June 1, 1914

LOTBINIERE CONTROVERTED ELECTION.


Mr. SPEAKER informed the House that he had received from the Hon. Mr. Justice Lemieux and the Hon. Mr. Justice Dorion, two of the judges selected for the trial of election petitions, pursuant to the Dominion Controverted Elections Act, a report and decisions of the said judges relating to the election in the electoral district of Lotbiniere.


INVESTIGATIONS INTO SHIPPING CASUALTIES.


Hon. J. D. HAZEN (Minister of Marine and Fisheries) moved for leave to introduce Bill No. 223, to amend Part X of the Canada Shipping Act. He said: This Bill has reference to formal investigations into shipping casualties. The law as it stands at present is contained in paragraph 781 of the Canada Shipping Act and subsequent sections. Under section 781, when a shipping casualty occurs, the


X, 1914


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.


LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

On the explanation made by my hon. friend of the motives which have impelled him to bring down this Bill, I certainly am disposed to agree with him. Whether or not the enactment of the Bill will answer the purpose remains to be seen when we see the Bill in print. Up to the present time I have no fault to find; on the contrary, I commend the action taken by my hon. friend to have this awful calamity which has just befallen us investigated by the most ample, complete and searching inquiry by the highest possible authorities we can find. I am aware that we have in this country men competent to take part in this inquiry, but the suggestion of my hon. friend that the British Government should also be invited to take part in it and to select a commissioner is one which I think will commend itself to the judgment of the people, not only because the ship which has gone down is upon the British regis-

ter, but on account of the naturally superior knowledge and experience of men in Great Britain connected with shipping matters. We have within our own shores experienced and able men; but every one will agree that the experience of some of the British officers will be of great value in this inquiry. If the inquiry is to be based upon this Bill, the Bill ought to be passed into law as soon as possible, and on this side of the House we shall be very happy to facilitate its early passage.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN:

The imperial authorities have already been informed that this Bill is to be introduced to-day, and their cooperation in respect of the appointment on the commission of some very able judge or other person having the requisite experience has been invited. I would like to say also that the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company has communicated with the Government and has asked that the most searching and thorough inquiry should Ibe made into all the circumstances attending this disaster.

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CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

I might add that on Saturday we were informed that a representative of the British Board of Trade would sail to-day for Canada in connection with this matter.

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CON

Angus Alexander McLean

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. A. McLEAN:

In the Maritime

provinces, disasters have taken place and a great number of lives have been lost by reason of the fact that old and unseaworthy vessels have been imported into this country and that there have been no inspectors to inspect these vessels which should never have been allowed to go to sea. I understand that the inspectors of the Customs Department are required to pass them, but no careful investigation is made into the condition of the hulls of these vessels. Already this season several of these vessels have gone to the bottom without warning and valuable lives have been lost; and if there is no provision in the law whereby the hulls of these vessels may be inspected and the people who own them may be prevented from sending them to sea, this legislation affords the opportunity for providing for the appointment of inspectors for that purpose. The inspection would not cost very much. One man for the four Maritime provinces would not take two months in each year for this work, which would be of advantage to the shipping people and would save in one year the lives of a great number of people.

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CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAEEN:

The matter to which my

hon. friend from Queens, P.E.I., has referred is of great importance. My hon. friend spoke to me about the matter on Saturday evening. I have not yet been able to look into the law, but I gave instructions this morning to the officials of my department to investigate the matter and to make a report with regard to it. TheTe is an inspector of hulls for the province of Nova Scotia. There is also an inspector of hulls, Mr. Olive, for the province of New Brunswick. My information was that Mr. Olive's jurisdiction not only covered New Brunswick, but extended to Prince Edward Island, and that it would be his business to inspect any vessels of the character to which my hon. friend from Queens, has referred. I will take the matter up as soon as I receive the report from the department, which I expect will be to-day or tomorrow morning. I think it would be a mistake however, to deal with any other question in the Bill under consideration regarding the inquiry into this terrible disaster, as it is desirable that this Bill should be enacted into law as quickly as possible; and, if any other matter were added to it, it might delay its passage.

*Motion agreed to, and Bill read the first time.

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CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

On the ground of urgency, with the unanimous consent of the House, I would move that the Bill be now read the second time.

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Motion agreed to, and Bill read the second time.


CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

The Bill has not been

printed yet. I have had a number of typewritten copies made, which can be circulated among6t the members. I would ask my right hon. friend if, under the circumstances, he would object to proceeding with the Bill to-day.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

I have no objection to proceeding with the Bill to-day, and we -can give it a third reading tomorrow.

On motion of Mr. Hazen, the House went into Committee on the Bill, Mr. Blondin in the Chair.

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CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

The Deputy Minister of

Justice, to whom this Bill was submitted, has suggested an amendment. Instead of the words, ' two or more persons to be a commission,' he suggests ' two or more persons to be commissioners,' involving

also a change in the next line, the substitution of the expression ' the commissioners so appointed ' for ' the commission so appointed'. I ask the judgment of the House on this amendment. I must say that it strikes me at first blush as unnecessary.

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LIB
CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

As this Bill is to remain over for a third reading, we might put it through committee and then let it stand for the consideration of this amendment.

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LIB
CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

Yes, two or more form a

commission. But it is proposed to appoint three.

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June 1, 1914