April 19, 1909

LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

Yes, I have. And as they are not going to give up their commission, I am not going to give up my Bill either. But what is the provision? The people of that portion of the province within a certain distance from Niagara, within a comparatively short distance of the source of the electric energy-for electrical energy can be transmitted commercially for only a short distance-may receive all the benefits we are told about, but, if the highest hopes of the legislature can be realized they can only reach a very small area of the province.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

Will not that be a very good thing for the province?

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

The hon. member (Mr. Blain) asks if that will not be a good thing

for the province all over? I say no. I am not arguing that the time may not come when this will benefit all parts of the province, but that will not come while the hon. member and I are on earth-what may happen in the great future I know not. This Hydro-Electric Commission is only a board composed of so many gentlemen. Are they more capable, are they of a higher class, are they better qualified, are they more zealous for the public interest generally, or more ready to protect the rights of every man than would be the Board of Railway Commissioners? I do not think they are. Giving them all due credit, I do not think there is any possibility of that board protecting the public interest more than it is protected under this Bill.

Let me refer to another matter in this connection. Has this Hydro-Electric Commission protected the public interest in the past? We can judge it because it exists and has acted. Take the case of the Kam-inistiquia power: that company developed power on the river within 20 miles of the citv of Fort William. The hon. member for North Grey (Mr. Middlebro) read from the columns of the ' Globe.' If he will look at the back numbers of the ' Globe,' and see what it has had to say about the Kaminis-tiquia power

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CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE.

The hon. gentleman (Mr. Conmee) does not take recent copies of the ' Globe '?

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

I do. But I deny that a gentleman sitting behind a desk in the editorial office of the ' Globe ' or any other paper has better qualifications of moulding the public policy of this country or has better opinions in regard to the great questions of public interest than the men whom the people have chosen to represent them in this House. That is my position with regard to the ' Globe ' or any other newspaper. But I tell my hon. friend that if he will go back far enough he will find that the ' Globe ' for months and years-certainly for more than one yeaT-was telling the people of the great power there was in the Kakabeka falls and how it should be conserved for the benefit of the people and how the rates to be charged for power should be controlled by the then government, which was a Liberal government. I have the references here, and I could give them to the House, but time will not permit. When I ceased to be the representative of that section in the local legislature, the power was still in the hands of the government to control these rates, if the provincial legislature could control them. I may say I then had different views from those I hold now. What has happened since that time under the Hydro-Electric Commission? What the previous government had done was to refuse to deed the land except upon condition that the rates should be controlled. But

this government came to the conclusion that they had their Hydro-Electric Commission, and therefore had control. They deeded the land in fee simple, without conditions-and the company is now operated and charging what it pleases; nobody has any control over it; there is no control. In that connection, let me say that there is a question of dealing with a navigable river. Under chapter 115 of the revised statutes no works may be placed upon a navigable river without approval of those works under provisions of that Act. These works on the Kaministi-quia aTe placed there under the Act of the Ontario legislature without any such approval.

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CON
LIB
CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE.

The hon. gentleman (Mr. Conmee) had charge of the Bill?

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

I had. That is why I know something about it. But it was renewed in 1903 or 1904 so far as relates to the power of the company to divert the Kaministiquia river. Of course no provincial legislature has the power to authorize the diversion of the water of a navigable stream. But the provincial legislature gave this company power to divert the waters of this river for twenty miles and to cause them to empty not into the river but into Thunder bay. This is the river which forms the second largest harbour in the Dominion. The volume of traffic in the harbour of Fort William, formed by the Kaministiquia river, is next to that of Montreal. But I submit that even under the powers of section 115 there is no authority for the Minister of Public Works to approve of plans of that nature, they are confined to the building of a wharf, dock and works of that character, or a bridge, or works connecting or necessary therewith, all specifically defined in section 115, none of which contemplate a diversion. Therefore I submit there is no power to ratify works of an entirely different character which are involved in the diversion of a stream. No water-power development can take place without the diversion of the waters of the stream. I think I need not argue the point very long that no provincial legislature could give authority to divert navigable waters from the natural bed of a stream. Now, Sir, some very peculiar legislation has been passed by the provincial legislature, and I want to call attention to it. I have in my hand an Act in regard to the Ontario and Minnesota Power Company, passed by the parliament of Canada in 1895. Among other things the Act provides that the company shall not export any of its power to the United States -meaning that half of the power which belongs to Ontario or to Canada-except by

order of the Railway Board of Canada. It also provides that the Railway Board shall have control in fixing the rates to be charged to the municipality of Fort Francis or the township of Mclrving, in which it is situated. It goes on to stipulate in regard to the character of the works, and provides among other things that the company should not in any way obstruct or interfere with the lock at Fort Francis. I may explain that term by saying that a lock was built many years ago at Fort Francis, under the Mackenzie administration. It was nearly completed for the depth of water then thought to be necessary, with the exception of the gates. The Act of this House provides for the protection of the flow of water, and provides that navigation may be obtained both above and below the dams and structures which the company may make, and also in regard to the level to which the water may be raised in the river, or in Rainy lake. Now I want to make a short statement as to what has happened in regard to that Act. I assume that hon. members are not generally aware that the province of Ontario has assumed power to veto Dominion legislation, as appears from an Act which I have in my hand. This is an Act of the Ontario legislature in the following year, 1896. The statute of Canada, 1905, was passed on the petition of the Ontario and Minnesota Power Company, Limited. The Ontario Act provides:

And whereas certain provisions thereof as to the supply of power in Canada from the water-power on the Rainy river at or near the town of Fort Francis, are in the interest of the province of Ontario, and whereas notwithstanding the provisions in the said statute contained, it is contended that the company are not bound thereby but are entitled to deal with the said water-power free from the restrictions in respect thereof imposed by the said Act.

That is what I call a veto.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

It is the other way, it is carrying out the objects which the legislature had in view.

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

My hon. friend is entirely wrong about that. It is setting aside all the provisions of the Dominion Act.

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CON
LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

What is the enactment?

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

The Act goes on to provide for some! of the same provisions that are contained in the Dominion Act.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

This is the Ontario Act which supplements the Act of the Dominion parliament.

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LIB
LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

It will be time enough for the hon. gentleman to give an opinion after he has read this Act.

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CON
LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

Well, I shall have to ask you to read it again. All I can say is that if you are a lawyer, as I believe you are, and you have read this Act and are going to contend as you do just now, I would be very sorry as a client to employ you.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Order.

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April 19, 1909