January 25, 1910 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)


My hon. friend may laugh if he likes-a total cost to the country of $13,000,000, whether that mistake was an honest mistake or not, whether it was made with some knowledge of the facts or the government intended at the time to mislead. My hon. friend the judicial gentleman who has laughed, has filled his function very well in that regard, but I want to tell him that we have the statement of the Prime Minister deliberately- made in the House that it would cost $13,000,000 and not one cent more, and it was stated as the heading of the campaign literature on which that hon. gentleman was probably elected, that it would cost $13,000,000, and no more. The members in this House probably did ail mnderstand that the Prime Minister to mean that the total expenditure in the construction' of the road would be $13,000,000, but that it would cost the country, as money they would pay out and not get back, a total of $13,000,000 -yet there is great reason to believe having regard to the subsequent facts and even having regard to the language in which the hon. gentleman employed, that while it was not hoped that it should mislead the house, it was hoped that it would, and it did in fact mislead, and misguide a large section of the electors of this country. The point the people want to know, the point the people ought to know, is whether their money has been squandered or stolen in the construction of this railway or both.
When hon. gentlemen are making election speeches-and no one can make them better than the Finance Minister-I do not wish to tie them down to too narrow a margin, there ought to be some latitude allowed to a gentleman in his position, when he tells the country how much a road will cost, some little margin of 10 per cent or 15 per cent; but when we find that that gentleman told us as a matter of computation and investigation, after having time for inquiry, and after making inquiry, that he came to the conclusion that the total cost would not only not be greater but would actually be less than $13,000,000 and when in 1908 we have the present Minister of Railways and Canals telling the country that upon the same basis of computation and leaving out the Quebec bridge, the eastern division of this railway is actually costing the country $38,000,000 of money which it is never to get back, the public begin to feel that with a Public Accounts Committee stifled and gagged as our Public Accounts Committee is, there should be some method of relief, some method of demonstration to the public, if it can be demonstrated, that the government at the worst have been honestly blundering and have hot been criminally negligent of their duties in re-ggard to the construction of this great public work.
The Finance Minister said on the occasion of the introduction of this Bill on August 12, 1903, speaking of the section from Moncton to Quebec:
I am advised by competent authorities that, from the general knowledge possessed of that country, that road can be built at a very moderate cost. From Quebec or Levis to near the point where the railway will leave the province of Quebec it can be built at a comparatively low cost.
And that comparatively low cost figured out by the Minister of Finance, and he is not a poet, a Finance Minister must be a business man-figured out as he tells us on actual investigation, was a cost for the section from Moncton to Quebec of $25,000 a mile.

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