May 7, 1903

CON

David Tisdale

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. DAVID TISDALE (South Norfolk).

I presume that the hon. Minister of Railways and Canals (Hon. Mr. Blair) would not object to my stating what the proceedings were in relation to the last consolidation of the railway law in 1888. Sir. Pope was then Minister of Railways, and, if I remember well, Sir John A. Slacdonald was acting Minister of Justice, or, possibly, it may have been Sir John Thompson. The Minister of Railways and Canals and the Minister of Justice met at different times with the counsel of the railway companies; for, after all, while parliament controls all legislation, yet, there are none so largely interested in any proposed changes in railway laws as are the railway companies. A discussion, taken part in by the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Railways arid the representatives of the railway companies, would boil down, to use a common expression, all disputed points. As a matter of fact, the procedure followed in that case expedited the progress of the Bill very materially. This Bill is a great deal broader than that of 1888. That was simply a consolidation with certain amendments-quite numerous-and the introduction of the system of the Railway Committee of the Privy Council. The changes in the present Bill are not only in regard to the establishment of the Railway Commission itself, but that commission is given powers far beyond anything for which we have a precedent in our legislation. So, it seems to me, it would relieve the House a great deal and ensure more rapid progress if the minister would follow out some such plan as a preliminary step. Of course the Bill would have to come again into the Committee of the whole House to be fully considered here. Not only did the procedure in 1888 lessen the labour of dealing with the Bill, but the minister was in a position to give ns information as to any objections which had been raised, and he was able to refer to the Minister of Justice where necessary. It is true that the Bill of 1888 was not referred to a special committee. But it is also true that since that time we have generally sent amendments of the railway law to the Railway Committee. The scope of the present Bill is so large that I would not, for my

part, suggest its being sent to tbe Railway Committee, but I would suggest, that it would be well to consider sending it to a special committee, particularly, if the minister found it was going to take too much of his individual time. A special committee ol' twenty or twenty-five members could best deal with legislation of this sort involving many details and matters of great importance. This Bill is not a consolidation. I find, on reading it that it is not like the Bill presented by the minister last session. That was a consolidation but this is a new law, and, above all, it introduces the system of a railway commission and gives that commission far more extensive powers than the Railway Committee of the Privy Council ever had. I venture to suggest that better progress would be made, if the minister would agree that, in view of the importance of hearing railway authorities on the subject, this Bill should be sent to a special committee to be threshed out there. This would have the effect of lessening the labours of the Committee of the Whole. It was found in the case of the Criminal Code and of some other matters, that the work of a special committee greatly lessened the labours of the House, and when the Bill came into Committee of the Whole, it was found that the work had been much shortened by the labours of the special committee, assisted by the ministers, and reduced the time that the House found it necessary to give to the consideration of the Bill.

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

I may be allowed to make a remark in answer to my hon. friend. I suggested in my previous remarks that I had invited from the railway people a full expression of their views, and wished them to criticise the Bill in the amplest manner. I have not the slightest desire that this legislation, though I am promoting it, should be adopted if, upon full consideration, it is found that any of its features are not well calculated to further the object which we have in view ; that is, while not injuring the railway interests of the country, to promote the interests of the country as a whole. I have asked the railway people to put their views before me in writing, and if they have not done so it has been through no fault of mine. They have no doubt good reasons for having failed to do so. I understand that Mr. Hays has been absent, and the other gentlemen who are associated with him did not wish to take action until his return. We have hesitated in proceeding with this Bill for that reason, and for that reason alone. I am anxious to make progress with the Bill, and it is important that the session should not be delayed and made to drag along from this cause. There are many members of this House who are interested in special features of the Bill, and in respect to which they desire that some legislation should take place this session ; and I have promised Hon. Mr. TISDALE.

them in the Railway Committee, where these subjects have come up, that this Bill would be put through, and that it was the intention of the government to press it upon parliament. We have been delayed in doing so because we were waiting to hear from the gentlemen of whom I have spoken. I think it would be an advantage if we were to proceed with the Committee stage and dispose, at all events, of many features of the Bill, which I think are entirely noncontentious, about which there will be no difference of opinion. I think it is important to do this for the further reason, that the Bill is not entirely a transcript of the existing laws, nor was the Bill introduced last year a mere transcript of previous laws. It is a revision of the existing railway Acts, as was the Bill last year, and I think it does not differ in many material respects from the Bill introduced last year, except that we hope to perfect it in its phraseology and in its form. I think it is much improved in that regard. Now if the House is prepared to adopt that course and take up the sections one by one, I am sure it will be an advantage ; and even though we may come across some features of the Bill about which there may be a difference of opinion, I think it would be an advantage if we were to have the views of the members of the House upon those points. The discussion could not be otherwise than helpful, and I am sure time would not be lost. Any feature of the Bill about which a difference of opinion might develop, and which might specially interest the railway people, we would defer for further consideration.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

We know that the railways are greatly interested in this Bill. To my knowledge, I think all the managers of railways have formed themselves into a committee for the purpose of considering the provisions of this Bill, and the Committee have had it under serious consideration ever since it was introduced into this House, along with the legal talent of the different railways who have been suggesting amendments to it. I believe they have prepared a report. It may be the fault of Mr. Hays

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

The report has not yet been prepared, at least the railway people have not yet matured their report.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

I do not know whether they have or not, but I am sure they have prepared the report.

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

I am giving the hon. gentleman Mr. Hays' statement.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

I cannot say that I have under my hand tire printed report.

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

The hon. gentleman appears to be better informed than I am.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

The minister may not know about the report; but it would assist the Committee and assist tbe minister in tbe consideration of this matter if tlie report containing tbe objections of tbe railway people were in tbe bands of tbe House before we proceed to consider the Bill. Tbe bon. gentleman may or may not have seen tbe report.

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

I assure the hon. gentleman I have not.

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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. HAGGART.

I accept the hon. gentleman's statement, and take it for granted that be has not seen the report, but others than the minister are really in possession of tbe report. The fact that tbe minister lias not seen the report does not prevent others from having seen it. Perhaps it would be better to wait for that report before we proceed with tbe consideration of the Bill.

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CON

Albert Edward Kemp

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. E. KEMP (East Toronto).

The two parties who are interested in this Bill are tbe railways and tbe public. It was reported two or three weeks ago in tbe press that the railways would make very important representations to the government in regard to tbe terms of this Act. They have since been working on it, I am informed. I am also informed that certain bodies representing the general public have been corresponding with the Minister of Railways, telling him that they desire to be heard in respect to this Bill. They have noticed in the press reports that the railways intend to ask for amendments, and they have been waiting until the government were in possession of these amendments before they came themselves to interview the government. I understand that tbe Toronto Board of Trade are in that position. They have been making representations to the Minister of Railways, and desiring to be heard after the railways have made their representations. If the Minister of Railways sees fit to adopt these amendments which the railway people produce, then the board of trade desire to be heard in regard to these amendments. But they do not want to make two trips here for that purpose. Perhaps the .Minister of Railways may have representations from other bodies representing the general public, as we know that the public are a good deal interested in this Bill. I would urge the minister of Railwavs to postpone the second reading of this Bill until he has the representations of the railways, and until he hears the organizations representing the public, neither of which bodies have yet been heard by him. It seems to me that it would be a waste of time to go on and read this Bill a second time, and consider it clause by clause, until we have heard more from the parties interested. I hope the hon. minister will give these organizations which desire it an opportunity to be heard.

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Tlie MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

Mr. Speaker, I may say to the hon. gentleman (Mr. Kemp), that I was communicated with by the Toronto Board of Trade and I am not sure but that there may have been one or two other associations, perhaps the Manufacturers Association, and perhaps some other associations which, also communicated with me ; but I know the Toronto Board of Trade has done so and I stated to them what had transpired. I very frankly stated to them that I had asked the railway people to present to me, if they could, a statement of their criticisms upon the Bill, and when I received that I said that I would put them in possession of it Then, I thought would be the proper time for them, if they wished to formulate any views, to do so. I have not received that information from the railway companies. It is apparent that these gentlemen have been communicating in the wrong direction. Instead of communicating with the Minister of Railways and Canals, they should have communicated with the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals because the ex-minister has been taken into the confidence of these gentlemen to a much larger degree that the present minister has been favoured. Therefore, I have not been able to carry out my undertaking with them. If I have failed I have not failed for any other reason than for that stated. I still adhere to the view that nothing would be lost and that everything would be gained by proceeding into Committee on this Bill.

I know very well the clauses of the Bill that will invoke the most criticism and I am sure the House will accept my statement and that when in committee the committee will accept the statement I make, that I will not press any of the clauses which I have reason to believe are likely to be contested in the interests of the railway companies or anybody else; but that I will be willing to afford them every opportunity of being heard.

Mr, KEMP. I do not think the hon. minister's mind is sufficiently ingenious to imagine what the Toronto Board of Trade have in their minds in regard to this Bill. I have been informed that they have a great many amendments to suggest and I think we would only lose time by proceeding with the Bill.

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CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SAMUEL BARKER (Hamilton).

Mr. Speaker, I wish to call the attention of the lion. Minister of Railways and Canals (Hon. Mix Blair) to another difficulty in discussing this measure ; that is, if the hon. minister proposes to go on with the clauses relating to tbe commission. Personally, I am in favour of the principle of a commission, but I doubt whether I can vote for the clauses as they stand until I know how far the clauses will extend ; that Is to say, whether they are to be binding upon all the railwavs of this Dominion, or only a few of them. Strongly as I feel there would be

an advantage even to the railways themselves from the appointment of such a commission as this, I feel also that the effect of the Bill would be mischievous if one or more of the large companies were exempted from its operations while others were bound by them. We all know that the Canadian Pacific Railway, at least, claims to be in such a position under its special Acts that you cannot do with it what you propose to do under this commission. I think it would be a grave injustice that one company should be made subject to this commission and to the decrees of the commissioners, while the Canadian Pacific Railway or any other company should be absolutely free. I think that must be a proposition which no hon. gentleman in this House can dispute. We cannot very well, in the absence of the representatives of the Canadian Pacific Railway and other companies, decide here for ourselves which company is bound, and which is not bound by the provisions of the Bill as it stands. The only way, it seems to me, in which we can deal with that question, is the way which has been suggested ; that is, to appoint a committee to hear the contentions of the several railways as to whether they are possessed of parliamentary powers which prevent this Bill being applied to them. We may spend hours ancl hours and daj^s and days in going over the various provisions of this Bill and ultimately find all our work useless simply because we have no power to deal with some particular railway company whose freedom from control would make the Bill of very little use. I do not want to refer here at length to the question of the government railways. The hon. minister has said that he exempts the government railways from the operation of the Bill. I think that is wrong. I do not agree with him in that, but I am dealing now, simply with the question of other railways which cannot appear in this House and state the objections they may have to what is proposed against them here.

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Motion agreed to. and House went into committee on the Bill. On section two, paragraph (m)-


CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

I would ask the minister why he limits the authority, of the judges under this Bill to judges of the Superior Court. The judges of the High Court which is the Superior Court in Ontario, are located in Toronto when not on circuit, and as a great many things may arise under this Bill which would require immediate attention, I would suggest that the County Court judges who are perfectly competent to act should be clothed with powers under the Bill, it would save a great deal of expense and would greatly facilitate the operation of the law if the County Court judges were given jurisdiction.

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

Since the Railway Act was Mr. BARKER.

passed it has been the law that the Superior Court judges should have jurisdiction, and I would be inclined to adhere to the existing law unless very strong reasons were given for the change. The judges have not manv duties to perform under this Act. One duty of theirs, which occurs to my mind, is, that they have jurisdiction in connection with the expropriation of land, and I personally would not think it desirable that we should change the law in that regard. Then again, when rules are made by the commission, in order that they may become rules of court, application has to be made to a judge of the Superior Court, and I can see no reason at present why that should be changed.

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CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

The procedure in expropriating land is, that the railroad gives notice to the land owner, and in that notice the company appoints an arbitrator, and they ask the land owner to appoint another arbitrator, then those two have to agree on a third one, but if they cannot agree, application has to be made to a judge of the High Court at Toronto. Suppose the land is in the county of Lincoln, which I have the honour to represent, could, not the judge of the County Court there pick out an arbitrator a good deal better than a judge sitting in Toronto ? The judge in Toronto has to rely on affidavits and he generally appoints a judge of the County Court, but if the judge of the County Court himself has the appointing power he could appoint the judge of another county court, or he could appoint any one he thinks fit. The application could be made to the county judge at home and it would save a great deal of expense and trouble. I think the legal gentlemen from Ontario on both sides of the House will agree with me that better and cheaper results would be obtained by giving the County Court judges power to deal with the expropriation of land. In Ontario we have railways incorporated by the province, and in relation to every one of these the County Court judges have to do with the expropriation proceedings and not the Superior or High Court, and practical experience has taught us that it works very satisfactorily. There has not been the slightest complaint against the manner in which the County Court judges have discharged these duties. As to making an order of the Railway Commission a rule of court, I would remind the minister that in the province of Ontario the County Court judges are local judges of the High Court, and every day of their lives they are making just such orders In regard to other equally, or more, important matters as they would be called upon to make under this Act. There are only ten judges of the High Court in the whole province of Ontario who have original jurisdiction. I firmly believe that it would be a great improvement in the Bill if we conferred this power on the County Court judges concurrently with the judges of the Superior Court if you like.

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CON

David Tisdale

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. Mr. TISDALE.

The matter brought to the attention of the House by the member for Lincoln (Mr. Lancaster) is well worthy of consideration. The hon. gentleman is much more conversant with the later rules of procedure than I am, and he no doubt knows from practical experience whereof he speaks. The old principle of the Railway Act, as the minister truly says, was adopted a long time ago, and things have changed since then. While I would not, without further consideration be prepared to confer this power on the County Court judges, yet I think the minister should seriously consider the suggestion. The difference between the High Court judges and the County Court judges was more accentuated in times past than it is at present. The judges of the County Courts are now judges of the Superior Court in local matters, and this jurisdiction has been conferred on them for the very purpose of saving litigants the expense and inconvenience of going long distances from home when they are interested in litigation. From my experience, I would be as well satisfied to have the County Court judges appoint arbitrators as the Superior Court judges. They would be not only much cheaper but more quickly got at, which are advantages not only to the localities but to the railways themselves. There might be a number of other cases in which a County Court judge might very well be substituted for a Superior Court judge in Ontario. I would not be prepared to say that I would make this substitution in all cases. I think-the suggestion of the hon. member for Lincoln is well worthy of consideration.

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The MINISTER OF RAILWAYS AND CANALS.

The clause must stand for further consideration. The argument which the hon. member has presented on the score of reduction in the expense of expropriation proceedings is one that occurred to my mind.

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May 7, 1903