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