April 2, 1909 (11th Parliament, 1st Session)


John Wesley Edwards

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. J. W. EDWARDS (Frontenac).

Mr. Speaker, I had no intention, until, a short time ago, of taking any part in this discussion this evening, or, I might say more properly, this morning, if it had not been for certain statements made by the hon. Minister of Public Works (Mr. Pugsley) in the course of his remarks. I have listened to many of the speeches which have been made here during this debate with a great deal of interest and pleasure. I have listened with some surprise to some of the remarks which have been made. I have listened to speeches made by some hon. gentlemen opposite with a great deal of surprise because of the lack of argument which they contained relevant to this resolution. The hon. member for Leeds (Mr. Taylor) furnished two very strong arguments, for further investigation, or rather he furnished one direct to the members on the government side of the House and when he was furnishing that argument they furnished this House with another argument. My hon. friend from Leeds made some very serious charges as regards the expenditure and as regards the prices paid for articles in different departments of this government. Those statements, which must be taken seriously, have furnished this House with something that we should think of very seriously and they have furnished us with an argument that this investigation should be carried on farther. The mirthfulness with which they were received by hon. gentlemen opposite is a still further argument why this investigation should go further. It is a serious matter indeed that statements such as those which were made by my hon. friend from Leeds should only elicit from members of the government and their supporters laughter and jeers. By that very Mr. GLADtf.
act of laughing and jeering at statements so serious as those, the government have inadvertently furnished this House with an argument why this investigation should go further because as evidently the Cabinet Ministers are disposed to look on matters such as that in a light manner we naturally think that there is ample reason for further investigating the affairs of the different departments of the government. Before referring to the remarks of the hon. Minister of Public Works I want to call attention to some statements made by the hon. Postmaster General (Mr. Lemieux). The Postmaster General said that the Conservative party went into the last election with the cry of graft and corruption. I would like to ask the hon. gentleman and the members of this House who forced the Conservative party to refer to graft and grafters: Was there not evidence enough
to attract the attention of the Conservative party to graft and grafting? What about the case that was referred to by one of the speakers this afternoon of Philip Wagner, the man who was taken out of prison and appointed to a responsible position at an increased salary? Was that not sufficient to call the attention of the Conservative party and of the people of the country to graft and grafters? What about the importation of ballot boxes into the ridings of Frontenac and Hastings by men connected with the party across the way? Is not that sufficient to attract the attention of the country and would not the Conservative party be open to censure if they passed matters of that kind without comment? The Liberal party, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, has furnished the Conservative party with lots of reasons for speaking of graft and grafting. I regret that the Liberals have done so. Another reference made by the Postmaster General was to the effect that the officials who had been dismissed after the Cassels inquiry were officials who had been appointed by the Conservative party. Very well; it does not matter ,as far as I can see, whether they were officials who had been appointed by the Conservative party or whether they were Conservatives or Liberals. I think he makes a case out against himself and the government in making that reference because the fact shows that if these men were appointed by the Conservative party the Conservative party were successful not only in keeping them but other officials in their places while the Liberals were not capable of keeping them in their places when they came into power.
Now, I want to call your attention to one or two remarks made by the hon. Minister of Public Works. He said that he rose for the purpose of defending a gentleman by the name of Mr. Harding, but it struck me that he was more concerned about doing

justice to or putting up a defence on behalf of one of his party friends than he was in discussing the resolution of my hon. friend from St. Anne (Mr. Doherty). The Minister of Public Works criticised my hon. friend from Montreal, St. Anne, on the ground that he had made inaccurate statements. He said that he should be sure his statements were accurate before he made them. I could not help but take particular notice of a statement like that from the Minister of Public Works and I repeat that it was the statements made by the hon. gentleman which led me to speak at all upon the matter under discussion. I had before my mind, when he made that statement, certain statements which had been made by the Minister of Public Works in reference to expenditures in the neighbourhood of the city of Kingston. Let me refer to one or two statements made by that hon. gentleman. The Minister of Public Works has been more than inaccurate. He appealed to this Plouse for $15,000 to build a veterinary hospital. When that expenditure was criticised he defended it. What did we find later on? We have the hon. gentleman, after obtaining that appropriation, coming forward and admitting that the year previously he had talked the matter over with the Minister of Militia and Defence, and had made up his mind not to indulge in the expenditure, stating that it was a printer's error and that he would, with the concurrence of the House, cut it out of the estimates. Yet, the hon. gentleman comes here and criticises the mover of the resolution as to the accuracy of his statements. Do you want another instance of the inaccuracy of the Minister of Public Works? A certain contract was let in the city of Kingston for some sixteen cottages, now famous, and the contract called for $77,000 of expenditure. Some $55,000 was voted last year. The hon. gentleman asked for $57,000 additional this year. Gentlemen on this side of the House criticised that, and said that the expenditure was ridiculously high and absolutely indefensible. The Minister of Public Works put up a defence for that. He argued that the amount was not too much and went into details about rock excavation and so on. After defending this expenditure of $112,000 and the additional expenditure of $57,000 the minister announced that it was a mistake, that a five had been put down instead of a three, and he reduced the item by $20,000. Then he presumes to criticise the mover of this resolution on the ground of inaccuracy. The very manner in which money was expended in the Public Works Department as we have seen this session calls for further investigation, and shows the need for further investigation. I was surprised to hear the hon. gentleman
state that works in his department were carried on by tender and the patronage list was abolished. This statement was repeated by the Postmaster General in reference to all the departments. In Kingston alone we have had the Royal Military College stables for which the contract price was $6,960. They were built several years ago at a total cost of $8,573. An extra of over $1,500 was given without tender to the man who had the original contract. As these stables were built four or five years ago and have never been used, surely there should be an investigation of that expenditure. Do the ministers think that the people of Kingston are not asking for it? I can assure them they are, and that there is room for investigation. For the barrack accommodation in connection with the stables the contract price was $9,490, and the work has cost $15,000. $5,000 or $6,000 going to the fortunate contractor. The Royal Military College cottages were to be erected for $77,739. The minister says he has abolished the patronage system, yet he gave to Michael Sullivan without tender extras in connection with these buildings amounting to $6,237, and other works to the amount of $3,034, a total of $9,361. The only amount above the original contract let by contract was $3,695 for lighting to the Halliday Company. The Royal Military College gymnasium cost $40,000 without being equipped, and it is common street rumour in Kingston that the specifications required that that building should be lined with pressed brick, but that ordinary brick was substituted and painted red. Do the members of this House not think that the people in Kingston, knowing these things, are asking for an investigation into all these departments? That is the opinion of the people down there. They believe there is need of investigation in the different departments as called for in this resolution. The Minister of Public Works (Mr. Pugs-ley) admits that the investigation of Mr. Justice Cassels was not thorough and did not cover the whole ground. He said it would cost $1,000,000 to make a thorough investigation. Would it not be more sensible and more in the interests of the country to spend even $1,000,000 on that work than to throw it away in the Newmarket ditch or in such useless expenditures as the building of those cottages in Kingston at that price?
I believe there is a general feeling throughout the country that these matters should be further investigated. Prior to the last election if these questions were raised in the country the Liberal party would appeal to the people, it was one of their election cries that because the Civil Service Commission reported certain irregularities Sir Wilfrid Laurier would investi-

gate further, he would probe to the bottom and had appointed Mr. Justice Cassels for that purpose. They appealed for support for Sir Wilfrid Laurier on that ground and in that way many votes were cast in his favour. When we referred to the. irregularities, we were met with the argument that Sir Wilfrid Laurier was disposed to be fair and to go to the bottom of these things, that he had shown that by appointing Judge Cassels. In that way they appealed to the people to give the Prime Minister an opportunity to finish his work. To-day not a man has attempted to prove that the investigation has been anything but a partial investigation. The amendment which has been moved by the hon. member for St. Anne is one which should appeal to all members of this House, but more strongly to members on the other side than to those on this side. The public honour is in the keeping of the Prime Minister and his cabinet and it is up to them and not to this side to keep that honour unsmirched and to probe this matter to the bottom. I repeat they are not dcing their duty by the country in voting down that resolution.

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