May 14, 1902

CON

Charles Eusèbe Casgrain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CASGKAIN.

I move that this item be struck out.

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

If the result of this motion is to prevent the appropriation, it will cause the suspension of work for the year, and all those interested will 'be placed in a very awkward predicament. The hon. gentleman must contemplate the possibility of that.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

The hon. minister can restore the item if he likes.

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

The responsibility is upon the hon. gentleman.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

Here is a claim made by a firm of contractors against the government. Under the law, the responsibility is placed upon the deputy minister to certify as to the correctness of the claim of the contractors. In this case, the deputy minister refuses to certify that the contractors are entitled to this amount. There is no way by which the money can be obtained from the government without the certificate of the chief engineer, and he, by refusing to certify, virtually declares that the contractors are not entitled to the amount they claim. How does the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals get over it 7 Instead of applying to the court that was specially established for the purpose of finding out whether contractors have just claims or not, he refers the matter to an arbitration of engineers. 1 do not know the case that was put before them, but it was not conducted by the Minister of Justice. The government did not stick for its extreme rights, and the legality of the claim is not decided upon. These arbitrators report to whom 7 They report to the Deputy Minister of Railways and Canals, who, after all, Is the man who must certify in order that the claim may ibe paid. We have the statement of the Minister of Railways and Canals that his deputy minister has refused to certify to the amounts. Does the minister deny that 7

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

Yes.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

I asked the minister, when the deputy was present, whe-

504!*

ther the deputy, on the recommendation of the three engineers, had amended his report, and the deputy minister stated to the minister that he had not done so, and the minister made that statement to the House. Then he goes over the report of his deputy minister who refuses to certify to this claim, and asks for an Order in Council to have the amount voted by this House. I contend that we should have an opportunity of inquiring into this matter, and that we should have a promise from the minister that this $300,000 we are voting at the present moment for the Trent canal, shall be expended on the Trent canal, and not expended on something else. The law requires that an expenditure on the Trent canal shall be certified by the deputy minister, and not ordered by an Order in Council superseding the report of the deputy minister, given contrary to the law, and contrary to the contract entered into between the government and the contractors. Under that contract. the chief engineer is to judge as to whether the work is performed and as to whether the quantities are right. He refuses to certify to that amount, the Minister of Railways and Canals overrules his own chief engineer, and asks three other engineers to come in for the purpose of assisting the conscience of the chief engineer. Then the chief engineer does not support the recommendation of the three engineers, and the Minister of- Railways and Canals goes to Council for an Order in Council. Then I ask for some assurance that the sum we are voting to-day shall not be applied to the payment of any such claim as that when the law is not fulfilled. Under the contract entered into between the minister and these two parties, the chief engineer is to be the judge of the quantities and the judge of the performance of the work, and the chief engineer refuses to certify to that. If the chief engineer is wrong there is a remedy. We do not want, parliament nor the people of this country do not want, to be bound by the opinion of the chief engineer. If he is wrong in his opinion, there is a court established for the purpose of overruling him. the Exchequer Court has to decide whether the chief engineer is right or wrong.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

It is difficult to understand what the hon. gentleman who has addressed the House, is driving at.

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CON

Matthew Henry Cochrane

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE.

When you do not want to understand.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

I do not think the hon. gentleman understands it either.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

Then I am sorry for the hon. gentleman's understanding if he does. The hon. gentleman, the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals, wants an assurance that this money shall not be expended

on anything else than the Trent canal. There is no necessity for any assurance of that kind. The money is voted for the Trent canal, the Auditor General will see that it is expended on the Trent canal and nothing else. It is simply childish to ask for an assurance that this money shall be expended upon the Trent canal. The ap- * propriatlon itself says it shall be. What more assurance does the hon. gentleman want than the fact that parliament has voted that money for a special object, that is, it is to be expended on the Trent canal. The Auditor General will see that it is expended on the Trent canal ; and I repeat again it is simply childish to ask for a guarantee that it shall be so expended. The hon. gentleman is wrong again in the application which he wants to make to this item. He has in his mind the contract of Messrs. Corry & Laverdure who, I understand, are contractors for a section of the Trent canal. Now Corry & Laverdure have a disputed account, as I understand it. The hon. gentleman says that this account must be paid upon the certificate of the chief engineer of the department. Certainly it must be so paid, and the Auditor General will see that it is not paid to Corry & Laverdure unless he has before him the certificate of the chief engineer of the department. The chief engineer of the department is the referee under the circumstances. If there is a dispute between the contractors and the department, the contract, which the hon. gentleman has -cited, savs that under such circumstances the chief engineer shall be the supreme arbiter. Payment cannot be made unless the chief engineer gives his certificate to that effect. But there is more than that. There may be circumstances under which the chief engineer will refuse to certify, he may say the account is disputed, somebody is in the wrong. The contractors make a demand, and I understand the chief engineer will not certify to the account. There is a dispute which has to be determined in the courts. So far so good. I know nothing of this contract personally, the matter has not come before Council, and I speak simply on the statements made by the Minister of Railways and Canals and by the hon. member for Lanark. As I understand this matter, the chief engineer, finding his opinion was disputed, before issuing his certificate, has thought advisable to have the opinion of three expert engineers instead of sending the matter to the courts.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

Do you mean to say the chief engineer has thought so ?

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The PRIME MINISTER.

I do say so, according to the statements made in the House.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

I asked that question of the Minister of Railways and Canals, whether his chief engineer had accepted the

opinion of the three engineers who were called upon to report upon the question, and the chief engineer, standing beside the minister, instructed him to answer, no.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

Very good, let it be so. Then the hon. gentleman ought to be satisfied. If the chief engineer is not satisfied with the account then that account cannot be paid. The hon. gentleman ought to know that.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

Well, he ought to know it, because the chief engineer must certify to these accounts. The chief engineer has thought it advisable to take the opinion of other eminent engineers. One of them I know personally, Mr. Hobson, of the Grand Trunk Railway ; I think he is well known throughout Canada. I do not know that there is a more competent authority than Mr. Hobson. The other gentleman I have not the honour of knowing personally ; he lives in Ottawa, and I think his record in the city of Ottawa is unimpeachable, I refer to Mr. Surtees. The third engineer, Mr. Brophy, I think also stands high.

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CON

Matthew Henry Cochrane

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE.

Has not the Treasury Board overridden the decision of the Auditor General time and again ?

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The PRIME MINISTER.

The chief engineer and the Treasury Board have power to pass over the Auditor General. But whenever they do so their overruling comes before parliament and has to submit to the sanction or censure of parliament. But in this matter the chief engineer, as I understand, will not make a report, or has not made a report so far. As he has not made a report the matter cannot be dealt with, therefore like any other matter, it has to be reported in the way provided by law, either favourably or unfavourably. The hon-. gentleman stated a moment ago that he was protesting because the law was not followed. He has no reason to speak in that way. The report will be made by the chief engineer, either one way or the other. Now the hon. gentleman says that instead of sending this matter to the arbitrators it should have 'been sent to the Exchequer Court. That is the way that the law provides for parties who cannot agree. They shall have their differences adjusted by the courts of law, and the Exchequer Court is established to determine disputes between subjects and the Crown.

Now, Sir, there is another mode of dealing with this matter. Arbitration has been found in a good many cases to be just as satisfactory as the courts of law, but up to the present time we have nothing that I know of to show that there has been an arbitration or a judicial adjudication. The whole thing is still pending, the whole thing will have to be determined according to the rules provided for by the law.

Hon. Mr. HAGGART

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May 14, 1902