March 14, 1910

LIB
CON

William Sora Middlebro

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MIDDLEBRO.

These incorporators represented five or six municipalities which contained within their limits one half the population of the province of British Columbia and therefore, in giving to this company, those powers we were giving the benefits of those powers to one half the people of British Columbia because those incorporators produced there a Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

trust deed by which they acknowledged that they were procuring these rights as trustees for the benefit of one half the people of the province of British Columbia. They went further and said they were going to operate their works free of charge to the public, they agreed they would not charge the people using the works to cross -the river. We contend for that in the interest of one half of the people of the province of British Columbia and therefore in the public interest.

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

David Bradley Neely

Liberal

Mr. NEELY.

Since the hon. member (Mr. Middlebro) has given his reason why he supported in the Railway Committee the Burrard Inlet Bill which contained the same clause as this Bill which he is now opposing, I have to say with regard to the Burrard Inlet Bill that while it is true the municipality in the vicinity of the town where the bridge and tunnel were to be erected did support the Bill, as being a benefit to the people of British Columbia, the Bill was in fact promoted by private individuals. The company was incorporated for $3,000,000, and the only information the committee had was that the municipalities were prepared to subscribe about $300,000 or 10 per cent of the stock; the balance, so far as we know, being held by private individuals. On the first day the Bill was considered in committee it is true that the company agreed that no tolls should be charged over the traffic part of the bridge, but they substantially withdrew that guarantee and the Bill as it passed the House provides for the charging of tolls on that traffic bridge. When my hon. friend (Mr. Middlebro) gives that as a reason for supporting the Burrard Inlet Bill he consequently cannot reconcile his assent in that case with his opposition in this case. The whole trouble seems to be that certain hon. gentlemen opposite want the government, in connection with this Bill, to pronounce a policy on the disposition of water-powers. Since this Bill passed the Railway Committee, this is the third time it has been before the Committee of the Whole, and I think, Sir, that some strong objection should be shown against the Bill before it is held up in this way. Hon. gentlemen opposite say they are not trying to obstruct the Bill, but if they are not what in the name of common sense are they doing? When the Bill was first before the committee the member for South Simcoe asked for the policy of the government, and the. Minister of the Interior answered him by stating that his department had a stated policy as to the disposition of water-powers in tlie prairie provinces and in the northwest territories.

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

George Henry Bradbury

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRADBURY.

The minister was mis . taken.

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

Joseph Elijah Armstrong

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ARMSTRONG.

What was that policy?

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

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Air. PUGSLEY.

To rent the water-powers.

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

David Bradley Neely

Liberal

Air. NEELY.

I have the words of the Minister of the Interior before me, and I read them from ' Hansard,' page 4949:

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

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Air. OLIVER.

The demand has been made that this government should come forward with a policy with regard to water-powers. In so far as the waters of Canada are under the jurisdiction of this government, the government has a very definite policy in regard to water-powers, which has been in force for some time. With regard to the water which exists in the three prairie provinces, by the terms of the Irrigation Act, this water was vested absolutely in the control of the Dominion government. Under the terms of the Dominion Lands Act, passed in 1908, provision was made for the development of power upon these waters. Under the terms of the Act regulations have been passed and have been in force now for something like a year, providing the method by which rights in water-powers are acquired, making provision that a rental may be charged for the use of the water by the power company, which rental may be determined from time to time-that is at periods of 21 years-and making provision for the regulation of the charges which should be made to the consumers of the power generated from the water, such charges to be under the control of the Railway Commission, and to be subject to adjustment at periods of seven years.

And further he said:

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

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Air. OLIVER.

I should have mentioned that I think the Irrigation Act applies to the Northwest Territories as well as to the three prairie provinces, but at any rate the Dominion Lands Act does and under the authority of that Act regulations have been made which would certainly apply to the water-powers that would he affected by either of these Bills. There is no question as to the policy of the government, or as to the administration of the government in regard to water-powers, which are unquestionably under the jurisdiction of the Dominion government. The present Bill applies to the Northwest Territories outside the limits of any province and therefore no question of provincial rights is involved.

That was the statement made to the committee by the Minister of the Interior, and yet hon. gentlemen opposite seem to want something further in the nature of a policy. Now, if the regulations already passed by the Minister of the Interior under the Dominion Lands Act and under the Irrigation Act are not satisfactory to hon. gentlemen opposite, it seems very strange that this particular private Bill must stand over until the whole question has been reconsidered and new regulations put in force. The objection of hon. gentlemen opposite is absolutely absurd. Are not the people of Canada quite satisfied that the water-powers under the control of the Dominion government are just as satisfactorily administered as those which are under the control of certain provincial governments? I think they are. I shall not discuss the situation in Ontario, but I do not know that the people of Ontario are getting very much cheaper power as a result of the Hydro-Electric Commission than are the people in the vicinity of water-powers controlled by the Dominion government. It is sufficient for me to call the attention of the House to the fact that the water-powers which are under the Dominion government are operated, leased and handed over to those who develop these powers under regulations framed by the minister by virtue of the authority given him in the Dominion Lands Act and in the Irrigation Act.

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

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

I want to make a little correction. I am reported as having said that the water-power regulations apply to the territory affected by this railway charter, which is the territory now known as the Northwest Territories/ and is not within the three prairie provinces. If I am correctly reported, I was in error in making that^ statement. The regulations only apply directly to the three prairie provinces, but so far as any declaration of policy by the government can be made, these regulations are a declaration of the policy of the government, and the fact that they do not apply to the Northwest Territories is only an inadvertence and is not intentional. The policy of the government is set out in the regulations, and will be made _ to apply to -all waters under the jurisdiction of the Dominion government.

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

Henry Robert Emmerson

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON.

What is the charge per horse-power?

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

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

That will be fixed in the license and will vary according to circumstances. Where the cost of development is great in proportion to the amount [DOT]of power, it would not be sound public policy to charge a heavy rental; but where the quantity of horse-power is large, and the cost of development comparatively low, it would be only right that the general public should receive some benefit. The policy is to provide for a rental charge which is to be adjusted every 21 years and the charge is to be at the discretion of the Governor in Council. The charge per horse-power furnished by those who have developed it, will be subject to adjustment by the Railway Commission in periods of seven years. It would not be proper to make a fixed charge for the power to be used which would apply under all circumstances and in all cases.

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

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Air. SPROULE.

What would be the action of the government in the event of a canal company, such as the company in

the present Bill getting an Act of incorporation, and then, under the powers of that Act, desiring to take possession of water-powers-what would be the policy of the government with regard to these water-powers? Would the corporation have the right to take them under terms different from what the government would fix in the case of a private company?

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

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

The duty of answering that question does not devolve upon me, but I would say most certainly that one company would be exactly in the same position as any other company or as a private individual. If a company wanted to secure water-powers belonging to this Dominion, they would have to get it under the policy of this government, which is expressed in the regulations already made and applicable to the three prairie provinces.

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

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

In these charters we give the right to take possession of water-powers in provinces where the land does not belong to the federal authority. Why should not the government go a step further and say it was their intention not to give such rights in charters but refer these companies to the provinces? We would then have a guarantee that no* injustice would be done any province.

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

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

Do I understand my hon. friend's suggestion to apply to the prairie provinces?

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

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

Any province.

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

Frank Oliver (Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. OLIVER.

There is a difference between the position in the prairie provinces and that in the other provinces. Jurisdiction with regard to the land and the water which covers the land in the prairie provinces rests in 'the Dominion government, but in the other provinces it is vested in the provincial governments, so that the responsibility, which rests distinctly upon th% Dominion government in respect of the three prairie provinces, does not rest upon that government at all in the other provinces. As regards the wajter-n,owens in the other provinces, the question whether we have any jurisdiction at all, is one I cannot answer. I am only speaking of the policy of the Dominion government as regards lands and waters unquestionably under its jurisdiction. We have declared our policy in that regard most unmistakably.

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

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

We had a Bill before us a short time ago for a canal, and it was contended that the federal power was the only one which could deal with a canal. If the company took possession of valuable water-powers belonging to a province for the purpose of running a canal, they would take them under the rights we gave Mr. SPROULE

them as a canal company and without regard to provincial interests, notwithstanding the land was the property of a province. The only way they would be checked would be by the refusal of the federal government to grant corporate powers to any company which would enable them to take what belonged to a province.

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

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

This discussion has taken a somewhat wide range. I have been listening for some time to the criticisms on the Bill and the reference made by the hon. member for East Grey (Mr. Sproule) to a Canal Bill which, he supposed, has taken away from somebody the right to water-powers. Now, I submit, that no such Bill has been presented to the House. All that ever was presented to the House was that the water-power, in so far as it was developed by the canal company, might be used for the purpose of operating the canal, and the surplus sold under certain regulations. The hon. gentleman seems to think that would perhaps give the company the right to take a great water-power and utilize it and, according to the language we hear on this matter, alienate it from the people. I submit that no such Bill has been presented to this House since I have been here. What is the principle of this Bill? It simply empowers a corporation which, without the Bill, would not as a corporation have powers, to expend its money for the development of water-powers that can acquire it. It is said this Bill differs a good deal from others because it is dealing with water-powers in the western provinces, and the question of expropriation is not as vital to the company as it would be under different circumstances. I do not see that that makes any difference in the principle. Because these gentlemen may acquire water-powers, whether they get them by expropriation or by agreement, how is the public prejudiced? That would be something hon. gentlemen should address themselves to. What can the public get from the development of a water-power? The leader of the opposition has compared water-powers to coal or timber. I do not think the comparison holds, for the reason mentioned by the hon. member for Carleton, New Brunswick (Mr. Carvell). Water-power is created by the flow of water past a given point. Once past, it is gone for ever so far as that portion of it is concerned. Coal can be exhausted, timber can be exhausted, but water-power can only be used as it presents itself. So, to discuss this question from the point of view of such a comparison is an error.

Topic:   PRIVATE BILLS.
Subtopic:   NELSON RIVER RAILWAY COMPANY.
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March 14, 1910