Mr. PETER ROBERT McGIBBON (Argenteuil):
Mr. Speaker. I am sorry that the Minister of Railways (Hon. J. D. Reid) is not in his place this evening, because I intend to throw a few bouquets at him,- and it is not often that any are thrown from this side of the House. I congratulate the minister upon the patience he has shown and the courteous answers that he has given to the questions, which were many, put to him from this side, as well as to the numerous questions that came to him from his own side of the House. I have always some sympathy for the person in the witness ' box who is questioned by one or two [DOT] lawyers; but in this case the Minister of Railways has been questioned by a couple of dozen lawyers, some from this side and some from the other side. He never lost his patience, however; Job was not in it with the minister for patience.
But I am sorry to sav that the minister's patience was wasted on a very bad case. This is the worst Bill that has ever come before any legislative body in this country.
It is a ruinous Bill to this country; it is a knock-out blow. We are now seriously in debt-the amount of our debt is something over $2,500,000,000-and this Bill proposes to add another $500,000,000 to it. Just think of it; this debt will not be paid for generations to come. This is legislation which will impose a burden upon unborn generations.
The Government, so far as I can observe, are trying to frighten the people into the belief that they will have t-o go to the country if they do not pass this Bill. My belief is that if a secret ballot were taken on this Bill, the proposal would be knocked higher than a kite. But the ministers have been frightening the people, so far as I can see, on that head. I know that if they go to the country, the Union Government will not likely come back again. The farmers are coming .to their own at last; a lot of us business men will have to stay at home after the next general election and the farmers will fill our places. I hope that they will govern the country better than my hon. friends opposite have governed it during the last couple of years.
I am sorry that the Government is going ahead with this Bill in the absence of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Borden). I give the Prime Minister credit for being an honest man. I believe that a few of his ministers are going ahead with this proposal and pushing it through to a finish against his will. Had he been in the city he could have been consulted, but he is away and we have not his counsel. If he were present I believe that the Bill would not have gone as far as it has gone.
A good deal has been said about the whole country being in' favour of this proposal, with the exception of Quebec and some of the eastern provinces. Well, Quebec is a very industrious province; we are not used to getting into debt, and the sum involved in this proposal seems enormous to us. We are an independent people; very few of our farms are mortgaged. So far as I can hear, many of the other provinces are not so independent. Ontario is controlled from Toronto; the trust, loan and mortgage companies control the people of Ontario to a considerable extent. If what I hear is true, British Columbia is pretty low in circumstances. But, as I say, we in the province of Quebec are independent. We cannot be brought into line with this Bill; we would lose our seats rather than vote for it. Personally, I would resign to-morrow rather than sanction this Bill. If I voted for it I would not dare go back to the county that I
represent; my humble home would he torn down and I would be among the missing. Just so with the Union Government after the next general election-they will be among the missing. Of course, we do not all see eye to eye; I am simply giving you my view. It is not Unionists or the Liberals on the other side who are against this Bill; it is the old time Conservatives of the Sir John A. Macdonald school. Those are the men who are down on this Bill and they won't stand for it if they can help it. And if they cannot help it now they will help it at the next election.
I do not wish to detain the House; I simply say, in closing, that I hope this Bill will not pass. I hope that the Government will reconsider their decision to go on with it, and that they will side-track it for some time to come.
On the motion of Mr. Michael Steele (South Perth) the debate was adjourned.
On the motion of Mr. Doherty, the House adjourned at 10.0 p.m.
Tuesday, November 4, 1919.