The estimate is based on the cost of a vessel the length of which- speaking from memory-would be 110 feet and the width 25 or 26 feet with a depth sufficient for proper stability in a rough sea such as we have at Grosse Isle.
If a vessel is required, I believe it is better that the government should have one of their own, and a good one at that. But whether that would be in the interest of economy or not, I have no means of judging. I notice, however, that the ' Constance,' which is employed in the fishery service costs for maintenance $23,341. She was built in Canada, at Owen Sound and she is a first-class ship.
Speaking in general terms I should expect that if a fair allowance, say ten per cent were made for keeping the vessel in a good state of repair her life would be prolonged ; that at the end of ten or fifteen years, she would be practically as good as when put in commission. If her life were relatively short, it would be because this ten per cent was not expended on her.
THOMSON- The 'Constance,' the 'Curlew,' and the 'Petrel' were all built at Owen Sound thirteen years ago, and they are all as sea-worthy and as fine vessels to-day as they were when they left the dock.
If the hon. gentleman had been listening to my explanation, instead of speaking to some one else, he would have understood better, I said that if $3,000 a year or ten per cent of the original cost were allowed for keeping the vessel in repair her life w'ould be extremely prolonged.
The hon. minister surely would not say that that is a fair explanation. He must admit that my question was a reasonable one. He proposes to spend $30,000 on a vessel and, when asked what her life is expected to be, he says it may be a prolonged life. Does that mean twenty-five years or fifty years ?
The ' Challenger ' has been running for seventeen years and she is, apparently as good as she was the day she was launched. She has been kept in repair, the timbers, &c., in her being renewed from time to time as was found necessary. And I think that any vessel kept in that way would be as good at the end of twenty-five years, practically, as she was at the beginning. Of course, if she were allowed to get into bad order, it would be because the ten per cent for repairs had not been spent on her. So, I give what seems a fair charge for the maintenance of the vessel- and, in that, of course, I include nothing for crew or anything of that kind, but simply the maintenance of the capital account of the vessel.
I think it would be in the interest of the country that a new vessel' should be purchased rather than an old one. The suggestion of the hon. member for West Toronto (Mr. Osier) in that respect is a good one. The hon. member for North Grey (Mr. T. I. Thomson) has told us how the government deal in old vessels, and we are not altogether satisfied with that. Perhaps the hon. minister will give us the assurance that he will purchase a new vessel and that it shall be constructed in Canada.
The vessel will be purchased or constructed in Canada, if the proper vessel can be found in Canada, or if tenders can be got from Canadian builders. I will not go abroad for a vessel unless absolutely forced to do so.
I think it is proper that a vessel should be owned by the government for this service. But I think that a vessel should not be purchased. There are many vessels all over the lakes that are not quite up to modern ideas or that are worn out, yet that are quite presentable and might be foisted upon the government by political friends. The minister shakes his head, but he is human as I am.