March 14, 1910

LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

The word^ 'and for the purposes thereof' mean that these lines of telegraph and telephone are only to be used for the purposes of the company in the same way that a railway company is allowed to use telegraph and telephone lines for its own purposes.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

Is the minister quite sure of his statement when he says that all the recommendations of the chairman of the Conservation Commission have been embodied in this Bill? The hon. member for North Ontario (Mr. Sharpe) produced a letter from the chairman of the Conservation Commission and I gathered from his statement that there were very material differences between the recommendations and the Bill as presented to the House. I notice that the Minister of Agriculture seems to have the impression that the Bill carries out all that the chairman recommended.

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LIB
CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

Is the minister sure that all the recommendations made by the chairman of the commission purported to be carried out-that the committee decided to adopt them all?

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

That was the intention of the Private Bills Committee.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

Would the minister be good enough to state again what the exception was?

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

It was that the chairman of the commission thought that in the proclamation of the Governor General bringing the Act into force there should be additional conditions imposed which I objected to on principle.

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CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

I do not recall whether the chairman is apjxnnted by order in council or selected by the commission itself.

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LIB
CON

Haughton Lennox

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LENNOX.

The practice is growing up in the committees of referring matters to what is called the Conservation Commission; that is referring them practically to the chairman of the Conservation Commission. I recognize that the chairman is a man of very exceptional ability, but that alone does not constitute a Teason why we should leave-matters of important legislation to him. The question of ability is not the sole question. I have a very serious objection to that method. It works exceedingly well at all times. It may work well on this occasion, but the time will come when it will work in the reverse order, and I think that if we once adopt that method of referring matters nominally to the Conservation Commission, but to be actually decided by the chairman or even directly referring them to the chairman, we will come to a very dangerous condition of things before long. For a time the chairman may recommend things that seem to be in the line of conserving the public interest, and the opposition will say it is very willing on these occasions to adopt them, but we have no guarantee that on other occasions the chairman will not recommend the adoption of a Bill which is a very dangerous Bill, and the fact that we have referred it to him will get us into the practice of being careless in investigating matters ourselves, and it will not be very long before a serious blunder will result from this practice. I do not wish to attack either the Conservation Commission or the chairman of that commission, but I say that in principle it is wrong. We are delegating our duties to a commission which has no responsibility, because we cannot consider that Mr. Sifton as chairman of the commission is filling a responsible position in the Sense of being a member of this House, although he happens to be a member. By referring Bills to that commission or its chairman, we are delegating duties which we should perform ourselves, and we will yet bring censure upon ourselves for doing that. The most valuable work of the commission will be to deal with general cases, not on refer-

ence of a particular instance or particular Bill. They take a general survey of the country, its interests and resources, and form an opinion on these matters, when no one is interested in influencing them in a certain way, but I feel it is a dangerous principle to relegate our duties to the chairman of that commission or even to the Conservation Commission itself.

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CON
LIB

Frederick Forsyth Pardee (Chief Government Whip; Whip of the Liberal Party)

Liberal

Mr. PARDEE.

The original Bill was, but this Bill was not referred to them. The Conservation Commission went over the first Bill and cut out what they thought were objectionable clauses, and returned the Bill to the Private Bills Committee. They had no objection to the Bill going through in its amended form,

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CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE.

The Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Mines are ex-officio, by the Act, members of the Conservation Commission, to which this Bill was referred

I ask the Minister of Agriculture whether any meeting of the Conservation Commission was called for the purpose of considering the Bill that was referred to that commission? It must be clear that it has never sat and deliberated upon this Bill, and we have no recommendation from the commission as to the best method of dealing with this matter. This Bill was referred to a body composed of 35 members, and we have received, not the opinion of the commission, but the opinion of one member of it who is called the chairman, and whose duties, as defined by the Act, are purely administrative, to carry out the decisions of the commission. Therefore, unless we are to make a farce of the proceedings of that commission, we should refer to it this Bill and obtain the recommendations of the commission, and not merely those of the chairman. I would like to know the opinion of the Minister of Agriculture, himself ex-officio a member of that commission, and the minister who introduced the measure creating the Conservation Commission, as to the chairman of the commission, without calling the commission together, himself disposing of questions referred to that commission?

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

The only reason, so far as I know, that this question of the Conservation Commission has come up at all, is that hon. gentlemen who oppose this Bill, quoted the letter of the chairman of the commission, and used it for the purpose of obstructing the Bill.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

The hon. gentleman is wrong in saying that the letter was used for the purpose of obstructing the Bill.

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LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

I apologize. I meant to say for the purpose of opposing the Bill,

Mr. LENNOX

the argument being advanced that this Bill was opposed by the Conservation Commission. That is why I referred to the matter. As to referring this question to the Conservation Commission, that suggestion is open to objection and also to commendation. There are reasons on both sides. But it is obvious that the commission, composed of thirty gentlemen scattered over Canada, cannot be got together to discuss every question that may be referred to them. If a question of that kind is referred to the commission, either the whole commission will have to be called together to deliberate and pronounce upon it, or the chairman may call together the executive committee for that purpose. I am not aware whether or not in this case he called together the executive committee.

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CON
LIB

Sydney Arthur Fisher (Minister of Agriculture)

Liberal

Mr. FISHER.

No, I am not. One of its members is one of the hon. members for Toronto, another is the hon. member for Jacques Cartier (Mr. Monk), another is Dr. Robertson, another is the Attorney General of Nova Scotia, another is Senator Edwards, and there are two or three others. What the chairman wrote may be his own personal opinion as chairman, or it may be the opinion formed in consultation. Hon. gentlemen opposite,

supposing that the letter of the chairman supported their opposition to this Bill, brought it up; but now that they find that it does not oppose the Bill in its present form, they are rather tired of the subject and are objecting to the opinion of the chairman of the commission being quoted against them.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

The hon. member for North Ontario (Mr. Sharpe), in reading the letter last night, distinctly stated that some of the requests of the commission were granted in the Bill, and some were not.

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LIB

March 14, 1910