April 29, 1901 (9th Parliament, 1st Session)


James Moffat Douglas



Mr. Speaker, as representing East Assiniboia, through which this proposed extension of the Great North-west Central passes from the entire east to the west, it may be naturally taken for granted that personally I am largely interested, not only because I represent the people who are urgently in need of a railway, but, even from a personal standpoint, having invested as far back as 1883, and wanting that railway all these years, I am certainly very urgently desirous of pressing upon the House the importance of compelling the building of this road at the earliest possible date. I feel somewhat in a peculiar position in connection with this proposal of my neighbour the hon. member for West Assiniboia (Mr. Scott), for the reason that I was a member of the sub committee of the Railway Committee that came to a conclusion as to what should be done during the present year with the Canadian Pacific Railway, and I personally agreed to the finding, and supported it. Therefore, the objection might be taken against anything I might projjose here, that, having'agreed to a thing, I should not fall back from it. Well, I wish to impress upon the House the fact that there is perhaps no district more urgently needing a railway than the colonies along the north side of the Qu'Appelle river. I wish to state that since this Great North-west Central Bill passed the Railway Committee I have had communications from the Swedish colony demanding a reply ' yes ' or ' no ' as to the building of this road. These settlers stated that they had resolved by resolution in a public meeting duly called that they would leave the results of their labour for eighteen years, and seek to make their homes somewhere else. That fact alone ought to be taken into consideration. If we are spending money for immigration purposes and endeavouring to bring people to our country, it is of importance that we should give them the condition of success. I have read articles in the newspapers headed in this way: ' Betrayed and victimized,' and then

under that heading giving the treatment that the people have received, and commenting upon this treatment as against the government. When one is aware of the condition, when you know that these people have for nineteen years been waiting for a railway, that they have been losing about 14 cents on every bushel of grain they have marketed, that they have patiently gone forward doing their best, it is evident that no stone ought to be left unturned by this government to get them this railway extension at the earliest possible date. We have urged it upon the Canadian Pacific Railway, we have sent in petitions until the hearts of the people are sick preparing petitions. I have taken the trouble of going to Montreal and talking this matter over with the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and to urge it upon Sir William Van Horne. We have discussed it. It is no use to tell us that the Canadian Pacific Railway are not able to build that road, when they come forward with a Bill, as in this case, and propose to build a road where there is no population, which goes through a country in which there is no one calling for a road, while here we have a populated district through which this proposed extension of the Great North-west Central would go for its entire length. It would be amusing perhaps if I read to the House the beautiful words that are recorded in these pamphlets in reference to Assiniboia, the very distinct through which this road is to pass. I might make a very good argument on them. If the government give to the world such a statement in reference to the character of the country and its hopes, why do they not also state that it is without railways, and that the people have suffered severely for want of railway facilities ? It is true that we have the prospects of probably getting 40 miles of railway built this year, but we ought to have 100 miles of railway built this year. While it would be inconsistent for me. having agreed to the other proposal when this Bill passed the Railway Committee a few days ago, to urge this strongly, yet, I do seek here and now to impress upon the House that this is a case where the government ought to step in and say to the Canadian Pacific Railway, or any other railway company, that when it is proposed to spend money in opening up a country where there is no settlement, it is in the interest of the government, and in the interest of the country that the people who have been settled for eighteen or nineteen years should be the first to have their wants attended to. That is the point that I desire especially to enforce. I need not dwell upon it at length. I spoke at length in the Railway Committee on this question not long ago, but, I would wish, before sitting down, to allude to the feeling against the Canadian Pacific Railway on the part of North-west members. I do not think it is in the minds of the North-west members, Mr. DOUGLAS.
but it is in the minds of the people they represent, and as I have told the Canadian Pacific Railway In their, own office, it is as much as a member's political head is worth to say a word in their favour in the west. It is just as well that the House should know that, and if they wish another condition of things to be brought about, they should adopt a new policy to meet the wishes of the people, to develop the country and seek to give them such railway facilities as the country demands. The feeling exists against the Canadian Pacific Railway, and there is no use of hiding it. It is strong, and members must necessarily speak the minds of the people they represent when they come before the House. Therefore, I would impress upon the government, at least, to give the people that we have brought into the country, who have been in the country facing difficulties and passing through the hardships of early settlement, the conditions of success, including railway facilities at the earliest possible date.

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