May 3, 1909

LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

The Bill provides that before anything is done the plans must be ratified by the Waterways Commission.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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CON

Charles Alexander Magrath

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MAGRATH.

We have the Waterways Commission which was called into existence by an Act of the Congress of the United States of June 13, 1902, which calls upon Canada to join in the appointment of a joint commissioner to deal with the waters which discharge into the Atlantic ocean by the St. Lawrence river. The waters dealt with in this Bill are covered by that Act of Congress. That commission has reported to the government from time to time as to the method of dealing with international waters. I find in a report addressed to the Minister of Public Works in 1906 this statement:

Diversions of international waters elsewhere than at Niagara river or the Niagara peninsula should only be permitted;

(a) For domestic purposes and for the service of locks in navigation canals:

(b) Temporary diversions, where the water taken is returned again, only on the recommendation of the joint commission.

Now that commission likewise in a report to the Minister of Public Works in March, 1908, used this language when dealing with the Niagara Falls situation:

While we think it should be a condition of the charters of all companies hereafter incorporated in Canada that the power generated should be distributed wholly in this country-

There is no misunderstanding that language. We are endeavouring in this Bill to dispose of some waters that belong to somebody. Some gentlemen claim that they belong to the province of Ontario; others claim that they should be dealt with by this House. Assuming that they should be dealt with by this government, I would like to know if there is any department of our government engaged in their administration. They are the most valuable asset we possess. They will last as long as the country lasts; they will furnish us with our power, light and heat in the future. These water-powers must have some value. To some minds they have a very great value; but it appears to me that the parliament of Canada, not only at present, but in the past, has been disposing too freely of the valuable assets of this country. As long as I have a seat in this House I am going to oppose that in every possible way. The waters of this country belong to the people of this country, and they should be conserved for the benefit of the people; and the waters which are within the boundaries of the province of Ontario should be handled by that province. For these reasons I am determinedly opposed to any Bill of this kind. The purpose of this company is to export this power. The government has an opinion from one of their own officials that that should not be done, and in view of that fact, why should the time of parliament be taken up in discussing this matter? The utmost ignorance exists with regard to the extent of this wateT-power, and I am decidedly opposed to it being handed over to a private company.

At one o'clock committee adjourned.

Committee resumed at three o'clock.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL.

We all agree in the Prime Minister's statement that a great deal of time has been taken up with the discussion of this Bill and that it should be disposed of as soon as possible, but the loss of time is the fault not of the committee but of the promoter of the Bill. The Prime Minister contended that because the Pigeon river is an international stream, its waters flowing between Canada and the state of Minnesota, this parliament is, ipso facto, given jurisdiction over it. I do not accede to that statement as there is no authority for such a proposition in either the British North America Act or any judicial decision

of which I am awaTe. I take the view that if these are provincial wateTs, as I believe they are, the Dominion has no greater rights of an international nature than the provinces would have, that is that the British authority on this side of the line cannot invade the territorial waters or the jurisdiction of the state of Minnesota, and that the Crown in Tight of the province of On; tario is the proper tribunal to deal with these questions, if it is necessary to have dealings with the United States. The Canadian right in that respect is vested in the province just as it was before confederation, and by virtue of section 109 of the British North America Act the province is continued in its ownership of the land over which the water flows. It seems folly to say that this parliament has the right to grant the powers asked for by this Bill when it is evident upon the face of the legislation that the regulation of all such matters, the regulation of municipal and police matters and the enforcement of law, all fall within the provincial domain. I ask the right hon. gentleman to consider this matter in the same way. I again call his attention to the conditon on the Niagara river where we have the pioneer company, the Canadian Niagara Power Company, originally getting a charter in 1892 from the province of Ontario and operating under that charter ever since.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

I am informed on very good authority that that company has come here and obtained a charter since then.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL.

I think the hon. gentleman is mistaken.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

The evidence will show it has done that.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL.

There is no such legislation to be found in the statutes of Canada. The Canadian Electrical Development Company and the Ontario Company, which are the only other two companies operating on the Niagara river, went first to the Ontario government and made a bargain with that province before coming here and that is what we ask these promoters to do, to make their bargain with the province of Ontario and then come here as the other companies came to have their bargains ratified and incorporated in our statutes, then if any difference arises between the parties to the bargain, the province of Ontario and the company, the matter can come before a more or less independent tribunal, the parliament of Canada. The elimination of the Nipigon river modifies the intensity of the opposition to this Bill but in its relation to the Pigeon river it is still objectionable.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

The hon. gentleman says that all other companies have acquired agreements from the province of Ontario before coming here. I have here the Act of

the Ontario and Erie Power Company, a company incorporated here, and there is not one word in that Act with regard to any agreement with the province.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

That company is not in operation at all.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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LIB
CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

It is not operating and never has operated.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

And that charter has

been renewed twice. The hon. gentleman allowed it to be renewed this year and did not say a word against it.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

It does not contain the same clause as this.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

The same clause exactly from the Railway Act and it gives a great deal wider powers. It gives the company power to take the waters of the Welland river and the Jordan river and to divert them through to Lake Ontario, to widen these rivers and take them out of their regular course. It also gives the company power to take the waters of Lake Erie and to divert them into Lake Ontario. There is no comparison between the scope of their Act and the one now before the House.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL.

The Erie Bill passed this House some years ago but the company has never gone into operation. They propose to take water from a system of waters known as the Welland canal. The Welland river is part of the Welland canal waterway, which, as we all know, is a work not only within the jurisdiction of this parliament but constructed by this parliament and they had to come here to obtain power to use the waters of the Welland canal.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

What about Lake Erie and the Jordan river?

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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CON

Angus Claude Macdonell

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MACDONELL.

The Jordan river is practically part of the Welland canal system too.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

The canal is not only a Dominion work but a Dominion-owned work.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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CON

Samuel Simpson Sharpe

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. S. SHARPE.

Admitting for the sake of argument-and of course we do not admit it-that this parliament has exclusive jurisdiction to deal with this question and that the provinces have no jurisdiction whatever, should not this government have some policy in regard to this and similar assets? We ought to have a declaration of policy from the govenment. Is it their policy to alienate to private companies these important assets, suppose they do belong to the Dominion? I have heard a great deal about the policy of the Ontario Mr. CONMEE.

government in an opposite direction, and we ought to have some declaration with regard to the policy of this government. Is, it their policy to alienate in perpetuity valuable public assets to private companies?

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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CON

John Barr

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BARR.

At this late stage of the session, when we are anxious to bring our work to a close, it is very unfortunate that this Bill should be brought up again. When the right hon. gentleman turned it down the otheT day, we thought we had heard the last of it for this session at least, but we have it popping up again like an irrepressible jack-in-the-box. The legal aspect of the question has been fully discussed, and I do not think it can be seriously pretended that this government has exclusive jurisdiction. Even if the British North America Act be strained to give it some jurisdiction, at least the Ontario government have rights in these water-powers within their own province, and ought to be left free to deal with them. We are told that the Bill passed the committee, but we must remember that it passed at a rather stormy meeting and contrary to the vote of the Ontario members, both Liberal and Conservative. It only passed by virtue of the vote of members from the other provinces who are not directly interested and who were drummed up for that purpose. I know that Ontario members on the Liberal side remained away and refused to vote for the Bill but did not like to appear and vote against it out of regard for my hon. friend the promoter of "the Bill (Mr. Conmee). I hope that no one imagines that we on this side oppose the measure because my hon. friend is the promoter. We would oppose it just as strongly if it were put forward by an hon. member on this side. We are opposing it on principle, because we believe it is of vital importance to the province of Ontario that that province should have control in this matter, and if necessary we are prepared to oppose it from day to day and thus prolong this session which we all desire to see brought to an end. I think the right hon. the Prime Minister has been ill advised in giving his consent to have this Bill brought up again. We must remember that the company in question is largely controlled by American citizens, who will no doubt, in the working out of the measure place the interest of their own country first. Let me remind the House that when the Niagara Power Company Bill was brought in a year ago, we took the precaution to provide that only the surplus power should be sold on the other side of the line, but no such precaution is taken in this measure, and the company may sell the greater part of its power in the United States. Under the circumstances, the Bill is a most dangerous one. The Ontario government have appointed an electric commis-

sion which has done good work in the province of Ontario, and that policy has been endorsed by an overwhelming majority of the free and independent electors of that province. If there is one Act more than another of the Ontario government which the people appreciate it is their reserving of these powers for the province. Under the circumstances, it would be a blunder and a crime against the province of Ontario if we should pass this Bill. This House ought not to put itself in a hostile attitude to any province. We ought to remember that our water-powers are the greatest assets which our provinces possess. They are the white coal of the country, to which we look to take the place of the ordinary coal when that is exhausted. Under the circumstances we ought to be very careful not to give a perpetual franchise which will take this power out of the province altogether. This is one of the greatest water-powers we have in that part of the country. Without going into the legal question, it seems to me that the province is better fitted to deal with this asset than is the Dominion parliament. Charters of this kind are usually given by the Ontario government; and if this session be delayed on account of this Bill, the responsibility must Test on this government.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   ONTARIO AND MICHIGAN POWER COMPANY.
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May 3, 1909