February 18, 1909

CON
LIB
LIB

William Melville Martin

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN.

(Translation.) Mr. Chairman, for the benefit of my hon. friend I will tell him that the site of this postal station is on St. Catherine east. The amount paid for land is $33,000. It was bought from Mr. Jeannotte, a good Conservative.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I think I must ask this item to stand until the Postmaster General is here to tell us what he intends to do about the reorganization of the postal service in Montreal. A great commercial city like Montreal is entitled to the fullest consideration of parliament with respect to matters of this kind, but we should know what policy the government intends to pursue with respect to granting postal facilities. I heard Sir Wm. Mulock, when Postmaster General, state in this House that the government would provide a postal station about midway between the great rail way stations in Montreal in order to forward promptly to the central post office the mail matter arriving in the city. He gave reasons for declaring this as the policy of the government, but nothing has ever been done in that direction. But we find applied in the city of Montreal a principle which prevails everywhere, and which I think should be put a stop to. That principle is this: A man is elected to this House, and his sole object seems to be to have a public building erected within the limits of his constituency. I say without fear of contradiction that in the majority of cases he is a man we see very little of either in the general work of the House or in the very important work of the committees of the House; but he seems to think that if he gets a public building for his constituency that will make up for all his shortcomings; and that public building js erected to suit his caprice, very often in the wrong place, very often, we must admit, unnecessarily, and very often where the money might be spent more advantageously in a different manner. Take, for instance, the city of Montreal, the commercial centre of the Dominion, which contributes one-fifth, if not a larger proportion, of the total revenue of the country. While spending lavishly, if

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LIB

William Paterson (Minister of Customs)

Liberal

Mr. PATERSON.

necessary, in that city, we should apply the money in the best possible way. We have in Montreal a port by far the most important of all the ports in the Dominion. Its income exceeds by an immense amount the income of any other port. For some years we have had there three excellent harbour commissioners, who are doing the best they can for the money they have, and for five years we have had before us the report of the Transportation Commission recommending, as among the foremost necessities of the country, the nationalization of the port of Montreal and the construction of a dry dock there as absolutely essential and urgent. That report, it is true, mentioned other ports which should be nationalized, but the chairman of the commission, in a letter sent subsequent to his report, insisted particularly on the urgency of the case in Montreal. We find at present-and the papers in the last few days have been full of it-that very far from Montreal becoming a free port, or the announcement being made by the government that the recommendation of that most important commission would be carried our, nothing has been done; and in order to carry out the improvements that are absolutely required in the port of Montreal, large indebtedness has been incurred, and to-day the commissioners find it impossible to continue their work without adding to the burdens of the port. Not only the people of Montreal, but I believe all the people of the province of Quebec, and very many people who are interested elsewhere, would say, if they were questioned on the subject, that the very first expense to be incurred should be in the direction of carrying out the recommendation of the Transportation Commission and making the port of Montreal a free port. With the competition of the American ports, the idea of adding to the burdens of the port of Montreal, embarrassing commerce and putting us on a retrograde march instead of enabling us to go forward, would be condemned by everybody. Quite lately the Board of Trade of Montreal has taken the matter up exactly as I have stated it to the House. The government seems to be indifferent to that very question. Therefore, it is important for us to know if the construction of all these postal stations is necessary. If it is, I have not a word to say. But this policy varies entirely from the policy of the government as I heard it laid down not many years ago by Sir William Mulock, speaking in this House on behalf of the government. In Montreal we have a somewhat strange phenomenon. The postal revenue of that city, the largest in the Dominion, is considerably less than that of the city of Toronto. What is the reason of that unexplained difference? To my mind it is attributable to this: That our

postal system in Montreal requires reform and requires additional expenditure. Our post office is properly manned. Our officers, whether the superior officers or those who have charge of the delivery of letters, perform their duties well; but they are absolutely insufficient in number; they are scandalously underpaid and they have not the means of giving us a proper service. I have made suggestions already, and I will make them again when the postal estimates come up, because I believe that if we applied ourselves to correct these deficiencies, and if w# had in Montreal such a postal delivery as there is in other large cities- in London, in Paris, perhaps in Toronto- so that if a letter is put in a postal box at a certain hour it is sure to be delivered at a certain hour, the revenue of the Montreal post office would swell by leaps and bounds, and would soon equal if not surpass that of the city of Toronto. There is not that confidence at the present moment. Therefore, I ask is it wise for us to expend such a large amount of money in building postal stations, and could not the money be better applied in other ways? I think we should be informed by the Postmaster General if this way of spending money is the result of a settled policy of the government-the policy of erecting public buildings for the satisfaction of members representing different constituencies, in order that they may have the opportunity to show their electors that they have done something for their respective constituencies. It would be wiser for us to improve our postal system than to build large postal stations without improvements.

I think, in view of what is happening to our harbour commission, in view of the very large amount-an amount which I cannot understand, and which appears to be highly excessive-which we are spending on the central post office-a sum which, when we have finished with that post office, will amount to over $700,000-in view of these expenditures, it is wise for the committee to pause and ask the Postmaster General if this is the result of a policy and if we cannot make better use of our money than to build a larger number of these postal stations. What is essential to a postal service is not to build postal stations unless absolutely necessary in order to insure what is absolutely required in a commercial city like Montreal, namely, an efficient postal service.

this postal station was required by all the electors of that constituency, whose number exceeds 48,000 inhabitants.

In that part of the city the postal business are of great importance. I will only mention the case of Mr. Filion, an apothecary, living in the north part of St. Mary's division who last year has made $93,000 in a small office of some square feet in size.

St. Mary's division forms one of the most commercial wards in the city of Montreal. St. Catherine street, from east to west; Notre Dame street from east to west, Ontario and Craig streets are nearly exclusively filled up with commercial firms. The large manufacturers are situated in that constituency.

Let me mention by the way, Sir, a few of those manufactures which are built there: A great number of breweries, some manufactures of shirts and glass works. We count also a manufacture of oilcloth, another one of engines, two of caoutchouc, a part of cotton mills, a manufacture of paints, without reckoning the largest tobacco manufacture of our Dominion, the Macdonald manufacture, and also the Dominion Tobacco Company. We have a few others more. A sugar refinery, some manufactures of cigars, thread, biscuits, shoes, sash and doors, with many others whose enumeration would be tedious.

If I have used every endeavour to obtain a postal station in that constituency it was not for the purpose of making easy my reelection, because the hon. member knows the majority which I won in 1906. If I have attempted to induce the government to give us that postal station it was because I knew it was indispensable. If the revenue of Ontario is considerably larger than that of Quebec-I mean the postal revenue-it is because the first one is better provided with postal stations which afford more facilities to the citizens in view of transacting postal business. I think my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier has been mistaken when he said it was a caprice of the member for St. Mary's. I will repeat again that I did not want that postal station in order to be re-elected. I have given sufficient proof of that. I want to add that the Conservative members are always ready to object to some estimate of the province of Quebec. It is not the same thing about the estimates of the province of Ontario.

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Mr. M.@

Martin. (Translation.) Mr. Chairman, I wish to answer with a few words to the hon. member for Jacques Cartier, who has said a moment ago that the erection of a postal station in the constituency of St. Mary was perhaps to suit the caprice of the deputy representing that division. We have to bear in mind that this question is pending since about fifteen years, and that

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CON

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. AMES.

(Translation.) Will the hon. member give us an idea about the site of that postal station?

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LIB

William Melville Martin

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN. (Translation.).

Yes. It shall be situated on the corner of St. Catherine and Plessis. The owner of the land is Mr. Jeannotte, a good Tory. We could not buy other land without paying $45,000 or $50,000. The hon. member ought to know

the amount paid by the government when the land was bought for the post office on St. Catherine west.

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CON

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. AMES.

(Translation.) Is it not true that a post office is now situated on Notre Dame east, No. 281? Another in St. Mary's ward and a third one on Ontario street, No. 1241?

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LIB

William Melville Martin

Liberal

Mr. MARTIN.

(Translation.) They are auxiliary branches established in shops. As I have said a moment ago, Mr. Filion, an apothecary, on Fullum street north, has made $93,000 in postal business last year and there are fifteen or twenty others doing the same thing.

If I have endeavoured to get that postal station, I say again, it is because the citizens were urging for it and not myself, because I was not in need of it.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

My hon. friend entirely misapprehends me. He gives as reasons for the construction of these post offices that the division is a business one, that the land was bought from a Conservative, and that when we are asked to vote money for the province of Ontario, there seems to be no objection on this side. I do not think there is anything in the remarks I made to the committee which can give rise to such an interpretation. I am speaking for Montreal. My hon. friend entirely loses sight of the question I put to the Postmaster General, as to what his policy is regarding the expenditure of public money in that ('ity where so much is required. My hon. friend from St. Mary's, who is unduly irritated, seems to think that that is not a fair question to ask. Well, I have given good reasons for it. I know St. Mary's division well. I know the whole eastern part of Montreal. I have lived there, and I know there are many important business interests and factories in that division and that it is a most important section of the city. But what I say is that what the people require in that part of the city is an efficient postal service. What they want is that the city should be properly equipped to fulfil the role it has to play in the Dominion; and if they were given their choice between a public building, not absolutely required, and the completion of those improvements, which have been time and again asked for from the government, they would not hesitate a moment. We have not at present as efficient a postal service as we should have. The fault is not with the authorities in Montreal, because their postal service is not sufficiently manned and the postal officials are not adequately paid. At certain times of the year it is impossible to carry out the work effectively because of the lack of sufficient hands to do it. Therefore, after what I have heard stated here by Sir Wm. MuIock, when he was Postmaster General, we are entitled to know, in virtue of what policy we are building Mr. M. MARTIN.

these postal stations. And if my hon. friend from St. Mary's (Mr. Martin), and St. James Division (Mr. Gervais) will give us that policy and demonstrate that the money is absolutely required for that purpose and that all other purposes, however urgent, must give way to it, even though the failure to supply them places us in a very inferior position, I shall be perfectly satisfied. I am not asking that the money should not be voted; but when we are asked to vote nearly one quarter of a milliofi dollars, 1 am surely entitled to ask whether that money could not be applied in a wiser manner to far more important wants, and surely it is not necessary to say that we are opposed to public expenditure in the province of Quebec. That is absurd. It is no answer to say that the site for the post office has been bought from a Conservative. Such arguments are childish.

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LIB

Honoré Hippolyte Achille Gervais

Liberal

Mr. GERVAIS.

I agree with my hon. friend from Jacques Cartier in quite a number of the remarks he has made. We have been in great need for the last 15 or 20 years of large expenditure on improvements in the central post office and in great need of sub-postal stations in the eastern part of Montreal. My hon. friend from St. Antoine Division (Mr. Ames) will admit that the construction of a postal station in the heart of his constituency added a great deal of revenue to the postal department within the city of Montreal.

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CON

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. AMES.

I do not object to sub-post offices that will add as much revenue as does sub-station A.

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LIB

Honoré Hippolyte Achille Gervais

Liberal

Mr. GERVAIS.

Since then, I have succeeded in getting a sub-postal station, at a total expenditure of $5,000, which was built on the corner of St. Catherine street east and Amherst street. In the two or three years since that sub-station was established, I think, about $25,000 has been added to the revenue of the central post office in Montreal. I believe that when the government can see its way clear to construct two or three more postal sub stations, scattered over the eastern part of Montreal, fully $100,000 will be added to the general revenue. I admit with the hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) that modern postal facilities have not yet been given to a large part of the city of Montreal. But I hope that within a few months-a couple of years at most-the best ten postal facilities will be given to the whole eastern section of the city. With regard to postal sub-station B, at the corner of St. Catherine street east and Amherst street, I may say that it affords all of the postal facilities to be had at the central post office. Letters are posted and received; letters can be registered; the business of the money order and pest office savings bank branch is carried on; and there is a special and late delivery. I believe that this proposed expenditure of

$25,000 will be very useful. I must remind the hon. gentleman that east of St. Denis street and between Harbour and St. Louis streets you will find at least eleven bank For example, you will find branches of the Molsons, Merchants, Royal, Banque Provinciate, Bank of Montreal, Quebec, and others. That shows that there is a great deal of business done in the eastern part of the city of Montreal. I think the government should have in the estimates not merely $25,000 for the purpose of purchasing a piece of ground at the corner of certain streets, but $150,000 to provide for several postal sub-stations such as that on the corner of Amherst and St. Catherine street east. I believe that the sub-stations should be connected with the central post office by pneumatic tubes, as it was intended to be the case in Toronto. And that was the policy of Sir Wm. Mulock when he was Postmaster General. I think the same thing should be done now.

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LIB
LIB
CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I am glad that my hon friend from St. James, Montreal (Mr. Ger-vais), agrees with me in a good many things. He has, at any rate, absolved me from the very cruel imputations of my hon friend from Montreal, St. Mary's (Mr. Mederic Martin). We would like to get more information. Is the delivery , of postal matter in the city of Montreal started from any of these postal stations?

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LIB

Honoré Hippolyte Achille Gervais

Liberal

Mr. GERVAIS.

Yes. From sub-stations A and B there is every kind of delivery just as from the central post office. The hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk) knows very well that many manufacturers are establishing themselves near Craig and Amherst streets. They have been receiving, lately, from six to eight daily deliveries of letters. Private postal boxes have been established at Amherst street sub-station. University street sub-station, and Chaboillez Square sub-station. I repeat that every possible facility is given at these sub-stations that can be given at the central post office.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I would like to know whether there are different districts for delivery in Montreal. Do the sub-postal stations serve as centres of mail delivery?

Mr. GERVAIS There are three kinds of districts; there are the remote districts, which are supposed to get three deliveries per day; then there are the sub-postal station districts which are supposed to receive four to six daily deliveries; then there is the commercial centre of Montreal properly speaking, which is bounded by Craig street, the river, Wellington street and Bonsecours market, which district is supposed to get about an hourly delivery, that is about eight deliveries per day. In the northern part of the city, in St. Jean Baptiste ward, the neighbourhood of Mile End, and Mount Royal ward, I think there are at least three deliveries per day.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I do not quite understand my hon. friend. Are these sub-postal stations main centres from which delivery is made? I mean by that, is the postal matter conveyed from the central station to the sub-stations and there handed over to special carriers?

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February 18, 1909