October 17, 1903

SUPPLY-FAST ATLANTIC SERVICE.


The PRIME MINISTER (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) moved that the House again go into Committee of Supply.


CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN (Halifax).

Mr. Speaker, before you leave the Chair I want to bring to the attention of the House the question of establishing a fast Atlantic service, which has been before this country for a great many years past. I think no one of us is inclined to minimize the importance to the country of this service. Its importance has been recognized by both political parties for many years, and I believe-though I have not verified the record -that the resolution upon which the Bill was founded for the establishment of this service, and which gave to it an aid of $750,000 a year, so commended itself to the judgment of this House that there was no division taken upon it. That the service at the present time is not what the requirements of the age demand must be apparent to us all. It has been stated by members of the government, in reply to questions from this side of the House, that the greater part of the Canadian mail is sent to and from New York, for the simple reason that it can accomplish the journey via New York in about two-thirds of the time which it would take if sent by way of a Canadian [DOT]port. The same is true as regards passengers, although to a lesser degree. We have land it stated by the Minister of Trade and Commerce during the present session that the average time which mails occupy in the journey from a Canadian port to a port in the United Kingdom is something like 94, 10 or 11 days. I have under my hand a record of the length of time occupied in the voyage between Halifax and the motherland some forty years ago, and I have no doubt that the House and the country have perhaps forgotten what has been pointed out many times, that the average length of the voyage from Canada to England to-day is practically what it was forty years ago. I have a comparison between the logs of the Royal Mail steamship ' Asia ' of nearly forty years ago and the length of the present day voyages. I shall take the liberty of reading to the House a statement taken from a public journal published in the city of Halifax, based upon a communication made by a gentleman who had gone to the pains of verifying the records, by examining the logs of these steamships of forty years ago. I may say that the journal to which I refer is non-partisan ; it is a mercantile journal published in the city of Halifax, and, commenting on the letter addressed to it by this gentleman, it says : After showing that the ' Unicorn,' made her first voyage from Liverpool to Halifax,-away back in 1840,-in 16 days, which was even then complained of as three or four days longer than was expected, he proceeds to show how very little better the service is to-day. The ' Mongolian,' the first weekly boat to come here this season, took somewhat over eleven days to make the voyage ! In other words she only " developed about the same rate of speed that was expected of the ' Unicorn ' in 1840.

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LIB
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Mr. CLARICE@

It is enough to make anybody smile.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I do not know but that it would make even the proverbial horse smile :

That is a compliment which I cannot pay to the government of which Sir Frank Smith "was a member.

Well, I do not know whether my right hon. friend would pay that compliment to his own government at the present time or not:

I wish I could ; but the truth, you know, must be the truth upon all occasions.

Well, X would like my right hon. friend, if the session were not so late, to discuss the economy of the present government, and above all things to tell the truth about it:

Sir Frank Smith's government had undertaken to give to that service a bonus, a subsidy, of $750,000 a year. We thought it was too much. We thought we could do it for less, and ,we succeeded in making a contract with a firm for a subsidy of $500,000 saving to the country therefore the sum of $250,000.

You will notice that there was no doubt about it. It was sent to the country that the Allan contract would cost the country , 5750,000, and that the government, within a few months after coming to office, had accomplished the fast Atlantic service, and saved $250,000 a year. And this was reported all over the country. How much will that amount to in twenty years ? $5,000,000. It was heralded throughout the country as an absolute saving of $5,000,000 :

We contracted with the firm of Petersen, Tate & Co., a Newcastle firm, a firm composed as we ascertained, of men of the highest honour, of the highest integrity, and the highest competency in their profession. Mr. Petersen and Mr. Tate have had a good many obstacles to overcome. as is always the case with men who launch a new idea into the world. Their idea was a new one. and therefore it met with objections and with discouragement from more than one class of people ; and not later than a few weeks ago, or a few days ago only, It was stated that the scheme of Mr. Petersen had fallen down, that it must be considered as absolutely a thing of the past. Mr. Petersen and Mr. Tate were at work. They- work as men always work when they want to succeed. They said nothing ; they answered no accusations ; but to-day I have a telegram from my friend and colleague, Mr. Fielding, the Minister of Finance, to this effect : ' Petersen has made today the deposit required by the contract.' (Loud cheering and great enthusiasm) [DOT]

And only a few days ago, Mr. Speaker, we bad the pleasure in this House of returning to Mr. Petersen his deposit with interest at three per cent. But I did not observe on the part of my hon. friend's sitting to the right of the Speaker the same loud cheering and great enthusiasm as were manifested on this occasion at Toronto. Then he continued as follows :

It is with joy indeed that I welcome this explosion of satisfaction at the announcement that this scheme had not failed, but that it is to be carried through.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

We did not have any explosion of satisfaction from hon. gentlemen opposite the other day when the deposit was returned. Yet the one event was as important as the other. If the deposit of Messrs. Tate, Petersen & Company was worthy of an explosion by the great Liberal party of this country, surely we might have expected from these hon. gentlemen a similar explosion when that deposit with 3 per cent interest was returned. But no doubt the explosion in the latter event was at the other end of the line. I have no doubt that when the news of the return of the deposit reached Messrs. Tate, Petersen & Company on the other side of the Atlantic, there was the same loud cheering, the same great enthusiasm, the same explosion from them, as heralded the announcement of this deposit which was so happily timed as to reach my right hon. friend when he was on the public platform. He thus continued to dilate on the news he had received from the Finance Minister :

I know that in some quarters this idea of having this passenger traffic amongst us was not popular ; but, Sir, let me say to you that if there is a patriotic idea in the land it is the idea that we should not only carry the freight, but carry the passengers between America and Europe. (Hear, hear, and applause.) We can do It, we ought to do it, and now it is no longer in doubt.

Let me pause here for a moment to say to ray right hon. friend that while he refers to certain quarters in 1897, where this idea of a fast Atlantic service was not popular, he does not seem to have to go very far at present to find quarters in which that idea is equally unwelcome, because during the present session we have had expressions of opinion, which indicate that this project of a fast Atlantic service is not very popular in the mind of an hon. gentleman who has the honour and pleasure of a seat at the right of my right hon. friend. That hon. gentleman has told us, in so many words, that it was bather a good thing this contract and scheme, which was heralded with that explosion of satisfaction in 1S97, amounted after all to nothing, and that we have had during the past seven years practically a slower service between Canada and the mother country than that which this country enjoyed in the years previous to confederation. My right hon. friend continuing said :

This line of steamers shall be completed probably within two years, certainly within thr?e years.

There is no uncertain note in that announcement.

And when we have this class of steamers afloat on the ocean I have no hesitation, such is my confidence in the scheme-and it is a confidence which must be borne by every man who has looked into the subject-that we shall have the great bulk not only of Canadian traffic, but of American traffic as well.

My right hon. friend was not modest in liis expectations. We were to have the line in operation within two, or at the outside three years, and it was to carry, not only Canadian traffic, but a very large portion of American traffic as well. Well, six years have elapsed and we still have precisely the same condition of affairs as has existed for so many years. We still have practically all our mails and many of our passengers carried, not by Canadian routes, not via Canadian harbours on the St. Lawrence and Atlantic coasts, but by American lines from American seaports.

Sir, remember this, what I say is no idle boasting. Remember that the St. Lawrence route is the shortest of all routes. Now, as you know, all men have an aversion to the sea -I know I have-(laughter)-and my experience is not exceptional in this respect ; all men have a terror of the sea ; but when tourists know and are aware that upon the Canadian line, with a class of steamers having a speed of twenty knots an hour, equal in comfort to the best afloat on the ocean, there will be no more than four days between land and land-(applause)-the Canadian line will be patronized as no other. (Great cheering.) What will be the ease when this line is in operation ?

My right hon. friend could afford to indulge In prophecy with regard to the results of the scheme, because no one can tell us to the present what might happen, and the prophecy is still a very safe one, under present conditions.

The case will be this : that a passenger taking the steamer at Moville, say, if Moville is to be the Irish port, within less than four days will be in the strait of Belle Isle, and then within less than one day, or twenty-four hours, will be in the 'harbour of Quebec, and one day's sailing on the beautiful St. Lawrence with its magic scenery and free from all discomforts of the sea. (Applause.) When we have this line with us we shall not only have the entire Canadian traffic, but we must as a necessity have the larger proportions of the American traffic. [DOT] This that I say may perhaps seem presumptuous. It is not. At all events, if it is, I have such an unbounded faith in my country that I believe every word that I say now and I am sure it will come out to be true also.

There is not one of us who will not concur in the closing remark of my right hon. friend, if he applies it to the fast Atlantic service as a whole. But what a travesty on the actual facts is the whole speech of my right hon. friend. We were told over and over again that this deposit and bank guarantee furnished the most absolute security that the fast line would be completed. Years ago we gave up the bank guarantee, and we lately returned the deposit with interest, and we are not one whit nearer the establishment of a fast Atlantic service than we were seven years ago ; and that in spite of the fact that we had from a Canadian firm, one of the foremost shipping firms of this country, a contract which, if this government had seen fit to carry it out, would, in all

human probability, have resulted in giving us a fast Atlantic service of 21 knots an hour, and we would have been enjoying that service during the last three or four years at least. We are told, from time to time, that we had better wait, that we had better put up with the service we have in order to get a really good service in the future. Why, we have been waiting for thirty years and have practically the same service as we had forty years ago. We had just as good a service from Canada to the mother country in 1866 as we have now. How much longer are we to wait ? Must we wait some thirty-four or thirty-five years longer, and then, at the end of that period, say to ourselves, it was not a bad thing after all that we did not make haste about the fast service, because when we do get one in the end it may be a better one than we could have expected had a contract been entered into some years ago.

Let me point out to my right hon. friend that, even, if we had established an eighteen knot service twelve or fifteen years ago, it would have been better for us than to have done what we have done. And let me point out that if we had established that service fifteen or twenty years ago we could now improve it to a twenty-one or twenty-two knot service. And let us not say that a nine, ten, eleven or twelve knot service is good enough for us now and for many years to come, because it may result in giving us a better service when we eventually enter into a contract. For my part, I am not in sympathy with those who think we should establish a seventeen or eighteen knot service. I do not believe, that having been handicapped with a nine, ten, eleven or twelve knot service for so many years, there is any reason why we should now establish a second-class service.

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CON
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

Or, as my hon. friend from Colchester (Mr. Gourley) would call it, and very likely with correctness, a third-class service. A gentleman who has had great experience in transportation' matters in this country said to me, about a year and a half ago, that the establishment of a seventeen or eighteen knot service between Canada and the mother country under the moderate subsidy which we should have to give for that service, might, and in his opinion would, result in: this-in placing on the route between Canada and the mother country boats which are now regarded as second or third-class boats on the New York route, and the subsidy we would give for the purpose would be, in reality, a subsidy for supplying new boats on the route between New York and the mother country. Now, it is far better for us to give $750,000 or $800,000 a year, or even more, and have a fast service up to the best requirements of the time, than to give $400,000 or $500,000 a

year and have only a second or third-class service, and have the subsidy which we would give apply in effect to the support of a first-class line of boats between New York and the mother country. We do not want to bring about that result. And I was glad that, when I brought this particular point to the attention of my right hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce (lit. Hon. Sir Richard Cartwright) he agreed at once in the view 1 had expressed, and said that the government were not unmindful that that result might be produced by granting a subsidy for a line of boats of the speed I have mentioned.

Now, as my hon. friend the Postmaster General (Hon. Sir William Mulock) has thrown a good deal of cold water on this proposal during the present session, and as an important journal, a journal which is supposed to be sometimes inspired, has used words of the very same character, we cannot but doubt the enthusiasm of the government or the establishment of a fast Atlantic service. An important journal supporting the government has recently said that it has :

The best authority for stating that there is no movement in existence at the present time of which the government has cognizance aiming at the establishment of a fast Atlantic mail and steamship service between Great Britain and Canada.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

What paper is that ?

Mr: BORDEN (Halifax). The Ottawa ' Free Press ' of a recent date. I have not the exact date, but I will procure it for my right hon. friend if he desires it. The language is very significant. The journal says it has ' the best authority.' Well, the best authority would be the authority of the government. And, if this newspaper is to be believed we must arrive at the conclusion that some member of the government has seen fit to make a statement of that kind to this important journal for the purpose of making that announcement to the public. The article goes on in very circumstantial fashion as follows :

Lord Strathcona has ao special instructions to approach the imperial government on the question. for the reason that the Canadian administration has no proposition before it which would justify any action of that hind.

The statement is, in terms, very authoritative, and, in' the concluding portion of it, somewhat circumstantial. Therefore, I think we should have from my right hon. friend a declaration to-day as to whether or not the attitude of the government towards this most important project is that which lias been disclosed in tlie remarks of my hon. friend tlie Postmaster General during the present session.

On tlie 9th of March last, the government issued an invitation for tenders for a fast Atlantic steamship service, or, rather, for a fast and a slow Atlantic steamship service.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

you attempt to negotiate for three, four or five years, as a mere makeshift in the meantime, your negotiations will amount to nothing. Why should any company, for a period of three years or a period of four years, undertake to build boats or to take boats off an established line ? But if you make up your minds in the first place as to what it will pay this country to give annually for a fast Atlantic service, and if you induce the co-operation of the imperial government so that they will give a subsidy in the same proportion as they offered to give in 1896-and we have no information that their offer in that regard is withdrawn -then, by placing your project before the established lines of this country and of the mother country, I believe that you can, within a measurable period, establish that fast Atlantic service for which the very great majority of the people of this country have been so anxious during many years past I regret that the record of the government with regard to this matter has shown so remarkable a degree of inefficiency. They had before them in 1896 a contract that would have resulted in the establishment of a fast Atlantic service; they declined to carry that contract out; they declined to submit it to His Excellency for approval; they took up the contract with Petersen, Tate & Oo., and, in the face of strong criticism from this side of the House, in the face of the opinions largely quoted from this side of the House that that service never would be a success, they persisted in assuring parliament and the people of this country that there was absolutely no doubt on that subject. Over and over again I have heard taunts from the gentlemen who occupy the treasury benches and the gentlemen on the other side of the House to the effect that the Conservatives proposed to spend $750,000 a year for this purpose and that this government had accomplished the purpose equally well at a net saving to the country of $250,000 a year. Well, the country has saved nothing ; it has lost its fast Atlantic service during these 1 years, and the country, if it proposes, as I believe it is in favour of proposing, to estab- ; lish this service at the present time, will >

find it necessary to pay a very much larger 1 sum per annum than the sum for which this -service could have been established in 1896. ] 111 view of this, Mr. Speaker, I beg to move : 1

That ail the words after the word ' that ' In ! the proposed motion be left out and the follow- ' ing substituted therefor:- <

This House affirms its heiief that great ad- 1 vantages would result to Canada as well as to 1 the mother country from the establishment of a i fast steamship service be ween the two countries i and expresses its regret that no effective steps 2 have been been taken for that purpose by the i present administration. .

The PRIME MINISTER (Rt. Hon. Sir eWilfrid Laurier). Mr. Speaker, all through t

this session there has been from the other t Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

side of the House a running fire of criticism Against what it has pleased hon. gentlemen opposite to call the lavish expenditure of the government. These criticisms have also found a place in their press as well, and it was only last week that my hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Mr. Borden, Halifax) when honoured and banquetted by his friends made the burden of the remarks which he addressed to the faithful on that occasion, the extravagance of the government. But, it is also to be noticed, that, concurrent with this criticism, every time that supplies are asked from parliament there is a remark made by hon. gentlemen opposite to the effect that we are not spending enough and we have always a demand for some more expenditure here, there, or elsewhere. You cannot take up the debates that have taken place in this House, especially for the last fortnight, from which you cannot quote speeches made by hon. gentlemen opposite to the effect that we should spend more than we are spending upon some matter as to which these hon. gentlemen say we are not asking enough money from parliament. Again and again we have been asked to make larger appropriations and upon this occasion, as being an opposite commentary upon the speech delivered a few days ago by my hon. friend to his own party, we have a request made to spend no less a sum than a million and a half of dollars per annum for a fast Atlantic service. I do not propose to discuss the question upon this point. I simply leave it to hon. gentlemen opposite to reconcile these divergent lines of criticism and I leave it to the country to judge of the consistency of such criticism. I do not propose, as I say, to discuss the matter upon this point and for my part, though we have asked for pretty large appropriations from parliament this session, I still believe that wise expenditure is the best economy. But, to come to the subject^ which has been introduced by my hon. friend, the burden of his accusation and charge against the government is that Ire regrets that the policy followed by the government has not been efficient to procure for the country a fast Atlantic service. I have to admit that in this year, 1903, we have not yet in operation a fast Atlantic service such as has been contemplated and hoped for by us for a great many years past. I have to admit that this government have not been successful. I have to admit that in this matter our record does not compare any more favourably than the records of our predecessors, and I have this to say as an excuse not only for ourselves but for lion, gentlemen opposite as well that if we have not obtained a fast Atlantic service such as every one would like to have It is not on account of any deficiency on our part hut it is simply on account of the inherent difficulties of the task. This government are not the first that have applied their energies to the task

of obtaining sucb a fast Atlantic service as we should have between Canada and Great Britain. My hon. friend referred-I do not know if I understood him correctly- to the efforts which were made in 1896 by the efforts of Sir Charles Tupper, or to speak more correctly by the efforts of Sir Mackenzie Bowell, to obtain a fast Atlantic service and he rather created the impression upon my mind at all events, or it appeared as if he wanted to convey the impression, that this was the first effort that had been made in that direction. But, that was not the first effort that had been made by the Conservative government. That was only tiie third effort that had been made in that direction because the efforts in that direction go as far back as 1889. It was in 1888 that the idea of obtaining a fast Atlantic service, equal, in the language of the gentleman who was the first to give expression to the idea publicly. Mr. Foster, to the fastest and best steamships on the Atlantic ocean was mooted in Canada. In pursuance of that idea which was then expressed, a statute was passed by this House in the following words :

The Governor in Council may enter into a contract for a term not exceeding tin years with any individual or company, for the performance of a fast weekly steamship service between Canada and the United Kingdom, making connection with a French port, on such terms and conditions as to the carriage of mails and etherise as the Governor in Council deems expedient, for a subsidy not exceeding the sum of five hundred thousand dollars a year.

This is the first offer that was, made and it goes back to the year 1889. The government were authorized to negotiate for the establishment of a fast Atlantic service between Canada and the United Kingdom on the condition that a call was made at a French port and the sum which the government were authorized to give for the service was $500,000.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

Chapter 2 of the statutes of 1889. This provision remained on the statute-book for five years, hut nobody came forward to take advantage of the offer and it was thought advisable to make an amendment to the proposition. It was supposed that the sum which had been placed on the statute-book was insufficient and that it should be increased. It was increased accordingly. By the statute of 1894, chapter 8. this amendment was enacted :

1. Section 3 of chapter 2 of the statutes of 1889, intituled: An Act relating to Ocean Steamship Subsidies, is hereby repealed, and the following substituted therefor:-

3. The Governor in Council may enter into a contract for a term not exceeding ten years with any individual or company, for the performance of a fast weekly steamship service between Canada and the United Kingdom, making connection with a French port, on such terms and conditions

as to the carriage of mails and otherwise as the Governor in Council deems expedient, for a subsidy not exceeding the sum of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year.

By this the subsidy was increased by no less a sum than a quarter of a million dollars. Two years elapsed hut nobody came forward to take advantage of this additional subsidy and in 1896 tbe law was again amended and new propositions were made. In the session of 1895, the following law was enacted as chapter 3 of the statutes of that year :

1. The section substituted by chapter 8 of the statutes of 1894. for section 3 of chapter 2 of the statutes of 1889 intituled: An Act relating to Ocean Steamship Subsidies, Is hereby repealed and the following sections substituted therefor:-[DOT]

3. The Governor in Council may enter into a contract for a term not exceeding ten years with any individual or company, for the performance of a fast weekly steamship service between Canada and the United Kingdom, on such terms and conditions as to the carriage of mails and otherwise as the Governor in Council deems expedient, for a subsidy not exceeding the sum of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year: Provided that such contract shall not be binding upon Canada until it has been laid before the House of Commons and approved by a resolution of the said House.

The alteration which was made here was not in the amount. The amount was left the same as it was in the statutes of 1894 at $750,000 a year for the establishment of a fast Atlantic steamship service, but the change which was made was the leaving aside of the obligation on the part of such company as undertook the service to call at a port of France. But for all other purposes, the conditions remained as they were. Then invitations were issued for tenders. There had been an election in the interval, and the Conservative party had been defeated, and the present government installed in office. We found that in answer to the call for tenders, no tenders had been received. I emphasize the words ' no tenders had been received.' There was simply an offer made by the Messrs. Allan to undertake the service. It was an offer, not a tender ; and that offer was not in the terms of the specifications of the tender at all. The offer was from the Messrs. Allan to take the service upon conditions not mentioned in the invitation issued for tenders, but upon conditions made by themselves. One of the conditions was that they would not he bound to enter into the contract until four months had elapsed after they had signed the contract. so as to enable them to get out of it or into it just as they pleased. That would have been a minor matter, but generally speaking the conditions were very different from those stipulated, and the government did not feel justified in giving for that office such a large sum of money as was contemplated by the statute.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

Was there any condition which they made which was not

1417(3

substantially contained in the Petersen-Tate

contract ?

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The PRIME MINISTER.

I am coming to that. In the following year we issued advertisements for tenders and we received a tender from Messrs. Petersen, Tate & Company. I may say at once to my hon. friend that the conditions offered by Peterson, Tate & Company were not very materially different from the conditions which had been gffered by the Messrs. Allan, but there was all the difference in the world in the price asked for the service. The Messrs. Allan were demanding $750,000, whereas Petersen, Tate & Company were asking only $500,000. That was a consideration, and a valuable one which could not fail to make an impression on parliament and the government. I am bound to say, that in the light of events which have taken place since, Messrs. Petersen & Tate were over-sanguipe in offering to take the contract for $500,000. It has turned out that they were sadly off in their calculation. They were young, energetic, enterprising, and it is due to them to say that they were very near succeeding, relying on their activity and their enterprise. There is reason to believe that they would have brought the contract to a successful issue, but it is a matter of public notoriety that they met with tremendous opposition in some quarters, and they had to abandon the project. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Borden, Halifax) refers to a telegram sent to me by my friend (Mr. Fielding) to Toronto in the fall of 1897, in which he announced that Messrs. Petersen & Tate had deposited the sum of $50,000 as an earnest of their intention to perform their obligations. I announced that, and I1 was glad to announce it, to the audience in Toronto. The announcement perhaps was received with great joy, and there was reason that it should be so received. I cannot see the point in the joke of my hon. friend that the announcement that their deposit had been returned, should be received with vociferous applause on the other side of the Atlantic. On the contrary, if there would be any feeling about it at all, it should be a feeling of regret, and I would have expected that my hon. friend (Mr. Borden, Halifax) instead of indulging in harsh criticism, should have considered it a matter of deep regret that the Messrs. Petersen & Tate had not been able to implement their contract. It was in 1899. I think, that Messrs. Petersen & Tate abandoned their contract. My hon. friend (Mr. Borden, Halifax) says, that from that time until 1903 the government has done nothing, has called for no tenders, has entered into no negotiations to carry out the enterprise which had been set forth in a solemn compact before parliament and the country. My hon. friend (Mr. Borden, Halifax) is mistaken, as I will show. I admit that from 1899 to 1902, the government of Canada did nothing to try to create this Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

fast Atlantic service. But there was a very obvious reason for that. ' The paramount reason was, because of the existence of the Boer war for three years, 1900, 1901 and 1902. I would not say that that war demoralized the shipping world, but I do say that it so absorbed all the marine and naval resources of the British empire, that every one must acknowledge it would be absolutely impossible to launch the scheme then with any chance of success. It would have been folly to attempt to do anything towards the establishment of a fast Atlantic service under such circumstances. The Boer war came to an end in the middle of the summer of 1902. It so happened that in the summer of 1902, four of the Canadian ministers were in England for the coronation ceremony, and the ministers who were in England had several negotiations with different parties in order to secure this fast Atlantic service. We received a tender from the Canadian Pacific Railway, we received a tender, if I remember right, from the Messrs. Allan, from Sir Christopher Furness, and from Sir Alfred Jones. All of these tenders were of such an excessive character as regards the amount asked, that it was not deemed possible to ask parliament for their confirmation.

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Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

May I ask my right hon. friend if these tenders were laid before parliament ?

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The PRIME MINISTER.

I cannot say at this moment. I am sorry my hon. friend the Minister of Trade and Commerce is not here to answer that, but if they have not been laid before parliament there is not the slightest objection to bringing them down, and I shall be glad to do so immediately, if my hon. friend desires. But I may say that if my hon. friend had seen these tenders he would say that the amount which was asked for such a service was-I will not say excessive, but it was very large ; so large that we thought it advisable not to accept any of them, until we had made another effort to get another service. Therefore, in the month of March last, we again issued invitations to the public for tenders. On account of the excessive subsidy which had been previously asked, we thought that we would vary the character of the service, and so we asked for two boats of a very extreme speed, and for two boats of a moderate speed. We asked tenders for two boats of 21 knots and for two boats of 16 knots. We received two tenders-one of which may be dismissed at once because it did not comply with the terms-the other tender came from the Messrs. Allan. For such a service as that, limited as it was to two fast boats and to two boats of moderate speed, the Messrs. Allan asked no less a sum that $1,500,000. We did not think that we would ask parliament to ratify a contract for such an excessive amount. When I use the word ' excessive,' I do not mean

to say that it is excessive as to the value of the service which was to be given, but it certainly is excessive in comparison with the appropriation for the purpose which was made by the Canadian parliament. The appropriation which was made by the Canadian parliament was for the sum of $750,000. The amount voted never went beyond that sum ; and we cannot have such a service as is contemplated by the motion of my hon. friend even for twice that amount. We can have only a service which is partly fast and partly not so fast-two boats of 21 knots and two boats of 16 knots. To obtain a service of four boats of 21 knots, I do not know how large a subsidy we would have to ask for ; but 1 think it would be very much larger than the sum asked for by the Messrs. Allan for the mixed service. Under these circumstances, I think nobody will blame us if we do not ask parliament for such an appropriation as would be necessary to carry out the tender of the Messrs. Allan.

Now, X have only this to say to my hon. friend. In my speech in Toronto I said that the service we contemplated would not be equally popular in all parts of the country. When I said that, I only uttered a truism. There are certain sections of Canada where the advantage of the service has not impressed itself so deeply as in other parts. But my position on this subject is what it has always been. I think a fast Atlantic service would be of extreme advantage to Canada ; it would advertise the country as few other things would ; it would develop 'our trade and procure us a trade which we have not at present, but which we ought to have. I do not know how popular such a service would be in winter time. It might or might not be popular on account of the speedy crossing of the Atlantic. As a rule, all men dread the sea ; as a rule, all men have good reason to dread the sea. From the moment a man puts his foot on board the ship, he wishes to reach the other side. The passage could be accomplished iu five days instead of six of in four days instead of five, the line that would accomplish such a miracle as that would be the most popular of all lines. In summer time I have no doubt the route by the St. Lawrence would be most popular, and would be largely taken advantage of by people wishing to cross the Atlantic. Starting from Montreal or Quebec, you would have twenty-four hours or thirty-six hours on the waters of the St. Lawrence, which certainly would be a pleasure, and a good preparation for the rougher passage of the Atlantic. There is reason to believe that such a line would be patronized not only by Canadians, but by Americans, especially those from the western states. But the difficulty is to convince naval men of the profitableness of such a project. They are supposed to know the conditions of trade far better than any of us ; but even in the face of this project they have hesitated to invest their 444

money without receiving a very large guarantee from the Canadian government.

My hon. friend has also referred to an article which has appeared in a newspaper of this city which is friendly to the government, but which is in no sense an organ of the government, because the government has no organ. The government speaks for itself, and that is the only way in which a government should be represented. There are, however, papers which are friendly to the government, and the one my hon. friend referred to is one of these. But there is no reason for saying that no project for the creation of a fast Atlantic service is in existence. On the contrary, this is a subject which is always present to the minds of the government, and is always engaging their attention. At this very moment they are negotiating with some companies which have tendered for the service ; but we have nothing tangible to present to parliament at this moment. But the project has not been abandoned, and in my opinion it should not be abandoned until it is carried to a successful conclusion. Though our efforts in the past have not been successful, there is reason to hope that at an early day we shall have a tender which we may be able to place before parliament.

There is one reason why naval men hesitate to engage in this enterprise except at the cost of a very heavy expenditure by the national government : That is, as my

hon. friend knows, coming as he does from a maritime city, that there is perhaps no kind of industry which is to-day subject to greater changes than naval architecture. Almost every year some new methods are invented, some new designs brought forward, which tend to change naval architecture to such an extent that the ship of today may be obsolete five years hence, Even at this moment, the new ships for crossing the Atlantic are being built on what is known as the turbine system, a system from which great expectations are entertained. If this experiment proves successful, we may have a new development in naval architecture which may result in all the ships of to-day being discarded two or three years hence. For this reason the very naval men who might be expected to go into this enterprise have hesitated to do so except at a cost which I think the Dom- . inion parliament would sustain the government in not incurring. When no less a sum than $1,500,000 is required to obtain a contract it is no wonder that the govern-men should have hesitated, and should have asked for more information before coming to a conclusion. I think that is a sufficient reason, in the eyes of all men who believe in economy not only in words but in deeds, for holding the government free from the censure which my hon. friend endeavoured to cast upon it.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. S. SPROULE (East Grey).

The right hon. gentleman has, I presume, made

tlie best defence tbe government can offer for their conduct during the last nine years in connection with this feature of their policy ; and it would be quite sufficient, I think, to allow it to go to the country alongside of the speech made by the hon. leader of the opposition, and leave the country to judge of the force of that defence. But I think it is important to draw attention to some of the observations made by the right hon. gentleman. He says we have reason to hope that we may have a tender at an early day. Well, all I can say, in reply, is that the country, like the government, have been living in hope, but they have been obliged to fall back in despair. Their first hope was that they could obtain the same service for the country as was proposed by the previous government, and that they could save to the country $250,000 a year. They were sure of that, if it were only taken hold of by competent men. They said that competent men had made an offer to make a contract to that effect; and with great exaltations and blowing of trumpets, it was said : See what business men can

do compared with unbusiness men ; we have secured for the country a service which was declared to be so desirable, so important and so advantageous, for $250,000 a year less than our predecessors contemplated. On the strength of that we have been living in hope ever since. Speaking of tenders recently received, the right hon. gentleman said the lowest tender of Messrs. Allan & Company was $750,000 above their tender of 1896. Does not that of itself show the folly of the government in not having accepted the tender made in 1896, and in declaring that it was entirely too high ? Experience has proved that they were not men of foresight, wisdom or good judgment, or they would have accepted the offer of the Messrs. Allan, and we would have had the advantage of the fast service we all desire, and besides have had that advantage at $750,000 per year less than we can get the same service for to-day.

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LIB

William Roche

Liberal

Mr. ROCHE (Halifax).

What was the offer of Messrs. Allan & Company in 1896 ? What did they offer and stipulate to do ?

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October 17, 1903