August 12, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)

LIB

John Charlton

Liberal

Mr. CHARLTON.

And the outcome was that the captain did not shoot, and that the rebellious member retired from the ranks, and he is out of the ranks. I am sorry for the whole incident; I am sorry that the exminister (Hon. Mr. Blair) 'should have thought so highly of his own individual opinion ; should have decided that it was necessary for the government to accept his opinion and act upon it, and that if the government failed to do so he would leave the government in the lurch. Well, he has left the government in the lurch, if being deprived of the hon. gentleman's sanction could place them in that position. Now. Sir, the hon. gentleman (Hon. Mr. Blair) devoted a large portion of his speech to the Intercolonial Railway. As I said last night. I shall leave the detailed discussion of that matter to gentlemen better acquainted with the condition of affairs in the maritime provinces than I am myself.. Still, it is patent to me. and must be patent to any person who has a fair knowledge of the situa-

tion, that the hou. gentleman in his criticism upon the policy of the government with regard to the Intercolonial did not take the pains to put us in possession of all the facts. He laments the ruin of the Intercolonial. He laments that we did not adhere to the policy of attempting to create a business for our maritime ports by using a second-class road with an unnecessary mileage of from 100 to 140 miles, with heavy grades, and one that we know cannot fulfil the conditions that we must expect of it if the scheme of the government is to be made a success. He did not tell us that the Grand Trunk Pacific and the Grand Trunk are separate and distinct corporations. He did not tell us that the government had a contract with the Grand Trunk for 99 years to turn over to the Intercolonial at Montreal all freight the road brings to Montreal designed for points east of Quebec. The Intercolonial cannot be deprived of the business, one of the largest items of business it possesses. He made no calculation as to the grea,t accession to this road of business at Moncton for Halifax and St. John. If the straightening of its line, if the reducing of its grades, if the increase in its capacity, which are making it first-class and shorter, will lead to bringing from the west of a large amount of grain for ,shipment at maritime ports, the Intercolonial must share in the benefit. The Grand Trunk Pacific ends at Moncton. There are 183 miles of the Intercolonial road to share in the business that will come to Halifax ; there are 89 miles from Moncton to St. John to share in the business. The gross business of the Intercolonial will inevitably be increased by the construction of this short line, owing to the large increase of traffic between Quebec and the maritime provinces ; and there is besides the retention to the Intercolonial of the trade which I have mentioned that pertains to it and that cannot be taken away from it. _ 1 will not dwell further upon the position taken by the hon. gentleman ; I will not criticise further his statements.
As I said last night, I have a line of argument to present with relation to this scheme of the Grand Trunk Pacific which I propose to enter upon briefly at this stage of my remarks. As to the question whether we need another transcontinental railway, the question has been answered by the ex-Minister of Railways (Hon. Mr. Blair)) at Vancouver. I can quote him as an authority. According to him, we need the road and we need it quickly. It cannot be proceeded with too soon. He said on that occasion that men were standing in the audience who would live to see three or four transcontinental lines across the continent. I have no doubt he was right. At all events, the construction of this road is not premature. We must bear in mind the fact that we cannot get this road at once. We are taking the initiative steps now towards getting it. We have to proceed with sur-Mr. CHARLTON.
veys, we have to locate the line ; we have to proceed with the construction of a road 3,030 miles long in an air-line, and it cannot be done at once. It will take several years to do it. In the meantime, population is pouring into the North-west, new acreage is being brought into cultivation ; its prolific soil will furnish a large harvest every year, aud at the time this road will be completed, it will be a crying .necessity. We have undertaken its construction none too soon. I estimate that five years from to-day with a continuance of the conditions that exist now, the grain products of the Canadian Northwest will have increasced at least threefold. The present means of transportation will prove utterly inadequate and this road will be imperatively called for. The government, I repeat, are not "acting with undue haste, or proceeding with an ill-matured scheme. They are not entering upon an enterprise which they are not warranted in entering upon ; but on the contrary, they are entering upon a scheme which is called for and called for now.
I pointed out last night that our situation, so far as our great wheat producing region is concerned, and the situation of the United States when it was a young country, are entirely different. The United States had an outlet by the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. There were navigable rivers scattered along the Atlantic coast-the Hudson, the Savannah and other rivers. At an early date a canal was constructed from Albany to Lake Erie, tapping the waters of the Great Lakes. The country was able to get along largely without railways. In 1S50, when the country had 23,000,000 inhabitants, railroads had hardly become a factor in the transportation situation at all. But we are situated differently. We have no Mississippi to convey the products of our western fields to the sea ; we have no Erie canal ; we have no natural outlet, not even by access by navigable rivers to the Hudsoy bay; if we were to have a route, it would have to be provided by artificial means. The whole country, to as far north as the isothermal lines make it possible to produce cereals, must depend on railroads exclusively. For this reason our situation is different from that of the United States. We have to provide our North-west with the means of communication which are absolutely essential to its success and its prosperity. Consequently delay in providing these facili-I ties is inadvisable, and I dismiss the assertion as to the action of the government in proceeding with this railway being premature as totally without foundation, as betraying a lamentable ignorance of the conditions that exist and the probable wants of the near future.
The government proceeded carefully to the consideration of this question. The speech from the Throne contained an allusion to the necessity for a transcontinental line. The government were evidently considering the

propriety first of constituting a transportation commission to examine into this question and to report as to tlie proper course to pursue. But It became evident that there was not time to wait for the slow operation of an investigation by a commission. It became evident that the time for action was now, and that if we could secure such knowledge as would place us in possession of the facts that would warrant us in taking action, we should proceed. Well, what was done? The government proceeded to consider several propositions. They considered a proposition of building a government road, considered it carefully, as I am well aware, and rejected that proposition- the proposition which my hon. friend the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals pins his faith to, the proposition upon which he has gone out of office, because the government did not accept it. I say the government rejected that proposition for what I suppose I may fairly concede were good and sufficient reasons, although I was enamoured of it. The government realized that to make a success of a government road across the continent required the total severance of that scheme from politics. Can that be done in Canada ?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   NATIONAL TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILWAY.
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