Matthew Kendal RICHARDSON

RICHARDSON, Matthew Kendal

Personal Data

Grey South (Ontario)
Birth Date
August 14, 1839
Deceased Date
November 5, 1917

Parliamentary Career

November 7, 1900 - September 29, 1904
  Grey South (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 4)

May 19, 1904

Mr. M. K. RICHARDSON (South Grey).

I have an amendment to offer with respect to the rate of interest to be paid as a rental by the Grand Trunk Pacific for the use of the eastern section under this agreement. While it is quite specifically defined in this agreement that the lease shall be at the rate of 3 per cent on the total cost to the country of the construction of the road, we are left at sea as to what that cost will amount to to the country. We know that the money for its construction will have to be borrowed, and yet even with the conditions the best that have ever been known Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

in Canada, money cannot be borrowed at that rate, and it is not conceivable that when the Canadian government enters into such a huge speculation, shall I call it, as the building of this road, taking into consideration all its conditions and all its probabilities, Canadian credit is likely to improve to such an extent that money will be procurable at a lower rate than it is to-day ; the probabilities apj)ear rather to be in the opposite direction. It is not likely that for years to come at any rate we shall be able under the very best conditions to borrow money at 3 per cent, which is the rate fixed at which the Grand Trunk shall pay for the road. I offer all amendment to it as follows, seconded by the hon. member for North Grey (Mr. Thomson) :

Notwithstanding anything in this Act or in the Act amended, or in the scheduled agreements contained, the rental to be paid by the Pacific Company in respect of the eastern division under the lease thereof shall be payable half-yearly and shall not be less than the average rate of interest payable from time to time upon the moneys borrowed by the government for the construction of the eastern division.

In offering this amendment I am fully conscious of the fact that having already come under the consideration of this parliament it is not likely to be carried now, but we on this side of the House feel it our duty to emphatically and as clearly as we can, place ourselves on record as to what our views are on this very important arrangement which has been entered into between the government of Canada, the people of Canada and the Grand Trunk Railway Company. This apparently insignificant difference between 3 per cent and 3* per cent which is the best rate at which we can procure money, totals up a very large item on the total cost of the road, and for the whole period for which the Grand Trunk will have the privilege of practically owning it for the nominal payment of a rental. It does seem a reasonable and fair thing that the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company should pay at least as much rental as the government has to pay for the money which they borrow. Taking into consideration all the privileges that are granted to this company and all the advantages that are given to them under this contract, in the original contract and in the improved conditions which they have got under the amendments which have been suggested and added thereto by the Grand Trunk themselves, it seems to me that this apparently small concession should be made by that company. It may seem small, but it is a very important one, running up into millions of dollars. It is estimated by the great railway expert of this country, that there is a difference of some $18,000,000, possibly more than that under the improved conditions in favour of the Grand Trunk Railway Company, and therefore it seems that they should be compelled to

pay for the rental of the eastern division at least at the same rate of interest that it would cost the country to borrow the money for the extension. .

Then, Sir, while the provision is made in the contract that the rental is to be paid over to the government annually at a certain time of the year it would be but reasonable that being in possession of the road continually and deriving revenue from it constantly they should at least pay that interest half yearly. This would be an important difference to the exchequer and a provision of this kind should we think be embodied in the Bill. If this is not adopted at least we shall have the satisfaction of knowing that we have asked from the government on behalf of the people of Canada that which seems to be a reasonable and fair thing, and one which should be conceded in all fairness to the country in view of the extensive . privileges granted to the Grand Trunk Pacific in respect to this part of the contract. In asking the concession of these two points, the payment of rental half yearly and the payment of a rate of interest at least equivalent to the average cost to the country of the borrowed money, we are simply asking what should be done in justice to the people of Canada. As I said before we may not succeed in having these amendments carried, but we feel that tlie country should know that we as representatives of various sections of Canada have been voicing our views of what is fair and just, and we believe that in doing so we are voicing the opinions of the mass of the electors who are behind us and to whom we have to give an account of our stewardship. We believe that these very reasonable amendments will meet with the approval and the endorsation of the mass of the people who think on these matters irrespective of any political bias which they may have. Therefore, I would submit this amendment to the House without any further discussion.

Mr. FITZPATRICK, In reference to this amendment as well as to that moved by my hon. friend from East Hastings (Mr. Northrup) I beg to say that my hon. friend the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) who is especially charged with the financial arrangements of the government, dealt with that question from the financial standpoint in committee, and I should prefer to echo here merely what he said at that time and assume that what he said would be the answer for the government if he were present at this time.

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May 11, 1904

Mr. M. K. RICHARDSON (South Grey).

I do not feel it a very pleasant task to be compelled to say anything which might be calculated to accentuate the growing feeling of antagonism between the farmers and pro ducers of this country and the large railway corporations ; and that such a condition does exist no one who has his eyes and ears open can fail to recognize. I believe it is incumbent upon us in this parliament not to say anything unnecessarily that will intensify that feeling. It is only right that the people of Canada should recognize that foreign capital invested in the building of railroads has not been invested upon sentimental principles, and that railroads are not run for philanthropic purposes, hut on business principles. At the same time, at the close of a winter which has been of such an abnormally severe character, it is an inopportune time for the Grand Trunk Railway Company to come before the Railway Commission and make the proposition that they intend to increase their freight rates, to the great detriment of the farmers of this country. It is true, perhaps, that the railroads have been put to extraordinary expenses in keeping their connections open during the past winter, but there are at the same time thousands of business men throughout Ontario who have lost the profits on their business, and there are thousands of men

throughout Canada to-day who are embarrassed as a result of these same conditions. It should not be lost sight of that the Grand Trunk Railway Company, for a year before the beginning of this exceptional winter, were giving a very inferior service in Ontario, so that taking ail things into consideration a worse time could not he found in which to impose more onerous conditions on the business community. It would seem as though the Grand Trunk Railway had said : If this company loses because of abnormal climatic conditions, or if the Ontario government think it well to increase taxation on railways, we will take good care that we shall not lose anyway, but that we will make -the public pay for it in the shape of increased freight rates. Canada has granted more aid in the shape of money and land grants for the development of railway communication than has a-ny other country in the world. The people of this country have to a large extent taxed themselves for the building of these roads, and those who invested their private capital in the enterprise should recognize that if exceptional conditions arise, and if their profits are reduced, they have to take their chances on that score. If the shareholders have had their dividends reduced, it must not be forgotten also that the farmers of Ontario have been unable to get their products to the market, and that the business men though being unable to transact business, have suffered corresponding losses.

I would not like to see the feeling of antagonism that exists between the railway corporations and the farmers of this eoun-trv accentuated more than- it is at present. There is a marked and growing feeling today that we are not a self-governing people, but that the country is largely dominated by great railway corporations-that it is being practically sold to them and governed by them. This is an unhappy state of things, and it would be well if to some extent it could be ameliorated. It would be well if the producers would always recognize the fact that money is invested in railway corporations in order to earn dividends, and that that money is not always invested by people of wealth who have abundance and can afford to lose, but that in many cases it is the small capital of people in humble circumstances. Therefore, it is reasonable that over a series of years there should be a fair return for the money invested in the railways of the country ; but for the railway corporations to take advantage of an exceptional season to make a permanent rise of rates is something that will be keenly resented by the people, in view of the liberal grants which they have made in land and in other ways in aid of these railways. There should be some consideration of this by the railway companies themselves. The people of this country are paying a very large share of the cost not only of building these roads, but of maintaining them ;

and the railway companies should not have the power to dominate so completely the material interests of the country as practically to put a price on all the products of the country. So that no longer can a man say that he can raise any particular article at a profit, but it is for the railway companies to say whether there shall be any profit left to him or not. This is against the material interests not only of one class of our people, but of the country at large, and therefore it is important that the whole matter should have full and fair consideration in the House and before the country.

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April 26, 1904


If it is the pleasure of the House that I should continue, I have still something more to say on this very important subject. It is one that will bear talking about, and the time may come when we will look back, and, if we have a keen interest in the welfare of the country, we may wish that we had said more and had used every argument to prevent an unwise bargain being carried out. We appeal again to the government not to press the matter at this juncture with the scanty information it possesses as to the territory through which it is proposed to build the road. There are many other reasons. One thing was brought out in the debate very markedly, and it seems to be growing upon the intelligent thought of the community, that the time has come when we should give serious consideration to the idea of the government taking control of the large services of the country especially that of railway transportation.

I believe the feeling is widespread that even with respect to the smaller franchises, and that is quite evident with regard to the franchises in our cities, we should have


corporate ownership, for the people, in the interests of the people, for the profit of the people, ownership of all franchises, whether they relate to telegraphs, telephone communication, water, light and all these other various things that are controlled largely by companies at present; and above everything else that the government of the country should control the railway systems, at least that this government should build, own and administer a great railway for the benefit of the people in such a manner that if a profit can be made out of it that profit shall accrue to the people. This country can now undertake such a great work fit a time when our credit is so good-and we may favourably contrast the attitude of the present opposition on the subject of Canada's credit with the attitude of the Liberal opposition when the Canadian Pacific Railway was being built. No man on this side of the House has done anything in any wav to discredit Canada either at home or abroad ; no man has written a line that would Injure the credit of Canada, no man has spoken a word that would reduce the good standing of this country in the money markets of the world. We have faith in Canada, as much faith as anybody else or any other party. But that is no reason why there should be this irresistible haste for the construction of this road. That is no reason for plunging the country into the waste which must result from going into a scheme like this without any adequate knowledge. That has been well pointed out by Mr. Blair, the government expert, that gentleman who is credited by the government. We have nothing to say against him. He is a man who, from his experience, from his intelligence, from his attention to these matters, is capable of giving an intelligent judgment on a matter of this sort, and he points out very well that this scheme is one that might end in dire disaster to this country ; and if it does, if it goes to that point, the present generation will not live to see us rid of the results. It will hang like a cloud on the prospects of this country for two or more generations to come. The government should give further consideration to this scheme, they' should get more accurate knowledge of the territory through which it is proposed to build this road, and they should not attempt to build faster than the absolute requirements of the country will warrant them. Wre must not lose sight of the fact that we have an immense area of country fit for settlement that is already supplied with railways, and in which there ale yet only scanty settlements. These areas ought to be filled up before other large aieas are attempted to be opened, areas of which little is known and where settlers may be encouraged to go in only to meet with disaster. If this scheme has the result of settling up sections of this country which aie not fit for settlement, it will militate against not only that region itself but Mr. RICHARDSON.

against Canada as a whole, and will be used by our neighbours across the line to our detriment. We ought first to direct our attention to bringing in settlers for the lands already fit for settlement, instead of making dangerous experiments and bringing settlers into a country half way between here and the North Pole, a country we know practically nothing about. I hope this policy will appeal to the good sense of the government, because I give them credit with having some good sense if they would only use it, and that they will pause before plunging Canada into such an enormous expenditure on such very scanty information as they possess at present.

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April 26, 1904

Mr. M. K. RICHARDSON (South Grey).

The hour being somewhat late, I would move the adjournment of the debate. .

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April 26, 1904


Although I ventured to speak on this subject once before this session, and although there have been a large number of speakers since that time,

I feel to-night that the subject is one which is arousing increased interest in the country and in this House. It is quite pleasing to us on this side to see the effect this debate is Laving in the House, as shown by the vote that was taken a short time

ago, and I believe that the more the subject is discussed and the more light there is thrown upon it, the more opportunity the public have of investigating it, the more public sentiment will take the turn the House is taking and that the public will say we are going a little too fast in this matter. It has been said again and again that it is a very important subject. and its importance will justify the lengthened debate which has taken place upon it. It is one of the most important matters which has been brought before the public since confederation. I venture to say that no subject of equal public importance has ever attempted to be put through the House by force as is being done in this case, without the electors at large having some opportunity of expressing themselves upon it. It has been sprung upon the electors and they are only now, through the medium of the newspaper press and other means, obtaining a little opportunity to look into it. I feel satisfied that the more light there is thrown upon the subject the less chance there is of this measure being carried with the consent of the electorate of the country. We on this side of the House are not opposed to expenditure for the development of this country. We have as much faith in the future of Canada as any one on the other side of the House. If we may judge from our history in the past we may claim that we have always had more faith in the future of Canada than has been possessed by the party on the government side of the House. However. we are pleased to note the growing feeling, the growing sense of loyalty to Canada, which is even permeating the ranks of the great Reform party of Canada. It is not matter of congratulation to us on tliis side of the House to see any spirit contrary to that. We believe in the development of Canada and in any reasonable expenditure, provided it is a wise expenditure, for that development. The enormous sum which is proposed to be added to the public debt of Canada is not the sole or the main objection that we have to this scheme which is being forced through the House. We are prepared for expenditure, having faith in the future of this country and having faith that at no distant period we will require extensive development and extension of railways in the west and a better transportation system than we have at present. There are abundant opportunities and avenues for expending money. The most important question we have to deal with in Canada to-day is, as has been often said, transportation. But it is not necessary that there should be any undue haste in this matter. It does not follow that we should rush unwisely into enormous debt and expenditure but rather that we should be sure we are right and then be prepared to go ahead. That is a good motto to use in

individual life, aud in small enterprises ; it is a good motto to adopt for the administration of the affairs of a young country like Canada. The mountains of information which were to have been brought before us have dwindled down to very small, almost invisible mole hills. It is evident that we are very lacking in the information which we should have before entering on a scheme such as this. We are delighted to know that we have in the great Northwest such a magnificent area for the production of cereals ; that we have what is now commonly termed, not only here on this continent, but in Europe as well, tiie granary of the world. We are delighted with this, hut there is no need on that account that we should rush into unwise expenditure. We have been going steadily in that regard. A very large amount of mileage is now under contract and construction for the development of the country. To build railways into areas which are not at all settled at present, for which there could be no local traffic, is to say the least an unwise expenditure, especially when we see that we already have a country served with railways either built or under construction that would provide homes for per- * haps five times as many people as are now settled there. It would he much better for the interest of the country and much to the advantage of the settlers, that settlement should he of a regular consecutive character, where railways have been already constructed and where lands are available for settlement either on free grant or reasonable terms in order that the settlers may have municipal government, social life and all the advantages which flow from these conditions. If anything is said depreciating any particular section of Canada we know that it is regarded as a sad thing to give a black eye to that part of the country, but it is of much greater importance that we should see that no attempt is made in bringing in settlers to place them in districts not suitable for settlement, where they cannot eke out a reasonable livelihood. Mistakes of that kind have already done infinite damage to Canada. Men have been induced to go into districts where they could not raise crops or even cattle and when these men who were as badly off as if they bad been transported to Tasmania have returned to the old country, their accounts of their experiences have been a very bad advertisement for Canada.

What will they say of Canada as a whole ? They judge of it by the miserable experience they have had in districts not suited for settlement. Hon. gentlemen opposite talk about encouraging colonization in this country between here and the North Pole- north of Quebec and Ontario, in those wilds of which so little is known. I do not think I need tell agaiu the story of that wonderful rose bush discovered some 250 years ago.

I suppose the roses are growing there yet. But that is no guarantee that the country is a fit place for settlement. What we have pointed out all along is that we should have a reasonable knowledge of the country before proceeding to build a railway through it. In the first place there should be a reasonable exploration of it, we should know something about its topography, its climate and all thes matters. Then if the exploratory reports be satisfactory, we should have regular surveys made, before attempting to go into a large railway enterprise such as this, involving such an enormous expenditure. Should this scheme prove a blunder, no one will live long enough to see its worst results. We do not claim that it is a barren country, unfit for settlement, or that it is all rocks or impracticable in its topography for the building of a road, but what we say is that we know nothing about it. We were promised a lot of information, but we have not had one iota added to the meagre, scanty data given us when this House rose last October. If any has been obtained, it lias not been imparted to the House or the country.

Last year we were assured again and again that the bargain was closed, that no suggestion, however good, no amendment, whatever might be its merits, could be received or entertained for one moment, because the agreement had been made with the accredited representatives of the Grand Trunk, and simply required to be ratified by the Company in Great Britain, which ratification was bound to follow. Consequently no amendment could be entertained, no matter how desirable, nothing could be accepted which was not in the bond We were told emphatically that the agreement was of such a character, made with reputable men, with a strong company, of such repute, that there need not be the least doubt of its being carried on their part, and that they would be held to their bargain. My hon. friend the Minister of Finance told us that, if there should be any attempt or any appearance of any attempt not to keep the bargain, the government would find means of holding the company tight to the agreement. But where is that bargain to-day ? We were told that we would be surprised at the very insignificant nature of the changes to be made. We were not told however, that all these changes were to be made in the interests of the Grand Trunk. But when the whole thing is unravelled and laid before us. what do we find ? Not a word to our advantage. Not a word which will strengthen the guarantees placed in that agreement to protect the rights and privileges of this country. But we find every word in the interest of the Grand Trunk Railway. It seems as if in some way we cannot fully understand the government were tied to the Grand Trunk Railway. We cannot understand why we should

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