September 15, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)



The hon. gentleman is still confusing the question of a transcontinental railway with the broader question of transportation, which may include many matters not connected with railways. The question of transportation includes railways, but the question of i ail-ways is not the whole transportation question. There are questions of terminal facilities, water communication, harbour improvements and various other questions involved in the transportation problem, but ail of which are not included in the scope of this Bill. I come back to the point that my hon. friend, in conjunction with his associates, commended the idea of the transportation commission ; but now he rather falls back, and says that all these commissions are unnecessary. He objects to them on the constitutional ground that the government should deal with these matters directly and not by commission. Well, we know that under our system of government, both in the mother country and in the colonies, governments have been in the habit of appointing commissions for purposes which could be better accomplished in that way perhaps than directly by ministerial action. My hon. friend takes the ground that the railway commission is unnecessary, and that we should continue the old method of adjusting railway questions by the Railway Committee of the Privy Council. That is a fair question for discussion ; but I submit that my hon. friend is slightly late in the day in bringing it up. We had the Bill for the creation of a railway commission before this House for many weeks, and we discussed it in all its aspects ; and only now, for the first time, do we learn that hon. gentlemen opposite were opposed to that Bill. If my hon. friend did not want that measure to pass, the least the country would have expected of him would have been to have made a motion against its passage. But my hon. friend allowed the Bill to pass without objecting to it, and if hereafter he should be accused of being opposed to that Bill he could deny it, and refer triumphantly to ' Hansard ' to show that he had never voted against it or proposed any motion against it. If he had any objection to the creation of a railway commission, he should have raised that objection at an earlier date.

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