There is an item which the hon. gentleman loses sight of. I made allusion to it in the beginning of my remarks, but I suppose that I did not make myself clear. Take, for instance, the buoys. Some of these cost a good deal of money, and they are sometimes broken, destroyed,
6641 MAY 26. 1905 6642
or even carried away by the ice. Sometimes we are obliged to abandon some of these aids to navigation, because it is too late to take them away. There is a tendency, as hon. gentlemen are well aware, to keep navigation open as late as possible in the fall, and so it often happens that it is too late to recover the property. Mr. BARKER. Is not that sort of thing covered in the third item ? Mr. PREFONTAINE. No ; that was for a special locality, as I will explain in a moment. Mr. R. L. BORDEN. What I cannot understand is why it is that, within a month of the close of the fiscal ,year, the hon. minister should be asking for $581,810 for the construction of lighthouses and aids to navigation. Is it possible to expend all that sum within five weeks ? * Mr. PRElFO-NTAINE. I may say that the progamme of improvements laid out by the department for the present fiscal year has been carried out much more quickly than we had reason to anticipate when the vote for 1904-5 was passed last session, and the department was then under the necessity of suspending urgent improvements required for the great national waterway or carrying out the same and obtaining the necessary allowance in these supplementary estimates. I have here a number of resolutions from the Shipping Federation of Montreal and the Montreal Board of Trade, in which the efforts which the department has made are approved, and stress is laid on the necessity of continuing the same. I may say that the programme is as follows : 1st. To improve our existing fog-alarms, anl bring them up to as high a standard as any :n the world. 2nd. To improve the coast lights in the Gulf and River St. Lawrence and on the Atlantic sea-board by the substitution of modern dioptric quick-flashing apparatus for the inferior apparatus installed. 3rd. To improve our buoyage system by the substitution of lighted for non-lighted buoys, on the principle that if a buoy is required for day navigation, a lighted buoy is required for service at night. On the sea coast it is our endeavour to light ' outside the danger,' which is the proper scientific principle. 4th. To improve the pilotage system of the Dominion. 5th. To install Marconi and submarine signal systems, at the same time that we are carrying out and bringing up our existing aids to navigation to a high standard second to none in the world, we are endeavouring to meet the needs of the growing trade of the country by building new lighthouses, new fog alarms, and placing * more buoys. This amount, $581,500, is in the way of being spent by 1st July and will complete the work that has been undertaken. It is impossible in advance to say what the reconstruction of a lighthouse will cost. Some of them are in very remote places, and we have taken in hand those that are most remote, those in the gulf first. Some of them which were estimated to cost $5,000 have cost as much as $11,000, when done by days work, and under great difficulty. I have here a list of those improvements which are being executed, and which will be finished by the 1st of July, at various points in Quebec, Nova Scotia and Ontario, amounting to $65,000, things that have to be completed. It is no use to bring back our men and leave this work half finished. All these things have to be done in order to satisfy the shipping people. Although all these expenditures were not authorized, they were all contemplated, so there is no misrepresentation. The work has been done, it is there and it renders it possible for navigation to open a little earlier than would have been the case if we had suspended the work. Mr. LENNOX. I understand that this $581,500 has been an over expenditure : and that is additional to the amount we voted last year. Mr. PREFONTAINE. It was contemplated that this amount would have been voted sooner. When we brought in the main estimates we did not suppose that we should go so far in the season with the expenditure, or that we should have to ask for supple-meiitaries now. As I have explained, expenditure has gone on faster than we anticipated, and we did not want to lose time in making these improvements. They had to be made, these works undertaken had to be completed. I think we have followed a good policy in executing these works as we have done. I must say that we have been asked to do a great deal more than we have done, and we are asked to do a great deal more in future, but that which has been done will remain of permanent advantage, and will be of great benefit to the marine interest. Mr. LENNOX. What is the amount that was voted last year ? Mr. PREFONTAINE. $852,000. Mr. LENNOX. And we have to expend in addition $581,500. Mr. PREFONTAINE. Yes. Mr. LENNOX. Now the minister has a very charming manner, and it is very hard to complain when he fails to answer exactly the questions that are put to him. He has been asked twice at least whether we are to expend this $581,000. or whether it has already been expended 1 Mr. PREFONTAINE. It has been partly expended, about fifty per cent has been expended. Mr. LENNOX. That is what we wanted to know. Last year we voted $852,000, and now we are asked to vote an additional $581,000. Already, without asking the leave
of parliament, one-half of that amount at least lias been expended. Now we are not inquiring whether there has been a wise expenditure ; but surely if we are to have parliamentary government at all, if we are to adhere to the system of voting moneys before they are expended, we must come a little closer to that condition of things than we are in the minister's estimates. I do not see how the minister can justify taking first $800,000, and then expending an additional $581,000 in advance within the current year. He should know, he should anticipate the requirements, and know how much the country can afford to expend upon this matter much more closely than he has done. I venture to say it is not a good system of parliamentary government for the minister to allow this condition of things to arise, it is not a thing that ought to be tolerated without very severe comment by an opposition. it is an extraordinary request to ask parliament to sanction an expenditure of public money if we are to have a great deal more than one-half the original amount, probably seventy-five per cent, added to the previous vote. I think the minister will see himself, the necessity of adopting a different system in the future. Let him take parliament into his confidence, let us understand what is contemplated, because it is very difficult to believe that the minister could not have foreseen a great deal of this expenditure a year ago. We want the hon. minister to promise to do better in future.