March 14, 1910

CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

By British Columbia's own consent.

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

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL.

Not by British Columbia's own consent at all.

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

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL.

Section 12 is as follows:

For the purposes of its undertaking, and subject to the provisions of section 217 of the Railway Act, the company may acquire and develop water, electric or other power.

And so on. Now, my hon. friend from East Grey ought to know that it was settled that under a decision of the Privy Council in a British Columbia case a corporation created by this parliament with expropriation powers has the absolute right to expropriate from private individuals or from the province.

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

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I have no remembrance of any such decision.

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

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL.

Therefore, this Bill which my hon. friend and other hon. gentlemen allowed to go through so easily gives to this corporation the" right to expropriate any water-power in British Columbia no matter to whom it belongs. Then, these hon. gentlemen come and say, as the hon. member for East Grey says, that is not a parallel case with this one. I agree it is not a parallel case; it is a case the iniquity of which is a hundredfold greater than that of the Bill under discussion.

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

George Henry Bradbury

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRADBURY.

Admitting that to be so, would the hon. gentleman say that it is right for the House to pass this Bill?

Mr. SPROULE

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

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL.

I do not know of my hon. friend opposing it. I do not know of any hon. member who opposed it, and I did not hear any opposition to it when it was brought up for the third reading.

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

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

I understood the hon. gentleman to say that the Burrard Inlet Bill gave that corporation power to expropriate water-powers in any portion of British Columbia. Did he read clause 8 of the Bill, which shows the distance that the corporation intends to go and which extends only a few miles?

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

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL.

That is only drawing a herring across the path. It gives this company the right to expropriate water-powers in British Columbia within the purview of its extent. It does not make any difference whether these powers belonged to private individuals or not; the company has the right to expropriate them and use them for the purposes of its undertaking. There are no such rights granted by this Bill at all. No expropriation rights are granted or claimed. The only right to be created is the power to purchase and hold these properties if they can do so. When I am discussing this subject it may not be out of place to say that in my opinion we are spending a lot of time discussing what is only a fetish of the province of Ontario regarding these water-powers. You would think that there never was a water-power on earth until four or five years ago when some gentleman in Toronto discovered such things. There have been water-powers developed all over Canada and all over the world for the last three or four hundred years. Almost every day when anything comes up in this House in which water-powers are mentioned some hon. gentleman gets up and says: You are taking away the inalienable rights of the people; you are taking away the water-powers which belong to the people. I would like to know what earthly good these water-powers are until they are developed. The water has been running away for thousands of years and you never can bring it back, and unless these water-powers are developed the water will continue to run away for thousands of years. I do not agree with the hon. member for East Grey when he says that in this case there should be a great big rental demanded, that these people should pay a large rental before they get these privileges. Take the case of the city of Ottawa. Under the terms of this Bill when the company have acquired water rights they may create electricity, but the rates to be charged for this electricity are to be governed by the Railway Commission. If this company are compelled to pay-I

do not care whether it is $1,000, or $100,000, or $1,000,000 to the federal or local government, whichever may have the right to lease the power to the company-the Railway Commission, in establishing the rates to be charged to the public, must take that into consideration, and the rates will be just that much higher or just as much higher as the rental which the company is compelled to pay bears to the whole amount of the work done. Take the city of Ottawa. The electric company in Ottawa probably pays no rental, I presume it acquired its rights in the old days before the attempt was made to tie up everything in Ontario. Suppose the electric company in Ottawa were compelled to pay $500,000 to the Ontario government, does my hon. friend suppose that the citizens of Ottawa would get electricity at 8 cents a kilowatt hour, the cheapest rate in Canada? People get cheap electricity simply because the company get cheap development. If the company had to pay a high rate the people of Ottawa would pay the scorching, and the price instead of being 8 cents a kilowatt hour would be 9 cents, 10 cents, 11 cents or 12 cents, as it is in many other places. We have heard so much about this doctrine of giving away no rights to water-powers that it is time some one spoke on the other side and showed that this is only a fetish, something not sound in principle and which will, not work out properly when put in practice, which1 will increase rather than diminish the cost of these public utilities to the users. After all, the main object of these public utilities is to give to the consuming public as low rates as possible and not to increase the exchequer of some municipality.

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

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

The argument of my hon. friend would lead to some curious conclusions. The coal in the mines of Nova Scotia is of no value until it is dug out; the timber in the forests of Ontario is of no special value until it is cut-

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

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL.

Can you replace the coal in the mines of Nova Scotia, or the timber in Ontario, as you can water-power?

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

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

You can replace the timber by a proper system of cutting and planting.

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

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

But surely my hon. friend would not contend that on this account they should be given away without rental or royalty?

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

Frank Broadstreet Carvell

Liberal

Mr. CARVELL.

There is no comparison whatever.

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

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

His argument would lead logically to that conclusion, because he would say that if you gave away the coal without royalty and the timber without rental, people would get them so much the cheaper and in that way the general interests of the country would be well conserved. I do not believe you can carry the argument to that extent in that way. The great difficulty about these water-powers is that there is a tendency in the United States, there may be a tendency in Canada to get them all under one control in different parts of the country; eventually they might come in this country under one gigantic control, and I do not think that would be desirable. The water-power, it is true, is of no use until it is utilized, but the conditions under which it should be utilized must require consideration on the part of the government.

As to the hon. gentleman's remarks in respect to the expropriation of property owned by a provincial government, I looked at the decision which he brought to my attention last year, and I also examined some 18 or 20 other cases in the Privy Council, in the Supreme Court of Canada, and in the Court of Appeal of the province of Ontario, and I would not be quite prepared to accept the conclusion at which he arrived. In the Privy Council Sir Arthur Wilson based his conclusion on two grounds, in the first place on the ground that the property in question was part of the foreshore, and in the second place on the ground to which the hon. gentleman has alluded. If that argument were to be accepted, it would necessarily follow that a provincial government would have the right to expropriate the property of the Crown held in right of Canada; I see no distinction, because every one knows that in the case of the Liquidators of the Maritime Bank of New Brunswick against the Crown, it was held that the executive and the legislature of a province are as supreme and sovereign within the ambit of their jurisdiction as the executive of Canada, and the parliament of Canada are supreme within the ambit of their jurisdicion. As a matter of fact in the case of the Privy Council neither in the argument nor in the judgment, was there cited, a section of the British North America Act, which has a very important bearing on the case. I do not observe that it has been cited anywhere except possibly some years ago in one Ontario case. That is section 117, which provides that:

The several provinces shall retain all their respective public property not otherwise disposed of in this Act, subject to the right of Canada to assume any lands or public property required for fortifications or for the defence of the country.

There is one case expressly provided in which Canada can take the property of a

province, and I would be inclined to think that a very strong argument would be made from that for the right of the province to hold its property absolutely against any invasion by he government or parliament of Canada, except in the particular case so specified. I appreciate the hon. gentleman's courtesy in handing me the decision, and I looked into the question at a good deal of length because it was very interesting; but I cannot come to any conclusion other than this in respect to the Privy Council case, namely, that it will hold precisely the same position in Privy Council jurisprudence that the decision upon the Canada Temperance Act, has held within the last 15 or 16 years; that is to say, in a case in every possible respect absolutely within the decision it might be followed, but I would have my doubts as to whether there might not be a good deal of hesitation in following it any further.

Mr.^PUGSLEY. I am sure if I could make a suggestion that would expedite the disposal of this Bill, the committee would be pleased in view of the time that has already been taken. I understand from the remarks of those hon. gentlemen opposite who have spoken that they are not opposed to the Bill, but they think before it is passed there should be some declaration of policy upon the part of the government as to the disposition to be made of water-powers which are owned by the Dominion government. I may say for the information of the committee that the Conservation Commission have this matter under careful consideration, and they expect to submit very shortly a report to the government on the subject. I need not say that their report, while I could not say it will be adopted, will be given the most careful and favourable consideration possible. The committee may, I think, rely that the public interest will be fairly safeguarded and that we will endeavour to act in accordance with the recommendation of the Conservation Commission.

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

William Sora Middlebro

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MIDDLEBRO.

A word with reference to clause 12 of the Burrard Inlet Bill, which was referred to by the hon. member (Mr. Carvell). Those members who voted for that clause did so in the public interest.

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

March 14, 1910