July 30, 1942

NAT

John Ritchie MacNicol

National Government

Mr. MacNICOL:

In another two thousand years.

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
Subtopic:   USE OF WORD "GOLD" OK ANY CARAT MARK ON WATCH CASES
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

When that time comes I hope the Post Office Department and all other departments of government will be administered by civil servants who are capable of managing the affairs of the various branches of the public service. If they cannot, I fancy others will be found who will be qualified to do so. My experience with the department here leads me to believe that the Postmaster General has a great many capable civil servants under him. It is unfortunate that a policy should be laid down by the government that obliges efficient members of the department to write to defeated party candidates in the country asking them, "Will it meet with your approval if we make certain changes?" And to members of parliament saying, "Such and such changes are proposed; do you think they are advisable?"

I have here sessional paper 348 brought down on July 3. Among these documents I find a letter dated October 15, 1941, to the member for Humboldt (Mr. Fleming), who, both in this house and outside, is a busy man. This letter was written by the chief superintendent of air and land mail services. It states:

I should be glad of your advice as to whether it would be in the public interest to allow this service to remain with the present contractor, *whose name is given, or -whether you consider it would be in the interest of the department to invite tenders for a new contract.

The name of the contractor is D. Thera. The contractor receives the magnificent sum of $324 a year to carry mail along a route about twenty-two miles twice a week. Think of asking a member of parliament if it would be in the public interest to allow this man to continue carrying mail! Unfortunately the member for Humboldt did not think it was in the public interest, but that tenders should be called for. I have here the file showing that tenders were called for, and there is one remarkable statement, apparently indicating government policy, in connection with a returned soldier. The letter is dated December 29. I quote:

In reply, I wish to inform you that there is no preferential treatment in favour of returned soldiers in the matter of awarding mail contracts. All contracts must be awarded, according to the stipulations of the post office act, to the lowest competent tenderer who can furnish two reliable sureties.

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
Subtopic:   USE OF WORD "GOLD" OK ANY CARAT MARK ON WATCH CASES
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LIB

Harry Raymond Fleming

Liberal

Mr. FLEMING:

Will the hon. member be good enough to point out that I stated that a preference should be given to returned soldiers?

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

The member for

Humboldt did express the opinion that the preference should go to returned soldiers, but the department says that no preferential treatment is to be given. Next I find on April 14 that the lowest tenderer was a man who had carried mail all these years, and according to a letter he submitted to the department he had never been late in calling for the mail or in getting back. There is not a single complaint with reference to him in all these years, travelling in all kinds of weather over all sorts of roads. His was the lowest tender, $324, and the department writes to the member for Humboldt:

As the tenders submitted by the following are considered equal, w'ould you please be good enough to say which of these tenderers you consider as most competent for the performance of a satisfactory service:

D. Thera, Spalding, R.R. No. 1 $324

Chas. Freestone, Spalding 325

Walter J. Fouhse, Spalding 325

Supply-Post Office

Should you recommend Mr. Freestone or Mr. Fouhse, it will be necessary for him to reduce his tender by $1 in order that it be absolutely equal to that of Mr. Thera.

I submit that this makes a farce of calling for tenders. Here is a man who has been giving faithful service all these years and he submits the lowest tender.

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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LIB

Harry Raymond Fleming

Liberal

Mr. FLEMING:

Does the hon. member know that he was giving faithful service?

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

In the correspondence there is no evidence to the contrary. I take the record of the Post Office Department rather than what the hon. member says.

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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LIB

Harry Raymond Fleming

Liberal

Mr. FLEMING:

The member for Humboldt might be much better informed than the post office.

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

I know the member for Humboldt is a capable physician, but running a post office is certainly not his business, and if the post office staff in Ottawa and elsewhere say they cannot run the business I think we should find others who can.

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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LIB

Harry Raymond Fleming

Liberal

Mr. FLEMING:

That is very far-fetched,

comparing a physician to a man on a rural mail route. The physician in the performance of his duties, I may say to the hon. member, goes from place to place and gets information.

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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CCF

Alexander Malcolm Nicholson

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. NICHOLSON:

If there were complaints regarding the way in which this man had carried on his work, those complaints should have been submitted to the department rather than to the member for Humboldt, and if the hon. member himself had complaints he should have laid them before the department. It is not now the time for him to say that there were complaints with regard to the conduct of the carrier. On April 28 the hon. member for Humboldt wrote a letter in which he said:

In connection w i: h the above mentioned rural route, I would like to recommend that the contract for same be given to Mr. Walter J. Fouhse, Spalding, Sask.

My information is that this man is of military age and has been- given the position in spite of the fact that his predecessor had been carrying on the work for several years. I have a similar case from my own constituency, and the Post Office Department acted, I think, wisely in this connection. It was one of the first grievances I had after coming to this house. The defeated government candidate in my constituency apparently felt obliged to reward someone who had hauled out a few voters for him at election time, or had done some other work for him, and the man who had carried the mail for seven years, over some of the worst roads in all sorts of weather,

eleven miles out and eleven miles back, at $2 a trip, lost his job in order that a party favourite, a young man of military age, should be rewarded. The Post Office Department very wisely took into consideration the repre-centations that came from the legion in that area.

The point which the hon. member for Saskatoon City made, and in which I concur, is that people who are being asked to buy war savings certificates and victory bonds are not familiar with the tremendous programme which the Minister of Munitions and Supply is carrying on. Nor are they familiar with the achievements of the navy and the record of the air force. They naturally look at Canada's problems through their own glasses, and they see what work the government is doing in a particular community. If men and women who have been giving faithful service are to be kicked out so as to reward someone who has been a valuable party worker, it destroys confidence in the democratic system. If there are civil servants who are not doing their work or are not capable, then by all means they should be dispensed with. But there are rural mail carriers and1 postmasters who are giving efficient service and they should be retained. Do not dispense with them in order to reward others who have done valuable party work.

I submit that cases such as the one I have mentioned at Spalding where the mail carrier who submitted one of the lowest tenders is compelled to accept a loss on equipment which he has bought, only to see someone else rewarded for political services, are most unfortunate. I would ask the Postmaster General to make a statement now that this unfortunate policy of administering post office affairs on the basis of how a man votes rather than how he does the work be changed immediately.

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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LIB

Harry Raymond Fleming

Liberal

Mr. FLEMING:

In this matter there was no political connection whatever, and I think that is well known to the hon. member. He should not bring these things up without properly investigating them. I live in the area in question and know personally the whole situation. If he would go a little further afield, he will see that it is only within a matter of weeks that I recommended one of his political supporters as a mail carrier.

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I do not intend to get into this discussion. The system is wrong and should be corrected. I think hon. members would prefer to be free from this burden of recommending mail carriers. The men do not get enough out of the

Supply-Post Office

service to pay them for what they are doing. They are not civil servants. They are contractors. I have felt for some time that the system is wrong.

I do not know whether the minister stated the policy of the government with respect to aiding air mail services throughout the country. I come from a part of the country which is not at present served by air mail, which just misses it by a few miles, being on the track of the beam between Montreal and Moncton, which used to be the eastern terminus of Trans-Canada. There has been a substantial agitation in my city for some connection by air service with Trans-Canada, and consequently air mail. I realize some of the difficulties; we have not at present a good airport. But there was started in the maritime provinces a concern known as Maritime Central Airways which was prepared to give subsidiary service connecting with Trans-Canada at Moncton. I have never sought to have Trans-Canada stop at my city. At Saint John the difficulty is a physical one, that of getting runways of sufficient length. But that difficulty does not obtain at Fredericton. Maritime Central Airways are prepared to establish a subsidiary service connecting Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton with Trans-Canada. I think it is apparent to those who have studied the position that without a mail subvention such a project could not pay its way.

I am not asking the minister for a definite pledge with respect to the situation to which I have referred. But would he say in a general w-ay what the policy of the department is with regard to assisting the setting up of these services. There is no doubt that air mail has come to stay. It is a modern development. We feel a certain amount of pride in our community as being the capital of New Brunswick, although we are not very large, and we think we should have some air connection. This is the only possible way. Would the minister just tell us what the policy is?

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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LIB

William Pate Mulock (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. MULOCK:

In regard to the extension of air mail facilities to Fredericton, the capital of Newr Brunswick, I have gone into this matter with the officials of the department. I have felt that it is the only fair thing to do. Fredericton is the only provincial capital in Canada which is not served by air mail. The cost would appear to be in the neighbourhood of $14,000 a year.

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

That is not much.

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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LIB

William Pate Mulock (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. MULOCK:

No; there would be considerable revenue. So far as the Post Office

Department is concerned we are quite willing to put it into effect, and have so advised officials of the transport department.

The next question to be dealt with is whether the airfield at Fredericton can be used. I understand that at present there is only one runway, which runs east and west. The transport department are unwilling to allow planes to land there on the regular schedule until the field is improved. I have taken the matter up with the Acting Minister of Transport (Mr. Howe) and I suggest it might be advisable for the leader of the opposition to discuss the matter with him.

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

I shall

be glad to do so. If there is definite assurance that a mail subvention will be given, I am [DOT] sure the airport will be improved.

There is one aspect of the situation down there of which perhaps the transport department is not aware. Fredericton is situated in the Saint John river valley. The terrain is a wide river, a plain on each side and rising ground 'beyond. The prevailing winds are east and west. Some years ago I remember being amused by the statement of a witness in some litigation I was conducting who swore that the wind blew only two ways at Fredericton, either up river or down. He was not literally correct, but that is nearly true, because of the character of the valley. So that the one runway does not present an insuperable difficulty. If the only difficulty is in connection with the airfield I think it can be overcome. I am obliged to the minister for his assurance.

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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NAT

Douglas Gooderham Ross

National Government

Mr. ROSS (St. Paul's):

Has there been any revision of the air mail contract with Trans-Canada Air Lines?

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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LIB

William Pate Mulock (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. MULOCK:

The present rate is 45-74.

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

It has

been reduced gradually?

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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LIB

William Pate Mulock (Postmaster General)

Liberal

Mr. MULOCK:

There is a slight variation.

Topic:   PRECIOUS METALS MARKING ACT
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July 30, 1942