April 17, 1905

CON

Albert Edward Kemp

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. KEMP.

I see an article in to-day's Toronto 1 World,' copied from the New York ' World ' and ' Tribune ' which I have not had time to read through, but which contains a statement which is signed by Mr. Hyde who says :

I shall do all in my power to carry out the amended charter, giving the policy-holders the selecting of the majority of the board. Beyond this I will make no further concession from my legal rights, and I shall defend as well as I may the rights which I have reserved.

This refers to the Equitable Life Insurance Company and although I have not read the whole article, I take it that this policy has been adopted by that company, that they have obtained legislation to permit the policy-holders to elect the majority of the directors.

Topic:   WESTERN LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY.
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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

I think the trouble in the Equitable Life Insurance Company has arisen from the fact that the policyholders had no vote at all. It was a joint stock company and the holders of a very small amount of stock were able to control the millions of dollars concerned in the company. They are now proposing to mutualize it and they are practically proposing to do that which we have been doing with Canadian companies for some time past, so that there has been a considerable difference between the Equitable Life and our Canadian companies.

Topic:   WESTERN LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY.
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CON

Albert Edward Kemp

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. KEMP.

The principle applying to Canadian and American companies is practically the same. The shareholders have control now and they are proposing to give control to the policy-holders.

Topic:   WESTERN LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY.
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LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

That has not yet been done, but it is one of the remedies proposed.

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CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

As the hon. Minister of Finance has said that there have been no complaints about altering the representation on the board of the Canada Life, I beg to say that I know very intimately what1

the views of the Canada Life policy-holders were and are. I was chairman of a committee of dissatisfied policy-holders of that company who desired a change in the manner of electing directors. The question came before this House and was discussed in the Banking Committee. The policy-holders at the time asked substantially what my hon. friend from Halton (Mr. Henderson) is asking now. They were refused it at that time largely through the iufluence of the controlling powers of the Canada Life. The Canada Life got put upon their Act, practically what is wanted by the hon. gentleman who is promoting this Bill, that there shall be no restriction upon who shall be elected to represent the policyholders. It was the very opposite of that that the policy-holders of the Canada Life wanted and the fact that there has been no complaint since is due to the circumstance that the policy-holders of the Canada Life were rendered absolutely hopeless of any real representation by what was put upon the statute-book at that time. I really believe that my hon. friend the Minister of Finance fully appreciates the points that have been discussed here to-night. I maintain and nobody will dispute, I think, the desirability of having a fair representation of the policy-holders, though without the policy-holders being allowed to control the company. Nobody suggests that they should have control. All that was ever asked on behalf of the policy-holders of the Canada Life was that they should have an opportunity of knowing what was being done by the board. The policy-owner who receives such a circular as my hon. friend from Halton has read knows nothing whatever of the reasons for the deduction from the value of his policy. There was a man, who, twenty-three years ago, I think, according to his statement, took a policy in the Canada Life for $5,000 ; for twenty-three years he has been paying his premium and to-day his policy is worth less than $5,000. Hf he died to-morrow he would not get $5,000 though he has been paying the premium entitling him and his family to $5,000. It may be all right. I am not questioning that. All I say is that it is only fair and just that the policy-holders who have been paying for years the premium for a certain amount of insurance should know the why and the wherefore of any reduction of their policies. If I, twenty or thirty years ago, insured my life in a company for $5,000 and paid the premiums they asked, and if I should be told today my policy is only worth $4,500, that if I died to-morrow my wife and children would only get $4,500 when they thought it would pay them $5,000 it may be all light, but why should I not have people on that board who, from the policy-holders point of view, would know whether it was all right and the reason for the redue-tion. I do not ask and I do not suggest

that the representatives of the policy-holders should control the board, but they should have the right to be there and know why that $500 for which I have paid has been taken off. Is there anything unreasonable in that ? That is all that is asked. As to its being a new departure, where are we to begin ? The hon. gentleman who is promoting this Bill says he is not the first. Well, if he is not to be the first, who is to be the first ? The next man who comes along will have a better claim than he has. Why should we not begin ? He has no rights today. He is going in to start a company. Why should he not be willing to have a company with clauses in its Act that will protect the public as well as they protect the gentlemen who go into it as a business venture to make profits ? Why should this company start without conditions for the safeguarding of policy-holders which experience has shown are needed ? If the hon. gentleman can point out that there is anything wrong in that, let him do it. All he says is that you have granted other companies these privileges without any restriction and he wants the same. The Canada Life Company said that in 1899. The Canada Life was a company that had been in existence for fifty years and yet parliament made it accept a modification as to its board. Here is a company that is not in existence yet, that is appealing to this parliament for a charter. And when we could impose new conditions on a company which had been in existence for fifty years and that had done a business of $30,000,000 "or $40,000,000 why cannot we place any needful restrictions upon a number of people who have not put a five cent piece into this venture ? Are we to wait, are we to go on and have promoter after promoter come to this House and say that he must not be the first ? If that is the argument, when are we to begin ? Whenever ** charter comes up the man promoting it will say he is the first when you propose to put these conditions iu. I have appealed to my hon. friend the Finance Minister to go into this question with the desire to do what is right for the hundreds of thousands of people who for years have been paying enormous sums of money to life insurance companies, and whose wives and children depend upon tlieir insurance for their sustenance. We hear the agents of these companies telling a man whom they want to take out a policy how he should protect the dear ones at home against loss.

They will tell him a most pathetic story about that, but after the policy is obtained let him ask one iota of protection, and then they talk about vested rights. It is the absolute duty of the government and especially of the Minister of Finance to deal with this question, not only with regard to the company that is now seeking a charter but with regard to all companies. The Minister of Finance would strengthen Mr. BARKER.

his position were he now to say to this company : You are seeking a charter, and you must come under equitable terms whatever we may say to other companies who already have obtained charters without such conditions. I am willing to agree to concur in this amendment being withdrawn, but I do not think the Minister of Finance should wait for further experience or for complaints. He will not get complaints until some company fails and spreads destitution broadcast throughout the land. The government have had this question pressed upon them for the last five years, and it is the duty of the Finance Minister to consider it, not in the interest of a few gentlemen who want to get up a company, but in the interests of the great mass of the'people who have policies in these companies and whose widows and children will depend for bread upon the policy being paid.

Bill reported, read the third time, and passed.

Topic:   WESTERN LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANY.
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FARMERS' BANK OF CANADA.


House in committee on Bill (No. 124) respecting the Farmers' Bank of Canada.- Mr. T. Martin. On section 1,


CON
LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

This is a Bill to extend the power of the bank for one year. We have had numerous discussions both in committee and in the House as to the extension of bank charters, and I think the general sentiment of the House is that we should be very careful in granting an extension. This is the first application and we have agreed in the committee to let them have it with the distinct understanding that they should get busy.

Topic:   FARMERS' BANK OF CANADA.
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?

Mr HENDERSON.

We will let it go thiS time.

Bill reported, read the third time, and passed.

Topic:   FARMERS' BANK OF CANADA.
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CONSIDERED IN COMMITTEE-THIRD READING.


Bill (No. 112) respecting the Hamilton, Galt and Berlin Railway Company.-Mr. Guthrie.


SECOND READINGS.


Bill (No. 133) respecting the Citizens' Bank of Canada.-Mr. Barr. Bill (No. 129) respecting certain Patents of William A. Damen.-IMr. Campbell. Bill (No. 135) respecting the Western Alberta Railway Company.-Mr. Galliher.


VANCOUVER, VICTORIA AND EASTERN RAILWAY AND NAVIGATION COMPANY.


Mr. GALLIHER-(for Mr. Ross, Yale-Car-iboo)-moved second reading of Bill (No. 139) [DOT]respecting the Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railway and Navigation Company.


?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Not printed.

Topic:   VANCOUVER, VICTORIA AND EASTERN RAILWAY AND NAVIGATION COMPANY.
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CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

I might mention that I find on the Orders of the Day of the Railway Committee Bills that are not printed. Bill No. 115 is down for consideration by that committee to-morrow. I tried to-day to get a copy of that Bill in the distribution office, and I was told that it was not printed. I think we are getting somewhat loose in our way of carrying on the business this House. 1 have no copy of this Bill 139.

Topic:   VANCOUVER, VICTORIA AND EASTERN RAILWAY AND NAVIGATION COMPANY.
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LIB
CON

Samuel Barker

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARKER.

When was that distributed ?

Topic:   VANCOUVER, VICTORIA AND EASTERN RAILWAY AND NAVIGATION COMPANY.
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April 17, 1905