March 22, 1905

LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

The hon. member for South Lanark, the ex-Minister of Railways and Canals (Mr. Haggart) -was a member of the committee. Does the hon. gentleman (Mr. W. P. Maclean) include him in his insinuations of dishonesty ? Perhaps he would go on and elaborate and tell us who of those who sit around him are equally deserving of the censure that he, as chief censor of parliament, now takes the liberty of distributing gratuitously throughout the House. I shall watch with deep interest to-morrow night for the arrival of the Toronto ' World,' and I hope to see in it, in fine magnificent display, a reference to the valuable services being rendered to Canada in the cause of good government by the hon. member for South York (Mr. AY. P. Maclean).

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. AV. P. MACLEAN.

We have had a fine lecture from the Postmaster General (Sir William Mulock) on everything but the issue before us. That issue is whether the citizens of Ottawa are to be turned over to a grasping corporation against the existing law of the land. That law to-day confirms the citizens of Ottawa in certain rights. If the law is changed as here, proposed, the citizens of Ottawa are to be turned over to this grasping corporation, and the Postmaster General does not like to hear the facts as I stated them to-night. He does not like to have it go forth, and, although the opportunity was given him, he has not a word to say in contradiction of the statement that Hon. George W. Ross has disappeared from the political horizon of Ontario because of his alliance with these corporations, and that Hon. Air. Parent to-day Is leaving the government of Quebec because, as the Montreal ' AVitness ' says, his government has been besmirched by alliances with these grasping corporations. There is other evidence in this country every day that in some way the corporations can get everything they want; when the people want anything they have to come here and fight for it. They have had to organize a municipal union in this country to maintain the control of the streets which they thought they had under the municipal laws of Ontario. But in some way the Dominion government, this federal power which once was the champion of provincial rights-and we heard something about that to-day-has been a party to an attack on provincial rights by these corporations. If the Postmaster General had dealt with the question, if he had stated the reasons why he intends to vote against this measure-and I take it that he intends to vote against it-if he had given some of those reasons which will induce him to vote against it, we would have made some headway ; but he does not like the idea that I threw out, that this government, as a government, should oppose this Bill, because the government is to-day the greatest customer of the Consumers' Gas Company.

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LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

We feel quite satisfied that with the help of the hon. gentleman (Mr. W. F. Maclean) we will be able to defeat the measure.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN.

Now we are making some headway. At last we have got the minister on the penitent bench. It has been difficult to get him there, you have to put a rope around his neck and drag him up there, but we have him there now, and if the hon. gentleman is speaking for the government, and desires us now to cease discussion, simply to vote on the Bill and finish it. I have not a word more to say, and I will put the hon. gentleman's picture in the newspaper to which he refers as the champion of municipal rights. If there is any picture that the people of North York would like to see in to-morrow's paper, it is the picture of the Postmaster General of Canada as the champion of provincial and municipal rights-and he can have the whole page.

Sir WILLIAM MULOCIv. Thanks.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN.

He can have the whole page, as he looks on Sunday and on every day through the week, as the champion of muncipal rights of the people of this country.

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LIB

William Mulock (Minister of Labour; Postmaster General)

Liberal

Sir WILLIAM MULOCK.

The offer of my hon. friend (Mr. W. F. Maclean) is a somewhat doubtful compliment Up to the present I have enjoyed the proud position of having had always, without exception, the undying hostility of the Toronto'World'; I have enjoyed that advantage, and I would hope for the rest of my political career that nothing would deprive me of it. As to the adorning of the pages of that paper with my portrait for the delectation of the electors of North York, I have no objection, but I would ask on their behalf that they might not have in the same paper the portrait of the hon. member for South York (Mr. W. F. Maclean).

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LIB

Napoléon Antoine Belcourt

Liberal

Mr. BELCOURT.

It does not appear to me to be very pertinent to the subject to discuss the causes which 'led to the retirement of the Hon. Mr. Parent from the premiership of Quebec and the choice of his successor. I propose to say a word or two about the Bill. Before we discuss the clause of which my colleague gave notice the other day, I must join with him in a request that the promoters should give some explanation. The Bill has two objects. The first object, which is dealt with in section 1, is to increase the capital. The citizens of Ottawa are under the impression that the increase of capital is sought for the purpose of acquiring the shares of another company. I have not so far heard from the promoter of the Bill the reasons which prompts the Ottawa Electric Company to ask for an increased capital other than the reason for which, as I have stated, it is supposed to be sought. If there is any such reason, if there is any reason why the Ottawa Electric Company desire an increase of capital

other than for the purpose of acquiring the shares of other companies, I would like to have that explanation. It may be that this committee would be fully (justified land might be unanimous in granting the Ottawa company an increase of capital if it is made plain that that increase is not sought for the purpose of amalgamation with the Consumers' Electric Company. I should like very much, for my part, to know if there is any other object than that one, and I think the proper party to enlighten us is the promoter of the Bill. Unless some reason is shown for an increase of capital other than the reason I have shown, I shall feel constrained to vote, not only for the amendment, but against the Bill itself.

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LIB

William Alfred Galliher

Liberal

Mr. GALLIHER.

There seems to be a strong desire, on the part of members from Ottawa at all events, that I should speak on this question. As I stated before, I would have preferred to have made my argument when we reached the clause of the Bill that has been objected to. I think that is the more usual course. However, I am prepared, and have always been prepared, to discuss this Bill upon its merits, calmly, reasonably, not going to the extreme either in favour of the Bill or against it. As the introducer of this Bill, I may say that comment has been made in the press as to why a member representing a constituency so far from Ottawa should be placed in charge of this Bill. I trust the press, or those who instigated that expression, do not think that I do not feel myself as much bound by any action I take upon a Bill affecting Ottawa as I would upon a Bill affecting a constituency bounding on my own.

Further, one of the papers has seen fit to style me a company's man, and another has styled me: the man from the electric lobby. In reply to the first, I have only to say that any hon. member or any journalist who looks through the records of this House and sees what my attitude has been on the question of provincial rights will be satisfied that the statement in the newspaper is not correct. As to the latter charge. I have never been a lobbyist in this House or out of the House ; I have not done any lobbying in respect to this Bill and I do not propose to do any. It is the privilege of a member of this House to take charge of a private Bill when asked to do so, whether it be in his own constituency or in any other constituency in the Dominion, and I have simply exercised that privilege. But let me discuss this Bill. In the first place a Bill similar to this was introduced last session of parliament; it passed the Private Bills Committee and was reported to the House. An amendment was moved by Mr. Birkett. the then member for Ottawa, and the Bill was referred back to the committee to consider the advisability of inserting this amendment. The Bill was then withdrawn by its promoters and it ended there. This * session the Bill was introduced in the same

commons

shape as last session and in the Private Bills Committee, Mr. Belcourt, senior member for Ottawa, moved an amendment which he stated was satisfactory to the mayor as representing the city of Ottawa. That amendment was exactly in the words of the amendment proposed by Mr. Birkett last session, as an amendment satisfactory to the city authorities and to him as representing the city. The company proposed that a rider should be added stating that if compelled to place their wires underground they should not be confined to the maximum charge fixed in the franchise agreement. One member of the committee remarked at the time that he thought the rider would kill the horse, and it seemed as if the whole objection on the part of the city and on the part of those opposing the Bill lay against this rider. I have never been able to see, and I cannot see to-night, where that rider would have altered the position one iota, but be that as it may, that rider has been disposed of. When the Bill came to the House from the Private Bills Committee the right hon. the leader of the House moved, that in view of the opposition, of the different parties to be heard, and of the interest taken in the matter, it might be well to refer the Bill to a special committee which was then named. I had nothing to do with that; I did not even suggest the name of a member on that special committee; but I do not think that any one will object to its personnel. That sub-committee consisting of nine members amended the Bill so as to provide that in case the Ottawa Electric Company should purchase a majority of stock in the Consumers Company or the Metropolitan Company, the contracts entered into between the city and these two companies should be held sacred and should not in any way be prejudiced. This left the city in exactly the same position with regard to that matter as it occupies to-day. One member of the committee, Mr. Ames, reserved to himself the right to object to the general principle of the Bill when it came to the House, but otherwise the report of the committee was unanimous.

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LIB

Adam Zimmerman

Liberal

Mr. ZIMMERMAN.

I beg to say that I was on that special committee and I also reserved the right to act as I thought fit when the Bill came before the House.

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LIB

William Alfred Galliher

Liberal

Mr. GALLIHER.

I accept the hon. gentleman's statement; I did not hear him but I did hear Mr. Ames. The objects of this Bill are threefold. First, the company asks permission to increase the capital stock. My hon. friend the senior member for Ottawa (Mr. Belcourt) wants to know if that is to enable them to amalgamate with the Consumers Company and the Metropolitan Company and. I may say in reply that they cannot amalgamate with either of these companies because under the fran-Mr. GALLIHER.

chise granted to these companies they are not empowered to amalgamate with any other company. The second section explains itself, and it is that the Ottawa Electric Company wish to get power to purchase for cash the stock in any other company having .similar objects. That is a privilege which has been granted by this parliament time and again and which is granted practically every day. It was done in the case of the Cedar Rapids Company, the St. Louis Company, the E. B. Eddy Company and others. The third object sought by the Bill is to enable the Ottawa Company to increase its borrowing powers. There is nothing' inconsistent with the Acts that have been passed through parliament in favour of similar companies, in the legislation that is sought for by the Ottawa Company. It has been asserted by almost every speaker who has opposed this Bill, that the Bill invaded a municipal or civic right. As a matter of fact there is no Interfering with a civic or municipal right. The competition is merely a condition created in the present instance by the city of Ottawa granting franchises to other companies than the Ottawa Electric Company. It is not a civic right nor is it a municipal right as municipal rights and civic rights inherent in themselves are viewed ; it is merely the creation of a conditon of affairs by the act of the city itself. I have dealt with the question of amalgamation and I say that-they cannot amalgamate if this legislation goes through, but they can buy a majority of stock in either of these companies. It has been said that this legislation will enable the other companies to break their contracts with the city, but the real truth is that this amendment will preserve to the city of Ottawa all the rights they contracted for when they granted franchises to the Consumers Company and the Metropolitan Company.

One word on the question of rates. The argument of hon. gentlemen opposed to this Bill is that it will entail 50 per cent extra cost on the people for their electric lights. Well, that may read very well in the newspapers or sound very well coming from hon. gentlemen who may be opposing the Bill, but I ask them if they for one moment really believe that if this Bill be passed the price of lights will be increased 50 per cent. I submit, Mr. Chairman, that that is not a commercial proposition. No company would be so foolish as to charge such an increase. If they did, they would be only cutting their own throats. But should the company be foolish enough to attempt any such course, the city of Ottawa has in its own hands the remedy. I am rather astonished that the hon. member for South York (Mr. W. F. Maclean) who, day in and day out in this House for the past four or five years, has so strongly advocated municipal ownership, has not to-night advocated the taking over

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by the city of Ottawa of the ownership and operation of the electric light plant. 1 do not go so far as the hon. gentleman on the question of municipal ownership, but 1 Believe in municipal ownership of the electric plant and waterworks of a city. We have that in my own town, and the city of Ottawa has the power to-day, if it chooses, to acquire the ownership of this electric plant. It has two remedies against an increase in the cost of lighting. It may buy out the Consumers Company and operate that company under its charter, or it can enter, under its own special charter, into the manufacture of electric lights itself. Let me read the first section of the statute respecting the city of Ottawa which gives this power to the city :

The municipal council of the corporation of the city of Ottawa shall, in addition to the powers conferred by the Municipal Light and Heat Act, which is hereby incorporated with this Act, have power to produce, manufacture and use, and supply to others to be used, electricity for motive power and for any other purpose to which the same can be applied, and also to fix rates and charges therefor, and collect the same, and to acquire and hold lands, water-powers, machinery and all other property, easements and privileges necessary therefor. and shall for and with respect to such powers and purposes or any of them, have all and every, the powers which are by the said Act conferred on municipal corporations with respect to light and heat.

Thus the city has in its own hands the remedy, and may own and operate its own electric light plant.

Reference has been made to a. petition. Well, with all due deference to petitions, it does seem to me that if the cause of the opponents of this Bill be just and right, it is safe in the hands of the 213 members of this House. Besides I have no doubt you could get as many people to sign a petition to the opposite effect and an equal number to sign a petition to have their lights supplied for nothing.

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LIB

Robert Stewart

Liberal

Mr. STEWART.

I do not propose to take up much of the time of the committee, but there are one or two points dealt with by the hon. gentleman who has charge of the Bill which I think should be explained. He says that if competition be taken away, there is still a remedy in the hands of the city of Ottawa, and he read an extract from the statute which purports to give power to that city to do its own lighting. He however forgot to tell the House that only last year a notice was served on the city by that same company, which is now applying for this legislation, to the effect that the city had no legal right to go into the business of electric lighting. My hon. friend's opinion therefore is contradicted by that of the Ottawa Electric Company, whose case he is pleading, and that company knew of the existence of the statute which the hon. gentleman cited when they served that notice

on the corporation. In my opinion, it would not be safe to leave the city in the hands of the Ottawa Electric Company, especially when considering the claim made by that company that we have no legal right to do our own lighting. It seems to me that this effectively disposes of the argument regarding the remedy which the city has in its own hands, should an amalgamation of the two companies interested take place. But my hon. friend says an amalgamation cannot take place. Perhaps I ought to remind the House that when the Consumers Electric charter was granted, that charter expressly stipulated that the company should not sell out to any other company. A difficulty consequently lies in the way of amalgamation to-day which this Bill will remove because by it the Ottawa Electric Company will be given the power to purchase stock in the Consumers Electric Company, and in that way avoid the agreement made between the latter and the city. As one of the representatives of the city of Ottawa I ask this House not to pass legislation which will tie the hands of the city and place it at the mercy of one company. It may possibly not be good business for the company to increase its rates 50 per cent. I do not say that it will ; but if this Bill should pass, the power will be given the Ottawa Electric Company to increase its rates 25 per cent or 49 per cent. An advance of 25 per cent would be a considerable tax on the consumers of electric light in the city, and we ask parliament to refuse to give the company the power to increase its rates by 25 or 49 per cent. The company has the right to-day to increase its rates. Why therefore should it ask for this legislation ? There is nothing to hinder these two companies, if their rates are not profitable, from agreeing to charge adequate rates. The ratepayers of the city of Ottawa do not want electric light for less than it costs to produce it. But these companies can get together at any time and agree to establish an adequate rate. One hon. gentleman-I think it was the hon. gentleman (Mr. Galliher) in charge of the Bill-said, when this matter was last under discussion that the rates were fixed at '52 cents per ampere hour, as if that was a reasonable rate

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LIB
LIB

Robert Stewart

Liberal

Mr. STEWART.

Some hon. gentleman said it as if this was not an unreasonable rate. But, if the Ottawa Electric Company and the Consumer's Electric are even holding their own without making dividends for their shareholders-and I very much doubt the statement that they are not able to make dividends at present rates-they can advance the rates to make a reasonable profit. But, if they are making their expenses, 1 submit that an increase to .52 cents per ampere hour would be too much. It would be an advance of 49 per cent-practically 50 per cent-which is entirely too much.

Regarding the amendment proposed by Mr. Birkett, then member for Ottawa, let me draw attention to the fact that the Bill went through committee in Mr. Birkett's absence. I am not making any charge or finding fault with him, but merely stating that he was not present when the Bill went through committee. When it came before the House and he saw that the Bill was likely to carry, the amendment he proposed was conceded by the city only because they thought they could not get better. But the point of the present Bill and the subject now really before the House, is whether this House shall pass a Bill to enable the Ottawa Electric Company to abolish competition. So far as the mayor's statement in the committee is concerned, it is well known that immediately after the meeting of that committee, the city council was called togther, and, by a vote of nineteen to five, decided to oppose the adoption of the maximum rate of the Consumers' Electric Company. So, we have to-day before us not the question whether this was acceptable to the mayor, or whether it was acceptable to the corporation of a previous year, but we have the statement of the corporation of Ottawa that they are opposed to the abolishing of competition, which is the principle underlying this Bill. And I think that the promoter of the Bill, if he would tell us all he knows about it, would say that the idea of increasing the capital is that the company may be able to absorb the Consumers' Electric Company and thereby destroy competition.

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CON

Albert Edward Kemp

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. KEMP.

Might I inquire from the hon. member for Ottawa (Mr. Belcourt) why it is necessary for this company to come here for legislation ? If they wish to override the city of Ottawa why do they not go to the provincial legislature of Ontario?

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LIB

Napoléon Antoine Belcourt

Liberal

Mr. BE.LCOURT.

The charter which it is proposed to amend is a Dominion charter. So, they must come here.

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Preamble agreed to, yeas 82, nays 59. The hour for private Bills having expired, the Speaker took the chair.


PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT IN THE NORTHWEST.


House resumed consideration of the motion of Sir Wilfrid Laurier for the second reading of Bill (No. 69) to establish and provide for the government of the province of Alberta.


?

Mr. R. L.@

BORDEN (Carleton, Ont.) I have pointed out that it is not a question of introducing into the Dominion in this year, 1905, provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, but of creating out of the Northwest Territoiries of Canada these provinces under the Bills which have been introduced. And the right hon. gentleman continues as follows :

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LIB

Robert Stewart

Liberal

Mr. STEWART.

Would he tell me that when you would say to Ontario and Quebec : Tou shall have your separate schools, Alberta and Saskatchewan *would be denied that privilege ? The thing is preposterous. Let us rise above such considerations.

Well, I ask him why he conveniently leaves out of sight in that illustration, the cases of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island ? He himself, has pointed out in an earlier passage of his speech-indeed to-day he has gone into the historical aspect of that matter-that these clauses, so far as Ontario and Quebec are concerned, were introduced into the British North American Act by virtue of a compact, and that no such compact existed in respect to the three maritime provinces. Well, if my right hon. friend will show me that the case of these proposed provinces-because they, are not yet provinces-comes nearer to the case of Ontario and Quebec than it does to the case of the maritime provinces, if he is able to show me that there is in respect to these proposed provinces any such compact as that which was made before confederation between Ontario and Quebec, I will then readily and gladly accept his illustration ; but until he does so I contend that his illustration is of not the slightest value.

Mr. Speaker, I am opposed to section 16, because it is opposed to the spirit and the letter of the constitution. I am opposed to the substituted section because it is not different in principle from that for which it is substituted ; and indeed it is difficult to understand why there have been three weeks of delay, why there have been three weeks of negotiation, why there have been three weeks of turmoil, why this measure has been postponed from the 21st of February up to the present time, simply for the purpose of bringing down to parliament as a substitute that which is to all intents and purposes, in principle and for the most part in detail, exactly the same as the original section. Is this the result of the efforts of the ex-Minister of the Interior? Is it for this that he resigned office ? Is it to accomplish this that he laid down the seals of office and placed himself before the people of this country as the champion of provincial liberties ? Is this the result of the unceasing and untiring efforts of the seven hon. gentlemen from the Northwest Territories who sit on the other side of the House ? Sir, the mountains have been in labour, and a ridiculous mouse has been brought forth. What does section 16 as proposed to be amended accomplish ? It sterotypes for ever the ordinances and laws of the Northwest Territories in a portion of the country where extraordinary progress and development must be expected. I venture to think that an Act of this kind will be productive of more harm in that portion of the country than anywhere else in

Canada, because it is into the Northwest that our immigration will largely flow, and it is there that we must expect development and progress to a very unusual degree in the immediate future. .

Why. the very form of section 16 and of the substituted section show that the government are not serious in the contention which the right hon. gentleman has made. What had they inserted in this Bill before we came to' section 16 ? They had inserted section 2, which I will read to the House :

2. The provisions of the British North America Acts 1867 to 1886, shall apply to the province of Alberta in the same way and to the like extent as they apply to the provinces heretofore comprised in the Dominion, as if the said province of Alberta had been one of the provinces originally united, except in so far as varied by this Act and except such provisions as are in terms made, or by reasonable intendment may be held to be, specially applicable to or only to affect one or more and not the whole of the said provinces.

Has not the right hon. gentleman over and over again in this House, both upon the first reading of this Bill and in the speech which he made this afternoon, told us that it is his intention solely and absolutely to apply to the Northwest Territories of Canada the provisions of that constitution under which all Canadians live. Now I ask him, and I ask every hon. gentleman on the other side of the House who proposes to deal with this question, why section 2 is not sufficient to apply to the Northwest Territories of Canada, every provision of the constitutional statutes which it enumerates ? If my right hon. friend proposes to stand on the rock of the constitution, what portion of the crock of the constitution is omitted from section 2? It goes further, I believe, in the direction in which the right lion, gentleman desires to. persevere, than it should go having regard to the fact that this is not a province already constituted coming into the Dominion, but is a province to be created by the very Bill we are now discussing. I will have something more to say about that when this Bill is in committee. But putting aside for the moment that question, is or is not my right hon. friend sincere, are or are not his collea'gues sincere, when they tell this House that they desire the control of education in the Northwest Territories to be regulated solely by the provisions of the constitution ? If they are sincere, then I say that they have everything in section 2 that can possibly he given -if they stand as the right hon. gentleman says he does stand, on the rock of the constitution. Why, the matter is not arguable. For what reason do they insert these words?

Except in so far as varied by this Act.

If you are to stand on the rock of the constitution, if my right hon. friend and his colleagues are prepared to stand or fall by the provisions of the constitution, how 95

is it that they desire to vary in one jot, tittle, or iota the provisions of the constitution ? My right hon. friend has accused the press of this country of fomenting discord, of arousing passion, and strife and prejudice.

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March 22, 1905