In conversation with Sir Sandford Fleming in reference to this matter, he has expressed most fully and unreservedly his approval of the policy adopted by the government. He has stated that he endorsed the position taken, that with
a first-class road, a road with the grades that are required from Moncton to Win-peg, no other mode of communication or transportation can compete from the prairies of the west to the sea-board, and these quotations from this interview given by Sir Sandford Fleming to the Halifax ' Chronicle ' fully bear out the assertion that he entirely approves of the government policy now before the House of Commons.
Certainly it does, but the important feature of this scheme is the building of a line from the prairies to a Canadian seaport. The essential feature of the scheme is to reach Quebec, and going on to Moncton is a subordinate consideration. Sir Sandford Fleming does not question the propriety of building to Moncton if proper grades can be secured, and if grades of the proper kind cannot be secured, then it is for the government to consider what will be done. But with regard to building the road from Quebec to the west, through the hinterland. Sir Sandford Fleming fully endorses the scheme. Sir Sandford Fleming is quoted in the pamphlet issued by the Trans-Canada Company as having said in October last, with regard to this transcontinental road :
It should extend from Quebec by the most direct route to Port Simpson on the Pacific. From what I know of the general character of the *greater part of the intervening districts, I believe a line with splendid engineering features could with ordinary care he secured from Quebec to Fort Simpson.
My hon. friend (Mr. Brock) sometimes expresses opinions that are inconsistent with those previously announced by him.
Charges of inconsistency seem to be chiefly directed against me, and when I say that I do not pay much attention to the inconsistency of my friend (Mr. Brock), I mean that a man is at liberty to revise his opinions, and if the hon. gen-
tleman sees fit to revise or modify his opinions, I accept his doing so without question, I may, however, legitimately quote what he may have said upon isome previous occasion, and let it carry such weight as it may be entitled to. On the tenth of March 1902, in the debate upon the propriety of making a grant for constructing a canal by French river to Lake Nipissing, the hon. member (Mr. Brock) used the following language :
It would be better for the country it the government could see its way to securing an increase in the number of tracks in our railway system. This is an all-year-round country. We cannot bring our grain that is grown in the North-west, if we work only in the summer time. We must hold out inducements to the railway companies and great transportation companies to move the grain all the year round-and it will take the whole year to move it. In the interest not only of the farmers of the North-west, but of the great financial institutions that are putting their money into moving the grain crop, it must be kept moving continually, and not only for the few months of canal navigation. I would therefore ask the government before they commit themselves, to this expenditure of $5,000,000-which may be regarded as a small thing, but, like other small expenditures may be the entering wedge to another of the unfortunate investments which this country has already made in the shape of canals-to consider this whole question very carefully.
Hon. members from the North-west seem to wish to gather in a great deal of prosperity at once. They want to make the North-west an enormously wealthy country in a few years. But the only solid prosperity that has ever been known in commerce is that kind that is slowly and steadily built up.
We have fairly established the fact that Sir Sandford Fleming approves of this scheme ; that he gives the weight of his opinion in favour of the belief that a good railway line can be secured from Quebec to Fort Simpson, passing through the hinterland of Quebec and Ontario, for the purpose of giving breadth to this country ; for the purpose of opening up lands that are not now inhabited ; for the purpose of giving communication to great areas of wilderness that are capable of supporting a large population. Sir Sandford Fleming is a statesman ; his views in reference to this matter are sound, and I repeat that his views coincide exactly with the policy which the government has promulgated. My hon. friend from Centre Toronto (Mr. Brock) tells us in the quotation, that this is an ail the year round country, and that a system of transportation which is closed six months in the year, via the lakes, will not answer the purpose. He tells us that we have got to have more railway lines in order to provide facilities for the business of the country. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Brock) was then speaking without bias. He was not 3S01
then supporting an o ^position that had got to find fault with a pc licy and make political capital out of it, right or wrong. On that occasion he gave us his unbiased opinion as a sound business man, and as I have shown, the government is acting according to the views laid down by the hon. member (Mr. Brock) in March, 1892.
Of course, in September, 1903, the opposition had concluded that there was a little political capital to he made out of the government scheme, and so the hon. member (Mr. Brock) modifies his views. Now, these gentlemen opposite have placed before the country an alternative scheme of the most absurd character, as Sir Sandford Fleming tells us. If they had refrained from that, and had confined themselves to growling, and fault-finding, and carping, and criticising, they would have been in a stronger position ; but unfortunately for themselves they did lay down an alternative proposition. It is an easy thing to find fault. It requires perhaps as little exercise of intellectual power to find fault or to ridicule as to do anything except to eat.
And I had reasons to. I always found it an easy thing to find fault, when there was reason to do so, and our friends opposite would have found it wise to confine themselves to the same policy. Now, Mr. Chairman, while I admire the character of the leader of the opposition ; while I admire his courtesy and his fine parliamentary form, I am sometimes obliged to contrast it with the exhibition given by some of his followers. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Borden, Halifax) wants to know why the roads to the Georgian hay from the west, the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian Northern Railway, had heavier grades than four-tenths per cent per mile. He wanted to know why these roads had failed to answer the standard now laid down as being necessary for the economic and successful carriage of freight. Well, the Canadian Pacific Railway was built twenty years ago, and it was then thought that a one per cent grade would give a good line. The American lines were built on the same principle, but for ten or fifteen years past, the American trunk lines, and the Grand Trunk Railway as well, have been unostentatiously spending millions and millions in straightening their lines, in reducing their grades, and in bringing their roads to the standard at which they can carry freight for the lowest possible cost. The Canadian Pacific Railway and other railroads will he obliged to do that in the future, and it is no argument against the construction of a new line up to this high standard, that these
roads have not accomplished that desideratum up to the present.
It simply amounts to a confession of the fact that a road was built in such a way as to be unable to compete with roads of a better character built on modern principles. A great deal has been said about the four-tenths per- cent grade, and some ridicule has been poured upon me as an expert. I have never claimed1 to be an expert. I have merely stated my belief that a road that would perform its functions between Winnipeg and Quebec, and that would carry grain to the sea-board cheaper than any other road, must be a road of a certain character. That is an assertion which can be examined into and criticised and exploded, If it is found to be unfounded, No such attempt has been made ; but any amount of ridicule has been heaped upon me for assuming to myself the position of a railway critic, for simply suggesting' what every railway man in the country to-day knows to be a primary condition of success; and the fact that this has not been generally understood does not militate in the slightest degree against the fact that It is a necessary condition. Then, my hon. friend says that the government cannot get such a grade, and my hon. friend from Centre Toronto (Mr. Brock) nods assent.