July 14, 1904

IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

How does the government handle the mails ?

Topic:   SUPPLY-CONCURRENCE.
Subtopic:   RAILWAY AQT, 1903-AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Hance James Logan

Liberal

Mr. LOGAN.

By tender and contract, and you could not very well handle the express business in that way. However, I have not given the question sufficient study and consideration to be in a position to express a decided opinion, but considering the facts, I can see no objection to granting to the Dominion Express Company, equal privileges on the government roads with the Canadian Express Company, especially as that would be nothing more than fair to the people of the maritime provinces. In the meantime I trust my hon. friend the Minister of Justice will see his way clear to have the question of jurisdiction referred to the Supreme Court for an opinion.

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LIB

Aaron Abel Wright

Liberal

Mr. WRIGHT.

Has the hon. gentleman any documentary evidence to show that we are nearing the end of the session ? If so, will he kindly lay it on the table ?

SMr. GOURLEY. I want to say to the hon. Minister of Railways that I believe public opinion in the maritime provinces is in favour of free trade in express companies. The legal difficulty I know nothing about at present, but there should be some way of getting around it. We want active competi-

tion in express companies on the Intercolonial, and there is a feeling among the people that they are unjustly treated by having one company given vested rights in the government railway to the exclusion of others. The people of course have to suffer the consequences of want of competition. I would support my hon. friend the Minister of Railways in any fair measure ip which he would give free trade to express companies.

Amendment (Mr. Maclean) negatived on division.

Mr. MACLEAN moved to amend the Bill by'adding a section which will read as follows :

Section io of the said Act is amended by striking out the words ' and his opinion on any question which, in the opinion of the commissioners, is a question of law shall prevail.

He said : This is to remove a difficulty which has arisen in connection with the Railway Commission and which came to the front not long ago. The towns of Port Arthur and Port William have a municipal telephone service. After a great deal of trouble a year ago we got a clause put in the Railway Act to the effect that every railway company is bound, on the order of the Railway Commission, to give access to any municipal or incorporated telephone system that seeks admission to the stations of any railway company. I secured that amendment by repeated argument last session and pointing out that the Canadian Pacific Railway had refused access to its station to independent companies on the plea that it had made a contract-this old nlea of a contract-with the Bell Telephone Company allowing that company and no other telephone company to have connection with their station. Parliament was good enough after a severe fight to put a clause in the Act to this effect:

Whenever any municipality or corporation has authority to construct, operate and maintain a telephonic system in any district, and is desirous of obtaining telephonic connection or communication with or within any station or premises of the company, in such district and cannot .agreej with thei company with respect thereto, such municipality or corporation may apply to the board for leave therefor, and the board may order the company to provide for such connection or communication upon such terms as to compensation as the board deems just and expedient, and may order and direct how, when, where, by whom and upon what terms and conditions such telephonic connection or communication shall be constructed, operated and maintained.

Hon. Mr. Blair, who was then Minister of Railways and Canals and who piloted this Bill through parliament, told the House that this Bill is to meet the emergency which' I have stated and to remove the grievances of the people who own independent telephone lines, the grievances of Locust Hill,

Port Arthur, Fort William, and other places. With that understanding I accepted that amendment. Time passed and the commission was organized. Hon. Mr. Blair became chairman of the commission. These people of Port Arthur and Fort William, Locust Hill and other places appeared before the commission and asked that the railway should be compelled to allow them telephonic access to the station. The case was argued and the, permission given. The majority of the commission of three members -Hon. Mr. Blair, ex-Minister of Railways ; Hon. Mr. Bernier, ex-Minister of Inland Revenue, and Professor Mills, who - had been selected on account of his business capacity, I believe-ruled that under this clause these local telephone companies had the right of access to these stations under the provisions of the Act. But the chairman of the commission, Mr. Blair, said : You may be in favour of giving these telephone companies access to the station, but there is another clause in the Act which makes this a legal issue and so brings it wholly and solely within my jurisdiction.

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Subtopic:   RAILWAY AQT, 1903-AMENDMENT.
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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON.

Section 10.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

That is section 10, which reads as follows :

Not less than two commissioners shall attend at the hearing of every case, and the chief commissioner, when present, shall preside, and his opinion upon any question, which in the opinion of the commissioners is a question of law, shall prevail.

Now, if there was any justification for the Bill passed last session establishing a railway commission it was that the people of Canada were at last to have a tribunal that would control these railway companies and regulate their charges, and this would be done by business men in a business way, without the long-drawn-out system of the courts. It is on that ground that hon. gentlemen opposite are justifying the Railway Act before the public. They make it their boast that at last they have established a tribunal that will deal with these questions speedily. But," instead of having such a tribunal it now turns out that it is to all intents and purposes a court of law, and that the chief justice of that court is supreme and can override his two colleagues. And to show that I do not go outside the record, let me read a few lines from what Mr. Blair said. This is in a despatch dated Ottawa, March 22nd, and gives an account of the speech made by Mr. Blair at the opening of the Railway Commission :

I think I can say for the board-I certainly say it for myself as being responsible for the legal conclusions that may be arrived at.

So, he has the right to say what is the legal issue and to tell his colleagues to sit aside. . Never was such a lecture delivered in any legal tribunal before as that given by Mr. Blair to his colleagues. In effect he

Topic:   SUPPLY-CONCURRENCE.
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GT15 COMMONS 671G


said : Now, you two get off the bench ; I will occupy it myself : this is a question of law and I will decide it.


LIB

Charles Fitzpatrick (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. FITZPATRICK.

From what section of the law is that quoted ?

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

That is the substance of what Mr. Blair told these good little boys who had been sent to accompany him. He told them to sit down and he would interpret the law. And his interpretation is to the effect that the people of Port Arthur and Fort William, and the farmers of Locust Hill, and the local companies in Quebec and the Northwest, who want telephonic connection with these stations, can only have it by paying enormous damages to the Bell Telephone Company. That is the sum and substance of his decision. That is the barren verdict given the people by the chairman of the Railway Commission. But we propose that this Samson shall be shorn of his locks, that he shall be made only co-equal with his colleagues and that all three members of the commission shall be judges of the law as they are judges of the facts. I do not believe in putting the great commercial interests of this country absolutely in the hands of a lawyer. In many cases under our law we summoiT a jury and the jury becomes the judge of both law and fact. That is the system that should be followed in this case. The business men and farmers of this country do not want to be left at the mercy of a lawyer at the head of this court.

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON.

There is the right to appeal, is there not ?

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

He says there is the right to appeal to the Privy Council and the Supreme Court, and these people have been sent there. They came down the other day to make some motion in regard to it and they were told that the commission was going west and it would take a long w7hile to get into the Supreme Court. And the chairman of the commission is on record as saying in effect : You had better not go to the Privy Council. He warned them not to go.

Some bon. MEMBERS. Oh, oh.

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CON

Seymour Eugene Gourley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GOURLEY.

Mr. Blair is a good lawyer, and

Topic:   SUPPLY-CONCURRENCE.
Subtopic:   GT15 COMMONS 671G
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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

This is what he said :

I think that an appeal to the Governor in Council would, not be desirable in that case. It is a question of law purely and simply so far as it now stands. And-I say it with all respect-the Governor in Council is not a tribunal to determine questions of law.

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CON

Seymour Eugene Gourley

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. GOURLEY.

When the hon. gentleman speaks of the Privy Council he does not refer to the judicial committee of the Privy Council ?

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

No. This is the position taken by this new Czar. He says, in Mr. MACLEAN.

effect : My colleagues' opinion does not

count when it is a matter of law7, and I do not think that you litigants should go to the Privy Council, though you have a right to go. The people of this country do not ivant law, they want service, they want the simple, common right to put their telephone lines into the station of these great railway corporations that they have created. And, as I said before, who are the people who ask for this accommodation-it can be called accommodation-for the railways ? " They are the clients of the railway companies. All that they want access to the railway station for is to be able to ask if their freight has arrived, if the train is on time, when they should send goods to the station for shipment, and so on. They are all anxious to do business with these railways and they find that this Bell Telephone Company, by a contract, has got between them and' the railways and they cannot get into .these railway stations.

It,is the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada to whom w7e are giving $150,000,000 to build a transcontinental railway that we propose to empower to enslave the'people ; it is the Canadian Pacific Railway to whom we have given millions and millions of dollars, and to whom we propose further to give power to enslave the people by preventing them from having telephone access to railway stations. I believe that the contract by which this railway company contracted to keep rival companies out of their stations is bad in law', I believe it is against the public interest, and would so be declared by the courts if appealed to. Therefore under these circumstances I come here with this little amendment asking parliament to change the law so that the supreme jurisdiction now vested in the Chairman of the Railway Commission may be taken awTay, and that the questions w'hich come before him may be tried, both as questions of business and as questions of law7, by some other men, by tw7o lawyers if you will. You may not have two, but don't make monkeys of the colleagues of the chairman. Both of these men were seized of this case, both of them gave excellent judgments. I have asked the Minister of Justice to read the judgments that were given by the Hon. Mr.. Bernier and Professor Mills. They are both sound, practical judgments that appeal to every one. They said : These people are entitled to go into these railway stations under this Act, and we make the order forthwith. But the Czar stands up and says : You shall not do so, this is a question of law7, and I take it out of your hands. So the people are denied this privilege of going into railway stations.

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LIB

Fletcher Bath Wade

Liberal

Mr. WADE.

The commissioners must agree that it is a question of law, then the chairman has power to decide.

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LIB

Charles Fitzpatrick (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. FITZPATRICK.

I do not find the word ' Czar ' defined in the Act.

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JFT.Y 14, 1904

IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. MACLEAN.

No, but here is what he does find. In a statement given out by the Chairman of the Committee on March 22 last, Mr. Blair, the Chairman, said : ' I certainly say it as being responsible for the legal conclusions that may be arrived at.'

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Subtopic:   JFT.Y 14, 1904
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LIB

Fletcher Bath Wade

Liberal

Mr. WADE.

But we have section 10 of the statute and here is what it says :

Not less than two commissioners shall attend at the hearing of every case, and the chief commissioner, when present, shall preside, and his opinion upon any question, which in the opinion of the commissioners is a question of law, shall prevail.

Topic:   SUPPLY-CONCURRENCE.
Subtopic:   JFT.Y 14, 1904
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July 14, 1904