August 26, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)

LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Hon. Mr. FIELDING.

discloses. One main idea of it is to appeal to every sectional jealousy, to satisfy every sectional ambition, to appeal to each locality at the expense of the scheme! itself. Now, Sir, the Prime Minister tells us that we are not at all to consider this as a commercial line ; we have the Minister of Trade and Commerce telling us that it is idle to discuss this question in its financial aspect; and we have the Minister of Finance declaring that the short line feature of it is not of much importance, but that we must consider other interests, namely, such interests as we find in the maritime provinces. I may perhaps be permitted to say, speaking entirely for myself, that if we are to have a national scheme, If we are to have a road that may be called a national transportation road, then the country will conclude that the government ought to be strong enough to have fixed by themselves a route that would have made it purely national. The hon. gentleman dare not do that, because it will destroy every vestige of local reasons for supporting the Bill. The Prime Minister made, at least by inference, a very strong appeal on behalf of the city of Quebec and of that locality. The Minister of Justice could not refrain from strongly dwelling upon the fact that the city of Quebec and that portion of the province of Quebec had been neglected in the past, and it was time now that something should be done for them. Now, Sir. it seems to me that in undertaking a railway that is worthy to be dignified by the name of a national transcontinental railway, it should be built on some better grounds than an appear to local and sectional Interests.
Now what is this after all ? The right lion, gentleman-and I do not desire to speak in severe terms of the right hon. gentleman -knows himself that this scheme is surrounded with very grave party difficulties. The right hon. gentleman had behind him a strong section of the province of Quebec, mainly from the locality where his constituency is, from which a very large delegation came to this House ; and he was confronted with a very grave difficulty because on the one hand he had applications from those who were promoting a transcontinental line, and on the other from those who wanted to build it. These gentlemen have been in the field for some time. They no doubt had their applications before the government, they had no doubt had these applications heard, and they had no doubt had promises made, not only directly, but by inference, of grants of money and of land. The right hon. gentleman saw in the earlier part of the session that there was one way to deal with this business. He adopted the plan which was put in the mouth of His Excellency the Governor General, who, in the speech from the Throne, said that there was only one way to deal with it, and that was to submit this important matter to a commission of experts and let them

lay down a plan. I would like to ask the right hon. leader of the government why he abandoned that course? I know that the right hon. gentleman will not be disposed to answer that question. He would not care for this country to know the reasons why he abandoned that plan, but the country knows perfectly well what his surroundings were and that he was forced as a matter of fact by party exigencies to take a different course rather than to launch a scheme which is now merely one on paper. What did the right hon. gentleman do when he found himself in this difficulty? He could not give what the Trans-Canada people asked, because very naturally, they were asking for large subsidies. Mackenzie & Mann came at the same time seeking aid of some kind either by way of endorsing their paper, giving guarantees or otherwise. We found the Grand Trunk Railway people coming at the same time asking for assistance. The right hon. gentleman saw the impossibility of dealing with each and every one of these schemes upon its merits. He must refuse some of them. He could not afford to yield to all the demands that were made by these other corporations, each of which was no doubt very powerful in a party sense. What did the right hon. gentleman do ? He abandoned his original idea, one that the country applauded at the time, and would still applaud if carried out, he abandoned the only sane and sound idea which should guide any public man leading a great political party to which the interests of this country have been entrusted for the purpose of getting out of what was purely a party difficulty. The right hon, gentleman changed the plan in a few hours, as was told us by one of his own colleagues. I may say that the hon. gentleman who made the statement was not one who was compelled to guess, as many of us guess and guess pretty acurately at what was going on ; he knew what was going on, he was the colleague of the right hon. gentleman, he was perfectly well able to speak as to what was in the mind of the right hon. gentleman, as every other colleague of the right, hon. gentleman knows what is in his mind, and he told us how it came about that he abandoned the whole thing. What was done ? A pencil was drawn across the map of Canada. There were no surveys, there was not a particle of information, there was not a single attempt made to get any information from the moment that the right hon. gentleman was induced to declare, and to declare with good reason, that he must have a commission of experts to inquire into the conditions and necessities of the country, but a mere pencil mark was drawn across the map, and it was brought down here as a great transcontinental railway scheme. What is the right hon. gentleman's position ? It is a matter of notoriety, although it is not a strange thing nor
am I going to say that it is a matter that does not happen in all parties, because it is a daily occurrence under our system, that the right hon. gentleman found his friends rebelling against it from one end of Canada to the other. As to that we have the evidence of a number of gentlemen. W'e have the evidence, for instance, of the hon. member for North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton), who declares that he himself was opposed to it, who declares that in the caucus there were party difficulties, and who declares that he afterwards gave up his own opinion, and so on. We have innumerable declarations in this House and notably one made last night that the rank and file of the Liberal party rebelled, and if it had been possible on the part of the Liberal followers of the government in this House to have dissuaded the right hon. gentleman from the course he has taken we would have had a different state of things. But, the right hon. gentleman had to get out of his party difficulties.
It has been said by the Prime Minister, and by nearly every other hon. gentleman in this House that this will be a colonization road, that it will serve this district and serve that district. I do not lay any the less stress upon the importance of a colonization road or its utility in this country, because it is the duty of the government to assist in every possible way the building of colonization railways, but I deny that you can sacrifice a single feature of the great transcontinental line for the purpose of colonization. We must meet the necessities of colonization in some other way. Would any hon. gentleman launch a transcontinental railway scheme involving an expenditure of from $110,000,000 or $120,000,000 with colonization features that would result in the impairment *f the main scheme ? Had he considered for one moment the impairment of a strong feature of that scheme for the purpose of promoting colonization ? Such a consideration absolutely undermines every particle of the transcontinental railway scheme. What must a transcontinental railway mean in Canada ? It must mean that Canada is setting out now for the first time to solve a great problem, and the solution of that great problem not only requires that we shall have the best road that Canada can produce, but that we must have a national competing scheme that will compete with the railways that Canada comes into competition with to-day. Can we afford to consider the locality we are giving a colonization road to ? Can we consider whether this or that small part of the country will be served- or not ? Can we consider whether this particular locality or that particular locality will gain by this railway or whether the railway should be designed for the purpose of serving the greater interests of Canada as a whole ? The right hon. gentleman has sacrificed the
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strong feature of a transcontinental railway by giving consideration to interests of that kind.
Having said so much, I desire now to deal shortly-and I hope I shall be able to redeem the pledge to be brief which I gave- not with the contract which has already been dealt with in very great detail, but with the two schemes which are now proposed, one by way of Bill and the other as enunciated by the hon. leader of the opposition (Mr. Borden, Halifax). I think the country will have no better means of judging than by putting these two schemes side by side, the one as declared in the Bill, the other as declared from his place in this House by the hon. leader of the opposition. Let me say at the outset that I know of nothing more unprofitable, nothing that would have a greater tendency to becloud and deceive than to make extravagant statements on the one side or the other for the purpose of showing the strength or weakness of one side or the other. Each scheme ought to be dealt with entirely on its merits. We should lay down one given rule which should be applied to both schemes, as that is the only means by which we can arrive at a fair conclusion. Thus it would be well to entirely free the question from the surroundings which hon. gentlemen have dragged Into this scheme. The hon. leader of the opposition, in outlining a transcontinental railway scheme for Canada, has incidentally mentioned some matters that are only remotely connected with it. In order to make an intelligent comparison we must place these two schemes side by side at the points at which they meet and at which they may diverge and where each of them may end. I think that is the only way to give the public an intelligent idea as to the merits of the two schemes. We are told that the hon. leader of the opposition has committed himself to the building of a road from Moncton to Quebec city, and also from Quebec city to Winnipeg. Now, I am sure that hon. gentlemen who desire to discuss these two schemes upon their merits will not drag into what is after all, a clear enueia-tion of what the general policy will be, irrelevant considerations. In order to make it clear, I will read what the leader of the opposition said in referring to the line between Quebec and Moncton. He said :
If within a certain number of years a practical route be found, then extend that road to the Pacific coast. Build it as a government road from Quebec to the coast. Be not afraid to undertake that project, but do not undertake It until you have the information, the data which will enable you to deal with it. I am not saying this for the purpose of delay. I believe in' going ahead with the work once you get the information and the data which are necessary. .
That means nothing more nor less than that when such information is obtained and Mr. CLANCY.
when the necessity arises, the work would be undertaken, and then it would be extended as a part of the Intercolonial Railway and be a scheme under the direction of the government of the day in some way. I make that statement in order to divorce the proposal from what is after all the live question, nanjely, a transcontinental railway from ocean to ocean. The hon. leader of the opposition similarly dealt with the road from Quebec to Winnipeg, and he said :
So far as the line from Quebec to Winnipeg is concerned, I am not disposed to minimize the possibility of that northern country. Looking at the history of the great west, there may be a great flood of settlement into that country north of Lake Superior some day or other, at least up to a certain point west, but I do not think we know enough at present to justify us in saying there will or will not be, because I do not know how far that country is capable of competing in the early future with the magnificent country we have in the North-west. I have some doubts as to whether or not that great northern country may compete as early as we would desire with the great western country. But I am not disposed to minimize its importance in any way, and to my mind the rational way of dealing with that road from Winnipeg to Quebec is this.
Mark the words :
To thoroughly explore and understand it, and then to build that line from Quebec to Winnipeg, as a colonization road according as the requirements of the people and colonization demand.
Now, Mr. Speaker, it is perfectly clear that that is to be a colonization road and no more, and that colonization road is to be built when we have obtained all necessary information and when the interests and requirements of colonization demand it. Colonization alone is the main feature of that undertaking. I have dealt with these two points in order that we may consider them apart from the live question of the transcontinental road proposed by the government, and as to which the two parties are asunder. I have no doubt that the right hon. gentleman would agree with the view expressed by the leader of the opposition if he looked upon this from the point of view of a colonization road, and I believe that, because he has laid great stress upon the colonization utility of his scheme. If there was no transcontinental line in view, I have not the slightest doubt but that the Prime Minister would agree with the views expressed by the leader of the opposition, both as respects the Moncton section and the Quebec and Winnipeg section. I now propose to make a Comparison between the scheme of the leader of the opposition and the scheme of the government with respect to that portion of the line which commences at the end of the Intercolonial Railway at Montreal and that part of what is called the national transcontinental railway, commencing at Moncton both ending at Winnipeg. I think such a comparison is the only

intelligible plan that can be adopted to give to the people of the country a fair conception of the two schemes. I need offer no apology to this House when I say that 1 would "not attempt to give any figures on this point on my own initiative, because the House would properly regard such figures as being of little value. I shall not, therefore, give information that is my own, but X shall give information which has been obtained from the most reliable source possible. When the leader of the opposition laid down this scheme he particularly emphasized the fact that he would proceed with his project only on the strength of the best expert evidence that could be produced in Canada, and consequently it must be remembered that the scheme proposed by the leader of the opposition may be deviated from or changed in the light of the best expert evidence obtainable.
The hon. leader of the opposition proposed, in the first place, to extend the Intercolonial Railway from Montreal to the city of Winnipeg. We have a 99 years' lease'from the Grand Trunk Railway for the use of its line from Ste. Rosalie to Montreal, so that it will not be necessary for me to refer to that part of the line to any detailed extent. We have expended large sums of money in acquiring terminals at Montreal. It is proposed by the leader of the opposition that a first-class road shall be built from Jacques Cartier junction to Coteau junction on the Canada Atlantic Railway. Mark you, we speak of a first-class road, because if a transcontinental railway is to compete for traffic with existing railways in the United States, and in Canada for that matter, no ' second or third rate road will do. It is estimated that the thirty miles from Jacques Cartier junction to COteau would cost $40,000 a mile. That will not shock hon. gentlemen opposite, because the member for Dabelle (Mr. Bourassa) stated that he had expert evidence from a gentleman of long experience that it would cost $30,000 a mile. It is then proposed to acquire the Canada Atlantic Railway from C6teau junction to Depot Harbour, if it can be acquired upon favourable terms, and if not, that a road should be constructed. Hon. gentlemen may say that we have to deal with corporations, and that corporations are very exacting in the amount which they require a government to pay for their property.
It would be just as well for this House and this country to understand that the people of Canada are the possessors of the soil of Canada, and that we have the right to use our power to expropriate, dealing justly and prudently, as I am sure any government would do. Canada is not a railway company dealing with another railway company. It is a nation dealing with its own affairs; and the railways of this country, whether they exist now or shall come into existence in the future, must be subject to the will of the people of Canada;
so that the question as to whether we would have any trouble or not in dealing with this matter amounts to nothing. But I am now proceeding on the plan which has been clearly enunciated by the hon. leader of the opposition. It might not be thought prudent or advisable for us even to acquire the Canada Atlantic. That is entirely an open question. The estimate is that that road of 342 miles, with its equipment, could be acquired for the sum of $12,000,000. Every hon. member of this House knows that within the last two years, if not within the last year, there has been an option open to the world for that road for $11,000,000. But suppose we did not acquire the Canada Atlantic, we might have to construct a railway from Coteau Junction to Depot Harbour at a cost of $12,000,000, which would be very nearly $40,000 a mile.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE NATIONAL TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILWAY.
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