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


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



I'1 regard to the general question, the subject is one of intense interest to the people of the west. That is perfectly apparent to any gentleman who has gone to the west and who knows how thoroughly the people of Manitoba and the two other provinces are convinced that the Hudson bay route will give to them an outlet which is absolutely necessary to the full and complete development of their country. It is only a question of the requisite information and we are informed that the government have in their possession at the present time information which justifies them in coming to the conclusion that the Hudson Bay route is a reasonably practicable and feasible route for a reasonable number of months in the year as the hon. member for Strath-cona (Mr. McIntyre) very well put it tonight. If that is the case why have they not effectively dealt with the matter during the last twrelve years ? Why is it that they did not take some steps to give a practical illustration of the sympathy which was dwelt upon so much here to-night by my hon. friend the Minister of the Interior (Mr. Oliver) ? Sympathy is a very desirable quality, but action is a much more desirable quality on the part of the government in regard to a great transportation question of this kind. Let me point out to the minister one illustration of that. In 1904, four years ago, there was the same unanimity in this House in regard to the application of the British preference only to goods which entered Canada by Canadian ports. There were the same delightful expressions from even greater statesmen than the Minister of the Interior, from the right hon. Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) and from the hon. Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) and we know very well that in so far as the application of that principle is concerned the matter is exactly in the same position as it was when that motion was passed by the House. If that is a fair omen of what the people of the west may expect from this resolution, 1 do not know that they have any very great cause for satisfaction after what has taken place. There was on that occasion in 1904, a unanimous resolution of the House and yet the government have paid absolutely no attention to it, except that the terms of that resolution have been incorporated in the statutes of this country to be brought into operation at some indefinite and unknown time in the future, described by the Prime Minister as dependent upon the completion of the National Transcontinental Railway. Four years have elapsed, we do not know how many more will lapse before effect will be given to that resolution, now four years old, and if the people of the wmst are to wait for a similar length of time before any action is taken by the government in regard to this railway, it does not seem that the hon. member for West Assiniboia has made quite so impor-

tant or great a stride towards the goal on the present occasion as some hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House seem to imagine.
The subject recalls the discussion on the tunnel between Prince Edward Island and the mainland which was alluded to by one of my hon. friend from the island ; it is simply a question of getting the requisite information as to whether or not this is a feasible route. This government have been in power for twelve years and assuming the worst default that you are entitled to assume in regard to their predecessors, I think that they long ago should have acted upon the information which has been available. Now, we are assured by the Minister of the Interior that the government have . it under consideration, and I suppose that we must content ourselves with that unless some other gentleman of the treasury benches is inclined to go a little further than the Minister of the Interior has done.
Motion as amended, agreed to.

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