Sir WILFRID LAURIER.
best, in fact the only effective mode of preventing division of our traffic ; we enable the people as a whole to participate in the growing prosperity of the country and in the advantages; accruing from its increasing commerce. In all these respects our opportunities will be multiplied one hundred fold.
There are those who are alarmed at the prospect of government operation of railways. I am not insensible to the fact that there are certain difficulties, possibly certain disadvantages attending state ownership of railways. But, Sir, we have to choose at the present time when this contract is placed before us, and let us remem-her that even if we build this line there is nothing to prevent us leasing it for a limited period, until public sentiment on this point is more fully developed in Canada. And if we should lease that line, built and owned by the people of this country we should undoubtedly be able to lease it on much better terms than have been secured for the people of this country with respect to the eastern division. If from the eastern division we have secured a rental of three per cent, surely for that splendid profitable western division we could secure a very much higher rental. But, Sir, I believe that by the time we would have this road constructed from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the growing sentiment of the people of Canada would have reached the conclusion that that road, constructed by the people of this country should not only be owned, but operated by them. That is the point to which I believe public sentiment will have arrived in this country, even if this road shall be built by the government with all possible expedition.
The government is driving this measure through parliament, not by the aid of a reason or argument, but by the mere force of its submissive majority. Not one man in ten of the government supporters has taken sufficient interest in the measure to make himself thoroughly acquainted with it in all its details. The Grand Trunk has decided what the government must do, and the government has decided what its supporters in parliament must do. The Grand Trunk thus dictates to the government and through the' government to the country.
Before committing the country to an enterprise which will .increase- our national obligations by more than fifty per cent; which will so pledge our future resources as to prevent any great scheme of national transportation for many years, and which will probably destroy the Intercolonial Railway, and will indefinitely retard any advancement in state ownership ; before doing this, constitutional usage demands that the government should submit the question to the people. We have moved an amendment to that effect which has been voted down. The government has no mandate from the people to engage in this enter-Mr. R. L. BORDEN.
prise, nor has it any legitimate authority to deny an appeal to the people. It has no justification to refuse to listen to the voice of the people. It proposes at all cost to force this measure through parliament and upon the people. It proposes then forthwith to enter into binding contracts, and to thus stifle the voice of the people, even if that voice should be raised with no uncertain sound against this measure. I have heard all throughout the country ; I have heard from Cape Breton in Nova Scotia to the western part of Ontario, what the government propose to accomplish by means of this stroke of political genius. I have heard on every hand of what the supporters of the government have been saying as to the resources which would be placed at the disposal of the government in the approaching campaign. These things have not been said in the closet, they have been said upon the house tops ; in every part of the country I have visited I have heard, them. But Sir, considerations of that kind are not sufficient to stifle the voice of the people. No one can tell in advance what the verdict of the people will be. If that verdict should be against the government, the design of the government is nevertheless that the will of the people shall not be regarded, and that the will of the Grand Trunk Pacific magnates shall prevail.
To this, Mr. Speaker, we now enter our strongest demur. Against it we now formulate our most solemn protest. We do not propose that the voice of the people shall be stifled, and we declare that if the Conservative party is returned to power at the next general election, it will enact such legislation as will enable the will of the people to prevail over the will of this corporation, however great and however powerful it may be. The people of Canada, if they realize their own strength, are and will be greater than any corporation-greater than all corporations. They may not have the same organization or the same capacity to combine, but their power when exerted to the full is at all times irresistible. If it is the will of the people of Canada, as declared by their voice at the next ejection, that another railway from ocean to ocean shall be built, owned, controlled by the people of Canada, and not by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company;-if it is the will of the people that we shall assume not only nine-tenths, but ten-tenths of the obligations necessary to construct another transcontinental road and by that means own and control a national railway highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific-the Conservative party if returned to power, is prepared, in accordance with the will of the people so expressed, to place upon the statute-book of Canada such legislation as will enable that result to be accomplished with the least possible delay.
It is for the people to decide. We shall abide, indeed we must abide by their ver-
diet. But let them understand that they have the absolute choice ; let them understand that the door is not yet closed. By expropriation, or by any other fair and just policy we shall carry out the will of the people. Let the people determine whether Canada shall have a government-owned railway, or a railway-owned government.
The sanctity of contracts demands that the legitimate rights of the promoters of this undertaking should be respected. There must be no repudiation. They shall not be put to any loss, but at the same time the country shall not be required to pay to them any prospective or speculative or unreasonable profits. If they see fit to join with the government in driving this measure through parliament by the aid of an obedient majority, they must take that course with their eyes open, and with the understanding that the right of the people of Canada to a voice in so great an enterprise is not to be denied and will not be disregarded.
Against the Grand Trunk Railway we harbour no ill-will. It is entitled to, and it shall receive the fullest justice at our hands. By that justice it shall receive such running rights over the extended government lines as will give it complete and ample access to the Northwest. But these rights must be accompanied by stipulations adequately conserving and protecting the public interests, and especially the interests of our great national ports.
Having said so much, I now move the following resolution, which is designed to express, in connection with those already moved, the policy which the Conservative party will carry out in attempting a solution of the great problem of national transportation. I move, seconded by Mr. Hag-gart-seconded by Mr. Kemp rather-
Subtopic: GRAND TRUNK PACIFIC RAILWAY.