March 31, 1932 (17th Parliament, 3rd Session)

LIB

Peter John Veniot

Liberal

Mr. VENIOT:

It will reach him-let him read Hansard to-morrow. I will ask the Minister of Labour, now that he has the evidence that federal aid was expended on these roads, that he obtain from Mr. Carter his reports on the old Miramichi road, on the Blue Cove road, on the Bennie Petre road, the south Bathurst and other roads. I was going to refer also to the roads north and south of the Tracadie river, but Mr. Carter reports that he saw only one individual and he was not able to obtain any information. In these cases where he was not able to obtain sufficient evidence the minister should have him return and make a further attempt, but the evidence already obtained should be reported to this house. If that is done it will be seen that it bears out what I have said to-day.
Take the cases of the old Miramichi road or the east Bathurst road, so-called,, which Mr. Carter said was not under federal aid. This project is under fedeial aid, because the provincial Minister of Public Works has stated that practically $14,000 of federal aid was expended as compared to only $5,000 of provincial aid. This was the reply made in the legislature of New Brunswick. Mr. Carter had my report in which I stated that the men who were on the pay-roll on October 26 had not worked. I suggested to him that he look into this matter, and he did so. He found out that there were men on the pay-roll on October 26 who had not worked. He went to the chief timekeeper who told him he could not understand how it was. The chief timekeeper's name is also on that pay-roll, and he stood all day at the polls corralling the men off the road and keeping them there all day in order to vote. Yet he does not understand how it was they were not working. He sent Mr. Carter to a young school boy of seventeen years of age who was acting as assistant timekeeper. This boy told Mr. Carter that he had put the names of these men who had not worked upon the pay-roll under the instructions of his father and William Gallagher. Is it true that these pay-rolls are padded? Replying on March 22, as reported in the St. John Telegraph-Journal, to a statement made by me in this house on February 8, the provincial Minister of Public Works stated that 41761-100J
while it was true a number of men had been on the pay-roll on October 26, when it was discovered that they had not worked their names were erased. This goes to prove the statements I made to the Department of Labour, at least in that respect. It goes to prove also that those who had charge of the work-I do not know whether they received instructions from the provincial department or from anybody else-did not hesitate for a moment to use federal money as a campaign fund. Is it any wonder I take such a strong stand against allowing the provincial department to handle this money any longer when the Minister of Public Works has had three or four of the supervisors in his own county of Restigouche reported upon by a royal commission as having stolen some $7,960 of the public moneys expended on the roads in that county? [DOT]
I take this matter up to-night in order to justify the position I took on March 8. At that time I referred to the expenditure of money in the county of St. John and stated that much of the money had been expended before the projects had been approved. I stated further that the projects approved between November, 1930, and March, 1931, and those approved on November 25, 1931,-I was then referring to the first project-had been held over until the by-election took place. If I am not mistaken, the projects in the county of St. John were approved of in February, 1931, and some of the money was expended. Everybody in New Brunswick admits that at that time unemployment was very acute in the county of St. John, and especially in the parishes of Simonds and Lancaster, yet $7,300 of that money was withheld and not expended until June, the month of the St. John county by-election, which took place on June 29, 1931. I have, from the pay sheets of the New Brunswick Department of Public Works, direct evidence of that expenditure of $7,300 being upheld until June.
I further stated that large amounts of money were expended before the projects were submitted to the Denartment of Labour, and I have the proof of that from the pay sheets of the New Brunswick Department of Public Works. In September, 1931, they spent $13,168; in October, $17,093; in November, $7,863, and yet the projects were not approved until November 26. Therefore in that respect I have substantiated the statement I made on the floor of the house.
I wish to go back to the expenditures made in the county of Gloucester. There has been submitted by the New Brunswick Department of Public Works to the provincial legislature,

Unemployment Continuance Act
expenditures under federal aid amounting to some 826,000 or $27,000 more than the amount involved in the projects approved by the Department of Labour. How in the face of this can the provincial government continue spending still further beyond the amount involved in the projects so approved? Under those conditions, with the knowledge I have of the loose way in which this money has been expended in my province, might I be permitted to say to the Minister of Labour that, if the government will not change its methods of expending that money in the provinces, he have an official of his department examine very carefully the projects submitted before one dollar is spent, and that, if the accounts submitted to the New Brunswick legislature show that there was expended under federal aid by them $26,000 more than is involved in the projects approved, the provincial government be called upon to reimburse that amount to the federal exchequer.
There are other matters to which I should like to refer, but I do not wish to delay at any greater length the passing of this measure through committee. We have been accused of obstruction. May I say to the Prime Minister and his followers that as regards my opposition to this measure, obstruction has been furthest from my mind; but if my hon. friends opposite wish to issue the challenge to us and go to the country on it, we are prepared to meet them and to take our chances then. We have endeavoured to enlighten the people of Canada as to the manner in which the federal government is attempting to usurp the powers that belong to parliament and to parliament alone.
If I may judge from what I have heard said by those whom I have met during the Easter holidays, Conservatives as well as Liberals, they contend that the government has gone too far in usurping those powers; that apparently it mistrusts parliament; that it wishes to have in its own hands the carrying out of matters under this act. Some years ago we heard of a ''whisper of death;" now we hear a whisper going among the people, asking: What have the government in mind? Why are they adopting such drastic measures? Why do they wish to become absolute as a cabinet in carrying on relief work? Many of our Conservative friends are beginning to be anxious, suspicious.

Topic:   COMMON'
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