I will repeat my question. Does the Minister of Agriculture, as the minister having charge of the Conservation Commission, consider that a reference to that commission is conformed to by a reply from the chairman of the commission, and is that the way the Conservation Commission is going to do its work?
I would say that if the chairman of the commission is not authorized by the commission to act in that way, his reply would be of very little value except as an expression of his own personal opinion; but if the organization of
the commission authorizes the chairman to act for the commission in certain circumstances, then his reply would have the force of the commission behind it.
Then, upon the minister's own statement, there is no renort of the Conservation Commission on this Bill; and if we accept this letter from the chairman as the judgment of the Conservation Com mission, the hon. minister must see how dangerous a precedent we are etsablishing in dealing with the natural resources of this country. This is a precedent which the hon. Minister of Agriculture himself (Mr. Fisher) is supporting by his attitude in the House. It was he who explained last session the great value of this commission for the conservation of our nat ural resources in dealing with just such cases as this affecting federal, provincial and municipal matters, and I appeal to him, as a responsible minister of the Crown, not to allow this matter to be dealt with simply by one member of that commission. I ask him to see that where there has been a reference to the commission, that commission shall pass upon it as a body and not have it simply dealt with by one of its members, no matter how distinguished that member may be. It is the report of the commission as a whole that the parliament of Canada is entitled to, and that report the minister should see that parliament obtains.
We have had from the Minister of Agriculture the rather startling and novel statement that this parliament has the right to empower a private company to expropriate the public domain of any province. That is a claim which has never before been put forward in this House by any hon. gentleman much less by a minister of the Crown.
That is one reason why I object to this Bill. It is declared to be a work for the general advantage of Canada and the company are given very extensive powers under the Railway Act. We are indebted to the minister for this very frank statement of the policy of the government. It has never before been contended in this House that the Crown, as represented by the Dominion parliament, has the right to authorize the expropriation of the territory or domain of the Crown as
represented by any one province, because a province is just as much entitled to its Crown rights and the entirety of its Crown privileges. as is the Dominion. The provinces have just as much right to the preservation of their exclusive ownership to whatever property they possess. But the statement is now made for the first time that one Crown has the right to authorize a corporation to expropriate the right of another Crown. No court has held that doctrine in this country at any time. There was a case in British Columbia in which a company was given the right to expropriate the Crown domain for the purpose of carrying out an undertaking authorized by this parliament, but that had reference to Dominion lands in that province. The Minister of Agriculture went further and practically supported every clause in this Bill. What would be the use, therefore, of our acceding to the apparently moderate request of certain hon. gentlemen opposite that the first clause of this Bill should be passed? At the end of the final clause, the hon. gentleman was somewhat doubtful as to whether he would not add a line to it, but apart from that he is perfectly satisfied with the Bill. Apparently the government is going to force the Bill through, no matter what objections there may be to it. The hon. minister attempted to quiet the well founded apprehensions of hon. members representing the constituency of Montreal and he read the Railway Act to prove that this company has no power to enter upon the highways and byways of that city without its consent. Surely that is elementary. Every one knows section 247 of the Railway Act, and that section simply protects the municipalities to the extent that no one shall enter upon their highways without their consent. The Railway Act does not say that this company shall be bound by section 247 and. that it shall not enter the city of Montreal without the consent of the city.
The Minister of Agriculture was not successful in using the words of the hon. member for Montreal, St. Mary's (Mr. Martin), because he resented and did not endorse the statement made by the Minister of Agriculture.
Quite true, I was not in the House at the time, but I understand that to be the fact. This Bill gives this company the right to expropriate indiscriminately throughout the entire territory from Kingston to Montreal, inclusive. They have to buy their way, but they are given not only powers of expropriation, but the Bill gives the company the right to expropriate as far as they require expropriation powers.
No, without. I make the statement, and I challenge contradiction of it, that this Bill gives the right to this company to expropriate without the consent of the municipality. A company operating under the Kailway Act was bound to acquire in fee simple and pay the value of property expropriated, but this company have the additional right of being able to acquire any privilege or easement. It means that they can run their lines anywhere in the city of Montreal, upon the side of a building or over a building, and they can acquire a privilege or easement wherever they please. They do not have to expropriate a right of way. That costs a lot of money. They do not need to spend that money. They can simply acquire an easement or right or privilege and run their lines wherever they please; the company gets this power under subsection 4 of section II of the Bill. I hope that bon. gentlemen representing the city of Montreal will see the effect of this thing and join with those who are trying to protect provincial rights. The Minister of Agriculture said that he saw no peril in the amalgamation of this company with its predecessor, the St. Lawrence Power Company incorporated in 1901, that whatever rights the old company had they would retain, and that this company would retain its rights, but that they could not in any way by making a combination form one company, merge their powers and operate for the joint advantage of both companies. The minister is entirely mistaken, because if he will read the statute incorporating the St. Lawrence Power Company in 1901, he will see that by clause 11 this company have the power to amalgamate with the company which is now being formed, and that the rights possessed by each company will be owned by the joint company. The company which we are incorporating will possess the entire rights of the old company, the old company of 1901 will possess the entire rights of this company, and they will jointly have the enormous powers that are provided for in both cases. With the power given to the old company to amalgamate with this company, these two companies will become one and there will be one gigantic corporation enjoying the powers of the old power company, together with the very large privileges sought in this Bill by the distributing company.
Well, it is here in the Act. They bear on their face the evi-Mr. J. I*. TURCOTTE.
dence that they are one and the same. They have practically the same name, the old company being called the St. Lawrence Power Company, and this company being called the St. Lawrence Power Transmission Company. If this company that is applying to-day was not in substance the old company, would not the old company object to the similarity of names? The minister sees no danger in the exportation of power to the States. I contend that it is extremely doubtful, under- both Bills, whether or not the company can be prohibited from exporting power, because the old Act contains no restriction whatever on the exportation of power. The company can sell its power.