May 4, 1925

PRO

John Evans

Progressive

Mr. EVANS:

May I respectfully ask what

bodies in the west pressed for the Welland canal?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   HUDSON BAY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. KNOX FOR RECOGNITION OF PRIORITY
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

That is a good many

years ago, but they were live bodies, or at least they talked in that way. They were just as strong for the Welland canal as

Hudson Bay Ry.-Mr. Graham

another portion, was for the Hudson bay project and they had organizations pressing. As a matter of practical construction, the new Welland canal project-and it is not a new project; it is as old as the hills-was begun by the government of Sir Robert Borden, although under the Laurier government we had made some surveys, got together considerable data and made test pits and that kind of thing. But the Laurier administration would have done exactly as their predecessors did in deepening the Welland canal. As I said a moment ago, if the Welland canal project was not to aid in cheapening freight rates on the western crop, there was no sense in deepening that canal under any consideration. The United States government have recognized that, because they have proceeded to deepen their canal, what we call the American Sault. The Canadian canal is not deepened, but the larger locks and the greater depth on the American side has been used by our Canadian ships of larger draught, while the Canadian canal serves the smaller Canadian ships of lighter draught and American ships of lighter draught, there being no canal dues on either side. Whatever may be thought now, I was just as conscious and so was the Laurier administration and, I believe, our successors that in starting the Welland canal improvement, we were doing something to aid the western farmer to market his crop at a cheaper rate of freight. I believe that will be the result, notwithstanding criticism, because while vessels can be loaded and come right down drawing up to 21, 22, 23 feet, as the canal will accommodate vessels of larger draught than that, surely with one lightening furtheT down the line with larger vessels taking the big load, you can get to the seaboard much more quickly than at the present time. The government has to-day a large elevator at Port Colbome, and through that elevator even with the present depth of the Welland canal, go millions and millions of bushels of western wheat. If western wheat is not going to be benefited by going through the Welland canal, it was a mistake to build it at all. Both governments, that of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the government succeeding it, believed- and I believe their views were founded upon accurate information-that the deepening of the Welland canal would enable the western farmer to get his wheat to market at a cheaper rate of freight than he is now paying. These things should be thought out together. I am not scolding at all. With that viewpoint, no objection should be taken to the Welland canal, and it should have no influence one

way or the other on the Hudson bay project.

As regards the Hudson Bay project, it is too late for the Liberal party or for myself to say that it is a phantom. As has been pointed out, both of the old parties have been committed to the Hudson bay project, and as has been said, the time must come, and must come before very long, in my humble judgment, when somebody will finish the Hudson Bay railway. I think I am safe in going this far in making this statement. Even if doubts exist as to the practicability of carrying wheat at a reasonable rate, there would not be a very great risk in finishing this line and using it for a colonization line and for whatever traffic might accrue from a port on the ocean at that point. I am not saying that the other would not be practicable.

In discussing this question years ago it will be found, if the records are looked up, that I rather laid stress on the value it would be to the live stock breeder and to the dairy interests of the west, to whom a voyage on the ocean does not make much difference; because the colder the surroundings and the cooler the atmosphere, so long as it 'is not overdone, the better it is for both cattle and dairy products. I look to the west, and I do not have to look very long because it ;is rapidly materializing, as possibly the dairy centre of Canada; the dairymen of western Canada are making strides on us in Ontario and Quebec and dn the Maritime provinces as well. And these products, it seems to me, would be more sure of successful transportation in this way than perhaps wheat would be.

Now as to what we are doing at the present time. My hon. friend from Prince Albert (Mr. Knox) asked in last year's resolution that we complete the repair of the property so as to protect our investment there. Last year, the first year, we expended quite a large amount of money, although not nearly so much as was voted, and the reason was that parliament sat late, so that there was no opportunity to proceed until we could get at least an initial vote. And the farmers do not like railway construction to interfere, either in the matter of wages or in the employment of men, with the work they are carrying on. So that a comparatively small amount was expended. But the fact was that the Parliament of Canada had approved of the expenditure of money in order to put this line into proper operating shape to the extent that is now constructed. The next year, in consultation with the railway authorities, I asked them to go on as though a vote had been given; because I felt sure that parliament would grant another vote; and this year, in the Canadian National expenditures, we have

Hudson Bay Ry.-Mr. Graham

if I remember rightly a vote of $180,000 or $200,000 to complete the repairs to that last section of the Hudson Bay railway to which my hon. .friend has referred. But hon. gentlemen, who are great friends of public ownership, must remember that under the new arrangement every dollar expended on the National Railways; it is not charged to the Hudson Bay will be changed to the Canadian consolidated revenue of Canada but against the Canadian National, and on that money the Canadian National must pay interest. We must therefore go no more rapidly in these things than can be defended from the point of view of the Canadian National Railways as well as from the standpoint of the people of Canada.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   HUDSON BAY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. KNOX FOR RECOGNITION OF PRIORITY
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PRO

Robert Alexander Hoey

Progressive

Mr. HOEY:

That would be a good argument for the completion of the road at an early date, to make the railways a paying proposition.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   HUDSON BAY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. KNOX FOR RECOGNITION OF PRIORITY
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

If it were to be a paying proposition it would be a good argument, but I am not so sure. However, I am not saying that it would not be.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   HUDSON BAY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. KNOX FOR RECOGNITION OF PRIORITY
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PRO

William John Ward

Progressive

Mr. WARD:

Will the Toronto viaduct be a paying proposition?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   HUDSON BAY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. KNOX FOR RECOGNITION OF PRIORITY
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

My hon. friend has altogether a misconception of the Toronto viaduct situation. That was a bargain between .the railways, before there was a Canadian *National Railways, and the city of Toronto; an agreement was signed and carried to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council .where it was confirmed. The burden therefore was on the Grand Trunk Railway, and the agreement could have been enforced. The government of Canada might have been, and *in fact was being, sued for the performance *of that contract. Under those circumstances there was no alternative but to clean up 'he Toronto situation, and it was cleaned up at a saving of several millions of dollars. That situation was altogether different from this. Now, I have talked long enough. I have said what we propose to do this year, and any further announcement that is necessary can be made later. But at the present time we have in the Canadian National estimates the amount charged for the completion of *repairs to the last section that has been referred to.

Hon. gentlemen have heard my remarks in regard to the Welland canal. I do not admit for a minute that the Welland canal .was started after the Hudson Bay railway. The Welland canal is an old scheme which it was intended Should be enlarged when the .time came that both countries could enlarge their channels. With that explanation I

see no difficulty at all in -accepting the motion of my hon. friend. I do not think he would want us to say that we should not operate any branch lines; that is not the intention. The intention of my hon. friend is to impress upon the House and the country the necessity of keeping in mind the Hudson Bay railway project and not having it side-tracked by everything that comes along.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   HUDSON BAY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. KNOX FOR RECOGNITION OF PRIORITY
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PRO

Andrew Knox

Progressive

Mr. KNOX:

I consider the Welland ship

canal as a transportation project to have been started subsequent to the Hudson Bay railway.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   HUDSON BAY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. KNOX FOR RECOGNITION OF PRIORITY
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

I do not agree with that, because the Welland ship canal has been in existence a great many years; it was there before my time. Its constant improvement is a matter for the benefit of navigation, just as the constant improvement of the river St. Lawrence is necessary in the interests of navigation.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   HUDSON BAY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. KNOX FOR RECOGNITION OF PRIORITY
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PRO

Andrew Knox

Progressive

Mr. KNOX:

Is not this an entirely new

canal?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   HUDSON BAY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. KNOX FOR RECOGNITION OF PRIORITY
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

It is a portion of the old one, but it is really like replacing your old house with a new one. You may not put up the new one on precisely the same land but it is a continuation of your residence. With that explanation, Mr. Speaker, I see no objection to the House accepting the resolution of my hon. friend.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   HUDSON BAY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. KNOX FOR RECOGNITION OF PRIORITY
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PRO

Robert Alexander Hoey

Progressive

Mr. HOEY:

Having put the line in a state of good repair to mile 332, if the government is in power will the minister give an assurance that it will then undertake the completion of the road?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   HUDSON BAY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. KNOX FOR RECOGNITION OF PRIORITY
Permalink
LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

If the hon. member will

say that he will help to keep the government in power I might give that assurance. But that might be considered bribery. However, that is only a bit of pleasantry between the hon. gentleman and myself.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   HUDSON BAY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. KNOX FOR RECOGNITION OF PRIORITY
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Would that improve the merits of the Hudson Bay railway?

Mr, GRAHAM: It would fulfil the other

contract, which would be necessary. However, I hope the government will be in power and that we shall be able to discuss this question again.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   HUDSON BAY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. KNOX FOR RECOGNITION OF PRIORITY
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Right Hon. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Leader of the Opposition):

I do not need to speak

at any length; in fact I am not certain that words are at all necessary. I have no difficulty whatever in agreeing with the Minister of Railways (Mr. Graham) in his reference to the Welland canal. That the Welland ship canal has been from its inception an ad-

Hudson Bay Ry.-Mr. Meighen

vantage to western Canada goes without saying; in fact, I cannot understand the mentality of anyone who would dispute that assertion. And if the canal with its low draught is of advantage, having been built mainly for the purpose of improving the exit of western production, surely it follows that an improved canal improves the conditions of that export trade. It is too often the case that after expenditures are undertaken and are fairly well on to completion their merits fade in the sight of those who were very strong in their behalf previous to their inception. However, the merits of the Welland canal are really not in dispute here.

Some two years ago when this issue was before the House I spoke upon it. I have taken the opportunity of reading over what I said then and, as well, what many others in the House contributed to that debate. From my words at that time I have no divergence now; I have no reason to change them at all. Since that occasion it has been my privilege to visit western Canada, and at the point which of all points would perhaps be the strongest in its insistence upon the immediate completion of the road I snoke, anc}, whether with acceptability or not, I certainly spoke with entire frankness on this question; and from the statement which I made in Melfort last fall I also have no divergence to urge at the present time.

The question as to the resolution itself affords no difficulty in view of the action of the government. I do not think-I know I made it very plain in what I said before

that essential branch line construction can be said to be new enterprises at all out of keeping with the resolution which then passed if given priority to the completion of this road, nor do I think that the going on with the Welland canal-which of course in its original inception was decades before the Hudson Bay railway, and which in its present new form wras commenced long before the resolution passed-much of the expenditure on which would have been largely lost had construction not been gone on with in the meantime, is in any way a violation of the resolution.

Now, I have been very much interested in the speeches made by one or two hon. members to my left, particularly that of the hon. member for Springfield (Mr. Hoey). I believe in the completion of the road, I believe in it for the reasons given two years ago, among others, because its completion is it) the nature of a contractual obligation entered into with settlers who have not only gone in there on the promise of this country, given ir the only way that a country can promise

anything, but wjio, having gone in, have made further investments and commitments on the faith of the pledges which they have accepted. The question is merely a question as to when, in justice to Canada's position, that road can be gone on with. I do not believe in any indefinite postponement, and if I could accept-I certainly accept the sincerity of the hon. member for Springfield-if I felt that the idea which he advances was a practical one, I would be prepared to support the carrying out of his request earlier than I otherwise would. If, as he says, a fair trial of the export possibilities of this line could be secured by the completion of it to the bridge at Port Nelson, utilizing that bridge over the artificial island-if that is all that would be essential to give it such a trial as would determine whether or) not it was going to be of real use as an export channel-ther. as far as I am concerned I would be prepared to go pretty far and start pretty early to see that that was done. But I would not want to see this expenditure made, even if the idea of the hon. member for Springfield was right, if afterwards there was no way of utilizing the line and1 testing the practicability of navigating the straits. I think the government would be well advised to canvass the possibilities of this idea, for, if it is practicable, it seems to me a way would be found for meeting the very urgent demands of western Canada in this respect earlier than -otherwise could be done.

1 do not listen with very much sympathy to arguments advanced1, based on the assumption that in eastern Canada there is an ingrained hostility to this line, merely because it will afford another means of exporting western products without bringing those products through the cities of the east. I have never encountered that prejudice; in fact I have encountered quite the opposite. If I judge eastern Canadian sentiment aright, that sentiment is wholly sympathetic with the Hudson Bay railway once it is demonstrated that the road is really going to be a sound proposition, is really going to be what western Canada hopes it wild be-a cheaper outlet for western grain.

I know there is a lot of misgiving-and I am afraid the misgiving has increased rather than diminished in recent times-as to whether the anticipations of the west would be realized when the road is completed. It is on account of this misgiving that a considerable body of public opinion is opposed, not at tall because of fear that the road would 'he a success after construction. It is of no value to this country, it does not contribute to unity and good feeling in the least degree, to be attributing, first from one section and then from another, an

Hudson Bay Ry.-Mr. Meighen

antagonism on the part of tjje majority in the centre to either extremity. If I may be allowed to express my own. humb'le opinion, formed after a considerable number of years of public life, it is this, that a very generous sentiment pervades both the province of Quebec and the province of Ontario as respects the demands of western Canada. Therefore I feel all the more justified in saying that in my opinion there would not be call for very great delay if this House could be convinced, upon proper investigation by those best -qualified to undertake it, that a real test of the enterprise could be secured by merely the further investment suggested by the hon. member for Springfield; then I -believe the House would be prepared for an early realization of his hopes.

With this addition, mot modification, I reaffirm what I stated in the debate two years ago and to the public since.

Motion (Mr. Knox) agreed to.

On motion of Mr. Mackenzie King the House adjourned at 12.50 a.m. (Tuesday).

Tuesday, May 5, 1925

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   HUDSON BAY RAILWAY
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION BY MR. KNOX FOR RECOGNITION OF PRIORITY
Permalink

May 4, 1925