The hon. gentleman (Mr. Bennett) is simply quibbling. He knows that if the clause were put in as he suggests, it would give those who found themselves successful tenderers an opportunity to bring in American dredges to do the work. The desire of the department is to have competition amongst Canadian dredges, but not to permit American dredges to come and compete. If these American dredges are brought into Canada, pay duty and are registered here before the filing of the tenders with the department, they can compete. I do not see what other course can be pursued, if we desire to have in Canada a fleet of up-to-date dredges. If that result is to be brought about, we must accord them some protection. Hon. gentlemen opposite are always talking against American competition in everything else, but when it comes to dredging their policy is altered, and they want to bring in American dredges. So far as I am concerned, I am prepared to say, and to take my stand upon that saying, that we are not willing that tenders should be made looking forward to the employment of American dredges, their introduction depending upon the success of the tenderer in obtaining a contract.
The hon. gentleman (Mr. Bennett) refers to the length of time given. The time for receiving tenders has been extended to the 1st of May. In addition to that, another clause has been altered, so that it now reads :-
Intending contractors must be ready to begin work within thirty days.
So, the plant need not be set at work until practically the 1st of June-of course, if the owners desire, they can set at work earlier than that. I think the work at Port Arthur is of sufficient importance to make it desirable to have the season as long as possible. Under the changed condition offered by the advertisement, I believe there is every opportunity offered for competition. The extension of time alters practically the only condition to which the hon. gentleman took exception. I have only to reiterate what I said, that the department are desirous that there should be competition in this and in all other dredging matters. I understand that the system of hiring dredges by the hour has been in vogue in the department for some time. I am seriously trying to have more competition amongst Canadian dredge owners. But this is a matter of considerable difficulty. I do not think that one, until he has faced it, can understand the nature of those difficulties or how serious they are. When a man owns only one dredge he is practically confined to tendering for one work ; for if he tenders for more than one he finds himself in a somewhat uncomfortable position should the department call upon him to proceed with these different works. X am trying to get all the competition that is possible, and I hold that under the new advertisement, with the exception of competition from American dredges, the department and the public will get the fullest competition from any dredges that are capable of doing the work in Port Arthur and Port William.