House of Commons, 19 March 1873, Canadian Confederation with Prince Edward Island

80 COMMONS DEBATES March 19, 1873
[...] magnificent and complete confederation of all the British possessions. (Hear, hear.)
For these reasons any route which placed us within the smallest possible distance from Great Britain should receive the serious consideration of the House; and he moved that a Select Committee be appointed for the purpose of enquiring into the matter, to consist of Messrs. Campbell, Anglin, Fortin, Young (Montreal West), Young (Waterloo South), MacKay, and the mover.
Hon. Mr. ANGLlN said the importance ofthis subject could not well be over-estimated, but it could not have been dealt with sooner. He wished to point out a few of the facts, as laid down in Fleming's report, which had not been noticed by the mover of the resolution. The proposed route was not only the shortest to Europe from this country, but it was also the shortest from New York to Europe, and, therefore, in the summer season a very large passenger traffic might reasonably be expected over this route, which would diminish the risks and inconvenience and sufferings of a sea voyage.
From his own personal knowledge he could say that the expenditure on the continent would be a mere trifle. A branch railway from the Intercolonial Railway, down to Shippegan would, according to Mr. Fleming, be about 22 miles in length. He knew the country, and knew that except on the prairies there was no country where a railway could be more cheaply constructed. There would be no bridges nor cuttings required of any importance. With regard to the harbour, it was one of the finest in America. There was magnificent entrance to the Bay of Chaleur. The entrance to Miramichi Bay would need some improvement, but some expenditure would be required anyway. He considered the time had now come when this subject should receive the serious consideration of the Government and Parliament.
There was an impression that the interior of Newfoundland was waste and uninhabited; but explorations had of late been made which showed that the country was well watered and timbered, and a railway could be built through it without any great expense.
It might be said that Newfoundland was not within the Dominion, and therefore the Dominion could not be expected to seriously entertain any project which would involve an expenditure of public money to a very large extent upon the island. That was, no doubt, true, but he believed the Government hoped at no distant day to induce Newfoundland to join the Union. It was scarcely probable that Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland would remain outside of the Union for any very great length of time, and one of the means of inducing Newfoundland to come into the Union probably would be to hold out the expectation that, in addition to other advantages, the Island would be opened up by a railway running across it, bringing a stream oftravel to and from Europe, which would be of great advantage to the country.
The importance of the subject having been so fully stated by the mover of the resolution, it was not necessary for him to dwell upon it. He might say that the harbour of Shippegan was very conveniently situated on a point of land which ran down from the mainland, having the Bay of Chaleur on one side and Miramichi on the other, and it was stated by Mr. Fleming that this port was the nearest point, on the mainland to Europe, excepting a point on Gaspe, which was out of the question as a shipping point.
Hon. Sir JOHN A. MACDONALD regretted that Hon. Mr. Tupper was not present, as he had always taken a special interest in the subject. He agreed that this matter was one of very great importance, and the House was very much indebted to the mover of the resolution for having brought the matter before them so ably. The Committee, he had no doubt, would be able to report some valuable suggestions, and after that, perhaps, the question might be again discussed by the House this session. The motion was agreed to.


Mr. KIRKPATRICK moved that the House go into Committee on the following resolution,-"That it is expedient to make further provision for the collection of demands against vessels navigating certain lakes and inland waters of Canada for seamen's wages and debts contracted, for necessary provisions supplied, repairs made and for towage and other services rendered to such vessels, and for damages arising out of collisions by vessels, by making the same a preferential lien on them."
He proceeded to say that the principle of this resolution had long been acted upon in other countries, and the Act of the Ontario Legislature giving a lien to mechanics was an additional reason for the passage ofthe proposed measure. He referred to cases of loss of wages and damages, for which there was at present no remedy. If this measure was passed, it would improve the whole shipping interest, because it would have a tendency to reduce the rate of wages, as employees, having a security against loss, could afford to accept lower wages.
He argued that as a matter relating to trade and commerce, and shipping, it came within the jurisdiction of this House, the question of civil rights being merely incidental to it. No local Government could deal with it, as they could not seize a foreign vessel-at any rate trouble would be very apt to arise if they did do so. His measure was confined to the inland waters, as he believed that Admiralty Court of the Maritime Provinces had jurisdiction to deal with the questions involved. Since he had introduced the measure last session, he had received many assurances from gentlemen interested in shipping that it was a much needed motion.
It was agreed to, and the House went into Committee, Mr. DOMVILLE in the chair.
Mr. KIRKPATRICK moved the adoption of the resolution.


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1873 First Session. Edited by David Farr. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, 2013. Original scans accessible at: http://parl.canadiana.ca/.



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