Here an important change is made. It had been held by the Privy Council that "company" in former section 247 was confined to railway company, and that power companies, etc., which were given powers in their special Acts to construct upon highways, could, where there was no restriction in the special Act, do so without any consent or leave and without being put upon any terms or conditions. Old section 248, subsections 2, 3 and 4, put certain limited restrictions on construction of telephone lines, distinguishing between highways in cities, towns, and villages, and highways in other places; and between long-distance or trunk lines, and other lines. The committee struck out after the phrase "line or lines" in the fourth line the clause "for the conveyance of light, heat, power or electricity." Then in paragraph (d) we have the new words "nor without giving at least ten days' previous notice to the owner thereof or to the municipality, nor in any case where forbidden by the board, cut down or mutilate any shade, fruit or ornamental trees, but the board may when it deems proper dispense with such notice and may in any case make any order or direction it deems fit respecting such trees."
Cutting down of shade trees by the telephone and telegraph companies is very troublesome to the municipalities. You may have as beautiful a shade tree as you like planted by yourself on the street in front of your house, and then along come the telephone men and cut off perhaps the finest limbs on the tree. It is very difficult to get any satisfaction, and the damage is apparently so small that people usually put up with this practice. In our town many very beautiful elm and maple trees have been practically ruined by the telephone and telegraph repair gangs. These gangs are in many cases composed of men who do not live in the municipality, but are here to-day and gone tomorrow; they spoil your shade tree and
away they go, and there seems to be no recourse. .
were struck out in three different lines of this section. The matter is dealt with in particular, if I remember rightly, in the following section. The telephone and telegraph people were present at the committee and took a very great interest in section 373. Mr. McCarthy of Toronto was also present, and after listening to his argument in favour of the amendment, which was very necessary, he said, the committee struck out the words my hon. friend. refers to.
There is a very important change in this section. These two clauses are read together, as was stated by the hon. member for East Lambton (Mr. J. E. Armstrong). The first clause of the section gives a definition of a company. It says:
(1) In this section,-
(a) "company" means any person or company having legislative authority from the Parliament of Canada to acquire, construct, operate or maintain works, machinery, plant, lines, poles, tunnels, conduits, or other means for receiving, generating, storing, transmitting, distributing or supplying electricity or other power or energy, but does not include a railway company, or a telegraph company or telephone company.
That is it simply refers to electric light and power companies. It separates telephone and telegraph companies from the others, and cuts it down to dealing expressly with electric light and power companies.
I have no hesitation in saying it is the grossest piece of class or local legislation I have ever heard proposed, much less enacted in law, since I came to this Parliament thirteen or fourteen years ago. The Railway Committee in Parliament has for a great many years been trying to carry out the general provision, which says that nothing shall be done in any municipality without the consent of the municipality, and if the parties interested cannot agree they appeal to the Railway Board, and the decision of the Railway Board is final.
That is the only fair and decent way I can imagine of settling these matters. Some difference arose between the city of Toronto and the Toronto Electric Railway Company. There is the Toronto Electric Light, Heat and Power Company, which is closely bound up with the Toronto Electric Railway Company and also with the Toronto and Niagara Power Company, which, I may say, is the father of them all. The explanation given to the committee was that the Ontario Hydro-Electric Commission had spend about five million dollars in the city of Toronto developing the light, heat and power situation, or the city of Toronto, acting under the Hydro Electric Commission, had expended that amount of money. In any event that much money had been spent, and because- they had dealt entirely with the Hydro Electric Commission, they ought to be placed in a position different from any other company or any other corporation or municipality in Canada.
But that is not the policy in any other place in Canada, and I challenge the minister to put his finger on a solitary statute where any municipality has the right to control its own streets unless it is subject to an appeal to the Railway Board. I know they will tell you this case stands out by itself, but that does not alter the fact that this company got powers from this Parliament, and started operation in good faith. They spent millions and millions of dollars, and now, because the Hydro-Electric Commission, or the people of Toronto acting under the Hydro-Electric Commission spent about five million dollars, they ought to have the right to say the Toronto Electric Light, Company cannot extend their plant or works unless the municipality gives them permission. The municipality told us in so many words they would not give that permission, because they did not want them as competitors, and the sub-committee of this House introduced clause 5 into this Bill simply to give the municipality of Toronto the absolute right to prevent this company from doing business. I protested against it then, and I protest now. I do not suppose my protest will have much weight, but I could not allow class legislation of that character to go through without objection. You may say the city of Toronto ought to have the right
to control their own streets. If my hon. friend will take that attitude with every corporation and every municipality in Canada we will discuss it. If he will say there is no appeal of a municipality to the Railway Board, it is debatable, but to say there is an appeal except in the case of Toronto, to prevent a company which has been doing business there for eighteen years from continuing business, I say is class legislation and should not be allowed. The real cause of the trouble is in the definition given in subsection 1, and the amendment in subsection 5. This is so cunningly worded that unless one had been 'before the sub-committee and had listened to the arguments of the lawyers on both sides one could not tell what it meant. You could not take that section before any court in Canada to-day and get an intelligent interpretation of it unless you had some outside evidence to buttress it up and show what it means. Let me read it:-
(5) The provisions of the last preceding subsection shall apply to and restrict the powers of any company heretofore incorporated by Special Act or other authority of the Parliament of Canada notwithstanding that such provisions may be inconsistent with the provisions of such Special Act or other authority, and notwithstanding the provisions of section three of this Act; and it is hereby declared that the powers of any such company have been so restricted since the date of the enactment of chapter thirty-seven of the Revised Statutes of Canada 1906, that is to say, the thirty-first day of January, 1907.
The only way they could work this out was to make this clause retroactive by ten years. I do not believe such a proposition was ever even mooted, let alone attempted to be enacted in law in this Parliament, and I can only say that so far as I am concerned I shall vote against this subsection.
Mr. McCarthy and others who appeared with him when this clause was originally before us protested against the introduction of the amendment, They stated that they had sold bonds in England of the Toronto Niagara Power Company for $15,000,000, and we are practically confiscating these bonds.
We are taking away their rights to supply power in Toronto where they are established and that is practically the same thing. I, like my hon. friend (Mr. Garve'll), voted against it at the time and I certainly will vote against it now. I voted against it then with a full understanding of what we were doing. We , are practically confiscating the rights of
the Toronto Niagara Power Company and we are largely redwing the value of the bonds in England if we are not entirely destroying it. That is not fair. The people have invested their money in good faith.