April 1, 1902 (9th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Edward Guss Porter

Conservative (1867-1942)


I was about to call attention to the position occupied by the Belleville post office as showing the scale of expenditure in the Post Office Department, and to compare the present position of the Belleville post office with that it occupied under Liberal-Conservative rule. At the present time the staff is composed of eignL officials ; the cost as given in the Public Accounts laid on the Table of the House is $4,100 ; and the revenue collected in the year ending June 30th, 1901, was $14,822,80. Now those figures are entirely misleading, and one has only to look to some other parts of the Public Accounts to get the true state of affairs as to the cost of the Belleville post office. I have taken the trouble to do so, and I find that to that sum of $4,100 given as the cost of the Belleville post office, must be added the superannuation allowances which are being paid year after year to those people who were dismissed from their offices for the purpose of making room for supporters of the Liberal

cause. Those superannuation allowances amount to $1,110.69. The salary of Mr. Duncan, for whom the office was created- for if I am correctly informed the office had never been in existence before-is $1,500. That must be added to the cost. Then the gratuities that were paid the next year after this change, amounted to $583.59, bringing up the total cost of the Belleville post office to $7,350.28. Now, Mr. Speaker, you will observe from a comparison of these figures that ten officials who have passed an examination and qualified themselves for the position, were paid under Liberal-Conservative rule $8,710, or an average of $871 each ; while under Liberal rule eight officials are paid $7,350, or an average of $918 each. The revenue collected by the ten officials under Liberal-Conservative rule was $17,339.60, while the revenue collected from that office by the officials who are being paid more money for their work at the present time, is only $14,882. But this is not the worst feature of the case. Instead of Belleville occupying, as it did under Conservative rule, the proud distinction of giving a first class service, the service in that office has since been sacrificed, and almost every conceivable kind of complaint is being made from day to day in regard to that office But the full force of the point I am making is shown by a comparison of the Belleville post office with some other post offices.
I have taken the trouble to extract from the Public Accounts the figures with relation to other post offices in cities somewhat of the same size as Belleville. The population of Belleville is given at 9,914 ; the cost of the administration of the post office is $7,350.35 ; the revenue collected is $14,882.80. Now take the city of Guelph, with a population of 10,539, about 1,000 more than Belleville. The Guelph post office costs this government only $5,441.06, nearly $2,000 less than the Belleville post office; and yet Guelph collects in revenue $23,526.25, or $9,000 more than the amount collected in Belleville. Take the city of Brantford, with a population of 18,250. The post office costs this government $5,702.28, nearly $2,000 less than the Belleville post office, with a population of 9,914 ; and yet the city of Brantford collects a revenue of $28,796.60. or $14.000 more than the city of Belleville, though the officials in Belleville are paid $2,000 more for doing the work. Take the city of Brock-ville with a population nearer that of Belleville than either of the others that I have mentioned. Brockville, with a population of 9,013, costs for the administration of the post office $4,509.43, nearly $3,000 less than the Belleville post office ; yet the town of Brockville collects $21,894.19, or $7,000 more than the city of Belleville.
Now let us go into the province of Quebec for an illustration. I have taken the city of Sherbrooke, which has a population of 10.010. The cost of the administration of the office there is $5,299. or $2,000 less than 61
the cost of administering ihe Belleville post office ; yet the city of Sherbrooke returns a revenue of $17,471.92, over $3,000 more than the city of Belleville. Going down to New Brunswick we find that in Moncton, with a population of 8,000, the administration of the post office costs only $3,761.93, and the revenue collected is $13,969.68. In the case of Moncton we find 'that the administration of the post office costs about one-half that of the Belleville post office. In Sydney, Nova Scotia, with a population of 8,000, the administration of the post office costs $4,613.05, the revenue collected is $16,115.39. You will see it costs $3,000 less to administer the post office than is paid for the Belleville post office, although Sydney returns a revenue of $2,000 more.
Now, Sir, another illustration to which I would call the attention of the government is afforded by the city of Charlottetown, in the province of Prince Edward Island. Charlottetown, with a population of 12,000, costs this government $11,795.64 for the administration of the office which collects $16,582.34. Compare that, if you will, with the town of Peterborough in the province of Ontario. Peterborough is put down as having a population of 12,000, the same as Charlottetown. Peterborough costs the government $4,630 for the administration of the office. Charlottetown costs the government $11,795. From this statement I think that the deduction is fairly drawn that if it is right and proper to pay for the administration of the Belleville office a sum so large as $7,350.35, it is wrong for the government to inflict the same work upon these other offices that I have spoken of and only pay the officials one-half the salaries, or, if it is right to pay, at these other places I have mentioned, the sums I have stated, then, it is radically wrong to pay the officials at Belleville nearly twice the sum that is paid at these other places. There is only one conclusion to be drawn, and the conclusion I draw is that at the time these hon. gentlemen made the change in the Belleville post office places had to be made, positions had to be found for the faithful of the party, and it was done in this way to the cost and detriment of the country to the extent of no less than $2,000 or $3,000 a year, and I doubt not that this is only an illustration that could be drawn from the public accounts were one to take occasion to look carefully over the whole list.
Besides the compliment paid by the hon. Minister of Finance to the hon. minister I have already referred to, he only addressed words of congratulation or praise to another I head of a department, and that was to the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Blair). But, he damned him with faint praise when he gave expression to-this language :
Even it he makes large demands he is able to show large returns. '

No doubt the bon. Minister of Finance bad in his mind at that time, the management of the Intercolonial Railway, and Sir, I have taken the pains to collect some figures in regard to the management of that railway, which, 1 think, may be of interest to the House and the country. When the Drummond County Railway deal, to which I have already referred, was before the Senate, it was pointed out there that the transaction was an extravagant and a corrupt transaction, but the answer that was given at that time was that the extension of the road to Montreal would have the effect of putting the Intercolonial Railway on a paying basis and that there would be no longer that deficiency between revenue and expenditure that had been characterizing the road hitherto. According to the statement made by the hon. Minister of Finance, during the last year there was a deficit in the management of that road of between $400,000 and $500,000 ; so that, the predictions of the opponents of that deal have been fully verified, and from the public accounts I have taken some figures, which, with the permission of the House, I will state. The deficit in the management of that road, to my mind, has been very largely occasioned by the increased number of officials and the increased salaries they have been paid by this government. Taking the last year of the Conservative management of the road I find the following in regard to the salaries of officials, as compared with the last year under Liberal rule.
Salaries. 1896. 1901.At $7,000
0 16,000 23,750 13,600
1 13,200 02,950 12,500 12,400 42,225 12,100 11,900 01,800 11,700 31,600 21,500 2 8
So, you will see that in 1896 there were fifteen officials on the road who were in receipt of $1,500 a year or over, and that in 1901 the number had increased, under the able management of the present hon. Minister of Railways and Canals, to no less than twenty-seven. The salaries paid in 1896 amounted to $31,900, and in 1901 to $67,825, or more than rouble. Perhaps the hon. Minister of Finance had, at the time he was paying his compliments to the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals, a fact in his mind which I find very tersely put in one of the New Brunswick papers, an extract from which I have taken occasion to clip. Every hon. member on the Mr. PORTER.
government side of the House will remember how, during the Conservative administration, hon. gentlemen opposite were wont to declare that the ministers of that time were lording it over the country in private cars at the expense of the people. Here is what this newspaper says in regard to that branch of the Intercolonial Railway under the present minister:
Official cars have become .'o numerous that Mr. Blair found it necessary some time ago to provide a special platform at Moncton for the convenience of the favoured ones who use them or to keep them out of the public gaze as much as possible, and the cost of the platform is charged to capital account. The extent of the private car habit on the Intercolonial Railway, may bo judged from the fact that in Moncton shops last year four received heavy repairs, ten light repairs, one was renovated and varnished and one renovated only.
I would like to know what kind of a sermon from that fact would be preached by Mr. McMullen, Mr. Landerkin and other members who then occupied seats on the opposition side of the House.
But, there occurs to me, in connection with the department of Railways and Canals, one thing which is of special interest to the riding which I have the honour to represent and which I think should be brought before the House and upon which the government should offer some explanation. I refer to the Trent Valley canal. This is an enterprise to which both parties in the House committed themselves so long ago, so that, I need not take up any time in discussing the merits or demerits of this scheme further than to say that I am heartily in accord with and will support to the fullest extent that project providing the town of Trenton is made one terminus. I was very much surprised when a few days ago in answer to a question put by the hon. member for East Durham (Mr. Ward) as to whether the government has decided or determined where the southern terminus of the Trent Valley canal should be, that is Port Hope or Trenton. The answer was given that the government had not determined. There has already been expended on that enterprise on the Trent river in and near Trenton a large amount of money. Locks and swing bridges have been constructed and the people in the vicinity of Trenton and the west riding of Hastings have been given to understand that the terminus of that canal would be at Trenton. A sum I understand has been in the estimates of this government for several years for carrying on this work and this year there is again a sum asked to be revoted, page 44 estimates, $300,000, for that purpose, although it does not appear to be the intention of the government to go on with the work and it is somewhat curious that the department should ask for this grant when they have not yet determined where the canal shall be. I think, however, Mr. Speaker, the in-

tention and object of the government becomes apparent when one looks into the occasions on which this subject has been prominently before the people during the regime of the present government.
In 189G, when hon. gentlemeft of the government assumed office the construction of the southern or Trenton end of the Trent Valley canal was made an issue and it was declared in the press and on the hustings of every riding through which the canal ran that if elected to power the work would certainly be proceeded with and large sums of money expended. This was urged with the object of inducing the electors of West Hastings to support the Liberal candidate, it was a powerful weapon in the hands of the Liberal party although a direct bribe and a dishonest means to secure the vote. It failed, however, and the electors of West Hastings were found to be men too true to their principles to be bought up in this way.
In 1898, there was another election on, this time for the local legislature of Ontario, and notwithstanding previous declarations of the Liberal party that the federal government should not take part in provincial politics, the Trent Valley canal again looms up and again for the purpose of furthering the cause of the Grit candidate as will appear by this article published in the Liberal organ of the town of Trenton.
Trfenton Courier, Feb. 21, 1898.
A million and a half for the Trent Valley Canal.
The Dominion government are carrying out their pledges to construct the Trent Valley Canal as the following letter will abundantly prove.
Office of
The Minister of Railways and Canals.
Ottawa, Feb. 12th, 1898.
Dear Mr. Biggar,-I think we are making a very substantial increase this year, as you will observe when the estimates come down in connection with the Trent Valley Canal work. We are doubling the amount which was last year appropriated for the purpose.
Yours faithfully,
(Signed). ANDREW G. BLAIR.
W. H. Biggar,
Belleville, Ont.
Now, what could have been the possible object of writing Mr. Biggar, or of disclosing the amount before the estimates were brought down or of publishing a private letter in the Grit newspaper at that time ? Simply and solely because there was an election on, because H. Bleeker was the Liberal candidate and Mr. Biggar was his champion, because that paper was supporting the Liberal cause, because they desired to bribe the electors. Again in 1900, and at the by-election in 1902, the same tactics were used and upon every platform could be heard Liberal promises of this work being carried on by the present government as a reason for supporting the Liberal candidate, but we were able to ex-614
pose the purpose and show the fraud being practiced in making use of this cry and not carrying out the pledges and promises made in regard to it and the people now understand as the people of the whole Dominion understand that Liberal promises are like pie crust, made to be broken, that it is not a Liberal principle to keep a promise but an established principle to break them. We would like to know whether this old chestnut is to do service again. If not why is it kept in the estimates. Be manly, either tell the people you do not intend to carry on the work, or be honest and go on and do it. Let me just read to the House extracts from the estimates in different years :
Trent Valley Canal.-Estimates.
1897- 8 $500,0001898- 9
650,0001899- 00
600,0001900- 01
I repeat that the government should be honest enough to take these items out of the estimates if they do not intend to proceed with the work ; or let them be manly enough to spend the money and complete the Trent Valley canal.
I took occasion during the early days of this parliament to make certain inquiries regarding the Belleville Harbour Commission. These questions were :
1. Have any resignations, dismissals, appointments or re-appointments been made during the two years prior to the 1st of February, 1902 ?
2. What person or persons have so resigned, been dismissed, appointed or re-appointed, with dates of such resignations, dismissals, appointments or re-appointments ?
3. What reason or reasons existed for such
resignations, dismissals, appointments or reappointments ? a
These questions were answered by the hon. the Minister of Marine and Fisheries as follows :
1. Yes, that there had been resignations, dismissals, appointments and re-appointments.
2. That Mr. Thomas Hanley had resigned his position to the Minister of Marine and Fisheries on the 10th of January, 1901, and the appointment of Mr. George Wallbridge was cancelled on the 19th of April, 1901. Mr. E. G. Sills, of Belleville, was appointed a harbour commissioner for Belleville on the 19th of April, 1901, and Mr. T. S. Carman was also appointed a commissioner for said harbour on the raid date.
3. It was considered advisable in the interests of the harbour to cancel the appointment of Mr. Wallbridge and appoint another commissioner in his place, two commissioners having resigned because they were dissatisfied with Mr. Wall-bridge and the difficulty there was in getting others to fill the vacancies while he remained a commissioner. Mr. T. S. Carman was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Mr. Hanley, and Mr. E. G. Sills was appointed in the room of Mr. Wallbridge.
I need scarcely say that I was very much I surprised as well as disappointed at the an-

swer given by the hon. the Minister of Marine and Fisheries to the questions put by me in respect to this matter, especially in regard to the reasons assigned for the dismissal of Mr. Wallbridge and the appointment of Mr. E. G. Sills in his stead. For the sake of comparison and to understand fully the motives actuating the conduct of hon. gentlemen of the government in regard to this matter I take occasion to state to the House that Mr. George Wallbridge who was dismissed had occupied the position of harbour commissioner of the Belleville harbour for a period of about twelve years prior to his dismissal.
In the Act of this parliament creating the Belleville Harbour Commission it is amongst other things provided that the mayor for the time being of the city of Belleville should be ex-officio a member of the commission, that the board of commissioners should consist of three, thus leaving it in the power of the government to appoint two commissioners.
There is a considerable revenue derived from the harbour of the city of Belleville, and which varies from year to year from $2,500 to as large a sum as $5,000, which revenue is intended to be expended for the improvement and advantage of Belleville harbour. At the time of the creation of this commission the sitting member for West Hastings in which this harbour is situated was Mr. Henry Corby, and upon his recommendation two gentlemen of the city of Believille were appointed by the Conservative government upon this commission, namely, Mr. Thomas Wills and Mr. Thomas Ritchie.
It is well at this stage of considering this subject to look at the political complexion of that commission and the action of the gentleman who tjien represented that riding in this parliament. Upon the recommendation of Mr. Corby the two gentlemen whom I have named were appointed to the commission-the one Mr. Thomas Wills, an ex-member of the local legislature of Ontario and a Conservative in politics, the other Mr. Thomas Ritchie, a large retail dry goods merchant of the city of Belleville, a prominent Liberal and a gentleman who has since been the Liberal candidate in West Hastings. The mayor of the city of Belleville at that time and for every year since the creation of the harbour commission was a Conservative. Both these gentlemen subsequently resigned their positions upon the board, and in their stead and under a Conservative government there were appointed Mr. George Wallbridge anxl Mr. Thomas Hanley, one a Liberal, the other a Conservative. It will be perfectly evident to every member of this House that in making the selection of persons lit and proper to fill so important a position the then hon. member for West Hastings did not consult political interests, he was perfectly fair to both political parties, and ap-Mr. PORTER.
pointed or had appointed to that board a representative of each party.
But, Sir, there were large sums of money to be expended by the harbour commission, not only revenue derived from the harbour of Belleville, but moneys granted from time to time by this government for the improvement of that harbour, and it became necessary in the interests of the Liberal party when it assumed the reins of power that the expenditure of these moneys and the management of this commission should be placed in the hands of those who were faithful to the party without regard to whatever sacrifices might be made as to the efficiency of the board, and accordingly we find the changes taking place. The excuse offered by the hon. minister for the discharge of Mr. Wallbridge is one which I am satisfied he could hot have given were he acquainted with the qualifications of that gentleman, with the high position which he occupies and has always occupied socially and in a business way in the community where he has always resided, and the respect and esteem with which he is held by all classes of people in the city of Belleville and the time and attention and untiring devotion given by him to the success and the improvement of the Belleville harbour. I feel sure, Sir, that he would blush with shame to offer such an excuse as was offered in the answer to the question which I put to this House. Notwithstanding the answer given by the hon. minister, I venture the assertion that it would be impossible for him to find in the city of Belleville any responsible or respectable man who would say or who has stated that he refused to sit upon the Belleville Harbour Commission because Mr. George Wallbridge was a commissioner.
But, Sir, the exigencies of the party had to be served, and no matter what the qualifications of Mr. "Wallbridge, and no matter what the considerations were for retaining him in office, he had to make way for supporters of the Liberal party and men who could use that position for the advantage of the Liberal party.
Mr. Hanley we are told resigned his position on the 10th of January, 1901, and nothing was done in regard to filling the vacancy until the 19th of April, 1901, when Mr. George Wallbridge was dismissed. This gave an opportunity of filling the board of commissioners with two appointees of the present government, and that was done on the same day that Mr. Wallbridge was dismissed. The one gentleman who was appointed to this position, T. S. Carman, is the editor and proprietor of the ' Belleville Ontario ' newspaper, an organ known arid recognized to be the organ of the Liberal party in that riding, a man wTho had had no experience and no training for the position ; the cither appointee, Mr. E. G. Sills, being a retired miller, a defeated candidate

for tlie local legislature in the Liberal interests, and a man who has never been accused to my knowledge of having qualifications of filling any particular office.
But, Sir, in this manner the Liberal party obtained the control of the harbour commission of the city of Belleville, and if I am correctly informed-and I have my information "from a source upon which I think I can safely rely-these two gentlemen since their appointment have entirely or in very large measure ignored the fact that the mayor of the city of Belleville, who happens all the time to be a Conservative, had a right to sit and act with them in the deliberations of that board, and I am told, Sir, that these two Liberals have undertaken to manage the affairs of the Belleville Harbour Commission without consulting the mayor of the city of Belleville and have refused to act upon the suggestion or initiative of the mayor.
That this change was brought about and is being used for political purposes there is the strongest possible evidence to my mind in the fact that just prior to the by-election held in the West Riding of Hastings in 1902. one of the commissioners appointed by this government, Mr. E. Gv Sills, was desirous of obtaining the nomination of the Liberal party for that election, and he accordingly resigned his position upon the board and employed the ordinary or the extraordinary means usually employed by a Liberal to'obtain such nomination, and during the time the by-election was pending, if I am correctly informed, another of the faithful in West Hastings in the person of Dr. Goldsmith was appointed to fill the vacancy. But, Sir, when Mr. Sills failed to obtain the nomination of the Liberal party for the by-election in West Hastings, the appointment of Dr. Goldsmith was cancelled and Mr. Sills was re-appointed to the position ; and, Sir, since this question was put by me to the House, another nomination in the interests of the Liberal party has taken place in the West Riding of Hastings for the local legislature of Ontario for the coming election, and this same harbour commissioner, who has been ap-_ pointed, resigned and been re-appointed, will be again resigning his position to enable him to fight out the cause of the Liberal party for the local legislature in West Hastings.
Now. Mr. Speaker, it appears to me that these facts, which are uncontrovertible, show as clearly as the noon day sun that this commission has been appointed by the present government not in the interests of Belleville harbour but in the interests of the Liberal party of this country.
Large sums of money, as I have already stated, are expended from year to year in the improvement and maintenance of this harbour, and as a necessary consequence the commissioners who control the expenditure of these moneys employ large numbers of
people who are residents of and they would fake good care to see were voters of the West Riding of the county of Hastings, and a commissioner like Mr. Sills, who has been paying out these moneys to the voters from time to time, has a strong weapon placed in his hands when he starts in to canvas for an election either for the federal or the local House in the position that he has occupied. I say, Mr. Speaker, that this is a dangerous and a vicious principle a principle that is not in the interests of this country, a practice that any government should be ashamed to recognize or _ have brought home to them in direct violation of the principle laid down by the premier ; and in the face of these facts the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries should have hesitated a long time, and in fact should have absolutely refused to place upon the records of this House such an unwarranted answer as he has placed to the question which I have asked.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I have occupied the attention of this House longer than I intended, and I want to say in conclusion that while I entirely disapprove of the manner in which the affairs of this country are managed by the Liberal party, while I denounce the principles of expenditure employed by this government, while I rejoice in the prosperity of this country in spite of the incompetence of the Liberal government, and while I abhor their systematic neglect of the opportunities presented for furthering the welfare of this country, I at the same time declare my unlimited belief in and adherence to the principles of the Liberal-Conservative party, which have always been the principles of progress in this country. Especially, Sir, do I give my adherence to the principles embodied in the resolution moved by the hon. leader of the opposition. I shall await with anxiety, but with perfect confidence, the decision of the people. I believe that when the great jury of this country have the opportunity to try this government upon the indictment of false pretenses and neglected opportunities, their verdict will be guilty and the punishment that will follow will be sure and swift.

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