Mr. CHARLES ANGERS (Cbarlevois).
(Translation.) Mr. Speaker, surely it is after such a protracted debate as this that the old maxim should be kept in mind : Silence is golden ; a principle too often disregarded by several of my hon. friends. However, I think it proper to say a few words on the proposed scheme, without attempting to discover new aspects of the question.
To be frank, I must admit that, at the outset, the grand scheme of a second transcontinental did not in the least appeal to me. With our population of six millions, and after paying $100,000,000 to build the Canadian Pacific Railway it seemed to me that the proposal was rather bold and hnsty. Then the Grand Trunk Company, who are so interested in directing our traffic to Portland, did not, to my mind, offer sufficient guarantee that the interests of our shipping ports would receive due consideration at their hands. Then again, I thought to myself that a second transcontinental located to the north of Lake Winnipeg, as proposed by the Trans-Canada Company, would ensure a shorter route and answer better the future requirements of our North-west at an early date. Lastly, the construction of a line from Quebec to Moncton without ascertaining beforehand what traffic there would be, and to what extent the Intercolonial might cope with it, seemed to me premature. I would also have thought it wiser on the part of the government, before binding themselves by contract, to have caused surveys to be made to find out the exact character and value of the country to be traversed and the probable cost of the undertaking. But I understand that these surveys will be made and that the road will be located at the most advantageous points, with a view to promoting colonization and industry and securing the easiest gradients in order to render practicable and profitable the haulage of grain and heavy freight from the west.
Besides, the debate, which was not to the advantage of the opposition, suggested new arguments and ideas, and I said to myself : my fears may be exaggerated, and the building of that transcontinental may be a source of great benefit to the country in general, and to my province in particular.
So, I think, it will be wise to lay aside my doubts and support the'measure.
All, or almost all, seem to think that the construction of a second transcontinental is unavoidable. Criticism bears rather on questions of detail. Besides, we are put face to face with two policies, and we have to choose between them. The hon. leader of the opposition, despising the easy ways of the critic, tried his hand at the difficult task of the inventor. He imagined a scheme for a transcontinental which is strange, to say the least. But the road he would build would have the double advantage of costing a great deal more than the Grand Trunk Pacific and of not' doing anything towards the development of that new country between Quebec and Winnipeg, which it would be so interesting and profitable to open up and settle.
So, the Grand Trunk Pacific is much preferable to that hybrid road, made up of sections bought or built, which the leader of the opposition has in his mind. And, as in politics, often we have to be content with relative perfection-the superiority of the government plan would be sufficient reason for my accepting it.
Moreover, several weighty arguments are brought forward in support of the proposal, and though they may not be conclusive, they nevertheless make it very likely that the undertaking will be fruitful of good results ; considerable development of traffic between the eastern provinces and the western, where immigration is booming and which will have to be supplied with manufactured goods, carriage of live stock and grain from the west, to Canadian ports, provided easy gradients allow haulage of freight under cheap and paying conditions : importance of opening up to industry and settlement, especially in Ontario and Quebec, new areas, abounding in water powers, in timber of all sorts and in fertile soils. And that argument from the point of view of Quebec, is evidently very conclusive, since this is probably the only chance we have of having a railway built at the expense of the Dominion government from *one end of the province to the other. Of course, I do not mean that the building of a railway will by itself ensure the settlement of the country it runs through. It is necessary, besides, that the settler be directed there, that he be protected systematically against his inexperience, against the lumberman, and guided in the choice of a location. We have already in Quebec favoured districts where colonization is dormant. To send the settler to a new country, without the necessary advice and help, would be exposing him to many disappointments.
I shall not. Sir, take up the time of the House by a detailed discussion of the clauses of the contract. That has already been done, and very thoroughly, by several who have already spoken. I shall only say that it seems to have been prepared with
care and a laudable concern for Canada's Intersts. Although it does not contain all the provisions I would have thought desirable that it should contain, nevertheless, it gives as reasonable and fair assurances, if carried out, that Canada will profit by it. And if we compare that contract with the Canadian Pacific Railway agreement, passed by the Conservative party, and in which they pride themselves so much to-day, it seems clearly to be less advantageous to the company and more profitable to us. Practically, the Canadian Pacific Railway was constructed at the expense of the country, and handed over to the shareholders who are getting fat dividends out of it to-day. And even if we add the present value of the lands granted to the cash subsidies and to the works donated, we find that to the cost of construction we have added numerous millions which the company rakes in to-day through the sale of those lands, whose value is ever increasing.
To the Grand Trunk Pacific we grant only a guarantee of interest. For seven years that interest will be left to our charge. That will amount to twelve or thirteen millions, including interest on cost of eastern section. True, we are building at our expense the eastern section from Moncton to Winnipeg, but the company agrees to pay the interest for forty-three years on the amount thus expended ; and at the expiry of the lease, that part of the road remains our property. In the case of the Canadian Pacific Railway, we paid the cost of builds ing the road, even more, and there is nothing left us, not even that efficient control over the rates, which is reserved to the government under the contract with the Grand Trunk Pacific.
To be in a position to judge of the value of a political act, it is often useful to resort to comparisons ; and if the Grand Trunk Pacific scheme is ahead, and away ahead, of the Canadian Pacific Railway agreement, and of the plan proposed by the leader of the opposition-and I am satisfied it is- that alone should induce our opponents to show greater fairness and reserve in their criticisms.
And now, Mr. Speaker, I may be allowed to make a short digression and to draw the attention of the government to a very interesting region deprived heretofore of railway communications ; the county of Charlevois, which I have the honour to represent and the neighbouring county of Saguenay which extends to the Atlantic. As has been stated over and over again in the course of this debate, the railway has become an almost indispensable factor of progress. We also in Charlevois would like to have the sun shine for us. Our population exceeds twenty thousand souls ; we have large areas of timber lauds where the lumbering industry is begun to acquire considerable importance : agriculture, live stock, dairying, properly encouraged, would give striking results. We
Topic: NATIONAL TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILWAY-NOTICE OF AMENDMENT.