Mr. ROCH LANCTOT (Laprairie-Napier-ville):
Mr. Speaker, the resolution proposed by the hon. Prime Minister in order to give aid -by granting the Canadian Northern railway the sum of $45,000,000 is so important that I thought I would fail in my duty as representing the electors of Laprairie-Napierville,. did I not express my views on this question.
I must say, first, that I shall not speak at great length. I shall insist but very little upon discussing the report submitted to us after being prepared by the employees of the Canadian Northern railway and also by Messrs. Mackenzie and Mann, the parties mo-st interested. Mr. Speaker, X wonder why the Government did not take as much precaution in the case of the Canadian Northern railway as it did in the inquiry which it made on the- construction of the National Transcontinental railway. And why did this Government take such precaution as regards the inquiry held by Messrs. Gutelius and Staunton? Not because they wished to know whether the country should continue that enterprise, but merely in order to find out whether the people's money had been spent honestly by the commission 'appointed by the -former Government to build the National Transcontinental railway. That report as laid on the table of the House states that $140,000,000 (have been spent and that not a cent of that sum was converted to the personal benefit of the members of that commission. It is said, in that report that
the road costs too much, that we should have built it for less, that everything is first-class, but that we should have built wooden bridges; in fine, that we should have built a second-class or a third-class road, and, that we should, after a few years, have -done like the Canadian Pacific railway people, who are now replacing wooden bridges by iron bridges, and 60-pound rails by 85-pound rails.
Is it not true, Mr. Speaker, that the commission has acted, in all this, according to the agreement passed in 1903, between the Government and the Grand Trunk railway? This road has cost more than the Government of that time thought it would; but we all know why there was an increase in the cost, it is because there was an increase in the price of materials, in the price of labour, etc. One must also consider the fact that the part of the line which extends from Quebec to Cochrane runs through a district- which is uninhabited; that; as regards some parts, the nature of the soil must be taken into account, that, here and there, mountains had to be cut through, mountains of solid rock, even; that immense lakes had to be crossed over; and that, furthermore, the contractors had to carry the materials necessary to do that work. I say, then, that the cost of that road cannot be taken as a basis for a comparison as to the cost of the Canadian Northern railway. Considering, moreover, the quality of the Transcontinental as compared with that of the Canadian Northern railway, which is, after all, but a -colonization road and a road built with -a view to earning subsidies in many a case, no reasonable comparison can be made as between those two enterprises.
Mark you, Mr. Speaker, I am not casting any blame on the Government for having inquired into the construction of the Transcontinental. On the contrary, I am glad that they have done so, and this enables me to tell you that if the Government can be justified for having spent some hundred thousand dollars in order to know whether they could find some fault with the former Administration, they would be justified a hundred-fold if they made a complete inquiry under oath on everything connected with the construction of the C. N. R., before asking this House to vote $45,000,000. Such an inquiry would put the Government in a position to submit to this House and to the people of this country a report showing where we stand and what amount is required to complete that railway. It is quite the reverse. What does the Govern-
ment say? That this road costs more than was anticipated, that there has been an increase in the price of materials and of labour. Mr. Speaker, I am surprised to hear such statements on the ipart of the horn. Postmaster General, of the Solicitor General and of the Minister of Finance. When the report made by Messrs. Gutelius and Staunton was discussed in the House, did they use that kind of argument, and while admitting that the Transcontinental had cost too much, did they explain as they are now doing with respect to the Canadian Northern railway, what was the cause of it? No, Sir, that report was intended for casting discredit on the former Administration, that is all.
The hon. Solicitor General, the mover of this resolution declares that the Canadian Northern railway cannot go on with their enterprise. By-the-way, I must congratulate the Postmaster General upon having so wisely chosen the present Solicitor General. If tbJat hon. gentleman does but very little work for his country he does a good deal for his party, either by preparing reports against the former Administration or by getting the House to swallow legislation which is not in the interest of the people, but in the interest of certain private individuals, and in this line does the Solicitor General excel.
Mr. Speaker, I am a farmer by trade. I do not claim that I can discuss this question with the hon. Solicitor General from the standpoint of all the craft which could be resorted to by a cunning lawyer, but I wish to discuss it with you for a few moments from a business standpoint, as it should be discussed.
In 1884, the directors of the Canadian Pacific railwiay wanted government help and what was the position taken by the Government of that time? The Government exacted from the directors that they should make themselves responsible for the full value and then the Government was the second endorser. And how could they do otherwise? Is it not a fiact that he who endorses notes right and left and does not look to the solvency of the makers, is, in most cases, called upon to pay those notes? This enterprise was started in 1896 by Mackenzie and Mann. What were these gentlemen in 1896? Not very ribh men, were they? Today, they are rich and they are presumed to be the wealthiest men in Canada. In what line of business did they make their fortune? They made it as contractors, in the construction of the Canadian Northern railway. Those funds have not been used for the
benefit of the Canadian Northern railway, but they were invested in private enterprises such as the Toronto Street railway, the electric railway which runs from Niagara Falls to Toronto, the Winnipeg Electric railway, coal mines, petroleum wells, timber limits in British Columbia. They own millions of acres of land everywhere in the country. I am told that these gentlemen possess a personal wealth in Canada, in the United States and in Mexico, of one hundred million dollars at least.
Such being the case, Sir, I wonder why this government does not exact from these gentlemen that they should become first indorsers, as was exacted by the government of Canada, in 1884, from the directors of the Canadian Pacific Railway, that is, while the government of Canada would) guarantee the balance if the personal property of these gentlemen were not sufficient to pay that balance. In 1884, the government would have been called upon to pay the balance only. In the present case, if the government demanded that the personal property of Mackenzie and Mann should be put in as a first class guarantee, I would not object, as far .as I am concerned, to this government being second endorser.
Here is the reason why I am opposed to this resolution. Last year, the Minister of Finance asked this House for $15,000,000 to complete the road and this was to be a final grant. This year we are asked three times as much, and the report now before us shows that it will take $100,000,000 more to complete this same road.
I believe, sir, that this main line, called a new transcontinental will never be operated at a profit for the following reasons: First, this line is not built in such a way as to facilitate the running of heavy trains loaded with wheat from the West, because the grades are too steep, and then, the road as it is built cannot compete to any advantage against the existing lines, that is, the Canadian Pacific Railway and Grand Trunk Pacific, moreover, Sir, I am satisfied that the object of Mackenzie and Mann is not to operate that railway system themselves, but to draw from it as much profit as possible, in their personal interest. I find the proof of this in the fact that the government does not demand these gentlemen's personal guarantee and I am sure that Mackenzie and Mann would have refused it if it had been demanded.
As I said a moment ago, Mackenzie and Mann own millions even in Mexico, as was asserted by the British Vice-Consul at Monterey, in an interview which he gave the reporter of the ' Ottawa Evening Journal'
Topic: CANADIAN NORTHERN RAILWAY AGREEMENT.