August 21, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Uriah Wilson

Conservative (1867-1942)


trade in the North-west, they will be bringing it to Winnipeg and finding an outlet for it. As was pointed out very clearly the other night by the hon. member for Hamilton (Mr. Barker), after they find it they will carry it into the United States, where they have lines running to St. Paul, and they can easily make their through-connections with that system so that they will ultimately take it through the United States to the seaports. In that case what will become of the all-Canadian route ? Now, it seems to me that after all, the ex-Minister of Railways took the proper position. He says that if you want to go into this arrangement, let us say to parliament, we are prepared to build another transcontinental railway if it is found to be necessary. Let us ask for an appropriation to explore the country and to survey a route, then we will be in a position to act intelligently. I think that was the proper course. I understand that the government tried every means possible to induce the ex-minister not to retire, but to retain his position, and he laid down the principles on which he would stay, and they were very strong ones, and they were pretty sensible, in my judgment. The letter of the ex-minister of the 16th of July, 1903, you will find in the ' Hansard ' on page 6743:
I would require that the government should abandon its present intention :-
1st. Of building or authorizing the building of a line of railway to Moncton, which would be paralleling and destroying the Intercolonial; or building or authorizing the building of any other line of railway more remote from the Intercolonial, until the need of such latter railway becomes apparent, and proper surveys and an estimate of its cost are first made and thoroughly considered.
Now, we have been spending, as everybody knows, a large amount of money on the Intercolonial, I believe since these gentlemen came into office they have spent $15,000,000. This very last year they had an appropriation for $3,260,000 more to be spent on the Intercolonial. Before they had made up their minds to go into this new scheme they brought down in their estimates another appropriation for the present year which, if they are going to build a new railway and destroy the usefulness of the Intercolonial, I do not think they will require. They ask this year for $2,054,550 for repairs on the Intercolonial, yet some of the hon. members opposite have said that if they built this road it would ruin the Intercolonial altogether, and in a country such as that through which the Intercolonial passes I think one railway can do all the business that is to be done. Then the ex-minister lays down his second proposition :
2n.d. The idea of immediately proceeding with a railway from Quebec to Winnipeg. The government should be content with declaring itself in favour of the policy of building a government line from Quebec to the prairies, and across the prairies to the Pacific coast, as soon as the need shall arise ; and in the meantime

that parliament be asked for an amount to enable a thorough exploration of the country to be made, so that it might be possible to judge whether or not a suitable traffic producing route could be found through this district, and its cost and the character and conditions of the country through which it is to pass ascertained.
Now, Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that that statement commends itself to the common sense of every business man. But L want to say one thing more. While the Railway Committee was fighting hard to get a charter through, supposing they were honestly providing a charter for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, it appears that the First Minister was making a bargain with Mr. Hays, the manager of the Grand Trunk Railway. I think any person who knows the two men will agree with me that while the leader of the government might be a better statesman in some respects than Mr. Hays, he is not in any way equal to him so far as railway matters are concerned, and I think it was absolute folly for the First Minister to try to make a bargain. I think it is evident, as was pointed out by the hon. member for Bast Hastings (Mr. Northrup) the other night, that this bargain was very one-sided, and evidently the contract between the government and the Grand Trunk Pacific was drawn up by the solicitors of the company.
Now, Sir, no man in the government pretends to know anything about railways, except the ex-Minister of Railways, who has had a large experience, and who is well known to be an able man. The idea of the First Minister ignoring him and trusting to his own knowledge, in pretending to be an expert and to be a good business man, is absurd. I know that the hon. member for South Wellington (Mr. Guthrie) said that the right hon. Prime Minister had a perfect right to ignore his cabinet, or any member 'of his cabinet, if he saw fit. Nobody disputes that, but the question is was it wise, was it in the best interests of this country, was it in the best interests of the government itself ? My own impression is that it was not. I think if you have an expert at any particular thing, connected with any business you have to do, you had better use his knowledge and influence to keep you right. That is my view, and that is the course that every successful business man must pursue. If he does not know how to do a thing himself he calls in the best assistance he can find. But, Sir, there was no calling in about it. The minister was on hand, and he was prepared to do his part and do it well. Everybody who knows him will admit that. There was another request that would have had to be complied with if he had stayed in the government:
That the policy of giving a present guai an tee or other aid to the company to build a railway and continuation of the Quebec-Winnipeg line through the fertile prairie district, the most valuable and promising section of the whole [DOT]system, should not now he entertained, and that the final decision of the matter he deferred until it became reasonably clear that settlement along the probable route of such railway would justify its construction.
I think that is just as sensible as the rest, and that it is on the right lines. The hon. ex-Minister of Railways and Canals points out the folly of pouring money into this enterprise, notwithstanding these surpluses we have had year after year, of which the hon. Minister of Finance (Hon. Mr. Fielding) is so proud. But it is not difficult to have a surplus if you only keep your books in the right way. All you have to do is to charge enough to capital account and then you will have a surplus, because you can take the balance out of income. The government has been particularly fortunate since they came in, because they have had an overflowing treasury, but I am afraid they have not been able to make very good use of it. They have listened too much to the demands of what are called the grafters and the wire pullers. The hon. ex-Minister of Railways and Canals has told us that the government must adopt these terms or he would retire from the government. I admire his pluck, I admire the courage of a man who will sacrifice, not only social position, but a large salary in the interests of the country. There was an effort made by the government, or by some member of the government, to induce him to stay in. The hon. gentleman said in'his letter that there was a proposition made in Council, or by some of his colleagues, to him that if he could not endorse their policy he could simply sit by and allow somebody else to put the Bill through the House, and he would have nothing to do with it. I admire the pluck of a man who would stand out against any such insinuation, because, as the hon. ex-Mlniste'r of Railways and Canals said, if he had done that he would have been worse than the others. He would have been dishonest through and through. But he took a more courageous and more manly course. He has thrown all the responsibility of this p: licy upon the right hon. Prime Minister and his ministers, and they have to bear it. I think if the government had carried out the policy announced in the speech from the Throne, that they were prepared to appoint a royal commission to investigate the transportation question, they would have had the support of both sides of the House, because this has been a burning question and it has been discussed In this House for a gr.od many years. That was a proposition that was worth considering, and not only was it worth considering, but the transportation question should have been submitted to the men who are the best informed upon that question and upon the wants of the country in that regard. That was a promise that was made by the whole government, hut the right hon. leader of the government did not seem to be nearly so anxious about his own promises as he pretended to be about a promise which he said was made I by this parliament on a former occasion.

He said that there was a promise to build a railway from Salisbury to Fredericton made in 1885, and that it was to implement that promise that he introduced this Bill. As the hon. member for East Hastings (Mr. Northrop) pointed out very clearly the other night, the Bill providing for the construction of the Salisbury-Fredericton line passed this House, but it did not pass the Senate, and that consequently there was no promise contained in the Bill as far as this parliament was concerned. It was only a ptomise that the House was willing to fulfil, provided the other Chamber agreed to it. The right lion, leader of the government told us of a resolution that he had moved In reference to the short line going through Maine, which was as follows :
In the opinion of this House, atditional surveys are requisite in order to a sound decision for the short line railway, and it would to premature to adopt any line before further surveys have been made.
Why has the right lion, gentleman gone back on the views that he held in 1895 ? He considered it necessary that the route of the short line, which had been surveyed once or twice before, and perhaps oftener, should be again surveyed ; yet he has completed a bargain with the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company before he knows where the line is to be located, or before he knows how much it will cost, and which is going through a country of which he himself has no knowledge whatever. But there are other promises which he and his party have made. I recollect reading a speech that he made in Winnipeg, I think, in 1895, when he said that when the Liberal party came into power they would submit a plebiscite, and that if it carried they would give the country prohibition if it cost the Liberal party power for ever. He did carry out part of that pledge. He took into his cabinet a gentleman who he thought would give him weight with the temperance people. He took in the hon. Minister of Agriculture (Hon. Mr. Fisher). He also submitted a plebiscite to the people, and it was carried by good majorities in every province except one. Why is he so anxious to carry out the pledges made by Sir John Macdonald and by the Conservative party and to ignore his own ? These are things for the right hon. gentleman to explain, because these are things that it is difficult for the people to understand. I recollect that he made a speech at Toronto, in which he said: We are going to reduce the public expenditure year by year from one, two, three, and the Hon. Mr. Mills says $4,000,000 per annum. Has the right hon. gentleman and his party implemented that promise ? Have they reduced the public expenditure ? It is about $20,000,000 per annum more now than it was then, and still they were howling on every platform all over the country about the extravagance of the Conservative party. Now, the right hon. gentleman went to Win-Mr. WILSON.
nipeg-I think it was at this same time, in 1895-and he said : I come to preach to you a new gospel, the gospel of free trade as they have it in England. I would like to know how he has implemented that promise. These are only a few of the promises made by the Liberal party. They talked about superannuation ; that was one of their hobbies, and I recollect that Mr. McMullen, now Senator McMullen, used almost to weep on every platform about how the public money was being spent, and he said that civil servants who had been superannuated, and who were able-bodied men, were walking around the streets of Ottawa drawing larger salaries than they could earn if they were working at any ordinary calling. He said : When we come into
power we will change all that. Since the Liberal party have come in they superannuated a great many more civil servants than we did during the same number of years.
I just want to refer to a resolution and I think the Bill passed through the House the other night. The judges previously had been allowed superannuation at two thirds their salaries. Well, Sir, that was not sufficient for these gentlemen. These men had had the best of it all their lives at least since they had been on the bench where many of them were making two or three times as much as they had made before they got on the bench and the other night a Bill was passed by which they are allowed to be superannuated at full pay. It does seem to me that these people have entirely forgotten their principles.
At one o'clock, House took recess.
House resumed at three o'clock.

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