April 2, 1901

GENERAL INSPECTION ACT AMENDMENTS.


The MINISTER OF INLAND REVENUE (Hon. M. E. Bernier) moved for leave to introduce a Bill (No. 115) to amend the General Inspection Act. He said: There are two changes which I propose to make in the present Act. They are suggested, or rather, recommended by the Winnipeg Grain and Produce Exchange, with the view of bringing the grades more within the composition of those of Manitoba and Dakota. Motion agreed to, and Bill read the first time.


CULLING OF LUMBER AND INSPECTION OF STAPLES.


The MINISTER OF INLAND REVENUE (Hon. M. E. Bernier) moved for leave to introduce a Bill (No. 116) respecting the culling of lumber and the inspection of staples. He said : This measure contains no new enactment. Its object is to transfer the inspection to the Department of Trade and Commerce by a separate Act. Inspection which is established for the protection of the public and for the security of trade, has plainly nothing to do with the collection of the revenue, and should be under the supervision of the Department of Commerce. Motion agreed to, and Bill read the first time.


PACKING OR SALE OF STAPLE COMMODITIES.


The MINISTER OF INLAND REVENUE (Hon. M. E. Bernier) moved for leave to Introduce a Bill (No. 117) respecting the packing or sale of certain staple commodities. He said : This measure contains no new enactment. Its object is to remove from the Weights and Measures Act a number of amendments which should not have been incorporated therein, and which, in fact, have nothing to do with the Weights and Measures Act and the administration thereof. As originally drafted, the Weights and Measures Act was fairly scientific and clear. The amendments now eliminated rendered it unscientific and self-contradictory. All these amendments, which deal severally with the sale of cereals, hay, fruit, eggs, [DOT]salt, binder twine, soft coal, &c., are incorporated in the present Act.


ALIEN LABOUR LAW.


The PRIME MINISTER (Rt. Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier) moved the second reading of Bill (No. 47) to amend the Act to restrict the importation and employment of aliens. He said : There are three principal ideas in this amendment which I now offer to the House. The first is in connection with the penalties. By the Act of 1897 it is made an offence to import alien labour from a foreign country, practically from the United States, under contract. The penalty attached to this offence is $1,000, neither more nor less. There was no elasticity in the penalty, and if a party was convicted under the Act, the judge had no option but to impose a penalty of $1,000. This has been found in practice to be inconvenient, and not unnaturally, because it has been found better in all matters of this kind to leave some discretion to the judge and to graduate the penalty to the nature and character of the offence. So the first object we have is to modify that penalty and to make it not more than $1,000, but not less than $50, to give a margin to the judge to impose a penalty at his discretion from $50 up to $1,000. The second point relates to the recovery of this penalty. Under the law passed in 1897 no suits can be brought for the recovery of this penalty, or practically, for the enforcement of the Act, except upon the authority of the Minister of Justice, or the Attorney General of Canada. In practice it has been found very inconvenient, and after a good deal of, observation and consideration of this subject, it was thought advisable to amend the law in this particular, that suits could be authorized, not by the Attorney General of Canada, but by the Attorney General of any province in which the offence is committed, or by a judge of a court which has jurisdiction m the matter.


CON
?

The PRIME MINISTER.

No, only on the authority, either of the Attorney General of a province or of a judge of a court which has jurisdiction in the matter. The third amendment is an addition of a pretty sweeping character, but which we thought advisable to bring to the attention of the House. It is to prevent employers of labour from advertising for labour in the United States so as to be able at any moment to flood the labour market with importations from the neighbouring country. Since this measure has been introduced representations have been made to the government by several manufacturers and employers of labour generally, to the effect that this clause is too drastic, that some exception should be made, and that the employer should be permitted in certain cases to import labour from the United States, that is, labour of a certain kind which cannot be found here, special labour, or labour of a very high class, and even sometimes when there is a scarcity of that kind of labour in Canada. We have had conferences with the labour organizations and I must say that we have found them very reasonable. So far as 1 understand them, and I think that I do

understand them, they have no objection whatever that there should be a provision in the Bill introduced so as to make it possible for an employer in Canada, if he cannot get the kind of labour he must have in this country, to bring it from a foreign country, or from the United States, without any violation of the Act, but, they would insist, and this is a proposition which I think is perfectly reasonable, that the Act should be so framed, so construed and so interpreted, as to make it impossible, when there is a dispute between employers of labour and their employees, when there is a strike on, for instance, or any difficulty of that kind, to advertise in the United States and thereby get a supply of labour for the market here while the dispute is going on. That is a position which, I think, is very reasonable. I understand that some amendment may be proposed to the last clause of the Bill when the Bill comes before the committee. Of course, the government would be prepared to consider any such amendment as may be offered. I beg to move the second reading of the Bill.

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Motion agreed to, and House went into committee. On section 1,


CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

If this clause is not amended will it permit what the right hon. Prime Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) says he desires to leave within the provisions of the law, that is to leave it open to any person to bring in labour of a technical sort, persons specially fitted for doing some particular kind of work, fitting up machinery, or running certain kinds of machinery ? If this clause is left as it is, the importation of labour of any kind will be prohibited. I take it that if this clause is left as it is and if a new clause is put in, it would be in conflict with this one.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

Mr. Chairman, there may be something in the objection of the hon. member for East Gray (Mr. Sproule). If that clause is allowed to stand we may come back to it when we have passed the other sections of the Bill.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

Mr. Chairman, perhaps the right hon. Prime Minister would state the principle upon which he leaves the question of taking action under this AU't to the Attorneys General of the different provinces. I do not quite see the principle of that myself inasmuch as the provincial government, or the Attorney General, as the executive law officer, may entertain entirely different views from those of this government in respect to the enforcement of this statute. It is true that it does throw the responsibility on the Attorney General of the province, but I would rather be inclined to think that a responsibility of that kind which deals, to a certain extent, with matters of an international import, in so far as it is confided to an Attorney General in this country, should rather be confided to the

Attorney General of Canada. It is with this government that responsibility of that kind usually rests. It seems to me that it is with the Attorney General of this government that such responsibility should rest if It is to be committed to an officer of that kind at all.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

The criticism of my hon. friend (Mr. Borden) would not, I think, apply. Of course, the principle of our confederation is that the administration of justice lies with the provinces. We pass all criminal laws; that is our jurisdiction, but the application of these laws is within the jurisdiction of the provinces and it is the Attorney General of every province who has to enforce them. When, in 1897, we took the power to ourselves to authorize the enforcement of the Act it was in derogation of the well-known principle which pervades our whole system. We are going back to it now. I see the force of the hon. gentleman's contention that if the troubles which are contemplated are of an international character it should be preferable to leave the law as it is and that the discretion which is vested in an officer of the law should be vested in the Attorney General of Canada rather than in the Attorneys General of the provinces. WTe have considered all that, but since we propose to make it an offence to import under contract alien labour, we have thought, after the experience we have had, that we had better leave the administration, as far as possible, with the officers of the provinces rather than with the Attorney General of Canada.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

So far a's the remarks of the right hon. gentleman are concerned, it seems to me that in respect to the considerations which I have mentioned, the law should be left to its operation without the intervention of the Attorney General or any one else. If certain responsibilities are to be thrown, in the first place, upon the Attorney General, it seems to me, notwithstanding what the right hon. gentleman says, that the Attorney General of Canada is the one who should take that responsibility and not the Attorney General of any province. However, I will not take up any more time with that. There is another nmtter in connection with this section which I would like to mention. Proceedings can be taken under this section not only with the written consent of the Attorney General of the province, but with the written consent of any judge of the court in which the proposed action as to the penalty is intended to be brought. The penalty is a sum of not less than $50, and not more than $1,000. Has the right hon. gentleman considered the advisability of a proceeding of this kind being brought before two justices of the peace or the small debt courts in the different provinces ? It is thought that questions involving responsibility such as I have men-

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

tioned may arise in connection with the enforcement of this Act, and it seems to me that it would be better to confer this jurisdiction upon courts of a higher jurisdiction such as the county court or the Supreme Court of the different provinces. To allow proceedings of this kind to be taken before a small debts court or before two justices of the peace will not give us very much safeguard in the way of responsibility, in some eases at least. If it is the intention of the right hon. gentleman to create by this enactment some safeguard against the enforcement of the Act it seems to me that it might very well merit the attention of the First Minister and his government, as to whether he has got the proper courts for enforcing the provisions of this statute.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

There is no departure from the Act of 1897, so far as th* court is concerned.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

The right hon. gentleman will remember that then the proceeding could not be taken except by the consent of the Attorney General of Canada.

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The PRIME MINISTER.

Yes, but the consent of the Attorney General of Canada had nothing to do with the competence of the court.

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April 2, 1901