Mr. LACHANCE (Quebec Centre):
(Translation.) Mr. Speaker, the House will allow me to say a few words more this evening, though I have already spoken several times on the question of the Transcontinental, and particularly in regard to the condition in which the the property of that railway line is in the city of Quebec, since this Government reached power in the month of September, 1911.
In view of the statements and misstatements of facts made by the hon. Postmaster General in the speech he has just delivered, statements which are foundationless in many instances, I deem it my duty to address the House once more in order to set matters right.
There is one matter concerning which I shall at once let the minister know what are my views, as well as the views of the citizens of Quebec, Conservatives as well as Liberals; I refer to the attacks directed against the right hon. leader of the Opposition by the Postmaster General. The citizens of Quebec are in the same mood to-day as they were of yore, their hopes are the same, their faith and trust in our leader are unchanged.
The hon. Postmaster General thought it proper to voice a kind of protest and to state that in Quebec there might be surprises ip store for him. If there be surprises in store for any one, it is for the hon. Postmaster General who has taken the responsibility for all that happened, or rather fell short of happening, within the last three years. The Postmaster General is too
shrewd to flatter himself with the hope of having prepared surprises for the leader of the Opposition in Quebec. However, should he deceive himself to that extent, I am bound to rid him of that false notion, and to assure him that his opinion will not count for much in our city as against the statements and opinions of the hon. leader of the Opposition. Though he may simulate indignation, I am in a position to state that the public feeling in Quebec is against him, especially in regard to the matter now under the consideration of the House, and it will assert itself in the proper place and time. There are numerous reasons for that. The hon. gentleman is a man of resources. When he has a case which is as good as lost, he endeavours to make believe that his opponent is open to almost any charge, and accordingly he takes on the airs of a man in a rage. Those who are well acquainted with him do not worry very much over it; they know that the only occasion for that exhibition of temper is the weakness of his case.
The Postmaster General told us he could not guess the reason why such terminal plans had been adopted by the Liberal Government previous to 1911. He must be the only one that is left in the dark; for every engineer has stated the reason. On the other hand, no one knows what can have induced this Government to agree to the changes effected in the plans since 1911.
True, the hon. Postmaster General insinuated that there were possibly improper motives that would explain the plans laid down for the [DOT] building of the original terminals. Insinuations are easily made, and I might reply that some people have insinuated in this connection that speculation was rife in connection with the changes effected in the last instance. I do not put very much faith in that kind of gossip and I prefer dealing with the question on its actual merit, which will not prevent the people of Quebec from wondering what justification there is for such changes. The hon. gentleman held the floor three-quarters of an hour without broaching the subject; last week, on several occasions, and also in the course of the debate on the report of Messrs. Gutelius and Staunton he dealt with the subject, but without offering any satisfactory explanation. So far, accordingly, I see no reason why the leader of the Opposition should have lost the confidence of his constituents, as was claimed by the hon. Postmaster General. The latter gentleman has enough
to clear his skirts of without concerning himself with the welfare of the electors of Quebec East, and the latter will know enough to remain firm in the faith they have put in Sir Wilfrid Laurier for the last thirty years, notwithstanding the vituperations of the hon. Postmaster General.
I have carefully gone through the reports, and I have followed the whole debate in this connection since the opening of this session; we are not making of this a-party question for the city and harbour of Quebec, but we consider it a matter of the deepest concern for Canada as a whole. The hon. Postmaster General pretends to find a justification of the course followed in the restricted area available on Cape Diamond for the Transcontinental terminals. What does his knowledge of engineering amount to? I prefer the opinion of three noted engineers to his. In 1906, the Citizens' Committee of Quebec, comprising delegates of the city council and of the board of trade, and a representative of each of the railway and steamship companies, and of the shipping interests of Quebec, Montreal, the whole of Canada and even Great Britain, appointed Messrs. Ho are, Boswell and Doucet to prepare a report as to the most convenient site for the Transcontinental terminals. These three gentlemen submitted their conclusions in writing to that committee, and recommended building on the site of Champlain market and Cape Diamond the Transcontinental terminals, stations, deep water wharfs, sheds, shunting yards, local repair workshops, and these plans have been unanimously endorsed by the Citizens' Committee. All the railway companies on the south shore of the St. Lawrence in the district of Quebec, would have had the privilege of using such terminals after the bridge was built, and it was considered of enormous advantage to be able to build the stations, wharfs, etc., close to deep water. And now the hon. Postmaster General is endeavouring to give to this House the impression that all those people were astray as regards the sufficiency of space.
It is contended that union stations are rather the general rule nowadays; but it should not be forgotten that Quebec occupies a somewhat unique position to-day. It is a seaport, and we were intent on ensuring to the traffic during summer the immense advantage of direct transhipment from the cars to the ship, which would have materially cut down the general cost of transportation. Deep water wharfs
might have been constructed there at low cost over a distance of several miles, along which steamers of the highest tonnage might have loaded or unloaded at any time. Such were the main reasons which prompted the findings and recommendations of the engineers. The union station at the Palais is and will be especially of use to the Canadian Pacific railway which has at. that place no accommodation whatever for freight, and which will receive from the Government yearly interest on the cost of the station and a high rental as compensation for its use. Such is the embarrassment of the Government when it comes to give a plausible reason justifying the change in the plans, that the best they thought they could do was to unload the responsibility on one of their officials, Major Leonard. They even succeeded in having the statement endorsed by public bodies in Quebec, but it is childish to entertain the hope that the people of Quebec will give credence to such an explanation. Major Leonard was an official of that Government and the latter was in a position to exact compliance with its orders. Is there in the whole record a single word of protest on behalf of the Government against Major Leonard as regards his attitude towards Quebec? Not one. And it is only quite recently that the Government made that discovery. But no one will take any stock in their contention. Major Leonard's unfriendly stand is only the counterpart of hostility ehown in higher situations as regards Quebec; and whatever the Government may say, they are alone responsible for the delays incurred within the last three years in the carrying on of the work connected with the Transcontinental terminals in Quebec, to the detriment of that undertaking as well as of the whole of Canada.
For several months past the Transcontinental line has been practically open to circulation of trains; we were informed four or five days ago in this House that it would, be wholly completed by the month of 'September. However no provision whatever has. as yet been made in Quebec to meet the requirements of traffic. That unfortunate state of things is due wholly to the remissness of this Government. Within the last; three years not a single shovelful of eartha has been moved, not a single stone has been laid for the foundations of the necessary buildings which should by this time be completed.
The Liberal Government, it must be averred, had provided a series of magnifi-
Subtopic: THE NATIONAL TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILWAY.