As I said before, I did not purpose going into the question of navigability of the straits and the feasibility of the route generally, on account of the fact that so many commissions have taken evidence on this matter and there is so much evidence that I could take up the time of the House from now until late in the evening going into this question. But as the hon. member asks me what I think, I will tell him, that from the evidence submitted, it is safe to say that the strait will be open for navigation for a period of four months in the year, and that with modern aids to navigation which were not possible in years past, such as the aeroplane, wireless telegraphy and various other instruments that have been discovered within recent years, that period might readily be extended to five months. Personally, I think I am safe in saying that. There are gentlemen who know the situation, who have lived up in the district, who have investigated the matter thoroughly, who will go further than that. There are others who will not go quite so far. If I were to go into this question fully, I would take up more time than I think would be necessary, and I take it for granted that the Government were fully satisfied on this point before they expended $20,000,000 on the project.
In that northern country, in addition to the resources that I have mentioned, there are extensive water-powers. Those on the Nelson are estimated to amount to between
two and three million horse-power. The Hudson Bay railway runs for a great distance almost parallel to the Nelson river, and some of those water-powers could be used in connection with the railway itself. There are great areas of pulpwood in close proximity to . the water-powers. Besides- and I just wish to mention this fact-notwithstanding statements that have been made otherwise, there are immense areas of land which are suitable for agriculture and which will eventually be developed. In a government publication issued by the Natural Resources Development Branch of the Department of the Interior, this statement is made:
One of the principal factors in bringing It into prominence, however,-
That is the district and its resources.
-was the construction of the Hudson Bay division of the Canadian Government railways.
The House is familiar to some extent with the writings of the Messrs. Tyrrell who have travelled that country extensively during the last twenty-five years, and in a book issued by them a statement is made that the Hudson bay itself will be looked upon in the future as a national asset; that it contains immense fishing resources and in the surrounding lands are to be found iron, galena, graphite, mica and other minerals.
The construction of this railway is of paramount necessity to the West.
Canadian Finance is an independent financial journal published in Winnipeg. It is non political and is edited by men who look upon matters from a sound sensible, and practical standpoint. It says:
The development of the untold resources of the North is dependent to a great exteht upon the railroad facilities which the Hudson's Bay Railway will provide.
For this reason, if for no other, the railways should be proceeded with energetically. Western Canada needs it and desires no unnecessary delay in its completion.
That is another statement that will furnish an answer to the question of my hon. friend from North Waterloo (Mr. Euler). The Hudson Bay railway is to the Western Provinces what the Intercolonial was to the Maritime Provinces and what the Canadian Pacific was to British Columbia. With this difference, that not only were definite promises made but agreements were entered into between the Government of the day and the Maritime Provinces and British Columbia respectively regarding these two railways, whereas in connection with the Hudson Bay railway
we have simply the statements of different governments and their leaders regarding its construction. Is the word of this Government as good as its bond? If so, this railway will be constructed just as these other railways have been. But if tfie promise made to the people of the West is not as binding as the promises made to the people of these other parts of Canada, then presumably the project will be allowed to lapse and nothing further be done. We take it, of course, that the Government has regard for its promises and will go ahead with this railway as it is in duty bound to do.
The West and the Government itself appear to be increasingly confident in the success of this railway. If hon. gentlemen will look at the map which used to hang in the Railway Committee room, hut which I have not seen since the new Railway Committee room has been opened, they will find that nearly all, or a great many at all events, of the branch lines which have been constructed recently and are being constructed in the West have been projected with the idea of ultimately connecting up with the Hudson Bay railway. Delegations were here during the last two years from the different parts of the West, one from Moosomin and Yorkton, with the idea of getting a line from the Estevan coal fields almost straight north to connect up with Hudson Bay Junction and the Hudson Bay railway. The line running out of Melfort northeasterly from that point it intended eventually to link up with the Hudson Bay railway, and Saskatoon, and Calgary. I might quote other instances but these are sufficient for the time being. Hon. members will find by the map I have referred to, that fourteen charters have been granted for railways to the Hudson bay, most of them from the west side, but one or two from the east side. Before concluding I might say that as far as I can make out no real reasons have been given for abandoning this project. The only reason that is put forward at the present time is the matter of economy. You may recollect, Mr. Speaker, having read the statement of Artemus Ward, who intimated that he was at the time of the Civil War, ready to sacrifice all his wife's relations on the altar of his country. That seems to be the attitude taken by the Government at the present time. They are prepared to sacrifice this project but they are not prepared to sacrifice other things
nearer home. In view of the lavish expenditure of 1919, and of the proposed expenditures in the Estimates which have recently been brought down, wherein provision has been made for Toronto Harbour works, the Welland canal, the ever present Trent canal, a new dry dock at Esquimalt and St. John Harbour works it would seem that one particular undertaking is being sacrificed in the interests of economy, and other new ones brought forward.
I had intended to take up the question of providing rails and ties for this railway but shall defer doing so, except to say that the course of the Government in the last few years has shown some of us conclusively and emphatically that there does not appear to be any intention on the part of the Government to go on with this project, but rather to let it lapse into deterioration and decay. I think I am safe in saying that every year the work is allowed to stand as it is will mean the loss of 81,000,000 at least and possibly more. Hon. gentlemen will readily understand that a railway with 324 miles of steel completely laid, and 92 additional miles of a dump, will, if left to the by no means tender mercies of the elements, soon suffer great depreciation and loss.
In conclusion I wish to say, what perhaps is not generally known, that the West itself is paying for this road. In 1909 in a discussion on an item of Supply there appears in Hansard the following:
Mr. Lake: It was understood by this House, I think, that the money to be expended on the construction of the Hudson Bay railway was to come from a special fund to be created by the sale of pre-emptions.
Mr. Graham: Yes.
It would appear to me unnecessary to read any more in this connection. I made inquiry last year, and got a statement to the effect that approximately $28,000,000 of these pre-emptions had been sold in Western Canada up to that time. Unfortunately, I have not the statement with me, but that is the amount in round figures. Of that $28,000,000 approximately one-half had already been collected. This money, according to the statement I have just read, is intended to be applied to the construction and completion of the Hudson Bay railway.
If ever there was a case made out for any public work in Canada it has surely been made out for the Hudson Bay railway. If ever solemn promises and definite pledges have been given by any political party or its leaders, they have been given
in connection with this railway; but these solemn promises have been broken, and not even a plausible excuse has been given. The only conclusion that some of us can come to is that there must be behind the Government some special interests who are opposed to the construction of this road and are preventing further work being done, such interests being, for reasons best known to themselves, not in position to show their hand at the present time. I now beg to move the resolution seconded by the hon. member for Prince Albert (Mr. Knox).