We have one government steamer at Grosse Isle which is used for going out to meet incoming vessels. The service there requires two vessels, one to be used by the officers in meeting vessels for purposes of inspection and another, which is equipped with the disinfecting apparatus, so that at any time when a vessel needs to be disinfected the steamer fitted with the disinfecting apparatus may be laid up against her and per form the disinfection. This vessel also does the work of carrying people to and from quarantine, and also of conveying them from quarantine to Quebec, where we have to deliver them after their release. For some years back we have been chartering vessels for these purposes. It has been almost impossible to get a suitable vessel, and we have felt that it was necessary to procure a vessel of our own instead of being dependent on chartered vessels. This last year I was paving, and the present year I am paying no less than $4,200 for the use of a vessel for the season, and I have to pay the crew and the equipment and expenses as well. I felt that that was a bad paying business for the country. I therefore ask for a vote which will enable me to purchase a vessel and keep her and manage her for this purpose, so as to be relieved in the future of this heavy charge.
I have searched for a suitable vessel, and I have had difficulty in finding one. Two years ago I chartered one, and after an experience of two seasons, she was condemned. A little over a year ago another vessel was chartered, and it was practically the only vessel my officers could find in the St. Lawrence that was at all suitable for this work.
All I can say is that if they do not purchase vessels with any greater success than they sell them, I think it would be much better to take the matter out of their hands. Last session I [DOT]called attention to the sale of a splendid steamer, the Bayfield, which had been engaged in the survey of the Georgian bay, for $3,250. If the policy of the government is to purchase vessels on the same principle on which they sell them, it would be far better to place the business in the hands of anybody but the government officials. In view of our experience of the past, I think it would be well to have full information before we pass this item.
I cannot give more information than I have already, stated. I must make use of the government officers for such work. I have not in my department any expert upon vessels. The Department of Marine and Fisheries has amongst its officers men whose judgment is used by the government for this purpose. I confess that I am in ignorance of the details of what the hon. gentleman is alluding to, as it is not in my *department; consequently I cannot give any answer in regard to that. But jus't as in a matter of law I would consult the department of justice, so in a matter of purchasing vessels, I would secure the best information I could from the Department of Marine *which is charged with such matters.