in that government, and they would have pointed to the order in council and the written contract and would have said : If you are worthy representatives of Her Majesty in government, you will carry out the obligation we have entered into with Mr. Clergue for $4,000,000. That is what they would have said, and that is what the people of Canada would have understood by such an arrangement. Has the time arrived wheu a contract can be made with the government and they, at their own will, can say to the contractor : It is true that you have an order in council which we have asked the representative of His Majesty to sign, you have a contract, but it is only a moral obligation and not worth the paper it is written on. Mr. Chairman, I do not believe that either the courts of the land or the great moral sentiment of the people of Canada, if appealed to, would support or endorse the position taken by hon. gentlemen opposite on this occasion. The hon. gentleman said that steel rails to-day could not be bought for less than he is paying. It is well known that you can buy steel rails delivered in Montreal for $26 a ton. This is no fable, this is no midsummer night's dream, it is a fact-you can buy as many tons as you choose to order at that price. I do not understand the hon. gentleman's objection to going to the United States for these rails. He has gone there for cars, he has gone there for engines, why should he not go there for steel rails ? He has got from the United States everything that is necessary for the supply of the Intercolonial Railway, why should he make an exception with steel rails ? Why ? It is to adopt the grand principle of protection, to show to the native industries of Canada, to the miners of the iron ore that has Iain so long the hidden treasure of Canada, to say to the people of Canada : In us you see the copyists of the government that have gone before ; we ask for your favour because we are doing those things that the government who went before us did better than we know how to do.
Well. Sir, it is amusing, it is interesting, to see the Minister of Railways and Canals appeal to his deputy. I could not help but think of the appeals that had been made'upon more than one occasion, for the benefit of the statements made by the minister, to that deputy, a gentleman who stands in point of integrity even the equal of the minister who makes a moral contract in this country only for $4,000,000. Why, Sir, he made me think of an old gentleman in our part of the country who was never known to tell the truth. He had a wife whose name was Sophia, and whenever he made a statement that was criticised, or if any objection was taken to it, he would say : ' If you do not believe me, if you do not want to take my word, ask Sophia.' And when I heard the minister appealing to his deputy, that venerable deputy, who has passed through so many governments, and saw him bowing Mr. POPE.
his head and heard him whispering his consent, I thought of the old man who appealed to Sophia. Sir, I may be mistaken, I may not know how to appreciate a moral obligation on the part of this government, a government who have not, so far as I know, kept any single obligation that they ever promised to keep since they came into power. It is hard, Mr. Chairman-and, by the way, I see we have a new chairman. I can understand that also, I can understand that the trying circumstances in which a man is placed who holds the impartial position of a chairman, listening to the contradictory arguments of hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House, it is necessary for the restoration of health of the chairman, that he should retire and be replaced from time to time. Vigorous as this present chairman seems to be, I have no doubt that we shall have another one before this debate is over. I do not think that nature has given him strength enough to withstand the electrical inconsistencies that will shock him as they pass from the other side of the House during this debate.
Now, Sir, the minister has stated to us that there is great necessity, urgent necessity, that he should have these steel rails, so great that he had to make this contract just before they appeal to the electorate. He has also stated this afternoon that he has made this contract with rhe company, and lie does not know if it is possible for them to carry it out. Why all this haste ? Why all this urgency previous to the general election ? Now, Sir, if the hon. minister had not a reputation through Canada, if he had not made a reputation for himself in his native province before he ever came to this House, perhaps he could escape. But, knowing, as he must know, how the people of Canada view him, coupled with the Minister of Public Works-for the people look upon that pair of gentlemen as the two great pushers of the government upon certain occasions. Now, it is not for me to say if that is true. I have never been consulted by the Prime Minister or by either of those two hon. gentlemen, but public opinion says that they are the two gentlemen who provide the weapons of war, public opinion says that they distributed a million and a half dollars among the electorate of Canada during the last election on behalf of lion, gentlemen on the other side of the House. Sir, could this have been connected with steel rails ? Is it possible there is any association between that election and steel rails ? Or, was it to fulfil a moral obligation on the part of hon. gentlemen opposite with the electorate of this country ? Did they carry out that moral obligation, or is it like all their other contracts, not worth the paper that it was written upon ? Sir, I remember a moral obligation entered into in the city of Sherbrooke previous to the last general election. I discovered there the track of steel rails. I remember perfectly the offer that was
Subtopic: APRI L 23, 1901