March 18, 1903 (9th Parliament, 3rd Session)

CON

William Humphrey Bennett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BENNETT.

In order to aid the minister to give the desired information, I will place a few facts before him. In the township of Rama, which is situated in the county of Ontario, there is a concern owned by this Standard Chemical Company, and I find on reference to the Auditor General's Report last year that no less a sum than $22,605 worth of this article was purchased by the department from this company. I am not surprised at the statement made by the minister that a long contract was made with this company. Perhaps before the matter closes the minister will explain the nature of that contract. It is a contract of considerable importance in view of the large sums of money paid by the government to that company. Perhaps the minister knows that the owners of this concern are very prominent Liberals, and in a recent election in that riding the owners of this concern exerted themselves vigorously on behalf of the government candidate. Let me read for the benefit of the minister a statement made by one of the officials of this company, which appeared in the ' Globe ' newspaper of March 3rd :
He desired to start his present business before the change of government. He wanted a little help, and went to Ottawa thinking that as an old Conservative he would have little difficulty in his lobbying. He found it impossible to even see several of the ministers on whom he called, and he came away quite disheartened. After the change of government he went down again. He had no difficulty in seeing the ministers, received a fair and businesslike hearing, and he found that when the ministers were shown a reasonable proposition and one that was likely to be of benefit to the country, they would assist it. Assistance was promised him, and the result was the establishment of his business in five Canadian towns, and the expense of several millions of dollars. He did not know that the industry would have been started if there had not been a change of government. He thought the government were an honest government, and that the prosperity of the present time was largely due to them. Some manufacturers were complaining that they wanted a higher tariff. This, he thought, was something of a joke. The government would be wise to make no change until they saw some person losing money or going to smash.
Now this statement is made by one of the stockholders of this company, and it is quite plain that having, as he has, the contract with the government, on fair terms, his company are quite satisfied with the tariff. Now, what is the position 1 One of the leading members of this company is Mr. Tudhope, the Liberal member in the local legislature for East Simcoe. As this gentleman, Mr. Peuchen, stated, he found it impossible to make terms with the former government for the manufacture of wood alcohol; but when he came down here, the other gentlemen associated with him being

good Liberals, be found no trouble whatever in making terms with the government for the production of this article. I find In the answer given by the minister last session, that he stated :
I understand that the price was fixed by the department. The department is entirely free to buy where it pleases.
Now, it is a most extraordinary state of affairs that here a number of gentlemen have applied to the former administration, and on the terms they were proposing were unable to make a contract, but with the new government they very easily made a contract. These good Liberals come down here and by reason of their influence-and a very powerful influence they no doubt had, which they exerted to the utmost- they are able to make a contract with the government without tender, without any public competition, practically fixing between themselves and the minister the price of this article; and if report is correct, the profits on this business are something enormous. What does the minister propose to do with Mr. Smith, and Mr. Jones, if they start a business ? Are they going to have competition with this company, or is this company to have a monopoly of the business ? It is one of those cases that we find going on all over the Dominion to-day. Here are a few favoured Liberals who come into the field, and without any tender, not in the open market at all, as should be the case when public money is being disbursed, these gentlemen are practically given their own price, and the result is that they secure an enormous sale of over $22,000 worth of their product last year to the department. What do they do in return ? Well, the figures of the last contest answer. In this neighbourhood, at the time of a general election, or at ail events of a prior election, the powerful influence of this company went for nothing; but now since they are backed up and buttressed by this government, the result is that, with the aid of this bounty, or subsidy, or whatever you may call it, they succeed in increasing the Liberal vote in that vicinity by 100, in round numbers. Then the Postmaster General comes back and says it is a great triumph for a lower rate of protection. One of the greatest changes in the whole riding of North Ontario was made in this very district where a company of friends of the government are paid a handsome subsidy, and where pressure was brought-because there has been pressure brought-of course it is fair to the minister to state that at*the time he was not the head of the department. But I think it is fair to the House and to the country to explain how it was possible that, without any competition, the government should give to a party of their friends a contract which enures to the benefit to the tune of over $22,000 in a single year. I think the matter is one for fair discussion 81
and comment; and 1 ask the minister now to explain what is done with all this wood alcohol, and what is its selling price after it is purchased by the department ?

Topic:   SUPPLY-GOVERNMENT BUSINESS.
Subtopic:   INQUIRY FOR RETURN.
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