April 15, 1903

LIB

John Charlton

Liberal

Mr. JOHN CHARLTON (North Norfolk).

Mr. Speaker, I was just on tbe point of rising when tbe premier rose, and I presume that tbe government desire, now that this question is before tbe House, that tbe views of members should be expressed, where members hold views on the question. The statement made by the right hon. leader of the House, that a company had been chartered, and that the demands of that company on the government for aid have been of a character that the government could not accede to, leads me to believe, as I always have believed, that if the construction of the Georgian Bay canal is to be undertaken, it will hardly be done by a company. The state of New York, as we are aware, has just appropriated $101,000,000 for the enlargement of the Erie canal. This is done as a state work. It is done for the purpose of cheapening the cost of transportation and securing for the great seaport of New York the business of the west. The Panama canal was undertaken by a company, and that company failed, and that canal is now being constructed by the United States government. A work of the character of the Georgian Bay canal is one which I think we can scarcely anticipate will be constructed by a company ; and it is better for us to face the question with the point in view whether there are reasons which would warrant the government in undertaking this work. We are confronted with transportation problems of vast magnitude. One shrinks almost appalled at the money needs of the near future for the opening up and development of the north-west, the settlement and production of which will increase rapidly ; and if we are to keep pace with that settlement and production we must provide ample trans-portatiou facilities.

With regard to the construction of a canal to Lake Nipissing, I have never looked with favour on that project, unless it were to be taken up as a part of the general project of a Georgian Bay canal. I could not see the force of establishing a seaport on Lake Nipissing. It would benefit the Canadian Pacific Railway, of course : but as a project standing by itself, I could not see that it would be good for the country, while as a part of the general scheme of a Georgian Bay canal, it would of course be commendable.

We can scarcely comprehend the prospective transportation needs of the north-west. Our American friends are fully alive to the probable increase of business to be derived in the near future from that vast region ; and the enlargement of the Erie canal simply means that the United States intend to compete for that trade, and to compete for it under conditions more favourable to success than exist at the present time. It is proposed to enlarge that canal to a depth of 12 feet, making it a barge canal. One of the most reliable experts on canal construction is Major Simons, who has charge of the construction works at Buffalo ; and that gentleman, in an exhaustive report made a year or so ago, took the ground that a barge canal to the Hudson river, capable of passing vessels of 1,000 tons burden, would be more economical than a ship canal of 21 feet of water. He stated that a vessel capable of navigating the great lakes must, when entering the canal, reduce her speed to one-fifth of her speed on the lakes, while keeping her whole crew. By a carefully prepared tabulated statement he arrived at the conclusion that the barge canal would serve the purposes of transportation better and cheaper from the lakes to New York, while the handling of the grain by elevating it from vessels to barges was calculated to put it through to its destination in better condition.

In view of this position taken by Major Simons, and in view of the fact that after careful consideration for years the state of New York has adopted his views and will construct this barge canal, if the referendum on that subject results favourably, we must see the propriety of examining carefully into the reasons which have led to the adoption of this course. If we were to construct a barge canal of 12 or 14 feet of water from the waters of Lake Huron to the St. Lawrence river, the grain of the west would then be shipped to the mouth of the French river; from that point it would be put through by barges to Montreal or Quebec, and there elevated to elevators and transferred to ocean going vessels. If the reasons which have led to the determination to construct a barge canal in the state of New York are well founded, the same reasons will apply to the construction of a canal by the Ottawa valley. These are points that require careful consideration, for we are confronted by a problem of great magnitude and involving the interests of that vast country to the west, the very heart and seat of power of this Dominion. We want to approach this question, not in a party spirit at all, but from a business standpoint, and give to it the consideration which its importance requires. There is one consideration that has had much to do with the proposed enlargement to the Erie canal- the question of competitive rates and the regulation of rates. The Erie canal is to be constructed, not because the railways cannot transport the produce of the west, but for the purpose of regulating rates and preventing a combination for the purpose of taking from the producers exorbitant freights. The same reasons would apply to the construction of the Ottawa river canal, the source of whose business would be derived from the waters of the great lakes, from Duluth, from Chicago, from

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Fort William, from the wheat fields of the north-west, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. There would be low vessel rates to the mouth of French river, and barge canal rates from that point to Montreal or Quebec. A low rate of freight would be held over the competing railways not as a menace, but as a condition of things that would compel them to give vastly lower rates than they would give if this competition did not exist. We want to divert that trade to our own ports of Montreal and Quebec. I have always believed that Quebec was the true competitive point to aim at in sending our grain to the seaboard.

For these reasons, I believe that this question should receive exhaustive consideration and discussion. The government naturally have no policy on this question. It is not a party question. The government are asking in the first place what the wishes of the country are, and in the second place what the interests of the country are, and the decision of the government will natur-aly be determined by the answers to these questions. The day has not yet arrived for asking what the policy of the government is with regard to the Ottawa valley canal, but it is a good time to discuss the question. We want to accumulate the data on which we can, later on, found our decision with regard to this matter. My own. belief is that we must make up our minds to confront very great expenditures ; we must make up our minds to draw upon the future. We must enter into obligations which the future must discharge, obligations for the benefit of the future, for the benefit of the untold millions who will people the north-west, but who, without transportation facilities will not people the northwest with the rapidity that will characterize the filling up of that country if those facilities are provided. And these great expenditures, vast as they may seem, if made honestly and with due regard to economy, will bring an adequate, a rich reward. I rose to present these few remarks upon this question because I feel, and feel very deeply, that the government now in power desire to consult the interests of the people, desire to do that which the requirement of the future demand, yet, at the same time, naturally shrink from undertaking vast obligations, and wish to be satisfied first that the demands of the country require that these obligations shall be incurred and that the expenditures will be justified by the results.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   OTTAWA AND GEORGIAN BAY CANAL.
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LIB

Aaron Abel Wright

Liberal

Mr. A. A. WRIGHT (South Renfrew).

The position in regard to this matter is one which should be discussed and thoroughly understood before we go any further. It should be understood that we are not asking the government to appropriate a large sum of money for the construction of this canal. What we ask is that a proper survey shall

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LIB

John Charlton

Liberal

Mr. CHARLTON.

be made of the whole route, that we may know with reasonable exactness what the work will cost before we undertake it. We believe this is one of the greatest routes on the continent for the transportation of the products of the North-west to the seaboard If that is the case, the country should have knowledge of that fact; and, if the cost will be too great for our means, we ought to know it in good time. The state of New York, one state alone, is preparing to spend $101,000,000 to improve the Erie canal. If they take the matter so seriously, surely we should do the same with regard to this great water route through our country. If we can shorten the route to the seaboard by 340 miles, as I believe we can, surely that is something that we should know and understand; but, if the cost of construction is to be too great, we ought to know that also. We contend that this is not properly a canal, it is merely the construction of a certain number of locks, the work of this character to be done covering a distance of fifteen miles. There are thirty miles altogether, but in reality fifteen miles is already constructed and in operation, and the construction of the other fifteen miles would shorten the distance from Chicago and Fort William to tlie seaboard by no less than 340 miles. That is a most important item. There are parties now in the North-west who are face to face with the serious problem of how they are to get their products to market. This canal will greatly increase the facilities for the transportation of those products. It should not be forgotten that the earlier the crop of wheat can be marketed, the more valuable it is. Every month, every week, and even every day that it is retained in the owner's warehouse makes it less valuable, for delay means more shrinkage and more loss in every way. What the people of the North-west want is to get out their crops ns early as they can, in order that they may get the best return for it. We contend that if this canal were constructed, it would materially assist the Canadian Pacific Railway in getting out the crop. The great difficulty with the Canadian Pacific Railway is not that they have not a sufficient number of cars, but that they have not sufficient engine power to take the cars away. Last winter, train after train stood dead on the tracks in the North-west because the road had not the engines to move the cars. It is impossible for the Canadian Pacific Railway to construct the engines fast enough; nor can they purchase them in this country or in the United States. So, we wish to assist them to make the most out of the motive power in their possession. If the Canadian Pacific Railway were to double track their road between Fort William and Winnipeg- and we understand that they have already let the contract for that work-they would tieble their capacity for taking out grain. See what an important thing that is. We do not wish them to use their engines to

bring that grain down to the seaboard but merely to take it to Fort William, where facilities would be provided for taking cheaply to the port of shipment. In that way, we can get vastly larger amounts of grain out of the North-west early in the season than we can get otherwise. Some tell us that the days of canals are past, that canals have done their work, and that to-day nothing but the railway is practically useful in the work of transportation. But the experience of the world goes to show that canals are most valuable in assisting railways to do their work. There is a certain class of traffic which, if the railways handle they must handle it at a very small rate of profit, or, sometimes, almost at a loss. I refer to the carriage of raw material, such as grain, stone, iron, coal and other things of that sort. Now, if this work were done by the canal the railway would be free to carry the freight that Is most profitable. In all cases where canals have run alongside of railways they have been found to be of great assistance to the roads. In fact, railways which were run alongside canals that were not worked have been run without profit, but when the canals were put in shape and began to work, the railways have paid a dividend. The reason is that the canals carried the rougher class of freight on which the railways' profit was little or nothing and they made traffic by building up factories and bringing in people, and so giving the railways more of the better kind of traffic to do. So we say that if this canal were constructed, it would be of great assistance to the railways as well as to the country generally. It is not my intention to go into the subject at greater length, but what I wish is to urge upon the government to take this matter up and give us the desired information, so that we may know the cost of this work and may be able to calculate whether our means will justify us in undertaking it, or whether it is too great for us at present. With the information before us we shall know just what we have to do.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   OTTAWA AND GEORGIAN BAY CANAL.
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LIB

Joseph Israël Tarte

Liberal

Hon. J. ISRAEL TARTE (St. Mary's, Montreal).

Last year, when those who had received a charter at the hands of the late government, applied for its renewal, I made as strong objection as I could. But it was represented to us that there were vested rights, that these men had spent pretty large sums of money in making surveys and trying to organize a company to make the enterprise go. I reluctantly consented to the renewal of their charter. But my colleagues were all of the same mind, after having discussed the question thoroughly, that the French river should be excluded from the charter, and it was. A complete survey of the French river has been made by the department of Public Works. My hon. friend from Pontiac (Mr. Murray) forgot to mention that survey. The engineers of the Department of Public Works deserve a great

deal of credit for the complete, intelligent and thorough survey they have made of the French river-in point of fact it is the only complete and thorough survey that has ever been made. That survey is available with its maps and charts. The report which will be laid on the Table of the House will show that for the small sum-I call it a small sum-of five millions of dollars, the French river can be improved and made a waterway twenty-one feet deep from its mouth to Lake Nipissing. My hon. friend from North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton) said a moment ago that the improvement of the French river should be undertaken only on condition that it would form part of the whole project. There must be a beginning to everything in this world. If we construct this first part it will be the first step towards the completion of the whole great project. There has never been any complete survey of the Ottawa river and nobody knows what will be the cost of that work. I have gone over the Ottawa river, but I am not in a position to say, or even guess, what will be the cost of that great work. It will cost a large amount of money.

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CON
LIB

Joseph Israël Tarte

Liberal

Hon. Mr. TARTE.

I cannot say. I do not like to give figures on questions that neither I nor anybody else has studied thoroughly, but as far as we are able to know, the project-I speak of the canalization of the Ottawa river from Lake Nipissing down-would cost, judging by the information we have, in the neighbourhood of $80,000,000. That is a large amount of money. I do not say that this country has not the means to spend $80,000,000, but I doubt very much whether ave are prepared to do so now. We have so many large enterprises to promote that it is necessary for us to pause when we have to face such a large expenditure. I altogether share the view expressed by my hon. friend from North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton) a moment ago, when he said that the country should undertake itself works of that kind. You can always build railways, there is plenty of room on this Canadian soil to locate railways, but there are only one Ottawa and one French and one St. Lawrence river, and I earnestly urge my right hon. friend, the Prime Minister-who, I may say, has given a great deal of thought and consideration to the views I have often laid before him-not to commit himself to any plan by which the Ottawa river would be made a private enterprise. If that ever should be done, we will have practically no control over it. My hon. friend from North Norfolk has said that if the French river project only be carried out, it will benefit the Canadian Pacific Railway. My hon. friend perhaps has been a little unwise in saying that. It is no use prejudicing the public mind against Canadian enterprises. The people of this country have spent in the neighbourhood of one hundred

million dollars to build the Canadian Pacilic Railway. We bare built that railway ourselves. It has rendered us immense service. There are few works of waterways improvements that will not benefit the railways. Where would we be to-day if we had not the Grand Trunk Railway and the Canada Atlantic Railway and their ports on the lakes ? Midland is a great port to-day because the Grand Trunk Railway has its terminal there. Depot Harbour is a great port also because it is a terminal of the Canada Atlantic Railway. It would be the easiest thing in the world to build another railway paralleling the Canadian Pacific Railway to North Bay if necessary. We have plenty of area to do so. If the French river project were carried out, it would place Montreal in a better position than New York. From Buffalo to New York by rail are 445 miles ; and from North Bay to Montreal the distance is only 360 miles. It would place the St. Lawrence in a better position to handle the western trade than the route via Buffalo and New York and other American ports. Let us open as many avenues of trade as we can within our means and we will not have too many. It is no use in my saying more to-day, but before I take my seat let me beg again the right hon. gentleman, who has all the responsibility of the government of this country to-day, not to alienate great national property for the benefit of promoters. We have been giving too much to promoters. Let us keep at least the control of our national properties- national properties that we cannot duplic-cate. We can build other railways, but let me say again we cannot have another Ottawa river. To give the Ottawa river to a private corporation would be just as bad as if we were to give up our canals. It is represented that our canals do not pay. For my part, I am surprised that they have done so well. We have not equipped them, we have done nothing at both ends of our canals. Let us equip our canals. We are doing that now. but doing it pretty slowly. When the St. Lawrence is equipped as it should be, when our canals are equipped ; when we have harbour facilities as we should have at Quebec, Three Rivers, Montreal, Port Colborne, we will see what advantages we will then enjoy. Railways cannot carry the trade of tiie country in the summer in competition with waterways. It is very important indeed that such questions as this should be always discussed without party bias. As my hon. friend from North Norfolk says, this is not a party question, but an undertaking of national import.

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Subtopic:   OTTAWA AND GEORGIAN BAY CANAL.
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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. JOHN IIAGGART (South Lanark).

It is not my intention to go fully into the question at present before the House. Every member of this House, who has been here a couple of years, knows my views on the subject. I believe that the undertaking which is advocated by my hon. friend from Pontiac (Mr. Murray) is one of the most Hon. Mr. TARTE.

important in the interests of Canada that ever was propounded before this House. I have not altered my views on the subject. If we are ever to become a great nation, if Montreal is to become the great port nature intended it to be, and if our country is to receive the development it deserves, it depends upon the people themselves; and one of the most important undertakings to achieve that desired result is the building of the canal advocated by my hon. friend from Pontiac. I never had any other view on tiie subject. The undertaking is one which must some time be done, in the interests not only of this country but of the whole population surrounding the great lakes to the west of us. There is no use talking, it is proved mathematically, it is beyond all doubt that carriage by water is cheaper than carriage by rail. There is no probability in the future that that will be overcome. We are placed then in a position where we undoubtedly have the advantage in the carrying of the immense products of the west to the east. These must eventually pass over our territory, and it depends entirely on our people themselves whether we shall secure all that trade in our generation or leave that to be done by future generations. I am not going to discuss the question fully to-day, because probably a better opportunity will come later. I intend to go fully again into the question when the government announce its policy with regard to the commission for the purpose of inquiring into the transportation question. I think perhaps that that will be the better time to discuss the subject now before us. But we have the important announcement from the right hon. gentleman who leads the government that several propositions have been made by a company for the purpose of building this undertaking from the Georgian Bay to the port of Montreal, and that they were unreasonable and that the papers will be brought down and will justify the action of the government. He is favourable to the scheme as propounded by the ex-Minister of Public Works, and says it is a necessity for the country to complete the canal from Georgian Bay to Lake Nipissing. That may be the commencement of a great undertaking, but it would not be, in my opinion-and I have read all the articles on the subject-worth the expenditure of a single cent if the undertaking were to be completed in the manner proposed by the hon. member for Norfolk. He stated that big vessels can be carried on a twelve-foot navigation cheaper than on a twenty-one-foot navigation. The navigation of the western lakes by American boats down to Buffalo is on a twenty-foot navigation. The proposition of the exMinister of Public Works is the correct one, namely, the continuation of a channel of that depth of water down to Montreal, or, if we are going to use Lake Nipissing as part of the scheme, to have a twenty-one-foot navigation as far as Lake Nipissing.

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LIB

Joseph Israël Tarte

Liberal

Hon. Mr. TARTE.

And there are only 61 feet to overcome.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

That is all the difference between the Georgian Bay and Lake Nipissing, a rise of 61 feet. I may remark that I think all through navigation in the future should be made a depth of twenty-one feet, the depth which is adopted as a standard by the Americans between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, and down the St. Mary's river to Buffalo. What an absurdity it would be to load boats at Port Arthur, bring them down to the mouth of the French river, reload them into barges drawing twelve feet of water, and carry them up a few miles to and through Lake Nipissing, then unload them again on a railway and carry them to Montreal. The case needs only to be stated to show its absurdity. The reason that our navigation on the St. Lawrence has not been utilized, up to the present time, to the extent it should be, is simply the fact that all vessels loading on the great lakes of the west are built for a navigation different from that which we have adopted on the St. Lawrence river. If we are to divert that traffic from the west to the east through our own waters, we must have a navigation the same as theirs. Perhaps I am going too fully into the subject.

I may say that I was gratified with the statement of the Prime Minister. He sees the importance of constructing that work. He agrees with the ex-Minister of Public Works as to the importance of extending the navigation into Lake Nipissing. The reason he rejected the proposal of the company was on account of its unreasonableness ; but he is prepared to consider, and perhaps enter into, an arrangement with a company that offers a more reasonable proposition. I am not going to discuss the question which the ex-Minister of Public Works has raised as to whether it would be better in the interests of the country that the government should retain absolute control of the canals, or whether it would be better to enter into some favourable arrangement with a company for the purpose of building that work up to Lake Nipissing. That is a question which should be considered entirely upon its merits. Some of the most important canals, doing the largest business in the world, are owned by companies, and that fact does not interfere with the benefit of the nations who are users of those canals. Possibly the company's proposition was an unreasonable one ; possibly we should adopt the argument of the exMinister of Public Works, who says that we should not part with any of our franchises in the manner that it is proposed to give them to companies. But that is beside the great project itself. I believe a Georgian Bay canal will do more for the development of this section of the country than any other scheme that has been proposed. I am in favour of its extension to Montreal. I am cosmopolitan enough to 42

favour the scheme that was propounded by the Hon. John Young, when lie was a member of this House for Montreal, who advocated the extension of that canal, with a depth of twenty-one feet, to the city of New York. He was of the opinion that that scheme, besides benefiting New York, would benefit this country and benefit particularly the port of Montreal. My hon. friend from Pontiac (Mr. Murray) says he does not expect to live to see this undertaking completed ; for myself, I hope to live at least to see it commenced. I believe that the future of this country depends greatly on the development of the natural advantages which we possess for the carriage from the west to the east of the immense quantity of products which is bound from year to year to increase.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. S. SPROULE (East Grey).

The hon. member who has just taken his seat made one statement with which I cordially agree, that if that canal was built it would be of immense value to the locality through which it runs. I do not think any one will disagree with that statement. It might be of great value to the country as a whole as a great highway of commerce ; I should neither affirm that nor deny it. But the gigantic undertaking itself is what interests me, in view of the very imperfect knowledge we have of it. Why, we cannot even discuss it intelligently, because we are entirely without any knowledge as to what it would cost the country. We have had that scheme before this House for several years. I remember distinctly that when it was brought before this House for the first time it was contended that the canal could be built and equipped for less than nine million dollars. I believe at that time it was intended to make it with a navigation of eighteen feet. The cost afterwards crept up to $15,000,000. I believe the next time it was discussed in this House we were told that we could have completed an eighteen feet navigation for an expenditure of $15,000,000, provided the country would raise part of the money and that a company could be found to raise the balance, and who would engage to build the work. The estimated cost was afterwards raised to $25,000,000, and it was said that undoubtedly the scheme could be completed for $25,000,000. The next time it was debated in this House the cost still remained an unknown quantity, because we were told that it might be anywhere from $25,000,000 to $60,000,000, but there was no doubt whatever that it could be done for $60,000,000. Now, it must be apparent to this House, as it is to the country, that the parties who are dealing with this scheme know very little about it. They have given us no intelligible data upon which to estimate the cost, of this canal, nor can we judge even approximately what it is likely to cost. The exMinister of Public Works says that we do not know much about it, that we have very

little definite information, but we do believe it would cost at least $80,000,000 to complete it. I have no doubt that next year the estimate will reach $100,000,000.

Now, 1 say that in view of this uncertainty, even if we were confronted by no other difficulties in regard to this undertaking, it behooves us to go slow, to move with great caution, until we get more correct data upon which to estimate the cost of that great undertaking. The lion. ex-Minister of Public Works said in reference to the hon. member for North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton) that he regretted the statement he had made that providing navigation between Georgian Bay and Lake Nipissing, or improving it, would benefit the Canadian Pacific Railway more than anybody else. The hon. ex-Minister said: I regret to see the disposition to

create a prejudice against one of the great Canadian enterprises. It is not, in my judgment, with any desire to create a prejudice against that Canadian enterprise, but what I understood the hon. member for North Norfolk to intimate was that if the expenditure took place as contemplated last year it would be of more benefit to the Canadian Pacific Railway than it would be to the Canadian people. Therefore, he was justified in drawing attention to the matter. If the undertaking is engaged in under any consideration, it ought to be for one purpose principally and for one purpose alone, and that is for the purpose of making a great highway of commerce, a national highway of commerce, which would be valuable to the Dominion of Canada more than to any private enterprise in the Dominion of Can* ada. .

Now, we have been informed, during the present session, that the government contemplate the appointment of a transportation commission to make inquiries, and to take into consideration the feasibility of different routes. I presume the object of the appointment of this commission is to get information as to the cost of these routes, the value of them when they are provided, the advantage they will be to the country as highways of commerce in and in view of that fact I say that we would be doing a very improper thing if we were to make any move towards committing the country to an undertaking of this nature before that commission had time to make ample inquiry and report to this House. If the merits of this route are as great as its advocates claim, that commission will undoubtedly find it out and so report to this House, and when we take up that project, if we ever do, it will be done more intelligently and with better information than the House is possessed of to-day. We have practically no information in regard to the cost of the undertaking. It seems that it is the merest guess work. Are we prepared to justify the Canadian parliament in commencing an undertaking that will cost anywhere from $60,000,000 to $150,000,000 or $200,000,000 ?

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CON
LIB

Thomas Murray

Liberal

Mr. MURRAY.

May I ask the hon. gentleman a question ? Has he ever read the report of the Senate on the question ?

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

Yes, I have.

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LIB
CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I must frankly confess that I think the information given there is based on very imperfect data. It seems to me that it is the merest guess work in the world and as evidence that it is guess work, I may say, that when intelligent engineers have gone over the ground years afterwards, they have declared that the work will cost upwards of three times as much as that report shows it will cost. Is that not evidence that the information contained in that report is not based on reliable data, and is not such as we would be justified in accepting as even approximately indicating the cost. As year after year new men look into the enterprise, they report that a larger and a larger expenditure will be required to complete the work than previous engineers have estimated it at. That in itself is sufficient' to show that the data is quite unreliable. I agree with the exMinister of Public Works in one thing in toto, and that is that if the enterprise is ever gone on with, it should be as a public work belonging to Canada and not be put into the hands of any private corporation. I think it is a great mistake to lock up our highways of commerce, or to leave them in the hands of private corporations that can tax the trade of the country, that can handicap the trade of the country on one route as compared with another, or that can place a tax upon commerce, thereby interfering with the freedom of commerce as a private corporation would undoubtedly do provided they were allowed to build that canal, because they will place a tax upon the commerce so as to get a return upon their money afterwards.

Another question which has interested me a good deal and in regard to which I cannot agfee with the hon. ex-Minister of Public Works, and it is in regard to the great benefit that would accrue if we have the navigation between Georgian Bay and Lake Nipissing made good. Why, when we get to the port of Lake Nipissing, the nearest port to Montreal, we are no nearer to Montreal than we are at Midland or Parry Sound. What great advantage would it be to have the navigation made complete between Georgian Bay and Lake Nipissing if we reach no closer to Montreal at the end of the route than we are already by two or three very good routes of navigation so far as the Georgian Bay goes ? The navigation to Midland Harbour and to Parry Harbour, because the difference between Midland Harbour and Montreal and Parry Harbour and Montreal and the port of Lake Nipissing and Montreal are practically the same. We were told here last year that it would cost about $5,000,000 to make good

tlie navigation between the Georgian Bay and the port of Lake Nipissing, yet, if that expenditure were made we would be no nearer Montreal than by the present lake navigation, either by way of Midland or of I arry Harbour. That being the case, it th>es seem to me that we are not justified in undertaking that heavy expenditure for making a route by way of Lake Nipissing that will be no better when it is finished than routes we have at the present time.

There is another thing that I have often thought and I think it should not be lost sight of, and it is that the history of the past has taught us a very important lesson that no matter how cheaply transportation is carried on by water, the railway companies nearly always manage to compete with it during the season of navigation. We have evidence of that in the trade between Buffalo and New York. They have a canal which affords some nine feet of navigation, hut the railways carry grain over the same distance for about the same cost and thev compete with the canal there. It does not necessarily follow that because railways will carry products the same distance for the same cost during the season of navigation we should not incur expense to build canals, because there is another very important element which comes in and that is that canals are a guarantee of low transportation as long as we have them and they hold the railways in check. If the canals do nothing more than this we should have these highways of commerce. Now, I am not arguing against the feasibility of this route as a great highway of commerce, provided we have twenty-one or twenty-two feet of navigation. I agree with the hon. member for South Lanark (Hon. Mr. Haggart) that if we ever have that route we must at least have twenty-one feet of navigation. I do not agree with the hon. member for North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton) that navigation can be carried on as successfully with a canal where there is only fourteen or fifteen feet of water as with a canal where there is twenty-one feet of water.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   OTTAWA AND GEORGIAN BAY CANAL.
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LIB

Joseph Israël Tarte

Liberal

Hon. Mr. TARTE.

Is the hon. gentleman quite sure that we can have twenty-one feet of water from Lake Nipissing right down ?

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Subtopic:   OTTAWA AND GEORGIAN BAY CANAL.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROTJLE.

I am not questioning that because I do not know anything about it, but what I say is that if it is to be a >Tory great commercial waterway, for the whole of the Dominion of Canada, the best results can only be obtained by making it it least twenty-one feet, because the whole' :rend of the times is to have vessels of arger and larger capacity every year. The >ther day a vessel came to Midland laden with 350,000 bushels of grain, and day ifter day vessels come to Meaford, Colling-vood, Midland, Parry Harbour and Georg-an Bay ports carrying 250,000 bushels, whereas a few years ago 20,000 bushels I

was considered a large cargo. When such large vessels get to a fifteen-foot navigation they would simply have to tranship and the cost of transhipping once would equal the cost of transporting a thousand miles by water. This shows the importance of having twenty-one-foot navigation if the results that will accrue to Canada generally are to be at all commensurate with the expenditure. Let me say in conclusion that we should make haste slowly. I do not underestimate the value of waterways, but 1 do say that in face of tlie imperfect information we have ; in the absence of any definite information as to what this scheme would cost; in view further of the fact that we have a commission appointed now to inquire into these things, the scheme should be left in abeyance for the present. We should get all the information possible for this House and then let parliament exercise its judgment as to whether or not it would be in the interest of the country for us to undertake this gigantic scheme.

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Subtopic:   OTTAWA AND GEORGIAN BAY CANAL.
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LIB

Napoléon Antoine Belcourt

Liberal

Mr. N. A. BELCOURT ("Ottawa).

Whenever this great project has been under discussion in this parliament the hon. member for East Grey (Mr. Sproule) never misses an opportunity to tender advice and to impress upon us that we should go slowly. He generally

supports that advice with the statement that we know nothing about the subject, and that he himself in particular knows ndiking about it. If the hon. gentleman (Mr. Sproule) wishes to enlighten himself on this subject.; if he wishes to know something about it, I would advise him to look up the very valuable information published by the company which at one time contemplated the construction of this work.

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Subtopic:   OTTAWA AND GEORGIAN BAY CANAL.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

The ex-minister (Hon. Mr. Tarte) told the House a few minutes ago that we knew little ox* nothing about this scheme, and I based my statement on his remarks. If the hon. gentleman (Hon. Mr. Tarte), who has considered the matter carefully, has to admit that he knows nothing about it I do not need to apologize.

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Subtopic:   OTTAWA AND GEORGIAN BAY CANAL.
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LIB

Napoléon Antoine Belcourt

Liberal

Mr. BELCOURT.

I take the statement made by the hon. member (Mr. Sproule) that he personally knew nothing of the subject. I know he must be open to conviction, and I suppose that he wishes enlightenment, and therefore I invite him to read the pamphlet which was published by the company to which I have referred.

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Subtopic:   OTTAWA AND GEORGIAN BAY CANAL.
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April 15, 1903