April 13, 1905

CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

There is only one day left.

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

Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. INGRAM.

There is a public work going on in my constituency, where the defeated candidate controls the work, discharges men and re-hires them, raises their wages from so much a day to so much a day, and guarantees the work. Does the acting Minister of Public Works pretend to say that I have a right to assume that the patronage extended to the defeated candidate in my constituency is withheld from the elected member for Thunder Bay and Rainy River ? Is it the policy of the government to deprive members of this House of what they extend to defeated candidates ? I say that the method of conducting the public works of this country, and the exercise of patronage bestowed on defeated candidates and the way they manipulate that patronage, is a disgrace to this government and this country.

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

Some hon. MEMBERS

Oil.

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

Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. INGRAM.

Some hon. gentlemen say oh, but if they will come to my constituency, I will prove that the statement I make is correct. I do not wish to hold the acting minister responsible for this ; but I am holding the government responsible for having the department administered by an acting minister instead of by a minister elected by the people for that purpose, and whom the people can hold directly responsible for the administration of that department. While the defeated candidate in my constituency has exercised that patronage, I want to say for him that he is not the old time manipulator that the hon. member for Thunder Bay and Rainy River is. WhaL he does he does openly, in thd light of the day. Not so with the hon. member for Thunder Bay and Rainy River, who tries by every means in his power to disguise his conduct and his method of manipulating affairs in the district which he represents. I say that instead of allowing this advertisement to be issued from the Public Works Department on the 7th and to appear in the Toronto ' Globe ' on the 12th, and requiring the tenders to be closed on the 14th, the acting minister should take the responsibility of saying that this time shall be

extended and that those who have 'dredges in this country shall have the opportunity of tendering for this important work. We have expended $180,000 last year for dredging and repairs at Port Arthur and'in that district. That is a very large sum of money and those who have dredging plants in this country have a right to participate in tendering for the contract where there was so much work to be done, and it is unreasonable to expect that any contractor in this country when he knows 'that Thunder Bay, Lake Superior is frozen over nearly every year until the 1st of May, will tender for a contract which is advertised on the 7th, the contracts to close on the 14th, and the work to be proceeded with on the 24th. How are they to get in there ? They cannot tow their dredges in and it is a farce to publish any advertisement in any paper in this way. Such a method of procedure as this debars contractors capable of doing this work from participating in such contracts.

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

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. GEO. E. FOSTER.

The most appalling thing about this is that you can have a public department which would be guilty of doing a thing of this kind without direction by the minister. I exonerate the acting minister entirely when he says that he was not privy to the time and to the method of publishing the advertisement. X take it for granted that this is absolutely so, and I exonerate him as far as he is per sonally concerned. Of course, he must stand responsible for the work of the department and the work of his officer, but the appalling thing is that you can have a public department here in Ottawa, with a deputy head, with a chief engineer, who sit there on the floor of this House, hour after hour, day after day, every session of parliament, and know just as well as they can know what ought to be and what I believe is the general purpose of expending money by tender and contract, and I cannot conceive how the deputy minister and his engineer can attempt, with a countenance that does not wrinkle with irrepressible laughter, to call for a tender under such impossible con ditions as these. They sit down on the 7th and write out a tender involving $100,000 or more of the people's money. An important public work is to be undertaken and carried out by virtue of that tender. On April 7th they write out a tender, and they laugh in their sleeves, they chuckle to one another, and say : Ha, it Is easy hoodwinking parliament, it is easy hoodwinking the opposition ; we write out a tender on the 7th, we see that It gets into a Toronto paper on the 11th, and we call for the tenders on the 14th for work in a harbour which is closed over, where there is ice and snow, and at a place two days' distant from the _ plans at Ottawa. A contract for $100,000 is a somewhat large one, and no man will go into such a contract unless he has a chance to go over the ground and plans to see what the work is, what it 1421

amounts to, and yet by giving a few days' notice they expect to fill the traditions of parliament and to fulfil the proper expectations of this House. If there is not an explanation from that deputy minister and from his chief engineer as to that matter, the sooner they are out of that department the better. I would not have the least confidence in that department if they have gone to work with their eyes open and done that without instructions, and I am bound to take the minister's word that he had not instructed them, and I do not for a moment doubt his word.

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 do not wish to shirk any responsibility. I did say that there should be ten days' notice. I intended there should be ten days' notice of the contract, which I considered, and do consider, is quite sufficient.

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

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

I think ten days is altogether too little, considering the circumstances and the season of the year. The minister knows that we have discussed this question in the House, he knows that we spent hours in discussing it, and the expression of opinion from this side of the House, at any rate-I do not know that there was much expression from the other side-was that there ought to be an attempt made to get inclusive tenders, that there ought to be a real effort made to find out who would tender. There were two reasons for this. In the first place, it was stated here, on the authority of members of this House, that the amounts paid out in the two preceding years were higher than they should have been, and that by a proper system of tender you would get the contract done at a lower rate. That statement has been made here to-day. There is no way in which you can find that out unless you ask for tenders where there is really competition. It is a very good plan, if Canadians will tender at something near the same rates as Americans, that Canadian contractors should get the contract, but it is not a proper rule-and in this I think every one will agree with me-that it should be made a close corporation by which any Canadian contractor would be able to filch from the government inordinate sums for doing work of this kind. The only way to ascertain this would be by inclusive tender, and I remember myself asking that wo should call for tenders all along the lake in order to ascertain whether we were paying exorbitant prices or not. I have stated my views with reference to the action of the deputy minister and his chief engineer. If the deputy minister inserted an advertisement like that and felt that he was doing his duty as a deputy minister with the public funds of this country, I say that he needs revision ; and I think he needs pretty short revision, because the deputy head of every department knows very well what the traditions are for the expenditure of public

money. The object must be to get the most you can for the money of the people which is being expended. We must all agree that the only way in cases like this is to call for large and wide tenders, and get the greatest amount of competition that you can. I think, of course, that the minister, after this has been brought to his attention, ought to call off that advertisement at once, and that he ought to give fair notice and plenty of notice, and he should endeavour to get tenders for this work over a wide area. I think he will agree with me that, under these circumstances, that is no advertisement to the public at all. The same thing exactly would have been covered if no tenders had been called for.

Mr. HYMAjN. I have already stated to the House that this is the first time the matter has been brought to my attention. None of the contractors or intending contractors have objected in any way. I said before that I would see that the time for offering tenders is extended. So far as that clause in concerned in regard to owning the plant as long as it is a Canadian plant I think the tenders from Canadian contractors ought to be accepted. I must take exception to allowing American dredges to come into Canada under ordinary tenders to do work. The effect of permitting them tc. do so will be that no Canadian will build a decent dredging plant. American dredges could come into this country and get tenders, but our dredges are not permitted to go into the United States and get one single dollar's worth of work, so that I think after consideration is given the House will see that the department is establishing a proper precedent, a precedent which they should follow. With reference to these two clauses in regard to commencing the work in ten days that is permissive. The department would not expect any one to go .to work there until such time as it was possible to commence the work.

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

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

It shuts "off the tenders.

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 think you will find that the contractors are not so easy to shut otf as that. If they were doing work of that kind I presume they would come to the department and make representations as to the difficulty. There is no desire to shut off the tenders. I thought that ten days notice by advertisement would be quite sufficient. It will be remembered that this is not a kind of work In which you can expect a great many tenders. I understand that there are only three or four people in all Canada who can undertake this work.

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

Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. INGRAM.

Then, why discourage them ?

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.

But a firm cannot undertake the work unless they have the plant, Mr FOSTER.

and there are not in Canada plants of the size to undertake work of this kind.

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

Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. INGRAM.

The more reason why the advertisement should be in different shape.

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.

These three or four people who are able to do the work would know perfectly well, the moment they saw the advertisement, whether they could conform with the conditions, except the question of starting in ten days. I will see that the tenders ars extended 'and that one objectionable clause struck out, and notice will be given to that effect.

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

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAM. BARKER.

i? at all, on terms that will put them at a disadvantage as compared with the men who have a plant on the spot. Surely, somebody has been interfering in this, or why should the department alter its ordinary terms ? It happens, that, in this case there is a dredge on the spot. But that frequently occurs. You want to have competition with the dredge on the spot. And, hitherto, the government, considering the circumstances, have felt it wise to allow something to the dredge while going to the spot, so that this might be taken into consideration by possible tenderers. Why, in this case, did the government go out of their way to warn people not to tender ?

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 will tell you.

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

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

Very well, I ask the hon. gentleman (Mr. Hyman) that. And I ask also if he departs from his usual practice in this case, why does he allow it in other cases, even where he has not advertised at all? In the case to which I referred at first, there was no advertisement, yet the dredge was allowed $1,500 for towing and the time of the dredge in going to the spot.

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.

As to allowance for towing of dredges during last season, it is true that, in a great many instances we did allow for it. But I would ask the hon. gentleman (Mr. Barker) to discriminate. These were cases where we hired the dredge by the hour ; that is, the dredge practically be>

came the property of the government for the time being and we did the towing. I am trying to alter the system so as to do away with the hiring of dredges by the hour. I have been engaged for the last three or four days in arranging for work to be done with the understanding that payment is to be according to the work done, and told the engineer to so arrange the tenders. So far as towing is concerned, I gave instructions that no towing was to be allowed to any dredge under any circumstances. I presume that is the reason why it appears in this advertisement in this way, so that all dredge owners would have notice, that, hereafter, so long as I have anything to do with the department, they will be paid on the basis of the work done, and no allowance for towing. I do not think we have ever allowed towing where the contract was put in that way, but only where the dredge was paid for by the hour, and where, to all intents and purposes, the dredge became a government dredge for the time being, so that we did the towing as we would in the case of our own dredges. That is the reason why it appeared in the advertisement that we would make no allowance for towing.

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

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

But, in the case I refer to, the dredging was not paid for by the hour, but according to the work done.

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 am sure, the hon. gentleman does not want to be unfair. We paid

by the hour, but with the understanding that there should be so much work performed in the hour. That is the system that has been in use in the department for a long time, and under which, perhaps, some abuses have arisen. But my object is to do away, as far as possible, with any chance for abuses to arise.

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

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

If the attention of the government is directed to the general dredging operations on Georgian bay, I shall not regret that I brought this question forward. With the advent to power of hon. gentlemen opposite in 1896 a systematic plan was made by partisans of these hon. gentlemen, members and ex-members, to loot the treasury by way of dredging operations. One hon. gentleman who was in this House last parliament, the former Deputy Speaker, Dr. Macdonald, was a part owner of a dredge. That was a notorious fact, and the Minister of Public Works at the time must have known it. It was an open accusation made on the floor of this House that Dr. Macdonald was a part owner of a dredge.

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