Now, I want to show what the acting minister had to say on this subject last year. I want to give about the only answer the minister gave last year for not operating the railway. These were his words:
But the fact remained that there was not enough traffic on the road to justify its operation.
That is the excuse for robbing these families of their railway privileges. I had the honour of telling the minster that a survey was made of the river. I think, the
year before, but the minister, in replying to me on that point, said:
I know nothing of surveys having been made, as the hon. gentleman says they were, but perhaps the work was done when I was away, and therefore I cannot contradict my hon, friend. It is the province that should move in the matter, and not this Government, and if the province sees its way to undertake any bridges which this Government might assist them in, I shall be glad to hear representations from the province in that respect.
As I understand it-and it has been published in the local press-the representatives of the Provincial Government claim that the Dominion Government should construct these bridges. Here we have the Dominion Government putting it, as it were, on the Provincial Government, and the Provincial Government saying it is up to the Dominon Government. And all the time these families are suffering. If this sort of thing were to go on, it would look to me as if these people were to be penalized for all time. It is a case to which, I think, the acting minister should give his best attention. Let me state what the acting minister said. I had this matter up with him two years ago, and here are his words:
Bridges are now being built across the river, or it is intended to build them.
The survey made in the meantime, or prior to that time, I am not sure which, and not one further step that I know of has been taken. Then the acting minister said as follows:
Is it not reasonable that before final action is taken, the Minister of Railways and Canals should discuss the matter with the Provincial Government, and see what is advisable to be done, whether this Government or the Provincial Government should build the bridges and where they should be located. That is the reason why it is very difficult for me to give definite information upon the matter or to arrive at a final decision.
The truth of the position is that the Acting Minister of Railways practically asked for a little breathing time that he might take this matter up with the Provincial Government, and that these bridges would be constructed. And yet, in spite of all that, and in spite of the grievance these people have-
-and in spite of the war, if you like, nothing has been done. I have no doubt, though I cannot recall at the moment, that sons of these men are at the front giving their blood for the sake of country and home. And yet the King, who can do no wrong, has inflicted a wound that will not be quickly healed. The time has come when the acting minister should take measures to redeem what was considered, at any rate, a pledge that these bridges should be constructed and access given to the railway on the north side of the river for the residents who are so aggrieved.
Now that the matter has been brought to his attention, I hope that he will take it in hand. The minister used these words:
The opinion I have from parties in that section of the country is that with a little bridge or two across the river they would really be better situated than with the road they had, owing to its being impossible to operate heavy trains and heavy engines on account of the bridges. I have not seen much opposition to the present scheme.
I invite the acting minister to hold a meeting in that district and find out whether there was opposition to that scheme. I say that the action that has been taken has -much interfered with the prosperity of the farmers in that district. We talk about economic waste, but it seems to me that this is a case where the minister could avoid economic waste. Indeed, he could have quite the opposite; he could help these people to build up what is more or less a shattered home because of their rights having been taken away from them by the King, who can do no wrong. Of course, the Government are responsible for what the King does in this regard. We hold the Government responsible, and we hope that they will fully discharge their duties and responsibilities. [DOT]
an arbitration award to M. E. Keefe Construction Company, Limited, for full settlement of claims for extras on their contract for the construction of Willow Park engine house, machine shop, etc., at Halifax, dated December 20, 1906.
With reference to what the member for Northumberland has said, I may say that I stated the position of this matter when I took it up two years ago. Since that time, when the minister took charge of this department, the matter has been in his hands and I have not had anything further to do with it up to the present. When the hon. member brought the matter up last session, the minister said that he took up the rails of the road because there was not sufficient traffic to justify its being continued. If I remember correctly, the road had not been operating for some time prior to the taking up of the rails, on account of bridges being destroyed. I do not see that I am in a position to give the hon. member much information. When the hon. gentleman brought the matter up last session, the minister, no doubt, went into the matter thoroughly. All I can say is that I shall bring the matter to the minister's attention again. I do not think that the hon. gentleman could ask me to assume the responsibility of taking any further action, particularly in view of the fact that it is hoped that the minister will take charge of his department within the next few weeks.
When the minister made his statement to the House on March 9, he showed that during the past year the Intercolonial railway had a surplus on operation of over $2,000,000. Out of that amount there was diverted for renewal of equipment account, $600,000; rail renewal account, $400,000; fire renewal account, $100,000. The other $1,000,000 has been put into the general treasury of the Dominion, and the result is that at the present time the railway is sadly in need of proper equipment, which should have been* provided out of the money which the people who live along the line of the Intercolonial gave when they paid their railway fares, freight and other charges connected with the operation of the road. The minister has had various questions put to him during the last week or two with regard to the reasons for the embargo that has been placed* upon freight o*n the Intercolonial. I received a letter to-day from a prominent merchant who said that it took from thirty
to forty days now to bring ordinary staple goods from Montreal to points in the Maritime Provinces. Besides the serious inconvenience to business caused by this condition, drafts were being made and liabilities incurred while the merchants were unable to get the goods in reasonable time. I have also a complaint from farmers' organizations in Nova Scotia to the effect that an embargo has 'been* placed by the railway officials upon the hauling of fertilizer from the fertilizer works in Sydney. This is the season of the year when fertilizer is required, hut it is impossible to get the Intercolonial railway to haul it from Sydney. This is stated by reputable people who are interested in the farming industry. Of course, my hon. friend, while he assumes responsibility for the minister, is not able to tell us why this policy was adopted. Why did the minister take $1,000,000 and turn it into the general revenue of the country when equipment was needed? The difficulties on the Intercolonial have not occurred because of the boys going to the front. That is not the reason. A certain number of trains are being run. for military purposes, but the trouble is that* there is not sufficient equipment on the Intercolonial to-day. There is not sufficient engine power, and the consequence is that the business interests of the Maritime Provinces are being seriously interfered with. If, when it was known that a large surplus was to be available, the minister had provided for a large number of new engines and new cars, the conditions which exist tQ-day would not have arisen. I think we are entitled to an explanation from the acting minister as - to why these conditions were permitted to arise.
There is another point. In the town of Trenton, which is the home of the Nova Scotia steel industry and of kindred industries, and one of the busiest manufacturing centres on the Intercolonial railway, a new station was required, and it was understood that plans were being drawn to provide for a station that would be worthy of the business done in that vicinity. , The minister had a surplus of $2,000,000, but, instead of proceeding to build a station worthy of the conditions, and of the place, he constructed a cheap wooden building, which is regarded by even his own friends as a disgrace to the Intercolonial railway. I cannot understand a policy that permits such things to be done. The Minister of Railways is a gentleman for whom, personally, we all .have the highest regard, and
we all regret his illness,, but I am bound to say that he does not take that interest in, or show that sympathy with the people who live and work along the Intercolonial, that the Minister of Railways should have. He seems to have the conception that the people down there have only one desire, to get everything they can out of the Intercolonial railway, and that therefore nothing should be done for them. And within the last year the Government have taken $2,000,000 out of the pockets of the patrons of the Intercolonial for the purpose of enabling the minister to go through the province of Ontario and say: Look at me; what a fine Minister of Railways I am;
I have succeeded in getting a surplus of $2,000,000." In regard to equipment, and in regard to all the conditions which ought to be considered in connection with a railway, the Intercolonial has been starved in order to get that surplus. To-day the conditions along that railway are paralysing the industries, and these conditions are due to the policy Which has been pursued by the minister. Another conception of the minister is that no employee of the Intercolonial who has grown up in the service is fit to be promoted to a higher position. Last year no fewer than 18 men were imported from other railways and placed oh the permanent staff, drawing salaries of over $900 each. Without any boasting, I think I can claim that among those who have been brought up along the Intercolonial, and in the eastern provinces of Canada, there are men capable of filling any position on the road. I do not believe in a policy which lays down the principle that the man from Nova Scotia, or New Brunswick, or Quebec, who enters the service of the Intercolonial must not look forward to promotion to any position of importance or responsibility on that railway. That, I repeat, seems to be the conception of the present Minister of Railways, and the result is that along the Intercolonial railway you find that the employees regard the methods of the present minister as more Objectionable than those of any previous minister. The feeling among all the employees in regard to the present management is of the keenest character. If the acting minister does not know that, he could easily find it out from any of his friends who live along the line. The canals of this country have cost the people of Canada_ more than the Intercolonial cost, and they are operated without
any tolls upon the traffic. I claim that this Government had no right to take $2,000,000 from the people who patronize the Intercolonial when it was necessary to provide for equipment, or place $1,000,000 of that surplus in the general treasury of the country while they do not tax the trade interests that patronize the canals. Why should that be? I submit to the minister that, if he has a surplus during the coming year, instead of diverting it as he has done, instead of building second rate and ridiculous stations in towns where there are first class business conditions and large receipts1, instead of crippling the road by failing to supply a proper equipment of oars and motive power, his first consideration should be to improve the conditions, which, at present, are paralysing the business in the Maritime Provinces. In making this complaint,
I am voicing the feeling of the people in these provinces.