No general estimate has been made. According as the occasion presents itself, an estimate is made. Whenever we get an application for a better light and the officers think it is necessary to make the change, we get an estimate.
As I have already very fully explained, there is no estimate by any one in particular. The matter was | studied out and experimented upon by the chief engineer and his assistants. They talked it over with the lighthouse board and the board recommended it. It was recommended by Mr. Fraser, our commissioner of lights, and the thing has been going on under him, according to the recommendation of the lighthouse board.
Of course he did, but he made no written recommendation. As J I have repeated over and over again, the ! thing was studied by the officers of the
department and the lighthouse board and it was experimented upon until it has come to be a success, and we make the change whenever the officers of the department consider it advisable. It has been considered advisable in the interests of the economical working of the system to have depots at a certain point. There will be three depots.
We buy it from the Ottawa company controlled by the Bronsons, and we buy it at the market price of $65 a ton. That is the price the Canadian Pacific Railway are paying and they get much larger quantities than we do.
If I am correctly informed, somehow or other the department conceived the idea of making the change and we do not know who originated the idea. I am told that the change is not recommended by the chief engineer, but of course I am [DOT] not speaking from personal knowledge. We will be in this position, that we will have to buy from either of those two companies in Canada, which are practically under the one control.
You are going to make the change and the minister cannot tell what it is going to cost. Judging by the very meagre information given us, it will cost about $1,000,000 to change the lights and buoys, then we will be under the control of these two companies in which Mr. Willson, the patentee, is interested, and in which I am informed one of the ministers of the Crown is interested as well, and the government are purchasing from one of these companies without competition. It said that there are men behind this company very closely connected with the government and Mr. PREFONTAINE.
that these men have been instrumental in having this change made, and the country is being put in this position that we will have to pay whatever price this company asks. We build large and extensive plants, we are going to build three depots in the Dominion, and after the change is made, should it not prove a success, we will be helpless, because it will have cost $1,000,000 to make the change and it would cost another extravagant sum to go back to the old system. It is most humiliating to think that the government should have entered into such a contract under such circumstances and put us in a position in which we will be practically helpless. They are playing into the hands of some of their own ministers. The minister knows all this, and yet we can get no information about it. It is no wonder, because the less information is given the less damage is done to the reputation of the government. But I want the country to know what I believe to be the reason which actuates the minister in making this arrangement. If it is true that ministers of the Crown are making, or will make within the next quarter of a century, tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars out of this scheme, the country should know it. And, if there is a better explanation of this case than I have given, let the minister give it.