April 28, 1902

CON

Robert Abercrombie Pringle

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PRINGLE.

Mr. Chairman, being a member of the Private Bills Committee, I took some interest in this Bill while it was under discussion. As stated by the Minister of Marine and Fisheries (Hon. Mr. Sutherland), the matter was very fully gone into in the committee. Mr. Fullerton, the very able counsel for the city of Toronto, raised a number of points and some of these points were met by the committee. I was under the impression that the Bill as passed was perfectly satisfactory to the representatives of the city of Toronto. I quite agree with the lion. Minister of Marine and Fisheries that if any restrictions are placed on commercial corporations such as this they should be placed by a general Act. We find that some years ago, in the state of New York, a charter was given to a large corporation for the development of power on the American side. In examining that charter I find that there are no restrictions of the sort which it is sought to impose here. It is optional with them to supply power and not imperative as is desired by the hon. mover of this amendment (Mr. Clarke). Tt seems to me that in regard to an enterprise of this sort, it is open to the keenest possible competition, because, there is not only the competition so far as Niagara is concerned, but there is also the competition from other plants and I therefore think that the duty of supplying electricity should not be made imperative as desired by the mover of the amendment. We find that the Ontario and Niagara Falls Power Company have also got large powers, and unquestionably there will he keen competition in so far as these two companies are concerned. Last year I took some interest in the incorporation of the St. Lawrence Power Company. I am aware that that company has developed a very fine power and now they are looking for consumers of that power and I am satisfied that competition will regulate matters of this sort. I find that we have precedent for the Bill which is now before the committee. Al-

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LIB

Robert Franklin Sutherland

Liberal

Hon. Mr. SUTHERLAND (Oxford).

most similar provisions are in the Bills of the Bay of Quinte Railway Company, the British American Pulp and Paper Company, the Canadian Power Company and the Welland Canal Power and Supply Company, and dozens of others that have been passed within the last four or five years by this parliament. For these reasons I think the clause settled on by the Private Bills Committee should stand and that this amendment should not carry.

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CON

Edmund Boyd Osler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. OSLER.

It is always difficult to frame an amendment to such a Bill as this is. but I think the argument which has been introduced here particularly against this amendment that because other Bills have been passed containing similar provisions tliis amendment should not be adopted is entirely fallacious. I noticed that the chief argument was that because Bills of this character have been passed before, we should not adopt this amendment, but if a wrong has been done in the past, if provisions have been adopted that do not properly protect the public, I think this wrong should not be perpetuated. I believe that all these power companies, from Niagara Falls particularly, will be amalgamated into one company and I venture to make the assertion that in ten years ail of these companies will be under one control. That control will have a franchise that this House will recognize and will be worth an enormous sum of money. We are proposing to grant to this company all the powers of expropriation that a railway company has. For that reason I contend that this company should be under control as completely as any railway company is under control, and while I am not able to agree to some of the amendments which have been suggested to the charter, because it is difficult to say just now wherein the danger lies with a company of this character or with several companies together and combining to control the whole of the electrical power from Niagara, I think the suggestion thrown out by the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries (Hon. Mr. Sutherland) is a very good one that such clauses should be embodied in a general Bill. I would suggest that in all these cases that the provisions of this charter should be subject to whatever Acts may be passed by this parliament hereafter. If that clause is put in I think it would safeguard sufficiently all the powers that may be dangerous which are granted in this Bill. I think that clause should be accepted by the promoters of this Bill, and it is one which is entirely on the lines suggested by the hon. Minister of Marine and Fisheries.

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

The hon. member for West Toronto (Mr. Osier) is perhaps not aware that the Railway Act does apply to this company so far as expropriation powers are concerned, and that the clause was most carefully considered by the committee.

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CON

Edmund Boyd Osler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. OSLER.

Would it do auy harm to put in this simple clause stating that this charter shall be subject to all Acts that may be passed by this House referring to electrical companies of this kind ?

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The MINISTER OF MARINE AND FISHERIES.

There can be no doubt that it is.

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CON

Edmund Boyd Osler

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. OSEER.

We have too many disputes with companies on that very point. In the committee this year we have not had very many disputes, but it is stated that certain companies are under the control of the government and the companies themselves say they are not under the control of the government. Let us make this quite clear. If it is in the clause already, why not insert this and make it without any doubt.

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CON

Robert Abercrombie Pringle

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PRINGLE.

I cannot see the necessity for adding that clause. . Parliament is supreme in these matters, and it can at any time pass a general Bill which will govern matters of this Sort. The clause proposed might be a serious handicap to the people who are endeavouring to develop the power at Niagara. It is very uncertain whether it is possible to profitably transmit power for a long distance, and anything which might hinder the company in its financing would possibly destroy the franchise which they will obtain under this Bill. I know nothing whatever about this company, but it may be that they would require to issue bonds, and I do not think we should put in the Bill anything which would prevent them carrying on their operations. We all know that parliament is supreme and can at any time pass a general Bill, if it is thought that injustice is being done.

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LIB

Mahlon K. Cowan

Liberal

Mr. COWAN.

As chairman of the Private Bills Committee it is only fair to the House that I should state what took place in that committee. We had probably the largest meeting of the committee which took place this session, when we considered this Bill. Thirty or forty members must have been present. Mr. Fullerton, the solicitor of the city of Toronto, was in attendance. We brought Mr. Fullerton up to the table and told him that the committee was quite willing to extend to him all the privileges of a member, and that if at any time he took objection to a clause, either on behalf of the city of Toronto or any other municipality, the committee would deem it a favour if he drew attention to it. Mr. Fullerton took a seat at the table and several times he made suggestions, very many of which, if not all, were adopted by the committee. Mr. Brock, the member for Centre Toronto, was also present. As we know, Mr. Brock is largely interested in the financial affairs of Toronto, and his business interests are identified with the prosperity and progress of that city. The committee considered this Bill for upwards of two hours, and the following sections were amended : 5, 8, 12, 13, 21. An absolutely new section was inserted, and section 20 with four sub-clauses was stricken out. Mr. Fullerton raised the point concerning the right to supply every municipality, but when his attention was drawn to the fact that section 90 of the Railway Act was incorporated in the Bill, it apparently satisfied his objection. Section 90 of the Railway Act reads :

When any company has power by any Act of the parliament of Canada to construct and maintain lines of telegraph or telephone, or lines for the conveyance of light, heat, power, or electricity, such company may with the consent of the municipal council or other authority having jurisdiction over any highway, square or other public place, enter thereon.

While this company has power to expropriate, they have not the power, without the consent of the municipality, to use these streets or public places, and Mr. Fullerton, as counsel for the city of Toronto, did not deny this. The committee thought the entire matter rested in the hands of the city of Toronto. When this company goes to' erect poles or wires across the streets of Toronto, it can only do so with the consent of the municipal council of that city, or of other municipalities in which it operates. Surely the city of Toronto, with its solicitor, and able representatives like the gentlemen who have spoken to-day, ought to be able to look after this Bill. If the municipal council of Toronto have not sufficient ability to guard the interests of the city and to make a contract that light, heat and power shall be supplied at the current rates, the committee thought that they were not called upon to interfere. I rose for the purpose of stating that this Bill was considered with great care; that no less than uiue amendments were made; one new clause inserted, and one clause with four subsections absolutely stricken out. Whenever a suggestion was made that suggestion was adopted with the unanimous consent of the committee; at no time was there a motion made that did not meet with the approval of the committee, and the committee at no time was divided.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I do not think that because this Bill was not amended in the committee in the sense in which it was desired to amend it now, that we should he estopped from amending it, if it is thought just to do so. It happened that my hou. friend (Mr. Cowan) was not present once when a Bill was considered in committee, and the House came to his relief on that occasion.

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LIB
CON
LIB
CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I think that was the^ case in connection with the Red Deer Valley Bill.

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LIB

Mahlon K. Cowan

Liberal

Mr. COWAN.

The motion before the House was to refer it back for further consideration. I never asked to have amended in this House something that had been passed after due deliberation in the committee.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

I understood the hon. gentleman to say that he was absent from the committee when the Red Deer Bill was considered.

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LIB
CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

And he wanted the Bill referred back.

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LIB

Mahlon K. Cowan

Liberal

Mr. COWAN.

Not because I was absent, but because of a technicality the opponents of the Bill had taken advantage of, and that had never previously been taken in the Railway Committee.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

There is no question but that my hon. friend (Mr. Osier) has the right to propose any amendment in the House which he deems advisable. I quite agree with the Minister of Marine that it would be desirable to have a general law applicable to companies of this kind, but as I understand, the promoters of this company at present control the Toronto Street Railway as well as the lighting of that city. As was pointed out by my hon. friend (Mr. Osier) the franchise of one of these companies is going to expire within a few years, and it is evident that in this particular case should the city desire to retake control of the franchise it will be quite possible for this company to hold up the city in respect to the power. This is, therefore, a very special case. As coming from the city of Montreal, I may say that we have seen such things happen there. It will be desirable to provide if it is possible to do so by this amendment, that in case of difficulties of that kind arising it would be possible for the city of Toronto to obtain that power upon the payment of what might be considered legitimate compensation to be fixed by an independent authority. It seems to me that if it is possible to provide for this .contingency, as it may present itself very shortly, it would be desirable to do so.

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April 28, 1902