the proposed construction. I know there has been a very considerable reduction in the estimates and I commend the government for it. That reduction, exclusive of railway expenditure, amounts to 127,000,000, of which probably $10,000,000 is due to the slackening off of war services. In other words it is due to the fact that those war services have slackened off in the ordinary course of events and have not been specially diminished in any way-services which are paid, Mr. Speaker, with war taxes. That means that there is a reduction in the estimates this year of $17,000,000, and that reduction will be not as great when the supplementaries come down. Therefore I submit that the fact that there is a reduction in the estimates is no reason at all why we should build branch lines and more railways.
These resolutions are brought down at this time of the session, and before the budget, no doubt for certain very good reasons. They are brought down, I suppose, at this particular season of the year in order that the engineers may get to work on their estimates, get their plant on the ground and start the construction, in accordance with any vote passed by this House and by the other House, in ample time during the coming summer. That is sense, there is no doubt about that; it is a good season for the measures being brought down at this time. But notwithstanding that, it seems to me that we are entitled to know exactly how our budget is going to stand for the next year before we vote $28,000,000. Business at present is not satisfied, particularly in view of the heavy taxes that are being paid. Many say that business is prosperous, but I am of the opinion that it is not as prosperous as many seem to think. Business wants to know how we are going to stand for the next fiscal year before undertaking a measure of this kind.
It was indicated by certain proposals of the government that there might be changes in the tariff, and cities in particular have been very much disturbed as to what those changes might be. I do not know what the actual proposals are; nobody knows what they are; but business is very distinctly disturbed in that connection, and I venture to say that if proposals are brought down which will injure business interests or will not improve business interests, -which without doubt need improvement at the present time, certain parts of this country will not agree to the building of any of these lines. We want to know before expending money exactly where we stand, and I think we are entitled to
know before voting this large sum precisely what is the fiscal policy of the government.
Without discussing any particular branch lines, I wish to say that I have taken the opportunity^ of studying, by the 4 p.m. map and by such information as I have been able to procure, the various lines which are projected. Some of these lines, it is alleged, should be built because certain grading has already been done. It is urged, not by the minister but by others, that for this reason we should put rails on these gradings and complete them into railways. But in my opinion the fact that these gradings exist is no reason whatever for taking that course. If we have spent money on the grading of these lines and if it has been unwise to proceed further, the mere fact-I repeat, the mere fact; I do not want hon. members to misunderstand me- that these lines are graded and that money has been spent op the grading is no reason why millions more should be spent in turning them into profitless branch line railways.
In addition to that, so far as I can see, pome of these lines are too near other existing lines and therefore are not essential. In other cases there is too little population to serve and there is not likely to be any additional population in these particular localities for some considerable time. In other cases I believe traffic arrangements could be made with other railway companies which would obviate the building of additional lines. In other cases I can find no reason whatever why the projected lines should be built, and I doubt if any railway engineer could find any. In that connection, Sir, I may point out that we have millions of acres near railways which we can use without spending enormous sums for the building of lines into sparsely populated territory.
In conclusion, as regards the remarks which I have been making I want to say this-and it has reference to a fact which, I think, is not fully understood or fully grasped-we have in this country at present two great railway systems, the Canadian National and the Canadian Pacific.
I think every member of this House, I think everybody in this country, should wish well for both these lines, they are both great national undertakings. But to say that the Canadian National system should progress because of unfair competition with the Canadian Pacific line is senseless in the extreme. The Canadian Pacific is just as great a national asset as the Canadian National line. In addition to that, the Canadian Pacific is known
all over the world by reason of its stability in management and in finance and is, as a matter of fact, all hon. members will admit, a source of pride to this country. The Canadian Pacific is financed by its own efforts on its own credit and on its own ability, whereas all the Canadian National railway line has to do is to to come to this House and get money, and it usually gets the money it requires. Now, to have competition between these two lines is senseless in the extreme. If traffic arrangements can be made with one line to help out another line, I think those arrangements should be made. To build lines unnecessarily when there is not enough traffic to satisfy both these systems is not putting this House, is not putting this country, in a position to get lower freight rates in the very slightest degree. What we need in this country and what we must all try to get is lower transportation costs. That is what we want. Building branch railway lines may yield pleasure but that is not going to give us lower transportation costs if other railway lines are there to serve the particular purpose which the proposed new lines are intended to serve. I wish to make that point abundantly and absolutely clear in every respect, and I particularly wish to repeat- that where it is possible to make traffic arrangements with another railway these branch lines, as suggested, should not be constructed simply for the purpose of building them. In addition there is a great deal of duplication of services in this country between these two railways. I believe traffic arrangements could be made between the two systems that would be most satisfactory. Why should not such traffic arrangements be made, why should not such duplication be avoided? Why should not such duplication be remedied with a view to bringing the operating costs of both systems down to a minimum and making their operating and general profits greater?
so that in course of time we shall be prepared to demand lower transportation costs. That is what we must have in mind in connection with these proposals brought down by the minister. The object should be not to build further railways, not to spend money unnecessarily, but to get lower transportation costs and see that both these great railway companies shall survive and prosper.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I will take my seat merely adding these few words. When these bills are brought down I shall expect the fullest information from the minister- and and this no doubt he will give in his usual admirable manner. I shall want to know how the expenditures are to be met and what
reasons there are for building these different branch lines before I will support the proposals.