April 10, 1905 (10th Parliament, 1st Session)


Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)


Mr. Speaker, the minister has not favoured us with a very elaborate statement of the policy of the government which has resulted in this Bill. However, as he says, we shall have an opportunity of getting a little closer to that a little later on. I must confess that I do not at present understand what is the full scope of section 4 of the Bill, which I have only had an opportunity to glance at. I would not be surprised if the minister would find that that section at least will require some amendment. As far as the whole scope of the measure is concerned, I would like to point out that it is now five or six years since the late Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Blair) brought a measure into this House for the extension of the Intercolonial Railway from Levis to Montreal. We all know the ground upon which he advocated that extension ; first of all, that it was absolutely necessary, in the interest of the Intercolonial Railway, , that it should be so extended as to enable it to compete with the other great lines of the country for the traffic of the west. We know also the expectations which were then held out to the country by the government through the mouth of Mr. Blair. It was pointed out that the Intercolonial Railway for a number of years had been piling up deficits, and the government practically announced to the country that the era of , deficits was absolutely past, and that the ' extension of the Intercolonial to Montreal at very great expense would certainly resuit in our securing a very large share of the western traffic. We were to secure that by Mr. EMMERSON.
means of a certain traffic arrangement which we made with the Grand Trunk Railway Company at that time. Practically the only advantage which the Intercolonial Railway or the country has ever received from that traffic arrangement is an arbitration which is now going on between this country and the Grand Trunk Railway Company, in which the country is claiming that in respect of nearly every article of that traffic arrangement, the Grand Trunk Railway Company has not fulfilled its part, but has from the first carried to the city of Portland in the United States the traffic which should have gone over the Intercolonial Railway to our maritime ports. That is about the net result, except that the deficits on the Intercolonial Railway have been somewhat larger since that extension to Montreal than they were before. My hon. friend the Minister of Railways and Canals has not indulged in any prophecies to-day, which I imagine is very wise on his part; but let me point out for one moment what the attitude of the government is with respect to this very matter, compared with what it was only a few years ago. The object at that time, as declared by the Minister of Railways and Canals, was to reach out and obtain a portion of the western traffic. Mr. Blair, when Minister of Railways and Canals, frankly admitted to the House and the country that that extension of the Intercolonial to Montreal had not fulfilled his expectations, and had not resulted in giving to the country any appreciable share in that traffic which he had expected to procure ; and he pointed out, while he was still Minister of Railways and Canals, the desirability of carrying that railway still further west, because at Montreal, we had no western connections, whereas, if the Intercolonial Railway were extended to the great lakes, we would there be in a position to compete on even terms with the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Grand Trunk Railway. I cannot pass over this without once more directing the attention of the Minister of Railways and Canals to the fact that in addition to Mr. Russell, who represented Halifax and afterwards Hants in this House, my hon. friend the Minister of Railways and Canals, then a private member of this House, was perhaps the most earnest advocate of the extension of the Intercolonial Railway to the Georgian bay by the acquisition of the Canada Atlantic Railway itself, and not by the acquisition of running rights over that railway. The government apparently had new light on the question later on. They came to the conclusion, at the time the policy of the government respecting railway matters waa introduced by the Prime Minister in 1903, that the operation of railways in this country was not a good thing in the interest of the country. I could easily quote a dozen very strong statements to that effect by

the Prime Minister, the Postmaster General and others. The attitude of the government in the sessions of 1903 and 1904, when their railway policy was discussed, was this : it is not wise in the interest of
Canada to operate railways ; it is however wise in the interest of Canada to build our own railways, and to let private companies operate them. The position of the government to-day is just as complete a reversal of their attitude of last year and the year before as that attitude was a complete reversal of what they said in 1898. Their attitude during the sessions of 1903 and 1904 was this : let us build and own railways, but let us operate them. Their attitude to-day, as announced by the Minister of Railways, is, let us not build our own railways. hut let us operate railways owned by private corporations. This is exactly the reverse of the policy laid down in 1903 and 1904. For my part, X do not see how both these positions can be in consonance with what is wise in the interests of the country. If it be a good thing to operate this railway, it seems a little dif-ticult to understand why it would not be equally a wise policy to operate what is known as the eastern division of the Transcontinental. However there will be an opportunity later on to discuss some of these matters. Let me add this further. As far as I understand the policy of railway companies, such a company does not take or accept running rights whenever it can get anything better. Whenever it can acquire the ownership of a connecting road on fair and reasonable terms, it is always considered good policy to do so rather than content itself with running powers only, especially when the corporation which owns the road, over which running powers are required, must after all have a dominant voice in determining how those powers shall be exercised : The government told us last
session and the session before that it would be impossible to operate the Canada Atlantic successfully, even if the country owned it unless they equipped it with a fleet of steamers on the lake, built elevators at Parry Sound and kept an army of canvassers in the west to solicit trade in competition with the Grand Trunk Railway. Well, if all those things were essential after you had acquired the Canada Atlantic, will they not he much more essential if you propose to operate that railway, and operate it, not with perfect control, but in direct competition with the Grand Trunk Railway, which not only has jjractical control over it but will have connections all through that western country and that large fleet of steamers on the lake which the right bon. gentleman declared to be absolutely necessary. These are the considerations which struck me at first blush on hearing the Minister of Railways. We shall have an opportunity of debating the question later
on, but my own view certainly is, subject to what I may learn in the debate, that if it be a wise policy to extend the Intercolonial Railway to Parry Sound, it would be infinitely better to do this by acquiring this road and thus have our own line from Halifax or St. John to Parry Sound or some other point on the Georgian Bay, and operate it as a part of the Intercolonial Railway. These are the considerations which strike me at the moment.

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