I cannot agree that this is the duty of an opposition. I believe an opposition should criticize, scrutinize and offer constructive suggestions if possible, and of course there comes the time when it may be and is our duty to oppose the position taken by the government. At any rate, while that was my desire when this debate commenced I must confess that the speech made by the Prime Minister yesterday somewhat shook my determination. I think the speech of the right hon. gentleman, confirmed by the remark of the Minister of Railways just now in which he substituted consideration for acceptance in regard to amendments, made it abundantly clear that no amendments will be accepted unless perhaps they have to do with the length of the cross of the "t" or the size of the dot to be put above the "i". I think it is quite clear that any amendments we may deem advisable will not be accepted by the government.
I am not very much impressed with the willingness of the government to reinsert the section having to do with amalgamation. That does not mean very much to me, because even if that section is placed in the bill it will not prevent the board, which is entrusted with the complete management and control of the system, from pursuing a course that would inevitably force us into amalgamation. With the powers entrusted to them under the terms of this bill they may adopt a course that would make it impossible for us to avoid being driven into amalgamation. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, to me part I is the importaijt part of the bill. AVith a board of trustees doing their duty in the interests of the country parts I and II would be entirely unnecessary, but if part I does not work effectively there is no power under heaven that could make parts II and III work well. I think that should be perfectly clear.
C.N.R ,~C.P.R. Bill-Mr. Brown
Something has been said as to the qualifications of the trustees. Naturally this must be a subject that gives us a great deal of concern. If this were a matter between two private roads we should naturally expect, and we should be justified in expecting, that the respective representatives would stand absolutely by their own interests. But how can we be. perfectly sure that a board of trustees representing the publicly owned railways, representing no immediate interests of their own, would be so completely devoted to the interests of that road as to allow no other considerations to enter their minds? It is all very well to say that we must have men of integrity. Certainly we must; we must have men with high ideals of public service, men who are sympathetic to the idea of public ownership. But how are we going to apply these tests in choosing men to fill these positions?
Perhaps I might offer another suggestion that might be worth considering, although it may possibly be thought narrow on my part. Nevertheless, it is worth, considering, whether men who within the last five years have had a large interest in the Canadian Pacific Railway could give to the operation of the national road that wholehearted, sympathetic management which alone can make it a success.
Referring again to the speech of the Prime Minister, although I said that at the time I did not grasp the full significance of his remarks, yet there was one thing that came to me with a distinct shock and that was his statement that we did not own a railway. The people of Canada had been congratulating themselves upon their ownership of a magnificent railway system comprising some 23,000 miles of steel rails. We were congratulating ourselves on the fact that we were the owners of one of the greatest properties in the world, and now the Prime Minister comes along and tells us it is all a delusion.