I will be greatly surprised if any return can be brought down by the government showing that they have made Sir WILFRID LAURIER.
any substantial progress in reference to this matter. But, what the country is interested in is, that this inquiry has been tied up since 7th October, 1907, and will be tied up for another six months, and that in the meantime great injury to the public will accrue by reason of this wrong classification- this dishonest classification I am inclined to think, but this wrong classification at all events-being continued to be made and the contractors paid upon progress estimates from time to time. But that is not the only-point; the Prime Minister wants us to understand that he is doing something in the public interest. He wants us to understand that, on his motion he had determined that action should be taken which will result in the public knowing how this matter stands. Now the Prime Minister knows perfectly well that if the instruction which he has given to those who represent the government on this proposed committee is carried out, and it will to the letter, there can be absolutely no investigation under this inquiry. What, are the facts? Mr. Lumsden says:
Neither the general specifications nor my instructions regarding classification have been adhered to but on the contrary large amounts of material have been returned as solid rock which should have been classified as loose rock or common excavation.
He also adds that large quantities of overbreak have been allowed which should not have been allowed, and these are the actual items which are referred under the statute to this arbitration of three experts who are said to be now proceeding with the work. And so we will be confronted with this. It is not a material question whether Mr. Lumsden has lost confidence in the engineering staff; we are not going to have a special committee of this House sitting from week to week to investigate that, when the gist of the whole thing is, not that he has lost confidence, but that he finds that his instructions with regard to classification and overbreak have been disregarded. Therefore, the very essence of the thing, the basic point of the Whole matter, is to ascertain whether or not that over classification has prevailed. Until you ascertain whether as a fact there has been over-classification and whether or not there have been allowances made with regard to overbreak which should not have been made, there can be no judgment come to by the committee as to whether Mr. Lumsden was justified in writing the letter he did. and whether there was a disregard of his instructions which would justify his losing confidence in a certain number of the engineers upon that work. But, Mr. Speaker, the matter narrows itself down a great deal more than that. The country is not concerned, alone, as whether or not there has been over-elassifi-
cation, or too large an allowance upon some other items upon the small section of the road which was investigated by these three engineers at the time to which Mr. Lumsden refers. What the country wants to know, if I understand it, is the methods by which this road has been constructed, the principle upon which it was launched, whether or not, in the original surveys and location, honest methods prevailed, or whether there is need and right to condemn the government, having regard to the enormously increasing cost to which this road is mounting, whether this is to be attributed to ignorance and incompetence on the part of the engineers, to the careless or dishonesty of those in charge of the road, not in an isolated section of 150 miles or so, as referred to in this resolution, but in the 1,800 miles from Moncton to Winnipeg. What the country wants to know is, was the government justified in 1903 in announcing by the Prime Minister and subsequently, in detail figures, by the Minister of Finance, that this road was to cost the country a total of $13,000000?