the provinces always paid on their importations. That has gone on for the fifty years of Confederation. I think it is in the British North America Act that the Grown as represented by the provinces must pay customs duties, because the right to collect duties was by that Act transferred to the Dominion Parliament. The minister says there has never Been any question so far as the Dominion is concerned in respect to paying duties. It seems to me a little mysterious that this legislation should be introduced. Perhaps this is to cover the case of the open door on the island in the St. Lawrence where vast quantities of goods were brought in in the night free of duty, ostensibly for the Militia Department.
Manitoba is one, and I think Quebec. I do not know whether there is another or not. But these two at least Have claimed that goods imported by the provincial governments should not pay duty, and the Justice Department took the position that probably we had better put an Act through making all goods imported fo>' the Crown liable for duty.
There was nothing on the Statutes. I have taken it up with the Justice Department and the Customs Department. There is nothing to show that goods imported by the Crown shall be dutiable. I think it was done by orders given to the several departments that goods imported by them must in future pay duty. But this question has been raised by some of the provincial governments, and the Justice Department-
Would not the minister think that he would accomplish his object if he said that goods imported for the Crown as represented by the Dominion or provincial governments shall be liable to duty the same as if imported by the ordinary individual? But to say as the minister does in this resolution, that the customs laws have applied-to make it retroactive- and do apply to the Crown, strikes me as peculiar, because it is the Crown that is imposing the customs law. The words are not applicable to what my hon. friend wants to accomplish, that is that goods imported by the Crown shall be liable to customs duty the same as those imported by private individuals.
The rates and duties of customs imposed by this Act or the Customs Tariff or any other law relating- to the Customs, as well as the rates and duties of customs heretofore imposed by any Customs Act or Customs Tariff or any law relating to the Customs enacted and in force at any time since the 1st day of July, 1867 shall be binding and are declared and shall be deemed to have been always binding upon and payable by His Majesty, in respect of any goods which may be hereafter or have been heretofore imported by or for His Majesty, whether in the right of His Majesty's Government of Canada or His Majesty's Government of any Province of Canada, and whether or not the goods so imported belonged at the time of importation to His Majesty-
Loes my hon. friend think it a sound principle, if an issue lias been raised by the Crown as represented by a provincial government or in the right of a provincial government as to the right of this Government to collect duties on things imported by the provincial governments, to come in with legislation retroactive in its character and declare that to
be the law which is not the law? I submit that we in this Parliament should not lightly enter upon any policy which would involve retroactive legislation, taking away any rights or creating any impositions or anything of that kind where the law did not permit of their existing before*, and more particularly where we are dealing with another jurisdiction which, within its own powers, is as supreme and definite as the Federal one is in its jurisdiction. I do not think that legislation of that kind is right. Such legislation, before being submitted by the House, ought to be considered by a committee. The provinces affected ought to be notified and ought to have ah opportunity of making representations, and Parliament should have an opportunity of hearing their views. In other words, we in this Parliament are assuming the right to impose upon another fully developed and constituted jurisdiction in this country exactions which were not provided for in the Confederation Act. We have come to the conclusion that it was not intended that these powers should be conferred by that Act and we are seeking to secure them in a retroactive way, without notice to these other jurisdictions. My hon. friend's legislation might be considered if it related to the future only, but it is a very serious proposition in its retroactive features. I think my hon. friend will be well advised to leave the legislation in committee until the authorities of the provinces which will be affected are given an opportunity to make representations.
Although I do not know very much of this matter, I understand from what has been said by the minister that it has been the universal practice since Confederation to receive payment of duties on goods imported into Canada by the Crown in the right of a provincial government. There has been no exception to that, as far as I know. Under the late administration, if I am not mistaken, it was questioned once or twice, but nothing happened; the duties were imposed and were paid. About ten years ago it was regarded as a wise course to insist on the payment of duties upon goods imported b'y any department of Government in the right of the Crown, and that has been carried out.. It is desired, in the first place, to give effect to that course by declaration that it is sanctioned by the law. It would, of course, be quite incongruous that the Crown in the right of the Dominion should be paying duties on imported
goods, while the Crown in the right of the provinces should not; or that the right to impose such- duties should be questionable in the latter case wrhen a universal practice sanctioned by law had been established in the case of goods imported by the Crown in the right of the Dominion. So it was thought best to sanction by this declaration a practice which has been uniformly carried out in the case of the provinces ever since Confederation, and, in the case 'of goods imported for the Dominion during the past ten years. The policy adopted by the late Government in that regard has been carried out by the present Administration since it assumed the reins of office. Further, it would seem undesirable that there should be general liberty on the part of the provincial administrations to import goods for all purposes free of duty, because it might-I do not say that it would-easily lead to abuse of that power. As we limit ourselves here, therefore, by the same restriction which we think should be applied to the provincial governments in the case of the importation of goods, it does not seem that there is any legitimate cause for complaint against the making of this declaration.