May 31, 1939 (18th Parliament, 4th Session)


David James Hartigan



Comparing this amount of $3,556,020 with the $2,817,357 spent for the maintenance and operation of dominion public buildings and grounds in Ottawa, I submit that the vote for Ottawa of practically $3,000,000 is, to say the least, out of proportion to an amount of only $3,500,000 to be expended throughout Canada. In this connection I have in mind a town in Nova Scotia, the town of Dominion. Although there are public buildings scattered all over the Dominion of Canada, there is not and never has been one in the town of Dominion. It is a long established town, yet they have not even a post office of their own; quarters are rented for a post office.
When I think of the amount of money spent in Ottawa, practically $3,000,000, and throughout Canada some $3,500,000 for the maintenance of grounds and buildings in cities and towns, I cannot help thinking that there is a marked disparity between the amount appropriated for some other places and the amount spent in Dominion. I am not asking for a large building, but at least the people there should have a respectable public building and a standard post office from which the Canadian flag or the union jack could fly. But there is no public building of any sort in that community. It is not fair. I admit that the revenue is not large; but, after all, that is not the sole consideration. Surely the government wishes to maintain a certain standard in its public buildings.
I do not see why we should be continually considering the revenue^producing capacity of any building in Canada. I venture to say there are many public buildings that could not begin to liquidate the capital expenditure
fMr. MacNicol.f
involved in their erection. I am not criticizing the department; I am speaking of the government as a whole,' and I am discussing public facilities, provided by the government to the .various provinces. I believe that we are too prone, whenever we are discussing any public building, to think mainly of the revenue that can be derived from it. That is the wrong attitude, and from my observations in the past four years it is becoming more and more evident. I think the fault lies with our system of government in Ottawa. Our civil servants are thinking too much in terms of revenues from amounts invested tq-day, forgetting the vast sums of money which, expended in the past, have yielded no revenues. One has only to look at the canals in Canada and other public works as well. Go down the St. Lawrence and look at that vast canal system which Norwegians and people from other countries make use of without paying any toll to the government. Again, I am not criticizing the federal administration with regard to all these public works. In my opinion they are wonderful feats of engineering and are a tribute to Canada; but it seems to me that the department lays undue emphasis upon the question of revenue. I repeat, I am not criticizing the minister. I give him full credit for all he has done. He is a genius, a prodigy; I have often admired his ability to stand up under strain. I am simply asking him to give some consideration to the smaller towns and to provide us with at least a small-sized post office in the community of which I speak.

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