July 26, 1911

CON

Arthur Meighen

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN.

At page 4780 of ' Hansard,' 1910, the minister gave an estimate of $91 a day, and stated that that

estimate included wages, operating expenses, interest on capital, and wear and tear.

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LIB
CON

Arthur Meighen

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN.

Certainly, and does he say that for one dredge the government estimates cost per day on one basis, and for another dredge on another basis?

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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

In that particular case we were making a special arrangement to lease the dredge ' International ' to Messrs. Dussaulit and Company, and we fixed the amount sufficiently large to cover all the items to which my hon. friend refers. But that is not at all the same as the operating expenses on a dredge which are set forth in the Auditor General's report. That was the special case of the dredge ' International.'

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CON
LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

It says sending in the reports of quantities, but not of cost.

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CON

Arthur Meighen

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN.

He does not say what they are; he simply says he is sending in the reports. The minister himself said he certified to the price.

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LIB
CON

Arthur Meighen

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN.

The minister will find that at page 256 of the evidence. Here is the way it reads:

In reply to your letter of the 23rd inst., I have been sending the reports of dredging at Port Elgin to Ottawa each week, but several have lately been returned to me through a misunderstanding of the reports. I wrote explaining the matter .and received a telegram on Saturday asking for the returned reports, which I at once forwarded.

Now, does the minister feel that he was justified in interrupting me to read into that letter something that it certainly does not contain?

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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

Does not the hon. gentleman see that it must be reports of quantities and not of prices?

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CON

Arthur Meighen

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN.

If the department were properly run, it might have been. But an engineer who will certify that 90 cents is fair and reasonable after reporting the value of the work at 20 cents would scarcely be above reporting that the price was right, though he did not know what the price was. Do not forget that this was a work of tremendous urgency, that-unless it were done something terrible was going to happen to the hon. jmeimber for Weetmonlfan/d, nhjd' he would be in a bad position in his county. In the light of this urgency, let us reflect for a moment on the position of the hon. member for Westmorland. He tells the House that he had made a promise to his constituents, and that unless tliis_ work was done that promise would be violated, and he says that he had to see that it was done because he wanted to go back to his constituency as a man who had kept his promise. Therefore, his promise to his constituents must have been that he would

103D3

see that that money was spent on the Gas-pereau river. Now, what a state of affairs it is in which an hon. member for a county can make an absolute pledge to his constituents, though he has no authority, no official status, no direct or legal power, that money will actually be spent. Does it mean that the hon. member for Westmorland was in possession of facts that he might reveal unless this were carried out? I venture to say that no member of the House of Commons who had not some bludgeon to hold over the head of the minister would make such a promise to his constituents as the hon. member iof Westmorland made. But he says: 'The work was so urgent that I was .justified in pledging the government and pledging myself.' Was it so urgent? On the 24th of October, two days before the election they stopped the work. They started the work-in August; they could have started it in May ; and they quit it two days before the election, and Mr. Stead in his report of the 9th of March following, said it was not worth a dollar. So that up to the election nothing was done that was of any value to the conistituencv of Westmorland except that the money was spent among some of the people there. Not only that, but in the next year, May passed by in which they might have done work. June, July, August and September went by, and they did not move a foot of earth until the month of October, 1909,. So that $33,969 was sunk and the country got absolutely nothing for it. Not one iota of value had been added to the traffic facilities of the Gaspereau river. They allowed the whole summer of 1909 to go by without doing anything to make the work of any value; but some time in October, we do not know the date, the government put a dredge on and kept it on for nearly two weeks, and took it away on the 28th of October; and from that time to this hour they have left the work just in the shape in which it was. 1,650 feet had been taken out, and 500 feet more were taken out in October. 1909, and the report says that they are not through the bar yet.

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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

I am sure that the 'hon. member is wrong. I am sure that we had the government dredge working there practically all through the summer season of 1910.

Mr. MiEIGHEN. Does that appear anywhere?

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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

It appears in the ac-HQ'inta of the Department of Public Works. The report for the year ending the 31st of March, 1911, has not yet been published ; but we kept the government dredge, the ' George Mackenzie,' at work all through last season.

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Mr METGHEN.

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CON

Arthur Meighen

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN.

The hon. member for Westmorland made the Jstatemeint that nothing had been done since October, 1909, but that something is being done now. Something had been done for two weeks in 1909, but he stated that they were nqt through the bar then.

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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

I happen to know that in the year 1910 the dredge got away up the river pretty close to the railway bridge.

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CON

Arthur Meighen

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN.

The Minister of Public Works, on the 4th of August, lets a contract for a work that involves an expenditure of $33,000, has the tenders come in on the 14th of August, has the work completed on the 24th of October, has the contract signed on the 7th of November, and after all that is done recommends to Council that the tender be accepted on the 17th of November, and the Governor in Council on the 20th of November authorizes the signing of a contract that had been signed two weeks before, for a work that had been .ended a monther before. And he justifies that on the urgency of the work; and yet it was left in 1908 in a state in which it was no good, and was not resumed until October, 1909; and now he undertakes to say, in the face, of the statement of the hon. member for Westmorland that they have been doing something this summer.

I do not doubt the statement of the hon. member for Westmorland, that they are geting busy now. The election is close at band, and I have no doubt that the hon. member is still committed to his constituents and has told his constituents that he can make the Minister of Public Works do this; and if the minister does not do it something serious is going to happen. That is the position we are in today. The hon. member for Westmorland spoke for about an hour and a quarter. The charge against the government is that this contract is let in an illegal and highly improper way and that far too much money was spent on the work. And the member for Westmorland thinks he has created a defence when he tells us that there are quite a lot of lobsters to flow over it when it is done and that they raise so many steers in that county every year. He seems to have taken example by the Minister of Justice (Sir Allen Aylesworth) who told us, in trying to defend that notorious and colossal fraud, the Newmarket canal, that a certain number of cattle were raised every year in the county of York, Ontario. [DOT]

Now the minister has made certain statements with reference to the address of the hon. member for York (Mr. Crocket) I will not vie with the minister or with the hon. member for Westmorland in the use of vituperation or the hurling of epithets. I have never been taught to believe that an

argument is met in that way. I can hardly conceive that the hon. member for Westmoreland feels proud of himself in that, after spending an hour and a quarter in hurling names at the hon. member for York, because, as he stated, that hon. gentleman had made use of low insinuations, yet, when repeatedly challenged he did not state one insinuation that that hon. gentleman had made. Nor could the Minister of Public Works, when challenged name an insinuation that the hon. gentleman (Mr. Crocket) had made. If there ever was a speech made in this House, if there ever was an attack made that was utterly void of insinuation, that was direct, plain and open in every sense, it was that of the hon. member for York to-day. The hon. member takes the sworn evidence and says that that evidence shows fraud and illegality, and he proves it. He says that Mr. John E. Moore and McAvity are two close political associates of the hon. Minister of Public Works. He does not insinuate that they are; he states that they are; and the minister knows it and does not deny it. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Crocket) says that these men got a contract illegally, hurriedly, under most suspicious circumstances, at prices four and a half times what his engineers stated it should be let at. And he says that they took the money-whether the same bills or not does not matter-'and in association with the Minister of Public Works bought the St. John '.Telegraph ' and made it the Liberal organ, instead of a Conservative supporter and so helped him to win the province of New Brunswick. These statements are plain and they are proved and no one denies them.

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CON
LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

I deny the three or four assertions that the hon. gentleman (Mr. Meighen) has just made.

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July 26, 1911