November 3, 1919 (13th Parliament, 3rd Session)


William Findlay Maclean



The coal mines- and ever since the war began we have been in danger in respect to our coal supply in this country. At times we could not run our railways; and we had not fuel for our people; the railways had so run down that they could not transport the coal to the people. But there is a great relief in sight. Science has found something for us that so far has not been degraded. Many of the great discoveries in science have been utilized in the recent war for the destruction of humanity; but science has given us one thing and that is, it has discovered a way of converting the hydraulic energy of our rivers into a supply of power. If we have not coal and if we are dependent largely on the United States, especially here in the East, for the fuel to drive our railways, we have an unlimited supply of water-power in this country. We propose, in connection with the nationalization of our railways, to nationalize these water-powers, and by that alone to put transportation on its feet in Canada and make our country independent of the United States. The only way that we will ever have the use of these immense powers of electrical energy in Canada, especially for transportation, will be by the state taking control of them and developing the power. We have started that policy in the province of Ontario and we have had marvellous success in connection with the development of the power for the use of the farmers and the use of our factories, and the people there would not part with it now for anything. The people there are insisting, as I believe the people of Canada will insist, that in connection with transportation there must be electrification of the railways. Nobody can do it so well as the state can do it. The state can and ought to do both-produce power and make us independent of the United States and use that power for the transportation interests of the people of this Dominion. That is in the minds of the people of Canada. After their experience, after the knowledge they have gained, and after what they have suffered from the coal barons and the coal railways of the United States, they do not want to see the last great asset. we have got, our water powers, pass into the hands of private corporations, and not to be used as it ought to be used for the solution of our transportation problem. As I have said, the people of Ontario have got a certain distance in that direction, and they have achieved success. And now, when I come to speak of Montreal, I want to put myself straight. While I have condemned what seemed to be the Montreal attitude, I do not accept it as being the real view of the people of Montreal. But I do say that Montreal is the last refuge of the so-called railway magnates-magnates who want to maintain their ascendency and do not want to see the Grand Trunk pass into the hands of the people but remain under some kind of private ownership. Well, the people of the province of Quebec, as a whole, do not take that view. They want to see the great water-powers of the St. Lawrence used for the benefit of the railway transportation of Canada; and if it has got to be a question of creed and nationality it is all Englishspeaking exploiters who are at the head of this movement in Montreal. Those exploiters would like to keep the water-powers away from our railways and keep the Grand Trunk away from public ownership; they would like perhaps to give the Grand Trunk to the Canadian Pacific Railway company. The Canadian Pacific has had its opportunity, it has got its railways; it has had its immense votes from the people of Canada, it has got the use of the ports and harbours that were created for them. Let that company work out their own problems

as -well as they can; but let them not interfere with the Canadian people in their determination, in connection with this work of reconstruction to run their railways and to electrify those railways.

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