September 21, 1903

THE RECENT SNOWSTORMS IN THE NORTH-WEST.

LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. WALTER SCOTT (West Assiniboia).

Before the Orders of the Day are called, I ask permission to draw the attention of the House to a statement that appeared in the Toronto ' News ' of Saturday last, given on the authority of a government official, with reference to the snowstorm reported to have occurred in certain parts of western Canada about a week ago.

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Mr. R. F.@

Stupart, the director of the Meteorological Department, states that weather Is again fine in the North-west, in fact, it wa*

warmer there lasit night than in Toronto. The damage by snow and frost must have been considerable. A week ago to-day it snowed steadily all day and all night at Regina.

Now, the assertion that it snowed steadily all day and all night at Regina, 1 believe to he entirely unfounded, and I am surprised that a government official should give publicity to such a mistaken assertion. The information which I have received by letter from Regina since the date of the storm, which unfortunately did prevail over a limited area in the western part of Manitoba and the eastern edge of the Territories, is to the effect that the Regina district did not suffer much damage from the storm. This information is corroborated by the reports appearing in the local newspapers. I have here the Regina

' Standard,' of last Thursday

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES (Victoria).

That is not the hon. gentleman's paper, either.

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LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. SCOTT.

No. It states :

It seems that the Regina district was particularly favoured in respect of the great snowstorm that swept western Manitoba and North Dakota oh Saturday last. A little snow fell here late in the afternoon and by ten o'clock Sunday morning it had melted away under the influence of the warm wind. There was, however, quite a downpour of sleety rain, and the mercury was below the 30 mark. It was short, though not sweet, for reaping machines that had to quit at two o'clock on Saturday resumed work again on Monday morning.

The ' Leader ' of Regina states :

The snow-storm did not amount to anything west of Broadview.

The Regina 'West' states that:

Just enough snow fell to whiten the ground.

. . . . No barm of any consequence is reported in this district.

What I rise particularly for is to make a publicprotest against the gross exaggerations which have obtained wide publicity concerning the extent of the damage caused by the storm and to protest particularly against an important official of the government making the kind of statement which I have quoted and which will tend to lend support or strength to the exaggerations which have been made public. Some of these exaggerations are purely ridiculous. I am advised that on Wednesday last the Toronto correspondent of the London ' Morning Post '

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LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

I suppose the hon. gentleman (Mr. Scott) intends to conclude with a motion ?

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LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. SCOTT.

To put myself in order, although I only desire to say a few words, I shall conclude with a motion. The Toronto correspondent of the London ' Morning Post ' cabled that paper to the effect that the previous reports of the storm had been very much underestimated and that the fact was that there would be the poorest yield of wheat in western Canada that had ever been recorded.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. HUGHES (Victoria).

And that less than ten per cent of the grain would be threshed.

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LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. SCOTT.

And as my hon. friend from North Victoria (Mr. Hughes) says that less than ten per cent of the grain would be threshed. That is an exaggeration that is purely and simply ridiculous. As a matter of fact from the best information obtainable, I believe that the snow-storm did not affect possibly more than one-fifth of the grain growing area of western Canada. The storm originated in the United States and drifted northward. It was very severe in Colorado and Nebraska. It travelled over Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana and it seemed to peter out, so to speak, when it arrived in Manitoba. There was a limited area in Manitoba of which, I think, Virden was about the centre where there was a considerable fall of snow. My information is that even in that area the damage is not likely to be very severe. No person can state with any authority yet just what the damage will be but I do not believe that within the area visited by the snow-storm the damage will exceed ten per cent and taking the country as a whole I do not believe it will amount to as much as five per cent at the greatest. I move the adjournment of the House.

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Mr. N . BOYD@Macdonald

Mr. Speaker, the question which has been brought to the attention of the House by the hon. member for West Assiniboia (Mr. Scott) is certainly a very important one and I think correct information should be given to the country as soon as possible in opposition to the reports which have been sent out, so as to acquaint the public with the fact that the harm done to the crops of the North-west lias not been such as the reports would indi- . cate. The information that I have received from my own constituency, where, I understand, the storm was possibly the heaviest, is that the effect of it has been very slight indeed. I have reports from twenty-five or twenty-six different places in my own constituency and in nearly every one of these places my information is that the loss will be scarcely more than three per cent, and in that case the evidence is not very certain. Tn some places they had started threshing three days after the storm. A great many people upon reading the report of a snowstorm in that country are under the impression that it is a most disastrous thing. It would if the crops were standing. Most of the crops have been cut and the great bulk of them are now stacked. Possibly not more than ten per cent of the crop is still standing in the stook and even if a snow-storm does overtake the crop in that condition the effect is not as serious upon it as a heavy fall of rain because the snow will not penetrate the stacks or stooks to as great an extent as the rain will. As to

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LIB

Thomas Walter Scott

Liberal

Mr. SCOTT.

agreed upon that point and I submit that without the amendment proposed by the hon. leader of the opposition we will not have the agreement in a satisfactory shape in regard to it.

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

Would my hon. friend (Mr. Lennox) permit me to draw his attention to clauses 28, 29 and 30 of the agreement ? By clause 28 provision is made for the guarantee by the government of ' an issue of bonds to be made by the company for a principal amount equal to 75 per centum of the cost of construction ' of the western division. The time for which the bonds shall run is provided for by section 29 and the rate of interest is provided for by section 30. The obligation of the government is defined and limited. When you go on to section 34 you find that :

Inasmuch as the bonds to be guaranteed by the government only make provision for a part of the cost of construction of the western division, the company hereby agrees that the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada shall guarantee bonds of the company for the balance required for the construction of the said western division.

Tlie balance of wbat ? The balance of the cost of construction. The bonds must realize an amount sufficient to secure that.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

The view expressed a moment ago by my bon. friend the Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Fielding) seems to me to rather make in favour of the contention which has been put forward from this side of the Hfcrase. The hon. Minister of Finance suggests a case of an issue of bonds amounting to $24,000,000 producing, by reason of selling above par, $25,000,000.

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

I was reversing it. I was supposing that they realized less.

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax)). Well, if my hon. friend did not make use of that illustration I might make use of it myself. A case of that kind would be covered by the words we are suggesting. They are these :

The Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada, shall guarantee the bonds of (the Grand Trunk Railway Company, for such an amount as shall produce and provide a sum of money equal to the balance required for the comploi construction of the western division as provided in clause 34 of the said agreement.

Under the words that we are suggesting, if the bonds the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company to a principal amount of $24,000,000 should sell above par and produce $25,000,000 you would have the case met exactly by the amendment we are now proposing. The danger which is to be guarded against in the other case, is also provided for in this very amendment-in case the bonds do not sell for par then you have that contingency covered by the words we are suggesting. The question is, whether either one of these contingencies is pro-371

vided for by the language of the contract and by the language of the amendment as I first suggested it, and which followed exactly the terms of the contract. Is not the meaning of the words in the contract simply that you are to ascertain the amount required, after the provision made by the government guarantee, and having done that, you are to fix that as the principal amount at par, of the bonds which the Grand Trunk Railway Company is to guarantee. There is a strong argument to be made In support of that view.

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

The difference between my hon. friend and myself the other day was, that the obligation to acquire this stock, and the obligation' to guarantee the second issue of the bonds were not conditions precedent to the obligation of the government to guarantee the issue of seventy-five per cent. To avoid any doubt about that, I was quite satisfied to take my hon. friend's suggestion in order to make that clear, which I think he does in the first clause of his amendment. I am willing to accept it.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I admit that it is made absolutely clear except in one regard.

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

I would read subclause (b) as being a departure from the agreement.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

In order to have my amendment accepted, I am willing to eliminate for the present subclause (b).

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The MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

'Very well.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I will, later ou, move subclause (b), because it will be necessary to have a little discussion ou it. With a view to getting at what I understand to be the attitude of the government and ourselves on this point, I would withdraw my amendment altogether for the present.

Amendment (Mr. Borden) withdrawn.

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September 21, 1903