October 1, 1903

CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

My recollection of the correspondence brought down in connection with this matter is that the Prime Minister of the North-west Territories objected to the creation of a debt account between the North-west Territories and the government of Canada at the present time, and pointed out that what the North-west Territories really desire is that the annual subsidy to the North-west Territories should be increased to such an amount as would be adequate for the works which they have to undertakte in the administration of that country. He also expressed the opinion that it was not in the interest of the North-west Territories that any debt shovdd be incurred by them at the present time, before the territories have received that provincial status which has been demanded by its legislature for some considerable time past.

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

I do not think that the government of the Northwest Territories objected to this advance being made to them. The special point of their objection was to a proposition which was made at one stage of the negotiations that the cost of two large bridges, for the construction of which we were arranging with them, should be made a charge against an advance. However, I am sure the government of the North-west Territories would prefer to have any sums which are available for them given in the way of an annual grant and perhaps my hon. friend may be right in saying they objected to this. There is however, nothing compulsory about this; it is an option which we give to the government of the North-west Territories and if they do not see fit to exercise it no harm will be done. The allowance made in the meantime was fully discussed in the Committee. I then pointed out the rapid increase made by this government in the allowance to the North-west Territories and I think the Committee were generally satisfied that the allowances we now make, irrespective of this grant, are quite liberal and take due account of the rapid growth and greater needs of that section of our country.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

What increase is made in the allowance for the present year ?

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The MINISTER OF FINANCE.

I gave the figures in the previous debate. The appropriation for 1902 was $407,979. I am speaking now entirely of what I may call the general vote for the North-west Territories whioh would correspond to the provincial subsidy. There are other grants for other purposes, and my observations are

confined entirely to that general vote which appears in the estimates as a grant for school and other purposes. For 1903, including the supplementary estimates passed in the latter part of the year, the grant was $707,989 and for the current year we are proposing to pay them including a special grant for two large bridges which at one time it was suggested should be charged to capital account, but which we ultimately decided to provide for in the way of grant -$1,046,979, irrespective of this .advance of which the government of the North-west Territories may or may not avail themselves.

Bill reported, read the third time and passed.

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SUPPLY.


House again in. Committee of Supply. Harbours and rivers, Quebec-Sorel deep water wharf, $37,600.


CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I would like my right hon. friend to make some explanation of this item. I would like to know how much money has been expended on the terminals, wharfs and harbour improvements at Sorel ; how much is proposed to be expended in the future and whether or not the object of that expenditure is to create at Sorel an ocean port for export traffic.

The .expenditure made there is not at all commensurate with the idea of improvements for merely local purposes, and we are entitled to a full explanation as to whether or not this port is designed to be one of the national ports of the St. Lawrence. We have the ports of Montreal and Quebec upon which considerable sums have been expended. It may be the policy of the government to create another national port at Sorel and to expend large sums on terminal facilities there for the export trade. But I do not suppose there will be any difficulty in handling all that trade in Montreal and Quebec, if these ports are properly equipped, and further we have the ports of Halifax and St. John, to which, in the winter months, the people of the maritime provinces at least think a very considerable portion of the western traffic will come. We ought to know what has already been expended at Sorel, what is the scope of the works there, what traffic is expected. Has the government any expectation that traffic, which could be handled at Montreal and Quebec, will be handled at Sorel ? Why should we attempt to create an ocean port there instead of concentrating our efforts upon Montreal and Quebec ?

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The PRIME MINISTER.

My hon. colleague the Minister of Public Works will give the information required regarding the expenditure. The question of policy, I think, was stated pretty fully two years ago when

this appropriation was first asked for. In the opinion of the government there certainly must be at Sorel a large ocean traffic.

It is the outlet of the Richelieu valley, which is one of the most fertile and wealthy in Canada, and from which a great deal of agricultural produce is exported. At Montreal to-day there is scarcely adequate space for the traffic. The government are asked every day to provide more facilities at that port. The tendency there has ever been to concentrate the traffic within a very narrow limit. All the efforts of the traders have been to get as near as possible to the canal basin, so that practically the whole traffic is centred between the canal basin and Bonsecours market. But it is impossible that the trade should be confined within that narrow space. The government has put up large wharfs at St. Mary's Current, near Hochelaga, and the trade no doubt will extend more and more along the St. Lawrence. It is impossible that the western traffic will be confined at Montreal. By and by the harbour will not be confined merely to the city of Montreal, but will extend to Sorel and Three Rivers, and the Montreal Harbour Commissioners will claim jurisdiction over these places. In my opinion the harbour of Sorel is destined not only to take the trade of the Richelieu valley, but also to become an outlet for the trade of the North-west. At present the Canada Atlantic Railway has no terminus in any Canadian port. It is forced to unload at Coteau and send its freight down the St. Lawrence in barges. On the south shore it extends to the state of Vermont, and has a point of junction with the Southern Counties Railway, at Noyan, which comes from the state of Vermont and extends to Sorel. It is expected that the Canada Atlantic Railway will be able to make arrangements with that company in order to have its terminus at Sorel. Unfortunately however, the Southern Counties Railw ay is in difficulties. It is in the hands of a company which cannot carry on the work, but this is only a temporary obstacle, and I expect that the trade of the west will certainly find an outlet at the city of Sorel.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I have not recently examined the explanation which my right hon. friend gave of this expenditure some two years ago. My recollection is that the policy of the government then was based altogether on an expected railway development which has not materialized. I believe that Dr. Seward Webb had some negotiations with regard to the acquisition of some of these railways. There was to be a great system connecting with certain railways in the United States. As I understand it, that project has entirely fallen through, and there is no prospect of it being resuscitated. If it is not resuscitated, I do not know exactly upon what ground we can anticipate that a considerable trade

in exports will go by Sorel. Properly equip the harbour of Montreal and why should trade go past Montreal to Sorel ? Surely, we can hardly expect, at present, to have trade so great that it will occupy both sides of the river St. Lawrence for a space of forty miles or more. Surely the Prime Minister can hardly expect to equip the St. Lawrence to that extent when his Minister of Public Works, in making a comparison between the government's proposal with regard to the transcontinental line and mine, added $14,000,000 in connection with these harbours to the cost of my project, aud not a single dollar in connection with the project of the government. Now, the harbour of Sorel is within forty-five miles of th,e harbour of Montreal. No one is inclined to minimize the Richelieu valley or its products. But, as my right lion.'friend speaks of the necessity for an ocean port in that valley, has he any information to give the House as to how many tons of export for Europe the Richelieu Valley produces at this present time ? Has it sent one steamerload to Europe in the course of the year ?- or two, or half a dozen ? How many does it send ? There are fertile valleys in the province of Nova Scotia, valleys that may not be so large in extent as the Richelieu valley, but quite as fertile, I suppose, as any valleys in Quebec or Ontario ; but I shall hardly expect to have a great ocean port created for one of these valleys, though its people send a great many hundred thousand barrels of fruit to Europe every year. Sorel, being about forty-five miles down the St. Lawrence from Montreal, must be within about 120 miles of the port of Quebec. My right hon. friend and his transportation expert, my hon. friend from North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton), have proven, very much to their own satisfaction, that transportation by rail is cheaper than transportation by water. So, if wrn wish to be economical, we should send the freight of the Richelieu valley as far as we can by rail. This would mean, under present circumstances, that we would send it at least as far as Quebec. That is a logical result of the argument of my right hon. friend and the bon. member for North Norfolk. But now the right hon. gentleman is going on an absolutely different principle from that which guided him in relation to the National Transcontinental : Railway. He has embarked upon the project 1 of constructing a railway nearly 2,000 miles 1 In extent from Quebec to the maritime pro- 1 Vinces, on the theory that rail transporta- 1 tion is cheaper than water transportation- if that is not the reason there can be no 1 reason for his policy. Acting upon that 1 principle what should the right hon. gen- >

tleman do ? He should improve the railway grades from Sorel to Quebec to the ]. four-tenths per cent of which the expert has t told us, and thus minimize the cost of trans- c portation via existing ocean ports. I am t sure the right hon. gentleman did not think c Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

1 of that when he embarked upon this project. It is two years since he entered upon this policy of making an ocean port of Sorel,

; an,;i the great advantages of rail transportation had not then become crystallized in his mind. But, in the light of his new theory he will see that this project is unwise ; and I should think he would not be inclined to persevere in his proposal to spend these very large sums at Sorel. For, of course, on the hon. gentleman's theory, that expenditure can only result in disadvantage to Sorel and to the Richelieu valley, as it will result in sending their products by water, when, with other improvements, they might be more advantageously sent by rail. As I understand it. the Minister of Public Works (Hon. Mr. Sutherland) is going to give us the cost of these improvements up to the present time and the estimate of further expenditure. But I am sure, that he, like my right hon. friend, in view of the light that has come to them with regard to all-rail transportation, will see that there cannot be any justification for the expenditure of any further large sums of money on these works at Sorel.

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The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS.

This vote of $40,000 is to complete the work. The total cost of the work when completed is estimated by the department at $273,500. Of course, the work is under contract, and I believe it is nearly completed. This vote is to pay the amount which will be earned under the contract.

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CON
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The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS.

Yes, all wood. I suppose I need not go into details, for on a previous occasion this matter was discussed at length, and I gave the committee all the facts of which I was in possession.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

Perhaps the hon. gentleman could tell us the wharfage that has been collected ? What quantity of freight has been shipped, especially foreign exports ?

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The PRIME MINISTER.

There is none, because there has been no wharf to take it.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

This money is being expended to serve the export trade of Europe. This is to be a wharf for ocean-going steamers. Surely, the Minister of Marine, in whose department this is, will be able to give us information as to the amount of dues collected.

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

The wharf has not been handed over to the department yet, because it has not behn finished.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

But the government mus.t have made a calculation of the work to be done before entering into this expenditure. Can he tell us the whole export trade of the valley of the Richelieu that is expected to be sent by Sorel ?

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The PRIME MINISTER.

I do not think we have any statistics. But to show the amount of export trade, I can tell my hon. friend-or rather remind him, for he knows it already-of the extent of the valley from which this wharf would draw its trade. The counties of Richelieu, Yamaska, Ver-ck&res, Rouville, St. Hyaeinth'e, St. John and Iberville, all centre upon the Richelieu river, and the hon. gentleman knows as well as I do that these are amongst the most fruitful and wealthy parts of the province of Quebec or of the Dominion. There are large exports yearly of hay, butter, cheese, and all agricultural products. These are what we expect to carry from this wharf when it is completed. But my hon. friend is ' too previous ' in asking how much has been collected. There is no connection yet between the wharf and the railway, the work being still in progress.

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CON

William Rees Brock

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BROCK.

Considering the very meagre information that the government has been able to give us in connection with the establishing of a great ocean port, I think I might draw the attention of the House as I am sure the attention of the country will be drawn, to the fact that the government has appointed a transportation commission for the very purpose of taking into consideration such matters as these. I believe that the government have contended that that commission will have no right to interfere with the transcontinental railway, but that harbours, wharfs and general transportation questions will be considered by them. I do not think it would be too much to ask that this matter of Sorel should be taken into consideration by the transportation commission along with the other matters which will claim their attention. I believe a report from that commission would have great effect upon this House and upon the country. It would greatly simplify our plans. The government are starting out on what I believe they have called a patchwork system of transportation-a part of a scheme here, part of a scheme there, and without definite information with regard to any of them.

We all know that the valley of the Richelieu is a very rich valley, and we all know that if they are going to bring freight from Iberville, the question of which will be the cheapest route, whether by rail or by water, would be an important one. That district is now served by the river navigation, and I suppose by the harbour of Montreal. But the point I would like to make just now is : What part is the transportation commission going to play in dealing with matters of this kind, when the government let contracts for supplies ? I do not see that these gentlemen are really going to be of any use, and I think that if they have any respect for themselves and for the position they will occupy, they will say : Well, we have got

the appointment, for which we are going to be paid a salary, but if we are not going

to have any work to do we will throw up the appointment. Now the hon. gentleman must remember that we are building a railroad on which we are going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, and we are making appropriations for harbours here and there. The harbour of Three Rivers has a large appropriation, and I think these things should be taken into consideration by the Transportation Commission. If they decide that Montreal is the best harbour, let them concentrate their means upon it and make a grand harbour of it. These little patchwork harbours do not seem to be in accordance with the grand views expressed by the Prime minister and other hon. gentlemen when they spoke of the idea of a transcontinental railroad. Now, I contend that spending $37,000 in addition to what we have already spent, is doing the work in a patchwork fashion, because the government are not able to lay before this House a single item of information as to the amount of freight that is likely to be moved there. I say, therefore, that this whole question should be taken up by the Transportation Commission, and reported upon to the House, so that next session we will have sufficient information upon which to go ; and you will find that members on this side of the House will be only too anxious to assist in the improvement of our transportation facilities in every possible way. Perhaps the right hon. gentleman (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) may be considered a doubting Thomas in respect to any desire we may have of assisting the government. I know he is able to carry this vote through the House, although I do not consider it is in the interests of the country at large, but I believe it is brought forward merely in view of an early election. There has been too much of that kind of thing' done already, and th)e country) is getting hold of it. I do not want to give the hon. gentlemen advice for their own interest, because I know they are able to take care of themselves, and they can turn a corner more sharply than they will be able to do under any advice I can give them. Again I say that this transportation commission must consider all these matters and make their recommendations before we spend these enormous sums of money. I, therefore, ask the government to submit this question to the Transportation Commission.

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October 1, 1903