On the motion of Hon. W. T. White (Minister of Finance) for Committee of Ways and Means:
Mr. F. B. G'ARVELL (Carleton, N.B.): Before you leave the Chair, Mr. Speaker,
I desire to call to your attention and to that of the minister a matter of great importance, not only to the province of New Brunswick, but to the Dominion of Canada as a whole, regarding the construction of a railway in our province known commonly as the St. John Valley railway, but legally as the St. John and Quebec railway. I regret being compelled to bring this matter up this afternoon when my hon. friend the Minister of Finance is anxious to enter into the consideration of tariff matters, but as I may foe called away at any moment I feel that I would not do justice to myself and to my constituents in the province of New Brunswick were I to leave this House without laying before the Government and the country certain facts of grave importance which I think should be given to them.
It is well known that very grave charges have been laid against the Premier of New Brunswick by Mr. Dugal, a member of the legislature, on two important matters. The first is in connection with the extension of timber licenses; with that I do not intend to deal at the present time, because we have the promise of the Government of the province of New Brunswick that a tribunal will be created to give that matter a thorough investigation, with that matter I will deal at the proper time and in the proper place. We are also promised that a tribunal will be created to investigate certain matters in connection with the St. John and Quebec Railway Company. In so far as those matters can ibe properly discussed and investigated before that tribunal, I do not propose discussing them here this afternoon.
But I want to discuss a side of this question which appeals to this Government* to this Parliament, and to the people of Canada as a whole. You will remember,
Sir, that there is an agreement on our statute books- placed there as a result of . a number of different statutes-by which the Government of Canada have agreed to take over and operate this railroad as a portion of the Intercolonial, as soon as it is in a position to foe taken over. In fact, [DOT]the Government agreed to take over each individual section when completed; and they agreed, to pay the company owning the road forty per cent of the gross earnings, upon which the province of New Brunswick were to have a lien for the interest on the bonds. The balance, if any, would go to the company as their own private property. As the House of Commons is going to operate this road for sixty per cent of the gross earnings, it is a matter of great importance to the people of this country that the road be properly constructed, that it be properly located, and that it be not overcapitalized and generally that it is a proposition from which sixty per cent of the proceeds will make a proper fund for operating the road.
As regards the inception of this transaction, I take credit to myself in so far as I am entitled to it. It is an absolutely justifiable proposition for the people of New Brunswick and for the people of Canada as a whole-a proposition which was justifiable from any standpoint whatever under the original inception, a proposition which, in my judgment, could have been carried out and made a paying proposition to the people of Canada or to any person. This agreement was entered into in the session of 1911, between the Dominion of Canada and, we might say, the province of New Brunswick, because they were really the contracting parties. It was agreed in this House that they were to build1 a road through New Brunswick up to the standard of the Transcontinental, and that the road [DOT] was to go from Grand Falls to St. John, N.B. It was to run from the Transcontinental to the port of St. John, and was to be a highway over which the commerce of the Transcontinental intended for export from the city of St. John should pass. It was to be a road in every sense of the word, and equal to the Grand Trunk Pacific ot Transcontinental in grade, curvature, and general miake-up. Prior to the election of 1911, there was a good deal of backing and filling between my hon. friend the Minister of Marine and Fisheries, then Prime Minister of New Brunswick, and this Government. I am not going into the details of that as it is ancient history, and plays no great part in the important