The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
British Whig (Kingston, ON), Dec. 16, 1884

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p.2 Incidents Of The Day - The sloop Pilot left this morning for the foot of Long Island, where she will load grain for Cape Vincent.


The M.T. Co. Charged With Not Fulfilling The Terms

Under Which It Got Exemption From Taxation

At the regular meeting of the City Council last evening Ald. Eilbeck brought up a matter which should seriously concern the taxpayers of the city. He read from one of the local papers a paragraph to the effect that the M.T. Co. had been having some of their barges repaired at Portsmouth, and such was contrary to the agreement into which the company had entered with the city at the time it got exemption. He said this matter had not only occurred to him, but complaint about it had reached him from other persons.

Ald. Thompson - Who's been making complaint? Some one has been raising an election cry, I suppose?

Ald. Eilbeck - Capt. Lewis has complained about it, and he is raising no election cry. He has a dock and he could have done some of the work which has been taken to Portsmouth. Mr. Power was also in a position to do the work, but it was not offered to him. This work, according to the terms under which exemption was granted to the M.T. Co., should have been done in the city.

Ald. McGuire - Hear, hear!

Ald. Eilbeck - I needn't read the whole of the exemption by-law to you, but Clause A (applying to both the forwarding companies) reads to this effect - "That the said respective Companies shall transact all the businesses to be transacted in the Province of Ontario in the City of Kingston, as far as the same are capable of being transacted in the said city, during the period of exemption, and shall respectively execute an agreement with the City of Kingston to this effect, under a penalty of $2,000 as liquidated damages." Now, if I interpret this law correctly "all" the work of the M.T. Co. should be done in the city, and this has not been the case. The Company

Has Violated Its Agreement,

and it is not only liable for $2,000 damages but for all the taxes for which it has been assessed since the exemption began. This company has been taking advantage of the city, it has been running things as it likes, and it thinks its illegalities should be winked at continually.

Several voices - Hear, hear.

Ald. Eilbeck - Not only has the M.T. Co. violated its agreement, but it has been discharging its men in large numbers, its shipcarpenters and others, and the work which it is bound to give them as taxpayers of the city is sent to Portsmouth, which refused the exemption that the city granted.

The President - Are these poor men for whom you speak Cataraqui Ward electors?

Ald. Eilbeck - Some of them are, and all of them are citizens and taxpayers. Twelve or fifteen of them were dismissed on Saturday, and they have a right to complain. It must be borne in mind that in equipping the barges in the spring our citizens are not employed. The captain is French, so is the mate so is the cook and crew. There is a Frenchy smell about everything. (Laughter.) These men don't live in Kingston. They come here in the spring, they depart in the fall, and they don't spend a dollar in our stores that they can spend elsewhere. Even the shovellers of the M.T. Co. dare not form an association for mutual protection, and those who essayed to do so were unceremoniously bounced. Some people are afraid of the M.T. Co. - described by Capt. Gaskin as the most gigantic institution of the kind in America - but I want to say to this mighty concern that the poor men, whom it treats so inconsiderately, pay their taxes, that they pay some of the very $1,500 or $2,000 which the company are exempt from paying.

Ald. Thompson - How do you know that?

Ald. Eilbeck - I know what I am talking about. I am not drawing upon any wind or imagination as you do sometimes. I have the facts and I have investigated them. The city exempts the company $1,500 or $2,000 per annum and

What Does It Get In Return?

The work goes to Portsmouth. What is more, I know as a positive fact that had things been different - had Mr. Power got exemption - probably between $200,000 and $300,000 a year would have been spent in the rebuilding and repairing of boats which go to Ogdensburg and other places.

Ald. Smythe - I hope the Alderman is not actuated by personal prejudice.

Ald. Thompson - It looks like it.

Ald. Eilbeck - It does not, but I am not afraid to speak my mind out. I do not fear Capt. Gaskin or any other member of the M.T. Co. I propose shewing my sincerity and move for the submission of this whole matter to a special committee, the members of which shall not only consider this case but all the exemptions, and report whether those enjoying them are complying with the terms under which they were granted. Let it be borne in mind, as an evidence of the seriousness of the issue, that the forwarding companies are putting their barges into the lake trade, that the vessel men find they are brought in consequence face to face with a new competition, and so we find them tonight asking for exemption.

Ald. Bermingham - Their petition has been received.

Naming The Committee

Ald. Eilbeck named Ald. Bermingham, Whiting, Dunn, Robinson and himself a committee to report to the council upon the M.T. Co.'s case, and upon the cases of all companies and persons exempt from paying taxes.

Ald. Robinson seconded the motion and he suggested that it cover all exempted companies.

Ald. Eilbeck said this had been his intention, and the omission was an oversight.

Ald. Bermingham thought there was a good deal of force in the statements of Ald. Eilbeck. It satisfied him that the whole principle of exemption was wrong and when it was granted the conditions should be enforced.

Ald. Thompson defended the M.T. Co. though he felt the situation to be a delicate one because of his being an employee of it. He drew attention to the fact that the by-law was peculiarly worded, and he wanted to know if Ald. Eilbeck was aware whether "all" the work of the M.T. Co. could be done in the city?

Ald. Eilbeck - Yes; I think so, and I have the assurance to that effect of Capt. Lewis.

Ald. Thompson - Capt. Lewis does not own a dock; the Empire dock was sold to one Johnson.

Ald. Eilbeck - He controls one, but, anyway, what has the ownership of the dock to do with the M.T. Co.'s violation of its exemption agreement?

A Word For The Company

Ald. Thompson objected to the M.T. Co. being singled out for special consideration.

Ald. Eilbeck - The cases of all enjoying exemption will be considered.

Ald. Thompson - Yes, but it was an after thought. Your action reminds one of the dying thief, you became penitent at the last moment, and I suppose you expect about the same amount of salvation.

Ald. Eilbeck - I expect nothing from the M.T. Co.

Ald. Thompson did not think the M.T. Co. had wilfully done wrong; he was not aware that they had done anything involving censure, but if it had, he would be among the first to vote against it. He was not politically in sympathy with the company, he had not got its aid in his election, and he could not be accused of partiality in the discussion of this matter.

After some further desultory remarks the motion was put and carried unanimously, both the mayoralty candidates holding up their hands in favour of it.

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Date of Original:
Dec. 16, 1884
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Rick Neilson
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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British Whig (Kingston, ON), Dec. 16, 1884