no more danger of the bonding privilege being interrupted than there is of the comet striking the earth and changing the length of the day, and the right hon. the Premier knows it as well as any person in this country. In every case in which an attempt has been made by the United States to act towards us in an unfriendly manner it has failed. An attempt was made to smuggle into a tariff Bill a discrimination against Canadian exports : it was set aside and disallowed by a competent authority in the United States. Our rights rests upon legislation in the United States and that cannot be easily interfered with. If it should be interfered with, why would it hurt us to have to move over our railways 98,000 tons of freight that we do not move to-day.

But in addition to all that we can get in from the sea without depending on bonding privilege. We have the Intercolonial which is capable of handling that 98,000 tons ten times over in the course of a year. In addition to that we have a second road from St. John to Rivl6re du Loup, tapping the Intercolonial at that point. The construction of 120 miles of railway by the Canadian Pacific Railway from Quebec to Edmund-'ston would give two roads utterly independent of one another from the sea coast through the maritime provinces into Canada. But to avoid this awful danger the right hon. gentleman is going to build 3,000 miles of railway which fortunately, however, will cost only $25,000 a mile. So much in respect to the bonding privilege.

Then there is another very important matter engaging the attention of the Premier and it was in connection tvith this that he found it impossible to wait. That is the diversion of the trade of Canada through the United States. How am I expected to know the right hon. gentleman's authority for the opinion that we are losing trade to the United States ? If he looks at the daily papers, he will find that even more United States grain than Canadian grain came into Midland and Georgian Bay ports this year, and that 20 per cent of the grain that went out of tlie United States by water came to Canada. AVe are if anything taking away tile

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CON

Adam Carr Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BELL.

trade of the United States. There is one physical factor in the geography of North America that guarantees that we will continue to take it away if we do not abandon our chances, and that is the fact that, as the hon. member for St. Mary's (Hon. Mr. Tarte) said last night if we make Lake Superior the key to our transportation system we are undoubtedly going to take the trade of the United States. AVe can draw to Lake Superior ports with greater advantage than it can be drawn anywhere else grain, from a distance of 600 miles within the United States and turn it into the St. Lawrence route.

AVe have in the St. Lawrence river the power not only of holding our own but of taking to the ports of Canada trade from every port and from every tract of country tributary to every port in that great lake system with that magnificent water-way there, the right hon. gentleman would go hundreds of miles north into an unknown country to endeavour to keep the trade of Canada from parsing into the United States, overlooking the advantage of the situation. Overlooking the fact that the key of the situation is to be found in these waterways, the bon. gentleman would build this railway through northern wilds where it will have no more effect upon the carriage of grain between the North-west and Europe than if it were built in a straight line towards the North Pole. The line could not compete with the Canadian water-ways. It will never have an opportunity to compete. There may be a small quantity of wheat coming out in the winter brought out by the Canadian Pacific Railway and other lines to be ground at Canadian mills or by the Canadian Pacific Railway to furnish a ballast for their ships, but the great bulk of Canadian trade will go down through the lakes and the St. Lawrence and for a time a certain part of it may take the lake and rail route via the Georgian Bay ports and thence across Ontario to Montreal or Quebec.

A good deal of the discussion during this debate has turned upon the question of railway freight rates versus water freight rates. Most ingenious arguments have been built up by hon. gentlemen opposite to prove that the railway rates can be cheaper than water rates, at least, I presume that is what they are trying to do. The government of the day need not go very far afield, they need not go to any interstate commission for their authority, they may go to their own blue-book in -which they will find on this point evidence so clearly and succinctly put by their own officials that I might say the whole matter is put in a nutshell. In the report of the Department of Railways and Canals we are told that for ten years the average cost of water-borne freight'has been 1'07 mills and for the last five years -95 of one mill. The average freight and I think, in this case, the lowest freight rate between New York and Chicago, (the Lake Shore and

Michigan Southern Road being selected on account of the advantageous alignment and good roadbed which it possesses and the great competition and low rates to which it has to submit) was 3 '20 mills. Let us take the average water rate as 1 mill and the average all rail rate as three mills, nqt 3-20 mills but three mills, and there you have the statement supported by the authority of the government officials that it costs three times as much to carry grain by rail as by water. Our North Shore road, away in the north country, a $28,000 a mile road, I do not think can equal the rates of the Lake Shore and the Michigan Southern. The average rate from Chicago to New York for lake and canals is 6-90 against 12-97 as the average by all-rail. This is a matter that seems to have been settled years ago; still, in order to try and make up some kind of an argument to support this preposterous scheme of building a road to haul wheat from Manitoba to Quebec and St. John by rail, it is necessary to disprove the most obvious facts of economic knowledge; and things that have been admitted for years are now denied, and an effort is made over and over again, and sometimes not in the fairest fashion, to disprove them. For instance, what was the Minister of the Interior driven to do ? He quoted to this House a rate of freight from Kansas city to Chicago of five cents per 100 pounds, and he figured that out to be three cents a bushel. Now, the very page of the Inter-state Commerce Commission report from which the hou gentleman was quoting, stated, not what he told the House, but something that I might almost say was the very opposite. Let me read what it says :

The railway lines from this city, leading to the eastern Atlantic seaboard are the oldest and most powerful. But the distance to the gulf ports is much less, and the railways serving these ports, insist that a considerable portion of this grain should be exported by that route.

The conditon has given rise to the most active competition between rail lines leading in various directions from Kansas city and the result has been a very low rate upon export

grain from that section During the

past summer the open traffic from Kansas city to Chicago has been twelve cents per 100 pounds ; but the .actual rate at which wheat has moved has been as low as live cents. The published rate from Kansas city to Lewiston has been fifteen cents for export while the domestic rate for the same service has been thirty-seven cents.

Now, the Minister of the Interior was so desperately driven to try to. make an argument for his case that he suppresses all these facts, which he had under his eye and hand, and he culls out of that extract the one statement that wheat has been carried as low as five cents a bushel, an exceptional rate, and he comes to parliament and submits that, as the rate on wheat between Kansas city and Chicago, and argues therefrom that wheat can be carried by

this precious new road from Winnipeg to Quebec.

There is another very ingenious argument which the right lion, gentleman has been using with a great deal of force, namely, that one reason why he wants to build this railroad, one reason why time won't wait, is to open up a tremendous tract of country for colonization purposes. That is to a certain extent a very unselfish idea on the part of the right hou. gentleman, because no country that is unsettled has votes. But after all, it was rather a persuasive argument to be adduced by a member of the government, who said that Quebec and Ontario ought to support this scheme because the government was actually going to build colonization roads for .them for nothing, an argument that looks very much like an act of wholesale bribery, and which might have some effect in those provinces. In this country we have already a tremendous area of lands open for settlement, lands supplied by many railroads, but which are unable to hold the people that are upon them. The fact is well known in Quebec and in the maritime provinces, and indeed in some parts of Ontario, that the temptation to go to the west, to that garden country where a man can for a comparatively small sum procure a farm already fit for the plough, where the harvest conditions are almost perfect, where the farmer's lot is cast under the most happy circumstances-these conditions, I say, render it almost impossible to keep the people of the older provinces on their farms. Under these circumstances, .with provinces that are amply supplied with railroads, with lands upon which it is almost impossible to keep the people to-day, to undertake to transport people hundreds of miles into a new country, no matter how good it may prove to be, where there is neither siettlemejnts, nor civilization, nor the conveniences of life, nor the comforts of home, is certainly not a commercial proposition.

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CON

Adam Carr Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BELL.

We are told they won't go. It has been the experience of every country in the world that in settling public lands the best lands are taken first. It is a fundamental idea in economics that so long as there is good land open to a settler he will not go on to inferior land. What reason is there to believe that you are going to stop and direct elsewhere that tide of immigration that is now landing in Halifax and Montreal and pouring past the eastern provinces and going thousands of miles into the west, making for the goal of their ambition, the point they had in view before they left home, those magnificent wheat fields of western Canada 7 What reason has the government to suppose that by building this road they are going to stop these people from going into the North-west, and are going to induce them to settle in this abso-

lutely unknown country, a country that we are told is wooded, but to clear wliicb Involves a life of labour, hardship and self denial, a life, however, which the pioneers of eastern Canada did not shrink from undertaking 7 Why should the right hon. gentleman expect any great results from his colonization scheme 7

We are told-and it is very singular how hard put some hon. gentlemen are for illustrations-we are told in some of these reports of that northern country that it is very much like the county of liimousld. That expression occurred in one or two of the reports I heard read in this House. What has been the experience of the county of Rimouski 7 The county of ltimouski has a railroad, the .county of Rimouski has churches and schools. 1 It is a county in which there is no lack of room. It has 3,574,4G9 acres of land, which would compare not unfavourably with the magnificent tract about which the Postmaster General waxed eloquent. It is pretty large, 5,585 square miles. The population of that county, in 1871, was five to the square mile, or 27,000 in 1881,' six to the square mile, 33,000; in 1891, six to the square mile again, 33,430; in 1901, with the assistance of an admirably taken and economical census, the population rose to 7-02 per mile, or 40,000 people. If the county of Rimouski be, as we are told, a fair sample of this country that is proposed to be opened in the north, I would like to know what rational man would leave the county of Rimouski, where there are certainly all the evidences of a railroad, or any other county that is equally fit, and many of them are better off-what rational man would leave that county to go into this northern wilderness 7 As a colonization scheme, it strikes me that this effort of the Premier may be fitly called a howling success because it is to be carried out in a howling wilderness.

There is no need so far as room is concerned to open up new lands. I take the county of Rimouski as an example of how the people are treading upon one another. It has only 7'2 people to the square mile, which evidently indicates a thronging population. Where is the crowd of people 7 If it is necessary to make room somewhere, to my mind it would be a very futile undertaking on the part of the government to make room in any of the older parts of Canada so long as the government are in a position to open either for the people of this country or for immigrants from the older countries, such lands as are to be found in the North-west Territories. There are difficulties connected with the building of this road through this country which would seem to be almost inconsistent with its construction for .$28,000 per mile. It taps the water at Quebec, at one end, and you can take in supplies from Winnipeg at the other, but how can supplies be taken into those portions of the road that lie from 150 to 200

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Adam Carr Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BELL.

miles away from anywhere ? One of the great difficulties in constructing the Canadian Pacific Railway, notwithstanding the fact that it ran comparatively close to the lake shore, and one which affected the cost of the road was the difficulty of getting supplies in to the road. The hon. member for North Renfrew (Mr. Mackie) informed us here the. other night that the very lucrative business of bringing out pine timber could not be carried on very far up the Ottawa, because it costs too much to bring out the wood on account of the cost of getting supplies in. There is no doubt that the cost of getting supplies in is going to form a considerable part of the cost of this proposed road which the right hon. gentleman says can be built for $2S,000 a mile. It is a costly undertaking and it will likely eat into the $28,000. The right hon. gentleman submits this scheme to parliament as a colonization scheme, but he at the same time submits it as a great through-traffic road for transporting the grain of the west to the market at the lowest price. Not one foot of the road is located, as far as we know, and a large portion of the evidence laid before the House was the evidence afforded by the Trans-Canada railway promoters, not at all the same road, not at all going where this road goes, a road passing fifty miles from James bay and an average distance of 100 miles from the line along which it is proposed by the government to carry this road south of Lake Abitibi and north of Lake Nepigon. The testimony given by the Trans-Canada Railway promoters does not apply to this country. The project is an entirely different one, and as was very properly observed by the hon. leader of the opposition, if this work is carried out, it may be found that it will be perfectly impossible to reconcile the features of a colonization road with the purposes of a road constructed for through-traffic. I hope that we will be able to undertake the construction of that road. There are features of it which are of the highest importance to the people of Canada. It may be constructed by a line from Quebec to Port Simpson which would constitute the shortest transcontinental railway in North America. If we can believe the engineers' estimates we may be able to secure a comparatively level road, and if it could be carried out in connection with a fast Atlantic service to the maritime ports, with a class of steamers equal to any on the Atlantic, we might hope to get a great volume of passenger travel between the east and Europe, passing over this line. - This is a road which might at some day give to Canada a magnificent advertisement, it might be the means of turning a large part of the traffic between the east and Europe across our country and it might have some good effect by giving us greater depth of territory, a greater development of mining wealth, a development of agricultural wealth, and therefore, it is a

work to which I believe the people of Canada should turn their attention. But, I will say that they should turn their attention to it just on the basis which the hon. leader of the opposition has suggested, not by plunging into this undertaking at once, not by saying there shall be such a road going from Quebec to Port Simpson, we know not where and we know not how, but by devoting a sufficiently large portion of the wealth and the resources of Canada to making the people so thoroughly acquainted with that country that they will know where that road ought to be built, and as soon as it can be shown that it is a feasible undertaking, as soon as we can realize that by the construction of the road we will gain these desirable ends, then, I say, this is a proper undertaking for the people to enter upon, and I am glad that I am in this respect as in respect to other matters, in a position to support the proposition of the hon. leader of the opposition.

Now, in conclusion, we reviewed the character of the road to be built, we have re-viewed_ the grounds there are for believing or for not believing the figures which have been given by the government as to its cost, we have dealt with the bonding privilege, we have realized the strength and value of that bogey, we have dealt with the matter of colonization, we have dealt with the matter of freight rates, and from every point of view I say there is no reason, at all events, which has been put before parliament, why parliament should proceed with this work as it has been suggested. There may be other and better reasons. We have been told by one hon. gentleman on the other side of the House that he was in favour of the railway, but not for the reasons which have been stated by the right hon. gentleman. There is one very peculiar suspicious and unsatisfactory feature in connection with this whole matter, and that is the mystery in connection witli it. Why did the right hon. gentleman not submit this scheme at an early stage in the session ? We are told that they had a whole year to prepare it. The hon. Postmaster General has informed us that the government have dealt with this matter for a year, that they have considered it for a year, and after having considered it for a year they kept parliament sitting here since the 12th of March for some four months, and then they submit their scheme without one vestige of information, without an estimate, without a scrap of a plan, except the few feet of tracing paper which is affixed to the wall of the Railway Committee room, and which represents a railway which is absolutely too ridiculous to discuss, a road with a continuous grade of no less than seventy feet to the mile and bearing upon it the inscription of an honest engineer to the effect that he did not hold himself responsible for the imaginary line there traced. The right hon. gentleman proposed to the people of Canada

in the early part of the session, at a time when he must have had this matter under consideration, if the hon. Postmaster General is not misrepresenting matters, that he would submit it to a commission that would deal with all the different details of water routes andi rail-routes, improvements to harbours, improvements to waterways, improvements to ports, with every feature of the scheme ; yet, the government of Canada, after making a promise to investigate all these matters, have absolutely failed in every jot and tittle of that promise. Criticism is addressed to the scheme of the hon. leader of the opposition because it is manifold, because it deals with all these subjects and because in that respect it carries out in a much greater degree the original programme of the government than does the scheme which the government has proposed. The plan 6f the hon. leader of the opposition follows closely the details of the submission which was to be made to the commissioners by the decision of the Governor in Council. In that respect it shows very much more regard for what was outlined as the policy of the government than does the programme submitted by the right hon. gentleman. But the right hon. gentleman is disposed to be facetious in dealing with the opposition. He knows very well that parliament has been kept sitting for at least a month past its accustomed time for adjourning, and when he brings down at this late hour of the session a programme so important as this, he is inclined to laugh at us, and when we ask for information he says there are mountains of information in the departments and in the library. And then, in order that the right hon. gentleman might stamp upon the pages of ' Hansard ' the contemptuous manner in which he was dealing with the parliament of Canada, and with the people of Canada, he laid upon the Table of the House these mountains of information.

Fleming's Canadian Pacific Railway report 1873 ; Fleming's Canadian Pacific Railway report, 1874 : Fleming's Canadian Pacific Railway report, 1877 ; Fleming's Canadian Pacific Railway report, 1878-9 ; Fleming's Canadian Pacific Railway report, 1880 ; Marcus Smith, Canadian Pacific Railway survey, 1878 ; Canadian Pacific Railway maps, 1874; report of Pine River survey by Joseph Hunter, 1878 ; report proposed short line between Montreal and maritime provinces, 1885.

And that report was as to a line across tlie state of Maine inconsistent with his allCanadian route.

Report of survey for most practical route between Montreal and Halifax or St. John, 1885 ; report Commissioner of Public Work!!. Quebec, 1871 ; report Commissioner of Crow-n Lands, Quebec, 1885 ; explorations at Lake S';. John and James Bay, O'Sullivan, 1901.

That is the last but not the least; it is only two years old-all the rest are old enough to vote. This government has come to

the country absolutely without Information on this subject, and the proof of that is in these documents which the Premier has submitted to parliament as those upon which he bases his proposition. The result of the investigation which I have been'able to conduct for a short time to-night, goes to show that he did not take the trouble to even read these reports, for his proposal is absolutely inconsistent and absurd in the face of the knowledge that is to be found in these reports. That is a nice way to deal with such a condition of things in this country. There must be some very urgent reason why the people of Canada are asked [DOT]to decide upon such a question absolutely Without information. It is not an unfair challenge that is being made to the government, to submit this matter to the people. It is perfectly evident that the government have not taken the trouble to make themselves acquainted with the facts necessary to form a solid judgment on the subject. The Postmaster General throws back the suggestion that the government should go to the country, and in that the hon.i gentleman showed how little comprehension he has of the position in which the government is. The proposition made here by our respected leader is one that must be submitted to the people before we can have an opportunity of putting it into effect. We are not in the position the government is in, of being able to make a hard and fast bargain, with even such a company as the Grand Trunk Railway, and put it through parliament with the power of a majority, and then go to the country and say : there is the contract, and you have to accept it or pay such damages to the company as they can exact in the courts. We on this side have to take the risk of our proposition, and we are ready to do it, because we know that that proposition will commend itself to the people of the country.

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Adam Carr Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BELL.

We would decide when we come back from the country in power. There is no trouble about us getting back.

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?

The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

But they did not.

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Adam Carr Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BELL.

The hon. gentleman has not spent Ms money yet ; he is only talking about it. The people of Great Britain cannot say their securities did not drop. The Finance Minister of Canada proposes to increase the debt of Canada by at least 50 per cent in the course of the next ten years, and would it be surprising if with such an increase our securities dropped 18 per cent ? And if they dropped from 89 to 71, what would they pay ? They would pay 3i exactly.

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August 26, 1903