As some hon. members have indicated, we are not asking for new lines- and I want that to be clearly understood. Contracts were let; and then between 1930 and 1935 the government of the late Viscount Bennett saw fit to give the contractor a sum of money to release the government from the obligation of continuing with this construction.
Meantime many people had gone into and settled in those parts of Canada, with the understanding that the line was under construction and that if they stayed there they would be able to get their produce to market. I was pleased to note that the minister said one of the points which would be considered was as to whether the line was economical to operate, and that under that classification possibly the Heinsburg gap would not be considered.
I suggest that in the line farther north between Barnes Crossing and St. Walburg we have a line which is economical for the simple reason that it also was to connect up with the C.P.R., which runs to Prince Albert, and from Meadow Lake through to Bonny-ville, and the C.P.R. were to have running rights on the C.N.R. when the C.N.R. was built. This would give the C.P.R. direct connection from Edmonton to Prince Albert.
An official of the C.P.R. who surveyed the economic possibilities of the line at that time, and was stationed in the town of Meadow Lake, gave voice to the idea that it was an economic proposition.
Just to give some idea of how far the economy has come since that time, I have here a letter from the president of the board of trade at Meadow Lake which I received this week. I believe in my maiden speech I made mention of the grain shipped out of Meadow Lake. Since then some hon. members have doubted whether that would be possible. The president fortifies my first remarks, to the effect that there have already been a million bushels of grain shipped out of the town of Meadow Lake up to the 15th of October this year, and that there will be over two million more shipped from that point. Part of this grain comes from the territory not served by the railway; and, as I mentioned before, a million dollars' worth of grass seed was also grown along that line last year.
At the time the economic survey was made the town of Meadow Lake, for instance, produced little grain at all, possibly 100,000 or 200,000 bushels at the outside. At the present time the president writes me that a whole trainload is going out of the town of Meadow Lake every day. The hon. member for Vegreville mentioned the Redwater oil fields as being along this line. The town of Meadow Lake alone uses some 3,000,000 gallons of gasoline in a year, and it is just one point on the line. There are many other towns. As a matter of fact, within my constituency there are some 20,000 people in the region adjacent to it who would ship their products thereon.
Therefore there is no doubt about the economic factor. The other consideration is the fact that the government at one time committed itself to construct the line. They built most of the grade and left a small gap. There is no steel on that part of the grade.
As a result of the action of the government at that time, people settled there, and in spite of the transportation difficulties are now out-producing any other part of Saskatchewan. It is necessarily very good land, and there is no doubt about the economic value. That is one point I want to bring to the attention of the minister. I am not going to ask him, as the hon. member for Vegreville did, when it will come about. I know that he will make proper representations to the Canadian National Railways. As I have said, the action of the C.P.R. hinges entirely on when the C.N.R. line is constructed because the C.P.R. have running rights over the C.N.R. line when it is built. As soon as the
C.N.R. line is constructed the C.P.R. will no doubt extend their lines from Meadow Lake to Bonnyville and then run over that line.
The official of the C.P.R. to whom I have referred made a survey of the economic possibilities of the land some years ago and said at that time that when the line was completed his company intended to run a daily train between Edmonton and Prince Albert each way. If it was economically possible at that time it is ten times more so now. I think I have taken up as much of the time of the house as is necessary to place the case of the people of that district before the minister.
Subtopic: AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
Sub-subtopic: DOMINION- PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE