July 20, 1917

LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

It is only $69 a year or something like that, but I am not talking about the amount. It is the question of principle. There should be a fair deal of this kind, and we on this side are accused, even by our own friends, of not being high minded enough, and not big enough, and that all our energies and thoughts should be devoted to the winning of the war, wjiich is true, but it is surprising that, in the midst of the great burden on the department now, that small petty connivance of this sort should be engaging the attention of the head of the department, taking a $60 contract from one man and giving it to a Tory. We are justified in refusing to believe that the department are regarding the war as serious, as they want us to, when such small matters are engaging their attention. I wish to bring this matter to the notice of the Minister, so that he will not be encouraging such conduct. I have the documents here, and the proof is conclusive. The

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amount is small, but the principle is the same as if the amount were large.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

I shall be glad to look into it. Was the cancellation subsequent or anterior to any offer that was made?

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LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

The correspondence is no doubt available. The letter of the department making the offer was dated the 23rd April, and the man replied immediately, stating that he would accept. Then on the 7th May he received a letter stating that the offer was cancelled, and that the contract was given to the other man, commencing on the 1st July. The cancellation was on the 7th May.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

I shall look into the matter. My hon. friend speaks about tenders not having been called for. I understand the law is that contracts for amounts 1 less than $200 are awarded by the department, as a rule, without tender.

If the department is subject to reproach for offering the contract without tender in one case-, it must be equally subject to reproach for ofiering it without tender in another. I do not suppose that it is any more wicked to offer it to a Tory without tender than to offer it to any other man without tender. However, if the contract was offered by the department to the gentleman referred to and was accepted by him, it is a matter that ought to be inquired into, and I shall certainly look into it.

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LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

It is an old established * practice in the department, particularly in respect to small contracts, that upon expiration of contract the contractor is asked whether he will continue the contract at the old figure. That is the practice that was followed in this case. The letter of the inspector says: "The service will have to be put up at tender if you do not care to accept." He did accept, they refused to give the contract, and they did not put it up at tender. If that is a square deal, I do not know what a square deal is.

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LIB
CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

I have not the information with me, but I shall see that it is furnished to my hon. friend.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

Peace River town now has a railway service twice a week. During the summer season there is steamboat navigation down the river three hundred miles to Vermilion and up the river about two hun-

dred miles t;o Hudson Hope. I think that there are three steamers running on both those routes. If the department have not done so, I suggest that they take advantage of this steamboat service for the purpose of giving mail facilities up and down the Peace river as frequently as the boats travel. That may be a little outside the ordinary system of the department, but the distances are so great, and, now that the steamboat and railroad are running, the conveniences are so ample, that there is no reason why the people there should not have mail facilities while the steamers are running, because the expense to the country would be only trifling. As to the winter service, the stretch of country up and down the Peace river is now open to settlement and occupation by reason of the railroad and steamboat service, and there is a greater demand for mail service during the winter now than there was a [DOT] year or two ago. Three yeaTS ago the Peace river was practically a closed country; to-day it is wide open, and people are coming in with considerable rapidity and scattering to all points. The service, therefore, that was quite adequate two or three years ago is inadequate now during the winter and still more inadequate during the sum-

9 p.m. mer. In the summer the needs can be met at a trifling expense to the department if arrangement is made with the steamboat companies. The increased service in the winter will cost money, but the circumstances justify that increase of cost.

I wish to draw attention also to the conditions at Fort McMurray on the Athabaska. Fort McMurray is three hundred miles north of Edmonton. It is the terminus of the Waterways Railway, and is at the head of steamboat navigation on the lower Athabaska. The rails are laid to within twenty miles of Fort McMurray; there is not as yet a regular train service. I' do not know how soon the train service will be established, but there is such communication at the present time as can be carried on by gasoline speeders on the railway. Fort McMurray is reached by a Government telegraph line. Being the head of navigation on the waterways of the north, and being the terminus of the rail-*road, it is a permanent point, and, naturally, such business as there is in that country centres there. The department may say, of course, that when the railroad is completed it will do business with that railroad. The

railroad is not completed, but there is

means of communication measurably better than the means of communication on the river. I would suggest therefore, that advantage be taken of the facilities that are now available for the purpose of giving suitable mail advantages to this important stratagetic point in that part of the north country. There shou'd not be delay until the regular service has been established on the railway. t

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

I will ask the Deputy Minister to look into both cases mentioned by my hon. friend. I shall be glad to take any means that may be proper to afford suitable service, as far as that is possible.

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LIB

Frank Oliver

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER:

In the country lying west of Edmonton, from Edmonton to Resplendent on the British Columbia side, there is a train service on the Grand Trunk and on the Canadian Northern. I would judge from what the Minister of Railways said that there is no mail service on the Canadian Northern, because points on the Canadian Northern are served (by mail from the Grand Trunk. There is a regular service of three through trains a week on each line, in other words, a daily service from Edmonton west, but the people got their mail only three times a week. When there is a daily train, I think that the pople ought to have a daily mail and that the Canadian Northern trains should carry mail and distribute it to the post offices as well as the Grand Trunk trains. That would give the whole of that system, about three hundred miles, a daily mail service-and I think the people are entitled to it. I hope that the minister will consider that.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

I shall have a note made of it and see what can be done.

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LIB

Pius Michaud

Liberal

Mr. MICHAUD:

I desire to call the attention of the department to a resolution forwarded to the Postmaster General four or five weeks ago by the Board of Trade of. the town of Edimundston in thp province of New Brunswick. There is a mail sevice on the Transcontinental railway between Levis and Monk, half the distance between Levis and Edmunston, and the people on the line between Monk and Edmunston are desirous of having a mail service on the train. Along that line of railway a good deal of business is being done. Very often the mail car attached to the express, instead of being left at Monk, comes as far as Edmunston. The mail clerks remain on the car, and it would be an easy matter for them to sort

the mail all along the line. I hope the acting minister will take the request of these people into consideration.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

I shall be glad to look into the matter.

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LIB

George William Kyte

Liberal

Mr. KYTE:

Has the department in contemplation any increase in the salaries of letter carriers and postal clerks? Representations have been made to the department from time to time by employees in those branches in the mail service, and communications have been forwarded to members of this House. I speak more particularly of the letter carriers in the city of Sydney and the postal clerks in the Nova Scotia division. I am not going to argue why increases should be made, but some weeks ago the Minister of Finance brought down legislation providing for substantial increases for employees in the Inside Service, and there is no apparent reason why the Government should be absolved from paying similar attention to the necessities of the employees of whom I speak more particularly.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

I quite appreciate the claims of the class of employees of whom the hon. member speaks, and when the Supplementary Estimates are brought down, I expect to make provision for an increase in the salaiies of the employees of that class analagous to the increase made to the employees in the lower grades of the Inside Service. What is in contemplation is, in the Supplementary Estimates, to provide for an increase under the guise of an allowance to meet, in some way at all events, present conditions.

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LIB

George William Kyte

Liberal

Mr. KYTE:

Has the Government considered the desirability of making some allowance to the mail couriers for services rendered by them in connection with parcel post? That matter has also been brought to the attention of the Postmaster General from time to time. When parcel post was inaugurated in Canada isome years ago, substantial allowances were made to the railway companies for the additional carriage imposed upon them in respect of that service. I, as well as several hon. members on both sides of the House, have called the attention of the Postmaster General to the fairness of making some allowance to the mail couriers throughout this country. I refer more particularly to the mail couriers in Nova Scotia. I cannot say that a definite promise of an .allowance was made by the predecessors of the present Postmaster General, but I would like to hear the acting

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Postmaster General state whether or not the mail couriers throughout the country are entitled to some consideration in respect to the extra work entailed upon them Nby the parcel post >service.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DOHERTY:

As I had occasion to

say earlier in the evening, when the bon. member for Frontenac (Mr. Edwards) raised the same question, it came to me then as a new question. I quite realize that there probably would be an increase in the work imposed on the (mail couriers by the establishment df parcel post, and it seems reasonable that an increase in work ought to call for an increase in remuneration, i took the matter up with the deputy minister, and the suggestion is that it is not quite clear how we can arrive at a basis for making an increase. I (have asked him to look into the matter, and I shall be glad to give it consideration and to see if we can find a way to make such compensation for increased work as will be reasonable.

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LIB

Pius Michaud

Liberal

Mr. MICHAUD:

Is the minister in a

position to give me an answer in reference to applications which have been made during the past few years to establish a mail service on the railway operated between Campbellton and St. Leonard in New Brunswick? There are many settlements along that line, and there is a large business being done by lumbermen and merchants. The people need a daily mail service. A daily train has been operated during the last few years.

Mr."DOHERTY: What is the service at present?

Mr.. MICHAUD: There is a bag left on

the train, and it takes about three days to get a reply from a distance of five or ten miles from where a letter is mailed. The mail bag is often l^ft on the train, and the service is certainly very poor.

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CON

Herménégilde Boulay

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. H. BOULAY (Rimouski) (translation) :

Mr. Chairman, I believe I should endorse the remarks just made by the hon. member for Madawaska (Mr. Michaud), though it may not be very agreeable to my hon. friend, the member for St-. John (Mr. Pugsley) when I trouble myself a little about New Brunswick.

As my county is somewhat close to that of Restigouche, I have many an occasion to travel through that district inhabited by people who come, for the larger part, from the counties of Rimouski and of Matane. So I take a permanent interest in the welfare of that community whose members are

[Mr. Kyte.l

anxious to find in their new abode a few of those advantages we enjoy in the province of Quebec. These people, for the past six years, have had to be content with a very poor mail service. At the outset, when the railway line was first established, they got their mail only as a matter of courtesy on the part of Mr. Malcolm who was the owner o'f the road, and when the line became a part of the Intercolonial, the Government gave them a tri-weekly mail service. There is already, all along this line, a population of some ten thousand souls, most of them new settlers. In their midst there is much business going on, and the fact of having the mail service only three times a week and of not having any mail clerk, is most prejudicial. [DOT]

I had, almost two years ago, drawn to this fact the attention of the Postmaster General, the late Mr. Casgrain, and he had promised to attend to it. I do not see why that section of our country should be more neglected than the others. I realize that there would be no money in it, that the Postmaster General's Department would be out of funds by appointing a mail clerk for this section. That cannot be gainsaid. However, there are many other localities, throughout the country, where the Post Office Department makes no money, but just the same provides a good service, with a view of fostering the industries, helping the trade and assisting the people who go into these new townships. Naturally, it takes more heart to go into the forest, as those brave settlers have been doing for the past six years, than to continue labouring in the old settlements. I believe it to be the Government's duty to give them a daily mail service and also a mail clerk.

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CON

Charles Joseph Doherty (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. DOHERTY:

I admit the importance of the remarks just .made by the hon. members, and inasmuch as the limits of a wise economy will not be exceeded, we will see that the present conditions be properly attended to.

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July 20, 1917