May 17, 1911 (11th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Richard Stuart Lake

Conservative (1867-1942)


I do not wish to detain the House at this stage of the proceedings, but I desire to say just a few words in the way of protest against this legislation and of comparison with other legislation that might be introduced. Rumours have been rife during the past two or three years that

it was the intention of the government to hand over the Hudson Bay railway to the Canadian Northern Bailway Company. In consequence of these rumours the strongest expression of opinion came from the people, especially the people of the west, and that expression of opinion was so strongly opposed to the proposed action that the government proposals in that respect were headed off. Now, apparently, we find that the government are determined to do something by way of making a gift to the Canadian Northern Railway Company. What can the reason be? The hon. member for East Grey (Mr. Sproule) has suggested reasons. It appears to me extremely probable that if the government had been allowed to hand over the Hudson Bay railway to the Canadian Northern Railway Company, we should not be asked to pass this legislation for them. This is making a gift to the Canadian Northern Railway Company. I speak advisedly when I say it is a gift because it means millions of dollars to that concern. And it may mean a very great burden upon the people-not less a burden because it hears the form of a guarantee for this company. For my part f would very much sooner see sums of money given outright rather than these enormous guarantees we are making, and which it appears to be the policy of the government to make to these railway companies. When this legislation is passed, I think we shall find that the people of this country are bound to the extent of somewhere near $100,000,000 of guarantees for undertakings by private companies. And we know that occasionally government guarantees have to be met. We had an example of that in the case of the Quebec Bridge Company. When the bonds were guaranteed for that bridge, it was never believed that the people would have to pay the guarantee, but the disaster to that bridge brought about a condition under which the government had to pay the money that was lost.
I wish to make a comparison between the providing of an additional transcontinental railway and the providing of a new outlet by means of the Hudson Bay railway. The people of the Northwest for many years' past have been demanding an entirely new outlet for the produce of their country. They have the very highest hopes of the benefit to be derived from the building of the Hudson Bay railway. It is nearly three years ago now that the Prime Minister gave his word to the people of Canada that that railway should toe built immediately. Up to the present time nothing whatever has been appropriated by this parliament for the construction of that road.
It was only on the 8th of the present month that the first sum appeared in the Mr. LAKE.
supplementary estimates for the commencement of that work, and up to the present moment parliament has not been asked to appropriate anything for the purpose. The sum which appears in the supplementary estimate is merely the sum of $2,000,000; that is all the government proposes to appropriate at present. If they only appropriate that amount each year, it will take fifteen to twenty years before that railway is provided for the people of the Northwest. There is an urgent demand for the construction of that railway by the people of the Northwest. The leader of the opposition this afternoon has demonstrated that there is no urgent demand for the construction of a third transcontinental railway. He has pointed out that the two railways now provided for, the Canadian Pacific railway and the Grand Trunk Pacific are amply sufficient at the present moment, and that all the freight which will toe offering for many years to some will not half equal the capacity of those t-wo railways. I think it would have been better for the government to provide for the Hudson Bay railway than to make this additional provision for another transcontinental railway which is not immediately needed. I yield to no man in my confidence in the great possibilities of our western country, but I think that at the present time the government should apply the public revenues for the extension of railway communication where it is most urgently needed, and that I believe is the Hudson Bay railway.

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