April 3, 1919

UNI L

Frank Broadstreet Carvell (Minister of Public Works)

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. CARVELL:

Even if he had been in the employ of the Government, and had been dismissed for partisanship, that is no reason why he should not work for the Government if he works honestly and uprightly. I had the Halifax situation and the North Sydney situation on my hands and time was pressing. I went to Colonel Low to see if he could take the work. He represented Bate, McMahon and Company who were doing work at Sydney and also at Halifax. He said: Yes, he could take on the Halifax work. I gave him the con-

tract for the Halifax work, and I want to tell my hon. friend that I did not do this without taking the whole thing to council where it was thoroughly thrashed out. I canvassed the whole situation with a number of men in the contracting business in the province of New Brunswick, and I could not find a single man who was in a position to take this contract. I know the contractors in my province and I could pick out every man who ordinarily would be in a position to undertake this work, but everybody was busy down there last year. The Valley railway, as we call it, was under construction, and practically every contractor in New Brunswick was employed upon that, as well as some of the principal contractors in Nova Scotia; the Government was carrying on tremendously big works at Halifax and Sydney, and practically every Nova Scotia firm that I knew anything about was engaged there. I want to say here that Mr. George W. Kyte never came to me and I never spoke to him until recently. The leader of the Opposition has been referred to, but I never heard from him, and he had no more to do with the matter than a man in Saskatoon. I inquired of a certain man who happened to be here-and I will give my hon. friend his name in confidence-a large employer of labour in the province of Nova Scotia, probably the largest there, a man who knows every workman in Gape Breton Island, about the situation. He told me that Mr. Dickson was well qualified to carry on the work. I sent for Mr. Dickson, and he convinced me of 'his ability to undertake the work. I gave him the contract on force account, and the work was inspected as no other work was inspected in my deipartment last year because the contract had not been given until my friends had come to me with stories that they had got in Sydney and they said, "You are employing a Grit to do this work," and asked me to rescind the contract. I would not do so and I never yet have done so. I could not believe that because a man happened to be a Liberal he could not work for this department honestly and uprightly, that is no part of my political faith. I have given my hon. friend the facts as I understand them.

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UNION

Robert Hamilton Butts

Unionist

Mr. BUTTS:

Had the hon. minister any inquiries or communications of any kind from any such firms as Rhodes, Currie & Co., or Chappie Bros., Sydney?

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UNI L

Frank Broadstreet Carvell (Minister of Public Works)

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. CARVELL:

I do not think so.

Rhodes, Currie & Co. at that time had just entered into a contract for work at Hali-

[ Mr. Carvell.]

fax to cost half a million dollars, in addition to the Camp Hill hospital, which they had under construction. I have no recollection of ever having heard from Chappie Bros, at all. I do not think I had a solitary application from any person to do that work except from Mr. Dickson. I may be in error about this, but my recollection. is pretty good.

Mr. BUTTS; It was not advertised?

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UNI L

Frank Broadstreet Carvell (Minister of Public Works)

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. CARVELL:

Of course it was not.

That is what I have been telling my hon. friend. It was a matter of such urgency that I could not advertise it. That is why I had to have it done by force account. That contract was only for the construction of cheap wooden buildings. I presume that every hon. member of this committee has seen a similar class of buildings. There is no plastering; I think there is no foundation except some posts, and the buildings are sheathed with shiplap I think it is called-

An hon. MEMBER; Clapboard.

Mr. CARVELL-or tongue and groove material. The inside work is purely of wood with a layer of tar paper between the boards. Even the roofs are not covered with shingles, but with a ready roofing material. It is the cheapest kind of work you could imagine. Any man capable oi handling a saw and hammer could qualify as a carpenter on it. It did not require a man of great ability, it only required a man who could employ men and who would be honest and not pay higher wages or higher prices for material than he should pay, and who would rush the work and get the best out of the men.

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UNI L
UNI L

Frank Broadstreet Carvell (Minister of Public Works)

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. CARVELL:

Absolutely; not only

under local inspectors, but I utilized the officials of the Engineering Department both from Sydney and Antigonish for the purpose. In addition, Mr. Fuller, the Assistant Chief Architect in this city, made trip after trip to North Sydney and Halifax, and he reported to me personally, not through any of the officials. And I want to tell this committee that there was nothing constructed in the Public Works Department during the past year which I personally investigated and looked after so closely as I did that work at North Sydney. At the time I thought I was carrying on an ordinary business transaction. A man had applied to me, I had found out that he was

well qualified for the work, and I gave him the contract. It was not until same of my colleagues joined me and I got the story, and I saw what I had to face, that I took a personal interest in the construction of that work, and I stand by it from A to Z. If there is anybody wants any investigation I hope he will come on with it.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Was there any interference on the part of some members of Parliament to press the hon. minister to give that contract?

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UNI L

Frank Broadstreet Carvell (Minister of Public Works)

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. CARVELL:

No, not from members of Parliament or members of the Government. I let the contract myself as Minister of Public Works, and I take full responsibility for everything done there.

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An hon. MEMBER:

What was the cost of these works?

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UNI L
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An hon. MEMBER:

Can you tell me the size of the buildings?

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UNI L

Frank Broadstreet Carvell (Minister of Public Works)

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. CARVELL:

There were three large barracks-I suppose they would be a couple of hundred feet long and 40 or 50 feet wide, but I could not state the dimensions exactly. There is no question whatever, Mr. Chairman, that the buildings did not cost any more than they should have cost. That is not the question at issue at all. The question at issue is that I gave the contract to that particular man. Nobody would raise any question as to the character of the work. The contract was carried out to the letter, it was under forced account, and the contractor did as he was told to do.

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L LIB
UNI L

Frank Broadstreet Carvell (Minister of Public Works)

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. CARVELL:

Yes, not merely pressing; he was demanding that I go on and do it by force account, and he was violently protesting against taking the time that would be necessary to prepare plans and specifications and call for tenders. It takes a month to do that, and he wanted it done in a day.

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L LIB
UNI L

Frank Broadstreet Carvell (Minister of Public Works)

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. CARVELL:

No; the next question that came up was as to tlhe construction of these ramps running down into the sea, and that at North Sydney especially was a very serious proposition and a great deal of dredging would have been required. In fact, I have often wondered if it would not have been possible to locate the work at

some other point, because the next part of the contract was going to run into some six or seven hundred thousand dollars before it was completed. There again, I wanted to call for tenders, but the same condition existed. On account of the objections I had had from Nova Scotia, I did not give this other work to Captain Dickson. I did not want to have any trouble over it and I was not sure that Captain Dickson had had the experience in heavy concrete work of that kind. I, therefore, gave that part of the work to Bate, McMahon and Company, and I did not know of any other party I could get and no other person applied to me. Bate, McMahon and Company started the work, and I think the day after the armistice was signed, we stopped the work. It was, of course, an easy mattei to stop the concrete work and what is there speaks for itself. It would have been an absolute waste if we had gone on with the building, so we went on and completed, not all the buildings, but those that were under construction at the time.

I realize this matter does not come up under the Civil Government vote, but as my hon. friends wish it to be threshed out,

I shall be only too happy to give them all the information wanted. The mattei can be brought up in the Public Accounts Committee and Mr. Fuller, the architect, who made it his special business to investigate these matters as they went along, can, if required, be summoned and he will give all the information he can, and all the other officials of the department will be only too glad to give all the information possible. At the time I gave this contract, I had no knowledge as to what relations this man had with any person in Nova Scotia, He did the work well.

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L LIB
UNI L

Frank Broadstreet Carvell (Minister of Public Works)

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. CARVELL:

Yes, and he did it quickly, and if the war had gone on, the United *States marines would have been properly and comfortably housed during the winter.

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L LIB
UNI L

Frank Broadstreet Carvell (Minister of Public Works)

Unionist (Liberal)

Mr. CARVELL:

Yes. There is no criticism of the work.

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April 3, 1919