May 17, 1904 (9th Parliament, 4th Session)

CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

I have an amendment to this section which reads :
That the Bill be amended by adding thereto the following section :
Notwithstanding anything in this Act or in the said supplementary agreement contained, the amount of interest payable by the government without recourse against the Pacific Company under the provisions of the 32nd paragraph of the said original agreement shall not be increased but shall remain and continue as fixed and provided in the said original agreement and as if the first, fourth and fifth paragraphs of the said supplementary agreement were not therein contained and as if the said three paragraphs formed no part of the scheduled agreement or of any agreement between the parties thereto.
During the course of the discussion on this Bill the Minister of the Interior (Mr, Sifton), and I think the member for Annapolis (Mr. Wade) made the statement in the House that the changed agreement under the supplementary clauses would not increase the liability of this country one dollar, or would not increase the amount of interest which this country would have to pay by one dollar. I am sorry that the Minister of Railways and Canals left the House the moment this was introduced, because I was going to ask him to be good enough to favour the committee for once with some explanation
as to whether, in his opinion, this altered amendment would increase the liability of the country or as to whether this country would have an increased amount of interest to pay under the agreement presented for our approval. In looking over the original agreement I find that the country was to guarantee upon the mountain section $30,000 a mile. The estimated length of that part of the road is 500 miles, which at $30,000 a mile would be $15,000,000 for which, under the original agreement, the country would be liable. Interest upon that for 7 years at 3 per cent would be $3,150,000. In other words, under the original agreement passed by the House last session, the country became liable for the sum of $15,000,000 and for the payment of interest to the amount of $3,150,000.
Now these hon. gentlemen have made a statement of the House that the supplementary agreement which <we are now considering would not increase the liability of the country one dollar, and that we would not have any increased amount of interest to pay. It is important to remember that fact, so that the committee and the country will understand as to whether our liability is increased or whether the amount of interest that we will be called upon to pay under the new agreement will be more, or whether it will be the same as under the old agreement as hon. gentlemen opposite were good enough to tell us. Under the new agreement the clause providing that we shall give a guarantee to the extent of $30,000 per mile on the mountain section is cancelled and instead thereof there is inserted a clause in the new agreement that requires the country to guarantee three-quarters of the total cost of the mountain section. We have had the statement in this House that the cost of the mountain section will be $50,000 per mile. A period of eight years is allowed for the construction of this road now instead of five years as under the old agreement, and interest for four years will amount to $6,000 a mile, so that practically the total cost of the mountain section covering a distance of 500 miles will be $56,000 per mile according to the estimates given. The committee will readily understand that this must impose an increased liability upon this country because it will be remembered that the old guarantee was $30,000 per mile. The cost of the mountain section including interest for seven years will be $56,000 per mile. The country is called upon to guarantee three-quarters of the whole which will amount to a liability of $42,000 per mile instead of $30,000 per mile under the old agreement passed last session. Taking the 500 miles at $42,000 per mile under the new agreement we have a liability of $21,000,000 instead of $15,000,000. Yet, in face of this agreement * the hon. Minister of the Interior (Mr. Sifton) from his place in this House during this dis-

cussion called upon the committee to pass this agreement because it imposed no increased liability on the country. The committee and the country are entitled to a further explanation from the hon. Minister of the Interior and also from the hon. member who represents the county of Annapolis (Mr. Wade). Now then, we come to the question of interest. We have to pay interest upon $21,000,000 for seven years under the new agreement which will give us an interest account of $4,410,000. The liability under the old agreement is $15,000,000. The liability under the new agreement introduced at this sessoin is1 $21,000,000. The interest to pay under the old agreement is $3,150,000 and the interest to pay under the new agreement is $4,410,000 or an increased liability placed upon this country because of this, as hon. gentlemen term it, unimportant change of $6,000,000 placed upon this country since last session and an increase in the actual payment of interest that must be taken out of the treasury of this country of $1,260,000. The country will very naturally ask the question : What has the Grand Trunk Pacific done for the people of Canada that they should so alter or change the original agreement that seemed to be so satisfactory to the hon. gentlemen opposite who were supporting the government last session? What have they done for the people of Canada that they should be granted a new agreement under which they ask the people to pay this increased interest amounting to $1,260,000 and to place upon the country ah increased liability of $6,000,000? This opens the door to a very dangerous kind of railway construction in this country. The statement was made on the floor of this House by an hon. gentleman who understands railway matters very well, that during the first ten years after a railway is constructed the cost to the railway company is almost equal to' the original cost of construction. If that be true you can readily understand the advantage that the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company will receive from the government by this changed or altered agreement. The government have to pay three-quarters of the cost of the mountain section no matter what it may be. Fifty-six thousand dollars a mile may be a fair estimate. If it costs $70,000 per mile the country is still held by this new agreement to pay three-quarters of the cost and bearing in mind the fact that the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company are particularly interested in the western section, the committee will readily understand that the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company will be quite willing to make an increased expenditure upon the construction of the western section because they know full well that the government are compelled to pay interest and compelled to guarantee Mr. BLAIN.
their bonds to the amount of three-quarters of the cost no matter what the cost may be. I repeat that I am very sorry indeed that the bon. Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Emmerson) is not in his place. I think it would be the duty of the right hon. leader of the government to send to the room of the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals and ask him to come into the House, tie could remain here wrhile the unimportant business of the sitting was going on after the opening of the House at three o'clock but just the moment the chairman took the chair and the Grand Trunk Pacific was taken up he went elsewhere. It seems to me that that is not fair play, I speak candidly and I say that I do not think the people of this country will think that the government are discharging their full duty to the country when they allow the gentleman who occupies that important position to leave the House and absolutely refuse to give one word of explanation as to why these important changes should be made and as to why this increased liability should be placed upon the people of Canada. I think we are entitled to further explanation from the government and in particular from the hon. Minister of Justice. I am quite sure that hon. gentleman will give it his attention. I would be glad to have a statement from him as to whether this changed and altered agreement will not place upon the people of Canada an enormously increased responsibility and an increased cash payment out of the treasury of this country for interest. I think this is a question that we require some further explanation upon and I hope the hon. Minister of Justice will be good enough to state his opinion now because his opinion will be very valuable upon this point, very valuable indeed in the days that are to come, perhaps more valuable than it may be at the present time because they have put their seal to this document and I am sure that when trouble comes as trouble must come between the government and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company in the future it will be very important to turn back to the discussion in ' Hansard ' and find the opinion of the hon. gentlemen who are responsible to the electors for this change in the agreement that increases to such an enormous extent the liability imposed upon the people of Canada.

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK PACIFIC RAILWAY BILL.
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