March 30, 1909 (11th Parliament, 1st Session)


William Melville Martin


Mr. W. M. MARTIN (Regina).

Mr. Speaker, I have listened with a good deal of attention to the speeches delivered by the leader of the opposition and by the hon. member for East Hastings (Mr. Northrup), but I have failed to discover whether these gentlemen are in favour of this loan or opposed to it. The fact is, Sir, that the interests of all Canada and the interests of western Canada in particular demand that this loan shall be granted by the government to the Grand Trunk Pacific in order, if possible, to complete the prairie section from Winnipeg to Wolf creek before the end of the present year. The transportation problem is the most important we have to deal with in Canada to-day, and it is of supreme importance to the west. There are settlers in that country cultivating land who live as far as 100 miles from a railway, and these men for whom we should have consideration cannot possibly make the profit out of their industry which they should. The hon. member for East Hastings stated that there have been some discreditable disclosures before the Public Accounts Committee, and although I was not here last year I presume that statement is on a par with the statements made throughout the length and breadth of Canada by hon. gentlemen opposite during the last campaign. I presume it is about as true as the statement of the hon. member for St. Antoine (Mr. Ames) who went throughout the country telling what was absolutely untrue with regard to our western timber lands, and carrying with him his little magic lantern, taking upon himself to teach the people of the west what they should do with respect to their resources. If I remember correctly, the hon. leader of the opposition made a statement that the building of this road had been conceived in haste. I want to say that the people of western Canada are of the opinion that the building of the road was not conceived hastily enough. We think it ought to have been conceived three or four years sooner than it was; and if hon. gentlemen will take
the trouble to inquire in western Canada, to read the papers there, and even to read 'Hansard' of those days, they will find that the opinion was unanimously expressed throughout that country that there was absolute need for another transcontinental railway. I have here copies of two or three resolutions which were passed in western Canada in the years 1901, 1902, and 1903; and I want to call the attention of this House to these resolutions to show the incorrectness of. the statement of he hon. leader of the opposition, that the building of this road had been conceived in haste. The 'Regina Leader' in 1903 said:
For many weeks past first one merchant and then another has in vigorous language, drawn the attention of the ' Leader ' to the fact that the condition of railway traffic in the west is continually getting worse. The situation last year was had enough, when for days and sometimes weeks, merchants were completely out of certain lines of goods because the railway could not get them in. This year it was infinitely worse, for many business houses have been completely sold out of certain lines for weeks and months, notwithstanding the fact that their orders were placed in plenty of time and the goods promptly shipped by wholesalers in the east.
If that was the condition of affairs in 1902, it was equally so in 1903; and I speak from personal knowledge when I say that it was equally so during the years that succeeded. The legislature of the Northwest Territories in the fall of 1902 passed the following resolution, which I believe was forwarded to the Governor in Council at Ottawa:
The prospective increase in the volume of traffic, which largely increased cultivation and settlement of lands in these territories will gradually create, will further tend to congest ti affic between these territories and the provinces to the east, and unless it is held desirable to divert pant of the traffic through foreign channels, adequate facilities for transportation must be immediately provided. That this assembly does therefore humbly pray that Tour Excellency may be pleased to take such action as may be necessary or expedient to insure that the people of these territories are provided with an efficient transportation system as contemplated by the contract made between the people of Canada and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.
With respect to the question whether or not cattle and grain produced on the western prairies were being diverted through American channels, I may say that I know of my own personal knowledge that cattle have been driven by farmers in Saskatchewan across the boundary line into the states of Montana and Dakota to be shipped on American trains; and thousands of bushels of wheat have been drawn during the past year by farmers in the southern portion of the province of Manitoba across the boundary and shipped by American

lines. The hon. member for Assiniboia (Mr. Turriff) informs me that 150,000 bushels of grain from the southern part of his own constituency were drawn across the boundary and shipped by American lines during the past year. I could give you other expressions of opinion in regard to the need of more railway facilities in the northwest prior to the time of the making of the contract with the Grand Trunk Pacific. Here is a statement made by Mr. Wm, Whyte, the present vice-president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, made in 1903, when the Grand Trunk Pacific contract was under discussion:
There is lots of room for the Grand-Trunk Railway in the Northwest. 1 am glad to hear they are coming. You must remember that the Grand Trunk Railway is a national road and it is far better to have it than an American road. If the people of the east had any idea of the rapidity with which the country is settling out there, they would not be surprised to hear me say: 'There is room for
the Grand Trunk Railway and others as well/ The conditions of affairs has completely changed even since a year ago. The traffic is not only abnormal east-bound but also west bound. It is this fact which has simply ren dered it impossible to handle the crop with the despatch which was necessary.
I could give you statements to the same effect from other western papers. The Winnipeg Telegram ' and the Toronto ' Mail and Empire ' agreed that another transcontinental railway was necessary. In the face of these facts, I was somewhat surprised, as a resident of the western provinces, to read at that time statements by prominent members of the Conservative party in this House that they were absolutely opposed to a third continental railway project.

Full View