March 26, 1928 (16th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Henry Herbert Stevens

Conservative (1867-1942)


Before the preamble
carries, I wish again to emphasize what I said a moment ago in regard to another bill. There seems to be a good deal of misunderstanding on both sides of the house' regarding the objections that have been raised to this and other similar bills. I want to make clear that it is not a question of objecting to this as a private bill, or objecting to those who are asking incorporation as a private company. That is not the point at all. The point at issue is that the work suggested in this bill is a very important work over international waters. Up until last year or very recently there have been comparatively few of these bridges 'built, and it is not sufficient to say, because years ago we allowed private companies to build bridges, that therefore we as representatives of the public should pay no more attention to it and let any company that desires to build a bridge do so. The very presence of this and a number of other similar bills indicates to us, if we are at all thoughtful, that the time has come when the whole question of spanning these international waters should occupy the attention of parliament, and some definite policy should be determined upon and adopted by parliament. The responsibility for doing that rests at the moment with the government. I am not saying this in criticism of the government; I am merely pointing out a condition which has arisen, and indicating what to my mind and to the minds of a great many others is the duty of parliament, and ineidently at the moment the duty of the government as the leaders of the house, namely, to make some investigation and some determination of what the public policy of Canada is to be on the question of bridges crossing international waters. For instance, some of these waters are navigable. In this particular case I do not think the waters at this point are navigable, and the bridge probably will be so high that it will be clear of all navigation. But there are other waters that are navigable, and underneath the bridges over these1 waters will have to pass all the lakes traffic. This is a stupendous responsibility that we are taking at the present time in allowing bridges to be built across international waters on which passes the whole traffic of the great lakes, and we are doing it, as we also did it last year-I say this with all respect-rather lightly and rather frivolously. I know that my utterances the other day were misunderstood. It was thought per-

Niagara Falls Memorial Bridge
haps that I had some prejudice against this bill or against the member introducing it. But there is no such thing. I have nothing but the kindliest feelings towards the sponsor of this bill, as I have towards the sponsors of other bills that are introduced into this house. My point is that we are dealing here, through the medium of private bills and private companies, with something that should be a subject of public policy.

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