If that has always been done, how is it that in this case the minister wrote to the deputy and told him that the contract was to be let at the lowest price in answer to this advertisement? I cannot see how the minister can explain that.
Of course, as the minister knows, I have got the information out of these papers, but we will take it up on the report. As far as the interests of the people are concerned, I do not think it right that the minister should let a contract to any person unless every one tendering has a fair chance of bidding on the work.
I do not think there is any doubt about that. I think that when this item of $150,000 was up instead of it being reduced by $25,000, as the minister states it ought to be, it ought to be almost wiped out, considering the way that these dredg-, ing matters have been carried on. The fact of my bringing the matter up here has saved the country $25,000, because it seems that it was the intention to put it through. We were led to believe that A. and R. Log-gie got nothing at all, yet here are three contracts on which the following payments were made to them; one of $3,162, another of $31,362 and another of $11,000. It is no wonder that this man would travel all the way up here to give evidence in connection with saw-dust wharfs and such things as that.
That is the man who was willing to buy the saw-dust wharf and pay $500 more for it. We are voting him this session $45,000, and I would not hesitate, if I were making money like that, to buy a saw-dust wharf. He could afford to pay $10,000 for a saw-dust wharf and still be money ahead. This is the man who is giving evidence. We are paying him money to-night. We pay for this saw-dust wharf. He is buying a part of this wharf for $3,500. We are going to vote it right through because this man cannot wait.
We give him the wharf, but in an indirect way. It is matters of this kind that make a person hesitate when he sees money going in this way, and I want to tell the minister that I am going to protest in the strongest terms against the way these contracts are being let. The minister stated a few minutes ago that he had had some experience, after we had brought this matter up, and that when the contracts were let they had cost the country $200,000 more. Of course, at that time it was very easy for these men to combine because they had got this work. They practically had it. The minister told them that they could have the work, and they combined and fixed the prices as they liked.
I would hesitate if I were the minister to acknowledge that. The Dominion of Canada could be held up by a few dredge men. A great many of these works were not pressing, and as there was no work elsewhere for these dredges, they would not
tie them up, and the minister could have said he would not give the contract unless the prices were fair. The minister might easily have saved $200,000 to the people of Canada.
Does the hon. gentleman think that having called for tenders and the chief engineer having certified the price to be fair, I would have been justified in refusing to give the contract to the lowest tenderer?
The minister is a business man, and if he were getting the work done for himself and knew the contractors were asking an enormous price he would not have accepted the tender, and he should not have allowed the courttry to be robbed in this case.