I thought I had mentioned it. I have nothing to complain of about the hon. member for Peel, nor have I anything to complain of so far as the hon. member for York is concerned. I do not complain of his course; he can take any course that commends itself to his judgment, but if other hon. members took the same course as he is taking we could not get through the Public Works estimates alone before next August. I am willing to afford and always afford the fullest opportunity to every hon. gentleman in regard to items in my estimates. The member for York has chosen to take up the entire time of the Committee on Public Accounts for three months with matters connected with my department.
When the report of that committee is submitted to the House hon. gentlemen can discuss dredging on the St. John river, upon the Miramichi, at Bathurst, and every where else. If he will give me a memorandum of what information he wants in regard to dredging at any place I will get it for him from the accountant of the department, and furnish it to him before the matter comes up for discussion.
If the minister - had adopted the simple suggestion I made, that this item should stand until we had another meeting of the committee, I do not think any more time would have been lost. There are items before the Public Accounts Committee .that one would not want to make a matter of discussion before the House, and which could be dealt with more satisfactorily in Committee of Supply. Some matters will be discussed, but there are others that could be more briefly and advantageously discussed in Supply. All I desire is an opportunity to discuss these matters, and to give the minister an opportunity to bring down the information, which he admitted he had not, and which he promised to bring down. I think the usual practice in such cases is to let the item stand. A discussion on the item cannot regularly take place once it is passed. The hon. minister could object to these matters being discussed on any other item. I have no desire to discuss a New Brunswick contract when an Ontario item is up.
Surely my hon. friend will accept the assurances of the minister that not only will he furnish the information, but put the hon. gentleman in possession of it in advance of any discussion he may require.
So far as the information is concerned, that is satisfactory, but there are a few matters that perhaps could not properly be made the subject of debate on a substantive motion before the House. Their discussion would take up very little time in the committee, and that is the only object I have in asking that this item be allowed to stand. Apparently the object of the minister is to take advantage of his position to shut off discussion from matters which he knows can only be discussed in Committee of Supply.
It is very kind of the Minister of Public Works to leave the matter with myself, but I would not pretend to govern the procedure of the House. I have waited here patiently during the whole evening for the purpose of referring to a particular matter with which I know the hon. minister is quite familiar. He was good enough, during the course of the evening, to refer to a considerable number of dredging appropriations throughout the province of Ontario, more particularly the larger places, such as Port Arthur, Tiifin, Midland, Goderich and down on the Lake Erie shore, and in the city of Toronto, but did not make any reference to the smaller ports. I was afraid he was going to overlook them. I very much desire that the minister shall pay some attention to the smaller harbours that require immediate attention if they are to be of use to the public. I refer particularly to Oakville. This is not new to the minister, because during the month of February I had the pleasure of drawing his attention to the great need, the urgent need, of dredging that harbour as well as of making improvements also to the wharf. The minister kindly suggested that when this item was up for discussion, I might draw attention to it, and this I now do. I do not know that the minister has ever visited Oakville. If not, I would cordially invite him to come there at the first opportunity. I think that should he visit that beautiful town and note its surroundings and its great need of harbour improvements, it would not be necessary for me, particularly at this hour of the morning, to urge upon him to make a small appropriation for those improvements. Oakville is about midway between Toronto and Hamilton, on the north shore of Lake Ontario. It is a town of considerable importance. In the past there has been considerable shipping at that port, but as nothing has been done for the last six or seven years to keep the harbour in
good shape there is no means of vessels getting in except those of very light draft. The result is that very little trade is carried on in comparison with what was done in former years. And unless the government takes action I am afraid that_ the prospect for the future is not very bright. The difficulty with the harbour is a lack of depth of water due to the fact that the dredging has been neglected. I not merely ask the minister, but I urge him, urge him as strongly as I can, to do something for this harbour. Nothing has been expended there since 1902-3-almost seven years. During that time, the harbour has been so filled up that only vessels of the lightest draft are able to go in. The result is that the trade in flour, grain, apples and small fruits that was carried on there has not been carried on through the harbour of recent years, nor can it be unless some improvement is made. Nor can the passenger boats between Toronto and Hamilton call there as they formerly did. I would remind the minister that Oakville is practically a Toronto suburb so far as residents are concerned. Many Toronto people come out to Oakville to live. They come out in the evening and return to their work in Toronto in the morning. Had we communication by water, Oakville could be made a summer resort of much greater importance than it is. The water communication would be more agreeable to many than the railway. I understand the minister has an estimate from his district engineer of the probable cost of this dredging; I have been led by the district engineer to understand that he forwarded a report or survey to the minister showing the amount that would probably be required. I do not know the contents of that report. I should be very glad if the minister would give us an idea about how much would be required to put the harbour of Oakville in proper shape.
Now, I leave the matter to the minister's own judgment. I think he will be disposed .to treat the town of Oakville fairly and do what little is necessary-I do not say too little, for I do not want him to be niggardly in the appropriation. I want him to do what is necessary to put the harbour in good shape, both with regard to depth of water and to the improvement of the wharf where necessary. I am told that some stone filling is required, and also that there are some projecting timbers that interfere with vessels coming to the dock. I am sure that if the minister undertakes .the work, he will see to it that it is properly done. I make the appeal to him to do this work, and I trust I may meet with a favourable response.
The claims of Oakville have been very strongly urged upon my attention by residents of the locality as well
as by my hon. friend (Mr. Henderson) who has very properly presented the matter, not only once but two or three times to my attention. I am impressed with the desirability of doing dredging work at Oakville so as to allow steamers to enter the harbour. At present they are obliged to lie outside of the wharf or breakwater, and, when storms arise, this is not a safe place for them to lie. If we had some such improvements as are suggested by my hon. friend, it would be greatly to the advantage of the people of Oakville. The report of the engineer has been received. I have not it here at the moment, but my recollection is that about $10,000 was estimated to make very effective improvements. In making the division of the amount we are asking for Ontario and Quebec, the claims of Oakville will receive careful consideration. While I cannot say positively that the work will be done, yet I can assure mv hon. friend that I shall be disappointed if I do not find myself able to do this work at Oakville during the coming year.