February 1, 1911

FIRST READINGS.


Bill (No. 105) to incorporate the All Red Steamship Company.-Mr. McKenzie.


CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

Bill (No. 106) to incorporate the Lake-Erie and Northern Railway Company.- Mr. Harris.

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ONTARIO AND MINNESOTA POWER COMPANY.


Mr. CONMEE moved for leave to introduce a Bill to amend chapter 139, 4 and 5,. Edward VII., intituled an Act respecting the Ontario and Minnesota Power Company, Ltd. He said: The object of the Bill is^ to amend the Act of 1905, chapter 139, relating to the Rainy river at Fort Francis, which is a navigable river, and also an international stream; hence the necessity of federal legislation dealing with it. Works have been carried out upon the river which interfere with the navigation of the stream, and which have changed the conditions in connection with the Canadian canal that was constructed some years ago at that point. They also interfere with the water necessary for the navigation of the river, not only below the works, but also of Rainy lake, situated above the works. The question is considerably involved. It will be necessary, as I consider, to give some of the history of the conditions and circumstances leading up to the present situation to do That would involve a reference to agreements, to Acts of the provincial legislature, and to Acts of the federal parliament of Canada. These works were proceeded with a good deal in the manner in which such works are ordinarily undertaken. The first permission, as far as the federal authorities are concerned, to go on with the works was obtained by an order in council on the submission and approval of plans. The works have not been carried on according to those plans, but quite different plans have been adopted. After the works were constructed the company desired to have the changed plans ratified, but they have not been ratified by the Minister of Public Works of the Dominion, and, therefore, the work stands in that position. Hence the importance of making some regulation by enactment by which the public interest in the navigable stream and the chain of navigation both above and below should be dealt with. I assume that the Bill *would have to go to a committee. Although it is a public Bill, I think the practice has been, where there are questions which might affect the private interests of individuals, or of a company, to refer it to a committee of the House. I may say that it is not the intention of the amendment to take away from that company any rights they now have under existing legislation, or to impose upon them new or more onerous conditions. The object is to clear awav doubts that have arisen and to enact such legislation as will enable the proper protection of the public interest in the matters involved. As it would take me a Ions time to go through these various documents with the necessity, here and there of short explanations of what has led ud to the present condition, I would ask, instead of taking up the time of the House for some considerable time, as the question is involved and I take it that the Bill will get its first reading and be referred to the Private Bills, or th'e Railway Committee, that, in the meantime, I be permitted to put this record on ' Hansard.' Hon. members will then have before them the information which is necessary to an intelligent understanding of the question. When the Bill comes up, either in committee or in this House, for its second reading, or in Committee of the Whole House, hon. members will be able to discuss it very much more to advantage than can be done to-day under the circumstances. If I am permitted to hand these papers to ' Hansard ' and allow the Bill to go through its first reading I will not take up any more of the time of the House.


LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

I am unable to give permission as far as ' Hansard ' is concerned.

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LIB
LIB

James Kirkpatrick Kerr (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER.

I understand that only tables of figures are allowed to be put in ' Hansard,' and that nothing else can be put in ' Hansard ' unless it is spoken in the House.

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

Then I shall have to make reference to these various documents. I may say that the development of this power, which affects the public interest in the manner I have shortly outlined was entered into as a joint undertaking, an international work, upon the strength of an agreement that was entered into at the request of the town of Fort Francis, and, on their behalf, by the government of Ontario, in 1904. I conceive it to be necessary to make reference to the agreement, as it is the foundation of the whole transaction, and, perhaps, I may be permitted, instead of reading this document, which is somewhat lengthy, to hand it in to ' Hansard.'

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

It is against the rules and cannot be done.

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

Well, unfortunately, I feel bound, then, under these circumstances, to read the document:-

Memorandum of agreement made in triplicate . this 17th day of February, 1901, between His Majesty represented by the Hon. the Commissioner of Crown Lands of the province of Ontario, hereinafter called the government.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

Could not my hon. friend use this document to the same advantage

before the committee? I do not wish to interfere with my hon. friend, because this is his right, but I was only making that suggestion, and it will likely have to be gone over again when the committee meets to discuss the Bill. I cannot just see how the reading will help the hon. gentleman in his case.

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

I feel disposed to accept that suggestion if I understand it aright. I understand the hon. gentleman (Mr. Blain) to suggest that instead of going into this matter in detail to-day, the Bill be read the first time, and that this information be used before the committee to which it may be referred.

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CON

Richard Blain

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BLAIN.

I was expressing my individual opinion of it. I suppose that the question as to whether the Bill should be read a first time is a matter for the House to deal with. I was only directing my attention to the very large volume of records which the hon. gentleman has and suggesting that they might be presented to the committee which deals with the Bill.

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CON

George Eulas Foster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. FOSTER.

I think that if my hon. friend would do that it would result in better economy of the time of the House. It has been the practice in this House to have very little discussion upon the first reading and especially not to introduce documents or the like of that. It all has to be gone over again on the second reading, and it duplicates time and expense. I think the Speaker has been very generally in accord with that idea, and has always suggested that the first reading be limited to a mere explanation of the Bill without the introduction of arguments.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

Every Bill presented to this House is accepted for the first reading as a matter of course unless there is on the face of the Bill a paramount objection. There can be no objection to the Bill of my hon. friend being introduced; but, if I am correctly informed, he is attempting to amend a private Act, and there is a regular procedure to be followed in such a case. If it is a public Bill, there is no objection at all to the first reading.

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

The Bill is to amend a private Act, but it deals with a'public question. The whole object of chapter 139 of 4 and 5 Edward VII. is to regulate certain works and the public rights in regard to those works. The Interpretation Act provides that all Bills, whether private or otherwise, are considered public Bills. Section 18 of that Act reads in this way:

Every Act shall be so construed as to reserve to parliament the power of repealing or amending it, and of revoking, restricting or modifying any power, privilege or advantage thereby vested in or granted to any per-

son, whenever such repeal, amendment, revocation, restriction or modification is deemed by parliament to be required for the public good.

I do not wish to take up the time of the House, and if the Bill can be read the first time and be sent to the committee, I am quite willing to accept that situation.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER.

So far as I have been able to follow my hon. friend, he is attempting to amend a private Act, and in that case there are certain rules which have to be followed. The parties concerned may desire to be heard. It is for the Speaker to decide whether the Bill is in order or not in order, and I would suggest to my hon. friend that he present his case so as to obtain the ruling of the Speaker on that point.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I think my hon. friend should address himself to the point just mentioned. It seems to be absolutely impossible that any gentleman, desiring that a private Act shall be amended, can get rid of all the requirements of this House with respect to notice and advertisement by introducing his proposed amendment as a public Bill.

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LIB

James Conmee

Liberal

Mr. CONMEE.

I am quite willing to discuss that point if it is necessary^ to raise it at this time; but I did not think that would be necessary. This is not the first public Bill that has amended a private Act. I submit that the practice of parliament and the authorities sustain the position I take. I find the following in Bouri-not, at page 688:

As a rule it may be stated that when Bills treat of matters of general policy, such as sanitary, or police, or commercial, or fiscal regnlations, they may be considered as public measures. In fact, all Bills affecting the general interests of the community and involving considerations of public policy, are out of the category of Private Bills dealing with the special interests of corporations or associations.

I submit that this is a Bill of that character, not dealing with the private interests of anybody, hut with matters of public interest and public policy. Further on Bouri-not says:

Whenever public Bills involve private interests, which should be carefully guarded they are subjected to the same examination provided for private Bills.

He goes on to show that such Bills are referred to the committee. I find that several Bills of that character have passed the parliament of Canada, and I have no objection to this Bill going to the committee. Perhaps this case, referred to by Bourinot, might be cited as fully warranting the course I am taking:

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February 1, 1911