to give a definite answer to the question at the moment. Sir Alexander Gibb is at Saint John to-day studying the whole situation, and of course we shall have to confer with this distinguished gentleman and his assistants on the procedure to be taken under the circumstances.
resolution before the house provides for assistance in the form of a loan to the harbour board; consequently one would assume that the contracts would be made by the harbour board and not by the government.
I understand that with respect to that part of the harbour destroyed by fire the repair wot'k has been taken out of the hands of the harbour commissioners and placed under the direction of an engineer from the city of Halifax. Now, if the government is going to pay for the improvements and not charge the cost as a loan to the harbour commissioners owing to the emergency referred to, I can understand why the department would take the work out of the hands of the harbour commissioners and place it in charge of their own engineer. But if the cost is to be included in the $10,000,000 to be loaned to the harbour commission, I do not see why that course should have been followed. Perhaps I am misinformed?
from Halifax is in charge of the repair work -at least the local papers have made an announcement to that effect, and that the work in connection with the improvements will remain under the direction of the engineer of the harbour commission. I should like to have some information on this point.
afraid I must make a few observations in respect to this matter. The Minister of
Saint John Harbour
Marine (Mr. Duranleau) was absent for two days when the matter became very pressing. A representative of Sir Alexander Gibb and partners visited Saint John harbour and made a report on conditions resulting from the disastrous fire which practically destroyed the whole of the terminal facilities. On the strength of his report it became apparent that the harbour commissioners would need a very much increased sum of money to enable them to carry on the repairs if the harbour facilities were to be made available for shipping by the first of December. But inasmuch as it would take weeks to prepare complete plans and specifications and call for tenders for the work as a completed unit, it was thought desirable to proceed at once with the necessary repair work. He asked the Foundation Company, the Northern Construction Company and J. W. Stewart Limited, and I think, one other company, if they would undertake the work on a cost plus basis, and they agreed to accept five per cent, which is a much lower charge than is usually asked for such work; but it was emergency work and they said they would undertake it for that figure. The work is being divided between them. It is not being taken out of the hands of the harbour commissioners, but inasmuch as the emergency was great, the department put its facilities behind those of the commissioners, and when it came down to the question of where an engineer could be secured who had knowledge of construction work, the experience of Mr. McDonald, of Halifax, was regarded as peculiarly fitting him for such work. I telegraphed him myself and asked him to meet the representative of the Gibb firm, which he did. The harbour commissioners of Halifax were asked if they would loan him to the harbour commissioners of Saint John for the purpose of directing the construction of the work which was to be undertaken to prepare the harbour facilities for use this winter. Very reluctantly they agreed to do so, and the harbour commissioners of Saint John are making arrangements to provide the harbour commissioners of Halifax with such engineering assistance as they may require during the absence of Mr. McDonald. Mr. McDonald who is a most experienced man in what you might term tidal water construction work, has gone over to Saint John and will stay with the undertaking until the work is completed. In the meantime the harbour commissioner's have not been in any sense supplanted, but with their cooperation the government is endeavouring to facilitate with all the rapidity possible completion of the work necessary 22110-250J
to make the harbour available for business this winter. Had any other method been pursued it is perfectly obvious that the work would not be done. I think it is only fair to say that the engineer of the Saint John harbour commission has sufficient work to do in connection with the general undertaking of engineering and also in connection with the new work that is being done in West Saint John, with respect to which the contract is outstanding and was outstanding when this government came into power. That work is being pushed forward to completion. I fancy it will not be completed for use this winter; in fact I know it will not, so the only facilities that can be relied upon will be berths 4 and 5 and 15 and 16 and a potato shed on 17 for the purpose of enabling business to be transacted as usual. The question of grain conveyors has been given a great deal of consideration and will involve an expenditure of half a million dollars, but unless there are legs on each of the docks it will be impossible, with the rapid tide, to move ships in a harbour like Saint John, and that work is being carried on. On pier 17, where the old potato shed was, a new shed will be erected to accommodate the requirements of shippers at that point.
I may add that there is no lack of harmony between the commission, the engineer whose services they have been fortunate enough to secure and the government in pushing forward the work. The $3,500,000 originally asked for by the harbour commission to complete what I might call the new work, together with the $1,500,000 bank loan will absorb $5,000,000, and leave substantially the same amount for the completion of the repairs in connection with the old facilities.
I wish to thank the right hon. Prime Minister for the full explanation he has given, which is perfectly satisfactory to me. The reports which have been appearing in the press left an impression such as the one I expressed this afternoon, and I wanted to have the matter cleared up. At the same time I wish to congratulate the government on accepting the estimate I gave the house following the fire. I then asked the government to vote $10,000,000, and that is the amount being provided.
word before the resolution is reported. I do not rise to delay the passage of the resolution; I think the government should be congratulated upon the speed with which they have attended to the situation existing in Saint John, but it is not with reference to that
Bonus on Wheat
matter I desire to speak. The Minister of Marine, in his preliminary remarks, and the Prime Minister in his more extended remarks, referred to a bank loan of SI,500,000. I think perhaps it would be well if the country had a little more information as to just how that loan was incurred. My understanding of the situation is that the previous harbour board let a contract to a concern known as the Atlas Construction Company for the building of what are termed the new works on the west side. That firm absolutely fell down on the undertaking, with the result that the people of this country have been called upon to pay a huge sum of money in excess of the contract price. I think these facts should be made clear.
Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in. Mr. Duranleau thereupon moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 134, to provide for a further loan to the Saint John harbour commissioners.