April 21, 1910 (11th Parliament, 2nd Session)

LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Hon. WM PUGSLEY (Minister of Public Works).

As the amendment moved by the hon. member for York (Mr. Crocket) not only seeks to attack the judgment of the engineering branch of my department in connection with the purchase of this wharf at Richibueto, but also goes further, and asks this House to declare that that was a corrupt and fraudulent transaction, I think it becomes advisable that I should address some observations to the House before hon. gentlemen are called upon to vote upon this motion of want of confidence in the government. Now I desire to say, first of all, that if any hon. gentleman will take the trouble to read carefully the evidence which was given before the Committee on Public Accounts he cannot help being struck with the evident desire and determination upon the part of the hon. member for York to give to this House only a part of the case, and to withhold evidence which was, and which is of a most material character. I desire just for a moment to call attention to one striking fact in the remarks of the hon. gentleman, which afford a key to his whole conduct in the discussion of this question. The hon. gentleman

stated that when an application was presented to my department by the Kent Northern Railway Company in the month of May, 1908, for additional wharf accommodation at Richibucto, immediately on receipt of that request I sent an order to the chief engineer of the department that an examination and report should be made without delay. Those are the words of the hon. gentleman, that ' an examination and report should be made without delay ', thus seeking to convey the impression to this House that I lost not a moment in having this report made, that I was particular to give the unusual direction to the chief engineer to have report made without delay. Now, in order that there may be no mistake in that regard, I will call the attention of the House to the language of the hon. gentleman. It will be found on page 7780 of the * Hansard ':
No mention then of the report of the 10th of March, what it seems to me would necessarily have been made had the minister not been cognizant of the plans of Geo. W. Robertson and Thos. O. Murray. On that very day he issues an instrnction to the chief engineer to have a report procured upon the matter of this letter without delay.
And the hon. gentleman emphasized that. Now, when I call your attention to the fact that the order which I gave to the chief engineer, was the order which is usually given, the order which is almost universally given for making a report, simply instructing the engineer to have an examination and Teport made upon the property, not using at all the words 'without delay', giving no directions to the chief engineer as to when he should have the report made, giving no directions that an unusual hurry should be exercised, when you find that the hon. gentleman has used these -words, supposing, I presume, they would escape the notice of the House, when they are not contained in the order, I think you will be able to form some idea of the desire which the hon. gentleman has had with reference to the information which he should give to this House to enable the House to determine how they should vote upon this question. In addition to making that erronous statement, the hon. gentleman all through his remarks is careful only to give a portion of the evidence which was submitted to the committee. For instance, I happen to have in my mind one striking fact. The hon. gentleman, in referring to the negotiations which had taken place during the present year with the Messrs. Loggie for the purchase of thi3 property, and to the proposition submitted by my department offering to them a portion of the property they declined, he says that Mr. Loggie stated that if we sold to him all the property except 200 feet, it would entirely de-2444
feat the plan which the department had in view for establishing terminal facilities at the port of Richibucto. The hon. gentleman was careful not to refer to a further part of Mr. Loggie's evidence in which, although he said that he was acting on business principles, not having regard to the interest of the department, but rather to the interest of his firm, a little later on, and the hon. gentleman must have been aware of this, when the question was put to Mr. Loggie he stated that he could not say that it would at all interfere with the plans of the department because, reserving as they did 200 feet, it would give them a large frontage on the Richibucto river in connection with the railway terminals of the Kent Northern railway. I might go on and call attention to other portions of the evidence in which the hon. gentleman has, I will not say wilfully, Mr. Speaker, I would rather be charitable, and I would say with an ignorance of the duty which the hon. gentleman owes to the members of this House to give them full information, the hon. gentleman has failed to discharge that duty which, as a representative, he owes to the members of this House anil to the people of this country.
Now what further? The hon. gentleman said that if so and so is the case, if it is true that Mr. Murray and Mr. Robertson, came to Ottawa and consulted with me with regard to the purchase of this property, then the Minister of Public Works will be implicated as the originator of this transaction. But, Sir, unfortunately for the hon. gentleman, there is no such evidence as that; unfortunately for the position taken and the charges made by the hon. gentleman, there; is no evidence that either Mr. Murray on Mr. Robertson spoke to me one single word; with respect to this Richibucto wharf when they visited Ottawa. On the contrary, there is the sworn testimony of Mr. Murray, and the hon. gentleman did not choose to ask the committee to send for Mr. Robertson. He may say that Mr. Robertson is in a distant part of the country, but if he had applied to the committee the committee would no doubt have ordered his production here as a witness, the same as the committee ordered the production of every witness whose name was given to the chairman by my hon. friend. But Mr. Thomas Murray swore that when he and Mr. Robertson visited Ottawa, the subject of the purchase of this wharf was never mooted between himself and myself, or between Mr. Robertson and myself in his presence; and yet, although I affirmed it to the committee, and although he knew that a charge of that kind would necessarily involve my honour as a member of this House, as a member of this government and as Minister of Publ'o Works, the hon. gentleman had not thei

manliness to ask me whether I spoke of this wharf transaction when these gentlemen were in Ottawa. But, Mr. Speaker, in face of his omitting to do that, in face of his omitting to do what every honourable man would feel it to 'be his duty to do in the discharge of the fair obligation which one man owes to his fellowman, in face of his neglecting to do that, in face of the positive evidence of Mr. Murray that we said not one word with reference to this wharf transaction when he "was in *Ottawa, the hon. gentleman asked this House to believe that Mr. Murray and Mr. Robertson came to Ottawa and advised with me, or were advised by me, to go back and buy this wharf property for $700 in the expectation that they would sell it to the government for the sum of $5,000.
Sir, could a more heinous charge bei made against a public man than is insinuated by the hon. gentleman-did I say 'made'?-no; the hon. gentleman has not the courage to make a charge like that upon the floor of the House. He has been, here long enough to know that if he made a charge of that kind and failed to prove it he would be placing in jeopardy his seat in the House, and there would be meted out to him the punishment which should be meted out to every man who without) good reasons makes a reckless and villainous charge against a fellow member of this parliament.

Topic:   SUPPLY-THE RICHIBUCTO WHARF.
Subtopic:   R. O'LEARY,
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