March 14, 1910

LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

The section providing that clause 247 of the Railway Act shall apply to the works and undertakings of the company. _ That is subsection 3 of section 6 of the Bill as reported. That section was inserted for the express purpose of protecting the rights of municipalities and was accepted by the promoters of the Bill. The section provides that when any company is empowered by special Acts of the parliament of Canada, to construct or operate lines for the conveyance of light, heat, power or electricity it may, with the consent of the municipal council, or other authorities having jurisdiction over any highway, &c., enter thereon. And subsection 8 says:

Nothing contained in this section shall be deemed to authorize the company to exercise the powers therein mentioned for the purpose of selling or distributing light, heat, power or electricity in cities, towns or villages without the company having first obtained consent therefore by a by-law of the municipality.

That being the case, the rights and privileges of Montreal and all the other municipalities are absolutely safeguarded. Another word or two with regard to tome of the provisions. When the Bill first came in, there was nothing to control the rates, but we added a clause which gives the control to the Board of Railway Commissioners. The Bill, as it left the Private Bills Committee, is entirely different from the original measure.

My hon. friend from Peel (Mr. Blain) has spoken about the opinion of the Commission for the Conservation of Natural Resources and he read a portion of a letter addressed by the Hon. Mr. Sifton, chairman of that commission, to the chairman of the Private Bills Committee. I propose to read that letter of which my hon. friend gave a part.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

The letter had been previously read by the hon. member for North Ontario (Mr. Sharpe).

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I was not aware of that:

Referring to the letter of your clerk on tha subject of Bill (No. 115), I -beg to state that the Bill has been examined as carefully %s time and information permits.

The St. Lawrence Power Company is at present seeking authority to develop a power scheme hy damming the St. Lawrence river at Long Sault. This project is being opposed by the Commission of Conservation for reasons, some of which have already been made public.

I want to point out that the company referred to is the St. Lawrence Power Company and not the St. Lawrence Transmission Ccfmpany.

An examination of Bill (No. 1151 indicates clearly that the introduction of this Bill is a portion of the St. Lawrence Power Company's plans. It is to be noted that the president of the power company and one of its engineers are the first named among the proposed incorporators, and the powers asked for are of an unusual and very sweeping charaeter.

The passage of the Bill as it stands would give parliamentary sanction to an important portion of the St. Lawrence Power Company's proposals, and would complicate the situation unnecessarily.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN.

Was this modified Bill submitted to Mr. Sifton for his opinion?

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I do not know, but I was going to point out that his suggestions, with hardly an exception, have been embodied in the Bill, and, consequently, there was no need of submitting it to him. The Bill as reported from the Private Bills Committee is exactly in the lines of the recommendation of the chairman of the Commission for the Conservation of our Natural Resourc.es. Mr. Sifton goes on to say:

On the other hand it is urged that some of the towns affected, particularly Prescott and Brockville, are without a supply of power, and that a transmission line is necessary in their interest. There does not appear to be any reason why authority for the construction of a transmission line, simply, should not be given, and if Bill (No. 115) were for such a purpose alone there could be no serious objection to it.

This letter has been quoted to prove that the chairman of the Conservation Committee is opposed to this Bill. But the words I have just read in this letter show that on the contrary Mr. Sifton does not see any reason why there should be any objection to the Bill if it were for the construction of a transmission line simply.

Your particular attention is drawn to sections 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 as being objectionable, on account of the large and unnecessary powers asked for.

These clauses are practically all struck out of the Bill and other clauses giying the safeguards asked for are inserted in their places:-

These clauses apparently contemplate monopolization of powers on a very large scale. It is to be noted also that there are no provisions in the Bill protecting the municipalities in regard to the use of streets or roads, nor

anything requiring the company to acquire or pay for a right of way. Difficulty has already arisen in regard to this latter point in other cases, and it requires to be specifically provided for. .

Under these circumstances it is recommended-

First, That sections 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 be struck out and that, in lieu thereof, there be substituted proper provisions giving authority for the construction of a transmission line, and for power to buy, transmit and sell power within Canada.

The Bill provides for that.

Second, that a clause be added declaring that the Act shall come into force only 911 proclamation of the Governor General in Council and upon such conditions as tho Governor General in Council may by order provide, such conditions to be read as forming part of the Act.

At the "end of the Bill reported is clause 15, which provides that this Act shall come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Governor in Council. That is an acceptance of Mr. Sifton's recommendation, but does not go quite so far. He asked that such conditions as the Governor m Council may by order provide, shall be read as forming part of the Act. When that came before the committee, I rather took exception to that last part of the recommendation, and I did so on this ground: I believe it to he the duty of parliament to insert the conditions under which the Act shall have effect and force, and not the duty of the Governor in Council to provide those conditions and add them to the Act. If my hon. friend opposite see tit to entrust that duty to the hands of the present government, that would be a mark of their confidence, but that should not warrant this parliament in shirking its duty and putting that responsibility on the shoulders of theGovernor in Council. If hon. gentlemen opposite, however, wish to impose it on the Governor in Council they may move to that effect. Under these circumstances, I did not support that proposition of the chairman of the

Conservation Commission, but all the other propositions which he advised are embodied in this Bill, and the clauses to which lie objected are eliminated. Had that not been done, I would have protested against the Bill being reported and I would have opposed its adoption in the House. Now that the Bill is safeguarded in the way that I have indicated, first that they can only transmit power, that they cannot export any power to the United States, that they can take no action in case of any municipality without obtaining the permission of that municipality, that their expropriating powers are subject to the clause in the Railway Act and that the Bill shall only come into

force by proclamation of the Governor General, I cannot see why it should pot pass. Personally, I am not interested in the Bill any more than any other member of the House. As a member of the Private Bills Committee, it was my duty to examine the Bill to listen to and take part in the discussion and see to it that the Bill fulfilled the conditions necessary to proper legislation on the part of this parliament. As to whether this Bill overrides the jurisdiction of the local legislatures I do not presume to give an opinion, but the contention of.the hon. gentleman for East Hastings (Mr. Northrup) does not seem to me to be an accurate one. He seemed to' imply that this Bill would extend the power to expropriate the property of a provincial government, obtained under section 247 of the Railway Act, to what is called the original company. I am not a lawyer and I do not profess to give a legal opinion, but it does not seem to be possible that the power which is given to one company under one Act of a certain character can be thereby given to another company under another Act.

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CON
LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

The same people may be in the two companies, but the powers given to one incorporation under the statute could only apply to the works exercised by that corporation and not to the works which they exercise under another statute.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I think I observed in the letter of the Chairman of the Conservation Commission an expression of opinion that this was merely part of the larger scheme.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

No, not a part of the larger scheme. He says that:

The introduction of this Bill is a portion of the St. Lawrence Power Company's plan.

That may be so. I am not aware of what their intention is.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

We know that from the declaration of the Minister of Public Works.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

Whether it is or is not, the powers given under this Bill have reference to works connected with the transmission of electricity, and they cannot apply to the powers given under the original incorporation for the erection of a dam, &c. I cannot understand how powers created by this Bill for a certain work defined in this Bill can be transferred to work which is to be done under another and different statute. My understanding is that only this has the Railway Act applied to it and consequently the power which under the Railway Act is given to companies incorporated by this parliament Mr. FISHER

to expropriate the property of provincial governments is not included in the charter of the original corporation. It is only by reason of the fact that the powers of expropriation under the Railway Act are given to this company that they get power to expropriate property of the provinces, and the reason that was given was that if they were not given that power, under the involved construction of provincial rights in regard to land under streams and on river beds, they might be prevented from crossing any river bed in Ontario, which would mean practically that they would be obstructed absolutely and forever in any work which -this parliament authorized them to carry on.

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CON
LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I am not going to give a legal opinion on that, but if there is a right on the part of Ontario to obstruct a company's works which are in the interest of the people of Canada, then I say that the _ property of the province ought to be subjected, as private property is, to expropriation to enable the works of the company to be carried on. If the works are not in the public interest this parliament ought not to give a charter at all, but if it does give a charter it should give facilities to the company to carry on the works which this parliament has authorized.

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CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE.

Would the minister advocate a measure which would override the rights of the municipality or the province?

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

If this parliament sees fit to incorporate a company for certain purposes, it ought to give that company the power to carry on its purposes.

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CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE.

The minister is saying today the very opposite of that which he said last session. Last session when he introduced the Bill to establish the Conservation Commission he explained that the interests of the provinces and municipalities as well as the interests of the Dominion would be safeguarded by this commission. We had presented the argument that this House had created certain committees on conservation, and that, therefore, there was no necessity of going to the expense of creating a Conservation Commission. Asked by the hon. member for North Toronto (Mr. Foster) what the Conservation Commission would do, he said on May 12, page 6369 of 'Hansard':

They will hold a meeting and discuss what recommendations they may he able to lay down for the treatment of the natural resources of Canada in the future on such lines as may rightly appeal to the administrative bodies, all through Canada, whether municipal, provincial or Dominion who have con trol over natural resources.

A committee of the House is purely federal in its character. It does not enlist the sympathy or co-operation of the provincial or municipal authorities.

When the question was raised that there was a committee of this House on natural resources the minister said:

A committee of the House is purely federal in its character. It does not enlist the sympathy or co-operation of the provincial or municipal authorities.

Now, the hon. gentleman says that he would vote in support of measures which would absolutely override and take away rights municipal and provincial, notwithstanding what these rights may be, and in favour of federal legislation. My hon. friend must see the inconsistency of that position. I have a word to say to the hon. member for Rainy River (Mr. Con-mee). He takes a rather extraordinary stand in reference to this Bill. He has said that we should override by this Bill the rights of the provinces. The hon. gentleman has not always spoken along that line. When he was a member of the provincial house in Ontario, supporting the provincial government, he took a different position, and in the first year that he was a member of this House he also took a different position.

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LIB
CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE.

Having regard to the principles which are involved as regards the rights of provinces and municipalities through which this proposed transmission line would pass, I feel that this Bill should be allowed to stand over. With regard to the principles of this Bill, the time has to come, and it might as well come now, when a policy must be laid down for dealing with these questions. It is the duty of the government to lay before this House such a policy as will prevent such a discussion as this being precipitated and will prevent private rights, municipal rights and provincial rights being so continually invaded as they are at the present time.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I would like to ask the Minister of Agriculture what he makes of section II subsection 4.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I take that to mean that the company has the right to acquire in fee simple such lands as it may need for the construction of its transmission line. The words, fee simple, were put in so as to require the company to buy the lands and not simply obtain a lease of them.

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March 14, 1910