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


The PRIME MINISTER (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier).

The House must come to some conclusion upon this Bill, and the question before the House is : Whether or not this Bill, which provides for the construction of, I presume, an important piece of railway in one section of the North-west Territories, is to be passed or not. The matter has been investigated by the Railway Committee, and for my part I see no reason to depart from the rule which I have invariably followed, that whenever a matter has been threshed out before the Railway Committee and the Railway Committee has come to a conclusion-not necessarily a unanimous conclusion, because we cannot expect that-but when the Railway Committee has come to a conclusion, that conclusion ought to be supported by the House unless a very strong case be made out to the contrary. So far as I understand, the reasons advanced against this Bill are not against the merit of the Bill itself. It is not pretended that this road would not be useful.
It is not pretented that the road would not seiwe a good purpose, but the argument advanced is that this Bill should not be passed unless another important section of the country should also be served with a railway. In other words, the argument of my hon. friend from West Assiniboia (Mr. Scott) and my hon. friend from Alberta (Mr. Oliver) is this : While we do not pretend that this road may not be a good one, yet we do not want this section of the country to be served by a railway unless we are also served by another railway in another section of the country. This railway may be a benefit to the people, Dut these . hon. gentlemen argue that it shall not be chartered unless they get another railway which would also benefit the people. They say : We have been suffering from want of railway communication and unless we have railway communication ourselves we want the people in another section of the country to suffer as we do. That is hardly a fair argument to present to this House. It seems to me that our friends from the North-west Territories who represent a section of the country which has suffered for the want of adequate railway communication, should have some sympathy for other people who are suffering likewise. So far from preventing this railway from being built, they ought, in my opinion say : Well, let this road be built and let some effort be made to have the Northwest Central Railway built also. In my

opinion, by far the best course to follow, would be to allow this Bill to proceed and at the same time to make the best efforts possible to cause the other railway to be built also. I sympathize deeply with my kon. friends from Assiniboia and Alberta. I understand not only the advantage but the necessity of railway communication to the settlers, and I am not without hope that the Canadian Pacific Railway will be prepared to make some announcement upon this matter perhaps during the course of the present session.

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