January 26, 1912

LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

Then I misunderstood the hon. gentleman. I was going to ask him if he could assure the committee that ,the works in Nova Scotia, for which he is now asking us to vote money are of a useful character, and if not, which of them can be dispensed with.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I do not know that any of these works can be called useless works, but there are some more urgent tnan others. There are port improvements that are far tnore urgent than some of these small works, but that does not mean that the smaller works are useless. We are threatened at the present time with the loss of very valuable trade because our principal ports are not properly equipped, and I believe we could more or less delay some of the smaller works, unless they are absolutely urgent, so as to equip our great ports to enable us to keep trade in Canada.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

If the hon. gentleman makes careful inquiry he will find there is a great deal of merit in everyone of these *public works which were provided for in the estimates last year.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

There were some useful works on which a great many men were employed.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

And in many cases it is better to employ a considerable number of men so as to hurry the work along. I have no doubt my hon. friend (Mr. Monk) will follow my good example, and will find Mr. KYTE.

that at proper times he can employ a considerable number of men to hurry along a public work.

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX.

If there is any extravagant expenditure connected with any of these public works the minister has the power to stop it, and he should do so. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Monk), has on many occasions in the past delivered speeches urging that the recommendations of the transportation commission should be carried out by the government. Does he intend to pursue that policy now that he is in office? If I remember well, the commissioners reported in favour of the nationalization of certain of our ports. Is my hon. friend going to select the national ports, and to declare his policy on the subject.

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CON

Pierre Édouard Blondin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER.

The hon. gentleman will pardon me, but I must again remind him of the rule restricting debate to the item under consideration.

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LIB

William F. Carroll

Liberal

Mr. CARROLL.

There were a good many items last year for public works in South Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. There were a number of little breakwaters for which appropriations were made and for which we had voted five-twelfths of the estimates before the holidays. None of 'these are of great national importance, but each one is very materially important to the particular locality interested. For example, there was an appropriation of $1,000 for a wharf at Albert Bridge. Albert Bridge is on the Mira river, about 30 miles from a railway station and the river is the only means, outside of trucking 25 miles to the Tailway station, by which the inhabitants can send out their products to the Louisburg and Sydney Railway. This is only a small country place, and it is almost impossible for the people there to get their products out or bring merchandise in unless they have a wharf. Last year this riding was represented by a Conservative-a good man and a friend of my own- and he says he impressed on the government of that day the necessity of voting some money to build a wharf at that bridge. The House voted that amount but now I find 'the item dropped. I have the same thing to say concerning Gabarous Harbour. There was an estimate of $5,000 altogether for some extensions or protection work at 'that har-bur. There was also an item for a wharf at Marion Bridge on the Mira river which is further up the river by about ten miles than the wharf at Albert Bridge. That also has been dropped. That is a large country district, and at present the people there have to wade into the water to meet a little steamer before they can put anything on board it. That is a great hardship, and I do not think the district engineer could have reported against either of 'those two

works at Marion Bridge or Albert Bridge. There was also an appropriation of $17,000 voted for a wharf at Mainadieu. In fact every item voted for that constituency has been dropped .except a paltry $3,000 for completing construction work at Cow Bay and $5,000 for buying a sand bar at Sydney Harbour. The first vote that came down for Sydney Harbour was $25,000 but now that vote is reduced to $5,000. These are only small works and it was partially through the efforts of the former representative of that county that these items were put in the estimates and a part of them voted. It was really a hardship on these people that all these moneys should not be spent. Why they should have been dropped is something I cannot understand, and I am drawing to the attention of the hon. minister the necessity of going on with these works, and I trust that he will take the matter up. If these works could be attended at once especially those two little works on the Mira river, the hon. minister would be eonfering a great benefit on that locality.

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?

Mr MONK.

I shall certainly give my hon. friend's remarks every consideration. In the case of Main-a-dieu, I brought an estimate down but the government did not accept it, as it threw out many estimates I endeavoured to have accepted. With regard to Gabarous harbour, I find a note in the report to the effect that on August the 7th instructions were given to proceed with the expenditure of the amount authorized, and to consult Dr. Arthur Kendall about the appointment of a foreman. Dr. Kendall was written to on August 8, but he did not reply, and consequently no further action was taken. I shall, however, make a note of my hon. friend's request.

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LIB

William F. Carroll

Liberal

Mr. CARROLL.

With reference to Gabarous harbour my answer is exactly what was given by my hon. friend from Anti-gonish. Dr. Kendall did consult me at the time, but only a part of the amount appropriated had been voted, and as there was an election on, we did not think it a proper time to go on with the expenditure on public works, because that would look like vote catching. Dr. Arthur Kendall is not responsible for the foreman not having been appointed, but myself. We were both consulted, but we thought there was no use appointing a foreman then as .the House would meet in a few months, and we thought it was of no avail to appoint a foreman at that time in order to expend five-twelfths of the estimate when the estimate itself was so small.

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. MACLEAN (Halifax).

A condition of affairs prevails, to some slight extent at least, in Nova Scotia, and possibly in other provinces, by reason of the fact that a few years ago or more, votes were passed by

parliament and tenders asked for, and in some cases the lowest tender accepted, and the works have not been gone on with or the deposits refunded. The result is that in many cases the department now holds the moneys deposited by successful tenderers, and probably will hold theta for a year or more, or possibly may not proceed with the work. I would like to suggest that in such cases the deposits of the lowest tenderers, which are still with the department, should be returned to the successful tenderer upon the understanding that should the department later on decide to proceed with the works, these tenderers would be asked to refund their deposits. That would be only fair, or else the department should allow interest on these deposits.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

That would be fair enough, but we might decide to call for new tenders and not have accepted1 the first tender.

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. MACLEAN (Halifax).

I am referring to cases where the 'lowest tender was accepted. I know of three cases in Nova Scotia in which, before the present government came into power contracts were awarded in each case to the lowest tenderer, but the moneys for these works were not voted until 1912-13; and prominent friends of the government have approached the successful tenderers offering them a sum of money to assign to them their contracts. This is a very objectionable practice and places these persons in a very uncomfortable position. It makes them feel that influences are at work which will actually prevent them making contracts with the government; and if they had an understanding with such persons in the meantime, it would be an obstacle.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I would be obliged to my hon. friend if he would give me the facts of these cases. I know nothing of them.

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LIB

Alexander William Chisholm

Liberal

Mr. CHISHOLM (Inverness).

I think the constituency which I have the honour to represent occupies a unique position m this regard, that whereas in tne supplementary estimates brought down last year there were 14 or 15 works in that county provided for, in the present estimates there is just one item for a work in Inverness county. Will the minister be good enough to tell me what is being done in regard to that very important work, the Port Hood breakwater and harbour extension?

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

That is a work that has been going on for some time. It is under consideration. It is an important work, and we will endeavour to follow it up. But my hon. friend must not be too disappointed if a great many of these estimates have been struck out by the government. In the province of Ontario, notably on the Great Lakes, the estimates of the previous government have been cut in two.

I have been the object of very much reproach as to that. The present government has had to make large expenditures which I suppose were not foreseen by the previous government, and we have been cutting down expenses everywhere. We have cut pff almost a million for dredging in the eastern provinces. In many Conservative constituencies the estimates of the previous government have been cut down. My hon. friend must not think that he is specially unfortunate.

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LIB

Alexander William Chisholm

Liberal

Mr. CHISHOLM (Inverness).

I may point out to the minister that $115,000 has been spent on this work. The object is of course to close the northern entrance to the harbour by an erection of a breakwater. If this work is delayed, the harbour, which before the work was commenced was in fairly good condition, will be absolutely spoiled, for the reason that as the approaches from either sides are being built the entrance is narrowed and the consequence is to increase the force of the current resulting in the formation of sand hills, in the harbour. If the minister has a report from his engineer as to the actual condition of that harbour at present he will find that it is of the greatest importance that the work should be continued with as much expedition as possible. If it is left for a couple of years without the northern entrance being closed, it will become so tilled with sand as to be of no use at all. This is the point to which I do not think the minister's attention has been called?

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I will get a special report upon it.

Cole harbour-wharf, $5,000.

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LIB
CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk (Minister of Public Works)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

Yes.

Cow Bay (Port Horien)-completing protection works and general repairs, $3,000.

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January 26, 1912