House of Commons, 16 January 1905, Canadian Confederation with Alberta and Saskatchewan

[Mr. MACDONALD — ] [...] practically so as to suit the needs and interests of the country from time to time. By a large majority the Canadian people, not so long ago, gave evidence in a manner so marked, so decidedly expressed, that no one can gainsay it of their confidence in the ability of this government to deal with the question of the tariff along the lines I have indicated.
Another item of great interest to our people is the announcement in the speech of the appointment of a commission to act with one similarly appointed by the United States government with regard to the preservation of the rivers and other waterways which are common to the two great countries. That is a declaration which I am sure, in this land of mountain and the lake, and this land of rushing rivers, this land in which our immense water—powers and waterways are destined to fill so important a place is one which Will be welcomed by the House; and the labours of that commission which was originated by an Act of Congress passed in 1902, will no doubt be watched throughout this country with deep interest and I am confident will result in good to both nations. No one will gainsay the statement that Canadians generally regard the maintenance of friendly relations with the great English speaking people to the south of us as of prime importance, and without exception hope that the time will never come when those friendly relations may in anyway be impaired or unsettled; but while that is the case, and while we are prepared to discuss with them such matters of common interest as I have mentioned, I am sure that we all cordially endorse the declaration of the right hon. the First Minister that we will send no more delegations to Washington just now, to look for trade favours. We have now reached that stage when we have become self-reliant and confident in our own resources and great future. We have implicit reliance in the capabilities of Canada, and while prepared to favourably consider any proposition in the interests of both countries, looking towards an improvement in our trade relations, we do not feel disposed to-day to send any more delegations on the question of reciproc1ty.
The policy announced in the speech of granting provincial autonomy for the Northwest Territories marks an important epoch in our history. It is thirty-four years ago since the province of Manitoba was admitted into confederation and given all those rights, and that status in the federation which is enjoyed by every province in the Dominion, and at this moment it may be opportune to indulge in a retrospective glance and recall some of the advances and developments that have occurred since confederation. Thirty—eight years ago when confederation was established it embraced but four provinces and covered a territory stretching between Lake Superior and the sea. Each one of these provinces was then imbued mainly by local prejudices and limited by provincial aspirations. Each one was 12 unacquainted with the other. There was no common tie save that of the constitution which bound them together. Our total trade then amounted to but one hundred and thirty one million dollars. Our railway mileage was but two thousand miles and our postal revenue but one million dollars. Our bank deposits amounted to but thirty-eight million dollars, and our people generally had but a limited appreciation of the resources and possibilities then awaiting development. Our outlook was purely provincial and the aspirations and ideas of our people were almost exclusively limited by the boundaries of the provinces in which they lived. It is but just to bear tribute to the foresight of that great statesman who presided at the inception of Canada's birth and who watched over this country when in her swaddling clothes. We can all, irrespective of party, regard him as one who did great things for Canada and whose name will always be embalmed in the history of this Dominion. In 1870, when the Northwest was a seething mass of rebellion and discontent, the Territories were brought into confederation. In 1871, British Columbia entered the union. In 1873 the little island of Prince Edward followed her example and in 1875 the Northwest was placed under the jurisdiction of a lieutenant governor. Then in 1880 all the British possessions in North America were placed under the Dominion of our federal parliament with the exception of Newfoundland. Then followed the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which bound all the provinces together and gave to the eastern provinces a common interest in the western heritage, and gave birth to that newer patriotism which has shown such rapid development in the last few years. Following the building of this railway, came new settlements. From all portions of the habitable globe came settlers into this new country, so that no less than three hundred and twenty-four thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight people during the past four years have gone into this new land—a number exceeding the population of some of our provinces and equalling that of others. When we stop to consider the fact also, that during the past four years 94,791 homesteads have been taken up in that country, we can form some conception of the rapidity of its growth. In those western territories, which are to be given provincial autonomy, there exists a country which exceeds in extent the countries of France, Germany and Italy taken together. This is indeed a precious heritage, this great Northwest land, which to-day forms part of our territory and in which we are about to inaugurate a system of government which will place that country on an equal footing with the other provinces in confederation. Realizing the advantages which Canada offers to new settlers, We have men from all lands and every clime taking up homesteads in that vast territory, where they will enjoy constitutional rights and privileges from 13 JANUARY 16, 1905 which they are debarred in lands from which they come.
The making of this new province, or these new provinces, as the case may be will establish a continuous line of provinces from sea to sea, and will, to a certain extent, round off confederation. As a result of this growth which I have but roughly outlined, a great change has been coming over (Canada. Our outlook has widened during the thirty-eight years that have gone. We have ceased to view matters from a provincial or narrow point of view; our outlook has become a Dominion, a continental one. And, especially during the last eight years has this development gone on in so remarkable a degree that I may be pardoned for referring to it. One of the advantages of this marked advance of the last eight years is that old race and creed issues have been forgotten, and from sea to sea men do not now stop to consider these things, but we realize in a way we never did before that we are Canadians one and all. There is coming to Canada, but more particularly to young Canada, a realization of the great resources and extent of our country which was not present with us even a few years ago. When we recall that, in Canada we have an area that is more than one-third of the whole British empire, and as that idea has permeated the whole life of our people, there has grown a patriotic pride and a feeling of interest in and devotion to our country which, in other nations and in other times, it has required the stern teaching of war to evoke. And our pride in our institutions, in our literature, in our rapid growth in national life, has been enhanced by our faith in our country's resources, and by a realization of the fact that during the past eight years our trade increase has exceeded that of every other country in the history of the world. I have already given some figures showing our position at the time of confederation. To-day, our railway mileage exceeds 20,000 miles; our postal revenue is over $6,000,000 a year; the deposits in our banks instead of being $38,000,000, as they were thirty-eight years ago, are close upon $600,000,000. Once these facts are realized, we contemplate the position of Canada With growing exultation and pride. We realize that here in Canada, we have all the elements by which we may become the great flour, paper, cheese, butter and provision producer, as well the great woodenware manufacturing centre of the world. These natural conditions are beginning to be appreciated, and are certain of early exploitation. But our outlook widening, as it has been on the federal and continental side, looks also toward the imperial field; andI am proud to say that I believe there is not in Canada any desire for any other future than in connection with \the great empire to which we belong. At the same time, we should remember that he who would artificially or un 14naturally hasten the solution of the problem of our future relations to the empire may create the worst stumbling block in the way of reaching the end which he desires to see attained. There are those who are accustomed to say that Canada has done nothing towards paying her debt of gratitude to the empire. I think they forget the efforts that have been put forth by Canada, and the help that has been rendered by Canada in constructing already one great transcontinental line and preparing for the immediate construction of another. The first of these already has been, and both of them must be, tremendous factors in binding the empire together, whether in peace or in war. In addition to that, Canada has shown herself, by her attitude at the time of the South African war, to be ready to stand by the empire in the hour of national necessity. We are going on with the inception of a Canadian navy—a ' small navy it may be, but we are moving along the proper line by arranging that when Canada spends her money on behalf of the empire she shall oversee that expen~ diture. It may be true—it is true—that Canada must make some sacrifices in order that the problem of the empire may be solved. Those of us who believe in imperial connection and the future of the empire are ready that these sacrifices should be made. At the same time, Canada's interests must be guarded, and there must be corresponding sacrifices in every other part of the empire, in order that a harmonioas and a successful future may be assured.
The next paragraph of the address to which I will refer announces that satisfactory progress has been made in carrying out the policy of a national transcontinental railway which was approved by parliament two years ago and reaffirmed last session.
I am sure that hon. gentlemen opposite appreciate to—day, perhaps more even than they did in the past, the great importance to Canada of carrying to a successful issue the construction of this great railway. It is only fair to say that, although some of these hon. gentlemen, at the inception of this proposition, were disposed to combat the idea that the new Transcontinental Railway was necessary, at the conclusion of the discussion of that question, they frankly admitted that it was a good thing to have the new railway. But they interjected into the discussion a proposition which was utterly opposed to all the traditions of their party, when they suggested the government ownership and operation of that railway. Today, I am sure, they will join with us in the satisfaction we all feel in learning that a great many of the difficulties that were expected in the inauguration of this enterprise are rapidly disappearing. Thus, we were told that the country through which the railway is to pass between Quebec and Winnipeg was a country of muskeg and stunted poplar. I am 19 Mr. PARENT conflicts of opinion which its discussion will set forth, the principles of toleration and equal rights which should be sanctioned thereby.
It has been stated that 'Experience is a physician called in too late' ; and I may not be wrong in thinking that the experience acquired of late years in the province of Manitoba has been of that kind. The young men of my generation, undoubtedly, have not wholly realized the painful ordeal which our country was made to undergo at a time when the cry of race and religion prevented the quiet discussion of the question of separate schools and of the use of the French language. We were not in the heat of that battle, wherein galling epithets and hateful words were most dangerous missiles: we did not smell the powder of that fanatical warfare. But its rumblings reached our ears; we heard its echo. It may be that owing to our lack of experience, we have taken a somewhat exaggerated view of the situation; but we could not help trembling at the sight of the turmoil into which that bitter struggle of uncompromising principles might have fled our country, made up of various elements, had not the present government had the happy thought of negotiating a truce which will be some day final peace, let us hope. That result was effected, on the one hand, through the advice given to the Catholic minority from a quarter familiar to them, Rome, and, on the other hand, through the gentle promptings of diplomacy, whereby the Protestant majority were induced to take a stand making concessions easier all the time.
The young men of my age are witnesses to—day, as it were, of the aftermath only of the storm; but that hurricane of prejudice has left on its train enough ruins, it has hurled too violently one against the others the sons of beautiful France and those of noble England, born on Canadian soil to live side by side, it has caused too much pain, brought about too many quarrels; in a word, it has done too much harm to the Canadian nation for us not to concern our selves with its possible recurrence. 1 am confident that the present government, in constituting these new provinces of the Dominion, will foresee all the consequences of the setting in motion of the administrative and legislative machinery which they intend to install, and will thus prevent the crisis, the terrible effects of which have been set forth by recent events.
But if I consider from another standpoint the conferring of provincial autonomy on the Territories, I cannot but rejoice at the thought of that fine page we are about to add to the history of Canada.
The entrance of a new province into the fold of the Dominion is always greeted with a hearty welcome. If that great and beautiful Northwest has reached manhood, so to speak, if it is mature for the grave func tion of self government, let, in the first place, all the other provinces offer their warmest 20 congratulations, and let the country as a whole rejoice as well. For the birth of a new province within the Dominion is not merely an indication of our prosperity, is not only a vindication of the manner in which public affairs have been managed since 1896. It is, besides, a step forward, made by Canada, and above all it is the certain pledge that our dream of becoming a great nation will soon be carried out. The gap which almost separates the extreme west from the east of Canada is thereby filled, our countly becomes almost homogeneous and one stride more is taken in our countiy's noble and rapid progress towards its great destiny.
Sir, if I may be allowed to express a hope, let it be this: when self government will have been conferred on western Canada, self government which we love so much because it is akin to liberty, when the majority of that countrv will be left to manage its affairs, may they turn their eyes towards the province, one of whose humble representatives I am here and whence so many courageous missionaries have gone to these distant lands; may they not close their eyes to the examples of toleration and good will which our legislators give in their dealings with the minority; may the breezes from our mountains when gently passing over the wheat fields of Assiniboia and Alberta bring with them their perfume of kindliness and generosity.
If I feel at ease in thus greeting these provinces whose advent is announced in the speech from the Throne, it is because I recall the measures taken beforehand by the government on their behalf. The older provinces have extended a helping hand to that younger sister and to ensure her growth and normal development, the construction of a gieat 1ailway is now ensured.
Now, Sir, it is not my intention to deal at any length with the advantages offered by the Grand Trunk Pacific scheme. All that could be said on that subject has, or at any rate. should have been said, and to agree with me, one need only recall the innumerable speeches delivered in the course of the recent electoral contest. If, nevertheless, I make a passing reference to this gigantic undertaking, if I recall the dream of general prosperity which its carrying out will suggest for the country as a whole, if I corroborate the gratitude of my western brethren with my own humble congratulations, it is because I already can see the heavy wheat trains steaming towards my native city, crossing the river at Quebec, over that marvellous bridge, whose construction was, in my childhood, so often represented to me as impossible; and in the completion of that bridge I recognize the reward due to the constant efforts, to the unrelenting unceasing labour of which I was the |witness in my father's home. And should such words seem presumptuous, please be indulgent towards a son who is the witness 21 JANUARY 16, 1905 as well of attacks of all sorts directed against his father.  
Sir, unskilled as I am at dealing with political problems, having only my good will to offer for my country's service, I have not the right to claim your attention any longer; and as I must admit, I feel a certain fright at the mere sound of my voice in this House, 1 long, as you will understand, to resume my seat. My last thought, that which has inspired me a courage which seemed to fail me at times, and one which you will greet most warmly, is, as you surmise, for the man whom all here respect and admire, towards him who not only has won the esteem and love of his fellow countrymen of all parties, of all creeds, of all races, but who has set his striking individuality in such brilliant light, that from the banks of the Thames and from those of the Seine, rays of his glory are reflected on the Canadian home land.
My last thought, which is one of gratitude, goes to my representative, the right hon. Prime Minister, at whose feet I lay the homage of the most enthusiastic love of the Canadian youth. Of course, my testimony will not have much weight when compared with the almost unanimous acclamations which, from the maritime provinces to British Columbia, have hailed his name, a name which on the battle field was worth a flag. . My testimony appears still more insignificant, if we recall the anguish shown throughout the country when, in the course of the last parliament, a terrible disease and out of which it was terribly sought to take advantage, struck the idol of the Canadian people. And lastly, my testimony would dwindle into nothingness when compared with the feelings of joy which harkened his return to health, had it not to touch the heart of the greatest amongst us, that feature of almost filial feeling, independent of noisy manifestations, that feature of inward reverence which makes of my words the sincere, though imperfect echo of the very feelings of the whole Canadian nation.
I second the motion.
Hon. G. E. FOSTER (North Toronto). Mr. Speaker, I think I shall be entirely within my rights if I ask the kindly indulgence of the House usually accorded to a new member on first rising to address this august assembly. It is not often that it falls to the lot of a new member to follow and in some degree to criticise the speeches of the new members who ordinarily move and second the reply to the address. Such, however, is my position to-day. In the first place, I congratulate very heartily the hon. gentlemen who have moved and seconded the address, in their maiden efforts in this House. The hon. gentleman who represents the county of Pictou (Mr. Macdonald) displayed an admirable confidence and a flow of words eloquent and copious, and his ideas, if they do not altogether run current with mine, certainly commended themselves to the atten 22tion of this House. Unfortunately, I was not able to follow as closely the remarks made by the hon. gentleman (Mr. Parent) who seconded the address, but if I have a proper understanding, both of these speeches were exceedingly optimistic in their trend and eulogistic in their purpose. The country obtained a due share of the remarks, and attention of these hon. gentlemen and my right hon. friend who leads the House (Sir W'ilfrid Laurier) was not bereft of a becoming share, as well in their regards and their attentions. In both these respects the country is pleased to have the congratulations, my right hon. friend is pleased to have these renewed expressions of fidelity, and we on this side of the House have no fault to find with either. I, speaking for this side of the House, may at the outset say that we heartily agree with the hon. gentlemen who have spoken, in extending our warm congratulations to the distinguished gentleman who is our new Governor General. We welcome him as we have welcomed all Governors General to this Dominion of Canada. We welcome him especially as one of a long line of ancestors who have done grand service for the extension and government of this great empire to which we all belong. and I do not think even in this age with all the rights and privileges of self-government, that the over-seas dominions have and possess, and intend to maintain, that the field is at all closed for the exertion of similar influences, not of extension or of conquest, but of organization of development and the knitting together of all parts of the empire. Who does not know that the Canada of today exercises a very large influence on the policies and the tendencies of government in the British empire? Though no expression of opinion may be made in this House, though no expression of opinion may be officially tendered in anyway, yet there is the attentive heed paid to what are the tendencies and thoughts and wishes of the great dependencies beyond the seas, which have their influence in determining policies and in determining the trend and action of the British government itself. Is it not equally true that distinguished men, members of the empire, coming from the mother islands to the dependencies and over-seas dominions such as this, have also a very strong part to play and to fulfil in so knitting together, in so carrymg out the idea of co-operation of sentiment and of effort, that this great, but yet to a large extent, unorganized world-wide empire may become more firmly and securely united than it is at the present time? So that our Governor General, welcomed here for himself and for his ancestry, is welcomed here also by us for the work which he has to do, and which we will welcome and co-operate with him in doing.
In reference to the speeches, we may say that the statements which have been made by the two hon. gentlemen who have moved and seconded the address, could be characterized 31 COMMONS Mr. FOSTER the majority of my right hon. friend ? And is be proud of a majority swelled by appeals of this kind ? And here is another extract :
The   Courrier de Montmagny,' October 31, Up to now I have been the Liberal candidate.
Was not that glory enough for one man to be the Liberal candidate ? It appears not.
To-day, at the request of a large number of Conservatives, I become the nationalist candidate. that is to say, I take the field as the champion of French and Catholic Canada, and of its right to a fair representation at Ottawa. I am a Liberal, but before all, I am against imperialism, militarism and against Quebec being crushed under the heel of the Tories.
They will try to buy your votes, my friends, but think of your old flag, think of our dear province, remember our ancestors and our religion. The motto of Quebec is:
' I remember '
Do ye remember! .
Now, I leave that as a side thought for my hon. friend, and I ask him does he approve of that method of canvass, and does he think that is one of the filings that will bind this country together, will promote high public political ideas '2 Taking all these things into consideration, there are some points, which serve, may be, to diminish the apparent value of the great victory of the third of November.
But, I have been too long upon these details, and I now wish to come to the speech. The speech from the Throne itself —well there is not much to come to in this speech. It seems to have sprung from barren and unfruitful soil. It looks to me like either the product of utter exhaustion—due, 1 suppose, to the great eflorts of the election --or the product of a proud and superior carelessness, as though the hon. gentlemen opposite had earned a holiday and a good time, without thinking very much about the country. But there is one thing in the speech and that is the autonomy of the Northwest. We are not permitted to know what this measure will be. But it is a measure that has long been asked for by the people of the. Northwest, a measure that has been supported by His Majesty's loyal opposition in the late parliament, as it is in this House, but which has been consistently and persistently denied by my right Ihon. friend and the government which he leads. in this speech, we have a promise of autonomy for the Northwest. Was that a late preelection repentance? Was the letter that my right hon. friend Wrote on the eve of the election promising that something should be done to this end wrung from him by the fear of antagonizing votes? Whatever the reason, there was a promise, and this time there is the fulfilment so far as the speech from the     32 Throne goes. I hope that my right hon. friend, in bringing down this measure, will give to the new province a geographical area that will be sufficient. For myself, I am opposed to dividing this country up into small provinces with their burden of judical and administrative oflicers, duties and expenses. I hope also there will be no stinginess with reference to the resources with which the new province shall be endowed. I think it would be a mistake if it were left to come to this parliament year after year voicing its demands for means to meet what must be great expenses, and increasing expenses as the development of the province proceeds. I hope the powers to be given to that province will be so definite, so clear and so full that the measure will be satisfactory to the sturdy pioneers who are to make that province great, and will avoid grievances and recriminations of every sort. We have no jealousy of the great west. There is no rivalry between the west and the east. The east bought the patrimony of that country, the money of the east paid for it. The brawn and brain of the east pioneered that great country and to-day our sons, our brothers and our fathers are the dominant race of the province that is to be. Every power which can be given to them should be given to enable them to lay the foundations of a province with an almost illimitable future and one that will justify the confidence which we had in it when we made it a part of this great Dominion, a confidence which every succeeding year has increased.
There is a further mild allusion made- no, there is no allusion made to that Old- time indispensable market to the south of us. What has happened hon. gentlemen opposite? Have they discarded some more of their theories ? I know that it is impossible for heated steel always to retain its initial heat, but one would never have thought that that ardent party which called for commercial union, which vociferated its demands for unrestricted reciprocity, which reiterated its adhesion to the idea that the market to the south of us and its reciprocal enjoyment was worth more to us than the markets of all the world besides, should have lost all its intrinsic heat and warmth. Yet to-day the only paragraph we have in the speech that touches the country to the south of us, is that somewhat obscure one in which it is stated that an International Commission composed of three representatives from each country will be appointed
To investigate and report upon the conditions and uses of the waters adjacent to the boundary line between the United States and Canada.
What that may mean I do not know, but We will have to possess ourselves in patience until we find out the meaning of the clause. But for ever and for ever, it would seem, the old flag Which was nailed to the top of the mast by my hon. friend, and of which he said that it would float there un 39 Sir. WILFRID LAUTIER the eyes of my hon. friend would be a merit in the eyes of every one; it has the merit of being concise and to the point. I believe my hon. friend rather rejoices in high and loud redundant sentences, and that the mere clatter of syllables has some charm for his ears, especially when the syllables fall from his own tongue. I remember a time when the speech was not so concise. In the olden days, it was rather prone to conceal the paucity of material under a verbosity of expression. My hon. friend (Mr. Foster) should have realized that the people will not be fed upon words and wind, but prefer a bill of fare reduced to a single course if there is some substance in it. There is not much legislation in the speech because we do not propose to introduce much legislation. There is only one great measure which it is proposed to introduce and that is a Bill granting autonomy to the western territories. We think the time has come when the western territories should have full partnership in confederation, when we should admit them as members of the Canadian family as full provinces. My hon. friend alluded to the fact that for two or three years there has been an appeal from the territories for full autonomy. Some two years ago we received delegations and requests from the legislature and in some instances from the people also, to have the territories at once admitted as full provinces, but we represented to the people and to the legislature that the time was scarcely opportune to have this introduced, that we could not be very far from a general election and that at that time the representation of the territories in this House was small while after a general election there would be a larger representation. They had only four members in the last parliament, they have now ten and I think the wisdom of our judgment has now been justified. It is true that we found some doubting Thomases in the territories who thought that we would not implement our promises, but there is to-day in the speech from the Throne an indication and the certainty that on this occasion as on every occasion this government fulfils its pledges and carries out its promises. My hon friend (Mr. Foster) does not know the character of the legislation which we are about to introduce. I am sure my hon. friend does not expect that we shall tell him at this time the principal features of the Bill. We are working on it now ; it is far advanced, but in respect to three or four salient features we thought it better to wait for the representations of the Northwest government and also the advice of our friends on the floor of this House.
There is another suggestion in the speech upon which my hon. friend requires some information. He has not fully apprehended what is meant by our statement with regard to the commission which we have appointed to deal with the waterways between the United States and Canada. I am very glad 40 to give my hon. friend and the House the information to which they are entitled on this point. It is within the knowledge of everybody that along a very great part of the boundary between Canada and the United States is the water system of the St. Lawrence. Now, I am sure. that every one will admit that it is to the interest of Canada as well as the United States that the surface of the water should be kept at as high a level as possible. Some few years ago, when it was rumoured that the state of Illinois intended to connect the waters of Lake Michigan with the waters of the Mississippi river by means of a canal, there was an apprehension expressed, not only in this country but in the United States, that that work might have the effect of lowering the level of. the waters of Lake Michigan and adjacent waters'. As the event turned out, this fear was groundless, as the volume of water taken away by the canal is not sufficient to materially affect the level of the lakes. But if similar works were to be undertaken right and left, if the waters of Lake Erie and our system of waterways generally were to be tapped at different points, it is possible that the volume of water removed from the lakes would be so great that the level might be appreciably lowered. That is not all. In sections of the country where the boundary is not water, but land, there are streams and large rivers which have their sources in one country and which flow into the other. Complaint has been made by the United States that Canadians have constructed some works upon rivers which have their sources in Canada and which flow into the United States, and that these works affect the flow of the waters in their country. We also have made complaints to the United States that Americans have constructed upon some rivers, the St. John river, for instance, works which affect the flow of the waters in our country. It is, therefore, to the mutual interest and advantage of both countries to have this question properly investigated with the view of having concurrent legislation if such should be found necessary. From olden times it has been a principle of Roman law, which has been adopted by most civilized nations, that the riparian owner of any stream has the right to use the water of that stream for his own benefit, provided he does not impair the flow of the water beyond the boundary of his property. This is a principle of law which dominates in almost every country; but it is not possible to have this principle followed and carried out when the works are in one country and the boundary of the property is in another country. For these reasons we have thought it advisable to respond to the invitation of the United States to have this question investigated. We have agreed to a commission to be composed of six members, three to represent the government of the United 41 JANUARY 16, 1905 States and three to represent the government of Canada. The instructions to the commission shall be laid on the table at an early day ; but in the meantime, to give all the information to my hon. friend to which he is entitled, I may mention the names of the commissioners who are to represent the government of Canada—Mr. Maybee, K.C., an eminent lawyer of the city of Toronto; Mr. Louis Coste, of the Department of Public Works, an eminent hydraulic engineer, and Mr. King, the chief geographer of the Department of the Interior. These gentlemen are to represent Canada at the conference, and we have reason to hope that they will bring in a report which will be satisfactory. I may say that this commission has no power to decide anything. It is not to lay down the basis of a treaty. It is simply to study the conditions and to report whether it is possible to devise remedies to meet an existing evil.
My hon. friend has entered into a discussion of questions which I do not think it advisable for me to discuss at this moment. He has referred, for instance, to the defence of the country. This is a matter which may engage discussion later on, when my hon. friend the Minister of Militia and Defence is in his seat. As to the question of the tariff and the question of the Audit Act, I can only say to my hon. friend that at this moment I do not propose to dis cuss these questions. They will be dealt with fully, and to his satisfaction, I hopethough perhaps this is too much to expectwhen the Minister of Finance is in his seat. Unfortunately, he has been obliged to go to Europe for domestic reasons.
I may say, Mr. Speaker, that we do not propose this session to have any very ser ious or important legislation beyond the Act with reference to the Northwest Territories. I agree to everything that has been said by my hon. friend as to the importance of that measure, though I would not subscribe to all his contentions. We propose, if possible, to have a short session. We have not been blessed with a short session for a long time. We have had a session of seven months and another session of five months; but I think, if my hon. friend will make a bargain with me, to make an effort to stop the flow of eloquence on both sides of the House, to keep within bounds, we may hope to see summer in the country, or spring by the time the sugar flows.
Mr. FOSTER. I will go to the sugaring- up with you.
Sir WILFRID LAURIER. We meet at this time under a combination of happy auspices. We have not only a new parliament, but a new Governor General. It has become a trite observation that Canada has been exceptionally fortunate in the character of those who have been entrusted with the high prerogative of representing the 42 Crown in this the first of all the British dominions beyond the seas. Our present Governor General has been received with perhaps more favour than any of his predecessors, and there is cause for this. His Excellency has the good fortune to bear a name dear to all the friends of liberty and constitutional government in every part of the empire, and especially in Canada. The illustrious name of Grey recalls the name of the great man whose persistent energy wrung from unwilling peers and a reluctant king the measure of reform which changed the face of England, which averted a revolution, and which transferred the government from a class to the nation. The name of Grey also recalls to the people of this country the illustrious names of Durham and Elgin—the name of the man whose bold genius conceived and designed the policy which has revolutionized the colonial system of England by transferring the government of Canada from the hands of a grasping oligarchy to the people themselves; and the name of the man whose strong courage carried that policy to a successful issue. Therefore, I say we meet under a combination of happy circumstances, and there is reason to hope and expect that the illustrious name of Grey will be associated with still further blessings to the people of Canada.
Mr. W. F. MACLEAN (South York). Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention to continue the line of banter which has more or less characterized the preceding speeches. I intend just for a few moments to ask the attention of the House to some incidents of the recent election in this country. If there is one thing that may be taken as a lesson to us from that election, it is thisthat in it there disappeared, especially in my own province of Ontario-a province which I am glad to say did not send a majority in favour of the present government, as was stated by the hon. member for Pictou (Mr. Macdonald)—a number of gentlemen who forgot why they had been sent to parliament. They had forgotten what representative institutions in this country mean. They had forgotten that they were sent here to represent the people. They thought they were sent here to represent the interests of great corporations, and their constituents found them out, and they have disappeared from the public life of this country.  
Without presuming to give any advice to the new men in this House, I would say to them, no matter on what side they may be, that more and more is it becoming incumbent on the representatives of the people to give some concern to the interests of the people rather than the interests of corporations. Only the other day I met a very worthy friend of mine who occupied a seat in this House in the last parliament, who came from Ontario, and supported hon. gen
45 JANUARY 16, 1905
Ontario. There are a hundred ways of putting an end to monopolies if we have men enough in office willing to do it, but. neither the government nor the Liberal party are prepared to do anything. Neither will take the requisite steps to secure to the people travelling between Montreal and Toronto the two-cent rate to which they are entitled. These monopolies are the curse of parliament and the country. From time to time we have the doctrine laid down that parliament ought not to interfere. But I contend that it is the duty of parliament to regulate every one of these corporations, and give a warning to any corporation which is not treating the public fairly, that it must mend its ways or we will wipe it out of existence. Instead, however, of giving these corporations a warning, we give them additional concessions every time they ask for them, and the public are told to go into the courts and recover their rights if they can, but that they need expect no assistance from the Minister of Justice or the Minister of Railways.
There is another point to which attention has been called of late, and which is well worthy of attention, and that is that in the United States, whose institutions we sometimes think but little of, they have what is known as the grand jury, which is possessed of powers of inquiry at important stages. In this country it was left to a private citizen to investigate the shameful ballot-box frauds that were attempted in the recent election. We were told that the Minister of Justice was active in the matter but still it was left to a private citizen to expose the crime that had been attempted. Had we had a grand jury system as in the United States, the Crown Attorney could have issued a warrant and an investigation could have been held. And the same with other scandals in the recent election. But, as things are. there is no promise of an investigation there is no likelihood of the air being cleared through the action of any one identified with the government.
Returning for a moment to the position of railway corporations and their influence, we find that the greatest evil prevailing in the United States today in connection with railroading is the granting of discriminating rates in favour of certain corporations. There are great trusts in the United States, and these have been built up by railroad discriminations. The people of the United States are trying in some way to stop these discriminations. The plan that they have adopted is that of establishing a court such as our Railway Commission. But this plan has not succeeded. The president has been forced to take up the question. But the public there see more and more clearly that the only substantial cure is in government ownership of the railways. And that, I believe, is equally true of this country. It is true that hon. gentlemen opposite say they do not believe in government ownership. But 46 government ownership is the new principle of this century of which the right hon. Prime Minister professes to be the exponent. He has not read aright the sentiment of the country if he thinks that government ownership is not the only cure of the grievances arising from the operation of railways in this country and in the United States. But, instead of proposing government ownership, the right hon. gentleman leaves us in doubt. As the hon, member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster) has pointed out, we are entitled to an explanation in regard to our state-owned railway, the Intercolonial. Is the rumour true that that railway is to be given over to the Grand Trunk ? We know that it is true that when the opportunity presented itself recently to couple up the Canada Atlantic with our state-owned road, the government failed to improve that opportunity, thereby injuring the interests of the people and of the people's railway. The government had the opportunity of strengthening the Intercolonial, but apparently their policy is to let that road run down and turn it over to the Grand Trunk Pacific. Such a policy is not in line, I believe, with the demand of the times. The people see that there is no cure for the transportation problems of this country except in government ownership. And if gentlemen opposite think they have a mandate from the people to destroy government ownership, I venture to tell them that they are mistaken. There is a party in this country, a national, a growing party, a party favoured by the young men of Canada, which holds that the best thing that could happen to this country would be the nationalization of the Grand Trunk Pacific. And the agitation to nationalize that railway at an early stage of its career will go on. The carrying out of that policy will give hope of relief to the people, and especially to the people of Ontario and Quebec. The grievances of these people against the Grand Trunk today are worse than ever they were. The grievances of Toronto and Montreal, the grievances of the manufacturers and the shippers and otther people who live along that line are constantly increasing, and the feeling of these people is that state-ownership of that great railway is the only cure for those grievances.
Reference has been made to the promise of increased autonomy to the Northwest. It is high time that this idea should be carried out. I hope that the measure will be a wide one, and one that will allow for the growth and development of that country. But when we speak of increased autonomy for the Northwest, I think there is something to be said of the need of greater autonomy for the Dominion. The time has come when the bounds of our powers as a country should be widened. I am not afraid of the future and of the problems it will present for solution. I am not afraid to say that Canada should be more autonomous than she is to-day. I am not afraid to say that [...]


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1875-1949. Provided by the Library of Parliament.



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