I am not sure whether that is on the program for this season or not, but we did some dredging there last year. We are dredging at Oakville in the adjoining constituency and propose working also at Bronte in Halton county. That work is only going to cost $1,400, but if we get at it right away it will be an enormous advantage to the people of the locality. I will not put people to work and not lie able to pay them.
The minister has shown conclusively that he is not in earnest in asking for these votes. The leader of the opposition has demonstrated that the minister made out a list of items which he knew could not be accepted, including a number of revotes for work that was deferred from last year, and for which there was no urgency then. Had he made out a 'list of the urgent items he would have found us reasonable in passing them, but he knew we could not accept the list he presented and he simply endeavoured to put up a big bluff. His action is unfair in that respect.
I would like to believe that my hon. friend (Mr. Perley) is reasonable, but if he says I am unreasonable I am unable to believe that he is reasonable. When he suggests that I am trying to put him in a hole, I answer that it would be cruelty to assist him in getting deeper in that direction than he already is. My officers inform me that all these items are equally urgent, but I suppose if I only brought down twenty items gentlemen opposite would tell me I should only have selected six. On reflection hon. gentlemen will see that this item of dredging ought to be_allowed. Dredging work is to-day as important as any work that can be done for the transportation interests of the country. Steamers are getting larger and in many cases harbours have silted in and in some cases there has been a lowering of water, particularly on the Great Lakes. But what is of the greatest importance is that the steamers are getting larger. There is a great deal of dredging work to be done. The inland waters freeze up in November and unless we can get the work done during the summer, we will be greatly handicapped and the public interest will be greatly prejudiced.
As I understand, the work the hon. gentleman has in mind has not been started yet. In that case five-twelfths of the amount will not have been earned by July 15. The hon. gentleman ignores the fact that we gre voting five-twelfths without discussion, he is asking for the other seven-twelfths. There is no possibility of excuse for saying that more than five-twelfths will be required before the end of July. The hon. gentleman takes care to give the opposition no credit for having voted the five-twelfths.
The history of the hon. gentleman's conduct hardly bears out the statement which he makes to-day. He says these things are urgent. He got that information from the engineers of his department. I take the list handed to us yesterday, and I find Port Arthur * $650,000 for dredging, and the minister expects that will all be required before we get back and vote any more. Last year when we voted $600,000 he went on and spent nearly $400,000 more without anv vote, and- he could do it as well this year as. last year.
I admit that, but it shows that the minister is equal to any emergency when he wishes to do a thing that we have not provided for in the regular way. If the dredges were employed every day they could not use up this amount in that time or anything like it. If urgency was the reason why did the minister discredit himself by putting forward an item like that? It tells the whole tale; it is not a desire to get through items where there is absolute urgency, but to get as many items on the programme as possible, and push them through without inquiry or anything else. The minister said some time ago that earlier in the session some members of the opposition desired that he should refrain from bringing forward his items, and should let other departments bring forward theirs. Why did he do it? Because of the crassness of human nature, that he did not seem willing to give any information to us. and only panned the questions put bv hon. members on this side of the House. In our judgment he did not desire to give information and, therefore, he was kept longer than he should have been to get his items through. Had he shown the same desire as is manifested by other ministers to give all the information possible, the House would have been more amiably inclined to let items go through, even although they had not the information; but it was because of the evident desire to give no information on any question asked, and of his attitude which seemed to say: Well they have to vote it sooner or later, and I will not give the information, I will jolly them along from week to week. When he would not give the information he was delayed from day to day. He said that some of us objected, arid asked to have the estimates of some of the other ministers brought on. That was because of the desire to get some I one who would give information, and not
be frittering away the time of the House as the Minister of Public Works^was doing in handling his estimates before the House when the opposition knew Jie was not sincere in his conduct, and was not making a reasonable effort to give the information.
My hon. friend's memory does not serve him- correctly. I was not complaining of any delay in getting my estimates through, I think they went through with very satisfactory progress indeed. I was greatly pleased at the way in which my hon. friends facilitated the progress of my estimates. They asked' that I should take a rest from the very great labour which they thought was being imposed on me working day after day and night after night, but I had nothing but feelings of gratification at the manner in which the hon. gentlemen facilitated the passage of the estimates. I have now the memorandum to which I referred, it is as follows:
Office of the Deputy Minister,
Ottawa, May 13, 1911. Memorandum to the Minister:-
The department is going to be greatly handicapped in its work this year owing to the full amounts of appropriations not being available. As you will realize, it is not possible, under such circumstances, to commence works by day labour. Where work is done that way, the money must be forthcoming to pay wages, and, in addition to that, it would not be good business to employ a foreman and a number of men, buy timber and commence repairing a wharf; get half way through and dismiss the whole lot, and take them on again two or three months later to finish the balance of the work.
As you are aware, one-sixth of the harbour and river appropriations .in the .main estimates have been voted, and possibly before the House adjourns next week, a further portion of one-third will be voted, making one-half >n all; but even so, our position as above outlined would not 'be much improved. Works could only be begun and left half finished, which would not be either economical or businesslike.
However, as hon. gentlemen take the view that it is not in the public interest that provision should be made for going on with these various works to which I have referred', I shall not press the matter any further