Mr. Chairman, hon. gentlemen opposite are very anxious to have the views and opinions of other people in regard to the cost of this road, and they seem to be willing to set up the late Minister of Railways and Canals as an authority whom they are ready to follow on all occasions. How would it do to look and see what his opinion is in regard to the cost as stated in his speech delivered in this
House last session ? You will find it at page 8457 of last year's 'Hansard.' He says :
Then we have GOO miles of mountain section, which it is said will cost $30,000 per mile. Nobody, X think, is informed sufficiently to say whether that is very much of an under-estimate, or whether it is an ample estimate. We know very well that mountain railway construction is expensive construction, although there are goo'd reasons for supposing that this line can be built through one of those passes at substantially less cost than the mountains can be crossed at any point to the south of where it is-proposed that this railway shall pass to the coast. I figure that $35,000 would not be out of the way. I want to make a fair and reasonable calculation.
These are the figures that Mr. Blair, the then Minister of Railways and Canals stated as the cost of the mountain section of this road. Now. I have undertaken to express my own opinion as to what the mountain section of this road will cost. That opinion is based on the information I have received. and it is of a similar nature to that given to Mr. Blair. The information I have received may be wrong, and consequently my opinion would be erroneous, but until I am in possession of facts to the contrary, I will adhere to my opinion. In any case, it does seem to me that it is idle to propose such an amendment at the present time, in view of the fact that there is a contract entered into between the railway company and the government. That contract is subject to ratification by parliament; we either have to ratify the contract as it exists, or, we have to refuse to ratify it, and if any change of this kind were made in the contract, it would neces sitate going back to the railway company to see whether they would agree to this alteration or not. That is the whole thing in a nutshell. The hon. gentleman who proposes the amendment knows that it is impossible for us to adopt it for the reasons I have stated. I wish to say further-1 have said it before, but I wish to repeat it-that if I am entirely wrong in my judgment and if hon. gentlemen are absolutely right, and if the highest figure they have put as the cost of this road is the correct figure ; even then we would not be justified, because of the additional cost, in refusing to construct this road at once. I do not believe they are right. I believe they are wrong. The estimate of Mr. Blair, of $35,000 per mile may probably be too low, it may be that my estimate is too low ; it may be found that my estimate is too high, but as Mr. Blair stated last session in this House, there is no man today with sufficient information on which to base an accurate judgment as to what the road will cost. One can only give his opinion, and that opinion must go for what it is worth.