April 7, 1908 (10th Parliament, 4th Session)


John Crawford


Mr. JOHN CRAWFORD (Portage la Prairie).

No question is of more interest to the people of the whole country to-day than transportation. That question is at the bottom of practically all the agitation there is, particularly in the western country today. It affects not only the movement of our crops but every other line of business. It not only affects the farmers and the labourers on the farms, but it affects every line of business throughout the whole country. I consider this is a more important proposition at the present time than anything we have to consider. I do not wish to speak at any length but I think it is only right that I should at least make some correction with respect to some of the remarks which have been made by previous speakers. I noticed that the hon member for Calgary (Mr. McCarthy) and the hon. member for Qu'Ap-pelle (Mr. Lake) tried to misrepresent the conditions which surround this undertaking with reference to the acts of the present government. One hon. gentleman undertook to say that the mileage was increased more than it ought to have been owing to the route which was taken in the direction of Hudson bay, or owing to Messrs. Mackenzie and Mann not trying to get to Hudson bay. I notice that it was suggested in the order in council of 1882 that the proposed road would be about 800 miles long and if you will look at the route of the Canadian Northern Railway you will find that, in reaching Hudson bay, it covers a distance of about 800 miles. I have just one complaint to make. In all the business which has been done in connection with the matter they seem to have lost sight of the fact that when the land grant was originally given in connection with this road it was given for the sole purpose of getting a completed road. The orders in council one after another bear that out. The complaint I have to make is that no provision has been made in that direction. The present government may not be so much to blame as their predecessors in that regard owing to the fact that the arrangement provided that so much of the land grants should be handed over as every twenty miles were constructed. Whenever twenty miles were built a proportionate amount of the land grant was handed over but there was no provision made for the completion of the road. Messrs. Mann and Mackenzie or the Canadian Northern people should go on and complete the road. They have had sufficient to do it and I think it has been a great mistake that proper and sufficient provisions were not made surround-

ing the contract. In 1885 an order in council was passed providing that this road could be built practically anywhere the company chose to locate it. They could start anywhere and tap the Canadian Pacific Kailway. The order in council provided that in so far as that portion of it in Manitoba was concerned, the builders of the road were entitled to 6,400 acres per mile and that they should also receive 12,800 acres per mile in the Northwest Territories. The land grant would not have been along the line of railway if it had run in the direction that hon. gentlemen opposite have been talking about to-night. Throughout the different orders in council they make provision for the giving of the land grant to be selected not particularly along the line of railway, but the order in council passed in 1885 provides that in so far as the location of the land is concerned it is entirely at the disposal of the Minister of the Interior. Then having regard to the fact that they could start anywhere, build anywhere that would be advantageous to the company and that they could get into the Northwest Territories and select the land grant anywhere they pleased, goes to prove that the argument of my hon. friend's opposite, in so far as land grants are concerned, are not in keeping with the facts.

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