October 1, 1903

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The PRIME MINISTER.

My hon. friend's objections come rather late. He should have made these remarks two years ago when this vote was first brought to the attention of parliament. Let him remember that this work is already far advanced, there is only $40,000 more to expend upon it, and surely the hon. gentleman does not expect that we are going to give it up now and not pay the contractors who are at work. This work has been progressing, and it is now nearly completed. True, we stated at the opening of this session our plans with regard to the navigation and transportation

questions. I am afraid we have been proceeding rather loosely, but it was better to adopt an extensive transportation system, and that is the reason we have appointed this commission. I think the commission will do good work in this respect, and will give us a general plan as to where these national works had better be undertaken. But in the meantime we must complete the work that we have undertaken.

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CON

William Rees Brock

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BROCK.

The right hon. gentleman says my remarks come too late. If he will look in ' Hansard ' of 1900 he will find that I urged the appointment of a transportation commission in reference to this very point, when these items were up before. I am merely reiterating what I said 1hen. I gave the government good advice, but they did not see fit to follow it. They have recently appointed a commission, and now they are taking the whole question of transportation out of the hands of the commission.

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CON

Albert Edward Kemp

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. KEMP.

The counties to which the Prime Minister refers as being fertile counties are doubtless the most fertile in the province of Quebec. The surplus exports of these counties, however, are not very large, because there is a large consuming population lying near-by. The city of Montreal takes a very large part of the products of those counties. I suppose that one large modern steamship, such as navigates the St. Lawrence, would be able to take all the surplus products of those counties which will be produced in the course of a season. I do not suppose there will be more than could be put on one large steamship and taken to Eurpoe. Now, to make ocean harbour for the purpose of taking away the products of these few counties I do not think is a very practical way of viewing the question. I have been under the impression that the best way to deal with the Sorel harbour matter was to let it drop, and I justify that opinion by the fact that the railway for which this work was proposed to be promoted, has failed to make its connection, and has failed to make Sorel its terminus. The excuse for these tremendous works at Sorel was that the United Counties Railway was to be taken over by the Rutland Railway, which was practically a part of the New York Central. I believe the Prime Minister assumes full responsibility for the initiation of this work. The first vote was a small sum of $25,000 for improvements in Sorel harbour. That was an innocent looking estimate, and no one in this House. I presume, took strong ground against it. But as time went on the reports of an engineer were secured by the department and it became known to this House what is would cost in order to carry out the works which the petitioners asked for, representing the Bank of St. Hyacinthe~and the United Counties Railway, who wanted to make this an ocean port. The engineer estimated, according to papers laid on the Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Table of the House this session, that it would require a sum of not less than $935,000.

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The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS.

I think my hon. friend is mistaken as to the report of the engineer.

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CON

Albert Edward Kemp

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. KEMP.

I will read it. The report of the engineer is dated. Department of Public Works, office of chief engineer, Ottawa, January 10th, 1900 :

Sir;-With reference .to file No. 208,734,-being an application from Mr. J. N. Greenshields, on behalf of the United Counties Railway, for the construction of deep water terminal facilities at Sorel. I have the honour to state that a certain portion of the ground to be occupied by the improvements in question has already been surveyed by Mr. Assistant Engineer F. W. Cowie. and that judging from the estimate of the cost of the works then proposed, which only-consisted of 1,000 feet of wharfing instead of the 2,000 feet applied for, the estimated cost of the works now required cannot be placed at a less figure than $935,000, as follows :-*

Dredging an area 800 feet wide by 25,000

feet in length, an average depth of 18

feet to 271 feet at extreme low water.. $255,000

Cribwork and sheds 430,000

Elevator of 1,000,000 bushels capacity.. 250,000

If the department decides to undertake this work it will of course be necessary to have a complete survey made, in order that the above estimate may be revised, especially as far as the dredging is concerned.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

Your obedient servant,

(Sgd.) EUGENE D. LAFLEUR,

Acting Chief Engineer. The Secretary, ,

Department of Public Works.

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Tlie MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS.

In what way does the hon. gentleman make the connection between that report and the item under discussion ?

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CON

Albert Edward Kemp

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. KEMP.

That is an interesting question. I .will have to think that out and see how I can connect it with the item under discussion. The item under discussion is a small estimate for the purpose of doing further work on the Sorel harbour.

. The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS. My hou. friend, as well as the hon. member for Centre Toronto (Mr. Brock), has apparently not looked at the estimates to see what the item is for, because both seem to have made the same mistake.

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CON

Albert Edward Kemp

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. KEMP.

Is the item not for the purpose of carrying on work to give Sorel a deep-water harbour and make it an ocean port ?

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The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS.

The item is to pay the balance due on a contract for work already undertaken.

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CON
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The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS.

Well, facts are facts. This is a balance

as I say, of the payment due on a contract for work that >has already been undertaken. My hon. friend (Mr. Kemp) is reading the report of an engineer in regard to another proposition that was not undertaken. What we are discussing now is an item providing for the payment for work that was undertaken, that was let by contract and which is almost completed.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I think they are pretty closely connected by the fact that this report is included in the file of papers that was brought down to the House, papers that we demanded in respect to the very matter we are now discussing. If they are not. connected it is a remarkable thing that this report was brought down with the papers jn connection with this scheme.

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The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS.

I agree with my hon. friend (Mr. Borden, Halifax) that it is connected with it in the sense in which be speaks of it, and that is the reason why I asked my hon. friend (Mr. Kemp) the question. He is apparently using the report as a report in connection with the work under contract.

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CON
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The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS.

I simply asked my bon. friend the question, because, if he was using the report in connection with the work under contract, he is making a mistake. If he was using it in connection with a certain proposition that has not been undertaken, I think my hon. friend (Mr. Borden, Halifax) is quite correct.

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CON

Albert Edward Kemp

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. KEMP.

I think the question which the hon. Minister of Public Works puts forth is a reasonable one. It seems to me that it resolves itself chiefly into a question of order. I am discussing the whole work of improvement at Sorel harbour. I realize that the amount now under consideration is to complete certain contracts already entered into. I realize that for the full amount of $935,000, which is estimated as being necessary to make Sorel an ocean port, you would only have a depth of water of 18 feet. That would not take very large vessels in, and if it is intended to make Sorel a port to compete with Quebec and Montreal, you would need to have a greater depth of water and the cost would be that much more. As the prospect of the New York Central Railway having a terminus at Sorel has not materialized, is it not a reasonable thing to criticise this item very strongly ? The right hon. Prime Minister (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) last year stated in this House in regard to the New York Central having a terminal at Sorel :

But railways are taking the place of waterways. and two railways are now converging at Sorel, the South Shore which has been constructed from Montreal to Sorel and beyond Sorel to Nieolet, and will be completed this

year probably to Lotbiniere. There is the United Counties Railway also, which became the Rutland Railway and which I believe now belongs to the New York Central, and it comes from the New York Central Railway system at Lake Champlain to the town of Sorel.

I submit that we ought to have a full explanation from the government as to whether it is their intention to go on with this work and follow out the report laid down by Mr. Lafleur, in which it is stated that, in order to make Sorel a deep-water harbour, for the purpose of transferring merchandise, and to provide an elevator of one million bushels capacity, it will take $935,000, and that Sorel will then only have a depth of 18 feet of water.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. IIAGGART.

Before the item is adopted, I wish to make some remarks in answer to the hon. Minister of Public Works. He asks what the report estimating the cost at $935,000 has to do with the item at present under discussion. He forgets that the right hon. leader of the government stated that the intention of the government was to make Sorel an ocean port, and use it as a terminal, perhaps, for the Canada Atlantic Railway, which had not terminals in Montreal, and which might establish its terminal in the United States. According to this report, it is necessary to expend $935,000 for the purpose of getting only a depth, of 18 feet of water. What good would an ocean terminal for the Canada Atlantic Railway or anj' other railway, or for the export of trade of that particular section of the country be with only a depth of 18 feet of water ? No modern vessel could go into the port. Not $935,000, but $2,000,000 or $3,000,000 would be required to make an ocean port of that place. Then the hon. gentleman says that this is not for the purpose of carrying out that scheme, that it has no connection with the_$935,000. What is the hon. minister going to accomplish then with the $270,000 that he is getting from this House ? If it takes $935,000 to give an 18-foot navigation, $270,000 will accomplish not a tithe of it. If it is for that purpose, then the expenditure of this amount of money will be totally useless.

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The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS.

I quite agree with my hon. friend (Mr. Kemp) in the sense that he explained the manner in which he was using the report. 1 think it was quite in order and, quite interesting. I only asked him the question for the purpose of showing that the report was not acted on in connection with the item under consideration. I quite agree with him as to the propriety of using the report in discussing the general question as to what further improvements may be made there with the view of making Sorel a national port. But the item was adopted on the report of the engineer, at the time estimating the cost of this work at $309,000. The work has been described fully, and this

item is a balance of $47,000 to pay the contractor for work done. This does not mean that we are undertaking anything new at all. It is carrying out a plan that some years ago was submitted to the House.

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CON

Edward Cochrane

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. COCHRANE.

It appears to me, as a farmer from a section of the country which I think is quite as fertile as this valley, that this expenditure is most enormous. It almost staggers me when I think of the people of the district from which I come, Northumberland, Durham, Hastings, and down through that section of the country, asking me why it is that these enormous sums of money are being spent down at Sorel for the accommodation of the people there. We have five or six wharfs on Lake Ontario. There has not one dollar been spent at Presqu'Ile, for instance, one of the finest natural harbours on Lake Ontario, for the improvement of that harbour. Now we are told that this enormous expenditure is necessary to facilitate the export of the products of the rich valley adjacent to Sorel to the markets of the world. If it is necessary to build a wharf there, not connected with this great scheme which is going to make it an ocean port and the terminal of several railways, as- we have been led to believe, why all this enormous expenditure? I venture the assertion that a wharf can be built for a fraction of this $270,000 that would provide for all the export trade that will take place at Sorel from that section of the country. If this is not going to be an ocean port this enormous expenditure is worse than money being frittered away. The whole scheme is wrong. I am willing to vote any amount of money to facilitate the transportation of the products of this great country to the markets of the world; but I want to know that every dollar I vote for shall be expended on some well thought out scheme for the.benefit of all the rich valleys in this Canada of ours, and not for the special purpose of the Richelieu Valley, or any other single valley, I care not in what province it may be. There is no provincialism about me. I want to have the money wisely expended, so that it will do the most good to all Canada. For years this government has misapplied money, because they have gone on with schemes which were not well thought out and considered. The Minister of Public Works is not treating the House with proper courtesy when he says that this money is to pay for a contract already let. This was originally voted for the purpose of making Sorel an ocean port -the minister shakes his head but if it was not voted for that purpose, there is more money expended-than ought to have been expended for local purposes. It is no argument for the Prime Minister to say that the time to protest against this was when the appropriation was first asked. We know how these things are done. I recollect that in one case down there, there was an inno-

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LIB

Robert Franklin Sutherland

Liberal

Hon. Mr. SUTHERLAND.

cent looking vote of $5,000. which no person paid attention to, but it developed into an expenditure of $60,000 to build a wharf where there were only 350 people, and no post office even. These votes look very innocent at first, and we are left in ignorance about their meaning. I know, Mr. Chairman, (Mr. Macdonald), how you grieve at these things; I know lrow you criticised these expenditures when we were in power, and I know how the hearts of your party went out to the farmers of Canada who were robbed and bled white. But now Sir, I know you grieve at what is called a buoyant revenue, and a Liberal expenditure.

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October 1, 1903