June 21, 1904

NEW BRUNSWICK SOUTHERN RAILWAY.

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Alexander Gibson

Mr. ALEXANDER GIBSON moved :

That in accordance with the recommendation contained in the 19th report of the Select Standing Committee on Standing Orders, that portion of the 49th rule which limits the time for receiving petitions for private Bills he suspended in reference to the petition of the New Brunswick Southern Railway Company, presented this day, praying for an Act to declare their railway to be for the general advantage of Canada, and that the said petition be read and received forthwith.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I would like to understand the reason why this particular measure demands a suspension of the rules of the House'. I have not heard any reasons given thus far. The hon. gentleman who is making the motion will no doubt be able to inform the House.

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Alexander Gibson

Mr. GIBSON.

The petition was handed to me by the Southern Railway Company of New Brunswick. The reason they come here is that the Hon. Mr. Blair, the chairman of the Railway Commission, told the'm that the legislation which they had obtained from the provincial legislature of New Brunswick was not sufficient, and that they should obtain legislation from the Dominion parliament. I only received the petition the day before yesterday.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I have not been able to gather from the hon. gentleman's statement why the rules of the House should be suspended in favour of this petition. If he is not able to give any reason, perhaps he would give us an opportunity to examine the petition. The mere fact that somebody has written a letter to the railway company does not seem to afford a sufficient reason why the rules of the House should be suspended.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I understand that the reason given by my hon. friend is this, that this legislation was passed by the legislature of New Brunswick, but that in order that it should have the effect intended, it is necessary for the company to have a Dominion charter. I understand that the company were informed only recently that their charter was insufficient for their purposes, and that they would have to obtain the necessary powers from this parliament. That is the only reason.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

If that is the reason, it is not set forth in the petition, and I do not understand on what principle this petition has received the favourable report of the committee to which it was referred.

The petition sets out that legislation is desired from this parliament for two purposes. One is to confirm two Acts of the legislature of the province of New Brunswick relating to the company, passed in 1901 and in 1902. Therefore, so far as they are concerned, there has been abundant opportunity to have this Bill introduced within the proper time. That portion of the petition affords not the slightest ground for a suspension of the rules of this House, if they mean anything. If they mean nothing, but if we can set them aside on the most trivial pretexts, as we have been doing during the last six weeks, let us abolish them altogether. If they do mean something, let us require, both in this House and in the committees of this House, some better reason than that stated in this petition. If the suspension of the rules of this House is to be a mere form, let us understand it at once. The second purpose stated in the petition is to construct a bridge over the St. Croix river, in the province of New Brunswick, at the terminus of the company's railway. The petition recites :

That the company was incorporated under the said chapter 74 of the statutes of 1901 of New Brunswick, with power to acquire the Shore Line Railway, and the deed of transfer was confirmed by the said chapter 102 of the statutes of 1903.

That is all that there is in this petition, which I understand has been reported favourably by a committee of this House. What the committee found in that petition to report favourably upon I do not know. If the rules of the House are to be observed, I think this Bill ought not to be received under the facts set forth in the petition. I am not for one moment stating that this will not be desirable legislation. It may be legislation that I myself would support. All I am calling attention to is that we are deliberately, day after day, and week after week, violating the rules of this House on the flimsiest possible pretexts, and in this case without any pretext at all. All I am suggesting is that we should adopt some course that would be reasonable

either abolish the rules of the House or, if they require to be suspended, let that suspension be based on some reason that is worthy of the name.

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LIB

Lawrence Geoffrey Power (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

I would like to call the attention of the hon. gentleman to the fact that this is not the preliminary petition. This petition does not state the reasons for delay. The other petition probably would.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I asked if the petition sets forth the reason and I asked it because my hon. friend did not give any. Perhaps my right hon. friend knows what are the reasons.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

I know nothing more than I have said, but I understood the reason simply was that the chairman

of the Railway Commission had stated that their charter was insufficient and would have to be ratified by this parliament.

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LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

I have just had a few words from the hou. gentleman who introduced the Bill, and I have learned from him that it was only within a week that they became informed of the construction placed upon their charter by the Railway Commission. There can be no question of taking the public by surprise because another legislature had granted certain powers, and it is now discovered that these powers are not sufficient and will have to emanate from this House.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN..

I have not suggested that the company were taking the public by surprise, but what I say is that we have a rule requiring that these Bills shall come before parliament within a certain time, and for a very good reason. The reason is that if they are not brought before parliament within proper time, they may not receive the consideration they should. I would like this to stand until I observe whether or not the preliminary petition sets forth any sufficient reasons why we should set aside the rules.

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Alexander Gibson

Mr. GIBSON.

I only received the petition on Friday after the House had voted and have taken the first occasion to present it.

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON.

If there even was an occasion when the rule should be suspended it seems to me this is one. The company obtained legislation from the New Brunswick legislature. Then very recently they made application to the Railway Commission for power to construct a bridge in order to make connection at the Boundary river between Maine and New Brunswick with the Washington County Railway. They were told that their charter did not give them the right to make such an application and that it would be necessary for them to seek power from the Dominion parliament. They only learned this within the last week.

. It seems to me we ought not to enforce too rigidly our rules. Parliament is here for the purpose of serving the people, and here is a great public interest to be served.

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CON

Charles Eusèbe Casgrain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CASGRAIN.

Do I understand my hon. friend to say that the New Brunswick legislature had granted this company the right to build a bridge across the inter, national boundary or river which separates Canada from the United States ?

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON.

No. But the legisla-' ture gave power to connect with the Washington County Railway at the boundary. * Under that legislation, the company applied c to the Railway Commission, under the impression that the powers granted them by - the New Brunswick legislature were suffi-1 eient. The Railway Commission decided l against that view.

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CON
LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON.

Yes, very properly. Now they seek a remedy. They want to make the connection. It is in the public interest that connection should be made. Why should we hesitate to give the power ?

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

Surely the hou. gentleman is not so obtuse as to understand that we are objecting to the legislation. I distinctly said that I might very probably support the legislation, but I object to suspend the rules of parliament without any reason being stated. Parliament is, of course, the servant of the people, but it has to be governed by certain rules, and these rules should not be suspended without some plausible reasons being given. My hon. friend the Postmaster General says that this was only discovered recently. Assuming that to be the case, it ought to have been stated by the hon. gentleman who makes the motion.

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LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

So long as the House is informed of the reason, that ought to be sufficient.

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June 21, 1904