With further reference to question No. 9 of Thursday, April 30, what indirect requests or petitions, aside from those of the Melville Conservative Association, have been received by the Department of Public Works in connection with the erection of a post office building at Melville, Sask. ?
misunderstanding, my officers inform me, in the Supply Bill which we have passed, which has gone through and been sanctioned, two items in the Supplementary Estimates for the year ending 31st March,
1914, were omitted. Those items are as follows:
Mail service: Ordinary land service,
including rural mail delivery-Further amount required $215,000
For mail bags 25,000
For railways on account of new rates. 135,000 Mail service by steamboats-Further
amount required 1,400
Miscellaneous: Printing and advertising-Further amount required $125,000
I am informed by the officers of the
House that we shall have to present a special Supplementary Estimate for these items. The Clerk of the House informs me that if the items were passed here, they must have been left out somewhere in the printing or in the course of the work. I am going to ask the assistant Clerk of the House to make some inquiry about them. Meanwhile, we may go on. The omission can be remedied in some way, but we shall have to verify the facts more completely. When we wanted to have the use of the money covered by these items, we were told by the Auditor General that the amounts were not included in the Estimates 'as passed. At all events, we will look into the matter.
I received a letter this morning which informs me that Mr. Briegel, superintendent of the railway mail service in Montreal, an old gentleman who has rendered faithful service to His Majesty for over forty years, is about to retire upon pension and that the department contemplates appointing as his successor Mr. W. L. Cark-ner, of Quebec city. Mr. Carkner has been in the service for two years only and has never passed the examinations which are required of the other officers. I do not know him personally and he may be a good public servant, but I would call the attention of the Postmaster General to the fact that there are in the post office department at Montreal other gentlemen, friends of his, who have been in the service a very long time and Who should be entitled to promotion. I might name, for instance, Messrs. Methot, Villeneuve and Forest. If the staff in the Montreal post office is not to be demoralized-my hon friend appreciates the sense in which I use the word-the principle of filling vacancies >by promotion should be recognized. The railway mail service is a complicated service, and the man who is at its head should be fully equipped for his duties and fully cognizant of the conditions that exist all over the immense district of Montreal. I do not think it would be fair
to the staff or in the interests of the service that a new man should be brought from another district and given this position in Montreal. Personally I know nothing about the facts, but I am informed that the hon. minister was approached on the subject, that he gave his decision in . favour of Mr. Carkner and that the appointment is about to be made. I would like the hon minister to state whether or not this is the case, and whether or not he will follow the good old golden rule of filling vacancies by promotion, especially in a branch of the service which is certainly one of the most important.
Mr. Briegel, who has been connected with the department for a very long time, has given most devoted and efficient service. If he is not quite as capable of working now as he was some years ago, on account of old age, his services are still very valuable to the department, and I shall certainly not ask him to resign or to be pensioned. If the time comes-and I hope it will not be in the near future- when he cannot accomplish his work in an efficient way, he will understand without anybody telling him what he should do.
I am happy to say that that time has not yet come, and so far as I am concerned, I have had no requests from Mr. Briegel to be pensioned; my officers inform me that they also have received no such request. I certainly shall not touch upon the question of his successor until such request is received, for I would not do anything which would hurt Mr. Briegel's feelings.
So far as Mr. Briegel is concerned, that is quite satisfactory. I agree with my hon. friend that Mr. Briegel is an old and faithful servant and that he is quite capable of fulfilling his duties for many months, and, I hope, for many years to come. The hon. member for St.Lawrence is aware that Mr. Briegel is universally known in Montreal, and that he is very popular with the public on account of his courtesy and devotion to duty. It would be a thousand pities if he were removed and pensioned when he is still able to render valuable service to the department. I may say frankly to the hon. minister that the gentleman who informed me in the matter says that the minister was lately approached with regard to Mr. Briegel's successor, and that the hon. gentleman said that Mr. Carkner would be appointed immediately after the close of the session. I am glad, however, to take the word of the hon. Postmaster General that nothing of
the kind will happen. I have the highest regard for my Quebec friends, but surely there are enough public servants in the post office at Montreal able to succeed Mr. Briegel without importing one from another district. It that were done it would cause a great deal of feeling.
It would be absolutely improper on my part to discuss the successor of Mr. Briegel when he is in charge of the office, and I intend that he shall stay in charge so long as he desires and so long as his services are efficient.
anybody that this matter was settled. I think it would have been indelicate on my part to do any such thing without having first heard from Mr. Briegel. So there is nothing decided, nothing settled. As to the question of bringing an officer from Quebec to Montreal or from Montreal to Quebec, I would not hesitate for a moment to do that if I thought it would be in the interest of the service. We have sent people from the East to the West and vice versa, and I believe that my hon. friend did the same thing. We are having some complaint about that in the West, but we [DOT]consider the Post Office Department to be, to a certain extent, in the position of a bank which has branches all over the country. A bank will move its employees or clerks from office to office for the proper carrying out of its business and the efficiency of its service. While we are always prepared to give promotions to the employees of a branch in their own town, when any circumstances require that we move one employee from one district to another we shall certainly do so without being estopped by .the question o'f the place where he formerly lived. The gentleman to whom my hon. friend from Rouville referred is a very good employee in the railway mail branch in Montreal. I understand that he is a very efficient help to Mr. Briegel, but there are others too. In other words I have not looked into the question, and I shall not look into it or decide it so long as our good employee Mr. Briegel is in charge.
I have made inquiries about the other matter of which I spoke and I find that the two items in the supplementaries for the year ending March 31, 1914, had been left in the portfolio of the clerk. We might dispose of them now. There are accounts due which should be paid out of these items, but of course payment cannot now be made.