I admit that these estimates may be considered a little large at the present time, but they have been submitted to the Minister of Finance, and he felt that even with these expenditures he was capable of preserving the financial condition of our country. These are useful works. As I said a few moments ago, some of them, the Chambly canal for instance, have to be undertaken one day or another. Something has to be done at some time or another. I really believe we are justified in asking for these expenditures, and as I said before, the large amount of $8,000,000 for the development of the Richelieu river will be spread over a period of four or five years. It represents a very small amount as compared with other expenditures that have been made in the past, and I think the main object, the developing of our transportation facilities, deserves to be favourably received and accepted by the committee. Like the right hon. gentleman, I apprehend the difficulties through which our country is passing and the responsibilities of those charged with administering the affairs of this country, but I think in view of the experience we have gained we are justified in developing our transportation facilities in the province of Quebec as well as in other sections of Canada.
Does the minister think the amount of traffic which can be carried over that system to lake Champlain would justify the ultimate expenditure? This amount of $500,000 is only a bagatelle compared with the
ultimate expenditure. Does the minister honestly think there will be enough traffic over that system to justify its development?
I have already explained what I think are the justifications for this expenditure. At present, even with the limited depth of water in the Chambly canal, there is a substantial traffic passing through the canal, consisting mainly of pulp and paper shipped by the mills of the province of Quebec, and these people are very anxious that the canal be deepened in order that they may be in a position to carry further quantities of their goods through the canal.
I wish to return to the large item for the Chambly canal. As the minister says, it is not a new item. It has been up for consideration over a period of years, and the reasons the minister has given to-night for the undertaking of this work were just as strong in the years that are past as they are now. But even in times of prosperity, when revenues were buoyant and expenditures were made more freely when they were justified, conditions never seemed to warrant undertaking this work in past years. I know it has received consideration in the last three or four years, but the reasons why it should not be undertaken were so overwhelming that it was not considered at all. I say that the conditions have not changed, but that on the contrary the reasons why it should not be undertaken at this time are stronger than ever they have been in the last fifteen or twenty years. I really think the minister ought to give this further consideration. It is a large amount and we do not seem likely to get any immediate return for this expenditure. It also means a very heavy future commitment. I do not think we ought to be asked to pass this item until the minister is able to give more definite information as to what the ultimate cost will be. I know that one of the reasons why there was hesitation in the past in submitting such a vote to parliament was that we did not know what it ultimately meant, but we did know It meant such an amount that the finances of the country in days like these did not warrant even the commencement of the work. I say that the conditions which delayed this work and rendered it inadvisable to undertake it in years past are even stronger to-night than they were before.
Perhaps the minister will give this item a little thought between now and next time. I have nothing more to say about it. It is opposed not because of the amount, but because of what is involved in the way of future expenditure.