Would the Minister of Agriculture explain to us what would be done in a case where a retail merchant had bought seed in rui unbroken package, had sold it and it was subsequently found that the seed had originally been supplied to the retail merchant from a wholesale merchant in a foreign country. How could the man be punished ?
In this case the retailer is summoned and brought before the court by the farmer, but when the retailer proves that he is innocent but that the wholesaler from whom he has bought the Mr. A. MARTIN.
seed is the guilty person what does the minister propose to do ? He proposes that the retailer who is innocent shall pay the costs, and what remedy has the retailer'? He has only to transmit that evidence to the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Agriculture may pigeon-hole the complaint after subjecting him to costs. In my opinion this is a Bill altogether in the interests of the wholesale dealers. When an action such as this section provides is brought against a retailer an opportunity should be given to him to proceed against the wholesaler without having to submit to the Department of Agriculture the question of whether or not he should be able to do so. Favouritism might be shown in such a case. The department might take action in the case of a retailer who is friendly to them and do nothing in the case of a retailer who was not. If the retailer is to be subjected to costs he should have an opportunity of proceeding against the wholesaler from whom he has bought.
Nevertheless, if the accused proves to the magistrate before whom he is tried that' the package, sack, bag or receptacle containing the seed respecting which the complaint or information is laid, was purchased by him directly from a seed merchant domiciled in Canada, and was not opened, or the state of the seed was not altered, while it was in his possession, and he had no reason to believe that the seed did not comply with the provisions of this Act, he shall, upon disclosing the name of the person from whom he purchased the seed, and the place and date of the sale thereof, to him, not be liable beyond the costs of prosecution.
What is the next step ? Is there a provision here that the retailer shall fall back on the wholesaler ? No. It says :
Every magistrate who has disposed of any case under the foregoing subsection shall, within one mohth from the date of his judgment therein, send to the Minister of Agriculture a report of the case, giving the name of the accused, the name of -the- person who sold the seed to him, and the date and place of such sale.
That is all he has to do, and it is then for the Minister of Agriculture to say what is to be done. He may say : Well this man is obnoxious to us, he has mulcted him in costs, but there is no remedy for him. An-ctker person may he viewed with more friendly eyes by the Minister of Agriculture, who will say we will pi'oceed in this case and bring the wholesaler into court. I do not think that this power should be placed in the hands of the Minister of Agriculture or any other minister.
My hon. friend has read the conclusive proof of what I just told him ; there is nothing in this Act to prevent the retailer himself proceeding against the
person who sold the goods. The magistrate is obliged to report the case to the Minister of Agriculture in case the minister should think it is a case in which proceedings should be taken, whether the retailer cares to do so or not. But the retailer has all the machinery of this Act to protect himself. There is nothing in the Act to prevent him from proceeding against the wholesaler.
There is nothing in the Act and that is the whole trouble. In place of allowing the farmer to have a judgment against the retailer and the retailer to fall 'back on the wholesaler as it should be in the Bill.
It is so in the Bill. That is what this subsection means. I have informed tbe hon. gentleman and the House that it means that the magistrate shall report the case to the minister in case the minister thinks it necessary to proceed, but that does not debar the retailer from proceeding against the wholesaler. The retailer has at his disposal the whole machinery of the Act just as the farmer had against the retailer. I have stated that to the hon. gentleman and I cannot make it any clearer.
Well, I cannot make it very much clearer to the hon. minister. What my contention is, is this, that when the farmer brings a suit against the retailer, and the seed is proved to be faulty, he should be able to get a judgment against the retailer ; and if the retailer is aggrieved, let him get his remedy from the wholesaler.
I think that would be a great improvement on the Bill.
The Minister of Agriculture knows very well that the farmers of this country are not going to law against the wholesaler in Montreal or Toronto. Take the ease of a farmer in Prince Edward Island, who buys seed from a retail merchant and brings him into court and proves that the seed was not what it was represented to be. He cannot get judgment against the retailer because the retailer falls back on the wholesaler in Toronto. The Minister of Agriculture expects the farmer to proceed against the wholesaler
It is a great objection, I think, to this Bill that the farmer, after bringing the suit against the retailer and proving his case, should then be compelled to go against the -wholesaler in a distant part of Canada.
I ask the minister to explain clause 8. It is said that the fine need not exceed $5 for the first offence. It can therefore be up to $5, and that fine shall be in respect of each receptacle, package, sack or bag, and it may apply to a case where a man has it in his possession for sale, contrary to the said provision. I want the minister to say to the committee whether that will cover a case of this kind. A dealer gets a large quantity in bulk of any kind of seed and does it up into a thousand packages. Then it is discovered that he has that seed for sale, and that it has this improper admixture of noxious weeds in it. Is it contemplated by the minister that an information may be laid charging this man with having a thousand packages of a certain kind of seed for sale contrary to the provisions of the Act, and that he may be fined in respect of each of these packages to the extent of $5, so that there could be inflicted by a magistrate-a magistrate who has, perhaps, no great knowledge of law-a fine of $5,000, or in default of payment a term of one month's imprisonment.
Mr. FISHER, Yes, under the reading of the Act the extraordinary case which my hon. friend cites might occur ; but I would trust to common sense and judgment of a magistrate to deal with the case on its merits, and to put the fine on each individual package low enough not to make it such an outrageous and extraordinary fine. Were such a fine as my hon friend speaks of inflicted, I think it would be a proper case to take on appeal to a higher court ; so that the last resort would not be left in the hands of what my horn friend has described as an ignorant country magistrate.