The acting Minister of Railways will have to take a good deal of responsibility for this Bill, as it really originates in his own town. It seems reasonable that this railway project would not be launched without consultation with him.
This is the remnant, and no doubt the hon. gentleman will 'be responsible for it. Can the acting minister tell us what backing there is behind the project and what was in the mind of the promoters when they proposed the original charter? It may be of deep interest to the people of the country to know what the promoters originally wanted, and why it was curtailed. Why were they not allowed to carry on their philanthropic intention to the full? No doubt the acting Minister of Railways knows all that, seeing that the principal promoter is a neighbour of his.
mentioned among the promoters, is Mr. Knapp's son-in-law. Mr. Knapp asked me simply if I would urge that the Bill go through; but, instead of doing that, I opposed it very very strongly, for ' the reason that I did not think any one could get sufficient backing to build a railway from Labrador to the Pacific coast.
I think now as I thought then, that he could not get sufficient backing to build a railway from Labrador to the Pacific coast, and I opposed the Bill. It came before the Railway Committee, but I was attending a meeting of the Redistribution Committee and could not be present. He tells me now that he 4 p.m. has sufficient backing to build the road from the Labrador coast to Quebec, and he said he had Mr. Gould of New York and several other capitalists interested in it.
I have not the slightest idea. I would not feel justified in allowing a railway Bill to go through, for what is called the All Red line, from Labrador to the Pacific coast, because I believed it would be simply a promoter's scheme, and for that reason I opposed it. But the committee felt they were justified in reducing it to a railway from Labrador to Quebec.
And 1 am not quite so sure that it is a proper thing to charter them to build a railway from Labrador to Quebec. The acting minister tells us he was at the Redistribution Committee instead of being at the Railway Committee, but so far as I am concerned I think he would do far better work in the Railway Committee, in the interests of the country at large. I am not satisfied with what he is doing in the Redistribution Committee, and I am only partially satisfied with what he is doing in the Railway Committee.
I am afraid your intentions are bad. We have been in the habit here, of, in almost every instance, giving charters for railways in the hope that something would come of it, but we are rapidly arriving at a point where we can afford to be more careful about giving indiscriminate charters, else we may stop some legitimate project, which would have substantial backing. I do not know enough about this charter to oppose it, but I do
believe it is proper to curtail its powers and to prevent these people calling it the All Red line, which might deceive investors in the old land, and we do not want any more of that.
Is it alleged by the promoters that they have made any arrangement for steamships to connect with this railway from a Labrador port? Has the minister considered as to the right of this Parliament to grant a charter in territory which is now in dispute with Newfoundland? Where do the promoters expect to get the capital for this enterprise?
The only information I have as to the financial backing of the road is that Mr. F. A. Knapp of the town of Prescott gave me his word that Mr. Gould of New York and other wealthy men were interested in it.
He simply said, Mr. Gould of New York. So far as I am concerned, I must say that I have not sufficient evidence before me to justify me in saying to the House that I believe there is sufficient financial backing to build this railroad. As to the right to go through Labrador, as I understand it, this Bill only grants a charter to the Labrador boundary line. I do not kno-w anything about their arranging for steamships. No doubt the promoters will try to float the scheme, but I do not myself believe that this road will be built for some time.