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

CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I am speaking of the company at its inception. I will refer in a moment to what happened in 1903; and what happened in 1903 was a deception and. a snare, just like what happened before. I say that at the period of which I am now speaking the directors, out of a capital stock of $65,000, received for themselves $49,601.01 -the secretary, $16,890, and Mr. Hoare, the architect or engineer of the bridge, $45,150. The personnel of this company had $111,641.01 on a paid-up capital stock of $05,000. The financial situation resolves itself into this, that tills company owes the government at the present moment $6,000,000. There is no error in that. I did not hear my hon. friend (Mr. Wm. Chisholm) in his long comments on this question, point out any error in our calculations. It is over $6,000,000 They owe the government $100,000 and more of duties. What else they owe at or around Quebec I do not know. What are their assets ? Nothing. There are piers there. There are some constructions and some materials. What is the value of them? Nothing. Possibly the piers may be some use if the new board finds that they can be utilized. But I asked Mr. Holgate the . question : ' What can those piers be useful for ? ' He said : ' I do not know; it is very doubtful if they can be of any use, because any new plan must be absolutely different from the other; but they may be of use.'
I do not deny it. It is possible that they may have to be demolished. The materials can be of very little use. I say that these assets are valueless. This is an absolutely insolvent concern, and the government have recognized it to-day. But they did not recognize it in 1903, when that company came

here, having no assets whatever and a floating debt of over three-quarters of a million. That, I say, is the financial aspect. Our hou. friends in their report, have endeavoured to show that there was something of value.. There is really nothing. My hon. friend from Beauharnois (Mr. Bergeron) suggests that the new board may change the location of the bridge. It is very probable that they will. From what evidence I heard, it seems to me improbable that they will decide upon the present site. We shall see when the board has reported. The government have done to-day, after all this loss has been incurred, after a hundred lives have been sacrificed, what they should have done at the very beginning ; they have begun to consider plans : they never have done so before to-day. I assert that the government have never looked into the plans of this bridge company. Here we are, face to face with the construction of the greatest bridge in the world, the like of which has never been seen. We were involved to the extent that we financed the whole business, and the government-the Minister of Finance, pushed, I suppose, influenced by many forces-never saw fit to control the plans, to see what all this was going to be. That is a very strong assertion; I will endeavour to prove it. It was what the Royal Commission found. They gently hint. They do not use strong terms. I believe the time has come to speak the truth. But they say:
* The misfortune is that these plans were never studied by the government.' What happened, Mr. Speaker ? You will scarcely believe the story, but it is borne out by the work of the Royal Commission and by the evidence before our own committee. We had it in the findings and the evidence of the Royal Commission, even if we had heard no witnesses at all. But we heard some, and we three have arrived at the same conclusion as the Royal Commission; we have that satisfaction at any rate. Let us speak of tlie plans. Would you believe it, Mr. Speaker, that in regard to this bridge, the greatest bridge in the world, Mr. Hoare, a very nice fellow, I have no doubt, but about as competent as a bridge engineer as I am, sent in to the government the specifications, whicii were in printed form, handed by the government to bridge constructors when we give subsidies for bridges, as we gave a great many last night. He took those specifications for the Quebec bridge, and sent them in to .the government as the ' specifications for the Quebec bridge, with a span of 800 feet. Is that credible ? Yet it is the fact. What happened? Mr. Douglas, our engineer for bridge purposes, found fault with them. He ventured to report to the government that the unit stress were too great, by which, as far as I understand the language of these gentlemen, is meant the weight was too great for these specifications. It was a note of warning ; but the government took no notice of it whatever. Here was a con-Mr. MONK.
struction, the plans of which had been devised by the construction company itself, the PhGenix Bridge Company, the government took no notice whatever of this note of warning sounded by Mr. Douglas. The bridge company has taken as its consulting engineer Mr. Cooper. Mr. Cooper is an eminent engineer. Heiis a man of seventy, and never but once, so far as I know, went near the construction ; and the man who in reality is responsible for the preparation of these plans is Mr. ySzlapka, with Mr. Deans. Who is Mr. Deans ? The chief engineer of the Phoenix Bridge Company, and any man who goes on the street will know that Mr. Deans is a very rash engineer. He is a man of ability, who aims at heap construc-.tion, and his aims have been attended by sinister misfortunes in the United States.
The government could have found that out easy enough ; they did not trouble to inquire. But the critical moment came ; the moment when the Minister of Finance enters on the scene-I believe I know too much of the Minister of Finance to think that were he not led in the matter he would not have done as he did-the critical moment was when the plans came up for approval by tlie government. Mind you, Mr. Speaker, when we gave the subsidy we stipulated we should have control of the plans and should approve them ; we always make such a stipulation. But further, in 1903 when we entered into this disastrous agreement we had stipulated specially in the Act passed at the end of the session, that we would have control of the plans and would supervise them. I may say to the House now that after the passage of that Act tlie government gave itself no heed whatever of these plans and never bothered about them at all. Parliament-as we say properly in our report- had imposed in that Act the duty upon the government of supervising the plans of this vast and unprecedented structure. But after the passage of the Act the government paid no attention to the matter. In July, 1903. when the whole of this scheme was concocted which we heard of only at the end of October, 1903, when parliament was about to prorogue, this matter came up before the government and what happened ? I say it is incredible to believe the tale which is unfolded unless you read the proof of it in the evidence. Mr. Schreiber is a very good engineer-there are a great many good engineers, but when you come to look into the plans of a bridge alongside of which the Forth bridge is a small affair, you require special skill and special caution in your experts. What did Mr. Schreiber do ? In July he asked the government, and he gave reasons for his request, to employ a specialist in bridge engineering to oversee these plans, and Mr. Speaker, had that been done I have no hesitation in saying-in fact I asked the question of Mr. Holgate and he gave a reply which he carefully read leads to the same conclusion-had that been done
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the fatal defect in this bridge would have been detected. It was pointed out by Hol-gate and his associates that after this disaster the government asked a special bridge engineer in the United States to look into the matter and he pointed out the defect. Mr. Douglas, our own engineer, had hinted at it. I believe that Mr. Cooper, being one man with one head had overlooked the matter ; it escaped him. No one man alone can carry out an enterprise of that kind ; it is impossible. And, Sir, had that been done and had Mr. Schreiber's request been complied with we would not have had to lament and deplore this immense loss of life and money. But what happened? The tale continues to be extraordinary, it reads like a romance. I should have said that when Mr. Schreiber's request came before the government, the government of course granted it and an order in council of the 26th of July authorized Mr. Schreiber to employ a specialist. But this was objected to by parties interested. Mr. Cooper would not hear of it for he looked upon it as an insult. Here was the government of Canada financing this bridge and charged with the duty of overseeing these plans, and what insult could there be to Mr. Cooper. The correspondence is there, but I will not refer to it for I feel I am taking up to much time.
Some horn. MEMBERS. Go on.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC BRIDGE.
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