Mr. J. D. REID.
One reason why I submit the Bill should not go through is that it is admitted that the gentlemen who are in this company are to purchase the power from the St. Lawrence Power Company and then they will sell it to the towns of Prescott and Brockville, the Railway Commission having the right to fix the rates at which the transmission company sell to these towns. But the commission cannot regulate the rates at which it shall be sold by the power company to the transmission company and the transmission company have a capital of $200,000. The line will not cost $25,000 and they will make the people pay a dividend on a lot of watered stock and a double profit. If the Minister of Railways and Canals is so anxious, as I believe he is, to get power to Brockville, it has been argued here that the St. Lawrence Power Company now have power to run a transmission line to Brockville. If he will say to this company; Run your transmission line to Brockville at once or otherwise I will cancel your contract, that line would be built. We are paying $52,000 a year to that company for 400 horse-power to open and shut the gates and are not using more than 45 horse-power. We pay $63 a horsepower, and when the government confirmed that contract in October, 1900, just before the elections, the company were selling power at Cornwall at $12.50 a horse-power. That contract for 400 horse-power is for 89 years. The present Minister of Justice, on the application of the Auditor General, gave an opinion saying possibly the making of this contract was a distinct infraction of section 11 of the Act respecting the Department of Railways and Canals, Revised Statutes of Canada, ch. 37, which says:
The minister shall invite tenders by public advertisement for the execution of all works except in cases of pressing emergency in which delay would be injurious to tbe public interest or in which the nature of the work 't can be more expeditiously and economically executed by the officers and servants of the minister.
The contract they have is illegal, and it was in 1900 that this government amended the old contract. The late minister, Mr. Blair, amended and extended it. If the Minister of Railways thinks that this Bill would do that then where we would have the advantage of getting cheaper power would be that the Railway Commission would deal with the St. Lawrence Power Company. Supposing this transmission company that is being formed, say: We have to pay the St. Lawrence Power Company $20 or $25 per horse-power, and we are only asking $2 to $3 per horse-power more; nobody could object to that. I cannot see where we are going to get any benefit from the clause in this Bill which says that the Railway Commission shall be referred to. Now, it has been admitted that this power is to come from the St. Lawrence Power Company. The men who are the incorporators of this transmission line company went to the Waterways Commission in Toronto and told them that they were getting this Bill passed, that they proposed to dam the St. Lawrence and they claimed that the damming of the St. Lawrence should be carried out in order that they might get this power. I appeal, in the interests of Brockville and Prescott, to the Minister of Railways, to make the St. Lawrence Power Company send that power up there. Then we will not have to deal with any middle company that we have no control over, and we can then insist that they shall give us a reasonable rate. I do not think that under the Railway Act we can get cheap power from the Railway Commission, but if they were not giving us a reasonable rate we could come to parliament and ask that the Bill be amended, so as to provide that the Board of Railway Commissioners could regulate the rate.