Montreal. September 12, 1903.
Now, I think I will be absolved from the charge of making rash statements, of which I have been accused, when I say that in reading this Bill I came to the conclusion that clause 17 could only have one meaning, that it was put there for a purpose, and that purpose was to enable the government to admit, if it wished, all supplies used in the construction of this railway free of duty. It struck me that that would be a very serious blow to the manufacturing interests of Canada, and I contend that my contention has been justified by the opinions I have received. I do not think that my contention required these favourable opinions, because I think that any sensible business man reading that contract would come to the conclusion that that paragraph had been put in designedly for the purpose I have stated, namely, to enable the government, if they wished to do so, to import these materials and supplies free of duty. Further, if this agreement is carried out in its entirety, I believe the Grand Trunk Company can force the government to charge that company interest only upon the cost of construction of the road constructed in as cheap a manner as possible, and still be constructed efficiently. Therefore, it would be incumbent upon the government whether they built it themselves or let it out by contract through commissioners, to provide that wherever the material could he imported for the construction of that railway cheaper than it could be produced iu Canada, they were bound under that contract to import and to admit free of duty the material so used. Now, it seems to me there should be no question of that being allowed for a moment. This government are to construct a railway-we will assume that it will be as beneficial as our friends opposite profess to believe. They are leasing it to a large railway corporation at a rental, at a price on the' cost of construction, lower than has ever been known before. They are giving a great corporation a property costing $13.000,000, as the Prime Minister says it will, or $150,000,000, as most people believe. I say it will cost a great deal more than that before the 50 years are up.