June 4, 1921

L LIB

Joseph Bruno Aimé Miville Déchêne

Laurier Liberal

Mr. DECHENE:

A few days ago my attention was called to the fact that freight trains at Montmagny, going east and west, are obliged to stay at the station on the main line for three or four hours, owing to lack of shed accommodation. The freight shed is located on the main line, and every time a passenger tram passes the freight train has to get off the main line on to a siding, and after the passenger train has gone, the freight train comes back again on the main line. This involves considerable delay, sometimes of three or four hours. The Department of Railways, two years ago, bought a piece of land on which to build a freight sheet on the side line so that freight trains could unload there. The Montmagny Farm Machinery Company ships, on an average, eight or ten cars of freight a day, and also receives a considerable amount of freight. There is, therefore, urgent need of proper accommodation, and if the shed on this siding were built this summer, it would mean a great saving in both time and money on that line. A great deal of money is lost through the detention of freight trains in the way I have described. I draw the attention of the minister to this, and I hope he will take it up.

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UNION

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Unionist

Hon. Mr. REID:

I will take it up.

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Item agreed to. Amount required to pay the Park St. Charles Company, Limited, for land occupied by the Quebec Harbour Commission, as per verdict of Arbitrator, which verdict was later sustained by the Superior Court, in favour of the Plaintiff Company, $60,000.


L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I object to the passing of this item. This is another land grab absolutely unjustifiable. It is a scandalous affair, and in the interest of my hon. friend the Minister of Finance I iwould ask him not to insist on the passing of this item. I remember the saying of an old cynic who was prominent in public life miany years ago, that if at times he did purchase votes, at least he had the satisfaction of purchasing those votes with the people's money. This item is to make good the promises that were made during an election which has just taken place. The men who are interested in this land

' j

grab were most prominent in the election held in the county of Yamaska. Some years ago you will remember that I gave the Government a chance to reconsider an item of a similar nature. You will remember that the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Carvell) came before Parliament with an item of $223,000 for a land grab in the very neighbourhood of this park. I immediately (Sailed the attention of the Minister of Finance and Mr. Car-vell to the incongruity of that demand, or that inroad on the public treasury, and, as a result, Mr. Carvell investigated the matter, and from $223,000 that he was about to pay, relying on an award, it has been decided by the Supreme Court of Canada that the Canadian exchequer was responsible only for a sum in round figures of $25,000. . So that I make bold to say that I have saved the country, in that transaction, the sum of $200,000. I now say to the Government-and I warn the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance-that this is an item which smacks of the very essence of the one I have just mentioned. The committee will remember that there had been a case before the Exchequer Court, and the judge, in making his award, had stated that he felt obliged to grant the sum of $225,000 in round figures, because he had been unable to find witnesses to contradict the evidence of the valuators. Indeed, a few speculators had clubbed together to make up a case and to get from the Dominion treasury, the sum of $225,000. I was reminded at the time, because I brought the matter before the House, that it was indeed too bad for a gentleman like Mr. Lemieux to deal with such a small matter as $225,000, when the Government was ready to pay. Nevertheless as a result of the publicity given to the matter, the Minister of Justice was obliged to refer the case back to the Exchequer Court. New witnesses were heard. The award was reduced from $225,000 to about $23,000. That award has been confirmed by the Supreme Court about ten days ago. I say to the Government that it is nothing short of a scandal to come at the last minute of the session with another sum of $60,000 to hand over to a few speculators. What is the explanation given? It is said that the amount is required to pay the Park St. Charles Company, Limited. Who are they? I am told that they are three or four of the henchmen of the Postmaster-General. They were seen in the last election in the county of Yamaska. They were

the interrupters of my hon. friend from Quebec East at La Baie du Febvre. I repeat that if this amount is voted by Parliament, it is so paid in order to make good the promises given to those gentlemen to help win the election at Yamaska.

It is a scandal, and I am surprised that this amount has been put in the Estimates at the very last moment. First of all, how does the Quebec Harbour Commission claim from the Government payment of the land occupied by itself on that Park St. Charles? The Quebec Harbour Commission is a corporation by itself; every year Parliament makes advances to the Quebec Harbour Commission to meet its interest charges. It is not asked to recoup the capital which it has borrowed from the Dominion Government, it does not pay its interest on the capital so borrowed, and now Parliament is asked to pay for the occupation of a certain piece of land to the Park St. Charles Company. I know the whereabouts of Quebec City, and Park St. Charles is to all intents outside Quebec City, beyond St. Charles river. It is not part of the Quebec harbour, and I say that before voting a red cent of that Estimate I will stay here two days if needed.

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L LIB

Jacques Bureau

Laurier Liberal

Mr. BUREAU:

Hear, hear; so will we -Sunday and Monday.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Why does the Dominion Government pay this claim against the Quebec Harbour Commission? What justification is there for the treasury to make good the debt of the Quebec Harbour Commission for the occupation of land in Park St. Charles? Secondly, it is said there was an arbitration. Who were the parties appointed to that arbitration? Was the Government a party to it? Was the Government represented by its counsel? There was a judgment by the Superior Court. Is that a court of last resort?

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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

The judgment was one by the Superior Court, confirmed by the Court of Appeal and confirmed by the Supreme Court. .

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

There is something

very mysterious about it. This item reads:

"Amount required to pay the Park St. Charles Company, Limited, for land occupied by the Quebec Harbour Commission, as per verdict of arbitrator, which verdict was later sustained by the Superior Court in favour of the Plaintiff Company."

It is not stated that it was sustained by the Appeal Court and by the Supreme

Court, and at all events we have a right to know if the tax-payers of Canada were represented before all the courts. When was that judgment rendered by the Supreme court?

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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

On June 21, 1920.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Was an appeal lodged by the Department of Justice from that judgment?

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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

No. We were advised by most eminent counsel not to go to the Supreme court, and then after that court affirmed the judgment we were advised that it was useless to carry the case further. I do not think the hon. gentleman has-

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

My right hon. friend will allow me. He says the department was advised that the Government should not appeal from that judgment. He will remember that in the Belanger case, which I cited a moment ago, the counsel employed by the department advised that the appeal should lie only to the amount of $20,000 or $22,000, but the judges of the Supreme court were so appalled by that statement that they stopped the argument and asked my right hon. friend to send Mr. New-combe to represent the people of Canada before that court. As a result the amount was reduced from $225,000 to $25,000. I appeal to the good sense, aye, to the patriotism of members on both sides of the House. The claimants can afford to wait a few months. Parliament will sit again, and when the whole facts are made clear to Parliament, we will be in a position to judge between the Government and the claimants. But I say there is something mysterious in this case and something scandalous according to my information.

Now, Mr. Chairman, let me read this as a reminder to my right hon. friend the Prime Minister. It is an extract from a magazine article headed "The Squandering of Money," and it applies with peculiar force to the present expenditure, for we have voted millions of money in the last few days, and there must be a limit to the tax-paying capacity of the people. The article reads:

The next uprising of the public will unquestionably be against reckless expenditures of public money and the consequent crushing taxation levies. War breeds contempt for economy. Billions are spent without thought for the pockets of those who have to provide the money. America was spending more money per day than any other belligerent when the war ended. Something akin to pride was felt over the magnitude of the sums we poured out. Taxes of un-

precedented severity were paid by the public without demur or protest.

But the time has come to call a halt to reckless expenditure of the people's money. Those who have access to the federal treasury must sober up. The patriotic fervor created by war has subsided. We are entering the cold, gray dawn of the morning after. The cost of living is being found most burdensome. On top of this, grievously heavy taxes have to be met. The politicians, as a rule, have little regard for saving but a weakness for grandiose spending. The larger the "pork barrel," the happier they are. The public temper is rising to the point where it will boil over unless it is demonstrated convincingly that those in charge of our public affairs are striving with might and main to do away with wasteful methods and to curtail taxation to the lowest possible minimum. The necessaries of life would not be so impossibly dear as they are to-day were the exactions imposed in the form of taxes less onerous. Every billion of governmental expenditures means the imposition of an additional cost of a billion on the doing of business of some form or another.-Forbes Magazine.

_ I assert, Mr. Chairman, that this amount is not due. I know the value of land around that park, and it is an imposition on the good faith of the supporters of the Government to come before them with this demand in the dying hours of the session. The truth of the matter is that the country is being asked to pay the debts incurred in the Yamaska bye-election, because the men who are at the bottom of this land graft are the men who were sent into the constituency to interrupt my hon. friend from Quebec East and who canvassed the county in automobiles. Even if I have to stay here, I will not stand for this land graft, for it is a land graft. Ordinarily I support the city of Quebec, but as a taxpayer and as a representative of the people, I protest against any highway robbery from whatever quarter it comes.

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Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

Mr. Chairman, I do not propose to take up the time of the committee discussing whether there would be any advantage in not dealing with the case now, but I should like to lay before the committee the simple facts as established by the records of three successive courts, and to point out what is the question involved. I think that when the hon. gentleman has realized that he will appreciate that his discussion about land "graft" is not pertinent to the question as it arises in the position in which the Harbour Commission of Quebec and the Government of Canada now stand.

The history of this case is that the Harbour Commission did-and this is not disputed-take possession of a property be-onging to this Park St. Charles Company, or which they claimed to be their property.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

How far is it from the harbour?

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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

It is so much in the harbour, as I understand, that it constitutes principally, if not entirely, beach lots. The action was brought by the parties to recover the value of the property taken. After the case had proceeded a formal agreement was entered into to submit the question to arbitration. The arbitrator was Mr. Cyrias Pelletier, a retired judge of the Superior Court.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Were the Government

represented before that arbitration?

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Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

The Harbour Commissioners were represented. The costs of these different proceedings-I think I am correct in this-were paid by the Government. Well, the arbitration proceedings went on; the arbitrator made an award.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

One arbitrator?

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UNION

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Unionist

Mr. DOHERTY:

One arbitrator, a retired judge, Mr. Cyrias Pelletier.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

The Government was

not represented, but the Harbour Commission was represented.

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Subtopic:   REVISED EDITION. COMMONS
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June 4, 1921