June 3, 1904

CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

I do not think that any good purpose can be served by insisting on this legislation being passed through in what, I must say, is, under the circumstances, a very hurried way. The hon. member from Ottawa (Mr. Birkett) has told us in a very few words why he thinks this legislation will injuriously affect the city ot Ottawa ; and it seems to me that hon. members of the House might take a hint from that and consider how it will affect the whole Dominion of Canada. In my opinion there is a good deal of private legislation passed without hon. gentlemen, either in the committee or in the House, considering it from the standpoint of its effect upon the Dominion at large, I do not understand that legislation is to be passed simply because those who are interested ask for it and people at the moment do not see reason for objecting to it. I think the onus rests upon every hon. member to look further and consider whether legislation is wise in the interest of Canada as a whole. Unless we have reason to believe that legislation is in the interest of the Dominion, whether public or private, I, for one, until better advised hold that we ought not to pass it. There seems to be a disposition to overlook this point and to pass legislation simply because it is asked for. In passing the Bill in its present form, it seems to me, the committee has run counter to the principle actuating other Select Committees so far as I have knowledge of their proceedings. For instance, in the Railway Committee, when some railway seeks to buy up or amalgamate with other railways that might compete with it, the committee always insists that it shall be upon terms that shall afford due protection to the public interest. Now, in this case we find that the Act of Incorporation of the Ottawa Electric Company, passed in 1804 provides that this company may acquire shares in the capital, stocks, and debentures and securities of other electric Mr. IA VBI.L.

companies or companies possessing powers similar to those of the company as the consideration of goods, wares and merchandise sold to such other companies in the ordinary course of business. It is these final words, 'as the consideration for goods, wares and merchandise sold to such other companies in the ordinary course of business ' that it is proposed to strike out. So, the qualification or limitation, by no means a small one, it is sought deliberately to strike out. And, apparently nobody advocating this Bill pays the House the compliment, or does hon. members the justice, to explain why this limitation is to be removed, and why this Act. passed in 1894, apparently carefully drawn and fully considered and now in force for ten years, is to be thus changed. The principle involved, it seems to me, is a most important one. Under this legislation, passed ten years ago, the city of Ottawa has acted and grown ; under it the people of Ottawa have dealt, apparently supposing that the Dominion parliament would support them In the conclusion, reasonably drawn, that their interest as defined by the Act would not be prejudiced. The people of all Canada, for that matter, have a right to suppose that no legislation will pass this House without due reason given, to change the law in the light of which they have carried on their business and made their arrangements. The city of Ottawa, assists or refuses to assist, deals with or refuses to deal with, certain companies because the legislation of 1894 is on the statute-book. And now, without reason given, it is proposed to strike out these important words that qualify or limit the operation of this company and to allow the company to swallow up unconditionally any other company, in the same business, to which the people might look for competition which would secure for them reasonable prices in such services as this company is authorized to render. The hon. member for North Leeds (Mr. Lavell) very properly, in my opinion, pointed out the provision at the end of section 8 to the effect :

Provided that after any such purchase, lease or other acquirement, working arrangement or amalgamation as aforesaid is entered into, the company shall not, without the consent by bylaw or otherwise of the municipality of the city of Ottawa, or of the city of Hull, respectively, as the case may be, increase the ordinary prices or rates charged by any of the said other companies for electric light in the city of Ottawa or in the city of Hull, respectively at the time such purchase, lease or' other acquirement, working arrangement, or amalgamation is entered into.

That provision, he pointed out, had been carefully drawn in regard to this company launched in 1894. Now, what about the other companies that have sprung up since: for instance, the Metropolitan, brought into existence for the purpose of creating competition with this company ? The Metro-

politan and those people interested in it would have a right to sell out without that restriction to this company, while these other companies, that are equally entitled to consideration, cannot sell out without these restrictions put upon them, and upon their assignees, if they do sell. The effect would he that the Metropolitan would get a franchise unconditionally and without these restrictions, and other companies are not bound by these restrictions-for the companies that are to be allowed to sell out to this company by the statutes of 1894 are all enumerated, and those only that are enumerated are bound by that provision. It would not only practically nullify one section of the Act by another section, but it does more. The company that has come into existence since this, in 1894, not being mentioned in that section, would have a right to sell out to the Ottawa Electric Company its franchises, make all its arrangements, and do it without the Ottawa Electric Company being bound by the same provisions that it is bound by in buying out these other companies. It seems to me to be making special legislation for the benefit of certain people. I do not know or care who the people are that are interested in any of these companies ; but we must not pass legislation in this hasty way that is going to have the effect of giving some people rights that we take great care to see that other people shall not have without certain conditions. I think it is a very wise suggestion that this committee rise in order that the matter may be further considered, in order that what we have pointed out may be met. I think no harm can be done. There will be plenty of time to pass the Act this session, if it is to become law, with the further advantage that many gen tlemeu in this House, who may not belong to the select committee which may be appointed to consider it, like myself, for instance, may become better acquainted with it. I have every respect for the Miscellaneous Privatp Bills Committee, but in a question like this, on which there is such a great difference of opinion, I am bound to raise my voice here to-night and to give effect to my objections, because every member of parliament becomes responsible for this legislation after it goes through the House unless he opposes it. Under the circumstances. I think the committee ought to rise, report progress and ask leave to have this matter referred back. I am influenced by the fact that only nineteen members of the Private Bills Committee have thought that this ought to pass, and only fourteen voted against it. So 195 members of this House have not had an opportunity of expressing their opinion upon it, other than the fourteen who voted against it in the committee. Under the circumstances, I hope the premier will consider this as a reasonable request under the circumstances.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Sub-subtopic:   OTTAWA ELECTRIC COMPANY.
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CON

Thomas Birkett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BIRKETT.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague, the Speaker of this House,

to accept with me the suggestions of the hon. member for West Toronto (Mr. Clarke), and ask the committee of the House to refer this Bill back to the Committee on Private Bills for the purpose of hearing the city council. So far the matter has not been discussed by the city council, to my knowledge. This being a matter of such vital importance to the city, it ought not to be too hastily acted upon. I would like to hear from the hon. the Speaker, and have him express his opinion on the matter, as I feel satisfied that if this matter is referred to the committee again that some amicable arrangement will be arrived at between the city council and the company in regard to the regulation of rates for the charges of electric light to the city, something similar to what appears in the Consumers' charter.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Sub-subtopic:   OTTAWA ELECTRIC COMPANY.
Permalink
?

Some hon. MEMBERS

The city council were heard before the committee.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Sub-subtopic:   OTTAWA ELECTRIC COMPANY.
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CON

Thomas Birkett

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BIRKETT.

I am satisfied that what I am asking is only just. The Solicitor General has supported the contention I am making now, also the hon. member for Winnipeg (Mr. Puttee), the hon. member for East Queen's (Mr. MacKinnon) and the hon. member for Lisgar (Mr. Stewart). I would ask that the members of this committee give serious consideration to this matter. I would like to hear from some member of the government. This is a matter that interests the people of Ottawa more than any other question that has come before the House.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Sub-subtopic:   OTTAWA ELECTRIC COMPANY.
Permalink
CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I would like to read the request made by the city council of Ottawa, because I think it puts the case so plain that the committee can easily understand it. I have a very distinct recollection of the time when the Ottawa Electric Company was first incorporated. The mayor and city solicitor of Ottawa say in their petition :

The Bill provides :

1. That the capital stock of the company he increased from $1,000,000 to $1,500,000.

2. That the company may issue bonds to the amount of $1,125,000 instead of $500,000 as at present.

In both these cases there is a large increase in the bonding power. The reason, I understand, they gave was that they wished to improve their water power.

3. That the company may acquire shares in the capital stock, debentures and securities of other electric companies ; and that the proviso be struck out of the original Act which provides that such stock, debentures or securities shall only be issued ' as the consideration for goods, wares or merchandise sold to such other companies in the ordinary course of business.'

That was all the privilege they were allowed in the use of their stock.

In 1898 the city granted a franchise to the Metropolitan Company of Ottawa, Ltd., authorizing that company to erect poles and wires for the purpose of supplying electric light and

power. Maximum rates for electric light and' power were fixed in that franchise.

The following clause was inserted in that franchise :-

15. That the said company shall not at any time during the said period amalgamate or combine with any other company or companies now carrying on or which may hereafter at any time during the said period carry on in the said city of Ottawa, the business of supplying electricity for the purpose of power, light or heat, nor shall the said company enter into any contract, agreement or arrangement with any such company for such purpose or that shall have such effect, nor shall the said company enter into any contract, agreement or arrangement with any such company for the purpose, or that may have the effect of creating a monopoly of the business of supplying electricity for the purpose aforesaid in the city of Ottawa, without the permission of the council of the corporation of the city of Ottawa, to be expressed by by-law.

Which they have not done ; they have expressed their opinion straight against it.

It will be seen that the purpose of this provision was to prevent the company obtaining the franchise, from amalgamating or selling out to any other electric light company. The terms of the franchise of the Metropolitan Company was for 21 years from 1898.

The Metropolitan Company not having entered upon the business of supplying electric light, heat and power, the city of Ottawa in 1901, gave a twenty-three year franchise to the Consumer's Electric Company, Ltd. In that franchise the maximum rates for commercial lighting and power were also fixed.

A similar proviso to that in the Metropolitan Company's franchise was inserted in the Consumer's franchise providing that the latter company should not amalgamate or sell out to any other electric light company.

That was to prevent a monopoly.

The object of the city of Ottawa in granting, first, the Metropolitan franchise, and then the Consumer's franchise, was to secure competition in electric lighting with the Ottawa Electric Company.

The city, at the time these franchises were granted, relied on the provision in the Ottawa Electric Company's Act of Incorporation, which provided that that company could only acquire the stock, debentures or securities of other electric companies ' as the consideration for goods, wares or merchandise sold to such other companies in the ordinary course of business.' It is now sought to have this protection to the city struck out.

When the Bill in question was before the Private Bills Committee an amendment was moved, that the ^ower to purchase stock in other companies should not apply to the stock of the Metropolitan or the Consumers' Company. i | j

These are the only two other companies that are doing business in the same manner in Ottawa :

This amendment was lost by 19 to 14

Showing that tljere was not a very large attendance at the Private Bills Committee.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Sub-subtopic:   OTTAWA ELECTRIC COMPANY.
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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

The refusal of the Ottawra Electric Company to accept this amendment, indicates clearly that the real purpose of the Bill is to enable the Ottawa Company to buy out the Metropolitan and the Consumers' Company or one of them.

The city of Ottawa submits that parliament should not enact legislation which will have the effect of taking away from the city the guarantee which it now has that there will be competition in the supply of electric light, heat and power ; and also submits that the amendment proposed in the Private Bills Committee should be inserted in the Bill.

The evident intention of the Bill is to enable the Metropolitan and the Consumers' Companies to get rid of the provisions against amalgamating or selling out to any other electric light company, which were inserted in these companies' franchises by the city for the express purpose of securing competition, and consequently low rates for electric lighting.

The only companies at present in existence in Ottawa whose stock can be purchased by the Ottawa Electric Company, in the event of the legislation now asked for by the latter company being granted, are the Metropolitan and the Consumers' Companies. If the Ottawa Electric Company does not want the legislation asked for. for the purpose of purchasing the stock of either or both of these companies, it cannot be prejudiced if the legislation is not granted at present. If it is required for the purpose of acquiring the stock in some company not yet in existence the legislation now asked for can be obtained when that company comes into existence.

Ottawa, 2nd June, 1904.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Sub-subtopic:   OTTAWA ELECTRIC COMPANY.
Permalink

TAYLOR McVEITY,


City Solicitor, Ottawa. J. A. Ellis, Mayor of Ottawa. This is the requestion from the city of Ottawa which took good care that a clause should be inserted in the original Bill for the purpose of preventing amalgamation, for the purpose of preventing monopoly, and for the purpose of securing the supply of light in perpetuity at a fair figure. Now the promoters of this Bill come to parliament and ask to be relieved from that position while the corporation of the city of Ottawa who are above all others interested in this question ask that a clause shall be inserted in the Bill which will prevent this company from forcing a monopoly upon the people of Ottawa.


CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

My hon. friend from Ottawa (Mr. Birkett) has made a very important request of the committee, a request that the government of the day should listen to. It has been explained that when this question was before the Private Bills Committee 33 members were present and I am informed that the Mayor of Ottawa and an important delegation representing the, city were also present opposing this Bill. It is true that they were not successful before the committee, but 14 members of the committee out of 33 voted in favour of the citizens of Ottawa upon this question. The

people who are most to be considered in che discussion before the committee are the citizens of Ottawa themselves. I understand that before the committee there were no persons present very stronglv in favour of the passage of this legislation except members of the committee. In the committee of the whole Housg now we find that we have the two lion, members for the city of Ottawa present. One of those hon. members has spoken on behalf of the citizens in opposition to that Bill and the other hon. member has by his silence supported his contention. Therefore, we have a right to assume that the mayor and city council, representing the citizens of Ottawa, together with the two parliamentary representatives on the floor of this House are calling on the government of the day not to pass this Bill. I do not think that the government would attempt to override the opinions of the two members for Ottawa and the mayor and council and say that they understand this question very much better than the representatives of the city of Ottawa. Every man in Ottawa is interested in this Bill. As my hon. friend from East Grey (Mr. Sproule) has pointed out at this present moment they have competition iti lighting in their homes and in the public places of the city. If this Bill passes the lighting service goes into the hands of one huge monopoly. While I have said that the citizens are particularly interested in this Bill every hou. gentleman in this House who comes from a municipality in any part of Canada is also interested in the principle involved in this Bill.

I will be very much surprised if the government do not step in, as it is their duty to do. and say to those who are pressing this Bill in this hasty way : Whether the city council and the promoters of this Bill can agree or not, it will be our duty as the government of the day to ask them to come together again and see if they cannot come to some reasonable compromise by which the citizens of Ottawa will not for all time to come be placed in the hands of this monopoly. Whether it will be a monopoly or not it will leave the citizens of Ottawa in the hands of one company and we have instances in Canada to-day of the effect of this kind of legislation. In the great city of Toronto they have corporations which are oppressing the people and I think it is the duty of every hon. member of this House to stand up and say that in so far as parliament is concerned we will not in any wise assist any monopoly to monopolize the lighting in any city. May I be permitted to say further that the hon. the Solicitor General (Mr. Lemieux), who represented the government before the committee, stated that this was not a proper kind of legislation. We have had one member of the government who has spoken and he has spoken on behalf of the citizens of Ottawa and on behalf of the government too.

Therefore we have a right to assume that the government are in favour of allowing these corporations to come together again in order that they may have an opportunity of seeing if they cannot meet each other's wishes and give to the citizens of Ottawa some kind of legislation that will enable them to get cheaper lighting in years to come.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   TAYLOR McVEITY,
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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

I think that in the interest of all parties it would be only reasonable that this Bill should be referred back to the Private Bills Committee for further consideration. The hon. gentlemen who are representing the city of Ottawa know very well that it is opposed to public opinion. The corporation of the city of Ottawa is opposed to this legislation. It is not an unreasonable request under these circumstances to defer final action on this Bill until a meeting of the city council is held and some expression of opinion given. There is just one word more that I desire to say. 1 am advised that there is an express provision in the charter of the Consumers' Electric Light Company limiting the maximum price that they can charge the citizens of Ottawa for electric light. If it is the desire of both of these companies to amalgamate and come together-and I have no personal opinion about that matter as I suppose they know their own business best-it is not unreasonable to suggest that the same limitation as to price shall be enjoined on the consolidated company. That is fair. There is nothing unfair about it, and I appeal to the sense of justice of hon. gentlemen to allow this Bill to go back in order that some reasonable compromise may be reached between the parties that will be fair and just, and under which the citizens of Ottawa will not be mulcted in the future-I do not say they will-if one company gets complete possession of the iighting'of this city.

I ask the right hon. gentleman to agree, for the sake of harmony, to allow the Bill to go back.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   TAYLOR McVEITY,
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CON

David Henderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HENDERSON.

If you will call it nine o'clock I shall not continue the discussion, but if the discussion is to continue permit me to say that, in my opinion, no stronger case has ever been made out against a Bill which is calculated to create a monopoly than has been made out tonight against the Bill now under the consideration of the committee. The hon. member for South Simcoe made a very strong appeal to the First Minister to stay "any further procedure on this Bill, and gave very cogent reasons for so doing. He stated that the right hon. gentleman (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) had years ago told us in this House that he proposed to make the city of Ottawa the Washington of the North.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   TAYLOR McVEITY,
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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Hear, hear.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   TAYLOR McVEITY,
Permalink
CON

David Henderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HENDERSON.

He stands by that to-day, and I think he cannot say that he

has not found the House on both sides in harmony with his desire.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   TAYLOR McVEITY,
Permalink
LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Hear, hear.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   TAYLOR McVEITY,
Permalink
CON

David Henderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HENDERSON.

They did not offer opposition to it. We are spending in this city large sums of money for the purpose of beautifying it, and when It is proposed to place it under a monopoly in regard to its lighting and heating, 'I think it is time that the right hon. gentleman should call a halt. 1 do not want him to destroy what he has already accomplished. My hon. friend from Lincoln (Mr. Lancaster) asks me if they have trusts and monopolies of this kind in Washington. If they have I have not heard of them, but I do not for one moment presume that such legislation would be permitted in the city of Washington, and I consider that it would not reflect credit upon this House, upon the government, or upon the country, if the government, which is responsible for every' bit of legislation that passes this House, no matter whether it is private legislation or a government Bill, should permit a Bill of the character of that which is now before the committee to pass and become law. I consider that the Bill will cast a very serious reflection on this House, and I may say that it would establish a precedent which the government will long regret having permitted to be established. I do appeal to the right hon. the First Minister (Sir Wilfrid Laurier), as a member of this House, not as a citizen of Ottawa, not to permit this to pass. I think the citizens of Ottawa are not being fairly treated. We have a statement put into our hands, which has been read by the hon. member for East Grey (Mr. Sproule), signed by the mayor of Ottawa and the city solicitor of Ottawa, setting forth the views of the municipal council of that city. I do not know where we could get a stronger protest against the legislation now proposed. One of the members representing Ottawa in this parliament has entered his very strong protest ; the other hon. gentleman, when appealed to, has remained silent ; and I am afraid we will have to construe that silence into consent, and to infer that he is not in line with the citizens of this capital city of Ottawa. I do hope that the government will intervene, and that we will not be called upon at any time to look back to this as a precedent for permitting legislation of this character. The fact that the 'Solicitor General, one of the right hon. gentleman's colleagues, has, as I am informed, spoken against the Bill, I think is a very strong reason why the right hon. gentleman (Sir Wilfrid Laurier) should accept the suggestion of his colleague

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   TAYLOR McVEITY,
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LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

The hour for private Bills being exhausted, the House Will resume in Committee of Supply.

Topic:   SUPPLY.
Subtopic:   TAYLOR McVEITY,
Permalink
CON

SUPPLY.


House in Committee of Supply. Quarantine-steamers for service at Grosse isle, $30,000.


June 3, 1904