April 21, 1910

CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

Is it the practice to report recent transfers in giving valuations?

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE RICHIBUCTO WHARF.
Subtopic:   GEOFFREY STEAD,
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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

With regard to buildings it is. The department makes very few purchases of wharfs, and it had never been the practice to issue instructions to engineers to make reports with regard to transfers. But with regard to buildings there are specific instructions that go out to the valuators to report recent transfers by the valuators, and there are forms provided for that purpose with regard to purchases. But with regard to wharf purchases there has been no regular practice in the department. So far as I had any information, Mr. Murray was then, and had been, and I had no reason to suppose, but that he had been for years, the owner of this property, and I was of the opinion that his price_ was a fair and reasonable price. Now I wish to emphasize this fact, that although Mr. Murray was upon the stand, and Mr. Stead was upon the stand, although Mr. Lafleur was available, and I am not sure that he was not on the stand, and the deputy minister of my department and myself were on the stand, there was no attempt made to show that I had any knowledge until after this property was acquired as to Mr. Murray having purchased it from Mr. O'Leary, and I repeat my declaration to this House that I had no knowledge as to Mr. Murray having purchased it from Mr. O'Leary, and there is no evidence which would tend to show that I had any knowledge whatever on that subject.

Now, upon these reports being submitted, to me, the recommendation was made to council that' this property should be purchased, the chief engineer stating that in his opinion the price was a fair and reasonable price. It appears that some time in September, Mr. Murray sent a telegram to Mr. Valiquet. Mr. Valiquet was not the chief engineer. It may be that Mr. Lafleur was away at that time, I think possibly he was ill during the summer of 1908. However, Mr. Murray sent a telegram to Mr. Valiquet, asking as to closing up the wharf property, and saying it was important for Leblanc, meaning the gentleman who was running in the county of Kent in the interest of the government. Now the hon. gentleman seems to think that telegram is material, because he says that telegram forges the last link in the chain of evidence which connects the Minister of Public Works with this transaction; with all the dramatic effect which my hon. friend can show he declares that this is forging the last link in that chain. Well, Mr. Speaker, in considering whether that is so or not, is it not important to ascertain whether I ever saw that telegram? Is it not important to know whether it was ever brought to my notice? The evidence does not show that it was, and I declare that it was not. I never knew that Mr. Mr R. L. BORDEN.

- Murray had sent that telegram to Mr. Val-r iquet, Mr. Valiquet does not appear to r have thought it his duty to bring it to my ) notice. Business was going on in the >

usual way, it was not brought to my s notice, and I never knew, and I do not ; suppose the Deputy Minister of my depart-5 ment knew, of that telegram until in the

- usual way we returned it to the Committee

- of Public Accounts with a record of i this whole transaction, because we had . nothing whatever to conceal with regard to . it, and we wished the committee to have , all the facts as quickly as possible. But ; the hon. gentleman says that shows that ; Mr. Murray wanted this money for cam, paign purposes in order to assist Mr. Leblanc; and I suppose he would go further

, and intimate that Mr. Murray wanted Mr. Valiquet to know that he needed the money for campaign purposes. Is not that the inference to be drawn from the language of the hon. gentleman? Now, does he think that if Mr. Murray wanted that money for campaign purposes, and I, as minister of the department, was willing to assist him in getting that money for campaign purposes, does he not think that Mr. Murray would have wired me or seen me instead of wiring an official of my department? What does the hon. gentleman think of that?

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CON

Oswald Smith Crocket

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROCKET.

No, I do not think so.

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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

No? The hon. gentleman thinks that Mr. Murray, wanting this matter put through, wanting to get. the money for campaign purposes, wanting to help Mr. Leblanc, would send a telegram to an official of my department and convey to 'him that meaning, that he wanted this money for campaign purposes, and that he would not communicate at all with the minister and try and get him to hurry the matter along! Well1, I thank the hon. gentleman for his suggestion that Mr. Murray would not dare to send such a telegram to me, but that he would send it to one of the prominent officials of my department. Now is that not open to this other interpretation, that in view of the election coming on, it would be of interest to the people of Richibucto to know that they would be likely to get in the near future the improved terminal facilities which the purchase of this wharf would affords. Hon. gentlemen know that when votes are taken for public buildings they are anxious that as soon as reasonably the sites of those buildings may be acquired, and why? In order that people may know that their expectations with regard to public improvements are likely to be fulfilled in the not distant future. And so it may well be that in that telegram which Mr. Murray sent to Mr. Valiquet, he wants him to understand that the people of Richibucto were anxious to know as to whether

the government was bona fide going on with the purchase of this property for which provision had been made in the estimates in the year 1907-8. That, I think, is a fair and reasonable inference to be drawn from the telegram which Mr. Murray sent to Mr. Valiquet, and not the very extraordinary inference which the hon. gentleman sought to draw from that telegram. At all events, it is important to bear in mind that there is no evidence whatever given before the committee which would tend to show that I ever had any knowledge of the sending of that telegram from Mr. Murray to Mr. Valiquet.

Now, then, the purchase is completed. The hon. gentleman says there is another strong link, and it is that the Minister of Public Works recommended that W. D. Carter should be appointed agent to t'he Justice Department, and what is the suggestion of the hon. gentleman with regard to that? So that he would know when the cheque came forward, and I suppose he would be able to get his hands on the money and use it for campaign purposes. Well, in determining as to the weight which should be given to that insinuation of the hon. gentleman, it is important to bear one thing in mind. They had Mr. Carter on the witness stand, and they had an opportunity of examining him, brought here by themselves as their witness, but he does not appear to have handled a single dollar of the proceeds of the cheque which was sent in payment of this property.

There is another thing that I think you might very well bear in mind, and that is that Mr. Carter is one of the most prominent lawyers in Richibucto. He is and has been for years the friend of the government, and he is the one man to be found in that place who would naturally be selected for the purpose of completing the transfer of this property. He acts as the agent of the Justice Department, and was not he, of all men, the one person who would properly be selected for the purpose of seeing "that the title was all right and that the government was getting what it was paying for? Yet, Sir. the hon gentleman, with his distorted imagination, with-if I were outside of this_ House 1 would sav-his inexcusable desire to do wrong and injustice to a political opponent, seeks to put away all that circumstance and seeks to show that if Mr. Carter was selected as agent of the Minister of Justice to perform the legal business in connection with this case, it was done from some sinister motive in order that Mr. Carter might get a part of the proceeds of this cheque, and use these proceeds for the purpose of assisting his friend, Mr. Leblanc, in the election. The hon. gentleman makes that insinuation without a' shadow of evidence to sustain him in so

doing. I am no more surprised at that act on the part of the hon. gentleman than I am at the greater portion of his conduct all through this inquiry and all through his participation in this case now before the House. As I say, the transaction was completed by the Justice Department. The evidence shows that. I had nothing to do with it, that after I had sent my recommendation to council I had nothing further to do with it, that I did not know how the transaction was completed or how this money was paid. But later on, I think in the month of December, I wrote a letter to Mr. O'Leary, the letter which my hon. friend has referred to. I wrote to Mr. O'Leary because my hon. friend the member for Kent, New Brunswick, came to me and told me that he had heard some criticism of the payment which had been made for this property, and I felt it to be my duty, in consequence of the representations made to me, to look into the matter. Who was the first man to whom I ought to apply? It was Mr. Richard O'Leary, the man, who I had been informed, had owned this property. I wrote to Mr. O'Leary a letter. It had been marked 'confidential,' but when, before the Public Accounts Committee, he said he had received a confidential letter from me to which he had sent, not the reply which he produced before the committee containing this false statement to which I have already invited your attention, but the reply which you will find upon the page to which I have alluded. I wrote Mr. O'Leary a confidential letter, and I said at once that I had no objection to the letter going in evidence. Although it was confidential, I felt it was Tight that the committee should have the benefit of it, and it was read at my request. It is as follows, and it appears at page 44 of the evidence:

Office of

The Minister of Public Works of Canada.

Ottawa, 2nd Dec., 1908.

Confidential.

Dear Mr. O'Leary,-My department has recently purchased from Mr. Thomas Murray a wharf property at Richibucto known as the ' sawdust wharf.' It contains a frontage of 570 feet, and joins the municipal wharf. I purchased this with a view of making necessary improvements for the accommodation of vessels at Richibucto, and did it upon the report of Mr. Stead, the resident engineer, who stated that the price asked, namely $5 000, was fair and reasonable, and that tbe wharf could not be built now for several times the amount asked; also that it contains about a million cubic feet of cribwork, slabs and mill refuse, ballast and gravel. He says 'classing this all as filling', new cribwork faces being required-it would cost about 11 cents per cubic foot or $15,000-three times the price asked for the property.

I have learned within a few days that this property was formerly owned hv you, and have also been informed, whether reliable or

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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

From Mr. Leblanc ,the member for Kent. Mr. Leblanc thought whom he had learned that CFLeary owned he property, from whom he had learned tnat the price was excessive?

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?

Mr PUGSLEY.

From Mr. LeBlanc, the member for Kent, Mr. LeBlanc thought it was excessive and told me that he had understood that Mr. O'Leary had bought it for a considerable smaller sum and that his profit was larger than it ought to be. lhat was the criticism of Kent county as my non. friend told me. Later on my hon. friend from Kent told me that when he made the statement to me he was under the impression that we had only bought a ^er-7 small piece of this property, and that he had spoken of the price being excessive because he believed that that was the case. When he learned afterwards that we had bought the whole property he thought that we had given a fair and reasonable price for it.

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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

Now, I may say to you, Mr. Speaker, that I and the chief engineer of my department had relied upon the report of Mr, Stead. I had made up my mind that if Mr. Stead had not acted in good faith, if he had not exercised good judgment, but had acted from any improper motive and by collusion with the vendor, it would be not only my duty to dismiss him from the department, but it would be my duty to take steps on behalf of the Crown to recover back the money which had been paid for this property and to have the transfer of it cancelled and set aside. That is what I had made up my mind to do in the discharge of my public duty and upon the I3th January I wrote Mr. Stead. My hon. friend says that the letter of the 13th Januarv is conclusive evidence that the whole thing is a fraud, and that I was a party to it from the beginning. I would appeal to all fair-minded men on both sides of this House and I would ask if the hon. gentleman is warranted in making that statement? Bear in mind that it was my duty to act fairly towards my employee, that it was my duty to hear all that he had to say. Surely I would not be acting in the fair discharge of my duty, if I did not give him an opportunity to vindicate himself if he could. Surely it would not, in order to save myself from criticism, in order to prevent-shall I say a narrowminded, bigoted and prejudiced man-a man actuated by partisanship, from criticising my action in this matter to do an injustice to a public official. Would I have been acting the part of a man if I had discharged this official, who for years had so far as I know worthily and honourably, and faithfully discharged his duties as an emnloyee of the Public Works Department under my predecessors and under myself? No, I do not think that would be a manly part for me to take and I determined I would give him an opportunity to justify himself if he could, and to show that he had exercised his best judgment in regard to this property. Accordingly, when he saw me in St. John during the Xmas season, having come there to see his family and expecting to speak to me about different matters connected with the department, seeing me for a second when I could not give him the opportunity' of an interview, I told him I would write him-not telling him what the contents of the letter would be-and this is another matter which the hon gentleman concealed from the House: that Mr. Stead says that although he was expecting a letter from me he was surprised at the contents because it was not what he was expecting to receive. In pursuance of what I had said I wrote him on the 13th of January, 1909, as follows:

January 13, 1909.

Dear Sir,-It has recently been brought to my notice that the wharf property at Richibucto purchased by my department for the sum of $5,000 had been acquired by the then owner for a very much less amount

At that time I had a letter from Mr. O'Leary in my possession informing me he had sold the property and the price at which he had sold it and I proceeded to say:

As the price which 'he paid for the property would under ordinary ciroumstances be regarded as a fair criterion of its value I should like you to furnish me with all information which you had regarding the property and its value when you reported that the price of $5,000 was fair and reasonable.

I would also remind you that in your report to the department you made no reference to any previous transfers. This is information which should be ih the possession of the department, because it might, as you can Teadily understand, influence the judgment of the officials as well as that of the minister in determining upon the purchase. In the future, you will please keep in mind, and report all previous transfers, together with the consideration, made within two or three years previous to your report, and also all other facts which might in any way afford information to the department as to the reasonableness of the price asked.

I am, yours very truly,

(Sgd.) WM. I'UGSLEY

Now Mr. Speaker, I appeal to you and I appeal to the members of this House as to whether, never having known, as I did not know until I had heard it from Mr. Leblanc in the month of December, and had it confirmed by the letter which Mr. O'Leary wrote, learning that Mr. Murray had bought this property from Mr. O'Leary for a very small sum and that the resident engineer-the man in whose judgment we had to trust because a minister must give trust to his officials throughout this country-knowing that the resident engineer had made a report that this property had a fair value of $5,000, I ask you, Sir, whether or not it was a reasonable and a proper thing that I should write to Mr. Stead that letter of the 13th of January? Is there any man in this House who will say I did anything but what was right and fair and proper and just to an employee of my department in writing that letter? Now then, Mr. Stead replied:

Resident Engineer's Office,

Chatham, N.B., 21st January, 1909.

Dear Sir,-I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 13th instant, and to say that I very much regret not having mentioned in my report of the 9th June, 1908, the previous transfer of the wharf property, at Richibucto lately acquired by the department, and I will carefully observe your instructions in this respect in future.

In the case of this property the previous transfer appeared to be a matter of common knowledge. I saw a notice of it in a newspaper and presumed that it was published in the legal records and supposed you would have heard of it, otherwise I would have mentioned it.

The consideration mentioned was $1,000, but I do not know what the actual amount paid was. In the case of my small property at Chatham, if I had known at the time that it was a usual thing to do, I would have saved myself $10 or $20 yearly in taxes by making the consideration in the deed a nominal figure.

Will you pardon me in saying that in many cases I do not consider that the price paid can be taken as a fair criterion of the value of the property.

In Richibucto properties have been bought which immediately after and continuously since their purchase have yielded thirty-three per cent of the price annually in rent, showing that they must have been worth at least three times the price paid.

The fact is that the former owner nad sufficient wharfs for his owrn use in this neighbourhood of his store, warehouse, Ac., and the wharf property in question was there practically useless to him.

Even so, I heard many expressions of surprise that he had sold it, and especially at the above, supposed, price, and a Buctouche merchant said he would gladly have bought it if he had known it could be had.

No such property could be bought in Chatham, Loggieville, or Buctouche for $10,000, or even more.

He speaks here of the different lots which had been sold and on page 67 of the evidence his letter continues:

A wharf must reach deep 'water to be of general use. Where deep water is close to the shore the expense of the approach will be slight. At Richibucto the channel is about 500 to 550 feet from the shore, an approach twenty feet wide of this length, which would ordinarily be built of cribwork at seven cents per cubic foot, would cost about $7,000.

The wharf property in question, however furnishes an approach to deep water about 250 feet wide at the outer end and 450 feet wide at the shore. At the very low' value of one and a half cents per cubic foot, which would be the cost of the cheapest filling material, the approach would cost $15,000. If valued at the usual price of stone ballast it would cost about four cents per cubic fc ot, or $40,000.

This large area, together with the shallow pond included in the property, will furnish not only convenient and ample accommodation for a railway wharf with a possible liver frontage of about 560 feet, but also for a station, railway yard, engine house and general terminal facilities, and lies in a central part of the town. The present terminus of the Kent Northern railway is in the rear of the town and rather out of the way. The area is very limited and will accommodate two engines and about nineteen freight cars, but with no room for expansion ; and should the Kent Northern railway be acquired by the government

great benefit will, I believe, result to tbe railway and to tbe town by removing the terminals to the wharf property. This property also offers the only way to extend the railway along the remainder of the wharfs and river front.

And that surely is important when you are considering the value of a wharf property:

A short time ago two of the principal firms had. a survey made at their own expense for a frack from the Kent Northern railway to reach their wharfs, freezers and stores and a sawmill belonging to one of tbe firms. For this track a right of way would he required across the property.

From these considerations I have stated that the price asked was reasonable and this view is upheld by several disinterested parties from Buctouche, Chatham, &c., who know the property and the value of wharf property generally.

$15,000 was mentioned as the price but I think not seriously. $5,000 was asked and $5,000 was tbe lowest figure X could get. I was of course not empowered to make any cash offer.

And these gentleman in the face of that statement and in the face of the sworn testimony would have the members of this House believe that I and my department had determined to buy this property, and so informed these men away back in the month of May before that property was purchased. But, Mr. Stead says, and says truly:

-I was of course not empowered to make any cash offer as is often done to get a better bargain, and I had in my mind when making my report the great expense of arbitration proceedings and also the case of tbe Shives' wharf property in Campbellton.

The Bichibucto property is considerably more extensive than the Shives' wharf, though in a worse state of repair, hut both wharfs required new faces. Allowance must, however, he made for the greater population-roughly about double-and much more extensive shipping of Campbellton. The Shives' wharf was bought in 1890 for $1,700 and was offered to the department in 1895 for $8,000. Mr. Shewen then valued the wharf at $5,335, the value being placed on the cubic contents similarly to the method in my report, Mr. Sliewen's figures were, however, 2J cents per cubic foot, or 67 per cent higher than my valuation, though prices of wharf material have increased very largely since 1895. Between 1890 and 1895 the owner had added about 20 per cent to the contents of the wharf which being deducted leaves Mr. Sliewen's valuation $4,268 against $1,700, the cost price.

Mr. Day in 1903 estimated that the Shives^ wharf could be built now for about $14,000 and in 1902-3 the wharf and smaller water front are connected with it were acquired by the department at a cost of $35,000, to which expropriation proceedings added an additional cost of $2,180.71.

I am, dear sir,

Tours faithfully, GEOFFREY STEAD,

Resident Engineer.

[ If my hon. friend from York had been animated by a desire to give to this House all the facts of this case, would he not have felt it to be his duty to have read that answer which Mr. Stead made by way of vindication to my letter of the 13th of January? It seems to me so. What does Mr. Stead say there? He gives full in-; formation in regard to the area of this property; shows its advantageous situation; speaks particularly of the fact that it immediately adjoins the railway wharf and affords the only opportunity which exists, in Bichibucto for the extension of the railway along the water front. He also refers to arbitration proceedings, and mentions the case of the Shives property at Campbellton, which had been bought for $1,700, and afterwards expropriated by the government and an award of $35,000. I happened in that case to be counsel for Mr. Shives; and this Mr. Day, whose name was mentioned by Mr. O'Leary, who was an appointee of the Conservative government, and who told him. as O'Leary swears, that he could not sell his property to the Liberal government, had valued that property at $5,000, and afterwards in the arbitration proceedings swore that the full value of the property was $5,000, while the department, on the advice of Mr. Shewen, offered Mr. Shives $8,000 for the property. I advised Mr. Shives not to take it. I said that the fact that he had bought it for $1,700 was no criterion of its value, that the judge of tire Exchequer Court would look to the future prospects of business from the wharf, and would' fix the valuation accordingly. The matter was referred to the Exchequer Court, and the late Mr. Justice Burbidge appointed as arbitrators: Mr. Wm. H.

Thorn, who was for many years president of the Conservative Association of the province of New Brunswick; Mr. George McLeod, another gentleman who stood high in the ranks of the party; and Mr. George McKeen, one of the most prminent business men of New Brunswick. These three gentlemen were appointed arbitrators and heard evidence in the case, and the result was that instead of the government getting that property for $8,000, which was the amount they had offered on the advice of the engineer, the arbitrators allowed Mr. Shives the sum of $35,000 for it, and that amount the government had to pay. I suppose that if the. government had bought that property for $10,000, gentlemen like the hon. member for York would have been found to criticise that payment and to declare that it was an outrage that Mr. Shives, who had bought the property only a short time before for $1,700, should receive the magnificent sum of $10,000 for it. And yet, Sir, these arbitrators, men of judgment and integrity, who stood high in

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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PTJGSLEY.

the province of. New Brunswick, awarded to him the sum of $35,000. And, Sir, with the report of Mr. Stead, with the evidence which he furnished as to the contents of this property, I was of the opinion that if we simply expropriated it and put the matter into the Exchequer Court, with men like the Messrs. Loggie ready to testify that they were willing to give a larger sum for this property, with other men like Mr. Irving and Mr. Eorster ready to testify that it was worth anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, I felt that the government would in all probability have to pay considerably more than $5,000 by virtue of proceedings in the Exchequer Court, besides a large amount in the way of costs, before they could get rid of the liability in respect of the purchase of this property. ' Knowing all that, I was prepared to believe, and did believe, that the resident engineer, Mr. Stead, had acted in perfect good faith, had made a report according to his best judgment, and that it would be very much better for the government to act on his report and complete the purchase of the property than to throw the case into the Exchequer Court. And, Mr. Speaker, I had other experience in respect to wharf property. It is a class of property, the value of which cannot be determined at all by the methods applied to other properties. Wharf property may fall into decay, but if you begin to build wharfs or breakwaters and give facilities for traffic, there are many people who will then be willing to make an investment in wharf property and trust to the future. My hon. friend who represents Queens and Sunbury (Mr. McLean), but who lives at St. John, knows a property near where the Long Wharf now is, that was purchased at public auction for an insignificant sum, but which in a short time realized to the owner many times-I think I am almost safe in saying scores of times-what they paid for it. I have in mind Mr. Joseph Likely, who bought a property from the Fisher estate at Chubb's Corners for $1,700, and in a short time received for it at the hands of arbitrators $50,000 or $60,000. I happen to know property in that same vicinity which many years ago was bought by the late Dr. Stockton, who so Worthily filled a considerable place in this House as the representative of the constituency which I have the honour to represent, the present Judge McLeod and myself. That property had become comparatively derelict. We bought it for the sum of $25,000, made improvements on it, built it up, put on some additional cribwork, put a cover on it, built a warehouse on it, built a highway bridge at a cost of $2,000 or $3,000 to connect it with one of the streets of the city, and on arbitration we obtained an award of $118,000 for that property; and one of the witnesses.

the manager of the Bank of Montreal, swore that the property was worth $280,000.

I know another most remarkable instance. One day I happened to see in the newspapers that five pieces of land facing on Sand Point slip on the western side of the harbour of St. John were for sale. I happened to be at Chubb's Corners, and I thought I would see what took place. I found one of the aldermen of the city of St. John there to watch the sale in the interests of the city, the lots being held under lease from the city. There were five lots of 250 feet frontage. He bid them up to $23.50, and I bid $25, and the whole five lots were knocked down to me. The wharfs were in a dilapidated condition, the logs floating out and drifting about the harbour.

I sold them out a short time afterwards for $120. It was not very much, but the man to whom I sold them, before many months, sold them for $6,500, and the man who brought them for $6,500, within a short period sold them with, I think some small additional property to the city of St. John for the sum of $20,000, and to-day you could not buy that property for several times that amount even without the improvements. These are instances showing that when you begin to make improvements in a port, wharf property begins to take a different value from what it has when everything has been allowed to go back. I am happy to say to you that all over this country, in Richibueto as well as in hundreds of other harbours, which extend along the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast and the great lakes, this government is engaged in the great _ work of improving ports and giving facilities to aid and encourage the transportation interests of this country. Well now I should not sit down without referring to the offer which Messrs. Loggie made for this property. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Crocket) has said it was an extraordinary thing that Messrs. Loggie should send a cheque for $5,500 for this property without knowing that the Minister of Public Works was prepared to sell, that the whole thing must be stamped with fraud and that for that reason the House ought to condemn the minister and declare the whole transaction fraudulent and corrupt. Now, Sir, let me explain why I think the action of Messrs. Loggie was a reasonable one. Remember that they had written a letter to Mr. Stead stating that in their opinion $5,000 was a low price for this property and that if they had had it, they would not have sold it for that price. Remember that when Mr. Murray and Mr. Andrew Loggie had a talk about the property, and he informed Mr. Loggie that he had offered the property to the government for $5,000, Mr. Loggie asked him, if he would not withdraw that offer and stated that his firm would gladly

give more for the property. Now, Sir, when this investigation came on, I stated to the committee, and this appears in the proceedings, that as Mr. Stead had inclosed to the department that letter from Mr. Loggie, and as Mt. Murray had stated that that was Mr. Loggie's opinion of the property, I wanted Mr. Loggie here as a witness. Mr. Loggie would know that that was the object of calling him as a witness. He would know there was no other purpose in calling him as a witness because he had had no other connection with this transaction in any shape or form. At my instance Mr. Loggie was subpoenaed, but unfortunately he was taken ill-he was suffering from a very severe attack of asthma, as the certificate of his attendant physician showed. He was unable to come to Ottawa, but knowing as he did that the object of calling him as a witness was to have him testify as to the value of this property and as his firm had been willing to buy it, Mr. Loggie did what he thought was even better* than giving his evidence; being unable to come to Ottawa by reason of his illness, he sent a certified cheque from the firm for $5,500 being of opinion that that was the best evidence he could give that he was desirous of purchasing this property for the benefit of his firm. Does it strike you, Mr. Speaker, that that was an unreasonable thing for Mr. Loggie to do ? It does not so strike me. It seems to me that Mr. Loggie, knowing that all what he was wanted for as a witness, was to give his testimony as to the value of this property and to corroborate the statement he made to Mr. Murray that he would pay upwards of $5,000 for it, he sent his cheque for that amount. Was it not a reasonable thing that when through illness he was unable to respond to the subpoena and come to Ottawa, he should send forward his certified cheque with an offer to buy the property for the sum which he had previously said he was willing to give foT it ? He did so and sent forward the checque for $5,500. He came here afterwards and under oath swore that the property was well worth the sum of $5,500 and that the government had got a good bargain when they got it for the sum of $5,000. Now, Mr. Speaker, some reference has been made to the fact that the department under my direction decided not to accept Mr. Loggie's offer, but that we agreed to sell a portion of the property for the sum of $3,500. Well, I am free to admit, Sir, that in three or four years if any criticism is passed upon my conduct, when this wiharf is extended, when the railway track is built along the wharf, and when as the result of that the people of Ridhibucto get much needed railway terminal facilities, and when so great an advantage as that has accrued to the place by reason of the improvements we shall have made-if any criticism be then pass-Mr. PUGSLEY. 1

| cd upon my conduct in connection with this property, it will be, not that we purchased this property for $5,000, but that we have sold two-thirds of it for less than it was worth and that we should have held on to it in the public interests or else insisted upon getting a larger price. That will be the criticism passed on my conduct before three or four years have passed away. But, Sir, I have felt that at present or in the near future, all we intend to do is to extend this wharf a distance of about 200 feet along the front which will give us a frontage of from 350 to 400 feet. That will enable the railway to be carried along parallel with the face of the wharf so that the cars will lie face to face with the steamers, and other_ vessels that come there. That will be given reasonable accommodation to the people and I thought that as I had the opportunity of disposing of the remainder of the property for the sum of $3,500, it was not an unreasonable or an improper thing that we should accept the offer made to us, or rather that we should carry out the counter offer made by us to Messrs. Loggie. One condition is attached to it, it is true, but it is not in any way contrary to the public interest. It does not militate in any way against the public interests. They will put a face on the wharf and they are desirous of having the railway extended to their own wharf and in order to do this, it will be necessary to have tracks made across the portion which the government has reserved for public properties. They have stipulated for that and we have agreed that two tracks of railway shall be laid by them, but in such a place as the chief engineer shall determine, and under the supervision of the engineer of the Department of Public Works. In that way,

I think the public interest will be reasonably safe-guarded. I think it is not an unreasonable thing to sell this property to Messrs. Loggie for $3,500 being the portion of the property to which I have referred, leaving to us, to the Crown, 200 feet immediately adjoining the wharf upon which , the railway track, which is the vital part of the property, so far as extending the terminal facilities in connection with the Kent Northern railway is concerned will be laid. Therefore we get for the sum of $1,500 the most valuable part of this property, the part which so far as the' government is concerned, so far as extending these terminal facilities is concerned, is worth as much as all the rest of the property and when we have extended the wharf, we shall have very excellent terminal facilities, sufficient to meet the requirements of the town for many years to come. At the same time we are happy to know that we are selling the remainder of the property to the firm of A. and R. Loggie, one of the most enterprising firms in the maritime provinces,

men who develop any property which they acquire, men who are going to improve and build up that wharf and extend the railway along it, thus giving facilities for the transhipment of fish and other products of the province of New Brunswick. It seems to me that in doing that we have made an arrangement which is not contrary to the public interest, but which the public will say is very greatly and very clearly in their interest.

Now, just- a word in regard to the evidence as to the value of the property. I think that too much stress cannot be laid -and I appeal to hon. members opposite who were not before the committee if I am not correct in this-upon the fact that the hon. member for York (Mr. Crocket)- who has taken practically the whole time of the Committee on Public Accounts in connection with matters relating to my department, and particularly matters in the province of New Brunswick, and who has been able, by simply making his request to the chairman, to bring any witnesses he pleases, whether they live in Vancouver or in Richibucto-has not been able to produce a single witness, outside of Richard O'Leary, the strong, prejudiced partisan who sold this property, not a single resident of Richibucto, not a single inhabitant of the county of Kent, who was prepared to say that we paid a single dollar for this property more than its fair value. To the contrary. We had the evidence of Mr. Forster, a man who knew Richibucto as any hon. member of this House knows the village in which he was born and spent his boyhood and early manhood. Mr. Forster lived at Dorchester, not far from Richibucto, had been in Richibucto frequently, and knew the property thoroughly. He swore that if a man wanted it for a business property he thought it was worth $10,000. Mr. James D. Irving, who knows that part of the country well, placed the value at $5,000 to $10,000. Mr. Carter, a gentleman called by the other side, placed the value at not less than $5,000. And we have Mr. Loggie, who not only swore that it was good value, for $5,500, but backed up his opinion with a certified cheque which he was prepared to give on receiving the conveyance of this property. This is in addition to the fact which I have already mentioned, that this hon. gentleman (Mr. Crocket) did not call-because he could not-any respectable resident of the town of Richibucto, except Mr. O'Leary, who would say that we paid too much for this property. They had one man, Mr. James, who has, lived all his life in Richibucto, their own solicitor, a man employed by Mr. O'Leary, to draw the papers, yet they did not venture to ask him whether or not we had paid too much for that property. So the case stands to-day with the absolutely conclusive evidence that this

property is worth more than, or, at all events, as much as the government paid for it. It is absolutely proved that the resident engineer of the department acted in good faith and in perfect honesty when he certified that the value of this property was $65,000. And, in the absence of any evidence that I ever knew, but that Mr. Murray had been for years the owner of this property, in the absence of any evidence that i acted otherwise than in good faith upon the report sent me by the resident engineer, approved by the chief engineer, and in face of the fact that all the witnesses, with the exception of Mr. O'Leary himself-the unreliability of whose testimony I have already pressed upon your consideration-declared their opinion that the price paid was fair and reasonable, I think thijs House will hesiflate before adopting the want of confidence resolution proposed by the hon. member for York, that this is a corrupt and fraudulent transaction deserving of the censure of this House.

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CON

Arthur Meighen

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARTHUR MEIGHEN (Portage la Prairie).

Mr. Speaker, I regret that I cannot congratulate the Minister of Public Works (Mr. Pugsley)-nor do I think he will find much encouragement in the reflection-on the contrast which was forced tipoh our notice between the violent enthusiasm at the commencement of his address by his followers-four-fifths of whom never heard the accusation, and I venture to say ninety per cent of whom had never read the evidence-with the slight attention paid him by a waning attendance, and the dribbling hosannas which marked the close of his remarks. Nor do I think he would be much comforted by noting that the hon. gentleman beside him received his address in alternate fits of sleeping and wakefulness, and that the hon. member (Mr. Leblanc) for the county concerned in this matter received every remark made by the minister respecting himself with a very significant smile.

The Minister of Public Works when he commenced his address this afternoon, clearly signified the character of the reply he would make. He called in question the motives of the hon. member for York, and tried to detract from that hon. gentleman's reputation in thi3 House, and in the country. And with forceful declamation, which I shall not be able to imitate, and with an artificial irritation and a form of righteous indignation of which he should be proud- and which also I shall never be able to imitate-he told the hon. member for York that the key to the character of that hon. gentleman's address was contained in its first remark concerning a certain letter written by the Minister of Public Works on 23rd May, 1908. I accept the challenge of the minister and am prepared to ad-

mit that the hon. gentleman's (Mr. Crocket's) remarks on that point are a fair sample of the correctness of his statements. Did the hon. member for York make any mistake in his reference to that point? He stated that a letter was written on the 20th of May, the very date when the transaction was closed by Mr. Murray with Mr. O'Leary. This was written by George W. Robertson who accompanied Mr. Murray to Ottawa to see the minister. It was written from Richibucto to the minister in Ottawa, requesting on behalf of the Kent Northern railway, that further wharf accommodation be provided by the government at Richibucto. And the hon. member (Mr. Crocket) remarked that the minister wrote and instructed the chief engineer of the department to have an investigation made without delay.

Now, the hon. member chose to put the words ' without delay ' as applying to the minister's letter. That is a logical and, in fact, truthful statement of the relation. For, if ever the minister acted without delay, he acted without delay on that occa sion. T)ie letter of the Kent Northern railway was dated May 20, 1908. It could not have been posted before that date. It had to travel from Richibucto to the city ol Ottawa, and by no possibility could that letter have been received and answered earlier than it was received and answered by the Minister of Public Works. He had not, as he admits himself, any other communication on the subject; he had the communication only of Mr. George W. Robertson, who had seen him a few days before in the city of Ottawa on behalf of a two-by-four railway that runs into the village of Richibucto; he had no other. Does the minister always act on a single representation like that with that wonderful degree of promptness? I have not found that to be the case, and I do not think that any member of this House has ever found the minister acting with that degree of promptness, without delay '. Did the minister act without delay or did he not? My hon. friend from York was correct.

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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLFY.

Would the hon. gentleman allow me to call his attention to page 7779, where the member for York stated:

On tliat_ very day he issues an instruction to the chief engineer to have a report procured upon the matter of this letter with-cut delay.

You see he says that is contained in my instructions to the chief engineer; I say that is not the case.

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CON

Arthur Meighen

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN.

Those are the words of my hon. friend from York just as I quoted them, and I say again that the words ' without delay ' in that report were attributable to the minister on the part of my hon. friend, and the minister acted Mr. MEIGHEN.

with a promptness unprecedented in any department of this government. Now the minister asked me permission to ask a question, and I will let him know that all through my remarks I will never take up the attitude he. assumed, that no member shall ask me a question. He proceeded after that point to read a lecture to my hon. friend from York on the subject of duty, and of course wre bow to the Minister of Public Works on that subject. He complained that my hon. friend from York had not fulfilled his duty because he quoted sparingly from the evidence, but the minister followed the hon. member for Carleton, the wdiole burden of wdiose complaint was that my hon. friend from York had quoted so liberally from the evidence that he took up three hours and a half. The minister in the course of his criticism did not add. so far as I can recollect, one single quotation from the evidence that was not already put on record by my hon. friend. Now, Sir, he struggled, just as he has struggled before in this House, and the contest in which he is now engaged is by no means new to the minister. He has had experience before of being imprisoned by evidence just as conclusive as the evidence is now, and he has adopted the same means he adopts to-day. Just as in a previous session he clung to a typographical error in an affidavit, so to-day he clings to straws of a like character. Wherever he can find a little technical, meaningless error he clings to that, and he uses all his power of declamation to ridicule a person who may have fallen into that error.

The minister proceeds to call in question the testimony of Mr. O'Leary. That was certainly to be expected. The minister cannot possibly square his own conduct with the testimony of Mr. O'Leary; consequently if he is to continue to enjoy the confidence of the government-I do not say the confidence of the people of this country because that he has not-if he is to continue to enjoy that, he must necessarily bring down the character of Mr. O'Leary. Now, Mr. O'Leax-y is contradicted on one point alone, of importance, in the whole course of this controversy; he is contradicted by Mr. Murray, and by the Minister of Public Works, of course, on the question as to whether there were negotiations previous to the 19th of May as "to the procuring by the Department of Public Works of this sawdust -wharf at a price. Mr. O'Leary says on that point that he offered to give the department permission to put through that sewer for $100, the same as they had paid before, and that nothing else whatever was mentioned in the month of April, 1908, between himself and Mr. Murray with reference to any purchase except the right of way for that sewer. He says that on the

4th of May, Mr. Murray telephoned him that he was going to Ottawa to see the minister about it, and would like to know if the offer to sell that right of way for $100 was good, and if he could keep all there was in it over $100. The fact is he came to Ottawa, the fact is he and Mr. Robertson saw the minister. My hon. friend from York stated why. Mr. Murray denied having mentioned anything about this matter to the minister, and the minister affirms that again to-day. But this country, and this House cannot lose sight of the fact that Mr. Murray, in evidence before the Public Accounts Committee, or since, or in any other way whatsoever, has never explained to this House or to the country what he did come to see the minister about. The minister has made the statement and has closed, and the minister has never told nor indicated to this House the subject of the conversation he had with Mr. Murray. Mr. Murray stated on his oath in the Public Accounts Committee that he had no knowledge of what he came to see the minister about, that he could not state what the subject of that conversation was.

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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

Would my hon. friend

turn to the page of the evidence which says that he came to Ottawa to see me at all.

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CON

Arthur Meighen

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN.

I did not say that the hon. member stated that he came to Ottawa to see the minister, I said that Mr. O'Leary's evidence was that he said he came to Ottawa to see the minister. Not only did he come to Ottawa to see the minister, but to this hour he has not told us any other reason that he. came to Ottawa for, or any other reason that he saw the minister for. Now, the very best witnesses that ever stood in a witness box in any court or before any committee will make errors attributable to inaccuracy. Sometimes it is argued, and argued successfully, that this is rather an evidence than otherwise of their truthfulness. But no witness will come to a court and, in sixty per cent of the answers he gives relative to transactions less than two years ago, will state that he does not know anything about them, and cannot remember anything about them. If there is one argument that weighs with judges and juries against the credibility of a witness it is the fact he repeatedly answers that he cannot remember, particularly whenever the question is one that is vital to his own honour and to the success of his case. Mr. Murray stands in that position in the transaction, and he is the support which the minister has. He stands in a similar position in every other case wherever his word is opposed to that of another. He cannot remember what he did with the $5,000. He swears that he 2451

paid out that $5,000 in five and ten dollar bills to various people, and he can only tell the name of one man that he paid a dollar to although this only occurred a year and a half. He stated that he is so much of a business-man that he had put $5,000 in his wife's hands instead of putting it in the bank and that he paid out $2,000 of it as nearly as he could, tell to Mr. Robertson, the campaign manager for the Liberal party. He could not tell us to whom he had paid out a dollar of the other $3,000 of that money. Nor could he tell us what he owed Mr. Robertson. If ever a man gave evidence that stamped him as a perjurer, Mr. Murray stands in that position before the public to-day, and the minister seems satisfied to have only Mr. Murray's support behind him in this transaction.

Now, the minister resorts to his old plan. He calls upon the members of this House to make charges against him in a certain form. I asked the minister, if I were to take the responsibility as he calls it, of such a charge, by whom would I be tried? He refused to answer that question: The

fact is, and the minister knows it, that if any member of this House made such a charge and staked his position in this House on the verdict he would be tried by a partisan committee on which there would be a majority of the hon. gentleman's supporters. There was a time in this country (and there is a time still in other countries) when a man can afford to trust his honour to the judicial temperament of even members of parliament. But Sir, in this country under the influence of this government that time has gone by. 1 venture to say that there is not a a single member of this House who would trust the fortunes of his family cat to the tender mercies of a committee of a majority of the partisans of the party in power. So that, when the hon. gentleman calls for such a charge, he might as well make his position plain and say: I want to unseat the man who has the temerity to make a charge against me, and in order to unseat him he must throw himself politically into the keeping of a committee which I shall name.

The minister proceeded to complain of Mr. O'Leary on the ground that he had stated that he wrote a certain letter to the minister on the 5th December, 1908, which letter he had not written, and he stated that in the actual letter Mr. O'Leary did write the minister he said that Murray had repeated to him when he purchased this property that he had acted as the agent of the government and that in a subsequent letter which he actually sent he did not make that statement, i want to tell the minister that neither in the first nor in the second letter did Mr. O'Leary state to the minister that Murray had re-

presented that he had acted as the agent of the Public Works Department, and that Mr. O'Leary said in both letters that he was given to understand and did understand that Murray was purchasing this property for jthe Department ofj Public Works. I do not think that Mr. O'Leary was very far out in that regard. I believe that Mr. O'Leary believed, and believed .correctly, that Murray was purchasing this property for the Public Work's Department directly or indirectly. You can read the letter that the minister received and the copy that O'Leary presented, and there is no hon. member in this House who can point to one particular in which they are materially different. Still, the minister stands up in his place and condemns Mr. O'Leary as a perjurer because he did not present the exact copy. He had not the manliness to tell the House the very clear explanation that Mr. O'Leary gave of that transaction. Mr. O'Leary stated that after dictating the letter to his stenographer he decided to change the phraseology of it, that he dictated another, that he intended the second one to go, and that evidently the stenographer so intended it

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LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL.

Would the hon. gentleman show me the page of the evidence at which any such statement appears?

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CON

Arthur Meighen

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN.

I cannot quote all the pages of the evidence at a moment's notice, but the hon. gentleman will find it immediately after the page that the minister pointed out-

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LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL.

The hon. gentleman cannot find it in the evidence.

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CON

Arthur Meighen

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN.

I am sorry for the hon. member.

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LIB

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL.

I make that statement, *and I would like you to prove what he said. He stated that that may have been the case, but he did not state that it was the case.

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CON

Arthur Meighen

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN.

Evidently hanging this case on a very slim technicality again. I affirm that the minister endeavoured to lead this House to believe that in the letter of the 20th May, which Mr. Robertson, on behalf of the Kent Valley railway, wrote to the Department of Public Works, he indicated that the municipal wharf, which the government were negotiating for, would not suffice for the purposes, of the village of Richibucto. If the minister did not say that, let him say so, and we will refer to 'Hansard' to-morrow. I understood the minister to lead this House to believe that Mr. Robertson, in his letter, had given the dimensions of the municipal wharf and had indicated that the wharf was not sufficient to answer the wharfage purposes of the village of Richibucto. now, Sir, you may be surprised to know that the letter

of Mr. Robertson

Mr. MEIGHHm

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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

Did the hon. gentleman say that I said that the letter stated that the wharf did not give sufficient accommodation?? I made no such statement.

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April 21, 1910