May 12, 1921 (13th Parliament, 5th Session)


Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Laurier Liberal


It is not the big interests in connection with coal and steel that are worrying me at all; it is the thousands and tens of thousands of men and women who must get the bite that goes into their mouths from what they earn from those interests. Those are the people about whom I am concerned, and incidentally, of course, benefits will come to capital, because we must not kill the goose that lays the golden egg. That is the position. The big interests are, as a rule, able to look after themselves; they usually have some money, and tliey can afford to bide their time until the psychological moment. The man who has five or six little ones waiting . for what their father brings home to pay for their breakfast, cannot afford to wait. Those are the people about whom I am concerned and whom I would like to see the Government help. If I had written that letter to-day, the minister might have said that I was trying to make a case; but that letter was written in August, 1918. It gave my views then and it gives my views now. I am pleased that the minister has given me such a sympathetic hearing, and after all, I am beginning to believe that he has some touch of humanity and human kindness. Nevertheless, there is the fact that, in the earlier part of the evening, I charged him truthfully with holding up a litlte boy who was carrying home a 25-pound bag of flour, untU he paid tribute to Csesar, and the minister was Csesar himself. I am willing to modify that to some extent provided that some good results will come from the discussion that we have had this evening.
I hope that, by some accident or otherwise, the Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Reid) when he comes back to the House, will read the few words that I am now going to say. I represent one of the oldest constituencies in Canada. The county of Victoria is as old and as well civilized a district as any on the continent of North America. The shores of Cabot strait, of which we have all heard, are in my county, and Cabot is supposed to have landed at a
place called Cape North in my county. Settlers came to that district in times far back, and they have been living in and developing the county of Victoria. The shores of Cabot strait, of which I speak, are 125 miles from the nearest railway. One would hardly believe that during all those years, there has- been in the county of Victoria a settlement 125 miles from the nearest railway. Ever since I came into this House, in Opposition or as supporting a government, I hai*e been trying to get railway facilities for those good, honest people. My one earnest desire before I leave public life is to see to it, if I can, that those people are brought into touch with outside civilization by means of a railway.
I came very near by objective, because in 1911 we got a vote to start this railway; a contract was let, and the work was practically under way when, unfortunately for us, a change of Government took place and everything went up in the air. Three railways were about to be built in Nova Scotia at that time, one in Halifax county, one in Guysborough county and one in my county. The then Prime Minister, I am sorry to say, built his own road in Halifax county; but like the man in the dream in olden days, he remembered not Joseph when he was in favour with the king. He did not build the Guysborough road, and he did not build my road. That part of the country has an abundance of fish; it is the most magnificent fishing ground in the world; there are also large quantities of pulpwood, which is now beginning to be very valuable; it is also a splendid agricultural country; but it has no railway, and I do hope that before very long something will be done to supply this great need. I am sure the road would not be a drag or deadweight if it was once built.
I am going to bring to the minister's attention what took place in the House in 1918 in connection with this matter. I have in my hand the journals of the House for 1919, and at page 97 I read this:
The House resumed the adjourned Debate on the proposed Resolution of Mr. McKenzie,- whereas on the 16th of March, A D., 1914, this Honourable House passed the following Resolution which was accepted by the Government.
You will note that the resolution in connection with the road was accepted by this Government, not by the Laurier Government.
Mr. McKenzie moved that, in the opinion of this House, the time has arrived for the extension of the Intercolonial Railway into the non-railway sections of the Maritime Provinces within reasonable range of the said railway.

That was the resolution that had already been accepted by the Government in 1914. Then on October 14, 1919, the Government accepted this resolution.
Be it therefore resoTved that, in. the opinion of this House, the proposals of the said Resolution of the 16th of March, A.D., 1914, should be carried forward to completion at the earliest possible date.
And the question being put on the said motion ; it was resolved in the affirmative.
The proposition for building this railway has therefore been twice accepted by the Government, in 1914, and again in 1919. I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the House that there is no public undertaking in Canada in the same position as this road into the county of Victoria. The contract was let and the road practically started by a former government. In March, 1914, this House led by the right hon. the present member for King's (Sir Robert Borden) accepted my proposition that this road should be built. In 1919 I brought the matter up again, and the Government again renewed and accepted the proposition of 1914. It stands on the records of this House as having been accepted by the Government as a necessary and desirable undertaking to assume. I have already pointed out to you the splendid natural advantages of that section of the country; we have splendid fishermen, splendid farmers, capable men, but they are under the tremendous disadvantage of being such a distance from a railway. As the Government have already twice accepted this proposition, in 1914, and again in 1919, it is not surprising, Mr. Speaker, that I should take advantage of this opportunity of bringing this matter to the notice of this Administration in connection with other matters.
Mr. Speaker, I have taken more of the time of the House than I expected, but some of the things I have brought to the notice of the House, particularly in the latter part of my speech, are of such great concern to the people I represent that I felt it was my duty to do so, and to tell the Government that this railway in Victoria county is a business proposition, that it is in the interests of the county to undertake. We find no fault with the development of the West, with its railway building and settlement for the purpose of getting the advantages which these progressive movements will bring. Are we going to say to the descendants of the man who nearly two hundred years ago settled on the shores of Victoria county, and who, axe in hand, started to cut down
fMr. McKenzie.]
the trees and make a home for himself, and whose descendants to the third and fourth and fifth generation have lived on these shores, honest, straightforward, Godfearing, law-abiding citizens-are we going to say to them that they are not entitled to the same privileges that are accorded to the men in the West, in the Centre, and in the East of this country? I would be lax in my duty if I did not bring to the notice of the minister a good businesss proposition such as this, a proposition that has enough humanity in it and enough promise of national development to deserve the consideration of the Government and of the Minister of Finance. I have brought this matter to the attention of the Minister of Finance, in the hope that he may bring it before the Minister of Railways, and, of course, the record is there in the Journals of this House to speak for itself.
I have pointed out the sins of ommission and the sins of commission on the part of the Government. Having done all these things, I think that the responsibility of doing better in the future in connection with the ordinary business of the country, as well as in this special business that concerns the county I have the honour to represent, falls absolutely upon the shoulders of the Minister of Finance himself, and he will have no excuse in the last day unless he does what is right in connection with this matter. I conclude with the hope that he, and the Government of which he is a member, will, during the short time at their disposal, do better in the future than they have done in the past.

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