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


William Melville Martin



The hon. gentleman will have plenty of time to reply in a few moments. I want to refer, for instance, to what was said by the hon. member for East Grey (Mr. Sproule), who I am sorry is not in his seat at the present time. Referring to 'Hansard' of 1903, vol. 4, at page 8761, that hon. gentleman spoke as follows:
Let us examine for a short time the reasons they give to justify this undertaking. The first is the urgent need of the west for increased facilities to handle its grain. Now, this brings up the question whether such urgent need in the west exists to-day. Where is the urgent need for this new railway in the west, a need so urgent, as the Premier says, we cannot wait another day, another hour, re cannot put it off till to-morrow, we have not a moment to spare; and he expressed the hope that we had not waited too long already. Now this suggests the question, how are the products of that country handled to-day? Is there such urgent need at the present time? I do not think so. If we look into it carefully, I am sure we will not come to that conclusion.
That surely is a definite enough statement in opposition to the main project of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. Another statement made by the same hon. gentleman, in the same volume of 'Hansard', at page 8770, was as follows:
I have said that the sentiment of the country. in Ontario at least, is against the subsidizing of railways largely in the future. Has the government had any mandate from the people to put through this project? No. I challenge the Prime Minister to-day to dissolve this House and go to the country upon this scheme. Dare he risk it? If he should do it, and if the people should return him to power, then he may carry out his scheme and 1 shall not offer any objection.
At page 8775 of the same volume, the same hon. gentleman denounced the project in the following very strong terms:
Let them ask themselves whether they will be justified in endorsing that undertaking, that baby policy, that monstrosity of politics, that has been launched upon the world in connection with this scheme. When the people of Canada have digested this policy properly I am quite sure what the result will be. Sir, once more I dare the government to dissolve this House and appeal to the country to-day. Dare they ask a mandate from the electorate for this heavy undertaking? They dare not do it, I challenge them to do it.
As far as the province of Saskatchewan is concerned, the main issue discussed in the election campaign of 1904 was the building of the Grand Trunk Pacific. Did the

people endorse that scheme? There can be but one answer to that question. One of the main issues discussed by the people during the election campaign of 1908 was the Grand Trunk Pacific project. Did the people endorse it in 1908? I venture to say that there were two Liberal votes cast in that province endorsing the Grand Trunk Pacific for every vote cast against it.
Let me refer to what was said by the hon. member for South Simcoe (Mr. Lennox) in the session of 1903. I am quoting from 'Hansard,' page 8810. He said:
Go where you will, and the preponderating voice, the overwhelming voice will be, when the scheme is fully understood, an absolute condemnation of this measure.
Well, since this statement was made, I have heard hon. gentlemen opposite speaking in western Canada on political subjects, and I never heard one of them condemn the Grand Trunk Pacific project. The reason is obvious. They knew they were in a country where the people were all in favour of building the road and recognized it as an absolute necessity. I challenge any Conservative member from the west in this House to say he is against the loan of $10,000,000 to pay for the completion of the prairie section. I challenge the hon. member for Qu'Appelle (Mr. Lake) to say that he is adverse to that loan for the completion of the prairie section of the Grand Trunk Pacific. I challenge any Conservative member from Manitoba to say that he is adverse to that loan. They dare not oppose it. There would not be a Conservative returned in Manitoba at the next election if they took that position.
I do not intend to take up any time of the House discussing the securities which are being obtained by the government from the Grand Trunk Pacific. The majority of members from the west have sufficient confidence in the growth of Canada in the next few years to believe that the Grand Trunk Pacific will be a huge success and be able to pay back all money borrowed by it from the government.
The hon. member for East Hastings (Mr. Northrup) drew some comparisons. He called the Grand Trunk Pacific an insolvent road, and contrasted the securities got from that road with those we got from the Canadian Pacific Railway. Well, all the security which the Canadian Pacific Railway eculd give to this country was the land and the money and the six hundred miles of railway given to that company by the Conservative party. This government took certain precautions before deciding do grant this loan to the Grand Trunk Pacific. As appears by the papers laid on the table, a request was made for the loan by Mr. Chas. M. Hays on behalf of the Grand Trunk Pacific. At that particular time, Mr. Hays submitted a statement- showing the actual cost of the western section and "the amount
of money put into it up to the present. The government took the trouble to have their own engineer, Mr. Collingwood Schreiber, go carefully over the figures and report as to whether this statement of Mr. Hays was correct or not. He reported that it was. As regards the security, I am content to leave that matter in the hands of the government. Any man who has any confidence in the growth of Canada cannot fail to admit that we are bound to grow to such an extent in the next few years, that the Grand Trunk Pacific cannot help but be a success and pay back any amount borrowed by it from the government to build the prairie section.
Look at the position which the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta occupy as contrasted with other grain producing countries. Every one admits that Canada is bound to become possibly the greatest wheat producing country in the world. One of our greatest competitors is the Argentine republic. How does the Argentine republic compare with Canada in the matter of transportation facilities ? The republic has something like 240,000 square miles of area and 8,000 miles of railway. It is said that the average Argentina farmer is 10 miles distant from a railway. In Saskatchewan and Alberta, the total area is
300,000 square miles, and we have_ 2,800 miles of railway. And the average distance of the average farmer from the railway is much greater than 10 miles. It costs the average Argentina farmeT two cents or three cents a bushel to get his grain to the initial shipping point and it costs the average farmer in Saskatchewan six cents or seven cents a bushel. It costs the Argentina farmer 16 or 17 cents a bushel to get his grain from the initial shipping point to the Liverpool markets, and it costs the Saskatchewan farmer 30 cents a bushel. How can the farmers of our country compete in the European market when they have to pay rates of that description? The only solution of the difficulties under which the producers of the west labour is to get railways into that country. Every railway must necessarily relieve a certain amount of traffic handling by other companies and assist more and more our farmers each year in getting their crops promptly to market and obtaining the best market prices.
One more point, and this is a matter which affects particularly the western grain producer. According to the best authorities I have been able to consult, one of the difficulties our farmers have to contend with, in shipping their grain, is the spread between the track price and the street price on the western wheat market. Take the markets in any locality, as soon as a farmer has his grain loaded on a car, he gets what is known as a track price.

But if he has to put his grain into an elevator, he,gets the street price, and the difference between the two is something like 30 cents a bushel. Let me point to the evidence taken before the Grain Commission last year and Sir Bichard Cartwright. You will find that the farmers who appeared before Sir Richard Cartwright said that in some instances they knew the spread to be as high as 30 cents a bushel. What is the cause of this spread. The late Mr. Drink-water said it was the difficulty in getting cars.
If I wished to take the time I could read extracts from the statements made; but the consensus of opinion was that this difference in price, which is a total loss to the western farmer, was caused by the difficulty of getting cars. And railway men and elevator men went so far as to say: Give us cars and we will reduce the spread to three cents a bushel. Take a production of 100,000,000 bushels of grain, and suppose you save seven cents a bushel to the western farmer, you have there a saving of $7,000,000 per annum; save ten cents a bushel and you have a saving of $10,000,-
000. I do not mean to say that the building of the Grand Trunk Pacific will do away with all the difficulty, but I do say that the building of the Grand Trunk Pacific and the building of branch lines by the Grand Trunk Pacific and the other railways will alleviate the conditions to a very great extent.
I might go on and give reasons why I approve the building of the Grand Trunk Pacific through western Canada, and to point out many provisions in the contract which are decidedly in favour of the people of Canada and of the west in particular when you compare them with those of the contract for the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway with its iniquitous tax exemption on land, rolling stock and roadbed placed, as a burden, upon that western country by the late Conservative government. I do not intend to take up time to deal with these questions, but I -may say a word with regard to what has been said concerning the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario Railway. I am informed on good authority that the riches of the Cobalt district were only discovered through the actual construction of the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario Railway, that before the railway was constructed the mineral wealth was not known. That being the case, it is not unreasonable for us to believe that the building of the Grand Trunk Pacific will open up new wealth yet undreamed of. In the great northland we believe that there is territory which, when opened up, will yield great wealth. If the Temiskaming & Northern Ontario Railway has opened up so rich a new territory for this province, we are justified in believing that the Mr. W. M. MARTIN.
National Transcontinental will open up northern Ontario and the northern parts of the west as well.
I approve of a loan being made to the Grand Trunk Pacific to aid them in the completion of the line, because it means railway competition in the west in a measure we have not at the present time. It means increased railway transportation facilities. It means reduction of freight rates-where there is competition we must have reduction. It must assist in placing Canada in a favourable position in the European market. It means the completion of a great national undertaking tending to promote national development, national expansion and national solidarity.

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