Lorenzo ROBITAILLE

ROBITAILLE, Lorenzo

Personal Data

Party
Independent Liberal
Constituency
Quebec County (Quebec)
Birth Date
May 27, 1882
Deceased Date
August 14, 1952
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorenzo_Robitaille
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=b9d0ef31-d558-4542-aeeb-ef49e1c04b27&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
industrialist

Parliamentary Career

October 23, 1906 - September 17, 1908
IND
  Quebec County (Quebec)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 5)


July 17, 1908

Mr. ROBITAILLE.

It will be $400,000.

Topic:   SUPPLY-SEED GRAIN.
Subtopic:   QUEBEC BRIDGE.
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July 17, 1908

Mr. ROBITAILLE.

I will accept the ruling of the chair

Topic:   ASKED TO BE RELIEVED.
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July 17, 1908

Mr. ROBITAILLE.

I do not state that Mr. Cooper made the plans but he approved and corrected them, he was responsible for them which is just the same as if.he had done it himself because it was up to him to see that they were all right. I think I have proven that the whole responsibility in connection with the bridge rested on the shoulders of Mr. Cooper, that there was no supervision on the part of the government although an order in council has stipulated that there should be supervision in order to ensure efficiency in the construction of the work. The commissioners report at page 33 :

The connection of the government with the enterprise provided the means for building the bridge, and the -final approval of plans rested with it, but in no way did the government exercise any cheek on the work itself, or any authority over the contractors. The administration of the contract and the disposition of the funds supplied by -the government were left entirely in the control of the Quebec Bridge Company, subject to the approval of the estimates by tbe government inspector, and except that the quantities of material were checked at Phcenixville by a clerk appointed by the Department of Railways -and Canals, and an officer of that department visited tbe bridge in connection with the checking of estimates, there was no supervision on the part of the government.

We find that the commissioners admit that Mr. Cooper was under a severe handicap. They say this :

In considering Mr. Cooper's part in this undertaking, it should be remembered that he was an elderly imian,_ rapidly approaching seventy, and of such infirm health that he was only rarely permitted to leave New York. Mr. Cooper assumed a position of great res-

possibility, and agreed to accept an inadequate salary for his services.

For the reason, as it was stated to him, that he would be engaged in a consultative capacity rather than to oversee the work.

No provision was made by the Quebec Bridge Company for a staff to assist him, nor is there tiny evidence to show that he asked for the appointment of such a staff. He endeavoured to maintain the necessary assistants out of his own salary, which was itself too small for his personal services, and he did a great deal of detail work which could have been satisfactorily done by a junior. The result of this was that he ihad no time to investigate the soundness of the data and theories which were being used in the designing, and consequently allowed fundamental errors to pass by him unchallenged.

If there had been a joint engineer to control, the work with Mr. Cooper in accordance with Mr. Schreiber's wishes the errors which were proven to exist by the evidence would have been detected and in all probability remedied, and if they had been remedied the bridge certainly would not have gone down. Mr. Douglas of the Department of Railways and Canals appeared before the committee and in a few minutes I will read an extract from his statement. Mr Douglas reported when the plans and specifications were submitted to him that he did not approve of the unit stresses which had been adopted, which were acted on and which were still embodied in the plan when the bridge fell. If that matter had been looked carefully into when it was pointed out I am sure that the bridge would not be down to-day. At all events the criticism of the Royal Commission on this point is clear enough. Now, in answer to my hon. friend from Queens, P.E.I., (Mr. Martin) let me point out that Mr. Cooper, because of the limited financial resources of the company, the disadvantages under which he laboured, his age, his want of facilities to look properly after this work, wrote to Mr. Parent three years before the construction of the bridge was commenced, as stated by Mr. Cooper himself before the commission in New York that he would not he able to continue the work and asked to be relieved.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC BRIDGE.
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July 17, 1908

Mr. ROBITAILLE.

Then, let us consider this point : What is the effect of Mr. Parent's friendship with Mr. Davis ? A part of it can be summarized in this form :

Discount on bonds, $188,721.

Unpaid shares (unaccepted cheque), $119,900.

Excess on bill as established by affidavit, $105,000.

Certifying of Davis' bills by engineer incompetent and uncontrolled.

Obtaining the contract for 150 miles of construction on the Transcontinental, Quebec to New Brunswick.

It is useless to say that every one knows how estimates are made. No one can make an estimate exact to the dollar. I have done some contracting work myself, and I have seen cases where the estimate has been made at $7,500 for a certain piece of railway work, two-thirds of a mile, when we did it for $3,000 odd. We know that contractors work at less than cost and yet, somehow, they make piles of money.

It is useless to say what effect all this has upon Parent's standing in the district of Quebec, this acceptance of little favours which can be used for electoral purposes. If I were good friends with Mr. Davis I would go round with my bag. But I understand the other man would have it. Well, we shall have a chance to meet him.

Well, Mr. Speaker, -the bridge is down. Some tell us that we should not cry over

spilt milk. What is to be done for the future ? If the government desires to stand in a logical and honest position before this country, its duty is to appoint a committee of independent engineers to study the most advisable site for the future bridge. In this resolution there ought to be a sum of $25,000 or $30,000 appropriated to defray the expenses. This committee of experts should make comparative estimates between the present bridge site and railway terminals in the city of Quebec and the site and terminals if the bridge is built by the island of Orleans.

I may say that several prominent engineers who have no political influence admit that the latter plan is the most practicable for the development, not only of Quebec city, but also of that portion of Montmorency county which is known as the Island of Orleans. If the government is going to pursue the present plans for terminal facilities they will have to do it on ground artificially made. When these estimates have been made up, let them be reported to parliament with the plans suggested, not leaving every tenderer to make his own plans. Further, I would suggest that there should be a committee to superintend and control the work during the whole period of construction. When plans are finally adopted, call for tenders. I claim that the latter suggestion should receive some attention from the government; as to the rest, they can do as they see fit.

Topic:   ASKED TO BE RELIEVED.
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July 17, 1908

Mr. ROBITAILLE.

My Georgian friend (Mr. Talbot) likes to bear his own voice now and again. Furthermore, I have information to the effect that in Quebec city, in a certain year, Mr. Parent obtained from this government a supply of manure from the quarantine station in L&vis, and that he used Mr. Davis's scows to transport it to his farm at St. Augustin. It is current rumour in the city of Ottawa that the house he occupies to-day is the gratuitous gift of Mr. Davis

Topic:   ASKED TO BE RELIEVED.
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