September 4, 1917

LIB

William Erskine Knowles

Liberal

Mr. KNOWLES:

What was the reason

that the main estimates were not approved before last week?

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CON
?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Oh, oh.

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LIB

William Erskine Knowles

Liberal

Mr. KNOWLES:

If I am wrong in that, I would like to be shown wherein I am in error. The passage of the estimates has been facilitated. In contradiction of what the minister says, I remember distinctly that a laTge per cent of the -main estimates went through without a murmur on more than one occasion. I think a sixth or a twelfth went through without a vote.

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

The hon. gentleman states that the Government is in control of the House, and should have passed these items before. We are in control of the House, but the hon. gentleman on the other side did so much talking on the other Bills that they delayed these estimates until the present time. That is the reason of the delay in bringing down (the estimates. I am not saying that the Opposition delayed the estimates. It is true we are in control, and we had to take control in order to get through. That is the whole position. We would have had these estimates before us long ago, if hon. gentlemen had not talked so much on the other Bills which came before us.

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LIB
CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

I am not saying that there was any too much discussion on any of the items, but I say that, in the discussion on the other Bills that were submitted from time to time since May we have had very lengthy discussions; and if the hon. gentleman wanted me to give him instances I could show him in Hansard-

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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

Hansard would be against you. You would find the greatest number of pages filled by speeches of hon. gentlemen on the other side.

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

I have gone over certain debates, and I have come to the conclusion that there was more debating than there, should have been. We have a sample of it in the present debate. It is the first time there has been too much debate on any of the estimates. ,1 am not saying that the hon. gentleman has acted unfairly, but this item has been discussed by the hon. gentleman in whose constituency the work is to be performed, and he understands the whole matter. We have had a lengthy discussion, but perhaps not too long, and now the hon. member for Moosejaw proceeds to speak on it, and he does not know anything more about it than I do, and I am just taking the statements of the deputy minister. It looks to me that the course the hon. gentleman is taking in this matter is simply for the purpose of prolonging the debate on this particular item. I may be wrong, but this is my opinion.

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LIB

George Perry Graham

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM:

The Minister of Customs, who is Acting Minister of Public Works, said the Government had to take control into their own hands. Does he know that when a certain Bill was being discussed in committee, up to the time the Government gave notice of closure, the Conservative members had spread out their remarks to the extent of 69 columns of Hansard, while the liberals only consumed 50?

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CON
LIB
LIB

William Erskine Knowles

Liberal

Mr. KNOWLES:

When the hon. minister said I spoke this afternoon for the purpose of obstruction, I say his statement is not correct. I stated, as a general principle, with regard to repairs, or to public facilities of any kind, if there was to be as much delay as there has been in some cases, the *attention of the Government should be

called to it, and the system should be reformed, so that there could be quicker provision for obtaining money, and that the Government should not be compelled to wait for the sittings of Parliament, which sometimes means that a whole year will be lost. I was not referring to this particular case, but I could refer to Inverness, if I wished, or to the place the hon. gentleman comes from. I am interested in the business management of the affairs of this country, and I think that there should be quicker provision of money, especially with Parliament sitting, in view of the fact that there has been no obstruction from this side of the House.

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CON

William Wright

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WRIGHT:

The hon. gentleman from Moosejaw is a living example of why we are delayed here so long. The same thing would apply to a goodly number of members on the other side of the House. The hon. gentleman from Renfrew points to a certain debate, in which he said the members on this side of the House, being very considerably more in number than the members on the other side, took a little longer in actual debate than the members on the other side. I venture the assertion that the remarks of members on the other side have filled double as many pages of Hansard as the speeches by members supporting the Government. I would concede that, as they are the critics of the Government, it may be their right to talk more than members on the Government side. A certain number of members, particularly from the Maritime Provinces, occupy a considerable amount of the time of the House. I was going to suggest that we institute a little Parliament just for those Maritime Provinces, and I do not think it will be necessary to have a Hansard. Fifty per cent of the time of the House is occupied by members from those provinces by the sea. Many of the members from Ontario and the western provinces have privately discussed this matter and we feel that they unduly take up the time of the House. If all the members would insist upon their rights to be heard in this House to the same extent as some of those hon. gentlemen, we could not get through a session of this House in ten years, and I think some of those gentlemen who are accustomed to talking so much should stop and consider, for a little while, the other members representing constituencies in the Dominion of Canada, wTho should have something to say from time to time. We do not wish to be unreasonable

with them, and I would ask the hon. gentleman who is looking at me just now-

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LIB
CON

William Wright

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. WRIGHT:

-to look up Hansard, and see how many pages he has filled, and compare the number with the number ol pages occupied by any member on this side of the House, and I think he will not have much criticism to offer.

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LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

The hon. gentleman

from Muskoka (Mt. Wright) has given us a very timely lecture, but if it takes him three years to incubate a little bit of a speech, that is not our fault. Nature does not always produce in the same way, and, as a farmer', he knows that. The farmers have hens, sheep, and horses that produce in their season, and they have not all the same manner and kind of production.

Hon, members on the other side of the House are of the same class and of the same manner of production. But you must not blame us because we are the Opposition, When my hon. friend was in Opposition I remember him well, and if he will look at Hansard of those days he w'll find that his planting time will be over before he can count his lines and speeches in any one year. He must remember that the side of the House on which we are makes a great deal of difference in the length of our speeches. There are certain, functions and duties devolving upon the members of the Opposition. When an important measure is .to be brought down the hon. member for Muskoka and his fellow-members have had an opportunity of seeing it perhaps a month before we see it. He has had an opportunity of debating and discussing it in caucus, of approaching the minister who is to bring it down, and of knowing all about it before it is brought into this House at all. Thus, to him, there is nothing new about it, but to hon. gentlemen on this side, who see it for the first time, it is altogether new. They are supposed to be the critics of the Government and the protection of the country against legislation introduced by the Government. Therefore, if we on this side take a little longer than the .supporters of the Government, under the requirements of our constitution and form of government, there is a good reason for it. I can assure my hon. friend from Muskoka that there will be no reform on this side of the House wThile such measures as he and his Government produce are incubated and brought forth from that side.

As far as what the minister says about his estimates is concerned, I have had a

rMr. Wright. 1

great deal of experience with the Department of Public Works for the last fourteen years. My idea of what Government officials do is that they report annually to the department before the main estimates are prepared and that anything of an urgent nature contained in the report will be included in the main estimates. The minister tells us that Mr. Bernasconi reported in November last year. It would appear that the report would contain all the principal requirements of his district. The report should certainly have contained a statement with regard to the serious conditions of the harbour of Margaree. I am sure that the committee of this House would not obstruct the passing of any estimate if the minister would tell us that it was urgent. If these matters are allowed to drag along from month to month it is not the fault of 'the Opposition. If the minister has an estimate that he feels should be put through, all he has to do is to stand up and tell us and that estimate will go through if it is a proper one. There is one thing that I have to say about the engineers. Mr. Bernasconi is a very capable man. Perhaps he is one of the oldest engineers in Canada. He probably has three good men in his office. I would wish the minister to impose upon these gentlemen the duty to report upon the works they have to look after. It is in the interest of the country that, once money is expended by the Department of Public Works, that money should not be allowed to go to waste because of the want of proper expenditure for repairs. The responsibility of keeping these works in repair should be upon the engineers of the different districts and it should not be left to members or anybody else to report upon the condition of these works. It could be done by Mr. Bernasconi in my district.

Port Hood-reconstruction of wharf, $6,600.

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?

William Chisholm

Mr. CHISHOLM:

What is this vote for?

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

This amount of $6,000 is

asked for by the district engineer to make repairs to the present wharf and to provide for the construction of a new block 20 x 100 feet on the southern end of the block constructed during 1914-15. The estimated cost is as follows: 40,000 cu. ft. of crib work, $4,000; clay and stone filling over old work, 2,000 yds., $1,200; superintendence, contingencies, etc., $800.

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?

William Chisholm

Mr. CHISHOLM:

Is it the intention to put this wharf in the condition that it was in five years ago?

533 i

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September 4, 1917