Now, it is important, I think that, when a charge of corruption, misfeasance and fraud is being made against, I do not know whom-it may be either against Mr. Stead, the resident engineer, the chief engineer, the assistant engineer, the deputy minister, or myself; the hon. member (Mr. Crocket) has not specified against whom he makes the charge-it is important, I say, to bear in mind that, down to the time when the resident engineer makes that report, there is not a tittle of evidence that either I or any officer of my department made any suggestion to Mr. Stead with reference to the report he should make. I was on the witness stand; Mr. Stead was on the wit-
ness stand. If the hon. gentleman (Mr. Crocket) suspected that any influence had been brought to bear upon Mr. Stead by any suggestion made to him, surely it was his duty to make inquiry upon that point. He did not do it; and, as I have said, there is not a particle of evidence that any suggestion was made by me or by any officer of my department to the resident engineer as to the report he should make upon thi3 property. And we find that the report and supplementary report show the nature and position of the property-show that there were 1,000,000 cubic feet of filling which could -not be put there for less than $15,000 and contained a plain declaration that the price of $5,000 for the property was fair and reasonable.
Now, what next took place? The hon. gentleman (Mr. Crocket) would have you believe that I was anxious to purchase this property, that I had arranged to purchase it and was only awaiting the report of the engineer-whose report, he says, I told the chief engineer in writing to get without delay, a statement which as I have stated, is absolutely without foundation. I did nothing further in the matter, so far as the records show, between the time when this report comes in on June 10, to about the 9th of August, a space of two months. During that time, my attention was given to other matters. I presume that I read the report
I do not recollect at the moment; my attention was given to other matters of great importance in all sections of this country.
I am pressed again to acquire this property.
I have not then made up my mind what I shall do; and, in August, I make an order for another report. Hon. members will find that report at page 60 of the evidence. This report came in. It was dated at Chatham, the 8th of August, and wa3 as follows:
Sir,-In reply to your letter No. 4255 of the 4th August, in which you ask for a report on the value of an additional wharf property required at Richibucto, New Brunswick, I give the following extract from my report on the property, dated 9th June, 1908, and a copy of my note in further reference to the subject, dated 10th J une, 1908.
Then follows this quotation:
' An offer to sell the wharf, water rights and land area for $5,000 is inclosed herewith/
While the outer faces of the wharf are gone, to about low water level and new crib-work will be required there, the wharf forms a wide approach to deep water, and could not be built now for several times the amount asked. Taking into account also the value of the frontage on the street, and its central position, the price asked is reasonable.
A right of way through this land must shortly be bought by the government for a sewer for the public buildings.
So,. you will see, Mr. Stead reiterates the report he made on 9th and 10th June. I mention this to show that I was displaying no eagerness in reference to the purchase of the property. After the report of June 9, I took no action until I ordered the next report in August. I do not remember at the moment whether I wanted further information or what the point was. I considered the matter very carefully, and am free to say that I thought the price of $5,000 stated by resident engineer Stead, and approved by the chief engineer was a reasonable (price;. I had nothing within my knowledge to indicate that it was anything but a reasonable price. I have some knowledge of wharf property, and its value, both upon the north shore and in the city of St.. John, and I have the report of the engineer that this was a property having a frontage of 730 feet on the Richibucto river, a property where there was a million cubic feet of mill refuse, gravel and ballast-there must have been a large quantity of ballast, because it showed above the water, and there must have been a vast amount of cribwork underneath or that would have been washed away years ago. It was a property with a frontage of 400 feet on the main street, and with a depth of over 600 feet, which meant nearly ten acres of land. I confess I thought that $5,000 was a ridiculously low price for this property. I was prepared to act upon the report of the resident engineer, approved of as it was by the chief engineer of my department. But the hon, gentleman says that later on-and I am going to call attention to that-later on I wrote to the resident engineer that he should have called my attention to the fact that there had been a recent transfer of this property and he should have stated the price. The hon. gentleman says, why, when that report came in, and when you acted upon it, you knew just as well then as you knew afterwards that he had failed to make reference to transfers. The hon. gentleman has omitted one important fact, and that is that I had no knowledge, and the evidence does not show that I had any knowledge, and I affirm 'before this House that I had no knowledge, that Mr. Murray had bought this property from Richard O'Leary. I had no knowledge whatever upon the subject, there was nothing in the report, there was nothing in anything that had taken place, to indicate, but what Mr. Murray had been for a considerable time the owner of this property. Therefore when I saw this report making no mention of any recent transfers, I took it for granted that Mr. Murray had been the owner of the .property for a number of years.