May 18, 1904

LIB

Charles Fitzpatrick (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. FITZPATRICK.

We have had an opportunity to consider the amendment suggested by my hon. friend last night, and the conclusion we have come to is that we must amend the General Railway Act so as to make applicable to all railways in this country the provision which my hon. friend desired to insert in the Grand Trunk Pacific Act.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK PACIFIC RAILWAY.
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CON

Charles Eusèbe Casgrain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CASGRAIN.

I do not think we can accept that suggestion at all. The railway now7 under the consideration of the committee is in altogether a different position from the railways in general in the country. It is called the National Transcontinental Railway.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK PACIFIC RAILWAY.
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LIB

Charles Fitzpatrick (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. FITZPATRICK.

The Grand Trunk Pacific.

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CON

Charles Eusèbe Casgrain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CASGRAIN.

It was introduced into this House as the National Transcontinental Railway and the principal object of the government is stated to he to continue the Canadian or British policy of carrying the traffic from the west to our own eastern sea-board. If this policy is controlled by a board of directors the majority of

whom are not British subjects, we cannot believe that it will be carried into effect. But there is not the same reason for such a provision in the case of some railways that run from one province to another or through a part of the Dominion. In some instances it would cause great inconveniences to have the general railway law amended in the direction mentioned by my hon. friend. The question does not come up in the same way, and the same reasons do not exist. Why should it have been necessary to include in the Canadian Pacific Railway Bill the proviso that a majority of the directors shall be British subjects if it is not necessary to do the same thing in the Bill now under consideration ?

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I have only this observation to make in answer to the remarks of my hon. friend from Montmorency, that the government is of opinion that at this stage of the development of national railways in Canada, they should he operated by boards on which British subjects are in the majority.

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CON

Charles Eusèbe Casgrain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CASGRAIN.

Then there can be no objection to amending this law to that effect. I would call the right hon. gentleman's attention to the fact that this question came up last year, when in answer to my hon. friend from East Toronto (Mr. Kemp), he promised that the contract would be amended to that effect. But the discussion went on from day to day, and the contract was not amended. So that we find to-day that the promise my right hon. friend made was not implemented. I am sure it was not any fault of his ; it escaped his attention. But if it was so important last year that my right hon. friend promised the House that it would be done, it is equally important this year ; and in case it might escape the right hon. gentleman's attention before an amendment is proposed to the General Railway Act, I intend to press this amendment.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK PACIFIC RAILWAY.
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CON

Albert Edward Kemp

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. KEMP.

In view of what the right hon. gentleman promised last session, 1 think it is impossible for the government not to accept this amendment. If this Bill goes through and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway is built, we shall only have in this country two great railways-the Canadian Pacific, of which it is provided that the majority of the directors shall- be British subjects, and this railway. I want to draw the attention of the House to what the right hon. gentleman said last jear. On page 8066 of ' Hansard,' I moved :

That Bill (No. 64) he not now read the third time, but that it he referred back to the Committee of the Whole House for the purpose of amending section eight by adding thereto the following words : ' The majority of the directors of whom the president shall be one shall be British subjects.'

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CON

Charles Eusèbe Casgrain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CASGRAIN.

The Prime Minister then said :

If my hon. friend will accept a suggestion I would say that while I think his amendment is a good one and I do not see any objection to it, I think we had better introduce it into the Bill confirming the contract which will come later. I am prepared to accept this amendment, but I think it would be better to put it into the Bill confirming the contract with the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company.

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CON

Albert Edward Kemp

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. KEMP.

I understand the right hon. gentleman (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) to say that this provision will be made a part of the contract ?

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?

The PRIME MINISTER.

Yes.

There are no two meanings to that language, and I do not think that the right hon. gentleman can successfully evade the question by saying there should be a general law governing it. We only have two great railway companies, and I would like to know if the Grand Trunk Railway have put their veto on this proposition. Has there been any intimation from the Grand Trunk Railway that the government must not consent to this thing, and that the directorate should not be compelled to be composed of a majority of British subjects ?

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

My hon. friend is assuming that the right hon. the First Minister is objecting to this provision as respects this company, but I do not see that he has any grounds for his contention. What the Minister of Justice has said is that the government were prepared to adopt the principle as respects this and other companies as well. My hon. friend says that there are only two great railway companies in the Dominion ; but even if the others are not so great, conditions might arise [DOT]which would lead our neighbours on the other side of the line to desire to obtain control. If it be a wise proposal that the directorate of one company should contain a majority of British citizens, the proposition is equally wise with respect to other companies. It is difficult to see why it should be wise in the case of a line 3,000 miles long and not wise in the case of another line only 2,000 miles long. I fail to see any harm that will come if such a provision be applied to the smallest railways of the country as well as to the largest.

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CON

Albert Edward Kemp

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. KEMP.

How is it possible to make a general law governing the question ? How would you apply it to the Michigan Central, which runs between Michigan and Niagara Falls ?

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

That company operates under the charter of the Canada Southern, and there would be no difficulty in having a majority of British subjects on the directorate of that road. Of course, if there is any existing board of directors, on which there is at this moment not a majority of British subjects, I would not advise in favour of turning these men, who are not British subjects, out of office, but I take it

for granted that a reasonable provision will be made and reasonable time allowed for the reorganization of such a board. If the proposition be applied to all railway companies, I cannot see what possible harm can result.

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CON

Charles Eusèbe Casgrain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CASGRAIN.

That is all right so far as it goes.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

It could not go any further, could it ?

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CON

Charles Eusèbe Casgrain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CASGRAIN.

Take the position of affairs which existed last year. We were then promised that this amendment would be added to the Bill and that a majority of the directorate would have to be British subjects. This year we have another promise. We are promised that a provision to this effect is to be added to the General Railway Act this session, but the leader of the House may go to the Yukon, and we do not know when he will return. The Minister of Railways may continue to be absent from the House, so that we will have nobody to look after the amendment. [DOT]

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX.

The hon. gentleman himself may not be here.

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CON

Charles Eusèbe Casgrain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CASGRAIN.

I will be here to stay. If it is the intention of the government to put this in a general Bill, there can be no objection to putting it in this special Bill.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

My hon. friend seems to lack faith in the opposition. Even if some of the members of the cabinet should be absent, hon. gentlemen opposite will be here, and it will be their fault if the matter is not brought up.

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CON

May 18, 1904