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


Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)


Hon. PRANK OLIVER (Minister of the Interior).

Mr. Speaker, before the question is put I wish to congratulate the House, the west and the country at large on the unanimous expression of approval of this project in which we are all, especially in the west, so deeply interested. It is very fortunate, I am sure, that after some four months of a strenuous session it is possible to hold a discussion on such an important question in the House and not have any division of opinion as to the merits of the main question. This is fortunate for the project and for the country. I do not propose to discuss the question myself as it has been discussed at such length and so ably during the day. I might, however, refer to one point suggested by Mr. Fowler, that the road had been lengthened very greatly from what was first intended. I shall not dispute that, but I would point out that the decision of the question whether the road has really been lengthened, depends on the points taken. If the initial point is to be Portage la Prairie or some point in the older part of the province of Manitoba and the usefulness of the road is to be confined to that district, then the road has been lengthened by being taken west of Lake Manitoba instead of between Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg. But if the road is intended to serve the western country generally, then this change in the route has very greatly shortened the road. That is to say the route has taken a shortened dis-stance between the centre of the wheat fields and Fort Churchill as compared with the route which would go direct from Portage la Prairie to Fort Churchill. Last year, when this question was up for consideration, the premier informed the House that the government had the matter then under consideration and that lie hoped to

be able to make an announcement with regard to it before the close of the session. Unfortunately he was called away and did not return before the close of the session; therefore the government was not able to. reach any conclusion on the subject and he was not able to make any announcement. I am at liberty to say that the question is now under the consideration of the government and that a conclusion has not been reached is not because of any dilatoriness in regard to the question at the hands of the government. I think it will be agreed that the subject of transportation has been dealt with and is being dealt with very energetically on the part of the government and very satisfactorily to the country at large, and if no conclusion has yet been reached in regard to this question of the immediate construction of a railway to Hudson bay it is not because of any lack of sympathy with the project or any lack of intent on the part of the government to deal witli the question, but because other matters have hitherto been more pressing. However, it is again hoped that before the end of the session it will be possible for the government to make an announcement upon this question.

Full View