Mr. CARDIN (Richelieu) (translation):
The Government, Mr. Speaker, have evidently acted upon a wrong inspiration, when they saw fit to make use of the arbitrary power, given them by the rule of closure, in order to compel the passing into law of the Bill we are discussing to-night. When that closure regulation was adopted, we were given to understand that it would be only enforced in cases of extreme gravity; that, most probably it would have to remain a dead letteT. None of us ever dreamed, in
a commission to estimate the shares which were to be taken over in the case of the company being in default? The hon. Minister of Finance and certain other hon. gentlemen, who- then supported that proposal, wreathed a garland of flowers for the hon. Solicitor General because he had prepared that Act which thus entitled tihe Govt-ernment to acquire the Canadian Northern without spending a single cent. And today, Mr. 'Speaker, they are coming with new sophistry, with new exaggerations and new imaginative schemes, and trying to make the people of this country believe that it is necessary to appoint a commission to value this stock. Either we were imposed upon in 1914 or we are being imposed upon to-diay. When we were told in 1914, that we could acquire this railroad without spending a cent, without the necessity of going before the courts, we were therefore deceived. We are told that it is Sir William Meredith, Chief Justice of the province of Ontario, who. will be appointed as the Government arbitrator, to value this capital stock. May I be allowed, to state, Mr. Speaker, that I strongly doubt whether this distinguished magistrate will accept such a position, because it really seems to me he would bring discredit upon, himself by accepting such a position .as that offered him, a position that will compel him to declare, if he wants to follow the Government's instructions., itihat ruin is wealth, bankruptcy *a progress, and failure a success.
Mr. Speaker, I am sure of one thing, that is if, to pay him his. salary for the commissions he has been called upon to preside, he had been offered stock of the Canadian Northern company's, he. would certainly have refused, it.
We might ask ourselves, Mr. Speaker, what are we to do? Since we do. not accept the Government's project, what can we do? Simply apply the Act of 1914, take over the railroad which is already, by right, the country's property. And if Messrs. Mackenzie and iManm were bold enough to protend that the capital stock of their company still have a par value, we could sell them back to them. They are perfectly able to buy this railroad with the pennies and the millions they have made in ruining it.
Mr. Speaker, should the Government acquire this road, under the Act of 1914, even if they took it over under the Act proposed to-day, I say that they should rid the company of the worthless administration that has led it into bankruptcy.
The right hon. Prime Minister stated yesterday in his stump speech, that this railway's organization should not be destroyed; that the way of letting it expand, the way oGdeveloping it to. the country's benefit, was to preserve its present administration. I say that the present .administration that has led this railroad into ruin, should be discharged, if the Government see fit to take it over.
On behalf of the electors whom I represent, and I .believe I might also say in the name of the province of Quebec, I protest against this. Bill, and. I demand that the solution of such an important question as this one be left to. the care of a Government holding a direct mandate, from the people. I deny to the present Government the right to so. heavily burden the people of our country. And, by-the-way, I believe that this Government have not, upon their own .admission, the .required authority to deal with .a question, of so grave an importance; for, .since several .months .already, Mr. Speaker, they are in. quest of new blood, they beg -a coalition which tho.se they want to come in refuse to join in and which would be worthless with others who are offering themselves.
I think the .amendment of the hon. member for St. John (Mr. Pugsley) should, be accepted. This extreme means would permit us to safeguard the people's rights, to a certain extent.
I am confident, Mr. Speaker, that the people, in their just wrath, will shatter those who are lauding their valour and their sons' heroism only to better impose upon them.
Will you .allow .me to. tell you, Mr. Speaker, before I take my .seat, that every knock of your mallet drives a nail into, the Government's coffin; that the hollow sound of the table under its repeated .strokes echoes harshly, in our ears, but does not reach our hearts. The people cannot mourn over that coffin. When if will have itself, through its ballots., sealed, that misshapen box, it will be with enthusiasm that it will .sing the joyous hymn of relief which, the purified echoes of our country will repeat ad infinitum.