April 11, 1916

CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

I do not know. The minister had to send his officials and take over the plans in 1912.

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LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR:

The minister is misinformed. I saw the plans in the Railway office with my .own eyes, prior to the time this Estimate was brought down; very complete plans they were, too, showing the location of the Sunnybrae line all the way from Sunnybrae to Guysborough. There were some little difficulties at the west end that had not been settled, but the plans were there, and tenders had been asked for.

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

The plans may have been

there, but full details were not in the Railway Department.

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Mr. M ACDONALD@

Just as good plans

for the Sunnybrae road as for the Dartmouth road.

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

I am surry to see my hon.

friend from Pictou opposing this vote. Apparently he does not want us to build this road.

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Mr. M ACDONALD@

The minister and I

are both old parliamentarians and he need not begin that kind of tactics with me. I do not want that kind of thing, and my hon. friend might as well drop it right away. I am directly charging the minister with an attempt to deceive the House and the country by putting a vote in these Estimates when he knows he is not going to use a single dollar of it on construction this year. *

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

I thought the hon. member was opposing the vote altogether. I cannot make any stronger statement than I have made with regard to the action of the department in this matter.

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Mr. M ACDONALD@

You know that what I am saying is correct.

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

If the minister will allow me to speak on a matter which, perhaps, it would have been better to bring up on a Levis item, I should like to draw his attention to certain damages that were caused at Levis some years ago, by the sparks from an engine of the Intercolonial. In order to refresh the memory of the'deputy

minister, whom I see sitting beside my hon friend, I will read the following questions which were asked on the 8th of June, 1915, by the hon. member for Levis, Mr. Bour-assa:

1. Is there before the Government a report on the destruction of Mr. T. Paradis' sawmill and lumber yard at LSvis, P.Q. ?-A. Yes.

2. Did the Government appoint a commissioner to report on that fire?-A. Yes.

3. Who was the commissioner, and what did he report?-A. L. A. Audette. That the fire which destroyed the mill of Telesphore Paradis, at L,dvis, in the province of Quebec, on the 19th day of July, 1906, was, in his opinion, caused by sparks from a locomotive of the Intercolonial railway.

4. What is the reason the Government does

not act upon the commissioner's report?-A. No amount for damages by said loss has been agreed upon. .

5. How much does the Department of Railways and Canals value Mr. Paradis' alleged damages at?-A. The department does not deem it advisable to state the estimate of the valuation of the loss while the matter remains in the present condition.

6 What is the reason Mr. Paradis' claim has not yet been settled?-A. Answered by No. 4.

Let me state briefly the facts of the case. First of all, I hold no brief from Mr. Paradis. He is an old political friend of the party at present in power, a well known gentleman of the Quebec district, who has been engaged in lumbering operations for the last fifty years. He is a highly respected lumberman of the old French-Canadian type. One evening on the 11th of July, 1906, a fire caused by the sparks from an engine of, I ibelieve, the Maritime express completely destroyed not only his mills and machinery, but also a wharf which he owned at Levis. Some time afterwards the old gentleman instituted proceedings in the Exchequer Court of Canada, and while his case was before the court a judgment was rendered by the Supreme Court in the case of Chamberlain vs. the King, reported in the Supreme Court Reports, Volume 42, p. 350. In that case it was decided that to succeed the claimant's property had to be situated on the " Public Work "-on the right of way of the Intercolonial railway- a somewhat anomalous conclusion, which brought the following remarks from one of the judges:

With the policy of Parliament we have nothing to do. Our duty is simply to construe the language of the Act, and if that construction does not fully carry out the intention of Parliament, and if a wider and broader jurisdiction is desired to be given, the Act can easily be amended.

Now, this decision, which was given on appeal on October 20, 1909, actually put

Paradis out of court, but the Act in question was amended on April 8, 1910, by 9 Edward VII, Chapter 19, giving the Exchequer Court wider jurisdiction. If the poor old gentleman-he was a well-to-do business man until the fire, but that left him in rather poor oircum-

10 p.m. stances-had instituted proceedings under the Act as amended, he would have succeeded in his claim, but the new Act, unlike the taxation measures of the Minister of Finance, had no retroactive feature, and Mr. Paradis had to abandon his action as being out of court. He had only a moral claim against the department, and he was .left to the tender mercies of the old Government and of the present Government. I remember having seen him on several occasions in Ottawa, and it was rather a pitiable sight to see the venerable old gentleman absolutely ruined by that fire, and deprived, by one of those glorious uncertainties of the law, of all recourse against his majesty. I may say, however, that the present Government, on being remonstrated with and appealed to, decided at last to appoint a commissioner to investigate the causes of the fire, because at first it had been denied that the fire had been caused by the sparks from one of the locomotives of the Intercolonial railway. I have here the Order in Council appointing the commission, but I do not think it necessary to read it.

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CON
LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Mr. Justice Audette- and no better judge could be selected- was appointed as commissioner; he investigated the case, and, after having visited the place and having heard many witnesses, he made to the department a long report, in which he properly weighed the credibility of all the witnesses, and came to the conclusion that unquestionably the fire was caused by sparks emitted by a locomotive passing at about one o'clock in the morning, and that that fire had destroyed the buildings and property belonging to the claimant. Of course, the commissioner was not empowered to assess the. value of the buildings, nor to do anything but fix the responsibility for the fire, and the conclusion is that the responsibility rests with the Government. I make a strong appeal to the spirit of fair play of the hon. minister. As the judge of the Exchequer Court, the commissioner in this case, states very plainly in his report, if Mr. Paradis had instituted the proceedings after the judg-

[Mr. Lemleuxl

ment rendered by the Supreme Court, and after the Exchequer Court Act had been amended by the Parliament of Canada, he would certainly have succeeded, but he was the victim of the deficiencies of the law, and the judges on the bench criticised the law as it had been framed. Now that the Government is aware that Mr. Paradis was morally right in claiming from the Government the damages which he claimed, cannot the Government come to terms with him? As I have stated, the old gentleman is not a political friend of mine, but he is a friend of all those who come into contact with him. He is a gentleman of the old type, one of those who are to-day altogether too rare. I met him not very long ago and I said: " Are you still after [DOT]your claim?" " Well," he said, "I have lost nearly all hope, but certainly it seems to me that the 'Government ought to settle it." You have the Act which has been amended; you have the report of the commissioner, stating that the responsibility rests with the Government, that the fire was caused by sparks emitted by' one of tho locomotives of the Intercolonial raliway. Now the Government has only to say one more word or to proceed one step further, and it will satisfy this old gentleman, who is about to leave the world. In fact, I think Mr. Paradis is about seventy-five or seventy-seven years of age.

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LIB
LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Mr. Paradis had a splendid business; he was a member of the Board of Trade of Quebec; he has been reeve of the county of Lievis; he has on several occasions been asked to run as a candidate for this House, but he preferred to stay in business and did not enter the political arena. Let my hon friend look into the record, and, if die finds the facts as I have stated them to be correct, let him come to terms with Mir. Paradis. I am told, although I am not sure, that the old gentleman was offered an amount, but it was infinitesimal. I am quite sure that if any fair or reasonable offer is made to Mr. Paradis, his family will induce him to accept it. I leave the case with my hon. friend. I wanted to relate the facts just to refresh his memory and in order to give him an opportunity to do a good turn to a citizen who has a rightful claim against the Crown.

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CON

Eugène Paquet

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. PAQUET:

(Translation.) Mr. Chairman, I am with one of the hon. member

for Rouville (Mi-. Lemieux) in liis expressions of sympathy relative to Mr. Paradis, who has suffered .severely through a fire started by a spark from a locomotive on the Intercolonial. I think I know how the fire started, anl I would be 'highly gratified if the hon. Minister of Railways could see his way to helping that gentleman. I trust' the minister will find some effective means of compensating that poor man for the losses incurred.

Mr. TURGEON-I am very well pleased that the hon. member for Rouville has drawn the attention of the House to that old claim of Mr. Paradis of Levis. He has stated the claim better than I can state it myself, especially so far as the law is concerned. I know the particulars of the case as far as any layman can know them. I know also the extent of the loss that this man has suffered, and I am aware that the department two or three years ago made him a small offer which he could not accept. I have seen the report of Mr. Justice Au-dette, the commissioner appointed to state whether or not the department was responsible for Mr. Paradis' loss by fire. Judge Audette, after taking full evidence, more than had been given before the Court of Exchequer, stated that there was not the least doubt that the department was responsible for setting the fire, as the fire originated through a defective system on the Intercolonial. I think the department acknowledged its responsibility by making an offer to Mr. Paradis, but it was too small according to that gentleman's estimate. So, he is asking the department to appoint a commissioner to assess the damage caused by the fire. When I was informed that the matter had been referred to Judge Audette, I was under the impression that he was empowered to estimate the loss, but, as the hon. member for Rouville has stated, Judge Audette was not allowed to do .more than to.state the cause of the loss. But, as it is clear that the department is responsible for causing the fire, I think a commissioner should be appointed, as requested, to assess the loss. I think it would be easy to come to an understanding, and I am confident that no member of the House would find fault with the decision of such a'commission.

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

I know a little about this claim, but, of course, not so much as the hon. minister himself. The case, as I understand it, stands in this way: a fire took place which destroyed Mr. Paradis'

property, and he laid a claim against the Government. The Minister of Railways of that time, the hon. member for South Renfrew (Mr. Graham), as is usual in such cases, referred the matter to the Exchequer Court. The decision of the court was, as the hon. member for Rouville has stated and Mr. Paradis lost his case. .

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LIB
CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

At all. events, the decision of the court was that it had not full jurisdiction to proceed with the case. When we came into power, Mr. Paradis urged the present minister, Mr. Cochrane, to deal with the matter. As to Mr. Paradis himself, I have met the old gentleman several times, and I agree with every word that the hon. member for Rouville has said. No finer old gentleman have I ever met than Mr. Paradis. I sympathize with him very much in his loss, and feel that he is deserving of consideration, even though it was decided that he could not recover under the law, as it stood at that time. Not being able to have the case disposed of through the courts, the Minister of Railways and Canals appointed Judge Audette to ascertain whether the fire originated in the way alleged or not. The report of Judge Audette has been read. The Minister of Railways and Canals, I think hon. members will agree, sympathized deeply with Mr. Paradis in his loss; otherwise, he would not have gone even as far as he did. He never realized that the claim of Mr. Paradis might make up such an amount as it did. If I remember correctly -and I have only my memory to trust to in this matter-Judge Audette decided, after hearing evidence, that the fire was started by a locomotive. Mr. Paradis asked the minister to pay him the amount of the loss, and the Minister of Railways, being anxious to come to some terms that would help Mr. Paradis in his great loss, offered him, I think, $10,000. Afterwards he offered him $13,000. I was acting for the Minister of Railways when he was in England, and I remember very well that appeal was made to* me to deal with the case. I was informed by the officials of the department that the Minister of Railways and Canals was making what seemed a reasonable offer, taking all the circumstances into consideration. If I remember well, Mr. Paradis claimed $56,000. Of course, I was only acting minister, but I was anxious to get the case settled, and so I made an offer

of $15,000-that is, I advanced the offeT $2,000, and, I was willing, and still am willing, to carry out that offer. I felt that for one in my position as acting minister, that was dealing very fairly with Mr. Paradis, after what had taken place up to that time. But Mr. Paradis would not accept tlxat amount, and so I had to ask him to wait until the minister himself returned. I cannot say what has taken place since that time. I was exceedingly anxious to get the matter closed up, and even if the minister had been here at the time, and I know that the Minister of Railways felt very well disposed towards Mr. Paradis. But the difference between Mr. Paradis and the department is so great, and, as it will be necessary, I presume, to ask Parliament to vote whatever sum is decided upon, I thought that the offer of $2,000 more than the minister had offered was a reasonable advance to be made by one in my position.

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LIB
CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

I do not think I ever spoke to the Minister of Railways and Canals about the matter. But I would have carried out the order I have made, and am ready to carry it out to-day. I am sure that the Minister of Railways and Canals will be glad to carry out anything I say in the matter. I could not tell the hon. member whether Mr. Paradis saw the minister after that date; at any rate, that is the way the matter stands. I was certainly only too anxious to help Mr. Paradis out. I think the hon. member will agree that the fact that he was offered $15,000 shows that the minister had a kindly feeling in the matter.

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LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I shall certainly bring

the attention of Mr. Paradis, when I see him, to the very kind remarks made by the acting minister.

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April 11, 1916