minister has the power to create a court of inquiry. Under that section he may appoint any officer in the service of the ' Government of Canada, any judge of the Superior Court of the province of Quebec, any judge of a county court, any local judge of vice-admiralty, or any stipendiary magistrate, for the purpose of making such inquiry. The provision is that the commissioner appointed for that purpose shall be a court. There are various subsequent paragraphs in the Act empowering the minister to appoint nautical assessors for the purpose of aiding the commissioner who may b.e so appointed in holding that inquiry. It will be seen, therefore, that with reference to inquiries into casualties the power of the minister is1 limited to appoint one commissioner, and that commissioner must be selected from a certain class of officials and judges in the country. In view of the appalling disaster near Father Point on, the 'St. Lawrence, and in consideration of certain communications which have taken place with respect to it with the home authorities, it is felt that in this case it is desirable that a special court of inquiry should be constituted, the finding of which would perhaps carry much greater weight and to which more importance would be attached than to the finding of an ordinary court of inquiry constituted under the provisions of section 781 of the Canada Shipping Act, which is the court of inquiry that has been hitherto established in all ordinary oases in which inquiry into shipping casualties has been thought desirable. The Bill which I am now introducing adds, as subsection 2 of section 871, the following:
In any case arising before or after the passage of this Act which the minister considers to be of extreme gravity and special importance, he may appoint two or more persons to be a commission to hold a formal investigation, and the commission so appointed shall for that purpose be a court, and such court shall, in addition to its judgment, make a full and detailed report to the minister upon the circumstances of the case, and may make such recommendations as may in its opinion be proper in the premises.
The words ' fit persons ' are the expression used in the Merchants Shipping Act. Under this subsection the power of the minister is not limited to any special class of persons, nor is it limited to the appointment of one commissioner. It is intended in the case of the late casualty to appoint a commission consisting of at least three persons, two of whom shall perhaps be
judges who have had wide experience in regard to admiralty matters. Consideration will also be given to the question of appointing as one member of that commission some one who shall be recommended by the British Government through the Colonial Office. Very great public attention has been attracted to the recent disaster in Great Britain, and it is felt by the Government that it is most desirable that the commission, constituted for the purpose of holding this investigation, should be of such a character as to commend itself to the judgment of all who are interested in shipping and navigation. I may say that this ship was registered in Great Britain, as in fact I think all the transatlantic passenger steamers are, with the exception, of those belonging to the Canadian Northern Company, which are registered in Toronto. There can Ibe no doubt, I think, as to our jurisdiction to hold an inquiry in Canada, because the disaster occurred in Dominion waters, even though the ship is on the British register. At the same time, I think it very desirable, if the Government of Great Britain desire to be represented on the commission appointed to hold the inquiry, that their desire should be complied with and that we should co-operate with them in every possible way in order to have the inquiry as thorough as it is possible to make it, so that the result of the finding shall be received with respect and may be of some benefit in the future.