House of Commons, 9 April 1888, Canadian Confederation with Newfoundland

[...] Alert, and was very glad to hear that contradicted by somebody who professes to know, because I wish to express as strongly as I can my disapprobation of such a. course. I have heard it rumored since that the department are about to call for tenders for the construction of a larger and better boat to supplement the Northern Light. I hope that rumor is true. I was in hopes we would have had an ofiicial statement made to night by the hon. the Minister  of Marine, because after the plain, practical and convincing statements made by my hon. friend, based as they are upon historical facts and upon the declaration made by the High Commissioner to Earl Granville as to the intention of the Government, and upon the suggestion which Earl Granville made to this Government, I hoped we would have heard tonight what the policy of the Government is. I think my hon. friend has made out a complete case, and has put the House in full possession of the facts, and I do think our long-suflering people are entitled to have their grievances in this very serious matter removed. We have been year after year pressing this matter, and I am sure the House does not want me to go over the old story, and I am not going to do it again tonight, because my hon. friend has anticipated me and has put the points better than I could, but I do begin to have some assurance from the Minister in reference to that wharf, and, if he can give it in the absence of the Minister of Marine, some information as to the action of the Department of Marine in reference to the censtruction of another steamboat.
Sir HECTOR LANGEVIN. I was about to rise just now, When I saw the hon. gentleman wished to say a few words, and I thought it better he should speak first so that I might answer both gentlemen—the mover of the resolution (Mr. Perry) and the member for Queen's (Mr. Davies) —at the same time. In answer to the last question of the hon. gentleman, I may say that the contract for the wharf or pier at Cape Tormentine was broken by the Government because the contractor did not proceed with the work quickly and evidently could not go on. Under those circumstances we called for new tenders, and have given a new contract. The contract has been signed, and I understand that the contractors are men who are quite able to perform the work, which will he proceeded with with all due vigor.
Mr. DAVIES (P. E I.) Will the hon. gentleman state who they are ?
Sir HECTOR LANGEVIN. I do not remember now. When the Estimates come on, I shall be able to give the names. As to the boat, I cannot positively say, but, as far as I recollect, the intention of the Minister of Marine and Fisheries is to provide a new boat. In reference to the remarks of the mover of the motion, I may say, first, that there will be no objection to bring down the papers, and second, that the survey made in 1886 was communicated to the House and hon. gentlemen know what was the result of that survey. The hon. gentleman complains that no work has been done in the direction of constructing a subway. I do not suppose he expected that we would proceed in that way. He knew, and I think the hon. gentleman who spoke last stated, that the Minister of Finance had made a statement that we would give our attention to that work, and that we would have new explorations made to see whether the work was a feasible one or not. Well, I am glad to say that the last survey, which was made in July and August, 1887, has given a much better result than the first survey of 1886, and, if we go on in that way, improving all the time, we shall find the distance very small.
Mr. DAVIES (P.E.I.) By the next election.
Sir HECTOR LANGEVIN. I did not say that. The hon. gentleman says so, and I am glad to hear him fix a date, because the Government of course will thus know the wishes of hon. gentlemen on the other side. The engineer in the month of August took a series of borings in a line from Carleton Point to a point in New Brunswick, I think Munsey Point. The greatest depth of water found is ninety- one feet, the bottom is more favorable than on the line of soundings taken in 1886, and the distance is six and a half miles, which is one and a half miles less than on the line of borings taken in 1886. This shows that, as I said, if we go on in that way, we shall find the distance very small, and I think that in any case this result is much more favorable and must please hon. gentlemen so far, at all events, as the survey goes, as it shows that, if the matter has been left over for a year to obtain new soundings and new measurements, the time has not been lost in vain, that we have obtained a much better line by this survey than we had in 1886. I have no objection to the granting of the motion.
Mr. DAVIES (P.E.I.) I would like to be permitted to ask the hon. gentleman whether the result of the survey has been so satisfactory as to induce him to believe it to be right and proper that he should purpose a subsidy or a vote to the House to carry the work out, either by means of a company or by Government contract?
Sir HECTOR LANGEVIN. I am afraid that is a question which I cannot answer immediately. I think it is one of those questions that must be left to the consideration of the Government, and the hon. gentleman may be sure, after the surveys which we have made, that the Government will give to the matter their best consideration.
Mr. DAVIES (P. E. I.) I fear we cannot hope for anything in the supplementaries?
Sir HECTOR LANGEVIN. That is a pleasure left for the hon. gentleman to discover.
Mr. ROBERTSON. Have the Government any offers from any company to build a subway for any particular sum?
Sir HECTOR LANGEVIN. I am not aware. There may have been some offer of that kind in the Railway Department, but I am not in a position to answer that definitely.
Motion agreed to.


Mr. LAURIER moved for:
Copies of all correspondence exchanged between the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland concerning the admission of Newfoundland into the Confederation.
He said: I have no intention to comment on the subject at this moment. My only object is to have as soon as possible before the House the papers on that important question.
Sir HECTOR LANGEVIN. I hope the hon. gentleman will not insist upon his motion after what I shall say. This matter is now engaging the attention of the Government, and, as the hon. gentleman will see from the newspapers that a delegation is coming to Canada about this matter, we think the public interest would not allow us to lay this correspondence now before Parliament.
Mr. LAURIER. If I understand from the hon. gentleman that the correspondence is still going on, that it is not yet in a fit condition to be published, I will not press my motion.
Sir RICHARD CARTWRIGHT. The Minister, I suppose, has no objections to inform us when he expects the 1888. COMMONS DEBATES. 665 delegation to arrive, and perhaps he might give us the names of the gentlemen, if he has been made acquainted with them in advance.
Sir HECTOR LANGEVIN. I am not able to give the names of the gentlemen who will form the delegation, nor the precise date of their coming to Canada, but I suppose it will be about the end of this month.
Mr. MITCHELL. Perhaps the hon . gentleman could tell us whether the Parliament of Newfoundland has authorised the delegation, or whether their Parliament has given any authority to a delegation to come here.
Sir HECTOR LANGEVIN. I am not able to give that information.
Motion withdrawn.


The following member, having previously taken the oath according to law, and subscribed the Roll containing the same, took his seat in the House:
DAVID BISHOP MEIGS, Esq., Member for the Electoral District of Missisquoi, introduced by Hon. Mr. Laurier and Mr. Fisder.


Mr. EDGAR moved for:
Copies of all papers. &c., with reference to: 1. The refusal of the United States authorities to allow Canadian wrecking vessels and machinery to assist Canadian vessels while in distress in United States waters. 2. The refusal of the Canadian authorities to allow United States wrecking vessels and machinery to assist United States vessels while in distress in Canadian waters.
He said: There is a Bill before the House standing, I think, for its second reading, introduced by the hon. member for Frontenac (Mr. Kirkpatrick), which relates closely to this subject, and I sincerely hope the hon. member will press his Bill, and that it will receive the support of both sides of this House. His Bill is to permit American vessels to aid vessels which are wrecked or disabled in Canadian waters. I suppose that that Bill would not have been introduced by that hon. gentleman unless the Canadian authorities had hitherto prevented American vessels from aiding wrecked or disabled vessels in Canadian waters. I have no doubt, however, that the reason why the Canadian authorities took this exceeding harsh line was because the American Government prevented Canadian vessels from assisting vessels which were wrecked in American waters. I think it will be of considerable advantage to this House, in the consideration of the Bill to which I have referred, if these papers are bi ought down, so much, at least, as the Government feel at liberty to bring down, and I hope they will bring them all down. The motion refers not only to correspondence and Orders in Council with reference to the refusal of the United States authorities to allow Canadian wrecking vessels and machinery to assist vessels in American waters, but also as to the refusal of the Canadian authorities to allow Americans to do so, so that we will have both features of the case before us when we have these papers. 1 have no doubt, as I said before, that the Canadian authorities could not have adopted the harsh measures which they have in this matter, and which are to be cured by this Bill, unless the Americans had done the same, but I find in the United States Congress they do not take exactly that view of the case. They seem to think that the Canadian Government has acted much more harshly towards them than they have acted towards the Canadian Government. However, the papers will show how that is. But in order to show the once the view that is taken of the matter on the other side, I will refer to a resolution which was introduced into the House of Representatives by Mr. Nutting, early in the month of February. In that resolution it is recited:
"Whereas, it is alleged that the Canadian authorities for years have refused. and new refuse to allow American wrecking vessels and machinery to assist American vessels while in distress in Canadian canals and waters."
So far, I take it, he must be correct, or else the Bill of the hon. member for Frontenac would not be necessary. He then goes on to make an allegation, which I confess, I very much doubt, but he says:
"And it is alleged further that Canadian wrecking vessels and machinery have been, and now are allowed to come into American waters and assist any vessel there in distress."
Now, whether that is so or not, we will perhaps find out when this correspondence is brought down. But he quotes a couple of letters from American vessel owners and captains which show certainly the great hardship to them of the practice of the two Governments. One is a letter from Oswego, dated 1st February, 1888, by Mr. John K. Pope. He says:
"On or about the 30th day of September, 1881, I. being controlling owner of steam-barge Thompson Kingsford, was notified that she was ashore at Wellington, Out., and immediate assistance was needed. I informed our wrecker, Mr. Allan, who expressed himself ready to start, providing the Canadian authorities would give him permission to work in their waters. I therefore applied by wire to the hon. Minister of Marine at Ottawa, and after a long delay was informed that the assistance needed could be procured at Kingston, and the application was denied I thought the treatment was severe, especially as my tugs were all ready to go, and we could have got the barge out of danger in 24 hours. As it was, during the delay, or rather by the delay. in waiting for an answer, she was subjected to a severe gale, causing great damage and eventually costing us about $l,200 more than it would if we could have done the work ourselves. A gain, about the 19th day of August 1882, the same barge was sunk in the Bay of Quinté by collision, and I again made application to go to her relief with my own appliances, and was again refused."
Then another letter was quoted by Mr. Nutting, which was sent to him by Albert Quonce, also of Oswego, dated 1st February, 1888, in which Mr. Quonce stated:
"At the suggestion of Mr. Allan I make the following statement: On or about the 3rd day of November, l882, the schooner Camanche, of which I was controlling owner, was sunk in the Welland Canal, near Port Colborne. Although Buffalo was but twenty miles from her and assistance could have been secured in six hours, we were told that American assistance would not be permitted, although at that moment the steam pumps were loaded and ready to come. The result was we had to wait for assistance from Amherstburg, nearly three hundred miles distant, and causing delay of three days. Owing to the delay the vessel's cargo swelled and sprung her entire deck up, and almost ruined the vessel."
These statements will show the view taken on the other side, of our harsh law, and I am sure if we can do anything to secure an improvement for the sake of common humanity as well as for the sake of commercial friendship with the United States, the Government will hasten to bring down these returns so that, if possible, we may have them before us when considering the Bill of the hon. member for Frontenac (Mr. Kirkpatrick).
Mr. BOWELL. I would suggest that in the first paragraph the words "not already brought down," be inserted after the words "departmental orders." Some years ago a large amount of correspondence was laid before the House, and I do not suppose it is necessary to duplicate the return.
Sir RICHARD CARTWRIGHT. Was the return printed?
Mr. BOWELL. I think it was; I know it was, because I have a copy of the printed return on the table in my office.
Mr. EDGAR. When was the return made?
Mr. BOWELL. I am not sure, I cannot say the year, but I can furnish the information. However, all the correspondence and orders made in regard to this subject will be brought down, other than those which have already been [...]


Canada. House of Commons Debates, 1875-1949. Provided by the Library of Parliament.



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