Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

ing me that the Canadian Pacific Railway was in financial difficulties, and urging me to return home at once. At that time I was acting High Commissioner, but still held the portfolio of Railways and Canals.

I crossed by the first steamer, and on reaching Ottawa found everybody in despair. My first act was to send for Mr. Miall, an expert accountant in the Government service, and Mr. Collingwood Schreiber, Government Chief Engineer, and instruct them to proceed to Montreal to examine the books of the railway company. As soon as they had reported I recommended that Parliament be asked to authorise the Government to advance the Canadian Pacific Railway thirty million dollars for four years at 4 per cent. per annum, on the condition that the company agreed to finish the road five years sooner than the contract called for-namely, by 1886 instead of 1891. In Parliament I advocated the granting of the loan on that ground.

Don't call it a loan. You know we shall never see a penny of the money again,” interjected Mr. Blake across the floor in denouncing the measure.

The Opposition gave him its solid support, but the Government carried the day. The Canadian Pacific Railway was practically completed in November, 1885, well within the prescribed time, and, better still, the loan, with interest at 4 per cent. was repaid when due by the company.

The settlement was effected when the Hon. A. W. McLelan was at the head of the Finance Department. It included the surrender to the Government, in part payment, of lands to the value of seven and a half million dollars, valued at

one and a half dollars an acre, which I strongly advised. In this instance, as well as in many others, all the great constructive measures tending to the upbuilding of Canada were carried by the Conservative party at the point of the bayonet.

At a later date, when acting as High Commissioner in London, my assistance in the flotation of the first issue of twenty-five million dollars of Canadian Pacific Railway 5 per cent. bonds was sought by Sir George Stephen (Lord Mount Stephen), the then president of the Canadian Pacific Railway. I told him not to tell Sir John Rose about having consulted me, and promised to see what I could do in the money market. I was successful in interesting Lord Revelstoke, head of the house of Barings and Glyn, which had always had intimate relations with the Grand Trunk Railway. Later, when Sir George Stephen reached Liverpool on his return from Canada, he was pleased to learn that I had closed a contract with Barings and Glyn to take half of the issue at 91, with the privilege of issuing the second half at a later date. You have given far too much," was Sir John Rose's comment, when he learned of the transaction. Sir John at that very time was organising a company to tender at 75.

My reputation did not escape attack for my prominent connection with the building of the railway. The Toronto Globe made several charges of jobbery and other improper practices during the period of construction from 1880 to 1885. I induced Sir John A. Macdonald to appoint a Royal Commission to conduct a most searching investigation. The inquiry was conducted by the late Judge

Clark and Mr. Keefer, an eminent engineer. The evidence was taken under oath, and the scores of witnesses examined included engineers, contractors, the Hon. Alexander Mackenzie, and myself.

Not one word of evidence to support the charges, even in the remotest way, brought by the Globe was adduced. At my request the secretary of the Commission was instructed to ask the Globe to produce its own witnesses. That newspaper replied that it had no evidence to submit, and that it had simply written on hearsay, rumours of jobbery and “graft.” The proceedings and evidence taken before the Commission occupy two large volumes, which are still extant. Thus ended the attempt to slander my reputation as a public man.

I have always maintained, and still fervently believe, that the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway would have been an impossibility without the inauguration of the National Policy of the Conservative party. Our fiscal policy gave Canadians a new sense of independence, preserved their home markets to a certain degree, developed our manufacturing industries, protected our farmers, and, by giving employment to our people at home, provided us with the revenue to carry out a vigorous railway policy. It stopped the exodus of our young people to the United States, led to the settlement of the North-West, and the development of an enormous inter-provincial trade made possible by the existence of railways as well as the great canal system perfected from year to year. If the Eastern provinces made sacrifices in the first instance on behalf of the West, they are now reaping a just reward. We have to-day a homogeneous

and prosperous nation living under conditions not surpassed anywhere on the globe.

Many years ago I ventured the opinion that the child was born that would live to see the population of the Dominion exceed the population of the Mother Country. The Hon. Mr. White, the accomplished and able Minister of Finance, enjoying better opportunities for judging, went one better by declaring that this will actually be accomplished within the next twenty-five years. I have little doubt of the accuracy of his prophecy.

British Columbia is one of the richest, if not the richest province in the Dominion. It is on the threshold of a destiny unparalleled in its magnificence. With its salubrious climate and enormous resources, embracing soil, minerals, coal, waterpowers, fisheries, and forest wealth, no limit can be set to its possibilities. It is a young man's country, and the rewards for industry and enterprise will be well worth striving for.

There will be millions of people there yet. You will not find any spare ground between Vancouver and New Westminster. It will be all built

up

into one solid city. The opening of the Panama Canal will without question have a momentous effect on the development of British Columbia generally.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER VIII

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE

NATIONAL POLICY"

THE so-called “Pacific Scandal,” the resignation of the Conservative Government, the accession of the Liberals to power under the leadership of the Hon. Alexander Mackenzie, and the subsequent rehabilitation and vindication of Sir John A. Macdonald by the Canadian people constitute the most stirring Canadian political events in the 'seventies. Not less important during the same decade was the consistent advocacy of a protective policy by the Conservative leaders, and its crystallisation into legislation after the Liberals met with overwhelming defeat at the polls in 1878.

That policy is known to-day, as it was then, as the “National Policy,” a name which I coined in the heat of a prolonged debate in the House of Commons in February of 1870. Through the dark days of Opposition from 1873 to 1878, on the floor of Parliament and at hundreds of public meetings throughout the country, Sir John Macdonald and I had proclaimed our faith in a protective fiscal policy, and at length had the satisfaction of seeing it adopted by the Canadian people.

In the general elections of 1872 Sir John A. Macdonald was returned to power by a greatly reduced majority, due, without question, to the bitter hostility the Liberals roused in the country

« ForrigeFortsett »