BC Sessional Papers

To the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty. British Columbia. Legislative Assembly 1876

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 39 Vic. Railway Petition. 589
Most Gracious Sovereign:—
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Members of the Legislative
Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, in Session assembled, humbly approach
Your Majesty for the purpose of representing:—
1. That, on the 31st day of Juty, 1874, the Government of this Province humbly
presented a Petition to Your Majesty, alleging (amongst other matters) that the main
inducement which led British Columbia to enter the Dominion of Canada, on the 20th
day of July, 1871, was the Agreement by the latter to commence in two and complete
in ten years from that date the construction of the Canadian Pacific Eailway; and that
this Agreement had been violated by Canada. The Petitioners therefore prayed that
Your Majesty would, under the circumstances set forth in the Petition, be graciously
pleased to cause justice to be done to British Columbia. To this Petition your present
Petitioners (the Legislative Assembly) beg leave to refer Your Majesty.
2. That after protracted negotiations on the subject between Your Majesty's Eight
Honourable Secretary of State for the Colonies (the Earl of Carnarvon) and the
Dominion Government, His Lordship was pleased to signify his conclusions upon the
question in dispute, in the following language:—
" (1.) That the railway from Esquimalt to Nanaimo shall be commenced as soon as
"possible, and completed with all practicable dispatch.
"'(2.) That the surveys on the mainland shall be pushed on with the utmost vigour.
" It would be distasteful to me, if, indeed; it were not impossible, to prescribe strictly
"any minimum of time or expenditure with regard to work of so uncertain a nature;
"but, happily, it is equally impossible for me to doubt that your Government will
" foyally do its best in every way to acceierate the completion of a duty left freely to
"its sense of honour and justice.
" (3.) That the waggon road and telegraph line shall be immediately constructed-
" There seems here to be some difference of opinion as to the special value to the
"Province of the undertaking to complete these two works; but after considering what
"has been said, I am of opinion that they should both be proceeded with at once, as
" indeed is suggested by your Ministers.
"(4.) That 2,000,000 dollars a year and not 1,500,000 dollars, shall be the minimum
"expenditure on railway works within the Province from the date at which the surveys
"are sufficiently completed to enable that amount to be expended on construction. In
'naming this amount, I understand that, it being alike the interest and the wish of the
"Dominion Government to urge on with all speed the completion of the works now to
" be undertaken, the annual expenditure will be as much in excess of the minimum of
" 2,000,000 dollars as in any year may be found practicable.
49 590 Railway Petition. 1876
"(5.) Lastly, that on or before the 31st December, 1890, the railway shall be com-
" pleted and open for traffic from the Pacific seaboard to a point at the western end of
" Lake Superior, at which it will fall into connection with the existing lines of railway
"through a portion of the United States, and also with the navigation on Canadian
"waters^ To proceed, at present, with the remainder of the railway extending, by the
" country northward of Lake Superior, to the existing Canadian lines, ought not, in my
"opinion, to be required, and the time for undertaking that work must be determined
"by the development of settlement and the changing circumstances of the country.
" The day is, however, I hope, not very distant when a continuous line of railway
"through Canadian territory will be practicable, and I therefore look upon this portion
"of the scheme as postponed rather than abandoned." [Vide despatch, Lord Carnarvon
to Lord Dufferin, 17th November, 1874.]
3. That the Dominion Government, one month later, assented to these conclusions or
proposals; and stated, in effect that the proposals would be carried out as they upheld
in the main their own policy on the question and violated neither the letter nor the
spirit of any parliamentary provision. The Settlement thus effected was intended and
supposed to be final and conclusive. ( Vide despatch, Lord Dufferin to Lord Carnarvon,
18th December, 1874.)
4. Your Petitioners, the Legislative Assembly, with great regret, feel compelled to
state that the Dominion Government have almost wholly disregarded the terms of the
above Settlement as they have not commenced the promised Eailway construction, either
on the Island or on the Mainland, or the waggon road or engineering trail intended to
facilitate railway work on the Mainland; nor has the agreement, in the Settlement, for
the immediate construction of the Provincial section of the Trans-Continental Telegraph
Line been carried out.
5. That with respect to the promised active prosecution of the surveys, your Petitioners have no authoritative information upon which a correct opinion can be based.
6. That the Dominion Government have, by Minute of their Privy Council of the
20th of September, 1875, intimated their intention to virtually ignore the above Settlement, and have stated that they will submit their views, as expressed in the Minute, to
Parliament at its ensuing Session, as the policy which should be adopted with respect
to their Eailway engagements with the Province.    [Appendix A.]
7. That the Dominion Government have affirmed, in their Minute of September,
that the section of Eailway on Vancouver Island is not part of the Pacific Eailway, but
that it was offered'to this Province as compensation for local losses caused by delays in
the construction of the Pacific Eailway ; but your Petitioners do not find that such an
offer of compensation was ever made or even suggested to the Province.
8. That the Dominion Government state in their Minute of the 20th of September
last, that " it cannot be too clearly understood " that they will not abide by, or observe
the agreements in the Settlement for an annual railway expenditure of $2,000,000 in the
Province, and for the completion of the railway from the Pacific to Lake Superior, by
the year 1890, if the performance of such agreements should interfere with the conditions of a Eesolution passed by the House of Commons in 1871, after our Terms of
Union had been assented to by that body. The terms of this Eesolution were, in effect,
that the Eailway should be constructed and worked by private enterprise, and not by
the Dominion Government; and that subsidies in land and money, to an extent that
would not increase the then rate of Dominion taxation, should be given in aid of the
work by the Government. 39 Vic. Railway Petition. 591
9. That your Petitioners find that the terms of the Eesofution were abandoned in
1874, the rate of taxation having been increased, and the construction of the Eailway
having been undertaken by the Government, instead of being confided to private enterprise.
10. Your Petitioners respectfully submit that the Eesolution was at best merely
an indication of the scheme matured by the Government to provide means to fulfil their
Eailway engagements with the Province; that it never was submitted to the people or
Government of British Columbia; nor was it, so far as known, submitted in 1871 to
Your Majesty's Government for consideration, when the Terms of Union were passed;
or in 1874, to Lord Carnarvon, during the negotiations which preceded the Settlement.
The Eesolution therefore cannot, for plain constitutional, as well as legal reasons, control
either the Terms of Union, or the Settlement made to carry them out.
11. That no compensation has been offered by the Dominion Government for the proposed abandonment of the section of Eailway on Vancouver Island, or for the broken
engagements to build the waggon road and telegraph line, or for any of the past
disastrous and ruinous delays in the construction of the Pacific Eailway on the Mainland
or Island.
12. That an indemnity, however, to the amount of $750,000—the cost of about
twenty miles of railway—has been offered to British Columbia, for any future delays
which may occur in the construction of the Eailway, and.that this sum will, subject to
the assent of Parliament, be paid as a cash bonus to the Province, if the agreements for
yearly Eailway expenditure, and for completion of the Eailway to Lake Superior by
1890, be surrendered by the Province.    [Appendix A.]
13. That the Provincial Government have declined to accept the offer of $750,000,
and have recorded their dissent from the views expressed by the Dominion Government
in their Minute in Council of September last.    [Appendix A.]
14. That your Petitioners are of opinion that the Provincial Government have, by
declining such offer, acted in the interests of this Province.
15. That the Province entered Confederation upon a distinct and specific agreement that, as " no real union could exist " without " speedy communication " between
British Columbia and Eastern Canada through British territory, the Canadian Pacific
Eailway should be constructed by the Dominion as a Federal work of political and commercial necessity.
16. That the aim of the Province is to secure practical Confederation and its anticipated advantages, as indicated in the Terms of Union, in lieu of theoretical union with
its losses, deprivations, and many disappointments.
17. That your Petitioners humbly solicit Your Majesty's attention to the Minutes
of the Executive Council of this Province lately forwarded to the Eight Honourable
the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and dated respectively the 6th day of December,
1875, and the 4th day of January, 1876, as your Petitioners wholly agree with the
views and statements therein set forth.
18. That British Columbia has fulfilled all the conditions of her agreement with
Canada. 592 Railway Petition. 1876
19. That by reason of the repeated violations by Canada of its Eailway engagements with this Province, all classes of our population have suffered loss; provident
anticipations based upon these engagements have resulted in unexpected and undeserved
failure, and in disappointment of a grave and damaging character; distrust has been
created where trust and confidence should have been inspired; trade and commerce have
been mischievously unsettled and disturbed; the progress of the Province has been seriously checked; and " a feeling of depression has taken the place of the confident anticipations
" of commercial and political advantages to be derived from the sjjeedy construction of
" a Eailway which should practically unite the Atlantic and Pacific shores with Your
" Majesty's Dominion on the Continent of North America."
20. Your Petitioners therefore humbly submit that they are at least entitled to
have the conditions of the Settfement effected through the intervention of the Eight
Honourable the Secretary of State, carried out in letter and in spirit.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly approach Your Majesty, and pray that Your
Majesty may be graciously pleased to cause the Dominion Government to be immediately moved to carry out the terms of the said Settlement.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.
(Signed) JAMES TEIMBLE,
Speaker.

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