May 3, 1910

THE GEORGIAN BAY CANAL.


Mr. PUGSLEY laid on the table of the House a return to an order dated the 14th February, 1910, relating to the construction of the Georgian Bay canal. He said: This return was moved for by the hon. member for North Renfrew (Mr. White). I may say that this return contains the last proposals which have been made, and I understand that the hon. gentleman who moved for the return stated that that would be sufficient.


BUSINESS BEFORE THE RAILWAY COMMITTEE.

CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

I wish to draw the attention of the House to the condition of affairs in the Railway Committee, which I think everyone in the House should consider.

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LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

Has the hon. gentleman a motion?

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CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

I have not written it but I move that the special report presented by the Standing Committee on Railways, Canals and Telegraph Lines be now considered. Before the session closes I think it is my duty, as a member of the Railway Committee, to suggest to the House that next session the number of that committee should be largely reduced. The Railway Committee to-day, without any doubt, is unwieldy, and the result of its deliberations are not in any way as perfect or as correct as they would be with a much smaller committee. For instance, one day when some large principle is under discussion, perhaps 15 or 20 members of the committee may be present and vote upon it, with the balance of power against the proposition or against a certain principle. Probably two days later, or the next week, a different set of members, not the same members at all, vote to reverse that policy or that principle, and in that way they make the Railway Committee, so far as precedents are concerned, not only unsatisfactory to the House and to the country, but one might almost say without offence they make the committee ridiculous. What I suggest is that there should be not more than 40 members at most on the Railway Committee, and that 25 should form a quorum, instead of having nearly 200 members on it at present, with 25 to form a quorum. The prevailing opinion among members I have spoken to is that we would do much better work if we were a smaller

body; we would be governed by precedents; we would feel our responsibility and the desirability of doing the same thing under the same set of facts, which we do not do now. We would be able to present to the House a report on some stated principle for the benefit of the House, as a result of our deliberations, instead of making reports contradictory in principle as we do at present. We have got to remember that human nature is such that if gentlemen would feel their responsibility, and that the House is going to hold them, and they alone, responsible for a duty that they cannot shirk, they must realize that they are answerable to the House for the work they do, and then they would do better work, the business of the House would be facilitated, and the legislation of the House would be much more uniform than it is at present. This has occurred to me for several sessions, but I have hesitated to remark upon it until this session in order that I might be absolutely certain that I was right in what some might say was a radical change in the constitution of the Railway Committee. After ten years of actual work in that committee, this being my tenth session, it is apparent that the evil is increasing and that a change such as I have suggested would result in greater expedition of the work and in greater benefit to the country and to this House. If we had a committee one-fifth the size of that which we have now, if we had a committee of forty members with a quorum of 25, so that there should be a sufficient number present to agree to what is enacted, I am sure that the results would be in every way satisfactory. I would suggest this to the government and to the House so that it may be well considered during the recess and at the opening of the next session we may make up our minds if there is not something in what I contend for. I think that the chairman of the Railway Committee agrees with me upon this, and is going to second anything I have said in regard to it.

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON.

I regret that I cannot agree with the hon. gentleman (Mr. Lancaster) who has just taken his seat. In the first place the recommendation to which he has referred was passed when there were but a very few present and I do not think the matter received that consideration which was its due. I believe that there is always safety in numbers, and I recognize that there are matters which come before that committee which are of great import to the people of the country. They affect great corporations and they oftentimes affect interests that are opposed to those of the great mass of the people. There are questions which come up in the interests of the few as against the interests1 Mr. LANCASTER.

of the many. I do not speak of this as in any way reflecting upon the views which are oftentimes advanced in the interest of the corporations, but the very conditions which prevail in Canada to-day make these a necessity. In my judgment, when it comes to a question of representation, there is always safety in numbers. My hon. friend has referred to the conditions which exist. I am sure that the interests of the masses of the people of the whole country will be more safely guarded in the hands of the larger committee than in the hands of a few. If the suggestion of my hon. friend were carried out and the committee were limited to forty, what would be the result?-that these Bills would come before the committee and, in the ordinary course of events, there would be not half of that number present.

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CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

Twenty-five would be a quorum.

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LIB

Henry Robert Emmerson

Liberal

Mr. EMMERSON.

There would not be even twenty-five present in the ordinary course of events. Hon. gentlemen, and especially those who live within a reasonable distance of the capital, are here to-day and [DOT] away to-morrow and it is only on special occasions that there is anything like a full and fair representation at the committee to give consideration to the more important Bills that come before the committee. I would therefore think that the result would be disastrous, that Bills would be considered by the committee when there was perhaps only a very small percentage of the members present. If you had a'committee of forty, or fifty, or sixty, or a hundred members who would always be present and who would feel their individual responsibility perhaps there would be something in the remarks of the hon. member. But that would not be the case.

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CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

I was careful to say that I would desire a quorum of at least 25, so that we would always have 25 members present and business could be done. I think the hon. gentleman understood me also to say that the very fact that there would be a limited number of members would cause them to give strict and diligent attention to the duties that they had to perform. That is human nature.

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LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

I fail to find anything in the report dealing with this question.

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IND

William Findlay Maclean

Independent Conservative

Mr. W. F. MACLEAN.

I "would suggest that this is a very important discussion and it should go over to the opening of next session rather than be proceeded with now.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Prime Minister; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Hear, hear.

Motion allowed to stand.

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NATIONAL TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILWAY-CLASSIFICATION OF MATERIAL.

LIB

Victor Geoffrion

Liberal

Mr. GEOFFRION moved:

That in accordance with the recommendation contained in the sixth report of the Special Committee re Lumsden inquiry, proper fees and expenses he paid to counsel appearing before the said committee, and the Clerk of the House and the Law Clerk are hereby authorized to tax the said fees and expenses and to pay the same when so taxed, out of any moneys voted by parliament for the expenses of committees.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I do not know that there will be any objection, but it might stand as a notice of motion until to-morrow.

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LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

Stands.

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INQUIRY FOR RETURNS.

CON

John Waterhouse Daniel

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. DANIEL.

Before the orders of the day are called, I would like to ask the Minister of Public Works if he will lay on the table before prorogation a return that was called for by the member for York (Mr. Crocket), with regard to the survey of the St. John river between Fredericton and Woodstock. I understand that the minister promised to lay it on the table before prorogation, and the member for York asked me to remind him of his promise as he had gone away.

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LIB

William Pugsley (Minister of Public Works)

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY.

In order to more than fulfil my promise, I laid it on the table last evening.

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May 3, 1910