February 23, 1912

SECOND READINGS.


Bill (No. 108), respecting the Trust and Loan Company of Canada.-Mr. Baker. Bill (No. 109), for the relief of Herbert Horsfall.-Mr. McKay. Bill '(No. 110), for the relief of Kenneth Molson.-Mr. Rhodes.


IMPROVEMENT OF HIGHWAYS.


House resumed in committee on Bill (No. 77) to encourage and assist the improvement of highways.-Mr. Cochrane. On section 3, grant of annual subsidy for highways,


CON

Andrew Broder

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRODER.

I think the importance of this legislation justifies the new departure. Perhaps it has scarcely dawned on the people of this country what this measure means to the rural sections of Canada, and to the agricultural interests. Let us look at what has been done elsewhere in regard to highways. In France, for instance, a country where agriculture has reached as high a condition, perhaps, as in any country in the world, they have 23,600 imiies of what tare called national highways, 28,600 .miles of departmental highways-all of these roads being paid for by the state-390,000 miles of municipl roads, upon which there is an annual outlay of 125,000,000 francs, or $25,000,000, and, in addition, a great mileage of what are known as rural roads, narrow roads connecting with the greater highways throughout the country. Consider also what is being done in the United States. In the state of New York, a few years ago, they bonded the state to the extent of $50,000,000 for the purpose of improving the roads, and the state proposes to build absolutely at the public expense 3,000 miles of state roads. They propose also, with the money raised by this issue of bonds, to assist what they call towns-we call them townships. In the state of Ohio, the estimate generally accepted is that the improvement of the road system adopted by the state, has increased farm values by from 25 to 50 per cent.

I asked the state engineer of what is called the State Commission, what effect the improvement of roads in the state of Massachussets had had in bringing back occupants to the abandoned farms, of which they have a good many, and he said that hundreds had returned to the farm in consequence of good roads. So it is a very important matter from that point of view. I am glad to see the unanimity existing in the House with regard to the importance of this question.

Now, it might be wise to consider carefully whether we should not have, to some extent, what we might call federal loads built and maintained by the federal authorities. There is danger, if you come down to the municipalities with this money, that we will have a lack of uniformity, we will not have that distinctive system which should govern the outlays on these roads. Now, we have nad some experience in Ontario with reference to giving municipalities money for this purpose. Several years ago there was what is known in Ontario as the Municipal Loan Fund. A number of counties borrowed largely from this fund, while others did not borrow from it. Some counties borrowed so largely that, after a few years, they found it difficult to pay; and away back in 1871 or 1872, I think the Hon. E. B. Woods devised a scheme of settling this vexed question. The legislature passed a law to forgive the debt to many of the borrowers, and in order to do justice to those who had not borrowed, they gave them so much per head. Now, it was not easy for some years to see any real benefit following the gift of that money to the municipalities. The difficulty was that they lowered their taxation instead of using the money to make improvements. I suppose under this Bill that difficultly could scarcely occur, because this money cannot be put to any other purpose than that of assisting in road construction. But. if you relieve the people along the line where you build one of these roads from road taxation, then there should be some arrangement by which the province would tax them for the purpose of forming a road fund, to build roads some where else. There has been a good deal said with reference to some definite plan or scheme being mentioned in the Bill. If you consider for a moment the varied climate of our extended country, you cannot have any uniform system that would apply to all the provinces, because our winter in some parts of the country affects the roads adversely. If you go into the far west and into British Columbia where they have a mild winter a different system would apply altogether. Then another thing is that the material out of which you have to build roads is of a

different kind in different sections of the country. There are some places where road material is much more easily got than in other places. All these matters have to be considered in dealing with this question.

The hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Macdonald), has raised the question of provincial rights. I think there is very little danger of any sharp trouble arising on this point so long as we are giving them something. The difficulty under the administration 'the hon. gentleman supported, was that the government was always taking something away from the provinces. That was a very different proposition. I am not a lawyer, but I believe this question of provincial rights, is largely a growth of sentiment rather than a difficulty in law. Expediency must to a large extent decide these questions between the federal and provincial authorities. Now the Americans are strong on state rights. When the federal government in the United States proposed to appropriate large sums of money to lend to the state for the purpose of encouraging agriculture, they said in the Act by which they made the appropriation that nothing in this Act should interfere with the right of the state to deal with this question; and there was no difficulty. Now it seems to me there ought to be no difficulty in this country, because our system is more elastic than theirs. I do not fear any difficulty along the lines suggested by the hon. member for Pictou. It seems to be that it will be ultimately a matter of agreement largely between the provinces, and the federal authorities. I think the direction of the road, or the location of the road, will largely be decided by conference between the provinces and the federal authority, because you must of necessity consult the provinces in a matter in which they have to so large an extent the local control.

Now, I feel that it would not be an unwise thing for the federal government to build certain roads as distinctively federal roads, and maintain them as such, because the question of maintenance is as important as the question of construction, and perhaps more so. If a road is not properly maintained, then you might just as well not build it, because it will very soon become dilapidated and useless. That is the experience of every one. Now, I wish to say that so far as I am concerned the proposal of the government has my most hearty and warm support. It is something that will affect the future of this country as nothing else will do that has been proposed for a number of years. As has been so well said by hon. members on both sides of the House, if we make such large outlays in other directions affecting trans-

portation, the burden of which has been largely thrown upon the agriculturalists throughout the country, and white he ha(3 to bear his share of other burdens in which he is also interested, the time has come to consider the advisability and wisdom of doing something to help the farmer, to get nearer to the door of the man who has worked so hard to solve the agricultural problems of this country. I can see no reason why this scheme should .not be carried out successfully, and in such a manner as to result in general welfare to the country. I was much interested in reading the early history of the eastern New England States in reference to roads. Before the railway, there was a strife between different neighbourhoods to secure what was then known as the ' general travel ' along those roads. The well-to-do people who rode in their carriages would choose the best roads, and the different farming communities vied with each other in constructing good roads so as to secure that travel; there was a sort of rivalry between them which resulted in better roads than would have otherwise been made. But when 'the railways came, they did away with all that. And, now, the era of automobiles is coming in, and is bringing that class of traffic back to the farmers' doors that has not been there before for a great many _ years, although it must be said that he is not very anxious sometimes to get it. But we must deal with all these questions as they arise, and they will 'have to be dealt with in this country. It is said that in the state of New York the outlay on roads will be largely repaid by the tax imposed on automobiles in that state. It seems to me that while this House has a right to deal with the matter, it will be a question to a considerable extent of co-operating with the provinces in carrying out the object of this Bill. I wish to say in conclusion that Whatever may be the outcome, I hope and believe that great good will result from this legislation to the community in general.

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX.

I think we are all agreed that the legislation which is now before the committee is per se good legislation, subject, however, to tire limitations which were formulated in "the amendment proposed by the right ihon. leader of tire opposition.

However, this amendment was lost, and we are now face to face with the legislation as introduced by the Minister of Railways and Canals. As I said a moment ago, every class in this country will readily admit that a good roads policy is a safe policy. I have always been of opinion, and this opinion is shared by many, that the provinces at the time of Confederation were not given their proper share of subsidies. They were given only limited powers and thereby limited resources. As the Mr. BRODER,

roads were more under their control than under the control of the federal authorities, the highway in the various provinces has not been what it should be. However, Sir, we must not forget that time flies, and that immediately after the old days were past, when that lonely trail was kept open by the settler, came the railway age which did away practically for at least forty years with the immediate necessity for an improved highway. People thought only of railways and of the settlement of the country through the railways. But a new era has dawned in this country, and not only in this country but on the whole of the continent. It is that of the good roads. My hon. friend from Dundas (Mr. Broder) has referred to the state of the roads in France and England. A comparison between the roads of the old country and the roads, of the new continent cannot hold good, because the roads in France and England date as far back as the Roman conquest in some cases, and the climate on the other side contributes towards maintaining in their proper condition the highways .of both these countries. I quite agree with the hon. gentleman that there is nothing so glorious as a ride or drive on the highways of France or England, but, as I have just stated, it is impossible for Canada or even for the northern portion of the United States, to maintain roads in that condition on account of the climate. But we can imitate, even though it be at a distance, what has been done in the old country and by the richer states of the United States commonwealth. We have passed the age when railways were the exclusive necessity. We, of course, admit as a foregone conclusion that the whole country must be a network of railways, but our attention must also be turned towards the establishment and maintenance of a perfect system of highways. I do not know what has been done in the other provinces, but I can speak of what I have seen in Ontario, where a forward policy has been the aim of the government for the last twenty years. I have noticed, especially around Toronto, Hamilton and London, that they have almost reached perfection as Tegards highways. I do not know how it is in other sections or in other provinces, but the province of Ontario has had very good roads for the last twenty years. In the province of Quebec we have just inaugurated a good roads policy. The progressive administration of Sir Louis Gouin has just decided that $10,000,000 would be appropriated towards the opening and maintaining of good soads within the boundaries of the province. The municipalities are going to share in the construction and maintenance of the highways. There will be a consortium between the municipalities and the government of the province. Each will contribute its

share. No later than last week the Minister of Agriculture was given new powers by legislation for the carrying out of that policy.

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CON

Andrew Broder

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRODER.

I think the people only pay two per cent and then the government create a sinking fund.

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Air. LEMIEUX.

Yes, that is the basis of the arrangement. I do not share the view of my hon. friend from Dundas with reference to the establishment of a federal roads system in Canada. I believe that we are almost all agreed that the money to be voted by this parliament for good roads throughout Canada should be distributed in the way suggested this afternoon by both my right hon. friend the Prime Minister (Mr. Borden) and my right hon. friend the leader of the opposition (Sir Wilfrid Laurier). I think the Minister >f Railways should prepare a concrete plan which might be submitted to the different provinces and the moneys might then be handed to the provincial exchequers, and expended under the conditions imposed by the authority of this parliament and by the authority of the minister. 1 believe that under that system we could have shortly in Canada a splendid highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Mv hon. friend from Dundas stated quite rightly a moment ago that the automobile had completely changed the conditions of, shall I say, existence-in America. I know that in the old country conditions have been changed completely since the appearance of the automobile. There the leisurely class of people travel more by automobile to-day than they do by railway. People go across the Atlantic, and take their automobile with them in order to see the country that they do not see well when they travel by rail. I do not wish to be provincial, but I can apeak for my own province where I spend the summers. Even in the remote districts of Quebec, on the coast of Gaspe and at Murray Bay in the county of Charlevoix where they have no railway system, I have seen during the summer, hundreds of automobiles coming from the United States loaded with tourists, visiting our highly favoured, picturesque regions and spending money lavishly. Their visits have had a twofold result. First of all, the people have become a little more proud; they look after their gardens, their farms and keep their habitations more clean and tidy. They supply butter, cheese, fruits and other staples to the tourists and above all they are inclined to do a little more towards maintaining the roads than before. Above all the automobile has been a blessing in disguise in that we have now, in the remotest country districts, better hotel accommodation. Though the automobile is dreaded by many habitants because some horses take fright

when they see it coming, it has nevertheless been a blessing in disguise.

The advent of the automobile has unquestionably been a great inducement towards the betterment of highways, and has given us better hotel accommodation. This is Sir, a progressive policy, and provided the money we grant is not spent to debauch the electorate, but in the public interest, and with safeguards thrown around its expenditure, I believe this legislation will be most beneficial to the inhabitants of Canada.

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CON

Arthur Samuel Goodeve

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GOODEVE.

I endorse the suggestion of the hon. member for Dundas (Mr. Bro-der) that this expenditure should be on trunk line roads, and I do so all the more readily, because of our experience in British Columbia. A few years ago, Mr. Taylor, Minister of Public Works for British Columbia, conceived the idea of setting aside a certain sum of money each session for the building of a trunk road from Bur-rard Inlet to the provincial boundary of Alberta. That proposal when first made was received not only by a large number of the members of the House, but by a large number of the people of the province, with very grave doubt, fearing, as they did, that a special trunk road of that nature was scarcely warranted by the then development stage of our province. However, only two or three sessions passed before Mr. Taylor was able to demonstrate the great benefit such a trunk line bestowed on the province. Mr. Taylor is now affectionately called by the people ' Good Roads Taylor,' and there is no more popular grant made in the legislature than the annual appropriation for the continuation of that provincial trunk road. To give an idea how such a trunk road advertises the province, I may mention that last winter I delivered a lecture in Toronto and having referred to this British Columbia provincial road, a number of gentlemen waited on me after the meeting; they were men of leisure and means, and they decided to so arrange their summer tour that they might motor over that scenic route in British Columbia. I feel strongly that if this grant of Dominion money is merely distributed throughout the provinces here and there, for municipal roads, you will not get the same concrete benefit you would if the expenditure were made on a distinctive trunk line road; a road that eventually would stretch from Halifax on the Atlantic to Burrard Inlet, on the Pacific. Were such a road constructed, the municipal roads would become feeders to it, with the result that they would be greatly improved and the whole Dominion would reap untold benefits. I was present at the Yukon Exposition in Seattle, and I attended .there an illustrated lecture on good roads. One of the pictures thrown on the screen showed a team of horses with a wagon containing

two or three bales of cotton, the wagon stuck in the mud, the fences broken, and everything dilapidated and dismal looking. Then, another picture showed the same place five years after the construction of a trunk road, and on this road was a wagon loaded with a ton and a half of baled cotton, drawn by a splendid team of horses, and with fine residences on each side of the rgad. The lecturer assured us that all this change had been brought about inside of five years by the good roads improvement commission of that district, and the illustration impressed itself very vividly on my mind. It is my opinion that the municipalities should continue to look after their own roads and that the Dominion grant should be devoted to a trunk line system of roads, such as I have referred to. The trunk road would be in the nature of a model road; it would be laid out with the idea of reaching from one snecific point to another, exactly like a transcontinental line of railway, and the municipal roads would become feeders to it. I believe that is the correct principle upon which the Dominion grant should be expended. A splendid trunk road extending through the entire Dominion would be an incentive to the municipalities to put their roads in first class order; it would induce travel by tourists who would be free spenders; it would encourage the erection of first class tourist hotels at various places, and on the whole it would in every way benefit every part of the Dominion. I most heartily endorse that portion of the remarks of the hon. member for Dundas (Mr. Broder) in which he advocated this trunk line road.

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LIB

William Manley German

Liberal

Mr. GERMAN.

I must express my absolute disapproval of the statement made by the hon. member for Kootenay (Mr. Good-eve) as well as by the hon. member for Dundas (Mr. Broder) in regard to a general trunk line. The hon. member for Dundas stated that many years ago municipalities in the province of Ontario borrowed money from the government under the Municipal Loan Fund Act, and that in the settlement of that indebtedness things did not work out satisfactorily. I think they worked out with absolute satisfaction. Those municipalities which had borrowed money received certain sums from the government of the province, and that money went into permanent improvements such as the building of town halls or other public buildings.

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CON
LIB

William Manley German

Liberal

Mr. GERMAN.

It was done in every district that I know anything about. It may not have been done in the district which the hon. gentleman comes from, because the people there may not have been as careful in the management of their affairs as they were in my section. The hon. gentleman talked of a main highway Mr. GOODBYE

through the length of this country, as though it were as important as a new trunk line of railway, paying that the money which is voted by the Dominion parliament should be applied to the construction of a main trunk line of highway from east to west, and, as the hon. member for Kootenay said, feeders built leading to that. Let me tell my hon.' friend that the good roads which the fanners of this country want are good roads leading from their farms to the railway stations in their own localities, and not good roads which lead to any trunk highway which runs from east to west, and which is built simply for the automobilist and the tourist. The farmers of this country want good roads; they are in favour of this Bill, and the Liberal party are in favour of it, because it was the Liberal party of the province of Ontario that first introduced the proposition.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Oh, oh.

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LIB

William Manley German

Liberal

Mr. GERMAN.

Let me tell the hon. gentlemen who smile that the first good-roads legislation that was ever introduced in Canada was introduced by the government of Sir George Ross in the province of Ontario. That legislation was accepted by the succeeding government, of which the hon. Minister of Railway^ was a member. They improved on it, to some extent, I admit, because they increased the amount of the allowance to the municipalities. I want to emphasize that the money which is to be appropriated by this parliament for the construction of good roads must be devoted to the construction of good roads throughout the various municipalities in the Dominion-not to a main trunk line. When the government sees fit to appropriate money for that purpose, we will discuss that proposal when it comes. But this Bill is for the purpose of aiding the provinces in the construction of good roads under the legislative jurisdiction of the provinces and that is to aid the municipalities in building good roads for the use of the farmers generally in carrying their wheat and other products to the markets on the lines of the various railways!, and not for the construction of a main trunk line from one end of this country to the other.

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CON

George Henry Bradbury

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRADBURY.

I want to congratulate the government on having brought this Bill before the House. I believe the remarks made by my hon. friend who has just taken his seat are on the right line, so far as the province of Manitoba is concerned. The trunk road idea is a good one, but the roads through our different municipalities are of more importance to us at the present time. In my province we have laboured under great difficulties' for many years from the fact that we have had very

poor roads and very little money to make good ones. I have often wondered why the Dominion government did not take this matter up years ago. I know that the late government, or at least some of the ministers, were approached on different occasions, but they were afraid t-o bring the subject before the House; they said it was too great an undertaking. That was the answer that some of my friends from Manitoba got, and I want to congratulate the government to-day on having the courage to bring this measure before parliament. To my mind there is nothing that concerns the province of Manitoba more than the question of good roads. In my own county, which is nearly 150 miles square, we have been labouring under great difficulties. Indeed, throughout the whole province the question of making roads is a very difficult one, owing to tile lack of money. The provincial government has come to our aid from time to time, but owing largely perhaps to the manner in which the province has been treated for many years by the Dominion government, the funds at their disposal have been insufficient to aid us to any great extent. The consequence has been that in the settled districts after a heavy shower of rain, it is almost impossible for a loaded wagon to pass along the roads. Therefore, the proposed Bill is a blessing to the province from which I come, and I trust that there will be a well-advised scheme for giving effect to it. Some hon. members spoke of the money being handed over to the different municipalities. If I read the Bill correctly, there is no such intention. I understand that the money will be expended under a well-devised scheme between this government and the provincial governments. In that way I believe we shall obtain value for every dollar of this money. While on my feet I want to say a word about a federal road. There are some districts in Canada where I believe a distinct federal road would be justified, and I have one in my mind's eye at the present time. At Stony Mountain, about twelve miles from the city of Winnipeg, we have a large penitentiary, and ' the road between that point and Winnipeg is almost impassable. There is a daily train service, but we ought to have a federal state road between the penitentiary and the city of Winnipeg. We have a mountain of stone, and the government could construct the road cheaply by using the prison labour.

I hope the government will use that prison labour to construct between Winnipeg and Stony Mountain a first class state highway. The distance is about 12 miles. This would be in the interests of the whole community, and the employment of prison labour in the construction of roads throughout this country is highly desirable. The

section of road I have mentioned would afford a very valuable demonstration as to the practicability of this system. The material is at hand and the road could be built as a distinctive state road. I hope that a large portion of the roads for which money is provided in this Bill will be built in the different municipalities} throughout the country, especially in the province of Manitoba. For instance, a large amount of money has been spent on the road between Winnipeg and Selkirk during the last 30 or 40 years by the different municipalities, assisted by the provincial government, but it is still a very indifferent road, and I trust it will be one of the roads to receive attention. The idea of a trunk line from coast to coast is an admirable one and when the country feels it can afford the luxury of a road of that kind I will endorse the proposal as quickly as any man in the House, but at present I hope the money that is being voted will be spent to aid the farmers in getting their produce to the markets and railway stations, and the only way to do that is to spend it in the different municipalities. I want to congratulate the government on their courage in introducing this legislation, and I hope that the appropriation that is made will be a liberal one.

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LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT.

I am in favour of good roads, because naturally I like to drive on them. The people of Oxford county have built many first-class macadam roads under what they call the county roads system, assisted by the province. My support of this measure would depend entirely on what is proposed. One section of the Bill provides that the assistance ' shall be given upon such terms and subject to such conditions.' Does the minister mean that he will keep^ control of the money granted to the provinces to a certain extent, after it is granted? That, I think, makes a material difference. If, as has been stated by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Railways, the money is intended to be granted on the principle laid down by my right hon. leader- (Sir Wilfrid Laurier), then we will have no quarrel with it. As to the construction of a trunk road, if the government intend to keep some control of the construction of roads by the various provinces they could acquire a trunk road without building it themselves by seeing that the various provinces constructed roads which would connect so as to make a trunk road from province to province. I quite agree that what the farmers principally need is good roads leading to their nearest markets.

As to the benefit to the community from having a trunk road with automobiles running along it, the farmers in my sections of the country ate not so keen on having

automobiles on itheir roads; in fact, they are rather opposed to them. The ladies, who after all, should govern, are very much opposed to them, and say they cannot go out without having their horses frightened. Automobiles do a great deal of harm to macadam roads, and I wonder the provinces have not long since taxed automobiles to help construct roads. While I am not opposed to automobiles, as I like to ride in them myself on occasions, at the same time they sweep up an enormous quantity of dust, and farmers with fields adjacent to roads suffer loss from the dust raised by automobiles. I would like the Minister of Railways to consider seriously the amendment moved on the second reading by the leader of the opposition, with reference to giving the money only in the form of subsidies to 'the provinces. The movement is 'an excellent one that should receive commendation if properly carried out, but I think it dangerous to build trunk lines, and absolutely unnecessary if the government retain the .right to control tire building of roads. The money should be given to the provinces on the distinct understanding that it will be given to the municipalities, and in Ontario I think it should be given to the county councils.

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CON

Francis Cochrane (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE.

What would my hon. friend do in the ease of counties that have already constructed good roads and taxed their people for them under the system spoken of by the hon. member for Welland (Mr. German), or with reference to the unorganized sections of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec ?

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LIB
CON
LIB

Edward Walter Nesbitt

Liberal

Mr. NESBITT.

I think the moneys could be easily expended in maintaining the roads. The provincial grants made in Ontario lack provision, which is very necessary, for the maintenance of the roads after their construction.

I know that in our section of country- and we have, I suppose, as many miles of road as any other county in the province- the provincial government assisted the county in building roads. But the great difficulty is that the roads are not maintained in any such condition a(s they should be. Now, where, it seems to me, our section could well be assisted by the Dominion, would be in seeing to it that the province made a condition that the road should be properly maintained according to a certain standard as well as being built to a standard. I may be wrong, but that would be my idea of the way to assist those who have already built roads. There is no county in Ontario, so far as I know, t-hait has built anything approaching the number of roads it required. That is one of the troubles in the sections of country Mr. NESBITT

that are building these roads-the jealousy that arises on the part of those sections which have not good roads. I do not wish to take up time, but 1 would urge my hon. friend the Minister of Railways to drop that portion of his Bill that, apparently, goes into the building of federal trunk roads. .

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February 23, 1912