On the motion of Hon. F. B. Carvell (Minister of Public Works) the House went into committee on Bill No. 40 to amend the Public Works Act, Mr. Boivin in the Chair.
On section 1-Power to dredge, etc., beds of navigable waters.
My hon. friend is right in a sen-se, but I would say that it is expropriation of property rather than confiscation. We have been going on for a great many years, but the only authority which the Government have for taking possession of the beds or 'banks of rivers for the construction of public works has been the vote by Parliament. That is, when the money has been voted for the work it is the only authority we have, and the question has arisen as to whether that is sufficient authority. The officers of the department,
and contractors and other persons working under them, have been threatened with suits for trespass, and as I hardly know a member of this House who does not want public works in his constituency, I fail to see how I am going to meet all these requests unless I can get authority to go on the land and do what is necessary. It might to some extent amount to what my hon. friend from Three Rivers (Mr. Bureau) calls confiscation, but if it so be, it is confiscation for the public good. One can hardly imagine the Public Works Department deliberately confiscating property without rendering some value to the community concerned.
Mr. CARVE,LL: The bed of the river or some place along the bank. You must have a place to put your wharf on, or your pier, or things of that kind, and this is really a sort of short-cut, I would say, to the expropriation of the property required. I do not think there is any question whatever but that this Parliament has the jurisdiction.
I have not the citation at hand, but I remember a case some years ago in which our good old friend Mr. Con-mee was asking for a charter. The question arose as to the right of the Dominion to expropriate-even the right of the Crown as represented' by a province-and I remember that the decision- of the Privy Council explicitly stated that we had that right. Therefore, I think there is no question about our jurisdiction.
name of the case, it is some eight or nine years since I looked it up, but I am sure there is a decision of the Privy Council to that effect. Therefore, having the jurisdiction, it seems to me very proper that we should have authority, and that is the sole object of this Bill.
I think so, and this Bill does not say that we are going to confiscate ; it only gives us the right to take possession. I cannot conceive that the Government will confiscate people's property, it is only a short cut to expropriation.
My observation in regard to confiscation was said by way of a joke, but I am sorry that my hon- friend the Minister of Public Works did not consult the Attorney General for the various provinces before introducing this legislation. However, it cannot do any harm, (because it is in the public interest and with the object of improving navigation. Referring to the river St. Maurice, part of that river is in the harbour of Three Rivers, and harbours, as hon. gentlemen know, are within the jurisdiction of the Department of Marine and Fisheries. The works in that part of the river St. Maurice which is in the harbour of Three Rivers are maintained by the Department of Public Works. On account of a contract made between the St. Maurice Boom and Driving company and the Department of Public Works-^-a contract which I think ought not to have been made, but at any rate it was done- 12 p.m. the department have been paying for all the piers, for the booms and for everything.
New, the Canada Iron Foundries company needed a wharf on which to land pig iron and the clay for their moulds. Application was made to the Department of Public Works, who in turn forwarded it to the Marine Department, and pending the desired permission advantage was taken of the ice by the company to draw materials and go on and complete the work. Now the Department of Marine and Fisheries take the position that parties may not build a dock before getting the approval of the department, whereas the location for the dock has to be approved by the Department of Public Works. We are in this unhappy position, as between the two departments, that we do not know who has jurisdiction, and we .are all at sea.
Sites have to be got on land, they cannot build them on the water.
. Mr. CARVELL: To go back to the suggestion of my hon. friend as to the booms and piers, I do not think he should object to that. If the Dominion of Canada for forty years have been doing that which they have
no right to do, surely he cannot object to their trying to get back to solid ground and handing those booms and piers over to the people who are using them. I do not want to get into a discussion on the point now, because that raises the question as to the Gatineau river, and I think the Ottawa river also. Why on earth the Dominion of Canada should provide booms and piers for the big lumber corporations is something I could never understand. Furthermore, why Three Rivers, and the Gatineau and Ottawa rivers should be singled out from all the rest of the rivers in Canada is a mystery to me. I think it was a very wise provision indeed to get these particular piers and booms out of the jurisdiction of the Public Works Department, and the Government generally, and let the big corporations look after them the same as is done elsewhere in Canada.
What about compensation for damages if any should arise?
' Mr. CARVELL: I want to point out to my hon. friend that we have been taking this land ever since Confederation. You cannot have public works unless you have the authority to go on the land and construct them. I do not see that there is any change in principle proposed here.
Section approved of, Bill reported and read the third time.