Mr. SLTHERLAND (South Oxford):
When this bill was before the House on Friday last objection was taken that it had not been reprinted as amended and, further, that we had no statement from the Minister of Railways (Mr. Dunning) as to the policy of the government with regard to the granting of charters for railways such as the one here contemplated. This is an independent company asking for a charter and, as I pointed out the other evening, as a result
Red Lake Railway Company
of the indiscriminate granting of railway charters in Canada, without regard to public convenience and the absence of any well defined system controlling rivalry, we find ourselves in Canada with two competitive lines of railway, the government having been forced to assume responsibility for upwards of 22,000 miles. There can be no question that the Canadian people have paid dearly for their railway experience, and it passes my understanding how the government can sit quietly by and allow such a bill as this to come up repeatedly without offering some explanation of its policy in regard to the issuing of charters. This particular bill has been under consideration in different forms during the present session; yet the Minister of Railways sits here without volunteering any information to assist the House in coming to a conclusion in the matter. The Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb) himself on Friday last agreed that we were entitled to some definite statement regarding the policy of the Department of Railways on the granting of charters.
We have seen for years now private companies applying for charters with no intention whatever of building any railways, and always coming back for an extension of time, so that in the long run many of these charters have had to be cancelled entirely. In other 'cases roads have been constructed without regard to convenience or economy, with the result that the country has suffered. In the present, instance we do not know -whether the proposed railway will be built, the only information we have being that a blanket charter is asked for to enable a company to construct a line from somewhere near Hud-san bay down to the Canadian National system. The House ought to know just what the company will do, and whether it sincerely intends to build the road. I do not believe the people mentioned in this charter have any intention of going on with this road themselves. They may represent someone else, but it is quite evident that if this road is operated successfully it will have to be operated by the Canadian National Railway System, and if that is the case by all means let the Canadian National Railway System ask for a charter and go on with the construction of this road, and see that the road is built where it should go and not where it will suit the convenience of some promoters -who may possibly intend to dispose of their charter after having secured it.
I know it will be argued that there is provision in this bill that unless the company does a certain amount of work during the coming year the charter will lapse. That
provision has been in bills before, and we have seen the companies coming back time after time, after having spent a little money, and have their charters renewed. This renewal of charters has been a common practice for years, and I think we should have a clear and definite statement from the minister as to what the government propose doing. We recently had the experience of this government. granting a charter for the construction of a road adjacent to the Transcontinental and Temiskaming and Northern Ontario railways; bonds were guaranteed to the extent of $5,000,000, while an injunction was taken out against the province of Ontario, who did not ask for a dollar, in order to prevent them from building a road there. The people interested were more anxious for a connection with the mining centres tributary to the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario railway than for a road from O'Brien into that territory. I do think the minister should make a clear and definite statement as to what the government intend doing in this connection so that, parliament may have a proper idea of what the passing of this bill may mean.
Topic: CANADIAN FUEL SUPPLY
Subtopic: RED LAKE AND NORTHWESTERN RAILWAY COMPANY