There is the fact that he had 619,737 on the first contract, 127,000 in store, making 746,737 or 246,000 more than he needed for the whole year; and yet in November he entered into contracts under which there were delivered up to June, 681,489, making a total of 1,301,226. The point is this, that the hon. gentleman knew he did not want those 681,000 when he ordered them.
Is the hon. gentleman right when he says that they entered into contracts for 681,000 more V Is it not a fact that the general manager gave the general order to go on and get out all the ties they could, thinking he would be short ? What the hon. gentleman is stating, that he made a contract for a specific number, I do not think is quite correct.
The numbers and 'the contracts do not come out quite the same; but I think I can give the contracts. The contracts in November were for more thun a million. They did not deliver anything like the number the contracts called for, fortunately for the country.
If there is any point at all in informing the committee, it is just as well that it should be informed correctly. My hon. friend knows that Mr. Pottinger says that he held no conference at all with the minister, and that the minister was not informed of the matter. He says he told those people to go ahead and get out what ties they could, and in doing that he did what every railway company does. Sir Thomas Shaugnessy told me only the other day that his men did it repeatedly.
Mr. Pottinger's statement is under two distinct heads. One is : ' Ties delivered after July, 1900, on contracts made previous to November, 1900, and quanti-tities supplied.' The other is : ' Under contracts made after October, 1900, and delivered subsequent to November, 1900.' I will give you the figures. They contracted before November for 405,792 and they deliv-tered 468.960. After October they contracted for 1,113,449, of which 681.489 were delivered subsequent to November.
Suppose he does. He says the contract consists of a letter, and he said it was in December, if my memory serves me, that he gave the firm of Curran and some one instructions and authority to go ahead and get out all the ties they could. That was not a contract made in October, or a contract for any specific quantity.
All I can tell the hon. gentleman is that the statement is there in writing. Mr. Pottinger in his evidence refers to the different qualities of ties. He said the life of a white spruce tie was about four years, the life of a black spruce tie six years, and the life of a cedar tie from six to ten years. But what 1 wish to call the attention of the committee particularly to, is the difference between white spruce and black spruce. The white spruce tie is practically worthless. As it only lasts four years, it is hardly worth the expense of putting it into the track and taking it out again. When you add the price to the cost of putting the tie in and taking it out again, the road was better without it. I wish to call attention to that, because there were enormous quantities of spruce ties ordered without specifying whether they were to be black or white spruce, and of course the contractors delivered the white spruce. And I may also say that owing to these enormous orders in that year, the result happened which might have been expected. Up went the prices from 25 per cent to 30 per cent, owing to the enormous demands made by the department when they did not need anything iike the quantity they ordered. They have now on hand a supply for two or three years ahead, and are only ordering in consequence a very small quantity, and the prices this year have gone down to the normal figures from 17 cents to 20 cents so far as any purchases have been made.
That was election year. Mr. Curran, of whom we heard a good deal in the committee, delivered 185,819 spruce ties. There was no word about white or black, and no body has heard much about black spruce being delivered or found anywhere. He got 25 9-10 cents per tie, which is a high price even for cedar ties. He got a contract for 185,819 spruce, and was given a monopoly over 100 miles of railway to get out the ties, the government undertaking not to buy spruce from any one else in the district. Another contractor delivered 49,201 cedar ties of the same dimension at 24 cents. Mr. Curran got 25 9-10 cents for white
spruce, the life of which is only four years, and in the same district the government got 49,201 cedar ties, good for six to ten years, and paid only 24 cents. Mr. Curran, I believe