May 13, 1901 (9th Parliament, 1st Session)

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The MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR.

My hon. friend- (Mr. Bourassa) has made the argument, that because of the supposed change in the contract, Manitoba has been beaten out of the control of rates for which she bargained. That was his argument, and if that was not his argument it was not anything. There is nothing in it; it is wholly and entirely foundationless and now my hon. friend gets up and tries to switch off to the question of discrimination between the people of one province and another. I say that is another matter and I was not discussing that. I am discussing my hon. friend's contention which he stated to the House with great force and eloquence, that we are leaving out a part of the contract and depriving the province of Manitoba of something for which she bargained. There is no man who would stand up and prevent anything of that kind being done more quickly that I would myself, because, even the influence of political prudence, if no higher motive, would induce me to do it. If it could be shown that we were attempting to trick the province of Manitoba in connection with a matter of this kind by pretending to give it something that we were not giving, nobody would feel that political retribution which would follow more quickly than I would. If I were not absolutely clear in my own mind, I would not suggest to the Committee that it should take the course for which I have been contending. As to the other objection, and it is another objection and an entirely different objection, as to the question of discrimination between the people of Manitoba and the people of Ontario, that point has been raised a number of times, but it has no reference at all to the merits of the contract as between us and the legislature and people of Manitoba. It is a question affecting Dominion railway legislation and it might be necessary for the federal authorities at a future time to say to the railway company : You are discriminating as against the people of Ontario be-

tween the mouth of the Rainy river and Port Arthur, you are not cai'rying their produce as low as you are carrying the produce of Manitoba, and we will compel you to do that. It may very well be that the rate in Manitoba is lower than the rate in Ontario, but that does not affect or apply to the argument against this contract. I do not intend to take up any considerable time of the committee. I generally find that in matters of this kind, if It is desired to get at the real point and to discuss it, that may be done within a reasonable length of time and there is no purpose to be served, in my judgment, by going over at great length the points to which I have referred. It seems to me to be simply and clearly a question as to whether we are going to let the people of the province of Manitoba, who seem to have made up their minds upon the question, settle in their own way a matter which affects their own interests and those of nobody else. I think I have a fairly good knowledge of the electors of Manitoba, and I would be inclined to think that the most effective way of making them all think that this was a good contract, would be for the parliament of Canada to refuse to pass it. I know that a great many of the electors in Manitoba who may not and who do not approve of the provisions of this contract, would resent the idea that the parliament of Canada should not let them do their business as they see fit. Time and again, in connection with matters in this province, this position has been taken by many prominent citizens of Manitoba, and I have no doubt it would be taken all over the province. The merits of this question we will settle for ourselves, and we want the central authority to leave us alone, to let us settle it for ourselves, and the public men whom we elect to positions of trust will be responsible to us. So far as we are permitted to have any evidence given to us on the subject, while I am bound to say that some of my own strong political friends have taken and are taking very strong ground against this contract, there has been nothing to indicate particularly that the legislature of the province does not fairly represent the views of the people. We had a delegation from the city of Winnipeg, a very respectable delegation, headed by Mr. Bole, a personal friend of mine, a political friend, and, I think, president of the board of trade-at all events a member of the board of trade, not appearing, however, for the board of trade, but appearing on behalf and as delegates from certain gentlemen in the city of Winnipeg. Then, we have had a number of resolutions passed at public meetings throughout the province. I need not say to any hon. gentleman who has kept a close watch on the politics of the country for a great many years, that no public man will dream of accepting such demonstrations as representing the people of the province as against the formal action of the

Topic:   LEASE OF RAILWAYS BY MANITOBA.
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