February 28, 1901

LIB

Joseph Alexandre Camille Madore

Liberal

Mr. MADORE.

X need not say to the Committee that I am quite prepared to receive any suggestions that may be made from either side of the House, or from a committee to which that Bill may be referred later on. The draft I have just submitted contains the principle of the Bill, and provided that principle is admitted, I am quite willing to go either to a Committee of the whole House or to a special committee, there to consider any suggestions that may be made. For instance, the suggestions made by the Minister of Marine and Fisheries are certainly deserving of discussion and consideration. We did not follow the lines of the English Bill because we considered that the circumstances in this country are not the same as in England, especially those in the province of Quebec. We did not propose to give to the judge the power to reopen the case, to go back to the beginning of the transaction, in order to ascertain whether the rate of interest charged is too high or not, and to leave that question altogether to his discretion. We thought that according to our procedure in the province of Quebec such a provision would be almost impracticable. When the borrower was sued by the lender for the amount claimed to be due, capital and interest, if the rate of interest was too high, and if it was left entirely to the judge to decide what amount should be charged, the defendant, even if he admitted his indebtedness, could not know the exact amount he would have to pay, and he could not make a tender to the plaintiff because in order to do so he must tender the amount that he really owes. If he does not tender the full amount of his debt, even if he succeeded in having the rate of interest claimed from him reduced, the whole cost of the contestation would fall on his shoulders.

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

Not necessarily ; a judge has discretion.

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LIB

Joseph Alexandre Camille Madore

Liberal

Mr. MADORE.

A judge has discretion, no doubt, but this is the general principle followed in the province of Quebec, and it requires extraordinary circumstances before a judge can change that almost universal principle. Then the debtor would succeed in having the rate of interest reduced, and would have to pay the costs, perhaps more costs than if he had paid the whole amount demanded from him by the action. This is one of the objections we discussed when we framed the Bill, and this is one of the considerations that determined us to take other means, that is, fixing the maximum rate of interest, and that is why we have put it in the draft. Now, after discussion, we might come to the conclusion that the means adopted by the English parliament are better than those incorporated in the draft. But I think we should be given an opportunity of discussing the various provisions, and it is for that reason, now that the motion of my hon. friend has been withdrawn, that I move that this committee do now rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN (Halifax).

So far as any question of fairness in the motion of my hon. friend behind me (Mr. Tisdale) is concerned, I do not think that will arise at all. because if it is the opinion of the House that the Bill should not proceed further, it is perfectly proper for my hon. friend to make the motion that he did. So far as the object of the Bill is concerned, I have no doubt it is intended to redress what may have been an evil. It may be a question, however, whether it is an evil that can be redressed by legislation, because the complexity of business matters is such, and there are so many degrees of improvidence in the manner in which people conduct their business, that it is absolutely impossible to cover every case of the kind by legislation. If parliament is to deal with this matter at all, I would mucli prefer it should deal with it on the lines of the English legislation, for reasons which have been set forth by many hon. gentlemen in the House, and which I need not repeat. The idea of the English legislation seems to be this : There are contracts which the courts will set aside on account of the situation of the parties, for example, by reason of duress, or by reason of certain relations existing between the parties, such as those of solicitor and client, or guardian and ward. Now, what the English parliament has done is simply to add to the grounds upon which the courts can set aside contracts, the circumstances that an excessive rate of interest has been taken. One disadvantage attending that mode of dealing with it is, of course, that it may involve a long and protracted inquiry, and involve a large amount of costs with respect to a comparatively small sum. Still, on the whole, I should think, if we are to deal with this matter at all by legislation, that would be better than the way proposed in the Bill before the committee. I would think that a better course to take with regard to this Bill would be to refer it to the Committee on Banking and Commerce. We understand that last year, in the Senate, a Bill of a somewhat similar character was referred to a special committee, and that committee made a very exhaustive inquiry. For my part, I would think that if this Bill is to be proceeded with, it would be better to discharge the order and to move to have it committed to the Committee on Banking and Commerce, and then that committee could make such amendments to it as might be suggested by the hon. gentleman who has introduced the Bill or by any other hon. gentleman. Under such circumstances, we could deal with the Bill more effectively than we can at present.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I am favourable, as my Uoii. friend knows, to bis Bill, but it occurs to me that the feeling of the House at the present time is against it.

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Some hon. MEMBERS

Not at all.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

In its present form. I think the best way to deal with the Bill would be to refer it, as was done in the Senate, to a special committee, upon which there would be representatives from each province, who could confer and also compare with it the English legislation which in many details differs from those of this Bill. When that has been done the House will be better able to appreciate the Bill than it is to-day.

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

The motion made by my hon. friend is that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again. The only reason that I for one did not press the motion to go into Committee was that there had been a good deal of discussion on the second reading, half finished discussion, which really ought to have been a discussion in Committee, and I thought when we got here and commenced to discuss the details, we would proceed a certain distance, and if the feeling of the House was against the Bill, we could report progress, or dispose of it in Committee the way we pleased. It is quite evident that the Bill will either have to go to a select committee named for the purpose, or to one of the standing committees of the House, such as the Banking and Commerce Committee. My hon. friend in moving that the committee rise and report progress, is taking a step in that direction. He will consider afterwards which course he will take, refer the Bill to a special committee, or refer it to a standing committee.

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CON

James Clancy

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLANCY.

I think the House ought to know now the course that the hon. gentleman proposes to adopt. This is a very important Bill, and a great many valuable suggestions have been thrown out on the assumption that the Bill shall be passed in some form or another. There are a very large number of hon. gentlemen in this House who think that the Bill should not pass in any form. The House ought to know what course the hon. gentleman proposes to take.

Mr. MADOItE. Mr. Chairman, the course I intend to take is to ask that this Bill be referred either to the Banking and Commerce Committee or to a special committee, formed as suggested by the hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk). As I have had no time to think over that last pioposal, and as I would like the committee to be as equal and impartial as'possible, between both sides of the House, and to be representative of the different

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

provinces, I ask that the committee rise, so that between now* and the next sitting, we will have an opportunity of agreeing together.

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LIB

William Roche

Liberal

Mr. ROCHE (Halifax).

Mr. Speaker, I have formed an opinion of this Bill, and before voting upon it, I think I have a right to demand the fullest information which can be given in regard to a measure of this character. It is very evident that the circumstances which have occasioned it, and the scope and application of the Bill, are largely confined to one province, and are not applicable to the other provinces of the Dominion. Therefore, I, an inhabitant of another portion of the country than that which is the subject of this Bill, ask for some better reasons than those which have been given by the hon. gentleman (Mr. Madore), who has brought this Bill forward and who is appealing to the judgment of those from other provinces in order to influence their opinions, and to induce them to give their sanction to a Bill of a very severe character. If I read correctly this Bill, and I do not profess to be a lawyer, the court has to come in and nullify, if necessary, an agreement entered upon in good faith. Further on in this Bill, if I understand it, there is a very severe penalty imposed upon any one who violates its provisions, and who, by one inducement or another, is prevailed upon to lend money at a rate of interest in excess of that stipulated in the Bill. I consider, although the object of the Bill may be a good one, although the hon. gentleman may aim, in the principle of his Bill, at putting down an improper practice which may prevail in his portion of the country, especially where this Bill will have application to one of th& provinces in the country, and where the conditions complained of do not exist, that the measure is one of a very harmful character. I see in the 9th clause that every money-lender who lends money at a rate in excess of the rate set down in the Bill, is guilty of an indictable offence, and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to a penalty not exceeding $1,000. I consider that provision one which should demand the fullest attention of hon. gentlemen in this House, and also that hon. gentlemen from other provinces in the Dominion should consider whether the situation of the country demands the passage of such a severe measure as this, imposing such restrictions and penalties. I know, Sir, that a money-lender is a very odious object in this country, I know that a man who has money is sometimes an object of opprobium, and I know a great many people are willing to inveigh against people who have money, to declare that they are an injury to the community, and that as speedily as possible, either by Act of parliament, or by act of the persons themselves, this money shall be got away from-

those who have it and distributed amongst those who have none. 1 know that to stand up and defend money-lenders, or bankers, or any of that objectionable class, is sometimes a work of supererogation, and that the person who does so renders himself an object of suspicion to all sorts of people. Now, Sir, it may be that the person who lends money, under precisely the circumstances set out in this Bill, may do the individual who has accepted the loan a life-long benefit. I know that young men who, under certain distressing circumstances, would have given 100 per cent, afterwards to be paid, if they could have got a loan which would have saved them from disgrace and utter ruin when their prospects were such that a kindly loan of a little money would have relieved them perhaps from the severe strain through which they had to pass. If a person would come forward and make a loan under those circumstances, a borrower would look upon him as a life-long benefactor. There are other situations like that which I have disclosed, but there are also circumstances in which a man might become involved commercially. A man also may have a speculation in hand which may return him a large amount of profit, but, he is unable to embark upon it, simply from the fact that he has not the fulcrum upon which to place the lever. In my experience I have often helped people with small loans of money, and I will give a little suggestion to some hon. gentlemen on the other side of the House, who, on some occasions, may be disposed to be benevolent. I find that in some cases it was not safe to charge any rate of interest at all, but to place the thing simply upon the honour of the individual, because, if you charged 10 per cent, or 25 per cent, or 50 per cent, the borrower would say : That man paid himself out of the money he extorted from me out of my necessities, and I will not pay him back again. If you stand upon a man's honour and give him a timely loan, he is very far down in the scale of manhood, if he has the money, if he does not come forward and pay you for the loan. There is another case ; there are a great many gentlemen who come to you for a small loan for a very short time, and it is always safe to lend such a one a small amount, because in a great many cases he will never come back to see you, and if he does come back, perhaps he will pay that loan and want to borrow more from you. Now, this Bill is to a great extent founded in reprobation of the practices of the Jews. We know the history of the Jews. Some hon. gentlemen opposite know the history of the Jews. Some do not.

I am not going to refer to the history of Jews as set down in the sacred books, because T know every gentleman opposite is familiar with that ; but, I am going to 01

refer briefly to the history of the Jews in the Dark Ages. You will remember that from A.D. 600 to the time of the Reformation, the Jews were very prevalent in Spain and Portugal and Germany. They did not deal in real estate nor in tangible securities ; they usually looked to the good faith of the individual, and they were keen judges of character, but they had a uniform rate of 5 per cent per month interest. The interest for two years ate up the principal, and if there were any mortgage attached to the loan, the Jew got the property. That condition continued until the Jews had secured a very large portion of the real estate in those countries. It, therefore, became an object for all those who were debtors of the Jews, or those who hated the Jews, to unite in those frightful persecutions which took place in the Dark Ages so called. Now, Sir, I think there is something of the spirit of that persecution in this Bill. Perhaps the hon. gentleman himself or some of his friends have suffered from the exactions of the Jews in the province of Quebec. In that happy portion of the Dominion whence I come, and from which the hon. leader of the opposition comes, the great difficulty there is to obtain a reliable person to whom to lend any money. In fact, if one bank obtains a good loan all the directors and the manager and the clerks of the rival banks set out to say to the borrower : Oh, the bank over there has charged you 54 per cent, and we have lots of money that we lend out to railway corporations-sometimes on pretty good security and sometimes on pretty bad security-come over to our bank and we will treat you well. And if the borrower has good responsibles and security, and if it be an undertaking which, in addition to its own inherent merit, has something of popular favour to commend it, why, all the directors of that bank unite to use their personal influence, and sometimes their political influence, to induce the corporation or individual to take the loan from them, which starts the undertaking on its way and which undertaking may ultimately prove a benefit to the individual as well as to the people of the country. In my portion of the country, not only were the banks content to lend to all customers who could bring forward good security, but they came up to the city of Montreal, this pest district that has been referred to. They entered into rivalry with the Bank of Montreal and the Bank of Toronto and the bank of everywhere else, and they loaned money to all good customers who had proper securities at lower rates than the Bank of Montreal or the Bank of Toronto, or any of those protected institutions could afford to. Why, these banks were driven to the state of New York to lend their money, and the Bank of Nova Scotia, and the other banks in my province have come up to Canada to stay. They have opened up there benevolent institutions in other provinces ; they have

gone to tlie extreme verge of civilization on the Pacific coast to open branches ; they have gone to the West Indies ; they have gone to Trinidad, and they have gone to all parts of the earth from that little city of Halifax to lend money to every one who needed it, and who could bring forward good security. The good security is the thing, gentlemen. These banking institutions from Nova Scotia have gone to other nationalities ; they have gone to Brazil, and they have loaned money there to build railways, and they have loaned money to build railways in Jamaica, and if any person came forward with a good and matured scheme for completing the Panama canal or building the Nicaragua canal, there is plenty of capital in this country which enterprising men would lend to construct these great public works which carry on the commerce of the world. That brings me home to the subject of this Bill, and I say that the Bill has running through it the negative to the main essential of every Bill of a sumptuary character, which is, that the loaning of money is dependent upon good security, and that the money will follow the good security. Without asking for proof or* without any general corroboration of the statements made by hon. gentlemen, I will assume it to be a fact that there is usury in the city of Montreal. Those money-lenders always scrutinize carefully the quality of the security, and it is because there is a risk in the security, and the man is afraid that he will neither get his principal or his interest, that he charges a high rate. The moneylender ought to be paid for that .risk, and he also ought to be pai d for the opprobrium 'that a man in his business experiences. The fact that he first of all possesses the money, and secondly, that he has not yielded to the solicitation of the borrower sooner but has put him off from day to day, is also to be considered. Now, what remedy is [DOT]suggested ? The hon. gentleman (Mr. Madore) has told us that his province is suffering under the exactions of these moneylenders, and he has disclosed a situation which is alarming. But I would like to know what would be the situation if the money-lenders were not there ? Has the hon. gentleman ever contemplated the condition of people in desperate circumstances where there is no money-lender to relieve them at 10 per cent or 20 per cent or 50 per cent ? Does he not know that there are extreme cases of poverty and want occurring from day to day where a man wishes only to obtain a temporary loan, where a little ready money would be a great relief to families, and when those men who have money to lend are hailed as benefactors ?

. Now, Sir, I set out with these two essen-' tials: the security, and the money that is to be loaned upon the security. But, I would say this, that if this money-lending is so profitable in that portion of the country, under the ordinary law of supply and de-Mr. ROCHE (Halifax).

maud would not capital flow in ? Should not there be many money-lenders ? Would they not preponderate in the community until they -would outnumber the borrowers? Would not those men who are ready to embark in precarious enterprises, who are willing to risk a good deal with the object of making a good deal, go and open in Montreal their pawnbroking shops, and their money-lending shops, in order to lend money to needy people ? And would not they, among them, reduce the rate of interest to ordinary commercial limits ?

I have not at all referred to those risks which are specially precarious-those which are speculative, like the stock exchange, like lotteries, like other operations which may be termed gambling. I have not gone into anything of that kind-into cases where perhaps a young gentleman has contracted a debt of honour, or those cases where a person has assumed a personal obligation, under circumstances which demand of him the discharge of his obligation. But, I have used ordinary commercial transactions, and 1 have hinted at remedies which can be brought forward in the ordinary commercial way.

Now, if the hon. gentleman would be content to take one provision of his Bill, and make the forfeiture of the loan the penalty for charging an excessive rate of interest, perhaps there would be many in this House who would be disposed to give their support to his measure. His intentions are benevolent and right. I have no doubt he has been shocked to see how many persons in the community have perhaps been beggared, or deprived to a large extent of their means, by the excessive rates charged by these money-lenders. To me, the tiling was quite a novelty. I did not know that it existed in the community. My poor wits have been exercised for a long time in money institutions in endeavouring to find profitable modes of investment for money- to procure good customers who would take loans, and who, the security being good, would be able to pay a fair rate of interest. In other provinces of the Dominion the rate of interest is speedily diminishing, and people who have capital to embark, and who obtain their livelihood from the interest derivable from their capital, are seeking for places of investment. I think the remedy for the evil aimed at by this Bill would be to strike out the clause which calls for fine and imprisonment, and make the loan unlawful when an excessive rate of interest is charged.

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Some hon. MEMBERS

Six o'clock.

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LIB
IND

Jabel Robinson

Independent

Mr. JABEL ROBINSON (West Elgin).

When the House rose at six o'clock, the hon. member for Halifax (Mr. Roche) was addressing the House on the Bill now before the committee, and I am sorry the hon. gentleman is not now present, as some of the remarks I intend to make have special reference to what he said. Many of the clauses of this Bill have my support because they are intended to relieve the habitants in the province of Quebec from the exactions of the money-lenders, and judging from the enthusiasm thrown into the debate by the hon. gentlemen who support this measure, the Quebec habitant must be suffering severely. My hon. friend from Halifax undertook to show us that the money-lenders ought to have the sympathy of this House, but for my part my sympathies are all drawn to the poor habitant of Lower Canada. We all know how difficult it is for men who have settled on the soil to make both ends meet, especially when blest with the large families which are one of the characteristics of our French Canadian compatriots. In old France I believe there is a premium offered for large families, and I think it would be a better policy on the part of this government to pay a premium for a similar purpose here rather than spend the money in bringing out immigrants from the old world.

The hon. member for Halifax, I am told, is a farmer, but he is also one of the wealthiest men in this House. In fact, I believe he is a millionaire. Let me say here that the hon. gentleman is a personal friend of mine, whom I hold in very high esteem, and I am sorry he is not now in the House. He is, I believe, a philosopher, a thoughtful man, and do yon know, Mr. Chairman, I have an invitation to visit him in Halifax. He is the first millionaire I ever had an invitation to visit, and I expect he will be the last.

I am satisfied that it would be impossible for the Lower Canadian habitant, if he lived in the province of Ontario, to pay 20 per cent interest on money, and I do not think that the soil in the province of Quebec is any better than it is in Ontario. And these Shylocks-I am not introducing the name- wlio are stripping the agriculturists of this country of everything they can earn, will

no doubt have a great deal to answer for, if there is another world. Six per cent, in my opinion, is ample interest to charge for advances, and I do not believe that the men who ask that rate should go to jail.

I do not believe in sending any man to jail, because then the country has to keep him, for he does not earn anything like enough to pay the cost of his living, even when he is employed making binder twine.

In my opinion, this Bill should be recast. It should be submitted to a special committee composed of some of the best men in this House, and in which the farming element will be represented, and then we may have a Bill which will protect the habitant in the province of Quebec from being imposed upon and robbed of his home, as we are told he is to-day. Just fancy a poor habitant, with ten or a dozen children, and only 100 acres of land. Of course the children may be of considerable help to him, but when they grow up, only one of the boys can have the farm and the others have to leave, and unfortunately many of them go to the southern republic. We are trying to provide homes for them in the North-west and many are going there, but in any case only one of the boys remains on the farm, and he has to work day and night until he has paid off their share to the others. Then when he marries and his family grows up the same process takes place again. Consequently each farmer has to go to the loan company and mortgage his little farm to pay off his brothers and sisters ; and if he is a hard-working man, and is blest with a good and industrious wife, he may succeed in paying off the debt, but by that time there will be another family of ten to provide for. This is why the farmers have to go to the money-lenders and Shylocks and build up a class of millionaires in this country.

We do not want only two sets of men in this country, millionaires and paupers, but we are coming to that as fast as we can and it is time we should pass some legislation to give the poor habitant a chance.

Progress reported.

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ALIEN LABOUR LAW AMENDMENT.

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Mr. GEORGE A.@

CLARE (South Waterloo) moved the second reading of Bill (No. 5) to amend the ' Act to restrict the importation and employment of aliens.' He said : The object of this Bill is to provide a simple way to carry out the law now in force, which was passed in 1897. I do not believe that the mechanics and labourers of this country wish to have high-salaried officers to carry out the Act, if a more simple, efficient and economical way can be found to enforce that law. As it is at present, the Act is entirely in the hands of the government to enforce it, and I do not

believe that the government has enforced it in the interest of the labouring class and mechanics of this country. On the other hand, I believe that the officers who were appointed to enforce the law were engaged more for the purpose of keeping the government and the members of the government party out of trouble than of assisting the mechanics and labouring .class.'1 The Finance Minister (Hon. Mr. Fielding), the other evening, in discussing the question of the ownership of railways, stated that he believed that it was impossible for the government to manage the railways without political interference; and, I believe, he was correct so far as this government goes. And, 1 believe that, in the same way, they have enforced the Alien Labour law for their own interest and to assist themselves politically. To prove this, I wish to refer to what happened last year in this House. The Alien Labour law was passed in 1897; and three years later, in this House the hon. member for West Toronto (Mr. Clarke) asked the following question :

Since the Alien Labour law was enacted in 1897 has one conviction been secured by any agent or officer of the government under the law?

And the Prime Minister replied :

I am informed by the Department of Justice that no prosecutions have taken place under this Act.

This, as I say, was three years after the Act had been placed on the statute-book. A few years later the same gentleman asked the government what amount of money had been expended under the Act, and the reply by the Solicitor General was that up to that time $2,550 had been expended. Up to June 30tli, 1900, some $000 or $700, more had been spent; and we have the statement by the premier that, since that, $1,000 have been spent. And we find in the estimates for next year an appropriation of $9,000. But of this money, $2,550 was spent, and not even a single prosecution had been carried out. I believe that if the Bill I am now discussing were enacted, the law would be more strictly carried out, and with not one cent of expense. My Bill provides that any person, for instance, any labouring man or mechanic who is interested, should have the power to lay information before two magistrates and so enforce the law. That would not cost the country one cent, for those who are most interested, the mechanics and labouring men, will see that the law is strictly enforced. I myself have quite a number of men in my employ. In my own business I am protected from foreign competition, and I see no reason why the labouring class and mechanics in my employ and in the employ of other manufacturers of this country should not be as well protected from foreign competition as I am, especially as the people to the south of us have a law to the same effect.

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CON
?

The PRIME MINISTER (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier).

I will have to ask my hon. friend not to object if I ask him to agree to a suspension of the consideration of this Bill until another day. The reason is that there are one or two Bills-one at any rate-of a similar character on the Order paper, which will come up at the next sitting when this order of business is taken up. I have also to inform my hon. friend and the House that the government is contemplating the Introduction of a measure to amend the existing law. I am not in a position to say whether a Bill will be introduced, hut the subject is engaging the attention of the government at this moment. I shall, therefore, have to move that the debate be adjourned. It will be taken up again on Wednesday next, and then the government will be in a position to declare to my hon. friend what policy they intend to pursue with regard to this Bill.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. F. D. MONK (Jacques Cartier).

I merely wished to lay before the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister this consideration-if I mistake not the other Bills on this subject if not textually the same as this one, seek to amend the law in the same direction. I have here Bill No. 11, introduced by the hon. member from Vancouver (Mr. Smith), and X find that there is practically no difference between it and the Bill now before the House, except in certain minor details. A further consideration 1 would lay before the House is this-the Bill before us seeks to remedy an evil which has been in existence for a very long time, and I think the non-enforcement of the law against the employment of aliens as it is now is largely due to the fact that we have not this machinery which my hon. friend (Mr. 'Clare) seeks to provide. As the right hon. premier knows, in the province of Quebec, we have, in respect of most laws of this nature, exactly this kind of machinery-that is to say, we allow the individual, in case of violation of the law, to intervene and recover the penalty. The consequence is a considerable economy for the provincial government, and also a closer observance of the law. To give an instance which is quite recent, I am informed, though I have not yet confirmation of the fact, that in the town of Lachine, within the last few days, eleven or twelve employees of the factory were dismissed summarily because they asked for what they thought a legitimate increase in their wages, and a like number of men were imported from the United States to take their places. There is no question whatever, knowing the feeling that exists in the town of Lachine, that if we had such machinery as this, some individuals in the town of Lachine would have seen to the application of a law, the principle of which has been admitted by parliament. Now. in the United States they have exactly such a machinery as is provided in this Bill. The House will find that disposition in the sup-

plemeut to the Revised Statutes of the United States, volume 1, page 479, second edition :

That for every violation of any of the provisions of section 1 of this Act the person, partnership, company or corporation violating the same, by knowingly assisting, encouraging or soliciting the migration or importation of any alien or aliens, foreigner or foreigners, into the United States, its territories, or the district of Columbia, to perform labour or service of any kind under contract or agreement, express or implied, parol or special, with such alien or aliens, foreigner or foreigners, previous to becoming residents or citizens of the United States, shall forfeit and pay for every such offence the sum of $1,000, which may be sued for and recovered by the United States or by any person who shall first bring his action therefor, including any such alien or foreigner who may be a party to any such contract or agreement, as debts of like amount are now recovered in the circuit courts of the United States; the proceeds to be paid into the treasury of the United States ; and separate suits may be brought for each alien or foreigner being a party to such contract or agreement aforesaid. And it shall be the duty of the district attorney of the proper district to prosecute every such suit at the expense of the United States.

Now, if these other Bills have the same object, and if the evil which has been so often mentioned In this House exists at the present moment, why should we not proceed with the examination of this Bill at once, and have it passed into law so that it may afford relief in such cases as I have just indicated ? There are. of course, certain points of detail which would have to be modified when the House goes into Committee on the Bill ; but I think the matter is so urgent that the leader of the House ought to let us go into Committee on this Biil without delay.

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. T. S. SPROULE (East Grey).

I have two Bills before me on the same subject. This question has engaged the attention of parliament year after year for many years past. With the law on the statutes to-day, chap. 11, 60 and 61 Victoria, we might reasonably ask why it is that we have so many of these Bills introduced at the present time. It is simply because, when the government took charge of the Bill before, after handling it very discreetly for their own purposes for a few years, when they found they could not shift it off any longer, they passed a Bill that was of very little use in preventing the importation of aliens. In that Bill, who is to act ? The Attorney General of Canada. Aliens are Imported under contract of labour, the Attorney General has appointed no person to look after that. The Attorney General is communicated with, the Attorney General is slow to act, the Attorney General will appoint one of his own friends, and that friend will be an instrument in the hands of the government, and the parties cannot get redress. That is why we need another Bill, that is the reason why we have these

two Bills before us at the present time. Now the government contemplates scaving it off a little longer, and say that they are considering the question at the present time. They said that five years ago, they said it four years ago, they said it three years ago, they are still considering the question, and the trouble is going on as it has been in the past. Unless there is some specific measure put on the statute-book that will work automatically, under which any person can take action when aliens are imported, this evil will continue. Now, if the government prevent the hon. member from Waterloo from going on with his Bill until they bring down their own, and then make some other amendments in the law that will make it practically inoperative, they will be able to stave off the matter a year or two longer, and we will be standing a year hence, perhaps, very much in the position we are in to-day. It seems to me the premier ought to give this House some assurance that whatever Bill they may pass, it will be one that can be put into operation at any time by any private individual or any corporation, instead of leaving it in the hands of the government, or in the power of the government to act at their own discretion in setting the law in motion. I think the premier ought to give us some assurance to that effect.

Topic:   ALIEN LABOUR LAW AMENDMENT.
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February 28, 1901