July 17, 1908

THE QUEBEC BRIDGE.

?

William Frederic Kay

Mr. A. K.

MACLEAN (Lunenburg) presented the report of the Select Committee appointed for the purpose of investigating the conditions and guarantee under which the government of Canada paid moneys to the Quebec Bridge and Railway Company.

Mr. WILLIAM CHISHOLM (Antigonish) moved that the report be concurred in. He said : As we are within a few hours of prorogaton, it would not be fair to the House

for me to make any very extended remarks on this question. However, at the risk of wearying the House, I propose to make a few observations regarding it. The question of the construction of a bridge across the River St. Lawrence is an old question- one that has agitated the people of the province of Quebec, the city of Quebec particularly, for very many years. Indeed, about the time of confederation a report was made by an eminent engineer on the feasibility of a bridge at or near Quebec. Several times afterwards the question of bridging the St. Lawrence came up, and reports were made upon it, the tenor of which was that the project was a perfectly feasible one. In 1887 the Quebec Bridge Company was incorporated, and, as is usual in such cases, its charter was renewed from time to time. The company approached the then government of Canada and also the provincial and municipal authorities with a view to obtaining aid for the construction of such bridge, and assurances were given from time to time that upon its being shown that the scheme was a feasible and proper one, the necessary assistance would be rendered. Again and again Sir Charles Tupper and Sir John A. Macdonald promised assistance if the company would show that it was really in earnest. First when the bridge company was incorporated the capital stock was $1,000,000. It is alleged that this capital stock was very small for such a large enterprise.

It is true the enterprise was a large one, the construction of the greatest bridge ever undertaken, but I should have thought >that the time to discuss the question of the sufficiency of the capital stock was at the time of the incorporation of the Quebec Bridge Company. 1 do not think, however, this is a matter with which we need to " concern ourselves at present. The bridge company was incorporated in 1887 and there was subsequent legislation revising and amending the terms of the company's charter. In 1889, a subsidy of $1,000,000 was voted by the parliament of Canada, as set odt in this report, for the Quebec Bridge Company. Of this $1,000,000, $374,353 was eventually disbursed to the company. The assistance given by the Quebec government was $250,000 and the city of Quebec gave a subvention of $300,000 so that really this company started out, although its paid up capital was somewhat small for such a large enterprise * with assets to the extent of $1,550,000 in addition to its capital stock of $1,000,000 of subvention from the Dominion government, $300,000 from the city of Quebec and $250,000 from the province of Quebec as subventions, indicate that the scheme must then have been recognized as a wise, prudent and patriotic one, and the company capable of carrying out the scheme. The fact j that the city of Quebec and the province of Quebec contributed as liberally as they did goes to show what faith they had in this enterprise. When the Quebec Bridge Company

had approached the late government the answer in every case was : Show your good faith, show your sincerity in this scheme, by contributing yourselves. Therefore that company was incorporated and the citizens of Quebec, irrespective of politics, actuated mainly by patriotic views and by the desire to have this route across the St. Lawrence which would be not only of national importance but of great local importance contributed towards the scheme. It is true they contributed in small sums in many cases but this goes to show that this was not one of the wild-cat schemes we too frequently see, but was a genuine scheme. The list of shareholders contains the names of some of the very best men of the province and city of Quebec-merchants, bank presidents, vicepresidents and directors, presidents and vicepresidents of railways, Conservatives and Liberals alike.

In 1900, the Quebec Bridge and Railway Company entered into a contract with M. P. Davis for the construction of a substructure and in 1903 entered into a contract with the Phoenix Bridge Company of Phoenixville, Pa., for the construction of the superstructure. Before the company entered into the contract for the superstructure, tenders were asked from various bridge companies in America. Tenders were called for by public advertisement throughout Canada and the United States. Quite a number of plans and oilers were submitted by different companies. The determination of which was the best plan to adopt was a matter of vital importance. Inquiries were made as to the most competent engineers on the continent and the directorate of the Quebec Bridge Company after most careful considr eration of the information obtained became convinced that Mr. Theodore Cooper was the most eminent and competent engineer in America. The plans were submitted to him, he examined them all and ultimately arrived at the conclusion that the best plan to adopt was that submitted by the Phoenix Bridge Company, and he so advised the directorate of the Quebec Bridge Company. It is not alleged and cannot be alleged that the Quebec Bridge Company did not take all necessary precautions to ascertain the best plan and scheme for the construction of the proposed bridge, and to have it constructed on the best terms possible. In fact it is quite sufficient to say that such men as the directors of the Quebec Bridge Company, business men of experience as they are, would of course take all precautions. There is abundant evidence that they proceeded with the greatest care with respect to the selection of a plan and getting a company to build this work, as indeed they did proceed, in all the different matters with which they had to do.

As to Mr. Cooper, the report of the Royal Commission which investigated the causes of the collapse of the bridge speaks of him in the most complimentary words. It is Mr. W. CHISHOLM.

admitted on all sides that he is and was regarded at that time as the best authority who could be secured. The plans submitted by the Phoenix Bridge Company were prepared by Mr. Szlapka, the designing engineer for the Phoenix Bridge Company. After the plans had been prepared they were submitted to Mr. Cooper who carefully examined them. They were also submitted to a government engineer, Mr. Schreiber. It will be observed that the greatest care and caution were exercisd by the government to see that the plans were properly drawn; they were not satisfied with the opinion of their own engineer but called in a more expert and eminent scientific authority iu whom they might have the fullest confidence. They therefore selected Mr. Theodore Cooper. On October 19, 1903, an agreement was entered into between the government of Canada, and the Quebec Bridge and Railway Company which provided, among other things, that the company should release any claim it had to any unpaid balance of the subsidy of $1,000,000 voted in 1899. The government of Canada agreed to guarantee the bonds of the company, not to exceed in amount $6,678,200, which amount was considered necessary to meet the liabilities of the company as at that date, and to complete the construction of the bridge.

It is alleged that at that time the government should have taken over the assets of the bridge company. In what better position would the government have been in if they had done so? The Quebec Bridge Company, it must be admitted! on all sides, had constructed the work up to that date as economically and carefully as possible. It was their interest to do so. The evidence, I am sure, shows that they exercised the greatest care and had carried on the construction in the most businesslike way. Could the government have done better ? I submit, it could not. I submit that for every dollar expended there was a dollar of work there. In fact, I go further and say that, according to. the testimony of Mr. Parent, the bridge company had got for about one and one quarter million dollars substructure and approaches for which the government would have paid at least two million dollars. One can readily understand how that could be ; the work would be conducted more economically by a comnany than by the government. I do not mean to say that government works are constructed extravagantly or that in all cases it is inadvisable to have work done by the government: but we must admit that often, and particularly in the case of these very large works, a company can build more economically than the government can.

Now, it is alleged that when the government undertook to guarantee the bonds of the Quebec Bridge Company, they did not take sufficient precautions iu the way of

providing a competent engineer to look after their interests in the work. What happened ? Immediately after the government became responsible under this agreement of 1903, it provided for the appointment of an engineer to look after the government's interests. The minority report states that an order in council was passed that such an engineer should be appointed. I believe that is true. It was not true, however, that it was on the suggestion of the Quebec Bridge Company's consulting engineer or of the bridge company, this course was not pursued, that is, that the employment of an expert bridge engineer who was to act independently on behalf of the governemnt was dispensed with. Now, that is not correct. The evidence is entirely the other way I would refer to the evidence of Mr. Parent at page 181 :

Q. When the difficulty arose about the employment of an expert, by Mir. Sohreiber, why did not the bridge company insist that such expert be appointed and act so that the company might benefit by the advice of that expert, without having to pay the cost of an investigation ?

A. The bridge company never objected to that; on the contrary, it was favourable to the government's suggestion. I met Mr. Cooper myself in regard to that matter, .in New York; Mr. Cooper objected entirely to Mr. Niohol being associated with him in the construction of the bridge.

Mr. Nichol was the engineer suggested to the government by Mr. Scbreiber. So far as -the bridge company was concerned they interposed not the slightest objection to the employment by the government of Mr. Nichol or any other man. But Mr. Cooper did object to any other engineer being associated with him. Mr. Parent went to New York to see Mr. Cooper and tried to persuade him that it was proper the government should have an engineer. But he objected to any one

-ho even went so faT as to say hat if we insisted he would resign his position. He even came to Canada to meet Mr. Sohreiber and discuss the question; the government had to choose between the resignation of Mr. Cooper and ithe appointment of Mr. Nichol.

You will Observe therefore, that the statement of the minority report, that the bridge company's consulting engineer objected to or prevented the selection of an independent engineer is at variance with the facts. And further on :

Q. Why could Mr. Cooper object to the government employing the person it desired to employ in order to assure itself of the efficacy of the plans?-A. The reasons given by Mr. Cooper were these: If the government appoints an expert or a bridge engineer, that man might probably take upon himself to do certain things or to give instructions during the building -that -might -clash with that which I might myself do; and as the affair is a large one I do not w-isth that any one but -my-self should interfere in the control of the entire

construction. His fear was that suoh a man might give instructions contrary to his own. Mr. Cooper considered -at the time that Mr. Ho-are was all he -needed and that the latter would not -taike_ upon himself to do -anything without consulting him.

Now, what could the government do under these circumstances ? If it persisted in taking Mr. Nichol, who, it is admitted, was not as competent, by any manner of means, who had not so high a reputation as an engineer as Mr. Cooner, they would have lost the services of the latter. Then, if the bridge had gone down as it very likely would have the government would have been accused of negligence ; it would have been said that they failed to avail them-sedves of the service of the most competent man and had taken a second rate man. This is clearly set forth in the evidence of Mr. Parent, who said :

Q. If the expert the government had decided to employ had found out the defects in the plans that have caused the disaster, would it not have been -a good -thing?-A. Here is what might have happened: Mr. Coo-per pretended that there was no man -w-ho could go over his work and I think that -w-as pretty much the opinion of eminent engineers at that time; and on the other hand, if the government had -appointed Mr. Nichol, if Mr. Cooper -h-ad resigned and that -the accident of -the 29th August had taken place all the same, the government would have been blamed far more for having set Mr. Cooper aside, he who -was considered the best of authorities-to take Mr. Nichol, -wiho was not such; the situation would then have been worse.

Therefore, the action of the government in continuing Mr. Cooper and not selecting Mr. Nichol is quite justified by the facts. And why should not Mr. Cooper have been continued ? It is true, he was the consulting engineer of the Quebec bridge company. But it is observed that the Quebec Bridge Company's interest and the government's interests were identical. If Mr. Cooper had been the Phoenix Company's engineer, it would have been a different case, for their interest and that of the government might have not always been the same. The Quebec Bridge Company's interest and the government's interest coincided, and the engineer employed was the most eminent engineer to be found in America. And this man's services were continued.

Now, I come to another point. In the agreement in the Act of 1903, it is provided that before the government guarantees the bonds of the company, the company was to procure subscriptions to $200,000 additional stock. I may say that the company had delivered bonds to the extent of $472,000 to M. P. Davis for amount due on the substructure. These bonds were sold at 60 cents to Mr. Davis himself, who was the only person then to accept them.

The discount of forty per cent, that is to say the difference between par

and the price at which the bonds were sold to Mr. Davis, the contractor for the substructure, had, according to the terms of the agreement referred to between the government and the company to be paid up by the stockholders before the government guaranteed the bonds. What happened with regard to that? It is alleged that the whole amount of $200,000 of stock was not actually paid up before the bonds were guaranteed. The way that happens is set out in the majority report, clause 7 :

It was urged before the committee that contrary to the provisions of the agreement ratified by chapter 54 of tho Acts 1903, the issue of the said bonds preceded the payment of the $200,000 of additional stock by reason of the fact that a cheque of M. P., Davis given in payment of subscription stock, in the sum of $94,900 was not immediately converted into ^ cash and that there was therefore, in this respect, not a compliance by the company with section 4 of the agreement of October 19, 1903.

The company regarded this cheque as cash and so certified to the government and (hereupon the government became guarantor of the bonds. The directors did not deem it advisable that the contractor should be too large a holder of this stock.

It was agreed by the Grand Trunk Railway Company that it would take up a certain amount, and it was expected that the Quebec Central Railway Company would also have taken a certain amount of-this stock, and in that way the amount of stock in Mr. Davis' hands would be lessened. It was a wise precaution for the directors to endeavour to prevent the contractor having the control of the stock to be issued and paid up. When they got his cheque for $112,000 they regarded it as cash, although they did not cash it and deposit the proceeds. They expected, as I have said, the Grand Trunk Railway to take a portion and the Quebec Central another portion of these 112,000 shares. The Grand Trunk did come later on and take a portion of this stock, paid for the same and a new cheque was given by Mr. Davis for $94,900, the original cheque having been returned to him. That is to say, Mr. Davis first paid up $112,000 for the new stock by giving his cheque therefor, but the Grand Trunk took the difference later on, and Mr. Davis' stock came down to $94,900. The Quebec Central, it was expected, would take over a certain other portion of this 94,900 shares, but it happened that the Quebec Central was not in a position to do so owing to the fact that its charter did not permit it at that time to purchase stock. Later on this company did actually buy stock from the Hon. John Sharpies. As soon as it became apparent that nobody else would take any portion of the 94,900 shares, the bridge company cashed the cheque of M. P. Davis. The question arises as to whether that cheque should be regarded as cash. The Mr. W. CHISHOLM.

Quebec Bridge Company did regard it as cash. The evidence of Mr. Price and Mr. Lemoine, who are gentlemen of the highest financial standing justifies one in holding that the cheque meant cash. At any rate the company did regard it as such. It was cashed and was placed to the credit of the company. The time when it was cashed is not material. I mention these facts to show why the cheque was held so long. The stock was issued to Mr. Davis just as soon as he gave his cheque. It was merely a matter of delay in going to the bank and getting the cheque cashed.

Now objection is made that the Quebec Bridge Company disposed of their bonds at 60 cents on the dollar. Regarding that it must appear to any person that these bonds must be disposed of at the highest price they would bring on the market. Now what is the evidence regarding the wisdom of selling these bonds at 60 cents on the dollar ? Take the evidence of Mr. Price. Mr. Price was a director of the old company, is a large lumber merchant and is associated in many commercial undertakings. He is also a leading Conservative in the city of Quebec and a man of high standing in that city. On page 94 he says this regarding the sale of bonds :

Q. Do you consider that a good bargain, or otherwise, made by the company from a purely business standpoint ?-A. Well, when you can only get one man to buy something that nobody else will buy you are generally satisfied with your bargain. ,

Q. Of course you have got to take the circumstances into consideration. Taking the circumstances that existed into consideration, do you consider that the company showed good business judgment in making this deal with Mr. Davis ?-A. Absolutely so, because if the substructure had been completed and the superstructure had never been completed, the bonds would be absolutely valueless.

Here is the opinion of Mr. Price, who says it was absolutely a good bargain. Then Mr. Gaspard -Lemoine, who is also one of the leading men in the city of Quebec, who was formerly president and vice-president of the Lake St. John Railway and now a director of the Quebec bank, says that was a good bargain, that in his opinion the Quebec company acted wisely in disposing of the bonds at 60 cents. In fact he says they could not get that much anywhere else. To the same effect is the testimony of Mr. Thomas McDougall, who was the banker with whom the bonds were deposited by Mr. Davis for advances. He says on page 126 of the evidence :

Q. Will you as a bank manager probably dealing in these matters, tell us what you think about it ?-A. Of course when we took this bond from Mr. Davis we took it as collateral security for his account which was a running account with us for the construction of the bridge. We did not go minutely into the exact value of it, Mr. Davis handed it to us and told us he had a good contract and we knew that he knew his business well.

Q. Give us your opinion as a banker, for Mr. Davis ?-A. As a banker I think he took very considerable chances on these bonds.

Q. As a banker you think he took very considerable chances in taking those bonds on his contract ?-A. Yes.

Q. Do you think that price could have been obtained in the bond market for them ?-A. Never.

To the same effect is the testimony of Mr. Scott and Mr. Duinoulin. Now as to the conduct of the affairs of the bridge company the evidence of the solicitor went to show that it was conducted on thorough business lines. The testimony to which I refer was the testimony of men whose judgment-and Integrity cannot be questioned and whose standing every man admits. They say that under the management of Mr. Parent the affairs of the Quebec Bridge Company were conducted in a thoroughly businesslike manner and it must be very gratifying to Mr. Parent to receive the testimony of such gentlemen as those who appeared before the committee. The opinion they gave of his management was Indeed very flattering and does high credit to the integrity and ability of the president of the Quebec Bridge Company, the present chairman of the Transcontinental Railway Commission. As far as the management is con-cernedj I think, it must be admitted on all sides that everything was done thoroughly and well.

Now, I come to the falling of the bridge.

It is true that the bridge fell but whose fault is it? It is not alleged that it was the fault of any party in so far as the actual work itself is concerned. The report of the Royal Commission is to the effect that it was due to a mistake on the part of Mr. Cooper, the consulting engineer. It is all very well to be wise after the fact but could anybody forsee that such a calamity would happen. If the government had undertaken to build that bridge would it not have proceeded in the same way? It appears now that the proper course would have been to have selected three competent engineers to direct and control the undertaking. That suggestion has been made in the report. But, if these three competent engineers are selected, have you any assurance that another accident may not occur ? Experience will be of great assistance In guiding these engineers but we have no assurance that the employment of even three of tlie most competent engineers, whoever they may be, will prevent an accident occurring. If the government had taken over the assets of the Quebec Bridge Company in 1903 it is reasonable to suppose that they would have done the very same thing in the matter of continuing the work that the Quebec Bridge Company did. These men who were at the head of the Quebec Bridge Company were men of eminent business ability and capacity. The accident is due to no fault of the Quebec Bridge I 424

Company. They exercised the greatest caution possible. It is alleged that Mr. Hoare did not possess the scientific skill that was necessary. Who could tell anything about Mr. Hoare's scientific skill or whether . he was defective in that regard at that time? You have to take Mr. iHoare as you find him. The Quebec Bridge Company knew that he was a man of extensive experience, that he was a man recognized as possessing great professional skill. He had been for thirty years engaged in general railway and bridge work. He had been with the company since its inception and lie was familiar with the development of this work. He supervised the building of the substructure. He did one of the finest pieces of work in the world. It is admitted that the substructure is one of the best pieces of work of that kind to be found anywhere in the world and the best evidence of that is found in the fact that it stood the very severe strain which was put upon it by the falling of the bridge. Mr. Hoare was recognized on all sides as a_ man having the necessary professional skill and as being eminently qualified for this position. But, with the caution which characterized the Quebec Bridge Company, they went farther and retained the services of Mr. Cooper, a recognized authority. Referring to Mr. Hoare, I will read from page 103 what Mr. Price says :

Q. Did you know, or do you know, that Mr. Hoare was over connected with any great bridge construction work, apart from the ordinary bridge on the railway ? A. I do not know exactly what work he has done; I know he has had a varied experience.

Q. In the way yon have spoken of?-A. Generally on bridge work, on railways and on general engineering work?

Q. But are you able -to say that you do know he. was connected with any large, very large, bridge construction in metal?-A. I believe he built the largest bridge for the Lake St. John, or the Great Northern at Huwkesbury, I believe a cantilever bridge. _

Q. He built an iron or steel bridge I presume?-A. Yes.

Q. Dor the Lake St. John Railway?-A. Or tlie Great Northern.

The testimony of the directors is to the effect that they were perfectly satisfied that Mr. Hoare was the right man for the place -otherwise they would not have engaged him at all-and they had every reason to believe that he was fitted to assume the re-sponsibilty because of the wide experience he had had. It is true that it is stated in the rep.ort of the Royal Commission that Mr. Hoare did not have the high technical skill which a man in that position should possess. It is very easy to say that now, but would these gentlemen have made that report previous to the collapse of the bridge at which time he was regarded as a man of excellent practical ability? Previous to the fall of the bridge nobody thought there was anything wrong, nobody thought that

the bridge was not in charge of the best engineers that it was possible to secure and nobody intimated that the business of the company was not conducted in a proper way. Now that the bridge has fallen people naturally try to find excuses and to throw the blame on somebody and in this case it is thrown on the Quebec Bridge Company with the view, perhaps, of making a little political capital against the government. But, if you look at it fairly and squarely, I submit there is nothing in the evidence or the circumstances which would justify the charge that there was any carelessness or negligence whatever on the part of the government or of the Quebec Bridge Company. I submit that under these circumstances there is nothing that the House can do except concur in the majority report. The majority report does not pass judgment on the cause of the fall of the bridge which is a matter that scientific men alone can pass upon. On this point it refers to the evidence taken before the Royal Commission where experts dealt with the question. But the minority report undertakes to throw the blame on Mr. Hoare. If there is blame to be thrown on anybody it must be thrown on Mr. Cooper, but I do not think that anybody will say that Mr. Cooper was not recognized as an authority. It is true that his judgment failed in this case, but the greatest scientists in the world make mistakes and their judgment is apt at times to be at fault. I move therefore that the majority report be concurred in.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. F. D. MONK (Jacques Cartier).

Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, seconded by my kon. friend from Huntingdon (Mr. Walsh) :

That the said report be not adopted, but that this House adopt in lieu thereof the draft report suggested by the minority of said special committee as the same appears in the minutes of said committee.

It is a very ungrateful task to have to address the House on a matter of such great importance as this is within a few hours of prorogation. Nevertheless, I think it my duty to give some details to the House with regard to the conclusions which the minority have arrived at with respect to these matters. It seems a fatal matter. When we voted $1,000,000 in support of this enterprise it was, if I remember rightly, at the close of the session, when we entered into the unfortunate arrangement of 1903 which was the cause of this great disaster and has brought us to this impasse it was within forty-eight hours of the closing of the session and here we are, within a few hours of the closing of this session, obliged to consider this matter in all its aspects and necessarily obliged to be extremely brief in any observations which we have to make. I feel it my duty to say that the proceedings of the committee were of a most agreeable character, the minority have no complaint to make on that score

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LIB

William Chisholm

Liberal

Mr. W. CHISHOLM.

The chairman was fair throughout and so agreeable were our relations that on the last evening, at our meeting to consider the report. although we were in a majority, we considered my kon. friend from Bellechasse (Mr. Talbot) as present by a fiction of the imagination, we assumed that his view would be contrary to our own, and although in reality we were in a majority, our report was considered rejected and it comes in as a minority report.

I cannot help thinking that this matter is a lesson to us. We ought, I think, to adopt some rule under which matters of this importance could not come before the consideration of the House at such a late hour of the session. I think that would be a protection for the government which would prevent our proceedings from being, as to my mind they are in this instance, a contempt of the rights of the people. My kon. friends on the committee, although our relations were agreeable throughout, when it came to a consideration of the conclusions of the committee, seemed to have looked upon the matter as one of scarcely any importance. Look at their report; it is a relation of facts about which there is no controversy whatever. The origin of this company, its subsidies, the agreement of 1903, are all set forth, but when you come to that dreadful accident which has cost the country 100 lives and has Involved us in a loss which, in my opinion, will amount to over $7,000,000, they do not seem to think it is of more importance than would be the breaking of a window sash in the construction of a building.

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LIB

Onésiphore Ernest Talbot

Liberal

Mr. TALBOT.

What did the hon. member expect tbe majority of the committee to say about the accident?

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I thought that in spite of any political tendencies -they would view this matter as a great national question, a grave national disaster, something serious about which it is of no use trying to shield people who are at fault. It is better to lay the blame where it should rest and attempt to arrive at the conclusions which impose themselves. The conclusions to which the minority arrive are the conclusions to which the royal commission arrived almost in terms. Does the government find fault with the conclusions of the commission which they named to look into this matter? There is nothing in the report of the minori-ty'tkat you will not find in the very able, the very exhaustive report to which the government seem to have adhered and at which arrived the royal commissioners named to investigate the causes of this disaster. The commission were not charged, as we were, with this particular feature of the matter, but their commission was of so large a scope that they entered into it and arrived at precisely the same conclusion as we have arrived at as regards the

financial aspect of the question and the control of the plans of the bridge-or rather the want of control, for which the Minister of Finance is absolutely responsible, and in regard to which I shall be very glad to hear what explanations he has to give to the House. I do not mean that the Finance Minister did not make a struggle in this ease, as he did in all matters relating to the Quebec bridge, but he succumbed at the last, and he is responsible for the fix in which we find ourselves at the present.

Let me refer briefly to the objects of the investigation, because I think it necessary to point that out. We were charged with the task of investigating the conditions and guarantees under which this government paid moneys to the Quebec Bridge Company, endorsed and guaranteed the bonds of that company and what was our recourse at the present moment, and we were charged also with the examination of what precautions the government took in regard to suitable and proper plans for that great structure.

One word in regard to the financial situation. My hon. friend who has opened the discussion on this question has spoken of the men who were in this company. I know most of them; they are certainly good men. I have known Mr. Sharpies for a long * time, and X have nothing but good to say of him. Mr. Laliberte I have known for a long time ; he is a very estimable citizen ; in fact, most of them are good men. They seem, in this instance, to have lent their names to an enterprise which, from its inception, viewed from a financial standpoint only, was absolutely ridiculous, perfectly absurd. Here is a company that had for its object the construction of a bridge which could not cost less than $6,000,000 ; that was a low estimate. What did they put into the enterprise? 'At most, at the time the scheme was entered into, $65,000. That was the paid-up capital of this ridiculous company, and then $20,000 of this at the very least, as mentioned in our own report, was given to the directors of the company not in accordance with the Act of incorporation of the company. Section 8 of the Act of 1887 incorporating the company defines under what circumstances stock can be given in payment, and it would not be under that section given to the directors for labours. To mention labours seems absurd ; they performed no labours. In violation of that clause, out of the $65,000, we find in our report that they got $20,000, reducing the capital stock of the company, organized for an enterprise that could not cost less than $6,000,000, to the sum of $45,000. X say that they got more than $20,000. At page 27 of the printed record you will find $5,200 additional. There was some doubt about that, in regard to which my hon. friend from Hamilton (Mr. Barker) 424}

and my hon. friend from Huntingdon (Mr. [DOT]Walsh) did not seem to be convinced. We have reported, in regard to which there is no doubt whatever, that they got $20,000 out of the $65,000. I say that it is in evidence before the committee that- they got $25,200 in stock out of the $65,000. But why harp about that? In the Senate not long ago an answer was given by the Secretary of State to an inquiry made by Hon. Senator Landry, and what is the effect of that answer? It may be found under the caption of ' Payment to the Quebec Bridge Directors.' The information is authentic; there is no doubt about it; the directors of this company, these great men who are so patriotic, who have done so much for this enterprise and for their country in such a disinterested manner, have received, according to the answer given by the Hon. Mr. Scott, which answer was furnished by the Bridge 'Company, $49,661.01 out of a total paid-up capital stock of $65,000.

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LIB

Onésiphore Ernest Talbot

Liberal

Mr. TALBOT.

Will my hon. friend allow one slight correction ? I know he wants to be fair; but when he states that there was only $65,000 paid up, surely he knows better than that.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I am speaking of the company at its inception. I will refer in a moment to what happened in 1903; and what happened in 1903 was a deception and. a snare, just like what happened before. I say that at the period of which I am now speaking the directors, out of a capital stock of $65,000, received for themselves $49,601.01 -the secretary, $16,890, and Mr. Hoare, the architect or engineer of the bridge, $45,150. The personnel of this company had $111,641.01 on a paid-up capital stock of $05,000. The financial situation resolves itself into this, that tills company owes the government at the present moment $6,000,000. There is no error in that. I did not hear my hon. friend (Mr. Wm. Chisholm) in his long comments on this question, point out any error in our calculations. It is over $6,000,000 They owe the government $100,000 and more of duties. What else they owe at or around Quebec I do not know. What are their assets ? Nothing. There are piers there. There are some constructions and some materials. What is the value of them? Nothing. Possibly the piers may be some use if the new board finds that they can be utilized. But I asked Mr. Holgate the . question : ' What can those piers be useful for ? ' He said : ' I do not know; it is very doubtful if they can be of any use, because any new plan must be absolutely different from the other; but they may be of use.'

I do not deny it. It is possible that they may have to be demolished. The materials can be of very little use. I say that these assets are valueless. This is an absolutely insolvent concern, and the government have recognized it to-day. But they did not recognize it in 1903, when that company came

here, having no assets whatever and a floating debt of over three-quarters of a million. That, I say, is the financial aspect. Our hou. friends in their report, have endeavoured to show that there was something of value.. There is really nothing. My hon. friend from Beauharnois (Mr. Bergeron) suggests that the new board may change the location of the bridge. It is very probable that they will. From what evidence I heard, it seems to me improbable that they will decide upon the present site. We shall see when the board has reported. The government have done to-day, after all this loss has been incurred, after a hundred lives have been sacrificed, what they should have done at the very beginning ; they have begun to consider plans : they never have done so before to-day. I assert that the government have never looked into the plans of this bridge company. Here we are, face to face with the construction of the greatest bridge in the world, the like of which has never been seen. We were involved to the extent that we financed the whole business, and the government-the Minister of Finance, pushed, I suppose, influenced by many forces-never saw fit to control the plans, to see what all this was going to be. That is a very strong assertion; I will endeavour to prove it. It was what the Royal Commission found. They gently hint. They do not use strong terms. I believe the time has come to speak the truth. But they say:

* The misfortune is that these plans were never studied by the government.' What happened, Mr. Speaker ? You will scarcely believe the story, but it is borne out by the work of the Royal Commission and by the evidence before our own committee. We had it in the findings and the evidence of the Royal Commission, even if we had heard no witnesses at all. But we heard some, and we three have arrived at the same conclusion as the Royal Commission; we have that satisfaction at any rate. Let us speak of tlie plans. Would you believe it, Mr. Speaker, that in regard to this bridge, the greatest bridge in the world, Mr. Hoare, a very nice fellow, I have no doubt, but about as competent as a bridge engineer as I am, sent in to the government the specifications, whicii were in printed form, handed by the government to bridge constructors when we give subsidies for bridges, as we gave a great many last night. He took those specifications for the Quebec bridge, and sent them in to .the government as the ' specifications for the Quebec bridge, with a span of 800 feet. Is that credible ? Yet it is the fact. What happened? Mr. Douglas, our engineer for bridge purposes, found fault with them. He ventured to report to the government that the unit stress were too great, by which, as far as I understand the language of these gentlemen, is meant the weight was too great for these specifications. It was a note of warning ; but the government took no notice of it whatever. Here was a con-Mr. MONK.

struction, the plans of which had been devised by the construction company itself, the PhGenix Bridge Company, the government took no notice whatever of this note of warning sounded by Mr. Douglas. The bridge company has taken as its consulting engineer Mr. Cooper. Mr. Cooper is an eminent engineer. Heiis a man of seventy, and never but once, so far as I know, went near the construction ; and the man who in reality is responsible for the preparation of these plans is Mr. ySzlapka, with Mr. Deans. Who is Mr. Deans ? The chief engineer of the Phoenix Bridge Company, and any man who goes on the street will know that Mr. Deans is a very rash engineer. He is a man of ability, who aims at heap construc-.tion, and his aims have been attended by sinister misfortunes in the United States.

The government could have found that out easy enough ; they did not trouble to inquire. But the critical moment came ; the moment when the Minister of Finance enters on the scene-I believe I know too much of the Minister of Finance to think that were he not led in the matter he would not have done as he did-the critical moment was when the plans came up for approval by tlie government. Mind you, Mr. Speaker, when we gave the subsidy we stipulated we should have control of the plans and should approve them ; we always make such a stipulation. But further, in 1903 when we entered into this disastrous agreement we had stipulated specially in the Act passed at the end of the session, that we would have control of the plans and would supervise them. I may say to the House now that after the passage of that Act tlie government gave itself no heed whatever of these plans and never bothered about them at all. Parliament-as we say properly in our report- had imposed in that Act the duty upon the government of supervising the plans of this vast and unprecedented structure. But after the passage of the Act the government paid no attention to the matter. In July, 1903. when the whole of this scheme was concocted which we heard of only at the end of October, 1903, when parliament was about to prorogue, this matter came up before the government and what happened ? I say it is incredible to believe the tale which is unfolded unless you read the proof of it in the evidence. Mr. Schreiber is a very good engineer-there are a great many good engineers, but when you come to look into the plans of a bridge alongside of which the Forth bridge is a small affair, you require special skill and special caution in your experts. What did Mr. Schreiber do ? In July he asked the government, and he gave reasons for his request, to employ a specialist in bridge engineering to oversee these plans, and Mr. Speaker, had that been done I have no hesitation in saying-in fact I asked the question of Mr. Holgate and he gave a reply which he carefully read leads to the same conclusion-had that been done

13369 JULY 17, 1908 13370

the fatal defect in this bridge would have been detected. It was pointed out by Hol-gate and his associates that after this disaster the government asked a special bridge engineer in the United States to look into the matter and he pointed out the defect. Mr. Douglas, our own engineer, had hinted at it. I believe that Mr. Cooper, being one man with one head had overlooked the matter ; it escaped him. No one man alone can carry out an enterprise of that kind ; it is impossible. And, Sir, had that been done and had Mr. Schreiber's request been complied with we would not have had to lament and deplore this immense loss of life and money. But what happened? The tale continues to be extraordinary, it reads like a romance. I should have said that when Mr. Schreiber's request came before the government, the government of course granted it and an order in council of the 26th of July authorized Mr. Schreiber to employ a specialist. But this was objected to by parties interested. Mr. Cooper would not hear of it for he looked upon it as an insult. Here was the government of Canada financing this bridge and charged with the duty of overseeing these plans, and what insult could there be to Mr. Cooper. The correspondence is there, but I will not refer to it for I feel I am taking up to much time.

Some horn. MEMBERS. Go on.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

It is such an important matter that I must refer to it with some emphasis. Mr. Cooper would not hear of another engineer being called in and he wrote to Mr. Hoare of the bridge company and' he pointed out to the government that this was altogether extraordinary. Extraordinary ? How? The people of Canada were furnishing the money to finance the whole enterprise ; the government of Canada were charged with the supervision of the plans and they were asked to have an independent examination of these plans. What was extraordinary about that ? What happened? Why, the government gave up completely and had no examination made whatever, and the plans' lay there in the Department of Railways in a huge trunk, all of them approved under the circumstances I have narrated and without a special bridge engineer being called in to give his opinion on them. Well, Sir, I think that with regard to the plans the minority of the committee are right in asserting-as did the Royal Commission and as any man who

reads the evidence must assert

that there

was no examination of the plans of this vast structure by the authority that should have examined them. The fact remains that we financed the enterprise without controlling the plans although the government was specially charged to control them ; and here again was exhibited that same lackadaisical spirit that has characterized the government all through in connection with this vast

work. And the member for Antigonish (Mr. Chisholm) has conceded the point when he said : The government considered Mr. Cooper was a competent man and provided the strength of the original specifications was maintained everything was satisfactory. These are the conclusions to which we of the minority have arrived. First, as regards the finances it is a total loss ; second, as regards the plans there has been no control, no effective and suitable control of these plans. The plans were approved as a formality and nothing more, and when you come to consider the vastness of this undertaking and the dangers that surrounded the building of a bridge of that size for which there is no parallel in the world, it seems to me that we are right in saying' that the government did not use proper precautions in regard to the plans of the structure.

But I must hasten on to what I consider the vital matter. The past is past and there is no use shedding tears, although it is_ necessary to point out where the responsibility is and where the defect was. But, to-day there is a proposition which the government brings to our consideration a few hours before prorogation. Mind you, this accident happened on the 29th of August, 190 (. Best there should be any misunderstanding, I think I am faithfully speaking the opinion of botli my colleagues of the minority of the committee when I say that we believe that this is not only a great national undertaking but that this is a bridge that must be built, and built at once. I do not wish to be represented in my own province as being opposed to this great undertaking. I think the bridge should be built at once. In my opinion when they named the board of very able men who constituted this Royal Commission the government should also have named at that time a board of engineers to prepare plans. We should have had those plans before parliament in January last, possibly with the contract. We should have been in a position months ago to close this matter up and to decide as to the completion of this great work. Instead of that, we are here to-day, with what, Mr. Speaker ? With a proposal to indemnify the shareholders. That is what the proposal of the government amounts to. Let me define my position in that respect. Have we authority at the present moment to construct this bridge ? I take the statute relating to the National Transcontinental Railway as passed in 1903, and I find in that statute that the government has not only authority but is bound by agreement with the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company to build another railway from Winnipeg to Moncton. I say there is authority in that statute to build not only the railway but tile bridges connected with the railway. There is authority in that statute to bridge every river and every stream along the route of tlie railway, and consequently we have authority to bridge the St. Lawrence.

There is mo doubt about that. It would take too much time to quote the law, but there is no doubt about it. Amy Minister of Justice who looks at that statute of 1903 will find not only that the government has authority to raise the necessary money, but it is authorized and indeed it is bound under the agreement which is a schedule to the Act to build that railway and to build that bridge.

Therefore, I say that the moment this accident happened-for now I confine my remarks to the events since this dreadful occasion-the government could have named the commission for which it has asked a vote of $25,000 in the estimates recently passed by this .House. It had authority to name a board of engineers to go to work at once. No legislation was necessary. We have the law to go on and finish the bridge, just as we have the law to finish the railway. Fault is found with the calculations of the leader of the opposition as to the cost of this railway. I find fault with them too ; I say that they are too low, the railroad will cost more than the hon. member has estimated. But we are in for It, and we must-and, of course, we will- carry out the work whatever happens. T say that the government has all the necessary authority to go on and finish the work. And what does the Minister of Railways want to do now? He wants this House to authorize the government to take' up the agreement of 19th October, 1903, and pay money right and left. We are to bevin by paying $205,000, the amount of the capital stock. Let me digress for a moment. The hon. member for Bellecbasse (Mr. Talbot) said that I was mistaken as to (the amount of this capital stock. We had imposed upon this company in 1903 the necessity of raising $200,000 additional stock. We would not give the guarantee otherwise. That money was to be employed in paying the discount on the bonds. But they never paid it. They sent a certificate to the Minister of Finance that the condition had been complied with. It had not been complied with ; they were $94,000 shoirt, the amount subscribed by the contractor of the bridge who had paid in the bonds of the old company with the discount, and who paid up when the bonds were paid, out of the guaranteed amount. This was paid, I believe, in 1907. This is the story of the $200,000 additional stock. What we are asked to do now is to pay out money. The bridge lies there under the water, holding in its cruel clutches the bodies of many of those who lost their lives on that terrible day. What we are asked to do is to pay $265,000 to the shareholders. Are we obliged to pay it? There is no obligation whatever. We had reserved the right under our agreement to expropriate the enterprise when finished and a going concern. Well, it is not quite a going concern now. Not only are we to pay back the money of the shareholders, but we are to pay 5

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

per cent interest from the time they got their certificate of stock. For instance, the one who subscribed $94,000 got his certificate immediately-he paid up three years after. We are to pay 5 per cent from the time when the certificates were given. And 10 per cent premium besides. And what else? Who knows what are the liabilities of this company I asked the question repeatedly of witnesses who appeared before the committee : Have you any statement

of the affairs of the company? There was no statement. Who knows what debts we are assuming in taking over the debts of the company-for there is a stipulation in the agreement that we must pay all the debts of the company contracted 1 with the [DOT] assent and approval of the government.' These are very vague words. Why, as soon as this resolution is put in operation the claims will appear as thick as the leaves in Vallambrosa. What ground is there for it? None whatever. I still have confidence, great confidence in my right hon. friend Sir Wilfrid Laurier that he will drop that resolution, for if passed it will have the effect of plunging us into a sea of liabilities of which we know nothing. But, in the first place, if that resolution passes it is admitted that we must pay nearly $400,000 to the stockholders.

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?

Mr. A.@

If. MACLEAN. No, $265,000.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

And 5 per cent for five years and 10 per cent premium-it is easily figured out. But this is a sum that we can calculate and know ; other claims will arise the amount of which nobody can know.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC BRIDGE.
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CON

Joseph Gédéon Horace Bergeron

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BERGERON.

What about the city of Quebec and their bonus?

Topic:   THE QUEBEC BRIDGE.
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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

These shareholders were heroic men, but they took care to protect themselves in every way. Hon. members will find, on reading the agreement, that there was' a provision for the payment of subsidies by the Quebec city and Quebec province after everybody has been paid. There is nothing in the position of these shareholders which obliges us to make such a sacrifice as is proposed. People suffer every day. When I arose in this House years ago to ask the gentlemen to give assistance to the depositors of the Yille Marie Bank under circumstances which I thought justified the giving of that assistance, my right hon. friend (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) told me that the government was not an eleemosynary institution, that there were sufferers in business and sufferers in banks. As a result of this, the labours of this board, in which I have confidence-for I hope the company will appoint none but able men-if they find that these piers can be utilized, or some valid ground for dealing with the company in such a manner that those who have cash in the enterprise-those who have put cash in the enterprise and those only-I

shall be the last man to object. But to start at this poiut, without any necessity for it, upon this vast additional expenditure, I say is altogether unjustifiable. The government can go to work and build this bridge without any legislation whatever- there is no doubt about that. But, in any case, why take the action here proposed?

X was speaking the other day with a very eminent engineer, one whom I would like to see employed on this work, if that could be possible, and I mentioned that it would take at least three months to prepare the plans. He scoffed at the idea and assured me that it would take a much longer time than that. In three months another session will be near at hand. Then there are tenders to be called for and contracts to be made. Why should we then pass a resolution which will involve us more and more in this disastrous and unbusiness-like way of carrying out a great national work.

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN (Lunenburg).

At this stage of the session, when prorogation is at hand, I do not desire to occupy the the time of the House for more than a few moments. There is nothing very difficult or complicated about all the matters relating to the Quebec bridge. I agree with the hon. gentleman (Mr. Monk), who has just taken his seat, that the collapse of the bridge was a national disaster. But I think it should be treated as a national disaster by hon. members in discussing the subject instead of, apparently, gloating over the country's misfortune. The hon. member (Mr. Monk) finds fault with the report of the majority in not reaching conclusions similar to the findings of the Royal Commission. I submit that the position taken by the majority of the committee was the correct one. Immediately after the collapse of the bridge in August last year, the government, very properly, appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into the disaster and all questions relating thereto. That necessarily was a technical question and could only be dealt with by men who have professional knowledge. The report of the commission was, later, placed before parliament. The majority of the committee, feeling that this _ was a technical question, did not think it advisable to make any finding on that subject.

Now, my hon. friend boasts that the report of the minority in this respect concurs with the report of the royal commission. Well, if that is a comforting thought to my hon. friends, they are at liberty to entertain it. But I submit that the minority of the committee appointed to investigate and look into the matter of the Quebec bridge construction, and later, of its collapse, have no more idea of the causes of the collapse than have the mummies in the tombs of the Pharaohs. I have great respect for the attainments and judgment of the hon. gentlemen who compose the minority of

that committee, hut I submit they have no evidence before them, and they were not competent to form any conclusion of any value when they made the report which they have made, and which is called the minority report, and upon which report the hon. gentleman who has just_ taken his seat compliments himself and his confreres because it was similar to that of the royal commission.

Now, just a few words as to the history of this project. This project had its genesis in the city and province of Quebec. The idea of the construction of this bridge developed in the province of Quebec, and naturally and properly there were many reasons why the people of that city and province desired the construction of such a bridge. It was not then a political question, everybody, irrespective of politics, around the city of Quebec were willing to invest a few dollars in the project. When the Conservative party were in power they time and again promised assistance. At one time Mr. T. Chase Casgrain, then Attorney General of the province of Quebec, publicly stated that if the government of Sir John A. Macdonald did not _ implement their promises and give a subsidy to this bridge his Quebec colleagues should resign their seats. It was not until the present government came into power, however, that the enterprise received any aid. The company was organized first in 1887. The hon. gentleman complains about the amount of their capital. It was small, it is time, only $65,000 of paid-up capital, but the subscribed capital was over $200,000, and the unpaid portion of the subscribed capital was certainly an asset of the company. But, in addition to that, the province of Quebec had voted a subsidy of $250,000 and the city of Quebec a subsidy of $300,000. So at that stage, at least, the company had assets to the extent of over half a million dollars. In the year 1900 the bridge company had made such progress that they entered into a contract with Mr. M. P. Davis for the construction of the substructure. The contract involved an amount of over $1,000,000. The plans were approved of by the government, and the substructure, under that contract, was eventually completed. The affairs of the Quebec Bridge Company were then in charge of Mr. Hoare. I wish to submit to this House that the building of the substructure was probably as important and as difficult an undertaking as the construction of the superstructure. Mr. Schreiber, in his report to the government, stated that in his judgment Mr. Hoare was quite competent to be In charge of the construction of the substructure. The fact that the substructure withstood the collapse of the bridge last year was a tribute to the efficiency and competency of the work of the contractor and the oversight of Mr. COMMONS

Hoare, who was then in charge of the project on behalf of the bridge company. Later, the question of the construction of the superstructure had to be dealt with by the Quebec Bridge Company, and the procedure they adopted was this : A general plan of the bridge was prepared under the supervision of Mr. Hoare. They then invited tenders from the most eminent bridge builders in America, and with the tenders they invited plans and specifications to be prepared by those tendering. The successful tenderers were the Phoenix Bridge Company, the best known and probably the most reputable bridge constructing firm in America, and their plans and specifications were accepted. At this time the Quebec Bridge Company secured the services of Mr. Cooper, of New York, as their consulting engineer. Mr. Cooper, let me say, was, in tiie judgment of the profession, regarded as the most eminent bridge designer and builder in America, and perhaps had no superior in the world. I just wish to dwell for a moment on this point, because it is important, because it afterwards transpired that the government, that the Quebec Bridge Company, that everybody interested relied very much on the judgment of Mr. Cooper ; and having, as they believed, in their employ one of the most competent men available in the world, it was only natural that they should rely to a great extent on his judgment. I wish at this point to read what the Royal Commission say regarding Mr. Cooper :

Mr. Theodore Cooper, of New York, was the consulting engineer. In the extent of his experience and in reputation for integrity, professional judgment and acumen, Mr. Cooper had few equals on this continent, and his appointment would have been generally approved. Mr. Cooper's strict duties were to examine, correct and approve plans prepared by the contractors,, and to give the engineering advice to Mr. Hoare when requested. Mr. Cooper and his chief assistant, Mr. Berret Berger, carried on a most thorough and painstaking examination of the plains. Mr. Cooper appointed both shop and erection inspectors for reasons explained in his evidence, and had these inspectors report fully and regularly to him. Mr. Cooper states that he greatly desired to build -this bridge as Ills final work and he gave it careful attention. His professional standing was so high that his appointment left no further anxiety about the outcome m the minds of almost everybodv concerned.

That is the finding of the commission respecting Mr. Cooper's capabilities as an engineer. They summarize their finding in the beginning of their report, and they say this :

The professional record of Mr. Cooper was such that Ms selection for the authoritative position that he occupied was warranted, and the complete confidence that was placed in his judgment by the officials of tbe Dominion Mr. A. K. MACLEAN.

government, and of tbe Quebec Bridge and Railway Company and of the Phcenix Bridge Company was deserved.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I ask in ail fairness, wliat more could be expected of the government in the circumstances ? They believed that the Quebec Bridge Company had as its consulting engineer the most eminent man available in America, a man of well known professional standing, and a man of very great experience. It is true, as was stated by my hon. friend who proceeded me, that Mr. Schreiber recommended the appointment of a consulting engineer who would act on behalf of the government as well. It is true that Mr. Schreiber's suggestion received confirmation by order in council. Later it was found that Mr. Cooper objected to the appointment of an engineer to act on behalf of the government and, Mr. Schreiber, owing to the opposition of Mr. Cooper to the appointment of such an engineer, reported to the government that he had such confidence in the ability and integrity of Mr. Cooper, the interests of the government and of the Quebec Bridge Company being in common, that he felt that they might rely upon Mr. Cooper solely. Accordingly the government abandoned the idea of appointing an inspector. It is very easy to be wise after the event. Had this bridge not fallen, Mr. Cooper's reputation would have been enhanced, had the bridge not fallen, Mr. Hoare might have been known to the engineering profession in Canada as a great bridge builder, but, unfortunately, a fundamental mistake was made in the design of the bridge. I submit in all fairness, that, the design of the bridge having been supervised and approved of by Mr. Cooper and been approved of by Mr. Schreiber on behalf of the government of Canada, it is hardly fair criticism to say that the government were careless and that they did not take sufficient precautionary measures with reference to inspection.

In 1903, as I have already stated, the bridge company had completed the substructure, and the question of the commencement of the construction of the superstructure was before them. They were, not in good financial circumstances and late in October of that year they addressed a communication to the Department of Railways and Canals, or probably to the government, explaining their situation and asking for financial assistance in the way of a guarantee of bonds. This request was granted upon certain conditions. An agreement was entered into and that agreement was ratified by parliament in October, 1903. That agreement contained several features, one of which was that the company were to pay up $200,000 of additional capital. The hon. gentleman who preceded me stated that a portion of that agreement was not complied with. Well, if it was not complied with at the moment at which the bonds were issued it certainly was subsequently. To say

the worst of it there may have been a postponement of the fulfilment of that condition, but it was eventually complied with. I am doubtful if it is even open to the interpretation placed upon it by my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier. One hundred and nineteen thousand dollars of that subscription'was made by Mr. M. P. Davis, a gentleman of well known financial standing. That would have given him a control in the company. The company desired that the railways entering at Quebec should be interested in this project and that they should become shareholders. The delivery to Mr. Davis of his $119,000 of stock was postponed in order to obtain a subscription of stock from the Grand Trunk Railway Company. Later the Grand Trunk Railway Company did subscribe for $25,000 of stock, they paid the amount and when they did pay it Mr. Davis substituted a cheque for $94,000 in place of his $119,000 cheque and subscription. When this was done the cheque was cashed. The company say that they always regarded that cheque as the equivalent of cash, and I have no doubt they were justified in so doing. Thereupon the company certified to the government that $200,000 had been subscribed and paid. I do not know that it is very important whether the company were justified in treating that cheque for $94,600 as cash or not. It eventually went into the undertaking ; at least it is so reported by Mr. Bell, an auditor of the Department of Railways and Canals. Neither the interests of the government nor of the Quebec bridge, nor any other interest suffered by the postponement of the conversion of this cheque into cash. They certified to the government that the full amount was subscribed and paid and upon this certificate the government guaranteed the $6,000,000 issue of'bonds. It is said that the government were not justified in doing so prior to the subscription and payment of this $200,000 of stock. In addition to that I have this to say that I am very doubtful if it were possible for the agreement to have been worked out in any other fashion than that in which it was. The Bank of Montreal later advanced moneys upon these bonds and accepted the certificate of the company. They must have had legal advice to the effect that the portion of the agreement requiring the payment of $200,000 had been fully complied with ; otherwise the issue of bonds might not have been legal and there was an issue, as I say, of $6,000,000,

At one o'clock House took recess. '

House resumed at three o'clock.

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LIB

Alexander Kenneth Maclean

Liberal

Mr. A. K. MACLEAN (Lunenberg).

Mr. Speaker, just before one o'clock I had reached that stage in the history of the Quebec Bridge Company when they found the substructure of the bridge built, and when they found themselves considerably in debt and in need of financial assistance to proceed

with the erection of the superstructure. In October, 1903, they made application to the government for financial assistance of some character or another. Up to that time they had expended $914,862 upon the bridge; they were indebted to the extent of $779,550 and they calculated that it would take $6,866,882 to liquidate their indebtedness and place them in possession of the funds necessary to complete the undertaking. An agreement was entered into and the main features of that agreement are: In the first place the company released the government from its obligation to pay the subsidy of one million dollars, a portion only of which (about $375,000) they had received and expended. The company also on its part undertook to receive from the shareholders of that company as of that date the stock issued and to substitute therefor a stock issue equal in amount to the sum actually paid upon the stock. The company also agreed to procure $200,000 of new stock. That $200,000 of stock was subscribed and was eventually paid. Whether it was technically subscribed or paid prior to the guarantee of the bonds by the government is after all not of very great importance because the $200,000 was eventually paid; it went into the treasury of the company and became a part of the common fund of the proceeds arising from the issue of the bonds which were guaranteed by the government. In consideration of these agreements on the part of the company the government agreed to guarantee the bonds of the company to the extent necessary to liquidate their indebtedness and to provide them with that amount of money which they believed would be sufficient to complete the bridge. That agreement was ratified by an Act of parliament and under that agreement the government subsequently guaranteed the bonds and the company were placed in a position to liquidate their indebtedness and to be in possession of funds, and they proceeded with the construction of the bridge. That is practically the history of the bridge until it fell in August, 1907.

To epitomize the story of the bridge in a few words and in chronological order let me say. First, the scheme received its inspiration in the city and in the province of Quebec. The city of Quebec, its citizens, and the province of Quebec wee primarily interested in the construction of the bridge. In 1887, a company was organized to commence the undertakir . and I submit that was the proper way to connnenc" the construction of such a work. Neither us provincial nor federal governments would at that time undertake it, and it was only natural that a company composed of the citizens of Quebec should be organized for the purpose. There were three parties interested: first, the province of Quebec: sacond-lv. the city of Quebec; and thirdly, the shareholders of the company. The city of Quebec voted by way of subsidy $300,000; the province of Quebec voted $250,000 and the

company subscribed $200,000, so that tbe undertaking was launched with a capital either promised or subscribed of $750,000. Later, the Dominion government became interested and voted a subsidy of $1,000,000 so that the company at this stage with all the parties interested, had a fair and reasonable amount of capital at their back. Objection was made by the member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) that certain stock was issued to directors on account of services rendered on behalf of the company. This is a matter 1 need not detain the House about because after all it is not important. The stock of the company had no value at that date; the directors rendered very valuable services, the business of the company occupied a great deal of their time and in many other ways they devoted themselves to the project. Then, we have the company undertaking the project with a capital at their disposal of about $1,600,000. In 1900, they gave a contract for the substructure to Mr. M. P. Davis, the anticipated cost of which was to be over one million dollars. The substructure was successfully built; it stood the test of the collapse of the bridge and I think no adverse comment can be made upon that portion of the enterprise. In addition to the substructure a contract for the terminals on each side -of the river approaching the bridge was given also to Mr. M. P. Davis, and that contract was completed at a cost in excess of $1,000,000. Then the company invited tenders and the submission of plans for the superstructure, and the plan of the Phoenix Bridge Company appearing to be the best-was accepted. It was submitted later on to the consulting engineer of the company, Mr. Cooper, of New York, who was a bridge engineer of considerable eminence and one of the best known bridge builders in America. Mr. Cooper approved of that plan subject to some modifications. It was also approved of by the government engineer. and in 1903. a contract was actually entered into with the Phoenix Bridge Company to complete the work. It was suggested by the hon. member (Mr. Monk) that because at one stage in the history of the Quebec bridge, Mr. Schreiber. the government engineer, had recommended the appointment of an inspecting engineer and because this inspecting engineer was not appointed that therefore the government acted without consulting Mr. Schreiber. I wish to correct that statement in case there may be some misapprehension on the part of hon. gentlemen about it. It is true that Mr. Schreiber recommended the appointment of an engineer and such recommendation was confirmed by order in council. Later, on the recommendation of Mr. Schreiber himself, it was agreed that inasmuch as the interests of the government and of the Quebec Bridge Company were in common, and inasmuch as Mr. Cooper was regarded by the profession generally as the most capable man whose services they could secure, it would be suffl-Mr. A. K. MACLEAN.

cient if the construction of the bridge were left to .the sole supervision of Mr. Cooper. The construction oP the superstructure was proceeded with and everything was going well until in August, 1907, the bridge fell and instantly the critics developed over night. The critics say that there was not a sufficient system of inspection. Now Mr. Speaker, I submit that when the government of the day had secured the services of the most eminent bridge builder in America, and when as the Royal Commission have found-and they have emphatically found upon this point-the government and the Quebec Bridge Company were justified in assuming that everything as regards inspection and construction was in good hands when in the hands of Mr. Cooper, and that the complete confidence placed in Mr. Cooper by the government and by the bridge company was deserving, I say in view of all that, the criticism is most unfair.

I submit further that if that bridge were being built by a private individual, and he had the endorsement of the plans by a man so eminent and so highly regarded by his profession as Mr. Cooper, he would have done just what the Quebec Bridge Company did and what the government did. It is all very well to suggest now that there should have been a commission of engineers in charge of the construction of the bridge. Human aftersight is better than human foresight. So long as there is that limitation of the human judgment, it is only fair to say that accidents of this character are liable to happen and have happened in the past, notwithstanding every precaution that may be taken. The question to-day is, what is to be done to insure the completion of the . bridge ? The resolution which has been placed on the Order Paper by the Minister of Railways is to the effect that the government are to take over the stock of the company and pay the shareholders. I submit that there is nothing unreasonable about that; it is the only fair and businesslike thing to do. Immediately after the collapse of the Quebec bridge, it appeared to be the opinion of the public generally that the government should take hold of this enterprise.

I think it is only fair that under the terms of the agreement of 1903 they should possess themselves of the stock of the company and proceed with the completion of the bridge. The hon. member for Jacques Cartier suggested that we were taking over liabilities, the amount of which was unknown to us. I submit that there are no liabilities which we are assuming that we do not know of. In the first place, we shall have to pay the sum of $260,000 to acquire the stock of the company plus ten per cent premium. That is definite and well-known. In the next place, we know what our loss is in the guaranteeing of the company's bonds, and I suppose it is only fair for me to state that that will in all probability be a total loss to the government of this country.

There is no possible liability, so far as I can see, in connection with the loss of life. 1 understand that the Phoenix Bridge Company carried with some insurance company a policy which will liquidate any loss which they may be obliged to pay by reason of the loss of life, and I understand that the Phoenix Bridge Company have up to the present time liquidated all claims for damages in that regard. Therefore the only thing left for the government to do is to acquire control of the company and to proceed with the completion of the bridge. It is a national undertaking, and nobody else can assume that responsibility. It is unfortunate that the collapse of the bridge occurred. The government took all reasonable precautions to prevent any such thing happening. I have no hesitation in expressing the opinion that it is unfortunate in a sense that the government are obliged to step in and take control of the bridge. It is an undertaking that I think could be better handled and controlled by a terminal company ; and it might be worth the consideration of the government, after they have obtained control of the company, whether they should not invite all the railway companies of Canada who have an entrance into the city of Quebec to become part owners in the bridge. In so far as the minority report so-called makes findings of fact, I make no protest against it ; any statements in it regarding the history of the enterprise appear to be properly set forth. But in so far as that report charges the government or the Department of Railways and Canals with want of care or with gross negligence,. I do not concur in-I do. not desire to occupy further the time of the House upon this matter at this late hour, as I know that there is considerable business yet to do.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC BRIDGE.
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CON

Robert Nelson Walsh

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. N. WALSH (Huntingdon).

Mr. Speaker, I desire to detain the House for a short time in making some remarks on the minority report of the committee. The kon. member who has preceded me (Mr. A. K. Maclean) stated that the members who have presented the minority report did not apparently treat this as a national disaster, but rather as a means of making political capital against the government. With that I take direct issue. I do not think that any members of the House appreciate more fully than do the members who have presented the minority report the greatness of the disaster, not only from a monetary standpoint, but in the loss of life which was occasioned; and in view of the fact that the report of the Royal Commission which was appointed by this government stated that had there been efficient supervision this loss of life could have been prevented, I say that it is more than a national disaster, it is a national disgrace. The government of this country practically controlled the construction of that bridge, which was not only a

national undertaking, but the largest undertaking of its kind in the world, and they handed it over to a company of which not a single man knew anything of bridge building. There was not a single bridge expert connected with the company, and they had a very limited capital. What is the history of that company V It was organized in 1887, and if you will read the minutes of the company, you will find that at their meetings at that time their principal business was the appointing of committees to interview one government or another with the view of getting subsidies. Previous to this the Quebec government had contributed money for the preliminary surveys, but up to 1897 very little had been done. At that time Mr. Parent was asked to join the company, as it was thought that his influence would have some effect in procuring assistance for the bridge. In that I think they were not disappointed, and I wonder if the reason that the government are continuing the project is not on account of their promises of .support made long ago. ^ I find in the minutes of the Bridge Company that at a meeting held in September, 1897, Mr. Parent stated that he had seen Sir Wilfrid I.aurier, who stated that the subsidy could not be voted at the next session owing to very grave reasons, which were privately explained ; but Sir Wilfrid wanted the company to proceed, and they would be sure to get the necessary security to finish the bridge if it is not voted next session; Sir Wilfrid would send a letter guaranteeing the subsidy for the following session. So as early as 1897 we have the government practically pledged to furnish sufficient securty ito carry out the work. However, in 1903 the government secured the bonds of the company. In the meantime interim bonds had been issued to Mr. Davis upon which there was a discount of some $188,000. In this agreement it was provided that there should be new stock furnished to cover that issue. Evidently the Finance Minister considered that this had been very injudicious financing, and that what had been lost in that way should be made up. Had that been done simply I could have understood it, but when this new stock of $200,000 was practically added to the capital, the government undertaking to take the bridge over and to pay 5 per cent and a premium of 10 per cent, I do not think they in any way helped the matter. It has been said that the sale of the bonds at a discount of 40 per cent was justified in a way, because Mr. Davis would not draw any interest until the substructure was completed. However, he was paid some time within two years, and I notice he drew some $29,000 in Interest, which I think was a pretty fair return for the money. It has'also been said that the reason the bonds were sold in that way was because there might be a loss on them.

133S4

At any rate, the government accepts the statement made that this bridge will be a paying concern. Mr. Parent had made a statement which the government evidently accepted, that, taking out operating expenses in the first and second year, they could still pay 3 per cent and leave a balance of some $36,000, so evidently Mr. Davis was not likely to lose anything. Further, in securing these interim bonds, he practically got a mortgage on the bridge after the reconstruction of the company, which gave him a first lien and practically put him in a better position. As to his cheque being held, the statement is made that this practically carried out the legislation. X wish to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the Finance Minister, in giving his evidence, said that he would not consider that was carrying out the statute. When first it was brought to his notice he wrote to the Bridge Company drawing their attention to the fact that the statute had not been lived up to. It has been said that there was no harm in that, that Mr. Davis' cheque was taken and could have been cashed at any time. It seems peculiar to me that Mr. Davis should be so complaisant, that if he had nearly $100,000 in that he should pay his money and not secure his stock and have nothing to say. I think the history of this transaction, if completely followed out, would be very interesting.

In regard to the plans, the evidence of Mr. Douglas is that the plans on which this bridge was built were the ordinary bridge specifications of 1890, that even in the department after that these specifications had been amended, but that the original plans of 1896 were used as a specification for this bridge, and that it was considered that they were entirely inadequate and that new plans should have been made. When they were submitted to Mr. Douglas he found fault with them and criticised the unit stresses. After that Mr. Douglas had nothing more to say evidently in regard to the plans. Mr. Schreiber, who was a very busy man I understand, evidently considered that he had not the time to properly look after this work, and suggested to the government that they should appoint a bridge expert, which I think was a pretty good idea. It has been stated that the Bridge Company did not object to the appointment of Mr. Nichols. I find, however, in the report of the Royal Commission, a reference to this order in council. The commissioners state :

The policy of Mr. Schreiber was not in accordance with the wishes of the Quebec Bridge Company and its association-see letters, Hoare to Cooper, July 1, 1903 (exhibit 70 I); Parent to Fitzpatrick, June 29, 1903 (exhibit 70 T); Fitzpatrick to Parent, July 118, 1903 (exhibit 73 C)-and as soon as Mr. Mr. WALSH.

Cooper fully understood the deputy minister's plans be protested vigorously.

From that it is quite evident that the Quebec Bridge Company were not in accord with the appointing of an expert, and some of the correspondence in regal'd to that is interesting. Mr. Cooper objected, it is true, to the appointment of a bridge expert, and in a letter to Mr. Cooper from Mr. Deans, the chief engineer of the Phoenix Bridge Company, there is a paragraph which I think is significant. It says :

The order in council was taken solely to save time and to have your approval of our details final and binding on the government-it simply being necessary to have Mr. Sclireiber's signature a.s a matter of form.

That was the understanding of the chief engineer of the Phoenix Bridge Company. In a further letter of August 1, 1903, he

says :

I talked with Mr. Hoare over the 'phone yesterday (the service was not very satisfactory), and also wired him two long messages, and have received his reply, stating that ' he will take up the question with parties at Ottawa, and that we should go ahead, aud if anything turns up to cause trouble tell Cooper to let me know at once/ I have written him again, and urged him to stop entirely this proposed plan, and explaining that the sole purpose of the order in council was to give you the final authority to settle all details, the government approval being a mere formality.

It is evident that the construction and carrying out of the plans [DOT] were all in the hands of the bridge company, the government exercising no supervision. It is true that Mr. Cooper was considered an expert authority, and the hou. member for Lunenburg (Mr. A. K. Maclean) read the finding of the commission, in which they speak of his ability. But he did not read the whole jrassage. It continues :

In considering Mr. Cooper's part in this undertaking, it should be remembered that he was an elderly man, rapidly approaching seventy, and of such infirm health that he was only rarely permitted to leave New York.

Mr. Cooper assumed a position of great responsibility, and agreed to accept an inadequate salary for his services. No provision was made by the Quebec Bridge Company for a staff to assist him, nor is there any evidence to show that he asked for the appointment of such a staff.

From the evidence of Mr. Holgate, it is apparent that while Mr. Cooper was considered to be simply the consulting engineer, he was compelled to act as engineer in chief, and there was no engineer in chief on the works. The commission find directly against that system, and say distinctly that while it would not have been possible, probably, not to prevent the fall of

the bridge, it would have been quite possible had there been a man in charge wtho had authority to stop the work there to prevent the loss of life which occurred. The report goes on to say that the staff in charge of the bridge as a whole was inefficient and not well organized. This, I think, shows there was practically no superintendence for the government, little interest was taken in the matter, it being left wholly in the hands of the Bridge Company, and, as the report says, everything was taken, as far as the government was concerned, as merely a matter of form.

The resolution which is before the House in regard to taking over this bridge is evidently supplementing the promises made to these gentlemen who took up the stock. In regard to this $200,000 of stock, it is also interesting to note that of the directors of the Bridge Company, with the exception of Mr. Parent, there was not a man who took over $400 of stock. It is also very interesting to note that the voting of this money for their services and divided up, simply comes to a sum which supplements their subscription to make up this extra amount of $200,000. The greater part of this is made up by the railways and Mr. Davis. When Mr. Sharpies was giving his evidence I asked him if he had subscribed to the undertaking previous to the government guaranteeing the bonds, and he said : No, he was not Jfoolish

enough for that. So this stock was perfectly good to these gentlemen. They were sure of 5 per cent. I believe assurances must have been given them to that effect, and that this action of the government is simply in pursuance of that promise. I believe that this matter should be left in abeyance until the government has a report from a board of engineers who will say whether this work is of any use at all or not and whether the bridge shall be built there, and make sure of all the conditions which will make the superstructure practicable, without paying money where there is no need to pay. I protest against it. If the government intend to build the bridge, they have all the necessary authority in the charter of the Transcontinental Railway. They do not need to go to the Bridge Company and beg for money which was put up to replace bad financing on the part of the company.

So far as the construction of bridges is concerned, New York maintains a board of three or four, every one of them an expert bridge builder. All construction of bridges is placed in the hands of this board. The details are all carefully gone into and everything provided for. But the government of Canada undertook the largest engineering feat in bridge building in the world simply relying on the efforts of a bridge company with little or no capital,

allowed that company to select all the engineers, and even interfered with the action of their own officer when that officer sought to have greater precautions taken. Mr. Douglas was evidently too critical in his supervision of affairs, and so he had nothing further to do with them. That the company had their way in this, and that Mr. Hoare was aware of it, is shown by the letter of 27 May, 1907, which Mr. Hoare writes to Mr. Deans, the chief engineer of the Phoenix Bridge Company, in which he draws attention to the fact that the regulation of the government in regard to the plans had not been followed out. He said :

The signature of the government engineer does not comply with the government regulations. The order in council passed some years ago only authorized certain modifications in the specifications and details from time to time if found necessary.

And he closes his letter :

We are under very close investigation now

Showing that there had been little or no superintendence of the work done.

I agree heartily with the minority report. I think it is in accordance with the facts. And I hope the government will not put through the resolution this year with regard to taking over this work. Before sitting down I desire to put on record in ' Hansard ' the report of the minority :

1. -Financial responsibility of the Quebec Bridge Company.

The Quebec Bridge Company was incorporated in 1887, and, having regard to its undertaking to construct a bridge across the St. Lawrence at or near ithe city of Quebec, the oost of which would be at least $6,000,000, the company was from its inception deplorably weak financially.

2. Of its modest nominal stock capital of $1,000,000, never, until the arrangements of 1903 to be presently referred to, did the money paid in by its 'shareholders exceed $65,000, and even of that amount, so petty for such a vast undertaking, some $20,000 consisted not of cash found hy the promoters but of the proceeds of fees voted by them to the directors and paid by the country itself for their services in that capacity.

In 1890, the province of Quebec voted to the enterprise a subsidy or aid of $250,000, and further aid of $300,000 was granted in the following year by the city of Quebec.

The parliament of Canada also voted $1,000,000 in aid of the undertaking payable as construction progressed.

The .site being chosen, the substructure of the bridge progressed; but in 1903, the company had more than exhausted all its resources, its subsidies as well as its small paid up stock capital weTe expended, and it had a floating debt of $779,550. It was then without money or means to further prosecute its enterprise.

At this time, the Dominion had undertaken the construction of the National Transcontinental Railway whereof the Quebec bridge was

recognized as an essential and most important portion. The early completion of the bridge was not only of national concern as a matter of trade and commerce, bnt any delay or misadventure would be fraught with most serious responsibility to the lessees of the eastern section of the great railway of which that bridge must necessarily be a part. _

In the condition of the bridge company, it was not possible to prosecute its undertaking without the aid of the Dominion, and refusal of such aid would have ensured a forfeiture and abandonment of the venture. The obvious duty of the government, therefore, was to refuse aid, to deal liberally with the promoters, , and to take over the property and hold the bridge as a public work.

The president and directors of the bridge company, hopeless though their case appeared to be, succeeded in inducing the government to agree to guarantee the company's bonds up to $6,688,200, the amount required to meet its liabilities and finish the bridge.

An order in council was thereupon passed on the advice of ministers setting forth the terms and conditions of the proposed guarantee and an Act of parliament was passed to confirm the same. The Act referred to (3 Edward VII., chapter 54) was passed in the last hours of a long session, and in the course of a few days was rushed through the Senate and House of Commons with undue haste and *without opportunity for deliberation and proper consideration.

10. One of the conditions enacted was that before tbe guarantee should be given, the oompany would procure the subscription and full payment in cash of $200,000 of additional stock, and apply the said money to a specific object, the restoration of $188,000 discount which had previously been allowed on an issue of the company's bonds.

11. That condition was only in part fulfilled, though the government, having accepted the written certificate of the company's officers that it had been fully carried out, guaranteed the new issue of bonds. Attention is called to the admission of the Hon. the Finance Minister in his evidence, that had this deception been known to him, he would not have authorized the execution of the guarantee.

12. The government's present liability or outlay on bonds, subsidy and special guarantee to the Bank of Montreal is $6,322,008.13 represented as follows:

Subsidy $ 374,353 00

Special indebtedness to Bank of Montreal 174,431 26

Liability on bonds with interest to April 30, 1908 5,773,223 77

If you look on page 35 of the commissioner's report you will find the same thing :

In September 1898 the bridge contracting firms were asked to submit tenders upon their own designs, to be drawn in accordance with certain specifications.

The specifications, as I said before, given by Mr. Hoare were taken from the design drafted by the Phoenix Bridge Company themselves.

Practically this meant that each bridge company was asked to spend several thousand dollars on the preparation of plans, and that in return it was given an opportunity to bid for a contract 'to 'be let by a company of weak financial standing. The result was that although the magnitude of the work placed, it outside the limits of established practice, most of the tenders submitted were made from immature studies based upon insufficient data.

Supporting what I said, that on account of the Phoenix Bridge Company having the advantage In filing the plans from which Mr. Hoare took his specifications, no other responsible company would dare to put up some serious plan because it would have involved an expense of a few thousand dollars. There was only one company that had a chance to get its tender accepted.

The evidence shows that the Phoenix Bridge Company gave more time and attention to the competition than any other tenderer, but the error afterwards made by it in assuming the weight of the structure for final designs shows how faulty the estimate accompanying . its original tender was. We consider that the procedure adopted in calling for tenders was not satisfactory in view of the magnitude of the work, and was not calculated to produce the most efficient results.

Now, Mr. Speaker. I think I have proved by the commissioner's report that there was a lack of bona fides in the method of tendering. Now what was the first hitch after that ? This company spent a few dollars for the preparation of plans which were taken from the suggestion of the Phce-nix Bridge Company, and finding that they had not (sufficient money, came to the government and made a request for a million dollars subsidy. This is what the report says :

But when, for the purpose of a guarantee of $6,178,200, the Deputy Minister of Railways and Canals, found himself called upon to examine for approval, the plans and speci-fioations of the bridge, he formally applied for authority to employ a specially qualified bridge engineer. Such authority was granted by order in council of January 21, 1903.

Now why was Mr. Schreiber!s request made to the government ? A few years previously when a million dollars guarantee was demanded from this government, Mr. Douglas, the railway engineer of this government, was asked to submit a report upon the plans given to him by the Bridge Mr. ROBITAILLE.

Company. I must say in passing that it Is the rule of this government never to grant a subsidy for a bridge until their engineer has previously examined the proposition. Mr. Douglas, however, not having the weight of authority that Mr. Cooper has, condemned the plan. Later on he condemned the same plans when they came hack in 1903. Mr. Speaker, who Is the chief engineer, found himself placed between Mr. Cooper's high reputation and his more humble assistant Mr. Douglas, because these two gentlemen did not look at the matter from tlie same engineering standpoint-Mr. Sch-reiber finding himseif in this dilemna, and not knowing what responsibility he was assuming, came to a logical conclusion and said to the Governor in Council, I want an assistant to help me sift out the difficulty and see what responsibility I have taken. The Governor in Council thought that the idea was a good one, and an order in' council was granted on the 21st of July. What happened then ? If you look through the evidence given at this inquiry you will find that the pivotal point on which revolved the relations between the government and the Bridge Company, has been, not the contractors of the comnany, but Mr. Parent the president. Mr. Parent communicated with Mr. Cooper and said to him, how is it that a man of your standing should be subordinate to a humble engineer who has no standing ? It seems but right that if we keep you as. consulting engineer, we should not be embarrassed by correspondence with regard to the acceptance of certificates or approval of plans. The first tiding we knew, Mr. Cooper came up to Ottawa and said he would not play second fiddle in this matter-that Is at least the information that is given us, and immediately the government found that Mr. Cooper's views were all right. Now let us see what Mr. Sehrei-ber says in making his demand :

I would suggest that the department he authorized to employ a competent engineer to examine from time to time the detailed drawings of each part of the bridge as prepared, and to approve of or correct them as to him may seem necessary, submitting them for final acceptance to the chief engmeeer of * railways and canals.

Mr. Cooper strongly objected, saying, this puts me in th,e position of a subordinate which I cannot accept. Mr. Cooper at the same time wrote to Mr. Schreiber :

I do not see how such engineer could facilitate the progress of the work, or allow me to take any responsihile steps independently of his consent.

Exactly what I said. He found it. would jeopardize his authority and naturally delay the work. Consequently he was given a free hand. Further on the Governor in Council recalled this nermission of 1903, and in August, 1905, they said this :

Provided the efficiency of the structure be fully maintained to that defined in the orginal Specifications attached to the company's contract.

I must say that that condition of the order in council was not fulfilled, because there was no engineer competent to say who was to determine the efficiency of the structure, and to see that it was maintained to the standard the Governor in Council stipulated. [DOT]

The Governor in Council intimated that Mr. Cooper must have some one else with him acting on behalf of the government to check over his work. The order of the Governor in Council was not heeded and Mr. Cooper was the only man who was responsible for the approval of the plans and for checking the work for the government and for the bridge company. Probably it might interest our good friends on the other side to state how Mr. Cooper was engaged. He was not hired in the ordinary manner. The first thing he states before the commission in New York is that about February 25, he received a communication from the Quebec Bridge Company asking if he would be prepared to make an examination of these plans and he consented. There was no suggestion that he should become the consulting engineer for the greatest bridge in the world ; simply that he should give the company expert advice upon the plans which would be submitted.

Some months later

He states :

-Messrs. Parent, Hoare and Bar-the came to New York to see him. He stated to them what his fee would be for inspecting and passing on the plans.

They asked him then if he would act as consulting engineer, not resident engineer, but to stay in New York and advise them from time to time when they wanted his services.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC BRIDGE.
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CON

Alexander Martin

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. MARTIN.

Is the hon. gentleman aware that Mr. Cooper at least once if not twice asked to be relieved of his duties as superintending engineer ?

Topic:   THE QUEBEC BRIDGE.
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IND

Lorenzo Robitaille

Independent Liberal

Mr. ROBITAILLE.

I will come to that later. I have here Mr. Cooper's deposition, but probably the House does not desire me to answer the hon. gentleman's question at the present moment as I will come to it in the course of my speech. He said that Mr. Parent left him with the impression that the plans would be sent to him, but no definite step was taken at that time regarding his appointment as consulting engineer. Later on Mr. Cooper asked if he was limited to a certain specification because he found that the financial status of the company was not altogether satisfactory.

Mr. Cooper's opinion seemed to be that the amount of funds available was to a certain extent limited, for when asked if, at the pre-425

sent date, and with the advantages of several years' additional experience, he would still confirm his additional recommendation both as to the type of the structure and the merit of the design, he said: ' Yes, if under the same limitations that existed at that time as to the amount of funds apparently estimated for its construction.' That is an important point, because the structure was apparently limited to the amount of funds they had in sight as far as it was impressed on me.

I could go farther on this point but It is useless to weary the House. We are all aware of the fact that Mr. Cooper was not given the opportunity he should have had to control plans because he had to keep them within a certain limit of cost as he said before. There was no definite figure stipulated, but he knew that the financial condition of the company was weak. The company commenced the construction of a bridge that will cost about $8,000,000 with financial resources amounting to about $1,000,000.

Topic:   THE QUEBEC BRIDGE.
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LIB

Onésiphore Ernest Talbot

Liberal

Mr. TALBOT.

Is the hon. gentleman now stating that Mr. Cooper made the plans of the bridge ?

Topic:   THE QUEBEC BRIDGE.
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July 17, 1908