February 24, 1905

LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON.

It would not do to confine it to the permanent officials. The main point of this is to meet cases of pressing emergencies. Take for instance the work on the Welland canal. We do not keep a permanent electrician there and consequently

we require to employ, from time to time, expert electricians to meet emergencies. If you were to limit us to the employment of permanent officials you would make it impossible for the department to secure the services of an expert who in cases where there was no permanent official, could be employed.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAGGART.

There is no limitation in the case of an emergency. You can employ then as many men as you like.

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CON

David Tisdale

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TISDALE.

What is the change between the old law and the present ?

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LIB

Charles Fitzpatrick (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. FITZPATRICK.

It consists in this. Formerly when an appropriation was made by parliament, tenders were invited for the work, and the minister let the contract himself without going to Council at all. The intention of the amendment is merely to make it incumbent on the minister to go to Council with his contract so that it may receive the sanction of Council before it is finally awarded. I am not dealing with the question raised by my hon. friend from East Grey (Mr. Sproule) as to the meaning of the words in my Bill, but, with the meaning of the words in the original law relating to works to be executed by the officers and servants of the department. My judgment would be that the words are somewhat elastic and I suggested a moment ago, in answer to my hon. friend from Lanark (Hon. Mr. Haggart) that the matter might be left over for consideration when the Bill is up for third reading. In the meantime, I might inquire what has been the practice in the past and what has been the construction put upon these words during the time the law has been in force, that is, since confederation. I think this is largely a question of usage and of the construction put upon the words by parliament, and we shall be able better to express it when it comes up for third reading.

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CON
LIB

Charles Fitzpatrick (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. FITZPATRICK.

My hon. friend (Mr. Tisdale) was not here when the Bills were introduced. There are three Bills. One has reference to contracts for government works. That stands in my name. It is a Bill of general application to be observed with respect to all government works. The next Bill is one to make the Act respecting railways conform with the General Act I have mentioned. I have amended the Act respecting railways and using practically the same terms as in the other. Then there is a Bill to make the Public Works Act conform with the General Act. The effect is the same in all-to compel the ministers to come to Council to get authority to let a contract.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Will the hon. miniate: read the clause in the old Act which was repealed-section 11 of chapter 37 of the '

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON.

Revised Statutes. We have not that before us.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAGGART.

Here is the clause :

The minister shall invite tenders by public advertisement for the execution of all works, except in cases of pressing emergency-

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LIB

Charles Fitzpatrick (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. FITZPATRICK.

That simply reproduces the other.

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON.

That was amended subsequently.

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LIB

Charles Fitzpatrick (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. FITZPATRICK.

I have the amendment here :

The minister shall invite tenders by public advertisement for the execution of all works, except in cases of pressing emergency, in which delay would be injurious to the public interest, or in cases in which, from the nature of the work, it can be more expeditiously and economically executed by the officers and servants of the department-

Then, the change comes in here :

or in cases where the estimated cost is

less than $5,000, and it appears to the minister, in view of the nature of the work, that it is not advisable to invite tenders.

That was the amendment of 3 Edward VII, chapter 52.

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CON

David Henderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HENDERSON.

Who will decide whether the matter is one of pressing emergency or not, or whether the work can or cannot be more economically executed by the officers and servants of the department, or, according to the third exception, whether it is or is not advisable to invite tenders.

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LIB

Charles Fitzpatrick (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. FITZPATRICK.

The minister has been made the absolute judge since confederation. There has never been any change.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

My hon. friend from South Lanark (Mr. Haggart) has read section 11 of chapter 37, respecting the Department of Railways and Canals, and that is the one that, by this is repealed ?

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LIB
CON
CON
LIB
CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

There is nothing cited here as amended, and chapter 37 of the Revised Statutes must be the legislation on that subject, so far as the Department of Railways and Canals is concerned. That section allows works to be done without tender for any of three causes. The first is where the estimated cost is less than $5,000, and it appears to the minister, in view of the nature of the work that it is not advisable to invite tenders. Now, am I right in that respect ? If so this seems to

me a change which it is not advisable to make. There is a multiplicity of small works in the Department of Railways and Canals. If an analysis were made of the work, carried on by this department, I believe that the works costing under $5,000 would be a very large proportion of the construction work done under that department. Any one conversant with the railway system knows how many of its new buildings and that sort of thing along the railway come within a cost of $5,000. This would allow the minister to do that sort of work as he pleases, without inviting tenders. And that will result in the work being given to interested persons. It will practically shut out any competition in all that class of work, and I do not think it is healthy or right to shut out that competition. If there is a station house to be built along the line of the Intercolonial, the mere fact that it will not cost more than $5,000 is no reason why we should not have healthy competition in the building of that station. And what is true with reference to such a station is true with reference to a very large class of works under the value of $5,000 in this department. Now, parliament adopts this amendment, and it will become the rule that all that class of work will go out without tender. What is the advantage of tender ? It is that you may curb unnecessary expense and secure competition, it is that money of the country should be expended as economically as possible. In the case of practically every one of these works there might be competition, and the effect of that competition would be to keep down the cost of construction. If there is any virtue in the tender system and in the economical administration of the public moneys, I think we ignore or deny that principle By this legislation. I am not in favour of extending this to the Department of Railways and Canals or the Department of Public Works. As to the other two cases, the first is ' except in cases of pressing emergency in which delay would be injurious to the public interest.' That, I think is all right and must be in the Bill. That is to prevent injury to the public interest in certain eases. As my hon. friend pointed out, this is absolute. Then there is the third case, ' in which, from the nature of the work, it can be more expeditiously and economically executed by the officers and servants of the department.'

That is in the decision of the minister, 1 suppose, as to whether' it can so be done. But as the clause stands, he cannot do it in the case of a $5,000 expenditure, and under the arrangements, unless he does it by his officers and servants. There would be no reason for putting that in as a second case at all unless it were contemplated that these officers and servants should be the officers and servants at the time* in pay of the department; otherwise it would all come in under the third case, the $5,000 expenditure, where it appears to the minister, in view of the nature or the work, that it is not advisable to invite tenders. Now, if the contention of the Minister of Railways is allowed that he can take one of his servants and make him superintendent of the job and employ help outside the employees of the department, why, that becomes as wide as it can become. I think it is dangerous and uneconomical.

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February 24, 1905