Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):
In the office of the Minister of Railways. In 1924 the then Prime Minister made a tour of western Canada, and speaking in the Presbyterian church in Edmonton-an estimable place in which to make definite promises-he pledged himself in
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such a decided way that headlines appeared in the following day's paper like these:
King pledges self to the Peace River cause. Premier promises outlet to Pacific just as soon as humanly possible. Railway will be built, declares Prime Minister at a mass meeting here. Government has but minority in Commons; says times are now difficult and everybody must have a little patience, but Liberal party is not falling down on any of its pledges.
I do not wish unnecessarily to remind lion, gentlemen of promises they have made, but I want to place before the house the fact that both political parties in this country are definitely and irrevocably pledged to the construction of the Peace River outlet. That is my sole object in referring to this promise. I quote from the speech made by the then Prime Minister:
There is to the north of this city a great tract of land that is crying out for development. The Peace River country is amongst the richest in Canada
That statement has been more than borne out by the experience of the years that have passed.
-but before the proper development of that country can take place an outlet to the Pacific coast is an absolute necessity. I pledge myself-
That reminds me of the manner in which the pledges of the present Prime Minister were made.
I pledge myself that as soon as it is humanly possible the great Peace River country will be given that measure of railway relief that will bring to the pioneers of that country the outlet they have been so long denied, and will open up the country for prospective settlers. I must, however, sound the same note to you here as I did to the citizens of Saskatoon. The times that we are passing through are very difficult, and I would ask you to have a little patience, and in as short a time as possible a railway outlet will be provided for Peace River and northern Alberta districts that will open up an era of prosperity for that province which will not be equalled by any other province in Canada.
At this stage I submit this thought, which I will develop later, that the time to undertake great public projects of this kind is not in a period of prosperity but in a time of adversity. At that time we were passing through one of those minor depressions, and the Prime Minister of the day used that depression as an excuse for avoiding the work. The country steadily emerged from that period of depression into what was described by the Liberal party then, as it has been described since, as the greatest era of prosperity that Canada had ever seen. The Minister of Finance of the late government was wont to talk in this house fervently of the buoyant
revenues of the country, of our expanding foreign trade, of the tremendous development of transportation, of the increased production of goods in Canada. Yet no Peace River outlet was constructed. It could not be constructed in bad times, it was said, and it was not constructed in a prosperous period.
Now, that I may link up the other part of the project with this, may I submit to the house a statement made by the Right Hon. Arthur Meighen in parliament, following that declaration of the present leader of the opposition. On October 1, Mr. Meighen, speaking also in Edmonton, said:
I have always urged that the north country should have railway relief. I cannot be accused of making futile promises such as the Hon. Mackenzie King promised in the speech from the throne at the opening of the last session of parliament when he stated that he was going to give railway relief to the north country, and nothing has been done.
No; but if Mr. Meighen and his party were elected it was to be one of their first undertakings. The report of the five engineers to which I referred a moment ago was tabled in the house in 1926. As hon. members will recollect, 1926 was the year of that hectic and stormy session when no one knew what the government to-morrow was likely to be. It was the hectic session of the Customs scandal, during which two governments went down to defeat. During that session a proposal was made in the house, though never acted upon, that instead of constructing an outlet, a rate ought to be struck on the basis of mileage- the mileage of a direct outlet instead of the actual mileage by Edmonton. Nothing, however, was done in this connection. In the following session of 1927, the hon. member for Peace River moved the following motion:
That, in the opinion of this house, the time has arrived for the commencement forthwith and the completion in the near future of a direct railway outlet from the Peace River country to the Pacific coast.
That motion, which was in keeping with the definite pledges made by both the Liberal and Conservative parties of that day, was resisted in this house. Hon. Mr. Dunning, then Minister of Railways and Canals, objected to it and it was referred to the committee on railways and canals, along with the report of the five engineers. During the investigation held before that committee it was found on examination of the report that the Obed route was the only route of the four routes possible of which a complete survey had been undertaken and that the reports in connection with the Peace and Monkman passes
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were mere guesswork. The committee then brought in what amounted to an innocuous recommendation to the effect that a continuous study of the development of the Peace River district and the outlets should be carried on. To the motion for concurrence in that report the hon. member for Peace River moved an amendment calling for an immediate and complete survey of those passes which had not yet been surveyed, namely, the Peace, the Monkman and the Pine passes. The vote on the amendment was 87 for and 97 against. The then Minister of Railways promised that in any case the government would ask the Canadian National Railways to complete the surveys to a stage where they would have sufficient information to be able to say, when it was determined to build the line: This is the territory through which it should pass.
Mr. Murray Hill, of the Canadian National Railways, was sent out through the mountains in 1928. He made a complete survey of the approach to the Peace pass from the north side of the Peace river and between the Peace river and Dunvegan. Mr. Murray Hill who is an estimable engineer possessing quite a reputation reported definitely against the Peace pass route and recommended that further surveys be undertaken to show how impossible that route was. It happens that the crossing at Beatton river and the approach to the canyon at Hudson's Hope along the banks of the Peace river is made at a point where there are exceedingly steep banks which slide during times of rain. At this point I would like to direct attention to the last paragraph of Mr. Murray Hill's report, which reads as follows:
The Peace pass seems to be the most favoured. To my knowledge, there have not been any lines run through this route, either on the north or south side of the Peace river. I would therefore suggest that these surveys be made in order that definite information may be available to show the difficulties in construction and operation of lines over these routes. The Obed route, from information available, is unquestionably the best Pacific outlet for the Peace River country as a whole. It is, however, unpopular with certain sections of the country. Actual surveys have been made over this route and also the Pine pass route. In order that a correct comparison may be made between all routes, surveys must be made over the other two, viz: Monkman pass and Peace pass routes.