May 2, 1916

CON

Angus Alexander McLean

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. A. A. McLEAN:

It is only a matter

of procedure. Supposing a person has a claim against the Government for damages for negligence, he must, before the passing of the Act of 1910, commence proceedings in the Exchequer Court. Under the Act of 1910 he has a very simple remedy in the courts of the province, and that Act was of great benefit to the people who had claims 'against the Government. When I came here in the early part of this session, I was requested by certain people who had commenced suits in the courts to ask the Government to amend the Act so that the remedy would apply to all claims which had arisen since 1910. was told by one of the legal officers of the Crown, who had something to do with the drafting of the Act of 1910, that the omission to include the Prince Edward Island railway was a mistake; that they overlooked it, and they thought that the words " Intercolonial railway " in the Act and the words " Govern-

ment railways " in the preamble included all the railways controlled by the Government. It was evidently a mistake, and I would ask the minister, if he is not inclined at the present time to pass the Bill as I first asked him to introduce it, to apply to all claims, to let the matter stand for a, day or two and give it further consideration.

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LIB
CON

Angus Alexander McLean

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McLEAN:

Yes. I was the first man who spoke to the minister about this legislation and I asked him to make it retroactive. A suit was commenced by a friend of mine in Charlottetown who thought that the words " Intercolonial railway '' included the Prince Edward Island railway: but when he got into the court he found that the definition of the words " Intercolonial railway " in the Railway Act meant the Tailway as it existed in the provinces of Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. When, however, the law officers of the Grown were drafting the Small Claims Act of -1910, they thought that the Intercolonial railway included the Prince Edward Island railway, and for that reason I would ask the minister to let the matter stand until he gets further information from the law officers connected with the Railway Department.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

If the Act of 1910 in any way spread the liability of the Crown or in any way broadened out the right of action, then I would say that the minister might very well hesitate, but it does not do that; it applies only to the mode of procedure. Section 2 reads:

Subject as hereinafter provided, any claim against His Majesty arising out of the operation of the Intercolonial railway, and not exceeding in amount the sum of $200 for damages alleged to be caused by negligence or made payable by statute, may be sued for and prosecuted by action, suit or other proceedings in any provincial court having jurisdiction to the said amount over like claims between subjects.

Upon consideration, I think the minister will see that it is reasonable that if a man has a claim not exceeding $200, which arose last week or last month, he should toe permitted to toring an action for that claim in an ordinary court of law j'uet the same as he could bring it if the damages arose upon the Intercolonial railway. No harm can come to anybody; the Crown can not suffer; the Crown can have no advantage by refusing to have the amendment pass unless it is an advantage to the Crown to compel the people to go to the expense

of commencing suit in the Exchequer Court where the costs might amount to ten times the value of the property destroyed or injured as the case might be. If any fundamental principle was involved, it there was any attempt to enlarge the right of the subject, to give him a claim that does not exist, it would be a different matter, hut this amendment provided only as to the court into which the litigant may go for the purpose of enforcing his claim against the Crown. The minister might fairly consent to enlarge the scope of the Bill by accepting the amendment moved by the hon. member.

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

As the Bill does not seem to be satisfactory to the members from Prince Edward Island, I think we had better let the matter stand. I beg to move:

That the Committee rise and report progress.

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LIB

James Joseph Hughes

Liberal

Mr. HUGHES:

As the minister seems to think that I have shown him some discourtesy by not mentioning the matter to him before to-day, I may say that yesterday I asked the Prime Minister when this Bill would likely he taken up and he was unable to give me an answer. The Acting Minister of Railways was absent yesterday, and I could not see him, and not knowing that the matter was coining up to-day, I did not think it was important to see him specially. I may say I mentioned the matter to him some little time ago. Further than that, I introduced a Bill having the retroactive feature in it, and the minister, or at least his law officers, would have an opportunity of seeing that. I understand the senior member for Queens (Mr. McLean) has stated that in the early part of the session, he said to the minister that it would toe desirable to have legislation of that kind made retroactive. Therefore, for all these reasons, the minister was not taken unawares.

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

ward Island, tout all parts of the Government railway system under the Act of 1910.

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LIB

James Joseph Hughes

Liberal

Mr. HUGHES:

The minister will remember that I spoke to him two or three times about legislation of this kind.

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CON
LIB

James Joseph Hughes

Liberal

Mr. HUGHES:

No, in the corridor; whenever I had opportunity of speaking to the minister.

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

The hon. gentleman never

mentioned the retroactive part of it.

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LIB

James Joseph Hughes

Liberal

Mr. HUGHES:

Yes, I did. The minister, having a great deal to do, has forgotten that part of it, but that was the feature that I was particularly anxious about. The only object of the Bill is that the people of Prince Edward Island be placed in the position that they would be in if the intention of Parliament had been correctly set forth in the first Bill that was passed. The only object of this amendment is to rectify the error that was made in the first Bill.

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LIB

William Pugsley

Liberal

Mr. PUGSLEY:

It ought to be borne in mind that, as legal gentlemen know, a statute which provides for a mode of procedure is in effect retroactive even though the statute does not say so, because procedure is regarded as different from the right of action. Therefore, I think the minister should consent to remove the doubt and make this procedure applicable to existing claims.

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LIB
CON
LIB
LIB

Charles Marcil

Liberal

Mr. MAROIL:

Does the minister intend that this Bill shall apply to the Transcontinental railway in the province of Quebec?

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

Yes, it applies to all Government railways.

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LIB

Daniel Duncan McKenzie

Liberal

Mr. McKENZIE:

Before the minister finally makes up his mind to strangle this Bill, I suggest that if the Bill is a good measure, although it be not retroactive, it should be allowed to pass. I am sure that the province of Prince Edward Island should prefer legislation making the old Act applicable to Prince Edward Island from the date of its passing to no legislation at all. It could toe amended so as to make it retroactive at a later date, if that should be thought desirable. It would be too bad

to deprive all the claimants along the long stretch of Government railways which we have now, and which we did not have in 1910, when the first Act was passed, of the simple remedy that this legislation gives them, simply because the minister refuses to make it retroactive in Prince Edward Island. I do not suppose that any one along the line of the new roads is asking that this Bill be made retroactive, and it will be well to give the people along these lines the benefit of this legislation. I think the minister should insist upon the legislation passing as it is; it can be amended later if thought desirable.

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CON

John Dowsley Reid (Minister of Customs)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. REID:

I think the legislation should pass as it is. I certainly am opposed to making it retroactive. ,

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May 2, 1916