March 18, 1903

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The MINISTER OF INLAND REVENUE.

No, not to my knowledge.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

I think it is very odd that when one of the gentlemen, in fact, the very gentleman who made that speech was here in the city, in view of the fact that the contract is about to expire and that he must, of course, sooner or later, see the minister about it, he did not call upon the minister.

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The MINISTER OF INLAND REVENUE.

He called upon me.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

So that the question of renewal went without discussion.

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The MINISTER OF INLAND REVENUE.

No.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

He must have come down to report the good work he had done at the election.

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The MINISTER OF INLAND REVENUE.

He had to report to some other people perhaps.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

I think it would be unfair to the hon. Minister of Inland Revenue that he should have to shoulder this contract, because, when it was made, he was not the Minister of Inland Revenue. The gentleman who apparently took to himself the credit at this public meeting at Longford was the hon. Postmaster General who, according to the report of the Toronto ' Globe ':

Recalled the interviews he had had with Mr. I-'euchen in reference to the establishment of this industry and the promise of the government to encourage it by traffic regulations, and buy, after its establishment, part of the product of wood alcohol for the manufacture of methylated spirits. Tt was simply the duty of the government to give Mr. Peuehen a fair hearing. They desired to thanks for that, and any other gentleman with an equally good business scheme would be entitled to, and would, of course, receive as careful consideration from them. *

Does the hon. Minister of Inland Revenue echo these sentiments ? I presume he will, but in the first place, I want to know whether he is prepared to enter into a contract for the purchase of an article to the tune of $20,000 without competition. There was no competition when this contract was made, and yet the Postmaster General, with his usual modesty, at this public meeting at the works, took great credit to himself for having made the contract. I think it is fair for the committee to know, and I am going to ask the hon. minister for an answer, because I may not happen to be here when his estimates are taken up, as to whether the minister is pre-

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

pared to give a similar contract to this company for five years without any competition when the present contract expires ?

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The MINISTER OP INLAND REVENUE.

I may say to the hon. gentleman (Mr. Bennett) that I have waited, and I will wait two or three months till the expiration of the contract before doing any thing in the matter. I have been informed that some other people want to start a similar business in another part of the Dominion, and if there are other people engaged in the same line of business I will do what we have done in regard to the distillers-buy our supply according to the production of each of these concerns.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

That will be a very encouraging reply to give to gentlemen who wish to engage in this business. It is quite as vague as the promises made by the government to the manufacturers of this country. The hon. minister states that he will wait until the contract expires and then pronounce his ultimatum as to whether there are to be tenders called for and competition invited in the purchase of this article. How does the hon. minister expect that any person else is going into the manufacture of this alcohol if he is not to know until the expiration of the contract what the minister's policy is ? Does not the hon. minister think that it is due to himself to state what his policy is, because, after all said and done, this $22,500 which is paid during the year to this company, is not the personal money of the hon. Minister of Inland Revenue. It is the money of the people of Canada. What does the hon. minister propose to do next year ? Is he going to buy this article from the company without any competition 1 Would it not be better for him to say frankly, so that if any person else wishes to engage in tire manufacture of wood alcohol he can at once invest in the necessary plant, that there will be competition in the purchase of this article ? Is the hon. minister prepared to go that far ? I have reason to believe there are other people who are anxious to engage in the sale of this article, but knowing the influence of these gentlemen who are behind this concern, they have reason to believe that if they had this article to sell they would not find a purchaser in the Inland Revenue Department, because the rule must prevail, as it has prevailed for the last five years, that the purchase of this article should be made from this company exclusively. Here we have the hon. Postmaster General stating that he had arranged with this concern, that they were to be encouraged and that their output was to be taken, or a part of it.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

I challenge the statement.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

I will simply read for the benefit of the Postmaster General, as

he was not in before, the statement made at the meeting at Longford, where these works are situated, as reported in the ' Globe ' of March 3rd :

Sir William recalled the interviews he had had with Mr. Peuchen in reference to the establishment of this industry and the promise of the government to encourage it by traffic regulations, and buy, after its establishment, part of the product of wood alcohol for the manufacture of methylated spirits.

Nothing more definite could be said than that.

It was simply the duty of the government to give Mr. Peuchen a fair hearing

Mr. Peuchen did not care for the fair hearing; what he wanted to get was a standing contract that would guarantee him for five years the privilege of selling this article to the government. It stands on a par with the arrangement made by the government with the American Bank Note Company-first making a contract and then establishing the concern. Before this industry was established he made that arrangement with them. The department is bound down under a contract without competition, to take wood alcohol to the extent of $22,500 a year, and the hon. Minister of Inland Revenue goes farther ; he says that to-day he will not state publicly that he will purchase this article by open competition, but if there is another establishment doing business in Canada, he will see if he cannot do business with them. Surely it is unfair to use the public money in this manner, .and the hon. Minister of Inland Revenue owes it to himself to state that no more contracts for the purchase of wood alcohol will be made without open tender in competition.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

I quite recollect the interview I had with the gentleman who was engaged in promoting the industry some years ago and at the meeting in question I narrated as accurately as I could remember the events of the occasion. I stated that this gentleman and Mr. Thomson called upon me in Ottawa as a minister, though the matter was not in my department, and told me that this was a very important industry, that it had scarcely an existence in Canada then, and that it was entirely suitable to Canadian conditions. They showed me that out of raw material which we have in such lavish quantities in Canada, valuable products could be obtained. I was convinced of the usefulness of the enterprise and stated to them that it being so suitable to Canada, the industry was deserving of all reasonable encouragement. As to my saying to them that we were going to take the output, I suppose that mistake arose on account of the reporter having to condense the statement. Mr. Peuchen and Mr. Thompson spoke and they may have given their views to the press.

They may have said how they had been aided by the government in bringing their industry into existence, and if they stated that they stated what was perfectly right, proper and justifiable. They felt very grateful to us that we had given an intelligent hearing to their application. Mr. Peuchen told us that he at one time was a Conservative, that he came to Ottawa during the regime of the Conservative party, that he endeavoured to lay his case before them, that he did not even get a courteous hearing ; that in fact a hearing was refused him. He said he went away having lost all sympathy for the Conservative party because of the treatment extended to him on his attempt to submit to them an industry entitled to fair consideration. That is what Mr. Peuchen stated publicly.

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CON

Matthew Henry Cochrane

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE.

What has that got to do with it ?

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

He stated publicly that was the treatment accorded to the enterprise by the late government, and the very opposite treatment which was accorded by us is what has secured for us the good will of that enterprising concern that is now establishing these industries in Longford, Deseronto and Compton and perhaps other places, employing I do not know how many men and spending perhaps 3150,000 or 5200,000 a year amongst the people.

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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

What was the nature of Mr. Peuchen's request ?

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

I did not state that Mr. Peuchen made any request.

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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

The Postmaster General said Mr. Peuchen had a hearing and that his request was granted. What was his request ?

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

When Mr. Peuchen spoke to me on the subject he laid before me in a general way the advantage to Canada of an enterprise such as he proposed to embark in. As to the particular form of encouragement to be given him, I do not remember what it was, nor as a matter of fact did X ever have occasion so far as I recollect to interest myself in the matter after that interview. I was impressed with the idea that it was an important enterprise especially adapted to Canada, and I am of the opinion still ; but it did not happen to be necessary for him I suppose to enlist my active services because I have no recollection of ever having interviewed any minister on his behalf in any respect whatever. I gave him what sympathetic encouragement X could and if he had desired any assistance from me at a later stage, I would be pleased within proper limits to have extended it to him. My connection Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

with the matter began and ended I think with the interview which I have alluded to.

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March 18, 1903