March 25, 1902 (9th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Thomas Osborne Davis



amounts of money. They are not poor people who are coming from the United States, but are well-to-do people. If we spend $500,000 to bring in 75,000 people, and they bring into the country $10,000,000 of money and goods, they are increasing the wealth of this country to that extent. If we spent $1,000,000 on immigration, and brought in 150,000 people, and they brought in with them $20,000,000, that would be a good policy for this country.
Hon. gentlemen on the other side say that we are not getting in the proper class of immigrants. Well, I am in a position to know more than do these hon. gentlemen who talk so flippantly. I have personal knowledge of the fact that we are bringing in the proper class of immigrants. These immigrants are producing millions of bushels of wheat. Why, there is a little town in my riding, which five years ago was a wilderness, and in that town there are five large elevators this year, and the export of wheat from it was something like a million bushels. That is the kind of people which my hon. friends opposite are so fond of abusiug- poukhobors, Galicians, Germans and other foreigners. What we want is men willing to take off their coats and go to work. We do not want gentlemen with eye glasses. They may be very desirable in the clubs, but in our country we want men who will tear up the prairie and produce wealth, who will take off their coats and apply their muscles to the plough. And that is the class of men we are getting, and the money spent on immigration is tlie best expenditure that we are making in the interests of the country, and if we were to increase that expenditure, we would be adopting a wise policy.
Then take our transportation facilities, we must have some other method of getting our stuff out of the country. The other day I was taken to task by the Minister of Public Works because I said that the canal system had outlived its usefulness. Well, that system may be all right to relieve the congestion of traffic, but it is not to be compared with railways. We are told that our canals are valuable because were it not for them, our railway rates would be much higher. We are told that the railway rates are regulated by the rates on the canals. It is a sad admission that we should have spent some $90,000,000 on canals for the purpose of regulating our railway rates. It seems to me that we ought to have devised some system of regulating these rates without having had to spend $100,000,000 for that purpose. What we want is a continuous line of railway which can be operated twelve months in the year and double tracked if necessary. East year four hundred thousand people in the west produced 100,000,000 bushels of grain. We are going to get people in there at the rate of 100,000 per year, and in eight or ten years the production in that country will be increased to 400,000,000 or 500,000,000 bushels, which will have to he carried

to the seaboard, and that cannot be done over our canals when they are frozen up six months in the year. What we want is to be able to put our wheat on the car and run it through to the seaboard. There has been too much money spent trying to compete against nature. We have been spending millions of dollars in Montreal trying to create an artificial port-trying to make an ocean port out of something that was never intended to be so by nature. If half- that money had been spent on the port of Quebec in providing proper facilities there, where we have a port that can float the largest ship that will be built in the next twenty years, and if we had a railway running from the centre of the territories right into that port, from which our produce could be shipped twelve months in the year, you would not hear anything about the car shortage that we hear so much about at present.
Then we have to take into account the depreciation in the value of wheat and the charges for interest and insurance, when it has to be stored over during the winter, which must amount to at least 6 cents a bushel. There is also this further point to be considered. If we have to depend wholly on our canals, we will have to store an immense quantity of wheat in the elevators at the head of Take Superior, and when navigation opens in the spring and we throw that on the markets of the world, down goes the price, so that the farmers will be out, not only the loss in storage and insurance, but also the depreciation in value on account of such an immense quantity being thrown on the market.
What we want is a continuous line of railway from the west to some ocean port, and Quebec is the proper place. This would enable us to send our commodities to a port which could be kept open twelve months in the year, and in this way we would stimulate the production of grain and other products in the North-west, and thus not only increase the trade of that part of the country but the trade and wealth of the whole Dominion. This government has still a large domain of public lands at its disposal, notwithstanding the 70,000,000 acres which our lion, friends opposite gave away to railways. Notwithstanding their extravagance in this respect, we have still left millions of acres of fertile land, the property of the people of this country, and by providing proper transportation facilities, by opening up and developing the country, by getting immigrants in there, we will increase the value of our own public domain to sucli an extent that we will have sufficient in ten years to pay the whole public debt of the country. That is if we keep these lands ourselves and do not give them away to railway corporations. What we want is to get settlers into that country, and if we are not spending enough money at present on immigration, we should spend more. If five and a half million people in round figures are paying
now $52,000,000 or $53,000,000 into the public treasury, and 5,000,000 more west of the lakes, and you will double the revenue and thus furnish the means to pay the interest on any amount of money to be spent in developing this country.
I wish to say a word or two on railway subsidies. I have heard lion, gentlemen opposite condemn the system of railway subsidies and advocate government ownership of railways. That policy of government ownership is a new fad put before the people of the west, but I submit that we need only turn our attention to the government railway which we are now operating to show that such a policy is not practicable. If the railways of a country could be run by the government outside of politics, no doubt that would be a good thing, but with our present experience of an expenditure of over $50,000,000 on the Intercolonial Railway, without ever getting back a cent of interest besides being obliged to operate the road at a loss, I do not think it would be wise on our part to extend that experience. Even if it were shown that the people along the line of that railway are getting the benefit in the shape of cheaper rates, that would be some compensation, but that is not shown. It is not proved that our government railway is carrying freights or passengers at cheaper rates than other lines. And yet still the country has to face a heavy deficit in the operating of that line besides not getting any interest on the capital investment. These lion, gentlemen who advocate government ownership point to Australia. Well, I do not know much about Australia, having never been there, but I find that the per capita expenditure of that country is $3.8 per head as against $10 in Canada. How comes it that these people have to pay $38 per head.

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