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Debate on Construction of Grand Trunk Railway


Mr Davis (Saskatchewan) [Liberal Member of Parliament]

Now, as to the necessity of this road, as I said before, I do not think it needs any argument whatever. The people of that country have farmed on shares, so to speak, with the Canadian Pacific Railway Company for twenty-three years. Those hon. gentlemen who make speeches in this House on this question allude to the grand scheme that was put through by the Conservative party, and the hon. member for Marquette alluded to it as the pioneer of progress in that country. Pioneer of progress! Why, Sir, that scheme has had the effect of keeping that country back for twenty- three years, and I say here without fear of contradiction that if the advice of the Liberal party, when that scheme was put through this House, had been taken, and the road had been laid out as proposed by the Liberal party through the northern portion of that country, and built where this road is going at the present time, in place of the 300,000 people in that country, we would now have two or three millions; I say that without fear of contradiction. When this bargain was going through that these gentlemen talk so much about, the Liberal party then, as they are to-day, were well seized of the people's needs; and if their advice had been followed we would have seen a different state of things in the North-west, and there would not have been such a crying necessity for this road as there is at the present time.


I have pointed out that we pay freight rates twice or three times as high as the freight rates that are paid in the east. Now we are getting people into that country and hon. gentlemen opposite are trying to take credit for it; they say that thanks to the policy of the Conservative party immigration is coming into the country. Think of it. For eighteen years, until 1896, the people there were on the verge of starvation and when we brought a few people into the country by one railway they dodged out by another.


And to-day they will tell you that they brought about prosperity that now prevails there. The hon. member for Marquette (Mr. Roche), for instance, in an eloquent peroration referred to the buffalo and the red men that once roamed on the western plains. If these gentlemen had been kept in power another seven years we would have had the red men back on the plains -- the buffalo are extinct practically and could not be got on the plains but the red men would have possession. The other settlers would have been starved out. The idea of these gentlemen talking about their having assisted to bring about the prosperity we enjoy at the present time in western Canada. They had as much to do with it as they had in creating the universe...


Source: Canada, Parliament, House of Commons, Debates, 28 August 1903, 10023, 10029.

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