March 7, 1910

CON

William Thoburn

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. THOBURN.

I thought this was a matter that would come under the supervision of the Minister of Labour (Mr. King).

Topic:   ALIEN LABOUR LAW-ALLEGED INFRACTION.
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PRIVATE BILLS.

NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.


House in committee on Bill (No. 52) to incorporate the Nelson River Railway Company.-Mr. Rutan.


CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

On Friday evening, in the absence of the Minister of Railways, I asked that this Bill be allowed to stand over. As the minister is now present I desire to direct his attention to the matter involved. This Bill passed the committee the other day with some amendments. Since that time, we have had several Bills of the same character. Notably we had one the other day that was very much pressed, but after a good deal of discussion it was decided that the matter should stand over until the Minister of Railways could have an opportunity to consider the question, not piecemeal but as a whole. The point involved is covered by the 13th section: [DOT]

13. The company may acquire, utilize and develop lands, water-powers, rights, easements and privileges on the Saskatchewan and Nelson rivers or in the vicinity of its railway, and construct, maintain and operate dams, reservoirs, buildings and works for the general transmission and distribution of electricity for light, heat, power or any other purpose in connection with its railway, vessels and other properties and works, and may supply, sell or otherwise dispose of any surplus water, electricity, electric or other power not required for the purposes of the company, and may enter into agreements with any company or person for any of the purposes aforesaid.

This section has been, slightly amended. But the point is this: we are authorizing companies, nominally Tailway companies-and sometimes, perhaps, bona fide railway companies, but often railway companies in name only-to acquire and develop valuable water privileges throughout Canada, sometimes to the impeding of navigation, at any rate, to acquire most valuable franchises that would be otherwise available for the benefit of the people of Canada, going to lessen their taxation and so decreasing the burden that they would otherwise have to bear. This is a somewhat new departure. But some Bills involving the principle have passed the committee, as in the present case. But there was one we struck upon the other day that

is still before the committee. I urged, and for the time being successfully, that the committee should stay its hand until the Minister of Railways had an opportunity to consider the whole matter. Now, it is a very serious question. I admit that it is a very difficult problem to deal with. The companies can put forward the argument that they want water-power to a greater extent than was formerly necessary in the case of a railway because they are going to use electricity, generated by water, as a motive power, and in every case they ask that they shall have the right to sell their surplus power. The result is that if they build a mile of railway, even with the amendments and safeguards we put in, if they build a mile of railway they acquire the right to develop whatever water-power can be developed to the utmost extent and to sell the surplus power. They interfere with the distribution of wealth in that locality, and they interfere-as in the case of the province of Ontario-with the control the provincial government is exercising over' water-powers for the benefit of the people. They accumulate in this way, and will continue to accumulate, large unearned fortunes in many cases, and there is every reason to believe that many of these schemes are only railway companies in name. The minister can see that if this came in as a power Bill, it would not go before the Railway Committee at all. In many respects it is a power Bill and nothing else. I would ask the hon. minister to stay progress of this and all Bills of a like character until to-morrow, when the Railway Committee holds its session, or until he can enunciate some scheme which will safeguard the interests of the public. The onus is upon the minister. The matter is not an easy one, but I would ask the minister to allow this Bill to stand over in order that all similar measures may be dealt *with alike. We shall have more or less of a contest over it in the Railway Committee to-morrow, and it will be weil to allow it and others like it to stand until the minister has stated the policy which the government intend pursuing. If you provide in all these Bills that the railway company shall have the right to develop only such power as they want for their own use, their charters will be shorn of a good deal of danger, but whatever policy the minister may enunciate, I would urge him, in the interests of the public, to see that he does enunciate a policy which will apply to all-some definite, clear policy-and if necessary amend the Railway Act so as to prevent companies, under the garb and name of railway companies, acquiring these valuable franchises and controlling industries. These water-powers will be the cause of great industries springing up at certain points;

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.
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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

they will be the producers of trade to be carried over railways, and if railway companies obtain the right to hold up the people in this matter of power, they will have an enormous leverage to exercise.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.
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LIB

George Perry Graham (Minister of Railways and Canals)

Liberal

Mr. GRAHAM.

The question raised is very_ important, and, as my hon. friend admits, not altogether free from difficulty. The problems that confront us in a young country change so rapidly, the conditions surrounding them change so rapidly, that we have something new to solve about every year. My opinion may be an erroneous one, but I do think that tieing up water-powers and preventing their development is not conserving, but wasting them. If we can surround their development with safeguards to the public, and at the same time encourage their development, we shall be doing the best possible in the public interest. It is not in the public interest to tie these water-powers up so that the public cannot get at them, either through themselves or through some company. One of the objections to railway companies being authorized to acquire water-powers is the fear that they might in some way get the rights to expropriate water-powers. But we have a safeguard against this in this measure, and the other Bills. No Bill has gone through the committee which allows any company to expropriate water-powers. As regards the impeding of navigation, the Public Works Department has to approve of every obstruction, of every bridge, or other impediment on a navigable stream, so that way the rights of traffic by water are protected. Some are op-opposed to the development of water-powers by railway companies. I cannot see what difference it makes, so long as the people are absolutely protected. My hon. friend had no doubt in mind the case of the coal mines on the other side of the line, which were owned bv the railway companies, so that any reduction in the rates on the railway could be added to the price of coal, and the railway company thus escaped the control of rates; but in these Bills the rates to be charged for power as well as the railway rates are to be subject to the board of commissioners, so that if a railway company should have surplus power to sell, the price is controlled by the government. It is difficult to say how far we ought to allow a railway company to go on developing power. Suppose we were to provide that a railway company cannot develop water-power except for the use of its road, and suppose it should develop more water-power than it requires for its operation, how are you going to deprive it from selling its surplus? Who will step in to prevent it? It is well known that a large amount of horse-power can be developed cheaper pro rata than a smaller amount. Now, if a railway com-

pany should need only 5,000 horse-power at present, but lays out its plant to provide double that quantity in order to be ready to meet the growth of trade, would it be wise for that company to prevent it developing 10,000 horse-power, although it can do so cheaper pro rata than 5,000, and limit its development to its actual need of 5,000. Would it not be more reasonable to allow the company to develop all it wants, and a little surplus and sell its surplus, so long as we take a proper safeguard to control prices? But even if we should strike it out altogether, the provision giving a railway company the right to sell its surplus waterpower, no one, outside some shareholder of the company could prevent its doing so. I have no objection to let the Bill stand until we discuss the other Bill in the Railway Committee, which has a like provision, although several have gone through with that clause in allowing the development and sale of water-power.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.
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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Hon. JOHN HAGGART.

My hon. friend missed the objection altogether of the hon. member for Simcoe. His argument was that in the case of these valuable water-powers, there should be something for the people, and not have the whole profit go to the individual. In the United States they have a policy by which the people of the United States, and the different states insist that the profits arising from these natural advantages shall redound to the people. What my hon. friend asks is that the government should lay down a clear, well defined policy with regard to this matter so that if an individual or a corporation wants to develop water-power they shall develop it on the policy laid down by the government, under which a certain portion of the profits shall revert to the people. All my hon. friend asks is that this government should have a policy on this matter just as every other country in the world has at present, that the natural advantages of the country shall be for the benefit of the people, and if necessary, that a certain portion shall go to the corporations or individuals who do the developments.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.
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CON

John Graham Haggart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ALEX. HAGGART.

This is not a railway Bill at all. But simply a Bill to acquire some water-powers along the Saskatchewan and Nelson rivers. I would call particular attention to section 7. That provides jthafc the railway may begin)- where? At the mouth of the Saskatchewan river, at the mouth of the Nelson river, or at any place between these two points, which are 150 miles apart. It may begin any place along the north shore of Lake Winnipeg between two points 150 miles distant, practically it begins anywhere. It runs neither east, nor west, nor north, nor south. It runs to some place where it 153

may intersect the Hudson Bay railway. The Hudson Bay railway is not located yet. It may run directly west or north, or it may run northeast along the banks of the Nelson river, and with its other powers to construct canals and dams it is placed in a position to grab all the water-powers along that river until the Hudson Bay railway strikes it. It is quite plain that what the promoters are looking for is the acquiring of rights in reference to these water-powers. Another point. Manitoba is interested in this Bill. This territory is all within the limits described by the resolution of the Prime Minister which passed this House about two years ago, whereby the boundaries of Manitoba are set forth. Then there may be another question, the same question that arises in reference to thte canal that was projected along the Winnipeg river. There they are developing water-powers under local charters. Here then we may have local jurisdiction in the course of a year, or in a few years, over this stream and the serious question arises as to whether the title that is given to this railway company by this parliament is not paramount to the title which may be given to some other corporation by the local legislature. For these reasons, and for others, I think the matter ought to be seriously considered by the government. As it is to-day the city of Winnipeg is instructing counsel to see that their rights are protected in reference to the Winnipeg river. If you look at the applications that have been made for charters in the unorganized country north and northwest of Manitoba it will appear that there is some concerted action on the part of promoters to secure or grab all the water-powers in that territory.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.
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LIB

William Windfield Rutan

Liberal

Mr. RUTAN.

Before further action is taken I would like to ask the hon. member for Winnipeg (Mr. Haggart) if he has any petition or objection from the city of Winnipeg to the construction of this railway or a like undertaking. If there are no such objections it seems to_ me a very peculiar proposition that this particular company which proposes to establish a line of steamships to ply on Lake Winnipeg and then to build a railway from some point on Lake Winnipeg to connect with the proposed Hudson Bay railway should be the one that is subjected to all the objections of hon. gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. We all know that only a few days ago these hon. gentlemen who are opposing this Bill assembled in a body to put through the Burrard Inlet Bill which contains similar powers.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.
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?

Some hon. MEMBERS

Urder.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.
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LIB

William Windfield Rutan

Liberal

Mr. RUTAN.

And that that Bill went through the committee and also passed

this House. I cannot see wherein we can afford to have one poliey for one company and another policy for another company. It seems to me that it is a very dangerous principle to go upon. This company are only asking for the ordinary powers. Compared with the powers granted in the Bur-rard Inlet Bill they were modified, and there is no reason why hon. gentlemen opposite should undertake to obstruct the carrying out of an enterprise which is intended to promote the development of a country which) needs development, a country which to-day has no chance of development on account of not having the means of transportation such as this company would provide, and a country which beyond doubt is rich in resources. The people in th'e' northern part of Saskatchewan and the northwest territories, where this enterprise is to be undertaken, are just as anxious for the development of the country as are the people of British Columbia 01* any other province in the Dominion.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.
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CON

George Henry Bradbury

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRADBURY.

In what way will that affect your province?

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.
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LIB

William Windfield Rutan

Liberal

Mr. RUTAN.

It affects my province as well as Manitoba or any other province, for in the future the transportation lines will no doubt extend from the southwest to the northeast, and vice versa, just as the transportation lines of to-day extend from east to west. Natural resources are of no value whatever unless they are developed. What are lands worth to the country if they are not developed? They are not worth anything unless they are developed. Why are we advertising to the world the great opportunities which Canada offers for the investment of capital? It is because this country needs development and we are inviting capital to come and assist in this development. If hon. gentlemen are interested in the conservation of these powers, and if they want to take the attitude which some of their remarks have indicated to-day they had better commence at the beginning of the session and treat all alike. Numbers of these Bills have passed this House during this session, and there is no reason why this should not be passed as well. If we are to adopt that principle let us adopt it at the beginning of the session and treat all alike.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.
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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

I quite agree when the hon. gentleman says, treat all alike, and it is because I feel that all ought to be treated alike that I have urged that this matter should stand over.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.
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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

What about section 11 of Bill 118?

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.
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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

I think one at a time is pretty good fishing, and I will not bother about anything further at the moment. I Mr. RUTAN.

am very glad that the minister has decided to leave it over. I recognize, as the minister says, that it is a very difficult question. The promoter of the Bill wishes to leave it until the end of the session, but it seems to me that if we leave it until the end of the session, by the wTay the thing is going, we will have no more water-powers, because they are going at a very rapid rate. It is a pity that this was not considered at the beginning of the session. To return to what the minister has mentioned, I do not know the Bill to which he refers.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.
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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PIJGSLEY.

Bill 118, to incorporate the Burrard Inlet Tunnel and Bridge Company, and which gives very much the same powers.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.
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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

I was not present when that went through, but I understand that that whole section of country petitioned-or urged upon the House that it was very desirable in the public interest. I understand that the circumstances were exceptional, and it may be that we were wrong even then in acceding to their proposal. My position is that every one of these great water-powers, where they are of any considerable extent, should be conserved in the interest of the people, and they should, in some way, if they are granted to private corporations, afford a revenue to the public. I therefore move that the committee report progress and ask leave to sit again.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.
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LIB

Hugh Guthrie

Liberal

Mr. GUTHRIE.

I think it is hardly fair to put it as the hon. member for South Simcoe (Mr. Lennox) has put it, that these water-powers are being grabbed up by private companies. This company, under the Bill which has been passed by the Railway Committee, obtains no power, or right, title or interest in any water-power whatever. It is merely given the right as a corporation to apply for water-the same right which any individual now has.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.
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March 7, 1910