us we shall be able to discuss the matter intelligently, and I would suggest that the minister defer his explanation until we have the terms of the bill before us and know exactly what we are talking about.
Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in. Mr. Elliott thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 346, respecting the construction and maintenance of a bridge over the St. Lawrence river at Caughnawaga.
Having the bill before us, we can now make some intelligent criticism. The statute incorporating the bridge company appears to have been passed in 1928 and the promise given by the late minister was to be implemented in 1929. There is no reason why the matter should not have been proceeded with. Apparently this is a private corporation, and if it is, I find it very difficult to bring my mind to the view that we should support it. I think that the minister should now give us a very full explanation, and if
possible a copy of the statute incorporating the company, for before we give the aid of this parliament to an enterprise of this character we should know what we are giving it to. The observations made by my friend from Toronto Northwest (Mr. Church) have a singular bearing on the matter if it is a private corporation organized for gain charging tolls on traffic and we are asked to give a guarantee or supply a part of the cost. I am sure the Prime Minister has not had an opportunity to look into the terms of the act of incorporation of the bridge company, but that is an all important matter at the moment so far as this parliament is concerned.
this legislation did not arise in 1928 or 1929, due to the fact that the bill incorporating the company-and I shall be very glad to hand to my hon. friend a copy-was passed in 1928 by the Quebec legislature. It did not provide for anything beyond vesting power in the company to construct the bridge and to charge tolls and for their regulation. The first part of the act sets out that it was in the interests of the cities, towns and villages situated in the district on the south shore of the St. Lawrence and of the cities, towns and villages situated on the island of Montreal and of the whole province to construct a bridge connecting the north and south shores of the St. Lawrence opposite the Caughnawaga reservation on lake St. Louis, and that to ensure the construction of such bridge it was necessary to create a corporation with the powers requisite for its purpose.
That is the practice, I believe, followed in the province of Quebec with regard to all bridges of this kind. That act contained no provision for the assistance which the province of Quebec was giving for the construction of the bridge. An act was passed this year-and I have a copy of it also -providing for the province of Quebec to assist in the construction of the bridge by giving a guarantee of this kind; that is, it is a toll bridge, and it is expected that at a very early period in the life of the bridge it will pay its own way; but in case of a deficit an assurance has been given by the province of Quebec to pay two thirds of the costs of operation and maintenance, interest on any sums borrowed for the purpose of construction and the sinking fund, less the tolls. It is possible that neither the province nor the Dominion may be called upon to pay anything; but in the early stages, the first few years at any rate, it is likely the amount of the tolls may not be sufficient to pay interest on the cost of construction, and expenses of operation and maintenance.