I understand the Minister of Finance to give as a reason why this amendment should not be adopted that it is the intention of the government tc consider whether they shall introduce into the General Railway Act a provision to the same effect, which shall apply to all companies. That may or may not be a thing that will come to pass within the next few years, but whatever may be the position of the government with regard to companies generally, there are special reasons why such a clause should be inserted in the Act relating to this particular company. There are reasons why this provision should apply to this company, which perhaps do not exist with regard to any other company. This is called a National Transcontinental Railway, and if there is any company in existence which should have its board composed as this amendment proposes, it is this one. I think, whatever faith we may have in the Minister of Finance, we may have some hesitation in believing that it is likely he will carry out his good intention. I do not doubt for a moment his good
faith, but would ask him to consider this. Suppose he comes next year with a Bill to introduce this amendment into the General Railway Act, making it apply to all railway companies, where is he going to be with regard to the Grand Trunk Railway ? He will find a great many difficulties about applying his proposed amendment do that company. Almost every shareholder and bondholder interested in the Grand Trunk Railway is a resident of England or of one of the British islands. Those people have acquired for the last half century their interest in that company, knowing they had a board in England, knowing that the board met there, and that they could attend the half-yearly meeting of that board and discuss there their interests and criticise the conduct of every president and director. I think there might be a very strong case made out against the proposition of the government to make this clause applicable to every company. Certainly there would be very strong ground shown. I think, in opposition to making such a clause apply to the Grand Trunk Railway. If that be so, if there be one company to whom such an amendment might possibly be an injustice, is it not clear that we should now lose the opportunity of making this amendment apply to the one company to which we know it ought to apply ? And what is the company to which it ought to apply ? That is the point of the amendment and we cannot understand why hon. gentlemen should refuse. What possible objection can they have to providing that the board of directors who are to control this Natioual Transcontinental Railway shall be British subjects ? Are they going to leave it open to foreigners, aliens, to manage the policy of the Transcontinental Railway, the national railway of Canada ? That is the effect of the opposition to this amendment. Though it might be prudent and wise to make that clause apply to half the railway companies of Canada for one reason or another, there cannot be one sensible reason given for objecting to it with regard to this particular railway. And it is now. when we have an opportunity of applying it to this company that the government hesitates, and says no. I would like to know their reason for it. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) says that there :s no objection to it but he intends to do something else. That is no answer-no answer whatever. This company when it is floated should be floated on a distinct understanding as to the character of the board that is to rule it. The company should not be allowed to go upon the market, create their holdings, elect their directors, and then, we afterwards come and say to them : You must change all that ; ' we
did not put it into the Bill when we had the opportunity to do so ; we left you free to take what course you pleased ; but nowr you must dismiss these alien directors.
I say this is the time when it ought to be clone. There may be in the future, many reasons why the Minister of Finance cannot carry out his proposition even though be would like to do so.