Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings of the House of Assembly (1 May 1867)
By: Nova Scotia (House of Assembly)
Citation: Nova Scotia, House of Assembly, Debates and Proceedings of the House of Assembly, 23rd Parl, 4th Sess, 1867 at 168-177.
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DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF NOVA SCOTIA. 1867.
WEDNESDAY, May 1.
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REPORT ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS.
Mr. Jost moved the adoption of the report of the Committee on Public Accounts.
Mr. McLelan said:—It will be in the recollection of the House that some days ago I asked far a return shewing the amounts due from the collectors of customs throughout the Province, and I then said that as a member of the committee on public accounts, I applied personally at the office of the Financial Secretary for information of a later date than the accounts laid before us. By the report of the committee it will be seen that the amounts paid in by collectors up to 30th Sept. left a balance of $11,000, but from the return furnished to me by the Financial Secretary, I find that the real balance due from the collectors is $27,000. It certainly appears to me to be contrary to the privileges of the committee that its members should have to apply in the House for information which is required, and that their business should be delayed until formal returns are laid on the table. The information which I applied for could have been furnished to me in half an hour at the Financial Secretary’s office. In all cases it should be the privilege of the committee to have access to the public books, for we are called on to examine accounts six months old, and are unable to see what the state of things may be up to the time of investigating the matters laid before us. It would be most desirable to know what our financial condition was at 31st March, and the return shewing that has not yet been supplied although asked for by the hon. member for East Halifax. The report shews that our revenue is in a prosperous state, and has been increasing year after year in a very marked manner. In 1866 the customs and excise revenue was $1,231,902, while that of 1863 was only $830,126, shewing an increase of $401.776, or nearly fifty per cent. in four years. This fact should be very gratifying to every Nova Scotian as shewing that we have a country vigorous in prosperity, and possessing largely increasing revenues with a tariff lower than that of any other country on the continent.
This proves that had we retained the control of our revenues we would have been able to develope all our resources and foster our public improvements. But large as has been the increase during the past four years. the public debt has been increasing at a still larger rate, for when to the debt of $6,032,000 already existing, the liabilities recently contracted are added, it will be found that our debt will exceed by nearly half a million the amount which we are entitled to under Confederation. With the large increase of our revenues, it is evident that if our means bad been wisely husbanded, there would have been no necessity for our going into confederation with a debt thrown on the local revenues. Instead of the local revenue being called on to provide for the interest of a surplus debt, we should have had an income by going in with a liability of less than eight millions. As to the Annapolis railway, I agree with the hon. member for Yarmouth, that the Government exhibited undue haste in entering into the contract for the completion of the work this year under existing circumstances. The delegates have declared to us that we are to receive our just proportion in the distribution of the general revenues of Canada, and if that be true, we had no stronger claim on the General Government than the construction of this railway, for it is a subject that has been agitated widely for eight or ten years, and there was no other public work which bad the same claim to consideration. If, then, they believed that we are to receive a fair share of the general revenues, the Government should have retained that strong claim, and should have insisted on the work being done by the united government. As I have said, if there bad been ordinary economy, the local revenues would not have been charged witb an excess of debt. It is plain that the Government are not entitled to credit for the prosperity to which I have referred, for they continued the tariff which they found in existence. Deducting from the increased revenue the amounts given to roads and bridges and education, there will remain a large sum for which they must account as having been appropriated in excess of the ordinary appropriations of the year, notwithstanding that they […]
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[…] came in on the cry of retrenchment. Allowing $56,000 for navigation securities, there would be $200,000 to be accounted for.
Hon. Provincial Secretary—The hon. member has not allowed for navigation securities half the amount given.
Mr. McLelan—I have allowed $56,000 and still there is $200,000 to be accounted for. The House will be prepared for these facts because the financial returns showed a large overexpenditure in all the public departments. The Financial Secretary attempted to justify the over expenditure by saying that as the money belonged to the people it was the duty of the Government to expend it among them. If there were great public works requiring to be carried forward, for which advances were necessary, the over-expenditure might be justified, but it would be remembered that the extension of the Insane Asylum and the construction of the public building were being carried on by an increase of the debt of the Province. The debt mentioned in the report is $6,452,922 and after deducting the asset it will be $6,032,017; while in Dec. 31st, 1862, it was only $4,913,689, making an increase of $1,119,328; while, to the knowledge of the Committee, there have been Issued since the 30th Sept. $35,000 of Provincial notes. The public improvements then have not been made out of the increased revenue, but by enlarging the public debt. As I stated before, there has been a large excess in the expenditure over the estimate of last year. In several of the departments the over-expenditure must be considered wholly unnecessary, in view of the fact that they were about to be transferred to the General Government. As an example I take what I consider the unwarranted expenditure on Government House. It is not improbable that the gentleman who will be appointed Lieutenant Governor will not deem it desirable to occupy that building, and, as it would in that case, become almost useless, I think that a large expenditure on it should not have been made. So extravagant and lavish an expenditure has not been made upon it before to my knowledge, although an outlay has been made every year. The furnishing of one room alone cost last year $2000 the hangings for the windows of that room costing $420. Under the circumstances I think that such an expenditure was wholly unjustifiable, and this la a sample of the extravagance which has been practiced.
I rose more particularly to move for information respecting an account, presented by a public officer, which I am unable to understand, find that about $22,000 has been drawn by a member of the Board Of Works on his own bills and at his own prices, shewing the necessity of the act introduced last year to prevent an officer of the Government contracting with his own department for the furnishing of supplies. I find that Mr. John Pugh has drawn for supplies, on his own bills, $21,864, large portions of these are articles in which that gentleman does not appear to deal. If these supplies have been furnished at his own prices, and are not such articles as Mr. Pugh deals in, then there la every reason to believe that an injustice has been done to the country and the Government have been lax in their duty. I see by the beading of an invoice that Mr. Pugh is a dealer in West Indian goods, wines, liquors, &c., and this one invoice is for sundries furnished to the Druid, to the amount of $4004, including 1500 weight of manilla, and also canvas and several articles not in his line. But I find that in this account Mr. Pugh puts down the articles at a higher price than they could be obtained for in Halifax at six months credit. The manilla is charged at 16 cent cash per pound-the price in Halifax being 15 cents, at six months credit. I find also in this gentleman’s account numerous charges for “small stores,”—in July and August his charges for small stores being $1600. This is surely not the way in which a public officer should render an account. Why should they be put down as small stores when I find specifically charged in another part of the bill two pounds of pepper and a box of mustard? What could be smaller than these articles unless it be the faith which could be placed in the correctness of the account and in the good intentions of the Government? If these small stores are, as I believe them to be, liquors and cabin stores, and we add to them the other liquors charged by Mr. Pugh, as furnished for excursions in the steamer Neptune and other purposes, we will find that the charges for wines and liquors supplied are $2000. Another matter upon which I wish information la as to the prices and quantities of the articles supplied. We have no assurance whatever that these quantities have been delivered, and I observe that a chest of black tea has been charged at 122 lbs. I do not think that a chest of tea of that weight has ever been imported into Halifax.
Mr. Tobin—It may have been the gross weight.
Mr. McLelan—If it be the gross weight then we are charged for the wood and lead the price for tea. Under the head of quarantine service I see supplied by Mr. Pugh 102,000 feet of lumber and 75,000 shingles. This is almost a slip load of lumber delivered, at his own prices, by a gentleman who deals in West India produce, and wines and liquors. These supplies should certainly have been put up to tender so that the public interests would be guarded. The price at which the lumber should have been charged would of course depend on its quality; but I see in the account a charge for two sheets of zinc, $27.80, while it can be obtained for $2 or $3.50.
Mr. McLelan concluded by asking the Government to lay on the tab e the invoices of all purchases for the Druid and Daring, and for the quarantine service, and a return of small stores and cabin stores supplied.
Hon. Financial Secretary—We have just had from the hon. member the long threatened attack upon the financial policy or the administration, and I fancy that after exhausting his quiver full of arrows the hon. gentleman cannot congratulate himself on having produced an astonishing effect. The country will hear with astonishment that he, having as a member of the Committee on Public Accounts the fullest access to financial information and the fullest opportunity of investigating our financial policy, after all the threats and insinuations which have been thrown out, has fallen down to the comparatively trifling and not proven charge of incompetency in a subordinate officer. He has not been able, and I now challenge him and his friends to lay their band upon a single Item of reckless and ill advised expenditure by the Government, but what does he lay before […]
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[…] the house as the sole ground of complaint? He has availed himself most unfairly of his information as a member of the Committee, because if he intended to challenge the conduct of any department he should have given notice of his intention, Instead of rising unexpectedly to expose by means of the information so gained, the conduct of a subordinate officer, and to insinuate what he was unable to prove and what does not exist: that the officers of one of the public departments bad robbed the government and the country. To be consistent the hon. gentleman should have gone further than he ventured to go, and told the house that Mr. Pugh had combined to defraud the country with two other gentlemen in the same department whose honor and character are above suspicion. Is he prepared to say that Mr. Frederick Brown, who is connected with a gentleman intimately associated in opposition with the hon. member has availed himself of his po8ito practice fraud? Because he cannot say that Mr. Pugh obtained these moneys improperly without charging Mr. Brown, the chairman, and Mr. Fairbanks, the commissioner, with disreputable conduct in the appropriation of the public money. I do not stand here as Mr. Pugh’s defender, because he needs no defence, but I know that he could not if he desired, rob the treasury of one cent without the complicity of the gentlemen to whom I have referred. Assuming the charge to be true, although it is not true, I ask if the hon. member acted fairly in preferring it without giving us an opportunity of arraigning our officer and asking him if it was true that it laid in the mouths of any member to make such an accusation.
Mr. McLelan—I applied to the house for information, because I could obtain in no other way.
Hon. Financial Secretary—The hon. member could not complain of want of Information, for he read from the invoice, or a copy of it, which was before the committee. As to having been refused information in the public offices, he asked for what he had no right to. The committee are sent but to examine the accounts for the financial year, and neither in right nor in courtesy could he ask for information as to any other period. He was treated with more than courtesy, and every facility afforded him, but he made an unusual request, for the sole purpose of affording opportunity for a financial attack on the administration. As to the general state of the public accounts, I do not know that the hon. member’s observations are deserving of any consideration, because he failed, excepting as far as it could be done by a few declamatory sentences, such as the house will appreciate, to challenge our financial administration; but he has ventured to follow—very haltingly and feebly, it is true,—the track of the press respecting his opinions He ventured to say that we had made such over-expenditures as should expose us to the censure of the house and the country for reckless extravagance. He stated, with more latitude than I took, the principle which I laid down the other day: that a government engaged in the prosecution of great public works, like St. Peter’s Canal or the Hospital for the Insane, which had repeatedly received the sanction of a vote of the Legislature. should if the vote of credit was found insufficient to carry them forward as rapidly as possible, advance such further sums as could be spared from the treasury. The government hesitating to do so would be guilty of a crime before the country; and if we had not made those advances to forward the contracts for the public works, and to take the precautions against the introduction of disease and contagion which will appear in the quarantine account, we would have been liable to severe censure as being faithless to our trust, in failing to expend for the public necessities the funds with which our energy in the connection of the revenue had supplied the treasury.
But let me turn the hon, member’s attention to the conduct of the Administration which he supported to the very extreme of consistency, and I will show that he went further than we are asking gentlemen to go in our support. That Government not only expended every dollar which came within their reach, without regard to the vote of the Legislature, but on more than one occasion they expended far more than they possessed. The country would understand the hon. gentleman’s attack, if, instead of spending the money in our treasury in the advancement of most important public works, and having after all a balance of more than $100,000 in the chest, we had been obliged to go on our knees and beg forgiveness for having plunged the country $150,000 in debt. Then only would he find a parallel between my conduct and that which he sustained. In 1860 the friends of the hon. gentlemen came into power with a balance in the treasury of $14,492, and in their very first year they spent $146,731 more than had been estimated, and $125,177 more than they collected. I am not going to pick out of those gentlemen’s accounts a bottle of wine, or a box of pepper, nor to ask whether their Board of Works committed a fraud and robbed the country—I am content with the broad fact that his friends expended nearly $150,000 more than had been estimated, and went in debt for the purpose of $125,000. I think the hon. member would hardly have made the speech which we heard if he had remembered what was done by the men to whom he gave his support. In 1862 those gentlemen did what, if we had done, would have given the hon. member a card to play at the election—they reiased the advalorem duties to 12 ½ per cent. I need not ask what eloquent declamation we would have heard if our extravagance had obliged us to take that step. Under that increased tariff they obtained sufficient revenue to pay their debts; but in 1862, with all their horror for over expenditure, they over-expended $300,926, the estimate being $957,000, and the payments $1,257,934 without any of the reasons which it has been in our power to advance. In the next year, also, they over-expended by $94,605.
With what force can the hon. member rise to challenge the administration for following a course which was not only essential to the good government of the country, but which was consistent with the course pursued by the gentlemen with whom he co-operated. (Mr. McLelan:—The government which preceded the one had over expended $400,000, and that had to be paid.) That charge had been fully met and repelled, but I think it will be well for the hon. member to confine himself to the consideration of the matters which happened since he and I entered public life. Let […]
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[…] me now turn attention to another circumstance with which he stands responsible. In 1863, the year in which they went to the country, his government over expended $94,605. The revenue that year had been collected under the 12 1/2 per cent tariff, and the estimate having been made under that tariff, they lowered the duties to ten per cent., and made a very large over expenditure for electioneering purposes, and on the eve of an election, and having reduced the tariff from 12 to 10 pet cent., estimated a larger expenditure than the previous year, which the present government on coming into power were obliged to meet.
We were told that if ordinary economy had been practised we would not have had our indebtedness se high as the eight millions with which we are entitled to go into Confederation, but every man throughout the country knows that the cost of the two lines of railway would bring it up to that amount, and the hon. member’s own report verifies the conjecture, because it says that the debt, including the cost of the Pictou extension, and the amount of the Annapolis subsidy will be nearly eight millions, not eight and a half or nine as was alleged. But the hon. member failed to tell us wherein our want of economy rested, and I trust he will yet enlighten the house on that point. It is true he seized upon an item of five or six thousand dollars expended upon Government House, but every one knows that that outlay was essential—the buildings land outhouses were in a ruinous condition and were disgraceful to the country. he must have been hard up for a grand attack when he took up that item Instead of turning attention to those large services which really do absorb the revenue.
Let me now refer to a few figures in connection with these services The hon. member admits that, under our Administration, the revenue increased fifty per cent. in four years. In giving us the rates of increase of the revenue, it was said that the Government was not entitled to any credit for the increase. Now, I do not think that I can be charged with having claimed undue credit in connection with our finances; but it is not long since we were told that the logic of facts was exceedingly strong, and no men in the world were readier to claim credit for an increase of revenue when they were in power than gentleman opposite. They said nothing about their over expenditures, but whenever there was a little surplus they were ready to jump up and say, “See what able financiers we are!” The argument applicable to one aide is surely applicable to the other. A government cannot do more than see that every opportunity is afforded for the development of the country’s industry, and we can claim credit for having devoted large sums of money to develop and foster our resources in the highest degree, not only by an energetic conduct of the public works, but by the encouragement of general industry, aiding the Introduction of capital. As far as these measures have gone to improve the position of the country, we are entitled to credit for the increase of revenue. And what extravagance have we been guilty of? I contrasted, the other day, the expenditures under our administration and that of the gentlemen who preceded us, in the various departments, and I will now recall it to the recollection of the hon. member. Those gentlemen, in the three years 1860, 1861 and 1862, with all their frugality and vigilance, only gave to the roads and bridges $324,000, while we in 1864, 1865, 1866 and 1867, have given $1,015,000, or more than three times their grant. And yet we are told, in the face of these facts, that we have $200,000 to account for. As to education, we find that in their three years they spent $199,000 while in our past three years of government we have given $505,305, or three times as much as they gave. Then we will take navigation securities, for which they spent $10,283, against $171,620 which we have spent, and which, added to the grant of the present year, will be $194,620.
These are the departments in which we have been charged with extravagance,—the departments connected most closely with the dearest interests of every section of the country. Can it be supposed the people will begrudge the expenditure upon such public improvements as we have carried on, the most important of which has received from us the sum of $199,000 against $10,283, which they granted? I ask if he hon. member does not blush at the comparison which he obliges us to make? In the Millitia department—and I may say that in his service I do not desire to claim credit for expenditure because it is not so popular, but is the result of necessity, and was authorized by the unanimous vote of the legislature—in that department they only had to spend 36,000, while we had to extract from the treasury $191,000. As far as these services are concerned, it will be seen that our expenditure kept pace with the increase of the revenue, but let the hon. member take up the reports of the Committee of Public Accounts, and he will and that in the Revenue department, while we collected more revenue by one-half than they did, the increase in the expenditure has not amounted to 5 per cent. We have, in that service, observed the strictest economy,—and have never allowed the expenses to exceed the fair cost of collection.
The Board of Works having been selected as the only department with which fault could be found let me turn attention to the fact that the expenditure in that department could not have been avoided. The outlay of $20,000 in the quarantine service was essential, and that the “Daring,” being engaged in operations connected with Sable Island made eighteen or nineteen voyages saving an enormous amount of property, of course cost much more than if the “The Daring” had been allowed to lie at the wharf until the season when the light houses were usually visited. The extension of the Hospital for the Insane was a measure of necessity, and two or three new light houses had to be erected.
The Penitentiary expenses depend on the number of criminals sent from the various courts, and that is a matter over which the government could have had no control. The expenses of Sable Island being $11,000, were larger than in any previous year because a number of men were living on the Island for the purpose of saving wrecked property. So that in the very service on which the hon. member has laid his hand I have shewn that the expenditure was not of a character that could be avoided, but was essential […]
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[…] to the proper administration of our public affairs. Before the hon. member for East Halifax rises to address the House as he probably will, I would turn his attention to one or two matters to which outside of the House he has called the public notice by means of the journal under his control.
In the “Morning Chronicle” of April 26th I sec the following paragraph:—
“In order to ascertain the truth of this report Mr. Annand asked of the Financial Secretary a return containing the date of Delany’s appointment to office, the money he had collected, and the portion of it he had paid into the treasury in each year. This was a demand especially aggravating to the Government, as the communistic philosopher was a near relative of the “Premier,” and had been by him installed in the office of Collector, from which an irreproachable incumbent had been summarily ejected, for political reasons. After a totally unnecessary delay of some weeks, the document was produced. It consisted of four or five lines, which showed that in the space little more than three years Mr. Tupper’s nominee had converted to his own use $13,997.87 of the Provincial money. This return lacked, however, what the public would most desire to see—the amounts received at Amherst in each year, and those paid in so that a fair judgment might be formed as to whether there was any complicity between the Government and its defaulting officer. For if Delany, in his first year of office, failed to account for the moneys he had received, he should have been at once dismissed, unless his interests as a relative of Dr. Tupper could have been proved of more important those of the Province. The adroit Financial Secretary, however, would not let the public into the whole state of the relations between the Collector and the Government, and the inference is plain that these were most discreditable to the latter.”
In connection with that let me read the question which the hon. gentleman did actually lay on the table:
“Mr. Annand asked for a return showing the date of the appointment of James W. Delaney as Collector of Customs Duties at Amherst—together with an account of the amount of duties collected by that officer and paid into the treasury from the date of said appointment to the 31st Decent last.”
In this request there is not a single word said of annual payments or quarterly payments or monthly payments, and at the time he or his underlings wrote that article, carrying an entirely false issue to the country, he had the return in his hands and had not ventured to ask for an amended return, but went to the secrecy of his editorial chair and penned a violation of the truth. With regard to the defalcations of the Amherst Collector of Customs I may say that the government greatly regret the loss which has arisen, and as the Provincial Secretary being one of the representatives for the county might be suspected of indulgence, it is but fair to say that the deficiency of Mr. Delaney was brought to my notice on my return last spring and my colleagues left for England with the distinct understanding that unless Delaney made arrangements for payment he should dismissed. I then went to Amherst, made an investigation, and finding that matters were not getting worse, that the collector was paying the duties he was collecting and that the probabilities were that by allowing him to remain in office the chances of getting the amount due would be greater than by peremptorily dismissing him, I took the responsibility of allowing Mr. Delaney to go on, and on the return of my colleagues, finding that that officer had not availed himself of the indulgence to put his affairs in a better condition, he was summarily dismissed. I make this explanation in order that the position of the Provincial Secretary may not be misunderstood, and to show that the responsibility of Mr. Delaney continuing in office rested with me, and I have the gratification of knowing that my leniency resulted in no further loss to the treasury. With that explanation let me cu the hon. member’s attention to another escapade of the “Morning Chronicle,” and this is a matter that should not be lost to the country. Some time ago the hon. member for East Halifax undertook to review in severe terns a very able and admirably written pamphlet entitled “Confederation considered on its merits.” The contents of this pamphlet were represented as very foul and as wholly unworthy of belief by the country, but I wish to call attention to the fact that in writing an article on our local resources the hon. member has taken the liberty of copying three pages of that pamphlet as his own production. I think the hon. member would do a public service if le went to the sane source oftener and if he doled out to his readers in the country more liberally the productions favorable to Confederation. By the comparison which I now make it will be seen that a part of the pamphlet has been copied verbatim with the substitution of the word Nova Scotia where Canada appeared and where the change was appropriate:
The pamphlet says:
“In 1834 Belgium was without a railroad system, and was dependent for inter-communication upon the old-fashioned resources. The Government initiated a system of railways which, within twenty years, formed a network stretching, altogether, to nearly one thousand miles. Let the result be marked. In 1835 the whole value of her exports and imports was $10,760,000 stg. In 1845 it had arisen to £27,000,000; in 1855 to £47,760; in 1860, to £72,126,000; and in 1864, to £97,280. This immense trade, therefore, which still continues to expand, Belgium owes to the fact that she is a coal-producing country, and that she now possesses railway communication with the most important points on the continent of Europe. Within thirty years, a country scarcely larger than Nova Scotia, and with a population not greater than that of the British Provinces has increased its trade ten-fold, by adopting and carrying out that very policy which the Union party in this Province have just brought to a successful termination. Here, then, is a country, which within less than a generation, has by means of its railway […]
[…] system—by the development of its mineral resources, built up a trade four or five times greater than that of these united Provinces at the present time.”
“The path of duty, therefore, is plain before us, and it lies happily in the same direction with that of our honour and our interest.—No man who is not a Republican at heart but will indignantly resent any interference with our liberty of action as a people, or even the shadow of dictation on the part of a foreign power. Our policy is one of peace—of industry—of good neighbourhood; our desire to gather in and consolidate our power—to utilize our resources, and assimilate our constitution as far as possible with that of the Empire of which we form a part.”
“A noble inheritance is now at our disposal; let us not be tempted, like the thoughtless or credulous prodigal, lightly to cast it from us. Isolation has found and kept us weak, and battling for mere existence till the present hour. Union opens up to us fresh fields of enterprise and profit, offers us a tempting and honorable present, and assures of a glorious future—a future which will, within the life-time of the present generation, witness Halifax as a first-class city, with its noble harbour crowded with shipping for every part of the globe; will find Cape Breton dotted with mines, and her fertile fields in the highest state of cultivation; will see the mineral resources of the Eastern Counties expanding themselves into manufactories of every description, while the fertile valleys and meadow lands of the West will supply the market of the capital, and bring a wealth and comfort to their owners which they never knew before, rendering them independent of foreign tariffs.”
The Chronicle says:
“In 1834 Belgium was without a railway system, and was dependent for intercommunication upon the old-fashioned resources, as we were ten or eleven years. The Government initiated a system of railways (as was the case in Nova Scotia), which, within twenty years, formed a network stretching altogether to nearly one thousand miles. Let the result be marked. In 1835 the whole value of her exports and imports was £10,760,000 stg. In 1840 it had raised to £27,000,000; in 1855 to £47,760,000; and in 1864, to £97,280,000 This immense trade, which still continues to expand, Belgium owes to the fact that she (like Nova Scotia) is a coal-producing country, and that she now possesses railway communication with the most important points on the continent of Europe. Within less than thirty years Belgium increased her trade tenfold, by adopting and carrying out that same policy which we also adopted long ago, and are now carrying out with like successful results. She employed [t]he […]
[…] revenues in building her railways and developing her mineral resources as has been done in Nova Scotia for some time past, and thus built up her trade, as we are building up ours.”
“Determined to maintain our freedom, the path of duty is plain before us, and it lies happily in the same direction with that of our honour and our interest. The policy of the Nova Scotia party is one of peace—of industry and good neighborhood;—their desire to gather in and consolidate our strength—to utilize our resources, and to assimilate our constitution as far as possible with that of the Empire of which we are proud to form a part, and not with that of the neighboring Republic, as the Unionists are so earnestly striving to do.”
“A noble inheritance is now at our disposal; let us not be tempted like the thoughtless or credulous prodigal lightly to cast it from us.—Political isolation combined with commercial union, have already largely benefitted our tight little Province and assure us of a glorious future—a future which will, within the lifetime of the present generation, witness Halifax as a first class city, with its noble harbour crowded with shipping from every part of the globe; will find Cape Breton dotted with mines, and her fertile fields in the highest state of cultivation; will see the mineral resources of the Eastern counties expanding themselves into manufactories of every description—while the fertile valleys and meadow lands of the West will supply the market of the capital and bring a comfort and wealth to their owners which they never knew before, rendering them independent of foreign tariffs.
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It is quite right that the hon. member should quote from each a source, but it would be only fair for him to give credit for it and to say that having read the pamphlet his eyes have been opened and his opinions changed.
Mr. Annand said:—The Financial Secretary in his concluding remarks referred to an article which appeared in the Morning Chronicle, written by one of the staff of that paper, but which he attributed to me. Let me say that the great excellence of that journal is that its editors are legion, and although I may be the sole responsible editor, that it is sustained by an array of talent worthy of the great body of the people whose views and wishes it reflects. In reference to the article in question, my attention was called to the fact that the concluding passages of a pamphlet on Confederation had formed part of a leader of that paper. The writer of the article had evidently been reading the production supposed to be inspired in the hon. gentleman’s own office, and had probably intended to mark the passage which he quoted with inverted commas, but I am happy to see that the remarks which the hon. member was pleased to term eloquent, were so applicable to the condition of Nova Scotia if allowed to retain her revenues and separate government. The Financial Secretary has made a violent attack on the late administration. I do not know why I should be called upon on all occasions to defend their policy in the presence of a gentleman, himself the leader of that government, and I am surprised that that hon. member does not spring to his feet out of regard to the gentlemen with whim he was associated, and to the government of which he was a distinguished member, although he has changed his position in this house, and is no longer leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Archibald—I prefer to leave the defence to the financial officer of the late government.
Mr. Annand continued—Then I am quite prepared with defence. I was surprised to hear the Financial Secretary address the house in the tones which he assumed, and I was amused to hear him make a number of statements which are contrary to the fact. He said that the late government over expended $300,000 in 1862. I tell him that the statement is largely inaccurate. I hold the Journals of the house under my hand, and I find that while the estimate was for $957,008, we paid out $982,653, making an over expenditure of $25,646, not $300,000 as asserted by the hon. member. I give that as a specimen of the general accuracy of the Financial Secretary, and I tell him that he never rises without so bungling the facts and confusing himself as to make me feel ashamed that the country should have an officer so remarkable for his inaccuracy and ignorance of the affairs of his own department. He says also that in 1863 we over expended a large sum. What are the facts? In 1863 we estimated as is shewn by the Journals $1,031,174, and we expended $1,072,274, making an over expenditure of only $41,100.
In 1861 our total liability for over expenditure including the large liabilities left us by our predecessors was $136 000, and by our financial policy—by imposing an additional duty of 2 ½ per cent, for a single year we were enabled to clear off that liability and to show a moderate surplus in the treasury. We promptly surrendered the reins of power when the issue of the elections was known, and it cannot be laid at our door that we increased the public debt one penny during our term of office. Now let me tell him what the present state of matters is as well as the information which I can obtain for myself will enable me; because the return which I asked for on April 11th has not yet come down. By the report of the Committee of Public Accounts read to-day it appears […]
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[…] that our liability on 30th Sept., six months ago, was $6,032,017. Add to that the amount due for the Pictou Railway, and the new liability for the Annapolis Railway, and you have $8,376,000 without counting the $35,000 of treasury notes recently issued. At the present moment then, I feel justified in assuming that the indebtedness of the Province is half a million at least over the eight millions, with which we enter into Confederation. There are large liabilities which have been incurred to which our attention has not been directed by the government, for reasons known to themselves. I refer especially to the liabilities which have been incurred in connection with the new Provincial Building, the Hospital for the Insane for St. Peter’s Canal and other public works, which fully justify me in assuming that our debt on the 30th June next when our chief revenues are to be transferred to the Dominion of Canada, will amount to $8,500,000.
Hon. Financial Secretary rose to correct a statement which had just been made, but was called to order.
Mr. S. Campbell said it was most unseemly for a member of the government thus to interfere with the discussion.
Hon. Provincial Secretary thought that a more correction on a question of fact should be allowed.
Mr. Annand continued—I would hear the explanation, only the Financial Secretary has invariably refused the privilege to me. It will be remembered that this discussion was commenced by an inquiry from Mr. McLelan with respect to certain stores furnished by a member of the Board of Works. We are now on the eve of a general election, and I am not surprised at the desire of the Government to cover up the transactions of the past, and their evident anxiety that their culpable waste and extravagance during their term of office may be hidden. I was, therefore, glad to see my friend rise, and with the public accounts under his band, make the inquiries which he did. And what have we heard to-day? We had an account read containing charges of such amounts as $51 for “small stores.” Now surely the public business should be done as a private merchant would like to see his own affairs managed, and I ask what man would be content to receive a grocer’s bill charging him with $51 worth of stores without specifying what the supplies consisted of? If such a course would not be pursued in private business. was it right for the Financial Secretary, the officer charged with watching over the public expenditure, to have passed these accounts without ascertaining what the particulars are? We are going to the country, most of us, and it is important that the people should know what a brilliant set of financiers they have had for the past four years—how economical they were of the public moneys—how thrifty the Government are; and I hope that when my friend from West Halifax (Mr. Tobin), who sits smiling beside me, and his colleague opposite (Mr. Shannon), who very seldom smiles, go down to my old constituents, among the farmers of Musquodoboit and Gay’s River, that they will tell them of the expenditure on Government House. I hope they will tell the fishermen, in their humble dwellings on the shore, that we have a splendid Government House in Halifax; and although it is soon to be transferred from our control, in the very last year of their management, so plentiful was the money, so perfect are the roads and bridges, so thoroughly have the people been educated, that the Government could afford to spend $420 for the damask hangings of a single room. Think of that for an electon [sic] cry for the two gentlemen—that the fringe for the curtains is charged at $16 per yard, amounting to $108 for two or three windows. What will the electors of East Halifax say when they are told that $2200 has been expended in renovating a single room in Government House—a sum sufficient to build the largest bridge that they require? What will they say at finding that $850 have been spent for fenders alone in Government House, to keep the ladies’ dresses from being scorched in the ballroom? I imagine the hon. and learned Speaker going down among the Acadians of Clare, and asking them to justify such an expenditure.
The Financial Secretary was pleased also to refer to another article in the Morning Chronicle commenting on a certain return which he laid on the table. In the hurry of writing the request which I made for the return, I may have neglected to ask for full details; but after all that was not a serious omission, and, if the Financial Secretary had done what he should have done—if he had nothing to conceal, he would have come down with a full and ample return, and thus have disarmed the newspaper in its attack Instead of doing that he comes down and makes a charge of want of truthfulness. Now, without applying for any farther information, than that which is under my hand, because it seems that the department does not like to give information, let me speak of this defalcation The Financial Secretary says that in July last his attention was called to the large sum due by the Collecter at Amherst. I ask him why the attention of the Government was not called to the matter before “By reference to the Journals I find that in 1865 the amount collected by Mr. Delany was $12,448, while the sum paid in was only $2295, leaving a balance of $10,153 at the end of the financial year. The matter then must have come to the notice of the Government on the 30th Sept., 1865 and the Financial Secretary did not leave on his delegation until long after that, and the duty of the Government was to put Delany’s bonds in the hands of the Attorney General if the arrears were not paid up. But the arrears went on to end of 1866, and the accounts then showed that in 1863, 1864, 1865, and 1866. the collector at Amherst received $37,950, and the amount which he paid in was only $33,019, making a deficiency on 30th Sept 1866, of $14,931, The action of the Government, as I understand it, was taken not last year but since the beginning of the present year, and the important enquiry is, what chance has the government of receiving the large balance due. Are the persons who signed Delaney’s bond liable for the amount of the deficiency, and if so, are they able to pay? If net, I charge it upon the Government that they have been recreant to their duty, and they should be called on to replace the sum lost through their own negligence.
The Financial Secretary referred to the large […]
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[…] sums which have been expended in the different services during his term of office. I have not checked his figures, but I can only say that I rm glad the Government have been able to expend such large sums on education, navigation securities, and roads and bridges. It is gratifying to know that our trade is so elastic and prosperous that they could afford the expenditure. But are we indebted to him for that increase and for these grants? Is it not well known that a large number of the members of government have been absent from the Province for months together, and the revenues would have poured in just es well if they had been the whole of their time out of the country instead of a part of it? The revenue came in under a tariff bequeathed to them by their predecessors. and if the members of government, one and all of them, had been in Jerusalem or Jericho, we would have had the money to expend. On a former day, in making a return of the fines and forfeitures imposed by tie Board of Revenue, the Financial Secretary took the opportunity to bay that the present government had collected more money in that way, and that more money had gone into the treasury as the result of their vigilance, than under the rule of their predecessors. I took the trouble to dissect his return and I give him the result. In four years the late government imposed fines to the extent of $10,919, and paid into the treasury $5,819—a trifle over one-half. The Financial Secretary propounded the principle that the true test of vigilance and ability was the not amount paid into the treasury I have shewn that we paid in a larger amount, and his own official return places his government in a most unfavorable comparison. But let me tell him more: those fines are not imposed for the purpose of getting money paid into the treasury, bat to check illicit trade, and it was part of the policy of the late government to reward their officers for the vigilance they displayed. I believe it would be good economy to give every penny of the fines to the officers, because the revenue is thereby swollen largely over the amount of outlay. Am I then not justified in saying that the late government were more vigilant than their successors?—and I sum up my proof on this point thus: I have proved that we imposed a larger amount of fines for infringement of the revenue laws, and I have further proved that we were more vigilant from the fact that $14,000 have been lost through the carelessness of the present government—a charge which cannot be laid against the previous administration. I therefore challenge the Financial Secretary to rise and again hazard the assertion that the government have been more vigilant than their predecessors. The Provincial Secretary, in speaking of delegations, referred to the time when Mr. Howe went to England, some ten years ago, and took £500 for his expenses, and that under the Johnston administration but £300 was charged; but it will be found that the members of the Howe government, immediately preceding the present, only took £300; and what is more, that the gentlemen now in power again increased the amount to £500, and paid that sum to each of six delegates during the past year. But let me turn attention to another fact. The Howe government spent in delegations during the four years they held office $4,080,—how much have the present government spent? In making the calculation, I assume that the Provincial Secretary charged the same sum as his colleagues received; and I find that while our expenditure for delegations was $4080, they have spent in three years $30,997, making a difference of $26,917. This is a specimen of the economy and retrenchment which these gentlemen have displayed.
Hon. Provincial Secretary—What about the result of the Delegations?
Mr. Annand continued—Yes, sir, I am prepared to compare the results. One of the precious results of the recant delegation is, not to put on the paltry tax of 2 1/2 per cent for a year, to which the Financial Secretary referred as being imposed by us, but to impose an increase of fifty per cent in the advalorem duties for all time to come, and a further tax upon four articles of general consumption as was shewn the other day to the extent of more than $300,000 per year. These are the results of his delegation, as compared with those of the delegations which cost $4080. When this House is about to expire I think it is high time to enquire what has become of retrenchment,—to ask how the promises of the Provincial Secretary have been redeemed. I spent an hour or two in looking through the Journals, and in summing up, first the promises which were made and the expenses which had been incurred since, I have been able to put the whole subject into a nutshell, and to shew what each department cost in 1862 and what now. Under the celebrated scheme of retrenchment the Lieut Governor was to be compelled to disgorge $12,000 of his salary, but the mover of the resolution knew or should have known before he made his proposal that the salary of that officer could not be touched. The Judiciary in 1862 cost $14,850,—it now costs $18,050, so that in this department we have had an increase of $3200 per annum during the past four years instead of the saving of $2000 which were promised, making a difference between the intended retrenchment and the actual increase of $5200. The Provincial Secretary’s office in 1862 cost $5600, and in 1866 it cost $5800, being an increase of $200; but I find in addition to this that there has been a new charge of $222 for telegrams, se that since 1862 the increase in that department has been $422. So that instead of cutting down the expenses $900, the hon. member’s own department costs $1322 more than he said was sufficient in 1862. In the Financial Secretary’y’s office a saving of $500 was proposed in 1862, and one clerk was then considered sufficient, but additional clerks have been added until the expense has grown from $3700 to $4900, making a difference of $1200 there,—the difference between the proposed saving and the increased cost being $1700. I am not, in making these observations, to be understood as saying that the salaries of these departments are very extravagant, but I wish to call the attention of the House to this question because the Government came in on the cry of retrenchment, and it is desirable to see how nobly they have redeemed their pledges. In the Receiver General’s […]
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[…] department it was proposed to reduce the expenditure from $4800 to $4050; but I find that the expenses remained the same. In the Crown Lad Department it was proposed to reduce the salary of the Commissioner and the number of clerks, and I find that instead of the expenses being curtailed they have been increased by $1120—the differences between the proposed saving and the actual increase in the Halifax office being $2670.
And this is the way the pledges of the Provincial Secretary and his friends have been redeemed In 1862 it vas proposed to abolish the Board of Works, and by amalgamating it with the Railway Department effect a saving of $4061 a year, intend or which that department has been increased in cost to the amount of $1070. In the expenses of the Legislature a saving was proposed which would reduce them from $32,299 to $26,355 instead of which they have been raised by $16 705 over the estimate of 1862. As to the Revenue Department, there was a motion to cut off $4410 from the expenses of that service, but at the present moment the cost of collection is $20,224 more than in 1862. In that year the cost of the Halifax office was $26,000, against $38,173 in 1866, making an excess of $12,173. Instead of the number of clerks being reduced, half a dozen have been added. The Militia grant has been increased by $92,000; and the Normal School, which was to have been amalgamated with Dalhousie College, and a saving of $6965 effected, has been raised by $2860.
The result of all this is as follows: The proposed saving in 1862 was $79,648, while there has been an increase in the cost of the public departments in 1866 of $143,420, making a difference between the proposed saving and the actual excess of $223,000, nearly a quarter of a million more than the sum estimated as sufficient at the time these gentlemen rode into power.
I trust that the return asked for will be furnished; and I can only say that if ever an example of extravagance and want to vigilance was furnished to any people, it was furnished by the accounts referred to by my hon. friend from North Colchester. It may be said that a member of the Board of Works tendered for, and furnished to the Board, certain articles under the late Government,—but here we find an officer furnishing articles which he did not tender to supply, and which he does not deal in, to the extent of $20,000 in a single year. I hold that this is a great abuse; and I consider it a misfortune, if not a crime that the bill introduced by the hon. member for Shelburne last Session, to debar members of public Boards from competing in contracts for supplies, had not been passed.
I trust that, before the House rises. we will have laid before us a return showing the public indebtedness—our assets and liabilities—an entering Confederation, asked for by me on a former day. If, by our indebtedness being increased to the extent of half a million of dollars, the small pittance which we are hereafter to receive is to be reduced by $25,000 a year, it is due to the country that the fact should be known.
Hon. Financial Secretary—The hon. member declined to allow me to interrupt him, to correct a statement of facts. I will read from the documents signed by the hon. member himself, recorded on the journals and the House will be able to see whether his statement or mine is deserving of most credit. I do nor want to indulge in any vituperation but I have some regard for my reputation for candour and straight-forwardness as a public man, and I am therefore anxious that I should not commit an error of fact I ask the hon. gentleman to look at his own estimate for 1862 and he will find that the sum estimated was $957,008 and the Receiver General’s account shews that there were paid in warrants $1,257 934 making an excess of $300,926. I submit then whether I was not correct in my statement or whether the bon member did not make a reckless and unguarded assertion. I will not go into a general reply to the hon. member’s speech because it is a mere rehash of what we have heard before and what has been explained over and over again. I leave it to the intelligence of the country to decide the issue of the question and I am willing to give the hon. member the benefit of whatever effect his statements may have.
Mr. Annand:—If I wanted an illustration of the hon. member’s want of knowledge of his own accounts I could not have a better one than that which has just been given in the remark we have heard. If he understands the public accounts he must know that the Receiver General’s account does not exhibit the cost of the services of the year. There might have been nearly $30,000 paid in 1862 for the liabilities of the previous year. The comparative [sic] statement of revenue and expenditure is the source from which alone accurate information can be obtained, and a referance [sic] to it will show my statement to be correct.
Hon. Financial Secretary—The charge made against that government was that we had paid a much larger sum than was estimated and I have shewn that in the year mentioned the actual expenditure was $300,000 more than was authorized. Let the hon. member explain it if ha can.
Mr. Annand—The expenditure in the various departments and the estimate of the preceding year were just what I stated them to be as fully appears by the Journals under my band.
Hon. Provincial Secretary said he would have had pleasure in replying to the hon. member for East Halifax, but the hon. gentleman had talked the House out.
The debate was adjourned.
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The bill was read a first time.
Hon. Provincial Secretary laid on the table a copy of the bill authorizing the guarantee for the Intercolonial Railway, as is passed the Imperial Parliament.
The House adjourned.