February 27, 1911

CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Under the elective system ?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE DOMINION SENATE.
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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Yes. In Upper Canada, Mr. Macpherson, Mr. Van-koughnet, afterwards Chancellor Vankough-net, and several other men of great eminence, were brought into the council. In Low'er Canada, Mr. Dessaulles, and several others were brought into the Senate, all men of great eminence. But in face of that condition which existed in 1865, the fathers of confederation deliberately abandoned the elective system in favour of the nominative system. My hon. friend, who is an old reformer, will remember that even George Brown, who had been one of the most prominent advocates of the elective system, accepted the nominative system.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE DOMINION SENATE.
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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

The right hon. gentleman probably knows more about this question than I do, but is it not true that although in 1865 the elective system was left and the nomination system taken for the new confederation, it was done not because the fathers of confederation were convinced that the nominative system was superior to the elective one but because of certain practical considerations; to wit, the fact that there were different provinces coming in, and that they had already nominative executive councils or upper bodies, and it was on that account that the conviction of the fathers of confederation was laid aside for the sake of smoothing temporary difficulties.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE DOMINION SENATE.
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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

As a matter of compromise?

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE DOMINION SENATE.
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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

As a matter of compromise.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE DOMINION SENATE.
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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Well, I would not admit that historically. The two men who had more to do than any others with the framing of the constitution were George Brown .and Sir John Macdonald. Sir George Cartier had a great deal to do with it also but it was George Brown and Sir John Macdonald who had most to do with the making of the present constitution. My hon. friend is aware that while George Brown was in favour of the elective system Sir John Macdonald was equally strong in favour of the nominative system. Sir George Cartier was also equally strong in favour of the nominative system, and I believe that the opinion of these two men more than any other factor influenced the decision in favour of the nominative system. I believe that on that occasion George Brown gave in to the views of others at the conference while, if his views had prevailed we might have had an elective instead of a nominative

system. But George Brown, very properly I think, yielded his views on that occasion and allowed the views of Sir John Macdonald and Sir George Cartier to prevail, and they were embodied in confederation.

I can agree with my hon. friend from Simcoe (Mr. Lennox) that the Senate has not been given all the justice to which it is entitled. It is a very eminent and efficient body. If my hon. friend will accept the statement which I make in perfect sincerity, the only objection I have had in the past, and which I would have at 'the present time is to be found in the fact that the Senate is too predominatingly under one party. The Liberal party at the present time is the predominating party in the Senate. But, in the olden time, before the accession to power of the present government, the Conservative party was the predominating one ; in fact, when we came into office in 1896 the Liberal party was represented by a mere corporal's guard in that great body. I am asked : Why should you have only one party represented in the Senate? It is easy to make that reproach, it is easy to point to the fact but any man who has been somewhat familiar with politics knows how7 difficult it is to have any other system than the present one to be acted upon so long as the situation remains as it is. There must be necessarily, in the nature of the case, party appointment. While the appointments that we have made may not all have been perfect I believe that on the whole that they have been as creditable to the government as the appointments of our predecessors. If all of the men who have been appointed by this government have not been perfectly free of fault they have on the whole been as free as those appointed by the previous regime. If you analyze the criticisms or recall the objections which are offered from time to time in connection with motions which have been made for the reform of the Senate, ] think you will find that they largely originate from the fact that one party has predominated there to the prejudice of the other party, and if it were possible to have a proper balance of the different opinions which prevail in this House and in this country perhaps we would find a solution of the question. I will go farther and I will give this as my very deliberate opinion that if there is to be a reform of the Senate it should be in line with the purpose for which the Senate was instituted in this country, that is to say, to protect minorities, and to make it representative of the provinces rather than any other body of men. At one time I was very much in favour of the American system of election. The Senate of the United States is elected by the local legislatures, and for the first sixty or eighty years of the existence of the Republic the Senate of the United States compared favourably with any other assembly that

ever was in existence in the world. It was a body remarkable for its powers, its efficiency and -the great service which it rendered to the nation. It has been alleged of late, and I believe the allegation is substantially correct, that the character, the standard of the American Senate has not been kept up to the high degree of excellence which it reached for the first sixty or eighty years of the existence of the Republic. It is alleged, and I know that the allegation is currently made by the American magazines and press that the present mode of election has become dangerous, and there is serious talk at the present time of reforming it because the Senate has become the prey of plutocrats, and that election by the legislatures is susceptible to the influence of money which has contributed, as it is alleged, to degrade the character of that body. I must say that this has modified my views and that it would not be perhaps acceptable to us to have a Senate appointed by the local legislatures. But, I am prepared to consider whether we should not have some proportion of the appointments made by local authority. That is a suggestion which I made, and it is one which is worthy of consideration. For my part I would like exceedingly that this matter should be approached by both sides absolutely unbiassed and with the view of getting the best system of appointment possible. The present government will not always remain in office. Governments, like men, are born to die, but some men, while they are born to die, will live pretty long, and I do not think this government will die prematurely. But, in the course of time everything must come to an end. My hon. friends on the other side of the House will come into the position which we are in at the present time. I am not prepared to say that it will be as soon as my hon. friend (Mr. Lennox) hopes. But, when: ever there is a change of government my hon. friends sitting on the other side of the House will have precisely the same difficulty to meet that we have at the present time. I am prepared to approach this question without any bias, and I am prepared to have the question examined whether or not, while we should keep the nominative appointment in the government, we should give a share of the responsibility to the different provinces. That is a suggestion which is well worthy of consideration. I agree with my hon. friend that something should be done. This is the last of the reforms which we promised the country, and which we have not yet carried out. It is a reform which we are anxious to carry out, but we wish to carry it out on lines which, I think, would be more in consonance with the spirit of our constitution.

Motion (Mr. McLean, South Huron) withdrawn.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE DOMINION SENATE.
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PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND WORKS.


On the motion of Mr. Lalor: That, in the opinion of this House, the practice of the government in determining when and where public buildings and other public works shall be erected or constructed should be replaced by definite rules fixing conditions upon which such buildings should be erected as money is available for such purpose.


CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

In the absence of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Lalor) who has given notice of this motion, I beg to move that the order be discharged.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND WORKS.
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Motion agreed to.


THE QUEBEC BRIDGE.

CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAUGHTON LENNOX (South Sim-coe) moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, before committing the country to any of the alternative propositions, no w under consideration for construction of the Quebec bridge, or incurring any substantial additional outlay, it is the duty of the Minister of Railways to inform this House, by a general comprehensive statement, of all the important steps taken and information secured by the government in connection with the undertaking, and the present situation in reference to alternative plans, cost and the like, but not including information liable to prejudice the public interest in connection with tenders; and to afford the peoples' representatives in parliament an opportunity of considering and advising upon what is best in the public interest.

He said: This is a question which is

of course surrounded by a good deal of difficulty, and I recognize the embarrassing position the Minister of Railways finds himself in in connection with this Quebec bridge. So far it has been an unsatisfactory and expensive undertaking, without any good results. We are now committed to an additional large expenditure and what I aim at in this motion is not for the present to criticise the government, hut to ascertain what the situation is. A good deal of effort has been made during the present session to discover how far the undertaking has advanced, what the probable cost may be, what kind of structure is contemplated, and other matters of interest to the public, but we have not been successful in getting that information. In January, 1909, the minister said that plans were being then prepared, and that before a year's end he expected he would be able to tell the House the probable cost of the new structure. But the year has elapsed, and another year since, and still we are in the dark. In 1909 the minister seemed to think that as soon as the three experts had prepared their plans and were ready to call for tenders he would announce to the House the probable cost. I understand that he is less hopeful now of being able to tell us that.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE QUEBEC BRIDGE.
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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I trust the minister will take the House into his confidence and tell us within a few hundred thousand dollars or perhaps a million dollars what this bridge will be likely to cost the people of Canada. I took the liberty of sending the minister a memorandum the other day which intimates my personal attitude in reference to the matter and some of the information I desire. My attitude is not at present a position of hostile criticism; it is simply a request that the minister should make a comprehensive statement of all the important steps that have been taken and of the present condition of affairs. The country is anxious about this matter and it is not surprising that it should be. Without saying whose fault it was, or whether it was the fault of anybody, there is already in connection with this project, an awful lot of money at the bottom of the St. Lawrence. Under the most favourable conditions it is hard to tell which is the wisest and best course to take in such a matter, but the government plight, without militating in any way against their dignity, bring down the plans and let us have a look at them. I admit that many of us would not know a great deal about them, I certainly would not .pretend to, but we may form opinions and the expression of these opinions might by some possibility be helpful. It is not often that I agree with the ' Globe ', but sometime when I was perhaps in a better mood than usual I appear to have decided to take the ' Globe ' for a guide for once, and I read from a clipping from that newspaper the following: .

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   THE QUEBEC BRIDGE.
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SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.


The Minister of Railways is having more than his share of trouble over WEie Quebec bridge. Mr. Graham has been of necessity pretty much in the hands of the expert engineers, who have been advising him as to the tenders for the new bridge and the conditions under which it shall be built. He inherited rather a bad mess and has found it far from easy to clean it up. There is one thing that Mr. Graham should, and no doubt will, put first in considering the question-the element of safety. The matters of cost, elegance of design, and even convenience of navigation must all be subordinated to safety. One Quebec bridge disaster was enough. It may be that some old-fashioned bridge engineer who puts safety first is holding out against a spidery bridge and in favour of some massive structure like that across the Forth, the unnecessary strength of which provokes the mirth of the modern bridge builder. The ' Globe' does not know what the points of difference are, but it is certain that the people of Canada are for the old fogey ideas that mean unnecessary strength rather than for the sacrifice of assured safety to cheapness. No matter wdiat the cost, the Quebec bridge must be built to last. No fair minded person, whatever his politics, can cavil at that view: safety is the first consideration, and we have had enough experience in connection with this bridge to indicate that the question of safety is not yet finally settled. I may, without accepting responsibility for any condemnation that appears in these articles, but merely to call the attention of the minister to the matter, read two or three passages from articles published in the ' Scientific American ' of last year. I do not understand that the bridge here referred to is the bridge which the government now contemplates building, but some of the suggestions in these articles may be useful. In its issue of February 12, 1910, the ' Scientific American ' refers to the proposition that a country may be judged as to its capacity by the kinds of structures it erects, and it says: When the Canadian government took hold ot the matter and lent all its powerful prestige and financial assistance to the scheme it was accepted as an augury that the new bridge would be worthy of the great Dominion across the border line. We have to confess, however, that the bridge which it is now proposed to build is decidedly disappointing The type selected and the method of treatment are not up to the latest standards of bridge engineering. In other words, the design is distinctly commonplace; aesthetically I- has not a single redeeming feature. In re-designing the bridge the Canadian government could have made more sure of securing the best possible designs if they had thrown the bridge open to world wide competition. That is an important statement, and although it is pretty late in the day to suggest it now, it might be even at this date worth while to consider whether that is not the position that should be taken by the government. I understand that the'engineers are, in a sense, at loggerheads, that they did not agree upon the design when it was prepared, that the expensive design prepared was practically abandoned, and the government now adopts the very doubtful _ expedient of advertising for tenders, telling those who tender that they are to prepare their own plans and state the amount for which they will undertake to erect the bridge. That seems to me a job lot way of doing it, and I have my doubts as to the wisdom or safety of this plan. This paper says: We should then have learned whether the strongest, most economical, and most beautiful bridge could have been secured under the cantilever or under the suspension system of design. Personally, we believe that on all three counts it would be possible to produce a suspension bridge that would be greatly superior to the structure which it is now proposed to build. The suspension bridge, especially when built of these great proportions, is a far easier bridge to erect, not being subjected to those heavy erection stresses which are the peril of large cantilever erection. Moreover, the essential elements, namely, the anchorages, the towers, and the main cables, are at all times entirely free from suspicion, and may be erected with the absolute certainty that they are well within the limits of safe construction. With these main elements assured, it is possible for failures to occur in subordinate elements, such as the suspenders and stiffening trusses, without in the least endangering the integrity of the bridge as a whole. Not so, however, the cantilever bridge, the greater part of whose intricate framework is in compression. Let but one among the multitudinous members of the main trusses fall, and the whole structure will be thrown into immediate and absolute ruin-as witness the mass of tangled steel now lying in the St. Lawrence river. For the credit of the profession of bridge engineering in the new world; for the prestige of the great and growing people of Canada; and above all for the greater safety of the public at large, we trust that, before the final plans of this great bridge are adopted, the Canadian government will take steps to make it certain that the final bridge will, from every point of view-engineering, architectural and artistic-be the noblest work of its kind yet erected in any country. Then if I might read a line or two a few pages further on, where they give a view of the Forth bridge in Scotland, the Quebec bridge which collapsed, and Of what was at the time of the writing of this article, the proposed bridge, in other words the government design, the design prepared by the government experts. They say: The commission was appointed about eighteen months ago. In the interim the preparation of the plans has cost about $150,000, and as the result of its eighteen months' work the commission has produced the very commonplace design, herewith illustrated, regarding which there is a general professional opinion that both structurally and aesthetically it is distinctly inferior to the Forth bridge, which was completed nearly twenty years ago. If the bridge is built according to the proposed plans, it will not only be of inferior merit, considered from the bridge engineer's standpoint, but will also be the ugliest bridge of monumental proportions among those hitherto proposed or built. It presents the appearance of a monotonous mesh of triangles and straight lines. From abutment to abutment there is not one graceful line in the whole structure; not the slightest attempt to combine the beautiful with the useful. The faulty structure which collapsed had at least the redeeming feature that the oulines were structurally and aesthetically correct; and although the Forth bridge has been made the subject of much criticism by the artist and the architect, it must be regarded as having distinct claims to beauty when compared, as on the accompanying page, with the new plans for the Quebec bridge. It would seem, however, that the board has some doubts as to the merits of its own work; for it now invites competitive plans from contractors, which are to be filed by May 1, 1910; the plans to be drawn at the contractor's own



expense. But if the board has taken eighteen months' time and spent $150,000 to produce the present plans, the public will naturally ask: How can the board expect responsible firms to furnish them with new plans in one-sixth the time and for nothing? As I understand, it is still intended to construct a cantilever bridge, and without reading I would call the attention of the minister to the fact that in this article they discuss the important question of the width of the bridge. I am not vain enough to imagine that what I shall say is going to change the minister's plans at this stage of the proceedings. I am very strongly impressed with the idea that if any great mistakes have been made in this matter, one of them is that probably this bridge is not wide enough. I am not saying that as a scientific conclusion of my own; I am saying it from having read something as to the width of bridges in relation to their span. These engineers in the ' Scientific American ' point out that the fallen bridge was 67 feet wide. I assume that is correct. They say that the new bridge is 88 feet wide, and they figure out that that is one foot in width to every 20 feet in length of span, the span in this case being about 1,800 feet! The Forth bridge is 120 feet wide, and its span is 1,700 feet odd, pretty nearly as great a span as this, and the width of the Forth bridge is as one foot in width to 14 feet of span This writer points out that there have been bridges which have been built on a narrower basis, and which are still standing, but he says they weie fortunate, perhaps, at the time of construction in not having to encounter heavy winds. He points out that both during construction, by reason of winds, which have to be taken into account, and also by reason of winds after construction and the vibration of trains on this bridge, anything less than say 120 feet in width would be altogether too narrow. The result, he also points out, will be that trains will not be able to pass over the bridge at probably more than 25 miles an hour, whereas they pass over the Forth bridge at the rate of 50 or 60 miles an hour. I assume that all these questions have been considered by the minister. They are not new or discoveries of my own; but they are elements which enter into the consideration of this problem in which we are all interested, and to which I thought it right to call the minister's attention before asking him to reply. I would be glad, and I think the House and the country would appreciate it if the minister would tell us, as nearly as he can, about how much the proposed new bridge will cost, when it is expected that it will be completed and ready for the reception of trains, what are the various schemes that have been submitted for construction, and how matters stand as regards the engineering staff Mr. LENNOX. at the present time. The minister was good enough to tell us the other day that the chairman of the enginering board has resigned. It is rumoured that that gentleman was not himself an engineer. I do not know that it has ever been alleged in this House that he is. Whether that is material or not, I am not at present proposing to argue; but that we would like to know. Perhaps the minister would also tell us why the cantilever plan is considered the better plan under the circumstances. Although I know that the minister has a great contempt for the suggestion of a tunnel, he might also tell us how far the question of a tunnel was considered. He said the other day that owing to the high banks at the point where the bridge is being constructed, a tunnel would not be feasible. I recognize that, but I am told that other schemes were suggested, for instance, a tunnel from somewhere near the mouth of the St. Charles river. The minister might also explain to the House whether he considered the question of building a bridge across to the island of Orleans, and then to the other shore, which is advocated by some as being a scheme more suitable than the present one. The government has a great responsibility thrown upon it in connection with this bridge. The people are anxious to know what the situation is at the present time, and the minister would be relieving himself of a certain amount of responsibility and would perhaps be satisfying the public if he gives us a pretty full statement of the present condition of the matter.


LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

Mr. Speaker, for nearly a quarter of a century I was engaged in newspaper work, and it has always been contended in that profession that everybody knows better how to run a newspaper than the man who is running it. That is the way I would like to apply criticisms by the press of various engineers in regard to the Quebec bridge. Every man who has ever dealt in horses has had this experience, that as soon as he has sold a horse for a hundred dollars, somebody came along and told him that if he had known that he was going to sell the horse, he would have given him a hundred and ten dollars for it; and if he bought a horse, somebody came along immediately afterwards and told him that he had a better one to sell at the same price. This Quebec bridge, as my hon. friend intimates, has been a most troublesome thing to deal with, and for this reason. If it were something of ordinary importance or magnitude, the head of a department, even with ordinary ability, would get the various interests together and then decide what ought to be done. But this bridge is the greatest thing of the kind ever undertaken in the world. The Forth bridge has a span of practically the same

length; but the trains to be accommodated on it are so light that you can hardly make a comparison between the two. To begin at the reverse end of what my hon. friend said, I think it but fair to Mr. H. E. Vaute-let to make it clear that he is not only an engineer, but a magnificent, able man, and resigned in spite of my urgent protest. Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, in whose employ he was for years as chief bridge engineer of the Canadian Pacific railway, bears testimony to his ability, and how any person could have ever intimated that he was not an engineer is beyond mj comprehension, because his name has always ' C. E.' affixed to it wherever it appears. I wish to state most emphatically that Mr. Vautelet is a very able man, and Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, recommended him to me even before he was placed on this commission. He designed the structure at St. Andrew's Rapids, Manitoba, which is an evidence of his great engineering skill, and he was for years in other positions. As to the speed required of certain companies to prepare plans, my hon. friend read an article from the ' Scientific American,' which I beg to remind him is not looked upon as the leading scientific authority on this continent at the present time. Years ago it was; but while attending a meeting of the engineers of America not long ago, I discovered that there were one or two other journals which at the present time they regarded as being, greater authority. It is an able journal, but it has devoted its columns of late years, so 1 am told by the best engineers, rather to criticisms- what journalists call knocker's column; though I do not wish to make that point in what I am going to say. My hon friend, reading from the ' Scientific American,' said that it would be better if these plans were thrown open to world wide competition. Well, they were, practically. Practically all the large bridge companies of the world sent representatives to Montreal to look into the plans and specifications. They were notified by advertisement and personally that, in addition to tendering on the board's design, they were invited to put in tenders on designs of their own.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

Perhaps my reading was not first-class, and the minister (Mr. Graham) did not quite catch the idea. As I understand it, the ' Scientific American,' is saying that, instead of engaging three distinguished engineers to prepare plans, it would have been better to throw open the preparation of plans to the world, so that engineers the world over could compete in the drawing of designs and furnishing of plans. I suppose they would have to be paid something. But it would be on the same basis as the competitive plans for the public buildings supposed to be built here.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

Which are quite often not accepted.

Topic:   QUESTIONS.
Subtopic:   SAFETY, THE FIRST ESSENTIAL.
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CON

February 27, 1911