April 13, 1927

MOTION RESPECTING PRIVATE BILLS

CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. C. H. CAHAN (St. Lawrence-St. George):

Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to make a motion with respect to a private bill of which no notice is required under rule 40: but the motion itself is under rule 17A regarding routine motions for the management of the business of the House. The motion is: That in the opinion of this House it is expedient that private bills be considered and dealt with at three o'clock this afternoon.

I have shown the motion to the hon. Minister of Finance; I had not the opportunity to show it to the Prime Minister.

Topic:   MOTION RESPECTING PRIVATE BILLS
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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Hon. J. A. ROBB (Minister of Finance):

Mr. Speaker, I suppose it is understood that my hon. friend would be prepared to limit the time to not more than one hour at the most.

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CON

Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CAHAN:

Oh yes. I have no desire to prolong the debate, and if it is the intention to attempt to talk these remaining bills out on the third reading, we will in the exercise of our discretion comply with the suggestion of the hon. Minister of Finance.

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UFA

William Irvine

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. WILLIAM IRVINE (Wetaskiwin):

Mr. Speaker, I would draw to your attention the fact that there are no private bills on the order paper. Private bills are done with, and I submit that this motion is out of order.

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

This is a matter for the

House to decide. If the House decides that private bills, even though they are not on the order paper, shall be taken this afternoon they will be taken. It has happened in the last two weeks that bills which were not yet down on the order paper were considered in the House and given a second and a third reading. The House can decide whether the time is opportune to take private bills this afternoon. I consider that in view of the present urgent circumstances the motion is in order under rule 115.

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LAB

James Shaver Woodsworth

Labour

Mr. J. S. WOODSWORTH (Winnipeg North Centre):

Can a motion of this kind,

Mr. Speaker, leading to a suspension or alteration of the rules be moved without notice of any kind?

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The House can always

suspend its rules, and the motion is in order.

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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. ROBERT GARDINER (Acadia):

Is it understood that if this motion passes, pri-

Motion Respecting Private Bills

vate bills will be taken up for one hour only? Is that the effect of the motion?

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I understood from the

statement made by the hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb), which was acquiesced in by the hon. member for St. Lawrence-St. George (Mr. Cahan), that the discussion on private bills will not last for over one hour this afternoon.

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PEACE RIVER RAILWAY OUTLET

OBJECTION TO MOTION TO CONCUR IN REPORT OF RAILWAY COMMITTEE

UFA

William Irvine

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. WILLIAM IRVINE (Wetaskiwin) moved:

That the eleventh report of the select standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines be now concurred in.

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Subtopic:   OBJECTION TO MOTION TO CONCUR IN REPORT OF RAILWAY COMMITTEE
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UFA

Donald MacBeth Kennedy

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. D. M. KENNEDY (Peace River):

I beg again to move the amendment which I moved the other day and which stood as a notice of motion:

That the said report be not now concurred in but that the same be referred back to the select standing committee on railways, canals and telegraph lines with instructions that they have power to amend it by striking out the three following paragraphs:

The weight of evidence before your committee indicates that, on economic grounds, much construction should not be commenced forthwith, as set forth in the resolution referred to your committee.

Your committee is of opinion that much greater traffic development is necessary in the area to make the building of such outlet economically sound.

Hepburn,

Irvine,

Jelliff,

Kennedy,

Lovie,

MacLean

(Prince),

McLean

(Melfort),

Millar,

Motherwell,

Neill,

Spencer,

Ward,

Woodsworth.-24.

Your committee is further of opinion that potentialities of that area are such as to warrant a continuous study of its development."

And substituting the following three paragraphs therefor:

"The evidence shows that there are four possible outlets but that a complete survey has been made of two only.

"Your committee is of the opinion that a complete survey should be undertaken of the Peace pass, Pine pass, and Monkman pass and that on completion of this survey a definite policy of railway development for the Peace river country should be decided upon.

"Your committee further believes that the potentialities of the Peace river district justify the commencement of a permanent outlet as soon as the best route is definitely ascertained."

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Subtopic:   OBJECTION TO MOTION TO CONCUR IN REPORT OF RAILWAY COMMITTEE
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CON

Simon Fraser Tolmie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. S. F. TOLMIE (Victoria, B.C.):

Mr. Speaker,-

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LIB

John Gordon Ross

Liberal

Mr. ROSS (Moose Jaw):

Does this mean, Mr. Speaker, that there are to be all kinds of speeches on the amendment?

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LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

I have seen the hon. member for Victoria (Mr. Tolmie) and he is entitled to speak.

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CON

Simon Fraser Tolmie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TOLMIE:

Mr. Speaker, I do not propose to sipeak at any length on this amendment. When I consider this vast area of country which was thrown open to settlement some time ago-an area rich in agriculture, rich in timber and rich in minerals-and that the shortest possible route to tidewater for the products of this great district is down to the Pacific coast, I feel it is unfair to the settlers to leave them there without any outlet to their market. I know the great handicaps of living in a pioneer country without having suitable outlets for our products. I had experience of farming under those conditions in the early days on the Pacific coast, and therefore I fully appreciate the duty of any government to relieve these conditions at the earliest possible opportunity.

When I contrast the opportunities presented to settlers in this great district and the practicability of connecting it with the seaeoast by rail with the present proposal to build a railroad to Hudson bay and take the chances of navigation through the strait, about which very little seems to be known, I say without hesitation that the two projects are not comparable at all. We have evidence of the rich quality of the land in this Peace river country, we have evidence that minerals are to be found there, we have evidence of its great timber resources, and we are assured as far as the outlet is concerned that it is a simple matter of connecting with ports that are open the whole year round. So the opening up of this particular area is not only practice

Peace River Railway

able but is certain to result in its rapid development, which will ensure ample traffic for the railway.

Now while I realize thait we must be careful before embarking on heavy expenditures for railway construction, and that nothing can be undertaken along this line until the finances of the Dominion are in a somewhat better condition, still I believe we should carry on the necessary surveys in the three other passes that have not yet been explored, and that this work should be commenced during the coming summer. Then when the time comes to consider the building of a railroad from the Peace river to the Pacific coast we will have before us sufficient data to make a careful study of the whole situation.

The view that before we do anything at all we should wait until there is more settlement in that country is in my opinion very narrow. The other day I was looking over the history of British Columbia when she entered confederation in 1871, and I had the pleasure and amusement of reading some of the comments by our public men of that day and also the editorials in the press. Some of the statements to-day strike one as absolutely ludicrous. It was said that not a single bushel of wheat could ever be exported from Saskatchewan to Great Britain because the cost of transportation would exceed the value of the commodity. It was also said that British Columbia was a sea of mountains, and that the traffic would not pay the cost of the axle grease used in the operation of the Canadian Pacific railway. Other so-called authorities * said that it was an insane idea to think of building a railroad at all, and that all the resources of the British Empire would not be sufficient to pay the cost of constructing the Canadian Pacific railway and its maintenance. Those opinions were expressed at a time when very little was known of our great western lands even by our leading men and newspaper writers. At that time they did not know that in British Columbia we have more than half the standing timber of Canada, 366 billion feet. It is interesting to know that last year we sold two billion feet of this timber at eighty-two million dollars; that the output of our mines was worth $67,000,000; that our agricultural production west of the mountains is $70,000,000, and that we were responsible for 46 per cent of all the fish produced in Canada. And we have many other advantages in that province, but I will content myself with merely pointing out the great resources of that portion of Canada so as to make it clear to hon. members that to wait for settlement under the present conditions in the Peace river country before a railroad is built will be perhaps to wait a hundred years. From my experience of pioneering days I am confident that that country will not be settled until a railroad is in operation there. I need not point out at any length the part played by our railways in the development of the prairies and the country west of the mountains. A man has to be sure of his market before he will go into those sections and develop the counTaking all these things into consideration, Mr. Speaker, I think a survey should be made of these passes as asked for in the amendment, and) that the jnecessary work should be commenced just as soon as practicable. I have much pleasure in supporting the amendment.

Topic:   PEACE RIVER RAILWAY OUTLET
Subtopic:   OBJECTION TO MOTION TO CONCUR IN REPORT OF RAILWAY COMMITTEE
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UFA

Robert Gardiner

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. ROBERT GARDINER (Acadia):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to remind the House of some important factors connected with the Peace river situation. In the first instance, we must remember that the land in the prairie provinces is held by the crown. The even-numibered sections in most parts of the west, chiefly in Alberta, are left for homestead purposes. Some time about the year 1910 the Department of the Interior advertised the Peace river country as a splendid place for new settlers, and people went there on the understanding that within a reasonable time they would 'be provided with transportation facilities. We maintain that, a certain policy having been pursued over a number of years, it is now the duty of the federal government when they open these lands for settlement purposes to see that the transportation facilities required by the people are provided. In the Peace river area the federal government has not come to the assistance of the settlers in the matter of transportation facilities to the extent that it has done in other sections of the country. Alberta has been called upon to build these railways and to stand the expense of construction. The province 'has had to build colonization roads which, because of the policy of the present government, should by right Ibe a charge upon the Dominion. In the circumstances the provincial government now finds itself in the Peace river area with a railway construction costing something like $22,000,000. And that is not all. The provincial government at this moment has many applications for extensions of branch lines to serve people who have been settled since 1912 and who are expecting transportation facilities. We are spending something like $3,000,000 to bring immigrants to this

Peace River Railway

country, and), after placing them in certain areas, if we fail to give them adequate transportation facilities we simply lose them: they either flock to the cities or they leave the country altogether. What is the use of having an immigration policy if we do not follow it up with a proper system of transportation to meet the requirements of the people whom we bring in? I suggest to the government this morning that in view of the demand of the Peace river people upon the provincial government for an extension of branch lines the federal administration should at the earliest convenient moment determine which of the routes should be selected as the ultimate line to the Pacific coast. There are, I believe, four proposals in contemplation at the present time: the Obed route, the Pine pass, Monk-man pass and the Peace river pass. These are the alternatives. If the provincial government go ahead and build branch lines they may build them in the wrong direction from the standpoint of the ultimate outlet to the Pacific, and it is only fair to the people of the Peace river district and to the provincial government that the route finally to be decided upon should be chosen as quickly as possible so that we may know how to build in the future, I appeal to the government, therefore to accept at least the proposal that an instrumental survey be made immediately and that the route be chosen. When that is done, when the route is determined upon, then if the provincial government is compelled to extend branch lines this government will know in which direction to construct its roads so that there .may be no duplication and no branch lines will be wasted in the future. Let me remind the House that we have a considerable railway problem on our hands, a problem which is costing us a good deal of money. But how did we come into that problem? We icame into it exactly as I have described, by throwing open large areas of land and letting people settle wherever they pleased, without recognizing the fact that they must be provided with transportation facilities before they can produce and market their crops. I appeal to the Minister of Railways (Mr. Dunning) in the hope that he will accept the suggestion I offer, which is the least the government can do in the circumstances.

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Subtopic:   OBJECTION TO MOTION TO CONCUR IN REPORT OF RAILWAY COMMITTEE
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LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

If my hon. friend will withdraw the amendment, which goes further,

I shall be pleased to accept the suggestion right now.

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April 13, 1927