February 26, 1901 (9th Parliament, 1st Session)


John William Bell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BELL (Pietou).

How can the hon. Postmaster General, in the face of that, maintain that he should fairly compare that deficit of $781,000 with the deficit which he had apparently in the next year when he admits that to provide for the deficit he got a sum of money given to him by the hon. Finance Minister, by special grant, and which was charged to capital account ? How can he ask an intelligent House and country to accept his statement ? The Postmaster General here informs us that during the year ending June 30, 1896, there was a deficit of $780,000, and that he had only a deficit of $60,000 the next year. He has, I think, conclusively established the contention made by the hon. the ex-Postmaster General (Mr. Haggart), that there was no such deficit for 1896. He has proven that hon. gentleman's contention by the facts and figures given in his own report. There was nothing in the receipts or expenditure of the department in the year 1897, that would ccount for the disappearance of that alleged deficit, and I think we may accept as a matter now satisfactorily established that the deficit did not at all belong to the year terminating on June 30, 1896, but was the increment of a series of arrearages extending over a number of years. Therefore, I think we must charge the hon. Postmaster General with a lack of ingenuousness when he seeks to put the deficit for 1896 at $780,000. as compared with the deficit that existed in the following year. There are one or two matters to which I want to call the attention of the hon. the Postmaster General. 1 suppose he is exceedingly anxious to make his department self-sustaining as soon as possible. I know he is claiming a great deal of credit for cutting down the expenditure by refusing to let contracts to mail carriers without tender, and that he has saved a great deal of money, by, in some cases, breaking up contracts and reletting

them during the term in which they were to run. I would like to call his attention to the tact that some person is taking liberties with his'' department in the county of Pictou, in Nova Scotia, that he is taking contracts froni men who have efficiently discharged their work, and giving them to others who have not tendered for them. It may be a coincidence, but it is a fact nevertheless, that a man who has been deprived of the privilege of tendering and who has lost two contracts, the requirements of which he has performed in a manner so efficient as to secure the commendation and support of the people of that locality, is a Conservative, and a very active one, and that the gentleman to whom the contract has been given without tender is one, whatever his other qualifications may be, who is a strong supporter of the hon. gentleman and his friends. I am sure the hon. Postmaster General will put that matter right now that I have, in my place, in parliament, brought it to his notice and showed him how seriously some of his officials are departing from that magnificent line of conduct that he marked out for himself when he took office. Mr. Gammon, of Kiver John, was deprived of his contract, and another gentleman, Mr. Ritchie, of River John, received the contract although he did not apparently ask for it. Certainly he did not tender for it. There is another matter. I find, that, like my hon. friend from King's county, N.B. (Mr. Fowler), certain postmasters in Pictou county are marked for destruction or promotion. In many cases, despite largely-signed petitions from those in the neighbourhood, they have been dismissed and the post offices removed to other places for no reason whatever except a political reason. That is a shame. It is a pity that men can be found in our country so small as to covet an office of $10 or $20 a year, and that an administration can be found so contemptible as to listen to the demands of defeated candidates who wish to wreak their vengeance on men who refused to support them, and who stood in a manly fashion by their party. It is a sad thing to know that Canada is governed by a set of men who will lend themselves to such contemptible conduct. Even in cases where Liberal friends asked the post office to be left where it was, at the instance of defeated candidates the whole public service of Canada is being dragged down by the acts of this administration. It is a miserable, petty, jjicayune piece of business. The government is raising up for itself a fine monument in showing that it is the tool of creatures who are capable of asking the dismissal of men holding these small offices, simply on the ground that they refused to vote Liberal.

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