I desire to draw attention to section 17 where it says that the Governor in Council may make such regulations as he thinks necessary in order to secure the efficient enforcement of the provisions of this Act, and may impose penalities not exceeding $50 on any person offending against it. Is that not contradictory of section 8 and section 10? Might there not be an Order in Council inconsistent with the Act ?
Would it not be better instead of having penalities provided by Order in Council for something not specified in the statute, to have a general clause providing for cases not otherwise provided for by the Act?
It is the usual procedure, when power is given for the making of regulations and rules-within certain limits which are here fixed-to allow the Order in Council to provide the penalties. That is the usual practice in other Acts, and I think it would be as well to comply with that practice here.
I would point out that this is a penalty and a quasi criminal proceeding and one is entitled to know on the face of the statute the penalty for such and such an offence. Under section S, the limit of the penalty is defined ; then under section 10, w'hieh as the minister points out is not for an infraction of the Act, but the obstruction of an officer, the limit of the penality is -defined, but then we have a limit here to be defined by something not contained in the statute, namely : a penalty to be provided by Order in Council so it would not appear upon the face of the statute with respect to the infraction of clauses penal in their nature. What the penalty is to be, except that there is a limit to the penalty for the infraction of these clauses is not defined. I would submit to the minister that it would be better to have this in a separate clause than to have the penalties dependent on an Order in Council as for instance, in the Criminal Code or the Summary Convictions Act, where penalties are provided for any other infraction of the Act not otherwise specially provided.
These regulations are not in the Act. The rules and regulations are to be provided by Order in Council and the penalties for the infraction of them are also to be governed by Order in Council. There is a limit ; the Act says that the penalty should not exceed $50. The amount of the fine or the penalty would no doubt be increased in accordance with the gravity of the offence. The Act leaves to the Order in Council the making of the regulations and also leaves, within certain limits-the maximum fine being $50-the amount of the penalty. If we were to undertake in the Act to give the penalties we would encounter many difficulties, because the rules and regulations would differ from time to time and the penalty should differ with them. Therefore I think it is better to leave the penalties for the Order in Council as well as the rules and regulations, and I assure my hon. friend that that is quite in accordance with other Acts where the rules and regulations are fixed.
I may be very far astray but it looks to me as If tbis Act provided for every known ease of infraction of tbe Act, and it seems a somewhat dubious proposition in connection with the enforcement of this Act for any person to have to consider that there may be offences created, that they may be offending against provisions of this Act of which they have no knowledge whatever, which may be contained in some Order in Council of comparatively recent date. The Order in Council will provide for an offence which the Act does not specially declare to be an offence. That is the danger that I would point out to the minister, that there may be an offence against the rules and regulations and a penalty attached to that offence which does not constitute a part of the Act.
Before the Bill is reported I wish to say that I have had great difficulty in hearing the remarks of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Fisher) to-day. Several amendments, very important amendments nc doubt, have been moved, but I have been entirely unable to follow even the wording of the amendments much less to follow the discussion on them. It may be strictly parliamentary, but it is not very edifying that we cannot follow the debate. I have in my hands a very voluminous correspondence on this question occupying a great many pages that I would have liked to have had an opportunity of submitting to the House, so that the gentlemen whose views have been entrusted to me might have been represented, but I could not see any place in the discussion where I could bring them in properly. The amendments suggested have been very far reaching, and I think the matter should not be rushed through in that way without giving hon. gentlemen an opportunity of finding out what the amendments are.
Now that the Minister of Justice is in his place I propose reading a letter addressed to the hon. member for Brantford (Mr. Coekshutt) from a gentleman in the riding I have the honour to represent. I may say at the outset that he is a very prominent Liberal and, I think is the best seed man in the Dominion of Canada. I shall ask the attention of the Minister of Justice to some points which he irakes, in the hope that his broad sense of justice and knowledge of law shall induce him to take hold of the matter and have this Bill put in something like fair-play shape. The letter is from Mr. A. O. Hogg and is as follows :
Oakwood, Ont., Feb. 23rd, 1905.
It is not British justice that two men doing the same act one is allowed to go free and the other is punished. In reference to clause 3, we do not want to do any boasting whatever, but 57
if you will make inquiries from people in the trade you will find that the statement we make will be verified, which is, that our firm has perhaps better equipment than any other firm in Canada for the handling, cleaning, storing and distribution of grain for seed purposes. We have made it a special feature of our business for eighteen years and we think we are situated in as good a section of country, with as high a class of intelligent farmers as can be found in Ontario. In corroboration of this, the four farms immediately surrounding our elevators at Mariposa would sell in the open market to-day for from $95 to $100 per acre, and one of these farms sold last week at $100 per acre, and many farms are of equal value, and the reason that these are so valuable is that they are specially adapted for growing high class cereals and clover seeds. One farm not two miles from our warehouse here has changed hands twice within the last two years at $105 per acre, and upon this farm we have had grown on contract grain for seed purposes, and we have no hesitation whatever in saying that it is utterly impossible to procure sufficient grain for seed that will comply with clause 3 of the Act. You will notice that this clause requires absolute purity unless you wish to plaster your bags with all kinds of weed seeds which may or may not be in the grain, but it would not be safe to sell it without putting them on, and though you had sold a man an assorted carload of seed grain by actual sample, have you any idea as a practical business man that when he received his carload and found the grain exactly like the samples, but with the bags branded with all these kinds of weed names, that he would not refuse to accept the goods, and yet it would not be safe for the dealer to ship the goods without all this disfiguring the bags with branding. Clause 5, however, may be a redeeming feature, as you will note that the government may pass regulations allowing a certain percentage of impurity and still allow it to be' called pure, and yet when you come to clause 6 no matter how much branding you do, it is simply illegal to sell cereals, clover or timothy seeds with a mixture of more than five weed seeds to 1,000, and we want to say that there is not one firm in fifty in Ontario that can produce cereals that will pass this rigid section, and if the farmers cannot grow it how can the dealers supply the demand ? We have paid the farmers a bonus above the ordinary price of grain to Induce them to use their best fields and give their best attention to produce cereals for seed.
Much stress has been laid on the cost of cleaning apparatus for handling seed. Might sav that the cost Of machines used exclusively for cleaning clover and grain for seed purposes by our firm cost over $2,000, and this does not include any machines or power for running them. The elevator we use for seed purposes cost over $10,000, in addition to machines, and it is specially built. All the planking in the bins having been planed on the four sides so as to have a perfectly smooth surface for the walls so that it is impossible for grain to get mixed. Now, what is the use of talking such nonsense as to say that' $800 will put in a cleaning equipment ? What is the use of the cleaners without the power and building to handle the stuff in ? We export large quantities of clover seed and handle a good deal in Canada, and the department seems to overlook the fact that one of the essential things in handling clover seed, as you well know, is that if you sell a man say 200 bags of clover seed of a certain
Before the Bill is reported I desire to draw the attention of the Minister of Agriculture aud also of the Minister of Justice to subsection 2 of section 8. When the Bill was last in committee, I drew the attention of these two ministers to this apparently extraordinary section which provides :
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.
I submit to the Minister of Justice that the exceptions in the subsection clearly make out a case of immunity under the law. It would be equally just to prosecute both the thief and the innocent receiver of stolen goods, as it would be to prosecute in this case both the principal and the innocent agent. What greater innocency could be established from a legal point of - view than to establish the facts set out in this subsection
that he innocently purchased the seed; that the package was not opened; that its condition was not altered while it was in his possession, and that he had no reason to believe that the seed did not comply with the provisions of this Act. Why. should a retailer who has given proof of all this, be mulcted in the costs of the prosecution. I will submit to the ministers that the words : ' Beyond the costs of prosecution ' should be stricken out of this clause, thus rendering it obligatory as the section provides, that proceedings be instituted against the person domiciled in Canada who is liable under the Act for offences against the Act and who would be guilty. Otherwise, penalties would be visited upon the person who actually was guilty of an offence against this Act, and would also be visited, in the shape of costs, upon the person who innocently was a handler of seed bags, the contents of which he did not know and which in his possession were not altered. A man who merely had a sealed pack-
age in his possession could not be found guilty, and yet this subsection would find him guilty to the extent of making him pay the costs of prosecution. It is a compromise and a compromise against a person who establishes by statutory essentials his innocency, and who notwithstanding has to pay tlie costs of the prosecution, which might be very heavy.
If we ever are to get to the end of this Bill it can only be by observing the rules of the House. This Bill came up for its third reading and it was referred back to the committee for the purpose of reconsidering clauses ten and eleven. So far as I am concerned I am not disposed to reopen the whole question by discussing every clause of the Bill.
I suggest to the minister that this Bill should be allowed to stand for to-day. The House has not been able to grasp the meaning of the amendments which the Minister of Agriculture has just read, and it is only reasonable to ask that we should be placed in possession of a copy of these proposed amendments so that we may know what they really are. In view of the very great importance of this measure, the Bill should be allowed to stand until we can study the amendments and discuss them intelligently. The Minister of Justice well said that the discussion should be confined to the clauses that are amended. But we should have a copy of these amendments before us, so that we could look over them and understand what they mean. I hope the hon. minister will let the Bill stand until we have time to look over the amendments.
I would draw the attention of the hon. minister to the fact that when this clause was under consideration before,, as when other clauses were under consideration, the Minister of Justice was not in his place ; and the hon. Minister of Agriculture admitted that several clauses, as to which there were objections of a technical character, had not been submitted to the Minister of Justice. It was for the purpose of drawing this clause, as well as the clauses under direct scrutiny, to the attention of the Minister of Justice, that I rose.
I think it is sufficiently important to justify me in moving that the Bill be again referred to the committee for the consideration of that point.