April 24, 1914

THE PRUDENTIAL LIFE OF CANADA.

CON

William Folger Nickle

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. W. F. NICKLE (Kingston) moved:

That the Order of the House of 22nd April, 1914, authorizing the refund of fees paid on Bill No. 150 (letter H-2 of the Senate), an Act

to incorporate the Prudential Life of Canada, be rescinded, and that that portion of the sixth report of the Select Standing Committee on Banking and Commerce, reporting the preamble of the said Bill as not proven, be referred back to the said committee for further consideration.

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?

Some hon. MEMBERS:

Explain.

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CON

William Folger Nickle

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. NICKLE:

It is perhaps fair that in moving this motion I should mention some of the circumstances surrounding this legislation. The Prudential Life Assurance Company, a company incorporated under the laws of Manitoba, desires this legislation from this Parliament. It is opposed by the Prudential Life Insurance Company of America, a company that took its name from the British company of that name, and which has been doing business in the United States for about twenty-seven years. The American company was licensed by the Finance Department of the Dominion of Canada in 1909. The Canadian company was incorporated by Manitoba in 1902, but did not begin business until 1907. However, in the year 1907 the Canadian company started business in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and further it extended its business to New Brunswick in the year 1910. The reason this legislation is desired is, that owing to the diversity of the provincial laws regarding insurance, the company finds that under its provincial charter it is practically prohibited from carrying on its business throughout Canada as a whole.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

What is the abject of the legislation sought from this Parliament? .

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CON

William Folger Nickle

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. NICKLE:

The legislation sought from this Parliament is to give Dominion incorporation to a company that hitherto has had only provincial incorporation, so that the company may be enabled to do its business throughout Canada rather than be restricted to certain of the provinces. The Bill introduced this year in the Senate was introduced in the House of Commons last year, and passed successfully through the committee stage and through the House, but it was stopped when it reached the Senate. This year, to overcome any fundamental objection, the promoters of the measure introduced it in the Senate, where it was successfully passed. It was then introduced in this House, and was referred to the Committee on Banking and Commerce. The promoters of the Bill were somewhat surprised, when the measure came before the Banking and Commerce Committee, to find that for some inexplicable reason-or perhaps, Mr. Speaker, I should recast that sentence and say that for reasons they had not foreseen, a phalanx of members were gathered there, and for one cause or another opposed the legislation going through the Banking and Commerce Committee.

Various objections were offered to the Bill, and perhaps it is fair that I should summarize these. One was, that confusion would result from another company bearing the name 'Prudential' getting legislative sanction from this Parliament. May I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to this difference between the name of the American company and the name of the Canadian company. As I have said, when this Canadian company was authorized by Manitoba to begin business, the name was the Prudential Life Insurance Company; the name of the American company being the Prudential Insurance Company of America. That there might be no confusion, the promoters of the Canadian legislation signified their intention to change the name, so that the new name would be ' The Prudential Life Company of Canada.' There would then be this fundamental difference between the two names: the American company would have as an affix the words ' of America ' while the Canadian company would have as an affix the words ' of Canada.' The American company would carry the word ' insurance ' and the Canadian company would be described as a ' life ' company.

Fox reasons that met the approval of the committee, however, the Bill did not yesterday successfully get through the Banking and Commerce Committee. Objection was further made that it would be an offence against international comity that a Canadian committee should give legislative sanction to a company whose name was so similar to that of an American company; that as the American company had first made application to the Dominion Parliament for authority to conduct its business in Canada, it would be improper that a provincial company should now be recognized. I might say, in passing, speaking of the possible confusion of names, that I find on looking up the record that we have in Canada doing business the Mutual Life Assurance Company of New York, and that we also have the Mutual Life Assurance Company of Canada. We have the Travellers Life Assurance 'Company of Canada and the Travellers Life Assurance Company of Hartford. That legislation was piloted

through this Parliament by the junior member for Halifax (Mr. A. K. Maclean). We have the Phoenix Assurance Company of London and the Phoenix Assurance Company of Hartford. When application was made by the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada to the English authorities to carry on business in England, they consented, although there was a British company carrying on business under the name of the Sun Life Assurance 'Company, to let the Canadian company do business in England if the words 'of Canada' were added to their name. Therefore the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada is doing business in England to-day.

Objection was also raised that the American company was the big company and the Canadian company was the little company, and that the big company should have the advantage and the little company procure another name. That hardly seems to be fair. The Canadian company had the western sphere of business entirely to itself from 1907 to 1909. The American com. pany then entered the field of operation, and they now say: Although you came first and had provincial incorporation; yet, because we were first in Dominion license, you should be stopped from extending your business. The name 'Prudential' to the small company in the West certainly means more to it than the name 'Prudential' to the American company, with its extensive ramifications and business connections. To show how this small company has prospered, the following figures will show the growth of its business from 1908 to 1913:

Date. Business in force.

On June 30, 1908 $1,311,500On Dec. 31, 1908

2,230,000On Dec. 31, 1909

3,321,083On Dec. 31, 1910

2,277,028On Dec. 31, 1911

6,294,464On Dec. 31, 1912

7,576,631On Dec. 31, 1913

8,617,015

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CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

It seems to me that the hon. member is extending the discussion beyond reasonable grounds upon a motion to refer a Bill back to the committee.

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CON

William Folger Nickle

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. NICKLE:

I have not the slightest

intention of trespassing upon the patience of the House; but if any other method can be suggested to me than that which I am at present adopting, I shall be very pleased to carry out the suggestion.

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CON

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. AMES:

Are any new facts to be presented to the committee for consideration?

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CON

William Folger Nickle

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. NICKLE:

The facts as they were laid before the committee yesterday I think

;Mr. Nickle.]

cannot be amplified if the Bill goes back to the committee; but the legislation is of such an important character to the company involved and the throwing out of a Bill simply for the preamble not being proven on the ground that the name is not satisfactory is such an unusual proceeding that I think the Bill should be referred back to the committee for further consideration in the hope that a favourable decision may be reached. Last year, without a murmur, the House of Commons passed this legislation and the Senate killed it. This year the promoters introduced the Bill in the Senate, believing that once it passed the Senate it would safely pass this House. Suddenly without a word of warning, the Bill is stopped by the same committee and the same House of Commons that last year allowed it to pass without a murmur.

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CON

Herbert Brown Ames

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. AMES:

Are there any provisions outside of the name which the company believe to be necessary for them to carry on their business?

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CON

William Folger Nickle

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. NICKLE:

The only provision, I understand, is the power to increase the capital.

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CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE:

The motion made by my

hon. friend from Kingston to refer this Bill back to the Banking and Commerce Committee is of a somewhat unusual character and one not usually pursued in this House. The House having committed a Bill to one of its committees and that committee, as my horn, friend has stated, with .a phalanx congregated there, that is, with an unusual number of members, having deliberated on the Bill and having reported, it would be a most unusual practice for the House, without a single reason being shown beyond the charge made by my hon. friend that the committee has decided wrongly, to order the recommittal of the Bill to the committee. I entirely .agree with your ruling, Mr. Speaker, that it is not proper now to go into details of the case. The Banking and Commerce Committee was represented on that occasion by the largest number of members it has had this session; and during the greater part, if not the whole, of two hours, this question was debated pro and con. The hon. Minister of Finance was present and gave his advice to the committee; my hon. friend himself and hie cohorts and his phalanx of members gave their views, and the judgment of the committee was unfavourable to my hon. friend. Under such circumstances, it would be con-

trary to the usual practice of this House and a slight upon the dignity of the Banking and Commerce Committee that this Bill should be relegated again to that committee for its consideration, without its being shown that there was a mistrial, that there was a paucity of members; that there were points which ware ill-considered or not considered. During the ten years that I have been in the House I remember only one case where a Bill was so dealt with, and that was a case where it was alleged-my right hon. friend the leader of the Opposition will bear me out-that there was such a small representation upon the committee and that there were certain facts not considered by the committee that it was open to the House, in the exercise of its discretion and in the fullness of its power, to relegate that Bill to the committee, which it did. Therefore I consider it would not be an exercise of the judicial or proper discretion of the House to treat the Banking and Commerce Committee in such a. way in this case. That committee having digested and disposed of and decided the whole question, it ought not to be again burdened with the consideration of the matter. Therefore I foor my part shall strongly oppose and, if necessary, vote against the motion of my hon. friend.

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Possibly the fact that

in *the previous session of Parliament I had charge of the Bill now under consideration would justify a word or two upon my part. It may be that the ruling is correct; I question it not, that the merits of the Bill are not under review at the present time, and it may be that jthe hon. member for West Algoma is within his rights in saying that some special consideration should in the ordinary course be preser.it in the mind of the House before it would be justified in referring the Bill back to the committee. In my experience in the House, though, I have never been able to detect any rule that the House has come fto in the way of determining what these considerations shall be or how compelling they shall be before a Bill be committed back. Every Bill is treated, and I think should be treated, and every Bill for reference back should be treated, strictly on its own merits and on the merits of whatever considerations may be brought before the House in regard to it. It cannot be argued-and I think the only deduction from the reasoning of the hon.

member for Algoma is thait it must be argued-that as soon as a Bill passes the committee the House is entirely robbed of its deliberative capacity on the merits of the Bill itself. Or, puitting it another way, as soon as the Bill is thrown out by committee, if the hon. member for Algoma is correct, then the House is robbed of its power to deliberate on the meri'ts of that Bill.

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CON
CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I can find no other deduction from my hon. friend's reasoning.

If his reasoning is correct, that condition will at all times prevail unless fthere happens not to be many members of the committee present. That, however, would not be a cause better than any other, because the committee itself should be the judge of whether or not its numbers are sufficient to enable it finally to pass upon the merits of the Bill. There are, though, especial considerations in the present case, and I think the important one is this: the

Bill has already passed committee and passed this House, and the judgment of this same House has been reversed by committee. Is not that a material consideration? The Bill has passed this House in respect of *the clause which was a stumbling block to the present committee. I understand that it was stated when this Bill was before committee yesterday that the matter of name was not under review, that the name was not. objected to tvhen the Bill was before the committee a year ago. I had charge of the Bill at that time and I remember quite well that objection was raised to the name.

I do not know whether it was pressed very strongly in committee; if.it was not it was because the objection at that time appeared, I must say, more or less trivial; blit objection to the name was pressed by some one and the committee in its wisdom decided that the objection was not tenable and that the Canadian company had prior rights to the name. That judgment of last session was under review in this House; was favourably passed upon by this House and the committee now step in, rebuke the judgment of the House of last session and throw out the Bill. I am not arguing that the committee had not the right to do so; I am not saying that the committe was estopped from deliberating on the merits of the name merely because the same House of Commons had approved it, but I do say this: that the fact that the committe did so in

contradistinction to its own action a year ago and in opposition to the judgment of this House a year ago, is an especial and a material consideration that should weigh with this House in discussing whether or nod. the Bill should go back. I do not argue that there were not sufficient members present at the meeting of the committee. I myself came in only a short time before the vote was taken, in time, however, to hear the arguments raised against it by the hon. member for West Algoma. As a consequence, I do not know what degree of discussion did take place, but I was more or less conversant with the subject before I came in. However, there were sufficient numbers present at the committee, no doubt and I do say that the merits of the case itself are such that a very brief review of them would convince the House, were I permitted to give them, that the position taken by the committee is indefensible and that the committee offers a very serious precedent for this House to adopt if that decision is not to go back for review.

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CON

Arthur Cyril Boyce

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BOYCE:

Supposing the Bill to be recommitted and reconsidered by the committee and that there be a much smaller phalanx of members present, what would my hon. friend say then as to the reason for its being recommitted?

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I would say that those who had opposed the Bill had seen the error of their ways and had stayed away. After the Bill has received the notice that it does receive and goes back to the committee, there is ample notice to all members of the committee and there is nothing to hinder their being present. I must say that those interested in the passing of the Bill will welcome all who may come to that committee, be they opposed or be they not, and welcome a fair consideration of the claims of this measure on its own merits.

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CON

John Hampden Burnham

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BURNHAM:

Would my hon. friend be satisfied if an adverse judgment were then given, and, if so, why is he not satisfied now?

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CON

Arthur Meighen (Solicitor General of Canada)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

When the adverse judgment comes I will give my decision upon it. I do not know what will produce it; it may be that there will then be special considerations, but I will say this: if my good friend the hon. member for West Peterborough will disarm himself of all prejudices that may now be in his mind and will address himself to this question with all the intelligence that he can command, I think I will be satisfied with his judgment

on the merits of this Bill. If the Chair rules that I am forbidden to discuss the right of this Canadian company to retain the name under which it has been operating through six provinces of the Dominion and which it is now proposed to rob it of, I criticise it not; I bow to it, but I ask that it prevail throughout this discussion.

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April 24, 1914