July 1, 1955


The house resumed consideration in committee of the second report of the special committee appointed to consider with Mr. Speaker the procedure of this house, Mr. Robinson (Simcoe East) in the chair.


SC

Victor Quelch

Social Credit

Mr. Quelch:

Mr. Chairman, I was somewhat amused to hear the last two speakers extol the virtues of self-discipline. I think it is a subject to which they could both well give further consideration. I recall that in the first world war Brigadier Critchley, who was commandant of the school for officers, defined discipline as being self-control reduced to a habit. I think that would be an admirable quality for members of this house to adopt. I have been a member of the committee on procedure for a number of years, and I must say it gives me a good deal of satisfaction that the committee was able to submit to the house a unanimous report of a fairly substantial nature. We in the Social Credit group intend to support the report. Of course that does not mean to say that one or two of our group may not desire to criticize certain aspects of it.

I would first of all like to express my appreciation of the perseverance and patience displayed by the Minister of Finance and the Speaker during the sittings of the committee, and also the tireless work done by the Clerk and his staff. Without that spirit prevailing we would never have been able to achieve a unanimous report. As previous speakers have pointed out, there had to be a good deal of compromise, a good deal of give and take, not only between the opposition and the government but also between various opposition groups. I know it would be an easy thing for any member of the house, especially one who is not a member of the special committee, to get up and criticize certain aspects of the report. But let these members remember that it is no good criticizing the report and making suggestions unless

1, 1955

Special Committee on Procedure those suggestions would have the unanimous approval of all the other groups.

I believe the report represents the greatest degree of unanimity that could be achieved between all parties. The objective of the committee, as I see it, was not to make recommendations to shorten the session of parliament. The purpose was to provide for a more orderly and efficient handling of the business of the house, and thereby try to relieve the rush of business that invariably takes place in the latter days of a session.

So far as the report is concerned, I have already heard some members criticize it on the ground that it restricts or limits to too great an extent the rights and privileges of members to speak. But at the same time I have also heard other members criticize it for just the opposite reason. They say it does not go far enough, and that we should have done this or should have done that. The point is we had to try to reach an agreement between all parties, and the report, as I say, represents the greatest degree of unanimity. Personally I believe the report goes just as far as it is wise to go. To those who do feel that we have restricted the right of members to deal at length with matters that may be of special interest to them, I would point out that there is no limit on the number of times a member may speak in committee, and a lot of consideration was given to that question. Some may feel that we should have imposed limits, but I think many of us felt that at one point at least in the proceedings of the house there should be an opportunity for a member to express himself to the greatest degree without any limitation, and on the estimates of course that right still exists.

I believe the changes proposed will provide for more efficient handling of the business of the house than we have had in the past. Perhaps one of the most controversial aspects of the report is that having to do with the limitation of the time for debate on the speech from the throne and the budget. In my opinion the time taken for the proceedings on the speech from the throne and the budget should be restricted in order to provide adequate time for a thorough discussion of legislation and estimates actually before the house. Each party will have to use their allocation of time as they see fit, making provision for a certain number of 40 minute speeches or a greater number of 20 or 30 minute speeches. But I do believe that the effect will be to force each party to use its time to the greatest possible advantage, and I believe the net result of the limitation of time will be a better organized debate on both these subjects. I think nobody can argue that we have had well organized debates on

Supply-Public Works either the speech from the throne or the budget in the past. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I think the house would be well advised to support the report. If as time goes on we find that certain things do not work out further amendments can be made in the future.

Topic:   SECOND REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURE-CONSIDERATION IN COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. Pouliot:

Mr. Chairman, I move the adjournment of the debate, and I also move that the committee report progress.

Progress reported.

The house in committee of supply, Mr. Robinson (Simcoe East) in the chair.

Topic:   SECOND REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURE-CONSIDERATION IN COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
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DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS


353. Departmental administration, $1,049,280.


LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

The Chairman:

May I inform hon. members that this resolution will be found on page 57 of the blue book of main estimates and the details will be found commencing at page 459.

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PC

Clayton Wesley Hodgson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hodgson:

Is the minister going to make a statement on his department?

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LIB

Robert Henry Winters (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. Winters:

Mr. Chairman, I have no statement at this time. My practice has been, and I propose to follow the same course today, to have members make any statements they care to make or ask questions, and I will endeavour to answer them to the best of my ability.

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PC

Clayton Wesley Hodgson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hodgson:

I notice that first of all there is a statutory item covering the minister's salary. I see he is no different from the rest of the cabinet ministers. His salary has been increased $5,000 in addition to the increase in the indemnity. Therefore, probably the house and the country are expecting more work and more efficiency from his department. I hope he has arrived at that point during this past year.

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LIB
PC

Clayton Wesley Hodgson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hodgson:

We will wait and see. So far as the first page of his estimates are concerned, I notice there has been an increase of $3 million in the cost of property management. There has been an increase in the cost of the administration branch of $101,000; building construction, $2 million; and outside of Canada, $1,250,000. It is quite all right to have these increases because for many years the Department of Public Works did not do very much. These last few years we have been expecting more work from the department and we expect more work in the future.

On some of the other pages there are decreases and some of those are caused by various things that will probably come out in the deliberations today. I notice that on many occasions the department has money

granted which is not spent. Whether that be good or bad, I think that at this time when we need work and wages for the people of the country the public works department should spend its full allotment.

There is not much mention of the trans-Canada highway in the estimates. I do feel, and have reason to believe, that the trans-Canada highway is much behind schedule. Next year, 1956, is the end of the time allotted for the completion of the trans-Canada highway. I do not believe that the highway will be completed in any of the provinces by that time. I believe Premier Douglas, speaking at Regina a few weeks ago, did say that Saskatchewan would finish its portion of the highway by the end of 1956. Some mileages for paving are given, but calculating the mileages that are given and the progress that has been made during the last year, I do not see how Saskatchewan can complete its portion by 1956. Most of the other provinces are behind schedule. Probably they have other roads that are more urgently needed. The trans-Canada highway is really a dominion government project, although it is being administered and the construction carried on by the provinces. At the same time, I believe the provinces are gathering up all the money they can to build roads they need worse than they need the trans-Canada highway, and their money is probably directed that way.

I do not know whether the deal is a good deal or a bad deal. It seems to me it is rather a bad deal for the provinces because, since this is a trans-Canada highway, it is more or less the responsibility of the dominion government. I feel the federal government is paying a smaller percentage of the construction costs than it should pay. The dominion should pay at least 80 per cent and the provinces 20 per cent. Then, too, the premier of Quebec has been up here on several occasions, and when the time comes for answering questions I should like the minister to advise me whether any deal has been made with Quebec so far as the trans-Canada highway is concerned. If so, how soon do they expect to start construction? The trans-Canada highway cannot end at both boundaries of the province of Quebec. In order to be a trans-Canada highway it has to cross Quebec. Probably the premier still feels as I do that the dominion government is not paying its full share of the cost. I should like the minister to tell us if anything has happened about that part of the trans-Canada highway and if not, why.

Then, we come to the item covering Ottawa buildings. Some time ago in the house we had a debate on Ottawa buildings and I do

not want to repeat that. I do want to ask the minister about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police building. According to the words of the minister it was inadequate in 1953; it was inadequate in 1954; and is still inadequate. What is being done to make that building the sort of building it should be, and have any expenditures been made on it or are any contemplated? I feel the department has made bad deals in the past in many instances, and I think that was a rather bad deal.

Another one came to my attention some time ago when the department bought a barracks on Spadina avenue. At that time the newspapers said the barracks was worth $10,000, so it seems to me like a misprint when I find the department paid $144,000 for it.

Then I have another more or less personal grievance with the department. I have been wondering for some time when the minister and his officials are going to start to run this department, and to see that it is not run by the patronage system and by a few people who are not members of this house. Some time ago, probably a year ago, the officials of this department told me that there would be a public building erected in Haliburton because the one there was too small and the ground available was not sufficient to add to it to satisfy the requirements of the area at this time. They decided they would build a new building rather than try to improve the old one. We appreciated that part of it, but later on in February of this year we find that another man, who is not a member of this house but a member of the Senate, comes into the patronage system and starts to tell us why and how and who is going to build this building. I think it is about time the minister and his officials clipped that fellow's wings. So far as this building is concerned, I do not care who builds it or who gets the credit for it as long as we get the building to meet the requirements of the people in that area.

Now, we have this patronage tycoon, I guess more or less appointed by the minister or his department, who spreads his fingers out over every riding. Members of this house, some of them Liberals, have told me that if you want to get anything you have to go to Senator Fraser. He is the man who tells you what you will get, how you will get it and all about it. That might be all right so far as contracts are concerned. If this building is going to be let by contract, and there are some pickings in it and W. A. Fraser is entitled to it, then that is all right with me. We would like to get the building, and we would like

Supply-Public Works

to know if this department is going to be run on a strictly patronage basis.

If the minister has any doubt in his mind about this, I have letters here to back it up. This letter was published in the Haliburton County Echo on March 24, and was written by W. A. Fraser on March 10. I do not know whether it was intended to be published, but it is certainly written to the editor. He states that public works will have an item in the estimates to cover this building in 1956-57. I was promised this post office more than a year ago, and I think it would have come along in the estimates this year if our patronage tycoon hadn't got his nose into the muddle. He thought there was not going to be enough Liberal persuasion or something of that sort, so he comes into the picture. He does not stop at writing a couple of personal letters. Perhaps this is a personal letter, I do not know, but it came out in our local newspaper. He writes two columns and then winds up his letter by mentioning my name and stating I cannot have any credit for any post office in that area. I must remember I am an opposition member and things are going to be done by him. He is going to say when we get the post office, and probably will have something to say about who builds it, especially if it is done by a contractor. There are many men up there who need work. There are good carpenters and good bricklayers who will be glad to get a job on this building. I do not care whom you select; select anybody you wish to do the job in my area. They are good workmen, whether they are Liberals or Conservatives. The department should remember that it is not just Liberals who are paying the taxes in this country to pay for these things. I should like to tell him that 75 per cent of the taxes paid in that village are paid by Conservatives.

When it comes to who is to pay for the building, I think they should have a little to say about who does it and how it is done. If you want to put Liberals on the job, that would be all right. We need the work and the wages. The boys need the money and they would be glad to have it. Do it any way you like, because it does not matter how often Senator Fraser comes into my riding I will welcome him or anybody else. I would welcome the minister up there when we open this building, even if it is set back one year or two years. I expect to be invited to the platform when it is opened. He may also do the same as he did in Peterborough. He may bring in the Liberal members from Kingston, Northumberland, Durham and as far east and as far west as he wishes. We will welcome them and give them a good

Supply-Public Works time and do not forget your patronage tycoon, Mr. Fraser. Bring him along, because I should like the pleasure of being on the same platform with him for at least five minutes. That would be as good a place as any I know of to meet him.

I say to the minister that up until now I have received fair treatment from the Department of Public Works. We have got along very well. But for some reason unknown to me at least, the department has appointed a patronage tycoon to come in and run this show and tell us where we are to get off and how we are to get off. It is about time that something was done about it.

There are other things I should like to talk about, but I shall leave them until the items are called. I say to the minister that we look upon him as the boss of this department, along with his deputy minister. If he wishes to assert his authority, then carry out the promises that the officials have made and build the post office this fall. Do not leave it over until next year because Senator Fraser or somebody else wants to get his fingers in the pie. I do not pay much attention to wolves howling in the woods. I have listened to them all my life, and the sounds from around here are not much different either

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LIB
PC

Clayton Wesley Hodgson

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Hodgson:

If I get out of the woods I certainly will not go down to Durham, but when I go to Durham it will be to elect a Conservative and you will know all about it.

I do not want to hold up the minister's estimates. So far as I am concerned that is all I have to say at this time. There are a lot of items and we shall get an opportunity to discuss them as they are called.

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CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. Herridge:

Mr. Chairman, these are

very important estimates and I should like to make a few general remarks on this item. Since I believe in the conservation of energy I shall also refer to a few matters in detail, and I trust that will save the time of the committee and remove the necessity for my rising on a dozen occasions later.

First of all, I must express my personal appreciation of the consideration and courtesy I received from the minister, his deputy and his senior officials. I have found all of them on all occasions willing to listen attentively to any representations I made on behalf of my constituents.

While I am on my feet I also wish to pay a tribute to the British Columbia district officials of the minister's department who are very active in going around British Columbia

to see what is required to meet the needs of the people concerned; also to the local officials in Kootenay West whom I have known for a good number of years and whose work has been appreciated generally by the people of my district. Their work and interest makes a great difference to the lives of many people living in small communities and in isolated points.

I wish to say that when the minister and the deputy took over this department they were faced with a very heavy task, as many hon. members realize. The department was pretty well bogged down because of the urgencies of the war and later a very large and extended building program with which the department's administrative staff was not able to deal effectively. The effects of the reorganization of the department that has been undertaken under the minister's direction and by the deputy minister and his senior officials is already beginning to show results, in improved efficiency.

I noticed in reading the report of the department for the year ended March 31, 1954, there is a reference on page 6 which deals with the realignment of departmental organization. In the last paragraph there is a reference to a matter that I had brought to the attention of the house on several occasions. I often said I could not see why senior engineers and well-trained officials in certain branches, either in the architectural branch or in the engineering branch, should have to be bothering about the janitors' duties in different buildings, whether they had a week's holiday or not. I now quote the last paragraph of this report:

The chief architect's branch has in the past been responsible for all maintenance activity as well as construction of government buildings. Authority is being sought to establish a property and building management branch which would be responsible for accommodation and maintenance. The chief architect, in charge of the building construction branch, would then be able to concentrate primarily on construction.

I was very pleased to read that in the report. When the minister speaks I should like him to inform the committee just what has been done in that connection, because I think it is a very good step in the reorganization of the department,

I also notice that since the minister and his deputy have taken over there is a greater decentralization, which makes for efficiency and often saves time. I know in years past there was a lot of pettifogging delay on some occasions, which I brought to the attention of the house, where the delay cost the public services more than twice as much as the money that was intended to be saved. I remember on one occasion pointing out that

there was a whole crew waiting to build a wharf and the man who was to deliver the lumber on contract raised the price $2 a thousand, I think it was, and the work was stopped until authority could be received from Ottawa to proceed. Consequently, the crew was kept idle there for quite a long period of time until Ottawa gave permission to go ahead with the reconstruction and pay the extra cost for lumber. I think the total amount involved in the extra lumber was just a few hundred dollars. I am very glad to know that owing to the reorganization of the department things like that will not happen in the future.

I can readily understand the desire to maintain control of all major policy and decisions regarding construction and things of that sort; but if we have competent engineers in the district offices and in the local offices, their good judgment can be relied upon to do what is best in the public interest in an emergency.

I must tell the minister that my constituents in the city of Nelson are very pleased with the progress being made on the federal building that is being constructed there. Those in the city of Trail are delighted that at last tenders have been called for the public building there. It is a very important place. This government collects a lot of income tax from the residents of the city of Trail. They have been looking forward to the commencement of this building for about three years. I am pleased that tenders have now been called and we hope that from this time on there will be no further delays in the construction of this important building. The residents of Castlegar were very pleased when their federal building was commenced. However, it was just started and then operations suddenly ceased. I understand the reason is a change in plans owing to a change in local conditions and circumstances.

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LIB
CCF

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

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

Mr. Herridge:

I would like the minister to explain just what is intended so that I can correctly inform my constituents. My people at Robson East are delighted that there is to be a reconstruction of the wharf there which is most necessary. The minister may not understand just how important these things are, but the fact is that thousands of tons of ore are being shipped over this wharf every month from the northern part of my constituency, and considerable farm produce.

The people at Crawford Bay are also pleased to know that their wharf is to be reconstructed, and there are half a dozen others to be repaired which I will not take

Supply-Public Works

time to mention. All these improvements are most necessary because some of these communities are not served by roads and therefore the wharf is a most important part of their public facilities.

I was very pleased to note the item for the dredging on the Arrow lakes. There is an increasing traffic on the lakes in the form of tugs hauling ore and booms of logs. It is expected there will be a still greater increase in this traffic in the near future and I think more money will have to be allocated for dredging the narrows between Upper and Lower Arrow lakes in the years to come. It is necessary that that channel be maintained at a sufficient depth to permit the deeper draft tugs to get through. In the years past, stern-wheelers with a shallow draft were used but now there are more and more tugs hauling ore and log booms with a deeper draft. On occasion during low water they have some difficulty in getting through the narrows.

I am pleased to see that some work is to be done in dredging the bar at Arrowhead where the Columbia river enters the lake. This is most necessary. I am pleased also to see an item for channel maintenance in the Duncan river. This is a more or less isolated part of my constituency. But these small items for maintenance and improvement of rivers mean a lot to the people who make their living from lumbering and mining in this part of the country.

I notice an item for snag removal on the Arrow and Kootenay lakes. I am pleased to see that, because these snags have been increasing throughout the years. They come down at high water from the upper Columbia, usually in the form of trees floating vertically, and they catch on a sand bar and stay there and create a hazard to navigation. They accumulate and at times you will find as many as 100 in one spot. I am very pleased to see that this matter is to be dealt with this year. I suggest that an item of this kind should be included in the estimates every year if navigation is to be made as safe as possible. This is particularly so because there are an increasing number of small pleasure craft and small tugs operating on the lakes.

I have been very pleased with everything so far, but there is one other matter I want to bring to the attention of the minister and I am sure the deputy minister will listen to me as well. Over a period of 50 years the Department of Public Works has rendered an excellent service in the area which I represent by the building of wharves and the dredging and maintenance of river

Supply-Public Works

channels and works of that sort. The department has serviced many small isolated communities by providing a float at a landing or something of that type. I hope the department will not damage its magnificent record in that respect by neglecting the building of one more needed float.

A float is required to service the needs of the pioneer settlers at Brooklyn on Arrow lake. There was a float at this point 50 years ago and the C.P.R. service called there. Then the float went into decay and was not repaired. There are settlers there and quite a number of people own summer homes at that point. Other persons own undeveloped property there as well.

I am not suggesting that this is a large point, but the people there live under isolated circumstances without any road connection. I have been asked by various organizations on the lakes-they all sent me copies of the letters they had sent to the deputy minister and he knows all about it-to bring this case to the attention of the minister. These pioneers find it most inconvenient to transport their fruit and farm products across the lake to the landing almost opposite, particularly under winter conditions and even more so when there are dangerous ice conditions.

This would not be an expensive proposition because the department has used sections of floating wharves which are not required at the moment. These have served their purpose in larger communities and have since been replaced by other installations. Only a couple of sections of floating wharf, secured by driving a dolphin at each corner, would be needed. The expense would be small but it would prove of great benefit to the permanent residents and the couple of dozen people who go up there for their summer holidays.

I ask the minister to give consideration to this float as I know it can be built at little expense. I have done a good deal of work for the department in years gone by as they often came to me when they got into trouble when needing an inspector or when they thought I needed an extra dollar. I do hope the minister and his deputy will give every consideration to my request. This is the only isolated point on the Kootenay or Arrow lakes which is not served by one of these small floats and this can be provided by the use of some second-hand material and four dolphins. The present steamer service could then land there, and pick up passengers and freight.

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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

Mr. Chairman, I am not going to take up any time of the committee on this first item because we in this group

intend to confine our remarks to the items in which we are particularly interested. I always enjoy listening to the hon. member for Kootenay West as I do not think he has ever made a speech without congratulating someone in the government. Perhaps he gets more that way.

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?

An hon. Member:

It appears so.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
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SC

Ernest George Hansell

Social Credit

Mr. Hansell:

Perhaps some of us will have to revise our method of attack in the hope of getting extra service. We have no criticism to make of the way in which the minister has administered his department. I think everyone in this group will agree that he is not doing a bad job. Hon. members have had individual complaints but when they were brought to the minister he looked them over and answers were obtained. They were not always the answers we wanted, but they were answers just the same.

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SC

July 1, 1955