August 31, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)


Charles Henry Parmelee


Mr. CHAS. H. PARMELEE (Shefford).

Mr. Speaker, I am not vain enough to hope that at this late stage of the debate I shall be able to contribute anything to the information of the House. At the same time I do not intend to apologize in advance for
boring and wearying the House because when it comes to that I think all members stand on about the same footing. There are, however, one or two things which I would like to say because I recognize that this is one of the greatest undertakings that this parliament has ever had to deal with. While the discussion has been long and while perhaps some of the Speakers have been more lengthy than was necessary, I cannot help feeling that on the whole the debate has been valuable, has been important and that it will be so judged by the country. If the arguments on our side have seemed to be stronger, if the discussion by members on this side has been abler, I am generous enough to soy of my hon. friends opposite that they have had a iioor case to advocate and that if they have made a poor fist of it it is because it is hard to argue against an undertaking of as good a character as that which is now before the House and the country. The hon. the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals (Hon. Mr. Blair) said early in the debate that there had been no demand for this railway, and particularly that there had been no demand for it in the province of British Columbia. I think that an hon. Senator in the upper chamber said the other day that British Columbia did not want anything of this kind. I hold in my hand a press dispatch dated to-day which says :
British Columbia has given an unmistakable answer to Senator MacDonald's plea against the Grand Trunk Pacific, and to Mr. Blair's statement that British Columbia did not want the railway. The Victoria Board of Trade, always regarded as the most Conservative organization in the province, practically repudiated both statements by passing this resolution :-* Resolved that we, the Victoria Board of Trade, hereby endorse the federal government's endeavour to have constructed another transcontinental railway, and that we urge alt our representatives not to place any obstacle in the way of such construction.'
After this proposition lias been so freely debated, after the country has become perfectly familiar with the contract and with its terms. I would say that that is a very strong endorsation ; particularly coming from the Victoria Board of Trade whose conservatism, as the despatch states, is ail wool and a yard wide.
Nearly all of the principal features of this scheme have been debated over and over again, hut there are one or two phases of it to which I would ask attention for a few minutes. As an English member coming from the province of Quebec I can cordially approve of this Grand Trunk Pacific Railway project for the reason, among others, that it will add largely to the cultivable area of onr province. I need scarcely remind this House that, in the past, Quebec has lost a host of people through emigration to the United States. The movement began in a small way during the troubles of 1837 when the tyranny of the family compact

goaded the people into rebellion, and when our fathers fought and bled for the liberties we now enjoy. This exodus received a fresh impetus during the civil war, owing to the bounties offered for recruits to the armies of the north as well as to great demands for labour from New England which had sent so many men to the front. Immediately after the war a great industrial development took place in New England, chiefly in the manufacture of cottons, woollens, and boots and shoes. The native American workman had drifted into other pursuits and there naturally followed a strong demand for labour from Canada as well ns from Europe. Every member of this House knows that the French Canadian has a natural aptitude for factory work, for all kinds of mechanical labour requiring skill, delicacy of touch and good taste. This is possibly inherited or, as some writers say, may have been acquired from the practice in the old days of weaving at home when all the cloth used by a family was turned out in each household, and when each household made its own boots and shoes. At any rate the French Canadians became favourite workmen in the New England factories, and as they prospered in their new homes they naturally wrote back to Quebec and invited their friends and relatives to join them. They were earning good wages. The members of the family old enough to work would put their earnings into a common fund so that their aggregate weekly wage was large. Naturally under such conditions as that the exodus grew in volume year after year until it assumed alarming proportions. I do not know the exact figures but I think lam safe in sayiug that there are a million and a half French Canadians in the New England states of whose productive energies we might have availed ourselves in developing the vast natural resources of this country. When the North-west became part of the Dominion in 1870, efforts were made by patriotic men, notably by the bishops and clergy, to induce our people to go there so that they might not be lost to Canada. These efforts have had very poor success. Manitoba was a long way off and in those days when there were no railways there it cost a great deal to transport a Canadian family to the Northwest and to maintain it until the soil could yield crops. On the other hand New England was close by and the emigrant there could begin earning wages the very morning after his arrival. That is the cheaf reason why the French Canadians failed to take advantage of the opportunities offered to them and to every one else in the west.
Then followed, as everybody knows, a period of agricultural depression and low prices, so that for years there was no very great encouragement for a young man to imitate the example of his father and start in life for himself in the bush. Disappointed at the result of their efforts to in-Mr. PARMELEE.
duce the people to go to the west, the clergy then turned their attention to colonization in the j>rovinee of Quebec, and by means of coi'duroy roads and of such colonization roads as they could prevail on the provincial government to provide, tried to make it easier for the settler to take up the wild lands and convert them into fertile fields and farms, such as exist in the older parts of the province. The name of Mon-signeur Labelle, I think, will live in the history of the province of Quebec as one of the most courageous and energetic leaders of this movement. Happily, about 1896, things began to improve, and, thanks to the adoption of a wise fiscal policy and an able and honest administration of affairs, the sun of prosperity began to shine on the Canadian farmer. The result of that improvement has been that the exodus from Canada has practically ceased ; and in fact, instead of our people going away, the flow is towards Canada, and our people are coming back to their native land.
Now, Mr, Speaker, I regard it as of the first importance that we should forestall the periodic return of hard times, and that before that day arrives we should embark on a larger and more comprehensive scheme of colonization than any that has yet been attempted ; and I can conceive of no better plan having that end in view than the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, the construction of. which Is provided for in the contract before this House, running through the region lying between Abitibi and Quebec, and the region bounded by the Little Alleghany or Blue mountains and the American frontier to the south of the St. Lawrence. The best authorities which I have been able to consult declare without hesitation that this region contains a vast amount of fertile land, that it is well watered and heavily timbered, and that it has a pulp supply to last for generations. I do not believe much in inflicting figures on the House, but I wish to show how the pulp Industry has grown, and what vast strides it has made in the last few years, I think that within the lifetime of men now in this House it will become perhaps the largest single industry in this country. The growth of the pulp industry in Canada is shown by the following statistics taken from the Census Returns of 1881, 1891 and 1901 :
1881. 1891. 1901.Number of mills.. Number of e m- 3 24 30employees
Earnings of em- 68 1,025 4,550ployees $15,720 $ 292,009 $1,587,597Value of product.. 63,300 1,057,810 6,176,300
The census of 1901 shows that there were fifteen mills in Quebec, with a product of $3,508,068, and seven mills in Ontario, with a product of $1,694,234. The value of wood pulp exported from Canada to all countries increased from $280,619 in 1891 to $1,937,-

207 in 1901 ; and the value of pulp exported to the British islands increased from $113,557, in 1896, to $934,722, in 1901. The value of wood pulp imported by the British islands from all countries increased from $8,198,615, in 1896, to $11,709,607 in 1901. The present yearly production of wood pulp in Canada is about 240,000 tons, and a cord of wood yields a ton of chemical pulp. The government exploration report of 1900 estimates that the pulp wood forests in Ontario, north of the height of land, will cut 288,000,000 cords, and if the present production of pulp in the country be multiplied by twenty the supply in that part of Ontario is sufficient to last sixty years, which is the period required for a pulp wood forest to reproduce itself. In Quebec, as well as in Ontario, on the Hudson Bay slope, there are vast forests of pulp wood, and in both regions there are large rivers and many waterfalls to supply motive power for mills. Assuming the forests in those regions, to be properly conserved, the pulp industry alone, if developed to the capacity of the country to be traversed by' the National Transcontinental Railway, would supply traffic for twenty trains of thirty loaded cars per day, as long as trees grow and waters flow.
Here are all the conditions necessary to the establishment of hundreds of groups of prosperous settlements in that region. The French 'Canadian is a natural born ddfri-cheur. In that line he has no superior ; and, given mines, lumber camps and pulp -mills in which to get a start until he has secured a foothold in the country, I believe he will do there what he has done in the older parts of the province of Quebec, and convert it into a rich agricultural country, capable of supporting a happy and prosperous people. I for one have not the slightest doubt that the Grand Trunk Pacific is the best possible agent we can invoke for carrying out such a scheme of colonization. I have no hesitation in asserting that the building of the Grand Trunk Pacific through the northern part of Quebec will do more for colonization than all the efforts that have ever been made in the past ; and I 'need hardly tell this House that if we are able to retain our own people on their native soil, we shall be repaid a hundredfold for the expenditure we shall be obliged to make. I might also point out that the older parts of Ontario and Quebec will be directly benefited by the opening up to settlement of a country of such magnitude as the northern part of Quebec and what is called New Ontario. It will give a further impetus to Industry. It will open up new markets for our manufacturers, and help the older sections of the country to grow and prosper. Suppose that this region of which I have been speaking, from Abitibi to Quebec, were a colony of itself or belonged to another country, we can all fancy how much rejoicing there would be on the part of men of all parties if by some happy stroke of fortune, it came to
be annexed to us and became a part of the province of Quebec. As it is now, lying there undeveloped, and with no railway communication, it is of no more use to us than if it belonged to another country or another planet. It is of no use to us and of no use even to itself. The construction of a railway would at once give it a potential value, and if as we are told and believe it possesses resources well worthy of developing, the province of Quebec ought to congratulate itself on the policy of this government.
When I hear our lion, friends opposite denouncing and decrying new Ontario and new Quebec as wretched deserts for that is what, after all, their criticisms amount to-I am reminded of the purchase by the Americans of Alaska. Over thirty years ago the United States paid $7,500,000 for Alaska, and those of us who are old enough can well recall that Mr. Seward, then Secretary of State, was most bitterly criticised and assailed for having made a purchase of that kind. It was said thit he had bought a slice of Siberia, far removed from the nearest settlements of the United States, and destined to remain for ever an Arctic waste. We do not hear any talk of that kind now. We do not hear that the bargain was a bad one or that too much was paid for that country. We hear of everything- the reverse, because it has turned out that in Alaska there are rich gold mines, besides salmon and seal fisheries, which are most valuable. In fact, a trunk railway is being built to-day in that country with branch lines and a considerable fleet of steamers plying between Puget Sound and Juneau, carrying out the products of Alaska and carrying in the manufactured goods and other products of the east. And
strangest of all, it has been found that there are large areas in the interior adapted to sheep ranching and even cattle raising. I merely mention this to show how dangerous it is, how unwise and liow unsafe, to prophesy unless you know about the future of the new regions in the north. If Alaska lias turned out so well, we are surely warranted in believing that new Ontario and new Quebec, once they have been developed by railway facilities, once their vast mineral, timber and agricultural resources are brought to light, will prove to be worth a great deal more than the cost of this road. Not only that, but as soon as this railway is built, it will enable us to exploit that still vaster region around James' bay, a region said to be rich in minerals, and in which, according to some reports, there are vast deposits of coal, not merely lignite, but steam coal of good quality, besides large areas of copper and ironbearing ores. And everybody knows that the fisheries of Hudson bay will in time become a national asset of no little value. As I observed a moment ago, the development

of new Quebec, together with the region lying between Etclteinan amt St. Francis river, back from the south shore of the St. Lawrence, will also be the centre of large and prosperous settlements which will furnish a market for our manufacturers. Our people in the east are certain to benefit also by the impetus that will be given to immigration into the North-west. For my part, while 1 like to see the North-west grow, I do fee! that we should take advantage of every possible means to develop the east. We in the older provinces assumed a very heavy responsibility when we built the Canadian Pacific Railway, and 1 may be pardoned if I contrast, in a general way, the terms and conditions of the two contracts. If, in 1880, this country was a lilts to spend $135,000,000 or $140,000,000 for the purpose of building a transcontinental road -or rather a portion of a transcontinental road-this country now, having a far larger population, having a revenue twice as large, ought to be able to undertake with a liglit heart a scheme of this kind, which calls for, at the outside, an expenditure of but $14,000,000 or $15,000,000. I might add that nobody now would undertake to say that, although the. terms under which we secured the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway were severe, although we had to pay a great deal for it, after all the advantages have not more than paid for the outlay. Another thing I would say about the proposition before us is tills, that it carries with it no land grant, that our public domain in the future, except that which was bartered away in days gone by by the Conservative regime, will be kept for the settlers. In addition, this contract carries no tax exemption; and, most important of all, the government have secured absolute control of the rates, whereas under the Canadian Pacific Railway contract, the government cannot touch the rates until the company will have earned ten per cent, which means that the rates can never be touched at all.
When this railway is built not only will It develop the great North-west and British Columbia, but the hinterland of Ontario and Quebec, and thus enable us to secure, not only a convenient exit for the products of the North-west to the sea, but a market for our manufactured goods, and the rates of freight in each case will be lower than they are at present. In tliat way this scheme will be a vast advantage to the eastern manufacturers, and give the people of the east some return for the heavy outlay they have made to secure railway facilities for the. west.
In one of his speeches, the great Edward Burke drew a striking picture of the growth of the thirteen colonies, which, without doing violence to the proprieties or to truth, one may, with the alteration of a word or two, apply to the Canadian North-west :
Suppose that in the year 1870, when this region was joined to confederation, the angel of Mr. PARMELEE.
some auspicious youth in old Canada had drawn up the curtain, unfolding the rising glory of the new land, and had said: ' Young man, there is the North-west, at present a seminal principle rather than a formed body, which now serves for little more than to amuse you with stories of savage men and uncouth manners, yet shall, ere you taste of death, possess over half a million prosperous people and take its place-this child of England's old age-as one of the principal exporters of food to the United Kingdom. If this state of the North-west had been foretold, would it not have required all the sanguine credulity of youth and all the fervid glow of enthusiasm, to make him believe it '?
Now, Sir, whilst we are all proud of the strides made by the North-west, and have high hopes of its future, we in the older provinces have reason to rejoice that our interests and our welfare are also being consulted by the present policy of the government. This is what makes it a truly national policy in a far wider sense than that in which the phrase is used by our protectionist brethren. It is a policy which, besides peopling the North-west and British Columbia, adds greatly to the economic and industrial possibilities of Quebec, Ontario and the provinces clown by the sea, the original partners in the compact of confederation, who have so far borne the heat and burden of the day without receiving any very direct benefit. It is a policy, in short, that not only helps new Canada, west of Lake Superior, but old Canada as well. And henceforth we in the east, as an unselfish parent, can turn with enthusiasm to the labour of developing oiur new empire added to our present estate by this new railway, so that we may not be outstripped whether in material or political importance by our vigorous sons in the west. Now', perhaps I have kept the House too long. But I do wish to say that I believe thoroughly In this transcontinental scheme, because it is a Canadian scheme ; because, starting from the golden Pacific, it runs to the broad Atlantic over Canadian territory ; because it meets the aspirations of the people of this country to be a nation ; because it will do more than anything that has ever been done before to unite the provinces which compose this Dominion, and to make all the people feel that they belong to Canada, to a nation that has a great future ; because, in short, it will develop a national spirit. I think it was in that spirit that this scheme was conceived by the right hon. leader of the government, and I think to him is due the credit, as these delicate negotiations were conducted largely by himself. And I think the country generally will admit that the terms he has secured are far better than could have been anticipated. The outlay is a mere bagatelle, considering our resources ; and if there is any risk, it is largely shifted to the shoulders of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company. And it is a great thing, in a scheme of this kind, looking to the construction and operation of a transconti-

uental line, that the government should have secured the guarantee of so powerful a corporation as the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada, which, having its lines all over the east, is in a position, the moment the Grand Trunk Pacific is constructed, to handle the traffic between the east and the west. Not only that, but the Grand Trunk Railway Company is a vast corporation and, under the terms of this agreement, it will be able to raise its capital at a very low rate of interest, so that, though the receipts may not be very large at the outset of the road's operation, the company will have secured its money upon such easy terms that the fixed charges will, perhaps, not be more than 50 per cent of the fixed charge upon any other road in this country. While the bargain seems to be largely in favour of the government, that, in my mind, is the reason why, in the long run, the Grand Trunk Pacific Company will be able to carry out its obligations and do the things it has contracted with this government to do. Now, for my part, I think that when this road is built immense development will follow, the tide of immigration will flow iuto Canada in even greater volume than now. There are men in this House and out of it who say that there is no urgency, that there is no hurry to build this road, that the government has rushed blindly into this proposition. I find it hard to believe that hon. gentlemen on the other side can be absolutely frank and honest when they make declarations of that kind. But if they are, I have not a very high opinion of their powers of observation and capacity for seeing what is going on in this country. Everybody knows that the great need of Canada, from the very beginning, has been population, and everybody knows the struggle we have made to secure population and turn the tide in our direction. Everybody knows that for years and years our efforts, great as they were, were rewarded with but paltry results. Now, we find that the people are coming to us from all over the world, notably from the United States, to settle up our great western country. And if we are to keep them and if more are to follow, there is imperative necessity for providing them with railway facilities and for giving them a chance to get their products to market, and, not only that, but to give them favourable freight rates for the merchandise they are to buy from the east. So, I say, taking it in the larger political sense, taking it in a material and economic sense, no scheme that has been proposed by the government or considered by the parliament of Canada has been equal to the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway scheme which is now before us.

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