January 24, 1911

LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Notice has been given by the Japanese authorities of the denunciation of the treaty, and a new treaty is being negotiated between Great Britain and Japan. It is with reference to this new treaty that correspondence is now going on.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   ANGEO-JAPANESE TREATY.
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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

As I understand, Japan gave notice of the denunciation of all her foreign treaties.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   ANGEO-JAPANESE TREATY.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

That is my understanding. '

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   ANGEO-JAPANESE TREATY.
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WASHINGTON NEGOTIATIONS.

CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

Has the Prime Minister any announcement to make as to the present condition of the negotiations at Washington?

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   WASHINGTON NEGOTIATIONS.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

My hon. friend refers to the tariff negotiations?

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   WASHINGTON NEGOTIATIONS.
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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I do.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   WASHINGTON NEGOTIATIONS.
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I have a telegram from Mr. Fielding saying that he expects to reach Ottawa to-morrow afternoon, and he hopes to make an announcement on Thursday.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   WASHINGTON NEGOTIATIONS.
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RENTED GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS.

CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. RICHARD BLAIN (Peel).

Mr. Speaker, before you leave the chair, I wish to direct the attention of the government and the House to a resolution, notice of which was given before the adjournment of the House last evening. It reads as follows :

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   RENTED GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

That all the words after ' that ' be struck out and the following substituted therefor: ' In the opinion of this House the action of the government in renting certain buildings in the city of Ottawa at prices which give the owners annually from 15 to 18 per cent net on the cost of their property is unbusinesslike, indefensible, and merits the censure of this House.

In 1909 my hon. friend the Minister of Public Works leased on behalf of the government a building on the corner of O'Connor and Queen streets, in the city of Ottawa, known as the Regal Building, for five years, with the privilege of renewing the lease for another term of five years, at an annual rental ot $16,095.73. The owners of the property are required by the lease to pay the city taxes, which amount annually to $1,186.07, for tw* stone walks that were put down by the city corporation $24.13 per annum, and for two roadways $75.75 per annum; and they will, of course, pay the insurance upon 'the building, which if insured for $50,000 at the rate of 65 cents per annum per $100, makes an annual payment of $325. These sums make

a total of $1,610.95 which has to be paid by the owners of the building. Deducting tins amount from the annual rental paid by the government leaves the net amount paid by the government to the owners of this property at $14,484.80 per annum. Now, the first question that arises is why should the government rent this building at all? This property was owned originally by the Young Men's Christian Association of this city. They were seeking a purchaser for it for upwards of a year and a half. The right hon. the Prime Minister had taken into his government a brand new administrator in the person of the hon. Minister of Labour, and the government were seeking new quarters for my hon. friend. So, I presume the Minister of Public Works was approached by the Minister of Labour, and although the Minister of Public Works was well aware that this property was for sale and could be purchased by the government if they had any faith at all in the policy of government ownership. But my hon. friend decided that it was much better to rent the property from his supporters ; and so the middleman, who has been so much talked about in this House, and in this country, appears on the scene, and purchases the property from the Young Men's Christian Association in 1909 for the sum of $47,500. The owners of the property expended upon it a little less than $32,500, adding two new stories; so that their total investment was $80,000. On this amount the net rental they receive from the government gives them the handsome return of 18 per cent per annum after they have paid all their charges. I cannot understand why

the hon. Minister of Public Works did not arrive at the conclusion that it would be in the interest of the people of this coun-trv. if not in the interest of the government, that he should take some of the boasted surpluses that we have heard so much about for the last 15 years, and purchase this property, which it was well known to everybody, was on the market. But my hon. friend, the Minister of Public Works is well versed in the methods of dealing with property in the interest of his friends in the city of Ottawa as well as in other parts of Canada, and he concluded that the policy of public ownership of tins building would not suit the government. So the middleman steps in and purchases the property. There are some other charges on the property which have to be paid by the government, such as water rates, lighting and heating, the caretaker's salary, and the operating of the elevator. The basement and the first and second floors are occupied, or are supposed to be occupied, by the Minister of Labour and his staff, the third floor by the Minister of Militia, and the top story by the Finance Department. I had the pleasure of going through the building the other afternoon, and I found in the top story one room about 30 feet square in which there was nothing at all. And alongside of it another room, not quite the same size, and in that story at present, notwithstanding the fact that my hon. friend has rented it at this enormous price, and has had it rented for more than 12 months, there are five vacant rooms absolutely unoccupied. The Militia Department, a little lower, is not at all crowded because there are several vacant rooms in that part of the building. The Minister of Labour is brand new of course, and he has filled up his department metty well except the basement, about one-quarter of which is not occupied. Therefore I am quite safe in saying that a little more than one-third of this building, for which we are paying this enormous rent, is not occupied at all. I do not wish to criticise too closely my hon. friend the Minister of Public Works, but every man who has resided in Ottawa for the last few years realizes that property in this city has been rapidly increasing in value, and my right hon. friend (Sir Wilfrid Laurier), when he came into power was well acquainted with the city and its outlook. One of the things for which the people of this country, and the opposition in particular, condemn my right hon. friend and his government, is that, notwithstanding the opportunities given them to purchase property at low prices they have allowed these opportunities to go by and rented from their friends at enormous prices. I may say that if my hon. friend the Minister of Public Works had taken out of the

treasury $80,000, the amount put into these premises by the owners or had borrowed it at 4 per cent-if he had taken out of the treasury $80,000 to purchase and improve this property and allowed 6 per cent on the investment, it would have been a fair investment, considering the increase in value from year to year, and if he had taken the balance of the amount paid these gentlemen-being the difference between 6 per cent and 18 per cent-in eight and a half years the government would have owned the building altogether and have had in addition $2,320.80 in the treasury. Why did not my hon. friend adopt that policy? It is not only yesterday that these gentlemen have been seeking for properties in the city of Ottawa. They have been on many streets in the city finding properties that were once owned by Conservatives find now owned by Reformers, looking up properties, in the interest, not of the people, but of their friends in the capital. The condemnation I have to offer is that my hon. friend lias been more careful of the interests of his political friends than of the great trust vested in him as Minister of Public Works. I am not going to add one statement after another in respect to public buildings, but I present this as a clear cut statement of the unbusinesslike policy of the Minister of Public Works.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   RENTED GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS.
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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

What was the rental period ?

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   RENTED GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS.
Permalink
CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

Five years with the privilege of renewing the lease for another five years.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   RENTED GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS.
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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

That is a privilege to the government and not to the lessor.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   RENTED GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS.
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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

Yes, a privilege to the government that makes it all the worse in my opinion. The assessed value of this property by the city when it was owned by the Y.M.C.A. was $30,000. If he has any criticism to make about the amount expended by the present owners $32,500, I answer by saying that after it was improved and enlarged, the assessment was increased from $30,000 to $55,000 by the city. Therefore there cannot be much doubt as to the amount expended upon it. The opposition and the newspapers have been criticising this government for allowing middlemen to step in between the people and the administration; the Liberal Conservative party moved a resolution condemning tl'.is government for allowing these middlemen to enter in and supply goods without public competition. In the Marine Department, in the Department of Railways and Canals, properties and goods were purchased from middlemen who repealed enormous profits in connection with the Intercolonial railway, and in connection with their busi-

ness. In the Department of Militia, articles were purchased at enormous prices from middlemen, and when difficulties arose in some of the departments, American bookkeepers were brought in and paid to straighten out the books of the department at $15 each per day. According to the Auditor's statement of the Printing Bureau scandals, the country lost more than $70,000 by purchasing goods outside the country, and giving the advantage to foreigners. These conditions the people are anxious should be done away with. The policy of the Liberal Conservative party is that no middleman shall live at the expense of Canada; that middlemen shall not be allowed to stand between the people and the government and make enormous profits, in one instance of 185 per cent.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   RENTED GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS.
Permalink
LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

When was that oolicy adopted ?

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   RENTED GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS.
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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

My hon. friend must know if he knows anything, that I had the honour of moving a resolution in this House calling on 'this government to put out of business entirely middlemen, and my hon. friend stood up and voted to keep them there.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   RENTED GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS.
Permalink
LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

T had reference to the Conservative policy. That was not the policy followed in the building of the Langevin Block, for instance. -

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   RENTED GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS.
Permalink
CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

The Langevin Blockvwhat-ever may be said for or against it, is a monument of good administration, compared with other buildings to be found here at present. I shall not continue the discussion further. I have put the case fairly and honestly before this House, before the right hon. gentleman and the Minister of Public Works, who is particularly responsible and who had an opportunity of purchasing this property for the government and saving the people thousands of dollars. The people will expect my hon. friend to explain how it is the government leased these premises from their own supporters, when they might have purchased in the open market, and when by so doing they would have saved the country these thousands of dollars.

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   RENTED GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS.
Permalink
LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Hon. WILLIAM PUGSLEY (Minister of Public Works).

I hope my hon. friend (Mr. Blain) will allow me to express my sympathy with him by reason of something which must have happened between yesterday and to-day. I do not know What it is, but something has certainly affected my hon. friend. Yesterday he gave notice of motion :

That in the opinion of this House the action of the government in renting certain buildings in the city of Ottawa at prices which give the owners annually from 15 to 25 per cent net on the cost of their property Mr. BLAIN.

is unbusinesslike, indefensible and merits the censure of this House.

Between yesterday and to-day he has changed his motion from ' 25 per cent ' to ' 18 per cent,' and from ' certain buildings ' in the city of Ottawa he has come down to one 'building-

Topic:   SUPPLY-ABSENCE OF MINISTER OF MILITIA AND DEFENCE.
Subtopic:   RENTED GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS.
Permalink

January 24, 1911