June 9, 1925 (14th Parliament, 4th Session)


William Irvine


Mr. WILLIAM IRVINE (East Calgary):

Mr. Speaker, when this bill came up for second

reading, it was brought on at a very late hour, and I did not at that time have an opportunity of expressing an opinion which I feel in duty bound to express. I, therefore, avail myself of this opportunity of expressing that opinion, and I will assure, the House that I will not take many minutes to do it. Hon. members from this side of the House have been pressing to obtain some information as to the need for this vast expenditure of money, and they also have endeavoured to find! out from the minister how the money is to be spent. So far the information given has been very meagre, and we have not been able to secure any intimation as to whether this $5,000,000 is to build docks, drydocks, wharves, flour mills, terminal elevators, or whatever it is to be devoted to. I frankly state that if I had been asking this House for a paltry $100 to fence in that huge hole in the street of Calgary which we have in lieu of a post office, I would have been ashamed if I could not have given a better account of what the money was required for than all the information that has been given in regard to this huge vote. If the government and those supporting this vote have failed! to give us the required information, it has been very clearly shown that at the present time there is not enough traffic to warrant this expenditure and that there are ample facilities at Quebec now to take care of all the traffic and business that the port affords. The government argue that facilities should be provided. They say: Only give us the facilities and let us trust to luck for the trade. If we were to start to build a $5,000,000 elevator at Banff in t)he centre of the mountains and say: Some day we shall have a shipping outlet to the coast there; only give us the facilities, it would be almost as reasonable as what the government is asking us to do in this case. There is no evidence that in the near future there will be sufficient development of trade from this port to warrant parliament to vote $5,000,000 to Quebec at this time. This policy, it appears to me, under the conditions that we are facing financially and from a business point of view at the present time is sheer madness. What is the actual situation? The Montreal interests are the chief competitors with Quebec in the shipping business. We are called upon from time to time to spend millions of dollars to dredge the St. Lawrence in order to enable ships to come up to Montreal. Now we are asked to spend $5,000,000 to keep the ships down at Quebec. I have no doubt that Montreal will win ultimately in this competition. It would appear that

Quebec Harbour Commissioners
Montreal also has on its side the Board of Railway Commissioners. But in any event the taxpayers of this country cannot afford to play a game of this kind. I regard this vote as a crime against the helpless taxpayers of this country. It is the hand of a majority if this thing passes that is actually going into the public till and expending $5,000,000 of the public money without any reasonable account having been given of how it is to be spent and without showing that there is any real need for the expenditure. I regard this vote as purely and simply an election vote. It may get votes in Quebec, but beyond that it is not justified. I have noticed that a number of hon. members on this side of the House have been very apologetic in opposing this bill. They have feared lest Quebec members would regard opposition to this bill as opposition to Quebec. I have no apologies to make. I am not speaking against Quebec or any other province. I am speaking against the expenditure of $5,000,000, for which expenditure there is no apparent need and which has not been properly accounted for by the minister in charge of the bill. Further, if this bill is not defeated tonight, as it ought to be, we cannot altogether blame the government, because I .question whether the government has a majority to carry this if all on this side of the House were present and voted. I would not be surprised if, when the next election comes on, the government will demand to be returned on the ground that they do not have a sufficient majority. I notice that they have always had a pretty fair majority when they want to carry through something of this kind. I wonder if to-night those of us on this side of the House are going to permit a majority to carry this vote. If so. I repeat that we cannot altogether blame the government. Mr. GARLAND (Bow River): Does the hon. member refer to the extreme right end or to the centre? Mr. IRVINE: At the moment I am not referring to any end. I am referring to the whole side of the House. I am not going to make any suggestions about any individual or any group. But if we count heads on both sides of the House, I think we shall come pretty nearly defeating the government on this issue. Let us defeat the government on this issue. What kind of an appeal would the government make to the Canadian people on a $5,000,000 vote for nothing? I would not want any better issue to fight them on than that.. If we are to have an election within the next twelve months, let us make it 259 on this issue. Here is our opportunity and I hope we shall all embrace it. I would not oppose this so strenuously if the government had prepared a proper way of raising the money, but they are still following the interest route that they have followed in the raising of money with regard to all other expenditures. If the government would issue this over the five years over which we are told the expenditure will be spread, directly from its treasury department, without issuing it through the money lenders, and thus allow Quebec to pay the interest that will be charged to go against the capital account, Quebec might possibly get clear some day and we would not feel that it was absolutely hopeless in passing the vote. We would at least have stepped out in a new direction with regard to financing. But the money is going to be raised by the interest route as all other votes of money are to be raised. I suggest that no harm can come by postponing this vote. It is to extend over five years at any rate. Why not try to do with $1,000,000 this year, and then next year the minister might be able to give us more information? At least he might be able to say what he had1 done with the million. No harm can be done to any individuals, except perhaps politicians, by postponing this vote until the next session of parliament. I have heard pretty severe criticism levelled against the Senate since I have come into this House. But if the Senate of Canada would only hold up this vote, it would perform a very excellent service to the country and it would justify its existence to the people of Canada. If those of us opposing this bid are not numerically strong enough to defeat it I sincerely hope that the Senate will do so. I therefore move, seconded by the hon. member for Centre Winnipeg (Mr. Woodsworth), that this bill be not now read a third time, but that it be read this day six months hence. Mr. VIEN: I rise to a point of order: the member for Centre Winnipeg is not in his seat. Mr. IRVINE: He is not far away. Mr. WOODSWORTH: The member for Centre Winnipeg finds it next to impossible sometimes to hear what is going on; he was obliged to move nearer the chair.

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