It is much to be regretted that upon this question of acquiring the branch lines of the Intercolonial, extraneous matters should be included in the resolution, which tend to promote differences of opinion among the members in this House. On more than one occasion the House has expressed its opinion on the
desirability of the Government acquiring the branch lines and operating them as part of the Intercolonial system. Had the minister submitted a resolution simply providing for authority to lease or to purchase such branch lines on proopr terms, there would, I think, be no objection from any member of this House. We have the evidence that we are unanimously of the opinion, in the interests of the Intercolonial and in the interests of the'country, which is served by these branch lines, that they should be taken over and operated as part of the Intercolonial railway. The resolution as first submitted reads:
That it is expedient to provide that the Minister of Railways may, subject to the authority of the Governor in Council, construct, purchase, lease, or otherwise acquire, in whole or in part any railway, railway bridge, railway station, railway terminal, railway ferry, or other railway work, and that any such railway or other work shall become part of the Government railway system.
That gives a power which the minister must realize is greater than was ever given or ever thought of to be given to any minister or any government. Under that resolution, which does not seem to have been drawn with any care, the Government could commit this country to purchase a railway hundreds of miles away from the Intercolonial; it could undertake the construction of anyrailway in any part of the Dominion, and even though Parliament might not afterwards provide the money to pay the hills, the contractor could enter suit in the Exchequer Court and recover against the Government for whatever obligation the Government entered into with him. Evidently upon consideration the minister has considered it would not be desirable to press such a resolution and he proposes to amend it as follows:
To insert after the word ' work ' in line four the words for the construction, purchase, lease, or acquisition of which special provision has been made by Parliament.
Under that amendment it seems to me that the whole matter is rendered nugatory so far as immediate action is concerned. If the resolution is passed with this prohibitory clause in it, my hon. friend must still come to Parliament for authority to lease or to buy any of these branches, or to construct any new lines. That 3imply means more delay, possibly until another session of Parliament.
Subtopic: PRINCE ALBERT HOMESTEAD ENTRY.