September 23, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I noticed when the mountains of information -were placed before us, that they came about half way up to the top of the match box which decorates the Table of the House. The Minister of Finance says that the government propose to build a road through that northern country, whether the pine be read, white or blue. That is his mode of expressing his conelus-sion that a railway will be built through that country under any conditions, and at any possible cost. Has not the Minister of Finance heard the calculation made by his own railway expert (Mr. Charlton), who was put up in the first place by the government to answer the ex-Minister of Railways, and who was again put up the other night to talk about a subject which was not at all under the consideration of the House? Does not the Minister of Finance know that the hon. member (Mr. Chariton) has based his whole argument upon the supposition that you can find four-tenths per cent grades through that country, or at the outside six-tenths per cent grades ? Does the Minister of Finance say tiiat lie has any information which will enable him to state to the House within 840,000.000 of what a road of that kind wiiil cost ? I invite the hon. gentleman to make a calculation within even $40,000,000 of the cost ? I venture to say he cannot clo It. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Charlton) also pointed out to us the the Canadian Northern Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway, both running from Winnipeg to Lake Superior, are carrying grain at rates very much higher than he estimates for the total cost of carrying grain all the way from Winnipeg to Quebec. The Canadian Pacific Railway has been charging 14 cents per hundred pounds on grain from the vicinity of Winnipeg to Lake Superior ports. The Canadian Northern has been charging 12 cents until it was forced' by the government of Manitoba within the last few days to reduce that rate to 10 cents. If grades can be procured of the character that my horn, friend (Mr. Charlton) suggests, all the way from Winnipeg to Quebec, surely they could be procured much more easily over the comparatively short line from Winnipeg to Port Arthur and Fort William. And if it is advantageous to build a road of that character for 1.875 miles. I would like to know why it is that two pretty shrewd corporations like the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian Northern Railway have not seen fit to build such a road from Winnipeg to the Georgian bay ? Does the hon. member (Mr. Hon. Mr. FIELDING.
Chariton) really suppose that lie understands the railway business better than Sir Thomas Shaughnessy or Mr. C. M. Hays, or Messrs. Mackenzie and Mann ? Although such a contention lias been put forward by the Prime Minister, apparently in a serious manner, I do not suppose that my hon. friend from North Norfolk (Mr. Charlton,) really professes to understand the business of building and operating railways better than Sir William Van Horne, better than Mr. Hays, better than Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, better than Messrs. Mackenzie and Mann, better than Mr. J. R. Booth, men who have devoted all their lives trying to understand the problems attendant on railway construction and operation. And yet, the Minister of Finance in the most flippant manner, says that through this country the government is prepared to build a railway no matter what the expense may be, and that railway, bear in mind, according to the member for North Norfolk, from Winnipeg to Quebec, and even to Moncton is to have grades of four-tenths or at most six-tenths per cent per mile. The Minister of Justice says there will be delay. Within wlmt period of time does the Minister of Justice think these surveys can be made to find four-tenths grades through that country ? Does he think the work can be commenced before the next session of parliament which must be upon us within a few months ? Does he think that the government can find grades of that kind before next session ? If the government policy is a good one, and if these grades can be found, every one is desirous that this road should be built at the earliest possible date, provided it can be built at a reasonable cost to this country. The proposal of my hon. friend (Mr. Clancy) is that you shall not proceed until you have some information on the subject. When you have found these grades-and yon cannot find them for a considerable time- submit the surveys and plans to the representatives of the people in parliament; and submit also an estimate of whether it will cost 75, 100, 150 or 200 millions to build a road of that kind, with proper grades and curvatures from Winnipeg to Quebec. Does my hon. friend the Minister of Justice suggest that there is anything in that which causes one moment's delay in the carrying out of this project? In what way does It cause delay? Can you make these surveys in less than one year or eighteen months ? Have the government any information as to the time in which they can be made ? And do the government propose to commence the construction of this road while these surveys are incomplete or before they have any accurate knowledege on which an estimate of the cost can be based ? It is not a question of delay ; it is a question of knowing what you are about before you undertake the construction of a road of such a character as the government have announced it to be their policy to construct.

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