December 7, 1909

CON

Oswald Smith Crocket

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROCKET.

That and the payment of 90 cents per cubic yard to the Maritime Dredging Company for the Gasperaux river work.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

I will deal first with the Maquapit lake work. This is out of order and I would not have referred to it but for the extraordinary statement of the hon. gentleman. As to the Maquapit lake work, my hon. friend ought to know that dredging in different places does not always cost the same amount of money. A good deal depends upon the extent of the work that is to be done. Then, the question of the cost of a dredge enters into the calculation of the contractor. A good deal depends upon the nature of the soil which has to be excavated. But it so happens that all these considerations were taken into account, I presume, by the contractors who tendered for this work at 50 cents per cubic yard.

My chief engineer, who has had a large experience in these matters and who had the report of the resident engineer before him, certified that the price was fair and reasonable and the contract was awarded to the Maritime Dredging Company.

Now, let me speak of the work which my hon. friend referred to at the Gasperaux river. Tenders were called for the work. I am not quite sure whether there was any tender put in except that of the Maritime Dredging Company. The work was very widely advertised but there were very few people, if any, outside that company who. were willing to undertake it. The work is at a very exposed place, at Port Elgin- whether it is upon the straits of Northumberland or not I do not remember at this moment-and the cost of towing the dredge there was very large. There was a great deal of danger connected with it. While the work of dredging was going on one of the scows was wrecked involving a very large loss to the contractors. Although the Maritime Dredging Company were offered the work for the next season at the same price of 90 cents per cubic yard, they refused to again enter into a contract and declined to go back there last spring. In consequence of that we were obliged to wait for a number of months before we could make any arrangements for doing the work, and, being unable to get them to send their dredge back, we were obliged, late in the fall, to undertake the continuance of that work by means of the government dredge which we brought from Nova Scotia.

Now then, in face of these facts, how can the hon. gentleman expect this committee to believe there was anything wrong in the awarding of that contract to the Maritime Dredging Company? The only other contract to which reference has been made is that in the city of St. John. What took place there? You have the right to look at. all the work which this company is doing. Before I became Minister of Public Works my predecessor, having invited tenders by public competition, received tenders for this work and the lowest tender received was 90 cents per cubic yard. When I became minister, recognizing the necessity of continuing that work, I asked myself how it would be possible to get the work done at a lower price? In past years the practice had been to let contracts from year to year. I determined that I would let a contract extending over a number of years because I thought that in that case there would be an encouragement to the contractors to purchase a dredge and that they would be willing, as they would be sure of the work extending over a number of years, to tender at a lower price than they would be if they only had the contract for one year. I called for tenders and the result was that the Maritime Dredging Company tendered for the work at 39 cents per cubic

yard, a little more than one-third of what had been previously paid for dredging in St. John harbour. The hon. gentleman referred to the dredging work that Mr. Mayes did at one time at 55 cents per cubic yard, and afterwards at 90 cents per cubic yard. We are getting the dredging done, and a very important work it is, in the harbour of St. John, by the Maritime Dredging Company at either 39 or 39J cents per cubic yard.

Just a word in regard to the inspectors. 1 say to my hon. friend that in no single case has an inspector been appointed who was supposed to have any relations of any kind or description with the contractors. So far, I know of no inspector having been appointed upon the recommendation of the contractors, and we have always been careful to see that they have no connection of any kind or description with the contractors so that they would not be likely to be in the slightest degree influenced in favour of the contractors. We have endeavoured to get honest men, and I believe we have honest men. I believe we have honest men in the employ of the government to-day as dredge inspectors, and until I have some better evidence than the mere statement of my hon. friend that these inspectors are dishonest, I shall continue to believe that they are honest. I shall continue to believe they are honest until I have evidence to the contrary.

I would say to my hon. friend that I think the fair thing for him to do would be to investigate these accounts thoroughly. 1 have no objection to the most thorough investigation before the Public Accounts Committee, but I do say to him that in all fairness to those who are not here to defend themselves he ought not to be throwing out these insinuations unless he has the facts to support such statements, and if he has the facts to support them, then it is his duty to submit these facts to the proper officers of the Crown whose duty it is to take criminal proceedings and give them an opportunity of taking such a course as they may deem to be best in the public interest. The hon. gentleman has now the opportunity of going to his own political friends. It so happens that the Premier of New Brunswick, who is also the Attorney General of that province, is a political friend of the hon. member who represents the county of York and who has made these insinuations. I have no doubt that if he goes, in the discharge of his duty, and submits the facts to the Attorney General he will feel it to be his duty to take the necessary steps in order to punish those who have defrauded the treasury of this country, if there has been any defrauding of the treasury, although I do not hesitate to tell the committee that I do not believe it, and I shall refuse to believe it Mr -PUGSLEY.

until I have some positive evidence that there has been such fraud as my hon. friend insinuates.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
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CON

Oswald Smith Crocket

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROCKET.

I think I have a full sense of my responsibilities and duties as a member of this House, and that I do not require any instructions from the Minister of Public Works in that behalf. I stated that I believed in many cases in connection with dredging contracts in New Brunswick the public treasury had been defrauded of large sums of money. I stated that and I reiterate that now as my firm belief. I say this after having investigated, to some extent, the accounts in connection with the dredging operations and after having had communicated to me information by letter and by personal interview by several very reliable men in different parts of New Brunswick. I referred to one case, the contract of A. and R. Loggie for dredging at Dalhousie. I state what is my absolute and firm belief founded on information communicated to me by persons of unquestioned reliability. I have a letter from Dalhousie stating that Mr. Alleyne who was appointed-and I have since discovered that he was appointed upon the order of the Minister of Public Works to do the inspecting at that place-has been paid day after day during the whole season, and that for many days he was not there at all. There is a memorandum upon the file signed by the Minister of Public Works asking that this same Mr. Alleyne be appointed. He was appointed, but the work was done by another person, and my information is that he wa's an employee of the firm of A. and R. Loggie and that a summons was issued in the magistrate's court.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

Issued by whom?

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
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CON

Oswald Smith Crocket

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROCKET.

Issued by the man who did the inspecting.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

Against whom?

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
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CON

Oswald Smith Crocket

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROCKET.

Against the inspector who was receiving the money from the government. That is my information, and when the summons was issued and served it was fixed up through the intervention of the contractor. As . to .the dredging of Maquapit lake this was the easiest sort of dredging, dredging a channel where there was three feet of water to the depth of seven, feet. The minister has said that there has been no case in which a contract has been let to the firm of A. & R. Loggie, and I think he added, or to any other firm in New Brunswick, without a tender. What has the Minister of Public Works to say as to this? I hold in my hand a copy of a telegram which reads:

Dalhousie, Oct. If, 1908. Eugene D. Lafleur, Ottawa.

Kindly authorize resident engineer Stead to put dredge ' Hayward ' at work at Bathurst

at same price as Caraquet contract, to be certified fair and reasonable by Mr. Stead, work not to exceed $5,000.

Signed, WM. PUGSLEY.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

What is the date?

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
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CON

Oswald Smith Crocket

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROCKET.

The 14th October at Dalhousie, when the minister was down there in the election campaign and after no doubt he had seen his friend, Mr. Loggie.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

Was that to be at the same rate as the other?

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
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CON

Oswald Smith Crocket

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROCKET.

Prices to be certified fair and reasonable by Mr. Stead. Well, I have had occasion to look into some of Mr. Stead's certificates and to judge of the value of his certificates as to what is fair and reasonable, and perhaps when we come to some other matters that have occurred in, the province of New Brunswick this House will have more light as to the value to be attached to any certificate furnished by Mr. Stead as to fairness and reasonableness. But there is the telegram signed by the minister himself telegraphing from Dalhousie, where Mr. Loggie was, to his engineer and instructing him to give Loggie's dredge this work at prices to be fixed by the minister's engineer, Mr. Stead. I think, Mr. Chairman, that the people of the province of New Brunswick, where this work is being done, will require something more than a display of affected indignation on the part of the Minister of Public Works. He invariably shields himself-that has been his habit for many years-when a statement is made which reflects upon himself or his department by trying to treat it as something said against somebody else, and then he proceeds to laud that somebody else to the skies and to speak of him as some one of the highest reputation for honour and integrity and righteousness in which he is excelled by no man in the Dominion of Can-'ada. He has said that of his friend, Mr. McAvity, he has said that of his friend, Mr. Loggie. Well, these are private contractors and I am not here to criticise them,' but to criticise the Department of Public Works which is the trustee and servant of the people for not properly guarding the people's interests.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

Does the hon. gentlemen say that a contractor has conspired with an inspector to defraud the department and yet makes no reflection on him?

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
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CON

Oswald Smith Crocket

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROCKET.

What I said was that I was not here for the purpose of making reflections on these people who were dealing with the department, but my criticism is directed against the department.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

Why do you do it then?

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
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CON

Oswald Smith Crocket

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROCKET.

Because I am here as a representative of the people to criticise

the conduct of the department. I have no hesitation in saying that my firm belief is that there has been fraud in this connection and that the country is paying as much as fifty per cent and one hundred per cent in same cases for dredging above fair and honest prices.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
Permalink
LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

Does the hon. gentleman suggest to this committee that there can be fraud unless the inspector and the contractor are parties to that fraud?

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
Permalink
CON

Oswald Smith Crocket

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROCKET.

I am not saying whether that is so or not, but I do say and the great majority of the people in the communities who know what is going on, believe it, that these certificates upon which payment is being made to these very contractors are certificates which cannot be relied upon. I have referred to the certificate of Mr. Alleyne, appointed by the minister himself in connection with the Loggie contract; a certificate which has been brought down, and which would convince anybody that the man was not competent to estimate the quantity of dredging material worked by that firm or any other firm. In addition to that there is the information which has been communicated to me by a prominent resident of that community in reference to Mr. Alleyne's neglect of his duty, and the fact that it was known that he was not there day after day and for weeks at a time, but he signed these certificates upon statements prepared by another man who was in close relation with the Loggie firm. Now, Mr. Chairman, in view of these facts the House will be in a better position to properly judge the weight of the statement which the minister made, and as I say, it will require more than these exhibitions of affected indignation to which the minister always resorts when he claims that there are foul insinuations made against him or his friends; it will require more than his affected indignation to change the opinion of the residents of these communities where these things have gone on. So far as I am concerned it is not an insinuation. I state, as a member of this House, my firm belief, after examining the documents which have been brought down in connection with these contracts, and after having had communicated to me by reliable people these facts of which I have made mention.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
Permalink
CON

Adam Brown Crosby

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROSBY.

The minister said he did not know whether this work would be done by contract or by the government dredge. Is there not a government dredge in that vicinity.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
Permalink
LIB
CON

Adam Brown Crosby

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROSBY.

Is there not one at Lunenburg?

Mr. PTKjSLEY. Not a government dredge; it belonged to the W. J. Poupore Company.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE NAPANEE RIVER.
Subtopic:   M. FIELDING.
Permalink

December 7, 1909