March 14, 1910 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)


I have spoken two or three times on this question, and I propose now to let this matter rest with the government. They can take the responsibility of their action. This Bill was up on Tuesday evening, and the Minister of Railways (Mr. Graham) decided to let it stand over until we had a discussion of another Bill which is coming up in the Railway Committee. It stood until last Friday evening. On that occasion, I called the attention of the Minister of Railways to the fact that the other Bill had not been reached in the meantime, and suggested that it would be advisable not to spend the hour for private Bills in a useless discussion of this Bill. The minister acquiesced in that, and was prepared to let it stand over. Unfortunately, the promoter of the Bill thought it necessary to discuss the Bill and other gentlemen joined in tire discussion, and so the hour was wasted. It was distinctly understood that we should delay this Bill until the other Bill to which I have referred had been taken up in the Railway Committee; and I think it was pretty clearly understood that the Minister of Railways or the government would announce some definite general policy as regards dealing with these waterways. It comes up now as a comparatively new question. Until recently, we have had no problems of this kind. But, so anxious are parties who wish to enrich themselves by securing these rights, that, even after Bills were advertised and introduced, attempts were made to amend them so as to give the promoters water-power rights. What I am endeavouring to impress upon the Minister of Railways is that the country should have some return from these franchises belonging to the country, that we should not give them to private parties and allow those parties to have the whole proceeds-preferably, that the province
should have the profits, but that either the province or the Dominion should have some revenue from these great water-powers. I have no desire whatever to delay this Bill. I believe it will go through. But I have every desire that the progress of the Bill should be stayed until other^ Bills of the same nature are brought into the House, and that then we shall have a clear, definite policy from those who are responsible for the management of our national resources. It is a peculiar thing: first I succeed in staying the Rainy River Bill during the absence of the Minister of Railways from the committee. Until this moment, we have had no intimation that the Minister of Railways was disposed to let the present Bill go through until the other Bill to which I have referred was reached. Until this moment, on the contrary, we had as clear an intimation as possible that the minister would acquiesce in the suggestion of delay until the other Bill came before the House, so that we could have one policy applying to all such Bills. That seems a reasonable proposition. Thus, we have this extraordinary position-I think an undesirable position- that the first day the Minister of Railways is absent this matter is to be shoved through. However, it is for the government to say whether they want to have this gone on with or not. If they have decided to push it through, let them do so, so far as I am concerned. I have done what I could to serve the public interest in this matter by having the government come down and declare some policy on which they proposed to protect the public interest in this very important matter. For these waterways are more valuable than coal. This is the propelling power of the future; it is the manufacturing power of the future; and, if the government are prepared to give to these franchises without investigating them and allow railway companies-so-called railway companies-under the guise of building a railway to develop these water-powers, and dispose of the surplus energy, well and good; for the present let it be so. But I venture to think that thoughtful people will not regard it as wise in the public interest. There is no use in us on this side trying to compel the government to do anything. Speaking for myself, I have done all that I could to urge the government to adopt a wise, general policy in regard to this matter.

Full View