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


John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)


I only intend to offer a few remarks on this question and particularly in reply to the statements made by the Minister of the Interior, because I think this is a very interesting question. I believe that the position each party occupies upon it should be fairly stated to the House. With a great many of the remarks of the Minister of the Interior I perfectly agree ; from some of them I differ entirely. I believe that the Manitoba government are perfectly empowered to enter into an arrangement of this kind. I do not see any reason why the province should not enter into an 157*
arrangement with railway companies, even outside of the province, for the purpose of obtaining better rates. But as to the liabilities of the two parties, and as to what we undertake when we pass this legislation I differ a great deal from the minister (Hon. Mr. Sifton). He says that this is merely an empowering Act to enable two corporations which have their entity from this Dominion to enter into an arrangement with the province of Manitoba. I take a different view. I am of the opinion of the member for Labelle that this is a ratifying Act, and not an empowering Act. As to what we do when we ratify the agreement, I also differ from the Minister of the Interior. The merits of the question enter into the ratification, and we are responsible for the merits of the agreement when we ratify It. When two corporations come to this parliament for the purpose of amalgamating, we need not particularly inquire as to the terms of the amalgamation, because that is a domestic matter, but if the minority comes before this parliament and protests that the majority are exercising powersi in the amalgamation which is detrimental to the minority, then when we grant them the powers of amalgamation we confirm the merits of the agreement. Therefore, I say that we are not merely empowering the parties to enter into this agreement, but when we confirm the bargain we confirm likewise the merits of it. I suppose the government have entered fully into the merits of this question. According to the statement of the Minister of the Interior, the province of Manitoba have fully entered into it. He tells us that one premier after the other has resolved upon it, and that it is part of the policy of the party to which he belongs to have railway communication from Winnipeg to Lake Superior for the purpose of competing with the Canadian Pacific Railway. He* says that policy has been adopted again and again by the province. Then as to the merits. So far as the province is concerned, they seem to have considered the matter fully and' to be favourable to it. As to the position of the government in reference to empowering or confirmatory legislation of this kind, the hon. gentleman says that in financial matters we ought to allow the province to go to ruin if it likes. That is not the policy of the Confederation Act. The power of disallowance was specially retained to the Dominion government, above all things, for the purpose of controlling the financial affairs of a province-to protect a province from going to financial ruin. I have heard statements and arguments to that effect by the promoters of the Confederation Act again and again when the question has come before this House. I have heard it again and again argued by Finance Ministers in this House that that was one of the principal reasons for the exercise of the power of disallowance, because the financial ruin of a pro-

vince would react on the Dominion, and therefore we ought carefully protect the financial position of the provinces. I have heard the present Minister of Trade and Commerce again and again in this House express the opinion that tlieir powers of borrowing ought to he limited, that they were exercising borrowing powers which they ought not to possess, and that we ought to exert a paternal influence over them in order to protect their credit, although there might be no immediate prospect of their financial ruin.

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