Because this Committee of the Whole have already in their possession the information necessary to enable us to proceed. A select committee of this House has already investigated combinations and trusts and its report is before us.
Whatever change has taken place has been a change in the direction of emphasizing the necessity for such legislation as this. The boards of trade of Toronto and Montreal, the wholesale grocers, the retail grocers, the Manufacturers' Association, the Dominion Trades and Labour Congress, the Union of Canadian Municipalities, the Dominion Grange, the Victoria Board of Trade, leading manufacturers and business houses have all communicated with me in reference to certain sections of this Bill, and I shall be glad to bring their suggestions before the committee. In that way, the committee will be in possession of any facts that are necessary to a consideration of the Bill.
At a former session of the House, the Minister of Finance enunciated the doctrine that the opposition in parliament had only such rights as the government of the day would agree to give them, and since then the eminent legal authority from Thunder Bay and Rainy River, who now sits in the seat of the Minister of Justice, stated the opposition had no rights whatever.
And to-night we have the Minister of Labour enunciating the new doctrine that the opposition should be estopped from making any suggestions because notice has been on the order paper for a couple of months that certain legislation would be introduced. The hon. minister may be quite right in taking the position that because notice had been given of a Bill for a couple of months it would not be proper for the opposition or for any hon. member to ask for a select committee to consider it; but I would like to contrast the action of the hon. minister with respect to this Bill with his action respecting a measure brought to the attention of the House earlier in the session, namely, the Bill respecting the hours of labour on public works. In that case, we had a Bill which had been introduced into parliament year after year, and notwithstanding the fact that a Bill in identically the same terms was introduced into the House this year, and was pressed for consideration, the minister was pleased to say that it should be referred to a special committee, although there were volumes of information respecting the hours of labour on public works, not necessarily taken in this House, but taken before the Congress of the United States, and all sorts of information in the hands of the department which the hon. minister is supposed to conduct. But to-night, the opposition is to be stopped from suggesting that this measure should be referred to a select committee, because forsooth notice of it has appeared on the order paper for two months, and because 22 years ago there was an investigation into trade matters by a special committee of this House. I would like the hon. minister, if possible, to reconcile his position on these two Bills. *
First of all, I cannot at all agree to the interpretation put upon my words. There is nothing in what I have said to indicate for a moment that I wish to deprive any member of the opposition of the opportunity of making any suggestions or criticisms that he may wish or proposing any amendment in Committee of the Whole. With respect to the special committee on the Eight-hours Bill, I would point out that that is a subject which has never been considered by a select committee of this House, while the subject of
this Bill was made a special Terence to a select committee, and we have the evidence in bound form taken before it. Then, this legislation is simply to amplify legislation already on the statute-book, which has been discussed in this House year after year-in 1888, 1897, 1904 and 1907. At these different times, enactments were passed in this House on the subject of trusts and combines. So that it is not a new question, and this measure does not seek to introduce any new principle of law or any departure of a startling nature, but is simply to amplify the machinery already on the statute-book. That is a vastly different thing from proposing an entirely new enactment. Moreover, this is a government measure.
If this subject can go without legislation for a period of 22 years, 1 cannot see the crying necessity for driving through a drastic measure near the dying hours of the session; because if this measure is to be effective it must be drastic in its provisions, and if it is not drastic, it is not worth being considered at all.
I cannot understand for a moment the hon. minister not being willing to grant a special committee of inquiry. We had a special committee on the so-called Miller Bill, and the First Minister has practically admitted that it is to be dropped. We had another special committee on the Insurance Bill, and up to a few hours ago we understood that that was to be dropped this session. We also have the Banking Act, and that is to be dropped for this session. On this Bill, on which we have practically no information except the effusion of the minister himself and what was obtained 22 years ago, I think it is only right that we should have a special committee.
^ I understood the minister to state that he had received petitions for this Bill from a number of the boards of trade, among others the Montreal Board of Trade. I would ask him if in some of those communications it was not specially requested that this legislation should not be proceeded with until the members of the boards of trade had an opportunity to study its terms and express their views upon it.
What I would like to know is whether they did not request an opportunity of studying the measure and placing their view3 before the legislative body that was going to pass upon it. If they have expressed their views to the minister, this House ought I think to have the advantage of the expression of those views. I would not like to speak with any Mr. KING.
positiveness, but I have a recollection of having received a communication from the Montreal Board of Trade to the effect that this legislation was such that they thought that it should not be proceeded with untjl the boards of trade throughout the country had an opportunity to study it, and express their opinions upon it. A request coming from these bodies which have a special fitness for expressing an opinion on legislation of this kind, deserves the fullest consideration on the minister's part and on the part of this House. Before this House can give any consideration to the views of bodies so peculiarly fitted to speak upon the matter, it would seem that this House should have an opportunity through a committee or otherwise, of hearing the views of those boards. The hon. minister says this measure is not introducing any new principle. I do not want to go into any discussion on that point, but I think it may be certainly said that this government i3 providing a means of conducting proceedings of an absolutely inquisitorial character into the business of any man whatsoever with regard to which five or six people can be found to come forward and say that they believe that it is being carried on in a way to enhance prices, or to cause some detriment to the public. In providing for making possible such an inquisition into the business of people engaged in what, up to the present, has been considered perfectly legitimate commerce, it seems to me we are, if not introducing a new principle, a,t all events proposing to enact legislation which may entail very serious consequences oij, the business public of this country. Under those circumstances, some opportunity should be given to those who may be affected to be heard in such a manner that this House may be in a position to appreciate what they have to say.
I rise primarily to mention that there is an understanding between my hon. colleague who is leading the House (Mr. Fielding) and the other side, that we adjourn shortly after eleven o'clock, and as that time is now approaching, I propose, after a few words of explanation, to move that the committee rise and report progress. After the statement of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Doherty) that the Board of Trade of Montreal had requested to be heard
Before the motion is put, * I would like to ask the hon. Minister of < Labour if the legislation he proposes has ] not been inspired by German legislation relating to the ' Vereinen, Konventionen ' or J Syndicate.' I think we are trying to enact : in Canada only a piece, but not the most t important, of German legislation relating to the 'cartels' or the German commercial ententes or agreements; and in my opinion, i if we pass too hastily the legislation now proposed it will interfere very seriously both with the customs and financial departments of our country. This is a very important piece of legislation concerning which quite a number of facts must be shown, but which we have not yet heard mentioned in this debate, should be brought before the House. By this Bill my hon. friend is seeking to have applied to this country but one part of German legislation as I have said, relating to the German 'ententes' or commercial agreements, or the German combines which in a general way come under the name of ' cartels.' This Bill is aiming, as in Germany,' at the suppression of oppressive commercial combines, through the reduction of customs tariffs. There are a lot of things to be stated and arguments to be used for or against those ' Vereinen, Konventionen or Syndicate,' concerning which we should have some more information, at any rate, before this Bill is put through. According to my opinion, this Bill should not be railroaded, through this House.