July 17, 1908 (10th Parliament, 4th Session)


Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)


I thought that in spite of any political tendencies -they would view this matter as a great national question, a grave national disaster, something serious about which it is of no use trying to shield people who are at fault. It is better to lay the blame where it should rest and attempt to arrive at the conclusions which impose themselves. The conclusions to which the minority arrive are the conclusions to which the royal commission arrived almost in terms. Does the government find fault with the conclusions of the commission which they named to look into this matter? There is nothing in the report of the minori-ty'tkat you will not find in the very able, the very exhaustive report to which the government seem to have adhered and at which arrived the royal commissioners named to investigate the causes of this disaster. The commission were not charged, as we were, with this particular feature of the matter, but their commission was of so large a scope that they entered into it and arrived at precisely the same conclusion as we have arrived at as regards the

financial aspect of the question and the control of the plans of the bridge-or rather the want of control, for which the Minister of Finance is absolutely responsible, and in regard to which I shall be very glad to hear what explanations he has to give to the House. I do not mean that the Finance Minister did not make a struggle in this ease, as he did in all matters relating to the Quebec bridge, but he succumbed at the last, and he is responsible for the fix in which we find ourselves at the present.
Let me refer briefly to the objects of the investigation, because I think it necessary to point that out. We were charged with the task of investigating the conditions and guarantees under which this government paid moneys to the Quebec Bridge Company, endorsed and guaranteed the bonds of that company and what was our recourse at the present moment, and we were charged also with the examination of what precautions the government took in regard to suitable and proper plans for that great structure.
One word in regard to the financial situation. My hon. friend who has opened the discussion on this question has spoken of the men who were in this company. I know most of them; they are certainly good men. I have known Mr. Sharpies for a long * time, and X have nothing but good to say of him. Mr. Laliberte I have known for a long time ; he is a very estimable citizen ; in fact, most of them are good men. They seem, in this instance, to have lent their names to an enterprise which, from its inception, viewed from a financial standpoint only, was absolutely ridiculous, perfectly absurd. Here is a company that had for its object the construction of a bridge which could not cost less than $6,000,000 ; that was a low estimate. What did they put into the enterprise? 'At most, at the time the scheme was entered into, $65,000. That was the paid-up capital of this ridiculous company, and then $20,000 of this at the very least, as mentioned in our own report, was given to the directors of the company not in accordance with the Act of incorporation of the company. Section 8 of the Act of 1887 incorporating the company defines under what circumstances stock can be given in payment, and it would not be under that section given to the directors for labours. To mention labours seems absurd ; they performed no labours. In violation of that clause, out of the $65,000, we find in our report that they got $20,000, reducing the capital stock of the company, organized for an enterprise that could not cost less than $6,000,000, to the sum of $45,000. X say that they got more than $20,000. At page 27 of the printed record you will find $5,200 additional. There was some doubt about that, in regard to which my hon. friend from Hamilton (Mr. Barker) 424}
and my hon. friend from Huntingdon (Mr. [DOT]Walsh) did not seem to be convinced. We have reported, in regard to which there is no doubt whatever, that they got $20,000 out of the $65,000. I say that it is in evidence before the committee that- they got $25,200 in stock out of the $65,000. But why harp about that? In the Senate not long ago an answer was given by the Secretary of State to an inquiry made by Hon. Senator Landry, and what is the effect of that answer? It may be found under the caption of ' Payment to the Quebec Bridge Directors.' The information is authentic; there is no doubt about it; the directors of this company, these great men who are so patriotic, who have done so much for this enterprise and for their country in such a disinterested manner, have received, according to the answer given by the Hon. Mr. Scott, which answer was furnished by the Bridge 'Company, $49,661.01 out of a total paid-up capital stock of $65,000.

Full View