April 25, 1929

CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I shall have something

to say in that regard in connection with expenditures going on at Churchill at the present time, and which I wish to have checked up.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

I shall be delighted.

Supply-Public Works-Alberta

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

I am interested for instance in the work of carpenters, paid 75 cents an hour, one of whom 'by the name of Scott I have in mind. He did not knew the difference between a buzzsaw and a handsaw. Now, there was subsequently appointed a commission on which Colonel Lafleche sat, and associated with him was another gentleman whose name I do not recall.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Colonel Lafleche was subsequently chairman of that body. The name of the gentleman associated with him I do not recall at the moment. Perhaps the hon. member ifor Rimouski will remember the name.

a director of contracts in the Department of National Defence, and he is still there; in fact, he has been in the department twenty-five or thirty years, the same man. There was a director of contracts or a purchasing agent in the Public Works department; there was one in the Department of Railways and Canals; and, although I do not know about the Department of the Interior, I think there was one there. These directors of purchases functioned during the time this super purchasing commission was in existence, and if after a while its functions were somewhat curtailed it was because the government came to the conclusion that they did not want any overlapping of responsibility. At least, that was the reason given in the house, and I think it was acquiesced in on all sides.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB

Charles Avery Dunning (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. DUNNING:

Does my hon. friend say that it ever functioned in relation to the Department of Railways and Canals?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

In my somewhat cursory stopover at various departments I was never Acting Minister of Railways and Canals and therefore cannot say. But I can speak with respect to most other departments.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

I do not want to interrupt the leader of the opposition, but I might point cut that I happened to be a member of the house at the time the purchasing commission was in existence as such.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

Which one?

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

The purchasing commission to which the hon. gentleman has referred, as it existed during the war and for a period afterward. During its lifetime it had the greatest powers such as the hon. gentleman ascribes to it; there were purchasing agents in all the departments. There was a director of equipment and supply in the Post Office Department, and he is still there. There was

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

The hon. member has stated the case correctly so far as the various departments are concerned. During the period of the war the commission presided oyer by Sir Edward Kemp met daily, kept its minutes, and dealt with the whole problem of purchasing, and it was estimated at the end of the war that it had saved the country many millions of dollars-not hundreds of thousands

__as the hon. gentleman from Rimouski will

recall. Then it was thought that by reason of being able to fix prices it could be utilized in various departments in connection with purchases, and it was so utilized, although that was not part of its original function. The various purchasing agents were responsible, through that commission, for whatever was purchased, and they were able to get better .prices. After the war a commission was appointed, and my memory is that Colonel Lafleche was chairman. But that commission was objected to by certain of my hon. friends opposite for reasons that are fairly obvious, having regard to the ante-war conditions with respect to purchases; and so the old procedure was reverted to. We chloroformed the purchasing commission, as my hon. friend from Vancouver Centre has said, and the commission is now a salvaging commission, whatever that may mean. No accurate definition has been given of it. The Minister of Finance last year, essaying the gentle art of sophistry, attempted to define its duties, but without much success; and no one has yet been able to suggest a satisfactory definition. The point is this. Why should we not be able to have this commission function as originally intended, so that the various departments that require the same things for the conduct of their business might be able to purchase satisfactorily-not to have several orders coming in, as they now are, through purchasing agents,

Supply-Public Worki-Alberto

an order from the International Machine Company here and someone else there, Cut by reason of just the very principle my hon. friend has mentioned, the chain store principle, obtaining satisfactory prices through centralization of requirements? In this way purchases might be made effectively, efficiently and to the best possible advantage of the country. That is the position we have endeavoured to indicate, and therein lies the answer to the question proposed the other day, as to how money might be saved in the conduct of the public service. I shall have something to say later on ,to the same effect in connection with dredging.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Permalink
CON

James Dew Chaplin

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CHAPLIN:

The hon. member (Mr. Power) tells the committee that during a certain period different departments had .purchasing agents of their own. He knows very well that these purchasing agents did not purchase; they were purchasing agents only in name. They were men who were left in the department for the purpose of making up specifications of goods required and handing them over to the purchasing agent, who purchased them in one lot. That was the sensible businesslike way of doing it. because goods can be purchased better in that way than in any other.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Now that my hon. friend recalls it to my memory, I remember perfectly well, when I sat on the other side of the house as he is doing now, wishing in my own little way to embarrass the government and to prevent them from getting their estimates through. I advanced arguments similar to the argument the hon. member is now making. But I said: Why in the world should you keep these purchasing agents if you are going to have a super-purchasing agent? Why keep these individual agents in the different departments? I suggested that if they were not acting as purchasing agents there was no use paying them three, four and five thousand dollars a year; there was no use doing so if they were only clerks who were required to sent out requisitions to the government contracts supervision committee. I do not know whether my hon. friend was then sitting on this side of the house, but if he was not at any rate someone laughed at me and assured me that these agents had functions to perform. I am sure they told me that, because otherwise they would undoubtedly have listened to me. They were either doing something useful or

they were not, one or the other; if they were not doing a useful service they should have been abolished and if they were doing something useful they are doing it to-day.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Permalink
CON

Richard Bedford Bennett (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT:

At page 66 of the estimates I find the following details:

Government contracts supervision committee including L. R. LaFleche, secretary, at l^non' a?' H13*' ot" U. H. Beer, salvage officer, !f>5,000, telephones, telegTams, travelling exstationery, et cetera; 1929-30, $21,200; 1928-29, $21,500; decrease $300.

That is the commission to which I was directing the attention of the minister. It is now called the government contracts supervision committee, and the salvage committee has become a salvage officer.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Permalink

Item agreed to. Calgary-public building, $300,000.


LAB
LIB

John Campbell Elliott (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. ELLIOTT:

I am afraid it will not go very far; this will be a fairly expensive building, costing nearly $1,000,000. We are trying to cut down the expense a little, but we cannot do very much.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Permalink
LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I would like to ask that the same amount be given to Temiscouata county.

Topic:   QUESTIONS
Subtopic:   PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Permalink

April 25, 1929