My hon. friend has a perfect right to ask questions and I will answer him to this extent, that it is beyond all peradventure-and the application for $10,000,000 in addition to the indebtedness and liabilities we have incurred is a proof- that it would have been far better for this *country if the government had held its hand and allowed the Grand Trunk to build the road as they wished, from North Bay through to the Pacific Coast, so that long ere this the crops would have been hauled out of the great Northwest over that road. If my hon. friend knew as he should have known, that all the government was asked to give was the ordinary bonus of perhaps some $13,000,000 or $14,000,000, and that in consideration thereof the Grand Trunk Pacific had offered to hand over every pound of freight from the west to the Intercolonial Railway at Montreal, then I think my hon. friend will admit it would have been better for the country had the project been accepted. The more closely we look into the comparison made by hon. gentlemen between this scheme and the Canadian Pacific Railway project, the more remote the two schemes seem to be from any resemblance or propinquity to one another. The Minister of Finance says that the government in this case is acting as a banker. If he means they are acting as the manager of a bank would act, I agree, but if he means as a banker in the sense of putting up the cash I would be inclined to say that the railway is coming to the people of Canada and not to the government for this loan. This is a pure business proposition. It is impossible perhaps to discuss such a question entirely without party sentiment, but I regret that that is the case if it is the case, as this is an important national question, and we ought at least to try to discuss it on its merits.
If any hon. gentleman opposite really believes it is in the interest of the country, after weighing the facts and arguments, he has a perfect right to support the resolution. But if, on the other hand, any hon. member of this House, I care not on which side he sits, honestly believes that it is not a business proposition-and that is the ground upon which the hon. Finance Minister laid it down before the House- if any hon. gentleman opposite says that this is not such a proposition as a banker should accept, then, I do not think he is doing his duty to himself, and he is certainly npt doing his duty to this country, if he vot.es for that loan believing it to be wrong. Supposing now that we were to put ourselves in the position of bankers for a moment-and it would be rather a pleasant supposition for each of us to think of a needy mendicant coming to us and asking for a loan of Mr. CONMEE.
$10,000,000-let us see what inquiries we would make before we advanced this amount of money. Supposing the railways came to the people of Canada and asked for a loan of $10,000,000; would it be untrue if the people said: 'We are very sorry but we have not $10,000,000 to loan?' It is customary for bankers, when they have not the money, to go out and borrow it at a higher rate of interest to loan it to another man? Is that the custom? If this is a Conservative attack on a government scheme, I would ask calmly, is that the custom of bankers and would bankers say that it is good business? If a person came with ample security and said that he wished to borrow $10,000,000, if the bank had not $10,000,000 and if the banker had been trying to borrow many millions of dollars in the past year and was only able to borrow forty per cent of what he wanted in the markets of the world, does it strike any one as a business proposition that the banker would entertain any such project? We will suppose that the banker was good natured and, like some other bankers, wished to do business regardless of whether the business was profitable or not, and he undertook to raise $10,000,000 and to lend it to you at four per cent; would that be considered a business transaction? What is your security? First the security of the Grand Trunk Pacific and then the guarantee of the Grand Trunk Railway Company which owes the country millions and millions of dollars, which has not paid a cent which it does not have to, and which has not paid its preference bonds. Would not Miss Canada be apt to say to the members of the government who have been introducing this deputation: 'You have been here before with these same gentlemen; I will just look up my notebook and see what you told me upon the other occasions when you were here and see if you knew then what you were talking about.' Supposing that Miss Canada turned up ' Hansard ' and saw what these gentlemen had told her when they came to her in 1903. Every supporter of the government must believe that if Miss Canada were acting intelligently, if she knew nothing about this transaction except that the members of the governjnent had come and asked for a loan, and if she wanted to see what was their business capacity she would say to them: 'We will see how your promises in the past have been fulfilled.' It is only fair to say that the fulfilment of these promises would justify their loan. Miss Canada would say: 'It is true you gave us a lot of promises in 1903, but I will look at the statute-book and see what I have of them there.' She looks at the statute-book and finds that what was pledged to Canada in the form of contracts and in other ways was, in 1904, blotted out of the statute-book of Canada. Would not Miss Canada be likely to receive with suspicion a proposition from gentlemen who came so
accredited? But the Minister of Finance, in laying that proposition before her says: 'Oh, Miss Canada, you should not be afraid of us; look carefully into the section and you will see that you have your first mortgage on this great system of railway.' And then, when Miss Canada looked in and saw that she did not have a first mortgage, that she had not a first class mortgage, that she did not have a mortgage that any lawyer in Canada would take for any client, except the Laurier government, would she not be justified in declining with thanks to enter into such a bargain ? But then, the Minister of Finance may say that they have a statement showing the large amount of money that has been spent by this virtuous corporation. They show that $8,000,000 has been put into rolling stock. Would it strike Miss Canada as being any certificate of business integrity, of business ability on the part of this insolvent corporation, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company, which seeks to borrow $10,000,000, that it had put $8,000,000 into rolling stock for a road that had not been opened? Does it strike one as a business transaction? When we find that the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company, which has no money, which is getting all it can get out of the Grand Trunk, has spent $8,000,000 on rolling stock and loaned that rolling stock to the Grand Trunk Railway Company at 4 per cent, when we remember that the lifetime of rolling stock would not at the most be more than fifteen or twenty years, and when we find this insolvent corporationpaying its debt back to its friends the rich no less poor corporation in this way, we can judge whether it is a transaction that would appeal to any business man in this country. Do you thinkMiss Canada would be inclined to treatwith such a company as that ? MissCanada might well say: 'I wonder if everything has been honest and square about this road from the beginning to the end? You gentlemen are coming here for $10,000,000, and it is a case of your honesty or nothing.' This corporation is honest or dishonest. It is not for me to say which. No honest man objects to letting his books be looked at. No honest man who wants to borrow money is ashamed to show where the money that he has already borrowed went.
Will the right hon. Prime Minister say that the Grand Trunk Pacific are so secure in their honesty, so proud of their expenditure that they are willing to allow their books to be looked into? Many hon. gentlemen in this House remember that when we took evidence before the Public Accounts Committee we found that it cost a Grand Trunk official thousands of dollars to come from Montreal to Ottawa although he travelled in his private car and probably lunched at the Rideau club and paid his
bill at the end of the month? We remember how thousands were paid to lawyers in the city of Ottawa, we remember how $150,000 were spent before the charter was granted and although the evidence before the committee showed that the Grand Trunk had charged this amount against the Grand Trunk Pacific, and that when they were asked for the vouchers they preferred to allow such items as $30,000 or $35,000 to go by the board rather than show the vouchers in reference to them. In addition we remember the fact that supporters of the government refused to allow gentlemen on this side of the House to probe these accounts in order to find where this $150,000 went. If any men or any company were to come and ask for a loan and knowing that they had made charges in their books, that they had rendered their accounts, that these had been submitted to an auditor and that when the auditor had asked for vouchers they had voluntarily withdrawn thousands and thousands of dollars rather than show their vouchers. I would like to ask the Premier himself if he would not insist upon a proper audit of their books before he advanced any money? We have had rumours throughout the country. My attention has just been called to the fact that after they had withdrawn the vouchers the evidence before the Public Accounts Committee showed that they had carefully burned them. At all events, these vouchers were recalled, the Grand Trunk Pacific were willing to forego the payment of their accounts, the vouchers were destroyed by the order of an officer of the company and when the Public Accounts Committee tried to secure the presence of an officer of the Grand Trunk Railway Company who could have told us about these matters he started for the Mediterranean on the first train and the man they sent up knew nothing at all about them. I think that the right hon. gentleman, if he himself were aware of such facts, would be inclined to be sceptical about advancing any more money if it is a business transaction as the Finance Minister says it is, and we are looking at it as bankers and asking ourselves if we can in justice to the country make such a loan. There have been rumours in the country and there has been evidence given in the Public Accounts and other committees which would lead people to think that neither on the government division nor on the western division has the road been economically constructed. Is there a single man in this House that believes that the fcuilding of a prairie road would cost $36,000 a mile. Why, Mr. Hays ought to be flayed alive; the government ought certainly to discipline him for daring to taunt them as he did when he writes about the
improved character of the road, when we remember that the justification given by the government originally for the high estimate of cost was that they were going to build a road equal to the Grand Trunk between Montreal and Toronto which is universally admitted to be one of the finest pieces of railroad on the American continent. There cannot be any improvement on the character of the road which was guaranteed when the original money was advanced, and therefore I call the attention of the Prime Minister to the fact that Charles M. Hays when he gives that as a reason is telling something he knows is not true, just as well as he knows of the burning of the vouchers and the refusal to show the accounts.
There is another feature in this: The Grand Trunk is mainly owned, I believe, in the old country. I am sorry, and every Canadian must be sorry, that the investment of the original Grand Trunk shareholders has turned out so badly. But does the government think it has any right to run the risk of making the position of the shareholders more desperate than it is, by lending money to a company that has so thrown away money in construction that when it comes to begin operations there will be such a burden of interest that the rates they will have to charge for transportation of freight and passengers will put them out of business in competition with other better managed railroads? Will not the last end of the English investors be worse than the first? Could anything be more calculated to injure the credit of Canada in the old country than to have our government hand and glove with a corporation that has not kept its word, that is so grasping that it wants everything in sight, that is so determined to make something out of nothing that without having put up anything themselves, they have walked off with twenty-five million dollars of the common stock of this railway? That stock is worth something or it is worth nothing; if it is worth nothing what are we to think of these gentlemen who perpetrate what I might cal] petty larceny in taking a worthless stock, and, if it is worth something, why should not the country have control of it in view of this advance of ten million dollars. It has been said that this road has gone so far that it must be completed. What has that got to do with the question now before the House. Here is a railroad which made certain promises in 1903 and which broke these promises one after another in 1904, and we paid the bill. Here is a road that made certain other promises in 1904 and which has been breaking them religiously, consistently, and persistently ever since, and which now comes and asks for ten Mr. NORTHRUP.,
million dollars, the first of probably half a dozen more ten millions for all we can tell. What guarantee can we have that a corporation that has deceived us every time up to date is suddenly going to reform and lead another and a better, and to us, a more satisfactory life. It seems to me, Sir, that after all the proposition is a simple one. We on this side of the House wish to preserve the credit of Canada, to do everything that is proper to attain that end, but when an insolvent company comes to us and says: 'If you
don't advance us ten million dollars the work will fail,' I would answer: 'Are you the only company in the world; are you the only people who can build a railway; are we absolutely dependent on the Grand Trunk Pacific and the Grand Trunk that we must put our necks under their heels and let them crush us into the ground? No, if you cannot build it somebody else can.' Sir, there is nobody in this country so poor or so simple or so ignorant that if you give him one hundred per cent of the cost of a railway he cannot build that railway. And when you think of a company which has been given one hundred per cent of the cost of construction, and then think of its magnates cooly and deliberately buying the town sites all along the line at $3 per acre, and when you think of them holding up municipality after municipality and saying they won't put their yards or their tracks here or there until blackmail is paid, when you find all this on top of the 100 per cent of the cost of the road we have given to them, are we to be blamed if we are a little suspicious of the honesty or the business capacity of the company that in face of all that comes and asks us as a first instalment for ten million dollars more?
Now, Sir, if on the prairie section, which every one will admit should be enormously less expensive than the mountain section, calculations were so far astray that they were ten million dollars out, who will dare to say they can build the mountain section for the sum they promised. Is it not a moral certainty that this is but the beginning of the end; is it not certain that this government will find they have an old man of the sea on their shoulders who every year will be here kicking for another ten millions or twenty millions? Why the day may not be far distant when we shall be thankful that the Grand Trunk Pacific will let us off for ten millions a year when they reach the mountain section. If that is to be, why should we not as a business transaction apart from all sentimental feeling, say to this company: ' There are other companies that can build this road; you have
had the grandest opportunity any company ever had in this world, first to build the road and next to make a fortune for everybody in connection with it; you failed utterly in the first, though rumour says you succeeded admirably in the second, after all the advantages you have had.' Then, would it not be the common sense view, would it not be the view of the man who has confidence in Canada and Canadians to say: 'If you, mainly foreigners, have fallen down, we have have good native Canadians who have the brains and the brawn to build that road and we will see it is built whether the Grand Trunk Pacific Company turns another sod or not.'