April 17, 1905

CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

Might I ask the minister where this denial by the hon. member for Rainy River (Mr. Conmee) of his ownership in this dredge is to be found ?

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LIB

Charles Smith Hyman (Minister Without Portfolio)

Liberal

Mr. HYMAN.

So far as any denial from myself as to the ownership of the hon. member for Rainy River is concerned I can only say that I have no knowledge of the hon. gentleman's ownership of the dredge. The hon. member has never in his life discussed the question of dredging with me and I know nothing about it.

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

I did not suppose he would.

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LIB

Charles Smith Hyman (Minister Without Portfolio)

Liberal

Mr. HYMAN.

The hon. gentleman asks me to say yes or no. I am not in a position to state that because I have no knowledge. The hon. gentleman refers to Mr. McKay being a part owner of the dredge. I do not know why Mr. McKay should not own a dredge. Surely my word is good in this House, and I give my word as a member that I have no knowledge and have never had any knowledge on the subject. I never heard Mr. McKay's name mentioned in connection with the dredge of which he speaks. The hon. gentle-

man made some remarks afterwards to the effect that I must be an innocent duckling. Well, if not to listen to all the petty gossip around the corridors of this House and not to treat it seriously is being an innocent duckling I am afraid that I must plead guilty to that charge ; but I must say that I have no knowledge of Mr. McKay's ownership and if I had I see no reason why he should uot do the dredging at Port Arthur.

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CON
LIB

Charles Smith Hyman (Minister Without Portfolio)

Liberal

Mr. HYMAN.

I can only say that Mr. McKay's being an owner of a dredge will have nothing to do with his getting contracts so, long as I am in the department unless he is the lowest tenderer and is fully competent to carry out the work.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES (Victoria and Hali-.burton).

Has the minister the figures in his hand to show how much money has been expended on these harbours at Port Arthur, Fort William and Kaministiquia ?

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LIB

Charles Smith Hyman (Minister Without Portfolio)

Liberal

Mr. HYMAN.

I think the return for which the hon. gentleman asks will contain that.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

Will that be down this session ?

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LIB

Charles Smith Hyman (Minister Without Portfolio)

Liberal

Mr. HYMAN.

It is being made up in the department.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

The minister 1 frankly confess has made the best possible explanation he could of the situation ; he has talked all round the question and never touched it once. Let us look at the situation. An advertisement was sent out dated the 7th from the department to the newspapers and on the 11th this advertisement appeared before the public. On the 14th the tenders for which this advertisement calls for contracts at Port Arthur and Fort William, some hundreds of miles distant from here, were to be in. Any one knowing the .circumstances and looking at that advertisement will see at once that it applies to only one linn, the Aim of Conmee & Bowman. What are the conditions ? They must own the dredges on the 14th of April. You might as well publish an advertisement to the world and say the Department of Public Works of the Dominion of Canada hands over to the firm engineered by Conmee and Company the dredging of that harbour. Then contractors must be ready to begin work within ten days after being notified of the acceptance of their tender. No man in Canada could get a dredge there within ten days. You might as well write the words ' Conmee and Company ' on the tenders. The amended tender is no better. It extends it to the 1st of May next and says :

* Only dredges can be employed on the work which were registered in Canada at the time of the filing of the tenders with the department.' The tenders must be in the department at this time. It would be impossible for a firm to buy a dredge in the United Mr. HYMAN.

States or in any part of Canada and have the papers passed through by the 1st of May. Why should not the minister let the tenders be accepted and give the tenderers until a certain date, say the 1st of June or the 1st of July, whenever he wishes the work to be commenced, to register the dredge in Canada ? The dredges that are there now, I believe, were made in the United States. Therefore what harm could come to the Dominion if we again used dredges made in the United States so long as the country is getting good value for its money. In this connection I would ask if the minister has taken any precaution that the men working on the dredges shall be Canadians ; that is the part that Canadians are interested in,, and I venture to say that the great majority of men-at least I am so informed, I will not make the statement positively-employed on these dredges last year and in previous years have been men from the United States who are not Canadian residents, not ' registered in Canada.' Will the minister place that in his contract and require that Messrs. Conmee .V Bowman will employ only Canadian men ?

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LIB
L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

Then we would like to see the advertisement. What are the facts of this case ? Many of the gentlemen here have seen the harbours of Fort William and Port Arthur and have also seen the harbour of Duluth. Upon the Port Arthur harbour since 1807 I understand that there have been expended in round numbers $721,431, and upon the harbour of Fort William and Kaministiquia river $509,000, in all upwards of $1,230,000. 1 understand that the items

are really considerably larger. In approaching Port Arthur and Fort William what do-we see for all the expenditure of public moneys ? It is true that the water was shallow, but it is also true that the water around Duluth and Superior City was shallow, so the two harbours are the same, they are both mud harbours, with sand and silt. The only improvement we can see from the expenditure of Canadian money is that little breakwater lying outside of Port Arthur. What have we at Duluth ? Those who have visited that harbour have seen miles of the best concrete docks, cribwork underneath and fine concrete wharfs for miles. You have there channels 300 feet wide, taking the largest draft vessels on the lakes. You have eight miles of continuous dredging between Duluth and Superior City, and these harbours are regarded as two of the best in the world. Upon these harbours for the whole eight miles, outside and inside, there have been expended up to date, including the cost of the old breakwater and the old piers and their removal, including the new docks and everything, about $5,000,000 in the two cities. In Duluth there was spent $852,299, in Superior City $695,883, and in the joint vote for Duluth and Superior City

which has not all been expended $3,130,553, or a total in these two magnificent harbours of $4,678,735. We have spent about one-third of that amount on the harbours of Port Arthur and Fort William and except that little breakwater which you see outside of Fort William there is nothing to be shown for all that enormous expenditure of money. Why is there this difference ? The Duluth people, as is the case with all American government works, have got value for their expenditure of money ; the Canadian government has not got value for its expenditure of money. This is from the annual report of the Duluth Board of Trade :

The result is that Duluth canal has been widened to 360 feet and very substantial concrete piers built, and harbour channels dredged. Similar work is under way at the Superior entry, and Duluth-Superior harbour to-day is surpassed by no other. The quick despatch given vessels in loading at Duluth is proverbial, whether at the lumber, coal and iron docks, or elevators.

Then it goes on :

The collectors of customs at ports named below report for 1903 as follows :

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?

New York ... .

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CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

Thart is 15 cents a yard practically.

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L-C

Samuel Hughes

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

The Auditor General's Report shows that last year the fol-148

lowing sums were paid for dredging at Port Arthur and Fort William :

Dredging in entrance channel to Kaministl-quia river-

A. F. Bowman, services of dredge No. 6, Aug. 13, Oct. 13, May 16-31, 139,596 cubic yards at 15 cents, $20,939.40. -

Great Lakes Dredging Company, services dredge No. 5, Aug. 1-11, 14,128 cubic yards at 15 cents, $2,119.20. .

Dredging in Kaministiquia river near elevator ' D '-

A. F. Bowman, services of dredge No. 6, Aug. 1-12, 20,184 cubic yards at 20 cents, $4,036.80.

Great Lakes Dredging Company, services of dredge No. 5, May 26-31, 8,887 cubic yards at 15 cents, $1,333.05.

Dredging in Port Arthur harbour-

C. S. Boone, services of dredge ' Kingsford ' and plant, October 1-November 20, May 16-31, 168 hours at $12, 496 hours 50 minutes at $10, $6,984.33.

Dredging in Port Arthur harbour at new Canadian Northern Railway elevator-

A. F. Bowman, services of dredge No. 6, October 14-November 25, 39,313 cubic yards at 23 cents, 13,606 cubic yards at 40 cents, $14,484.39.

Twenty-three cents a yard and forty cents a yard. What is the difference, I want to know, between the material for which 23 cents was paid and the material for which 40 cents was paid.

Great Lakes Dredging Company, services of dredge No. 5, November 1-25, May 18-25, 30,641 cubic yards at 23 cents, 2,830 cubic yards at 40 cents ; dredge No. 1 (Arthur) October 16-No-vember 25, May 25-June 30, 14,250 cubic yards at 23 cents, 13,134 at 40 cents, 2,270 at 90 cents, 91 at $1.25, $18,917.28.

I believe that the Great Lakes Dredging Company is the new name of this outfit. Mr. Bowman, for dredging in the river Kaministiquia, at 20 cents a yard, was paid $20000 while the Great Lakes Dredging Company, for dredging at 20 cents and 23 cents a yard, received $13,000, and so on. A total of about $109,000 was spent last year and only a few yards in front of the elevator at Fort William was paid for at the rate of 15 cents a yard. All the rest of it was paid for at the rates of 20 cents, 23 cents, 40 cents and $1.25 a yard. I make the statement, and there is no one who is acquainted with modern systems of dredging but will bear me out, that with that class of work a contractor will be able to make a fortune at 5 cents a yard. It would pay a contractor to take this work in tile Port Arthur and Fort William harbours and in the Kaministiquia rivers at 5 cents a yard, to purchase modern dredges for the purpose of doing that work, and I venture the statement that on the basis of two years work, that is last year and this year, he would not only have made enough to pay for the dredges but to have a large profit over their cost. The gentleman who, when his friends were in power in the province of Ontario had handed over to him the whole of the fishing rights of Lake Nipigon and had handed over to him the millions of the guarantee

that -was given for a little railway in the vicinity of Sault Ste. Marie, is receiving this large sum of money for doing this dredging practically without competition, and now, the Dominion of Canada is to be taxed for the benefit of this outfit. We want the bon. acting Minister of Public Works to call a halt in this matter. We want these harbours to be improved as Duluth and Superior City harbours have been improved, but we want the money to be properly expended so that when vessels approach these harbours they will have, in place of the single lilttle breakwater there now, advantages equal to those at Duluth-Superior whose magnificent lines of concrete docks and magnificent channels 25 to 30 feet deep offer exceptional facilities to navigation, vvnile we have expended nearly $1,500,000 at Port Arthur and Fort William they have expended $4,000,000 at Duluth-Superior. There will not be a man in Canada who will not be ashamed of what is now going on at Port Arthur and Fort William.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. S. SPROULE (East Grey).

Mr. Speaker, I wish to say a few words in regard to this, because I think public attention cannot be directed too much to it. The hon. acting Minister of Public Works (Mr. .Hyman) said : I am not interested in the insinuations and deductions that the hon. member for East Simeoe (Mr. Bennett) made. He is not interested in the deductions ! Did the hon. acting minister desire to leave the impression upon the public that he was spending money improperly and not on the principle of open competition ? He was not interested in the public having that impression. That was one of the deductions, but going on by the same reasoning and bringing before the public the provisions of the tender, the next deduction of my hon. friend was that public money was not being spent by open competition, that it was not being properly expended and that the public were not getting value for the expenditure of that money. He does not seem to be interested in that deduction. Whether the country is getting value for it or not is a matter of indifference to him. If so, the country had better know it. If a minister of the Crown is going to spend Canada's money in such a way that it. may go into the pockets of friends, without getting value for it, then I say the sooner the country knows it the better. That is another deduction. Another of the deductions is that there seems to be a system established somehow or other between the government and their friends by which public money drifts into their pockets and by which they get contracts when outsiders cannot get these contracts no matter how they try. There are conditions attached to the advertisements for tenders, or conditions attached to the tenders, or something which always brings these contracts back to their friends. That is another of the deductions. Is he not Mr. SAM. HUGHES.

interested in these deductions whether they be true or false ? Evidently he is

not, or at least he does not appear to be. If so let him enjoy that reputation, but let the country know that and the country will naturally estimate him at the value which it desires to put upon him. Look at the surroundings. He proposes to spend public money. The object is ostensibly to get the best value for the money that is expended in the interest of the country, but yet he makes it impossible to get the best value. It is utterly impossible from a business standpoint to get value for the money, because there is no competition. The hon. acting minister tells us in the first place that there was open competition, and he tells us in the next breath that there are only a few dredges on the upper lakes operating in Canada, and that none of the owners of these dredges can undertake more than one- piece of work, because they must use their dredges on each contract, therefore it is impossible to get competition. By the conditions of this contract he shuts off all competition from the outside, and yet the only competition possible is from the outside, and the only inference to be drawn

is, that the acting minister (Mr. Hyman)

does not intend that the country shall get the best value for its money. We were told by the hon. gentleman (Mr. Hyman) that no time is needed for examining this work, because it is paid for on schedule prices. Is that so ? Is no time needed to inquire as to what the wages of the men will be, and what the keep of the men will be, and the price of fuel and the cost of working the dredges in that district ? Is it a fact that those who tender for these contracts never make borings to see what the nature of the material is.-When my hon. friend the Liberal whip, is through speaking to the minister, I will resume ; I have noticed that kind of thing going on too often

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LIB

William Samuel Calvert (Chief Government Whip; Whip of the Liberal Party)

Liberal

Mr. CALVERT.

I beg the hon. gentleman's pardon ; surely I have the right to speak to a minister.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I have seen so much of it from that source that I am about tired of

it. I want the courtesy of the ear of the minister when I am speaking. I was going on to say that a gentleman who passed through Port Arthur on Friday told me that the ice is just as solid there now as it is in the middle of winter, and no examination of the nature of the material could be made unless you bored through several feet of ice. The conditions in the tenders made it impossible for a man living in this part of the country to go up there and examine the work and see what the conditions were, and then return in time here to put in his tender. The minister has now extended the time a little, but there is one condition which says that the dredges must be registered in Canada when the contract is let. Well, you cannot bring dredges across the

lake at this time of the year without paying an exorbitant price for it, and my own opinion is that you cannot bring them across the lake just now no matter what you pay, because most of the harbours are frozen up.

I am told by this gentleman that in all probability the ice will still be there on the 24th of this month, and we know that navigation is not open there very often until the 10th of May, so that no dredge could be brought into Canada at the present time. Year after year, when we press the Minister of Public Works to do some dredging in the Georgian bay, we are invariably met with the answer that there is no dredge available. For this reason the dredging at Collingwood, the dredging at Meaford, the dredging at Thornbury, the dredging at Owen Sound and the dredging at Midland had to be postponed from time to time. The government are not building dredges fast enough to supply the needs of Canada, and the only source of supply is the United States ; and yet, by the conditions in his tender, the minister makes it iimpossible to get dredges from the United States. I do not care where a dredge comes from, so long as it is owned in Canada, if it affords open competition and does the work cheaper than we are getting it done for to-day. That is the only business-like system under which the people of Canada can get full value for their money. When you shut out dredges purchased in the United States and brought over here, the result is that Conmee & Bowman get the work, and get whatever price they like for it. It is very interesting to think over the history of these contractors in the past. They are very useful men ; they are useful for their party. It is only a short time ago since they were reputed to be raiding the Ontario treasury-two millions of dollars of Ontario's money was to be guaranteed for the purpose of helping the Algoma Central Railway to pay its debts, and when the debts were paid, $44,000 of that money was to go into the pockets of Conmee & Bowman. We had an election up there at the Sault, and a protest was entered, and there was an examination as to where this money came from, and it was found that it came from Conmee & Bowman, the contractors who had the contract for the Algoma Central and for the dredging at Port Arthur- $1,000 put up to help to carry an election. Then there were two protests to be filed and the money had to be obtained, and who put up the money ? Conmee & Bowman did. They are very handy men to have around. That same kind of thing has been carried on for years with the same firm, and they are being repaid, in my judgment, improperly repaid, by an improper expenditure of the public money, for which Canada gets no adequate value in return. We want that stopped; we want the attention of the public drawn to it ; and if the acting Minister of Public Works knows nothing about all this, 1484

he is one of the most innocent men in Canada ; a man to whom ignorance is bliss. We give the hon. gentleman (Mr. Hyman) credit for being pretty smart in our part of the country ; and surely, as a minister of the Crown, he ought to know something about the political history of the men with whom he is dealing, especially as he himself has been in public life and has taken an active interest in politics for years. It will be hard to make the people of Canada believe that the acting Minister of Public Works is quite so innocent as he would make out. I say that these men have been raiding the treasury of Ontario for years, and now one of them comes down here, and it is well to have a friend in court. We want this stopped. I know something about the history of these dredges. When the present government came to power they were owned by Conservatives, and they could not get an hour's work from this government. I have it from the mouth of one of the gentlemen that the dredges were lying idle, rotting in the waters of the Georgian bay, and they could not get an hour's work to do for them until they were transferred to friends of the government, and immediately they were employed and they have been employed ever since. I want the country to know it, and I want to tell it to the acting Minister of Public Works, for fear he might plead innocence again of any knowledge of these celebrated contractors, Conmee & Bowman, the handy men when money is to be raised for the party, the handy men when corruption is to be done, the handy men when protests are to be filed. It would be interesting to know whether there is anything in the strange coincidence between the letting of this contract and the fact that there is an election going on in Edmonton. There must be money coming from somewhere ; where does it come from? We know that these men were always available in Ontario when money was needed to protest an election or to carry an election ; and now tenders are called for practically in the winter time for this work of dredging. The only explanation, to my mind, is that there is going to be an election in Edmonton, and money will be needed ; and I am afraid that if we had the whole history of this matter,- we would find that some of the money came through the channels we are referring to at the present time.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. BLAIN (Peel).

I cannot see why tenders should not be advertised for five or six months before work of this kind is to be done. The acting Minister of Public Works has stated on more than one occasion that there were very few dredges in Canada. In the province of Ontario we are well aware of that fact, because when application is made for dredging at certain noints along the shores of Lake Ontario, my hon. friend answers that there are no dredges available. That has been the case for some years now, and it seems to me

that this should be sufficient warning to the hon. gentleman to give a very much longer notice than he is proposing to give for the dredging to be done at Port Arthur. It is well known that in the province of Ontario there is a very strong feeling against cabinet ministers or members of parliament having to do with public tenders and public corporations. This was one of the chief complaints against the Ross administration-that some of its leading members were identified with large corporations. For instance, the Hon. John Dryden, the Minister of Agriculture, was interested in an American ranch, and there was considerable complaint that he was giving up a large part of his time to the production of cattle in the United States instead of to the department which the people of Ontario were paying him to manage. With this before the hon. gentleman's eye, we would expect better things from the acting Minister of Public Works on taking charge of the department. He has had several warnings from the province of Ontario. There was a special warning on the 2oth January, when the Ross government was put out for actions of this kind and other actions that were not at all creditable. The advertisement for tenders for this work at Port Arthur reads as follows: '

Sealed tenders, addressed to the undersigned, and endorsed ' Tenders for dredging in the harbour of Port Arthur,' will be received at this office until Friday, the 14th April, 1905, for dredging certain portions of the harbour of Port Arthur and channels leading thereto to a depth of 22 feet of water in Lake Superior.

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, as the prices quoted must cover such towing as well as lost time and all other contingencies usually connected with such works, such as damage by collision with other craft frequenting the harbour, or other causes; also that no tender will be considered from parties who are not at the date of this call for tenders bona fide owners of the necessary dredging plant, duly registered in Canada.

The plant supplied shall be thoroughly examined by an officer of this department, and if it be found to be of an inferior description or deemed unfit to perform the work required, then on receipt of notice in writing from the Chief Engineer of the Department of Public Works, such other plant as shall be approved by him shall have to be supplied within one week from the date of said notice, and in the event of failure or refusal to do so, the department shall have the power to terminate the contract.

Intending contractors must he ready to begin work within ten days after the date they have been notified of the acceptance of their tender.

The advertisement has some other peculiar statements which I will not read.

I have here an advertisement that was published in one of the Toronto papers by the harbour master of the city of Toronto for tenders for dredging, which reads as follows :

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April 17, 1905