April 13, 1905

L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

The hon, acting Minister of Public Works (Mr Hyman) promised while the estimates were up to bring down some information I put a question on the order paper but he Instructed me to make a motion for a return, I made the motion long ago, I have watched for the return but I have never yet found that any return has been brought down Has the hon. minister brought it down ?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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LIB

Charles Smith Hyman (Minister Without Portfolio)

Liberal

Mr. HYMAN.

I have inquired of the department two or three times in regard to these returns. Only to-day I inquired as to them and I may say to my hon. friend that I hope to bring them down in a day or two.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

The hon. acting minister speaks of the price at which this dredging was done last year. I have looked * into this matter and I am satisfied that if the hon. acting minister will allow American dredges to come in in place of costing upwards of 25 cents a yard for ordinary sand and silt, the amount -which was paid last year being $108,000 at Port Arthur and Fort William, he could get this work done for 2 i or 3 cents a yard. It would pay the hon. acting minister to have one of those suction dredges built. He would save the cost of it two or three times over and the

locality would benefit because there is ample room along tbe shore where the docks are to be constructed for filling in silt. If it is towed out and deposited in 60 or 100 fathoms of water it is washed in again because when there is a northeast wind this sand and silt is drifted back to the shore. There is no rock blasting or hard-pan of any kind at this point. It is just sand and silt, the cheapest sort of dredging. Last year the prices that were paid for that work were simply scandalous. I want the hon. acting minister to look into this matter. If these gentlemen are to be enriched at the cost of the Dominion let us make them a present out of the Dominion treasury at once, but let the work be done by proper tender, or let us give the Americans an opportunity

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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LIB

Charles Smith Hyman (Minister Without Portfolio)

Liberal

Mr. HYMAN.

No, no.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

Certainly, I say let us give them a chance in a case of this kind, or give tenderers an opportunity to buy a dredge and bring it in because I am satisfied that if we do we can have this dredging done at 3 cents a yard instead of 25 cents or 30 cents.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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LIB

Charles Smith Hyman (Minister Without Portfolio)

Liberal

Mr. HYMAN.

The tenders that are invited are simply for the present season's work. I recognize that there is a very large amount of work to be done at Port Arthur. I hope that the officers of the department will be able to make a thorough survey of the whole work there allowing them to advertise for tenders for work extending over two or three years in which case there is no doubt that the cost of the work could be materially decreased for the reason that proper and up-to-date plant could then be supplied. At the present time the plants that are being used are not of the latest type of dredging plants. The dredging that has been called for is for the present season's work, but I understand that before we reach another season the department will ask for tenders for a more extended work and give a sufficient length of time to enable those tendering for the work to provide plant to do it at the least possible cost.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. S. SPEOULE.

The hon. acting Minister of Public Works (Mr. Hyman) complains that my hon. friend from East Sim-coe (Mr. Bennett) brought this up, but by his own admission it is not going to lengthen the time if it does nothing more.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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LIB

Charles Smith Hyman (Minister Without Portfolio)

Liberal

Mr. HYMAN.

I did not object to him bringing it up.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEOULE.

If it causes the hon. minister to look into it and to change the very improper conditions in the advertisement for tenders the protest will be in the right direction. There is one very noticeable thing that attracted my attention when I saw it. These tenders are called for on the 7th April and the contract is to be awarded Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

on the 14th April, seven days notice simply. It is practically, as my hon. friend from North Toronto (Mr. Foster) says, equivalent to no notice at all, because neither at the time the tenders were to be put in nor at the time they were received was navigation open. Therefore, no person who contemplated tendering could ascertain what the conditions were, not whether they were favourable or unfavourable.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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LIB

Charles Smith Hyman (Minister Without Portfolio)

Liberal

Mr. HYMAN.

The plans and specifications were there.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEOULE.

The tenders were called for on the 7th of April, they were to be opened on the 14th, they are to commence work ten days later, on the 24th of the month, and very often the ice is not out of the bay at tnat time, so that it would be impossible for any one to commence work at that rate. It is said that a new broom sweeps clean, but that an old broom knows the corners ;

I Am afraid that in this case the new brooms are rapidly learning where the corners are. All parties connected with this seem to have been well informed of the devices and tricks of the trade which result in putting contracts into the hands of political friends. It is said that kissing goes by favour and it would seem that dredging goes by favour also. No one could tender here under these conditions except a person who has the plant right on the ground, and so far as we know that person is a friend of the government who has done the work before and who made extravagantly well out of it before. Free and open competition is one of the guarantees the country has for getting the best value for its money, 'but is this free and open competition ?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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LIB

Charles Smith Hyman (Minister Without Portfolio)

Liberal

Mr. HYMAN.

Yes.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEOULE.

The minister says yes, but I say no. It is in a sense free and open, but, it is surrounded by conditions which make it impossible for the country to get the advantage of free and open competition. There is no opportunity given to those who have dredges in other parts of the country, there is no opportunity given to other intending tenderers to know what the nature of the work is, and so the competition is neither free nor open. There is not the slightest doubt in the world that if the successful tenderer or the present owner of the dredges required a few days longer to commence, that extension of time would be given him, but the advertisement provides for no extension of time. It is our duty as representatives of the people to see that the country gets good value for its money but if this thing is allowed to go on the people's money will be extravagantly and improperly and unwisely spent. The minister told us that the tenders are drawn by the chief engineer in the usual way.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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LIB

Charles Smith Hyman (Minister Without Portfolio)

Liberal

Mr. HYMAN.

I did not say that, what I intended to say was, that the tenders are al-

ways drawn by the chief engineer of the department.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

That is quite a modification.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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LIB

Charles Smith Hyman (Minister Without Portfolio)

Liberal

Mr. HYMAN.

It is no modification at all.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I infer from the remarks of the minister that the tenders were drawn by the chief engineer who usually does that work, and that the tenders were surrounded by the usual conditions. I am led to infer that in this transaction there was some inspiring information conveyed that certain conditions would be desirable in the advertisement, and these conditions made it impossible that any one should do the work except the man whose plant is there. Those who owned that plant last year presumably own it this year. We all know the devices resorted to for transferring plant from one name to another when a member gets into this House. I have seen the same thing done at Owen Sound, I have heard of it being done at Hlllamey, I have heard of its being done at the Soo, and I have no doubt this is another instance of the same kind. All those devices are known to those who have dredging plant and who are prepared to do public dredging when then-friends are in power. The whole circumstances are suspicious; they are more than suspicious ; they point to the fact that there was no intention to get value for the money expended on that dredging. The minister admits that the expenditure will be very considerable on this work and that is all the more reason why greater alertness should have been exercised. The minister tells us that this is only for the present season's dredging, but there need not have been so much hurry about it because navigation does not usually open there until about the I Oth of May. There is no election going on there or I might account for it in another way. Has the one now being held in Edmonton anything to do with it ? The whole thing shows that the government was absolutely careless in the expenditure of this money, or else they were deliberately playing into the hands of their friends so that they might get the public money without giving an adequate return.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. C. BOYCE.

No one can quarrel with the principle laid down by the acting minister when he says : that in inviting tenders for public works there should be the fullest and freest competition ; but the circumstances disclosed by the member for East Simcoe (Mr. Bennett) show that there could not have been full and free competition in this case. Here is an advertisement calling for tenders dated the 7th of April and I am advised that it was not inserted jn any newspaper until the 11th of April. It calls for tenders for work up on Lake 'Superior two days journey distant from the city of Ottawa where the plans are to oe inspected. The advertisement inserted on 142

the 11th of April calls for tenders within a week of the date of the notice, and within three days of the insertion of the notice. Where the work is to be done is two days journey from where the plans are, and no opportunity is given to any contractor to visit the grounds and see what the nature of the work is. We are forced to the conclusion that either the minister who has assumed the responsibility for this department did not desire to have free and open competition, or else he was out of touch with his department, because there was either no necessity for this tender, or else the conditions surrounding it rendered it absolutely impossible for ordinary contractors desiring to tender to examine the plans and make an investigation as to the nature of the work. It has been pointed out across the floor of this House by the hon. member for South York (Mr. Maclean) that there is no minister responsible for the Public Works Department in this government. Here is an instance showing the advisability of having a minister responsible for the Public Works Department, and we would like to know whether or not the hon. gentleman acting- is prepared to take the responsibility for this circumstance ? He certainly, as acting minister, is responsible for what his deputy does, and in this instance the advertisement is a farcical affair, because no one can tender for the work. I question whether, if the matter had not been brought before the House to-day by the hon. member for East Simcoe, this contract would not have been let to-morrow, as the time is to expire within three days after the first advertisement. But the hon. gentleman sees now that a mistake has been made in bis department in connection with two very important contracts, and it is to be hoped that in future greater time will be allowed for tendering for such important works. Taking the present condition of the harbours of Port Arthur and Port William, with the ice not yet out, it would be impossible for any one but a contractor fully conversant with those harbours, like the hon. member for Thunder Bay and Rainy River (Mr. Conmee) to tender for that work. The advertisement only specifies a certain quantity of earth, sand, rock and loose boulders, so that the contractor must ascertain what the quantity of each will be, and he can only ascertain that by investigation on the ground, which is rendered impossible by this absurd procedure. No plant could get there not already on the ground. That is important. I am informed, subject to correction, that there is only one dredging plant on the great lakes, and that is owned by the Great Lakes Dredging Company, composed of the hon. member for Thunder Bay and Rainy River, his brother-in-law, Charles M. Bowman, a member of the legislature of Ontario, and James Whalen, the son-in-law of the hon. member for Thunder Bay and Rainy River. What the hon. member cannot do directly

he can do indirectly by means of an incorporated company. It is also, I think, a good suggestion of the Acting Minister of Public Works that in dredging contracts provision should be made for protecting Canadian dredges. But that has not always been the case, of which an abundant exhibition was brought to the attention of this House in the Committee of Supply, in the matter of dredging in the St. Mary's river, where there was, as the Minister of Railways admitted, a clause in the contract providing that all the labour employed should be Canadian, that no alien labour should be employed ; and yet the contract for the whole work was actually let to an American dredge manned by American citizens. This is the kind of thing that should be remedied, and if the hon. acting minister says that henceforth no contracts will be let without that condition being carried out, not only in the letter of the advertisement, but in the spirit of the contract itself, that will be a step in the right direction ; and if he would go further and see that the provisions of the Alien Labour Law were carried out to the full in these contracts, that would be a further step in the light direction, and would remedy the grievance under which the labouring men of this country are suffering at the present time.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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L-C

Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. A. B. INGRAM.

For two years this work has been done without contract, and during that time various complaints have been made. Reference has been made to the hon. member for Thunder Bay and Rainy River, and I think I can see in the wording of this advertisement a specimen of that hon. gentleman's handiwork ; and let me say in passing that he is an accomplished artist in that particular line. He has been considered so as a member of the Ontario legislature, and I would like to warn the right hon. First Minister to beware. That has been the conduct of that hon. gentleman for several years, but we will give him due notice on this side of the House he will have to play a much finer game than he played in the Ontario legislature before he succeeds at it in the House of Commons. Here is what his advertisement says-I term it his advertisement because he must have had a hand in it :

It must be distinctly understood that the department will entertain no claim for compensation on account of towing plant to or from the site of the works.

Couple this with the other statement that the contractor must be ready to proceed with the work within ten days after the contract has been let. This advertisement issues from the Public Works Department on the 7th April, it does not appear in the Toronto ' Globe ' until the 12th of April, and I would like to know how many contractors are going to peruse the Toronto * Globe ' within two days of the closing of the tenders and hope to enter into a con-Mr. BOYCE.

tract for these works. It is simply impossible ; and that would seem to indicate that this was all prearranged, and why ? Because during the past two years complaints have been circulated from time to time, and in order to get over the difficulty, the hon. member for Thunder Bay and Rainy River so manipulates the advertisements that he can say afterwards, and the government can say-

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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LIB

Charles Smith Hyman (Minister Without Portfolio)

Liberal

Mr. HYMAN.

Mr. Speaker, I have no objection to the discussion, so far as the department is concerned, but it does seem to me, in justice to the member for Thunder Bay and Rainy River (Mr. Conmee), he ought to be allowed to be here to defend himself.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   DREDGING CONTRACT AT PORT ARTHUR AND FORT WILLIAM.
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April 13, 1905