William Findlay Maclean
Is there a penalty for the performance of the work within the specified time ?
Is there a penalty for the performance of the work within the specified time ?
I do not think there is a penalty. I will send the contract to the hon. gentleman, so that he can see it.
The hon. minister should not ask us to go on with this unless there is a penalty provided for securing the completion of the contract within a certain time. I do not want to see the contract. The miriister ought to be in a position to tell us what it contains.
I did not draw the contract.
Mr. EDWARD HACKETT (Price West, P.E.I.) In these days of steam and electricity, I am in favour of our keeping pace with the progress of other countries in these lines, and am therefore not opposed to the building of this Pacific cable telegraph line. But we ought to guard ourselves against anything in the shape of a monopoly. In Prince Edward Island we are suffering because of a monopoly established there some fifty years ago, when a small cable, nine miles in length, was laid between Cape Tormentine, N.B., and Cape Traverse, P.E.I., On every message which we send to any part of Canada outside of the island we have to pay twenty-five cents extra to this cable company for the transmission of the message over that short line. Last year this matter was discussed by the hon. the Minister of Marine, who stilted that there was no monopoly. I do not know what the hon. gentleman has done since then to have this matter ventilated, but at all events we are still under the -same old monopoly. What we object to is not so much the twenty-five cents we have to pay for the use of this cable, as to the fact that those people close their doors at eight o'clock in the evening and only open them at eight in the morning so that there is no telegraphic communication with the mainland during the night time whatever. And last year when our young men were away fighting in South Africa for the old empire, their friends in Prince Edward Island were unable to hear from them at times unless they got the news over this cable. I would press the necessity therefore on the hon. minister of guarding against anything in the shape of a monopoly in connection with this new cable scheme. I would ask also the hon. the Minister of Marine to tell us what has been done in the way of remedying this great evil in Prince Edward Island of which I complain, and under which the people there are labouring to-day. The people of Canada are paying this company a subsidy of $2,000 a year for this telegraphic communication, and you will understand that deprived, as we have been the present session. during some eight or ten days, of a mail service from Prince Edward Island, we should at least have the advantage of cheap telegraphic communication with that province. But instead we are taxed twenty-five cents each message for the use of that short cable. I would ask the hon. the Minister of Marine what he is doing to relieve Mr. MULOCK.
the people from this great monopoly and unjust tax.
The subject of telegraphic communication with Prince Edward Island is somewhat alien to that now before the House, but I have no objection to saying that the opinion I gave last year, namely, that there is no monopoly in the present Anglo-American Cable Company between Prince Edward Island and the mainland I still entertain. The hon. gentleman seems to think that for some reason or other I have changed that opinion. I never have had any reason to change it. The present cable communication is maintained by the company, or its successor, which had the contract when we came into confederation in 1873. By the terms of confederation the Dominion was obliged to pay to that company the same yearly subvention that was paid by the island before confederation, and we have continued to do so ever since. The charges exacted by the Anglo-American Company upon the people of the island are, in my opinion, extortionate and excessive. I have never failed at any time to tell the Anglo-American Company that such is my opinion. I have been in communication with them for over twelve months, and there is a vast amount of correspondence, which I would be very happy, at the proper time, to lay before the House, my object being to have the charges which the company make against the people of the island, and those who have telegraphic communication with them, reduced to a reasonable amount. At present negotiations are going on with another large cable company, with the object of inducing it to extend a competitive line to Prince Edward Island, and in the present state of the negotiations I do not wish to say anything which would give rise to controversy. It may be that these negotiations will be successful, or they may not, but whatever can be done is being done by myself and my colleagues-to give the people of the island fair play in the matter of telegraphic communication. If, when the matter is fairly before the House, my hon. friend desires to discuss it, I will be happy to discuss it with him. but I do not think this is the proper time to do so.
It seems to me that the hon. the minister is scarcely exercising business shrewdness in connection with this transaction. We are paying out a large sum of money in a haphazard way. We will imagine for the moment that it was desirable for the Dominion to build another railway as a competitor with the Canadian Pacific Railway, what would the people of Canada think if the government should give the building of that competing line to the Canadian Pacific Railway themselves, and make no provision as to when the contract should
be completed or the quality of tbe stuff put into tbe line. One could hardly call that shrewd business dealing. If the contract be given to the Eastern Cable Company, which will be the great competitor of this line, we will be committing the same mistake. True the line is to be finished in December, 1902, but there is no penalty attached to the non-fulfilment of that condition, and therefore the construction may go on indefinitely, and we will have no redress. It will be decidedly to the advantage of the Eastern Extension Cable Company to delay the construction, because every month's delay means a very substantial profit to them. I think there is scarcely sufficient information to justify paying out the money.
On section 2,
Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).
Before this is passed, I may say that it might possibly have been better to have had a penalty in this contract, but the absence of a penalty would not prevent the recovery of damages. The company have contracted to do the work within a particular time, and will be liable in damages if they fail to do so ; but as the government is really a party to the contract-I observe that Bord Strathcona has executed it on the part of the Dominion-it might be well to consider the suggestion of the hon. member for West York.
That contract is not yet completed, it is subject to revision. There will be suggestions made in various parts of the empire. And I think that, before he authorizes anything further, the hon. minister should consult his co-contractors and have them unitedly insert a penalty clause. Tlie company may not be of such a character that you can recover from them. While the liability may be there, there may not be assets sufficient or of a character to indemnify this country if they do not perform. And even money will not pay for the inconvenience the empire may be put to in this matter. If it is not too late I make the suggestion now that the hon. gentleman should consult his co-signatories and have some provision made for the insertion of a penalty clause.
Mr. SAMUEL HUGHES (North Victoria).
I would take the liberty of suggesting- while I do not think it possible to amend the contract, it being already signed-that it is, nevertheless, possible to exercise due precaution that the material of which the cable is made shall be the very best. During the recent South African war, almost weekly oue or other of the cables broke. If this Pacific cable breaks, it means at least two or three months and possibly more before it can be resurrected and put in working order. If the Eastern Extension Co. is the concern to manufacture the cable and if they have secured a monopoly of the construction of all the cables in the British Empire we must not treat them differently from any other
monopolists. If it is in the interest of their other lines that this cable should break periodically, we may reasonably expect that the cable will break. I would suggest that engineers should be appointed to see to it that both the manufacture of the cable and the laying of it should be properly done.
It lias taken many years for the various governments to arrive at the present stage in connection with this cable ; and it is to be borne in mind that, in, consequence of the long distances that separate these governments, it is not so easy as between man and man to debate and settle terms and embody them in a contract. In this particular instance, our cousins from the Antipodes have their delegates in London as we have also, while the representatives of the Imperial government are there, of course. These together constitute a board to which is entrusted the practical carrying out of this scheme ; and they have, in their wisdom, prepared this contract. I have no doubt, after supplying themselves with expert information as to the sufficiency of the specifications. The original specifications were prepared upon the advice of Lord Kelvin- such is the statement in the report of the Pacific Cable Commission of 1884 and 1887. I know of no higher authority on electrical matters than Lord Kelvin. We may assume from the composition of the board that the specifications are equal to the requirements of the occasion. With reference to the action of New South Wales, I may say that what they have agreed to is much less harmful than what was originally proposed. They originally proposed to grant these concessions at once, and that would have given the Eastern Extension Telegraph Co. many yea re of a start in gathering business throughout New South Wales. But, as the result of protests continued throughout many months, they finally yielded that point and the concessions to be granted to New South Wales cannot be enjoyed until the Pacific cable is an accomplished fact. Though, as I have said, they entered into that contract sixteen days after the contract for the construction, still, the negotiations leading up to it had been continued for a length of time.
Section agreed to. Resolutions reported and agreed to. The POSTMASTER GENERAL moved for leave to introduce Bill (No. 45) to amend the Pacific Cable Act of 1899. Motion agreed to, and Bill read the first time.
The PRIME MINISTER (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) moved that the House go into Committee of Supply.
Mr. SAMUEL HUGHES (North Victoria).
Before you leave the Chair, Mr. Speaker, I wish to state that the notice of motion to be discussed to-day by the request of the Minister of Militia (Hon. Mr. Borden, King's), who is ill, is held over. However, I will take the opportunity for calling the attention of the government and the House to a statement which appears in the London Times of February 22nd last:
Redmond asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office if he could state how many men of the rank and file in South Africa are receiving in pay or in pay and allowances as much as five shillings a day, and to what regiments they belong.
Lord Stanley. I am unable to give the details asked for. I may state that the Imperial Yeomanry, Imperial Bushmen and the majority of the colonial corps are paid at this rate. In . cases in which a lower rate of pay has been issued to colonials it has been supplemented by the different colonial governments.
Redmond. Can the noble lord state why the colonial trcops are paid at a rate so much higher than that paid to the regular army? Would they not come otherwise?
I do not wish to discuss this matter, but I wish it placed on record so that the attention of the Minister of Militia and the government may be drawn to the fact that the English understanding of the matter is that all colonial troops have been paid at the rate of five shillings a day. We are aware that there is dissatisfaction existing among some of our Canadian soldiers because some have been paid up to five shillings a day, and others have not been paid up to that figure. I shall not discuss the question further than to say that when the first Canadian contingent went to South Africa, they went on the understanding that they were to get one shilling a day. It was not, as is suggested in this report, that they required high pay to induce them to go out and fight for the empire. I think, possibly, all round, it is a mistake if this pay has been increased in one case and not in another. It will give rise to general dissatisfaction. When I first brought up this point, I was clear in taking the ground that the various localities sending these troops should have nothing to do with paying them, that the Imperial authorities alone should have in their control all the payment of these contingents. I merely lay the matter before the First Minister in order that the question of equality of pay all round may come under the consideration of the government.
Motion agreed to, and House went into committee. Public Buildings-Ottawa Military Buildings-New store $25,000
The sum of $10,000 is asked to fit flip what is known as the Seybold Sir WILFRID LAURIER.
building. I have been obliged to rent that building for census purposes. There was uo other building available, and my colleague, the Minister of Agriculture, came to me and said I must find a building. It has to be fitted up with a new heating system, we have to make partitions and build an elevator, and so on. and for these purposes the sum of $10,000 has been asked from me by the chief architect. We have rented it for three years, at the rate' of $3,500 per year. The chief architect, who has charge of that work, has looked all over the town, and cannot find a better building.