July 16, 1908 (10th Parliament, 4th Session)


Robert Abercrombie Pringle

Conservative (1867-1942)


We have recently come through a provincial campaign in Ontario. The Minister of Railways (Mr. Graham) spoke on the platform with the leader of the opposition in the legislature, Mr. A. G. McKay, and the whole complaint was that last awful week in Toronto. What was that last awful week ? The Hon. J. P. Whitney enunciated in his platform of 1904 the principle that not one dollar of bonus should be given to any railway in the province of Ontario. He adhered to that policy rigidly ; the only complaint wras that he undertook to guarantee certain bonds of the James Bay Railway to the extent of some $2,000,000. The Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Graham) now asks this House not in the last week of the session, but in the last 48 hours to pass bonuses for millions of dollars and a guarantee of bonds for millions more. Personally I am not opposed to the guarantee of

bonds under proper conditions and proper circumstances. I believe it is the best way of assisting railways in opening and developing new territories and that history will show this country will not be called upon to pay one dollar of principal or of interest where the bonds are for a reasonable amount, and precaution is taken to see that the railway is built through a country that will likely be a good producing country. What I do complain of is the absolute hypocrisy of the party which went through Ontario condemning the Conservative party because the Conservative party guaranteed bonds to a small amount, and then asks us to-day, with 48 hours ahead of us, to grant bonuses to an extent of about $20,000,000. I have not had time nor has any hon. member to thoroughly investigate the bonuses to the different railways but I have run through some of them. In Ontario the Ross administration in its dying days granted a subsidy of $2,000 a mile to one railway which is now getting a subsidy of $6,200 a mile. The Ross government granted a land subsidy of millions of acres to another railway which is now getting a subsidy from these hon. gentlemen of $6,400 a mile. Under certain conditions it might be reasonable to grant certain bonuses. The province of Ontario in the past has done it, the Ross government left for the Conservative government a debt of five or six millions incurred in subsidies to railways. But since the advent of the Hon. J. P. Whitney to power in 1905 not one dollar has been granted in subsidies to any railway and yet the Liberals in Ontario raised the cry of that last awful week, simply because there was a guarantee of bonds which I believe was justified. I do not think it is possible for us in 48 hours to thoroughly consider these resolutions. We know we have to prorogue on Saturday and X with others feel that these resolutions should have been brought down weeks ago instead of being left to the last days of the session.

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