April 10, 1928

LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

They have expended each year the amounts which I have just given, totalling $1,078,010. That is what we have given them, and in addition to that I believe they have received some voluntary contributions.

Topic:   NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OP GRANT
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CON

Peter McGibbon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McGIBBON:

Would the minister tell us what he expects this work to cost the country ultimately?

[The Chairman.]

Topic:   NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OP GRANT
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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

If my hon. friend will tell me how long the country will last I might give him an estimate. I am now giving what has been done since the first payment was made in 1912-13. Perhaps I had better read a letter which I recently received from the chairman of this commission under date of November 18, 1927, addressed to myself:

When I met you last in Ottawa, you asked me to remind you of the suggestion which I made to the subcommittee of the Privy Council in connection with the funds voted for the National Battlefields Commission.

At present, the ordinary expenses for administration and maintenance of the park amount to about $50,000 per year. It is estimated that when the park is finally completed the annual expense, for its administration and maintenance, will be about $75,000.

I suggested, and I strongly commend the idea to your favourable consideration, that instead of having parliament to vote the required grant each year it be given a statutory grant of $75,000. The excess of this amount over that required for maintenance will be applied to the work of completing the laying out and construction of the park (capital expenditure) and in course of time _ the maintenance will increase and the capital expenditure will diminish until we arrive at the estimated final cost of up-keep of $75,000 per year.

That is their estimate, and out of this amount we are now providing they will take care of capital expenditure.

Topic:   NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OP GRANT
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CON

Peter McGibbon

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McGIBBON:

Is there any revenue from it at all?

Topic:   NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OP GRANT
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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

No, it is a public park, the Plains of Abraham, as my hon. friend knows.

Topic:   NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OP GRANT
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I do not think any man of business would do this; it is simply an invitation to reckless expenditure of public money. This is an admirable commission; it is doing excellent work, but when you place in their hands a given sum of money per annum you are simply inviting them to spend that amount, because human nature is only human nature. Would any corporation in the conduct of its business place in the hands of its directors a given sum per annum, regardless of their requirements, for the purpose of enabling them to carry on their work? This work should be budgetted; the requirements of this commission should be submitted to the minister yearly and these requirements should be carefully considered by the government and a sufficient sum placed in the estimates each year to meet them. The moment you do business this way, as I have said, you are simply inviting them to spend that much money. You may argue otherwise; you may remark how excellent is the commission, but my experience in business and elsewhere has been that where there is

National Battlefields Commission

a given sum of money available, human nature being what it is, that money is going to be spent by those who have control over it, and I therefore submit that the minister is wrong in adopting this method. I protest against placing a sum of money in the hands of any commission, amounting to $750,000 at the rate of $75,000 per year, by this method; if they have the money they will spend it. They are most admirable gentlemen, giving their services freely and gratuitiously for this work, but I submit that this is a wrong principle, because parliament is deprived of its power. Parliament now says, "Here is $75,000 a year for ten years; go and spend it." I protest against that method, having regard to the requirements of the public service at I know it elsewhere.

Topic:   NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OP GRANT
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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

On general principles no

person can find much fault with the observations of my hon. friend, but having looked into the matter after receiving the request from the commission for further sums of money to take care of the different buildings in that vicinity and to remove the Ross rifle factory, in addition to other work, we considered that it would be cheaper to say to the commission, "You cannot have any more money than this during the next ten years." They know they are going to receive this money each year and can plan their work accordingly, so I believe it will cost the treasury less in the end. In connection with keeping track of the expenditure, I would remind my hon. friend that under the Audit Act the Minister of Finance can send in auditors at any time, and as a matter of fact I believe they have already looked over these accounts.

Topic:   NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OP GRANT
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Yes; I have looked over the accounts also.

Sir HENRY DiRAYTON: Can my hon.

friend give us any real reason why an amount should not be voted each year in the ordinary way? I believe there has been no difficulty in the past in voting the money required.

Topic:   NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OP GRANT
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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

Under the original act they

received an amount of $300,000; so money has been voted in this way before. The section of the act which is to be repealed authorized the payment of that amount to the commission.

Topic:   NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OP GRANT
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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

I am only

speaking from memory, but I think my hon. friend will find that the $300,000 was voted for the initiation of the work and that sums of money have been voted each year since having regard on the one hand to what

parliament thought should be spent and on the other hand to the real requirements of the work. I think my hon. friend will find that in some years the vote was very small, while in other years the commission received much larger sums. For example, I think the vote has gone as high as $115,000.

Topic:   NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OP GRANT
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LIB

James Alexander Robb (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. ROBB:

The highest was $145,000.

Topic:   NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OP GRANT
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CON

Henry Lumley Drayton

Conservative (1867-1942)

Sir HENRY DRAYTON:

And I think it has been as low as $34,000, so that each year it was a question of what parliament thought should be voted and for how much the work could be carried along. We got along pretty well in the past with that method; why not stay with it?

Topic:   NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OP GRANT
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LIB

Ernest Lapointe (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. LAPOINTE:

Of course everybody

knows that this development must be completed. It is not only a national undertaking but it is an imperial undertaking. When the tercentenary of Quebec was celebrated there was a subscription not only in Canada but throughout the British Empire to buy the fields and the plains where the battles were fought which decided the fate of Canada in 1759; even school children in Canada and in the empire contributed for that purpose. The commission which was appointed to supervise the undertaking has done its work in the most admirable way. I am specially paying tribute to Sir George Gameau, the president of that commission, who has made it almost a personal affair, devoting most of his time to the work of the commission, trying to do that work as economically as possible, being there all the time, supervising everything, and giving his services freely.

Now there are some advantatges in the scheme proposed by my hon. friend the Minister of Finance, and it is at the request of the commission that this change is being proposed. It is all very well to say that every year an amount may be voted in the estimates. Well I remember that a couple of years ago the Minister of Finance in his great zeal for and devotion to economy cut that item; Sir George Garneau threatened to resign because he could not go on with the work of the commission, and the minister had to reinsert the amount in the supplementary estimates.

Sir George Garneau and the commission are now proceeding to transfer the old buildings of the Ross Rifle Company, which are really an eyesore on the battlefield. They must be sure of a certain amount for a certain number of years. This method has been followed for a number of years in connection with other matters, for instance the contributions of this government to the highways

National Battlefields Commission

of the provinces. The provinces could rely upon a certain amount as a contribution to their highways for a certain number of years. Especially with the work which the commission has in view and the work which the commission has been doing, I believe this is certainly a reasonable demand, and that it should be granted.

Topic:   NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OP GRANT
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CON

John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. EDWARDS (Frontenac):

Mr. Chairman, I just want to say one word in regard to this matter, not because of this resolution but because the same principle has been carried out, or is being carried out, in another place, and I do not think the principle is right. For instance, you have on this order paper, number 26, under the heading of the Federal District Commission, a certain amount of money-$250,000-set aside for sixteen years. Now we are asked to change that and vote that sum for thirty years, and I do not think that is right. It is a fact beyond question that during the years of the war and the years immediately succeeding the war there were many important and necessary public works which were necessarily held up. The government took the stand then, and very properly, I think, that not one dollar would be expended for this or that public building or public work where it was possible at all to get along without the expenditure, every dollar being required for war purposes, for the purpose of meeting the expenses of the war, and for several years thereafter.

Now it occurs to me that in connection with some of these large schemes of the government they are losing sight of the fact that for a number of years a great many works which should have been carried out have been held up.

I think the principle is wrong of voting a sum of money for a period of years without having placed before parliament at least a rough idea of what it is proposed to do with the money which is being handed over. That is the principle objection. I do not think anybody objects to the work that is going on in Quebec. I believe everybody is of one mind in regard to the fixing up of that place; it is historic, and it is something which belongs to all of Canada and which everybody in Canada would like to see in proper condition and maintained properly. I simply wish to register my objection as a general principle to the voting of sums of money for a long period of years. I do not think, having regard to the works which were held up for so many years, that it is just right at the present time.

fMr. Lapointe.]

Topic:   NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OP GRANT
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CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I do not think the Minister of Justice (Mr. Lapointe) or the Minister of Finance (Mr. Robb) appreciates the point we are making, that here we are committing this country in future to these payments, whereas in other cases we are able to meet the annual demands from the resources we have in our hands from time to time. In the one case we pledge our credit and tie the hands of posterity. In the one case we make a direct and fixed charge upon the revenues, regardless of what they may be. In the other case, we contemplate just such an exigency as occurred during the war, when there was no longer money for such purposes and we had to curtail expenditures. I would like to ask my hon. friend the Minister of the Interior if he would not be as well justified in asking similar sums for Banff and Jasper. We base our expenditures upon our expected revenues, and a budget is for the purpose of endeavouring to have the expenditures met by the revenues, to provide sufficient revenues to meet contemplated expenditures.

The judges' salaries are a charge upon the revenue. The interest on the public debt is a charge upon the revenue. The payment of pensions is a charge upon the revenue, by statute. Now we are adding by statute two additional charges upon the revenue, regardless of what it may be, one in Quebec and one in Ottawa. The analogy in respect to highways does not apply. In connection with highways, the money was to be paid on condition that the province expended certain sums; and if conditions in this country warranted our being able to pay the money to the provinces, because they performed their duty under the statute and thereby earned it. It is only necessary to add that conditions, financial and otherwise, in the provinces would be reflected in the revenues of the Dominion; and if the provinces are able to make the expenditures, we would be able to implement our promise.

I would think this a grave departure from the principles that underlie parliamentary government. It is taking out of the hands of this parliament for a fixed determinate number of years an annual expenditure, regardless of what financial and other conditions in the country may be. This case is in Quebec; there is another in Ottawa; it will be in another case somewhere else; the principle involved will be endeavoured to be applied by people from every part of the country, and I am sure with an equal measure of justice. Under those circumstances we

Inspection oj Root Vegetables

can only record our protest against it, and add our tribute to what has been said by the Minister of Justice as to the work of this commission with Sir George Garneau at its head and which has become to him a labour of absorbing love. Perhaps no man has done more than he has in this matter. He says that this $75,000 is to take care of part of his capital expenditures; but he estimates that when all work is finished, the whole $75,000 will go for maintenance and expenses. However desirous we are to make this historic ground a park for all time, we should have regard to the great principle that governs appropriations of money for any public purpose, namely, that the budget should be submitted to the executive of the country and that the executive of the country should determine the extent to *which it will meet those demands and whether those demands should be met, having regard to the existing resources of the country and the effect which will be caused upon the revenues generally. That is the principle for which we contend and why w'e protest against this legislation.

Topic:   NATIONAL BATTLEFIELDS COMMISSION
Subtopic:   AUTHORIZATION OP GRANT
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Section agreed to. Bill reported, read the third time and passed.


CANTEEN FUNDS


Hon. J. L. RALSTON (Minister of National Defence) moved the second reading of Bill No. 39, respecting the disposal of certain canteen funds. Motion agreed to and bill read the second time.


LIB

James Layton Ralston (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. RALSTON:

I move that this bill be referred to the special committee on pensions and returned soldiers' problems. I discussed it with some of the members and they thought a more thorough consideration could there be given to the question of the disposal of these funds. While I am on this subject, I note that in Hansard, at page 463, I am quoted as saying that I was advised it was not necessary to enact legislation. That was a misprint. I stated that I considered it was necessary to enact legislation.

Topic:   CANTEEN FUNDS
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Motion agreed to.


April 10, 1928