not want to get out of it, or intend to get out of it. As far as the Lake Superior branch is concerned, I claim that as a matter of policy it should never belong to the Grand Trunk Pacific. It should belong to the owners of the Transcontinental. It is the key to the West. As I stated in a previous debate we are not desirous of operating the Transcontinental. We want the company to take it over. Year by year we shall have to work on capital account to improve the road. On the portion of the road between lake Superior and Winnipeg, which was completed by the late Government, there are wooden trestles that will have to be strengthened in some way or filled. That will be a capital charge. The ex-Minister of Railways has made a point
in regard to Mr. Hay's letter in reference to the Quebec bridge. But the leader of the Government says that a letter is no good because it is not a document.
It is not a legal document. As has been stated by the leader of the Government, it would not commit the company if we were to take a legal opinion on it. The right hon. leader of the Opposition has also referred to the specifications. Now there are hundreds of classes in those specifications, as to which half a dozen different opinions could be held. The engineers themselves cannot agree as to the meaning of some parts of the specifications. If we were to say that the contract had been completed according to specifications, I think we should have a hard time to substantiate that before a court. The terminals at Fort William are not owned by the Grand Trunk Pacific; they are owned by a separate company. I am not so sure whether the elevator is owned by another company or not, but the terminals are. That is the reason they are mentioned in this way in the Bill. I am sure that my hon. friend the leader of the Opposition, or the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals, will admit that we would be very foolish to attempt to operate this road without having the right to the use of the branch down to Fort William. I made the statement the other day, and I know it will not be denied, that Mr. Chamberlin, now the president of the road, told me- I will take his word for it and I will get a document from him for it-that he would agree to any terms that we might arrange with the Canadian Pacific Railway and others. He said that he would accept those terms, and he will not go back on that. I should say in fairness to him though, that, while he does not approve of the arrangement, still he will not go back on the agreement. I claim the road is fully completed for operation. We have provided in Quebec for every part of the operation there. As for the suggestion that the shops have not been completed, let me tell the committee that they have not a shop on the whole 1,800 miles from Winnipeg to Prince Rupert except small shops which they have at the divisional points. I made the statement the other day, and I repeat it now, that at every divisional point from Winnipeg to Moncton we have shops far superior to any that they have on their part of the road; yet they have operated more than half of that road now for four years.
On the mountain section they have only four divisional points with very few stations or yards equipped, and
12 noon, yet they are operating to probably as great an extent as we will operate in the East unless business improves during the next year. My hon. friend takes the ground that the terminals at Quebec will not be equal to the terminals formerly proposed. I am satisfied that, both in the interest of the railway and of the business community at Quebec, the change in the terminals will prove to be a desirable one. We are building down into the city of Quebec for the purpose of taking care of the business there. We believe that the harbour of Quebec will be much more important than it has ever been in the past. In order to be able to participate in the business at Quebec, and to compete with the Canadian Pacific railway and other roads, it was necessary for us to get down to the Louise Basin.
My hon. friend the Minister of Railways and Canals is very inconsistent in so far as his dealing with the president of the Grand Trunk Pacific is concerned, because in connection with the Quebec bridge he says that the country is not safe in taking the letter of the president.
I only referred to that in connection with the statement of my hon. friend the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals and my right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition. They said that the president was doubtless morally bound to stand by that letter of the former president.
As far as the bridge is concerned, I understand that the question came up when the late Government was in office and that the president of the company, acting for the company and speaking in the name of the company, expressly waived the matter of the completion of the Quebec bridge as essential to the completion of the contract. The minister seems doubtful as to whether that would be binding. The way to ascertain whether it would be binding or not is to request the president of the company to have the board of directors, or shareholders, ratify it and put it in the form of a contract. I cannot see why that has not been done by this Government. One would think that during the nearly four years that they have been in office, in a matter of such vast importance as this, if they had any doubt as to the company being bound by th? letter of the
president, they would have taken steps to have that matter confirmed and the letter put in proper legal form. But while the minister says there is doubt as to the binding character of that letter, when ft comes to another question, the question of the changes in the terminals, the changes in the location of the workshops at Quebec and the changes in. the grades of the road, the minister says that the president has told him so and so and that he will take his word for it, showing that when the minister wants to rely upon the word of the president he is quite willing to take his word, but when he does not want to rely on an assurance of the president he does not want to taka his letter.
I accept the minister's statement, but after all is it not all nonsense for the Government to keep the country and Parliament in doubt as to these verbal statements and as to these statements by letter? Why have they not put the matter in writing? The minister knows perfectly well that the road must be built according to the specifications which were agreed upon. It is of enormous importance in connection with a road that is going to cost this country, according to the hon. gentleman, something like $50,000,000-