No, I am not agreeing to the terms of the letter, nor am I considering the terms of the letter; I am considering simply the resolution which is now before the House. They are two totally different things.
I was giving the hon. gentleman credit for an intelligence that perhaps his comment diid not warrant. It must he clear to a gentleman like the hon. member for Wright that upon the acceptance of an offer that stood open and known
to the world as well as to this Parliament for fifteen months, the duty of the Government- is to do its constitutional part, to stand up to its offer and to go through with the transaction.
If the minister will allow me, in order that I may understand his intelligence, the question as contained in the letter was the purchase by the Government of the Grand Trunk railway with all its branch lines, and the Grand Trunk Pacific railway, the acquiring of the assets and the assuming of the obligations of both companies. The question with which we have to deal now is simply the guaranteeing of. certain stocks, the guaranteeing of the four per cent stock, the debenture stock, and the fulfilment of certain conditions as to assuming the pensions under the Grand Trunk Railway system and under the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway system, and further by clause 7 of the resolution, a loan by the Government to the company; but we are not acquiring any of the assets of the Grand Trunk Railway Company. Under section 7 we are simply guaranteeing stocks and undertaking to advance a loan.
I am afraid the hon. gentleman is further behind in understanding what is going on than I thought. In the first place, the letter of July 11, 1918, does not look to the acquisition of the Grand Trunk properties at all; it looks to the leasing of the Grand Trunk properties for 999 years at a rental to be determined in one of two years-not an acquisition o'f the property
The intention being that an annual sum would be paid to the shareholders of the company, such as would be fair, whether arrived at on a cash basis or by arbitration. The present method looks to the same end, hut by a different and more complete plan, more complete because it provides for the acquisition, not the leasing, but the absolute ownership of everything the Grand Trunk has, by means of the ownership of all the stocks of the Grand Trunk, because that means ownership of the property.
Hand it back! We will never hand it back in this world. I do not know what the hon. gentleman has in mind. What would we hand the stock back for? We get the stock and we own it. There is a difference only in method. The present method is more complete, more definite, more advantageous to the country in every way than the method suggested in the letter of July 11, 1918. We get everything by this method. The hon. member said: You are not abiding by your letter of July 11, 1918; you are departing from it, and the point under discussion was the guaranteeing of the dividend on the guaranteed stock. I answer him that in the letter of July 11, 1918, we undertook to guarantee the dividends on the guaranteed stock.
The hon. member agrees to that. So that in that respect we are upon exactly the proposal contained in the letter of July 11, 1918, and, therefore, why should there be any opposition from hon. gentlemen opposite when they did not show any opposition to that proposal for fifteen months during which it was before the country?
Is the minister serious in saying that, because in the letter of July 11, 1918, there is a clause by which the Government is prepared to treat the 4 per cent guaranteed stock as an obligation of the. company, because of that one thing, with all the other elements different, the letter of the 11th July is simply carrying out, so to speak the terms that are now before Parliament? My hon. friend is not serious.
I do not know if I have caught my hon. friend's point, but I am sincere in saying that in respect of that feature of the letter, there is no change whatever. Whatever may be wrong in it now-I do not say that there is anything wrong; I believe there is nothing wrong in it; I believe it is fair and reasonable- was wrong in it then. If it was objectionable then, it is objectionable now. Then, what is the objection to it now if it was not objected to then? I think I have made my point as clear as any words can make it. n i