My hon. friend (Mr. Smith, Wentworth) is perfectly right, but if he looks at the estimates, he will find I have placed in them a sum of money to have the channel deepened. When the Canadian Sault Ste. Marie channel was built there should have been further dredging done and a proper pier constructed. We are doing that now. Both the Minister of Railways (Hon. Mr. Blair) and myself are working at it now. I share the view of my hon. friend (Mr. Smith) that it is humiliating to see Canadian ships obliged to cross to the American side to take coal and unload there. I paid a visit there, and when I found that state of affairs I asked my colleagues to allow me to place in the estimates a sufficient sum of money to put an end to that condition.
Is it a fact that the Canadian government never expended any money on the Lime Kiln crossing in the Detroit river, referred to by the hon. gentleman ?
I cannot answer that question, because, as I have said, my department has not interfered in the past with that part of the country. I am looking into the matter more carefully now.
Will the minister ascertain if that is the fact ?
Harbours and rivers, Manitoba, St. Andrews Rapids, $125,000.
Last year the appropriation for this work was $175,000, and $125,000 is to be revoted this year, making the expenditure last year $50,000 only. I believe the contract for this work is nearly two years old with only a life-time of three years, and at the present rate of progress it will take us twenty years to get the job finished. It seems to me that if there is any use at all in having these locks constructed, the work should be done within a reasonable time. I wonder whether the minister has got any explanation of the delay, or whether there is any hope that there will be better progress made in the future.
I am indeed sorry to have to admit that the work there is not proceeding very fast. The lowest tenderer was accepted in this case. I knew very well when the tender was put before me that it was a very low tender. All my officers told me that it was a very low tender. The contractors deposited the money and I gave them the contract. Since then my officers and myself have been pushing them as hard as possible, but they have not done much work. They have not much plant on the spot. What am I going to do ? Am I going to take the contract from them ? I have notified them on two or three occasions during the last two or three months that unless they make more progress I will be obliged to take the contract from them and call for new tenders. There is no doubt there was ice on the river, and they, have thrown the dredging material on the ice, so that it may be carried away when the ice melts, but that is not a satisfactory way of carrying on that work and unless within the next few weeks they show better progress I will be obliged to report to my colleagues and ask them to allow me to take the contract from the present contractors.
I believe now as I believed before that contract was let, that the department would be more capable of doing the work itself. I believe that such work as that should be done under the day labour system. I asked a question this afternoon with the idea of trying to get the minister to express his opinion and his experience on the operation of the day labour system. As to the unsatisfactory way the work is being done, of course that would not occur if the department had done the work itself. The department then would only have in view the object of completing the work properly and in good time, and that is what we want up there. Does the minister expect that the $125,000 now asked for will be all
the work that he will be able to get done this year 7
I think the $175,000 as shown on the second column will lapse on the first of July next, and consequently unless there is some portion of it paid out between now and then there will be only $125,000 left for the following year. I must admit that the contractors have delayed considerably the progress of that work, but the hon. member for Winnipeg (Mr. Puttee) is mistaken when he says that two years of the time given them has elapsed. As a matter of fact, the two years will not elapse until next October. There is some excuse for the delay. It happened that last year, Kelley Brothers, who are certainly one of the best contracting firms of the west, undertook to construct a bridge across the Red river at Winnipeg for the Canadian Northern Railway and also another stone bridge across the same river for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Each of these was a large contract, and as it was difficult to obtain labour in the west and wages were high not much progress was made with their contract with this government.
The plant required for the present work has been moved on the ground lately, and from fifty to a hundred men are employed on it now. This year the contractors intend to do work to the extent of $250,000 to $300,000 on this contract, so that the hon. minister is not providing sufficient in the estimates to pay them, and I would suggest that he should put an extra sum into the supplementary estimates.
I would ask the hon. gentleman if he has considered the petition sent in to have the cement work changed to stone. I might point out to him that this work is being done within a very few hundred yards of where there are large stone quarries from which the stone could be brought to the ground at a very small cost.
By using cement we save $200,000.
The hon. gentleman cannot get in Canada the quality of cement required by the specifications. He will have to get either St. Louis or Portland cement. In Winnipeg we have never yet been able to get Canadian cement to meet the specifications required by our architects for public buildings, and even some of the American brands of cement, such as was used in the Osborne Street Bridge, were condemned by our architects. If this work could be changed from cement to stone- and I believe that could be done at a very small extra cost-the change should be made and ail the work done in this country.
I am putting in the estimates as much money as is necessary. My hon. friend will see that we are re-voting $125,000. The
$50,000 on last years vote we will be able to pay up to the 1st of July, and then we have a re-vote of $125,000. I will be very glad if they will do more work than that, but they have not done anything to prove that they will do more. If they do parliament will meet early next year, and we will vote a supplementary sum. As to the change from concrete to stone, my hon. friend is unfair to Canadian cement. I am using large quantities of Canadian cement, and my experience is that the Owen Sound and Deseronto cement are just as good as any American brands under the sun. The change suggested would cost about $200,000 to this country. There is no good stone available near by as the quarry there is soft stone which could not be used in such work. Cement being as good as stone and on many occasions better, there is no reason why we should make such a change. Canadian cement may be procured as cheaply, if not cheaper than American, and I say that it is better.
In answer to my hon. friend from Winnipeg (Mr. Puttee), who suggests that if the Department of Public Works had done the work by day's labour more progress would have been made, I believe he is right But parliament has such strong objections to day labour work, that every time I ask for even a small expenditure on any public work, hon. members insist that I should give it out by tender. I remember saying some five years ago, when I first took office, that when you can find a good foreman and a good engineer-and both are procurable-the day labour system is as a whole the best. I have nothing to gain by this system. It gives the minister a great deal more trouble to carry out the work by day labour, but it has this advantage to the labouring community that the government do not expect to make any profit out of the men or out of the purchase of the material. There is no reason why a government should not carry on work by day labour just as well as any contractor does. But public opinion has to be educated. I have not been able yet to educate it up to that point that I would ask the House to permit me to carry on a work of such importance as this by day labour. But if my hon. friend, who is an educator of public opinion, will help me in that matter, I shall be very glad to have his assistance.
Is the contractor bound to use Canadian cement 7
No, I do not believe he is. I have found out in another contract that the contractors were using American cement, and since then I have instructed my officers to specify Canadian cement.
In that case the minister should urge on the contractor to use Canadian cement. The petition circulated very extensively throughout Winnipeg and Sel-
I am certainly surprised that such good cement can be found in Canada. That has not been our experience in the west. The contractors of our great corporations use nearly entirely St. Louis and Portland cement.
The Canadian Pacific Railway are using Owen Sound cement.
It must then be very lately. The city engineer at Winnipeg condemns it. With reference to the hon. minister's statement that the stone quarry is not suitable, my information is that the Tindall stone quarry, nine miles from the works, has as good limestone as can be found on the American continent. That stone is used in the Canadian Pacific Railway bridges and the Canadian Northern, and nearly all the bridges in our province are built of it, and it is found most satisfactory. Portions of the stone are to be seen in the industrial exhibition grounds, thirty feet long and two and a half feet square in one piece, which is pretty good size stone. Mr. Carson, formerly of St. Catharines, an old stone quarry man of large experience, is in charge of the quarry, and he tells me that it is one of the best he ever saw. Even if stone cost a little more than the cement it is due to the people of the west that it should be used. Of course should it transpire that the hon. minister can change the specifications, so that the cement may be bought in Canada of equally good quality, the argument that the money is being sent out of the country will not apply, but if the stone were used, that would enable the people of the west to develop those quarries. I would ask the hon. minister to make further inquiries for his engineer cannot be aware of the fact or he would not have given the information he has. The stone is perfectly suitable and I have no doubt just as cheap as the cement. I have no doubt that some Mr. PUTTEE.
of these stone quarry men would undertake to furnish it at the same price.