April 30, 1913

CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN:

He is decidely frank.

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON:

He may be frank,

but not candid. He has, in remarks which he has uttered in this House, given us to understand that he does not want to acquire any branch lines and that he does not think it in the interest of the Intercolonial that they should be so acquired.

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CON

Francis Cochrane (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE:

I do not think I was as frank as that.

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON:

Well, I so understood my hon. friend. Does my hon. friend repudiate that insinuation?

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CON

Francis Cochrane (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE:

I repudiate the broad statement that was made. I said that I did not want to acquire some of the branch lines.

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON:

Well then, my hon.

friend wants to acquire some of them?

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CON

Francis Cochrane (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE:

Yes.

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON:

Why does he not state in his resolution that he does want to acquire certain of them and that he

is coining to Parliament and asking for power to acquire some of them? Evidently my hon. friend has in his mind certain railways that he wishes to acquire.

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CON

Francis Cochrane (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE:

No.

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON:

Well, I gathered that from the statement he made.

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CON

Francis Cochrane (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE:

I have no particular railway in mind.

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON:

There are some lines in connection with the Intercolonial railway that he wishes to acquire and he is seeking power by this resolution, and the Bill which is to follow it, to carry out his wishes in that regard. Perhaps this is no# the occasion when this should be fully discussed, but certainly I do not wish this resolution to have even my silent approval unless I have some further information with regard to it. The course being pursued by my hon. friend is one that was condemned every year that this subject was under discussion in a concrete way. I am entirely in favour of acquiring these railways. If my hon. friend will not go as far as I would and acquire them all, then, on the principle that half a loaf is better than no bread, I would support him with respect to the acquisition of some of them at least, but I think it would be fair to this House and to the country that he should take us into his confidence as to just what he wants to do by means of this resolution, what he purposes to do and what the policy of the Government is in respect to the subject.

He has harnessed up the two propositions, although they are distinct-one, that of acquiring railways already in existence and the other, that of constructing new railways. I do not think that they should be combined in one resolution, and I think that they should be considered separately and each upon its own merits. In the matter of the acquisition of lines already in existence, I certainly think the resolution should mention those railways that the minister has * in mind, the railways which the Government have had under consideration with a view to their acquisition. I remember very distinctly the exceptions that were taken to resolutions of a similar character in previous years and the principle was propounded in this House that, before the Government should seek powers, such as are sought by this resolution, they should give the fullest possible and even detailed information. That was the principle that was supported by my hon. friends when they were sitting on this side of the House, and I think they should live up to it to-day, although they have got into the habit of not living up to any cf the principles/which they supported when in Opposition. This is a resolution which, in my judgment, should Mr. EMMERSON.

not have our approval until we have the information. I want to support any policy that will mean the acquisition of these railways and even the construction of certain others, but surely my hon. friend is not serious in coming to the House and asking for_ such general powers to construct railways. If we pass this Bill, the minister could build a railway anywhere in Canada without reference to the present Government system of railways. Surely he has no such idea in contemplation; surely he knows what railway he wishes to construct, and if so why should the information not he set forth in this resolution as it was in the resolution submitted in May, 1911? I took exception to that resolution because I thought there should be certain coal railways in Nova Scotia that should be included in it and because the terms of the resolution did not give sufficient detailed information. I am almost tempted to doubt that the Minister of Railways is in earnest with respect to the acquisition of branch lines connected with the Intercolonial railway, judging from the character of this resolution.

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CON

Francis Cochrane (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE:

Is that fair?

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON:

I think that is a fair statement.

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CON

Francis Cochrane (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE:

That is a pretty strong statement.

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON:

The resolution would almost lead me to believe that the Government has decided upon a different policy.

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CON

Francis Cochrane (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE:

That is better; you

say 'almost' now; not altogether.

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON:

I want to be fair and I want to state the case as it appears to me from the wording of the resolution. No one reading the resolution would conclude it had reference to the acquisition of the branch lines connecting with the Intercolonial or that the minister would confine himself to the construction of railways as feeders to that line. If the minister has the intention, as he says he has, of applying this to the Intercolonial branch lines, why does he not incorporate it in the resolution? Nothing could be more indefinite and uncertain in its terms than this resolution, which asks for unreserved and unrestricted power which Parliament would be recreant to its duty if it granted.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

It is much to be regretted that upon this question of acquiring the branch lines of the Intercolonial, extraneous matters should be included in the resolution, which tend to promote differences of opinion among the members in this House. On more than one occasion the House has expressed its opinion on the

desirability of the Government acquiring the branch lines and operating them as part of the Intercolonial system. Had the minister submitted a resolution simply providing for authority to lease or to purchase such branch lines on proopr terms, there would, I think, be no objection from any member of this House. We have the evidence that we are unanimously of the opinion, in the interests of the Intercolonial and in the interests of the'country, which is served by these branch lines, that they should be taken over and operated as part of the Intercolonial railway. The resolution as first submitted reads:

That it is expedient to provide that the Minister of Railways may, subject to the authority of the Governor in Council, construct, purchase, lease, or otherwise acquire, in whole or in part any railway, railway bridge, railway station, railway terminal, railway ferry, or other railway work, and that any such railway or other work shall become part of the Government railway system.

That gives a power which the minister must realize is greater than was ever given or ever thought of to be given to any minister or any government. Under that resolution, which does not seem to have been drawn with any care, the Government could commit this country to purchase a railway hundreds of miles away from the Intercolonial; it could undertake the construction of anyrailway in any part of the Dominion, and even though Parliament might not afterwards provide the money to pay the hills, the contractor could enter suit in the Exchequer Court and recover against the Government for whatever obligation the Government entered into with him. Evidently upon consideration the minister has considered it would not be desirable to press such a resolution and he proposes to amend it as follows:

To insert after the word ' work ' in line four the words for the construction, purchase, lease, or acquisition of which special provision has been made by Parliament.

Under that amendment it seems to me that the whole matter is rendered nugatory so far as immediate action is concerned. If the resolution is passed with this prohibitory clause in it, my hon. friend must still come to Parliament for authority to lease or to buy any of these branches, or to construct any new lines. That 3imply means more delay, possibly until another session of Parliament.

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CON

Francis Cochrane (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE:

What would you have me put in the resolution?

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April 30, 1913