August 9, 1904

LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

Perhaps so, but we will

see.

At six o'clock, committee took recess.

After Recess.

Committee resumed at eight o'clock.

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CON

William Rees Brock

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BROCK.

We have been given to understand that the Grand Trunk Company are making surveys for a road which is to be built and paid for by the government of this country. We have been told that the Grand Trunk Company have no arrangement with the government under which they are to be recouped for the expense of these surveys. I would ask the government to be very careful in dealing with men who are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a transaction of this kind, without having an agreement about it. It is not a business-like way of proceeding and there must be some ulterior motive in it. We were told at the inception of this scheme that haste was absolutely necessary, and yet for two years the government has done nothing, while it now appears the Grand Trunk Company have been going on with the survey. We are not told that they are yet approaching Moncton, and I think the member of Cumberland (Mr. Logan), who forced this. extension upon the government and upon the Grand Trunk Railway Company, should be able to explain how it is that Grand Trunk surveyors and not government surveyors are surveying this line. If the thing is a failure it will be a disaster to Canada now, because we will have advertised through the world that Canada has a government of incompetents.

. Mr. BARKER. We shall be able to save discussion if the Minister of Finance will give us the assurance that no part of this 8500,000 for surveys shall be used to pay the Grand Trunk or any other company for doing work which has been carried on without the authority of parliament. If the Finance Minister will assure us that this money is for surveys yet to be made, we on this side of the House will be content. But, if the. government wants to use what is voted for surveys in the future, to pay for surveys which the Grand Trunk have already made, then I want it distinctly understood that we shall discuss the question so long as we are able to stand here and discuss it. Neither the Grand Trunk Company nor any company has authority from parliament to make surveys. If the minister has any idea of using this money or any part of it to recompense the Grand Trunk for work they have done in the past we should know the fact. We should have a distinct statement from the Minister of Finance. He should be explicit whether or not he intends to use this money for any past work.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

We have been very explicit in speaking on that subject in the past, and I cannot hope to make it any more explicit. ' I can only repeat. In the first place I am not able to give the hon. gentleman the assurance he asks for, because it would be inconsistent with every statement that has been made by the government in relation to this appropriation. We have repeatedly stated that while there was no arrangement with the Grand Trunk to recoup them, yet when we come to need our surveys and are in a position to carry on the work, if the Grand Trunk have made surveys of a portion of the line, which are suitable to our road, it would be a useless waste of money for us to make other surveys, and if we can take over some portion of the Grand Trunk surveys at a fair and reasonable price, I do not hesitate to say that that would be a very proper thing to do. There is no contract; we are perfectly free to take them over or not to take them over. If my hon. friend asks me to engage that we should in no case take over any surveys that have been made, but that in every case we should insist on making new surveys, I do not think that is a reasonable proposition. At all events, I cannot give my hon. friend the assurance.

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CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

I think we now know precisely where the Finance Minister stands. . It is perfectly clear that this vote of $500,000 is being obtained in order to recompense the Grand Trunk Railway Company for surveys which it has been making without the authority of parliament. The hon. gentleman is asking for a vote for surveys. If the government find that the surveys that have been made in the last eighteen months or two years are useful to them, they can come to parliament next session and ask authority to pay for them. We surely are udt to be asked to give the Finance Minister or the Railway Minister authority to buy these plans and surveys from the Grand Trunk Company. Parliament surely has something to say on the subject. We are willing to grant to the government any reasonable sum, even $500,000, which they upon their responsibility as ministet's of the Crown may see fit to expend on surveys for the purposes of this railway ; but I shall be very much surprised if hon. gentlemen behind them will be found disposed to give them power to buy plans and surveys which the Grand Trunk Company has been making for its own purposes and in its own interests. and to pay for them out of this grant. That is the position. Parliament will be quite prepared to discuss the question whether the Grand Trunk ought to be paid for those surveys when that question arises. The hon. gentleman does not pretend at this moment that the Grand Trunk is going to ask for payment. The hon. gentleman does not know that those surveys were in the interest of the country. They have been made, in all probability, In the special interest of the Grand Trunk, and not in the general interests of this Dominion ; and why should parliament give carte

blanche to the Finance Minister or the Railway Minister to pay for such surveys ? It is not unlike the case of Messrs. Mackenzie and Mann with regard to the Yukon Railway. Parliament discussed that case after the claim was made, and voted the money. We should reserve to parliament the right to discuss the surveys made by the Grand Trunk Railway Company when the company wants payment for them ; and it should' not be paid by the government until parliament has considered the subject, and has decided that the surveys are in the interest of the country and that' we ought to pay for them. It is perfectly plain that what the hon. Finance Minister wants is to get power to pay for the surveys without the approval of parliament-to use this vote, which on the face of it is not a vote for work already done, but for work yet to be done, to pay for the Grand Trunk.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

I do not wish to deprive my hon. friend of the glorious privilege of discussing this till to-morrow morning if he wishes. I have only to say that the explanations given of this item now are precisely the same as those that were given last session ; they do not differ a hair's breadth. My hon. friend comes forward now for the first time with the suggestion that if the Grand Trunk surveys are to be purchased, they should be made the subject of a special appropriation. I do not know what view might have been taken of that suggestion if it had been made last session or earlier in the present session. I can only say that at this stage of the session I have no authority from my colleagues to deal with the new proposition which my hon. friend has advanced. I never heard the suggestion before, although this matter has been discussed a dozen times.

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CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

I do not know what authority the hon. gentleman has. He is asking for authority to expend $500,000 for surveys yet to be made ; and there is nothing on the face of these estimates to show that His Excellency, in approving of them, has ever had brought to his attention the fact that it is not for surveys to be made that this money is to be used, but to pay for surveys already done. That is not the estimate.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

If it is not within the terms of the estimate, it cannot be done.

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CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

I think we must know from the hon. gentleman that he agrees with us in that respect.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

I do not.

Mr. BARKER, I know the hon. gentleman does not. I know that he intends to use the money contrary to w'hat on the face of the vote appears to be the intention. This, I repeat, is a vote for surveys to be Mr. BARKER.

made. The hon. gentleman will not say that it is not to be used for another purpose. I say that before we grant this, we must know from the hon. gentleman that it is to be used only for the purpose for which it professes to be.

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CON
LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

It would include any expenses in connection with the commission-the salaries of the commisisoners and the office staff, and anything else in connection with the Transcontinental Railway.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

Then this is to pay the salaries of the commissioners as well V

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

My recollection is that they are not provided for in the statute, and in that case this would pay their salaries.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

I am sorry the hon. Minister of Finance has taken such a decided position as he has just announced. We have generally found him pretty reasonable in the way of accommodating himself to the views of the opposition, but he is hardly bearing out his usual course to-night. I may say that this is a revote, and last year the minister explained to us the position of the matter. He pointed out that there were then some surveyors of the railway company in the field,, and stated that so far as their surveys could be reasonably made available for the purposes of the railway, they wrould be taken over, and reasonable compensation would be allowed. No one, so far as I know, objected to that position at that time. But it is somewhat different when another year has elapsed and the same state of things has been allowed to continue. Up to that time the railway company was acting on the assumption that it would probably build the line itself. At all events, the government had. not committed itself to the scheme of building the railway from Winnipeg to Moncton. From the time we passed the legislation of last year, it became definitely known that any surveys the company were making were being made on the government end of the line. Now the minister comes and asks for a revote and that revote must remain upon the same terms as the vote of last year. Without anything being said by the minister or any question asked by this House, it must be taken that the revote would be exactly on the same basis as last year. Last year it was explained that the government proposed utilizing the money to immediately put surveyors in the field and it was anticipated that the expense would amount to about $450,000, as stated by the Minister of Finance, If that be the theory upon which we voted last year, there is nothing in the circumstances since which would justify" the administration in using that money for the

purpose of paying the Grand Trunk Railway for any surveys they may have made.

I therefore submit that the amount which the company claims for surveys should first be ascertained and then parliament should have the right to vote whether we should pay that money or not.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

Our position is that we have not hitherto had the opportunity of proceeding with the construction of this road. We passed an Act last session designed to accomplish that purpose, and we expected that at an early day we would be able to proceed with the work. Difficulties arose, and we concluded it was not wise to proceed with the undertaking until we had come to a further agreement with the Grand Trunk Pacific which would have to be followed by legislation. That is an explanation and a reasonable one, of the delay.

I agree that the general lines on which the vote was obtained last year must stand with us to-day, but it would not be reasonable to say that in no case should we pay the Grand Trunk Railway for their surveys. I do not know what surveys they have done or whether they have made any surveys on this particular line. Surely in the absence of the amended legislation, which we believed necessary for the carrying on of this undertaking, it was the part of wisdom that we shoufd not proceed until we could know really where we were standing. If, after' the differences which arose between the government and the Grand Trunk Pacific, we had come forward and said that we had spent $300,000 or $400,000 on the work and then failed to come to an understanding with the Grand Trunk Pacific and the whole thing came to an end, hon. gentlemen opposite would properly say that when we became aware of the differences, it would have been the part of common sense not to spend anything until we had completed the legislation.

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CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

We were urged to make the surveys before you had committed yourselves to anything.

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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

We obtained legislation on the undertaking that the money would be spent through a board of commissioners. Until that board was appointed, we would not have been justified in proceeding with the work. That is the explanation of the delay. The hon. member for Hamilton has proposed for the first time that we should take a special vote for the Grand Trunk Railway surveys when we ascertain what amount is to be paid. If that suggestion had been made earlier, I am not prepared to say what might have been done, but I have not had an opportunity of consulting my colleagues and consequently am not now in a position to accept.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

It is very indefinite to vote an amount for survey and then take a

considerable portion of that for the commission.

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LIB
CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

If you have three commissioners and the personnel of the office, that will take quite a respectable sum. I understand that this is to be spent through the commissioners land not through the government.

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August 9, 1904