May 17, 1904

LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Hon. H. R. EMMERSON (Minister of Railways and Canals).

In answer to my hon. friend (Mr. Monk) I would say it is quite true, as he has stated, that the sub-structure has been completed for some little time and that the delay has been caused entirely through the contractors for the superstructure, the Dominion Bridge Company. The matter is engaging the attention of the department; the deputy is going to Montreal in the morning to bring pressure to bear upon the defaulting company. I might say that the department has taken every precaution to make it as convenient as possible for the parties interested. Temporary crossings were provided for foot passengers, but of course there has, no doubt, been inconvenience to the travelling public and the department will take every step to have that cease at once.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

It is not my intention to indulge in this debate nor to ask that now that we have the Minister of Railways in the House, we might get an expression of opinion from him on the Grand Trunk Pacific.

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LIB
L-C
LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON.

I am sorry you are so worried about the Minister of Railways. [DOT]

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

I was going to suggest that inasmuch as the traffic on the canal system which terminates at Montreal is likely to be used very much more than in the past, the Minister of Railways should take into his consideration the advisability of doing away with bridges over the canals entirely and of having sub-ways beneath

the canal. I was in Montreal the other day and a string of vehicles blocked the street for some distance. There should be subways under the canal at every point in the city of Montreal.

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GRAND TRUNK PACIFIC RAILWAY BILL.


House in Committee on Bill (No. 72) to amend the National Transcontinental Railway Act.-Sir Wilfrid Laurier. On section 7 of the Bill, Subsections 2 and 3 of section 7 of the National Transcontinental Railway Act are hereby repealed, and in lieu thereof it is hereby enacted as follows :- Notwithstanding anything in the said Act or in the scheduled agreements contained, His Majesty the King, acting in respect of the Dominion of Canada, shall not be bound or obliged to perform, carry out or fulfil any of the covenants, undertakings, conditions or stipulations in the scheduled agreements contained on behalf of His Majesty, acting as aforesaid, unless and until the Grand Trunk Company covenants and agrees as follows with His Majesty, acting as aforesaid :- [DOT] (a.) That it will guarantee the bonds of the Pacific Company for the balance required for the complete construction of the western division in the scheduled agreements mentioned, as provided in clause 34 of the agreement a copy of which forms the schedule to the said Act ; * (b.) That it will acquire and take the common stock of the Pacific Company to the amount of not less than $24,900,000 as in clause 27 of the said last-mentioned agreement provided.


CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

I have an amendment to this section which reads :

That the Bill be amended by adding thereto the following section :

Notwithstanding anything in this Act or in the said supplementary agreement contained, the amount of interest payable by the government without recourse against the Pacific Company under the provisions of the 32nd paragraph of the said original agreement shall not be increased but shall remain and continue as fixed and provided in the said original agreement and as if the first, fourth and fifth paragraphs of the said supplementary agreement were not therein contained and as if the said three paragraphs formed no part of the scheduled agreement or of any agreement between the parties thereto.

During the course of the discussion on this Bill the Minister of the Interior (Mr, Sifton), and I think the member for Annapolis (Mr. Wade) made the statement in the House that the changed agreement under the supplementary clauses would not increase the liability of this country one dollar, or would not increase the amount of interest which this country would have to pay by one dollar. I am sorry that the Minister of Railways and Canals left the House the moment this was introduced, because I was going to ask him to be good enough to favour the committee for once with some explanation

as to whether, in his opinion, this altered amendment would increase the liability of the country or as to whether this country would have an increased amount of interest to pay under the agreement presented for our approval. In looking over the original agreement I find that the country was to guarantee upon the mountain section $30,000 a mile. The estimated length of that part of the road is 500 miles, which at $30,000 a mile would be $15,000,000 for which, under the original agreement, the country would be liable. Interest upon that for 7 years at 3 per cent would be $3,150,000. In other words, under the original agreement passed by the House last session, the country became liable for the sum of $15,000,000 and for the payment of interest to the amount of $3,150,000.

Now these hon. gentlemen have made a statement of the House that the supplementary agreement which

cussion called upon the committee to pass this agreement because it imposed no increased liability on the country. The committee and the country are entitled to a further explanation from the hon. Minister of the Interior and also from the hon. member who represents the county of Annapolis (Mr. Wade). Now then, we come to the question of interest. We have to pay interest upon $21,000,000 for seven years under the new agreement which will give us an interest account of $4,410,000. The liability under the old agreement is $15,000,000. The liability under the new agreement introduced at this sessoin is1 $21,000,000. The interest to pay under the old agreement is $3,150,000 and the interest to pay under the new agreement is $4,410,000 or an increased liability placed upon this country because of this, as hon. gentlemen term it, unimportant change of $6,000,000 placed upon this country since last session and an increase in the actual payment of interest that must be taken out of the treasury of this country of $1,260,000. The country will very naturally ask the question : What has the Grand Trunk Pacific done for the people of Canada that they should so alter or change the original agreement that seemed to be so satisfactory to the hon. gentlemen opposite who were supporting the government last session? What have they done for the people of Canada that they should be granted a new agreement under which they ask the people to pay this increased interest amounting to $1,260,000 and to place upon the country ah increased liability of $6,000,000? This opens the door to a very dangerous kind of railway construction in this country. The statement was made on the floor of this House by an hon. gentleman who understands railway matters very well, that during the first ten years after a railway is constructed the cost to the railway company is almost equal to' the original cost of construction. If that be true you can readily understand the advantage that the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company will receive from the government by this changed or altered agreement. The government have to pay three-quarters of the cost of the mountain section no matter what it may be. Fifty-six thousand dollars a mile may be a fair estimate. If it costs $70,000 per mile the country is still held by this new agreement to pay three-quarters of the cost and bearing in mind the fact that the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company are particularly interested in the western section, the committee will readily understand that the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company will be quite willing to make an increased expenditure upon the construction of the western section because they know full well that the government are compelled to pay interest and compelled to guarantee Mr. BLAIN.

their bonds to the amount of three-quarters of the cost no matter what the cost may be. I repeat that I am very sorry indeed that the bon. Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Emmerson) is not in his place. I think it would be the duty of the right hon. leader of the government to send to the room of the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals and ask him to come into the House, tie could remain here wrhile the unimportant business of the sitting was going on after the opening of the House at three o'clock but just the moment the chairman took the chair and the Grand Trunk Pacific was taken up he went elsewhere. It seems to me that that is not fair play, I speak candidly and I say that I do not think the people of this country will think that the government are discharging their full duty to the country when they allow the gentleman who occupies that important position to leave the House and absolutely refuse to give one word of explanation as to why these important changes should be made and as to why this increased liability should be placed upon the people of Canada. I think we are entitled to further explanation from the government and in particular from the hon. Minister of Justice. I am quite sure that hon. gentleman will give it his attention. I would be glad to have a statement from him as to whether this changed and altered agreement will not place upon the people of Canada an enormously increased responsibility and an increased cash payment out of the treasury of this country for interest. I think this is a question that we require some further explanation upon and I hope the hon. Minister of Justice will be good enough to state his opinion now because his opinion will be very valuable upon this point, very valuable indeed in the days that are to come, perhaps more valuable than it may be at the present time because they have put their seal to this document and I am sure that when trouble comes as trouble must come between the government and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company in the future it will be very important to turn back to the discussion in ' Hansard ' and find the opinion of the hon. gentlemen who are responsible to the electors for this change in the agreement that increases to such an enormous extent the liability imposed upon the people of Canada.

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LIB

Fletcher Bath Wade

Liberal

Mr. WADE.

Mr. Chairman, hon. gentlemen opposite are very anxious to have the views and opinions of other people in regard to the cost of this road, and they seem to be willing to set up the late Minister of Railways and Canals as an authority whom they are ready to follow on all occasions. How would it do to look and see what his opinion is in regard to the cost as stated in his speech delivered in this

House last session ? You will find it at page 8457 of last year's 'Hansard.' He says :

Then we have GOO miles of mountain section, which it is said will cost $30,000 per mile. Nobody, X think, is informed sufficiently to say whether that is very much of an under-estimate, or whether it is an ample estimate. We know very well that mountain railway construction is expensive construction, although there are goo'd reasons for supposing that this line can be built through one of those passes at substantially less cost than the mountains can be crossed at any point to the south of where it is-proposed that this railway shall pass to the coast. I figure that $35,000 would not be out of the way. I want to make a fair and reasonable calculation.

These are the figures that Mr. Blair, the then Minister of Railways and Canals stated as the cost of the mountain section of this road. Now. I have undertaken to express my own opinion as to what the mountain section of this road will cost. That opinion is based on the information I have received. and it is of a similar nature to that given to Mr. Blair. The information I have received may be wrong, and consequently my opinion would be erroneous, but until I am in possession of facts to the contrary, I will adhere to my opinion. In any case, it does seem to me that it is idle to propose such an amendment at the present time, in view of the fact that there is a contract entered into between the railway company and the government. That contract is subject to ratification by parliament; we either have to ratify the contract as it exists, or, we have to refuse to ratify it, and if any change of this kind were made in the contract, it would neces sitate going back to the railway company to see whether they would agree to this alteration or not. That is the whole thing in a nutshell. The hon. gentleman who proposes the amendment knows that it is impossible for us to adopt it for the reasons I have stated. I wish to say further-1 have said it before, but I wish to repeat it-that if I am entirely wrong in my judgment and if hon. gentlemen are absolutely right, and if the highest figure they have put as the cost of this road is the correct figure ; even then we would not be justified, because of the additional cost, in refusing to construct this road at once. I do not believe they are right. I believe they are wrong. The estimate of Mr. Blair, of $35,000 per mile may probably be too low, it may be that my estimate is too low ; it may be found that my estimate is too high, but as Mr. Blair stated last session in this House, there is no man today with sufficient information on which to base an accurate judgment as to what the road will cost. One can only give his opinion, and that opinion must go for what it is worth.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

I do not think the general public realize the character of the legislation now before this House. There is a pious belief among the electors, that parliament is a representative body of men sent here to legislate, and that the supporters of the government of the day are not as the hon. member (Air. Wade) would describe them, just a number of jaclcs-in-the-box ready to jump when the government pulled the string. Relying on their success in the past the government have ventured to introduce this measure. The Yukon Railway Bill possessed many similarities to this. On the eve of parliament the government made the Yukon Railway deal, and having implicit confidence that their supporters would swallow anything, they threw it at them and told them to vote for it, and vote for it they did. Again in the case of the Intercolonial Railway extension to Montreal, the government made the deal, submitted it to their docile supporters, told them to vote for it, and vote for it they did. Why, the electors of Canada might as well send proxies to this parliament, in the same fashion that the electoral colleges conduct their business in the United States. . The member for Annapolis has intimated that as the government have brought down this contract it must be assented to by the Liberal majority in this House as a matter of course. I remember that when the Intercolonial Railway deal was up in the Senate, and when one of its absurd propositions was being discussed, Senator Cox ip the innocence of his heart believed that parliament was a debating and thinking body and he suggested that the clause in the Bill should be changed. I suppose Senator Cox has since changed his opinion about the functions of parliament, I suppose he has come to the conclusion like many others, that the supporters of the government are to be regarded as a machine to carry out the wishes of the cabinet ministers ? We heard some talk in this House yesterday about factious opposition and delay, but whatever delay there is must be attributed to the Grand Trunk Pacific Company and to the government, for if they had perfected their legislation last year, we would not be here discussing it to-day. Last year the Grand Trunk Pacific people made propositions that goodness knows everybody thought were sweeping enough, but they found the government so easy and their followers so docile, that they thought they would come back and get more. There was a time when some of the members oil the Liberal benches were cautious about the expenditure of a few thousand dollars, but here to-day they are ready to squander millions, and this paltry one million and a quarter that my hon. member from Peel mentions in his amendment, they hardly deign to notice. This is not a time to consider thousands; this is a time when this high and mighty government can spend millions by the hundreds. I am surprised at the moderation of the Grand Trunk Pacific

Company when they found the pliable putty they had to deal with-

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L-C
CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

Puttee from Winnipeg; he is hard as adamant compared with this government when it comes to taking the money out of the pockets of the people. I am glad that the Minister of Justice condescends to give the Bill a little attention, because most members of the cabinet get a cold fever whenever we come up to discuss it. Where are the Ontario ministers ? The Minister of Customs had a warning of what was in store for him. He was in two by-elections, and when he talked of this great Grand Trunk Pacific scheme he was dumfounded at the lack of applause that greeted his efforts. But there was a time when the Minister of Justice had not much interest in the Bill ; in fact there was a time when the members from Quebec district were rather adverse to it. That was when the Grand Trunk Pacific promoters looked upon the parliament of Canada as a business body, and when Mr. Hays and his friends wanted to submit a business proposition. But the representatives from the Quebec district, afterwards followed by others, intimated that it was not a business but a political proposition they were after, and of course, that proposition includes the sale of this wonderful and at present useless Quebec bridge.

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L-C
CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

I don't know that, but I do know that this Bill guarantees its sale. I can tell the Minister of Justice that if he should come into the province of Ontario during the approaching elections he will not find very kindly audiences when he endeavours to point out the advantages of this Grand Trunk Pacific measure. It is viewed in many different lights. In the far west it is looked upon by some as a transcontinental scheme to assist transportation, but in the maritime provinces, according to the member for Annapolis, it is going to be a distribution of money. Money is to be lavished in its construction and when money is going, Nova Scotia must have a share of it. That was the high ground taken by the hon. member for Annapolis. He gave parliament fair notice that when anything was going around in the Way of dollars, the maritime provinces were not to be forgotten.

Well, I think the maritime provinces are going to consider a little in the question of ultimate cost. The dealing by the government and by their supporters with this Bill -because they are all in it-is a good deal in the line of a man who happens to own a small parcel of real estate in a town where a big bonus is going to be given to a new industry. He throws up both his hands to hamper the town with a bonus.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

because in the meantime he hopes to sell his lot and make a profit. So the government seem to think that this whole scheme is going to work to their advantage politically, nothing 'more or Jess ; the hon. gentlemen opposite have swallowed themselves in supporting it. Take, for example, the hon. member for Hants (Mr. Bussell). We remember a couple of years ago, when the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals was promoting a project for the extension of the Intercolonial Railway to the Georgian bay, there was no more ardent admirer of that project than the hon. member for Hants. In fact, the scheme was supposed to be his inspiration. That was not the time that the hon. member for Hants regarded the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals as unfit to untie the shoestrings of the premier. That was the time when the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals was the king-bee of the maritime provinces, and the little fellows all jumped when he pulled the string. So we saw this letter from the hon. member for Hants, then the member for Halifax, applauding to the very echo the extension of the Intercolonial to the Georgian bay. But, Sir. things have changed. The Minister of Railways and Canals is not to-day the power in the land that he was then.

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LIB
CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

I am not alluding to the hon. gentleman, who is unknown outside of his own bailiwick. When the member for Halifax is referred to in this country, more particularly in the province of Ontario, it goes without saying that the hon. gentleman is never thought of. It is the hon. leader of the opposition who is meant. Now, what is this amendment ? East year we had the suggestion made by the Grand Trunk Pacific Company that the mountain section would cost about $30,006 a mile ; but to-day the government is placed in this fine dilemma, of having on the one hand the opinion that $30,000 a mile would pay for that section, which is the opinion of the hon. member for Annapolis, and yet humiliating itself by accepting the assurance of Sir Charles Rivers-Wilson instead of the opinion of the hon. member for Annapolis. Now, I think the hon. member for Annapolis is entitled to an apology from the government for having had the temerity to increase this guarantee from $30,000 to $56,000 a mile. It is quite true, as quoted by the hon. member for Annapolis, that the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals said that the mountain section would only cost $35,000 per mile. That was only his opinion, however, and the opinion of the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals does not go with this government except for one thing. When he comes

to this government, bludgeon in hand, and tells them that it is his opinion that the province of New Brunswick will be against them in the next elections unless he receives the best position in the gift of these hon. gentlemen, then they take his opinion, and give him the best position they have : but they will not take his opinion in the matter of railway building. The whole matter presents itself in this light. The government turn a deaf ear to every suggestion except what is for the benefit of the Grand Trunk Railway Company ; but all that company require to do with this government is to ask what they w'ant; and they get it. Talk about David Crockett and the coon. It does not come down for him with half the celerity that this government does when the Grand Trunk Company calls. Talk about the widow at Windsor-all the Grand Trunk Company has to do at any stage of the game is to say what it wants, and this most pliable government immediately accedes to its demand. Now, I do not suppose that the Minister of Justice will make any defence of this increase of $1,260,000. He will say that it is only a little thing, and that the tail might as well go with the hide.

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LIB

Fletcher Bath Wade

Liberal

Mr. WADE.

I regret very much that the hon. gentleman who has just taken his seat, and a great many of those around him, entertain the opinion of the maritime provinces that they do. It is true, I have stood up in this House in defence of the maritime provinces in connection with this scheme, and for having done so I have called down upon my head continuous abuse from the other side of the House. When the hon. gentleman states that we support this scheme because it involves a distribution of money in the maritime provinces, he states what is incorrect. I have never made any such utterance in this House or anywhere else. What I have stated, and what I state now, is that whenever there is a great national scheme on foot, the maritime provinces wish to be in that scheme. If the Dominion of Canada is to progress, we have a right to progress with it. If there is to be a transcontinental railway built, we are entitled to have a terminus in the maritime provinces. That is what I said, what I repeat, and what I will stand by ; and no amount of sneering or abuse will divert me from that position for one moment. Another misrepresentation by the hon. member for East Simcoe (Mr. Bennett) of what I said was this- that I stated that whatever the government did we had to vote for. What I stated was this : that the government had entered into an agreement with the railway company, and we had either to vote for that agreement or vote against it in its entirety. That is common sense, and every man proposing these amendments knows it. The government has entered into this contract with the railway company ; it comes before parliament to have that contract either rejected or approved of ; every member of parliament is at liberty to vote whichever way he sees fit; but you cannot get away from the fact that you must accept that contract in its entirety or reject it. I can readily understand that it affords no great pleasure to hon. gentlemen opposite to see such unanimity on these benches, to see that we are ready to follow our leaders, to see that we have confidence in their judgment, to see that we will back them up in the scheme which has for its end the welfare and advancement of Canada. It must be gall and wormwood for them, because when they rise to speak, we find them at variance with themselves and their leaders, as witness the last speaker.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

Are the hon. gentlemen on the other side all in one solid phalanx ?

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May 17, 1904