the estimates of this department were under consideration I made some statements concerning complaints of the crew of the steamship Amla. I desire at this time to put the remainder of the facts on record.
On the former occasion I presented letters showing that the crew of the Amla had not been paid, despite the fact that many promises of payment had been made. I wish to read a letter under date of July 25, 1930, addressed to one of the crew of that ship. The particular letter in question is addressed to Lemuel Winchester, and is as follows:
Many thanks for your kind felicitations regarding my appointment to the Senate. We understood when leaving Ottawa that the wages due on the Amla were to be paid at once. As there was no word of it last week we wired the minister to have no further delay in effecting a settlement, but we have no word yet. We expect it be attended to at onee.
John E. Sinclair.
On the previous occasion I said that representations had been made by the hon. members from Prince Edward Island in favour of paying the crew. In spite of promises which
have been made we find that on July 12 the then Minister of Fisheries wrote the captain of the boat as follows:
Captain W. 3?. Burke,
148 Elm Avenue,
Dear Captain Burke:
I have your letter of the 10th instant. I have taken up with the department the case of yourself and crew of the Amla and have been pressing for an immediate settlement. I am glad to inform you that the department has approved of payment and has forwarded the recommendation to the treasury board for approval. Because of the peculiar circumstances of the case, payment cannot be made until this approval is given and I confidently expect that this will be done at the first meeting of the board which, I am told, must be at an early date. I have every hope and assurance of an early and satisfactory settlement,
At that time Cyrus MacMillan was Minister of Fisheries.
On July 19, 1930, when the election campaign was in progress, Doctor Grant, the gentleman in Kings county who was running against the Honourable J. A. Macdonald, had received complaints concerning wages paid to the crew of the Amla. The then Minister of Fisheries wrote him as follows:
With reference to the claim for unpaid wages submitted by Captain Burke and the crew of ss. Amla mentioned in your recent letter, I have to inform you that this claim which has been pending for nearly a year was finally approved by the Department of Fisheries some time ago. There is no departmental appropriations from which the amount can be taken and payment can therefore only be made by the treasury board. This board has not met for some days because of the absence of so many ministers. A meeting will be held at an early date, possibly within the next few days, when the matter will be finally adjusted.
I confidently look for an early and satisfactory settlement.
With all good wishes, I am,
With reference to the claim of the Amla we have had reports from two different ministers of fisheries, and they each assure us that the claim was justifiable and should be paid. I have learned that the sum of $3,650 is claimed by the crew and has not been paid. We hope that the present minister will consider the matter favourably and that as a result the crew will be paid. It is bad enough for men to have no work, but in this instance men have had work but have not been paid.
Topic: SUPPLY-CRIME AND CRIMINALS
Subtopic: DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
Mr. Chairman, the hon. member has continued some remarks he made when the estimates were previously under 22110-2681
consideration. I think I can place the facts briefly before the committee. An agreement was entered into between the then Minister of Marine and Fisheries and one O. W. Nordin, President of the International Fresh Fish Corporation. The agreement covered a period of six months, and a portion of it provided that Nordin was to purchase from the fishermen all the fish available in a certain area of the waters of Prince Edward Island, at a certain price set forth in the agreement. For the services to be performed he was to receive during a period of six months a subsidy of $1,800 per month. This agreement was approved by order in council passed on March 20, 1920. The terms were that the services to be performed were to be commenced on the first day of June of that year. As a matter of fact, on the first day of June the services did not commence, and in consequence of the negligence of the company which had contracted to perform the services notice of cancellation was given and the contract was cancelled on the 17th day of July following. In other words, the services to be performed were never even commenced, and the contract was duly cancelled. '
Subsequently there were a number of claims made by seamen for wages and by merchants who had supplied goods to the company which owned the ship, and an action was entered in the exchequer court, Prince Edward Island admiralty district, and judgment was rendered by Mr. Justice W. S. Stewart. He found, not that there were due for services in connection with this ship five month's wages, as has been alleged on different occasions, but that there were due one month's wages to each member of the crew. The amounts which he found to be due were as follows: to the captain, $117.75; to the mate, $125; to the cook, $125; to the engineer, $210; to two firemen at $140 per month $280; and to two seamen at $120 per month, $240; or a total of $1,097.75. I think it would be admitted by any fair-minded person that there is no claim either in law or in equity against the government for the month's services which were found by the judge to have been rendered to the owner of the ship, because he performed no services for the government under his agreement and his agreement was cancelled.
There is one regrettable phase on whidh I do not desire to dwell,-apparently an understanding was given these unfortunate men that in some manner or otheT the government may have been connected with the enterprise. But that understanding came from nobody in authority with the government. Possibly in virtue of it the men had in their minds that
they were working for the government, and they .continued their services long after any work was performed on the ship. As a matter of fact Mr. Justice Stewart in his judgment makes reference to it in these words:
Although the claim was for five months, I allow each of the plaintiffs one month's wages, and I fix the allowance at so much. The crew seems to have been kept connected with the ship until the trial at the request of the captain, although it is not easy to understand why they were so kept.
Now, sir, on the merits I submit there is no claim in law, neither is there in equity, by these men against the government. It would be a very dangerous preicedent to establish if under the circumstances you are going to make suich a remotely distant contract with the government an excuse for a claim against the government for wages. I have gone this far, and I do not see how I can very well go any further, I have said: The government at the time took out a bond for the faithful performance of the contract with the. Fidelity Insurance Company of Canada in the sum of So,000, indemnifying the government' against any damages which might arise as a result of this contract and t-6 ensure bona fides on the part of the contractor. The Department of Justice has been asked to collect under that bond. Up to the present moment they have not succeeded in doing so. If they do recover, so far as I am concerned, I would be quite willing to recommend to the government that these men be reimbursed their wages as an act of grace, and as an act of grace only, because I submit, it would be too dangerous a precedent for the government to admit any liability whatever in the circumstances.
I am not going to impute any motives or find any fault with my predecessor, the Minister of Marine and Fisheries of that day, who submitted the recommendation to council that these wages be paid. But I do say this, that while that recommendation went to council, there it remained and no action was taken on it. So I can only conclude either that the government were not in agreement with the then Minister of Marine and Fisheries, or that they considered it immaterial whether the wages were paid or not. It is true that when the first Minister of Fisheries was appointed a further recommendation came in on behalf of those who had supplied goods to this vessel. Well, I am not going to enter into the merits in that connection. These merchants must have gone into the contract with their eyes wide open, and they must have known that there was no liability on the part of the government. And I am not going to dwell upon
the circumstance that the recommendation, if my memory serves me right, went into council after the last general election. At all events, this I do know, that my predecessor as Minister of Fisheries, when he wrote the letter which was last referred to by my hon. friend from Queens (Mr. MoLure) must have written it in Prince Edward Island, because there is no record of it in the department whatsoever; we have no knowledge of it there. Needless to say, the recommendation to council for payment of those accounts received precisely the same treatment as the first recommendation to council with reference to wages.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I cannot take up very much more time on this matter for I see I have only half a minute left. I will add only this: I hope we can recover under the indemnity bond, and if so I am prepared to recommend payment of these claims as an act of grace. Otherwise I do not see how I can possibly concur in the view that the government is under any liability whatsoever. I must take my courage in both hands in making that statement, because my hon. friend from Queens has been most insistent, persistent and consistent in demanding that these claims should be paid; but with all respect to him I must say that I cannot agree with him that the government is liable in any respect whatsoever.
Topic: SUPPLY-CRIME AND CRIMINALS
Subtopic: DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES