John COSTIGAN

COSTIGAN, The Hon. John, P.C.

Parliamentary Career

September 20, 1867 - July 8, 1872
L-C
  Victoria (New Brunswick)
October 12, 1872 - January 2, 1874
L-C
  Victoria (New Brunswick)
January 22, 1874 - August 16, 1878
L-C
  Victoria (New Brunswick)
September 17, 1878 - May 18, 1882
L-C
  Victoria (New Brunswick)
June 20, 1882 - January 15, 1887
L-C
  Victoria (New Brunswick)
  • Minister of Inland Revenue (May 23, 1882 - June 6, 1891)
February 22, 1887 - February 3, 1891
L-C
  Victoria (New Brunswick)
  • Minister of Inland Revenue (May 23, 1882 - June 6, 1891)
March 5, 1891 - April 24, 1896
L-C
  Victoria (New Brunswick)
  • Minister of Inland Revenue (May 23, 1882 - June 6, 1891)
  • Minister of Inland Revenue (June 16, 1891 - November 24, 1892)
  • Secretary of State of Canada (December 5, 1892 - December 12, 1894)
  • Minister of Marine and Fisheries (December 21, 1894 - April 27, 1896)
  • Minister of Trade and Commerce (January 6, 1896 - January 14, 1896)
June 23, 1896 - October 9, 1900
L-C
  Victoria (New Brunswick)
  • Minister of Marine and Fisheries (May 1, 1896 - July 8, 1896)
November 7, 1900 - September 29, 1904
LIB
  Victoria (New Brunswick)
November 3, 1904 - September 17, 1908
LIB
  Victoria (New Brunswick)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 15)


May 1, 1908

Mr. COSTIGAN.

I can move the second reading another time when the amendments are prepared.

Topic:   EDITION
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May 10, 1905

Mr. COSTIGAN asked :

Has any request been made to the Grand Trunk Pacific commissioners in connection with the preliminary surveys through the western part of Madawaska county, N.B., to examine a line up the St. John river to the mouth of Little river, in the parish of Saint Francis, N.B., and up the valley of the Little river, and on to or near the function of Blue river with the Saint Francis river, in the province of Quebec? If so, has any examination of that route been made ?

Topic:   GRAND TRUNK PACIFIC SURVEYS-MADA-WASKA.
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February 28, 1905

Hon. JOHN COSTIGAN (Victoria, N.B.).

While this matter is up, I would like to say a few words on it because my attention has been drawn to it before and I have discussed it with a number of members. There is another feature about the franking privilege which has not been touched on. In former years it was a greater convenience

to members than it is to-day for we used to be able to frank our letters with our initials or our stamp and we could mail them from our hotels or private residences at the nearest post office box in the city, which was a great privilege. An abuse grew up and the attention of the House was called to the fact that the initials were easily imitated, and this led to such an abuse that the Postmaster General of the day very properly put a stop to that system and ordered that our frank should be good only in the post office in the House of Commons. It is a great inconvenience not to be able to post letters at post boxes through the city and to have to bring them here to the House of Commons. Those who discussed the question know that there is good reason for res-tr'eting the privilege to the House of Commons post office, but we suggest to the Postmaster General that he might extend that privilege so that any member who chose to frank a letter by writing his full name on it could post it in any part of the city. There would be little danger of the full name being imitated, while there was evidence that initials were being frequently copied. Members have received several letters from the post office with apparently their initials, although they had never seen the letters. The Postmaster General has said that he would accept a suggestion in favour of doing away with the stamp and requiring the use of initials. That is all right, but I ask him to take into consideration the suggestion that such members as choose to frank their letters with their full names should be allowed to post them at any post box in the city.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABUSE OF FRANKING PRIVILEGES.
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August 18, 1903

Hon. Mr. COSTIGAN.

No. There is a road built from Riviere du Loup to Edmundston now and in operation. When the debate was on with regard to the question of finally locating the Intercolonial Railway, we were pretty evenly divided in New Brunswick between the valley route and the north shore route, so that our vote did not amount to much. We always believed that Nova Scotia would favour the Robinson route, because that would place it in a more advantageous position towards St. John than If the road went down the valley of the St. John. I stated in my speech at nomination that the province of Quebec would naturally favour a route which would go down the St. Lawrence through Quebec counties and develop two of these counties, while the other route would not develop so many, and that the province of Ontario might be careless about the matter unless it were influenced by political reasons. But importance was attached to the military consideration, and what turned the scales was the fact that we had the credit of the English government for the cost of the construction of the road at that time, on condition that the British government approved the route adopted. That route was built, and the feeling in New Brunswick was this: While the people were disappointed, while they felt that a road three times more expensive, a great deal longer, less commercial in its aspect was selected, still people in the western portion, in course of time, did not begrudge the road to the north shore people, and the general opinion has been that after all it was as well, because a railway was afterwards constructed in that valley, in the local interest, up as far as Edmundston, and the north shore would not have got its road had it to depend on its own resources.

The impression left on the minds of hon. gentlemen who spoke from the opposition side, judging from their speeches, was that the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals left the government because he could not support that scheme conscientiously, because it was a wild, inconsiderate and ill-considered scheme. But he did not leave the cabinet, as I understand it, because the government refused to take his view and go to St. John for a shorter road. That would have been inconsistent with the ground he took himself and the ground he is given the credit of having taken. His whole ground was that he could not justify the paralleling of the Intercolonial Railway. No one will say that a shorter line than the one now proposed could be found by going from Riviere du Loup across Temiscouata to Edmundston and down by the valley of St. John. ,

Surely no one in this House will say that the hon. ex-Minister of Railways and Canals resigned his seat in the government because the Intercolonial was to be paralleled, and destroyed, and dismantled, and discredited, and that he would have remained a defender of that policy if they had only paralleled the road by going along the Temiscouata route to St. John instead of to Moncton ? That would be inconsistent. But there is an object in having the two strings to the bow. That object appears in a newspaper published in New Brunswick, the St. John ' Telegraph.' The ' Telegraph ' indicates that the hon. minister left the government when he found that the government would not agree to the construction of a road across from the Intercolonial at Riviere du Loup to Edmundston and down the valley of St. John to St. John. That is not honest politics at all. But what would be the value of such a road ? You have heard the objections to the grades and curvatures and the cost of construction of the proposed route. I do not profess to be a railway engineer, but I profess to have a little practical knowledge and to be able to form opinions as to what conclusions practical men like myself might draw from certain facts. I can tell this House that a road was built from Riviere du Loup to Edmundston, largely subsidized by this parliament. It has been in operation for years. It was built in the face of reports against the grades and curvatures of that route. A firm by the name of Fraser & Son, Scotchmen, who came to New Brunswick and settled in that country and succeeded in building up a lumbering and milling business, bought the limits and put up a mill, one of the largest in New Brunswick, on the shores of Lake Temiscouata, half way between Rivi6re du Loup and Edmundston. They made a contract with the company to deliver the lumber at RiviSre du Loup for shipment. I do not know what the grades are, but I know that, with a load of ten cars, the engine has to do a great deal of puffing to pull the train over the line; and I know that if you put more than ten cars on a train you have to put on two engines. You do not require to study what the grades are; you see the effects of the grades. You could not make a profitable freight road out of that. Besides it would be 40 miles longer than the proposed road even to Edmundston, without counting the saving from Edmundston across the province to Moncton.

I shall not attempt to go into the matter of the contract or the legal conditions. I think that some of the lay members of this House are quite capable of taking part in a discussion of that kind and holding their own pretty well with the legal gentlemen. But I think it would be undesirable for me to interfere. I am satisfied that the gentlemen who are looking after the interests of the government, and to the interest of the country, are reliable men and capable of

guarding the public interest, as it is their duty to do. And, without saying anything offensive, I ana not at all convinced that the gentlemen who criticise the contract are satisfied that that contract is as worthless as they appear to make out. I am satisfied that it is worthy of the support of this House. Some hon. gentlemen have said what would happen if you could get the voice of the people upon it. 1 can look ibagk as one of the men who stood here over twenty years ago, when, after the acquisition of the North-west Territories and the bringing in of British Columbia, Sir John Macdonald proposed the policy of the Canadian Pacific Railway transcontinental line, as it was then considered. I followed the speech of the hon. member for North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton) the other evening with great interest. I thought it was one of the good speeches of this debate-argumentative and full of information. But the last part did not, in my opinion strengthen his argument, nor was it necessary to his case. I myself will make a comparison between the two contracts and the two enterprises, this one and the Canadian Pacific Railway. My object will be to prove that the Canadian people are as ready to-day to endorse the policy of the government in this scheme as they were to endorse the policy of the government at that time. I do not think it is necessary or in good taste to undertake to prove that that contract was not a good one. The country has decided that question long ago. The Canadian Pacific Railway has aided to build up this country more than anything else that has been done-we are at one on that point. But let us make a fair comparison of the two enterprises. When Sir John Macdonald entered upon his bold policy based upon his hope and confidence in the future of this country more than anything else, there was no very full information as to the capabilities of the North-west Territories, nor was there much confidence in its capabilities, but one thing largely strengthened that policy, and that was that, having brought in British Columbia, having acquired the North-west Territories, there was only one way to administer them as a part of the Dominion, and that was to build the railway. We could only hope that the railway would justify its own construction- and it did amply. The government o.f the day had to give large subsidies in money, in land, and in constructed railways, in order to get the company to undertake that contract. It has 'been said that the terms were extravagant. Anyone who can remember the debate of that day knows that there was severe criticism, and perhaps as unreasonable and unwarranted criticism as there is against this scheme to-day. If any one is inclined to think that that was an extravagant contract let him remember these two things. First that the land that was given at that time was worthless if it was not developed by the construction of that road ;

Topic:   IS, 1903
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August 18, 1903

Hon. JOHN COSTIGAN (Victoria, N.B.).

, I desire Mr. Speaker, to say a few words on this very important question. I do not think it necessary that I should offer any apology, even though I may uot be able to make my remarks as interesting as many hon. gentlemen who preceded me, or who may come after me. But, Sir, having occupied a position in public life for so long a time, having witnessed the Initiation of the Intercolonial Railway as well as the initiation of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and having lived to see these two great projects accomplished facts, I do feel a deep interest

as a Canadian-which is the proper interest to feel-in this great national project. I feel a special interest on this occasion coming as I do from the province of New Brunswick, because at no time in the history of this country since confederation, have the interests of New Brunswick been so much exposed to misrepresentation and prejudice. I feel it my duty therefore, Sir, to repudiate many of the statements made during this debate. This whole discussion has been in many respects extraordinary. Gentlemen who spoke in opposition to the scheme have from the beginning condemned this policy, and have condemned the government for introducing it, because' as they allege, there is no proper data before us. We have been told by gentlemen who have spoken against this project, that the country in New Brunswick west of Moncton is absolutely unknown, that the northern parts of

Quebec and Ontario are also unknown, and the same argument is applied all along the line. But, Sir, any one listening to the discussion must be surprised at the assertions which these gentlemen make as to a total absence of information on the part of the government when you think of the full and complete information, which these gentlemen themselves say they are possessed of, as to the heavy grades to be encountered, the mountains to be crossed, and the difficulties to be overcome. If there is a total absence of information, how is it that there is so much information to prejudice the scheme ? I think the two arguments are inconsistent-just as inconsistent as many of the other points taken. The Intercolonial Railway was an important factor in the question of confederation, so important that without that inducement to the maritime provinces, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick would not. I believe, have entered into the confederation at that time. Since confederation and since the construction of the Intercolonial Railway, I have sat here under both administrations, and I have heard the attempt frequently made, especially in the province of Ontario, 'to prejudice the members coming from that section against the Intercolonial Railway as a burthen on the people of Ontario for the special benefit of the people of the maritime provinces. I think that was a most unfair and ungenerous charge to make. In the first place, the principle was laid down from the start, that there was no idea that the Intercolonial Railway should be constructed as a commercial line. It was for the purpose of uniting the different provinces, encouraging interprovincial trade, and bringing the people together. We in the western section of the province-and I include the city of St. John and all the counties along the river in that section-felt that our interests were sacrificed by the adoption of the Robinson route: and we are told today that we are responsible because the

route was not a commercial success. We are not responsible. The selection was made from a military point of view, and but for that consideration the Robinson route would never have been adopted. Hon. gentlemen may talk as they please, but those who remember the discusions before confederation and in the first session of parliament after confederation, will admit, I am sure, that the arguments were overwhelming in favour first, of the frontier route, as it was called, and secondly, the central route as a compromise. We have been told by hon. gentlemen, in this debate, and by a newspaper which has been cautiously discussing this scheme, in its issue of the 15th of August, that the central portion of New Brunswick is an impassable section of country. More than that, some hon. members have said that it is a worthless country, not worth developing. I do not feel that I have any great cause of complaint against these hon. gentlemen, because the hon. ex-Min-istey of Railways (Hon. Mr. Blair), the one representative in the cabinet from our province, has indicated in his speech that the road will pass through a country difficult and almost worthless, leaving out the better portions which are settled. Now, Mr. Speaker, so far as the position of the hon. ex-Minister of Railways is concerned, I have been a friend, politically speaking, of that hon. gentleman for a great many years. I supported him as the leader of a coalition government in our province, which lasted for years to the satisfaction of both parties in the province. I supported him then while he was a Liberal, as I have supported him while he was a minister in the present government. I have no desire to say one word that would be offensive to that hon. gentleman or his many friends. But I have a right to say this, that when the hon. gentleman, who represents the province of New Brunswick in the cabinet, gave the reasons why he retired from the government and condemned this policy-and I say it in all candour and in all honour-that I have not yet heard any reason given by that hon. gentleman that satisfies me that it was the reason which induced him to take that step. The hon. gentleman himself, in discussing this question, has taken the ground, as have all the newspapers which have attacked this scheme, that the weak point in it is the eastern extension of the line from Quebec to Moncton. Why, it was first assailed as the result of piratical efforts on the part of the maritime members; and if we find ourselves weak in that respect, it is because the hon. ex-Minister of Railways has given strength to that argument. But we are only weak because arguments which have no foundation in fact are used against that part of the scheme. The hon. member for South Lanark (Hon. Mr. Haggart). who always speaks as a practical man, and who has himself had a large experience as Minister of Railways-though he sometimes speaks

without being sure of his facts-stated his objections to the extension of that eastern section from Quebec to Moncton. First, he stated that it would merely be a parallel road-that for the first 100 miles after leaving Ldvis it would not be more than fifteen miles from the Intercolonial Railway at any one point. I am sure that if the hon. gentleman will look into the facts, he will be the first to see that he has made a mistake. At no point after the road leaves Chau-diere Junction will it be within double that distance of the Intercolonial until it passes that point in Maine so often referred to on the St. Francis river. From that point it increases the distance until it more than doubles and trebles it, and, as was well stated by the Prime Minister, it passes through a country which is quite inaccessible by the Intercolonial, and is separated from it by that range of mountains which in fact has been used a$ an argument against the construction of this road-as if this road would cross over those mountains. We do not generally build railways over mountains. If these ridges were impassable mountains, with no breaks or natural valleys in them, I would admit that there was something in that argument. But nature has solved the problem. Do you think you are going to traverse the Rocky Mountains with a railway because it is said they are insuperable and you cannot build a practicable line over them ? That is true, but nature has solved that problem in many cases. You have the Kicking Horse pass, the Yellow Head pass, the Pine River pass, the Peace River pass. The wTaters in that pass rise wfithin 125 miles of the Pacific coast. Its waters rise in the hills and flow eastward through thousands of square miles of that territory, which lies beyond the Rocky Mountains, and find their passage through the main range of the Rocky Mountains, continue on eastward forming the Peace river, thence to Athabaska and Greater Slave lakes and into the Mackenzie river, and on to the Arctic ocean. That is on account of the natural formation there, and the question of grades does not arise at all. Other passes are south of that.

I listened to the hon. gentleman from North Victoria (Mr. Hughes), a gentleman who has attained such a reputation for his military capacities, who has such high ideals, if not great ambitions, in that direction, who excels in everything he undertakes; and he produced the most wonderful results by merely glancing over the country. I am sure he never travelled all the country he has spoken of, but everywhere he went through that portion of New Brunswick and up through Quebec, as he travelled in his imagination along that route- because he never actually travelled over it-the hills and mountains were rolling around him and getting higher and higher, until it was a question to my mind which Hon. Mr. COSTIGAN.

was the most elevated-these mountain peaks or the hon. gentleman himself.

Topic:   IS, 1903
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